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Archive for August, 2006

Back in the saddle

August 28th, 2006 at 03:48 pm

It would have been a no-spend day today -- but I got an SOS call from my son, who needed to return a rental truck, and needed a ride back home. Well, my gas tank was hovering near empty, so I stopped and put $10 in the tank.

Tomorrow I may not be spending money but I'll be incurring a bill. I called a cleaning service to come and vacuum out the duct that goes from my bathroom fan to the outdoors. I noticed this weekend that the cover for the vent is gone. It is open to the world! And I think it's been that way a while, because I kept hearing birds when I was in the bathroom but couldn't figure out where it was coming from.

So here is a lesson. When I called the service I asked for someone to clean out my ducts. They quoted a price of $385. I said "oh..... It'll have to wait till I get paid again..." Well, as we talked a little more, I realized that the price quoted was to clean out my furnace ducts. When I described the opening I was concerned about, they said, "Oh, that's just a vent -- we can do that for $85." Shewww! I would have paid all that money for something that didn't even solve the problem!

I really hope the birds have vacated the vent. I don't want them to get hurt!

Just ruminating...

August 27th, 2006 at 07:18 pm

Tonight I feel like I'm losing the frugal fight. My traveling & vacationing in the past few weeks has knocked me for a loop budget-wise. I did try to prepare ... I also tried to make wise choices while on vacation ... but I have really knocked my budget out of whack.

One problem -- while I was away from home, I was around people who have a lot more money to spend. They started to seem normal to me, while my life seemed abnormal.

Another problem -- while I was away from home, I was also "away" from the nuts and bolts of my money management tools. I couldn't get on the internet for a time, for example. I wasn't paying bills, I wasn't shopping for groceries.

I had time on my hands, and I went shopping. Oh, I had a "reason" but I ended up buying clothes -- great deals I might add, but I probably would not have bought them had I been at home. It just seems like when I get out of my routine I "forget" how strict I have to be.

There were some bloopers, too. I lost my phone charger, and had to buy a new one. I wasted some expensive gas going the wrong way in unfamiliar territory. I neglected to pack jewelry, so I had to buy some to wear to the wedding.

Anyway, I now feel like I've just dug a deeper hole and I can't ever make progress. Why are frugal victories in the pennies range and setbacks in double digits? ARRGGHHH!

Home at last

August 20th, 2006 at 04:47 pm

Well, I'm finally back from all my wandering. After the conference last week I stayed in Florida an extra week to attend my niece's wedding. It was fun, but I'm so tired, and I spent a lot of money. Looks like it was around $500. But some of it will be reimbursed because it was conference spending.

One comment -- I knew the bride's parents were financially comfortable, but I was so shocked at the level of spending on the wedding and rehearsal dinner -- and I heard rumors they also were financing the honeymoon to Hawaii. Holy cow! I'm glad I'm poor; no one can expect anything like that from me! I'm also glad I have two sons, and one is already married.

Morning has broken

August 11th, 2006 at 04:17 am

AWWHHHGGGGhhhh!

I stayed up late last night, walked 40 minutes in oppressive heat to get back to the hotel, and now I'm up at 7 for a new round of meetings. Ah, conferences.

I spent $31 last night for dinner. I was part of a group from my state who got together for a sort of meet and greet dinner. We went to Disney Downtown and ate at the Fulton Crab House (?) Great food, but expensive. I had a bowl of soup and a crab cake for my $31. But it did fill me up.

I think my per diem for dinner last night was $24-25, so I didn't come in under. Good thing I did so well the day before.

Conference living

August 10th, 2006 at 04:27 am

Well, here I am in splendor at the Hyatt. My roommate sprang for internet service and nicely let use her computer. I didn't know that hotels didn't provide free internet access! I thought they were like wireless cafes!

My traveling day was a little spendy -- it cost $26 for ground transportation from the airport to the hotel. I paid $3 in tips for bag-handling, and dinner cost about $13. I had a $1 coffee at the airport, but was able to skip lunch because I had granola bars in my carry-on.
My per diem was $49, so I still came in under. (I had to walk for dinner -- the hotel is somewhat isolated and the restaurants within it are pricey. A colleague and I took the free shuttle to the front gate and walked a couple of blocks to find a very nice Indian restaurant. Worth it, but I did get a blister!)

Yesterday I spent $8 for lunch (once again outside the compound) and skipped supper -- that is skipped paying for it, because there was a reception with heavy hors-d'oevres, so I really had a pretty nice supper. Went to the free gym for my evening entertainment. So out of my $49 per diem, I saved $41!

Today breakfast and lunch are provided, so I have $24 for supper to work with. I should be able to come in under that.

Leaving on a jet plane

August 7th, 2006 at 04:35 pm

More spending today, as I get ready for my trip. I bought a big jug of cat food, $16, bought gas for $20, bought lunch for $12 -- that was a mistake; I could have run through McDonald's for a lot less -- however, I had a good salad and fresh fruit.

I just packed my big suitcase with clothes and I'm taking a break before I pack the smaller one with "sundries."

I'm taking the laptop and expect to have internet access at least part of the time; so I'll check in if I have time.

A no-spend day

August 6th, 2006 at 03:41 pm

Finally, a no-spend day!

Today I worked on getting ready for my trip on Tuesday. I did a lot of laundry and made some dog food to freeze. He eats real food (the Pitcairn diet), which I swear has made him a remarkably healthy 12-year-old.

I asked my son to take care of my dog and my cat while I'm gone. He will move in for a week while I'm at the conference, and then he will have to leave to meet up with me in Florida for his cousin's wedding. So he'll take the dog to the kennel at that time. So my dog doesn't get to avoid the kennel altogether, but this will help a lot with the bill. My payment (i.e. bribe)to my son is that he doesn't have to repay me for his light bill. :-) Works for both of us.

The kitchen floor needed a good scrubbing and while I was down on my hands and knees I discovered that a whole unopened bag of cat food has been infested with some tiny insects. Yuck! I threw the bag away at a remote dumpster; I don't want those critters crawling around in my can. Now I have to make a trip to PetSmart to get more food.

I also went to the gym and got my third workout in for this week. I'm hoping that the hotel will have a nice gym so I don't break my routine.

Have I packed yet? No. But I'm thinking about it. I'm at the stage where I would like to fast-forward and be on the plane with all the work done. Or better yet, checked into the hotel!

Shoe shopping and more

August 5th, 2006 at 01:16 pm

Today was a shopping extravaganza. I grabbed my friend at 8 am and talked her into going with me to Kohl's to look for sandals. Well, the deals were great. I ended up buying 5 pairs of shoes (3 pairs of sandals, 1 pair of loafers and 1 pair of heels) for $122. Retail price: $235. I also found a much-needed bathroom rug marked down to $21 from $30. Then we headed to the clothing section, where I found two gauzy blouses, a silky skirt, black gauchos and a red polo shirt for $63. Retail price: $172. Despite the spending, which makes me nervous, I'm happy because I found so many things I really needed. My shoe collection was in bad shape, and my summer wardrobe was nothing to brag about either. I do most of my clothes shopping at Goodwill, which is a great place, but it's hard to find clothing staples there; you just have to get lucky.

My friend, by the way, spent about twice as much as I did.

I also bought a breakfast sandwich at Steak 'n' Shake (~$3) and some groceries for $7.79 (after using a $5 gift card I got for a rebate).

Now I must become a Frugal Monster. With very nice shoes.

Revisiting my August goal

August 4th, 2006 at 04:24 pm

Yesterday I said my August goal would be to keep my spending under July's. After looking at things a little more realistically today, I see that was ridiculous. I spent $778 for carpeting, so there is no way I will come out under. So my goal will be to cut spending as much as I can. A little non-specific, I know.

I have not had a no-spend day yet this month. I ate lunch out today and yesterday -- today because it was my regularly scheduled get-together with old friends ($10 at Bistro) -- yesterday because I was running late and didn't have time to pack one ($4 at Arby's -- at least I had coupons!) On the other days I grocery-shopped, and one day I shopped at Goodwill and bought a pair of capris and a blouse.


I am completely out of my routine, what with coming home from vacation and immediately having to strip my bedroom for the new carpeting -- I had to sleep on the couch for two days. Now I have to get ready to fly to a conference on Tuesday. I'm so out of whack. This weekend will be catch-up.

I will get a pretty generous per diem while at the conference, plus a lot of the meals will be provided -- so I hope I will not spend much on food. I am also trying to stick to about 1700-1800 calories a day, so I won't be snacking.

I have to admit I plan to shoe-shop tomorrow. I need a decent pair of sandals to wear to the conference. Kohl's is having a blow-out sale; maybe I'll find a great bargain.

New carpeting

August 3rd, 2006 at 04:17 pm

Just have to say, I got new carpeting in my bedroom -- it was the last room, and the biggest, that I had to do. It's wonderful to have it all done! It cost $778, but I did save $$ by pulling up the old carpet myself and taking care of discarding it. Also, I restrained myself from paying someone to move my furniture. I did it all myself! Thank goodness I've been working out. I really think it gave me the strength to get this job done!

Wedding outfit

August 3rd, 2006 at 04:12 pm

Some time ago I was thinking ahead to the wedding I'm going to in August and wondering what to wear. I was thinking I would probably have to buy something new.

Well, I was given a black and white sheer blouse with a matching shell, and I plan to wear it with a white skirt I already have. The skirt was a bit snug the last time I tried it on but I've lost some weight, so I THINK it will do. I already have some silver sandals and a silver purse.

I just think it's pretty cool that the outfit just materialized at no cost!

July recap & August goals

August 3rd, 2006 at 04:06 pm

Well, after my record low spending in June, July was, of course, up. Total spending was $2802, compared to $2274 in June.

Big spending included $400 for credit card payments, $175 for gifts (2 baby showers and wedding) $150 for the dentist, $174 for vacation.

Areas in which I spent less: utilities, vet/pet supplies, home improvement, gas, insurance, furniture/equipment, snacks. Areas in which I spent more: loan repayment, gifts, groceries, medical/health, vacation/travel, eating out, household supplies, entertainment, personal, and clothing.

I believe I had 11 no-spend days -- it's written down somewhere else. In June I had 15 no-spend days.

My net worth went up $3,000, mostly due to some recovery in my retirement account.

So it wasn't a bad month, and I got some things done that I needed to -- the dentist's appointment, the gifts -- and I had a pretty low-cost vacation.

August will have some challenges. I'm going to a conference, a wedding, and I'm taking another vacation. Also, I just spent $778 on new carpeting. So I will set as my main goal not to exceed July's spending, and that will be challenge enough!

Thank you, Julie!

August 3rd, 2006 at 05:07 am

Julie, when you suggested bleach for my stained carpet, I thought, "She must have white rugs." But when I came to the conclusion that I was probably going to have to replace the carpet anyway, and therefore it wouldn't HURT to try bleach -- well, the stain came out like magic, and so did the smell. And it didn't change the color at all. I used a 50/50 water-bleach solution.

THANK YOU!!!! You saved me so much money!

In other news, I've been off the computer for a few days while my bedroom carpet was being replaced. I'll catch up tonight with my July totals.