Saturday, October 11, 2008

10/11 Expressions

Cutting costs while on vacation: We just returned from our vacation. As mentioned earlier, we saved costs by combining a business trip with pleasure. We redeemed miles for my daughter and I. We stayed in a 1 bedroom apartment with kitchen facilities. But we ate out once per day, at lunch. Although you cannot take fluids (bottled water, etc.) anymore from home to the plane - you can bring snacks. I took snacks in my purse, and it sure saved some $ on our trip. We also bought some reading material at a discount before we left, and my daughter checked one book out at the library. Oh, and we had access to "free" laundry facilities - so, I washed clothes too. And, this is the first time my daughter and I checked no luggage (cost = $15 per bag each way - starts to add up) - just our small carry-on and "personal" carry-on item and we did fine. Oh, and before we left, I turned off the heating/cooling system as the weather was predicted to be mild. So, hopefully, that will make a difference on utility bill for the month. And good thing we didn't water the outside plants/grass before we left, we got plenty of rain - and hopefully that savings will be reflected on the water bill - in addition for not using the water at all at our home during those days :)

Frugal activies today: Thinking ahead, for teacher's gift, I had enough point at mypoints to order 2 $25 gift cards - so, I ordered 2 for Staples. Seems more and more teachers are paying for classroom stuff out of their pocket - so, we thought that would be a nice gift - and save on wrapping paper too :) We got our mail today and great friend from another state sent me refund forms and coupons. Wouldn't you know it, there was a rebate form for pizza and one for buying prepared chicken. Since we were tired and still in vacation mode, I relented and let my husband and daughter use the BOGO coupon and order pizza. Now, we also have lunch for tomorrow - and I will be sending in for some cash back on that pizza. Of course we were out of groceries - so, I gathered a few coupons and headed to Kroger. I had a $6/$60 coupon that had to be used by today. And, a great rebate form on deli chicken - which will make it easier for me for the next couple of days. I got 3 "boxes" of 8 pieces of herb roasted chicken on sale - 1 box is in the freezer. After the rebate, the 3 boxes cost me $4 out of pocket plus tax. I hit the store perfectly because there were lots of "manager specials" on the veggies and produce too. But best of all, although there was a bit of a line, I got gas for $2.91/gal.

Economic News: Wow, I am sure the last two weeks will make economic history. But surprisingly, I feel calm. I don't plan on looking at any financial statements any time soon though. I was surprised that my husband - who normally doesn't care about personal finance much asked if this might not be a good time for us to buy more stocks. I was happy just with the status quo - just the automatic buying in our retirement accounts at the moment. I suggested that we keep our eyes open for another "rental" property to buy in the next year or so. He was even open to that idea. And although many may not be excited about the 1/2 point rate cut - that gave me hope. As I have mentioned, we paid for our beach condo with cash and part with a HELOC against our primary residence. Our primary residence was mortgage free and we have great credit scores, so, we got prime minus a percentage or so for the life of our HELOC. (Not bragging here, just thought I'd throw in a few facts because I am sure many are against HELOCs - but, we saved thousands of dollars because it cost us "nothing" out of pocket to set the HELOC up, the rate is lower than the "best" mortgage rate, we only planned on paying on the condo for two years. So, we saved thousands of dollars by not going with a traditional mortgage and we were also able to negotiate $ off the price for a quick closing . . . so, we did think about it too - and I am sure in today's environment mortgages for rental properties have dried up and if available, the rate/cost would be more than we would be willing to pay - perhaps this is TMI?). So, I am hoping the interest portion drops even more as the balance drops each month as this HELOC is our only debt. No mortgage debt, no car loan debt, no credit card debt - in other words, we don't make a distinction between "good" and "bad" debt - debt is debt to us. Our jobs are fairly secure, we are still hoping at least one of us can retire next year. We are happy with all our tenants - meaning no deadbeats (knock on wood :). Now my frugal "ways" don't seem odd. Having kept fairly frugal in our day-to-day living, for us, living well below our means, has meant that many of the frugal things we do are ingrained, automatic, sometimes enjoyable, and since they seem normal, we don't feel deprived. Perhaps that is why I can remain calm.


BankingPennies said...

We are always mixing business with pleasure for our trips too. So, I will use those tips. :)
-- Carmen

A Frugal Mom's Financial Expressions said...

We enjoy travelling when we can - thanks for stopping by!