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Archive for February, 2006

February Wrap up & a peek at March

February 28th, 2006 at 09:28 am

I have been working hard to come up with some things I've finished towards my Feb goals.........I don't know what I did the first 3 weeks of the month! Sit around I guess. Smile

Feb Goals:
Order seeds for this years garden on line Did it (just yesterday)
Set up the IRA: Not done
I finally got the 3 outdoor light fixtures off, so I can replace the bulbs, again, just yesterday! I'm about 2 days away from completing the outdoor lighting goal, to have it all energy efficient.
I've contacted 2 of the 4 people that owe me money. Hard for me to do & yes, did it just yesterday
Begin advertising my sewing/knitting business; Did this, however, not swamped with new clients yet.
I did sell the wood stove but I'm still the proud owner of an extra fridge, currently in the living room.

I did complete the 3 online bank accounts for the Daily Challenge, seemed like this took forever, but it's all finished.
I have paid off one CC, and the other 2 are now 0% interest.

I know none of these things are going to make an overnight difference in my finances...........But, the switch in my attitude has been nothing short of amazing. I believe the biggest tool is the daily blogging and the reading I do here about other peoples struggles and achievements with their funds. I feel so accountable to both.......writing and reading on a daily basis, much more so than if I was just journaling on my own.

So, in the name of progress.........I will try to round up some of the details that I've still got here & call them my March Goals:
-Meet with contractors & decide what to do with the apparent dead duck furnace here
-Start seeds indoors for the garden project
-Pay for laborers to meet me at the other house to dig up plants. The labor costs will be less than purchasing new plants for this place & the renters aren't going to know a perinneal from a weed!
-Open up my booth at the antique mall (starts tomorrow), commit to actively working this angle to make money for the $20.00 challenge.

I found a free pizza coupon in my daytimer, expires today, so it's pizza for dinner tonight. Another thing I need to do, is file these coupons so I don't waste them! Will be buying fabric this trip to town, to finish up a childs rocker for the antique booth. All the bills are up to date, although I've mentioned how close I cut things this month. I realized it was not just because I paid extra on the CC's but that I paid cash for the new wood stove, the kitchen floor and the 2 new doors. I filed my receipts from this last month and it became clear the money didn't just disappear! I made some solid improvements to this new to me place!

On to March.........anxious to read everyone's steps towards being in control of our finances.


vandals lurking in the bushes??

February 27th, 2006 at 10:05 am

Trying to fit in a banking run between interviewing contractors again. I've got the rental check (finally) that needs to go in along with the cash for the stove. (the fridge appt. didn't happen yesterday, she said it would be today for sure----crossing fingers).

Made one call to the tenant, couldn't reach her, will try emailing the exec dir of the program, she is more responsive, but not involved in the finances. But, it is a step for me.
Haven't done any of the other contacts either re; monies owed me. Horrible on this. The most I did is locate the blog of one person, he is working now, so that is a good sign. Have 2 others to still deal with too. March goals perhaps? If the money all came in, it would be just a little over $7000, so it is worth me getting the lead out here.
The rental bit is not an increase, other than the agreement we signed included a daily late fee, which they have never paid. And, they have never paid on time. I am a lousy landlord. If I really didn't need all the monies from the rental to cover costs of the other house, I would turn this account over to a mgmt firm.
It's a no spend day here, meals are all done, thanks to the bulk cooking session yesterday. I still have some packaging to do today too; "banked" 6 meals for the freezer, in addition to the meal for tonight. Easy way to get ahead on my cooking chores..........prep while I'm already cooking one meal, if I have to be in the kitchen, I want to make my time count!
After closely monitoring my spending since joining here; I've discovered my largest expense in the loosely labeled Misc catagory is gifts for others. I really enjoy this, so don't plan to quit. I am extremely frugal with this too, shopping for best deals, etc.. And, I rarely give a Thing......but a service or experience. I have no other vices or expensive habits, so plan to continue this as it is too fun to surprise someone, or better yet, gift them anonomously.
Found out the horses that are boarding here, were let out by someone messing with my fencing. We couldn't find a break in the fence anywhere, but did find all 3 hot wires unhooked at the insulators & laid back so the horses could just walk out. I have no plan or ideas for a plan as to how to counteract this sort of nastiness. We're going to wire the spot closed, so they will need wire cutters to do the same deed again. The horses are moved to the back of the property for a week or so.......but who in the world would do this?? And, it has messed with my naive little view of my corner of the world here.... which I am totally ticked off about. I'm on a dead end street, no teenagers, 6 other homes, all but one retired couples or singles. Makes me want to move further out in the bushes!

running out of calendar

February 26th, 2006 at 12:50 pm

February is just too short to get all my goals met! I've got just 2 days to finish up this list:

I DID sell the wood stove!
I've got someone coming to see the fridge today (first appt. out of lots of emails)
No seeds ordered yet for the garden
Lights down outside, but no bulbs to fit
Haven't decided where to open the IRA yet either, still trying to figure out IRA's. Can't fund it yet unless I take money out of the remodel fund or wait for March paychecks.

So, the next 2 days will have me flying here to play catch up. I like being accountable here however......otherwise I just keep re doing my TO DO lists with many of the same items on them. Doesn't help much, except to make me feel like I'm getting behind!

Spending the day doing some bulk cooking, as I found items when transferring things from the old freezer to the new one that will be more helpful here in ready to go meals. Smells great in here, really confusing the kids, as this isn't whats for dinner. Smile

I'm making a feeble attempt to cook something that is a bit different, I was going to try a new recipe each month as I'm so bored with cooking. Just breaded chicken cutlets tonight, not a recipe, but different than putting the chicken in the crockpot!

If I was really wealthy, I'd have someone else do the cooking! It just seems so time consuming for a product that is so fleeting. I'd rather sew or knit.

While things are cooking, I'm getting in a few more prep hours on my antique booth items. Have one box finished and loaded into the van already today. Progress on the $20.00 Challenge too.

late train = increased spending

February 25th, 2006 at 06:45 pm

I even called ahead to find out if the train was on time, Amtrak said 19 min early of all unheard of things. We threw ourselves into high gear & went to warm up the van...........only to find the 4 horses in the street. Escape artists they are! (I'm real sure now; no horses for me) A kind neighbor offered to entice the horses inside the yard with a kettle of dog food.....as I left to get my autistic kiddo on the train to see his mom.
Whoosh into the station only to find out the train is over 2 hours late. No idea how the wires got crossed the agent said, but no train either......Now, waiting isn't my kiddos best skill...but we did it. However, it cost me. Breakfast at Denneys' and then some grocery shopping, including a 40 lb sack of carrots for the horses. (cheap entertainment for us, feeding the horses)
Finally got the kid on the train, then headed home to enjoy my almost 24 hours off.
I did sell the old wood stove this evening, $500 cash! Nice. Also got the invoice for the monthly paycheck & called that in right away.
Had someone here to change the outdoor lights to the new bulbs, however.....the new bulbs don't fit. Drat. Back to the store this week.... I won't get this done for Feb like I had planned. But, when I look at the day here......nothing much went as planned anyway. Smile
I did spend several hours pricing and packing items for the antique booth (part of my $20.00 challenge); feeling a little more organized.

Antique-ing: AKA cleaning, painting, etc

February 24th, 2006 at 12:05 pm

I started (finally) working towards getting things cleaned up and ready to take into the antique booth on the first of March. Got the shelving and items I'll be using for display pieces out and started cleaning and painting. Need another item before the 1st, the hooks to fit in the slat board. My last booth was peg board, so I need new hardware here.... I won't have much to fill the space with the first day, but I'm doing this on my own this time, so it might be a good idea to just take the van full the first day & plan to return the following week with more (given I can unearth the rest of my things and get them ready by then.)
Felt good to get moving on this project.
The freezer didn't come yesterday, it is supposedly on the way now. Good thing I hadn't taken everything out for the transfer!!
Got a good deal on a full load of wood yesterday, nowhere near filling up the wood shed however. I'll keep my eyes open for wood this spring & summer so I'm prepared for winter. I can't wait to see the power bill since we're only using the wood stove for heat.
My buyer for the old stove didn't show, although she called & begged me to hold it for her. I've got 2 other emails too....hoping this moves by the week end. I'm getting tired of having it in front of the house.
Also have an old freezer in front of the house (I know, it is sounding as bad as it looks), but I'm waiting for our local power co. to re institute a rebate program for old appliances. There is supposed to be money to fund it by next week. Instead of paying to get rid of it, they will pay me for it. So, being the cheap side of frugal, I'm waiting.
I've cut my financial corners as close as I want to this month. With opening the new savings accounts, purchasing the appliances & such......and paying any extra funds onto the CC (I've got both cards now at 0%), I've got my bank balance as low as I'm willing to go before payday. Squeaking by until I get a check in the bank tomorrow morning. I've found my comfort zone....and then passed it. Won't cut it quite this close next month.
Traced the property tax bills, they had sent them to the old address. I know one bill, the other 2 I'm guestimating.....thinking the total is approx $5000 needed by April 31. I just need to pay it and not think about it, I don't think I'm getting my moneys' worth!
The freezer just arrived, who knew unloading a freezer was aerobic exercise? Never knew I could move that fast. Making a cup of tea now & sitting down to warm up.....

A Day at the Office

February 23rd, 2006 at 11:57 am

Since I work at home, I almost have to schedule an Office Day here. Bookwork seems to multiply when I turn my back. I have made some physical changes in my office area, making it nicer here while I take care of details. I've got music on, a yummy smelling candle lit and the fire going. I also began a garden area right outside my office window. I notice my desktop is clear, the to be filed container isn't overflowing and the garbage is even emptied. All little things, but I know myself..........and they make this type of work seem like it's no work at all.
I re did a chart to record my monthly income. I get 6 different checks each month & not all at the same time...and my last effort didn't pan out, not enough room to note what came in. New system looks better. I even called my tenant, had to leave a message, but I did ask for the money to come in on the proper day this coming month. With the agreed upon late fees too. New for me, I am more comfortable just dealing with it being late.
I also set up a system to note the days & phone numbers I need to call for the trial offers I applied for yesterday. Thanks all for the suggestions......Hopefully, I'll be able to stay on top of this. Visions of multiple magazine subscriptions, shopping club memberships and such make me just a tad nervous!!!
Need to pay for the freezer & the firewood being delivered today, so it is definately a spending day! But, I've got the first really interested potential buyer for the wood stove coming this afternoon, so that will even things out for the day. Crossing my fingers & praying she will buy the stove. (hoping crossing fingers doesn't negate the prayers going up!) Smile
Contemplating how much of my budget & finances in general.......focus on planning. The big picture is; with enough planning, I'm able to take care of the household now, and into the future. Planning for the eventual emergencies to planning what to serve for meals tomorrow; it all saves money and eliminates any stressing on my part about the finances. Good thing I like to plan; lists, notebooks, my daytimer.........they are all helping in my quest here.

new territory for me

February 22nd, 2006 at 01:54 pm

I stepped........carefully..........into new territory. I applied for my first free gift card! All this trial offer, freebie, gift card stuff has me a little confused (happens pretty easily, I'll admit) How do people keep track of all this?? I'm tentative about doing much, as I'm sure I'll forget to call & cancel these things during the 30 day trial period. I have designated one CC just for these types of things on line, the one I pay off each month...so maybe that will help, but I can still see 30 days zipping by and then I have a brand new something or other that I have no business buying! ACK!
Took the day to do an errand run....got gas first & for the first time ever~ I made a note of the mileage, amount and such, with the hopes of figuring out the mileage my van gets. I've had no idea & I don't drive much, but this is one area I've paid absolutely no attention to.
I did buy $3.00 more to get my $20.00 Challenge going. Needed a hole punch and ribbon to finish off my price tags for the Antique Booth. Getting busy on this project, my things can go in March 1st! Others are making headway on their challenge & I'm going backwards!!
Also bought a refurbished freezer, to be delivered tomorrow. I've been using a loaner from them & I'm anxious to get the new-to-me one. Bigger & an upright. Also bought a cord of firewood, our wood shed isn't full yet & I've got a teenager available on Sat to stack wood......can't pass up that offer.
I still have money left from selling our wood at the other house (I wasn't going to move the firewood). Just watching for good deals & picking up a cord here & there til I use up the wood money.
And, to top off my afternoon, I treated myself to lunch out & a flat of annuals for my front porch. I usually don't buy annuals, but I'm so tired of winter & there isn't much in this new yard, this way I've got a few plants at the front door! And, when I got home, the housecleaner had finished, my home is clean and I didn't have to do it!

Taking stock

February 21st, 2006 at 11:08 am

Reviewed my February goals & I'm lucky there is still a week left in the month! No progress so far on much of anything.
-I haven't ordered the seeds for the garden
-I've made a feeble attempt to advertise my sewing/knitting business
-The wood stove & fridge have been advertised, a couple interested people, but no buyers
-The Roth IRA isn't set up yet........paperwork arriving today I believe.
I still have the outdoor lighting to change too........the fixture it too high up for me to be comfortable doing it with the ladder I have. Not sure how to accomplish this one.
So, as I head into the last days of Feb....I'm going to have to DO something every day, not just sit here and read & write about it. Thinking doesn't make it so.

I did read a great article this AM about new years resolutions being for the eitire year, not things you expect immediate results on. That helped a little...........realizing I have implemented so many new things and made dozens of changes associated with saving and finances; I shouldn't look at what I haven't got accomplished, but at what the bigger picture is.

Spending money today...........the first of my potential contractors is coming for an appointment, and now most all of them are charging to do a bid. I tried & just couldn't get around this. He'd better be worth it for me to end my streak of NO SPEND days for him! Smile

Enjoying the game

February 20th, 2006 at 11:13 am

Feel like a contestant in a game show. Spend less, save more!!! I'll bet it would never be a prime time success.........no one would believe it!!
I'm continuing to add the tiny little hints, as well as implement some of the bigger changes as well..........everything from not using my blow dryer in the mornings to sending in the paperwork for my Roth IRA.
I have been thinking about a comment I read about budgets being all about sacrifices & I'm not feeling like that is relevant here at all. I haven't felt a bit deprived; in fact........it feels better to me than not paying close attention to my money. Back to the game idea I guess........I'm just a sucker for competition, solo, or with others.
A no spend day, other than some gas to go get a freecycle item. Dinners in the crock pot, a roast which will provide the basis for many meals this week. Washer running on cold, wood stove is heating the house and I can spend much of the day knitting. Just found out this AM that the baby coming this July in our family is a boy.....Too much fun!!

no spend day again

February 19th, 2006 at 09:23 am

These no spend days are sort of enforced here. With the extra kids on the week end, there's no way I'm going anywhere with them. But, I'm so in the habit of not aimlessly shopping, I doubt I'd go spend money anyway!
I too, applied for the shell phone card & received it. I'm attempting to spend at least some of my usual goofing off time here at the computer, applying for the free offers. I had an AH HA moment last night re; the free offers.........and will be stockpiling them for my son who will be approaching me this coming summer for some help (he's expecting financial) I'll have a stash of items he can take from if he so desires. Works for me!! I'm done helping financially, or with housing.
I don't know how all the freebie items get found....but, to all who are spending time searching & sharing, a BIG thank you!
I can't wait til our cold blast is over here. I've had to keep lights on in our pump house, to keep the temp up.....and I have to say; it is really bugging me!! I know turning the lights off would equal more expense in the long run, but darned if I'm not just ticked every time I see the lights on out there!!! Too funny.

advertising vs. willpower

February 18th, 2006 at 11:48 am

I've been watching more TV this past week, than usual.....with the Olympics on, I've either been watching or listening to almost all the broadcasts both on Canadian and US stations. I don't know if it's because I don't find the games as interesting this year or what; but I'm more caught up in the advertising than the competitions.
Maybe it's because having a daily dose of the posts here has made me notice all the referances to money/finances/lifestyle??? I'm not usually a heavy TV watcher & when I do, I'm knitting too..........but this week has been eye opening. I'm so grateful I've got whatever it takes......willpower.......goals........a really cheap gene........ that the ads don't suck me in. But, wow.......what promises they come up with. According to the ads, life just isn't good without CC's, new vehicles & goodness knows what else. The ads come right out and say things about life is about choices, use VISA to choose life.
I'm grateful I feel no pressure to join in with the herds of people buying into this mindset...........but also feel angry & wish I could think of some way to counteract all this.

Better stop....too much deep thought will make my head hurt. Banked a couple checks today, now will move them over to the ING acct. Going to make a phone call re; money owed me. Got the loan info re; the other loan owed me........so am ready for that conversation tonight. Can't work on the other 2 until Tues due to the holiday. It really does change my attitude when I'm being proactive re; my finances. I think I've passed proactive however....I would have to say I'm headed straight into aggressively attending to my finances.
Another no spend day. Just used a tad of gas on the way to the bank.

It's not Friday here..........

February 17th, 2006 at 10:47 am

That's right.....I'm on Monday for my work week. I've got myself organized for this weekend, so feeling pretty good. Also, the toughest client is going camping with his 1:1 starting this afternoon & not returning til Mon night.... So, I'm down one for the whole holiday weekend. (that makes it almost a vacation!!)

I went over my prediction yesterday at the outlet store. $125 instead of $100. But, I believe I can make these items last 2 months instead of just one, so........perhaps I will be below budgeted amount?? I felt very frugal yesterday, coming right home and re packaging the huge sacks of things into manageable sizes here. Sealing them up, or freezing them........so nothing will be wasted.

Today is a no spend day........still looking for the last 2 checks to come in for the month. One is getting later & later it seems. Definately need a banking day next week, to get all these in the account. Bills are all paid up for Feb........I just love that feeling!

In the process of all this intense focus on my finances, I have got a couple personal loans out that I really need to make some move to collect. I'm not good at this, but I've decided I'll do something instead of nothing. Since I couldn't find any money in the last 2 Daily Challenges..........this was my next best idea----
#1: The largest, I know I'll get paid back on this one, but I will meet with the woman & review the deal we had made, just so I can cross this off my list.
#2: Money promised me from a real estate deal that I haven't got all of it yet. He paid me half and said the other half was coming. Need to drop him a note & let him know I'm still waiting for the other half.
#3: Emergency money loaned to one of my previous foster kids, not really expecting to get this back, it isn't much, but the principle here is bugging me more than the other 2. Not even sure where this kid is, but I will contact his grandfather & leave my new address & phone with him, just so he can't say he was going to pay me but didn't know where I was.
I'm again conscious of how much I have left to do re; finances etc. It was an area of my life I really did think I had all together. HA. Miles to go before I reach anthing close to all together!