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Archive for January, 2007

Dollars and Sense?

January 31st, 2007 at 09:47 am

Someone on the forum or on the blogs recorded the cost of one of their meals. That was intriguing to me. I have heard the ole "I can eat out as cheap as I eat in" thing before, and I often wondered just how much it did cost me per meal. A couple of days ago, I started adding it up. I've been buying the grocery sale items almost exclusively. And breaking things down into freezer portions. Cooked meals often last two or three meals. And I've been setting up a price book with pages from the forum that I printed out then copied. So I had an idea of what my cost was for each portion of my meals. It was a total surprise! It was very low. I mean really low. We ate for the whole day, including snacks and drinks for less than one meal out. Each meal was about 2.50 or LESS. Some meals were much lower. I was shocked and tickled. I am doing it! I am using coupons (just learning), sales on meat, a price book, and cooking my own instead of buying it already fixed. I love chicken salad and passed over the store stuff. I made my own from leftover chicken from on sale! Cost was smaller than the store. I feel like I am on a treasure hunt. Finding things that I can make myself that will cost a fraction of what I buy. Now the problem I have is that I don't know when to stop buying on sale for the month. I have plenty of food, but the sales are great. I find myself needing to stop because the grocery money for the month is gone....need to work on this glitch.

Atmosphere....

January 30th, 2007 at 01:33 pm

It's another gloomy, rainy cold day outside, but that's okay with me. I kinda like those days. Makes me snuggle in and feel cozy. However, today I realized something. It's dark in here. I have been turning off lights and shutting off parts of house. Combined with unplugging things and making sure the washer/dryer is full each time. Not letting water run and so forth. I think it is helping. In just a short while, I have seen a decrease in my electric bill. I hope to see one in my gas bill, too. But with the lights off and it so gloomy outside....well it's dismal in here. Sitting in the glow of the computer monitor....waiting on the next thing to do on my list. I decided to light a couple of candles in here to at least give some light and a little atmosphere. Not to mention that some are gifts that smell really nice. I can't use those when Hubby is around because they make him congest. So, I rummaged in the cabinet and got out a couple of candles. I don't use the ones that smell like food much because they make me hungry. The glow is nice. Gives a little atmosphere....and is frugal.

The Bottom Line......

January 29th, 2007 at 10:00 am

I finally got the courage.....When I set up the debt chart, I got the courage to include my auto debt. Now, I have finally built up the strength to add in--the mortgage. I didn't collapse from anxiety or shock--I was ready. The bottom line is definitely not where we would want it to be. The funny thing is, the mortgage isn't so bad. In fact, I owe a lot less on it than I expected. Phew! I made it to the next level of the Finance Game.

I noticed that in my budget there are a lot of little categories that have a couple of dollars here and there left after the end of our month. I had just used them to offset the couple of dollars here and there overspent in other categories. But, I now see them as a resource to be used. I want to have more dollars in EACH category left. I guess it is my dollar and change savings that others use. Since I use my debit card for almost everything, I don't have much change anymore. So, I decided that these dollars are my change. I have been perusing the boards and seeing lots of ideas to save a dollar here or there. I made up a starting list of 10 things to save $10 (each) per month. As I have gone through daily stuff here, I am making note of other things to cut money. I am excited to think that my thinking has changed from "that will only cost a couple of dollars, no big deal" to "Wait! That will save me a couple of dollars." Keep sending the good ideas because I'm on a roll here....

Adventures of Alice in Freezerland

January 26th, 2007 at 09:59 am

Using the freezer for something other than storage--food or otherwise--is new to me. My mom had freezer skills. She had a freezer and the fridge freezer full of frozen things from the garden and full of meat from the meat lockers. And she had it organized in order to find what she needed and use things up. After marriage, Hubby and I moved every three months because he was in a co-op program. I didn't keep much food around and we ate on a shoestring. No need to learn to use a freezer. I bought a chest freezer a number of years ago, but never figured out my method of utilization. Well, I had a method--things went in and rarely came out until a power outage.

Recently, I have been adding things in and then finding myself rummaging around to find what's in there to actually use. I have been taking the time to add in leftovers, baked goods, and break down larger packages of meat on sale into separate packages to freeze. Now, I have figured out the need to make some improvements. I don't want to have a lot of things in there during hurricane season. The things to NOT have in a freezer during the power outages are ice cream, meat, seafood, frozen orange juice, etc. Plus, I use the chest freezer to store things we can't take with us. Since the season starts in June, I need a plan of action. I want to use things up before then. I need to know exactly what is in there and set up a plan of usage. I need some recordkeeping. Wonder if I can do that on excel? Also, I desperately need a way of labeling plastic containers as to what the mystery stuff is that is in there. I can pretty much guess, but some things look so much alike. How do people label these things so that they can be reused? Growing up, the vegetables were recognizable and the meats were wrapped in paper. I think they were labeled by writing on them. I don't know how to label what I use these days. Especially since I reuse things. I guess I need to figure that out so I can label as I record. That is....if I can figure out just what is in those things.....

Living on the Ledge....

January 25th, 2007 at 09:52 am

Poor DD. She called to ask if I'd look up one of her classes to find the room number because she accidently left her purse at her home. She also missed a class yesterday because she got the time wrong and sat outside of it while it was going on. She said she is losing her mind. She's taking a lot more hours than she has tackled before and I'm proud of her. She has a lot of the same disorders I do and has been through a lot. Now, she is on new medicine and we're seeing how things go. I keep trying to tell myself these are normal things that college students go through, but I am hypervigilant when it comes to her. Now she is on campus until late without any money for food, no id, no nothing. I could call my DS to go help her out since he lives there, too, but she can do this. Sometimes, I can handle these things calmly and rationally. Sometimes, I don't. I try not to let her know, because she doesn't want to set me off. This time I reached out. I called my Hubby to talk me off the ledge of freaking out. I'm glad I was able to get him on the phone. I am going to do the schedule I had set for today. I am NOT going to go spend money. I don't usually take my additional medicine because I don't want to drive after, but today I might try that option. I can do that after my errands. We are a work in progress here. Recognizing normal problems and normal reactions is the hard part. Whatever normal means.....

Shopping in my Closet

January 24th, 2007 at 12:54 pm

There are two things I do in winter fairly regularly. I gain at least five pounds and I wear the same few warm things. Sort of go into a hibernation rut in the damp, cold weather. Funny, I used to enjoy the cooler temps. Getting older and more acclimated to this region, I suppose.

I had the urge to shop. But I really like having most of my clothing allowance at the end of the monthly cycle that we use. And I knew I had clothes. The evidence was in my closet. I try to weed out things to keep it neat, but there are things that have been in there for a few years. So, I decided to do something that I've heard as a phrase before--shop in your own closet. I usually pull everything out and match up clothes when I travel. But it has been awhile. And there are clothes I just move around. So I pulled everything out and tried everything on. I've discovered several things....

1. I hate complicated clothes. Things that cause me to have to do gymnastics to get into are not for me. Some layered things that are attached and cling to each other while trying to get them on are out. Also, things that you can't get your head through without strangling yourself.

2. I have a hard time getting rid of anything my dear DD has bought me as a gift. She is great with clothes and I love that she thinks of me.

3. Instead of putting things into categories, I need to just go ahead and match things. Even if I wear them the same all the time, eventually I will get tired of it and match it with something else. But categorizing just leaves them on the hanger because I don't spend the time when I get dressed matching things. So things are now matched up.

4. I have some very out of date pants since I only wear jeans most of the time. The dress pants are okay, but what are some of these others doing here?

5. The five pound gain has not made some of these things too tight yet. Funny, I could have sworn that I wouldn't get into them. They've just been waiting for me to get a clue.

6. Yes, I have some things with tags still on them. Sheesh. I've cut the tags off and those ribbony things that you use when you hang them. They never work for me for some reason.

7. I need to find my iron...

8. Some things I have are just laughable. What was I thinking?

9. I have enough clothes and I actually like them.

So, now I have a closet of things I will wear and a bad case of static in my hair.....

Kamikaze Kitty

January 23rd, 2007 at 10:04 am

We love DD's kitty. She's been staying with us for awhile now since her "mom" is back in school. DD misses her a lot, but the problem was that she is gone so much and also needs all that study time (kitty had a hard time letting her study--she loves attention), so kitty is a temporary visitor. I've never had a kitty before. The only experiences I had were kitties of other people. I never knew that she would be so loving and fun. Except when she turns kamikaze. She attacks Hubby around the legs. She sneak attacks me on the arm. I should be prepared. I know it is coming, but I get distracted. Today, I am reading blogs and drinking hot tea. Fortunately, the tea has cooled. Unfortunately, I had the drink in my hand when kitty attacked. She only attacks once, bounces off and runs away. That's it. No more attack. But she grabbed my tea arm. Tea splashed onto my keyboard. I have gently wiped it off, hoping that all the little droplets are just that. I have decided to make a separate list of items that will eventually go kaput and need replacement. Following great advice here (I think it was Lux--if I forgot someone, forgive me) and seeing others actively preparing, I have in the last couple of months set up a fund for appliances. I really need to make a list of said appliances and see how much I might need for replacing things. Sort of put more details into the goal. I am going to add in the computer since I am now keeping budgets and talking to relatives on it. Also, my buddies here keep me sane. Since I have on long sleeves, I got off easy with this attack. It's funny what things in life will make you ponder....

Hi Ho Silver and the Rearranger

January 22nd, 2007 at 09:42 am

My mom is a Rearranger. We lived in a tiny house in the country. Mom was isolated (no vehicle) and had no room to ramble around in inside the house. She also had no money. So, she'd paint the rooms, make new window treatments, and....rearrange the furniture and wall things. She'd also add walls and remove them. Build bookcases and remove them. But the rearranging was done more frequently during the year. I'd come home and toss my books onto where my bed had been in the morning....only to hear them hit the floor. Mom had rearranged again. I loved it actually. I never knew where things would be. When I got to be a teenager and could rearrange on my own, she left my room alone. But I missed the unpredictability of it, and the new perspective. Until I realized.....I had turned into a rearranger.

Yesterday, I was going nuts. Couldn't sit still. Had a new book, had football on tv. Thought about cooking. My anxiety levels have been higher lately. The bipolar stuff was changing. I needed an outlet. Couldn't focus enough to do a project. In these times, I tend to clean out drawers or cabinets. Or....something I hadn't done in a while. I started to rearrange. I moved all kinds of things around. Talking furniture things. I used to do this while everyone was gone. But Hubby was staying safely out of the way. I moved chairs and chests, a tv, and benches. I left the couch and chair alone in the living room. After all, Hubby was trying to sit on them to watch tv. I got his help on a couple of things, then he scurried out of the way. I think he was just glad I wasn't into the throw away mode, because he always fears he might be next on my list. Today, I got up with a fresh perspective. I feel better. Also, I see once again what I actually do have and realize that I don't need to buy anything. I have plenty. Just need to rearrange every once in a while to see it all. Maybe, I'll clean out my closet today....haven't done that in awhile. See what I already have....and do some rearranging.....

Circulation.....

January 18th, 2007 at 11:33 am

in my hands and legs/feet is bad. Always has been. I have real slender hands and legs/feet and ice cold. When I was 17, a doctor told me not to start smoking because I had bad circulation in my hands. I always wondered why I could play tennis for three hours, then tap a fellow player on the shoulder and have them scream. It was like whacking them with a popsicle. Was great fun at the lake. I could lay my Bride of Frankenstein hand on someone's toasty back and watch them explode. I have to wear gloves earlier than most, and shoes all the time. Socks to bed and warm my hands before picking up babies. This time of year, they are especially cold. This is the only time they really feel cold to me personally. The last couple of years, I had these great lined boots that keep my feet and legs warm. But I sent them off with DD to college this week since they are even colder and icier. Yep, you definitely will sacrifice for your kids. So now, my tootsies are cold. I've been debating on spending the money on another pair of boots--that is if I can find anything. But winter isn't very long here. I just got home from an appointment and I think Hubby wants to go to the basketball game again tonight. Brrr. Maybe I will double up on the socks. Find the long underwear. Recently, I have had tingling occasionally in part of my left hand and forearm. My brother uses both hands for different things, and I find myself using my left off and on. So, I thought maybe I pinched a nerve or something. Until someone mentioned circulation. Rats. Guess I will spend a little money and go to the doctor and find out what is going on. My mother found out that she had an extra joint in her leg vein that caused her to have bad circulation in her legs. I have been trying to take care of my arms, hands, legs and feet so that I won't get the same problems she had. I hope this isn't something that will morph into a bunch of tests, but I need to take care of myself. By the time my brain grew up, my body is giving out. Rats.

I can't believe this...

January 17th, 2007 at 01:51 pm

Hubby's old company wants him back. To the tune of big bucks. Not only that, they want to offer him a bonus--even bigger bucks. I'm talking lots of bucks. This company has a lot of great things going for it and some terrific people. It's been a great company to work for. But the reasons we left are still there. I don't know what Hubby wanted me to say. I just sat there and finally told him what was on my mind. I don't know if I am just not a risk taker, but I had some thoughts on the matter. The money would be awesome. We could pay off a bunch of stuff and be on our way. Instant relief. Get the stuff done on the house before it falls down. Pay tuition for DD. Tons of stuff. But...he comes home happy again, he comes home at a decent hour and doesn't have to go in on weekends to keep up with stuff--they have internet from home and blackberries, he likes what he is doing, he sleeps better, fewer migraines....Plus the fact that the old plant is in the process of being sold. New owners might take him on, but they also might look at that big salary and run for the ax. I know he loves the long hours and the intense projects, but at his age, it is also a health concern that he slow down a bit. Spend more down time. I voted to stay with new company. I think he feels the same way. I just know the offer was tempting. Nice of them. What a dilemna to have. However, we will have to get to where we are wanting to go a lot more slowly, but since being on this forum, we've got plans and a way to get there. We've got people who will get us through the process. Who will help us when we get stuck....wow, I never thought I'd turn my back on money. But there are bigger things in life. I've learned here that living richly means a whole different thing than most people think.....

Nailed Down

January 13th, 2007 at 09:34 am

In pulling up damaged carpet from the hurricane, we found underneath damaged wood floors and pulled it up, also. We've been working on other things and just walking on the concrete at this time. Just at the edge of the kitchen flooring were a couple of hidden nails in the concrete. I was talking to DS on the computer yesterday and pulling off my shoes to take a shower. Then I caught the bottom of my foot on a nail. Tore a big place in my foot. I'm thinking that it has been eons since a tetanus shot, so I called the doctor and they worked me in. Great news is that I didn't need any stitches. Great news is that I had money to use in the budget. Unexpected things used to be an extra anxious problem for me. Now, I can run figures through my head and know that I can use money set aside. What a change! Hubby stopped by going home from work to see if I had to have stitches. He could drive me home from the doc since I didn't think a numb driving foot would be a good thing. DD came in to surprise us and we had borrowed a movie from Hubby's co-worker and watched it. Today, I am limping a bit, but fine. Grateful that the budget is in place. Grateful that it wasn't worse. Grateful that I could get help from the doctor on a Friday. I need to make a list of these types of shots and make sure I keep current. That would be frugal wouldn't it? At least I would be better prepared and that's something I am learning here, also.....

The envelope please....

January 12th, 2007 at 09:48 am

Ahhh, basketball....Hubby used to play various sports. Even as an adult, he played in various basketball leagues until bad knees and failing eyesight sidelined him. So when his eyes lit up when the advertisement for the local college game came up, I knew.....

DS loves to go to the pro basketball games, but we tend to go to the college end of things. When DS was an undergraduate, he was in the marching band and chosen for the pep band, so we went to watch football and basketball games with the added bonus of seeing DS and friends. Their games were really inexpensive--for the tickets, not the food. Local college is expensive in the ticket department. I thought about it for a day and called Hubby in the afternoon (yesterday was the game) and asked if he still wanted to go. If so, which fund did we take the ticket money out of. This is the end of our month and funds are running out. So he had a choice--he had enough left in his vices fund or we could take money out of his pro baseball game envelope that we've been saving money in. He chose the envelope. I asked if we could at least eat at home and we did. Then took the money out of the envelope and off we went to the next town. Parking is free, the tickets were high, but we got good seats and had a win-win situation. Local team was playing DS's old college team so we could cheer for both. Game was exciting--score real close the whole time. But the smells of the snack bar almost did us in. They have everything at this snack bar--and the smells of cooking bread and popcorn were wafting about the arena. I was salivating. Hubby asked if I was going to get anything, but I resisted. Well, I squirmed and wrestled with it, then resisted. I brought a book so that I could read if I got restless instead of wandering around or eating. Hubby reminded me that we had 8 dollars left to spend. I still declined. He went off, but returned with nothing. This has never happened before. Attending something without snacks. Next time I might sneak in food. On the way home, I asked for the 8 dollars back for the envelope. He just grinned and said tomorrow's lunch....Oh well, by the next month's start on Monday, he'll have forgotten the rest of the vices money. There's enough to cover the money spent. I'll just sneak it off into the envelope....I mean...stealing money is a vice isn't it?

Sticking my toes in....

January 11th, 2007 at 08:24 am

the waters of the $20 challenge. Most of the things I am doing are probably routine things for others, but to me right now, they are a challenge. So I have included them. In the future, I will probably need to "challenge" myself more to get into the spirit of the thing. I added money for no driving, no spending days, and drinking all my water. And I added in a little for not eating out ALL week and for Hubby voluntarily taking his lunch. Less work stress means he doesn't need to abandon ship at lunchtime to get a breather. So I added $20 to my challenge total.

$20 start
20 Week 1
___________

$40 Total in envelope. Need to put this somewhere to earn something....

Gratitude in my Attitude

January 9th, 2007 at 11:44 am

January isn't usually my month. I tend to crash pretty hard after the holidays, I think. This time last year, I was overwhelmed by everything--especially the finances. This year we have a plan, a budget, and goals. Flylady once said that when the pupil is ready, the teacher arrives. That's the way I feel about all of you. Whenever I feel that I'm spinning in circles, I can come here and get a new idea, a new focus, a new plan, and lots of encouragement. Thanks to all who participate! You've helped more people than you realize.

Scatterbrained.....

January 8th, 2007 at 02:37 pm

Realized that was my condition today when I washed the dogs' bedding on handwash....Sheesh.

Have been working on the budget, fine tuning categories for the next budget month. This one ends on the 14th and I have a few more items to tend to there. I have added a couple more spreadsheets to break things down more--things like savings and credit cards. I also have a little extra this month that I haven't given DD from her part of the budget. Shhhh....don't tell her. She seems to be doing great without it.

We have been eating in since the new year started, so I am challenging us to make it at least two weeks before we eat anything out. Hopefully, we can go longer than that. I've been planning a ton of menus and we seem to have lots of groceries left from the holidays.

I've got one more gift card to spend and I've been making lists and planning what would be the most helpful. And to top it off, I only spent my Christmas money once. Hubby claims that in the past I've spent the same (gifts to me)money several times--saying this is part of my Christmas--without keeping track. I'll admit it here, he's right. Just don't tell him....

Rats...

January 5th, 2007 at 02:44 pm

Why is it that when you get distracted and the checkout makes a mistake, it is a $4 one and not a 59c one? I got home and inputed my groceries. I've been working really hard to get specials and stay within my budget. When I was adding in the groceries and other categories, I find that I was charged twice for something and for $4. Rats. I have learned another lesson. Watch the checking out carefully. The person didn't do it on purpose, I know, but it is still frustrating. That can add up in over a year's worth of grocery visits. Oh well, add that to the library fines....

Does shopping count as exercise?

January 4th, 2007 at 12:14 pm

How about swimming to the car? It is pouring rain here today and I managed to get to the car and get the specials at CVS. This is the first month I have really concentrated on reading the circulars and trying to catch the good sales. For one thing, I don't usually stock up much on toiletries or cleaning supplies. Believe it or not, it was a tough thing to buy a toothpaste on sale and get one free. I am having to work on changing a mindset. In honor of it being January of the new year, I decided to jump in and even if I make mistakes, I will learn something. And maybe, just maybe, get it right. So, I've hit three stores in two days and bought the items I use which seem to be good deals. I really do need that price book....

I'm glad that Tina spelled it out to us that we need to cut 250 calories a day in order to loose half a pound a week. That seems to be an easier way to "see" things we can do. Now, about that exercise.....

Don't you hate....

January 3rd, 2007 at 02:14 pm

trying to remember the name of someone you know, but can't think of it with them standing right in front of you? I ran into a kiddo that went to school with DD. After he said hello to me, my mind went totally blank. Thank goodness for name tags.

Once I was at lunch with a woman I've known for quite a while and another lady came up that my kids took swim lessons from for years. I remembered her name, but when I went to introduce the woman I'd been having lunch with for the past hour, I drew a complete blank. I just laughed and told her to introduce herself.

I called the girlfriend of a great friend of DS's the wrong name for six months. Same first initial, but wrong name. I finally got it right--just when they broke up.

I have a black hole in my head where names go and they don't come back. I can remember numbers--Hubby's and kids social security numbers and even mine and Hubby's drivers license numbers. I can remember all the addresses and phone numbers of my family members. I can remember all the birth dates. But names, forget it. Wonder if there will ever be a cure for this.

Anyhow, I did manage to get the sales from Walgreen's that I went for. In spite of my lapse of memory there. Good thing I took a list.....

Challenge money

January 1st, 2007 at 05:43 pm

I have started a list of things that I need to make habits and that in the long run will save me money. So I will pay myself for:

1. Drinking all my water every day--keeps me healthy and out of the doctor's office. Pays $1 per day.
2. Exercise. Also keeps me healthy and out of the doctor's office. Pays $1 for each day of exercise.
3. No driving days. Combine and plan trips--saves gas money. Pays $1 per day.
4. No spend days. Saves money not spent in stores. Pays $2 per day.
5. Go a week using up breakfast foods. Saves grocery money. I tend to stockpile too many breakfast foods. Will plan at the beginning of the month and then not buy during the month. Pays $5 per week that I don't buy more breakfast food.

That's it so far. I know that people might think that paying yourself for things you should do is not actually making money. But I figure that each thing will eventually save money so part of that money can be used to pay myself when I accomplish it. I need to post these somewhere so I can stay strong. Here's to our Challenge this year. Good luck Everyone!