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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?

Text is Link du Jour and Link is http://www.dailydot.com/opinion/how-to-live-like-a-king-thor-harris/
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.
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.

This Will Be Our Year - Declutter Challenge

January 9th, 2014 at 02:01 pm

I love these challenges that inspire me to quantify my year. The

Text is 52 week Declutter challenge and Link is http://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2014/01/09/1020146_the-52-week-declutter-challenge.html
52 week Declutter challenge will be a cinch as I have already discarded nineteen items of clutter today, if discarding includes shredding. I have organized my writing centre, my postage/mail centre, and recorded bills coming due and CDs scheduled to mature shortly.

For me the key is to undertake one challenge each day, and to incorporate each challenge in my Red Notebook Journal Template.
All Hail Discardia!

I miscalculated my stock purchase by $50 (that's a paddlin'), leaving $35 in our chequing account this morning. This oversight has since been rectified.

Our new homeowner's insurance policy arrived, and it is $51 less than it was last year, so there are some savings to be had there, or one mocha per month. Sadly as our insurance is paid by escrow we will not see any reduction in monthly mortgage payment until July 2014.

YouTube goodie for you:
Text is This Will Be Our Year and Link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmuswTEGF-U
This Will Be Our Year - The Zombies, Odyssey & Oracle

First No Spend Day of 2014

January 8th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Yesterday was our first no-spend day of the year. Finetuned YNAB to include an expense made last year I didn't know about until today, when the charge showed up on the credit card. Electricity bill $26 more than I thought it'd be. With $120 in the account to last two days I feel slightly better, as long as the $98 fee for DS's extracurricular activity and the $40 GE stock purchase don't go through at the same time.

2014 Resolutions

When Savings + $1800 = Principal of Debts HELOC and Car, pay off lowest debt.
Looking at November 2014 presently as payoff date. Assumptions include 3.7% rise in assets monthly, fifty cents more to car payment each month.
I am using the shareware "Red Notebook" to journal progress which may not be of interest to you, such as the other challenges for 2014 aside from 52-week Saving Challenge that I found on Lifehacker.com. So far I like it, but I need a robust and sensible metadata framework to keep it uncluttered.
That Money-Saving Mom's Budget book is brilliant. I thought, snobbishly, that Trent Hamm's book 365 Ways to Save would be ingenious, but no, that Money-Saving Mom's Budget (Crystal Paine I think is the author) is very useful. Lots of aha!s last night just from three pages, which is what I've come to demand now.

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.
Said to me today over a juice break: "You placed SECOND in a Dead Pool?"
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.
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

Text is this article and Link is http://www.savingadvice.com/articles/2012/02/07/109201_50-ways-to-save-money-on-food.html
this article

Blogs and Sites Outside
http://www.cheapcooking.com/ - a popular one among retired/old-timer SA bloggers
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/cheap-eat (this is a UK site.)
http://www.pinterest.com/geauxsaints9/thrifty-cooking/ (Pinterest aggregate)


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.
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.

Message to Manchild

December 6th, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I am not giving you that Nintendo 3DS for Christmas. Sure I spent $$ on stuff for boy but two of those softcover gifts were signed to him personally by international luminaries, two I used coupons for, one I had to import but he yammers on the subject matter 60% of the time so I think it'll be money well-spent, and the one electronics game I bought was for $18.99. We know electronics obsolescence by our collection of obscure diskettes, and we know the longevity of books by the musty dusty ones we have downstairs.

I can't buy a $200 gift for you knowing that there are students at our kid's school who are freezing, and that lots of struggling families nationwide are on food stamps.

I think I'd like pajamas, warm sturdy socks, or maybe a family-use subscription to a VPN so we can keep the computer entertainment going.

Food plan, mind-stretching for seeking alpha

October 13th, 2013 at 05:47 pm

Even our credit union is changing the terms of our credit card, from fixed to variable. I sense either yet another impending economic collapse in the US, or that credit usage is greatly reduced and less frequently utilized.

I am now understanding that our credit union struggles, first with the reduction of interest in our savings and chequing accounts, then with the shift from fixed to variable rates for our credit card. I thought they shifted to variable in 2009: I haven't been keeping up.

I am disenchanted with my debt group. I am considering a break until I get my mortgage down to a five-digit figure. I feel left out because I am neither on Facebook nor do I have diabetes. All I have to talk about is reduction of interest.

Another gripe I have: it seems every three days I am buying $20-$24 worth of vegetables and fruit. They go fast!

Trying a new approach to what I put in my stomach, after three weeks of Pop-Tarts. Daily morning lemon squeezed into water has given me new energy. Plus, I put a teaspoon of cinnamon in my daily coffee. The first night I woke up feeling my stomach was incinerating its contents. I have yet to establish a baseline for weight loss though: 100% of the time I feel urge to lose weight is when my pants are tighter around the waist and 24-48 hours later my period shows up. Has anyone had success with a plan from Timothy Ferriss' The Four-Hour Body?

Also going for more black beans and lentils, because it is turning to soup weather here, and I love the extra iron from lentils when my period comes. Mostly though, 4-6 ounces of lentil is cheaper ($0.55) than 4-6 ounces of meat ($1.60). I did pick up veal scalloppine at 50% off: my big thrill of October. I still love meat: I am just choosing to have it less often and be more creative about eating down my stores.

Sunday - Marinated Roast Beef (30% off)
Monday - Turkey Breast (Thanksgiving)
Tuesday - Lentil Soup, probably with bacon
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - New York Strip Steak
Friday - Roast Chicken w/Red Peppers and Tomatoes
Saturday - Black Bean Tostados

Going Down is My Going Forward: Year-To-Year Surmisings

September 2nd, 2013 at 01:24 pm

The only progress I seem to be making is decreasing my debt.

My assets value (stocks, CDs, bonds, precious metals) have increased in the past twelve months by 0.5%. Mostly because one CD gets $25 added to it monthly, and the bonds always go up.

I have six-figure debt, so reducing it by 9.7% annually is not terrible, but that and the big uptick in home market value appreciation are making me look good. I don't have cash flow, I have cash drip.

What we spent money on:
$31.07 - fill up car gas tank for 464 miles. We finally input our gas costs, so the Pious computer can display how much we spend from point A to point B. Five kilometres = 25 cents.

$47.94 - one of our supermarkets is closing. The savings aren't all terrific: some amazingly bloated prices, like $6.32/lb for frozen berries (get real); 30% off $11 bottles of Rao's pasta sauces. No thanks to that! We did save on bagged cereals, the baking soda, and wines; I'll come back for stewed and diced canned tomatoes. I'm sad about the market closing: it was part of a northwest Washington state chain, and now no supermarkets in our county, the most populous one in the state, exist.

$20.75 - Value Village thrift store: kid needs some rugged shirts for Peninsula trip in November; DH selected some gaudy Hawaiian shirts. Filler paper.

$24.55 - apparently lost book. What I remember is taking it to a library (probably the wrong system). And my child's overdues. The overdues will come from his account.

$31.93 - acid reducer BOGO. two packs jerky, two jars preserves, olive oil and super glue.

Maybe I won't have to buy anything this week other than next year's local "green" coupon book, if even that. I'd like to pay some of the credit card balance, and stash some $ into the tot's savings account.

I cannot refinance our vehicle loan, even though the rates have dropped a half-percent from what they were earlier this year, because we've had our loan only seven months. I don't feel like extending our mortgage another two years for a mere fifty-dollar per month saving. We're saving $44 more than last year because we no longer rent an instrument and a router.

The good stuff:
Paid more than 18% of our mortgage in two years! Spotted a quarter on the floor of the closing supermarket.
Received a free automated car wash courtesy of my auto dealership.
Made personal edition of LUSH's well-loved "Ocean Salt" scrub with ripe avocado, coconut milk, Dead Sea Salts, witch hazel and lemon juice. Shoulda used lime... saved $$.

The punitive crawl of humility to stable finances (Part One)

August 23rd, 2013 at 09:50 am

Text is Soundtrack and Link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFa1-kciCb4

The bummer of returning home is to see how much the finances resemble 1942 Guadalcanal or 1917 Vimy Ridge and having sole responsibility of cleaning that mess up.

Il buono
I paid my optometrist bill. Isn't it odd how some people are keenest to pay the creditors who've positioned themselves as given the customer a break? My bill wasn't overdue but as I don't know what balance is on the high-deductible health spending account, I postponed payment for a few salary payperiods. There was enough $$ in the HSA for my eye exam, yay. The optometry office staff treat me so well I feel abject and unworthy.

I sacrificed my vanity scooter plate to save $32 on my license tab renewal. I knew hubby would pout but I said "Virtual Private Network" to him.

The entrepreneurial tot got his 1995 Topps Larry Walker (MLB:Expos,Rockies,Cardinals) card signed, multiplying his card's worth by 5000%.

il brutto

I have forgotten when my spouse gets paid. When yesterday I dared peek at our chequing account balance it was around $1900. So I am guessing he gets paid next week. I left the spouse with $300 in the account on August 5, I know that much. He has the password to our credit union online access, but he's not ON IT like I am fifty weeks of the year.

Update: He was paid today
I deduce that he must have used the credit card for everything, looking at our CC balance.

I have a serious case of the wants after house-sitting a "monster" designer house in the burbs. Not the size of the house: too much to clean! Not the electronics: too many manuals to keep and read! But furniture: I could use a dinner table that doesn't rock, a better organization system in the kitchen and bedrooms. And here the 2014 IKEA catalogue tempts me.

il cattivo

Scooter insurance payment gets mailed today.

Most school supplies have been purchased. My boy is ramping up toward manhood (learning to cook, absorbing Facts of Life/Birds and Bees, acquiring first USB drive--RadioShack tried to interest me in a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes character drive, but I declined: dignity is crucial to the tween).

I don't know where this is in the buono/brutto/cattivo Venn Diagram, but very little changed in our fridge during our absence. Condiment-heavy fridge shelf, vegetable crispers untouched. I did not see any pizza boxes or empty beer bottles/cans. I do see that most of our frozen meat stash has gone. I have to do another inventory, but I can safely state that a Costco trip for bath tissue and paper towels is due.
That's what I'll do: play "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly" on my mp3 player while I shop at Costco.

Lagniappe: Most common questions/comments I received in British Columbia
"So how's that marijuana legalization working out?"
"Now you know why we shop for dairy in Washington!"
(seriously, how can veal be so affordable but milk be so pricy up there?)