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Archive for May, 2009

Stamps

May 27th, 2009 at 03:33 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 26th, 2009 at 08:21 pm

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 26th, 2009 at 07:23 pm

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 25th, 2009 at 05:37 pm

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 20th, 2009 at 07:15 pm

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 19th, 2009 at 06:23 pm

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 01:07 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 17th, 2009 at 07:19 pm

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 12th, 2009 at 07:14 pm

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 11th, 2009 at 05:21 pm

...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 04:51 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 06:46 am

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 05:50 am

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 12:45 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 7th, 2009 at 06:43 pm

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 6th, 2009 at 06:46 pm

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 03:56 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 4th, 2009 at 06:55 pm

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 05:26 am

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 07:15 am

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 04:27 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