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Archive for September, 2006

A nice Saturday

October 1st, 2006 at 02:09 am

I started my spending log today. It's an Excel spreadsheet with columns for date, item, store, cost, savings and notes. I think it's going to help me get better oversight of my spending habits.

I went to Penney's today and bought some baby shower gifts. I have two showers next weekend (how strange is that?) and I know there is another looming in the future, though I don't know when. I spent $47 on a 3-piece outfit, two sleepers, and six bibs. All at about a 40% savings.

Then I went to the Hostess bread outlet and bought two huge "Pullman" wheat loves for $1.50. It is the bread they make for restaurants. That was 4 lbs. of bread for $1.50. Hope I like it.

Next stop: Kroger, where I bought milk, chicken and grapes for $8.

Then I stopped at Wal-Mart and bought 4 cans of tuna for $2.

Last stop: Marathon station, where I filled up for $21 ($2.02 a gallon!) and got a car wash for $6 to clean off the bird poop.

Had a productive day at home, doing laundry and general cleaning. This evening I watched "Akeelah and the Bee," on loan from my Netflix buddy. It was a great movie; I highly recommend it.

Now I'm going to bed to sleep on freshly-washed new sheets. I love all the little pleasures of life!

Meals today:

Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs, 2 slices buttered toast, coffee
Snack: Twinkie (free from the bread store)
Lunch: Chicken & spinach pizza, diet coke, Ding Dong (also free from the bread store), milk
Snack: popcorn
Dinner: Baked chicken in sweet & sour glaze, mashed potatoes & butter, broccoli & cauliflower, Activia yogurt, diet coke.

No spending, but a lot of eating!

September 29th, 2006 at 10:58 pm

It was a no-spend day, and pay day. Pay days are strange now. I used to put a stack of stamped envelopes in the mail and feel proud and responsible. Now I pay everything online -- or it is withdrawn from my checking account. It almost feels like I didn't pay anything!

I racked up a huge charge on Visa last month, but paid it off in full (yay!). The bad part is I am again cash-poor.

Even though I keep track of my spending in categories, I think I'm going to start keeping a spreadsheet in which I write down every penny I spend line by line. I still haven't figured out how to keep my outflow under my income. Sometimes I think I just don't make enough, but I know other people are making it on less. Other times I think I have too many obligations I'm locked into. And sometimes I think I just navigate toward a lifetstyle I really can't afford. It's probably a combination of all three.

My "meals" today were out of control. Due to stress at work, I just grazed all day. So here it is.

Breakfast: Peanut Sweet & Salty Bar, coffee.
Snack: Half an 8 oz. bag of potato chips
Snack: 100-calorie bag of Pecan Sandies
Lunch: Peanut butter & pickle sandwich, diet coke, Nutty Bars
Snack: Other half of bag of potato chips
Snack: 4 slices of Pumpkin bread
Dinner: Activia yogurt

I think I even ate some stuff I'm not remembering. Pathetic.

Oh well, tomorrow's a new day!

By the way, I'm not trying to turn this into a diet diary; I'm aware that it's a FINANCIAL blog, but money & diet are all wrapped up together for me. It's a discipline issue. I have to conquer both.

A good day

September 28th, 2006 at 11:29 pm

No spending today. And tomorrow's payday, so that's something to celebrate, even though it will all go to bills. I still enjoy the process of paying them off. Kind of a clean sweep feeling.

I finished a HUGE project at work today -- one that's been going on for months - and I started cleaning off my desk in celebration. I just let things pile up while I was working on this, and promised myself I would clean up when I was done. It's surprising how much I am enjoying the process of getting organized. I wish I could say I found money or a coupon or something financially related on my desk, but it was just paper!

I went to the gym after work and I am feeling good.

Breakfast: Peanut Sweet & Salty Bar
Snack: Little Debbie Nutty Bars
Lunch: Banana smoothie
Snack: Apple, a few M&M's
Dinner: Peanut butter & pickle sandwich, Activia yogurt, pretzels

A steamer isn't coffee

September 28th, 2006 at 12:49 am

Got a free lunch today at a workshop, but spent $4 on a steamer and a coffee. The steamer was a mistake; I thought I was getting coffee, so had to get the real thing later. I had to leave too early in the morning to make coffee at home.

Everyone at work is making a square for a quilt to give to a co-worker who has just finished chemo. I resisted the temptation to buy cute appliques, which would have made it easier and look better. I just finished my square with materials I had on hand already -- mainly scraps of material. It does not look professional, but it doesn't look bad. And I think she will appreciate the sentiment more than anything.

My meals today:
Breakfast: Steamer and Peanut Sweet & Salty bar
Snack: coffee
Lunch: Roast beef & cheese sandwich, tossed salad with Ranch dressing, pasta salad, cranberry nut cookie, lemonade.
Snack: apple
Dinner: Beans & cornbread, diet coke.

Money flowing out

September 26th, 2006 at 11:35 pm

Well, I've spent a lot today. I renewed my license plate - $120. Took the dog to the vet -- $78. Answered the door -- $32. Got to stop answering the door. It's always someone selling something! And I don't seem to have the equipment to say no. This time it was an entertainment book, so it may actually save me money if I am wise about using it.

The dog has scratched himself raw -- they say it is an allergic reaction, and I have some steroids to take care of that. The reason the vet bill is so expensive is that he always has to be sedated. He won't let anyone examine him.

A good thing -- I went to the library during lunch and got three new books. I've started keeping a list of recommended books and they are all I look for now. I've always enjoyed reading but now it's even better!

My meals today:

Breakfast: Honey Nut Cheerios and milk.
Snack: Peanut Sweet & Salty bar; banana
Lunch: Chicken Noodle soup, Activia yogurt, 100-calorie pack Pecan Sandies.
Snack: Handful of M&M's
Dinner: Beans and cornbread; broccoli & cauliflower; diet coke.

Weekend recap

September 25th, 2006 at 10:55 pm

Wow! All of a sudden the font on this site is tiny! Is it only me?

I had a great weekend with my kids, but I spent a lot of money. Here's the scoop:

$40 - wireless router
$16 - favors for baby shower coming up
$3 - fabric softener
$2 - two of those net poufs you wash with
$19 - supplies to finish the windowsills
$25 - gas
$37 - new sheets
AND ---
$119 - eating out! Omigosh.

I did most of the treating, being the mom. And one meal was at the most expensive restaurant in town -- it's where my other son works, and he wanted to show it off to his brother and sister-in-law. It was an awesome meal, but SHEWWW!!!

I'm back on track now. No spending today. I went to the gym, too.

I've been inspired by Tightwad Kitty posting her meals every day. It occurred to me that if I had to admit to the world what I'm eating, I might be a little more -- er-- restrained.

So this is my intake today:

Breakfast: Activia yogurt, banana
Snack: Cashew Sweet & Salty bar
Lunch: Sliced apple with cheddar cheese, trail mix, diet coke
Snack: Handful of candy corn
Dinner: Tuna salad sandwich, milk, 100-calorie pack of pecan sandies.

Yes, I have a sweet tooth, and I don't like vegetables, but I'll try to improve.

My kids are here!

September 22nd, 2006 at 02:38 pm

My son and wife (and grandson in utero) arrived from Kansas City last night. Whooppee!

I spent $10 on new bed pillows, $57 on groceries, and $11 on household equipment (new can opener, kitchen shears) and $9 for cat food.

Today my son is going to help me finish my windowsills and get me set up with a wireless router. So more spending will occur. Also, we're going out to lunch at a favorite place.

So nice to have them here!

Now I've done it....

September 21st, 2006 at 12:57 am

I did it. I told my boss today that I plan to retire next spring. I wanted to be able to open about my plans and not have to sneak around to visit the retirement counselor etc.

I have so much to do -- the biggest hurdle is getting the house ready to sell. It's in pretty good shape, but I need to catch up on some maintenance things, and I need to pretty it up.

Things I need to do:

Get doors planed (& two replaced)
Replace bathroom fan
Replace four light fixtures
Replace vinyl floors with laminate
Paint kitchen cabinets
Remove wallpaper & paint three rooms
Pull up overgrown shrubs & plant something pretty
Replace molding in several areas
Clean out garage
Hold a big garage sale

Whew. I'm tired.

It's COLD in here!

September 19th, 2006 at 11:41 pm

I'm freezing! The temp dipped today, but I will not turn on my furnace in September. I'll have to dig out the sweatshirts.

This is my third no-spend day in a row. And I went out to lunch! I got treated, because it was my birthday lunch, even though my birthday was a month ago. It takes a while for our whole work group to get together! Two other Leo's were treated as well. I ate half my sandwich and will have the other half for my lunch tomorrow. Breakfast was free, too; leftover muffins from a meeting yesterday -- actually quite good!

And this may not seem like a big deal, but I renewed my library books today! Yay! I put a note in my planner when I checked them out, and today it said "RENEW!" So I did it online. So easy.

Two no spend days in a row!

September 18th, 2006 at 11:52 pm

Sunday was a no-spend day, and so was today. I was all set to go to Wal-Mart, but I realized there was nothing I truly needed -- it's just a habit to go every weekend. I will need to get a few things later in the week, but it gave me a curiously powerful feeling to realize I could choose NOT to go!

I was updating my net worth spreadsheet today and decided to look up my car's value on Edmunds. I was expecting to have to lower it. To my surprise, the car is still holding its value. It's a 2001 RAV4, and I love it. Wouldn't sell it, but it's nice to know it's worth about $5000 more than I owe on it!

Net worth took a jump!

September 17th, 2006 at 02:21 pm

On Friday I took back the items that didn't fit me to Goodwill and got $15 back. Also, Discover entered a $20 cashback into my checking account. So I was feeling pretty good, anyway. Then I got a notice in the mail that my house's assessed value went up $3,500. That might seem like bad news, in terms of taxes, but to me it means I can sell it for more than I thought -- hopefully! Plus, it nicely increases my net worth!

Yesterday I went to my daughter-in-law's mother's house, about a two-hour drive away. My son and daughter-in-law were visiting for her brother's wedding reception. Since they live 9-10 hours away from me, it was a great chance to see them. I went along to the reception, even helped set up, and it was a good day. I spent $25 on a gift card for the newlyweds, and $21 on gas and a capuccino. Gas was only $2.19 a gallon -- how great is that? I also ate free all day, although that wasn't exactly intentional. My DIL's mom treated for lunch at Steak & Shake (she was quicker to grab the check than I was -- honest, I was trying!) And of course the reception offered plenty of food for dinner.

I delivered a bag of clothes I've been collecting for my kids' baby, and they seemed pleased. I figured that I spent about $40 on all the clothes I brought -- a paper grocery bag full. That's less than I spend on three little items at Disney last month!

But they already have a lot of little things, so I am going to have to change gears and look for bigger clothes now. Either that or think of a different way to help them out. I'd like to start collecting books, and I also like the idea of giving the baby a savings bond every year. My in-laws did that for my kids and they came in handy when they were in college.

Noon run to Goodwill

September 15th, 2006 at 11:34 am

After two no-spend days this week, I made a noon run to Goodwill yesterday. For $52 I got:

1 fully-lined linen-type jacket
1 velour long-sleeved top
1 rayon shirt
3 bras
2 rolls of gift wrap
big package of tissue paper
2 pot holders
2 pairs trouser socks

And for my grandson-to-be:
2 sweater vests
1 jacket
1 hoodie
2 pairs pajamas
1 onesie
1 shirt

Most of the children's clothing was brand new, donated by Target.

Alas, I have to return two of the bras, and I've also decided to return the velour top and rayon shirt. They don't fit just right. I know, I should have tried them on in the store, but I would so much rather do it at home!

Anyway, since the women's jacket alone would have cost more than $50 retail, I think I did pretty well!

Good art and bad shepherd's pie

September 11th, 2006 at 10:51 pm

I haven't blogged in a few days -- I think it's because my computer workspace isn't very comfortable -- I've got to get over that, I don't have the money to redecorate!

I got reimbursed for my conference, which is a relief. So good to pay off those credit card bills!

On Friday I had a fun and frugal night with friends. Went to the "big city," Indianapolis, for an art show. My friend is married to an artist, and I try to support him by attending his events (since I sure can't buy art). In addition to touring the gallery, we had dinner at a sidewalk cafe, $16 including tip. When I mentioned to my friend that I needed to buy a coffeemaker, she gave me one she was planning to give to Goodwill! I offered to pay a fair price, but she insisted on giving it to me. It's great -- in excellent condition, and I'm in the brewing business again!

On Saturday I grocery-shopped, spending $59 on food, $9 for a DVD I'll give to a friend for her birthday, $1 for conditioner and $3 for vitamins. I also paid the lawn-mowing guy $60.

Sunday was a no-spend day. I went to a funeral for a colleague's husband; he died young of brain cancer; it was a sad day. But it reminded me to appreciate all the little joys of everyday life.

Today I spent $4 for some ichthammol ointment (I have a nasty splinter that is firmly imbedded). I also spent $2 on vacuum cleaner bags and $4 for two packages of Activia yogurt. I tested some last week and it is very tasty. I am hoping it will relieve some digestive problems that you guys do NOT want to hear about!

I think I have settled on spending a bit more on groceries. Buying food that is healthy and that I really like makes me feel better all round. I came to this conclusion after making (cheapo)shepherd's pie that was pretty much a mess. Good dog food. For me -- not so great.

A low-key weekend

September 5th, 2006 at 12:01 am

Knowing that I had to strictly curtail spending this month, I chose not to do anything this Labor Day weekend. I went grocery-shopping on Saturday, and that was it. I haven't been out of the house otherwise. The grocery trip cost $47 -- $40 for food, and $7 for sympathy cards. I mentioned some time ago that my aunt had cancer -- she finally succumbed; she actually hung on longer than anyone expected. Anyway, the cards are for her children, my cousins. I am no longer feeling bad that I cannot go to her funeral, since they are having a simple graveside service and do not seem to expect me to make the trip. Still, I'm sad that she is gone; she was a great lady, and so much like my mother, it's kind of like losing my mother again. I have had to battle some depression this weekend, but I am glad that I've had two no-spending, no-driving days. And I read two books and watched four movies! That's some serious relaxing!

Nothing But Necessities Month

September 1st, 2006 at 12:01 pm

My spending last month was SO big, it put me $300 in the hole this paycheck. A lot of it was vacation, but I also had carpeting installed, windowsills replaced and vents cleaned. I also spent $267 on clothes, which is very unusual for me. And I had to pay my gym dues ($105 3x a year). All in all I spent $4164, compared to $2802 last month.

SO... September will be an NBN month -- nothing but necessities. If I don't really need it, I will not buy it!