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Archive for April, 2012

preaching to the choir.... but

April 24th, 2012 at 03:47 pm

I really liked this article for some reason. I wish I had a sly way to send it to my sister and have her actually read it.

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/bad-habits-...

I liked the idea of eliminating one spending habit a day and saving it. For me, it's eating out on work days. That's $20 to $30 a week!

Gas mileage, et al

April 24th, 2012 at 12:49 am

I'm not imagining it. I really am always in the car since I moved to the new house.

This week, I drove: 229 miles @ 36.5 mpg
last week, I drove: 364.7 @ 37.8 mpg
The week before, I drove:428.8 at 37 mpg

Looks like 229 is a normal week, and 364 is a normal every other week because it includes a trip to my mom's so one of the grandkids can spend the night. geesh. Since the sitter/my best friend lives 60 miles round trip away, that is 120 miles a week I can't do without.

I anticipate this number will drastically decrease in fall, when both kids start going to the same preschool that is less than a mile from home, and no longer go to my best friend and babysitter's house. Until then, I'll just try to cut where I can and look for gas discounts.

Today's spending: $34 on groceries, $5 at CVS, $13 for lunch.

Never send hubby to get groceries

April 22nd, 2012 at 04:58 pm

You'd think I would have learned that lesson by now. I sent him out last night to get milk and bananas, we were out and I needed them both for bed time.

He spent $59.24, and ended up buying a bunch of stuff we already have plenty of, or that I have coupons for. Argh. So, that was yesterday's spending.

Today, I had to do the "Actual" shopping, and spent
$13.67 at Target to stock up on laundry detergent, coffee, and Method cleaners. Box of diapers. Great sales with coupons. I used the 24.77 gift card I discovered in my drawer yesterday, and $15 in coupons.

CVS: 66 cents. I have a bunch of Extrabucks about to expire and had to use or lose them, so I bought some Buy 2 get one kids toothpaste and sale shampoo. My bill was $18.48 before coupons and EB.

My trip to the grocery: $12.31. got 6 free dish detergents, sour cream, vegetables, a giant pack of chicken legs to make for dinner. I used $9.24 in coupons.

Oh, and I've started pricing out supplies for the basement office finishing at various big box hardware stores. The same stud is $2.19 at one, and $3.03 at the other. Looks like I'm really going to have to shop around to make sure I get the best deal. So much price difference!

It pays to clean!

April 21st, 2012 at 05:54 pm

I've been cleaning and sorting the basement storage space, prepping to finish it into an office. It sure pays to clean. I found a Target gift card from 2003 with $25 still left on it (verified with Target), I posted my old camera on ebay at 11 a.m. and it's already sold for $85, and I posted my old clarinet on craigslist for $25, and someone just came to buy it. I haven't played it in almost 20 years. So, off to a better home.

I also posted all of my vintage sewing patterns for sale on etsy, in giant lots of 50 or more. Hopefully they will sell, but there seem to be a lot out there not going for much.

I also freecycled a broken dehumidifier, and put two recycling bins full of paper out to the curb. it feels nice to get rid of stuff. I just am to the point where I don't want it or need any extras clinging to me anymore.

Spending and home office thoughts

April 20th, 2012 at 07:54 pm

4/19 No Spend Day. Hazzah!
4/20: $31 for fill-up @ $3.67 gal
$12, for cheeseburger lunch with the boys after swim lessons, $28 pizza dinner for the family.

Met with my contractor friend today to talk through finishing my basement office. (I'll post some pics of the before later.)

I'm thinking I might not have much left of my now $4,000 budget once it's done, but you kind of have to spend some cash to do it right the first time to save down the road. So yeah, I think we've decided to fully frame it out, do vapor barrier, insulation and drywall. Then the cost of ceiling panels and flooring.

I also need some significant electrical work, some closet doors for the wall of storage, etc. I am trying to economize where I can. For instance, I am in an architectural salvage auction for 15 feet of shoji screen closet doors, very nice. Current bid is $6. My max is about $60, which would still be a steal. And, I have an IKEA chandelier I can reuse for a light fixture. I need two, but buying one more is only $30, so that saves a bunch.

My plan is also to utilize grocery store gas perks for buying gift cards (4 x fuel points worth 10 cents off a gallon). when buying supplies for this project, so I can at least get a gas discount if I'm going to spend the money anyway, right?

Oh, and while clearing out the room I have found some items I might be able to sell for a little bit of money, to defray some of the costs, namely a fabulous camera that I used to use all the time but no longer do, and my wood clarinet. Haven't played since high school, so probably don't need that, right?

Spending update, and home office project

April 19th, 2012 at 12:39 am

Tuesday 4/17 $48 at grocery store

Wed 4/18 $11 lunch
$45 at Target (printer ink, bubbles, kids' socks, etc.)
$20 family dinner at Five Guys
$8.15 library fines.

geesh. This challenge is really making me think about how much money my family spends on meals out and groceries. More than I thought.

Also ran a mile today and trained with personal trainer for 1 hour. (I get a deep discount through the Y).

Anyway, I am cleaning out the large, icky concrete block and concrete floor room in the basement that we will soon be finishing into my sweet home office and sewing room.

I've been sorting through boxes that have pretty much been sitting there untouched for 1 year, since we moved in. I've found a bunch of old pictures, and a bunch of papers that made me think... why do I have this? So yes, the recycling bins are extra full this week. I also refinished the last of the 4 foot wide bookcases my grandpa made me before he died. Much of the paper stuff from my office will hopefully be housed there.

I'm trying to have a keep eye for tossing, selling, and sorting. I'm tired of living with so much stuff.

I ran across a few things I might be able to sell, like my old Pentax K1000 camera and lenses, and I'm considering giving up my collection of 1960s knitting books and vintage sewing patterns. I'm sure there are some crafters out there who could make better use of it! I may also sell my 1950s desk with the kidney bean shaped top and my blue formica and chrome table.
They are great pieces, but they just don't work for me anymore. Boo.

Weekend

April 15th, 2012 at 02:28 pm

April 14: No Spend Day

April 15: $44.83 on bulk organic tea bags. Ran out. This lasts a couple of months.
19 cents Copies of tax documents. (Yes, I'm that guy.)
$33.81 for milk and misc groceries

April 16:
$10 lunch
$68 groceries, stock up on manager's special english muffins, got cream, 6 cans of bacardi drink mixers (restocking for date night and surprise guests), blueberries, apples, organic yogurt, etc.

Miles driven for the week:
364.7 @ 37.8 mpg

No wonder I felt like I was always in the car. I am. It's depressing! I know the number of miles will drop a lot in fall, when both kids start going to preschool close to home, rather than to the sitter, but it's going to be a real pinch to reduce miles between now and then.

Spending and pink eye!

April 13th, 2012 at 07:51 pm

Here are the expenses. And I wonder where all my money goes. Now I know, and I don't like it! Ugh.

April 12:
$90 swim lessons for DS1
$8.97 3 cartons of Breyer's on sale at Walgreens
$25.25-- lunch out with hubby and DS2 (Indian)
$36.17-- fill up @ $3.67 a gallon

April 13:
$15 Dr. copay for DS2
$36 lunch with DH and DS2 (DH's idea. Cuban. Good, but spendy!)
$20 for pink eye prescription
$17.38 for organic milk and pedialyte

Today was payday, so $150 went to EF, and $2100 ($430 extra) was paid toward the mortgage. All CC bills were paid today as well. I will be sending $519 to city income tax this weekend as well.

As for that pinkeye...

My youngest and I had the flu last week and finally got over it, but now the littlest has pinkeye and a slight fever. He goes to the doctor today. Poor little guy can't catch a break. It seems like with toddlers, illnesses just kind of cluster together and go on forever. Last year we had a 6 week stretch with two rounds back to back of ear infections and pink eye for both kids. They just kept swapping the pink eye back and forth.

The Doc says this may be a resurgence of the virus we had last week. She confirmed the pinkeye, and sent a strep sample off to the lab just in case (it tested negative in the office, but better safe than sorry). Poor little guy. He's 2 and gets really pitiful and snugly when he's sick.

daily expense, basement redo, and tax refund.

April 11th, 2012 at 07:54 pm

April 11 expenses: $15.41 lunch out, work day. No more spending planned for today, although sometimes DH takes DS1 out for cheeseburgers after swim class, so that might add another $8 for the two of them.

In other news, our federal tax refund of $4,696 and state refund of $433 posted to the checking account today. I'll use some of it to pay the city tax ($591, plus maybe more for the city where we used to live), put some toward the car loan (haven't decided how much), and reserve the rest for an electrician to wire my future office in the basement and to finish my basement office.

We have a modestly-priced finishing of a currently unfinished basement room planned, to turn it into my sewing room and home office. I'm trying to keep the cost to $2,000 or less with materials and labor. it might not be possible, but I'm trying!

Right now it's a blank slate. Concrete block walls, concrete floor, open ceiling, etc. Maybe 15 by 20 feet. It will involve putting up a ceiling, framing out an entire wall into closet storage, putting up furring strips and hanging some sort of wall panels, and flooring.

My friend is a contractor and has already agreed to take on the job. He charges very reasonable rates, because he has little overhead in his business. It's just him and a truck.

I have kind of an idea of what I want, but have just started looking at materials and options. It's exciting, but overwhelming!

Oh, and I sold our 4 year old $25 Ikea high chair on craigslist today for $10. One less thing to trip over.

Expenses and miles, oh my!

April 10th, 2012 at 04:18 pm

Today's spend: $24.38 on groceries. Mostly milk and produce.

I have been keeping track of how many miles I drive in a week, in a bid to reduce my overall miles. This past week was 428.8 at 37 mpg. Wow. No wonder I feel like I live my life in the car!! Granted, I had two round trips to my mom's (1 hour drive) for Easter weekend, but geesh. That is still a lot. That included all my regular trips to the babysitter, swim lessons, groceries, etc.


I'm planning to keep track for the next three weeks to get a handle on my average miles, and then come up with a plan to cut where I can.

On another note-- car note, that is-- the sitter was out of town yesterday, so I sent the $60 I would have spent on babysitting to the car loan. It's money I would have spent during a normal week, so I can rationalize that!

Family flu, plus april expenses

April 10th, 2012 at 01:24 am

Me and my 2 year old are recovering from a nasty flu virus. Boy, it was a nasty one. I feel terrible, and I know he feels worse and his immune system is getting a workout. It hit us all Thursday, and we are finally starting to get over it-- except for the splitting headaches. Ugh.

Anyway,
Our spending.
April 6-- no spend day. Sick!
April 7-- $27 at Walmart for milk, bubble bath, and two monster trucks for last-minute Easter baskets; $31 @3.55 a gallon to fill up the car
April 8-- no spend day
April 9-- $8.48 at CVS for medication and pedialyte; $58 to the Y for 6 weeks of swim lessons for the boys.

April Expenses, sick baby, freelance update.

April 5th, 2012 at 01:58 pm

April 5 expenses:
$13 Scholastic book order through school
$62.14 groceries, including stocking up on $22 worth of half-price Easter hams.
$45 Target, on two pairs of kids shoes, tea, and a light bulb for the fridge
$14 at Lowes (Gift card) for mulch and two Easter flowers for mom and sister.

DS1 turned 4 on Sunday. (!!! Where did the time go?) We had a huge party. Honestly, I expected 10 people to show up, but we had closer to 50. It was a babies running in the yard in sunshine extravaganza. It was great. We always say no gifts, but people bring them anyway. Thankfully, some friends know us well enough to contribute to the college savings accounts, so I'm depositing $45 extra today into the college fund. Yay!

I also have a $10.99 Staples refund check that will go to the car loan today. chip chip chip!

I transferred $874 to hubby's Roth Ira for 2011, so we at least contributed 1000 for 2011. I really need to ramp up savings into that account, but with preschool bills and a fat mortgage, it seems impossible.

As for the freelance stuff. If you remember, I'm trying to branch out more to higher-paying pubs. Last month, I did two test assignments. One, I didn't get, but one I did! Just found out I'm not a regular yesterday. Looks like I'll be getting two assignments a quarter from a computer security trade magazine. Yay! The pay for one story is equal to two stories for my regular gig. It's nice to land something new!

My wire service has been using me more as well. Last year, I wrote two stories for them all year, this year I'm on my third so far, and they've asked me for more ideas. This is all good!

Now, I just need to find time to finish that novel. It's really bugging me that it isn't finished.

Now it turns out the littlest, who is 2.5, has a 101 fever and a cold. He doesn't want to leave the sofa, so I've wrapped him up, turned on the humidifier, and put on some cartoons for him. Poor little guy. I can tell he isn't feeling well. If he doesn't improve by tomorrow, off to the doctor he goes.

April expenses challenge, days 1-4

April 4th, 2012 at 07:26 pm

April 1:
No spend day

April 2:
$11 on lunch
Exercise: 1 mile run, 1 mile walk, half mile run, half mile walk

April 3:
$62.80 groceries
$150 tax prep
$22.97 Atomic Ranch book on Amazon
$15 on lunch with DS2

April 4: $11 on lunch.
$7.99 on birthday present for faux nephew
Exercise: 1 mile run, 1 hour leg and core strength training with personal trainer.

Yep. I eat out too much. I can't help it on Mondays and Wednesdays, mostly because I spend the entire day on the opposite side of town from home, but I could do better on other days, I suppose.

Taxes half filed!

April 3rd, 2012 at 08:55 pm

I finally filed the state and federal taxes today. Next I have to file city income taxes -- on paper-- for two cities, since we moved last year. I'm really not looking forward to that. The forms are paper only, and we always have to pay. Boo.

On a brighter note, we will be getting a $4969 federal refund and $433 state refund, although most of that will go to city taxes.

gas saving, pay day, weight loss and ham

April 2nd, 2012 at 09:12 pm

I tracked my gas mileage this week, to see if maybe changing my driving habits would save me money. I averaged between 38 and 41 mpg, so now I'm thinking boosting mileage might not the way to go. I don't think I can do much better!

Now, I'm tracking how many miles I drive in a normal week, then I will set a target to reduce that by some reasonable amount. Some trips for work and the babysitter I can't undo, but every mile helps, right?

I got paid for an extra freelance gig today-- $549. I sent $349 to savings and $200 to my IRA. That felt nice. I'm still awaiting payment for about $1200 more in work as well. Yay!

The credit card bills were also not as high as I was anticipating this pay day, so I still have a decent amount in checking. Yay!

On the weight loss front, I'm treading water with my fat club intensive workouts. I've been yo-yoing within a few pounds. It no longer is helping me lose.
It's frustrating. I am definitely stronger, and faster, but no thinner. Argh!

I guess my body has adjusted, so it's time for a new and money-saving strategy. I'm going to start distance running. It'll save me the long drive to the gym, as I have a park with a running track a block away and I can use my iPod to track and store info on distance, time, route, etc. using Nike Plus. I singed up for my first 5k ever with a couple of friends. It's on May 12, so I better get moving. I'll be saving me the $190 every six weeks for the fat club fee.

I'm going to try to haggle with the cable company again tomorrow, too. Maybe I can knock another $10 a month off the bill. Fingers crossed.

Ham is on sale this week, so I'm going to load the chest freezer up with two or three of them. Hubby keeps making fun of me, pointing out all the loaves of bread and other items that are "manager's specials" that I fished out of the freezer for this or that. Hey. Gotta save, right? The latest find was organic 2 percent milk for 2.50 a gallon, down from 7.19. I loaded up. There is one thawing on the counter now! I think I like the chest freezer. I feel like I'm getting my money's worth!