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Hmmm...not sure what to make of it

January 27th, 2006 at 01:34 am

I'm of the dissenting opinion regarding the new redesign. From an interface design/money saving perspective, its not frugal in its use of space. That means more clicking and scrolling to get to the same material. It seems watered down as a result.

I will try to work with it...in the name of progress, etc, but in my opinion it doesnt provide as much impact for the amount of effort required on my part. I also feel like the sense of community that one feels is much looser; it more challenging to find the regulars and differentiate(sp?) them from the voices that are just joining.

More errands

January 25th, 2006 at 03:47 am

Since the first of the year, I've been doing so very well when I run errands. I've been able to save more than I spend on several occassions when I get groceries or stuff for the house. Here are the deals I got today:

Walgreens: $4.09 - saved $4.45
Albertsons: $4.97 - saved $4.72
Big Lots: $ 14.04 - we found more of the pasta for .59 per pound. We didnt find the same shape, so got angel hair instead. I am sure it will be just as good. We stocked up and bought ten pounds.

The food total for this month so far is $332.99. That includes dining out. Though this is high, I'm going to use it for a baseling/starting point and it will only go down from here.

I spent $5.22 at work on coffee and a bagel in celebration of the deadline I met yesterday. Not too many complaints so far. I think it should be quiet the rest of the week.

I got a stack of magazines from a friend at work. After I look at them, I'm going to pass them on to another friend. I like this sort of recycling.

Other frugal things today - dinner was leftovers. I bought crackers and micro popcorn to keep in my desk at work for those days when I get the munchies. This way I will avoid any temptation from the vending machines. I brought water from home and walked on my lunch hour. Brought my lunch and avoided the vending machines for one more day.

Plan to walk again at lunch tomorrow. Part of this gradual getting into shape thing for the new year.

Years added back to my life!!!

January 23rd, 2006 at 10:52 pm

I met an incredibly huge deadline today at work. It was so huge that my stress levels were making me crazy. I was even yelling at the people who have helped me get where I am. Will be sure to apologize tomorrow.

We are going out to dinner tonight to celebrate - no coupons, no specials. It was that big of a deal.

All afternoon as I was wringing my hands, waiting for people to get me thier info, I thought I would treat myself to some new shoes as a reward. Once I completed the project and left my office, my relief was so great and my senses so clear that I thought, "There is no way I am spending my money right now and indebting myself to this craziness for the rest of my days." And I drove straight home.

I'll go in tomorrow to see what the reactions are - yay or nay. I will spend the rest of the week cleaning up minor details and making sure all invested parties are satisfied, but that will be a cake walk in comparison to the past six months of what I've been going through.

I cannot fully express the relief I am feeling.

Spending for today was .65 for a Pepsi. I raided a co-workers candy jar several times and brought my own lunch. Payday isnt until next Tuesday, so things will be tight. I may just raid DH's quarter jar. He packs them away (an old habit from when we had to go to the laundromat) and then they sit in the drawer for ages. Yes, I think I need to liberate several ounces of those and have them on hand (my hand) just in case. That way I wont pull out cash from the cc or add to my debit account at work. Sometimes just having the money on hand is enough and I end up not spending it anyway.

Stressed out Sunday

January 22nd, 2006 at 09:56 pm

I need to be working today, but I went in to work and found out that the key I have for the front door is not the key to the front door. I am not happy about this. I have a major deadline tomorrow. Thankfully I can work remotely, but its not the same. Will fix that on Monday.

Inspite of this, I ran some errands this morning after going through the Sunday paper:
$22.66 walgreens - saved 6.55 and will get a $10 gift card; thinking about purchasing $25 worth of diapers for a friend who is having a baby. There is also a $10 gift card rebate with that too.
3.03 post office - returned turtlenecks to Winter Silks for $39.50 refund
$22.39 sams - gas - no savings here grrrrr
$10.70 kmart - saved 1.58; my favorite laundry detergent was on sale

going now to drown my stress in some ice cream - purchased on sale, with a coupon...

taking advantage of deals that come my way

January 21st, 2006 at 10:36 pm

Last night's lasagne turned out VERY well. It will not stay in the fridge long, I predict. Good thing as there are two more pans in the freezer.

I started the ham soup in the crock pot this morning. It should be done pretty soon.

I started this day with a massage that has left me feeling very good and rather happy, as in smiling all the time, just a little and for no tangible reason. If I could only put that in the water.

Placed and order at VitaminShoppe.com. I compared prices with the site I usually use and the items that I was looking for were cheaper on VS. They also had a $10 off a $40 order and free shipping on $50 order. With the discount, my order came in at $43.XX. Got the shipping free as before discount was $53.xx!!

Ordered other supplements at the main site. Always so expensive, but I continue to feel better, so they have my business.

Recieved my Discover statement and I reconciled reciepts against the statement. December was a killer month for spening, but I had come VERY, VERY large, non-recurring purchases. I believe January to Feb statement will be much, much more reasonable. And I will once again make progress is paying it off.

I redeemed my cash back on Discover card for a GC at Red Lobster. These can also be used at the Olive Garden and we have coupons for $3 off two entrees. The closest one to us is 30-45 minutes away, but for a treat, we will take the trip.

Cats are really liking the new dry food. Didnt touch the raw that I put out for them this morning. I may gently switch them over to the dry or at least cut way back on the raw. The store I buy the dry at also has a program where you buy 12 bags and the 13th is free. Signed up when I bought the first bag.

I got a return ready for the silk turtlenecks I bought online a couple of days ago. The long underwear are keepers, but the turtlenecks were not to my liking. So I will need to run to the post office tonight or tomorrow.

These things have taken the better part of the day. Its 4:00 here and I havent started any work. I could take today off and cram it in tomorrow...not really sure. I could use a nap. It will either give me a clearer head or will really put me out of comission.....thinking.....

Edit: DH is really getting into this frugal/saving money thing. He got a GC for $10 from MIL for Best Buy and had been holding onto it. He noticed that games for the XBox were on sale. The light went on and he bought a game on sale, with the GC and paid only $12ish for a game that would usually be about $40?? The best part is he put all this together on his own. We talked about it before hand, sort of like a test run. But he did the running on his own. I'm so proud of him. He didnt want to admit he's making progress in the world of coupons. Kind of like being a teen and having your mom kiss you on the cheek in front of your friends. Embarrassing, but he's willing to go along if he doesnt have to 'fess up. If the end result is saving $$$, I am not complaining.

Frugal things for Friday

January 21st, 2006 at 02:09 am

the things I did today that were frugal are:

-found chicken breasts on sale for 1.99/lb; this was from a conversation with a friend about how I was really biting the bullet this year. She saw the sale in the paper and passed it on. Also picked up their sale flyer to see what else is on sale.

-found a good dry catfood that the cats loves. This will save on the raw diet they are currently on.

-made three small pans of lasagne for dinner tonight. One is in the oven. The other two are in the freezer. Ran out of proper lasagne noodles, so ended up using the wide pasta noodles found at Big Lots for .59.

-found the ham bone from Christmas dinner and am going to make soup in the crock pot tomorrow. I am thawing out pre-cooked beans (made three pounds in crock pot, divided up and froze for later use.) and zuccini that someone gave us this summer from their garden. This will then go into the ziploc containers I just got at Walmart w/ a coupon last night.

-planned the menu for the weekend around what is in the fridge and cooking large batches in the crock pot for freezing. These are the sort of things I like to do on the weekend when I am home. Saves time during the week when I can just pull something out of the freezer. Really trying to cut down on going out and convenience food. We do it often enough to bug me. If I have an at home Plan B, I will take it. This is one of the ways I am taking measures to counter taking the easy way out when things get stressful.

-brought my lunch and chatted with a friend. Also got a bit of a walk in the fresh air too.

Not frugal things:
- boought two liters of water at work. Forgot to bring it from home.

-visited the vending machine as a means of coping with stress at work. Spent a $1. In most of the candy bars they are only carrying the super size for $1 rather than the regular size for .60. The fattening of America.

Tonight I'm doing laundry. The cat went on the bed - again. He's not sick. I think its a social thing. Also washing cat beds and misc. rugs and things that havent been through the wash in a while.

I have to work this weekend, but it will be from home and could very well be in my pj's if I'm not feeling motivated. Sunday will check out the sales and see if there is anything we need. Maybe do some cleaning....?

What day is it?

January 20th, 2006 at 03:08 am

This week is just a blur. Too much going on.

Went to ALB and spent $55.41. Saved $42.45 though I think their prices are over inflated anyway. But according to the price book, I got good deals. Also picked up some misc. at WalMart - $8.82 - used $4.50 in coupons. This is bringing our food budget for the month to $262.89. That's getting high in my opinion. But this is the starting point. After this month, it will only go down. It will be time to clean out the cupboards and start getting creative.

I spent $3.39 at work on water and Cheetos. DH observed that at that price the water was more expensive than gasoline.

Work has been going smashingly lately. Things are finally moving along and with them comes a sense of progress and acomplishment. I really, really like my job when things are like this!!! I will have to work this weekend and I'm happy to do it. Of course, this means I will take some days off later in the week, but I dont mind at all.

No other news.

Wednesday's savings

January 19th, 2006 at 02:29 am

DH and I both had eye exams this evening. They were each $39 with the coupon in the Sunday paper. DH had been to this eye doc before and we knew he's reliable. We saved $30 between the two of us. This is great since I dont have vision insurance through my employer.

From there we went to Carl's Junior. Our eye appts ran late and I didnt feel like cooking or eating leftovers. There was a BOGO coupon for a taco salad in one of the flyers in today's mail. It was the first time we've ever been. We're sort of deciding just how its going to sit with us. Dont think it will be a repeat for us...we aren't that much into fast food and especially not burgers. It was only $4.27 for the experiment, so we arent upset about it. An inexpensive learning experience.

DH has suddenly been asking me all these questions about coupons. What is a coupon train? Where do I get all of the coupons I use from? etc., etc.,etc. I asked him if he was really getting into this. (I was getting excited that we might have a conversion in our midst!!) But he just said he liked learning how systems worked and how they can be improved. Oh well. At least he's got money saving on the brain...generally.

No spend day at work. Resisted the temptation of the vending machine.

I did start the morning out by stopping at the food coop. I got flax seed meal, oatmeal and string cheese for $13.85. I will bring oatmeal to work tomorrow for either lunch or a snack. I forgot to pick up one of the magazines they have on the counter, free for members. This month's issue has a $1.00 coupon for Swheatscoop. It was on my list, but I was sort of spacy and overlooked it.

I mailed off the shoes to Zappos. That will be a nice $55 credit once it goes through.

Doing laundry right now. Updating the price book. There are some major sales at Albertson's and I am sure of that. Because I've been updating entries, I can now play ALB off WalMart for the best dea. Oh, the rush from the power I possess!!! I'm going to use to get me some ice cream!! And I have coupons. I am dizzy with the possiblities!!! Better sign off know before I start dancing on the table!!! Drunk with joy I am...

Shopping at lunch

January 18th, 2006 at 04:22 am

I went online at lunch and purchased silk long underwear. I have one pair that I've had for over ten years and they still look great. I've been wanting to buy some since before Christmas because my office at work is so cold and I'm having trouble regulating my body temp. It was sort of a want, but also a need. The total came to 90.75 and that was with everything on sale. I bought two pairs and two turtlenecks. I feel guilty about spending that amount of money right now, even if it was a good deal. But I'm also tired of feeling like a popsicle every day by 10:00. I'll see how they fit and if they work out.

I've come to the conclusion that I am going to return the pair of shoes that I really like. I have to admit to myself that they are a size ten and I am really a 10.5. Sigh. I'm procrastinating a bit on getting them boxed up...like the shoe fairy will come some night, wave her wand and make it all better. Not to be.

On other fronts, we also made dinner in the crock pot. Spaghetti and our .59 per pound pasta; the pasta wasnt great, but we will eat it. I also brought my lunch and snacks to work but ended up buying a Pepsi and a water from the machine for a total of 1.65.

Tomorrow evennig DH and I both have eye exams. There was a coupon in the Sunday paper for $39. Its the eye doctor that he has already been to, so we know he's good. My insurance doesnt cover eye exams, so this seems like a good alternative.

Not much else going on with money right now. In March, we are going to have some travel costs that I am budgetting for. Things are quieting down re spending. I know in a couple of weeks I am going to need to order more supplements...hate the huge pricetag on these, but can say I am feeling a bit better overall. I think part of the reason I got over the crud so quickly is because of some of the things I was taking. I'm hearing stories about people who have been sick for weeks, going on months. Whatever is going around is nasty stuff.

Monday errands

January 17th, 2006 at 12:34 am

Running around and spending for today:

$16 - lunch at our favorite Italian place. Both DH and I had leftovers that we will eat for dinner.
$35.22 - WalMart - saved $8 in coupons; got groceries and misc; stocked up Borax; got baby items for a friend who is having a baby this summer
$11.18 - Walgreens - saved $19.18 - among other things we found two pillar candles for 1.99/reg 7.99
$39.18 - Sams - minor miracle here to get out of the store and spend less than $100. Stuck to the list and rather than buy veggie lasagne, told DH I will make some and freeze extra pans full of it. He is game. There were lots of things that tempted me, but with a little time, they are things I could make for much, much less.

$101.58 is the grand total for today. I'm pleased with this. No other items needed this week. We did a lot of running around and got quite a lot of stuff and again, I am certain they were great deals due to the price book.

108.54 is the general total for food so far this month- both groceries and dining out; this is an estimate b/c I didnt start tracking right away at the beginning of the month.

When we went to Sam's we took the van to get the flat fixed and it was FREE!! They just plugged the leak where the screw had punctured the tire. So pleased DH thought of this.


I was looking over my Master Spreadsheet today and found a calculation error that was not in my favor. I am so bummed. My overall debt is higher than I have been lead to believe. Frown Its about $1K higher. With a heavy heart, its nose to the grindstone...

a generally quiet Sunday

January 16th, 2006 at 12:28 am

flash - How does one join a coupon train? I googled it and found some info, but can you make any recommendations? What to avoid/what to look for sorts of things? Thanks in advance!!

Today was a pretty relaxing day. We got two Sunday papers delivered to us this morning. That means double coupons. Woo hooo!! I've been browsing through those and the sales. Tomorrow I am going to run errands.

I signed up at fatwallet.com on Friday, but havent received an e-mail confirming my status. I will have to register again. They have some sites listed that I would like to purchase from. I buy from them anyway. I might as well get the dinero back.

The only spending has been to a matinee to see Junebug at a local artsy theatre. It was $10 for admission for the both of us and, of course, we had to get treats. This is one of those very rare movie theatres that puts real butter on your popcorn - in the middle of the bag and again at the top. Heart attack in a paper sack. But oh soo gooood. DH got a piece of chocolate cake that looked really good as well. They show art films so we dont go all the time, though their line up is looking good for the next three or four films.
I really like the fact that they draw an "older" crowd who remembers what movie theatre ettiquite is. I actually saw one woman turning off her cell phone before the movie started!! How considerate.

After the movie we discoverd we had a flat on the rear passenger side. Fortunately we have a van with a tire pump in the back. DH pumped up all the tires. The flat had a screw sticking out. No idea where we picked that up. But here is the good part. On the drive home we discussed where to go to buy new tires. But the conversation took a turn when DH remembered that Sam's repairs tires for free! That may or may not be an option depending on what they can do and how bad the damage is, etc. I'm just thrilled that he 1-thought of it and 2- is willing to try out the no cost option rather than just throwing money at it. I see the tide a turning.

In another unrelated converstaion, I pressed him about how much we have been spending on entertainment and asked him if he noticed a difference with all the B1G1frees I've been finding rather than pay full price. He thought about it for a minute and then emphatically said that he had noticed a difference, a big one at that. I had to work it out of him, but it was a good sign nonetheless.

He is also well aware that I am tracking grocery spending. We usually spend about $300 a month. At least that is what I remember the last time I tracked it. So far we are at $95 for groceries for the month. I know we've spent more than that with dining out, but I havent been completely on top of tracking it. I'm going to try and go as low as we can and then compare it month to month; need to get a baseline that we can live with before really jumping into this one. The bottom line is this: DH knows of my efforts to spend less and is generally supportive. He likes hearing how much we have saved and how little we have spent. He is prone to suggesting expensive dinners out when stressed, so I have to plan ahead and not fall for those too often. Otherwise, I think he's pretty much on board. He will run errands with me, so I get to gloat about savings immediately. Its all about positive, consistent reinforcement.

We've just been lounging around otherwise. I'm still getting over this cold/flu thing. I've got no real ambition to do anything, but when one lies around, its very easy to see all the things that need to be done. Guaranteed recipe for crazy making.

Will probably watch TV or read. Dinner will be leftovers. Tomorrow is the day off. I'm going to run errands and get ready for the week ahead.

Yes, dryer lint does pop!!!

January 15th, 2006 at 12:48 am

SharylMB, you were right. When I started the fire the other night there was some popping, but I thought it was some pine scraps that I was using for kindling, never thought it was the dryer lint. I started a fire last night, heard the popping and made a note of it. But when I added a couple of pieces of pine once things had quieted down, nothing happened. So it must be the dryer lint. Hmmmm... might have to google that one to see the science behind it. I'm puzzled and curious. Dont think its a safey hazard though.

Today has been busy in a very productive, relatively inexpensive day.

I had a chiropractic appt this morning. What a difference that made. I still feel a little shaky and wobbly from being ill, but at least the major aches and pains from my spine being out of alignment have been alleviated. Lying in bed sleeping for marathon sessions put my back out and my hips were killing me. The heaviness I was feeling in my chest from the cold is also gone and I can breathe soooo much easier. The co-pay was budgeted for - $35.00.

Yesterday afternoon my order from Zappos arrived!! This is just a little over 24 hours after placing the order. I am impressed. They upgraded my shipping for free. I am so thrilled with their customer service. I tried on my shoes, had to get a size up in the Tevas. Ordered those yesterday to take advantage of the sale price and express shipping. I sent back four pairs, and am debating whether or not to keep the pair I really, really love. They are a bit snug, so hopefully they will stretch...may have to go to a cobbler...but they were among the cheapest pairs ordered at $55...and they are very comfortable. I'll make my final decision when the sandals arrive. So far I'm paying $75 for two pairs of shoes which will be standard pieces in the daily work and leisure wardrobe.

So, I dropped the returns off at the UPS store, free of charge. Ran into the coop which is right next door. Spent $13.79 on butter and cider vinegar. Way pricey, but organic. The chiro recommended soaking in an apple cider vinegar bath to take out the achiness I am feeling from being sick. Worth a try and better than taking drugs.

From there DH and I went to Kiva Juice. Two smoothies for $4 with a B1G1Free coupon from the flyers that come in the mail. And he got his buy "10 get one free" card punched once. Nearly there; only two or three left to go. We will fill the card in a couple more weeks.

Next, we went to get firewood. One quarter cord (sp?) of juniper for $71.95 including tax. This is more of a luxery item as we do not heat with wood. And at that price, I wouldnt think we'd save much. I like to light a fire and read in front of it or sometimes even go to sleep. This amount will last us well into March when its too hot for a fire. I've been looking for someone locally who may have had a better price, but havent found anyone yet. But, hey, we live in a desert. There arent that many trees around. The people we purchased from go into the mountains to cut their wood. A lot of petroleum goes into this wood - to cut and transport it, so I would like to find something that has less impact on the environment. I just realized that a smoking chimney has a significant impact on the environment.

After unloading the wood, we went to the public library. I got a stack of books on money and travel. I'm looking for things to motivate me here. I want to save money to travel rather than have stuff. If I come across anything good, I will let you know.

Next, a trip to the used book store. Had more things to drop off; part of the eternal deluttering/owning less stuff movement at our house. My in store credit was over $200. I finally found the childrens books in enspanol and cleaned them out. They only had a couple dozen. These are going to either an orphange or a school in Mexcio. I am so pleased to be able to do this. Since I have such a large credit, it makes me wonder about other organizations that might like books. I'd like to stick to children's organizations that will really use them. I'm going to put that out there. I am sure I will find something. But the best part of this is that I got $44.75 worth of merchandise for $2.40, the sales tax!!! Some of them were even educational workbooks.

For dinner, we are doing Quizno's - B1G1Free strikes again. I have sweet potato fries in the oven. I cut them up about a week ago so it was very convenient. Just add some more oil, salt and the spices; shake and pour onto a cookie sheet. They will finish up cooking while DH goes for the subs. We'll also have some Waldorf salad that's in the fridge. After all this running around, I'm not in the mood to cook. I just sent DH out to get the subs with my request written on the back of an already used on one side half sheet of scratch paper. Use it up completely before tossing it out...in line with the theme of less garbage here at our house for the new year.
He originallly suggested we get dinner from our favorite Italian place. I was tempted, but dinner for $8 sounded much more reasonable than dinner for $30+. He agreed.

I do realize that getting food to go does create more garbage from the packaging. But its a trade off and subs dont create a large volume of trash, just the paper. We usually find another use for the plastic bag. If I start cross examining all my actions like this, I will have to live in a cave and weave my own shirts to stop from going insane!!!

Overall, this has been a very productive day by my standards. We've succumbed to a wave of procrastination around here with the holidays so nothing much got done during the weekend. Trying to squeeze it in during the week during lunch and after work is just crazy making. And today my energy levels held up pretty well considering that I am recovering from a cold that knocked me off my feet.

After dinner, I am lighting the fire with my popping dryer lint. Might actually do that before we eat and have dinner in front of the fire place... After that I'm going to read for a while and then watch British Comedy on PBS. We dont have cable and I LOVE the way the Brits use the English language. They are usually all re-runs from about ten years ago, but nice brain candy for entertainment, free entertainment that is. Besides, its the only channel that comes in. With the fire and three cats curled up, the effect is most relaxing.

Illin' again

January 13th, 2006 at 08:59 pm

Day two at home. It feels like the flu with general body aches, but I also have something sinus related going on. I'm rinsing with saline (SinuCleanse that I purchased in bulk at a very reduced price last fall. So glad to have it on hand rather than running around looking for a good deal.) That and a whole lot of sleeping should do the trick. I dont look forward to spending my three day weekend in bed, but I guess if that is what it takes, that is what it takes.

In a moment of stir craziness I talked DH to coming to run a couple of errands with me. He drove b/c I literally feel weak in the knees. We went to the health food coop ($35.xx) and the grocery store ($4.00). The coop had their amazing holiday pies on sale, so we got three. They have no trans fats, all organic, etc. We save them as a treat. We are considering ordering a case just to have them on hand when the store no longer carries them.

I need to start tracking grocery prices again. I know we are way down from what we were spending this fall, but I would like to see just how low we can go. We are making a concerted effort to eat more at home. We've been out a couple of times, but usually have a B1G1Free coupon when we go.

I am collecting $1.00 coupons for SwheatScoop in the health magazines that the coop offers. PetCo/PetSmart has the litter on sale from time to time so I use them then. Its still expensive stuff, but I prefer it. Its easier to clean up than clay and a good deal lighter too. It just seems healthier because it has less dust.

To keep me from going totally insane with boredom, I'm going to search the public library website for some of the titles that have been mentioned in other posts - The Introvert Advantage and Stop Working, Start Living. I have a list of some others that have caught my eye. I try not to let that list get too long otherwise it feels like it gets out of hand. Depending on how I feel, I may go pick them up tomorrow.

Recieved a $10 off coupon in the mail from The Vitamin Shoppe. I used to order from them, but went to a competitor. I'm going to compare prices, which are pretty much the same between the two. But with the coupon, VS is a better deal. Shipping is the same at both places. $5.

I bit the bullet and made a huge payment on my Discover card - $825. I have two other items budgeted for until the end of the month. I really want to get this card paid off. Its one of three. When I make these huge payments, I realize that I could be putting this money toward retirement and getting off the treadmill sooner rather than later. As it is, the pay off date keeps getting farther and farther out. My own fault, I know. But I am working on it and I do feel a bit more motivated this year.

Really, nothing hot, hip or happening to report. Just the rantings of a sick woman who is really, really bored with sleeping 20 hours a day.

Candle wax and dryer lint

January 13th, 2006 at 02:16 am

These two items make the best fire starters. Yes, feeling a little odd confessing to saving dryer lint here, but its part of a larger movement to create less garbage in our household. The volume of trash that we create appalls me and I'm always looking for ways to reduce that, no matter how small it may be.

My Christmas present from DH this year was a reflector for the fireplace. Its a three sided piece of stainless steel that is bent like a U. It is inserted into the fire place along the back and sides, behind the logs and the flames. It arrived today via UPS and we are trying it out at this very minute. I think it is making a difference, reflecting back some of the heat that would normally go up the chimney.

I've gotten into the habit of telling DH that each and every fire we enjoy was brought to us by dryer lint. He rolls his eyes and tells me that's sort of gross. It is extremely flammable and it gets the fire started better than anything else we've tried and its free. Throw in a couple of wax chips from old candles are it really goes. Since I've been dropping the gentle reminders, he's confessed to me that he saves it too when he's done with his laundry. He felt sheepish too.

This all came about one day when I was trying to find uses for the things we had on hand. It was sort of a solution looking for a problem, but I like to think it is a small step closer to putting fewer things into the landfill. Sometimes I think about the pioneers who had to be self sufficient and could not afford the luxury of tossing things into the landfill. Combine that with depression era grandparents and it spurs one on to be a bit unconventional from time to time.

We have friends who are potters and they have used ashes to make glazes for their pots. Its a lot of work and I think that when they put out the call for ashes, they had so many responses, they had to begin refusing the bounty everyone offered.

I was home ill today. Normally a sick day automatically equates into a no spend day, but that was not the case today. I've been looking for some shoes...always seem to be looking for shoes. I want something that is extrememly comfortable, but sporty, that I can wear with pants or a skirt. This is one area where I cannot, will not skimp on quality. When my feet hurt, my whole body hurts. So, off to Zappos.com. I'd been browsing their site a couple of months ago and had about half a dozen things in my basket. One item was no longer available, so deleted that. In the end I placed an order for $289, but I know that one pair is going back for sure. I ordered one style in two sizes so I can compare the fit without having to wait for a replacement. They were Mary Janes and I ordered a third pair in a similar style. So that is two pairs that will be going back. In the end I expect to spend about 100 for two, maybe three, pairs of shoes. Not bad when you consider they were all on sale and the original price for each pair was over 70 or 80. AND, shipping is free both ways, even on returns. Cant beat a deal like that.

I bought some Tevas for $25. We too are planning a trip to Mexico, probably in March for spring break. My MIL is renting an apartment and we'll stay with her. I am looking forward to a break and some time away. We have pretty warm weather and lots of sun year round where we live, but the idea of getting away really appeals to me now. She is on the ocean and water shoes are mandatory. We are in the desert, so the ocean will be a nice change. We are considering driving. Its about a ten hour drive??? Its doable in one day if you leave early and really push. I have the vacation time to take at work. Since they arent paying me anywhere near market value for the work I do, am going to take full advantage of the vacation perk...stoke (sp?) up the sanity again.

The better part of the day has been about lounging around and sleeping in my highly maternal looking plaid nightshirt that I got for $3 at the super cheap store. Its not very flattering, but because it was so cheap, I swear it feels more comfortable than all my other pj's. DH sort of rolls his upper lip in a snear when he sees it. He hates plaid. I think his dislike for plaid is overshadowing any possible appreciation he might have for the amazing deal that I got. But to give credit where its due...he is saving dryer lint.

Payday and a reality check

January 12th, 2006 at 12:45 am

Well, today isnt technically payday, but our electronic paystubs are available on-line. So I have sat down with The Spreadsheet and started figuring out where the bulk of it will go. I've budgeted for bills and those are covered. The remaining amount is allocated for the Discover card. My goal is to pay $990 on it this month. And if I am very, very good, I will be able to do that.

I am even more determined as my boss started mentioning money. I'm on soft money, so they may need to find another source to pay me from, which I completely trust him to do. He's a great boss that way. But it also put a little bee in my bonnet about how tentative this whole thing is. I've always been on soft money and they always find a way to pay me, but I would get a whole lot less stressed out if I knew I had a big, fat cushion to fall back on. Without freaking out over it, I need to keep that in perspective to motivate me during the coming year when the momentum lags.

Spending for today:
9.00 - lunch for a friend who's job is ending b/c she was on soft money
4.XX - lint brushes and a Coke at the Dollar Tree. DH paid.

Last night after dinner we went to the mall to get some walking in. Ran some errands while we were there:

-52.49 - returned the dust skirt at JCP
18.25 - Vitamin World - had a B1G1 free coupon. Made out great on one item; not so well on the other. I dont think I will be going back regularly unless they have some sale that is amazing. Prices were high, very high and with all the sales, it seems more like gambling than anything else. In other words, I dont want to have to work that hard to follow their sales and track their prices when I'm not sure about the quality of their products. This makes it difficult to purchase regularly used items there.
Also, I had checked the prices of their website to get a general idea of the range, and when I got there, they seemed to be considerably higher. But, they did give me a sample of some chewable Vitamin C that I really like. I'll do some comparison shopping and see what I find. I do still have two more B1G1 coupons which may tilt the scale in their favor....I'd like to keep a bottle in my desk at work. They are good for you and I like the way they taste - good to have on hand for snacking???

Tonight is leftovers as we have a fridge that is packed with good stuff. I also brought home some work to do and would like to get a start on that since I dont have to cook.

Tomorrow my friend and I are going to the cheap, cheap store. She thinks they may have a new shipment of clothing coming in. Its work a look. The clothes I bought yesterday all fit me and look goooooood, and $20 for four items is so reasonable that I'm willing to do the work of digging (oh, the sacrifice!!) just in case something else comes in.

Fantastic lunchtime deals

January 11th, 2006 at 02:03 am

spending today:

Discount, discoutn store: $9.59 (20.29-10.70 store credit
Dollar tree $6.xx

Total: less than $16.00

At lunch I went with a friend to the very discounted store we seem to have luck at. I found two cotton sweat jackets in funky green and the other was pink. They were $6 each. I also found the most unsexy flannel night gown for $3. And then a thin fleece throw for another $3. You really have to dig at this place, but when you find, the prices are amazing. I seem to find more when I go with my friend. I think I take more time to look and we note things the other might like.

Then we went to the Dollar Tree and I found a handful of small housy things I'd been looking for.
I'm quite pleased with my treasures and the small amount that I spent.

My pay stub isnt available online yet Frown I wanted to start balancing the spreadsheet and writing bills out. Not too many bills this time, but I want to put down a large chunk on my Discover. It should be there tomorrow.

Dinner tonight is from the freezer. Bacon wrapped shrimp; which I made myself. We saw them at Sams on Sat and I was tempted to get them. They came out to .75/oz or $12 per pound!!! I was able to make them for .38/oz or 5.99 per pound. That is half the price. Such a deal.

They are in the oven now and starting to smell good. We are also having Waldorf salad. I didnt keep track of the prices or weights, so cant calculate the cost. I did run out of mayo though and just added extra white wine vinegar (organic, .99, from Big Lots) and went a little heavy on the sucanet. Its a little tart, but that's how we like it. So I saved on a trip to the store. I debated stopping on my way home from work, but was tired and just wanted to get home. Its on the list for the weekend and I think it might be a large purchase. The items we need arent on sale.

No other financial insights today.

No spending Monday

January 10th, 2006 at 12:19 am

I was half heartedly tempted to run some errands after work, but was feeling lazy. Instead, I am making a list and will run all of them this weekend. Since I get paid in Friday, I will be more likely to make my purchases with cash. So far the list is short - one return, a B1G1F at the vitamin store and some oatmeal at the food coop. I could probably order the oatmeal online and get it cheaper...will investigate. But overall, the focus is not on spending and acquiring; the few things I am considering purchasing have coupons associated with them.

DH went to purchase his shelves only to find that they were on sale - at 50% off!!! That's better than the three coupons I found for him at 40%. He was lucky he went when he did, because there were only three left. I'm glad that turned out. Now we can start moving more things around and decorating with items that were just sitting around collecting dust. Now they will tastefully collect dust and they will be called "decor."

The first day back at work reaffirmed that I work for crazy people. Absolutely drunk with their own self importance. But I am going to continue to do my best at the tasks assigned to me. I love the work. I'm eager to complete this phase of the project so I can move beyond this bunch and start working with other bunches (from what I've seen they are a bit more in touch with the mainstream.)
Funny thing, being at work did not make me yearn for retirement. Its only when I'm at home....

For dinner I think we are getting Quiznos subs. They had a B1G1f coupon in the paper. So now we have three of those. The rest of the evening will be about cleaning up, getting ready for tomorrow and starting some projects, like sewing pillow cases or taking in a shirt. Absolutely nothing resembling academic studies!!!

Change in spending perceptions

January 9th, 2006 at 03:43 am

Spending for today:

My money
Joanne Fabrics: 1.92 (saved 40%) cat fuzzies
Walgreens: 12.88 (saved 7.87 w/ sales and coupons) soap and shampoo to donate to those less fortunate
Target: 8.31 (saved 4.50 in coupons and all items were on sale) laundry detergent
Post Office: 8.10 sent a book and an NM calendar to neice and a little something to a friend

How I spent DH's money:
Albertsons: 11.07 (saved 12.00) Luna bars. They are on sale for .69 ea; normally 1.49. I wonder if they are clearancing them out or just moving the stock along.
Kmart: 6.72 (saved 3.17 w/ sales and coupons) Shampoo for DH and a couple of bottles to be donated
Albertsons: 6.89 (saved 4.19) more Luna bars; different flavors were on sale at different locations. go figure...

My total spending 31.21
My total saving: 13.45

DH spending: 24. 68
DH saving: 19.36

Pretty good, I would say. Especially since these are pretty much the errands for the week. I'm rather pleased with myself. I've saved a good deal of money and I wont need to go running around during the week.

Through the family, DH has inherited three lovely mantle (sp?) clocks. Two work, one doesnt, but we would like display them. Since none of them are really our style and none will fit on the mantles that we have, he wants to put them on shelves in the master bedroom as a group.

He was looking at shelves, but the ones he loves are $30 apiece. A bit much for shelves. So, I advised him to hold off and I would keep my eyes open for a sale or maybe we could consider an alternative. When we went out pricing furniture we kept our eyes open, but found nothing.

Well, surprise, surprise!! There was a 40% off coupon in today's paper for Hobby Lobby where DH originally found the shelves he really, really likes. It will save $12 on one shelf, so I went out and bought two more newspapers. For $2.50 (1.25 ea.) we will be saving $24 on the purchase of two more shelves for the clocks. I am so pleased with this. That will be a $36 savings total. $90 shelves for about $54. The coupons are valid for four days and I've advised DH to get to the store at 10:00 sharp and press his nose up against the glass of the door if he has to. Then I'll go later with him and get the other two. One coupon per person per day, blah, blah, blah. Details to be worked around.

We are really, really hoping that they havent decided to mark these shelved down by 15%, which would then cancel out the coupon as it can only be used on full price items. I dont usually shop at this store, because I think everything is over priced and knicky knacky stuff that collects dust. We shall see. I feel these are some tricksy people we are dealing with here.

The other overhaul that the price book and price watching has brought is how we are percieving the value of the items we find. DH came with me yesterday to run errands. We did not spend a lot of money, but did get a lot of stuff. We went to two or three stores. When we got home, I totaled up the spending and announced the grand total. DH's comment was; "All that running around and that was all we spent?" I had to laugh. Like we have to spend a lot to justify all the running around? That seems counter productive - if you run around alot, the bill should be big to justify it.

But today as I was running around, I found myself thinking the same sort of thing. I'm doing all this running around and not spending very much money. I need to sort that one out. I would like to be more jubilant about my conquests. I should be beaming from the major hauls I am bringing home and the small amount of my hard earned money I am parting with. Really need to get some insight into that one.

On other fronts, I finished a scarf that I started knitting months ago. My office at work is very cold and since I am going back tomorrow, I want to wear it. It needed more yarn than I expected, so it was more expensive, but its gorgeous and I dont think I could have found anything like it for the price of the materials. ($16) The knitting part was actually fun and relaxing.

The JCP order I placed a couple of days ago arrived yesterday. They are having a sale on linens. Flannel sheets are 50% off. They are also offering $25 off orders over $100. Since we like flannel sheets in the summer and our cat chewed up all the fitted sheets that we had (they were old and wearing thin. He sort of did us a favor.) I ordered some. Also ordered two twin flat sheets to make more pillow cases.

Today was spent washing those and changing linens on all beds. Definately going to return the $50 dust ruffle. The one from Bed Bath Beyond for $32 is already washed and on the bed to our satisfaction.

It seems like we've been doing a lot of spending lately, but I think we are pretty much over it for a while. I have an internet order from Vitaminlife.com that I am expecting, but after that, the focus is going to turn inward to using what we already have. That is one of the goals for the new year, so I need to get going on it.

Well, off to put in the finishing touches and to get ready for the world of work again tomorrow. Oh, my heart feels heavy....

Maximizing on deals via the price book.

January 8th, 2006 at 06:25 am

Spending today:
Lowe's: -6.17 returned rope from the cat tree project; bought one too many rolls.

We also went to Big Lots where we found Ghiradelli Chocolate chips for $1.99 a bag. And some Italian pasta for .54 a pound. We picked up three, hoping they will be good. I've never found Italian pasta to be bad. I should make up some spaghetti in the next couple of days and if its good, go back and stock up. That is a great price, but you never know how long the deals will be around.

Also ran into Sam's for two items. Ended up coming out with about half a dozen, but all things we will use. I did the math and the veggie lasagna is the cheapest frozen food item we splurge on at $2.00/lb. The only thing cheaper was Essensia frozen pizza, but neither of us really cared for it, so its not a repeat performance.

Overall, we didnt spend a lot on our outings, but I know for certain that we got great deals on the items that we did buy because I compared prices in the price book. I am sooo grooving on this thing. I see myself becoming a bit zealous in my enjoyment....I tell my friends about what I'm doing and either 1) they dont get it or 2) this is more likely, they are too lazy or dont care enough to set one up for where they live.

Tomorrow is my last day of vacation/freedom. Monday the cycle starts all over again. Friday is payday and that sort of motivates me to bite the bullet, go in, be a trooper; even though I know it will be one hectic day.
Tomorrow I'll start settling into the routine, do some laundry, read the paper, run some errands and make sure things are ready for the week ahead. Our fridge is full of amazing leftovers. I've been cooking again now that I have the time. That means there are lots of good things to bring in my lunch all week. That's one area of stress eliminated.

I was doing very well with brining my lunch from home last year, especially toward the end. I think this year it will also be pretty easy to maintain that habit. I love to see my pay stub every two weeks when it has no deductions from at work spending.

Too tire for more. Would like to start going to bed before midnight if I'm going to get up at 6:00 again. So looking forward to retirement and sleeping in as a way of life....................................

Resisting temptation

January 7th, 2006 at 02:20 am

Today was a no spend day!! Been a while. Of course, I did not leave the house, which contributes greatly when resisting the urge to spend. I find that if I dress in very, very casual clothes in the morning I am less likely to leave the house and therefore more likely to avoid the tempation to just wander about and find myself in places to spend money.

I will probably need to go to Sams tomorrow and may (more than likely) stop at BigLots. They had Ghiradelli chocolate chips on sale for 1.99 a bag. We just eat them out of the bag and they are sooooo good. I will also need to return some videos at Blockbuster by then.

DH and I had our official Christmas dinner tonight, the big feast. Ham, stuffing, cranberries, sweet potato fries and cucumber salad. We didnt get to it on the 25th for reasons beyond our control. But it felt so good to sit down to a wonderful dinner tonight. I cleaned out the fridge for the stuffing - bread crusts, flax seeds and zucinni from the summer that I had sliced and frozen. Even threw in a couple of Asian pears that were about to turn the corner of no return. It turned out great. DH liked it and there was even enough left over to freeze. I'm eyeing up the ham next. I'll let DH snack on that for a couple of days and then will freeze what he doesnt get to right away. I'm already dreaming about ham and bean soup....mmmmm....

The better part of the day was spent preparing food and reading in between the buzzer going off and stirring the various pots. Did four loads of laundry, but used the dryer. Not set up to line dry. Ran a load in the dishwasher and we are finally taking down the Christmas lights. Very low-keyed day. I think we are watching a movie tonight and having our desert- apple pie and ice cream. I really like these days when things are quiet and focused on things we can do at home. It makes me yearn, yearn, yearn for the financial freedom to retire early and stay home. Not looking forward to going back to work on Monday....

Grcoery savings due to price book!!!

January 6th, 2006 at 04:36 am

Today's spending:
Albertsons: 19.45 cat litter - saved 9.00. Stocked up. This is THE lowest price I've found at .21 per pound on scoopable litter. They have it on sale two or three times a year and when they do, I always try to buy extra. The real trick is to time it so I buy enough to last between sales...

Albertsons groceries: 23.39 - saved 25.07!!!! We saved more than we spent. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but it is a first EVER and that reciept is going on the fridge for all to stare at in awe and wonderment.

I think it was due to the fact that I gleaned the info in my price book last night before looking through the ALB sales flyer. I was able to purchase pre-made apple juice for almost the same price as concentrate; the difference was one one hundredth of a cent per ounce. I am grooving on the price book!!!

We also got a coupon for a free Pria bar at the check out. DH likes those. We snack on a lot of bars when we crave something sweet. They are a little better than chocolate and generally satisfy the cravings. Generally.

Speaking of the price book, baselle, I could not use the Handy Shopper software. My PDA is one generation before the version the software was written for Frown However, I have bookmarked the site and should I get an upgraded unit, I will revisit the issue. Thanks again for the heads up.

We dropped a load of books off at the used bookstore. They give instore credits. Its the sort of place you have to go to from time to time as things change just enough to keep it interesting. We also dropped off nearly all of our CD's. DH is ripping everything off the disks and putting them on his computer. My credit should be pretty hefty now. I want to find books for my niece and nephews about the area I live in and send to them. I also want to find as many books as I can in Spanish and send those off with the people who build houses in Mexico. It makes me feel that someone else is benefitting from the things I am no longer using.

We took a small load of things like old clothes, pails from laundry detergent and cat litter (the big, heavy plastic ones), an old filing cabinet and some other smaller things to the people who go to Mexico so they can share the wealth. I like knowing that these things are going to someone who can use them and, hopefullly, are staying out of the landfill. The poverty stops me in my tracks everytime I see it.

Furniture pricing was not so fruitful. We went to an import place. It seems that the prices have suddenly doubled since we were last there about six months ago. I think that more and more people are finding out about this place. We will find a couple of other import places to do some research and compare prices. The inventories are always changing so since we didnt find anything we really liked this time, we'll go back again in a couple of months.

We took a detour to Bed Bath and Beyond. I had a 20% off coupon from the Sunday paper; I carry these things with me "just in case". We found a king tailored dust ruffle for $32 ($40-$8 discount). This is amazing because we've been looking all over the place for bedskirts period. Then to find one that matched the bedspread was wonderful. But, to get it at a disounted price just sweetened the deal; especially since I had just ordered one from JCP for $50. I think that one will have to be returned at the store. We'll see how that color matches though before making the final decision. At least the one at JCP can be returned at the store which will save on postage. There were other items on the order and I had a $25 off coupon. Saved some, but postage would have been less had I not ordered the bedskirt. Live and learn.

Overall, it was a so so day as far as deals go. We did well with the numbers, but my heart wasnt in the shopping and spending experience. Maybe I'm not ready to spend that sort of money on furniture when we are getting by just fine with what we currently have. Buying new stuff right now feels superfluous and wasteful. Maybe that will change, maybe not. I just know that when I was looking at things today, the iron fisted grasp I had on my purse got tighter and tighter and I thought "There is no way I am parting with any of my cash for any of this stuff." A very large internal switch has flipped. I hope it gets rusted over into this new position until all my debt is payed off.

The rest of this week should be very quiet. I have nothing planned other than a large stack of books I would like to get started on. No trips out planned. Certainly no spending planned. I am already dreading Monday. But we do get paid on the 13th, so that makes the week a little easier to bear; some incentive to go to work.

Only planned spending today

January 5th, 2006 at 03:16 am

Spending today: $60 for a massage and some cranial sacral work from a therapist I have been going to for at least two years now. She's fantastic and as long as there is stress in my life, I will find the money to see her.

That was the high point of the day. The session sort of put me out of commission (sp?) but I am taking that as a sign to slow down and (twist my arm) that is just what I did today.

Dinner tonight was tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches - both very good and from items on hand. I always try to add leftover rice and some Italian seasoning to the soup, which makes it taste like something from a fancy cookbook. The grilled cheese were your run of the mill. DH broke out the Polish Dill Pickles which rounded out the culinary experience. It was all from the fridge or cupboards.

We sat down last night and had a quick chat about money. DH is a bit stressed about it right now, but is williing to cut back on some of the things we do like going out to dinner at the slightest prompting. I told him that all I need is his help planning the menu every three or four days and I will take care of the rest. He grumbled a little, but agrees it is a pretty good system and is willing to be more helpful from this point forward. I only plan four or five days out at the most; to allow for change in plans and the chance to incorporate leftovers should we have any. It also allows me the flexibility to use up things I randomly find on sale or at the farmer's market, changes in moods and tastes, etc. I dont like to be locked into anything. That really takes the fun out of it.

I've spent the better part of the last two days entering data into my price book spreadsheet. Thank you baselle for the links (again) I checked them out and see that there is a Pocket PC version. DH will read over the details and install for me. Then, I hope to be able to import the data and "massage" it a bit to make it work with the software. An electronic version certainly would be nice as I have 9 pages of prices at this point. I was going to print it out and carry it with me, but its huge. I will work with the electronic version and see how that works.

The most impressive thing about entering all this data into one big spreadsheet was cross comparing the unit prices. The frozen taquitos that we get once in a while when they are on sale are way more expensive than even frozen pizza. And just the massive gaps in prices between the same items was enough to get me re-motivated to compare and not settle for a mediocre deal. It was an eye opener and I am going to have fun finding the best deals for my money in the new year. I dont consider my tactics hard core at this point, but I know I've already saved us a lot of money by comparing prices. I am looking forward to seeing how much we save when I do get hard core!

No other major money events to report today. So I will end before I start to ramble. Tomorrow we are going to the big city down the road to do some furniture pricing. DH needs to get some shelves. We know what we want, but arent finding anything locally. I am foregoing the clothing stores. Not really in the mood and dont need anything at this point.

Heavy Spending Monday

January 4th, 2006 at 12:03 am

Spending for today:

Trip to vet for two cats: $199.50
B1G1 Free Kiva Juice smoothie: $4.00 I treated DH as he forgot his cash at home. He offered to buy it on the cc, but I said no way.
Lowe's - 600 ft. sisal rope for the scratching post on the cat tree: $30.87 (one or two rolls may be returned; will see how much project needs)

Blockbuster: $10.xx for three movies and 2.41 in late fees (DH's) Had a coupon for free rental in January.
Albertson's: $27.01 (saved $14.71 with sales and coupons) DH paid and was impressed with the amount of food we got for that price. This has motivated me to update my price book and to expand my entries, so I have more information to use when comparing prices. He likes to see how much we save and likes to know we are getting the most stuff for our money. He will compare prices, but if I have it in black and white in the book, its easier to keep him on track as well.

I know baselle mentioned this before, and there has been some discussion, but can anyone recommend a good price book program for the PC or pocket PC? I could put together a database, but if there is something already out there, it would save me the work. The data entry alone is going to be a killer.

So far, feeling very motivated about keeping financial things on track. I finally have the time to focus on the details.

Tomorrow I am getting a massage. I am soo looking forward to that. I have some other errands to run, but nothing critical so if I dont get to them its not a big deal. I am still on vacation, and stress from artificially imposed limitations is not allowed.

Tonight dinner is out of the freezer again. DH is having keilbasa, split pea soup and mixed veggies with terryaki (sp?) sauce - all his choice. I'm having leftovers from last night - shrimp and sweet potatoes. They both turned out fantastically well. Now is the time of year to be using the oven.

I think we are going to watch a movie after dinner.

Try this one more time...a ramble

January 3rd, 2006 at 01:49 am

Its the new year. I havent written out specific goals, rather have been doing lots of math to see the various options for how things could go in the coming year. The option I'm going with presents the best case scenario, of course.

I feel like I've really botched the past year regarding my financial situation. In other words, I have no significant progress to report in this entry. Overall, the numbers are honestly where they were last year at this time.

That is depressing considering all the effort I feel I've put forth. But, I do need to consider that I did have major health issues to deal with ($$$ mucho, mucho unplanned spending $$$)) and tremendous stress in all major areas of life. So in that light, staying in the same place is better than having things swinging out of control. In a more positive light, I could say that the past year was a trial run for success this year?? I'm not going to make any concrete promises here because I'm not sure what the new year has in store and I dont want to set myself up to promise what I cannot deliver.

So rather than details, I'm going to re-examine my motivations and create a lifestyle that will support those intentions for success. The goal is to set things up so that when all the rest of life goes to h*ll, the first impulse is to do something other than spend or undermine acheivements made up to that point.

I've restyled/redesinged the master spreadsheet to give me more feedback on paying off debt in the quickest way possible. Its set up to show me 1) how quickly I can pay off the total with the avalanche method and 2) how much progress I am making every month; sort of an immediate satisfaction/reward sort of thing. Think motivation.

Regardless of how I arrange the numbers, I want to stay motivated this year and get this taken care of. Should I stick to the plan this time, it will take about a year and a half to pay everything off, except the house, at a comfortable rate. (That is already on an accelerated payment plan. We are paying what we did for rent $660 when our mortgage is only *500. Also made a huge downpayment and got a 15 year with an amazingly low rate. So we are set up on this one.)

I get sidetracked when I am stressed. So over the holiday vacation I have been cultivating inexpensive, slower paced hobbies that I have let languish. I knitted myself a scarf and have started reading the many books that have been collecting in the bookcase for "someday when I have more time". I've started writing again to sort my thoughts and slow down. I've been cleaning the house and organizing stuff. We've been in our house for two years now and with the remodelling we are now finally able to hang some of our painintgs and wall decor.

We are sorting through our meager music collection, putting it all on the computer and selling the CD's to the local used bookstore. More boxes are unpacked and more stuff going out the door. I feel like I repeat myself by always bringing this up again and again, but we are still in the process of unpacking. When we moved in we unpacked the barest of neccessities and stored all the rest of it in the back room. The house is functional, but the walls are bare, bare, bare. We've been getting to it 1) when we arent remodeling and 2) when we need something specific. Now I have time to enjoy what we have and actually use it to decorate the house rather than daydreaming about the ideal home we could have. Putting plans into action is so much less stressful than sitting still and daydreaming about it. The challenge is to make the old stuff fit into the new places and spaces in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

The funny thing is that we are not packrats. Rather I am in a minimalist frame of mind and DH is sympatico. We have a large house for two people. The rooms are sort of funky, but they are huge. Our goal is to keep the spaces open rather than fill them with furniture. So when we come across something that we havent missed or yearned for in two years, we donate it to someone else who may really need it. And since we moved EVERYTHING from the midwest, we have a reasonable amount of stuff to unpack and sort out. And the second part of unpacking is organizing all of it to make sure you have what you need when you need it. This is also another way to prevent wasting what you already have by not overlooking resources.

And over the break, I've had time to clean!! What a difference that can make. Finding things that got put in the back of the cupboards is a cheap thrill that is way underrated. But the best part is finding new uses for old things. I should have kept track, but I've found lots of ways to use old things around here for purposes that I would normally need to purchase a specific device for. Sounds vague...sorry no examples. But in the end it means less clutter and no spending.

I've recently started writing to a niece on my side of the family that I've not had much contact with. She's about ten. So I will be reviving the long lost art of letter writing on my end. And looking for neat little things to send her through the mail that will inform and educate her about this part of the country. I'm looking forward to this.

DH and I have agreed to take the fifteen walk downtown every month to pay our water and electric bills this year. Not much of a savings on the postage, but the walk will do us good. (Took us two years to come to this conclusion Wink)

Today was a no spend day as I had no reason to leave the house. Smile Tomorrow the cats go to the vet. Read MONEY!! Wednesday I am going for a massage. This was budgeted and I am going to enjoy every bleedin' minute of it. Thursday we may go to El Paso for some shopping. Definately for some looking. We need furniture and want to see what is available and what the prices are. (We are still enjoying our "college days/family hand me down" furniture. And actually are in no hurry to replace it now that I think of it.) We are going to go out to dinner b/c the restaurants there are generally nicer than the ones available to us locally. We keep a list on the fridge of all the things we want to do and then map it out so we aren't running all over the place. Saves on gas and sanity.

Hopefully the rest of the week around these things will be quiet. No shopping trips are planned. All the on-line shopping has been done and I want to focus on things that can be done here at home. I'm avoiding any websites that might be tempting. All catalogs go in the garbage immediately to prevent temptation. And haven't bitten any "after Christmas sale" leads. We soooo dont need anything. The plan is to continue with the clean up/ sort out/ un-stuffing of the boxes and the house in general.

To summarize this meandering tirade...I think the theme for this year is to slow down and want what I already have. When I'm in mega-hyper-overdrive, which had become the norm for the past six months, there is no time to appreciate what one has already done. It also puts one off center and, I believe, more susceptible to the sirens of our consumeristc culture. I want to step back this year and let the rush go by as I reassemble the sanity I know I can rediscover and re-establish.

(Cross fingers here)

p.s. Dinner is out of the freezer tonight - something I soooo look forward to doing again on a regular basis. Shrimp scampi and sweet potato fries, oven fried with herbs de provence and sea salt.

p.p.s. On the 30th I opened up a savings account with $100 here in town. My checking account is still in the midwest. I have two boxes of checks to use and then will give serious consideration to moving all accounts here. This will make it easierr to deposit small amounts that come in randomly, i.e. rebates, reimbursements. Up until now I've been mailing them in. My paycheck is directly deposited, so the need hasnt been very urgent to make the transition. Money and banking have always been "out there somewhere" and rather nebulous. I hope that having an account here in town where I can walk fifteen minutes to the nearest bank, will also be another factor in motivating me to add regularly to my savings.

Nearly a no spend saturday

December 11th, 2005 at 03:31 am

Today was a lazy, almost no spend day. We slept in and then just could not get moving. I puttered around the house, washed some dishes, made some chicken broth and wrapped a few gifts. Then I spent $8.XX to mail them out priority mail. I love the automated mail station we have our post office. You weigh the package and it prints out the label and you put it in the box. Its open at all hours, so when you want to mail out a package on the way to a Christmas party, you can do that. I just realized that the only options they give you are Priority mail or overnight - all the more expensive options. Hmmmmmm.

And that is just what we did this evening. We had a work thing to go to. It was okay. DH and I were the youngest people there and had no desire to do the social thing. But we sucked it up and went anyway. Found out that DH needs some more semi-dress pants. That is on the list of things to do tomorrow. JCP is having a sale and I have coupons. He will have to take a coupld of pairs in to the dry cleaners so they are ready the next time we have to go to one of these events.

Tomorrow will be a dayof errands to make up for all the things I did not do today. Just lots of little things like getting pumps for my shampoo bottles at the beauty supply store. I'm sure I wont spend a lot or at least that is the plan.

I havent mustererd up the passion needed to clean the house yet. Not sure when that will kick in.

I've already sat down and allocated funds for my next paycheck. These past two months have been expensive. I'm still able to pay everything and have money left over, but its going out much more quickly than I want it to. Gotta get motivated to get back on track. Frustration as this seems to be a never ending issue.

TGIF

December 10th, 2005 at 01:19 am

Minimal spending today.

$55 - massage to cope with all the stress that happens at the end of the semester
$1.92 - more cat fuzzies from Joanne Fabrics. Yes, I am stockpiling them. I am using some more 40-50% off coupons.

I turned in my final paper this morning. The prof was not in, so I slid it under the door. It took me all morning to get over the anxiety brought on by writing the thing in the first place.

Work was highly unproductive. I could not focus on anything, so did what I could.

Tonight dinner is out of the freezer. I am looking forward to having the time to cook again and manage our resources more frugally. I am setting a goal for myself to not waste anything that is in the fridge. Find a way to put leftovers into good use. This will be a challenge I can meet.

Tomorrow will be errands and cleaning the house. I am soooo looking forward to it.

Thursday musings

December 9th, 2005 at 12:07 am

Today was a work at home day. I went in very early to take of some things I could not do remotely and then came right back home.

I didnt leave the house otherwise, so it was a no spend day. It was difficult to focus on work, so some household chores got done. I hang a wreath on our front door, did some dishes, got the bread machine going, cleaned out the fridge, etc. Those small sorts of things that can drive you crazy when they start piling up.

Tomorrow morning I hope to hand in my final project that is due this semester and then I am FREEE!!! I am looking forward to puttering around the house and getting it back into shape. This semester has been rough and I let the house work go far beyond my comfort zone.

Now that I will have more time I can cook again for DH and me. I've threatened that we are going to sit down after dinner and start the menu planning. We've been eating out a lot lately b/c I'm too busy adn too tired to cook after class in the evening. The freezer and cupboards are full of lots of good things for us to eat. Menu planning is in store for us tonight!

Tomorrow I have an appt that I did not budget for but badly need to go to. I get uncomfortable about spending when its not in the budget.

Thursday, one week from today, is payday. Looking forward to that. Not a lot of bills are due this pay period, so I will have more money to put on the cc's. Then I get paid again on the 22nd b/c my employer closes for the holidays. It is always nice to get two check nearly back to back but then its a long wait until the middle of January again. But as long as the bills are paid, I'm happy with it.

Off to do some writing...

checking in

December 6th, 2005 at 09:43 pm

Let's see...not much money stuff to report.

Since this weekend, I dont believe I've spent any money. Oh wait, I had to pay for some long distance calls I made at work - $.40. But it was nearly all the cash that I was carrying yesterday>

I've been way too busy to shop - even for the things we need around the house. I do have returns to make.

Last week I broke down and bought a new purse. I've been debating it for some time. But when I got it home and put all of my stuff in it, it didnt work out like I had hoped. So, I dug out an old favorite and found that I still really like it. It will work for a while unitl I find something after Christmas.

I also have a Lands End return to package and mail in. I ordered some pants and sweaters for work. Only one sweater looks very good. The rest was just too frumpy. I'll package it and send it off over the weekend.

Lots of sale flyers and catalogs are coming in these days. I look, but have been sticking to the things we need. Like cat litter - on sale at PetCo. Add that to the list of things to do, places to go. I also have three $1 coupons that expire at the end of the year, so I have clipped those to the list. Target used to sell the brand we use here, but they replaced it with their own brand. They had one of the best prices too.

A special order came in at the healthfood store - the overpriced epsom salt. I still cringe at that mistake. But I will get over it and start using it.

Its been very cold here in southern NM. The predictions are that it will be a very cold winter and utility costs will be going up. We've already shut off one of the back rooms that we dont use. I will be covering our windows with plastic when I am on vacation.

So looking forward to some time off over the holidays. And to be done with school!!!!

Very minor weekend spending

December 5th, 2005 at 12:17 am

The best laid plans...

I planned to hit a sale at JPC this weekend and use the coupons they sent me in the mail. Instead, lounged around the house in front of the fireplace and finally began writing THE FINAL paper this morning. Draft is due tomorrow. Final version due on Wednesday. Its going well. I have most of the research done, now I just need to do analysis.

Spending was way down this weekend.
Friday: Joanne fabrics - $2.03?? for fuzzy little pom poms. They make THE best cat toys. I had a 40% off coupon.
Saturday - $1.75ish for the same thing. I had a 50% off coupon.

I went back twice to get a second pack for a gift. Some friends also have cats and I'm going to send them a package of fuzzies for the new year.

Will probably go back two more times as I have two more coupons and I can walk there from work during my lunchhour. Its a good way to get exercise and run some errands.

Otherwise, DH and I ventured out for food yesterday. He bought. I had a coupon for a dollar off the smoothies he really likes No coupons this time around. I felt a littleguilty. Tonight we are going to the Harry Potter movie, also his treat. But we are eating leftovers, so no spending on food.

Minimal spending this weekend. I really want to sit down and commune with the master spreadsheet and update my goals. With classes ending, I've just been too busy. My desk is getting messy with reciepts and bills and misc paper about things I want to research. In due time, I guess.

stress makes me grumbly

December 1st, 2005 at 05:40 pm

To much stress and not enough sleep can really give a person an ugly disposition.

Spending for the day is already 23.16 from the health food store. It was mandatory that I pick up something herbal to calm my nerves. Two papers to write, one for this evening; the other for Monday night, but due on the 8th. I'm feeling better, in my own head at least. This is why I am not taking classes next semester. I cant do this anymore.

I'm working from home today. Though I couldnt do this on a regular basis, I do get more done from home. With a cup of tea and a hot bowl of oat meal in my tummy, I'm ready to get started. I take more frequent, but shorter breaks and just am more productive overall.

I have to go into campus this evening for class. If any work emergencies appear between now and then, I will take care of those as well. I think things will be quiet.

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