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End of month report

February 28th, 2014 at 02:32 pm

Oh like you care.

Challenges and updates

February 25th, 2014 at 12:29 pm

Week 8 52-week Saving Challenge: $21. Now that Sochi Saving Challenge is done with I can save amounts greater than $20 per week.

Don Cherry Quietly Reflects on Sochi
I CALLED IT, DIDN'T I? EXTRA PERIOD IN WOMEN'S GOLD GAME, MEN BRINGING HOME GOLD, DEFEATING EURO PLAYERS! ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR UNCLE DON! OFF BY ONLY $3 IN YANKEE DOODY DANDLE DOUGH! LET'S GO!

So with my Sochi money I'm buying exercise gear: stretchy pants and perhaps a monthly pass to a swimming pool or community centre gym.

A not quite bold move: put $4 to HELOC balance, $12 to Car Loan for first pay period of Debt Acceleration. The only people who don't dislike five-digit debt balances are the people who've recently slid down from six-figure debt balances. This should save me a solid three cents in interest.

The woman who neglects her neurotic, large loud dogs (hint: one of them is an attention-hungry breed that requires exercise) is moving. YAY YAY YAY!

Son is noticing rise in precious metals. He's very good at reporting expenditures that I may otherwise have missed. Now that silver is rising he wants some.

What to do with tax refund? My options:
Put $1155 into Money Market Account to sextuple the interest I'm getting currently, then liquidate a CD to put toward debt;

Put $1135 - $1200 in any combination toward the HELOC and Car Loan. No move will give me the instant high of dropping down to four figures; refinancing the car isn't going to bring the monthly amount down.

Remainder will go to us, to be used for Boy Achievement Adventures, Emerging from Man Cave Adventures, and Geek Girl Undertakings.

Week 7: 52-Week Saving Challenge

February 15th, 2014 at 09:32 am

Eh, not very frugal. We had coffee and Valentine special doughnuts out, ate lunch out, had custard out (the three of us), and spouse bought brandy for the steak con pepe. But I budgeted for all this. DH bought a Weird Tales paperback. Me, I had the opportunity of browsing for a Sparks CD which I didn't feel like buying, so I'm kinda giftless. But I had coffee served to me in bed, and I get enough love, affection and obedience throughout the year. My gastrointestinal tract acted up after lunch so I abandoned my plans to go downtown.

We had frugal fun Hearts Day story time! I cut up one sheet of paper into twelve rectangles, and the three of us each wrote four character names, fictional and nonfictional, one on each rectangle. The rectangles were then folded and put in a jar, which would be shaken. Two people would pull out one rectangle each, and the names on those rectangles would be in a Valentine story.

Pairings: Doctor Orpheus (from "Venture Bros.") & Lydia Pinkham; Groucho Marx & Jim Nabors, and last match was Ron MacLean from Hockey Night in Canada's "Coach's Corner", and now currently CBC Sochi 2014 correspondent, with Tina Belcher (from "Bob's Burgers").

$13 deposited for Week 7, only because it is grocery savings.

Today I will brave doing my taxes, but not using Mozilla Firefox. It'll cost me $39.99 to eFile the return, which is what's kept me from using tax software, but this year I have fathomed:
1. If I save at least that much using tax software from my imagined burden, the software fulfills its use;
2. If I owe that much, a $39.99 extra ding isn't going to be too terribly worse, especially when I already have a software line item in my budget;
3. If I kept to pencil, paper and calculator, I'd never have learned about the TurboTax sweepstakes. I (and you) can still ENTER the sweepstakes through the mail with pencil, stamped envelope and a 3" x 5" index card.

Sochi Challenge: $38 so far. Which should be good for TJ Maxx or Ross or secondhand exercise wear.

TAXES ARE DONE.
For those who read/participated in the poll the answer is D, for Delusional, Dimwitted, Delicate, Dumb and DRAMA DIVA!

They are not yet filed because I want the Mister to come look. Thank goodness he is a docile, supportive, loving male.

Week 6: 52-Week Savings Challenge, plus Day 1 Sochi

February 8th, 2014 at 03:38 pm

I've noticed a binge-purge groceries habit. NSDs throughout the working week, and then one day of $85-$100 outflow. This week I had two no-spend days. I had some good savings: eight dollars off a 24 oz canister of grated Parmesan cheese; four dollars off a pound of natural ground lamb; coupon for five dollars off a grocery purchase.

A few of my friends and family have birthdays, so I bought and mailed cards to them. Some are out of the country. February and November seem to be my busiest months for this.

$38 deposited.

Sochi Challenge
$9 so far on the first day: Gold, Silver AND Bronze. Going to use the Sochi Challenge savings on exercise wear.



These challenges are working my noggin down to a nub.
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Today as a Valentine's Present of sorts my husband treated himself to a new watch. $76.99. Also we treated ourselves to a brunch with one free mocha before debt group.

I opened up with how I needed to think more long-term and set some investing dollars aside as well as pay down debt. We are all "under the crunch" with our car loans, and the others agreed that maybe we should expand our scope to include novel and little-known savings ploys. We are all using the "Asian market" method for fruits and vegetables, for example.

Week 5: 52-Week Savings Challenge

February 1st, 2014 at 03:38 pm

Total Deposited: $11

Why? Two free coffees and some extra small powdered donuts. Today DH took $60 to go on rare public market jaunt, visiting famous Italian delicatessen for some upcoming Marcella Hazan recipes, while I had optometrist appointment. He brought back $13. We have $90 in our chequing account, perhaps until Friday.

Earlier this week I estimated a $33 deposit for Week 5. I miscalculated the cash balance in my Roth and am $20 short of making my purchase. Phooey.

Rien plus, mes amis

Week 4: 52-Week Saving Challenge

January 25th, 2014 at 02:21 pm

Here's my new, personal trick for climbing out of the Overthinking Pit. Start with $26.50, the average of 52 weeks of saving, and subtract splurges, add saves. This week deposit is $25, because:
- free Starbucks 12 oz drip;
- as mentioned in an earlier post, some tricks pulled at the self-checkout;
- splurge of decaf, cappuccino, and breakfast treat for child.
- freebies: tea, mending ($17)
- sale on frozen vegetables ($2.07)


We had Chinese food takeout yesterday, because I ended up exhausted and took to bed very early. Then I dreamt vividly of missing a 1931 thriller at our jewelbox arthouse film theatre, making do with the day's presentation of a 2008 German film, which was pre-empted by my child's choice of a NHL game where the Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers were playing, my kid yammering on about the action as we watched. My dreamlife has been interrupted by a tot's monomania. We have now called it quits on my child's NHL/Sochi 2014 prattle, and I sing "Mickey Mouse" by Sparks or "I Don't Want to Set the World On Fire" to drown him out when he starts up on it.

This was such a bizarre dream and realistic up until the hockey game that I had to share. My kid thought it was the greatest dream ever. I think Ridley Scott's "Chanel No. 5" commercials are the greatest televised dreams ever.

I fell into the Overthinking Pit this week.

January 24th, 2014 at 09:49 am

Finances are complicated. I am posting only facts. Perceptions may differ. My goal is to shift to a growth mindset from a fixed mindset, and the shift is not instantaneous, nor smooth. Think of a spastic, ADD person learning to drive on a stickshift 1980 Mercury Capri: that's me approximating my path to "where everyone else seems to be."

I attempt to eat down the pantry but can't resist seafood sales and deep discount whole bean coffees. My "eat down the pantry challenge/buy on sales" activity is averaging $20/day.

We thought, errrrr, hoped, that jaunting across BC's tolled Port Mann Bridge with out of the country plates in August 2013 would give us a free pass. We thought wrong. $21.20 due in February.

Son's PC has issues. Our options: replace the motherboard at $150; buy a Raspberry Pi and share the PC w/boy (I don't really want Steam installed though).

I've spent some days wondering how I can manage this week's savings challenge. I saved myself fifty cents "miscoding" items into the self-checkout kiosk. Saved a dollar "forgetting" to pay for parking at a meter. Did I deny myself a treat thinking "I can't afford it/don't need it" this week? Yes. Does that count, or is it negated 3x by the "Ugh I got out of bed w/o breakkie or coffee because boy's alarm didn't sound so now I need an espresso when I drop him off"? That kind of overthinking.

I feel like this:


My worst financial weeks, mentally and emotionally, are in late July and late January, when the tsunami of car insurance and bimonthly utilities crashes into my pocketbook. (Ha! See what I did there? Fukusima? Tsunami? Fukuppy?) It doesn't feel like saving when I know hundreds more than a biweekly paycheque are due all in one short week. I SEE that the insurance premium accumulated in the Money Market Account, and the MMA balance grew every month. It STINGS when that money leaves, no matter how rational a purpose.

I'm still positive on my monthly budget for January though, despite overspending on clothes, charity and transportation.
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It's not evident from my post, but Fukuppy is the brand mascot for Fukushima.

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I put $800 instead of $1200 or $1500 toward stocks. Turns out I had a wee bit of cash in each account, and today's slide was precipitous. Even my child knew of today's market dip: apparently he looks up his stock holdings on someone else's iPad on the school bus.
More levelheaded today, but making tomorrow's 52-week savings challenge deposit an arbitrary figure

Good Money Day, #3 52-Week Saving Challenge

January 17th, 2014 at 06:24 pm

Last post had me mentioning a few items we have for sale. The software is selling very fast, despite it being old. I may have to sell our Elvis Presley 1959 EP on eBay. I tried selling it for $15 a few years ago on Craigslist (sells for $25 on eBay!) and no bites. Seattle doesn't have the King fans the way inland or river cities do, I guess.

Baselle mentioned back in August 2013 winning a Greenwood Gumshoe local merchant certificate pack. She split the booty with me 5/4, and I used my third certificate offered by an Alterations Seamstress on some mending and repairs. I'll be taking a jacket in tomorrow, with some buttons to replace on another jacket. $15 to add to savings.

$15 from certificate
$5.45 from deeply discounted pajamas
$7.55 from Tom's of Maine toothpaste deal
$24 from $50 sale of software
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$52!


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Don't read this if you were caught in North America's polar vortex: my heating bill came to $107 for Dec/Jan. No, I do not live in Wagga Wagga.

Deadbeat Kindle Reads, plus Budget Drawback

January 15th, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Today on Money Saving Mom I lucked into a time-limited offer of free licenses for Kindle eBooks. Titles I downloaded include Frugal Living: Powerful How To Advice on Living Frugal..., Dirt Cheap Organic, Paleo for Beginners and The Ketogenic Diet. I don't have a Kindle but downloading Amazon's Kindle-for-PC application was completely free, without adware, and fast.

I also visited my favourite drug store for amazing deals ($3.30 savings per toothpaste tube) on Tom's of Maine toothpaste. Adding $7.60 (two tubes) to the 52-week Saving Challenge.

I slipped a bit: we got the fundraiser Guest Bartender date wrong last night so we consoled ourselves with dessert takeout from the supermarket. Sugar doesn't do me any favours, but with 1200mg alpha lipoic acid daily intake I can handle an eclair or half a Pop-Tart without waking all sweaty in the dark. So I had an eclair. I did wake a few times with weird, weird dreams ("oh look! a human corpse. Someone should clean that up."). I walked it off today.
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I froze some orange peels earlier in the year. Today I took some out for thawing: half are in a jar of vinegar for cooking use; I will scatter orange peels around my food plate because we have a lazy, greedy cat who lurks on a dining chair ALL DAY, and gets belligerent when we eat. The peels will repel her. If I can manage some vodka, I could extract oil from the remaining peels to use in the bath. When I can manage the cash to buy a microplane grater, I have additional uses for them. Orange peels are good to use as kindling or to throw in a fire. Here are more ways of using orange peels around the home.
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Update for Sadness: My son's complained a few times about the $40 clarinet we bought him in August. We brought it to a local instrument shop for possible repair, but were advised that abandoning it and renting would be the better way to go. My child has a concert next week. We are back to renting, but it's $8/month cheaper than where we last rented. We agreed on some pad protectors (my child paid for those) and a cleaning case (the woman wasn't up for haggling with the $22.13 cash I had with me).

Payday Frolics

January 10th, 2014 at 05:46 pm

Deadbeat Follies

Turned in one empty 12 oz bag of Starbucks Coffee for a free 12 oz drip, and hubby used his gift card from work for Starbucks for a break time. We bought flour, vanilla and cane sugar.

Estimating we'll spend close to $600 on groceries, having spent $199 over the past eleven days. I was tempted to spend more $$, but that would entail getting into the car and driving, so I opted to walk to our nearest supermarket for only bread and milk. I find that walking with reusable bags to Target and our supermarket is a great way to restrict food spending to what we can carry.

This week's 52-Week Saving Challenge Deposit will be ten dollars ($4.98+4.25+0.80, rounded down). Paltry sum, but I know what expenditures lie ahead. At least it's a double-digit sum, and at least the rusty cogitation wheels are creaking with a smidgen of industrial creativity grease.

For decluttering recipes, Susan Pinsky, author of Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD, suggests trying a recipe within a week of receipt. All of the recipes from the backs of food products, printouts from Epicurious, Yummly, about.com, et cetera, are to go into an accordion folder. I tried putting my photocopied recipes in a binder with tabs but the binder was too small. Pinsky recommends tossing cookbooks too but I am not ready for that. Ninety percent of my cookbooks are from the old country. Who tosses out a perfectly usable copy of The New Basics or The Joy of Cooking or The Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook?

Link du Jour - How to Live Like a Royal Person, by Thor Harris. Expletive-rich, so not violating any sort of copyright by reposting the whole thing here. Chances are excellent you've used most of Thor's list anyhow.
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Water/sewer/yard waste/recycling bill now $231, because rates have gone up AGAIN. I can't even be all **HULK SMASH** about the rate hike because we're paying $90 less per bill than the typical house, and we ARE the typical house.

Not all of today's surprises are welcome

January 7th, 2014 at 03:08 pm

First: I am pretty happy about Team Canada's men's hockey roster. Surprised three players didn't make it, and that one person did, even though he is on one of my favourite teams.

The financial surprise: FRED graph showing the average homeowner's equity as a percentage of household real estate. Look where the percentage was fifteen years ago. Look where it is now. The average mortgage interest rate was 6.75% for a 30-year term fifteen years ago, now it is 4.53%. You'd think by now the equity would be back up, even without homes reattaining the equity hills of 2006-2008.

I saw on Twitter a link to an article "I Don't Want to Pay Down My Debt" and that's how I feel. I don't want to keep my numbers, but refinancing is not a good option for any of my debts. I told my friend attending debt group was a pointless endeavour, and even eats into my savings challenge. She did approve of the Saving Challenge I'm undertaking this year.

It just occurred to me that if something weird happens, like a phone call from Culver City inviting me down for a day or two, I'd want some savings available for that. $1378 is more than ample for a one-way flight to LA, discount hotel stay w/breakfast voucher, and cab rides, plus a flight back. Maybe $378 is enough for all that, plus a latte or a lunch at a diner.

Empty Purse to go with my Empty Hearse

January 5th, 2014 at 08:31 am

Recorded my shopping experience at safewaysurvey.net, in hopes of winning a $100 gift card.
I saved $50.56 from my total shopping, using paper coupons, Just-for-U savings and card savings.
However, I have now $140 to last us five days, unless the GE stock purchase goes through, in which case $100 to last us five days. I won't be needing to fuel up in six days, so that's good.

I planned close to three weeks' worth of meals. We have a full freezer now. I'll need about twelve onions and canned tomatoes, and maybe if I'm feeling rich some whipping cream along with the eggs, bread and milk we'll eventually need to restock.

From January to mid-April I go through a First Quarter panic. We'll have some tax bite from the sale of some stocks my spouse sold a year ago. Plus car tab renewal in April as well. I'm determined to eat better this year's First Quarter panic. I've a greater assortment of “cheap cooking” blogs, and dozens, if not one hundred, slow cooker and cheap cuisine books available to me from the local libraries, including the busiest library system in the United States.
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Said to me today over a juice break: "You placed SECOND in a Dead Pool?"
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Looked at Lifehacker article: "Write Down Exactly What Your Savings Are Allowed to Be Spent On". Okay: furniture, home improvement, debt repayment, shareware donations, Donors Choose projects, stock purchase, and Safe Deposit Box Rental. That money isn't going to be moribund in a 0% account while there's some prettying to be done, some debt to pay, and money to be made. But it will accumulate in that 0% account until certain minimums are reached.
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Spent an hour scouring the Web, including Google search "site:savingadvice.com [cheap eats] [thrifty meals] [budget cooking]" for blogs with content combining frugality with food. I just discovered "Grocery Budget" category in the forums. And this article

Blogs and Sites Outside
http://brokeassgourmet.com/
http://www.cookonashoestring.com/
http://www.budgetbytes.com/
http://www.stretcher.com/food/?TT
http://www.cheapcooking.com/ - a popular one among retired/old-timer SA bloggers
http://cheapcookinmama.blogspot.com/
http://www.theeatfoodnotmoneycookbook.blogspot.com/
http://brokeandstarving.com/
http://thriftyfoodtherapist.tumblr.com/
http://www.pinterest.com/geauxsaints9/thrifty-cooking/
http://casualkitchen.blogspot.com/2009/10/25-best-laughably-cheap-recipes-at.html
http://www.leftoverqueen.com/
http://recipesonthecheap.blogspot.com/
http://www.doctoryourself.com/eatwellcheap.html
http://www.delish.com/recipes/cooking-recipes/quick-cheap-healthy-meals-recipes
http://goodcheapeats.com/
http://pauperspantry.com/
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/cheap-eat (this is a UK site.)
http://www.pinterest.com/geauxsaints9/thrifty-cooking/ (Pinterest aggregate)
http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/

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Day of the Deadbeat

January 3rd, 2014 at 04:56 pm

DS earned a value-added nonrefillable Gameworks card for his participation in a library reading marathon for middle schoolers. On the last Friday before he returns to school, he and I took the bus downtown.

I had with me my second place Dead Pool "Departing Gift" which I intended to deposit in a closed account. I am not the brightest star in the firmament. Instead of asking the very solicitous and everpresent concierge of a building lobby for a quarter, we asked where the nearest building decorative water fountain was so my son could collect some change for the bus. I did not know his regional transit card balance, only that it was low, and I had, other than my $20 bill, $1.25 on me, about twenty-five cents less than my child needed to board the bus.

We returned our library books at the downtown library branch, got some new books, went to Gameworks where I was employed to solve "Wheel of Fortune" puzzles. Then my kid's sails no longer billowed, so we went to the Driver Licensing office to learn no Motorcycle Manuals were printed anymore, and to the credit union where I learned my account had closed years ago, despite my receipt of a new account number and getting lots of marketing material in e-mail.

I got my pencil sharpened... for free!
We rode on the bus... for free! Our prepaid regional transportation cards could not be processed as the bus card reader was out of commission.
I got a credit union wall calendar... for free!

And yes, we had physical as well as metaphorical raindrops. Pennies from Heaven, and all that. It would've been sweet synchronicity to borrow the "Pennies from Heaven" DVD from the library, but I settled for Richard Matheson's Hell House.

Savings: $17, excepting my kid's game card. Earnings: $20. I still have the bill with me. I'll deposit it at credit union #2 tomorrow.

52-week Saving Challenge: Raindrops

January 2nd, 2014 at 08:39 pm

So far this challenge has been good for me in the following ways:

1. I have identified nine accounts the saved money could go, two of them debt accounts, four investment accounts, one PayPal, one Money Market account, and two other credit union accounts. It's hard for me to choose one, as most of them don't offer a serious savings rate.

The main credit union I have accounts with is one of the top five financial cooperatives in the country, not much chance of it merging with another cooperative. I have a spreadsheet. I've told my family of the challenge and will remind them.

Some investment accounts accept a minimum of $50 as direct stock purchases, so I'll let the funds accumulate in a credit union account until the minimum is reached.

2. Unless I misunderstand, I'm getting a mail "raindrop" from placing second in a contest -- if you're east of me you have snowflakes, me, I have raindrops. And a rainbarrel. Because we have droughts in the summer, but autumn/winter/spring it's rain. That raindrop will be added to the challenge.

3. With the exception of the phone and internet bills, I may try operating on just cash for awhile, if I can find my debit card. I thrill to making cheap tasty dishes. The Hoppin' John I made on New Year's Day my husband LOVED, as in phoned his parents a few time zones away to rave about the dish. Yeah, who knew black-eyed peas, kale and sweet potatoes could be so exciting? Apparently if you put Trappey's sauce or apple cider vinegar on it you can make Hoppin' John zesty-good! And today was Creole rice with bacon and frankfurters.

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Just as an aside to no one in particular, because many of us are adept at or prefer hiding our dysphoria, dysthymia and despair, do listen to some Oscar Peterson 1963-1965 Europe concerts if you have a slight or greater inclination to jazz. They do make one want to stay on the spaceship earth just a little longer. I know waking up to darkness at 7:40 am isn't helping my joie de vivre, and neither is seeing the golden farewell of the sun at 4:30 pm either.

Trying the 52-Week Savings Challenge for 2014

December 28th, 2013 at 11:57 am

Tell me, 52WSC vets, the two best tips you learned while doing this last year, the two best tips you saw from other people, and the two best tips you took with you into the challenge.
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I ran across the street, not in an intersection, while the arterial was quiet. My men followed me, coins falling from the pocket of the littlest one. When we collected on the other side, the small one cried at the loss of what he claims to be eighty-five cents. I braved the street during traffic lulls to rescue fifty cents. Twelve is a little old to be crying about lost change, unless you're a born Saving Advice columnist.

To prep for this challenge, I'm trying something newer than Ms. Taylor-Hough, Ms. Vicki Robin and Ms. Dacyczyn: The Money $aving Mom's Budget by Crystal Paine, and 365 Ways to Live Cheap!, by Trent Hamm, whom you may know of TheSimpleDollar.com.