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Archive for January, 2011

Let them eat cake!

January 31st, 2011 at 01:15 pm

Someone from the office brought in a DELICIOUS Chocolate Bundt cake today. I didn't want to be rude and refuse Wink.

This has nothing to do with finance or budgets. Just a grand way to end the month!

LET THEM EAT CAKE!

Month end....

January 30th, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I was over budget by $ 225.00 for the month of Jan.
I still consider it a small achievement because I focused on needs, instead of wants. All of my purchases after fixed expenses went to food (including pet food)/gasoline, toiletries and a cash contribution for food for a friend who's father passed away.

The really good news is I have been steadfast on walking. I've walked 28 out of 38 days since starting this adventure. I have a lot of energy, feel good so I am really proud of this achievment.

Feb goals:
*Eat mainly from panty/freezer all month. Only purchase perishables (fruits, veggies, dairy).

My fixed expenses increased for Feb leaving me a very slight budget of $180. I've spent most of it replenishing and food for the next two weeks. I have approx $11 left. I'm babysitting again adding at least $80 to the budget. I know I will go over again.

My bathroom project is taking place this month. Plastering the cracks in the walls, painting, replacing the light fixture and mirror. Cost for supplies $157.00 so far.

Today, I am prepping/cooking for the week. Soup, zucchini casserole, muffins and tuna salad.

The good and the bad........

January 23rd, 2011 at 10:26 am

The good....

Good grocery deals this week...
Bumble Bee Solid White Tuna - 77 ea. x 10 (This will be deducted from Feb's budget)

Brown rice 12 oz. - FREE
Salsa 24 oz - FREE
Tortillas 10 ct - FREE
Frozen Spinach - FREE
Ronzoni Garden Rotini - 67 cents box (after $1 off coupons x 3)
Better Oats Organic Oatmeal - $1.50 box (Reg price 9.99...Outrageous IMO)

*The above non-perishable (free or almost free)
items will be donated to my local food bank. I have been donating food for the past 5 years.

The bad:
My gas bill tripled this month. I keep my home cool between 60-65 degrees. This year has been extremely cold and wet for So. CA. I can't imagine what it's like for people who keep their homes heated (70+ degrees).

I'm bracing myself for the DWP bill.

What are you doing to stretch your dollar?

January 20th, 2011 at 05:12 am

I thought I would share some of the things I've been doing recently to stretch my dollars.

1) Save coffee. If I have anything left over in the pot, it goes into a jar and placed in the refrigerator to be added to the next day's pot. Also comes in handy if I want a cup in the afternoon. Just reheat instead of brewing another pot.
2) Reuse, reuse, reuse. I repurpose containers for other uses (eg.baby food jars for storing/transporting small portions like salad dressings, dipping sauces, etc). They are also great as a tea light holders.
3)Depending on the number of items needed, I walk to the grocery store (approx 1 mile). This eliminates impulse purchases. I can only buy what I can carry. I am also getting exercise to boot!
4)I make a big pot of soup every weekend. I eat pretty healthy but do have a sweet tooth. Eating a bowl of soup a day ensures one healthy meal. I rotate between 3-4 of my favorite soups. Some are freezable.

Running totals:

$113.10 overbudget (cash)
$20 TJ's gift card - SPENT
$2 CVS bucks

Coupon brokers & strange happenings at Target

January 16th, 2011 at 01:25 pm

Last week, there was an article about becoming a coupon broker. There is money to be had doing this.
I think you need to be extremely organized and patient. It involves a lot of time doing tedious tasks (sorting, clipping, organizing).

I purchased a lot of 16 coupons for a specific product I use regularly on e-bay. It cost $23 (including shipping)for coupon values totalling $48.
Ordinarily, I would not bid this high. I had a $25 gift card I wanted to use up. The amount of the gift card is nominal for the kind of purchase I would want to make on e-bay. I don't want to incur additional debt so the gift card was not good for me. The person selling made a tidy sum. If you have the time and patience, it can pay off.

A side story....a woman in line in front of me at Target was on the phone with her husband while checking out. Her 7 month old baby was trying to get out of the cart and she just watched her. She commented to her husband their daughter was trying to get out of the cart but did nothing about it. The woman continued chatting with her husband when the cashier rang the total and took her mastercard. Transaction completed, right? Oh no, the woman looked down at her hand full of coupons and started SCREAMING into the phone "LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO!" "I FORGOT THE COUPONS". She carried on for a good 3-4 minutes. Finally, she turned off and walked over to the courtesy counter asking if she could get credit for her coupons.

Pet peeve......don't talk on the phone when you should be A)paying attention to your child, b)paying attention to the cashier.

It was shocking and funny at the same time.

Mid month totals

January 15th, 2011 at 11:39 am

It's midway through the month and my totals are:

$69.42 over budget (cash).
Babysitting fund:
$160-$69.42(overage)=$90.58 cushion remaining.
$2 CVS Bucks
$20 TJ card

I was able to score a few bargains at Target:
*(4)boxes Kashi cereal@$2.99 ea - $6 coupons = $5.96
($1.50 a box)
*(1)bag (3.5 lb)Purina cat food $5.99-$4 coupon=$1.99
Perfect for the outdoor cats

Kashi is pretty generous with their coupons. If you sign up at their website, they'll send coupons to you. They used to affix $1 & $2 coupons to their boxes at Target but I haven't seen any in the past six month. When my family members were living with me I would buy 20 boxes at a time. I swear I didn't spend more than 50 cents a box. It was amazing. They probably stopped because of me! LOL!

Budget smudget........

January 12th, 2011 at 04:00 pm

Technically I'm overbudget in cash by $20. I need to use the money I earned babysitting to get by this month. I really wanted to use it towards my OH NO fund. Frown
CVS Bonus bucks: $2
TJ's gift card: $20

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I've come to the realization, my income does not support home ownership (at least not the home I currently occupy). I've been a homeowner for 12 years. I've lived in my current home 8 years. There are so many things that need attention. I don't have the funds to handle.
Windows - original wood from 1930's. They are badly damaged and need replacing.
Paint - The exterior of my home has peeling paint, rotting wood, and windowsills. It needs repair and paint.
Sprinklers - Need to be repaired, reworked. They are a mess.
Garage - floods during heavy downpours. Needs drywall and who knows what else to stop the flooding.

I refinanced the first year of ownership to a 15 year loan. I only have 8 more years before it's paid off.
Do I hang on or bail before the ship sinks? I'm meeting with my accountant in March and will speak with a Realtor regarding pricing. I know it's a bad market for selling but if I can get a reasonable price, I'll accept. If not, I'll stay put until it recovers in a few years?

Kitchen project

January 9th, 2011 at 06:37 pm

Kitchen project almost completed. We need to tie up a few loose ends next weekend. What a mess. We replaced the bottom, side and back of the cabinet and sealed the holes where we believe the furry creatures were entering the home. We could not use solid pieces of wood due to the placement of several plumbing fixtures. Patching together pieces of wood is not ideal but who is going to be looking under my kitchen sink cabinet but me! Smile I might get tile or peel and stick squares of linoleum and place on the bottom cabinet. I have seen trays for under sink cabinets but since I have plumbing fixures are oddly placed, it won't work.

Total cost labor & materials: $250

The good news is I babysat this weekend. A very LONG day. Net $160 (YAY). So the offset is $90. I need to think of it this way to get over the angst I feel over these projects.

I also sold one item on e-bay. Net profit $5.50. Not a lot but it's something.

Next project: The bathroom

Expect the unexpected.....

January 7th, 2011 at 10:53 am

Time to replenish...
Pet food $34.77 (1 case).
Household $6.56
Food $42.49

.39 cash remaining (YIKES!)
*2.00 CVS extra bucks
*$20.00 TJ gift card

**Coupon savings: $10.54

It's obvious I need more cash. I transferred $50 from my PAYPAL account into the cash fund. (This is money made from selling on e-bay and doing surveys). I'm babysitting this weekend. I should net $100 but won't add it the the new totals until I'm paid.

New totals:
*$50.39 CASH
*2.00 CVS extra bucks
*$20.00 TJ gift card

Lord, give me strength! This month is really tough. I'm doing well with exercise. I walk between 4-5 miles each day before work. I'm energized all day and feel great!

I am making a master list of the foods I buy most often. I will buy larger quantities (and/or containers) since they are depleted quickly.

I have been more creative with my food and meal prep.
Ordinarily, if I didn't care for something I would throw it out. Now, I'm eating it as long as it isn't disgusting. LOL!

One week down, 3 more to go!

It's the little things.........

January 4th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

The little things really add up.. Ziplock 15 ct. bags were on sale at Target. Some of the boxes were labeled "20% bonus" with a total of 18 bags. These were the same price as the regular 15 ct. non bonus boxes. By paying attention to the little things, I received 6 extra bags. Score! Smile

A lock on one of my gates broke. The key turned in the cylinder but the U ring wouldn't budge. I thought I might need to call a locksmith but decided to try picking the lock myself. I took a skinny narrow eyeglass repair screwdriver and stuck it in the cylinder, wiggled it back and forth....lo and behold it opened (whoa)!

I thought I would have to purchase a new lock (thus reducing my budget even further) when I remembered I had a lock from the time I belonged to the gym. Stepping back and taking a moment saved me money. I think we often jump to replace things without taking stock of what we might already possess.

I am a happy camper. I'm adding $10 to my "OH NO" fund ($70.18).

The money pit...

January 2nd, 2011 at 03:03 pm

I think every home should come with a handyman just as every car should come with a mechanic Smile

I hired a handyman to complete a few projects around the house (who happens to be a friend I trust).

My kitchen sink cabinet is in deperate need of repair. There is severe water damage on the sides and bottom. The flooring around piping from the sink to the sewer is not sealed (BRILLIANT!) Cold air is coming in along with a few furry creatures (mouse or baby rat). I caught one with a trap. It was truely a horrible experience. The 2nd one came in as far as my bedroom in the middle of the night. My cats enjoyed it but again I was horrified.

The 2nd project is my bathroom. My house is settling and there are several cracks in the walls that need to be patched and then the room needs to be painted. I'm changing out a rusted light fixture and removing a broken medicine cabinet. Yes, I probably could patch the cracks and repaint but I don't know how to pull the medicine cabinet and drywall over the hole. I've painted my house numerous times over. I hate painting bathrooms.

I anticipate a cost between $1,000 and $1,500 for both projects including material and labor. My biggest worry is the kitchen project. We won't know the extent of the damage until we get into it. Keeping my fingers crossed.

The funding for this will come from 2010 IRA savings.