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Archive for July, 2014

Some quick lessons learned

July 31st, 2014 at 11:01 am

If you don't spend much money, you don't have coinage to roll and deposit into your savings account. Bummer. However, I was able to do enough to push me over the $1000 in savings! Yay!

I used to read blogs where they were being frugal and saving money. They would talk about being down to their last six dollars and somehow, somehow, I found that romantic. I was impressed by them, sure. But I would also just be inspired and think how nice it was that they had such a budget. Grrr. I'm not saying this right. I would glamourize their budget skills. Until this month when I cut my budget down and had to stay within its limits and...I hated it.

If you don't count our dishwasher repair, I have $6 left for dinner out tonight for our last bowling night. I didn't like being so constantly on vigil with my money and the people who have to live like this have my utmost respect for doing this every month. Those living on a fixed income; I don't know how they do it. I have said "no" to myself many times this past month and I would not like to live like that all the time. And I was choosing to live like that! This wasn't something I had to do. I picked to do it.

I do want to pay off the credit card and I'm still going to throw all I can at it, but I'd also like to live a little.

Having said that, I will post my numbers of my No Spend Month tomorrow. I truly wish I could be more cheery and tell everyone how great it was to do a No Spend Month; how it got me in touch with my budget and with the things in life that don't cost money. Yes, in a way. However, I already appreciate those things, so I'm not sure this taught me a whole lot more.

I did have 19 No Spend Days this month!

I'm going to go over, but I'm OK with that

July 30th, 2014 at 07:16 am

I had my long weekend and it was....OK. I was glad I took the days off of work, but I didn't get much done around the house. I don't feel I was productive, but I also don't feel like I rested. Instead, I did a little of this (reading) and a little of that (watching TV) and some of this other stuff (basic house cleaning), but nothing that I would brag about.

Unfortunately, our dishwasher started leaking like crazy. I spent part of Friday figuring out what was leaking and I ordered a replacement part. This will put me over for the month, but the replacement part was about $30. To call someone in? $$$$$. It arrived yesterday, but I didn't get home until after 10PM, so I'll fix it tonight.

Other than that one mishap, I think I can make it through the month on the budget I created. I'm going to be so glad when this month is over. I'm going to a cash, no tracking system for August.

Yesterday was a doctor's appointment, work, jewelry making class with a friend, then meeting another friend for drinks and talking at a local place. I had fun, but it was a busy day for me and I'm just not used to it. I'm very tired because I didn't unwind until about midnight.

Only two more days to go!

Double Lunch

July 24th, 2014 at 08:24 am

Tuesday and Wednesday were NSDs. I now am up to 16 NSDs this month. Only one more week to go of my No Spend Month and I have $20 left. I think I can; I think I can. It will be close.

Today I will spend money on bowling $10 (taken out ahead of time, so doesn't impact the $20 I have left) and have already stopped at the grocery store for taco shells. I will be going to Michaels after work to pick up a package I had shipped there for free and to pick up some supplies for the jewelry class I'm taking next Tuesday. This will be put on the gift card that I purchased from Raise, saving 9% on the card. No cash out of pocket.

I packed a double lunch. One to eat at lunch; one to eat after work as dinner. No money spent for tonight's dinner.

After bowling, I will stop at WalMart for the last of the things we need to get us through the next week. Boyfriend has turned into a yogurt-loving fiend.

I have Friday and Monday off of work for an extra long weekend. No particular plans, but I hope to not spend hardly any money.

Next month, I'm going to the cash only, no tracking budget. We'll see how this works.

That just felt cheap

July 22nd, 2014 at 07:55 am

I'm proud of myself for having another NSD yesterday. But not buying anything at the baseball game felt...just cheap. I didn't mind parking a little bit away and not paying for parking, but to not get anything to eat or drink at the game just made me feel deprived. I did have money in my pocket, but the budget is so tight that I just couldn't do it. I didn't NEED anything, but it was hard to pass up the french fries or the dippin dots. It was hot and at the very least, I wished I had a water.

Oh well. Today is looking to be another NSD. I get to go home right after work (YAY!!). I will run at the indoor track at lunch (air conditioned) and boyfriend is planning on going for a bike ride with a coworker, so I'm hoping to have the house to myself for a little while after work. A very good thing, because I have more cleaning to do and it is easier to do it when he's out of the house.

I really don't anticipate spending any money until Thursday. I made a pan of enchiladas on Sunday and will eat them most of this week. We have lots of food for lunches. We have breakfast stuff.

A real challenge

July 21st, 2014 at 10:58 am

My workplace is taking us to the ball game tonight!! I do like baseball and I'm happy that my work is buying us tickets. Unfortunately, those tickets don't include food, drink, or parking. Dang. The parking is easy. There is a place to park about 1/2 mile away that's free. I brought extra food with me to work with the hopes that it will be enough for both lunch and dinner, so I don't need to purchase food. I have my water bottle that I can refill before I leave work. I can't take it in with me to the game, but they will have a water fountain somewhere, right?

I will bring some money in with me just in case. I think I can have a good time without spending any money. That would make today another NSD! That would be a total of 14 NSDs for the month of July! I do still have $3 in my entertainment/restaurant budget, but I'm hoping I can hold onto that for bowling night.

I have $15 left in my grocery budget. For the month. But I think I have enough food in the house. It still is going to be a challenge. I will be glad when this month is over! I have much respect for those who have to do this every month. For the most part, I am able to buy what I want when I want. Luckily, my wants aren't usually too out of this world.

Shrimp Chowder

July 20th, 2014 at 04:49 pm

Recipe for the shrimp chowder that I ate for days.

1 bunch green onion tops slices (4-5)
1/2 tsp minced garlic (or 1 clove)
3 TBSP butter
12 oz cream cheese - room temperature
3 cans cream of potato soup
3 soup cans of milk
1 can of corn, including liquid
1/2 tsp to 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 pound shrimp (shell off)

Saute onion and garlic in butter in large pot. Add cream cheese and cook on low until melted (or very soft). Stir in soup, then stir in milk one can at a time. Add cayenne pepper. Simmer 1/2 hour. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp is cooked and pink.

I also boil four extra potatoes with skin on, just like you would cook them for mashed potatoes. Then I add them when I add the shrimp.

I had No Spend Days on Friday and Saturday. Friday night we went for a bike ride after work. It was a very nice ride on the paved path near our house.

Saturday was the HOA meeting (I am so glad that is over) and then we went boating. We didn't get home until 6. Boyfriend then washed his boat while I did some house cleaning.

Today we woke up early and went to the trails. He rode his bike with a buddy while I ran. Then we stopped at the grocery store and I spent $25, which will get us through this week and most of next. I will probably need to buy milk, water, and maybe bread for next week.

Thank you, thank you

July 18th, 2014 at 06:29 am

I love it here. I whine and complain and you guys tell me that it's OK and give me suggestions to fix my issue. You guys rock!

I think part of the cash problem is that July was a 3 paycheck month, with the last paycheck falling on June 30th. So I took out my paycheck $220 in June, but most of the money was spent on paper in July. Then I took out my $220 on Monday for this paycheck cashage and will take out $220 on the 28th. So I have cash, but no budget.

Anyway. The credit card I'm paying off closed today and it went from $2700 to $1700 in a month. I'm definitely make progress! It used to be that I had a large credit card bill when I first started my job. At that time, I had a certain amount I would pay per month, not throwing everything at it. It was so large that I treated it like a rent payment. I would up the amount when I could, but I still made sure I had some fun money. Trying to pay off the credit card ASAP this time is making it so that I throw everything at it, not saving a lot of money for fun.

Well, that and me trying to do a No Spend Month. That's my own dealie.

Yesterday I spent money on bowling $10, lunch with coworkers $7, taco shells $3, and Subway dinner $16. We bought the three footlongs for $15 and we both have dinner tonight too. I smartly packed water and chips from home and also a cooler with ice packs to take home the extra subs. Now I don't have to cook dinner tonight!

I'm hoping for a NSD today and another No Spend Weekend. The only thing that might break it would be buying bread for boyfriend's lunch.

One of my coworkers just gave me a bag of kitty treats that her cats didn't like. Since I anticipated spending money on treats and now I don't, I took $5 from Household and moved it to restaurant/entertainment, so at least I'm not negative in that category! Smile

Feeling Broke

July 17th, 2014 at 12:53 pm

Maybe it is the trying to do two No Spend Months in a row, but I'm feeling broke. I was just looking at my pay stubs for the past five years and my take home is about $170 more per paycheck than it was when I started. And I was extremely happy to be getting what I was getting when I started!

I like my job. I mostly like the people. I don't really have any burning desire to get another job and I think I get paid well for what I do. I'm lucky. I know this.

So what gives? I'm actually wondering if the budget itself is making me feel broke. When I first started my job, I was on my own, in my own apartment, paying all the bills myself. Now I live with my boyfriend and pay him a certain amount (about 40% of the bills) and the groceries. But the budget tells me that I have no money to eat out. What I used to do is take out a certain amount of cash and used it for groceries and clothes and out to eat. Cash gone? Done spending.

Now I'm trying to fit that cash system into a budget and I have a lot of cash left in my wallet, but my budget says I have no money. Admittedly, these past two months have been lean on spending (or supposed to be) because I'm paying off my credit card after fixing the camper and the car.

The strange thing is that I feel broke, but if you had me sit down with a pen and piece of paper and asked me what I want---I can only think of a handful of things I wish I could buy. Of course, they are BIG things (trip to Hawaii, anyone?).

So where is this feeling of being broke coming from? The budget. The excel budget. It is telling me that I have $65 left to spend for the rest of the month. Nevermind that I have $120 in cash in my wallet. Or that I get paid on the 28th and will have another $220 then.

I know there are tricks to make yourself feel less broke. Make a list of free things to do like go to the park or the library. Start a gratitude journal. Savor the little things. Use up some of my gift cards.

Or maybe for the month of August, go back to cash and not track and see what that does for me.

Yesterday was a No Spend Day. Today will be bowling $10, lunch with co-workers $7, dinner at Subway with boyfriend $???, and a stop at the grocery store for taco shells $3?.

Day 5 of Soup

July 16th, 2014 at 07:56 am

I made a big pot of potato shrimp chowder on Saturday. I have eaten it every day since. I do really like the soup, but I am extremely glad today is the last day I have to eat it. Since it is a "cream of" soup, it doesn't freeze well. The good, frugal thing I can say is that once you make it, reheating it is easy. Hard to give yourself a reason to go out when you can heat up the soup in 2 minutes and be eating.

Eating out is definitely one of my temptations. I love going out to eat. I like to go to places where I won't be making what they make at home. Like the Chinese restaurant. Or the Thai place that just opened up that I haven't tried yet. It allows me to try new things and sometimes I will get brave and try to make them at home. Sometimes it is things I just never will make at home (hello, french fries!). Yeah, I can make baked fries and do so, but deep fried french fries with cheese and ranch dressing....YUM. Anyway.

I did not spend any money yesterday and hope to not spend any today. After work, boyfriend and I went for a run, then I heated up my soup, did some laundry, and read my library book. Watched a little of the All Star game. Nothing too exciting.

Today I will run at lunch because I have a meeting after work to take over treasurer duties for our Home Owners Association. Yuck. Hopefully, it will be pretty quick. We have our meeting on Saturday and the president wanted to get the duties handed over before then. I'm not looking forward to the HOA meeting either because the neighbors on our end of the street are feuding with the neighbors on the other end of the street. It all has to do with 4 year olds riding quads and golf carts up and down the street---at 11 PM at night. It's not pretty.

I have a coupon for a free fountain drink at a local gas station and I think I'll treat myself to it on my way home from the meeting tonight.

Tomorrow is bowling and dinner out. Also, my co-worker is leaving and the office is going to lunch to say goodbye. I think I might go over on Entertainment/Restaurant. We'll see if I can keep it under control. But I have 3 more bowling nights and this lunch and $21 left in entertainment. Huh.

Yesterday I suddenly realized I have too much entertainment. I have 5 books checked out of the library. I've purchased (and not yet read) two more books. I have a paper box full of magazines to read. I have lots of TV shows on the DVR to watch. This in addition to normal life. I have TOO MUCH. It is time to declutter and make some more room in my life. I canceled all my book requests from the library (except those already on their way to me). I am not going to check out any new books until I get through my own books and get rid of some of those magazines.

Next up might be clothes or the boxes in the attic. When I moved in with my boyfriend, most of "my" stuff went into the attic. Kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, etc. It's been four years now, so maybe it's time to let some of that stuff go. I have given away stuff as I see the need. My cousin bought a house and I gave him pots, pans, and dishes. A co-worker was collecting items for a needy family and I donated a microwave. It's time to look through what's left and decide what to do with it. I think I go through this every year where I want to make room for what's next.

Half Way Through

July 15th, 2014 at 06:41 am

I'm trying to do another No Spend Month. So far, so good. I've had more success this month than last month and more No Spend Days too! Let's hope I can keep it up for the rest of the month. I'm a little worried. Mostly about the grocery budget.

Here is the budget numbers so far:

Item, Budget, Spent, Left
Gas (car): $100, $100, $0
Household (includes cats): $10, $4, $6
Grocery: $320, $282, $38
Entertainment/Restaurant: $125, $104, $21
Car Maintenance: $0, $0, $0
Clothes: $5, $2, $3
Personal Care: $20, $23, -$3
Gifts/donation: $45, $45, $0

Extra Income: $260.37

Things will be tight, but I think I can do it, if nothing comes up. The biggest thing I'm concerned about is the grocery budget. I just did another big grocery shop, but I don't think it will be enough to get us through the end of the month. Mostly, I'm concerned about lunches. Boyfriend is on his healthy streak, so I want to keep him supplied in yogurt and apples.

Yesterday I went to two stores and spent $100 on groceries. That should be enough to get us through two weeks, with only a couple of fill in trips for milk and bread. I went over on my personal care, but since I anticipate not spending anything on clothes, those two cancel out.

It's all a matter of saying no to myself!

Weekend

July 14th, 2014 at 09:34 am

It was a lazy weekend. We did go to the mountain bike trail on Saturday morning. Boyfriend rode his bike and I ran. I liked it OK, but I think I like the other trail we go to better. So does he. We got there around 6:45 and by the time we left at 8:15, the parking lot was almost full with more coming in! I'm glad we get up early and go!

My Saturday night dinner with Dad was canceled. Boyfriend and I did go into the city for some shopping, but only boyfriend spent money. I successfully resisted, even though we went to my favorite sports store. I just didn't even bring my purse in. Saturday night I made a big pot of soup and will be eating that most of this week.

On Sunday we went for a run on the paved trail by our house. Then we didn't do hardly anything. I took two naps and felt I could have laid in bed all day. I read, watched a little TV, but mostly slept. I think I was just tired. It's been warm and muggy at night, which is hard to sleep in. We haven't put in the window air conditioner, so it has been fans only for us. Cheap, but worth it?

I had No Spend Days on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. By the end of the day yesterday, I still had $44 left from the cash I took out the last time I got paid. I put $40 towards my rent and the last $4 I will be walking to the bank on my lunch hour. Every little bit counts! I'm trying to get the savings back up to $1000 while still paying off the credit card.

Today I get paid, which means grocery shopping. I have a decent list of something things that are on sale and some things we are out of, like yogurt and apples. I anticipate going to two stores.

Tomorrow I'll post my 1/2 way through the month numbers.

Wed, Thur, Fri

July 11th, 2014 at 05:32 pm

On Wednesday, I spent $100 on my monthly gas card. I think that will see me through the whole month for gas for the Bug. I mostly just drive back and forth to work, about 14 miles one way.

Boyfriend and I had planned to run after work on Wednesday, but couldn't find a track to run on. One was locked up; one was in use; one was under construction. I went ahead and ran on the sidewalks, but boyfriend decided to go home and run on the treadmill. Sidewalks are harder than roadways or trails and he feels the pain more with sidewalks. On my way home, I stopped at the grocery store and bought only those things that were on my list. I spent $23.

Thursday we bowled after work. Spent $10. Boyfriend bought our Subway dinner, so bowling was all I spent that day. I had two good games and two "eh" games. We were playing the "ghost team" of our league, so we were done quickly. We didn't stop at the gas station for drinks on our way home. Also, I packed waters and chips to go with our Subway, so we didn't have to buy anything but our subs. Also, on the way to bowling, I used a "free trail size lotion" coupon at the Bath and Body Works. I need to check my stash, but I might be close to having enough lotions to be able to put them in Christmas bags for my co-workers.

Today was a No Spend Day. Work, spin class at lunch, deposit ex's check at the bank, go home. I'll put the whole amount of the check towards the Visa bill. It's going down! I hope to have it paid off in two months.

Not sure what is going to happen this weekend. I think we're set on groceries, so no spending until Monday. I get paid, so I have already started a list of food we'll need. Mostly, things for lunches. It sounds like we're going to the mountain bike trail in the morning, but no other plans this weekend that I know about. That's fine with me. I want to create a list of things I want to get done around the house. Kinda silly stuff like doing a good scrubbing of the box fans and maybe even washing windows!!

Have a great weekend!!

Oops

July 9th, 2014 at 11:01 am

Shouldn't have said anything. I need to buy gas for the car, so spending is happening today. I'll buy my gas card for the month: $100. Then, on my way home, I'll go ahead and get the groceries to carry us through the beginning of next week. I think I have six things on the list (bread, ice cream, garbanzo beans, special k crackers, taco shells, egg noodles) so it isn't going to be bad. This should get us through to my payday--which is on Monday.

Tomorrow, I will spend $10 on bowling and boyfriend wants to eat at Subway, so I'll probably buy a $5 footlong. I'll grab chips from home and drink water. Saturday Dad wants to have his belated Fathers Day dinner at the Chinese Buffet place, so I'll be spending money then. I'm hoping we will go to the mountain bike track again on Saturday morning and I'll run while boyfriend bikes with his friends.

Still on a No Spend Streak!

July 8th, 2014 at 01:36 pm

I have not spent money since last Thursday. I might, just might, be able to go until this Thursday before I have to spend money. I would be spending money on Thursday anyway because of bowling, so I can just roll it into the groceries n stuff I have to buy.

We had an unexpectedly relaxing weekend. Boyfriend was all ready to go mountain biking in the morning and boating in the afternoon every day of the weekend. We did go mountain biking on Friday and he ran with me on Sat and Sun mornings, but the boating thing didn't work out. Friday he was too tired and I'm not sure what happened on Saturday. I don't really like to go out on the boat, so I'm not complaining. I got stuff done around the house, which makes me very happy.

Went back to work yesterday and it has been non stop craziness since. For the first time in a long time, I'm behind. We had a big project--top priority!!--hit our desks and all other work has been pushed aside. I normally am able to get my inbox pretty clean before I leave--not the last two days. Frown

With that said, break is done and back to work I go!

Staring at the numbers

July 3rd, 2014 at 06:35 am

As if staring at the numbers is going to magically come up with a different plan of attack. I have probably pulled up my budget spreadsheet 15 times in the last two days.

Numbers as of 7/3/14:
Title, amount budgeted, amount spent, amount left

Fixed:
Rent: $600, $600, $0
Cell Phone: $67, $66.60, $0.40
Donation: $25, $25, $0
Student Loan: $366.04, %366.04, $0

Not fixed:
Savings/Debt: $410, $410, $0
Gas: $100, $0, $100
Household: $10, $0, $10
Grocery: $300, $80, $220
Entertainment: $125, $50, $75
Car Maintenance: $0, $0, $0
Clothes: $10, $2, $8
Personal Care: $20, $0, $20
Gifts: $50, $45, $5

Extra income: $5.25

I've already pulled out bowling for the 5 weeks in July in my entertainment budget. Told you about grocery shopping already and the clothes. Today I sent $25 to a wedding couple and $20 for my step-dad's birthday present, taking my gifts budget down to $5. I have no other birthday or other events for the month.

I had a no spend day yesterday. Went to work, went for a run with boyfriend after work, stayed home and ate dinner. Tonight is bowling and I will be doing the last of the grocery shopping for all next week. I have a list. I have a plan for menus.

Then, I hope to have a complete No Spend Long Weekend!!! Have a wonderful one, everyone!

Shopping Saga

July 2nd, 2014 at 09:41 am

I really try to do all my shopping at once. One big trip. I dislike shopping (or should I say spending money) and so I try to get as much out of the way on one day as I can.

Yesterday was that day. The monthly Sams run and using up a few coupons that were about to expire.

Get out of work and first stop: Meijers. I had clipped an online coupon for my grape tomatoes I eat almost every day. I also had a $5 gift card boyfriend received in the mail to inspire him to use the electric company's "non peak usage." I bought two containers of tomatoes and spent $1 out of pocket.

Next up: Walgreens that is kitty corner from Meijer. On Monday I had used a $1 off starbucks iced coffee coupon, getting the iced coffee for free and getting a $1 off a future order coupon. I used that coupon plus my Walgreens balance rewards points to get two spaghetti sauces, a pedicure set (including a nail brush and toe separators that I've been wanting--clearance), a set of emery boards to give as gifts at Christmas (also clearance), and another iced coffee. I used a coupon for the sauce and spent $2 out of pocket.

Onto the busy street that has all the stores. I went into Kohls, they just renovated and sent me a $10 off $10 coupon. I used it towards workout socks for boyfriend and spent $2. In recent weeks, I have received two other $10 off $10 coupons and used them towards my own socks. I'm stocked up on socks!

The monthly Sams run was next. I really try to only go once a month and keep a running list of things we're running low on. My boyfriend and I's agreement is that he buys the Sams stuff for the house. I buy the Sams stuff that only I use. I spent $41 for me in strawberries, grapefruit, shrimp, and healthy choice ice cream. He bought the chocolate syrup, sandwich bags, water softener salt, shredded cheese, bath soap, granola bars, apples, and chicken breasts.

Onto WalMart. Last stop and definitely the most entertaining! I had a $25 egift card from swagbucks and a handful of coupons. The list was long. Cat food, yogurt, ice cream, water, bread, mac & cheese, corn, bananas, sour cream, gatorade, individual bags of chips, special k chips, oatmeal, ham for sandwiches, bacon, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot. Spent $36 out of pocket.

I still have to get a few more fresh things and then I'm going to be set for next week, food-wise. Boyfriend is revamping his diet for his Tough Mudder, so that could change, depending on how he wants to be healthy. He's eating apples with his lunch, so that's a plus!

I am going to try to do another No Spend Month. I would love to be able to set the rule for myself that there will be no stocking up; that I will only buy something when we need it, not when it is on sale--no matter how good the sale. This is my default way of shopping and I need to untrain myself to be that way. Just buy it when you need it; no stocking up this month!!