Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Priceless...

Some things are truly priceless. Yesterday I received a birthday gift from my best friend. He had taken my dad's high school graduation picture and blown it up and had it matted and framed. I was speechless and crying like a baby. My dad passed away when I was 19, so this was truly a most wonderful gift. Give yourself a present today and cherish those you love. Happy Day! :)

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gift money

What do you do with gift money? I am so bad at spending money that even when I get money I have a hard time spending it. I know people give the gift of money so that you can go out and buy yourself something that you have been wanting, but I never know what to do with it. I ask because I just received a check in the mail yesterday from my Grandma for my birthday and I still have the money she gave me at Christmas. I just don't know what to do with it. Is it OK to leave it in my savings account to add to the down payment for my own home or should I be going out and buying a sweater or something with it? BTW, I already have 37 sweaters!!! What to do, what to do? HELP!!! I look forward to your advise! thanks!

Monday, February 26, 2007

update on Craigslist items

I have sold 2 of my 3 items that I listed on Craigslist and I am shocked at the huge response I got for my items. I will definitely sell more items this way in the future. I sold an entertainment center that I had used for about 6 years, I paid $100 for it and sold it for $35 and the gal that bought it was SO pleased to get it. That made me feel good. I also sold a 3 shelf corner unit that was pretty small, I paid $15 for it about 8 years ago and sold it for $10, not bad. I will add the money I earned to my savings account and thankfully these are items that I won't be shelling out money to replace as I didn't need the shelf anymore and my parents are giving me their entertainment center which is much nicer than the one I had. So all in all, a good experience with Craigslist. I did get some e-mails that seemed questionable as to there validity, but I didn't respond to those ones. I did however let everyone know that was interested, via e-mail when the items had sold so they could continue looking for other things. I don't know if it helped or not, but I kept in very good communications with the buyers as well.

Sorry I have been gone

I was busy housesitting this past weekend and there was no computer or Internet, so I was stranded. It felt really weird to spend an entire weekend not logging on and checking in, but yet in a way, it was a nice break! I spent my weekend playing with a little puppy and really just relaxing and enjoying. The house I was staying in was small, but very nice. The couple who live there could certainly afford more, but they are quite happy there. They have renovated and made their small space very comfortable and nice. It got me to thinking, I live alone and how much space do I really need? Currently I live in a 2 bedroom, 2 story townhouse that is way too big for just me. And since I am thinking about buying a home soon, just exactly what will I need or want. I think I would rather have a nicer, small place than a big one that isn't as nice. With a smaller space, I wouldn't have as much upkeep, less cleaning, it would cost less to maintain and heat as well. I feel like I have gotten a better idea of what I am hoping to find when I go out looking and what I might be happy living in. If I had a smaller space that cost me less, I would be able to still do more things like travel. I will keep you posted on how I see my home buying going and what I am leaning towards, but for now I am thinking smaller. Do I really need more stuff? I don't think so, I have been spending time trying to get rid of stuff, why would I want to accumulate more? I feel really good about what I have discovered about myself this weekend.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

First time for everything....

I did it! I finally listed my first 3 items on Craigslist! I will see how this goes and if all goes well, I will try listing some more. I have listed a corner 3 shelf accent piece, a coffee table and an entertainment stand. I listed measurements and pictures for all of the items, hopefully that will help. I will keep you all posted on the progress. Yeah! Up until this point I had really only listed items on half.com because it is so easy. I feel like I am really branching out. If these items don't sell I will place them in my brother's garage sale that his community has every March. Maybe I will try to sell my stereo next that I NEVER use! Ok, this could be addictive if it is successful. :) Good night!

Well, that didn't work out so well....

apparently my clothes were "too mature" for the clientele at Plato's closet. Oh well, it was only 10 minutes out of my day, but dang did that make me feel old. My birthday is next week and that comment from the 19 year old behind the counter did not help! I guess I will try posting a thing or two on eBay and see if I can sell something. Wish me luck! OH, I hate getting old!

Seems like a waste of money to me.....

My office is moving tomorrow into a new building that we just finished doing all kinds of upgrades and renovations on. I have a perfectly good desk currently, but they are wanting to change the look of things. Mind you, no one comes to our office, we go out to our customers. But they have this vision for the office and want it to be like that. So, the desk I will be getting won't be available for about 12 weeks, so in the meantime instead of using the desk I have, they have spent $200 for a temporary desk off of Craigslist. I just don't understand that kind of thinking. What is 12 weeks? I would be happy to keep my current desk for 12 more weeks or forever it would last that long. Certainly seems like a waste of $200 for a temporary solution, not to mention the cost of the new desk they are replacing my current one with. What can I say, I don't like change much, but I am working on it! I know change is a good thing, bear with me, I'm getting there! ;)

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I am in declutter mode

Yesterday I was reading several blogs and I forget which one I read it on, and I apologize now for not giving credit where credit is due, but someone mentioned Plato's closet. Now I have seen these stores before and never really given it much thought, but after checking out there website I thought I might have a lot of things that I could sell there. I went home last night and poured through my closet and armoire coming up with 2 bags of hopefully usable items. I will take them in tomorrow and see if I can get any cash for my things that I don't need or use and hopefully make someone else very happy. I was thrilled to see more space in my closet and even more thrilled that I didn't feel the need to go shopping to fill it back up. I also came across some things that I will be listing on eBay sometime in the next week or so. I still haven't listed my items that I mentioned last week. I must get on that. I love decluttering, things always feel so clean and opened up after doing so. Any extra money I make will be nice to put in my savings for my down payment and it will be less items that I will have to move later. :) Win/win situation! Does anybody else ever get the urge to declutter like this? Must be a little bit of spring fever for me......

Monday, February 19, 2007

Update on my personal challenge

So far, so good! I think I will make it through the month with my savings account in tact and still pay off my credit card as usual. It looks like I will actually be able to add some money to my savings account as well, but I am not counting those chickens yet. If there is money left in my checking account at the end of the month I will transfer it to my savings. I went grocery shopping over the weekend and stocked up on food, so I won't have to go again this month and I don't have many plans for the next week and a half, so it is doubtful I will be spending much money. I was also asked this morning by a friend's parent if I would be available to watch their puppy this weekend at their house as they have to go out of town unexpectedly. They will pay me for this and I will be able to stay at their house which is nice. That will save me on food and utilities at my own place and will be a nice little vacation as they live in a REALLY nice house. :) So, I will pick up a little extra money and have a good time too! Yeah!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Could this be the year I finally become one????

A homeowner that it! I am really hoping that this is the year that I become a homeowner and stop renting. I wanted to have done this by the time I turned 35, but since that will be happening in a couple weeks, I know that won't happen. But, I made the first step yesterday. I have an appt in a couple weeks with a mortgage friend of mine to see where I am at, what I need to do and what I can even look at realistically. I recently pulled my credit score and it was 796 which I am happy about, so I know that will help me out. Now I am looking at my budget to see where I can make any and all cuts to save money for my down payment. I have no idea how much I should even think about having for a down payment. Any one have some ideas? So far I have about $7000 saved. I am looking at buying a condo or townhouse since I live alone and don't want to deal with a yard and maintenance. Does anyone have any helpful advice, words of wisdom, things I should do, shouldn't do or anything? Thanks! I will keep you posted on how it is going.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I'm looking on the bright side...

Ok, I should say I am trying to look on the bright side today. You see my boyfriend of 3 years and I just broke up and he just moved his stuff out of our place this past Saturday. Although we have remained friends and aren't completely ruling out a reconciliation, I am as of right now a single gal. As a single gal I can get away without having any expenses related to this holiday for couples! I won't have to buy anything special for dinner, I can eat popcorn tonight if I want! :) I don't have to go out and buy some syrupy sweet card and I won't have to rack my brain trying to figure out what kind of a gift to buy for my guy!

Of course I would gladly spend the money for us to be together but since we are not, I am looking on the bright side. I can sit home alone and count the money I saved today!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Venturing into new territory

I will be listing my first item on eBay sometime this week. I have sold a lot of things on half.com and have purchased things on eBay, but never listed and sold anything. So, what am I selling you ask? Well, my old laptop's hard drive crashed, but the rest of it is in good condition, so my boss offered to take it apart so that I can sell off the parts. I had no idea people did this, but I guess I'm going to give it a try. I'm also going to be listing my collection of Madame Alexander dolls for sale. I have never been interested in them, it's more something my parents thought I should have. So away they go and I don't have to deal with storing them anymore. Craigslist is also going to be a new one for me. I have a perfectly good coffee table and TV stand that need a good home. My parents gave me theirs when they built their new house and I must say, I like the ones they gave me much more than mine, so it is nice for me to have something knew and it will be nice to find a new home for my other items. Does anyone have any advice for me before I get started listing these things? I probably won't get to listing them until Friday, so if you have any input, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!

Monday, February 12, 2007

How I paid off my debt in 26 months.....

In response to “Here’s my story” Jonathon wanted to know how long it took me to pay off my debt and how I did it. Well Jonathon, here is your answer….

I first added up my debt total in April 2004 and finished paying it off June 2006. And as to how I did it, well it was a combination of MANY things. I lived in a 1 bedroom apt so I knew I couldn't take in a roommate and would have to find other means to reducing my debt. I became gazelle intense about it. Here's my list:

I stopped eating out, completely! I didn’t buy a meal out in a restaurant for at least 18 months!
I take my lunch to work everyday and I reuse plastic baggies whenever possible or put my food in reusable containers.
I cook in bulk and freeze meals for later.
I plan my menu based on what is on sale. I pass by each of the main grocery stores every day on my way to and from work, so it is easy for me to shop the loss leaders at each market.
I never passed up a free meal at my parents or my brother’s house and if they offered leftovers for me to take home, you bet I took them.
I learned to love eating meatless meals a couple times a week.
I have a friend who is a fisherman and when he offered up halibut and salmon, I filled my freezer.
I dropped my landline and just used my cell phone, and I reduced my plan on the cell.
I cut my cable and started borrowing movies from friends and the library.
I started checking out books from the library.
I read every book on debt reduction I could find.
If it was cold, I put a sweater on or threw a blanket over my lap.
I added an extra blanket to my bed.
I combined all my errands in one trip and planned my route before heading out in order to eliminate a lot of backtracking.
I never passed up samples in stores. (Costco is great on the weekends)
Instead of buying gifts for my niece and nephew for Valentine’s or Easter, I would bake them treats and we would go to the park.
I didn’t buy any new clothes for a really long time.
I line dried my clothes instead of using the dryer, still do, the clothes last longer this way.
I mended clothes when needed.
I re-dyed black clothes that had faded, they look brand new when doing this.
I kept the heat turned down as low as I could stand it.
For exercise, I quit the gym and started running again.
For my birthday or Christmas I would ask for clothes or necessities.
I sold books, CDs and movies that I didn’t need or want anymore on half.com
When my brother had a garage sale I asked if I could put my stuff in it too and made a lot of extra cash on stuff I wasn’t using anymore.
Every little bit of extra money I had went to my debt.
On payday, whatever was left in my checking account from the previous paycheck went to my debt.
I gave myself my own manicures and pedicures.
I went to the beauty college to get my hair done, still do!
I started taking vitamins and have been so much healthier since doing so.
I adjusted my withholdings to keep as much of my paycheck without having to pay come tax time. I usually get about $50 for a return.
I have a knack for finding change on the ground and I ALWAYS pick it up. You would be surprised how that adds up.
I recycled cans and bottles that I found while out on my walks.
I stopped drinking soda and I have never smoked.
I took my own shopping bags to the grocery store, they give a 5 cent credit for each bag.
Whenever I paid one debt off, I rolled that payment into the next debt in line.
I used up things I had on hand before buying new. (lotion, shampoo, toothpaste)
I cut my fabric softener sheets in half.
I started doing some surveys online to earn money, there really are a few reputable sites out there!
I cancelled magazine subscriptions, you can read them at the library.
And, I learned to say No thank you, to invitations that would cost me money. I had to.

I stayed home a lot! Sure, I missed going out with my friends, but I knew it was for a greater good and that I wouldn’t have to stay home on Friday and Saturday nights forever. Every time I started to feel bad about not having much of a social life, I would look at the spreadsheet of my debts and the progress I had made. That usually made me feel better and motivated me to keep going. And the thought that once I was done paying off my debts I could save for a home of my own.

Now that I am debt free I am very careful about how I spend my money. I think I learned a lot of good habits that I still practice. I have instituted the 7 day rule for purchasing things. If after 7 days I still want something and I can afford it, I will go back and buy it. Most times I have forgotten what it was I thought I wanted. I know some of my methods are a little more extreme than some people would be willing to do, but for me it worked and I feel like I am a better person for having gone through this. I think I am kinder to the environment, am less materialistic than I use to be and I am more aware of how good my situation really is in comparison to others in the world.

Friday, February 9, 2007

I am challenging myself......

to not take any money out of my savings account to pay for things this month. For some reason, every February, the shortest month of the year always ends up costing me the most. I have my neices birthday, my stepdad's birthday, a co-workers birthday and the renewal of my season tickets for Husky football. Not to mention all the usual bills. I sold a gift card at giftcardbuyback.com that I should be receiving my payment on next week along with my check from ebates and birthday money from my gramma. Oh, and my laptop died so I had to buy a new one that I put on the credit card so I could order it, but the payment is due before the end of the month and I always pay my bill in full every month now. So, we'll see how it goes. I see a lot of eating at home and cleaning out my cupboards of food on hand in order to get by, but I never met a challenge I haven't tried before. I already take my lunch to work everyday, so I know I won't spend money that way. This will be a little game I will play with myself to see how little I can get by on! Wish me luck! ;)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Frustrating to hear what some people do with their money

So, I was helping a guy at work the other day with his income taxes. He was going to pay someone $85 to do them, so I asked if he had a lot of investments and such that might make it more difficult, he said no, not even a savings account. So he brought in everything we needed to do his taxes online via the IRS website, he qualifies for the free file offered. Anyway, start to finish it took me 11 minutes because all he had was a W-2, nothing else needed in order to do his taxes!!! I was shocked! Here is a guy who is 33, single with a 5 year old daughter, he smokes 4 packs of cigarettes a day, eats every meal out and doesn't put a dime into the company Simple IRA in which they match the 1st 3% of your salary. He grossed $51,000 last year, rents an apartment with a roommate and has nothing to show for his hard work. I am now working on getting him to at least contribute the 3% that the company will match into the Simple IRA, that would at least be a start and would double his money without really noticing a hit. What do you think? I know it isn't really any of my business what co-workers do with their money, but I hate to see someone doing nothing like this. He over contributes every year so that he gets a hefty return and the rest of his money he leaves in his checking account, currenlty holding over $12,000 in there!! Yikes! Just think how much interest he could be earning if he had a good portion of that in an ING account! Anyway, that is my rant for the day! Tell me what you think, I look forward to your thoughts.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Here is my story.....

I was frivolous with my money, very rarely making any purchases of any significance,and before I knew it I had nickeled and dimed my way to over $30,000 in debt. I had no idea how large my debt total was, but when I added it up I nearly got sick! I knew I wanted more from my life than paying for things that were long gone, meals, clothes, etc. I started reading everything I could get my hands on in the way of financial information and how to clear my debt out asap. I sold anything that I could on ebay and half.com. I pinched pennies whenever possible, I didn't see a movie in the theater for over a year, I put on a sweatshirt when I was cold instead of turning up the heat, I brought my lunch to work everyday, anything to save a little bit of money. I started line drying my clothes instead of using the dryer (also better on your clothes), I ate the free snacks at work, I stopped going to Starbucks, you get the idea... I also added two things to my wallet, a sticky note with my debt total and a picture of my dream home. Both of these things made me think twice whenever I thought I needed to spend money. I put my nose to the grindstone and this past June I finished paying off all of my debt. Now, when I get paid, the first thing I do is figure out what I need for my bills and then transfer a chunk to savings. I use to get excited seeing the debt total go down, but there is nothing like the feeling of watching the savings GROW!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

My first post!

Welcome to change can be a good thing! I have been a PF blog reader for quite awhile and just decided that maybe it's time to start a blog of my own. Change on this blog can mean MANY different things, so ask me anything you want. I am a 30 something single gal trying to change the way that I handle money and the way I look at it. I have already paid off over $30,000 in debt and love living the debt free life now. I would like to continue living this way and I would like to learn more ways to live below my means so that I can live the good life now and later!

Over the years I have changed the way I spend money and save money (I never saved before). I pick up change I find on the ground whenever I see it too!

So please bear with me while I get the hang of blogging, I'm a little computer slow so starting this blog is a big change for me too! I look forward to sharing my story and getting to know more of you. Thanks!