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September 14th, 2006 at 05:42 pm

Oh my goodness! My neighbors had conflicting schedules tonight and needed to me to watch their children. Combining their children with mine, I had ages 2, 4, 5 and 6...all boys. The 2 and 4 year old are their's and they ran me absolutely ragged! I fed them all dinner and that went fine. It was when we were heading out the door for my son's ball practice that things got horrible. First, the 2 year old wouldn't come upstairs from the basement. When he did, it was because he had pooped in his pants. At the same time, my 5 year old cut his finger (just a papercut) and was crying. Poopy pants....crying 5 year old...poopy pants...crying 5 year old. Which was more important???? So I plopped the 2 year on the toilet, ran upstairs for a band-aid, cleaned up the 2 year old and then put the band-aid on my son. Crisis averted.

At the field, I couldn't keep the two year off the field or out of the mud. The 4 year old ran into the parking lot while I chased his brother. My son kicked their son. It was just a barrel of laughs!

Right now, as I relax and type, my 6 year old is reading to my 5 year old. Is that sweet or what? I just really needed a break.

Today was not entirely frugal etiher, and I feel guilty. I had a stressful day at work. My supervisor called a mandatory meeting for all speech therapists and psychologists and I couldn't make it because I had parent meetings scheduled for the same time. I couldn't cancel with one day's notice. I explained it to my supervisor and she said it was fine and just to come late. So in the middle of one of my meetings, my supervisor's secretary called wondering where I was. I had to re-explain myself, and though she understood, it made me nervous for the rest of the day. I stopped at McDonald's because I was feeling the need for something bad for me. That was the splurge. I'll feel better after I tell DH I did that. I haven't seen much of him today. He's off at his second job at the church right now.

Well, I need to go listen to my son read. I can hear him from here and he makes me so proud! He's such a great reader for such a little guy!

More money each month

September 11th, 2006 at 08:50 am

I decided to take on another flute student. It's a huge decision because I'm basically only doing it because it's more money to throw at debt and it's easy money and it's something I really enjoy. But, I have to be committed to this student as long as she wants to stay with me and she's in the 6th grade. This could be a 6 year committment. But, I know her mom really well and she assures me that her daughter is a good student.

So, that is another $60-$75 per month. I may just put that money into my savings account so that it is there when I need it. I have over extended us with my high standards for paying down debt, which is what gets us into trouble. There is no room for error in our budget. I could just cut down on a payment one month, but that does bad things to me psychologically! LOL! $60 wiggle-room every month is nice. And yet, that's only $15/wk wiggle room. Perhaps both my flute students should be wiggle room money. No, I already figured that money into my monthly goal money.

I will get there! I just have to keep plugging along! Rolling, rolling, rolling!

September 11

September 11th, 2006 at 05:01 am

Today is going to be a difficult day, and I can at least take comfort in knowing I am not alone. I work in the schools and the children in 6th-8th grades have only a vague recollection of the day. The staff keeps up a happy front and I have a hard time doing that. I feel like I'm in a fog.

Our son celebrated his fifth birthday yesterday. I've heard so many people say "Has it been five years already?" We will never say that. When my son was one week old, it had been a week since 9/11. When my son was one month old, it had been one month. I marked each month for the first two years of his life, as mothers do with their infants. Now I mark each year and even each half year.

I have yet to celebrate his birthday AFTER 9/11. Like if his birthday were to fall on a Friday, most parents would celebrate Saturday or Sunday. I just feel an intense need to celebrate BEFORE 9/11 because my baby was born before that time. He was born into a world of security and peace.

I will never forget waking up in the hospital bleery eyed with my newborn who had slept in my arms all night. My husband flipped through TV channels looking for something to have on in the background while we couldn't take our eyes off our new son. We came across a news story about a plane that hit one of the towers and I told him to turn it off. He didn't and five minutes later, we watched live as the second plane hit. It was horrifying. My hormones were all off as it was and I just kept thinking about what kind of a world I had just brought my newborn into.

I didn't like being in the hospital that day at all. It was such a big building and everyone had a fear of public places that day and for a long time after. We heard a sonic boom around 10:00 AM and could only imagine what it was and it seemed so close. We were in a fairly large city and it scared us. Later we learned it was the sound of a couple fighters leaving the nearby air force base.

My heart is certainly not in my job today.

Number woes

September 9th, 2006 at 05:05 am

I'm feeling depleted.

The finance charge came through on the 0% interest card. We switched to 0% interest but it came with a one time 3% charge of $550. So the balance went up. That's frustrating, let me tell you. But in the end it will save us money. To stick with my plan, somehow I have to come up with an extra $550 and I'd like to find it this month. On an already very tight budget close to Christmas time, that is not going to be easy. I already came up with $100 though in the form of a check from Verizon. Sometimes nice surprises come in the mail.

And sometimes not so nice surprises come in the mail! Like city taxes I forget about year after year. I always forget that taxes for the city I work in come from my pay, NOT the city I live in! Doesn't that suck?! So I owe taxes quarterly to the city I live in and the bill came yesterday.

AND I overdrew on my account by a whopping $1.39!! I am so angry! So I now we have a $9.00 fee on an error of $1.39. That's what I get for taking my checking account down to nothing between pay periods all for the sake of throwing every penny at the CC's.

I'm feeling very crunched at the moment. We were down to absolutely nothing in the house to eat last week, so we ate out several times. I went to the grocery store yesterday and spent $120 of my $200 budget and then gave another $20 to my son for school lunches. That leaves $60 for the rest of the week should we need something.

I have many, many financial things to figure out in my head right now. I'm not sure where a lot of things I need money for are going to come from with the budget so tight. I may need to loosen up a bit and not expect to be able to throw so much at the CC. We need money to keep up with what we have too.

Year's plan for getting out of debt

September 7th, 2006 at 07:54 am

I was obsessing while riding as the passenger to Gatlinburg and came up with monthly pay down goals to get us out of debt by June of 2007. Here' s the breakdown:

September: 2645
October: 1260
November: 1260
December: 1545
January: 1260
February: 1260
March: 2825
April: 1260
May: 1260
June: 1460
July: 1760
August: 1510
Total: $19,305

This does not include our tax return or DH's raises, so I am confident that if we meet or excede these goals, we will achieve pay off by this time next year!

This is all possible because DH took on a part time job. Thank you DH!

September plan

September 7th, 2006 at 07:30 am

I have a plan! I love plans!

Current totals:
CC 1 $-138.42 (Yes, that's negative)
CC 2 $4,666
CC 3 $18,200
Total: $22,727.58
(It's actually less...my last payment hasn't cleared yet)

1. Transfer $138.42 from CC2 to CC1 which brings CC1 to a 0 balance.

2. Pay $2,745 to CC2 over course of September.
CC2 $1782.58

3. Transfer CC2 balance of 1782.58 to CC3

This plan gets me down to just one card by the end of September and that one card has 0% interest until October 2007. Phew! It's working....we're getting there.

Hard at work

September 6th, 2006 at 04:25 pm

I am hard at work trying to figure out this whole couponing thing. Right now, it is fun. But I can see the fun waning and then where will I be? It takes me forever. I don't feel like spending money on a coupon organizer when I am not even convinced I will continue. And I am not patient enough to stick each coupon in its own sleeve of a photo album. Therefore, I am spending forever hunting through my coupons and matching them to sale prices. I haven't found any truly great deals yet except things I will never use. But, like I said, the search is amusing me for the moment. But I am spending way too much precious time on it.

I think I wrote that we fixed the drippy water problem. We turned off the water underneath the sink. Today I did even better than that. I figured out that I can leave the cold water available and it does not drip. So it is only the hot water that is the problem. I wonder if my energy bill will now go down since hot drip water is not running down the drain.

I hate these days when no money comes in. I feel inactive in my money quests. I think that is why I enjoy the couponing. I feel as though I am doing something.

Back on track

September 5th, 2006 at 04:18 pm

We just got back from a 3 day weekend in Gatlinburg! I didn't want to write on line that we were doing that. I have been dreading it because I knew we would be spending money, instead of throwing it at the CC's. But, we have come back not too worse for the wear.

We had a great time! Our biggest expense was food, of course, and Christmas gifts. Gifts were budgeted for the first time ever so I had a blast at the ornament section of the Christmas store! If any of you were there, I was the one holding up the line to get them all personalized! LOL! DH bought some gifts for me at the Boyd's Bear factory and in downtown Gatlinburg, so I know this is going to be a great Christmas for me too. Big Grin We really did have a great time. We took cash and almost made it on cash only. We put the rest on the CC BUT as soon as the charges show up online, I am ready to transfer the exact amount to the card from our savings account where our Christmas funds sit. Big Grin It's a plan!

I am excited about September's pay off!
August goal was $630.
Actual August payment was: $1030.42! Really great!

September's goal is: $2645 (I get an extra pay this month)

We finally figured out how to turn off our kitchen sink, so no more dripping water! LOL! I was disappointed that with all the collecting of drip water this month, my bill was $1.00 higher. Frown Confused Oh well. Now it is not dripping and will hopefully go down.

Son learns about money and healthy eating

August 30th, 2006 at 11:49 am

We came up with an idea for our first grader. He now has the option to purchase lunch at school, as a big first grader. Wink We decided that at the beginning of the week we will sit down with his lunch calendar and decide which meals he would like to buy and which days he would like to pack. Each week he gets $10 regardless. If he packs all week, he keeps $10. If he buys all week, he keeps only $1.25. This motivates him to make some decisions and it makes him responsible for his money and his eating choices. Just like I have to decide if I am willing to pay fast food for lunch or keep my money and pack, so must he make this same decision.

So far, this plan is working well and has raised some good discussions. At first he wanted to buy lunch every day, but he didn't like getting only $1.25. Then he changed it to packing every day. We talked about how it is ok to splurge sometimes and that this money is budget for lunch. He can do what he wants with it. Eventually, he decided to buy three days this week, because the menu options were pretty good.

The best benefit to me is I get to encourage him to choose mostly healthy lunches. I hate soft pretzel day! What kind of lunch is that? And French Toast sticks with syrup????? Come on. If he wants to eat pizza once in a while, that's fine, but let's stay away from the absolute junk.

A new obsession- gardening

August 30th, 2006 at 11:37 am

My regular readers are getting a glimpse of my personality. I get obsessed with things, but these obsessions never last. In fact, they are generally short lived. A lengthy obsession for me lasts about a month.

Finances was my obsession. Thankfully, I have stopped what I would call "obsessing" about it, but the thought is still there. This is good because now it is a healthy battle rather than an obsession. If I can keep finances on the back burner, it will continue to cook. If I continue at the pace I was, I'll end up burning it, to keep up with the cooking analogy. I'm content with where I am with the finances right now and proud of myself for not having let it go all together.

My new obsession? Wink Gardening. I get so frustrated when an obsession hits at the wrong time! LOL! Here we are approaching FALL and I am obsessing about gardening. To fulfill my needs I have been doing a lot of reading, researching and tending to houseplants. LOL! I decided yesterday that my office at work needs plants because I read (while researching) that plants absorb toxins. How cool is that! And my office is toxic! Saddly, most schools are. I read up on plants that will survive with very little light, because I'm in a dungeon. I went to the nursery and came home with a Potho (I think). I also bought a Venis Fly Trap for home and the boys are enthralled with it.

Now, true to my obsessive nature, I spent last evening repotting and making cuttlings from my new Pothos and my beautiful Spiders that I am so very proud of. I am filling my home with plants now, and rather frugally too. The spiders have all been completely free, made from cuttlings. I cut a new cuttling for a plant I got from my MIL. It's a very common plant, but I don't know what it is. LOL! This is all new to me! The Pothos and Fly trap I paid $14.00 for, but I can make as many new plants as I want from the Pothos, so I don't mind the investment. I have two offices at two schools and a home to fill with toxin removing plants! LOL!

In the meantime, I am researching for a garden in the spring. I learned that if I lay out cardboard boxes on my grass it will kill grass and weeds while creating rich soil for my garden. This is good. I can do this. After that, I have about 15 things I want to plant! LOL! I don't do "small" well. I am going to try to scale back to my favorites and build from there though. Otherwise, this obsession will wane like all the others and this one, like the finances, is a good obsession.

Fancy figuring...planning ahead

August 30th, 2006 at 11:19 am

I am a planner! My plans don't always work, but I enjoy the process of planning the plan. Wink

I just did some figuring with my salary and pay scale. If I can complete 5 more course between now and the Fall of 2008, I will be bumped up to a Master's +20 pay which works out to about $280 more per month after taxes. If I can complete an additional 3 classes by Fall of 2009, I will be bumped up to a Master's +30 pay which works out to about $480 per month after taxes. And that is without taking into consideration cost of living increases, because they aren't a sure thing. (These are very rough figures not taking into consideration things like tax brackets. I simply figured the difference between my gross monthly pay and my net monthly pay is 30%. EEK! I figured the rest out accordingly.)

Here's another "if". AFTER we eliminate our debt (not IF, but AFTER), and IF we can pay off our car loan by Fall of 2009, we will have approximately $1200 left over after all bills are paid for living expenses. This is exactly what we are used to right now eliminating what we pay out toward debt. This is good news! This means we can live entirely off off my salary within 3 years!

My goal all along has been to eventually live off of one salary and invest the other. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! The light is 3 years and a pretty specific plan away, but it is there, none-the-less.

Back to work...less time

August 26th, 2006 at 07:37 pm

I have less time for blogging these days! Or perhaps just less energy. I'm not sure.

We're chugging away. I've been reading on the site more than participating lately. I'm trying to figure out this whole coupon thing. I like to just shop at Aldi's and forget the hassle, but my Walgreens experience has intrigued me.

I'm also considering gardening for the spring. Our land is absolutely horrible and it's hard to get grass to grow! The builders stipped our entire neighborhood of top soil. I'm thinking this Fall we'd like to till a square of it and cover it with leaves so that by Spring we'll have a nice piece of dirt to work with. Then we can plant and see what grows! I really like the idea of free groceries in my back yard.

I'm stressing about money again. It's the beginning of the school year which always comes with pop up expenses. I've held money back from paying off the debt so that these expenses don't bust the budget. My hope is to not use it all and have a large sum I can send all at once at the end of September. I'm not very good at waiting though. I like to have a little to send here and there. I just $100 to one card, but that's not near as much fun as a couple hundred more.

I'm also stressing about the time factor involved in saving money. It's so much easier to save money when one person is home! It's so easy to be too tired to make lunch or dinner and then dining out becomes a so very tempting. I try to have safe guards in place for these events, but we're not perfect. Sometimes we don't feel like eating my "just in case we feel like eating out quick meals."

I also start to get overwhelmed when I think of upcoming expenses for our boys. They are so young right now, but it won't be long before we will need to purchase musical instruments and pay for lessons in addition to sports activities and whatever else. We limit sports activities right now. They choose one per year and they aren't doing the things at the same time which cuts down running around time for us. But since music is so important to us, eventually they will be doing both music AND sports at the same time! I want to give them that opportunity, but goodness it is expensive! I know that as a flute teacher I charge $15/half hour lesson. That's around $120 per month for both boys for one instrument! $240 if I want them to do piano in addition to a second instrument, which I do! Add to that the cost of sports activities, and, well, how do parents do it? And by then they will be eating more too! LOL! EEK! No more small plate dinners keeping our grocery budget in line. Let's not even talk about college yet. Phew!

Alright, I'm done worrying. It's on paper and out of me head now. Wink

Excited about grocery shopping

August 23rd, 2006 at 12:31 pm

I just got my checks in the mail from Kroger Rewards for *drum roll please*...$90! EEK! Of course that is because the three months prior to coming to this site I had racked up that many points on my credit card! Still, $90 is $90. Even though I don't shop at Kroger any more, but Aldi instead, I can stock up on things that I can not get at Aldi.

$50 of that money is going toward diapers for a friend who is having twins. So I have $40 left, plus two $7 off coupons plus a few other coupons I can throw into the mix. Free stuff, here I come!

The only problem is, I can't find that $7 off coupon! Grrrrr. I know they do this on purpose. They send really good coupons a good month before you can you use them because they know that you will lose or forget about them!

I'm off to turn my house back upside down trying to locate those dag-gone coupons!

I was a little frugal today

August 22nd, 2006 at 05:13 pm

I just remembered a few little frugal things I did today.

I used my leaky faucet drip water to water all five baby trees in our yard. Pathetic little things. I also used it to water our plants and we added it to the washing machine for a load. Oh, and lemonade. Can't forget the lemonade! That's a lot of water!

We had meatloaf for dinner and one little single serving remained. Instead of letting DH eat it, which he normally would, we repackaged it with a side of rice and side of corn casserole and (voila!) it is lunch for another day. A homemade frozen meal.

I also rescued a spider plant. I had never been able to keep a plant alive. Then, my grandmother died and I took home a beautiful Daylilly from her funeral and it has thrived since March 2005. That inspired me to try other plants. So a co-worker clipped 4 baby spiders from her plant. I gave 2 to my room-mate at work and I kept 2. My 2 did beautifully over the summer! I put them outside and they are babying like crazy! Well, I went back to work yesterday and walked into the room, and there, on her windowsill, were my roommate's spider plants! EEK! They were so wilted, their leaves were molded to the pots. And they are such tiny, pitiful little things. Here's where this relates to finances:

Past me would have thrown them away and given her new clippings from my plants at home. The new frugal me saw the beauty that was still in those not-dead plants. So I watered them and put them outside on the sidewalk while I worked for the day. I wrote my roommate a kidnapping letter and took the plants home. Just since yesterday morning those plants have perked straight up toward the sun! It's so much fun to watch them come back to life, like on E.T.!

Much Ado about money

August 22nd, 2006 at 04:27 pm

Well, I broke the challenge, and I broke it big! What have I done? Let's break it down.

Yesterday, I went to the thrift store and bought back-to-school clothes for the boys. I wasn't going to, but then I decided I was just being cheap. My youngest son is hard on clothes and between all the spaghetti, jelly, marker and grass stains and the bald spots in his hair where he groomed himself, the child was looking pretty ragged. Confused I spent $100 on a cart load of clothes. I got at least 50 pieces which included a bunch of shirts for DH and one orange turtle neck for me. It's to go with the 3 Halloween Vests I have never worn because I had nothing to wear them with. Big Grin I think it cost me $.60. Ooooooh, big spender. Wink

Today, I went to Walgreens and did some rebate shopping for the first time ever. I have mixed feelings about it. I'm really going to have to watch myself if I continue to do this. I think it can be good as long as I buy things I need to buy and not just because it fits in with the rebate. I am a shop-as-I-need-it shopper, not a shop-because-it-is-onsale shopper. I do not typically stock up on soaps and deodorants and whatever else. This is new to me and I'm not quite sure how it is going to work into my budget. Right now, my plan is to have my $200 and my grocery list and fulfill those needs first. With whatever money is left, I can "play" at Walgreens with a strict list and a calculated total of how much I am spending. I am wondering when/how I recoup the savings in my budget. I guess eventually I can go a month without buying toiletries? I don't know. Whatever...I spent $86 with a savings of $17 at the register. I will be getting $26 back in rebates.

The we got the boy's haircut to a tune of $26. No more bald spots in the little guy.

Finally, I spent $40 to fill the gas tank. It wasn't quite empty, but the price was only $2.49 and I'm afraid it will go up before I need to fill up.

Even with all of the above expenses, only the $100 thrift store purchases and half of the haircuts were outside of the budget. I basically paid for it with the padding in the checking account. I could have used the misc. funds in the freedom account, but I'm trying not to if I can help it. The best news is...NOTHING IS GOING ON THOSE CREDIT CARDS! It was outside of the budget, but still cash. Big Grin

Day 8 no spend challenge

August 19th, 2006 at 06:47 pm

It is the end of day 8 for me. It has been remarkably easy.

Today we took some friends on a one hour drive to help my brother do some drywalling at his house. We had lunch there. On the way home, we were starving just from all the work we had done. I really wanted a coke! Coke is like beer to me. I can't stand beer, but sometimes a girl just needs a Coke. Wink But we managed to get home without stopping.

I had spaghetti planned for dinner, but then I remembered that we had corn casserole, pasta salad and carrot raisin salad in the fridge leftover from the night before. So we just pan fried some chicken and ate leftover sides instead. That was frugal because otherwise those sides would probably have hung out in the fridge for two more weeks when I finally would decide to throw them out. I'm pretty good about using up meats or freezing them, but sides are a different story.

I'm happy with the way our debt downpayment is going. We just switched from a 9% card to a 0% card for 15 months. The problem is that it comes with an initial 3% transfer fee. But 3% one time vs. 9% every month is a big difference. Still, that initial 3% is going to bother me.

I have a goal to have all this paid off within the year. At the rate we are currently going, I just might reach that goal.

End day 7- no spend

August 18th, 2006 at 07:04 pm

Man! We have been really lucky with unexpected money coming at us lately! I get to add another $31 to the CC tonight. Verizon owes us $95 and we are getting a $50 refund from another CC that was closed like 3 years ago???? I didn't know we had a refund coming. Gee, you'd think they could have told us. I'm only going to count the $31 though until the other money comes in.

DH almost spent money tonight...almost, but didn't. We went to a friend's house for dinner and the guys were talking about "Mythbusters" and an episode where they put some "Menthos" in a 2 ltr bottle of diet coke and it erupted. They had to try it of course. Wink They went to the store, but DH forgot his wallet. Hmmmm....too bad. Our friend just went ahead and bought it all since it wasn't that big an expense to begin with. It was cool too! I recommend you try it yourself!

So here we are on day 7 and no money spent. Now we just have to get Friday to Friday of next week. Dinners are covered....lunches are getting difficult. Especially with school starting up.

Quick debt update

August 17th, 2006 at 08:38 pm

DH got his first second job paycheck tonight. It will get deposited tomorrow and $250 of it goes straight to the cards!

August payment total so far: $950

That puts us officially UNDER the $23,000 mark I started off with! I can no longer say we are "over $23,000 in debt". Yay!

Hey, it's the little things that keep me motivated. Wink

End Day 6- no spend challenge

August 17th, 2006 at 06:08 pm

It is the end of the day and I have now officially not spent any money.

I just sat down with my calendar and rearranged my dinner menus. We are eating for free the next few days because we've been invited over to other people's houses. My friends do this a lot, so when I entertain, I know it will be reciprocated. It's nice!

Anyway, we have enough food in the house to get us through dinner through Sept. 8. That's pretty good! So dinners are taken care of, but not breakfast or lunch. I am lousy about planning for those two meals. Sometimes I try, but mostly I don't. I just go to the store and pick a lb of turkey meat and a few loaves of bread. I don't know how much of anything to buy because it isn't actually recipes. So my next step is to actually plan lunches for all four of us. Breakfast is basically oatmeal, yogurt or cold cereal, so that is easy.

I think I will make that my next challenge. Plan lunches! I can not count on leftovers, because usually if I have leftovers, I have enough for another full meal for all four of us. Those are repackaged and frozen. Lunch leftovers only happen if there is enough leftover for only one person, and that doesn't happen often around here.

I'm going to sit down tonight and make up a grocery list for next Friday as well as a preplanned spending list. I know I need an oil change and the boys need haircuts. My mom gave me a cutsie little porcelain purse that has notepaper in it and I thought "Great, clutter." That sounds awful, I know. I found a use for it today! I stuck it next to my microwave with a pencil and now the little notepapers are my grocery list and preplanned spending lists. We have never had a running grocery list before, and I think running lists are very smart. My mom always had a running list, so I'm not sure why we don't. It's all part of my debt free plan!

Day 6- no spend

August 17th, 2006 at 09:07 am

I'm tossing around different ways to use my budgeted money. This is the problem I always have. I tend to earmark the same sum of money for many things.

For instance, right now I am thinking about my gas budget. We have decided on $100/wk. This summer, this amount has been more than enough, but once I start back to school, it may not be. Right now I am thinking that I want to use the left money for oil changes. This would change this category from "gas only" to "gas and maintenance." I didn't think about oil changes when I set up my F/A. My other thought was that anything left in the gas budget at the end of a pay cycle would go to the CC's. Since oil changes only happen once every 3 months or so, I think I manage to do it all. Just some random thoughts here.

If I can manage to get through the two week period without spending any money, I think I will get the oil changed next Friday as well as hair cuts for my boys.

Other than all that, I am doing well with not spending any money. I made DH a quick lunch as he was heading out the door. He said his plan was to go do his interview for his job but be back by 2:00 and just eat then. Maybe...but if he got hungry while he was out the temptation to stop would be too great. I'm not sure how to get him to plan ahead for his lunches. He is lousy at pre-planning just about everything. I want him to make his lunch the night before, but since he is often home for lunch, he doesn't want to do that.

Day 5- no money spent

August 16th, 2006 at 05:43 pm

It is day five of my two week no-spending challenge. I see there are some out there who are on their 15th/16th days! Way to go! I will be happy to make it to 2 weeks, although I am not at all feeling the strain.

We had pork roast, mashed potatos and peas for dinner. The roast and potatos were frozen leftovers from another night. Quite tasty for five minutes of work reheating.

DH want to purchase and ethernet cord for the computer. I'm trying to get him to hold off until after the challenge. It is not a need, though pretty close. No, not really. It will just make it possible for him to be on the computer at the same time I am. He works from home, so I get pretty antsy about my computer time sometimes. But I go back to work on Monday and the problem will therefore resolve.

One thing I did prior to this no-spend challenge was pre-plan expenses for the upcoming two weeks. I pulled out money for two birthdays coming up and DH's doctor appointments. It's nice being able to grab the cash I need for the birthday gifts without feeling stressed about it. I just put some money in a card and sent it to my dad. Not the most thoughtful of gifts, but it saved me the postage of a regular gift that would need to be shipped. And I know he can always use money. Big Grin

Tomorrow is day 6 and I see no reason to fall of the wagon.

Today's synopsis

August 15th, 2006 at 08:28 pm

I started out the day at the computer, as usual. Gotta get in my fix. Wink I paid off DH's business account. I had $5,000 in my checking account for about 2 minutes. *sigh* But alas, it was never mine. It was mostly to pay for the hotel and plane for business. But we did get to keep $1,500 of it, which I immediately transferred to savings. So our savings is looking up and I am about $4,000 away from my goal on the F/A.

What did I do that was frugal today? I made my homemade chicken soup. I put in too much barley which soaked up 95% of the stock. It was very flavorful, but low on the liquid. I ended up adding 3 full cans of chicken broth, which is something I keep on hand only for when I'm in a pinch as I usually make my own. The soup was delicious and I have enough for about 4 meals for 4 people. Not bad for an easy meal to fix in the first place and all from one chicken and a few vegetables!

I'm continuing to collect my drippy faucet water. I hope our bill is down this month so I can add more money to the "new faucet fund".

I cooled the office down by placing a fan behind the A/C vent so that the air doesn't get trapped under the desk that sits over it. Ahhhhhhh...it feels really nice. Of course it's 11:30 PM and the air in the house is set to go down to 68 at night, so the true test will be tomorrow when it goes back up to 72. I realize both numbers sound plenty cool, but it's terrible upstairs and the office is so bad I sometimes thing I'd like a window unit.

That's all I can think of for tonight's update. Still chugging along.

Another night of random thoughts

August 14th, 2006 at 08:13 pm

I really need to start going to bed earlier.

I had a very frugal day. I made 6 loaves of bread from some bad bananas. I made a whole chicken in the crockpot and ate it for dinner. After dinner I cleaned the chicken off the bone and returned the carcass to the pot to make some chicken stock for tomorrow's chicken soup. I also made some gravy with the drippings to add as thickener to the soup. Yum! And it always makes enough for several meals.

I used my drippy sink water to prepare dishes for the dishwasher. I also watered the plants with it and cooked with it today.

I flushed a toilet using shower water for the first time. It's a novelty right now, so it probably won't last long. But right now, I'm having fun and it's frugal, so why not.

DH took the $70 I pulled out for him on payday to his Doctor's visit today. They told him he was all paid up. Well alright then! So now what do I do with the $70? I could put it in the checking account as padding. I could put it in the savings account to reach my goal of $6000 in there. Or I could send it straight to the CC. I'm actually leaning toward putting it back into savings because the money came from my freedom account, so it should probably return to my freedom account. I want to send it the CC.

I have a college friend driving into town from 5 hours away. Two other college friends and their families live within 10 minutes of me. Basically, we're all meeting for a get-together on Friday and I need to bring a side dish. This was unplanned and therfore not part of my grocery list when I went shopping. Rather than break the challenge yet again, I'm hoping to come up with something in my kitchen that I can take. I think I can do it. I'm going to go sleep on it now.

More laundry tipping

August 14th, 2006 at 12:41 pm

I scrounged for more change. I was able to add enough money back into the grocery fund to cover the 3.99 keylime pie and 4.99 toothpaste, minus $1.00. Just now doing laundry, I found $2.50 in DH's jeans. So, now I have replaced all the grocery money and have $1.50 to put in the change jar besides.

So technically, I have not spent any money. Big Grin Well, technically I have, but...you know what I mean. Wink

Hmmmmm....a short post for me.

Goodness, I am getting brave - my Verizon bill

August 14th, 2006 at 07:56 am

The new me is shining through! Whahoo! I am trying really hard to stop ignoring problems and take care of them. I just took care of my Verizon problem!

Two months ago the account was in MY name and DH wasn't allowed to purchase equipment or make decisions. He's the one who handles thing like that though, because I freeze up and have an irrational fear of the phone. So we switched everything into his name just so he could take care of problems.

We had a remaining balance of $95. I figured it would be automatically taken care of because we had set up direct deposit. Well, our next bill came and the $95 had not been paid in addition to the new charges of $364. (I was mad about that price....our plan is NOT that high). Anyway, I went to my bank online and manually paid the amount in full on Aug 2. I finally realized that because we switched our names on the accounts, Verizon shut down our account, account number and all! I had to reset my account and reajust automatic deduction. My due date is coming up on Aug 16 and the amount still hasn't gone in there. It dawned on me today that the money probably went to the wrong account number.

Sheesh! So (kuddos to me) I called! That is very unlike me. I absolutely hate making phone calls like that. I'm always worried that I am somehow in the wrong. I guess this time I knew I was not. It was complicated and it was hard to explain my side of the story, but the man was very friendly and helpful and he is going to help track down the money. He said that he has enough notes written down that if there is a late fee, it will be waived. What a pain in the rear!

Interesting too, he said that starting tomorrow, the account holder can add the spouse to the account and have full access. Then we wouldn't have had to go through all this! We were laughing and joking about this, but then he said that the whole reason it was set up like that to begin with was because some husbands didn't want their wives on their accounts. That sounds rather 1950's to me, but whatever. He said that 4 months ago, a husband called in livid because his wife got hold of the account and ran up the bill and purchased things and now they are getting a divorce. EEK!

In any case, I am finally taking control of our finances. I am the one who pays the bills and controls the finances, so I should really be in charge of follow-up too. Half the time poor DH makes these phone calls for me, but he has little to no information because he is not the one who pays the bills! I actually know what I am talking about and so I should make the calls.

Nightly update

August 13th, 2006 at 07:59 pm

I broke the dag-gone challenge again today. We spent $4.99 on toothpaste. That's kind of a necessity. I can't believe I didn't have it on the grocery list. But we were within the cash allotted for groceries. I started out with $107 remaining.
-3.99 keylime pie
-4.99 toothpaste
Remaining: 98.02
I replaced the $4 with change I had lieing around and I found .75 in the laundry. I love it when my family tips me. Big Grin This brings the total back to 102.77.

I sent the $600 Toyota money to the CC today. Well, actually I deposited it in the bank and I will send it tomorrow. But I already counted it in the debt tracker in my Bio.

I just checked on my Excel sheet where I mapped out my plan for monthly contributions. This helps me sleep at night by getting the plan out of my head! Here's my plan:

August contribution: $630
Church pay: 500
Regular pay: 100
flute lessons: 30

September contribution: $2130 (Good month Smile )
Church 500
flute lessons: 30 (maybe 60-depends on her schedule)
Extra pay day this month: 1400
regular pay: 200

October contribution: $760
church: 500
flute lessons: 60
regular pay: 200

So far for August, I am just $1.00 shy of my goal! I still have another payday coming and two church pays. August is looking pretty good!

If all goes according to plan or better, I will have CC#1 paid off by the end of October.

Chugging along

August 13th, 2006 at 06:36 am

Yesterday was a great day. I spent the day with my brother and his family and my mom. We had a wonderful dinner together which was unexpected! My SIL had a turkey she was defrosting that my mom had given her and we basically all contributed a little something that looked an awful lot like Thanksgiving dinner! And none of spent much money on it.

I got to introduce my brother to Save-A-Lot and he was impressed. He is going to try to get his wife to shop there. We went out together to buy some stuffing and while we were there we decided to get dessert too. So I caved a bit on the no-spend challenge and spent $3.99 on a Key Lime Pie. The money came out of the grocery money I had sitting in the car, so it was not an extra spend at all. It was cash already withdrawn. Still, I did spend money.

I'm going to continue with the challenge just because it is financially wise to do so. I'm going to pay back the $3.99 to the grocery budget with whatever spare change I can find. I'll work it off. Wink

I got home to a very nice surprise! We have been expecting a check from Toyota for about $200 since March! They said it would take 6-8 weeks. Ha!!! We have since made 20 phone calls to track down this money. It finally came! But it wasn't $200...it was $600!!! EEK! Wahoo! Off to the CC you go!

Insomnia and obsessions

August 11th, 2006 at 11:14 pm

Shut up brain...shut up brain. It is 2:00 AM and I can not sleep. I am obsessing about finances and it's getting out of control! I went to bed thinking about my water bill. I couldn't stop thinking about putting a stupid bucket in my tub to collect shower water. What could I use? The pink container? Too small. Butter tub? Way too small. My son's art box? What? I can't do that. I should buy one...that's not frugal. I know! The bucket that's in the basement that I currently use as a trash can for my dryer lint. Yes, perfect! Ok, now go to sleep....will it fit? Maybe it's too big. I think it's too big. Maybe it's not. I might as well just get up and get the blasted thing so I could stop thinking about it! That was at 1:00 AM. Here I am again at 2:00 AM. Now I am obsession about a shower gift for a friend who is having twins. Shut up brain! Shut up brain! The shower gift is outside of the no-spend challenge because I forgot about it. How can get I around this? I know! Diapers! I will buy $50 worth of diapers. I can use my "spend $70 get $7" off coupon. What should I spend the other $20 on? Then I had to get up to go write all that down that I can get it off my brain and onto paper.

I hate it when I obsess like this!!!! I really do! Sometimes my obsessions are good and controlled, but sometimes they are just out of hand!

And my other obsession...every time I think about money, I need to write about it! I compose blogs in my head all the time! It's driving me nuts! Before I was blogging, it was posting on the forum. I do this! I go hog wild and then BAM!! it's gone. DH calls them "manic obsessions." He says that's the phase I am in right now. If I wait it out, it will go away. The problem is, this is a GOOD obsession! I don't want this one to go away!

Another water idea and other rambleings

August 11th, 2006 at 09:13 pm

My drippy water faucet has really been amusing me today. It doesn't seem to take much. Wink This evening, when I "pre-washed" the dishes for the dishwasher, I did it with the "drip" water from my leaky faucet. I filled up one side of the sink and just rinsed and scrubbed in there. The water was disgusting, but they're going straight into the dishwasher anyway. They just needed to be rinsed. It was actually easier too because they soaked while I worked. Always before I had the hot water on full blast as I did this task.

Poor DH thinks I've lost my mind. I'm not asking him to do these crazy things though. The only thing I ask of him is to participate in the no-spend challenges. He even goes without lunch for me on that one! He was so sweet today! I was expecting him home around 3:00 which is when I was going to make a grocery run leaving him with the kids. He decided to work overtime, which was fine with me! So I took the kids to the grocery store which is always a miserable experience. One child is fine and actually helpful, but together is really hard. Also, I can't think and end up spending more. The dear man drove to Kroger to meet me, finish the shopping AND keep the kids while I went home! Too bad I wasn't at Kroger but at Aldi instead. Still, it was such a sweet gesture and I really appreciated it.

It is now after midnight. I really need to start going to bed a decent hour! When school starts up again, I'll be going to bed at 9:00. I get myself so off schedule during the summer. Oddly though I don't wake up too terribly much later. The kids have me up by 7:30-8:00. Must...go...to...bed....

The final grocery run before another no-spend challenge

August 11th, 2006 at 04:45 pm

I like this blogging thing! I get to talk about money whenever I want to and not worry that my post is going to be lame. Big Grin

I went to Aldi's with my boys in tow this afternoon, which I something I vow never to do again each and every time. This time was no different. [sigh] Individually, they are angels. Together...well.

It was a successful trip, but not as successful as I would have liked. I only spent $93 of the budgeted $200, but I thought it would be less than that. We have enough meals in the freezer for 16 meals, so none of it was dinner related. It was lunch, breakfast and snacks. I'm going to take a closer look at my receipt later. Of course $8.36 of was on milk alone! LOL! We now have 5 and half gallons of milk in the fridge! I didn't realize DH bought some last night. Oh well. We certainly will drink it. I usually try to limit it to 2/wk though.

In any case, I allocated all the money exactly as planned.

I've been conserving water today. I've been collecting water from our drippy sink and am amazed and a bit disgusted at just how much we waste! It's ludicrous, really! I read a tip from some wonderful person on the board which I am going to try, just for fun. (Boy, has my idea of fun changed. LOL!) I'm going to start collecting the water in the shower that runs while it is waiting to get warm. I'm going to use that water to flush the toilet! Not exclusively, of course, but for my own use of that toilet and only if I happen to have the bucket full. You just take off the lid, hold up the floating bulb, flush and fill the tank. Neat idea!

Well, I'm off to read some more interesting blogs!

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