For the next few days, I am only concentrating on one mission daily. Once I get more time, I will tackle on missions accordingly.
June is always a budgeting nightmare. Three birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and barbecues. Between the pre-season Hurricane warnings and soaring gas prices, I am seriously considering the option of vacationing for the entire summer. Again, as I stated yesterday: It's going to be one ugly summer.
Here is/was my sole mission for today (updates included):
--MISSION ONE:GIFT PLANNING--
Since I've got two major occasions coming around the corner, I've decided to plan the gifts accordingly so the prices stay reasonable. Earlier this year I jumped headfirst into a vacation package which cost me 60% more than online prices. I won't do that again ::shudder::
I am sifting through some frugal gift giving ideas and have decided to do the following:
Everything except birthdays: Basket with items from thrift stores and a few scented, homemade candles. Each basket will be personalized and topped off with "memory cards"- business-sized color cards depicting the event, date, and personalized poem.
Birthdays: I have ordered four $50 giftcards from Amex. I figure this will be sufficient for the recipients to do with as they please. Usually my June birthdays run $300 each person (I splurge on only two).
No Points were added/accumulated today since we spent nothing.
Archive for May, 2006
For the next few days, I am only concentrating on one mission daily. Once I get more time, I will tackle on missions accordingly.
The Gas Guzzler blues--
Two days ago, I filled up my mid-sized SUV with regular gasoline. It cost me a little over $47 and that's because I went across the bridge to BJ's ($2.76 a gallon). The gas station up the block from me is $3.09 right now (the cheapest on Staten Island). Last night I stepped out on an errand and noticed that I am already at 1/2 tank. It's going to be one ugly summer .
I am not a fan of public transportation. The fact that I pay car insurance monthly should give me the freedom to use my car when I choose, right? Hmmph. Well, I am choosing not to use my vehicle for driving short distances anymore. I read Jeffrey's article on Gas cards and decided to incorporate gas options into my daily mission. Here are my missions for today:
Here are my missions for today:
--MISSION ONE:GAS OPTIONS--
The goal here is to research the impact these weekly gas purchases have on possible credit card rewards. Though I like to pay cash at the pump, I realize now that using a reward credit card can increase my points and in turn, yield more cash and goodies during redemption time. I spend an average of ::gulp:: $30 every week because of work commuting, school, and leisurely activities. At $120 a month, $1440 in a year should yield something in conjunction with credit card purchase rewards.
--MISSION TWO:UPSTAIRS INVENTORY--
We spend lots of cash buying pretty, perfumed soaps and packaged beauty products from places like Target and the BX/PX. We buy multiple quantities and toss them into our linen closet for future gifts. I intend to organize this closet and make an assessment of needs vs. wants.
The closet (mission two) was a success. I found an excess stash of shampoo and body products which will last me for quite some time. I even created a gym bag with items to begin my newest goal: showering at the gym every morning after 1 hour of cardio.
Mission one is difficult. Since it has to do with credit cards, I am very leery of starting the CC game again. I just recently got out of credit card debt and i'm trying to avoid the trap at all costs. I believe one blogger on here was discussing a GM gas card which allows unlimited cashback? Hmm... I'll have to dedicate more time on mission one at a later date.
No points earned/added today.
Memorial Day. Supposedly a day for reflection and meditation of those past and present. In 2006, Memorial Day is more like an opportunity for stores to unleash old merchandise by way of discounted sales and clearances. I am a bit affected by this heat so I won't make any specific missions today but the same rules apply (save, document, and distribute points per cash stored).
POINTS Update: 38
I earned 18 points today
Hubby earned 20 points today
I'll take a pic of the credit cards once they're done
Since we were all tuckered out from yesterday, we spent the majority of the day lounging around. We saved money by witholding from two specific activities:
1. No trip into the city to walk around the village. We decided to stay home and work on the backyard as a family (Money otherwise Spent: Metrocards $12, Ferry Parking $6)
2.Lunch and movie date: DaVinci code and lunch at Miyako's ($36 sushi lunch (taken out of the food budget) plus 2/$10.00 tickets for the movie. Theaters charge full price on holidays- no matinee prices
So, We saved a grand total of $74.00 YAYYY!!!
I am so glad I decided to do this now! The first of the month is right around the corner and I've got some serious planning to do. Around this time each year the utility bills get a little smaller due to less consumption; my goal is to help the bills shrink even further by a few small steps:
1. Unplugging what's not in use.
2. Avoiding cooking with the crockpot.
3. Limiting television viewing hours by two hours daily in favor of outside family activity.
4. Showering after PT at the gym in the wee morning hours (since I bathe twice a day, it'll save me some duckets)
Here are my missions for today:
Time to check up on home office products. My desk has become a clerical disaster- bills, books, sprays, lotions, change jars, CD's, yikes!!! While I don't have time to clean since I've got a full day (cooking breakfast, church, barbecue, park), I can prepare a list of items i'll need for my trip to Staples tomorrow. So far it looks like I'll need bond paper, tape, and laser cartridges.
--MISSION TWO:RECRUITMENT AND REWARDS--
In order for any plan to work, my family
has to be more involved. While my oldest daughter takes the frugal high road (no more ice cream man spends, recyclable can redemptions, chores for cash exchanges), my husband needs work. I was very happy to see him react to the overpricing of BJ's vs Costco items last week. It's a start, I say! Still, old habits die hard and I can't necessarily say no to his occasional frivolities. I figure I'd present this fitness challenge to both hubby and DD in either of two ways:
1. The "no spend" Jar-- (knock-off of the Changepot)
Since we were extremely close to spending the money yesterday (they got on the line to get their faces painted, we walked to the theater, and DD is ALWAYS a challenge lol), instead of ignoring the sudden willpower, we should put the cash in the jar along with a little note stating what we would have spent it on complete with date and time. This way, we learn just how much we really spend on things with no value. All three no spends had no value after completion (facepainting, a movie, sugary food with little or no nutrition value). The No spend Jar would get a blog of its own (every person in my family has their own blog account- even DD) and we would contribute daily anecdotes under our blogger names. The family member who saves up the most at the end of the year receives a special, custom-designed prize (probably a plaque or engraved item from the engraving store in the mall).
2. The No Spend Exchange Program (kinda like AMEX membership rewards)
For each dollar that is saved by a specific family member, a point is added onto their "credit card". Points will be assigned a specific value per age and interest. For example: DD's point prizes would have the following:
10 points: Manicure at chezMoms
15 points: Playstation privilege 30 mins
20 points: Two night No chore pass
50 points: Learn ten new things with mom (a two hour at home "school" session where I would make a lesson plan for her with ten unique things she'd never learn in school (for example: elemental spelling bees, basic Internet web designing, Latin/French 101, Greek mythology in a day, etc )
The point accruing system would have
specific rules and limitations to avoid over-compensation!
I'll check back in with the results and choice for recruitment later! Have a great day!!!
The vote is in, ladies and gents! My family chose the latter proposal-The No Spend Exchange Program (kinda like AMEX membership rewards) (3/3 votes). The general consensus was the amount of reward points and the ability to "cash in" the points: no black-out dates, no limit spending, etc. I am in the middle of making the credit cards and setting up rewards with some help from AMEX and Citibank.
I didn't save any money on 5/28 because we attended a barbecue and well, we kinda splurged a bit on the treats. It's ok though, I am making progress (I think) lol.
I must confess. I haven't been following my frugal roots for about three weeks now and it is interfering with my goals. While I still have a few money-saving ideas in place (the anti-smoking envelope, the bill shaver envelope), my family has had approximately two out of three meals outside of the house for a few weeks now. I normally do not spend this much but since we've been hot-footin' it around finding change, documenting our travails, and coming home EXHAUSTED, I just haven't had the time to cook home meals (the house needs a good whirlwind cleaning as well).
Fortunately, I am done with class for this semester and I can now work on fixing the issue before any further damage continues. Twenty three days is usually how long it takes for me to adopt a new routine. I have chosen to start today and since it's barely 5:50 am, I can start out my day withere Here is my itinerary for day one of twenty three:
Check fridge for meal makers and shakers. I know I have plenty of food to cook weekend meals- the goal is to pull out one meal making item and prepare it for easy cooking later on in the day.
(Outside goal: Head to commissary later today or tomorrow to buy groceries for the week).
Inspect bathrooms, kitchen sink for applicable cleaning products
(I am frugal with the products except for bowl cleaner. That's pretty much self-explanatory )
--MISSION TWO:TARGET AREA--
For day one, my objective is to DEEP clean the first floor of my home. When I say deep clean, I'm talking windows, rug shampooing, the whole nine yards.
--MISSION THREE:CASH INVENTORY--
Earlier in the year, I saved up a sizable amount of cash from some freelance marketing jobs I completed. I used up approximately 2K of this cash for frivolous spending in less than one month(eating out TOO MUCH, buying useless items, spending on things "because I could"). Since I was dropping hundreds each time, I wound up with ALOT of change and loose bills. My changejar from this month alone yielded $160.44. The bills are scattered in various pockets, purses, drawers, even bathroom closets. The majority of these bills are going back into the cash fund while a few will take their rightful place in my envelope system.
I plan on completing these three missions before 12pm so I can spend the rest of the day with my little ones.
My goal is to document my frugal plan of attack on this blog for the next 23 (22 now) days in order to keep track of my progress and document my short-comings.
Each daily entry will have two parts-- the morning report and an end-of-day update. Wish me luck!!
Accomplished two out of three missions- cleaned the first floor and took inventory of meals. I found enough food to cook full fledged meals for at least 6 days! Today we took the kids to the zoo and I forgot to grab the sandwiches/snacks bag . The trip to the zoo (not including gas and tolls) cost $41.00 ($8.00 parking fee and $33.00 for lunch (OUCH)). I did prevent three incidents where frivolous spending would have lowered my cashflow:
1. No facepainting for the kids & hubby this time around (3 faces for $25)
2. X-men dinner and movie date w/hubby (admission plus dinner at Boulder Creek for an average of $60 tip included)
3. Stopped the Dunkin Donuts A.M. trap b making an egg and cheese sandwich on a square bagel (three #3's and hubby's notorious Giant sized Coffee with extra stuff for $18.00)
So, I saved myself from spending a grand total of $103.00 YAYYY!!!
Suburban American packrats like myself often feel the need to buy copious amounts of items as opposed to the standard supermarket portion. Wholesale shopping saves time and money IF done correctly. When I moved to this island ten years ago, I'd never heard of wholesale stores before.
Fast forward a few weeks later and BAM! I found COSTCO.
Don't get me wrong, I love the place. Where else could you buy institution sized coffee containers and hundreds of coffee filters for under ten bucks? Hubby spends that on three cups' worth of Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla (Extra large, extra cream and sugar). Yesterday at COSTCO we spent 100 bucks on things that would normally cost us three times the amount if purchased at an outside convenience store (gotta love brownbagging!!).
It is only after you embrace the love of shopping wholesale several times that you start to wonder what's on the other side of the fence. I knew COSTCO had a few competitors (BJ's, SAMs club) and so the frugal detective in me started to wonder, Could this BJ's be a little less costly? Heh heh....WRONG!
Last Saturday, Hubby and I intercepted a free sixty day membership pass to BJ's. I felt a little naughty, as though I'd defected to the other side of the wholesale cause but I quickly got over it. At first I was impressed because the store looked alot cleaner than COSTCO. Sadly, that was the only positive in my experience. Aside from a few minor things that aren't available in COSTCO, the rest of the items were equal or slightly higher in price. Green seedless grapes were $9.99 in BJ's while COSTCO has them for $7.99. The biggest jump in price I noticed was in the head and shoulders shampoo- BJ's has it for $9.99 while COSTCO's that and other shampoos for $6.99. The meats were MUCH higher in price... I'm talking at least four to five bucks in difference.
I'm thinking location might have something to do with the price difference? If there's one thing I learned from this experience it's this: IT DEFINITELY PAYS TO COMPARISON SHOP, EVEN IN WHOLESALE STORES!!
P.S: Our trip to BJs included a complementary backyard style verbal brawl. Two men fought verbally because one man apparently drove past the gas line (which had approximately ten vehicles waiting) and pulled up to an unoccupied pump in order to fill up his BMW. A few cars honked the horn and shouted a few things but One "special" pickup truck owner noticed, flew off the handle, and proceeded to name a few things he planned to do to said BMW owner. What the truck dude failed to realize was that foreign vehicles usually have their tanks on the opposite side. DUH! The pickup owner taught the rest of us innocent bystanders some innovative ways to conjugative expletives. All in all, it was a mighty fine spectacle to watch on an otherwise typical Saturday afternoon.
My fellow frugal friends and savvy savers alike, I am happy to announce that today we have passed the hundred dollar mark in FOUND MONEY!!!!
Our current total is $100.32!!!!!
$100.32 in exactly 223 days! Okay so it's not enough to pay a mortgage or even a car insurance bill but the fact is PEOPLE DROPPED $100.32 indirectly into my jar for no apparent reason. I love it!!
So.... Have you started your own
Yayy! Quick update on the found money front: Hubby found a dollar yesterday while purchasing sweet nectar at our local Starbucks. He was kind enough to add this buck to our shared $20 challenge jar- bringing our total to $21.00 (for now). I am scouting the terrain for upcoming weekend yard sales- bear with me!
While on the topic of dollars...
Ever wonder where the legal tender in your pocket has been? I do. Sometimes I like to fantasize that the money I hold temporarily has been in a celebrity wallet somehwere (like Keanu Reeves or Brad Pitt). A nifty little website is committed to just that- taking on the task of tracking money. The site is appropriately named
I've been slacking off a little as far as domestic duties are concerned. I have completed my trips to the grocery store as scheduled but I haven't cooked any meals for at least a week. This is a no-no considering I have such a tight budget.
The last two restaurants we visited were the Cheesecake Factory and Chevy's. Bottom line: BOTH bills had errors on them. Since hubby was too proud to show me the bill (perhaps because he knows I would've had a coronary) and thus, the errors weren't spotted in time. In Cheesecake factory they charged us for twelve meals and twelve drinks when there were eleven people in our party. Last I checked, we had one mouth per person?? I wonder had a free meal on us? The charge came out to an extra $20.00 on an already high bill. Since it was a large party, they charged us an extra $40 for gratuity despite the waiters garbage service. Hubby complained about the service to the manager but failed to see the price issue. Last night at Chevy's, they charged us for four adult drinks when only two were ordered. The food was horrible as well. The extra charge came out to $4.18.
This sixty dollar food bill could have yielded us a king's feast chez moi. From now on, I'm cooking ahead of time!!!
I've got this crispy twenty dollar bill planted right in front of me. After reading so many successful $20 challenge bloggers, I have decided to have another go at it. This time I have a plan!!
#1. Go out and purchase twenty bucks worth of things that I think will increase in value.
#2. Sell them on ebay OR peddle them on campus. Students buy so much garbage in school it's ridiculous (and then they complain about lack of moolah... ugh!)
#3. Report progess/pitfalls in a separate section of this blog.
I know some days will be tough but I like a good challenge now and then.
I wake up VERY early each morning because it's the only time I have in the day to meditate. I find my thoughts flow better while the birds serenade the aurora. City life can be quite constricting if you can't find solace ::sigh::
Today's post isn't so much about money yet it's pertinent enough to include in this blog. This post deals with a widely known silent rule (murphy's law, karmatic principle,etc.)- "you get what you put out there".
Yesterday, I spent the better part of the day in great spirits because of the refund from the gas company. I just noticed that the money is exactly twice the amount of what I gave my mom for her birthday earlier this week. Hubby thought I was nuts because I gave her so much (200 in cash) but I simply replied with, "Nature will take care of us on the back end." And it did.. the very next day. Creepy huh?
The very same thing happened with a friend of mine that just popped off the radar for quite some time. We'd had a nasty fallout over a mutual acquaintance and I left it up to "Nature". Well... Nature brought me an email this morning along with Mother's Day well wishes.
The boomerang theory/ law of attraction does apply to life. Think positive and things will get better. Don't let life make you feel as though you're out of control. You are always in control no matter how much you think otherwise... much like a car. If you steer the car directly into a pile of muck (grudges, anger, helplesness), you get buried in it for a while. If you drive the car correctly- avoiding potholes, misdirections, and abiding traffic lights(forgive situations, let grudges go, plan positively without greed), you will own the road!
What road are YOU driving today? Will you choose
I AM SOOO HAPPY!!!
Today I received a NICE bill from my gas company. Apparently I overpaid on their billing plan and (GET THIS!!) I'll be receiving a check for $240 bucks because I didn't use as much gas as anticipated. This is awesome because now I get to take that money ($160 which is already separated and budgeted) and put it in savings YAYYYYY!!! I am also adding the $240 check as well... making it a whopping $400 that just fell right out of the sky. I can't quite count it as found money but this definitely qualifies as a sudden windfall of moolah.
I am on my happy cloud right now. Time to go dancing!