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Archive for April, 2005

Money vibes in the air

May 1st, 2005 at 06:30 am

First, a hearty thanks to the person who rated my rantings at four stars. Thank you!!! I know I am certainly enjoying the site - reading and contributing. The information, but also the sense of community, are strong motivators.

Its nearing the midnight hour and we should be sleeping soundly, but neither of us feels like it. Money has become a central point of discussion this evening. This is a major shift for us. A pleasant shift.

Tonight we went to see the hitchhiker's guide. Quite well done. Didnt read the book, but DH did. He said many things were left out, but for a nubie, it was entertaining. I came out of the theater feeling very well entertained.

Afterwards, we went to Taco Bell...a total impulse move. We didnt want to come home and face responsibilities, so we got terrible food that we will more than likely regret in the morning. I joked w/ DH that I was such a cheap date as the entire evening cost him about/ less than $25.

So, after coming home and chowing on very tasty/nasty fast food, we started talking about money. DH showed me the cc used strictly for groceries. That was an eye opener. I went to the discussion bd here to find out more about how much is should/would/could cost for a family of two. We are speding around $300-$350 per month. Disgustingly high. This does not include dining out, which we have cut back within the past two to three months. This was the perfect time for me to mention that those numbers could be reduced signigicantly WITH A LITTLE HELP IN MENU PLANNING - meaning his input and ideas for things he would like to eat. Point was well recieved. It was also a golden moment for reinforcing some of my quirky methods for saving money, i.e. making when DH would rather buy.

Then, further examination revealed a suspicious (sp?) monthly charge on his cc. Tracking it back, its been happening for some time. However, DH usually does not check his statements closely. I think that is about to change. I've caught mistakes on mine in the past and now I've learned to decipher the statements, thoroughly going over the fine print, etc.

And that is what is significant here. With just the minor changes I've been making, talking openly about my goals and how I am working toward them has indirectly had an impact. DH seems to be more aware that even though we are doing okay, with some changes, we can do even better. We both come from very frugal families. His family made it work; mine is still locked into the poverty mentallity. So, cutting back is not really new. It was just the issue that we never completely sorted out prior to getting married.

Currently, we keep our finances separate. I like it that way. I've seen too many women become financially tethered to failing relationships. Not that I expect to bail anytime soon...or ever for that matter. But life is unpredictable and should it ever come to that, I value my freedom.

Stepping down from the the soap box now... I am thrilled in the turn around and the general direction we are going to head off into. I would like to retire early or go down to part time within the next five years; once cc's are paid and house is paid too. May need a new car by then, but would like to pay in cash. I just want to be free of major expenses, get out of the rat race as much as possible and get on with the business of living. I'm in my late 30's (sounds so much better than "I'll be 37 next month.") Still a challenge to admit that I dont have it al together as I'd hoped at this point. Where does the time go?

I think its time to try some sleep. It's free!!!

card cancelled

April 30th, 2005 at 11:07 pm

I keep losing my posts. I type out my soul, then instead of submitting, I hit the back button or some button on the mouse, the screen refreshes and all is lost. Thankfully, none are literary jems, but I'm a bleeding web developer. Why am I having end user/browser interface issues? Am I going to pieces, becoming hyper-emotional over my financial state? Could be. My thinkin is impared. Could be all the electromagnetics send off by the CPU though.....

To the matter at hand...just got off the phone with cc co. Closed the card!!! One down, three more to go. It took about 3 months, maybe four to pay off $1700. This triumph is compromised since overall debt has increased during these first months of the year. However, I am confident that these small steps to clean things up are headed in the right direction. It didnt take a couple of days to get into debt. It will take a bit to get out of it.

Though not yet over, today looks like it will be a no-spend day. DH wants to see the hitchhiker movie. His treat. Will go tonight. Matinee is cheaper, but we are both working around the house, so evening works best.

Made dinner and dessert from the pantry. I could easily get into that routine. With some simple input from DH and a stack of recipes, finding quick, easy things to make after work, during the week could be doable. I notice the difference during the week when I am at work. If I take my lunch, my whole day goes so much more smoothly! I get good food, my tummy is happy and I dont have to pay extra for it.

But it takes time. That is always the battle - time or money.

No other news to report. Just a fantastic desire to part with less cash in the coming days.

Honeymoon over...plodding along

April 30th, 2005 at 01:19 am

I typed in my entry, then bumped the wrong button on my mouse. The screen refreshed and I lost the post. Probably a good thing, to be honest. It was a woah is me sort of thing.

Since I've been changing my wicked ways, my overall debt has continued to increase. (Though probably not as quickly as it previously was.) I am making large payments on the cc's and have cut wayyyyy back on the money I spend for food/drink at work. Its the rest of the budget that still needs an overhaul.

This month has been spendy for things that are needed around the house. There have been a couple of wants, but nothing like in March! But then I am discovering that things I thougt I needed could have been resolved less expensively after the money has been spent....grrr....really hate it when that happens.

I just transferred a large balance from 15% to 5% for one year. Did the math and the amount I will save is fantastic. I should either have it paid off in a year or be very, very close by the time the interest rate sky rockets.

I think the momentum of my spending is slowing. It will take just a bit more to actually turn in around and start heading just as boldly in the other direction.

Having been an absolute black belt tightwad in the past, spending NOTHING for several months at a time, I know I can do it again. I just need to get in the right frame of mind and that is where the challenge has been.

So while I feel a pang of regret, I'm nowhere near as freaked out about money as I used to be.
I have a solid job. The pay is okay - I can definately live on what I make, and pay off what I owe. Its just not as much as I would like it to be RIGHT NOW!!! But then, Rome wasnt built, blah, blah, blah.

This is the point where to novelty wears off and to truly change one's ways, you have to stick with it.

Dragging.... but persevering.....waiting two more weeks for payday....(I believe that is the real problem here.)

Yahoo!!! No spending day!!!

April 29th, 2005 at 12:33 am

Finally!!!

Do the jiggy dance!!!!

Saving spending until the weekend when I run errands.

Jiggy dance!!!!

more spending

April 28th, 2005 at 01:13 am

vet visit: 90.60 - but the cat is healthy and improving
lunch 3.22 - could not resist the soda/pastry combination, but it wasnt as good as the one I had yesterday.

Tomorrow has better potential for being a no-spend day.

The weekend also looks quiet. Will probably do some major cooking to have leftovers for lunch during the week.

Friday is payday, but all funding has been allocated. Now starts the long, hard wait until the next payday....

spending day

April 27th, 2005 at 03:21 am

Spending today:
presciption: $35 with copay!
soda and pastry: 3.22

I broke down today and spent on sugar laden, fru-fru, non-nutritious junk food. I had an exam and was sort of dragging afterwards. Thought it would pick me up. We know how that doesnt really work. So, it was purely an emotional purchase. These things, they happen.

But on a better note, I was in two stores today, Walgreens while waiting for my script and the coop for a special order, and while waiting for both, I felt absolutely no desire to look around and spend. At this point in my life, I truly feel like I have all that I want. Such a lovely place to be in.

Then I came home and made dinner. It turned out. I've been cooking for years and like to think I've attained some level of skill, but sometimes it's still a crap shoot. DH liked it. This means he will eat the leftovers.

Went on-line to see how much my check will be on Friday and began paying bills. I've rearranged my cc avalanche payment plan. Overall it will still take about the same amount of time, but this way I'm getting some of the smaller ones out of the way quicker. It will be good to have a success sooner rather than later. Will need to make some transfers to lower rates, but I need to do some research and see if balance transfer fees wont negate any savings made from lower interest rates.

The rest of the week looks so-so. Cat to go to the vet for a follow up. Couple of meetings at work. Will go on-line for some shopping this weekend.

Slowly, I am updating my wardrobe and actually buying things I LIKE to wear rather than just buying whatever is on-sale or the cheapest item. I've found that this lets me feel better about the clothes I own while actually needing fewer things in the closet.

Amazing what can be accomplished when one pays attention to the details.

Have to log off now. Been a long day...must sleep...

woohoo!!! no spend day

April 25th, 2005 at 11:06 pm

It feels wonderful!!! I resisted the temptation to buy chips and soda to go with my h/m lunch. Rather, I focused on my financial goals (pay off cards in about a year then travel) and it was very easy to be content with what I had brought for lunch.

On the drive home I was also very grateful for my little old car. Its showing its age and isnt a very sexy model to begin with, but it is paid for and I have never, ever had major mechanical problems with it.

Overall, a very good day in the saving forum. I reconsidered my goals after having lunch with a friend and reviewing this site and I believe saving wil be much easier from this point forward.

Sunday eve prep for the week

April 25th, 2005 at 01:21 am

Following the shock of the Discover card balance, I've started tracking everything I've spent this weekend. Wow!! When you aren't watching, the money really slips away quickly.

Today, I sat down with the Sunday paper, looked for the sales and through the coupons. Not many great sales, but there were a couple that we could use. So DH and I ran some errands. The most wonderful thing about the day was that I stuck to my lists. I was on a mission. I also was well aware of what we had at home and why I was buying the things that were on my list. Even sale items werent appealing. I did stray and get some pasta for .60 a pound, but that was it.

We've been using a lot of coupons lately, but only on items that we would buy anyway. Even DH likes to see how much we save compared to how much we spend. He's getting to the point where he asks if we have coupons before we buy groceries or think about going out to dinner.

Still need to get the rest of the things lined up for the week, i.e. what to wear, lunch, dinner menus, etc.

I've been paying attention to these details for about three weeks now. Well, I've always paid attention to these detials, but writing them down for all to see makes one feel a bit more accountalbe. Overall, I have to say that my daily routine is going much more smoothly and I feel some sanity returning.

Spending for today:
gas: 19.60
target: 11.11
albertsons: 28.98 (saved 16.71)
big lots: 5.74
albertsons: 27.85 (saved 15.49 - second transaction to take advantage of second $5.00 off $30 purchase)
walgreens: 5.48 (saved 2.99)

The week ahead looks promising, though not too many no spend days. But this will be for items other than food and beverages while at work. Those are already lined up. Spending will be bills and one lunch out. Friday is pay day!!!

Whirlwind

April 19th, 2005 at 01:48 am

My Discover statement just arrived via e-mail. OHMIGAWD!!! (gasp, gassp) Did I reaaly spend that much in the course of a single month!?!?! The sad part is that even with extra payments, way over the min, the amount I spent still exceeds the payments I have sent in. Reality check!!!

I thought I was doing very well with my no spend days. I think the statement reflects spending trends prior to changing my wicked ways. Ouch...to embarrassed to admit to the amount. I'll announce it when the card is pif.

The plan is still to have this card paid by November of this year. That is the goal and I'm sticking to it.

On Sundays I go through the paper, looking for sales and cutting the coupons. So today I am armed with a list of things I need (want). On the way home from work, I resisted the temptation to go shopping and buy. These are things that I'm going to try and do without for a bit. None of them is crucial. Plus, I would really like to pay cash from this point forward. So rather than turn off to Walgreens, the car kept going home.

On other fronts, I've decided to give my wardrobe a lift. I hate spending money on clothes, but need to look professional for work. I'm able to strike a balance with a pertetual casual Friday sort of look. It helps keep costs down, but still.... (whine) So, I.m giving myslef a budget of $50 per month for now. Today I purchased some shoes on-line at Zappos (love that site!!!) Very dangerous site...you can search for and find just about anything!!! The sandals will double for a family vacation in May. I feel less guilty.

The rest of my shopping will also be on-line. We have limited shopping options here and I've found that I end up spending money on things that either wear out after a season or they look like crap after one wash. So, I try to buy from Lands End/Eddie Bauer. Pricey, yes, but I love (and take advantage of) their return policy. Even if you've worn the items, they can be returned. In the long run, it does save me money. Local stores do not return worn items.

Went to the library last week and got a stack of books on local history. Tonight I'm taking a bath and settling in to read for a while. Clothes are ready for tomorrow and I'm off to pack a snack and lunch. Its so much easier when you're prepared.

three for three

April 14th, 2005 at 01:24 am

This has been the third of three no spend days. With some preparation its been pretty easy to do. I brought my lunch and tea from home and have stocked my desk drawer with Pria bars. No more visits to the vending machines if I can help it. Getting food while at work is a hassle. The selections are few and all are overpriced. Most are guaranteed to give you gut rot.

Today I was able to go on-line and see how much I will recieve on payday this Friday. Also took a good look at the spreadsheet I've been using to budget and project how long it will take me to pay of all cc's. The largest could be done by November without any additional charges. This is my goal. I've done this before, but have gotten off track recently, hence the current situation. Reading the postings on this site and a couple of others has really helped to motivate me to get on track. Also, today I was talking to someone I work with and just last year they had been traveling. This person makes less than I do and they have children yet traveling is something they can afford. It got me thinking seriously about what I will do once I am debt free.

I returned $52 worth of clothes at lunch on Monday. That felt really good.

There is a pleasant calmness that is slowly settling over our household as I am purchasing less and becoming more committed to using what we already have on hand. There is less clutter because there is less to put away or make room for. There is less scrambling to find what I am looking for. Its very pleasant. Am seriously considering a very minimalistic lifestyle once again...

home ill

April 12th, 2005 at 12:23 am

I stayed home today. Lounged around a lot and slept until I felt better. The trees here are doing their pollen thing and I've been dragging for a couple of weeks. This morning, I just could not get moving and start the week off.

I am in a major declutter mode. Saturday I donated a large box of picture frames to a thrift store. Ironically most of them were gleaned from Goodwill or St. Vinnie de Paul, so its only fitting they should return to a similar place.

This afternoon, I came across a box of old journals. Not wanting to just dump them, I've looked through and reviewed some of the events of my past. Not really material for a great american novel or even a mediocre biography, so they are going through the shredder. Since recycling office paper is a hassle where we live, I'm taking them into the Humane Society for puppy bedding. I laugh every time I think about it. But its going to a good cause. Currently I've got two bags and have only gone through two years. Those puppies will be in bedding for quite some time....

Continuing on the de-clutter theme, I've been going through things for the past several weeks, focusing on what I really need, taking a mental inventory of what I already have. My goal is to see that I already have what I really need so that when I am out shopping or running errands, the temptation to purchase extras will be lessened. I'm really getting tired of managing the clutter. It takes a lot of time and energy and I want to get on with the business of living, not shuffling boxes around.

I think this is being brought on by an upcoming family vacation in May. I want to see just how light I can make my luggage while still being comfortable at my destination and while I'm vacationing. Its less to keep track of too.

Spending today: went on-line for feline meds. They were pricey, but considerably less than at the vet's office. I'm quite optimistic that tomorrow will be a no spend day. I cooked a huge pan of lasagne and will have leftovers for lunch for the week!! I'll try to brew some tea before going to work. So much healthier than coffee, not to mention way less expensive.

first entry

April 10th, 2005 at 12:03 am

I've been reading everyone else's postings for about a month now after stumbling across the site. What a fantastic site!! Of all the friends I know who are trying to do things a bit more frugally, no one wants to discuess the issue very much. Its sort of like the 300 pound guerilla in the corner. I want a forum to exchange ideas with other people who are heading in the same direction and arent afraid to discuss the good deal they have just found or how little they can spend on lunch (or sometimes not at all!) With all the flash in the media and the world in general, its a refreshing and welcome change.

Bravo to all of you who are so open about your spening habits. I still get very uncomfortable when having to admit that I am really not managing my money the way I want to be. I grew up in a family where money was fantasticaly tight, but once again, it was not discussed.

So, in addition to becoming more self-motivated to get my spending/saving habits in line, I am also interested in the psychology (mine and people in general) that drives people to want what they do not have, being driven to "keep up with the Jones'" and get themselves into debt over it. I'm hoping for the personal "aha moment" that will cause me to lose all desire to spend and be perfectly happy with all I currently own.( typed with tounge in cheek...is it really possible?)

My goals are to pay off all my cc's, which i can do in a litte less than a year and a half if I live like a white knuckled miser. Which just isnt an option. I enjoy some fru-fru at the end of long day/week/month. (Am not a spoiled princess, just like to relax from this stress of the daily grind. Unfortunately over the years, with a busy schedule and a desire to "make it" in the professional world of work, that has been equated with shopping and attaining materail items.)

I'm married to a wonderful man who does not have these hang ups about money, which is so refreshing. But because its a non-issue for him, he doesn't quite understand why I'm in the situation that I am or why I insist on making dinner when he is willing to take me out every night of the week.

We bought a house about a year ago (due mainly to his financial stability). Its a total "fixer upper" which means the price we paid was fantastic. I wasnt fully prepared for the stress that living in a construction zone brings.

Once my cc's are paid, paying off the mortgage is the next goal. I can almost imagine life without paying rent. Almost. Its been such a long time in the making however that it wasnt even an option on my radar until DH reminded me one day out of the blue!! By then (actually right now) I will really need a new car. The '93 wagon is beginning to show its age.

Tonight DH and I are going out on a date. We've decided to balance the work with some play. We are seeing a movie at the alternative/artsy cinema in town. Tickets will be full, evening price, but dinner - homemade lasagne, garlic bread (with homemade bread and cucumber salad) - will be totally from the kitchen. The finishing touches are in the works as I type.

I'm so glad that I found this site and want to thank everyone for what they have shared in their journals so far. I look forward to being a member of this community.

Spending today was heavy and painful:
Sam's for groceries - always spend $100 or more it seems
JC Penney - clothes; they were having a sale and I had coupons for about %20 off. Shopping options in this area are very limited. NOt sure I will keep it all.