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Archive for March, 2005

Re-capitulations

March 31st, 2005 at 05:14 am

A few days ago, I was going through my stack of books and found a journal I made last year. I usually start journals around new years promising to quit habits, manage money efficiently, lose weight, and work out at least three times a week. Judging from the condition of the dust accumulating tomes, you can see how far those ideals went lol.

Anyhow.. the new habits have stuck generously :

my "passing on cigarettes" two month celebration just passed (January 22)
my "passing up meat" date was February 9... two months is coming April 9 Smile

So what's next? I've tacked the finances and am happy with the progress. I've gone back to exercising and watching portions. Although I've gone vegetarian, I found it difficult to abandon refined sugars and garbage... which helped me pack on 19 lbs since Jan 17 (last physical). Funny how a woman can gain over 10 lbs. of weight and a man gains maybe 2-3 lbs eating the SAME THING!! But hey, no one's perfect right?

I have stuck to the budget by #1. not subscribing to a gym (we have access to a gym for hubby's PT training)
#2. using an online journal to keep my hands busy (so I don't bore you al LOLl)

Hopefully I'll have the same ease with this leg of my journey as I have with the smoking and eating meats... wish me luck!

Will Power.. and the new budget for April.

March 26th, 2005 at 06:22 am

I almost caved in and bought a pack of cigarettes yesterday. Funny though, I wasn't under stress or panicking (the usual culprits for a relapse)- I just asked the cashier for a pack of Marlboro Lights. As he was reaching up to grab a pack, I told him nevermind and he just looked at me kinda confused. When I walked out of the store I pondered my request for a few hours.. trying to pinpoint what triggered the question.

Even if I would have attempted to get the pack.. I didn't carry enough to buy it LOL. I left all my cash and cards at home (got WIC items for my daughter so it's still a no spend day yayyy) and walked to the store so I wouldn't overspend... go figure?

Anywhoo... I have re-vamped the April Budget and it pinches a little more as I am depositing extra money into the emergency fund cash account. Here are the estimates:

Emergency fund:100.00
Birthday/ Seasonal gift fund:100.00
Quarlerly expenses fund: 200.00
Leftover Total: 200.00

A bit depressing since last month I had over 1000.00 left over from the bills but I plain forgot to put these three funds into my equation. Of course, I have calculated my envelope money into the Bill Equation. It serves as the "pay yourself first" portion of bill payments.

Good Friday

March 25th, 2005 at 06:46 am

Hubby is expected to arrive from his business trip- yayyy!
I've been bored all week without him. Last night I learned something new about the forums.. you can't post affiliate links in your signature- that's a big no no.

On the upside.. I managed to get a lil decrease on the water bill since there was an error in the numbers (good thing I check it OFTEN) and two bills were payable via the AMEX (which gives me a chance to scrape up some dough during the month).

I've got a couple of things on the auction sites that will bring in a couple of bucks by the beginning of April.. hopefully!

I'm compiling a list of items I need since I'll be visiting Trader Joe's either today or tomorrow. I love this store but they have none where I live.. is the mileage worth the trip? .. HECK YEAH! Smile

So much for saving in March...

March 24th, 2005 at 11:58 am

I wouldn't be surprised if some of y'all heard my screaming a couple hours ago. I got hit with FOUR unexpected bills that I was SOOOO not prepared for Frown

1. Traffic Ticket (I am so not happy at whoever thought up the idea of traffic cameras.. GRRRRR!!!!!!) 115.00
2. Registration of the Eyesore (2 year 60.00 + usage tax 30.50= 90.50). I barely move this car but we can't get rid of it... hubby settled on a four year lease and we aren't even HALFWAY done.
3. AT&T Cell phone bill: 44.00 (Totally forgot to pay it... and it showed on the bill ::gulp::Smile
4. Water Bill INCREASE: 183.00 (My toilet was running excessively for 2 months and we just RECENTLY had it repaired. It was a 40.00 increase)

Altogether... $432.50 right before April... that wipes out the cushion, reserves, and savings account fund for March.. bleahhhhh.

Vacation Yayy!

March 23rd, 2005 at 06:42 pm

I am finally done with these pesky midtems... free at last!!!!
Today I took a bit of a hit marketwise- seems like since i've opened up the IRA the fund I chose is a slow sinker Frown
But hey.. at least I got my CD open Smile

Today's Happenings:
I submitted an article in my school newspaper about my savings habits and have plugged this site as "the end all be all of all savings websites Wink"

I spoke to a neighbor whose son goes to DDs school. My neighbor pays alot to keep the boy after school and i've offered her after school sitting until she gets home for half the cost... hopefully she'll agree as I can definitely use the extra $$$.

Today's Not so good happenings Frown

Hubby informed me he might be PCSed elsewhere. I'm not really looking to hear that since I've lived in NY all my life and a move to some remote corner of the globe is NOT my cup o' tea... but hey... that's the joy of military life. I refuse to have a geographical bachelor roaming around... so I must go where he go-eth Frown

Buttttt.... on a more positive note
Since hubby left on business I've declared this a no spend week- and I must say it's been going off without a hitch (though I may have to fill up car #2 if we choose to go to Fort Dix on Friday). I have the remainder of the shopping funds ready for a "meaty" purchase (for my carnivorous family members) lol.

Ugh.. gulp. Bill Rant.

March 21st, 2005 at 01:56 pm

Today I paid the last of the March bills in person and have a whopping 400 bucks left... wooohooo!
I have scoured the terrain in hopes of finding a good CD Rate and have found ZIp. ZIlch. DiddlY SQuat.
Bleahhhh.

I've sent out the latest batch of resumes since i'll be graduating in June and need to get my head straight.

CD Hunting

March 20th, 2005 at 05:07 pm

Tomorrow marks exactly three months that I started taking back some cash from the usual sources. I've counted up the money i've accumulated and I am thoroughly surprised at just how much I used to spend on garbage. ... and to think.. I've still got 10 days left for this month... geez.

I've decided to take a portion and put it into a short term CD. Hopefully I'll find a good rate at the trusty ole' savings bank down the block Smile




Whoooops!

March 19th, 2005 at 04:12 pm

today I took my trusty ride over to Pep Boys and found out I hadn't changed the oil since JUNE of last year. WHOOPS! ::gulp:: must've slipped my mind!
After today I have 11 more days to fill up this month's envelopes and I must say I am QUITE surprised at the amount i'm accruing! Hubby has started his own envelopes but he's never really had the kind of habits I had so his won't bulk up as quickly as mine lol.

My envelope quantity has grown from three in January to ten in March. I still haven't decided what i'm going to do with the money since this is primarily "spent cash"- but I must admit, it does feel good having some Just in Case money around.

********************************************************

Grocery Day | Rubbing off on people yayyy!!

March 18th, 2005 at 03:25 am

A giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Last night, I handed in my first of three mid terms (woohoo). Today I have to grocery shop and prepare the mid term topics for a complete and utter cramming session in three days.

I received my Ebay bought coupons and plan on dispersing them at the commissary... hopefully i'll have more coupon money to add to Envelope #6 after today's boutSmile

************************************************************

After finding this website, I've become SSUPER FRUGAL when it comes down to budgeting and saving money (though I suspect i'm preaching to the choir on that note lol). Last night I had a discussion with a dear friend of mine and I may have made a believer out of him Smile He's very young and careless with finance but it seems he may be turning around. He even pulled out an envelope system he started which he aptly named "The Snapple Envelope" ! (He's addicted to snapple.. spends like 2-3 bucks a day on it... well.. sorry Ms. Kaufman!)

Hey, a little change goes a long way, right?

************************************************************************

Luck o' the irish! :)

March 17th, 2005 at 05:25 pm

Today we had a most unusual surprise on campus. These "leprechauns" were hopping around, handing little green bags that contained a number and some candy (you guessed it.. GREEN candy LOL). The leprechaun lthat approached me ooked like he'd seen better rainbows (wasn't aware you could drink on campus LOL) but he handed me two bags. My friend declined the offer so I kept his. Anyyyway... the numbers were 430 and 431. I later found out these numbers were for a raffle for three prizes: #3 being 77 bucks , #2 being a gift certificate to tavern on the green and #1 777 bucks in cash. The event was sponsored by a few of the island's businesses..it's their way of giving back to the future businessmen and women woohoo... nice touch, really.


When they called out the numbers, I happened to glance over at the head leprechaun just as he called out 430!!!
So.. I won 77 bucks.. Yippeeee... and it was my own bag fair and square hahahah. I walked out happily counting my 77 bucks- a happy woman.
The green candy wasn't bad... gotta love sour apple yummmm!


*****************************
Ohh.. and I spent NO MONEY TODAY. (That is ALWAYS a good thing, n'est pas?)

Pay Day at last!!

March 16th, 2005 at 04:08 am

Finally! The means to combat the growing bill pile that adorns my billbasket!!

Here are the mid month bill reports:

-/Decrease
********************
Time Warner Cable: Budgeted 150.00 / last month 133.90 / current: 74.21!!
Action: Removed one cable box, called to threaten switching over to the Dish got me 6 months of discounts Smile
Callback: June 16, 2005
Extra Cash: New Envelope: The Bill Shaving envelope Smile (I drew a pic of a bill sawed in half lol on the front)


ConEdison: BillPlan 150.00. Actual charge average 155.00 (comp is on ALOT).. this month 125.77!!!
Action: Replaced 99% of all lightbulbs with energy savers, lights off at 9PM



+/Increase
********************
Gas Bill: BillPlan 145.00 Current Bill: 498.17 (Knocks the installment credit balance under by 124.56) I called and yelled and received this simple response that made sense:
"When gas goes up.. so do we, honey."
So much for being a grinch LOL)

Gas companies= CROOKS!!!

March 15th, 2005 at 04:24 am

After i'd carefully mapped out the bill plan of attack, I came to a rude awakening this morning as I opened my gas bill. Sure I know they hike up their prices in the winter since they know we'll be using more gas but dannng!!
I've been using every possible method of saving and my bill reached a record high in all my years as a keyspan customer.

My current charge is $498.17.
I am NOT happy. Today i'll be going there IN PERSON and will be demanding an explanation for this jump in cost. (almost 0.30 per therm)

But aside from that bill grumble... I did do a few things to save money Smile

#1. I am switching over to Digital Phone (which will save me 34.27 in phone bill charges) Smile They are coming to install it at the end of the month due to high demand in my area.

#2. I paid off a medium sized debt last pay period and am now adding the usual payment (50.00) to my envelopes marked as BBF (Budgeted Bill Fodder)

#3. I've started a carpooling system to my school which brings in an extra 20.00 a week for mileage I would use anyway lol... the people riding in my car are bus riders.. they are saving one dollar and I'm collecting the other buck instead Wink Another pretty lil envelope filed in my box hehehe.

***************************************************************************
And these are possible options I'm looking over in ways to make more money:

#1 Telemarketing? So the pay's not tremendous.... from what I understand, you can do it at home with certain jobs. Keen is just one of the websites that offers this opportunity: www.keen.com

#2 311 Call center: My school is offering 14 bucks an hour to answer calls in Manhattan... only problem is the commute (sometimes I wish I could just swim to Manhattan... i'd make it there alot faster than this awful ferry lol)

#3 Baking business: People at hubby's job are serious sugar addicts. I discussed putting up a table with some homemade cakes and cookies. Whatever I get from the sale.. i'd give half to spousal support and the other half... welll... I have to pay for gas somehow lol.


Two steps forward :)

March 14th, 2005 at 04:03 am

Since I've given up the traditional "working girl title" after having my first child, I've been looking for ways to come up with bucks without having to put her in daycares. i just don't trust them. Period. Much love to you ladies who leave your kids at sitters with utter confidence..... I just can't Frown
There have been lots of little incidents that leave me in constant speculation.. but enough about my paranoia lol

I have taken two steps forward in the income chain:
1. Clicking & PTR- Since I spend lots of time on the computer both at school and home, I joined up on those clicking sites and have had no problems so far. I won't get rich but hey, it's an extra couple of bucks in paypal which collects 2.41% just sitting there ;-)

2. Papergirl! I get up exceptionally early. Early enough to beat hubby and the kids Smile I put a call over to the local paper's circulation dept and scheduled an appointment to see if I can be a newspaper carrier Smile
Again.. not money to get rich.. but hey, it's still time I have on hand to get some things done.. and why not get paid in the process!

Also... for those of you who think fast food is good for you... mannnnn.. I highly recommend watching "Super Size Me"- the Morgan Spurlock self-transforming docudrama. Check it out!


**********Update 754pm*****************

If there's anything more tedious that sitting in front of a screen for hours and hours opening up emails and clicking for 1/4 of a penny... it's opening up emails and clicking for 1/8th of a penny|!!!!

I know.. I was shocked too.
So... that clicking venture is as of now OUT of the picture!

(I'll keep searchin though... and i'll write em all down here!)

"Smart" Gambling

March 13th, 2005 at 05:35 am

Last night hubby took me to AC for a little slot action..
Since i've adopted the new methodology of spend as little as possible.. I walked in with $40 playing money (he gave me more but I left it home in one of my pretty lil envelopes Wink

After six hours of walking around, watching him play his winnings away, I walked out with $244.00 Smile

There is no such thing as smart gambling... how else would casinos make money if we all gambled "intelligently"?
I simply whipped out my current assigned reading book after I initially hit for 800 quarters and read amidst the noises, cigarette smoke, and winning/ losing excitement! Hubby took me to a place renowned for its ribs & barbecue.. yeccck. I know hubby won't abandon meat so I don't even try to preach against it lol. I had the only two vegetarian items on the menu (onion loaf and a vegetable fajita). Ordinarily I would take a bite of hubbys steak but today I lovingly declined. I just don't "feel" like eating meat anymore... it's an odd feeling, really lol.


On the agenda today:
So today I plan on buying the baskets for the girls... since I didn't get a chance to do anything else yesterday.
I am armed with coupons and rarin' to go Smile


Springy Saturday yayy

March 12th, 2005 at 05:47 am

After much deliberation, one of my professors decided it would be best to have a take home midterm. Sure it's great.. but what she's asking for is RIDICULOUS!

So there goes my saturday... no shopping, no spending money liberally (::siGH:: what a dilemma lol)

Actually I plan to go shopping a little after my first bout with the midterm. I'll be leaving cards home this time!
My goal is to make nice easter baskets for my little darlings (the same way I made the gift basket Wink
I'll only take twenty bucks and see how far I can stretch him.. will keep ya posted on my progress


Barb

The bloated change jar....

March 11th, 2005 at 07:30 am

So I stuck to the plan yesterday and re-made the budget. I'd underestimated a few bills in the previous budget and it caused a bit of a disruption Frown

As I finished my planning session, I visited the bloated old water gallon that holds the family change. We'd started the change jar last year (while in spendthrift mode) in hopes of saving enough to go to Disneyworld. A few years back, I'd set up a change jar and when it was full I counted over 2500.00- enough to take my mom on vacation all expenses paid Smile

Hubby spends alot of money on coffee and assorted guilty pleasures.. this has curbed the impulse spending a little... I even let him count the change last year... it's already close to 1000 Smile Only setback to change jars...
1. some banks charge a fee for rolled change
2. the weight of carting it into the bank for depositing
3. no interest while it's in the jar Frown

But hey.. it sure beats paying taxes on money that's already yours Smile

Back to the Basics... Barb's Bare bones Budget

March 10th, 2005 at 02:52 am

One thing I like about being the household accountant/financial planner/bill guru.... if i'm not happy with my budget, I can tear it right up and make another one!
(and that's exactly what i'm doing right now!)
So it's 5am and i'm just about the only human awake thinking about bills lol... could be worse right Wink

Since saving TOO much money will wind up hurting my budget, I've decided to apply a percentage of leftover loot into the lowest balance (aka the snowball effect)


BEFORE: Savings account 340.00/mth
AFTER: SNOWBALL 200.00 / FUNDS 140.00

Here's the list:


Student Loan 1

Spend Day 1/3

March 9th, 2005 at 05:47 am

(I have designated three days out of the seven to be "Spend Days"... Wed, Thur, and Sat.)


Today I've got to assemble a retirement basket for my husbands coworker. My objective is to spend less than twenty bucks... lets see if I can make my goal Smile

I've added a few bills into my budget and taken away a few savings goals since it would severely cripple my chances of financial aid Frown

I'll update the totals when I return...

AW

----- Update... 10AM------

WOW!! Instead of going to the usual lengths of buying something prepackaged and expensive.. we opted to go to a local 99 cent store... and I am happy to report that our lovely lil farewell basket complete with ribbon, plastic wrap, card and bag came out to......

9.00!!!

The objects in the basket are as follows:
Two novelty beer bottle candles (one like budweiser and the other like heineken)
A 5oz sterling silver liquor flask (reminds me of the Outsiders lol)
A 2005 must see movies calendar (so it's March... still got a few more months going Smile
A bag of california pistachios
A bag of hershey miniature chocolates

For filling I used recycled filler from another project I made last year. I wrapped the basket tight and placed a pretty navy blue ribbon on top. We spruced up the basket and placed it in a matching blue bag... voila!

Not bad... considering we made it in less than 20 mins Smile

The IRA dilemma.. conflict solved!

March 8th, 2005 at 07:44 am

Earlier today I was plagued with unanswered questions

I didn't ask:
Whether this was a load or no load fund (which I suspect out of both, it will be the one with the highest fees.. commissions first!)
A prospectus of this amazing moderate portfolio
The names of the fund managers (so I can check up on them using the trusty ol' comp)
Morningstar rating & symbol name (i'm supposed to get the info in the mail)

*********************************************************************************

I got a call from the broker and he gave me this info....

1. My bank doesn't do no loads.. they do back end loads which starts with 5% and after five years it goes down to 1%
2. I have a B class.. moderate. So I can find the prospectus by doing a search.
3. The rating on my fund is two stars but since i'll be in the fund for a while (at least 30 yrs)... it doesnt matter much?

All my completed forms are going to be sent in the mail so I can have a hard copy. Hopefully I've done the right thing...

What defines wealth anyhow?

March 8th, 2005 at 04:11 am

Indeed.. a rhetorical question!
Wealth to me is what I have every time I look into my children's eyes and see the love and admiration they hold there.
Can it be defined by numerical denominations?
Doubtful.. as billionaires only attract "hidden family members" (think of the jeopardy gazillionaire uber-nerd!)


What is wealth to you?

Too much, too little, too late! (A.K.A My bout with IRAs- part ONE)

March 8th, 2005 at 03:57 am

Sooo I've been taking out scores of financial books from the tusty ol' library in hopes of becoming a guru... duh? After listening to the doomsday lecture of American Economy from a liberal professor yesterday, I shivered as I reviewed each page of notes while ingesting a cup of hot cocoa (with Soy milk yumm LOL)...

"There is a chance that out of all 43 of you", the teacher barked at us from his mighty pulpit... "only one of you MIGHT become wealthy."
"You are all just deluding yourselves."
We were even treated to a little autobiographical tidbit that kinda caught us off guard- (then again seniors are never caught off guard.. we just become pleasantly surprised.)
"I lived in a trailer (PC alternative: Mobile Home) in Florida with my parents and siblings", he added.
Judging from his state of dress... sure.. he's hip... he's cool... he's super Prof!!
"I got my PhD and am teaching here... rich? No way jose!!"
I think he expected us to nod our heads in acquiescence. We were all just numb from the financial accusations lol.

But back to my frugal anecdote du jour:
Hubby and I opened up two Roth IRAs yesterday. You'd think that will all my researching, I'd know what questions to ask... bleah!
So now I feel like I usually do when I walk out of the grocery store... you know...when you leave the store and just as you get home you suddenly remember WHAT you were going there to buy in the first place... and you've bought everything else in the store EXCEPT that object?!!
Ughhh..

I didn't ask:
Whether this was a load or no load fund (which I suspect out of both, it will be the one with the highest fees.. commissions first!)
A prospectus of this amazing moderate portfolio
The names of the fund managers (so I can check up on them using the trusty ol' comp)
Morningstar rating & symbol name (i'm supposed to get the info in the mail)

These questions clawed at my gut since I've opened my eyes this morning.. and I fully intend to barrage the broker come 0900 hours on the dot.
Wish me luck Smile

-AW

THOUGHT OF THE DAY: WIC Program- Budget savior or factory farming abettor?

March 7th, 2005 at 09:53 am

Since we're a one income family with young children, we automatically qualify for the WIC program. It's a blessing since dairy farming has pushed higher prices for standard staples (milk, eggs and the liks). Wellllll.... since I've recently switched over to the greener side of the playing field (think leafy greens, beans, grains, and fruits lol), I've abandoned milk, eggs and have opted for soy & substitutes. My kids haven't adapted well to mommy's new "cooking style"- and well... i'm not too familiar with how to turn meat eaters to vegetarians lol. The WIC program won't allow vegetarian staples ..which disturbs me in a way. Here's why:


Vegetarian Argument: If you consume milk, you're supporting the veal industry. Cows are given hormones to produce more milk than their natural amounts.. and well.. once they can't do that... ::shudder::
If you're like me and wonder just how many chickens are out there producing the countless dozens of eggs lining the supermarket dairy section... check out peta's take on these working class citizens. I'll not trash the industry as i'm sure people make profits but I for one will not support it.

Frugal / Financial Argument: Here in NYC, a gallon of milk on average will cost $3.50. Eggs have gone up to 2.00+ and cheese... well, don't get me started on that LOL. In simplest layman terms, WIC saves the average family over 100 bucks a month in dairy items alone... you can't beat that, right?

But what about those poor overworked chickens?

And skinny bessie who makes milk that won't ever feed her happy calf (Recommended READ:Ted hughes' poem by the same name)??

LOL sorry.. had to vent.. perhaps i'll come up with a valid argument to sum it all up later on today Smile

-AW

Ahhh the joys of Democracy...

March 7th, 2005 at 09:29 am

Today I sat through an hour long lecture that included a thorough anti-republican tongue lashing- a loving precursor to Caryl Churchill's "Top Girls". :Sigh: Whilst sitting in thise otherwise disturbing one sided discussion, I contemplated my finances (well .. I find myself doing that OFTEN lol) and have come to a few conclusions:

1. The more money I accumulate in ING, the farther i'll be from getting any decent type of financial aid (One income family notwithstanding)

2. Hiding this "saved cash" in my house will only bring more issues since someone here's got a sticky fingers
habit (gotta love greed!)

3. I have no love for Safe Deposit Boxes since it's still a service you pay for... regardless of whatever is in it...

I recall reading somewhere that only the lower middle class and below fuss over money OFTEN... somehow I don't picture Ebinezer Scrooge letting his mortgage and cell phone bill pile up then pay it all ONE time a month? (Wow I'm really reaching on the creative writing chain, aren't i?) Perhaps if I just let the chips fall where they may.. I'll wind up perilously close to bankruptcy with double digit credit card balances and no significant income to pay it down. I'm curious as to how others feel about this generalization?
Do YOU feel you over-emphasize financial matters whether its through debt or savings?

On a much happier note, I have made the switch over to vegetarianism....now to get my family over to the same side lol!

The 'Can-Can'

March 6th, 2005 at 10:50 am

The Contemplation:

Ahhhh Lovely Sunday... the day in which we all rest (and worry about the upcoming six days LOL)
Hubby and I have made a habit of buying the sunday paper (I clip the coupons and hubby reads up on his sports stuff) right before the kids begin their usual sunday frolickings.

Anywhooo... today I watched as an older chinese lady pushed a cart overflowing with cans. I used to feel bad for them- all withered YET determined... now I see why I shouldn't!
This particular elder chinese lady's daughter goes to my college. She joins her mom in can collecting sprees over by areas where she won't be recognized. Her mom is a "homemaker" by profession. They are a one income family as far as taxes are concerned... yet they've got more money than most. Here's why:

Her mom stopped working like 15 years ago. She wasn't fluent in English so finding work was going to be a toughie. After much deliberation, can lady bought a shopping cart and a box of clear lawn bags. She's been picking up cans ever since. Sure she can't cash them in all at once and there are precautions she must take when handling them... can lady doesn't NEED to work now(Yes she's made a full time job of it).

The Rationalization:

She picks up cans for 6-8 hours a day, 7 days a week... in many different neighborhoods & vicinities.
Summers are especially profitable. Beaches and parks are ripe for the picking. She usually deploys her kids & grandkids to pick em up with her.
The can lady collects an average of 14000 cans a week. 14000 X $0.05= $700.00. Thats over 33K CASH in a
year!
Who'd have thought?
Best of all this money isn't taxable. It's money others have happily paid when buying soda and beer...


The Summary:

While I can't see myself picking up cans or rummaging through my neighbors' trash- I have now placed a "can bag" in my car- if I happen to see soda cans in the street... i'll lovingly get a nickel for it Smile

"The City"

March 5th, 2005 at 04:55 am

Ahhh what a beautiful Saturday morning! The clouds are nestling softly against the clammy horizon as winter sneaks a few colors into the scenery... eek!!!
It's only 7am!!
Who forgot to shut off the alarm clock!!!
Actually, today I'm going with DD to "The city"- a term we Staten Islanders use to refer to Manahttan. We are the only borough in New York that has to either drive, Bus it or take a 30 minute ferry ride packed with tourists, smelly islanders or worse... crumpled up old men toting polish kits eager to make a fast buck (by ruining expensive shoes into a "shine state").

Our destination? The Museum & Hayden Planetarium
Price? I'm going to splurge.. it's time to get "culturized" lol.

Hopefully I won't spend much today.. i'll check back in later.

Financial Tune-up

March 4th, 2005 at 06:52 am

Last night hubby and I looked at different vacation packages and we have decided we're going on a road trip! Road Tripping will squeeze some miles out of the eyesore and save us about 400 bucks in transportation fees alone. Lots of theme parks are allowing steep military discounts for active duty soldiers.. the only thing is finding them! Our local MWR isn't as helpful either Frown

Yesterday I received some disturbing news from a fellow army wife that lives in housing. It seems that her hubby is up for his security clearance and he may not get it. The military is very strict with credit issues and the slightest mishap (while on active duty) can get you in SERIOUS trouble. You cannot file bankruptcy, have a low credit score, mannn don't even think about bouncing a check or else your commander becomes your financial planner for a LONG TIME.

So now she's asking for help and all I can think of is giving her the same general advice I received when hubby was in hot water:

1. One of you must wake up and wrestle with the finances. Waiting for one to say ok ok I'll pay the bills will only make matters worse.. an HOUR late means paying 29.00.. two occasions of 29.00 means 9.9% to 29.99%.. I call it legal loansharking Smile

2. Pay off credit cards before you save money in the bank- money you put away will not be interest until you pay off the interest you're paying SOMEONE ELSE every month.

3. Stretch as much as you can and cut back on leisure until you can balance a tight budget.

Hopefully she'll find this site (I referred her over so she can learn some good strategies for handling finances) I know I have!

My old friend.. the grant :)

March 3rd, 2005 at 10:21 am

Today the mailman brought me two totally unexpected surprises. First was a pell check since my books were less than anticipated (thats a two hundred fifty buck surprise!! Smile )
The other... well... a letter from an old friend.
:Blush:
An old, old friend. From my single days.
It seems my old friend has returned from whatever folks do to "grow up" and went back to the old neighborhood to find me. The town gossiper passed on my mail address.. and now I sit here with his letter in my hand.

Should I open or shred?
Should the poet in me unleash the scribbers fury on pad to commemorate a contact that has been so overdue?
Bleah.

Update....
I opened.... and well... Blush
I prefer the letter to the grant Smile

Fun Facts: The Penny :)

March 2nd, 2005 at 10:26 am

Last night while in study hall I happened to look down and found two pennies. Without thinking twice, i scooped them up and put it right in my hello kitty coinpurse... thinking to myself "only 98 more to go!" Smile

Pennies are still money.. one penny can make a billionaire or break a bank... hey, you never know!

Anyway...here's the 411 for research buffs like me...


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PENNY DETAILS
The U.S. one-cent coin is 19 millimeters in diameter and weighs 2.5 grams.
The composition of the penny is 97.5% zinc and 2.5 % copper.
There have been 11 different designs featured on the penny.
The U.S. Mint produces over 13 billion pennies annually.
There are over 130 billion one-cent coins currently in circulation.
Since its beginning, the U.S. Mint has produced over 288.7 billion pennies. Lined up edge to edge, these pennies would circle the earth 137 times.
The average penny lasts 25 years.
The most "expensive" penny is a rare one minted in 1793. Only four are known to exist today and their worth is estimated at more than $275,000.
An average of 1,040 pennies are produced every second, adding up to 30 million a day.
During its early penny-making years, the U.S. Mint was so short on copper that it accepted copper utensils, nails and scrap from the public to melt down for the coins.
The Lincoln penny was the first U.S. coin to feature a historic figure. President Abraham Lincoln has been on the penny since 1909, the 100th anniversary of his birth.
The Lincoln penny was the first cent on which appeared the words "In God We Trust."
Over two-thirds of all coins produced by the U.S. Mint are pennies.

Habit transferrence- from Smoking to Reading?

March 2nd, 2005 at 09:51 am

I remember a few years ago (bc- Before children) , I used to plop my happy tail on the sofa and read for hours and hours... The electicity bill was lower and my vocabulary was alot richer. Now? I'm lucky if I can get a few pages in at the end of the day while trying to get myself into a state of relaxation.
After I've passed on cigarettes, I've been looking for more ways to hold on to cash and well... judging from January's electric bill the next logical step is to curb some unneccessary utility bill spending. While I confess to not being too enamored of having a stranger care for her, I do feel having her in daycare will curb several bills at home (no more having to turn on TV, heat, etc.) as well as extend her interpersonal contacts Smile But ohhh.. how to let go?

I've picked up several books that cope with this similar issue as well as personal finance literature at the trusty ole' library. While I've yet to read Churchill's Vinegar Tom for my Lit Class- I can' pretty much summarize all pre-requisites for picking the right mutual fund and just how valuable a Roth IRA can be to a sinking portfolio lol. Don'tcha just love priorities!

Can't Find money anywhere? Try an Enveloping Technique

March 1st, 2005 at 08:25 am

Can't find an extra twenty bucks anywhere? Paycheck too tight and bills got you in a bind? Join the club! LOL
Actually, I was chatting to a fellow boarder about "freed up cash" and while she prefers to invest her money in mutual funds, I like the feeling of cold, hard cash in my hand, know what I mean?

As per her request, here is my enveloping system. i'm sure there are a plethora of enveloping schemes out there but hey.. this one works for me Smile Hopefully it helps inspire others to quit habits or adopt a good one Smile
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Envelope #1:Nails: January 3, 2005: My wrapped nails were wayy too long to function. I was too lazy to go take out money (the salon I frequent has to be one of the last places on earth that does NOT accept credit/debit cards. I cracked open a manicure kit my mom got for christmas and went to work on my talons. Granted my nails are no longer the ornate spectacles they once were... they serve their purpose now.
Nails & brows $25.00 (wrapping+ design+ generous tip ) X 3 visits a month.
EOM Saving: $75.00 (I still do my eyebrows though lol so it's actually $60.00)


Envelope #2 :Habit bye-bye! January 22,2005. I saw an anti-smoking ad that hit home. Really. I crushed my cigarettes and haven't picked one up since. The last price I paid for a pack of cigarettes was $7.29. I've condensed the price to $7.00 for accounting purposes
Cigarettes: $7.00 (I smoked a pack every other day)
EOM Saving: $112.00 (YIKES!)

Envelope #3: February 1 2005: Coupons: Hubby buys the paper anyway...so now I simply clip the coupons and take them with me when I food shop. I take out the amount of the coupon (face value) at home and also the in store coupons at the commissary. Started February 1.
Shopping: 2X a month.
EOM Saving: $18.00

Envelope #4: Recycling Cans: Ha! To most it's an odd thing to do. Would you turn down $5.00 if you found it laying on the floor? That's what I found laying in my recycling bin in January. Hubby had friends over a few times so I separated the cans and have yet to redeem the cans for February. I wonder if anyone recycles the cans at my college? lol
EOM: ??? (i'll update when I change the cans)

Envelope #5: Changed Mind Account: Hubby wanted to see Ray and Constatine. I turned it down last min. Instead of going to go see them ($9.50 a ticket is not my idea of fun anyway) Hubby gave me the money. The second portion of this envelope covered gambling "Play money". Usually we spend ALOT in AC since we're both wannabe pro players- well not anymore. I tucked away my portion of play money BEFORE we got there. Good thing I did.. lady luck sat at someone else's table.
EOM Saving: $338.00

I could go on further but I wouldn't want to bore... these envelopes are all money that I won't hesitate to part with in the course of ONE MONTH. Rhetorical Question for ya: Do YOU have lil habits you can stand to part with ? IF so.. start your own envelope Smile


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