Tuesday, January 26, 2010

1/26 expressions

Frugal deeds for the day: Today, I finally got around to sewing. I did some mending, 2 items of clothing for my daughter - one was to replace a zipper and the other was to creatively "hide" 2 small holes. We are experiencing an unseasaonably cold winter. So, I made the dog a "coat". I have had the pattern for years, paid $1 for it and used fabric from my "stash". The only item I did purchase was the velco - a couple of days ago from Wal-mart. I also just did an on-line survey for CVS and printed out a $5 ecb. My daughter told me she needs graph paper - so, I am hoping to find some tomorrow at CVS with my ecbs. Kroger is next door and I am hoping to do get a few deals there. I also finally called a beauty school closer to "home". This one has been in the area for a year or so, but I have been hesitant in calling since it is associated with a "brand name". My daughter and I will be getting a hair cut/style, facial, and a manicure for the price of a cut/style at our regular salon and the price is in-line with the "non-brand name" beauty school. Another plus, they give scalp massages, no additional charge with the haircut to reduce stress.

Monday, January 25, 2010

1/25 Expressions

Frugal Deeds: I sure could get used to not having a "day job" :) Anyway, the new phone (land line)/internet installer has come and gone. Now we will be getting both for about 1/2 of what we were paying. I also sliced the 2 packages of mushrooms I got from Aldi and sauteed for use this evening and froze some for later use. Aldi sure has some great prices on produce. Last week I got the mushrooms .69/container and also grape tomatoes for the same price. In the mail, I got a check for doing a survey and free copy of Family Circle. Since I haven't driven in a while, I was bit anxious - but I ran errands today - including picking up a pattern, inexpensive fabric and several freebie items from Wal-mart. I plan to use the same pattern, fabric from around the house and the fabric I purchased to make my daughter 3 new shirts. She won an award for her art work and the school is having an awards ceremony this week - so, I hope to have 1 shirt made by then. And in financial news, our property manager (we do not manage our own real estate) called and said she finally got a hold of the tenants (husband and wife) in one of our properties in which the rent is delinquent. The wife had a medical scare, and they are a bit fincially strapped and asked if the property manager would let them catch up this month's and next month's rent over the next three weeks. I did give the okay - but really, this is a wake-up call for lots of people. Both the husband and wife have good jobs - but apparently, no emergency fund. Putting a bit of money aside during the good times is important!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

1/23 Expressions

Frugal deeds: It was nice to get out yesterday and enjoy a meal paid for by a mystery shop. We brought home a doggie bag to enjoy the wonderful food later. Today, my husband and daughter are at a math tournament. I am slowly trying to get "active". I will not be going back to my day job for another week or so. So, while my husband and daughter have been pretty good at keeping the home fire burning, I thought I'd slowly tackle a few things for them before they get home. In addition to a bit of cleaning, I baked a batch of peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies. That will keep the crew from continually looking for "sweet" snacks - and, I am enjoying the heat from the oven. It is just a bit chilly today. While the cookies were baking, I also baked some marinated salmon fillets and turned the sweet potatoes I boiled yesterday into a casserole. So, the crew will have dinner when they get home too. And like a lot of people, I am going to make time to get a bit healthier. So, I've looked up calorie counter/burning sites, etc. Although I try to keep healthy food in the house, I don't alway make a food plan - or always reach for a piece of fruit instead of a cookie. I won't be banishing cookies from the house as they seem to be enjoyed, and we do get some exercise in. I plan to ration the cookies though. I will leave some out, but will freeze most of them to reduce the temptation to over indulge :).

Friday, January 22, 2010

1/22 Expressions

Frugal deeds for the week: I checked to see what kind of extra $ I will get in each pay check. Health insurance went up and I increased withholding for our health savers account because I discontinued the vision insurance (not worth it) and knew we would have some extra health care bills this year. So, much to my surprise, I will be getting $6.XX extra a pay check - I'll take it :) I also signed up for a credit card in which I will get enough points to cash in for $100 after 1 use. I plan to use it for a "training card" - to let my daughter use it judiciously and learn the good with the bad before heading out into the real world on her own. That spate of cold weather sure cost us in utilities - but I guess we should be grateful that we were able to turn up the heat a bit. Was it worth it . . . hmmm. I cooked a couple of "side dishes" to keep my family from being tempted to eat out/get take-out today. Used the cooled water from boiled sweet potatoes/eggs to water indoor plants - I am sure they will enjoy that infusion of nutrients. Sold two more items on half.com. Got a survey check in the mail yesterday. Also got a Stacy's Pita coupon for a free bag.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

1/20 Expressions

I finished reading "Stop Acting Rich: And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire" by Dr. Stanley yesterday. I haven't taken the time to read a book in a long while. I enjoyed his earlier work, "Millionaire Next Door" - so, thought this one would fall in line. It did - but mainly, it was additional re-enforcement of the concepts in the earlier book - but with an additional warning? The earlier concepts: a very small percentage of net worth millionaires have enough $$$ to spend like those propped up by the media and advertising agencies. In general, it is not as easy as one might think to be able to pick-out most net-worth millionaires because in general, they tend to frugal, select value, have enough self esteem not to be swayed by most advertisements, etc. So, what did I see as a warning in this new book? Just because there may be a good deal (what person wouldn't like a good deal/bargain/value) of a home (real estate) in a neighborhood with spenders (higher income folks/perhaps a few real "glittering" millionaires/up-to-their-eyeballs-in-debt-wannabees), be careful because it seems we all have a natural tendency to want to be "like" our neighbor. So, not only are you getting a bargain of a house (perhaps one lost by the wannabee), but you may end getting distracted into thinking you might need a golf club membership, a better car, etc. and therefore really get off track in wealth accumulation. Seems to me, most frugal/PF'rs are on track to becoming "net worth millionaire" :) I did enjoy the book - but as a frugal person interested in personal finance, it just confirmed what I already thought/knew ;) . It will be interesting to see if marketing agencies will pick-up on this information long after this down-turn. I have noticed more ads alluding to "frugal is cool - and we are frugal - so come shop here" messages - but are they here to stay? But once again, probably not. I personally think marketing strategist chase after those willing to part with their money easily - have $ (that is their job :). So, perhaps at this moment, frugal people are the ones with money (although they generally don't easily part with their money?) - so they are "cool". Otherwise, it is back to targeting the next group with access to $ (through high paying jobs/credit/etc.).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1/19 Expressions

Frugal deeds for the week: I am home recuperating - so, I have lots of time to think and relax. Okay, it gets boring. So, here are some things I have accomplished. I called the dentist's office - paid $50 to have a crown re-cemented - but my insurance reimbursed them. The billing person said I have $60.XX coming - strange math, but I will take it. I ordered contacts for my daughter from 1-800-contacts through mypoints - before her rx expires in 2 weeks. Filed the expense with the HSA account - so, hopefully, I will get reimbursed before the CC bill hits. I am hoping to hit the $200 Chase Freedom rebate so I can submit for the $250 cash/check this month too. Have started doing some searches for Spring Break vacation and hope to save a few $ there and have a great time :) Sold 2 books on half.com and my wonderful husband has already packed them up and will mail them out shortly. Now I am hoping he will list 5 things on ebay to help in the de-clutter effort and put some cash back into the household. He is home helping me during part of my recuperation - especially since I can't drive for a week. Since I am not a demanding patient, he is going to paint my daughter's bathroom and remove the last bit of carpet on the first floor and replace it with wood flooring he purchased a couple of days ago from lumber liquidators. I have also had lots of time to enjoy all of those free magazines I have signed up for.

Monday, January 18, 2010

1/18 Expressions

Frugal Deeds for the week: We are switching internet and phone provider this week, over a 12 month period, the savings will be substantial even after the purchase of a router and modem which we could have rented for $4/mo. Over 12 months, the savings will be about $420-$120= $300. Not bad. I also cashed in some mypoints for a $25 Wal-mart giftcard. I am still waiting for the $25 Barnes and Noble one. Once some points clear, I will be redeeming them for 3 $10 Panera Bread GCs. The GCs will be used for gifts - except the WM. I will use it (WM) to stock-up on staples since WM seems to be the cheapest. For entertainment this week, we have accepted a mystery shop to a "medium range" restaurant for dinner. For a little bit of work, we will be getting a nice dinner free. Mail has been great, I have gotten some nice coupons in the mail - BOGO Coupon for Starkist Tuna from PSSST, 3 meal/snack bars from Adkins, and 2 small mayo samples from Hellmans.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1/10 Expressions

Frugal luxuries for the week: Yesterday, I was able to get a dozen of lovely "premium" pink roses from Kroger for $2.50 (they were marked down to $5 - and I was sent a coupon for $2.50 off last month). I used a coupon for a free hot drink at Barnes and Noble and split a butter cream cupcake for around $2.00. For just over $2.50, I was able to buy a great smelling candle at Bath and Body Works and get a free hand sanitizer/moisturizer for free. All of these things were great during this cold freeze that has plagued the area for the last couple of days. Hopefully, we will get some nice sunshine and better temperatures tomorrow! Oh, and I just cashed some Mypoints out for a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

1/3 Expressions

Happy 2010! I have enjoyed over a week's vacation - but alas, I am going back to the day job tomorrow. Just a quick look back at 2009 - yup, like just about everyone else, our retirements and other stock-based investment accounts have made a comeback. However, although I am grateful, I am not jumping up and down - because they have not hit their all time highs from 2008 and I have been continuing my contributions over that period of time - which makes it a bit worse (plus, I don't want to jinx myself :). I am glad I did not look at our accounts for almost a year - because I am sure I would have gone into cardiac arrest! Looking back, I am glad I didn't look - because I am generally a believer in dollar cost averaging, not timing the market, yada, yada . . . I am sure my mind would have started to play a few games with me. Should I have kept investing in our non-retirement accounts - perhaps - but that $ was re-purposed and gave me some peace. Our real estate holdings - while some have taken a value hit, at least let us see a decrease in property taxes. While I am disappointed that values didn't continue to rise, I am definitely not panicked. Why, all except the beach front property, the property values didn't rise or fall much. We have renters in the property (except our primary residence ;0)) and no mortgage against them. We don't plan on selling any of the properties any time soon - so, what happened in the real estate market is a wash. Now, as far as the beach property, we did take a HELOC against our primary residence to pay for most of it (HELOC was the least % rate - and no closing costs). The rate is currently 2.6% and we have paid off about 2/3's of it. My goal for 2010 is to pay off the last 1/3 because I have a feeling that Fed will have to raise interest rates eventually and while the 2.6% doesn't bother me much, I would rather earn $ than pay it to a banking institution. Why didn't we pay off the other 1/3, uh because we decided to build up our cash accounts, did some maintenance to our home; bought a used vehicle and . . . we didn't want to cash-out of any of our non-retirement investments in a "down" market. Enough about investments, in a couple of weeks, I will be having some minor surgery - so, I am thank-ful to have been able to up our Health Saver's Account (HSA) to cover the deductible - and we also re-filled an RX on the 1st - the pharmacy was open so we could use the HSA too - don't worry, no one's health was put into jeopardy by waiting! My second goal for the year is to continue on the quest to declutter the house. Lucky for me, the Purple Heart Assn called and offered to pick stuff up, so, I have 2 boxes of stuff ready and hope to have 4 before they get here. And my final goal, is after paying off the HELOC, continue to save $ in a safe "investment" - perhaps "I-bonds" - to ensure we have the cash to pay for my daughter's education. 2009 taught me this, pre-paid tuition programs aren't what they are cracked up to be; and while my daughter is as smart as a whip (who doesn't say that about their own offspring :)), there is no guarantee of a scholarship. So, while I hope to leave her with an inheritance someday, for now, my goal is to best prepare her to make her "own" way.