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Accomplishments -- The missing socks edition

September 30th, 2009 at 12:36 am

So all the clothing in the house is clean -- really, there is nothing in the hamper. And still, I have unmatched socks. Where do they go! Also, with everything clean, I don't actually have enough hangers to go around. Either I need to buy more hangers, or I need to sort through my wardrobe. I think I will choose the latter. Alternatively, I guess I could just try to leave some dirty laundry in the hamper Smile

Here are my accomplishments for today:

(1) Checked online to see if the Comcast payment went through. I had tried to pay it online on Saturday, but never got to the confirmation screen. It turns out it never went through, so I paid it again today. This time it went through!

(2) Called the insurance company to cancel our renters insurance. We just moved, and for awhile we had policies on both places. (We had a month of overlap on our leases.) Today I called and cancelled the policy for the old place and switched our mailing address. We should even be getting a partial refund!

(3) Changed the registration sticker on the car. Since it expires tomorrow, I didn't want to worry about hubby getting pulled over on his way to/from work.

(4) Bought candy for work tomorrow. I needed to buy some for a particular work gathering.

(5) Completed two loads on laundry. Well, the second load is still in the dryer, but it will be completed. Thank goodness this second load is all blankets and towels, since I have no hangers left!

One great thing about this new plan to accomplish five things a day is that my husband has decided he wants to join in. I told him he can have three things to do a day. Not that I don't think he should be pulling his weight, but he has a 45-50 minute commute each way, while I only have a 20 minute one. So he has less time to spend on this stuff than I do. So far, though, I have already had him clean all of the toilets in the house. I love this plan!

What I accomplished today...

September 28th, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I have decided to turn my blog into a record of my daily accomplishments, both big and small. Each day I will give myself a list of five tasks to accomplish. Then, at the end of the day, I will hold myself accountable for those tasks. Some will be finance related; some will not. Although I find that staying on top of all things (cooking, cleaning, etc) only helps me be more financially responsible, so I still think it's appropriate for a personal finance blog.

(Also, I'm been really motivated by the Saving Advice bloggers who've recently been posting all they've accomplished!)

Today I did the following things:

(1) Mailed the rent check. It should arrive either tomorrow or Wednesday, so it will be on time!
(2) Made pasta salad. (Side dish for dinner tonight and tomorrow.)
(3) Finished folding the laundry from all the loads I tackled yesterday.
(4) Wiped down the counter in the master bedroom.
(5) Planned out my work wardrobe for the rest of the week.

This last task is something that I decided to start doing today. I have to dress to a certain level for work, but I don't really have that many articles of appropriate work clothing. Which means every morning is a bit of an adventure! Sometimes I'm running late the the morning and realize at the last minute that I really don't have anything clean that's appropriate. Stressful! This way, I can be assured that I have clothing for the whole week, and that everything I am planning on wearing is clean or back from the dry cleaners. I think that will lead to a happier and more productive me all around!

Stamps

May 27th, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I'm still working my way through my 37 cent stamps, left over from the days before the forever stamp. Today I mailed a letter with one 37 cent stamp and three 3 cent stamps. (I have a bunch of 3 cent stamps left over from prior days as well.) I need to use these up -- I am running out of room on the envelopes!

Does anyone else have this problem, or is it just me?

Smile

Arrrrrgh!

May 27th, 2009 at 03:21 am

Canceling cable is hurting right now. The Cavs-Magic game is tied at 100 with 0.5 seconds left, and I can't watch! I am frantically hitting refresh on the computer instead. Arrrrgh!

Another thing to check off the list

May 27th, 2009 at 02:23 am

Today I called my insurance company and added my doctor as my primary care physician. I should have done this months ago! If I see my primary physician, I only have a $20 copay, but if I see anyone else, it is a $30 copay. If I would have done this last summer, I would have an extra $20 in my pocket. Just an example of how getting more organized can save me money...

For my challenge, I packed my lunch, we made dinner, and I walked both to and from work (5 miles total). I also completed 2 loads of laundry, so that is $6 for the challenge.

Previous total: $89
Current total: $95

Catching back up...

May 26th, 2009 at 12:37 am

My sister was in town last week, so I didn't have much of a consistent schedule for updating my blog (or for exercising or following my meal plan...) But it was really great to see her, and we did manage to eat dinner at home three of the nights she was here. (That's much better than we usually do with guests Smile)

We also looked at a little house we were considering buying. It wasn't nearly as nice as we had hoped, and it definitely wasn't nice enough to justify the price tag! We have decided to put the home-buying plans on hold for the near future, and just concentrate on saving up for a down payment. We had been thinking we might try to buy this year to take advantage of low interest rates and the tax credit for first time home buyers, but the houses in our area still seem so overpriced. We are hoping that prices will continue to fall over the next year. Meanwhile, we will continue to rent...

Let's see if I can remember everything to update my challenge! Since the last time I updated, we have cooked dinner 3 times (including yesterday and today), I have completed 3 loads of laundry, and the Tigers have won 3 games! I guess 3 is my lucky number. Also, I went for a walk yesterday (2 miles) and a run today (3 miles), so that is a total of $11 for the challenge.

Previous total: $78
Current total: $89

Now that my sister is gone, I plan to go back to packing my lunch, cooking dinner at home, and exercising regularly.

Have a great night everyone!

A new fan

May 21st, 2009 at 02:15 am

Tonight we bought a small fan for our bedroom. My husband always gets really hot while he sleeps, even though we try to cool the room off by opening the windows for a while before going to bed. (We can't sleep with the windows open because our street is just too loud!)

One way to fix the problem is to turn on the air conditioning overnight, but I'd rather not do that -- at least while it's still pretty cool outside at night. We are going to try the fan instead. I think it will help cool the room down while the window is open, and it should keep my husband cooler by having air flow across him. (I will snuggle into my blankets, since I am always cold!)

As an added bonus, maybe it will drown out some of the street noise as well! Smile

As for my challenge, we cooked dinner tonight (with leftover cheesecake for dessert), and I did 3 loads of laundry. Plus, the Tigers have won their last 2 games, so that is $6 for the challenge.

Previous balance: $72
Current balance: $78

I hope to make $100 by the end of the month! Now, off to bed...Smile

Homeade Cheesecake

May 20th, 2009 at 01:23 am

We live about 5 minutes away from the Cheesecake Factory, and lately hubby and I have been succumbing to temptation and picking up cheesecake for a treat about once a week. The problem is, at $7.95 a slice, it is not a very fiscally responsible habit. (It's also not very good for my waistline, but it sure tastes good!) My absolute favorite version is the key lime cheesecake.

Anyway, over the weekend I got it in to my head that I should just make my own cheesecake. So I found this recipe and tonight I made it. My sister is in town for the week, and we each had a piece and agreed it was really good. The best thing is, I added up the costs and the whole cheesecake cost me $8.08 + a little bit of butter, sugar, and flour from my pantry. So for about the cost of one piece of cheesecake, we got an entire cake. We still have 5 pieces left!

I'm also feeling pretty good because it is the first time I've made a cheesecake Smile

Anyway, to update my challenge, I packed a lunch yesterday, we cooked dinner both yesterday and today, and I did 6 (yes, 6!) loads of laundry yesterday. So that is $9 for the challenge. (I am tempted to add another $1 because the cheesecake was so awesome, but I'm not going to do that Smile)

Previous balance: $63
Current balance: $72

Have a nice night everyone!

This may sound silly...

May 18th, 2009 at 08:07 pm

I had a bit of an epiphany last week. I was making a list of chores to do, and I realized how many things that are seemingly unrelated to personal finance actually play a part in my finances. (Bear with me -- you probably all already know these things, but it was still an epiphany for me!)

Some things are pretty obvious -- if I take the time to make a meal plan for the week, I save money because I shop with a list and I am less likely to eat out during the week. Other things are less obvious -- if I make a point to wash my shower curtain on a regular basis, then it never gets gross enough that it cannot be saved and therefore must be replaced. Which costs money.

I guess I realized that the different aspects of my life are interconnected, and it will be a lot easier to change on aspect if I am also working on the other aspects as well. Being on top of the other aspects in my life will help me to be on top of my finances as well.

So what does this mean? Well, I'm not going to change what I'm doing specifically with respect to personal finance -- I'm still going to try to spend less and save more, but I also think that I can improve my financial situation by improving my life in general.

If I make it a priority to get enough sleep, then I won't feel rushed in the morning, and therefore it will be easier to pack a lunch. If I make it a priority to exercise on a regular basis, I will feel healthier and more energetic, and I'll *want* to eat health home-cooked food rather than eating out. If I stay on top of my paperwork, I can submit flex receipts right away and earn interest on the reimbursement in my account. If I don't procrastinate, I can find gifts and plane tickets for lower prices. I can think of lots of ways that being more together will help me be better financially as well.

So from here on out I am going to (try to) practice a holistic approach to personal finance. (Hence the new title for the blog...)

Just checking in

May 18th, 2009 at 02:19 am

I just wanted to update my challenge quickly. I have a longer post to make, but it will have to wait until tomorrow!

Since my last challenge update, the Tigers have won three games, I brought my lunch to work for three days, and we cooked dinner at home twice. I also went for one run (3 miles) on Saturday. Finally, I completed 6 loads of laundry today, so that gives me a total of $15 for the challenge!

Previous balance: $48
Current balance: $63

Hope y'all had a nice weekend!

Quiz Night

May 13th, 2009 at 02:14 am

We went with some friends to quiz night at the local pub tonight, and had our best score ever! We spent a little bit more than we usually do (we ordered appetizers in addition to beer and our entry fee), but it was nice to catch up with some friends we hadn't seen in awhile.

Today I packed my lunch, went for a run (2.5 miles), and we made dinner (lemon pasta -- yum!), so that is $3 for the challenge.

Previous balance: $45
Current balance: $48

I should make it over $50 tomorrow Smile

Nothing much to say...

May 12th, 2009 at 12:21 am

...so I'll just update my challenge. Today I brought my lunch, we made dinner at home, and I walked both to and from work (a total of 5 miles round trip.) So that's $4 for the challenge.

Previous balance: $41
Current balance: $45

Now off to do some work. Have a good night, everyone!

Getting stuff done!

May 10th, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Today I cleaned out my pantry and organized my spice cabinet. I also made a list of all the spices in my cabinet and taped it to the inside of the door. Now I don't have to search to see if I have something or not, and then miss it and buy a duplicate!

It felt so good to get these tasks done that I've decided to give myself a list of tasks to accomplish this week -- one per day. The goal will be to choose tasks that don't take a lot of time but that I tend to put off.

Here's my list for this week:

Sun: Clean pantry and organize spices -- DONE!
Mon: Clean microwave (It's gross Frown)
Tues: Return dress and capris to the store
Wed: Wash shower curtains
Thurs: Wash out fridge
Fri: Organize desk cabinet
Sat: Chore free!

As for my challenge, today we followed the meal plan and did not eat out, I went for a run (3 miles), and the Tigers won! So $3 more for the challenge.

Previous balance: $38
Current balance: $41

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!

A lazy but productive day

May 10th, 2009 at 01:46 pm

Today the plan is to have a lazy but productive day. You might think those two things don't go together, but I find organizing and planning to be relaxing when there is no pressure to do so!

So today I am going to plan and shop for our meals for the week. I'm also going to organize the pantry and make a list of all the spices/herbs available in my spice cupboard.

I have some reading to do for work tomorrow, and I'll probably also go for either a run or a walk with my husband to enjoy the non-rainy weather. And of course I'll call my mom to say "Happy Mother's Day!"

Yesterday I went for a run (3 miles) and the Tigers won, so $2 for the challenge.

Previous balance: $36
Current balance: $38

Challenge update

May 9th, 2009 at 12:50 pm

The Tigers won last night, and I brought my lunch to work, so $2 more for the challenge.

Previous balance: $34
Current balance: $36

This means I made it through the whole work week without buying lunch! We also almost made it through the whole work week without eating out for dinner, but last night we ate at a local Greek diner to celebrate the end of a project at work. It felt special, because we haven't been eating out all the time Smile

Satisfied my shopping urge...for FREE!

May 8th, 2009 at 07:45 pm

Today I ordered a cookbook and a water bottle from Amazon. I used a gift card and qualified for free shipping, so I spent $0 out of pocket. The water bottle was something I needed, since I drink water constantly at work and my current bottle needs to be replaced, and the cookbook will give me lots of entertainment. With free shipping it will be awhile before they arrive, but that just gives me something to look forward to Smile

Rainy Day!

May 8th, 2009 at 01:43 am

Maybe I should say "Rainy Week!" I'm not sure I remember the last day it didn't rain at least a little. But that's alright -- I am enjoying the rain, and all of the parks are looking so lush and green.

Tonight I tried another new recipe -- a potato and chickpea curry from my favorite food blog, Simply Recipes. The recipe is here. It was *really* good. And without meat, it was fairly inexpensive as well. I will definitely be adding it to the rotation. It also made so much food that we will be having leftovers for dinner tomorrow night. Yum -- curry is always good the next day!

I've decided to start keeping track of my weekly meal plan on a separate page (I was inspired by Cassandra). I'll start this with next week's meals. I am also going to keep track of new recipes that we like by linking to them from my blog entries. It will make it easy to find them again!

With respect to my challenge, today I packed my lunch, walked to school (2.5 miles), went for a run (3 miles), and completed one load of laundry. Since we cooked the curry for dinner, that gives me $5 more for the challenge.

Previous balance: $29
Current balance: $34

So far I've found that it definitely gives me incentive to pack my lunch knowing I can add to the challenge at the end of the day Smile Have a great evening, everyone!

Nothing special to report

May 7th, 2009 at 01:46 am

Nothing much to report today, so I just want to update my challenge. I brought my lunch, we cooked dinner, I went for a run (2.5 miles), and I completed 2 loads of laundry. So $5 more for the challenge.

Previous balance: $24
Current balance: $29

For dinner I tried out a new recipe -- sweet potato and red pepper pasta -- and it was really good, so I thought I'd share the recipe if anyone is interested. And there was enough left over for my lunch tomorrow Smile

Also, I am finally reaching the end of all the laundry that accumulated while we had guests last week. All the bedding and towels needed to be washed, along with all of the regular laundry that I should have washed last week but didn't. I'm glad, because I hate doing laundry, but I will miss all of those dollars for the challenge!

Have a good night, everyone!

Flex Account

May 5th, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Our flex account reimbursement for 2008 cleared today, so that's $500 that I immediately sent over to savings. Last year was the first time that I have ever used a flex account, and I was afraid it was going to be a major hassle, which is why I put off submitting the paperwork until just before the April 30th deadline. But, it actually wasn't bad at all. In fact, I think I'm going to submit some 2009 expenses right away to get that money in savings and earning interest faster. It's kind of like getting a tax refund -- I know it's just my money that I already paid and am now getting back, but since I never see it before it's taken out of my paycheck, it feels like extra money!

An update on the $20 challenge. Today I brought my lunch, we cooked dinner, and I went for a run (2.5 miles in the rain!) I also completed 2 loads of laundry. So $6 added to the challenge.

Previous balance: $18
New balance: $24 (woohoo -- over $20!)

Now, husband and I are off on a mini-date to see "Wolverine." Good thing I'm so full from dinner that I won't be tempted to splurge for popcorn Smile

**Update -- obviously, I can't add -- that should only be $5 to the challenge. Maybe I am hoping the Tigers will win tonight! Well, I already transferred the money, so I'm going to leave the current balance...

**Update #2 -- ha! The Tigers did win -- so now my challenge is accurate!

More $20 Challenge

May 5th, 2009 at 01:55 am

I've decided to expand my $20 Challenge a bit after a comment by Aleta. Originally, my plan was to add $1 for every game the Tigers win, $1 for each day I bring my lunch to work, and $1 for each night we make our own dinner.

Now I am also going to add $1 for walking either to or from work (it's a 2.5 mile walk), $1 for each time I go for a run, and $1 for each load of laundry I complete (as in folded and put away.) I may add more later, but that's it for now.

Today I brought my lunch (Tabbouleh, yummy!), we cooked dinner, and I completed 3 loads of laundry. So $5 to the challenge. (Unfortunately the Tigers lost tonight Frown)

Previous balance: $13
New balance: $18

Have a great night everyone!

Joining the $20 Challenge

May 4th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Having been inspired by Ima Saver (among others), I am going to jump in to the $20 challenge.

I like how Ima saves $1 every time the Braves win. Well, I am not a Braves fan, but I am a loyal Detroit Tigers fan, so I will be saving $1 every time the Tigers win. Since the Tigers have won 13 games so far this year, I will be starting my challenge with $13. So I guess I can call it the $13 challenge Smile

I will also be adding $1 every time I bring my lunch to work and $1 every time we do not eat out or order takeout for dinner. Hopefully this challenge will also help me with my goals of spending less eating out!

I will be adding my challenge money to my BoA Keep the Change account, where I already round up all of my purchases to the nearest dollar. I am hoping with this extra money, this account will grow much faster! Each time it reaches $100, I will transfer the money to ING. I wonder how much I can save this way?

So, here I go!

Starting Balance: $13

Net Worth

May 2nd, 2009 at 02:15 pm

I just did our net worth calculation for the month of April, and our overall net worth increased by $2400. Considering it was a spendy month -- woohoo!

Have a great weekend everyone Smile

Update

May 1st, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Well, April didn't turn out quite the way I had hoped! We ended up spending way too much eating out -- considering my goal of $200 for the month. We've had multiple guests over the past week -- old college buddies of my husband -- and so we've eaten out (and treated) a lot. But we will be back on the wagon starting tomorrow, when everyone leaves.

Right now my husband is out with the boys, and I am enjoying some much appreciated and quiet downtime. It was a busy week at work and I am very much looking forward to the weekend. Tomorrow I am going to sleep in a little, then go for a run and hit the farmers' market.

In other news, I had the first paycheck of the month today, so I paid off the credit card and transfered over to our Escrow fund. I also paid the rent, the car insurance, and a dental bill. And shredded some paperwork (credit card apps, etc).

Now to see if there's anything good to watch on Hulu.

Mood: Content Smile

Survived the dentist!

April 20th, 2009 at 08:28 pm

I went to the dentist this afternoon -- no cavities! I was a little nervous, because we have moved twice in the past two years, and dental check-ups got lost in the shuffle. I had a lot of cavities when I was younger and am very nervous about going to the dentist anyway, and I worried that not having seen the dentist in a couple of years meant that I was going to need to get some work done. Which would also be expensive. But, nothing needs to be done! (I just need to be sure to floss more regularly...Frown)

I set up my next six-month appointment as I was leaving. I'm not giving myself any reason to put off the next appointment! Preventative care is less expensive in the long run, and easier on my nerves as well...

Lesson learned and student loans

April 18th, 2009 at 01:36 pm

On Wednesday I posted about how I sent in my check to the tax man but was waiting for my husband's paycheck in order to have enough in the account to cover the bill. I said that I wasn't *too* worried about it, because I thought with all the checks coming in around the 15th, it would take the government a few days to get everything deposited.

Well, I mailed the check on Tuesday afternoon (like 4 pm!), deposited my husband's paycheck on Thursday morning, and the check to the tax man cleared on Thursday night. Whew! That was a close one. So let this be a lesson for me -- don't try to float a check to the government. (Thanks for the warning, ME2!)

---

With payday, we also scheduled our monthly payments on my husband's student loans. Well, I should say 'he' scheduled the payments, because even though we have joined our finances (joint accounts, etc), he insists that payments on his loans come from his paycheck. He says he wants to be the one to pay them off.

Anyway, right now he has a balance of $2905.43, and is currently making payments of $500 a month on it. After this month's payment hits next week, the balance should be under $2500! (I will add this to my sidebar to keep track of it, so I can watch the balance decrease.)

---

Also, yesterday was the five year anniversary of when we started dating. How time has flown! Every day I a realize how lucky I am to have him in my life. (Sorry for the cheesiness Smile)

Obsessive much?

April 16th, 2009 at 02:30 am

So I pounced on my husband when he got home from work -- "Did you remember to pick up your paycheck?!?" See, I mailed a check to the federal government yesterday and we don't actually have the money in the checking account to cover it. So I want to get his paycheck deposited ASAP tomorrow.

To be honest, it probably doesn't matter. I get paid by direct deposit on Friday, and the chance that the Treasury Department gets our check and deposits it before then is pretty slim. I just really hate the idea of there being a check floating around out there without the cash to back it up. (And I'm pretty sure that if you bounce a check with the federal government, they are not too happy about it!)

(The other thing I get obsessed about is when I write a check to someone and it takes them FOREVER to deposit it, so that every time I check my account online it looks like I have more money that I actually do. Sometimes that leads me to make bad choices...)

Home sick

April 15th, 2009 at 02:11 pm

Argh! I have so much to do today, but instead I am home with a migraine and my brain is hardly working. My plan is to rest until noon, and then try to work from home during the afternoon. I was able to push some of my to do list over to tomorrow (which means tomorrow will be a doozy), but at least that lightens the load a little bit today. Argh!

Taxes are done!

April 15th, 2009 at 01:36 am

I mailed off the taxes this afternoon. I have a tendency to always wait until the last minute! We owe the federal government $900, but are getting back $250 from one state and $20 from the other (we moved during last year.) Also, this is hopefully the last time we have to file in more than one state for a very long time Smile

Now that taxes are done, I get to tackle Flex receipts. That is the plan for this coming weekend. One of these days I will become more on top of things...

Lunch Ideas?

April 10th, 2009 at 01:37 pm

So far we are doing pretty well with our goal to spend less money on eating out. We succumbed to temptation twice last weekend, but other than that we have stuck to our meal plan for dinner every night.

The one place where I am really having trouble is lunch. The problem is that I am not really a sandwich type of girl. I just don't like them. Actually, I do like them, but the ones that I like are the super-involved ones that take a lot of time (and are expensive) to make. Which means that even if I bring a sandwich to work, I am still pretty tempted to get a piece of pizza or a sandwich from the deli, or something else to eat.

(Yes, I will gobble up a sandwich from the deli, but my homemade sandwich isn't appealing to me.)

I wish I could be like my husband, who can eat PBJ for days on end. But I have accepted that that isn't going to work for me. What I'm looking for is lunch ideas that aren't sandwiches. I've had some luck taking in pasta salad or tabbouleh (a bulgar salad) or something like that. I am hoping you guys have some ideas along those lines that you'd be willing to share. Something that I can make a big batch of on Sunday afternoon and that's not too expensive.

Thanks in advance Smile

April Goals and Roth IRAs

April 4th, 2009 at 04:05 pm

I have two main goals for April:

(1) Set up an escrow account -- I opened this account yesterday morning and already transfered in the first contribution. (I love adding something to my to do list and then checking it off right away, so CHECK!)

(2) Get our restaurant spending under control. We started using the envelope system for groceries last month, and I was amazed at how much less we spent! But our eating out expenses are out of control! In fact, I am ashamed by the amount of money we have spent on dining the past few months. Last month we both did some traveling, which contributed, but we still spent *way* more than is necessary. So much that I am embarrassed to write down the actual number! Our goal for eating out this month is $200. (I would eventually like to get this lower, but baby steps...) The good news is that (with the exception of a business dinner for me), we have been able to keep to our meal plan this entire week. So we do have more self-control that I originally thought!

I have a lot of other goals I'd like to pursue, but I think I'll be better able to tackle them one at a time, so I will save them for another month.

In other news, my husband and I finished fully funding both of our 2008 Roths this morning, and it feels good to have that taken care of. It was sad to see the balance of our savings account decrease so substantially, but I know the money has moved on to a better place!


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