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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!!!