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Home > Archive: May, 2005

Archive for May, 2005

grooving on the price book

May 23rd, 2005 at 06:16 pm

Spending for today:
17.38 Target for cat litter
39.41 Pet food store for cat litter and food

I ended up getting litter in two places because the prices were both very good. I've been relying on my price book heavily to get the best deals. Or if not the best deals, an educated guess on just how far off something is, i.e. something I really like compared to the rock bottom price.

The next step is to get the price book into a spreadsheet and onto my PDA so I can take it with me everywhere I go. Been caught too many times without it and have either passed up good sales or got suckered into buying something that later turned out to be a bum deal.

Keeping a price book has helped take a lot of the stress out of purchasing necessities around the house. I think is has also added to this new found comfort?? about having enough. The cupboards are pretty well stocked, and now even when I do see things on sale that we use, we dont need them. So I dont have to run around town chasing deals.

I like this frugal thing. With just a little planning, and a little time to turn the momentum around, it makes life a whole lot easier.

checking in

May 23rd, 2005 at 03:05 pm

Returning from vacation. The time away was fantastic!!! I could so get into early retirement - like next week. The reality is that I would need to spend no money for about the next ten years to make it a reality. Put that on the "to do" list.

Travel always motivates me to "need" less. Why? Because I am really too lazy to carry all that stuff around with me. I did well, bringing only what i needed and if I didnt have it, I somehow managed to do without. Didnt do a lot of shopping while we were away. Now that we are home, I am so not into superfluous shopping. Looked at the Sunday paper and could not be enticed to buy. This feels so much better.

On the home front, the remodel continues. Again, we are getting rid of more stuff while continuing to organize what remains.

I am still working on the cc's. I did some projections on how and when to pay them all off. Things are still on track for this year. I am happy with that and am confident it will actually happen this time. Overall, I've been very good at keeping spending down and paying huge amounts on the cc's. Its different this time around because I no longer want more things. The spending wheels are grinding to a halt and slowly the direction is beginning to change.

Could it be? An actual phase of little or no stress? Breath a sigh of relief.......

more reading

May 10th, 2005 at 02:55 pm

I went to the library last night and found some more reading to help keep me on track. I took home and nearly finished "Nickle and Dimed" The author went undercover in three different areas to see if she could live on the wages that "unskilled" workers are paid. Hint - Wal-Mart was the worst.
It was a very good read.

I had a small fee to pay for that last stack that was overdue by a day. Frown

Right now, I am wiped out. Tonight I plan on cleaning the house as we are getting ready to go on vacation. I havent bought any new clothes for the trip and feel pretty confidant that I wont buy too much when we are there.

Dinner will be leftovers to clean out the fridge. Need to do some laundry.

I am thinking about taking a second job for the summer and for ever how long I can swing after that into the fall semester. The more I think about it and the more success I see, even though small, the more I really want to pay off everything. I think that spending is way down - that's more of a guestimate based on emotions rather than concrete numbers. I really, really want to pay off this anchor.

After that, I hope to have some time to read and relax. Reading is such a mental vacation for me. I'm still raedy for retirement, but am at least willing to stick with it for a while longer...maybe the vacation will help hit the reset button.

busted during another moment of revelation

May 9th, 2005 at 12:29 pm

Seems that I am having more and more of these moments as I am more receptive to examining and improving my financial situation.

On my lunch hour I ran errands. Finally took the shred (old journals mainly) to the Humane Society. They had the cutest little fuzzball tabby there, but we are at the limit of three at our house. I could so easily have adopted one more and then tried to convince DH after all was said and done....parralel thinking to impulse buying?

After that, I went to a local drugstore to pick up a couple of items. Once at the register, I realized that I left all CC's at the office. I panicked(sp?) for a moment, but decided to float a check, which should come out okay in the end. But for a split second, I felt what it was like to be without any means of incurring debt.

Now that its done, and the horror has passed, I think I could get used to paying in cash only. I really do. That means I am cancelling the Discover once I pay it off this week. I will be down to three cards, only two that I have balances on. The AT&T is low, low interest until paid in full and I use it only for paying off high balance cards. The other is an MBNA which is at the top of the avalanche to pay off. I have a couple of hundreds available on that one, so will have it for emergencies - other than those eternal "deal of the century" situations I convince myself to spring for.

It was a rush. I am going to make every effort to take the plunge ASAP. I'm also considering picking up something part time, maybe even donating plasma? I've done it before and didnt really care for it. Maybe things have changed?? Not overly enthusiastic, but willing to explore the options.

Funny how you get what you ask for when you really mean it...whether you are ready or not.

money stuff on a funky Sunday afternoon

May 8th, 2005 at 06:12 pm

This has been a nearly no spend weekend, more or less. I had an appt, but that was budgeted for, so even though I spent, no new debt was incurred. That's it. This was a no debt weekend? Its a shade of gray, but there must be a good name for it.

We went to sam's and got out of there spending only $65. That was a small miracle in itself. DH paid. Groceries, all things that were on the list that I've been keeping on the fridge for the last month or so. Whenever we run out of something, I write it down so the list more accurately reflects what we need and use.

I've been doing a lot of reading about money and saving. The books on saving were REALLY boring so I didnt finish them which means I got no information out of them. Are they trying to discourage people from saving?Saving has always been a dry subject for me with the charts and formulas. Its always been something other people do, crusty, boring people who dont seem to be having any fun. Standing back to read what I've just typed, it makes total sense to me that I am in the situation I am.

I guess I found the books on living more frugally far more interesting. Does this then imply that I will spend the rest of my days living on less while never saving? Always chasing the tail while not realizing I am the one making it go round and round? This is starting to make sense to me.....How else will I reach my goals and live the life I dream of if I dont find another source of income other than the tick tock world of 9 to 5??? Ive really begun to see how this is working and how I've kept myself trapped.

Interestingly, this is happening as my job/career is about to take off. Things are looking good and all I need to do is continue on with what I already do and wait for the results to come in. I've never been in this situation before. Totally new territory. I had this flash that after all the strugling to pay things off while I am in school for a masters, that is when I will start to make more money; when the need is not as strong nor the situation as dire as it once was. Stranger than fiction....

I will continue to get some books from the library. It puts me in the right frame of mind. But if I continue to do what I've always done, I will continue to get the same results....

Good God, where is this coming from?

On a more earthly level, this Friday is payday. I should know how much my check is by Tues!!! After a huge balance transfer to a lower rate, the Discover has a couple of hundred on it that I will pay off this week. I'm considering closing that account, but I would be without a card I could use for expenses. Its probably a good thing, but I am a bit afraid to be without the security blanket plastic provides. This is a chance for me to put my money where my mouth is (no pun intended) and see if I can put the brakes on they cycle of spend and debt. (I already hear steel wheels screeching. Are those sparks I see?)

That is something to seriously consider. It makes my stomach feel all twisty and knotted.....What if I miss a really big sale?? (LOL) What if I have to do without??? I think that is the real question here.

Went through the Sunday paper this morning and there was nothing I needed; nor was there anything I wanted. I'm tired of chasing around town, running errands and then managing stuff. Plus, I have already stocked up on the basics, the things we use regularly, so we dont need any more. Its a good place to be at, but there is still something I need to settle in my outlook on this... more shifting into using what I already have rather than continuing to chase the best deal or whatever else is dangled in front of me...stepping out of consumerism and all the bad habits I've acquired (sp).

The week ahead looks pretty low keyed. I have food prepared for lunch tomorrow. Will make somethings for dinner tonight that I can take for the rest of the week. I still entertain dreams of retiring next week. Though, I like the work I do and the people I work with my current job is not what I yearn to do with my time when I open my eyes in the morning. I feel like a fake who will be found out.

I need to process this. I am feeling rather off with all these new thoughts that I've uncovered. I suppose that is why we write...

Already spending today

May 5th, 2005 at 11:47 am

Got on-line during my lunch hour. The internet and impulse spending are each other's evil twin.

Vitaminlife $64.97 and Amazon $35.58. Way too easy, but when compared with prices locally, I am saving money on items that we use regularly. I also keep a lengthy list until I can wait no more in order to save on shipping. This always makes the purchase seem like a big hit. The last time I ordered from them was a month ago. That is also getting better. I'm also striving to use up what I already have on hand before purchasing. That's also going very well. Sorting through lots of fluff while running out of necessities.

Onto better things. DH went to the library last night and checked out a copy Overspent Americans. (One of the results of my search using thirft in the subject line.) Very interesting read. The author has done extensive research into the psychology of how keeping up with the Joneses has changed over the years. Its no longer the Jonses that are tempting us.

The second half is about downsizing. So totally grooving on that section. I'm ready to retire next week! With not even five years at current job and tender age of 37, its going to be a while, but I'm really ready. Could also be allergies making me want to curl up in a ball for the rest of eternity and sleeeeeeeep until I am wrinkled and gray with age.

House remodeling is moving along quite nicely. We hope to have three major rooms tiled by the end of the summer. This means they will be totally done/functional and usable!!! It also means we can start with the final unpack and fully determining how much or how little furniture and decor we want to have. Since we moved in, we've been getting rid of things by the van load. Granted, some of it is things like interior doors and bathroom vanites from the remodel, but lots of other knicky knackies and just stuff that we hauled from the mid-west are gone. I love uncluttering!!

In the remodel boxes have been shuffled from one room to the next, either until I get to them to sort out or until we start looking for something we need. We originally moved it down here in case we needed it and didnt know how or where to find it. But lots of it we are either outgrowing or just dont need. (Snow suits, long underwear and turtlenecks for example.

Also, a lot of the clutter was from our apartment. I found that I did a lot of decorating (translate purchasing and acquiring) in our apt to cover up some of the design elements I didnt like or the fact that the walls were an ugly, smoker yellow. Now that we are in our own place, no more covering up. We can actually fix whatever offends us!!! We also have a lot of space and I am going to use that as a design element. I really dont see us spending a lot of money on things to fill the house. DH likes to go to furniture stores and drool over the leather couches. I cant get out of the place fast enough. We have a couch!!! All four legs work very nicely, thank you. Don't go changing what's not broken; it doesnt need fixing...whatever, but point still made.

In the back of my mind, I would rather have the luxury of downsizing/retiring early and lounging about the house late into the morning in my pjs. Rather than have a house full of furniture that keeps me tied to the grind. Not to mention, I will be the one who gets to dust!!

Gotta go. Spanish test that I havent studied for looms close on my horizon - in 15 minutes. yo no estudie.

taco cravings continued

May 4th, 2005 at 06:17 pm

So, I figured out why I had such strange cravings for something that really isnt good for me - I was getting sick. This is a strange pattern that I've observed over the past several years. When I'm about to get sick I crave really bad food. Sure there is a scientific explanation somewhere. That or I'm lacking in some essential preservative?

I stayed home and slept the day away. Ive been awake for four hours now and am feeling tired.

But to allay my cravings, I went to the health food coop yesterday and what was on the sale table right as you walk in the door - a kit for making tacos!!! I got two. Added beans to make the meat go farther. For the past two days that is what we've been chowing on. Wonderfully self-indulgent and even better to know that it's much cheaper and better than Taco Bell.

DH is presently at the library and I begged for some chocolate cake. I was home ill today and am not really in my right mind. That is why I"m sucumbing (sp?) to these cravings that seem way more intense than they should be. At the library, I asked him to get me a couple of books on thrift. One is the millionare next door. I read it a while ago and feel the need for inspiration. The others, I forget the titles, but I just put thrift in the subject line when I did a search in the catalog. Unfortunately, the selection was small...and they were all in. Good for me, but why isnt there a waiting list? Commentary on the greater public's attitudes toward saving money?

I hope to return to work tomorrow so I've packed some oatmeal for lunch. Trying to work with my sustem rather than against it. Not sure what else to bring. Probably wont be tacos.

Onto other things. We are getting ready for the vacation we will be taking next week. I'm slowly collecting things in a pile. Found lots of expired sunscreen. The reasearch I've done indicates I should just toss it. Hate to do that as that stuff is not cheap. I dont go out in the full sun whenever I can help it, but still use the SPF 45 or 50 just to make sure. The last time I was at the dermatologist's he mentioned something spray on by either no ad or bullfrog. Whichever is the cheapest with the highest SPF.

I hear the couch calling...cant' go on much longer...

Today has been a no spend day!! If I feel up to it tomorrow, I will run errands. I've been tracking spending for this month and overall it is way down, especially at work. I've given up coffee adn have been bringing tea or water. I just cant say it enough, but being prepared really makes a huge difference.

Monday, Monday

May 2nd, 2005 at 06:01 pm

Again, a thanks to the kind person who rated my journal with the extra star!!

The weekend was a no spend weekend. I spent a good deal of my time cathcing up on sleep. The trees are pollonating and my allergies are bothering. I'm also re-reading One Hundred Years of Solitude. I think its my favorite novel. Love the combination of real and surreal. It was the first novel I read immediately after we moved to the SW and I see some parrallels in the culture.

Did the Sunday paper search and found a couple of items on sale that we always use. I will run errands during the week to pick things up. It spreads out the spending. And it all seems less of a chore.

I've been relying heavily on my price book and its really made a difference in how I shop. Not only does it let me compare prices for the same product at different stores and among different brands, but it also shows me when something I'm using is just way out of the ball park. Can't think of an example for that one, but I know I have changed how I shop and what I use as a result of my price book. It also makes hunting for the absolutely best deal a lot more fun.

Spending today:
Marshall's - skirt returned: $16+
Land's End - $30 (cant help it. Its' part of my wardrobe update effort.)
Lunch: Subway $2.33 (DH had a full card. I brought my lunch, but really, really wanted a sandwich. Actually, I wanted a Cousin's sub, but the nearest one is about 1800 miles away.)

I did go into several stores at lunch and tried things on. But from experience the rule I've developed is that if I'm ont absolutely in love with a garment, I'm not buying it.

The other justification I'm using to shop for new work clothes is this. For the past year to a year and a half I've been parking my car in the farthest lot from my ofice. The parking sticker is also cheaper. Its about a 15 minute walk - uphill on the way back - and its pretty much the most exercise I get all day.

So after hiking to and from my car for the past year and a half, I've lost about 15 pounds. (Confirmed at the Dr. office, not just wishful thinking.) Well, I seem to have lost it all from my backside. (My favorite jeans are still snug in the waist.) And now when I try on my summer skirts that fit perfectly well before, they slide off while I am walking. Discovered this on the Monday morning hike into the office today. Its a very strange feeling to have one's clothing slowly slipping away while in a public place. New clothes needed before I'm ticketed for indecent exposure. LOL!!!

The funny thing is that this skirt was at one time a favorite. It goes with everything. But I put it into the giveaway pile because I wanted a change. Well, last night I thought about it and reconsidered. After today, its going back on that pile. I dont think I can alter it either. Thought about that for some time as well.

For dinner I am so craving Taco Bell. Dont know why. Several years ago it prompted me to become a vegitarian - hard cord, borderline vegan - until I met DH. I never thought the day would come when I had to divert my attention from in. So, I'm putting that on hold. Will go to the coop tomorrow and get fixings for taco salad. At least it will be moderately healthy. Turning to the freezer....I have a pound of bacon in the oven and some shrimp. (The bacon cooks all at once and if you line the pan with foil, clean up is very easy. Plus, I'm just not in the mood to stand over a hot frying pan at the moment.) Not the healthiest of choices, but I am so tired of my own cooking and I'd rather read or do something more entertaining right now that be the mistress of the stove and sink.

No fantasticly coherent thoughts about money or saving. Today was so-so in that area. Since I will be running errands all week, lots of money will be leaving my hands.

Almost forgot...went to the site on organization that someone else recommended. It was pretty good!!! I found a checklist for travelling and there were a couple of ideas about decluttering that I found I could use.

I just love this site!! So much useful info!!


Money vibes in the air

April 30th, 2005 at 11:30 pm

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!!!