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Archive for May, 2006

Day Five of Operation: Frugal Fitness

May 31st, 2006 at 05:07 pm

For the next few days, I am only concentrating on one mission daily. Once I get more time, I will tackle on missions accordingly.

Special Events/Occasions--

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):

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.

Day Four of Operation: Frugal Fitness

May 30th, 2006 at 04:10 am

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 Frown .

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:

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.

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.

End-of-day Update:

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.

Day Three of Operation: Frugal Fitness

May 29th, 2006 at 02:36 pm

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 Smile

End-of-day Update:

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 Frown

So, We saved a grand total of $74.00 YAYYY!!!

Day Two of Operation: Frugal Fitness

May 28th, 2006 at 04:21 am

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.


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!!!

End-of-day Update:

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.

Armywife's 23 days of Frugal Fitness

May 27th, 2006 at 03:07 am

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 Wink )

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.

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!! Smile

End-of-day Update:

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 Frown . 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!!!

The Wholesaler War- BJ's Versus COSTCO

May 24th, 2006 at 02:50 am

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.

New Milestone in Found Change! YAY!!

May 20th, 2006 at 04:46 pm

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

Text is changepot? and Link is changepot.blogspot.com
changepot? yet?

Where has that dollar been?

May 16th, 2006 at 03:46 am

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

Text is Where's George? and Link is www.wheresgeorge.com
Where's George? I haven't had any successful 'hits' yet (meaning bills that have been documented as going through another user's hands) but I'm sure it'll come eventually!

Why I don't like eating out anymore...

May 15th, 2006 at 04:44 am

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!!!

My $20 challenge

May 13th, 2006 at 04:34 am

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.


The Boomerang Theory

May 13th, 2006 at 04:22 am

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

Text is The Road Not Taken and Link is http://frost.freehosting.net/poems_road.htm
The Road Not Taken? (frost poem)

Happy Days are here again!

May 12th, 2006 at 06:24 pm

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!

Packrat trait uncovered!

May 11th, 2006 at 03:07 am

Wednesdays and Thursdays are the designated cleaning days in my house. I whip out the diluted cleaning products, get on all fours and scrub til' my limbs go limp. Each room in my home gets the royal rubdown- linens washed, rugs scoured, windows wiped. I believe this vigorous cleaning quells the spread of infection/disease in my home. It also helps my children become accustomed to doing their own chores and spot cleanings. When mommy is under the weather, big sister whips out the lysol and windex. Little sister even helps out by taking cups downstairs (one at a time) and picking up after people.

During yesterday's cleaning frenzy, I discovered a box of yard sale items I bought about eight or nine years ago. I'm talking GI Joe dolls (NIB), collectible plates, porcelian dolls, sandwich makers, crochet how-to books, you-name-it-I-bought-it items at 70% off sticker price. I remember purchasing these items solely for future value. My husband asked me if I was going to start selling them. I am at odds because I just can't bear to part with it yet!

Hubby laughed because he saw how attached I was to the "stuff". I then directed his attention to his own stash of junk: various military "collectibles", ill-preserved sports cards, etc. He drew the line when I pointed to a stack of UNOPENED model plane kits he bought back in early 2000. His excuse? "Work's got me real busy right now... I'll do them when I have some free time"

I married a fellow packrat, folks.

OUCH! Walking Hurts!

May 10th, 2006 at 07:08 am

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 04:16 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


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

Text is gather ye rosebuds while ye may and Link is www.luminarium.org/sevenlit/herrick/tovirgins.htm
gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

Dinner for one? $210 minus gratuity please.

May 8th, 2006 at 04:38 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,

Text is Per Se NY and Link is www.perseny.com
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 03:21 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).

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

Mom (turns 65 this year), Dad


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...

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)

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?


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


Here is yesterday's entry at my blog,

Text is The Changepot 2006 and Link is changepot.blogspot.com
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!)


And the sun is shining today.


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