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Archive for December, 2010

De-Cluttering Progress!

December 30th, 2010 at 09:37 pm

I spent a little time getting the coupons organized today. Lots of them will expire tomorrow, so I went through and figured out what I can use in the morning, and sent the rest to my friend whose husband is in the Air Force. She can use expired coupons on base for a year after expiration, I think.

I looked at my cookbook shelf today and decided that it needed thinning. I probably had 100 cookbooks. I really love to cook, and people know that... so they give me cookbooks all the time. I chose my 30 favorites and bagged up the rest to donate tomorrow. I think I can survive with just 30...ha ha! I kept the classics like Julia Child, Joy of Cooking, Greens, Savory Way, The Silver Spoon, plus some local favorites, the kids' cookbooks, and some especially unusual ones... And OF COURSE I kept the Star Wars Cookbook. Silly. Ridiculous, even, but the Swimbabies love Wookiee Cookies!

So that's progress, right? Since we'll be gone for the weekend and I have to work next week, I probably won't get much more organizing/de-cluttering done until next weekend. But I might be able to work on a drawer here and there.

I rode my bike today rather than driving, so I'm adding $1 to my Challenge. $67.24 + $1 = $77.24

Too busy earning money to think about what to do with it?

December 29th, 2010 at 11:14 pm

I've always been more focused on money than the Hubs. Basically, he was so busy out earning money that he rarely had time to think about it. For years I've been the one using coupons, doing research, paying bills, etc. I guess it's because I was the one at home with the kids trying to figure out how to make that one salary work... But since I've been working for the last year, we are both busy "earning." And after we sat down to do some thinking and planning and goal-setting the other day, he's a little more interested. Which is great! I know we can accomplish a ton more if we are both actively involved.

Earlier today, he came and asked, "So what do you know about Betterment.com?" To which I replied, "Nothing." I'm going to let him have a project, I think, rather than jumping in and doing my own research.

We each got $150 cash for Christmas from the relatives, and we NEVER get that much for Christmas! What a surprise! The treat was even more special because we got it in separate envelopes. When cash comes for both of us together, it usually just goes into our checking account... and gets spent on groceries, or saved or whatever. Know what I mean? The gift giver always says, "Now don't use this for groceries! Go do something fun." But it never happens.

Funny, this week we're both carrying that $150 in our wallets, but neither one of us has spent any of it! Hubs wants an iPad, so he is saving for that. I might buy a purse (I've had my eye on a certain one for months and since the money was a gift, I can justify splurging!), but it's more likely that I'll put mine in my IRA. Heck, even if I decide to get the purse, I can still put most of that in savings. I don't feel the need to buy anything else.

Today I made a million meatballs and froze most of them (we ate a few for dinner.) I just love having a "bank" of meals in the freezer. Tomorrow I need to do some cooking for New Year's Eve, and pack because we're going away for the weekend. And then it's back to work on Monday...

I had some errands to do today, and I rode my bike instead of driving! So I'm adding $1 to my $20 challenge. And I saved $8.75 using coupons.

$57.49 + $9.75 = $67.24

All The Small Things

December 29th, 2010 at 01:57 am

Argh. I hate it when even little bits of money are wasted here and there. Or perhaps not wasted, but not spent thoughtfully, either.

Take December, for example. I'm actually okay with things like this: an extra gift here and there, extra gas for day trip, eating out on a weeknight that was triple-booked with children's activities. I kind of expect a little of that, which is why there's an "other" category.

I'm not okay with having to buy extra toiletries while on a four-day trip because life was too crazy before we left, so we packed too fast, and forgot toothbrushes, cold medicine, toothpaste and face wash...especially because there was a large stockpile of all those items at home. And the right things weren't on sale. And I didn't have coupons with me.

I'm also bothered by spending more on things than I think I should, but feeling somewhat trapped...even if it's just a few dollars. I took Swimbaby2 to a big meet, and he needed power bars. I know I can get them for $1 each without too much effort, but I dropped the ball and we ran out. I was not happy to pay $2 each at the snack bar at the pool.

When things get busy, those little things get forgotten first. And things really got busy in November and December. So for January, I am going to re-focus on the small things.

-I can turn the thermostat down just one degree and make a small difference in the bill.
-Using the IRS standard mileage as a guideline, I can save $1.60 every day that I ride my bike to work.
-refocus on coupons, vegetarian meals, shorter showers, shopping around a bit for gas prices (usually Costco has the cheapest gas around here), etc.
-Get those items in the box listed on ebay. Sure, they might only bring in a $2-3 profit each, but it will be a profit, and the focus here is "small." And the big bonus with this is that the stuff will be out of the house!
-Turn in the 3-4 receipts that are sitting on my desk, so I can get reimbursed. Really, not a big deal, but I'm focusing on small!

For some reason, tending to the small things makes the larger goals seem less daunting. I've got some big goals for the year, and some significant financial changes coming within the next year. But just for a few weeks, I'll be thinking of the little stuff. What little actions make you feel better?

Yesterday I made three dinners and put them in the freezer, plus made some breakfast danish-kind of things and put those in the freezer, too.

Organization Vacation

December 28th, 2010 at 11:01 am

I'm off work this week, as is the hub. We've been having plenty of leisure and family time, which we have both needed. I really like our kids. They are fun to be with!

But I'm getting things done, too.

1. Yesterday when we took down the tree, I filled an entire box with Christmas decoration items that we do not need and are not attached to. We did have 7 large plastic boxes for Christmas decorations (one is all childrens books and toys) but now we are down to six!

2. We've had more time to cook this week and one of the kids is particularly interested in helping (and is actually helpful!) so today I want to do a little freezer stock-up. I want to make a few pans of lasagna and a giant batch of rolls to stash in the freezer for next week, which life will likely be busy again.

3. I opened another online account to stash my $20 challenge money in. In the past, I have just kept track, but not separated the money. This year I want to try keeping it completely separate. I think I will add $1 for each time I ride my bike or walk rather than drive. We live close enough to walk to get groceries, and I could ride my bike to work every day if I weren't ever cold or lazy or in a hurry.

$20 Challenge:
I rode my bike to meet a friend for coffee yesterday...$56.49 + $1 = $57.49

A Little Shopping

December 27th, 2010 at 09:54 am

Yesterday I said to the hubbub: "I'm going to go play with my friends at Rite Aid and CVS. I'll be back in a little while."

His response: "Are you going to play nice?"

My answer: "Probably not."

We have a large family and we were starting to run low on some things. I combined sales, coupons, and the store "reward dollars" to get us stocked up again. I spent $18.22 at Rite Aid (three transactions) and $22.01 at CVS (also three transactions), so $44.23 total.

When I got home, the fun began! I laid everything out on the dining room table so I could admire it: laundry soap, razors, shampoo and more shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, body wash, bandaids, lip treatments, dish soap... and some free treats... four bags of Chex Mix, four bottles of Vitamin Water, and a bag of pretzel M&Ms. Then, I got out the calculator to see how much it would have cost if I hadn't planned carefully. The total? $170 and some change.

In the past, I haven't included this kind of savings in my $20 Challenge, but this year I'm going to do it differently. I am going to include just the amount of each coupon I use. For these transactions, the value of the coupons used was $56.49, so that's what I'm starting my $20 Challenge with. I know it's not quite 2011, but 2010 was hectic so I'm giving myself a head start!

$20 Challenge: $56.49

Love December 26th

December 26th, 2010 at 10:38 am

Today feels so new and refreshing!

The weeks leading up to Christmas were just too busy. (In fact, most of 2010 was so busy it was a blur! I had a long, long commute for 1/2 the year, then landed a great new job and now have a 1-mile commute!) All is well, but not enough time to stop and enjoy the family. We'll be doing some of that in the next few days.

I'm also planning to have a "getaway" at the coffee shop with the hubbub and our laptops, checkbook, notebooks and financial info. We need to make some changes for next year: pre-tax accts, budgeting for college, increase savings due to increased income... but we need a couple of hours alone to talk and think and plan...

Also on the list:
-get the tree down and Christmas put away today!
-do a little cleaning/organizing
-plan the menu for the next few weeks
-pack up some of the leftovers and get them into the freezer (turkey, ham)
-deposit gift $

Wishing you all a happy and productive day!