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birthday yesterday

March 11th, 2005 at 02:42 pm

Yesterday was my husband's birthday. Yahoo!

We went out for dinner = $52 including tip. But, we both brought doggie bags home so we'll have the leftovers for dinner. In my food allowance, I figure $2 per person for dinner, so I can figure $4 out of that $52 bill.

Paid the water bill today, but I used a stamp for the envelope. I live really close to city hall, so I usually walk my bill down and put it in their mailbox. It saves me a stamp. It's so cold out now and the sidewalks aren't plowed, that I don't want to go down there. I already missed the March 2nd deadline (I get a 72 cent discount if I pay my water bill within 1 one of receiving the bill). So, I missed out on a 72 cent savings plus 37 to mail it. = $1.09.
I'm determined to pay the next water bill correctly!!! I know it's not much but it all adds up.

We're going to a party tonight. I shoud bring a bottle of wine - more money.........

Tomorrow we're cashing our state income tax refund and opening a CD with that and some of our savings. A new bank opened in our town and they are offering 3% interest on a 9 month CD!! That's such a great rate.

In the afternoon - we're going to a hockey game. We won tickets through hubby's work - for the club seats! We'll have free parking and our own personal lounge. It will be nice to pretend that we're rich.

last night

March 8th, 2005 at 05:46 pm

I received 4 coupons in the mail yesterday for free items from a particular food company. I was so happy! I may be weak and use them to buy junk food.
I had written a letter a few weeks ago complaining about the lid on one of their products. It kind of imploded on me, and sprayed the contents everywhere.

Last night:
~We ate beef stew again for dinner.
~Collected water from the kitchen sink as it was warming up for dishes, and put it in my humidifier. I need to remember to keep doing this. It's so dry in our house that everytime I pet one of our cats I schock them.
~took down the clothes drying on the racks upstairs
~decided to increase my 401k from 4% to 6%. This is the maximum my company will match to. Even though I don't have the money now to be socking away, I can't pass up the free matching money!!

$58 for groceries

March 7th, 2005 at 05:49 pm

We went grocery shopping Sunday morning, as usual. Spent more than my $50 limit - mostly because of a great sale on frozen pizzas.
I made up for that with a super cooking spree last night. I made beef stew from all pantry ingredients. Then I made a triple batch of apple muffins from my frozen apples. THEN I made banana bread from 2 bananas I bought on sale.
Phew!
At least I won't have to cook dinner tonight and my breakfasts are ensured for the next few weeks.

I was naughty and spent $6 on a discounted garden book at Borders. Now that we have the house pretty much all renovated (we still have some lingering projects) we can make a dent on our landscaping this summer. I put a vegetable garden in when we moved in, and we've filled the existing window boxes every year. Aside from that, we've pretty much ignored the yard.
I plan on making it an oasis, and shield us from the neighbors with greenery. My neighborhood is very crammed in - and several houses can see into our backyard right now. I'm reading the book on the bus now, and am planning out my dream garden!!

Half.com

March 5th, 2005 at 07:39 pm

Thanks to the advice I received in the discussion boards, I have gone ahead and listed 10 books on Half.com.
I'm excited to see what happens.

Our fridge is soooo empty. It's been tough trying to figure out what to eat. I'm making beef stew tonight frozen frozen beef we've had, potatoes, bouillon, onion and frozen veggies. We already had these in our pantry/freezer. I'm trying to use up as many items in the freezer as possible because I'm going to make apple muffins tomorrow, and I'll need a place to store them.

The sun is shining today, so I have all curtains open. We reached 64 in the house!!

Shoveling and dinner

March 2nd, 2005 at 03:36 pm

I spent so much time shoveling out when I got home from work that it was too late to make dinner. I threw our last premade pizza in the oven and enjoyed it with a glass of wine.

Even though I felt extravagant - it was 'from the pantry!'
We could have easily ordered in a pizza, but I bought this one as a buy 1 get 1 free of the store brand's ripoff of Freschetta. And boy was it gooood.

Snowstorm

March 1st, 2005 at 01:52 pm

Today is my first day of taking the bus for the rest of my forseeable life, to work - hurrah! We had a snowstorm overnight, so we had to get up early to shovel out. We were told we'd get over a foot, so I brought work home with me planning on working from home. Alas, we only got about 5 inches so I had to go in.

We received a cc bill with a $36 late fee last night. We called and had it removed. It is SO worth calling about extra fees.
I made dinner out of leftover pot roast, potatoes, and I cooked up some veggies.
I had the registration form sent to me yesterday for the class I want to take. It will be $600! But, I should make it all back if I can profit from the class.

Yesterday was a no spend day. Today will be too.

Frugal weekend

February 28th, 2005 at 07:19 pm

I didn't go out much this weekend - it has been too cold! The only time I went out was to get groceries. I spent $65, which is pretty much my limit of $50 a week plus a teeth whitening kit my husband bought. We can already see a difference, those things really work! I'm going to buy a different brand once they are on sale.

I made no-bake granola bars yesterday, for something to grab quickly for breakfast. With my new schedule, I don't have time to eat. They went together really quickly. I bought the ingredients on sale or the generic brand. Also, the only energy expended to make these are a pot for about 2 minutes to melt the brown sugar and corn syrup together. No oven to preheat and then keep on for the duration of cooktime.

We hung the office door back on its hinges yesterday. We replaced some of the broken glass panels ourselves so we wouldn't have to buy a new door. I spent the morning priming and painting it. The office will be much warmer if we can shut this door. I can't wait!

We made all of our meals this weekend, and I even worked out. I did all of our ironing. Plus, I worked on my writing on Sat. night. I want to spend at least 3 hours a week working on this. That's my goals for March.

Other goals for March:
1. open a 9 month CD from the new bank. They have a promo for 3% interest!
2. make a batch of apple muffins with the frozen apples I have already skinned and diced. This will give breakfast and space in the freezer
3. Change the direct payment account that I have my insurance taken from.
4. Sign up through my cell phone company for direct withdrawal/payments
5. Have the city do a meter reading, and then pay the bill
6. Take a work related course.

Took the bus today

February 24th, 2005 at 05:31 pm

I physically and mentally cannot take the train anymore. It stresses me out too much - so much shuffling around, huge crowds and I freeze whenever they open the doors for a stop.

I took a commuter bus all the way in today. I had two seats to myself, no noise, a nice view, and didn't have to pay for parking. I should get home 15 minutes earlier, and have way less to drive.
I feel much more relaxed.

I was told yesterday that I will be getting a bonus this year. The plan is:
buy a used car for me
pay off the evil student loan
make one extra payment on the mortgage
have part of the sidewalk in front of our house professionally paved so I'll have a parking spot.

I'm VERY excited

car insurance

February 23rd, 2005 at 01:51 pm

I finally found time to call my car insurance agency about a discount I was supposed to receive. She told me the reason I wasn't seeing it on my statements is that: they credit one year back, so the credit is for 2004 but they don't give it to me until 2005.
No wonder I was confused!

Oh well, at least I know I saved an additional $52 for sending in my train passes.

I'm trying to sign up for a course to expand my skills in the career I work in. It will be done online, which is great for my schedule. It's $600, but I'll make it all back if I only get one freelance project in that field. The college won't return my calls - getting very annoyed!!

Rebate furor

February 23rd, 2005 at 01:28 pm

A rebate I've been waiting for ($100!) came back in the mail today because the company said we didn't sign the rebate form. Quite stupidly, the enclosed a copy of the form with the letter which obviously showed that we signed it!
I'm still so aggravated. We called (after several attempts) and spoke with customer service and that person's manager, but the still insisted on us sending everything in again. I'm so peeved.

Other happenings;
I received a $1 bill in the mail from JD Power for a survey on our new car
I used up a packet of lotion, that I received free as a sample
I made dinner from pantry items
Bought 20 lbs of cat food, and used a $2 off coupon successfully

Still deciding what to get my husband for his birthday. I'd love to go all out, but we just don't have the money for it, especially after this new bill popped into our lives, after 7 years.

Financial bombshell

February 22nd, 2005 at 02:09 pm

We got a call from my husband's parents in Europe. It seems he owes money to the government for his free living expenses, that he received when he was going to college.
I love how 7 years go by and they are just telling us this now! It's around 4,000 Euros, and with the dollar so weak right now we'd be paying somewhere around 6000 dollars for this! If we had known about it, I would have been planning for it.

I'm two months away from paying off that evil college loan with the high interest rate. I've been so happy thinking that I'd be free from that, and then this bombshell hits us. I'm not a happy camper.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Oh well. We had a quick pizza for dinner last night. He had the day off, while I had to work so he made some improvements around the house. He installed a disposal in our kitchen sink. I'm spoiled.

Lunch today is leftover coleslaw and an apple. And lots of water!

Finally did our taxes

February 21st, 2005 at 05:52 pm

Did the taxes yesterday and we'll be getting a nice refund, hopefully in a few weeks. I'm putting all of it towards an evil student loan (over 9% interest rate), which will cut it in half. That's my major goal of 2005 - to get rid of that loan.

I also sold my bass guitar on Saturday, so I'm up $200. I never play it anymore, and it was just taking up space in my new office.
We were very anti-frugal on Saturday, though. We decided to go to a very fancy restaurant and order whatever we wanted, regardless of price. So, we did and had a great time. It was European - I miss the relaxed atmosphere of European restuarants. We were there for over 2 hours, and enjoyed every minute of it. We spent a little over $100, so I'll put the rest towards that horrible student loan.

On the bargain front: we bought a cherry paper towel holder at Target for $2!!! It was on sale, clearance, and then 50% off of clearance. It mounts on the wall which is great because the yukky plastic one we have now sits on the counter, taking up space.

Grocery spending for the week: $25.06. The deals weren't very good.

Pasta bake

February 17th, 2005 at 06:06 pm

We made our gourmet pasta bake recipe. I love that stuff. We both have it for lunch today, and he'll have it for dinner. I'm going out for drinks after work so I think I'll be going without supper tonight.
The only bad part was there was a worm inside a perfect-from-the-outside red pepper, so I had to throw it away.

It costs about $5.50 to make, but it lasts for several meals.

I bleached the curtains last night and they are drying in a spare room right now. Not all of the pink came out, but it does look much better. I'm going to let the hems down on them too, as they're a little too short for that window.

I decided I want to go to Target this weekend to see if there are good clearance deals on clothes. I normally don't buy clothes there because they're too boring, but I realized I can add fabric and change them around with the extra fabric I have laying around at no extra cost. I have plenty of clearance-purchased thread to use as well. Hopefully they'll have good winter clearance sales.

The snow is finally starting to melt! It feels a bit like spring!

Busy night

February 16th, 2005 at 01:36 pm

I had a busy night. Right when I walked in the door I had a phone call from a focus group company. I answered all her questions which took half an hour, but I'm only on the 'on hold' list since they had enough people with my statistics. If I am chosen, it's a phone interview and $20! Not bad, for not having to leave the house.

Then I made dinner from pantry and freezer items (I'm forever trying to make more space in my freezer).

Then I called my cell phone company about an extra $40 on our bill. They told me I have to bring my bill to the store to bicker it out, because the store had promised me a free upgrade, but neglected to tell their corporate office. Sigh...so I'll have to drive over there sometime this weekend, but it should bring me a $40 credit.

Then I ironed some clothes and crashed. I've been so tired this week.

Tonight I want to bleach some curtains that were originally white, but turned pink in the wash. (I know, it's so cliche). They don't work well in the room we just painted, so I'm hoping that bleach will whiten them uniformly and I won't need to buy/make new curtains! I 'm challenging myself to redo that room for under $10. All I think I'll be needing is one leg for the desk we're making out of spare wood. We're going to secure it against a corner wall, so only one end would be unsupported. We'll see!

low key v day

February 15th, 2005 at 06:07 pm

We made a reservation for a fancy restaurant for this Saturday, as a belated Valentines dinner. I've spent too many v days waiting for a table.
We had wine and pizza at home instead, which was just as nice. Especially after a 13 hour work day, I really just wanted to be comfy in my own house with my husband and cats.

I changed the percentage on my 401k from 3 to 4% this week. We'll take a bit of a hit, but I'm the only one saving for retirement now. His 401k is active, but we can't add to it so its just sitting there.

I'm off to see if I have President's Day off or not. I doubt it.

Changes

February 14th, 2005 at 04:45 pm

I spent $35 on a new haircut this weekend. I haven't paid for a cut since the summer, so I was due. Plus I was getting headaches from the weight of it. It looks great, and its frugal since it takes me less time to wash it and less shampoo/conditioner.

I didn't find any shoes I liked on clearance, but I did find a pair I love for $40. I bought them.

We painted our junk room yesterday and it looks fabulous. I gave away several things on freecycle which opened up the room. We're getting $45 for doing a focus group with this experimental paint (the materials were free).
We have a super large board in that room that I was using to sew our curtains on. I've made all the curtains for our house and needed a large flat surface for it.
My husband is going to make this into a desk for me. I already have an extra chair in there. So...the prior junk room will be my money making room! I'll have a nice surface for sewing (and will sell my creations on ebay) and will work on my freelance writing. I have my own laptop and we now have an extra printer so it will become my own little office/craft room.

We also bought groceries this weekend for under weekly limit ($50). We even managed to buy wine and beer - a true rarity. I made chocolate chip cookies last night too to keep us motivated. I don't like feeling like we're always doing without.

Snowy day

February 11th, 2005 at 06:17 pm

Not too much going on in frugal land. I did buy a cup of coffee yesterday because I was stressed out of my mind at work, and needed a break.

Last night I wrote a complaint letter to a soup company, and I mailed it out this morning.

I haven't been able to get a parking spot the last 4 days at the train station, which means I didn't have to pay for them. This also means that I'm in danger of getting a ticket, getting towed or getting hit by a car in the lot because I'm not in a real spot.
I'm afraid!
I decided not to take the train any longer. I canceled my pass. I'll save $5 each month plus at least $30 in gas savings since I can pick up the bus a few miles away versus the train which is a few towns away.
The bummer is that I have to wait until April unless I can sell my March pass to someone.

We've had all meals at home this week. wahoo! Hubby got a free lunch and one hour of overtime for a lunch training session. I'm glad - it keeps his morale up.

I'm going to try shoe shopping at winter clearance sales this weekend. I've been wearing my good pair through - I need more variety or I'll just keep wearing out my one pair over and over in a vicious cycle.

Monday night

February 8th, 2005 at 02:35 pm

We used the leftover pasta sauce with meatballs to make meatball sandwiches for a quick dinner. I thawed hot dog buns that I bought for 55 cents and it filled us up! We still have sauce leftover, so I'll use it tonight as pizza sauce.
We went grocery shopping last night. We bought a loaf of day-old French bread that I'll use as pizza crust. It's the first time I'm trying this - I hope it won't be too hard to chew.
I printed a coupon out on valupage.com and used it last night. They gave me a bit of a hard time, but I saved $1.50 in the end. The items were also on sale, which is why I bought them.
Our favorite brand of frozen fish was 50% off and I had a 40 cent coupon so I bought a six pack of tenders for 65 cents!! I'm very proud of that.
I'll try valupage.com again, I wonder if the coupons change every week like the sales do.

I also bought bananas and peaches which were on sale. I decided we need to have a piece of fruit with our lunches for health reasons and that it rounds out of meals so we're not tempted to buy junk food.
It's a banana and a frozen meal bought on sale for lunch today!

I have the car now

February 7th, 2005 at 05:46 pm

I have my sister's car now. It will save on gas and wear and tear on our new car, but I have new expenses for this car. I have to pay $2 per weekday for parking and gas.
We have to start shopping around for a used car for me. It is nice to have my own though, it's so liberating!

We stopped at a bakery outlet store this weekend near my parent's house. I'd never been there before. We stocked up and now have a full freezer. They had great deals. I bought a package of doughnuts - doughnuts are my downfall.

borrowing a car

February 4th, 2005 at 01:50 pm

I called my sister last night to ask if I could borrow her car for a month or two while I shop around for a used one for myself.
It's just not working, having one car for two people who work in different states. My train was late again last night so it messed up both of our commutes. And - he'll have to work overtime soon (which means until 9pm) so I'd have no way of getting home unless I called a cab everyday.

She agreed! We're going to pick it up this weekend. She lives 2 states away so we'll spend the weekend there with my parents. Hopefully I won't be tempted into going antiquing.

I heated up the rest of the stew last night and added some frozen veggies to stretch it. I wanted to have it all eaten, but he decided to make a frozen pizza for himself. Gr....at least we stayed under my $2 self-imposed limit.

I broke down and bought a snickers...

February 3rd, 2005 at 09:48 pm

from the vending machine at work. I was so hungry and bored - this is the first time in years when I've had nothing to do at work.

I only had some chef salad for lunch. There wasn't much left - I had made it originally a few nights ago and added some fresh lettuce this morning.

And, a few days ago I bought a soda from the vending machine. So I'm out $1.60. Now I have to add it to my food budget. I could have bought so much more with that money - I feel really guilty. I usually never have soda either - I just had a craving for it.

I'm thinking about making a no-bake breakfast bar recipe I found on the Internet tonight. I don't have chocolate chips but it should still taste yummy. For those days when I don't have time to eat breakfast, I can just cut a bar off and bring it in the car (as a passenger).

Chili didn't go so well

February 3rd, 2005 at 02:55 pm

I soaked beans for the first time the night before last for the chili I made last night. They weren't hard enough, and pretty much ruined all of the chili. I don't know what I did wrong. I used the maximum amount of water the instructions said and even let them soak overnight. The instructions said to soak 6-8 hours or overnight so it was even the max for time!
Maybe they were supposed to continue soaking all day. I drained and rinsed them in the morning.
Does anyone know if beans are supposed to soak for nearly 24 hours? Thanks!

Since I was hungry from my failed dinner, I made blondies for dessert. I hadn't planned on it - but we needed something to perk us up and I didn't want to stand in front of the stove all night making cookies. It was quick to assemble and I let them sit in the oven for 25 minutes. Voila! Now we have 2 days worth of dessert.

panic attack

February 2nd, 2005 at 10:09 pm

I just have to do something about our finances. It's not even that we're poor. We have quite a bit in savings, but I don't want to spend it all on debts and not be comfortable if an emergency happens.
It's my student loans that are driving me up the wall. I want them to be paid off so badly. But now we have a new car, and its inevitable car payment. We haven't had a car payment in a few years and now I remember why!
So, now I have to change my priorities and pay off the car first. I've been getting a tax break with the student loan interest I pay, but I can't get a tax break for car payments.
However, I want to pay off 20% of the house so we don't have to pay PMI insurance too. The thing is, it's going to take forever to pay 20% (we live in crazy housing market).

So - I'm torn. Get a second car and go even further in debt to make my husband happy, or put my foot down and deal with the pain of rushing around with only one car. It's killing our mileage and gas is more expensive now.

I keep telling myself that if I save money on groceries that it will help. Well, it does help but it doesn't amount to squat. I need to make a lump sum of money somehow to ease my mind, and our daily lives.

Sorry to vent!

Both working again

February 2nd, 2005 at 03:02 pm

Man, last night was hard. We both worked again with only one car to get around in. We were gone from 7 in the morning to 7 at night, and then had to make dinner.
We made a chef's salad. I had planned on it, so we had all the ingredients ready. Thank god I planned ahead!

Tonight we're having chili. I soaked black beans last night for the first time. I hope it comes out ok - I don't want to spend hours cooking beans when we're dead tired.
I thawed ground turkey (bought on sale of course) for it too so it should go pretty quick.

I'm afraid we're going to burn out pretty quickly.
Now he's pushing me to get a second car which will be majorly expensive when you figure in taxes, gas, insurance and maintenance. And we don't have a second parking space in the winter.
oh veh!

stew stew stew

February 1st, 2005 at 02:40 pm

We had stew for dinner again last night. All I had to do was heat it up, it was nice since I was starving and not in the mood to cook.

Today is the first day that we're both working again. I'll make a chef salad for dinner, and use the leftovers for lunches at work. I'm afraid we're going to get stressed out again by the run around. His new job will also force me to work an extra hour everyday, but I don't get overtime. I think I'll spend some time working on my freelance writing - at least that can bring in some income.
I meant to work on it last night, but I was too tired. Mondays either leave me drained or full of energy. At least I spent this morning emptying the dishwasher and cleaning the counters while I had my breakfast, and not watching the news.
I hate coming home to a dirty countertop.

End of the month grocery totals

January 31st, 2005 at 02:46 pm

January was the first month that I kept a running total of our grocery receipts. We did stock up on a few items (I bought 10 bottles of Cranberry juice, 10 jars of tomato sauce, 10 lbs of potatoes and 15 rolls of paper towels just this weekend for $24), but I also had a no-spend week to try and even out our costs. It also includes 4 ready-made pizzas and a large bottle of red wine.

I was stunned to see that we spent $199! I had set my budget for $200! I'm so happy that I met our goal, although it did take a lot of planning. Now that I've met it, I feel the urge to beat it for February, which should be the easiest month as it's the shortest month.

I also bought two packages of dried beans. I've never soaked beans - I've always bought them canned (on sale of course). I plan on making a gigantic pot of chili with these.

We also made a massive pot of beef stew last night. This should last us about 3 days with enough to freeze. It weighed about 20 lbs! I bought a nice roast for $2.39/pound and added potatoes, carrots, corn, green beans and bouillon. So cheap!!

Semi-free chinese takeout

January 28th, 2005 at 09:15 pm

Well, last night was a bust.
My train was delayed by 45 minutes, while we all stood in the freezing cold with no information. I finally got home after a 3 hour commute.

Since my husband is the best, and knew I was starving, he picked up some chinese food before he picked me up! Mm..it was so yummy. Normally, I wouldn't been a little upset that he did that, but the train system has a policy that your ride will be free if they are more than 30 minutes late. Well, I submitted my rebate form this morning, and am expecting a $10 check in the mail.

We also received three unexpected checks in the mail - something I wish would happen everyday! Well, one was the last of our medical reimbursement payments, but the company had been playing games with us so we didn't think it would ever show. Thank god it did! We certainly need to pay off some of my college loans, and this will help get us there.

So Hungry

January 27th, 2005 at 09:18 pm

I'm starving right now, but I don't get home for another 2 hours. And then I have to cook dinner. Tonight it's pork loin that I thawed today, with fresh carrots, gravy and potatoes.

I'm so tempted right now to get a slice of pizza. I've been craving pizza all day, but I'll be good and wait. And let my stomach eat itself.

Just kidding, I'll have some more water and tea to trick my belly into thinking it's full.

It was one of those busy mornings (out shoveling snow again) so I only had time to grab a can of soup for lunch, and now I'm paying the price.

pantry dinner

January 27th, 2005 at 02:49 pm

We had the leftover rice and frozen fish for dinner last night. I'm trying to go through the entire week without buying any groceries.

I finally started my grocery price book too. I figured out a few months ago that I only want to spend the following per person:
50 cents for breakfast
$1 for lunch
$2 for dinner.

This works out to $49 a week. So far we've been sticking to this budget pretty well. It also includes drinks and paper products. There are only 2 people in my house.

Whaddya think?

Reduced my car insurance

January 26th, 2005 at 03:20 pm

I gathered all of my subway/train passes together last night and am mailing them to my car insurer. I get a groovy discount for this. We also got a a nice security feature on our new car which we were supposed to get a 35% discount. When our new policy came in the mail yesterday without that discount, you know I went straight to the phone!

They will fix it and add my train discount this week. I hope the premium gets cut way down because it went up about $30 a month otherwise.

For dinner last night we made a big batch of rice with frozen veggies. I brought some for lunch. With the other leftovers, we'll have it with the frozen breaded fish we bought with a coupon and sale. Super cheap meals!


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