Friday, October 31, 2008

October wrap-up...

WOW! I can hardly believe October is over and we are heading in to the holiday season!!! Here are my October numbers...

Groceries: $111.90(I raised my grocery budget up to $120, so I am happy to report that I stayed under budget.)
Gas: $32.00 (yeah! $53 UNDER Budget!!)
Dining out: $18.00(doing better every month)
Entertainment: $8.00
Gifts: $13.07
Clothing: $15.66

I earned $91!!! from surveys! $30 from a rebate and $10.85 from sales!I also added $555 to my savings account! Not as good as I had hoped, but not too bad either! Going on vacation at the start of the month kind of hurt the savings, but I had a great time and am glad I went.

I also managed to have 20 no spend days! Yeah! I'm looking forward to November and the challenges of staying within the budget during the holiday season.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some extra money coming is always nice..

As I said in my last post, I am working really hard to try to do whatever I can to have the full $20,000 needed to pay my parents off in April. I decided to do a little spring cleaning and have listed several movies and books on and am pleased that I am already seeing some sales come in. Yeah! I will put that money straight into my ING savings account so it can earn the most interest. Next month I will also be depositing my 12th deposit into my TD Ameritrade account in which I will then receive a $100 bonus. Yes!! I love, love, love free money!

I am also doing everything I can to continue to cut my expenses and save money wherever possible. Right now I have 19 no spend days this month, and I am doubtful I will be spending money tomorrow, so I will once again achieve my goal of 20 no spend days! Yeah!! November is looking like it will be fairly quiet for me too, so that is great! I don't anticipate any extra expenses next month and if I can continue having at least 20 no spend days, I think I will do really well.

I did take a couple more small surveys that will amount to about another $9, not much, but every bit helps. Then when the are deposited into my ING account and compounding interest kicks in, then you really see your money work for you.

I didn't buy any candy for Halloween as I won't be home. This is good for two reasons; 1. I didn't have to spend money on candy and 2. there isn't the chance that I will have leftover candy to tempt me!! I will be at my brother's house and will probably head out trick or treating with the kids. Then we will head over to my parents house for a bit too.

Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Time to tighten the purse strings...

I have decided that I am going to really pursue getting the money together to pay my parents back ASAP. Right now I have $14731 to put toward paying off this debt and I need $20,000. I would really like to have it all come April and be done with this loan. I am going to look at EVERY possible way to earn money (legally!) over the next 6 months and hopefully I will have it all together and will be able write a check for $20,000 and be debt free with the exception of my mortgage! Yeah!

A few things I have done to make this easier to achieve are lowing my phone/internet/cable bill by cutting premium services. I am trying to make due with the food I currently have, dining out less, eating less in general, finding free options for fun, no clothes shopping, and decreasing expenditures any way possible. I am going to revisit the lifestyle I had while I was paying off my original debt. I'm going to print out my list of things I did back then as reminders of how to live this way again. Thankfully this time it will only be for 6 months. I'm fairly optimistic that I will be able to get this all together and pay off the loan. After that, I will loosen the purse stings and have a little fun.

I would appreciate any helpful hints that any of you have to offer on how to earn the extra money or how to cut costs. Thanks! I'll keep you all posted on my progess, and if along the way, I find some good money savings tips, I will certainly pass them along as well. :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Just a quick check in and updates

It has been a very busy past week, but a lot of fun. Over the weekend we celebrated my Grandma's 91st birthday and had a really wonderful time with a lot of extended family there to help her celebrate. What fun it was to see so many of the family and to see Grandma bring in another year still being in good health and sharp as a tack, it was quite a site to see. I can only hope to be as happy and healthy if I am fortunate enough to live like her. She traveled from California up to Washington for her birthday and is staying for a week, so there have been many get togethers other than the big party over the weekend, and it has been so great!

Over the weekend I also had a football game and tailgate to attend. The tailgate was a lot of fun and the weather was beautiful, making it even better! I love tailgating because it is a great social event and a lot of fun, plus there is a ton of food and each person typically is only bringing one thing to share, so it's pretty economical! And being that I am not much of a drinker, it's really pretty cheap for me. :)

Friday night was a quiet night at home catching up on chores; laundry and cleaning. Sometimes nights like that are necessary and I sort of welcome them. Seems like we get so busy and are constantly going, going, going that when we get a chance to slow down, it feels really good. With the holidays approaching I know life will get very busy, so I will take any quiet times that I can. :)

Today I took a couple of surveys online today, earned another $22, so any money I can make between now and Christmas will really help out. I have started on my Christmas shopping and am pleased that I will not have many gifts to buy this year as most of my friends and I no longer exchange gifts. Yeah! I have it all figured out as to what I am buying for the few gifts I need and I should be able to get through the holidays with my budget fully intact! Which really, really makes me happy!

Well, this week should be very, very inexpensive for me. I won't have to buy gas this week or groceries, thanks to all the leftovers from the birthday celebration, and I don't have any other expenses coming up that I am aware of. Hoping there are no surprises that pop up!

Hope everyone has a fantastic week and a very happy Halloween! :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This year is flying by....

This month, like all the other months this year, is flying by!! Where has 2008 gone?! I am feeling really good about my finances right now, with the exception of my retirement accounts. But right now there is nothing I can do about that. I am sure it will bounce back, but it is frustrating to watch. I have kept my spending in check this month, even with going on vacation, I don't feel like I have overspent in any category and I still have money in my checking account. :)

Yesterday I made a deposit of $57 into my savings account from survey checks I have received. I love having extra money like that come in. And I took advantage of a $30 rebate for which I received the check in the mail after I had been to the bank. Isn't that always the way?! Oh well.

My dining out has only amounted to $16.00 so far this month, and that includes while I was on vacation. My friend and I mostly ate at her house, or we took advantage of some gift cards I had with me, also earned from surveys.

I have been adding money to my savings like a mad-woman and have over 70% of the money needed to pay my parents back in full come April. I am really hoping that with some belt tightening I can have all that I need to pay the loan off in full. If not, I will pay half of it this April, and the other half will be paid off next October. Wish me luck! I'm going to go after every money making idea I can to get all of this money together and get the loan paid in full. That will be such a great feeling to have paid them off 8 years early (or 7.5 years if I have to wait until October). I'll keep you posted on the progress.

I have started my Christmas shopping too. So far, I only have one present purchased, but I have been doing a lot of research and figuring out what I am going to get everyone. A friend and I also have decided not to exchange gifts this year, so that will make things easier and less expensive. :) This should be a lower stress holiday season for me and I am really looking forward to that!! I hope everyone is having a fantastic October and is looking forward to a frugal, fun-filled holiday season as well! :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Feeling overwhelmed...

I'm not sure why, but I have this overwhelming anxiety about my finances right now. I'm sure it's probably related to the market doing so poorly and every day watching more and more of my retirement accounts dwindle. I understand that now is actually a great time to buy, but it's so hard to wrap the emotional side of my brain around it. Next week I will be getting the 2007 match from my employer and am wondering what I should do with it. Any suggestions?

In the meantime, I am doing everything I can to tighten the belt and reign in the spending as much as possible. I'm working on eating through the food that I already have and only buying fresh, perishable items, or things that are the REALLY great bargains that the stores use to lure you in. I'm good about only buying what is on my list when at the store, so it doesn't scare me that I might overspend by shopping, so I'm good with that. I have had 9 no spend days so far this month, and that's even with me being out of town on vacation for 5 days. Not bad! I am hoping for 20 days total and I am fairly confident that I will make it.

I am getting a lot of extra income from surveys as usual. :) yeah! So far this month I have received $98 from them and am contemplating doing a few mystery shopping trips too. This might help me get going on my Christmas shopping. I have done really well on getting most of what I need so far for stockings, but haven't delved much into the actual gift buying. Thankfully there will only be 6 gifts total that I need to buy, so it won't be too bad. Is anyone else getting their shopping started??

Anyone else feeling overwhelmed by the state of their finances??? I look forward to hearing what you have to say....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back from vacation...

and a little lighter in the wallet!! Oh well, isn't that what vacation is for? I don't like to go too crazy spending money while on vacation, but at the same time, when I am on vacation I like to spend a little more freely. I had a great time and all in all, it was fairly inexpensive. My friend and I drove to Sedona one day and had a wonderful time. She had to work part of the time while I was there, so one day I stayed at her house and just relaxed and zoned out. :) Another day I went to the mall for a few hours and here is where I got into trouble! As I said earlier, I have recently lost weight and now none of my clothes fit, more specifically my pants. So I had decided that it was OK for me to spend some money on some new clothes. Wouldn't you know it? I found everything but pants! I came home with a pair of boots, a pair of shoes, a purse, 3 tops and a sweater!! Although I shouldn't really complain, I spent less than $250 for all of that, so it's pretty good! And I just received a retro paycheck from my raise, so I think it's OK to spoil myself a little bit. Hope everyone had a great weekend too!

Now, I have to get back to doing some more surveys to earn the money that I just spent! HA!

Monday, October 6, 2008

A question about surveys...

I received a comment about doing surveys, wondering if they are safe and worth it. I have to say yes to both. I have been doing surveys for a long time, probably about 4 years and have earned quite a bit of money from them and been able to test a lot of new products too. I have a lot of fun with it and have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of extra income I have been able to receive. I know not everyone thinks it is worth it, but for me it is. I log on to each of the sites every morning to see if there are any invites, even though the invites come in my e-mail. I have found that just be a quick logging in and having that activity in my account, has increased the number of invites I have received.

Now, as to whether or not it is safe, I am not sure what you are asking. Typically I receive checks in the mail for my payments, so the only info I am giving out is my address, although some sites will pay you through paypal. You aren't giving out your personal information or any bank account info, so I say yes, it is perfectly safe. Please let me know if you have other concerns that I am perhaps not thinking about. But in answer to your general questions, yes I have found it to be both worthwhile and safe.

In fact, just this weekend I was chosen to participate in another study that will require 2 30 minute sessions and will pay out $85! Not too shabby. :)

I welcome any questions that you might have about surveys though, and mystery shopping, this has gone fairly well for me also. These are fun to participate in and the payout is nice too. Of the two though, I prefer surveys because I can do them at home and on my own time schedule. :) And in my PJ's if I want!! Ha!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Locked out of a blog I really enjoy reading...

Hi there Set goals and stay disciplined. Just wanted to let you know that I can't see your blog anymore and I miss checking in on you. Anyway, leave me a comment if you want me to be able to see your blog and we can go from there. Hope all is well with you.

A fall weekend...

It looks like fall has finally come around here. :( Today and the rest of the weekend is looking to be pretty grey and gloomy. Really makes me happy that I am heading to Arizona next weekend. One nice thing about crummy weather, it makes me want to stay inside and not venture out too much, which in turn helps me not to spend money needlessly. :) Now that is something I like to think about. I am home tonight with plans to watch a movie that a co-worker brought in for me. Tomorrow I will get up early and do some grocery shopping, then a quick trip to Target. I will go see my niece's soccer game and then head home. Sunday I am going to a friend's little girl's birthday party, she's turning 2!! I haven't figured out what to get her yet, but I'm planning on finding something at Target, so it shouldn't too difficult. So, other than that, I don't have too much going on, so it should be pretty relaxing and mellow. Hope you all have a nice, pleasant weekend too!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Forgot to add another October goal...

if I can earn enough each month from surveys and secret shopping trips to pay for my condo dues, I will really do well. I will need to bring in another $192.01 each month for this. And just now I have ordered another $10 check for payment from My Survey. I have really done well with survey sites, and I know a lot of people don't think you can make money from them, but I have done really well. I log onto each site daily, just to show some activity and that I am interested in seeing if there are any available surveys, just doing this has really increased the number of invitations I have received.

The $192.01 that I will have to pay monthly for my condo dues actually covers quite a bit, so I am not too concerned about it. This fee includes my water, sewer, garbage and recycling which is great, but it also includes access to the on site gym and the pool along with the movie theater and Internet stations within the clubhouse. I can also reserve the clubhouse for any get together I may feel like having and will only have to pay a $25 clean up fee. Not bad! Oh, and the landscaping is also included as well as housekeeping twice a week for all common areas. Not a bad deal, I must say! :)

October goals...

...some of these are easily measured, while others are not. Regardless, I think it's important to set goals and see if I can work towards achieving them.

* I will add at least $550 to my savings account, hopefully more. I'm really enjoying the compounding interest that I am receiving and it's quickly helping my savings grow. :)

* I will do less grocery shopping and eat what I have on hand. I have been buying more groceries over the last few months, now it looks like I have a surplus. Will see what I can do about cleaning out the pantry a little bit.

*Not overspend on vacation next week.

*Try to alter some of my clothes I already have before buying new. I have lost a lot of weight recently which is great, but hard on the wallet. I think I will also try some thrift store shopping to build the wardrobe back up.

*Find any leaks in the budget and plug them.

*I will not buy my lunch any days this month and will try to keep all dining out to under $40.

*I'm hoping to get started on some of my Christmas shopping. I don't have too many gifts to buy, but I would like to knock at least 3 of them off my list this month. Thankfully I already know what I am getting most everyone, it's just a matter of getting to the stores and buying.

*As usual, I would like to have at least 20 no spend days.

This list isn't looking too daunting, so I think I will do pretty well with it. I realized this morning that I have 70% of the money needed to pay the loan off to my parents and I'm hoping that if I really buckle down, I just might be able to pay the entire thing off to them this coming April instead of paying half in April 2009 and the other half in April 2010. What a sense of freedom it would be to have this paid off and no longer on my list! So, any extra monies I can cut out of my budget will go straight toward my savings to pay this off ASAP!! :)