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Archive for January, 2005

Ceiling Leaks and Wearing Out Shoes

February 1st, 2005 at 03:21 am

Well, today was my first no spend day for February. Only 11 more to go. Smile I had to go my apartment manager's office to pay my rent (I'm not including mandatory bills in the spending) as well as to check on what they're doing about the leak in my kitchen. The manager's place is really NEAR Wal-mart and I was so tempted to go and get another box of those Sunbelt Granola Bars - they're so yummy, and so inexpensive (compared to other brands) but I controlled myself - reminded myself I had a panful of brownies sitting at home for free. Smile

My apartment manager told me the maintenance person had been in my place the other day (Friday) and had fixed my upstairs toilet. Apparently he thought that that was what was leaking into my kitchen. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case, cause IT"S STILL LEAKING! There's a nice? foot long crack on the ceiling in the middle of my kitchen. Last night when I was cooking, I kinda half-jokingly wondered to myself what my food would taste like with ceiling particles mixed in. Ugh! Supposedly they'll be sending someone out again tomorrow. On top of that, with all the rain we've had this weekend, I discovered a new leak - of course, again, in my kitchen - somewhere on the window frame. I looked all over it and couldn't figure out where it is coming in from, but the mini blinds are dripping water, and my counter gets an unintentional bath every time a rainstorm passes through.

I think my work shoes have just about had it. Today when I was in Kroger's getting some freebies (with coupons of course) it almost felt like my sole was flopping. I checked, and it was still intact, but I have the feeling I'm going to have to bite the bullet soon and buy some new shoes. The thing I hate the most about new shoes are the blisters on my heels. I think I bought these at Payless for $8 back a year or so ago October? The shoes I had before these were REALLY shot - my mom saw me wearing them to work and told me that either I go get myself a new pair of shoes, or she would! That motivated me, cuz she knows I don't like her spending money (which she LOVES to do - let's just say I didn't learn frugalness from her.) The other thing I hate about buying new shoes, especially for work, is finding ones that I like, and that have both a closed toe and closed heel (and that are black - go with anything).

According to the weather report we might get snow on Wednesday - if we do that will more than likely mean no school - yay! Although if we don't have school then, we'll probably have to make up for it on President's Day and lose a long weekend - boo! 75 school days to go. Today was one of those days when I was really wishing it was more like ZERO days to go!

One of the problems with having the school in the same building as the church, especially when you have two students who are pastor's kids, was run into today. One of my four boys, who generally is pretty good, but can be a bit of a handful as well at times, got his name put on the board as a warning. After I sent the kids back to their seats for writing, he asked to go to the bathroom. I told him sure. Apparently he went to his dad's office and told him that he'd gotten his name on the board and didn't understand why. His dad comes down to my room and asks me about this. I told him that the boys sometimes have a tendancy to feed off of each other, and that he, along with others, had been verbally warned umpteen times, and that if he truly didn't understand WHY his name was written then he should have asked me and I would have been more than happy to explain. Ok, that wasn't exactly what I said to him - though I don't care about reemployment here for next year, I don't exactly want to have to deal with unnecessary parent problems if I don't have to. I've had this parent's older daughter in my room a couple years ago, and she was a nice girl most of the time, but could give some real attitude - but I don't recall any of the pastor's kids or principal's kids or other teacher's kids that I've taught over the years running to their mommy or daddy because they got their name on the board! Shoot! When I was a kid and I got my name on the board (or got reprimanded), I sure wouldn't want to run into my dad's office and TELL him (he was a pastor) that would just be asking for a whipping first, questions later.

Anyway, this has gotten longer than I was planning on. Need to get a shower and to bed.

Oh yeah, I had the some of the lasgana for lunch today. It was really yummy - except the top layer of noodles was a little bit hard in a few places. I didn't have the exact size pan, so some of the noodles were a bit on top of each other. I think I'll have to invest in some different size pans.

Spending Log:
Today: $0.00
No Spend Days: 1/12

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

Cooking Up a Storm

January 31st, 2005 at 03:51 am

I got my laundry done today. It took a bit longer than usual because I had to wait for a second washer to open up. I will be SO glad to not have to use a laundromat anymore. The only good thing about laundromats is that you can get several loads washed at once (unless everybody is using them!)

After going home and putting my laundry away, my good friend called me and asked me if I wanted to go see "Racing Stripes" with her and her two children. I told her sure - she had also said that it was at a $1 theatre and that she was going to treat me (which is the only reason I didn't protest when she said she'd treat me.) Well, I had enough time before the movie to get about an hour's work done in my classroom. Then we went to the movie. Turned out it WASN'T a $1 theatre, but she wouldn't let me pay my share. So I got to enjoy a really sweet, funny movie with my best friend and two of my favorite kids for free. Smile

After the movie I drove to the Kroger's that has a gas station so I could use my $4 gas coupon. I earned that a few weeks ago when the Morningstar coupons came out (and they were on sale) and I got a bunch of coupons from my Coupon Club - so ended up with 10 boxes for $1.50 each, plus a $4 gas coupon. Everywhere else gas was $1.79, but at Kroger's it was $1.81, but then they take off $.03/gallon if you use your card. So I filled my tank up for $14 (was 1/4 full) and only paid $10. That'll last me till next payday (the 15th). I also went in and did all my non-coupon shopping, as well as getting the double paper.

When I got home I decided that I was going to make the Aebleskeber's for my student whom I'd promised I would because she couldn't come to my party. I also decided to make a "no boil" lasagna, and since the oven would be heated, also make another batch of brownies. I didn't have any buttermilk, so I added some white vinegar to regular milk (I read that tip somewhere). The Aebleskeber's turned out as good as ever. I also only made a half-batch, enough for me to eat for supper, and then a few to take for my student tomorrow. That really was pretty easy, and I think I might do it again. I don't make them for myself very often because a full batch makes SO many of them - but a half-batch is just right (they don't taste as good reheated.)

My internet connection was acting up again tonight, and Desperate Housewives was a rerun, so I actually finished reading the book "Every Inch of Her." Wowsers, that was such a good book. The author's written some other books and I'm planning on checking if the library has them.

Spending Log:
$18.27 --
Kroger's -- groceries (applesauce(5), potatoes(5lb), bananas(7), broccoli(1lb), mozzrella, OJ, batteries(2 4 pks), dbl newspaper, sliced cheese, frozen pizza ($1)

Gas (Kroger's) - $10.00

Total Spending: $28.27

Gas/Groceries for February: $28.27
No Spend Days: 0

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

February Goals

January 30th, 2005 at 03:45 am

Okay, I decided that the month of February will begin for me at least on Jan 30. Smile It's just easier for me to calculate from Sunday to Sunday rather than from a Tuesday to a Wednesday (or whenever Feb 28 is).

January 30 - February 26
Financial Goals:
1. 12 No Spend Days (4 more than January)
2. Except for Milk, Juice, Fruit, Veggies and bread, eat from my stockpile.
3. Grocery/Gas budget is set for $150 -- my goal is to spend no more than $90.
4. No new charges on credit card.
5. Find out if you can get a loan reported to Credit Beaureaus. (sp?

Personal/Health Goals:
1. NO Fast Food stops - that means DQ, TB and BK!!!
2. NO Soda!! I went over a year without drinking soda and am getting back into bad habits.
3. When I'm thirsty - WATER. When I'm hungry - WATER!
4. Do the Chicometrics video at least 8 x (2x a week)
5. Go for a 30 minute walk at least 8 x (2x a week)
6. Complete 25 lessons in Real Estate course.
7. Sort books (home). Take some books to Half-Price Bookstore. List some on Ebay. Pack the rest.
8. Go for at least TWO 7 mile bike rides. There is a perfectly good 7 mile round trip bike trail less than a mile from my house!
9. Get back into doing personal devotions on a DAILY basis! Worship before school with colleagues DOES NOT count!
10. No more than 75 minutes on the computer per weekday (not counting time working on Real Estate course.) No more than 180 minutes per weekend day. (Time not on the computer may NOT be turned into extra TV consumption!)

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

A no spend kind of day :)

January 30th, 2005 at 03:17 am

I woke up this morning just NOT feeling like getting up. So, I turned over and about two hours later I woke again and decided to get up. I was planning on going to early service, but by the time I finally got going, I wasn't even going to make it for second service. After my late night I guess my body just needed the rest.

I really didn't do much of anything today. Spent WAY too much time on the computer. Read some more in a book I got from the library called "Every Inch of Her." It's really good, I might try to finish it tonight.

I did do a dishwasher load full of dishes. Something really weird though is that I am missing two glasses of a set. I know *I* didn't break any, and I haven't seen any stray glasses. The ONLY thing I can come up with is that when my kids were here for the party a few weeks ago that they broke two of my glasses - but I don't think I even gave out any of that set. Strange, really strange.

I also did a trashrun. Cleaned out and rearranged my fridge and my freezer. Cleaned out my kitty's litter box. Emptied out and rearranged the top shelf of my pantry.

Then I got my February page set up in my Excel Spreadsheet. I was looking at some of the places where my money went in January and wasn't too happy with some of the trends I saw. About 40% of my food budget was spent on not very nutritious selections. I also haven't followed through on any of my exercise plans. The Chicometrics video I purchased at the beginning of January still hasn't even been played ONCE!

I'm going to be moving in four months. I really need to start decluttering, as well as packing as much non-essentials as possible. I told one of my colleagues who is having a garage sale in a few weeks, that if he gets someone else to help him, he can have my lemon of a w/d unit (washer doesn't work, dryer does) as well as my roll-top desk. Both items are just taking up space, and I'd rather not have to move them or store them. I hope he takes me up on it, cuz I checked out how much it would cost to have someone come in and move the items for me - $75+ !!

Spending Log:
Today: $0.00
Total No Spend Days for January: 8

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

My Potentially Unfrugal Adventure

January 29th, 2005 at 05:49 am

Well, this morning I informed the staff at worship that I would not be returning next year. They expressed quite a bit of surprise - especially with having just been told that our principal will also not be back. Change isn't always fun or welcome. I was actually pleasantly surprised a bit at the reaction.

This evening after Bible study, I had such a huge craving for onion rings and for ice cream. Well, there is a BK on my way home, so I stopped at the Drive Thru. I got the onion rings, but couldn't get a milkshake because they stop serving shakes after 10 (it was about 10 after.) So, I decided to stop at a gas station on my way home. I go in and get my ice cream, checkout, and then go out to my car to get in. Hey?! Where's my keys? They aren't in my coat pockets. They aren't in my purse. They aren't in my jeans pockets. They aren't on the counter in the store. Arghh!! They are in the ignition of my car!

Since I know myself pretty well, I have made it a point to never be without Roadside Service coverage - it only costs $12 a year, but it has more than paid for itself numerous times over the years. I went inside the store and used their phone to call Geico. After waiting for 15 minutes I finally get on with a real person, and they get a call out to the local Pop-a-Lock place. They give me a time estimate of 45 minutes or less. Maybe 10 minutes later a guy walks in the door and says, "Laura?" I'm quite startled because I was settling in for a long wait. He's quite cute actually Smile and quite friendly, and his name is Larry. Smile He got my car open for me lickety split, I signed the paperwork, and was off into the wild blue yonder. (Oh, he complimented me on my sunny personality. Hee hee.)

So, what could have cost me $30 or more, didn't cost me anything except a little bit of melted ice cream - all because I had the foresight to keep my Roadside Assistance. Smile Of course, the best ounce of prevention would be for me to get my spare key BACK into my purse for the next occasion of "Laura Locks Her Keys in The Car" which usually occurs two or three times a year.

All in all, quite the interesting day (as well as much longer than planned on!)

Spending Log:
$10.44 -- Wal-greens (developing film - pictures of students)
$ 4.94 -- Taco Bell (7-layer, corn on cob, empanada)
$ 3.15 -- Burger King (BK Veggie, Onion Rings)
$ 3.24 -- Gas Station (Pint of Ice Cream, Coke, Snickers)
$ 1.07 -- Kroger's (Angel Soft TP -Free w/coupon; Pepsi)
$ 1.00 -- Bake Sale at school
Total Spent Today: $23.84 --- Ugh, it really was an unfrugal day anyway.

Grocery Total for January: $144.30

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

My little trip to Wal-greens

January 28th, 2005 at 02:15 am

Today I told the kids that if they got so many questions right on their quiz about the movie I showed them (Magic School Bus Gets Energized) that I would have a special treat for them tomorrow. I don't usually buy treats - but might give them a few extra minutes recess - or some extra inside free time. But we were inside all day today (thanks rain) and probably again tomorrow, so that won't work too well. (They all did quite well on the quiz - only one kid missed a question. Of course, I did try to make it pretty easy - and during the video I would reiterate some of the points I wanted them to remember.)

So, anyway, after work I stopped by Wal-greens. I was thinking that maybe I'd get them some tootsie pops - not too expensive, and not too much in the sugar department. Well I'm searching up and down the candy aisle and am not finding them. What I was looking for was the tootsie pops that come in a cluster of 7, and not in a bag. I wasn't seeing them, so I asked the front cashier. She didn't know what I was talking about, so she called the manager. He also didn't know what I was talking about, but he did walk up and down the regular candy aisle, as well as the V-day aisle.

He told me that sometimes they have something for a few weeks and then never have it again. I told him that I've bought this many different times over the past 8 years. Then he went and talked to the general? manager. This person knew exactly what I was talking about and led me right to it. Smile Woo hoo - it was on sale too - 2 packs for $1 !!! That's enough for my kids with a couple left over for me. Smile Much, much cheaper than buying a bag of lollipops or tootsie rolls.

Unfortunately though for my waistline, I did spot a really good deal on one of my favorite snack foods - chocolate covered peanuts - so I did spend a bit more than I was planning on.

Payday is supposed to be on the 15th and 30th. But since the 30th is on Sunday, we'll get paid tomorrow. I can't tell you how much I hate getting paid twice a month. That's actually one of the reasons for me at least, that Quicken and Money and Mevelopes were all annoying as all get out. My first two years of teaching I was paid once a month and I absolutely loved it. I know some people may prefer getting paid twice a month - but for me, most of my first paycheck each month is completely eaten up by monthly bills (rent, insurance, phone,) and it makes planning more difficult. I wish they had a way where people could choose how they get paid. Oh well. In a few months (after June) I'll probably just be happy anytime I get a commision check (as a real estate agent). For the purposes of my budget/planning, I'm going to pretend that I don't really get paid till Sunday, and then I'll start my "February" month on Jan 30.

Tomorrow is another Bake Sale at my school. I'm sure I'm going to have the kids asking me to buy them something again. I'm going to tell them that the tootsie pop is my treat to them, and if they want more (i.e. from the bake sale) they'll have to buy it.

Spending Log:
Today: $3.64
--- 2 packs of 7 Tootsie Pops
--- 3 bags of Chocolate Covered Peanuts (a buy 2 get 1 free)
--- a pack of gum (Extra the pink kind)

Total Groceries:$132.30 (January)
No Spend Days: 7 (January)

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

Taxes - who'da thunk it?

January 27th, 2005 at 03:15 am

I finally got my W2 in the mail today. I like to do my taxes right away and was starting to get annoyed that I couldn't do them yet. I went to the site and clicked on the "Free File" link and then selected "Turbo Tax". It took me about 30 minutes, and lo and behold, not only did it not cost me one red cent to do my taxes or to e-file, but I got a nice little bit of $$ back from the gov! It really surprised me because last year I had made less money, but had ended up actually owing money (I watied to send that in till the last minute of course!)

As I was driving to my tennis lesson I was trying to figure out how in the world I'd managed to get a refund back when my AIG was close to 1k more than last year. Then it hit me. This past June I had changed my witholding for my 403b (similar to a 401K) to 5%. I still got a little bit more money each month (thanks to my raise) but I guess I offset it enough by putting the money in the 403b to get some money back! So, not only do I have more money in my 403b, but I'm also getting some money back! Woo HOO!!

The last time I got a return of this size, I bought a cd/tape/radio deck for my car. That was ripped out from my car in February. Frown I still haven't replaced it. I've managed to get by with my walkman plugged into portable speakers. This money I'm getting back is totally unexpected and I'm really tempted to use it to replace my car radio/cd/tape deck. But then I'm also thinking about how I really should be saving every penny possible since I have no idea how my new career is going to go, especially with no steady paycheck after June 30. This could be a month's rent. I'll probably end up just putting it in my EF at ING.

Spending Log:
Today: $0.00
7 No Spend Days in January!

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

A new watch

January 26th, 2005 at 01:53 am

My watch stopped working a week ago Friday. It was one I'd gotten from Wal-mart for $7 last July (I think). I was a bit bummed because the last watch I'd had lasted me for almost two years (another Wal-mart watch). I'm pretty hard on watches, and up till the last two have either ended up losing my watch or having the wristband break on me. So anyway, as a teacher it's pretty difficult to get around without a wristwatch. Somehow I fuddled my way through without one - using my classroom clock and my timer. Today I had to go to Wal-Mart for a couple packages of the 100Grand candy bars (tomorrow is our 100th day celebration). So while I was there, I also picked up a new watch. I couldn't find one like my previous one, but so far I think I like it - and it was again only $7. It'll sure be nice to have a watch again. Smile

When I first got my cart going into Wal-Mart I noticed that there was some trash on the bottom of the cart, but I didn't take too much notice of it. But, when I got back out to my car and took my bag out, I took a closer look. Amoungst the trash were two really cute key rings with the price still attatched to them! I was pretty surprised I didn't set off the electronic scanner thing. I had parked pretty far away (something I do to try to force a bit of exercise) and didn't really want to go all the way back. But I decided that returning the key rings was more important than me not wanting to walk a few extra hundred yards and back. There was a man putting stickers on things when you walked in (to show that you'd already paid for them) so I just walked over to him and explained what happened, then left. I bet that was a pleasant surprise for him. Smile

This morning during worship I found out that my principal let the school board know last night that she won't be returning next year. I wasn't too surprised becuase of some things we've talked about over the past few months - especially after I told her that *I* wasn't wanting to come back. It's really too bad because she (I think) is a major part of the reason that our staff is so cohesive and the program is going so well. One or two staff members changing each year can be incorporated, but a key figure like her will be much harder. I'm doubly glad now that I made the decision to leave. I really hope for the sake of my friend and coworker that the group dynamics don't change drastically with whomever the new principal is. In the 8 years that I've taught I've had 5 different principals - this one for the past three years - and I can say without a doubt, that she was the best of the bunch by far!

Ok, on to spending log -- will have to update my Excell Log.
Total Spent today:
$6.96 -- Watch
$3.68 -- 2 pkgs 100Grand Candy Bars (for 100th day)
-- 1 box Sun Belt Granola Bars (mmm mmm!)
$0.75 -- 1 20 oz Cherry Coke

No Spend Days in January: 6
Grocery Money (includes paper products, cat food, etc) -- $128.66
-- This is a bit over budget, but also included here is $12 I spent on party foods for my students - which they actually contribuited $15 (total) towards, plus I bought two new laundry hampers from Wal-greens (hoping they'll last as long as the one I bought from Wal-mart did 8 years ago!).

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

(Also can't wait for the new NYPD Blue tonight - only 6 more to go - WAH!!!)

Monday, Monday - why do I have to get out of bed?

January 25th, 2005 at 03:29 am

Ugh! I did not like having to get up earlier than normal today. It sure didn't help that I was awoken in the middle of the night once by a wonderful leg cramp, and another time by my lovely little darlin' cat!

Anyway, I somehow managed to scrimp through the day with no lesson plans done - that is one of the nice things about having taught the same grade/subjects for a long time - you can continue it without too much thought. I took some Advil Allergy/Sinus med before work though. I'd taken it several different times last week with no side affects. But today - oh me oh my - I was like the zombie queen. I have worship this week and my principal asked me if I was going to fall off the stool (the room we have worship in has a nice tall stool you can sit on).

I had decided a while ago to cancel my whole life insurance. I got it two years ago when my dad was working for New York Life - mainly to help him out. Since then just about everything I've read has said how it isn't a great way to go - and also if you're single with no dependants that it really is foolish. I'm not sure I'm going to stay without any - I am checking into term - at my age I can still get it for fairly inexpensive. I was paying $38/month for a 50K policy, and found some 30yr term for 300K for $23/month. Right now I don't have any kids (or a husband for that matter -lol!) but if I wait till that happens (yeah, if it ever happens) then the cost will be a whole bunch more - especially if I somehow get sick with some disease (diabetes, etc).
So, anyway, today I finally went ahead and canceled it. I'll be getting my whole $48 in cash value back. WooHoo! :roll eyes:

I also canceld my Blockbuster Online membership. I signed up for it for the free trial. I still have the same three DVD;s they sent me sitting unwatched. They were ones I wanted to watch - and yes, I have had time to watch them, but . . . I just haven't been in the mood to watch movies recently. So, I figured that this probably won't work out to be a good deal for me. One thing I regret though is that I could have gotten to see whole seasons of tv shows without having to buy the collections (and store them!) But at the rate I was going at, I'd end up paying $5+ per movie because the one movie would sit in my house for a month or more - I can get a better deal just by going to the videostore itself, or the library, when the mood has hit me!

I also called ING and had them close my extra accounts and transfer the money to my CF account. Before I restructured my financial plan I had 12 different sub accounts at ING - now they are down to two. Smile Customer service there was very helpful. Once the guy realized that I wanted to close all the accounts with balances less than $5, he was like, hey, I can do that for you without you having to read off all the account numbers one by one! Thank you ING! Smile Wink

Well, since I got such an early start to today (and not much of a rest at that) I think I'll catch my z's a bit early.

Spending Log:
Today: $0.00 --- 6 No Spend Days for January! Yeah!

Early to bed - snug as a bug in a rug :)

January 24th, 2005 at 01:29 am

My downstairs is quite cold right now, and I think I've done everything on the computer that I need to do today. So, I think I'm going to head upstairs and get under my nice warm electric blanket and watch a bit of tv.
I didn't go anywhere today, and I didn't spend anything either. I really should have gone to the school and done my lesson plans but I just couldn't make myself do it. So, my plans are to get to the school by 7am tomorrow and get enough done to get by for the day. If I can fall asleep fairly quickly, that might actually happen.
I was reading another journal here of someone keeping track of their no spend days. I like that idea a lot. I think that I'm going to do the same thing - though I'll have to just start from where I have an accounting (actually, I could just look at my spreadsheet for January). I think I will still count days as "no spend" days if all I spent on those days were the normal monthly payments (i.e. rent, utilities, insurance).
On the Frugal forum (I think) there was a thread about using Crisco as a facial /skin moisturizer. I'm thinking about maybe going ahead and getting a small can of this - but probably not till after my next paycheck, cuz I don't want to skew my grocery spending for this month anymore thanit already was (with the party). For cleansing my face (as well as removing all makeup ) I use the CVS store brand of Cetophil (sp?) What I really like about it is that you don't have to rinse with water - you can just wipe it off with a washcloth -- AND you can put it all over your eyes (yes - it removes eye makeup!) and mouth without worrying about it stinging or not being safe. It's also WAY inexpensive! Smile A while back I read the book "Blue Eyeshadow Should Be Illegal" by Paula Begoun and one of the things she talks about in there is what is really necessary for a facial beauty regime. One of the things she mentions is that toner/astringent is NOT necessary and that all it really does is dry out your skin.

Ok - now onto my spending report:
Today -- $0.00 spent Smile
January: 5 No spend days (Yikes! Gonna have to work on that!)
Grocery Total: $114.38 (includes $12 spent on Party food)
Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

Mmmm mmmm brownies :)

January 23rd, 2005 at 02:33 am

Today I was REALLY craving chocolate, but of course wanted to keep this as a no spend day. So I looked through my stockpile to see what I could come up with. I came across the box of Brownie mixes that I'd bought from Sam's club back in November (my class was having a bake sale, and I needed something really quick - no thinking.) The box came with 5 mixes (worked out to maybe $1.15 per mix when I bought it I think.) I used two of them to make 40 brownies for the bake sale (got lots of compliments on them -- all of them sold at $.50 a piece.) Smile

So, anyway, I decided to make up one mix of brownies. I had two eggs leftover from when I made the Aebleskeber's for the party last week, so I used those. I also have a gallon? bottle of vegetable oil that I bought maybe 4 or 5 years ago that's only half-used, so I used some more of that. So, at no cost to me, I was able to satisfy my chocolate craving for today, plus have enough brownies left over to take to school on Monday for my students as a nice little treat. I probably should have put together a roast or casserole at the same time since I was heating up the oven, as well as getting the kitchen messy anyway. Oh well, will do that next time.

Oh! I received my latest electric bill today. I put myself on the budget bill system. When I first started with it about 15 months ago it was at about $74 a month. It's pretty much been steadily decreasing every month since then. I think there was only two or three times where it jumped up by a few dollars. Anyway, today's latest bill (budget bill) was for . . . . . 58.55!!

Since I live alone, I essentially never turn on the heat or the a/c. During the winter I just majorly bundle up, and use an electic blanket on my bed (with a few quilts on top of it to keep the heat where it belongs!) It really doesn't make much sense for me to turn my heat on usually, because my downstairs NEVER gets warm no matter what, and usually if I'm upstairs, I can snuggle up in my bed. I rent a townhome and their a/c / heat unit gauge thingy is NOT very accurate. I SO look forward to the day when I own my own home and can install one of those programmable thermostats and do all those things that you can do to save on energy costs.

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

Money flying out the door!

January 22nd, 2005 at 06:42 am

Well, I certainly said it right when I said today would be a spend, spend, spend day! Yikes! I don't remember the last time I spent this much money in one day! I got my car into the Honda dealership this morning, bright and early. When the courtesy shuttle finally arrived (15 minutes late) it got me to work 10 minutes late for worship - but luckily everyone else was running late too. Smile

During the middle of Language class the car technician person called me (Mark) and told me that from looking at the condition of my drive belts and hoses that probably my timing belt should be changed even though I was only at 72k. He also told me that my front axles (boots?) were worn to a nub and needed to be replaced. He told me the total price (after I asked him) then after I recovered from fainting (jk) I asked him if there were any discounts. He was able to give me a 10% discount since it would be 3 services. Let's just say that the ~$350 I had planned on spending today was multiplied several times. You know what felt really really good though? It was being able to write a check for that amount without flinching (well, not flinching TOO much, its still hard to see that many numbers on a check going out).

I also spent $5 at the 11th/12th grade Bake Sale. I have 11 students, but only 9 of them were here today. So I told them they could each get something up to $.50 (and then I got a $.50 item too.) Only two of them had brought money for the bake sale, and I figured it was only $5 and they'd been behaving a lOT better for me this past week - plus its helping out the 11th/12th graders.

After getting my car back from the Honda Dealer, I went to Albertsons for the double dollar coupon deal. I made a list before I left of all the coupons I had, how much they'd be worth when doubled or tripled, and how many coupons I had. Then when I was at Albertsons I figured out the price of everything I had coupons for -after coupons, and decided whether or not to get it. There were about 8 or 9 things that I crossed off the list because I knew I could get them cheaper even without the extra coupon money. But all in all I did end up getting $65 worth of grocery/non-grocery items for $13.38! I could have done better if I still had some of my prevous weeks coupon inserts - but I'd taken all of them to my last coupon club meeting. Still, all in all, I did get quite a bit of things that I actually will use, and one item that I don't usually get because of how much it costs.
One thing I love about couponing is when I am able to give my extra/unneeded coupons to people standing in line - either in front of me, or behind me. (A couple of times I've even given coupons to people who were standing in an aisle looking at a product I had a coupon for, but had no use for the product - hair coloring.) I was able to do that tonight. There were two people in front of me with a fistfull of coupons, which gave me plenty of time to stand and chat with the person behind me. Eventually I noticed that she had some GUM products in her cart - so I gave her two of my GUM coupons which I had ended up not using.
Well, tomorrow will be another no spend day. Although Sunday I'll probably go and get a few items at Kroger's that are a good deal with the copons coming out this Sunday, and maybe go to the $1 theatre and see "Ladder 49."
Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

Car Maintance

January 21st, 2005 at 03:06 am

This afternoon when I got home my DSL was still giving me fits and caboodles. So I finally called the tech line. There was a recorded message saying that there'd been some connection problems somewhere in OK. Well, after I hung up I tried again, and lo and behold - it worked! Ya hoo!

So I called City Garage about the 60K checkup. They quoted me $395 for the whole deal. Then I called the Honda dealer. At first they quoted me $385, but then when I told them I'd gotten my oil changed and tires rotated last week, that took $50 off - so $345. So tomorrow morning I'm going to go the dealer and drop off my car, take their complimentary shuttle to work, then come back to a fine tuned car. Smile I also asked about my timing belt - if it needed changing. The guy told me that for Civics its usually either 6 yrs or 90K miles. I told him that it's a 97, but only has 72K. He kinda backtracked and said that I could probably wait another 15K miles or another year or so.

I made it through two days with no spending - so no need to update my spreadsheet. Smile Tomorrow though is going to be a spend spend day - between my car and the double dollar day at Albertsons -- woooh! Smile

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

Connection Problems

January 20th, 2005 at 01:57 pm

You know, I just love my DSL, except for when I constantly get "connection timed out" errors. Like last night when I was trying to read the messages about the show "Lost" at television without pity. Arghh!! Then of course this morning it was still acting up. So I turned my computer off and the modem off - hopefully it will be working by this afternoon. Thankfully I have an internet connection at work. Smile

I spoke to my friend yesterday about getting together again for a cooking session. She agreed to do it again this coming Tuesday. We'll just have to figure out what recipies we want to do.

Last night I had my first tennis lesson since last April. I almost convinced myself not to go - that I was too tired, not feeling very good, etc etc (whine whine). Finally I told myself that I had already paid for the six-week session and I'd be wasting my hard earned money if I didn't go. So I went, and I had fun. Smile I actually managed to hit a few balls over the net- so hadn't totally lost all my "improvements" from before.

This afternoon I need to call the Honda dealer and ask how much they charge for a 60K checkup - and also call City Garage - I got a flyer from them in the mail yesterday. I have a 97 Honda Civic with 72k on it - so its a little past due for the 60K. Smile Firestone last week (when I got my oil changed) told me it would be an $87/hr labor charge! I think not!

So yesterday and today will be no spend days - but if I'm able to get an appointment for tomorrow afternoon - tomorrow will NOt be a no spend day.

Almost forgot. Last night (while my connection was working) I saved myself $6 a month. I had been using my credit unions Bill Pay system, but last night I switched to Washington Mutual's, which is free of charge. Yay!!

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

Adding it up - Fast Food

January 19th, 2005 at 04:42 am

I've tried to keep a through daily spending log numerous times over the past few years, but have never really truly kept up with it. I've also tried all the various money management programs out there - Quicken, Money, Mevelopes, etc etc but found them to just not quite be the right fit for me.

I think though that I may have finally figured out a way to keep track of my spending - and also keep my spending plan easily. I've set up an Excel spreadsheet with various sheets - one for my Spending Plan (aka Budget); one for my Emergency Fund; one for my Long Term Savings (replace car, house downpayment); one for my Slush Fund (clothing, medical, vacation, recreation, car repairs, etc etc); and one for my Main Checking (rent, insurances, utilities, groceries, cc, etc).

It's now January 18, and I have faithfully recorded every penny spent for 18 days. I think that's the longest I've ever actually kept up with something like this. Yesterday I was on my way back from visiting my mom. There is a DQ right near her place on my way home. The nearest DQ to me is about 15 miles and at least 20 minutes+. I absolutely LOVE DQ Blizzards - probably akin to some peoples love of Starbucks latte's (I personally can't stand coffee or anything similar to it.) Well, I stopped and got one. Ouch! $2.58 out of my grocery money for something that first of all isn't very good for me (especially since I really don't need the extra calories!) and second of all I could make a pretty nutritous and filling meal for the cost of just that one dessert. When I got home I faithfully recorded my expenditures. Well, I totaled up all my fast food spending in the past 18 days. Ugh! Nearly $16. My grocery budget is $125 for the month - so for basically two meals and two desserts, I spent 75% of a weeks grocery's money.

If it wasn't for the fact that I've got SO much food stockpiled in my pantry and freezer, this wouldn't be such a horrible thing. But I've got TONS of Barillia pasta that I got FREE with coupons plus just on Sunday I got 4 jars of RAgu Pasta sauce for FREE from Tom Thumb with the Unilever instant rebate.
And thats just the tip of the iceberg. My biggest problem I guess is that although I enjoy cooking and making things -- for other people -- I don't enjoy it so much just for myself. Its such a pain to get all those pots and pans messed up when its just ME to enjoy whatever I've made -- and its just ME to have to clean up all the mess.

Just this past Friday I had my students over to my home for a Mid-Year party. I made them Danish Abeleskeber's, and served them fruits and some veggie meats. I throughly enjoyed every part of the whole process - from making the batter - to cooking it up for them - to cleaning up the mess afterwards. I also didn't mind the compliments I received. Smile But when its just for me - ugh! - to get the motivation. I KNOW its a money saver and I KNOW its SO much healthier - but . . . I am so good at coming up with other things to do (like sit on my duff surfing on the net - instead of doing something for my health - both financial and otherwise).

I have tried getting together with my best friend who's also a colleague of mine and having cooking nights. We've done this maybe three or four times in the last three years. The problem is that she has two young children - whom I simply adore - but its not easy trying to cook with a two year old and a four year old underfoot. It's actually been about a year since the last time we tried it. Maybe I should talk to her about trying it again. Especialy since her husband's income hasn't been very steady. Ok, I think I will talk to her tomorrow about it. Maybe set up a night next Tuesday (that's her night off from the kids).

Well, probably ought to be heading off to la la land - doing something else for the ol' health. Smile

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,

My First Entry

January 18th, 2005 at 03:58 am

Hi! I just typed a LONNNGGG entry - guess I took too long typing it and I timed out or something. So, I'll make this a bit shorter then add to it another time.

Let me introduce myself. I am 29, single with no kids, and an elementary teacher for the past 8 years. I've had a number of bumps and bruises on the financial highway of life - an especially big one five years ago. But now am beginning to do much, much better, with LOTS of life lessons learned. For numerous reasons, I am planning on switching careers in June. I am taking courses right now to become a Real Estate Agent. The road ahead won't be easy, especially since I only have myself to support myself, but I believe with God's help, and with the lessons I've learned, I'll make it through.

Until next time!

Keeping It Frugal in Texas,