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Archive for January, 2006

January; Not a bad start

January 31st, 2006 at 10:22 pm

I've enjoyed the focus on finances and see many areas of progress here with the most apparent being my heightened awareness of all things related to money, budget, spending and such.
Steps taken this month include;
1) followed all daily challenges, with just the on line bank accounts waiting. Even checked out car insurance, can't find any cheaper quotes, so 10 points for already finding a good deal on this.
2) did my own home energy audit here, since our county charges $90.00 for it. Purchased the foam to insulate the outside wall outlets & switch plates today. Other items that fell in this area include a new front door & weatherstripping, new fridge, new dishwasher & wood stove. Turned down water heaters.
3) Changed out most of the light bulbs, got 2 outdoor floods today & will switch those as soon as I can locate the ladder.
4) Have added many small things in as habits this month; unplugging everything that can be, running everything on FULL, air drying the dishwasher, opening the closet where the hot water heater is; taking advantage of the heat from there.
5) Taken all extra weight out of the van
6) Ordered business cards to start up my sewing business again. Advertised knitting classes on line as well as the sewing.
7) Cancelled garbage service & will be doing a monthly dump run in addition to recycling the waste here.

I always thought I was squeezing all I could from a dollar, but after this month.......my eyes are wide open! Can't imagine where I'll be this time next year.

forced no spending day

January 30th, 2006 at 05:59 pm

I was planning a trip out for errands, spending a bit on assorted things that have been on "the List" for weeks now...........but, when checking the calendar, discovered it's a no school day. Since I can rarely get my autistic kiddo in the car to go anywhere, and if I do, I wouldn't be able to concentrate..........we're staying home.
So, chalk up another no money day!
I did have to run the dishwasher due to extra folks here last night....but am consistantly remembering to use air dry & no heat.
Took a close look at one of the water heaters, it has a box on the top of it with dials, switches, etc. Was set on #3, lower temp. I moved it to #2 which says smart saver. #1 says Smart. Think I'll see what sort of change #2 makes, as this is the heater the water comes from for the kitchen.
Water heater number 2 has no box, so I presume it is operating under expensive & stupid (compared to the other one!!)
The heater is in a closet in the bedroom wing........I'll try to open the doors to it at night, since the closet is always quite warm. Have to wait until after C goes to bed, due to his compulsion to close doors.
Using half of yesterdays roast & making BBQ beef for tonight. Will package leftovers in meal size portions for the freezer. Just like money in the bank!!

Business Cards

January 30th, 2006 at 08:00 am

I've ordered the business cards, online...........just paid postage and handling of $7.88.
Have the first paying customer coming this Thurs. Actually teaching a left handed crochet class. Have been brushing up on my technique this week, as I'm right handed!

Doing flyers this week to send to an event this coming Sat & Sun. Hoping to come up with a couple customers from that. Cost of flyers will be just the ink, as my computer paper is still free (freecycle)

Heading to the garage now to unpack the sewing supplies & uncover the 2nd machine. I will have to get it in for service prior to taking on anything more complicated than hemming. Another expense!

a weeks worth of pancakes

January 29th, 2006 at 05:44 pm

I made pancakes this AM for the bunch & found out I was all out of my pre measured sacks of dry ingredients for pancakes.........so, I just finished up 7 of them for the cupboard. What a time saver that is. I can be half asleep & still make pancakes!! Refuse to pay someone else to measure out the dry ingredients for me!!! These taste better anyway. I would love to experiment with different flavors & add ins, but the kids are stuck with choc chip & banana.....so we just alternate. Boring for the cook! I did sneak in an apple cinnamon day when I had a dab of applesauce leftover!
Roast in the crock pot with tons of garlic, the house is going to smell great soon....... Home made split pea soup thawing out for kids lunch. So, again, all 3 meals from scratch....and we'll have plenty of the roast beef for several other meals this week.
I read other posts here & am struck by how many people eat out so often. Makes me realize how much money I'm saving by cooking at home.
I discovered this AM I have a secret weapon re; electricity used here....... the autistic young man that lives here is obsessing lately about turning out the lights. (I've got the energy saving bulbs anyway) He does a few other things obsessively too that drive me nuts, but I decided to be grateful today about the lighting!
I have some outdoor lighting to switch to the new bulbs, but for the life of me, I can't figure out how to get the fixture apart to get to the light bulb. They are all on timers too.......which is good I guess, but so far, I can't figure out how to turn the lights on & have them stay on....there are some times I would love to do that! Will have to move outdoor lighting to my February TO DO list. I loved someones post here that picked one thing to focus on for each month..........that will be my February focus. Outdoor lights! I've got several big flood lights too, on timers, but I don't know if they have replacements that would be more energy efficient, will have to research.
The idea of being proactive re; my finances has really taken hold with me. I'm an avid list maker, love to research & am addicted to seeing progress in paying bills off.
Here's to another no spending day!!

thermostat rising

January 29th, 2006 at 04:40 am

The new stove is working!!! I'm still learning how to keep it burning in it's "zone"........but the thermostat says 64 at the other end of the house tonight! And, I've not resorted to a fan either, other than the one that is on the stove. I think this will help!
No money spent.........remembered to use air dry on the dishwasher even!
Got a $50.00 refund for the old phone account, it is finally closed out. Will add it to regular checking & use on the #1 cc.
Have a nasty piece of leftover business from the closure of CY. I think I'm going to have to pay $1400. for a cc processing machine that had a lease in my name. A detail I missed while we were dividing things up, obviously. It hasn't been paid, although the bills haven't been coming here...........now, T claims it has been my responsibility. I hope I live long enough that all this becomes a memory I have to work to dredge up.
E asked for money to go to a couple college classes ...........again. I told him no. He wrote again today, asking for money for one class. I feel so torn. Logic tells me NO....but, I feel like such a heel for doing that. Will sleep on it.
Unfortunately, with these kinds of things........sleep is rather elusive. Thank goodness for white wine! Smile
Listed the fridge.....hoping for a buyer soon, so it will cover half the costs for the new one. All these upgrades here are spendy, but I knew I would need to do them when I bought the house. At least they are all planned expenditures! Feels a little better.
Did locate a carpenter today that has put up many chicken coops, so it looks like we'll have chicks this spring & eggs by winter. Can't wait...
All meals at home today, meat for tomorrows dinner thawing already.

credit card cha cha

January 27th, 2006 at 08:57 pm

Yes, I danced with the credit card companies today. I received the new card yesterday, the new one with the LOW interest rate & balance transfer deal. So, I moved the #1 card balance with the HIGH rate..........and most of the #2 card with the medium rate to the new card, which will be called the #2 card from now on.
This leaves me with 2 cards, both with the new lower interest rates.
I am paying off the balance that we couldn't get moved to the new card today.
Feels good to complete this project, it did take some time but didn't cost anything and I am making money with the switch.
I made detailed notes of all the changes & will enter the new account into my bill payer info on line. Changes like this tend to come back & bite me if I don't really keep track of them. With the recent move & refinancing and other real estate dealings, there were plenty of accounts that got more than a little messed up.
I will use the new system of paying minimum on all but card #1 & put as much as I can on it each month until it is paid off. I still think I'm on track to get them all gone in 2006.
All meals at home today..........leftovers & freezer offerings.
Still waiting on the first payment for the pasture lease. Will need to purchase the extra insurance as soon as her paperwork comes in. The monthly payment will cover the insurance over time..........but I will have the initial premium to pay up front.
I am getting the benefit of having horses here, without the expenses! I think this may be enough for me!
I'm getting the new wood stove today.....and I've got the older one advertised on Craigs list. Two people are interested in it.......hoping one of them comes through. I don't have to sell it right away, and I do have room to put it in the shed, so I think I'll just hold out for my original price of $950. That would pay for half of the new stove!! It lists for $1300 online, so it is still a bargain & I think I have it priced right.
Got another great offer to advertise my sewing/alterations to a group of local people. I will commit to getting the business cards done this week, so they are ready to give to my latest connection.
Have received a couple online inquiries about the new business........but no appointments as yet. Patience!
Have questions about the latest challenge.........the IRA/Roth bit. Not sure what I'm doing in this area. Think I will call my person with Schwab next week & see if they have answers for me.
Self employed........can I even do one of these?? If so, why haven't I done it before??
Since I contract with the state, I am going to check to see if I can access the states credit union, or if they have the IRA option for us independant contractors. Worth a shot.
Checked with our local power company for the energy audit someone mentioned here. Ours is $90.00. Used to be free. I'm not sure I could re coup the money, so don't think I'm going to pay for the service. I did read their online tips & only found one I wasn't doing..... I don't have the foam gaskets on outside wall switches & outlets. Will do that soon.
Also noticed cool air coming up from the floor vents. Since we don't have a furnace hooked up.........I should find something to cut & block all these off. I am thinking this would make a huge difference to the temp inside. Will do.
Enough rambling.......need to get up & work to stay warm. I can't light a fire, since the stove needs to be removed today! Chilly in here!
Just ordered the business cards & finished 2 of the on line bank accounts with auto deposits in each. One more to go!

new money awareness here

January 27th, 2006 at 12:47 am

I am old enough that this shouldn't surprise me..........but, here it was again. That amazing part of the universe, that seems to move IF I move first. I start putting attention in on my finances; all parts of them. Income, expenses & investments. And..........what happens?? Good things! Gads, you would think I would be counting my pennies every day when I know that universal rule! Pay attention!!!
I have been working diligently on the CC bills here. Paid $1000 down on the big one from the business from last year. Got the new card in the mail today with the 0% rate for transfers for 12 months. Will call tomorrow & transfer the 2 balances to this card......
Got a letter from the bank today stating my online payment to my insurance co, for a policy on a rental had been credited to my account, as the company hadn't cashed the check. Called & doubled checked.........the policy has been paid in full for a year. So......I'm $487.00 ahead of myself here!
Got $20.00 from a friend that owed it to me........
Also, the housecleaner found some cash I had stashed under a dresser scarf in my bedroom! Nice surprise. I put money in odd places sometimes. I've got a couple people I will write checks for, (they aren't in a position to own checking accounts) & they will give me cash. If I don't want to carry that much money around with me, I just stick it somewhere in my room. Totally forgot about this stash!............again....a very nice surprise.
I did have to take my kiddo out for something for lunch today. Our kitchen floor was getting re done & there was no way to get near the food, it was just an inconvenient day here. But, it was lunch out instead of dinner like the original plan looked like, so not as bad money wise.
Each change I make here at the new house is definately helping with it's value. Trying hard not to do anything that I won't be able to recoup when I sell.......if I sell. We'll see if I end up liking it after this first round of changes/additions.

Another interesting bit of info today.......I noticed the truck was here to fill the propane tank... Went out to see how far down the fuel was; he said it wasn't down enough to even top off the tank. Yeah!!! I've got a propane fireplace, which the driver told me was the most inefficient thing made. I had thought it might be, so have only used it for decorative purposes when there has been someone here. (apparently, I don't have someone here very often!!) Smile
I've decided to just NOT use it.....and to figure out how to turn off the silly pilot light. I got more directions from the driver today, but we don't have the switch he referred to.......so, still wasting energy with the pilot light!!
Chilly in here tonight, not lighting the wood stove, as I want to take the ashes out in the morning, before the stove gets removed and replaced with a bigger one. So, we're bundling up! Time for a cup of tea & early to bed!!

All in all............a good money day. I'll try to continue this heightened awareness of my finances; every little penny of them!

new look here

January 25th, 2006 at 11:53 pm

Wow, what a fancy new look to the journals...........now, blogs. I've stepped into new territory.

Spent money all day long today. Big money too. Bought a new refrigerator, just to save me $100. Too funny. But, when replacing the kitchen floor tomorrow, the floor crew would charge $100 to put the old fridge back on the new floor..........and, since I hate it worse than the 28 days of rain we've just experience here...........I decided to get the new one ordered & have it delivered & installed instead.

Went to a thrift store to get dress up clothes for C. They had an odd offer.....buy their calendar (with coupons in the back) for $1.50..........and this months coupon was for $10.00 off. I ended up paying $29.00 for a huge sack of things for C. (they are really for me.......if he's busy & happy..........so am I!!)

Returned an item from Christmas, it didn't work, actually had the receipt, remembered to take it in and got a cash refund. Historically, I've left these kinds of things in the van for up to a year, then just dumped them. Felt good to take this one back.

Set moms hair, she insists on paying me for this each time. I think she sees me being more conscious of my spending & money in general...........and has decided I'm short on cash!! I assure her each time I'm just fine......but again.........an extra $20.00 on the counter in the bathroom when I went in there after she had left! (adding it to my stash now!!) Smile

Have a 2nd student signed up for knitting classes next week. It always surprises me when people are willing.........more than willing, to pay me for something like this. Makes me grateful my parents took the time and energy to teach me all these kinds of things while I was growing up.

baby steps

January 24th, 2006 at 08:46 pm

Actually walked for an hour this AM. Gorgeous sunshine too, which we haven't seen here for at least a month. Feel great. When done, I checked out the booth rental at the Antique Mall..............and it's half of what I was paying last year.
I put my name on a list for an available booth when one comes up. It's more of an investment than the $20.00, but I'm going to consider it in the same catagory. Something I'm not doing now...........and something to earn more money.
I loved the antique booth for the last couple years...........great fun, met some great people, got out of the house & learned lots too. Plus made money! Can't beat that. Wonder why I didn't think of it right away?
With the surplus items that come in here from the storage unit auctions, the items will be free to me for the booth. I already have my tax number, so I'm just waiting for the call at this point.

As I was out, the van turned over 100,000 miles. Caused me to think about the van/mileage/service bit. I'm usually not thinking of the vehicle, I drive so seldom. Just want it to go & stop. But, I ran it through my SavingAdvice filter...........and wonder if I'm doing all I can to get the best mileage out of it? I don't have excess stuff in it, but wonder about taking out the back seat & leaving it in the garage? I don't have that many kids anymore & actually use the back to haul things occasionally............so it would be no inconvenience. Will have to check into basic maint. for the van..........no idea of what I'm supposed to be doing & how often. Any advice out there??

A positive day. Feel like I'm moving forward in many aspects!

new plan

January 24th, 2006 at 02:47 pm

Asked around for walking partners, as I'm too out of shape to get to a gym & actually go in...............and I'm too cheap to pay someone to tell me to exercise. I figure this will be good for finances too, as I'm not able to wear my clothes, always need to buy bigger sizes.............if I can wear my things I do have, it will be way cheaper.
Also, I'll hopefully get on the nutrition track too & quit paying for extra food and the horrible drive through junk.
More money saved.............
Plus, the other side of the coin........the woman that is meeting me this AM wants to learn to sew, knit & crochet so we're going to start in on those too. She will alternate & come to my place every other time, so we can each save on gas.
I'm hoping there will be others she knows that will be willing to pay a fee for the "classes" or to pay to have me alter something for them........I'm using her as free advertising. (my $20.00 challenge was to advertise & get the sewing business back up and making money)

Thanks to my daily check in here..............I'm much more conscious of my spending habits these days. Everything runs through my savingAdvice "filter". I have a crock pot full of dinner going........the dishwasher is set to air dry & the washer is on FULL load with cold water. (wish I had my clothesline & I would skip that dryer phase)

Got a refund check yesterday for the freezer that didn't work..........it took many phone calls, but I got the check. Will aim for a bank run this AM too, so I can pick up the $75.00 gift check from the bank for the new account.

I am paying out a big check this AM, the deposit towards the kitchen floor. Can't justify this expense, the other floor is perfectly fine..........except it is white. In the kitchen!! With kids, dogs and a back 40 full of mud, horses & such. We look so bad most of the time...............so, Thursday it is getting switched out to a floor more the color of mud!!

Starting The Challenge

January 24th, 2006 at 08:00 am

Mine is going to involve sewing, knitting & crocheting. I am going to use the $20.00 to place an ad locally, as well as order some cheap business cards online. I'll advertise the 3 areas, as well as finishing work and teaching. When I get the word out to just a few, the business will pick up by word of mouth & then there are no further expenses to speak of.

I have one person coming next Tuesday for a sewing lesson............so that gives me a week to get my things unpacked & ready. The sewing room is still in boxes! Good to have a deadline............I know myself!

I will continue to put the free ads on Craigs list also. Once I get my business cards done, I can make the rounds of the dry cleaners in the area too.

Onwards! I always work better with a challenge!

more excited from not spending!!

January 23rd, 2006 at 03:13 pm

Yes, I'm definately getting more excited on the days I won't be spending any money. Too fun. Today is another............staying home, like usual. All meals here..........and both lunch & dinner from leftovers taken out of the freezer & doing one of the "encore" meals. Loved that term, saw it in someones post here. I'll never call them leftovers again!
I can tell I'm spending less, by how many checks I'm not writing! It will take me years to go through a packet of checks. The difficulty with my current plan is I pay for most things with cash from my pocket, so there is no record of those purchases.............. Will tighten this up!
Also using bill payer (free) to take care of normal household bills, so I save time and postage.
I've also got the saving piece coming out as an automatic deposit from my check, into my money market/stock fund. Love this.........and it will be the first place I call to increase the amount. I'm only at $100 now, but without knowing the expenses here at the new place, I wasn't confident enough to pick a bigger number!
I've been thinking about the $20.00 challenge here; and think I'll use it to put an ad in the paper & start up the sewing/ alteration business again. I've got the machine now, need to repair the serger, and I've set it up in the garage. Added drapes so the place is private................will use the carpet from the bedroom remodel that is upcoming.
If I buy business cards on line, I think I can swing the ad and the cards for under 20. I've tried a Craigs list post, but no clients, interest yes..........but no clients. It has been so many years since I've sewed for people..........good thing it is something you never forget!!
How grateful I am to have a skill or two that people will pay me for! Smile

no money day

January 22nd, 2006 at 06:33 pm

And, another no money spent day. Love these. If I rack up a bunch of them..........hmmmm, doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out I'm saving money!

I will be sending a check off tomorrow, for a 50% deposit on some landscaping. I'm not doing it myself.........reclaiming the land is beyond me. There are no gardens here, so it is going to take WORK & I want some help. The company I'm using, has been bringing their trimmings from other jobs and dumping them here for me. So, I'm getting half off the total anyway. Can't pass that up. Looking forward to having some plants here!!!

Pondering the idea of keeping track of my expenses in a more detailed fashion. I've always tracked the bills...........but no tracking of my pocket money. I include things like my haircut, groceries that aren't covered by the tenant and the inevitable fast food. I could loose weight & save more money if I decided to NOT do the fast food. I quit buying coffee out a couple years ago & I could see a big difference in my cash...........didn't miss the coffee either.
Not sure what method to use..........read here about people recording all their receipts on a weekly basis...that might work, if I remembered to get a receipt.
I do have to come up with a bookkeeping system for C & my new job here with him. Not sure how to set that up either.
By the end of this month, I'd better have a start on both, huh? Can't be waiting til summer to try & figure out a system. Better to have something in place & be able to add or tweak it, than to not have anything going at all.

Waiting for the money to start coming in from leasing the pasture here. Nice addition to the income line............as well as a wonderful lift to look out and see 4 horses cavorting around in my pasture. I'm learning so much about them already.....as well as learning about myself. Basically pretty lazy here, already thinking I wouldn't like taking care of the horses if they were mine. This arrangement might be the best way to be close to them, but not have bottom line responsibility for them. I should start asking about the cost to keep the horses.........the money might be the real scary part to this hobby.

Dinner from the freezer today..............all meals already prepared, just need to take them out, heat them up and add a salad & fruit. Love days like this.

found money

January 21st, 2006 at 10:22 pm

Wow..............I found a huge sum of money in my dresser. I remember putting it away before the move..........not sure how it actually got moved. Too funny if it just came in the dresser, I really don't remember unpacking all of that stuff.

I have been putting things from the bedroom in boxes in preparation for the remodel.............and was sorting through all my drawers that have things in them, not clothing............and here was all the paperwork, and envelopes. I think the money will be added to the checking acount to be used for property taxes in April.....I won't have to sweat those bills quite so much.

Property taxes: I should get an exact number on paper for these. I think the actual number will go up, selling the piece & replacing it with this one.............I'm pretty sure the value will be up rather than down. Haven't got any paperwork on either of the 3 parcels yet.

All this attention to finances is certainly paying off!! I found my fung shui books too when packing up the room, and will overlay that with the new design for the bedroom/bath area. Should be paying close attention to the wealth area!!

journal junkie

January 21st, 2006 at 04:04 pm

I'm hooked. Always known I was into keeping my own journals.............I found them everywhere when I moved. But, now..............here I am hooked to reading others journals! Getting ideas & inspiration from everyone's regular entries to continue to shave costs & add to savings here. What a great habit! A cup of coffee & some time, plus the cost of the internet connection I guess.................cheap thrills!

Today is going to be another no spending day.....easy when I don't have to go anywhere. Working today, so making money instead of spending it.

Making the list for the monthly carpenter/handyman visit in Feb. Most items on the list are things that will either make or save money in the long run. Especially looking forward to getting the clothesline designed & put up..........as well as the chicken coop & run. Clothes hung outside & fresh eggs!! Doesn't get any better. Again, cheap thrills! I truly don't think the chickens are cheaper than buying eggs on sale...........I don't want to know the numbers; the fresh eggs have now become something I'll fund. If I buy the chicks, pay for supplies, heck.............here I'll have to pay for the construction of the abode too.............it will be a long time before the eggs are truly FREE. Rationalizing that I won't run out, no extra trips to the store.............

Getting flyers in the mail this week re; the empty lot & the listing running out. Unsure of what to do re; this. Actually forgot about it with the move. I'm not willing to pay for the road & the cost is so high I'm pretty sure I can't find a buyer willing to pay either. Waiting seems to be the best choice here. Perhaps I can out wait the county & live long enough to see the R5 change so I can divide the parcel up. Or, the tenant in the neighboring piece will make an offer?? Either way won't hurt anything. I can continue to pay the property taxes, which are coming up soon here.

I advertised the small wood stove on Craigs list................the new one comes this week. I was going to just let them take the old one, thinking it would be hard to get rid of. But, after doing some research, it seems to be worth some money. Hopefully, one of the inquiries will turn into a sale. That would almost pay for half of the upgrade on the other stove. Also planning on opening up a wall, making a walkway through from the room the stove is in.................creating better air flow so the new stove is capable of heating the rest of the house. Fans aren't doing the trick & I hate turning them on & using electricity to move the heat from the wood stove. Something just WRONG about the whole process.

Still on my de-clutter, clean it up, move it out of here binge. It does feel like resources appear when I remove the un needed items. Maybe it is just psychological, but it works for me. Freecycling is the greatest! Moving several boxes of goodies out of here today..............and I won't even miss them.

Dinner from the freezer tonight............with enough left for lunches tomorrow. Cheap meal too...........

challenge.........bring it on!!!

January 20th, 2006 at 07:18 pm

Enjoying the process of the financial challenge. Coincidently, I've got a week of vacation here, no clients........so have the free time to bring a cup of coffee to the computer & follow through with the daily assignment. I'm really enjoying it!

Just finished signing up for the 3 accounts. I think I've done all I can do now, just going to settle in and wait for the mail to complete # 2 & #3.
I've also got a gift check at my brick & mortar bank locally...........$75.00 for opening a new account there! A profitable week for not really working!

My one area where I'm not making headway is my freezer snafu! I had bought a refurbished one in Oct, it quit working in Nov & I can't get the company to refund the money or pick up the old freezer. They promise they are handling it, I call every week to check up.........Nothing! I'm not usually this ineffective! Didn't want to get them really mad until I had my money & the freezer was gone, then I was going to report them to the BBB for sure. Now, I'm not so sure I shouldn't just call them in to everyone I can think of.

Also need to call the renters & remind them of the late fee for their check. They picked the number & then they didn't comply. Hmmm More money uncollected. Terrible trend this AM.

Still managing here without the heat pump. It was pronounced dead. Haven't figured out what to replace it with. Doing all the research I can..........haven't been able to get anyone to come out, nor give me a bid on replacing it. Can't figure that out. People seem to be out of work, but no one has responded to my emails, or phone calls. I will need to purchase something, I can't have the house without a real heat source...........not everyone is as frugal as I am........ I'm very OK with the wood stove & a little fire every afternoon/evening. If I'm working around here, it seems warm enough to me. Also helps that we are having a really MILD winter here in the NW.

Will have to decide between replacing a heat pump, adding an electric forced air furnace or coming up with a furnace that runs on propane. I haven't come up with a comparison that I can understand to see what would cost the most...........what is the most cost effective..........etc.

No spending day here. Love that!!! Even using leftovers, since I'm not cooking for the tribe.