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OUCH! Walking Hurts!

May 10th, 2006 at 02:08 pm

Hubby and I walked close to 7 miles yesterday. We boarded the Staten Island ferry at 8am and mapped out our game plan accordingly. Our traveling took us from the whitehall station (Ferry terminal) all the way to Chinatown and back (2.12 miles one way). Once we made it back to S.I, we headed to the mall to shop for new sneakers. We walked the full length of BOTH FLOORS in the mall. THEN we decided to go to Target to buy some treats for great grandma.

I am surprised I still have feet!!!!

I sit here now with foot massager set to maximum WITH HEAT since I can barely feel my tootsies. I think I may have pulled something in the tendon/ankle region as well.

On the upside, Hubby found a five dollar bill at the food court. We were just as happy as if we'd have won lotto. I know that five bucks is nothing nowadays but the rush of finding cash makes our change hunting all the more worthwhile!

$0.52 Shopping Day and a Dream.

May 9th, 2006 at 11:16 am

I must start off by saying this...I am no fan of cellphones and their gazillion accessories. I remember a time when people would go run errands and not have to "check in" every five minutes. The calls I receive during my outings often disturb my mood significantly.

I keep my phone on vibrate mode because: #1. It gives me an excuse to say "Whoops, I didn't catch the call on time!"

#2. I feel it is rude to talk when I am in other people's company (unless it's the sitter with an important rugrat report).

#3. It lessens the probability of picking up the phone while driving.

Hubby bought me a bluetooth headset last year so I can talk while I drive. I was reluctant to use it at first but then I pictured myself looking like supercool Uhura from Star trek (my 60's idol lol)- so I opted for the device.

My darling husband purchased one for each of us and after weeks of happy usage.... his headset broke. It was beyond repair. Apparently Hubby pulled a "Lenny" chokehold (Of mice and men) on the headset- smashing the tiny gadget to pieces in the process.

So I offered my headset because he drives around alot (Army Recruiter). He popped in one day during lunch with a small Cingular shopping bag and handed me a newer model of the headset.In a desperate pitch to compete with Verizon Wireless, Cingular ran a bluetooth special offer with a $30 Rebate Visa Debit Card.

I received the card in the mail yesterday just as I was headed to the grocery store. I had planned to buy $50 in groceries this week using my ATM card but Cingular's card saved the day! I bought all that I needed for this week for exactly $30.52. I whipped out 52 cents in dimes and pennies and left the store a happy camper Smile

DREAMS:

Aside from my small victory against the tight budget, I also found a total of $3.05 in the form of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. Funny- three dollars sounds like nothing when you say it. Anyone can earn more than that in an hour of work (well... except waiters which have my full sympathy for standing on their feet for hours!). These three dollars come from walking around and talking to my shape-up partner about anything under the sun. A little leisure time spent WITHOUT television or computer is a blessing in disguise. TV and the internet made me stagnant far too long and while I don't blame electronics for making me fat, I do blame myself for not moving around and enjoying life at a leisurely pace.

My strolling partner asked what I was planning on doing with that money. Since I just started going back to church, I am considering some form of charity (split part of the daily finds and offer it during the collection portion of Sunday mass.) My partner laughed because the amount I'd give is way too small under our current economic standard. I disagree.
I feel what I give in charity comes from my heart. I don't work (yet) and hubby's salary covers all our dues. Our church envelope denominations start at $5.00 and goes up to $25.00. But enough about that... on to the bigger fish, I say!
Congress once debated on eradicating the penny and rounding things off to the nearest nickel. THAT COSTS US MORE MONEY, FOLKS! I have found dollar bills in the trash, coins on the floor, in the bank, in the street, in front of my house, in the bushes, on my car, in the subway, ALL OVER CAMPUS, under radiators, inside empty desks, the list goes on. Heck, I even saw a homeless man PASS on what seemed to be 75 cents in quarters, dimes, and nickels. Apparently the change wasn't good enough for him?

We need to re-evaluate our thoughts on what we consider valuable, folks. It costs 1.3 cents to make 1 cent. I urge all of you to start your own changepots and gather ye rosebuds while ye may.


Dinner for one? $210 minus gratuity please.

May 8th, 2006 at 11:38 am

Yesterday I had a brush with eccentricity unlike any I've ever witnessed. A friend was discussing the possibility of dining at this restaurant in the city called Per Se (yes, as in "{add wisecrack here}, per se"). The price for a meal in this place is $210. ONE MEAL, folks.

According to the website, Per Se NY, you get a seven course meal packed with nutrition, great taste, and creative presentation. The portion sizes are appropriate for satisfying a bird-like appetite- but then again fine dining is meant to entice the taste buds and fuel the body in moderation.

Had it been a decade ago, I'd be all over this offer because I was once a die-hard fan of the high life. Now I look at those two hundred ten beans as enough cash to feed my family of 6 for at least a month courtesy of the military commissary. I caress my coupons lovingly because I know at the end of my shopping experience, some of my pre-budgeted food shopping cash is coming back home with me. (Envelope for grocery savings in May: $7.00 so far!)

My friend, who has yet to have children or hardships regarding finance, cannot possibly understand the rush of mathematics that swirls in my head each time I part with cash. She has offered to pay my way but my pride won't accept lol. I am more interested in how much more I can save up as opposed to what I can spend my savings on. The various pfblogs on here have become my one-stop shop for frugal ideas and money saving techniques. While my friend dines and shops like royalty, I am satisfied with my marked down products and yard sale exclusives.

(Begin rant here)
Truth is, it really isn't about the money anymore. People shop and overspend because something else is missing in their existence. Fortunately, it is never too late to start a good habit Smile .
Fellow bloggers, personal finance enthusiasts, and guests alike, it is our job to help others become aware of the finance traps. Ironically, peer pressure forces us to make bad choices- why can't we pressure our peers to make good ones instead?
{End rant here}

Cleaning, Totals, and Re-thinking.

May 6th, 2006 at 10:21 am


"Who let minnie mouse out in this weather?" Here is my daughter showing off her Disney world paraphernalia: ears (14.00), umbrella (12.00), wide grin of appreciation for going on vacation during Easter break (priceless).

-----
"Re-thinking"
Budget base for May '06:
One can learn soo much about life by reading other people's blogs. After reading a few pfblogs this morning, I feel fiscally ready to map out the upcoming spend budget for this month. I've got several occasions to shop for and I need to establish an acceptable spend amount BEFORE I hit the stores (much like food shopping- never go to the store hungry or armed with a heavy wallet!!). It'll be a toughie considering the events specified:

Mother's Day:
Mom, Grandma, MIL

Birthday:
Mom (turns 65 this year), Dad

Communion:
Daughter

Retirement:
Professor K. (41 years of service)

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

Had this been 2004 or earlier, my credit card debt would immediately swell up under multiple, overly generous spends as these are all noteworthy occasions (justified expense). SavingAdvice helped me kick this habit early last year to stop the madness in its tracks and save CASH for splurges. Cash is alot harder to part with- ESPECIALLY when you start accruing a nice stack of twenties.

I am considering creating a few care packages for Mom's Day and gift cards for birthdays. My mom isn't into big parties so I am considering signing her up for craft membership at our local A.C. Moore. Hmmm...

-----
"Saving"
Tips from the maid:

My maid-neighbor has serviced homes of several rich New Yorkers and known celebrities like Steve Martin and Amy Irving. I like to invite her over for coffee so I can wrestle some decor tips and cleaning product scoop. Her latest set of tips includes a warning on the Dyson Vacuum/Roomba product lines and plugs on the following housecleaning necessities: microfiber cloths, vinegar, and Fantastic with Bleach.

Vacuums- The Dyson vacuum will rip your carpet fibers to shreds as the suction is too strong for non-commercial flooring. One of her clients bought the purple dyson and is now trying to sell it on Ebay after it destroyed her persian rugs. I'll stick with my dirt devil then!

Microfiber cloths- These cloths will pick up dust without having to use any cleaning solutions. Her tip- after cleaning the surfaces (mirrors, counters etc.), dab a little chamomile or lavender water onto the cloth and wipe down one last time. Wiping down light bulbs with the scented cloth will warm the scent enough to fill the room whenever the light is turned on.

Vinegar- She swears by this as the only alternative to clean tile floors. Instead of using beaucoup amounts of clorox clean-up or pine-sol, Miss Maid uses vinegar and water to combat dirt and grime. She then uses diluted lavender scented cleansers to finish the job (yes, she loves lavender!).

Fantastic with Bleach- Though a little more expensive than I care to admit, this stuff makes for easy cleaning without that choking clorox smell. She uses this to disinfect the bathrooms and kitchen sink. I managed to buy two bottles for five bucks at Stop and Shop (my new favorite grocery store)

-----
"Totals"
It's officially been one year and a few months since I started my envelope methods to save money by quitting bad habits and saving on bills by cutting down. From March to November 2005, I managed to save $4000 which I put into a short term CD. The CD has since matured and I have some more money in envelopes to add along for my next 7 month deposit. How much have I accumulated from March to March alone?

$8,763.12

That is more than half of my student loans. That is enough to take my kids on a posh vacation in the Caribbean. 8 grand. I am a happy camper. The irony about this cash is- 100% of this is money I gave freely to the following companies:

Phillip Morris, Con Edison, Visa, Brooklyn Union Gas, Cablevision, several Atlantic City casinos, New York Times subscription service AND... the nail salon.

How's that for a refund? Smile

-----
CHANGEPOT UPDATE:

Here is yesterday's entry at my blog, The Changepot 2006 ]. I am officially over $70.00!!! YAYYY!! Thanks to all the folks who graciously drop coins- know that your coinage is safe with me heheh.

....
Friday, Cinco De Mayo, 06':

A couple of days ago, I posted that I had reached close to $70.00 in found money. Last night, I realized I was way off ($1.17) and felt a bit bummed. What I'd failed to realize is that I had amassed a collection of recyclable cans ($1.10 worth). That-along with today's totals has put me into the first of several changepot goals ($70, $100, $150.00+). The reason I chose $70.00 is because when I started the change questing, I had just spent that amount on one book for school. I paid it with my own hard earned cash (mannn it stung!)

BUT IT'S HERE.

And the sun is shining today.

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


CHANGEPOT UPDATE:
Today we found $1.35 in the form of two quarters, five dimes, two nickels and twenty five pennies. We also cashed in twenty two recyclable cans for a total of $1.10 (One dollar and one dime) . Altogether our total for the day was $2.45- taking our totals well over $70.00! There is nothing sweeter than seeing progress in effect!!!!

The best find was in the middle of an INSANE intersection here on the Island. Hubby parked the vehicle on the side and retrieved forty cents without batting an eyelash. I love this race. That's all for today as I have a BIG DAY tomorrow. I'll be sure to post about it Smile
Mucho luvvvv
Change Statistics:

Dollars: Tens (1) = 10.00
Ones (13) = 13.00

Quarters: (85) = 21.25
Dimes: (166) = 16.60
Nickels: ( 72) = 3.60
Pennies: (683) = 6.83
________________________

Total units: (1020) = $71.28


Total Cash found and redeemed today: $2.45
Total Since Blog Inception: $71.28

Spending Triggers.. changepot update etc.

April 11th, 2006 at 12:11 pm

The past couple of days have been absolutely wonderful! Spring is finally here- my flowers survived the freak april snowstorm and all is well in this little corner of Staten Island!

After reading some self-help/ motivational books over winter break, I've decided to pay more attention to HOW I spend money- what triggers me, etc. I know now that 99% of my impulsive spending happens because I want to buy things for my kids- things I secretly wanted but couldn't have when I was young. I decided to make it a complete experiment (notebook et al!)
here is what I did for two weeks:

-Created a shopping chart/log for two weeks (March 25-April 8)

- Checked off when I made purchases that
weren't on the budget and wrote down the amount (pretax) on a separate column. Wrote down who it was for and why I thought it was "justified".

After the two weeks were up, I tallied the amount spent and the results were shocking. While I exercised some restraint because of the physical hassle of whipping out my chart in public every time I bought something, I managed to spend $317 on my family (dog included). Some of that hard earned dough bought PSP video games, wicker style purses, bratz accessories, and enough jellybeans to feed the state of Vermont! The oddest purchase was two packs of cherry air freshener for $1.39 each at 2:10am at the local gas station and the reason: "Hubby's boots.". Well, at least it wasn't cigarettes!

So..the lesson I learned here is that despite my frugal attempts to save save save (envelope systems, conserve energy etc), old habits are hard to break. I hadn't set up a "spending account" prior to my little investigation and the truth is sometimes you just WANT to spend on something trivial (the American marketing industry wouldn't survive if we wouldn't shop impulsively!). Since I spent over 300 bucks in two weeks, I have now added this new category to my monthly budgeting cycle.

So ask yourself this... when you went shopping last time, how many items did YOU buy that were absolutely unneccesary (price has nothing to do with it! Smile It would be an interesting thing to tally up, wouldn't it?

***CHANGEPOT UPDATE***

I'm not sure if I've posted it here but here's a quick summary of the infamous Changepot:

In early October I started collecting all the money I find in the street and putting it in a cute little jar I call the Changepot. I've acumulated over fifty dollars in this pot so far... it's even outgrown its original container!

Here is a pic of my little changepot

Brand New Day= New Savings Goals

January 21st, 2006 at 03:19 pm

So it's 2006.
I'm a little older, a little wiser, a little heftier LOL.

After reading several financial blogs, I have realized that my savings plan has been utterly incorrect the whole entire time. Sure it feels good to save SOME money out of the home expenses but the truth is- I PAY MORE IN FEES THAN I SAVE IN A MONTH!

For example, my smoking habit used to cost me 28.00 a week. On some months that means 112.00...other months it's 140.00. If I save that 140.00, I get like 30 to 40 cents in interest. My student loan payment, which is just ten bucks more, is taking 53.68 in interest EVERY MONTH until i pay it in full. The numbers are quite disconcerting.

So I log on to daveramsey.com to see what the drawling guru has to say about paying off SL debt. "Snowball it!", he says. I say "No Way!!" Snowballing my SL will make me a little more jittery because it will take me a pretty long time to half the balance.

Student Loan Battle Begins...

December 10th, 2005 at 11:42 am

New York Holidays

I make it a habit to wait until everyone is sleeping so I can read my mail in peace. I received a hefty envelope from school- telling me what I've already assessed- I will be a graduate at the end of this month. Since I hit hard times from having not been able to get financial aid for a few years, I took out loans. As I impatiently tore away at the envelope, I envisioned an al-pacino look-alike croney banging on my door shouting "I know you're in there.. you owe us 104.00 missy!!" Oh well.. serves me right to acquire the only debt that is unexcusable under ANY circumstances. It's okay though. A promise is a promise.

While I am technically on my way out of school, I haven't given thought to what i'll do workwise. ::SIGH:: This sucks. Each plan outlined in my paperwork seems outrageous because I'm looking at finishing the payoff sometime in 2045 or so, at which time I will probably be gumming through prunes and sippin' vegetable juice in hopes of keeping up with my budgeting practices. Hubby tells me not to worry and I can't help but laugh. Me?? Not worry? I'm like borderline "Monk" right about now. I worry about EVERYTHING.

This new bill on my horizon will cost me about 150/mth more. Oh well, at least I can claim it on my taxes?

Watermelon in December?

December 7th, 2005 at 01:41 am

Earlier today I had such a craving for watermelon... I was literally salivating during class ::sigh::
Today I had a very rude awakening. Hubby and I received a bill that was past due. The amount is over 1K. It turns out I've been paying way less than what I should so it's time to re-do the home budget. With my new business, I have selected the task of paying the mortgage + auto insurances woohoo. This will lower hubby's obligation a little and tie up less capital Smile



11 more days of class...

December 4th, 2005 at 02:16 pm

Oh boyyyy... the long last two weeks! I've got four papers and one full length play to write. CRUNCHTIME!! I haven't paid much attention to saving because of my school and online ventures. Between that and the kids, I barely have private time Frown

Aside from the fact that I'm one year older (sigh), I have to venture in the snow to catch a broadway musical. Normally i'd be in a good mood but today I feel like POOOOOP. I am currently procrastinating one ONE paper (due TOMORROW) and there is one huge mountain of dirty clothes in my room that plagues me like scrooge's ghostly friends. Oh well!

I've decided to cut the following three things from my home budget:

1. Manicuring (I took off my fake nails and have applied a transparent coat instead. Savings: 51.00 X 12= 612.00 yr)
2. Junk fund (I usually take 20 bucks from the food budget to buy soda and crap. Gone now.. diet time (Savings 40.00 X 12= 480.00/yr)
3. Target card usage (they dont have cashback so I've decided to use citi more often. Potential savings: 300.00/yr)

Total saved this month: 141.00
Total saved in one year: 1392.00

Have you decided what to do with your budgets? Smile

Tis the season

November 25th, 2005 at 04:25 pm

TO START RUSHING!!!!

Wow. This is the first time in four days that i've been able to sit down and read my email. I'm going to venture out soon in hopes of obtaining some minor gifts... geez it's soooo cold out! I went out earlier to take DD to the clinic... not looking forward to the gust. After reading a post on here, I'm going to set two objectives today:

1. DECORATE for XMAS
2. START WRITING CARDS for delivery 12/3/05

Hopefully i'll be able to get this done..i'm crossing my fingers!

WHOOPS!

November 19th, 2005 at 01:35 am

After reading so many cool blogs out there, I made one up and have been chatting away about anything under the sun (all the while neglecting my supercool saving advice bloggie Frown ) Just got in from seeing the RCMHS in Manhattan- hubby managed to get orchestra seats from the MWR for 35 bucks heheh. The show was great, the food was immensely overpriced, and I have newly hatched blisters from walking around Midtown with a 45 pound child attached to my hip. Gotta love motherhood!!

I must say, I am VERY HAPPY with Jeffreys IPOD offer posts. I have opened up two CDs with Netbank and one credit card offer from Schwab- so that's THREE IPOD shuffles shufflin my way wooohoo! I have decided that I'm keeping one and giving the other two as gifts during three kings day (my family gives gifts in December and January for the latecomers hehe), The CD rate is AWESOME imho- if I had more to put in, i certainly would... this way I have more secured capital to put back into my online business in 2006.

On a happier note, I was able to register for my grad courses without a hitch this semester... so I'm a happy camper Smile

Ok.. time to relax and take a bubble bath. CIAO!

Bill Roulette

October 13th, 2005 at 10:35 pm

Today I feel just like the weather outside... dismal, humid, and cold. The bills don't skip a beat.. the mid month bills come pouring in before payday, creditors hungrily outstretching their hands, palm-up, eyes blazin'. I've got them in my bill basket for now.. resisting the urge to 'pre-pay' with my emergency funds and rest easier tonight. Sometimes I feel like i've got a touch of OCD when it comes to bills. I've gone bankrupt once in my life and now i'm slowly regaining my balance financially. A bankruptcy can really screw up your plans if you want to get a house and a car... mannnn.

This month I get to say goodnight and farewell to hubby's pre-military student loans. I just finished making my last hefty payment and after this month, two hundred smackaroos is freed up for good... YEEEHAWWWWWW!!

Move over Dave Ramsey.... Jeffrey Strain and Saving Advice.com is the bommmb digggity!

Spending and Earning..

October 12th, 2005 at 03:24 pm

Don't you just looove how when you get extra windfalls of cash, you spend it all right away!? I got paid a hefty check from an online venture that I decided to be brave with.. and went a little crazy with the profits lol. I paid my husband's huge Target bill and managed to buy a few things with the loot left over. I added the chump change to the Christmas envelope (side note: thanks to a member on here who clued me in that you can have multiple mini accounts in ING and name them whatever you like,, that is outstanding!! I opened up an online xmas account with them hehe)

The entrepreneur bug is hitting me hard as of late. I am so fed up with saving my pennies! On a smoother note, I just finished writing a play about tourists on the Staten Island Ferry- hopefully my classmates won't butcher my piece!

The Budget Breaker....

October 5th, 2005 at 10:00 am

came in the mail yesterday.
Last month, hubby walked into Target (we pronounce it Tarr-JAY here) and walked out with a large credit allowance. Needless to say, he did what marketing managers love... IMPULSE SHOPPING. What is it about Target that is soooo addictive? I was a loyal Wal-Marter not too long ago! Every trip to Florida would include a grand pit stop for a few bucks worth of goodies... ::sigh:::

So hubby went off.. buying MONTHS worth of stuff we already had stockpiled. He also indulged in the newest playstation consoles- buying one for each of us (the most time consuming device i've ever experienced... idle hands are the marketer's tools I say). I got the bill late when I strolled in from school.

NINE HUNDRED BUCKS
Oh sure.. one hundred more and we score a 10% off certificate on any of our purchases.. but dayum... NINE?

Needless to say, this is not in my budget to pay this month. We've splurged with the credit cards this month and now the nine here combined with the dividend card bill means:
#1. NO ABILITY TO SAVE THIS MONTH
#2. TAPPING INTO EMERGENCY FUNDS
#3. BUH BYE CHRISTMAS ENVELOPE Frown

Actually.. if I tap into the funds, the christmas envelope stays put. Oh well..

HAGD ALL Smile

I am $0.01 richer.

October 3rd, 2005 at 10:44 pm

Today I found a shiny new penny in the school parking lot. It's a rare find considering how many people complain about being broke and unable to afford tuition lol. When I got to class, my wise beyond his years English professor asked me why I was smiling and I told him about the penny. He looked at me quizzically and told me how I didn't look like the 'pinching type'. I informed him that in addition to the penny, I've found approximately 27 dollars around campus since January. This caught the ears of a few classmates and one asked why I haven't reported it to which I replied:
"It's not like you guys want it. You throw it around campus and the lawns. I simply pick it up."
I was referring to the abundance of recyclable cans I find all over the place. I have a bag in my car complete with gloves and I go to town around campus when I get the chance. It spruces up the campus AND gives me some additional cans to cash in at the end of the month. There's no shame in it... most people go out of their way to ignore the cans but when I see a can on the floor, I think to myself "Oooh.. I found a nickel!"

So in short.. I laugh all the way to the bank Smile

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

Consolidate Student Loan

Procrastinating

October 3rd, 2005 at 01:18 am

One of the things I love about the fall is the natural ability to sleeep and just be increasingly lethargic for no apparent reason. I have twenty one books I HAVE to read... and have yet to open ONE lol. I've got a business plan to map out for the school publication that i've yet to start on... anddddd... my room looks like taz ripped right through it!

I'm hoping this is temporary Frown

I did start the holiday envelope with a meager donation from my purse today. I usually divide the money in parts and stuff the envelopes with the smaller amounts. I read the news on August Wilson's passing... it's a loss for the literary world indeed. I read his play fences for a drama class and found it quite invigorating.

OKTOBRIANNA!

October 2nd, 2005 at 12:04 am

Today I attended a free computer training class at school and got a free flash drive just for attending. It's even got my name on it hehehe. They taught us how to make a powerpoint slide heheheheh. I LOVE IT!!
I've decided that i'm going to make a slide documenting my envelope/habit process.

Last night hubby took me out to eat to celebrate my degree arrival. Funny how being a college graduate doesn't really hit home until you see the actual diploma in your hand. The one that came in the mail is the 2 year one though... the 4 year one is coming in June after I walk in the ceremony. GULP... it's only taken me.. uhmmm 8 years to get a 4 year degree lol. That's okay though.. my two greatest diplomas are in the other room watching Tom and Jerry until bedtime =o)

That being said... here are the goals for October:

1. Cut down on buying sweets. (OUCH.. it's time to burn away the 20 pounds I have put on passing up cigs)
2. Set up a holiday envelope (Min $300 by December). (Its Christmas in October in my eyes. I am stocking up on gift certificates and cashing out reward points AHEAD of time lol)
3. Tweak the bills down somewhere by 20.00 (I'm thinking probably phone bills?)

By the way.. OKtoBrianna is the name of the chick on Billy Idol's tattoo.. Happy October Y'all!!!! YAYYYYYY

Gas going downnnnn

September 29th, 2005 at 08:42 pm

YAY!
I passed by the gas station on the way to class today and saw the price at $2.93.. BIGGG difference from two weeks ago ($3.29). I'm still feeling yucky and the kids aren't helping mommy at all lol. They both have the sniffles as well.

Financially things are looking up, especially since I started my savings full force this month. August was a bit of an impromptu attack on the budget considering we'd gone back to the spendthrift (dark) side. My goal is to get to 5K in savings by graduation. If I continue going the way I am, this will be do-able without choking the budget. A friend has joined in on the challenge- lets see how far she goes Smile

Bleahhh day.. under the weather

September 29th, 2005 at 01:26 am

I wish I could say I spent the day sleeping... that would be a luxury far too costly for me to indulge. I have caught the almighty laryngitis/sore throat bug that seems to be plaguing DD's school (the job has its perks lol)
As I sit here in my robe and flannel pjs, I kmow I have a fever but I refuse to lay down.

DH and I have decided to go with the loan (thanks for the advice Smile ) considering I am going to start a FT job in January and have a side business going. The money I make will pay off this monster loan while hubby concentrates on the rest.

I almost leapt out of my seat when I read the front page article of SA... delinquincies!?
DUHHH... considering the recent Hurricane catastrophe/s, how are these people going to pay? And how's it going to affect us (the rest of the country)? My heart goes out to the families down there & all I can do is pray for them.

One Love.
AW

Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul

September 27th, 2005 at 09:02 pm

I am thoroughly puzzled. It sucks because I should be focusing more on my twenty million classes and chores... but I just can't seem to make up my mind. My problem is financial in nature and well.. what better place to rant about it than this lil' ole corner of the net I call home Smile


The problematic Paul
------

Hubby has over 20K in Student Loans that are deferred until he gets out of the service. Problem is.. the interest YEAR AFTER YEAR gets tacked on to the principal.. and well.. it is growing exponentally. We haven't paid since 2002.

We traded in a leased vehicle that we hated for a nice vehicle that we love. Problem? Well.. the leased car wasnt paid off so now we pay for the new vehicle AND the remainder of the leased one.. ouch! We're talking over 30K here. We pay 700/mth on this monster alone.

My Car is still not ours.. I've got until 2007 and the monthly payment is a choker (500/mth)

A few other bills (non credit) have surfaced so we pay them monthly ( approx 400/mth)

Bottom line.. these bills are choking the budget, offering NO tax deductions, and frankly.. they're driving me bonkers.

TOTAL 1600/mth



The protagonist Peter
-------

We have been preapproved for a loan that will wipe all these debts, plus leave a lil pocket money for us to play with. The PROS: our cars will be OURS, the loans will plague us no more...

THE CONS: This house will have NO equity whatsoever. We'll be paying this loan right alongside the first mortgage.. and so, i'll be freaking out more than the usual ...

TOTAL: 1600 in payments becomes approx 700...


What would you do?

School Lunch... BLEAAAAH

September 26th, 2005 at 07:54 pm

Today my DD came home with three notes from school. One was good news, the other a reminder.. and the other....

Judging from the pristine white envelope marred with red pen I knew it couldn't have been good. It was a letter stating that we have to pay full price for her meals in school. Normally the careless spender in me would shrug off the news and pay whatever they charge.. BUTTTTT

The difference is HUUUUGE! (36.20 FULL PRICE FOR ONE MONTH VS. 5.60 FOR REDUCED PRICE ONE MONTH)

Highway robbery I say!
Currently, I have the luxury of being YARD DUTY MOM two days a week- partly to watch my daughter AND to recoup a couple of my hard earned greenbacks.. so in short, I've seen what qualifies as lunch

AND I am NOT having it!

I called the school, scheduled an appointment with the principal, typed up a letter stating that DD will not be eating school lunch anymore, and well.. I'm still waiting for my blood pressure to get back down to normal.

BUT.. I do have some good news.. I have saved some money on my car insurance by switching to ALLSTATE. Geico could kiss these grits for all I care Smile

Hubby vs the supergiant cable company...

September 24th, 2005 at 07:33 pm

Today I taught my husband a valuable lesson.
We sat TOGETHER and mapped out our financial plan for the next 5 years. We've got a few expenses coming up that are guaranteed budget killers. After a moment or two of silence, I suggested he call the cable company to "cancel the cable service". He managed to shrink the bill down by 18 dollars.. which in my envelope terms means more greenbacks whooopeeeee!

The Budget Breaker strikes again!

September 23rd, 2005 at 10:13 am

Funny how we never calculate finances to the "T". After paying my bill, I now owe a little over 600 from various bills, show tickets, and things of that genre.

I am currently working on the business plan for my company and the college publication since i'll be fairly occupied today. I'm in good spirits thus far (a rarity at 6am lol) and remain pleasantly optimistic despite my lack of gym exercise routine.


Now for the nightmare Frown
I ran out of contact lenses yesterday so I went to my regular opthalmologist- only to discover that he'd relocated with his family. Good for him! Staten island isn't really a good place to raise a family in my opinion... but anyway... I had no choice but to be seen with 'the new guy'. This person was very unprofessional and kept his gaze sturdy on other 'things' while talking to me- which made me feel extremely uncomfortable but I needed to get my lenses. Needless to say, I told my husband about this ogling and my husband has assured me that he will be going there to pick up my lenses personally- glowering all the while.

But enough of that... i've got some work to do and some numbers to crunch... toodles!

Barb

Hectic Days are here again

September 22nd, 2005 at 08:14 pm

Wow.. the five classes and part time job is starting to weigh me down a bit lol. As if I wasn't busy ENOUGH, I have now been voted on the board for a visual arts magazine on campus which will meet two days a week and one saturday a month. I am also the business manager (the treasurer, etc.. aka the one who does up the pretty budget!) so I will be even more stressed out because we handle tons of entries and editings... yum!

I made a superhuge payment to one of the rewards cards today so I'm expecting some change back in reward munny next month.. just in time for thanksgiving. Speaking of rewards, I got my $75 Gap gift certificate complements of Amex in the mail today. Funny.. when I was younger, I'd have hightailed it over to the mail and spent it already.. but now it's all about being practical. I'm going to buy a few sweaters at a gap outlet and give them away as christmas gifts.

Anyhow.. i'm off to do some homework... ciao for now Smile

HSBC $50 for opening free checking and getting a debit mastercard w/paypass

September 19th, 2005 at 01:08 pm


Just thought i'd pass this along to my saving friends....

expires sept 30, 2005
open up a free checking account and apply for a debit card/w paypass.
no minimum balance
no maintenance fee
no direct deposit needed

must keep acct open for 180 days to keep your bonus.

$50 deposited in account upon opening

go to us.hsbc.com, use "BCARD" in special promotion box.

Copy and paste this link to read up on the terms and apply:

http://us.hsbc.com/personal/checking/freechecking_debitbonus.html?code=bcard

The envelope Queen vs. the charge card King

September 18th, 2005 at 05:25 pm

The Positive Side:

What a wonderful Sunday!

Despite the nice weather outside, I've been here at home- catching up on my blog reading and finance surfing. During my little over one month recommitment to not smoking and spending frivolously, i'd managed to save up exactly $773.68 in 6 envelopes for the month of August. My September envelopes are filling up slowly but surely. Judging from the entries in my finance log, the savings total a little over 1K in what I call 'free money'. It's quite an accomplishment- considering this is all money i'd be giving away in the guise of habit (smoking, overeating), finance charge (credit cards), regular prices (formerly known as the anti-coupon mommy), can dumping (although the 5 cents is money already paid, consumers throw cans away to eliminate bulk can recyclings) . It's funny because my neighbors look at me like i'm crazy when I lug my cans in to the nearby supermarket. I smile because it's doing these things (recycling cans, passing on cigarettes, etc.) that have given me back some of my cash. I'd spend over a thousand bucks a year just buying cigarettes alone- this is money I'd never see again (at least not in the form of cash, anyway). When I see a can, I think to myself "I just found five cents!" Truthfully, if you examine your own budgets, I am almost positive there is some money waiting to be freed up. Here's an example of what I do:

Common Electricity bill in my house: 147.00 After replacing bulbs : 121.00 (-26.00)
Cable (Modem & Cable TV) 150.00 After negotiating with rep : 110.00 (-40.00)
Phone: 60.00 After changing package 51.00 (-9.00)

Now it doesn't look like much when read initially.. but if you calculate the total, I am now saving 75.00 in bills. BILLS THAT I'D USUALLY PAY BLINDLY. So what does Barb do? She takes that 75 bucks, creates an envelope called bill savings and adds it to the monthly envelope.

At the end of the year, Barb has 900.00 that she shouldn't have. Hence the term, FREE MONEY lol. That's just one envelope though. I have 6-7 envelopes on average during the month.
So when I load all those cans in my car when I go grocery shopping, I smile because it's doing these little things that give me a chance to open a CD with free money?


THE NEGATIVE SIDE...
**updated Monday Sep 19**

Ironically, my husband has been charging up his brand new store charge card because he has a 6K credit line. The problem is... the APR is 19.99%, and I am almost positive we'll have a carryover balance in October! I've manipulated the budget to include my envelopes and a little bit of ING funding but there is absolutely NO cushion for credit cards. So far his total on the card is 980.00 and coupled along with the gas card charges, we're looking at credit card bills around 1100.00 Frown

So now the debate begins... do I tap my envelopes or do I make him sweat it out?

I've got a little while to think about it though... let's see what happens Smile

Unexpected windfall breaks monotony chez moi :)

September 17th, 2005 at 11:47 pm

Funny how life is! Today I started the day a little grumpy... payday was two days ago and we're back down to BROKE lol. Hubby and I went shopping at the commissary and found great wholesale bargains at the tent outside the store. I bought 5 packs of 15-Roll Bounty Paper Towels at 7.35 each (the very same bounty I bought at Costco earlier in the week for 14.99). We spent a whopping 160 bucks but all of it was 100% justifiable.

On the way home from this plastic shopping spree, I felt a little bummed because I wanted to have a girly beauty day (hair, nails, waxings etc) this payday. Hubby was all for having me splurge via the plastics but the frugal in me rebelled against the idea.

When I got home, I checked the mailbox and found a refund check from school. Apparently I'd made an overpayment last summer and got $187.75 back. MONEY BACK FROM SCHOOL? I ran over to the bank and cashed it right away.

And thus.. the day of beauty reigned!

Barb: Hair, Nails, Waxing
Hubby: Waxing (Eyebrows.. he looks so cute hubba hubba!)
Kitty: Hair
DD: Hair
Mom: 20.00 in cash since she didn't go with us for beauty day.

It was a beauty day for all of us.. and I still managed to save $57.75 of this unexpected money in a new envelope entitled Freaky School Payout Leftover heheh.

The Dividend Game

September 16th, 2005 at 02:59 pm

After perusing several financial blogs, I am kicking myself because I didn't maximize my frugality last month! Supermarkets and Drugstores are selling gift cards which if purchased with the Citi dividend card gives you 5% cashback... duhh!!! I bought 200 bucks worth of giftcards at the actual stores and well... it would have been nice to see some loot coming back to me.. even if its only 10 bucks. I've added this info on here for 'dividenders' who havent read the citi fine print regarding this way cool card:


CITI® DIVIDEND PLATINUM SELECT® CARD REWARD PROGRAM INFORMATION
Your Citi Dividend Card account ("Card Account") will receive a rebate based upon eligible transactions appearing on your current month’s billing statement. Such eligible transactions include purchases, cash advances and balance transfers, which will show cumulatively on your statement as “Dividend Dollars”, as long as your Card Account is open and current. (Rebates on cash advances and balance transfers may take up to three billing cycles before they appear on your billing statement.) However, if your Card Account is no longer current, you will not be able to earn or redeem Dividend Dollars. If your Card Account is closed, you will no longer be able to earn or redeem your Dividend Dollars and unless you reopen your Card Account within 90 days of closure, you will forfeit any accumulated Dividend Dollars.
You will earn 5% on purchases made at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations and 1% on all other purchases. Supermarkets are defined as stand-alone merchants that primarily sell a complete line of food merchandise for home consumption. Drugstores are stand-alone merchants that primarily sell prescription and proprietary drugs and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines. Gas stations are merchants that primarily sell vehicle fuel for consumer use.
Purchases not eligible to receive the 5% rebate include, but are not limited to, purchases made at warehouse clubs, discount stores, department stores and convenience stores. In addition, online, catalog, mail order and telephone purchases are not eligible to receive a 5% rebate unless the merchants identify the transactions as being made at a supermarket, drugstore or gas station. We do not determine whether merchants correctly identify and bill transactions as being made at a supermarket, drug store or gas station. However, we do reserve the right to determine which purchases qualify for the 5% rebate.
You will earn 1% on cash advances and cash convenience check amounts billed at the standard cash advance rate. Cash advances and cash convenience checks billed at a promotional rate will not receive a rebate unless specified otherwise. You will receive five Dividend Dollars for each individual balance transfer transaction, including individual balance transfer transactions made with balance transfer checks of $1,500 and greater.
You may accumulate a maximum of 300 Dividend Dollars in any calendar year (eligible transactions appearing on your January ­ December billing statements). Dividend Dollars earned on purchases through the Citi Dividend Merchant Network are not subject to the $300 calendar year maximum accumulation.
Citi Dividend cardmembers must be registered for Account Online and must activate their Citi Dividend Merchant Network account to be eligible to earn Dividend Dollars on purchases made through the Citi Dividend Merchant Network.
As soon as you’ve earned 50 Dividend Dollars or more, call us at 1-866-676-4672 or visit www.citicards.com so that we may send you a check for the total accumulated Dividend Dollar amount shown on your monthly billing statement. We cannot issue you a check unless you contact us. Checks cannot be issued for amounts less than $50 unless you’ve already received checks totaling more than $250. Cardmembers must be registered for Account Online in order to request a check at www.citicards.com.
Returned purchases, disputed or unauthorized/fraudulent transactions, finance charges, and Card Account fees do not earn a rebate unless otherwise specified.
You are responsible for any taxes that may be due on checks we may send you for your Dividend Dollar balances. Dividend Dollars have no cash value until such time as you may request and receive a check for your accumulated Dividend Dollars and you shall have no property rights or other legal interest in Dividend Dollars. You may not assign, transfer or pledge your Dividend Dollars.
We may revise any of these Citi Dividend Card Terms and Conditions at any time with 30 days prior written notice.

Be back soon,
B

Turning over a new leaf... a greener one :)

September 16th, 2005 at 12:29 am

So here I am.. back at the greatest site on the planet. I haven't completely disappeared.. was just lurking around for a bit. My schedule is rather hectic: 5 college classes, 1 part time job, 2 delightful little girls, and of course " tryin' to make a dollar outta fifteen cents".

I did resume the nasty habit for a few months.. but I stopped again in late July. Come to think of it, I abandoned my envelope system and completely splurged for a few months.. but I resumed my quest in August.
I have managed again to save a total of 340.00 in my phillip morris donation box (I took an old recipe box I found in the basement and printed out some grotesque pictures of blackened lungs, the skull and crossbones symbol and the marlboro logo. I then pasted it on the box and each time I think about it, I put 7 bucks in there!)

Curiosity got the best of me so I calculated some peculiar totals:

July-September: 340.00
October: 112.00
November 112.00
December: 140.00

Potential Phillip Morris refund/ Savings for the year: 704.00!! (talk about transposition lol)

2006: $1456.00

Interesting... 28.00 X 52= 1456.00!!
(and yes.. I smoked 4 packs a week!)
It makes me sooo sick to think how much i've spent on those things.. but hindsight's a %*^$!



I stopped the newspaper service (the paper girl is just too disorderly!) so I decided to count those totals too (yes. I have too much spare time at school on occasion lol)
2005=$22.50
2006=$78.00

Hey.. it's not much but it's more than I have in my purse right now!!

Well.. i'm off to do my homework.. i'll report more tomorrow.


Back from the fog...

April 26th, 2005 at 01:11 pm

Wow.. it's been almost a month since i've updated my journal!!
I have been lurking on these boards .. catching good tips from time to time... now i'm back with a vengeance.
I've been a little loose with the finances since I re-vamped my daily schedule.
Instead of being on here at 0600, I now go to the gym everyday and hop on the cardio machines. Progress is slow but steady.
Financially, I've given in to my manicured nail habit but NOT the smoking yayyy. Since we've been spending alot, i've decided to curb the envelopes until 01 May.

I have kept up with the coupon cutting and bill reductions... hopefully i'll get back into frugal mode soon Smile


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