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Archive for November, 2008

Decked the Halls...Cheap!

November 30th, 2008 at 07:25 am

Yesterday, we decorated our home for Christmas. Of course, we don't buy new decorations every year!! Some years we need more lights or more garland depending on where we are living at the time.

This years total for decor: $3!

I buy new red bows to hang from the outdoor light fixtures. Only needed three and they were $1 each.

After the holidays, I will try to pick up a few of those on clearance so I don't need to buy at full price. Clearanced lights aren't a bad idea either since there always seems to be a string that goes bad!

We were also blessed with snow while decorating!! Just perfect...and free, too.

Debt Free Christmas

November 29th, 2008 at 10:31 am

We made it to our goal, with one day to spare!!

Old Balance = $733.01
Nov Interest $26.39
Pinecone $3.00
New Balance = $762.40

The goal was $750, so we exceeded that by $12.37! Any excess after completing our shopping is going to the home equity loan.

I have 8 items up on ebay, with four that have bids. The other 4 look like they may sell as well. This money would have gone to my holiday challenge fund, but now it will be set aside to make a payment to the home equity loan in December.

It's going to be a debt free Christmas!! I'm thrilled! How about you?

Time to Relax

November 25th, 2008 at 06:35 pm

Today, I had lunch with a friend. Then did a little shopping. I came home and felt the need to unwind before the kids started arriving home.

I made myself a cup of hot cider and sat at my kitchen table in the sunlight. I had relaxing music on...what a blessing to be able to have had that experience today. For that I am thankful!!

I hope each of you have a Happy Thanksgiving and find some time to relax as well.
My husband paid for a business expense out of his own pocket because it was the right thing to do at the time. Cost $16.50.

Today, his superior reimbursed him for the expense. We were not expecting to be compensated, so it was a nice surprise.

Guess where this money is going? Our Holiday Fund!! I'm so close, with only $16.59 to go.

Old Balance $716.51
Reimbursement $16.50
New Balance $733.01

Paypal Dispute

November 25th, 2008 at 07:19 am

I had my first paypal dispute. Buyer felt I misrepresented the item. I did make a mistake, but it was unintentional. In my opinion, it was minor...but apparently not to the buyer. Buyer was asking for a $27 refund. That was half the cost of the item!

I decided to counter offer. I asked for the item back at my expense and I would refund all but original shipping charges. I figured I could relist item without the error and still get a bid better than his offer.

In the end, because we communicated we decided to leave the transaction as is. Buyer does believe that I made the error unintentionally. I sure wasn't out to defraud anyone. It did and does pay to communicate!!

I turned on our gas fireplace on Saturday night! This is not exactly a utility savings measure. I had turned the pilot light off back in late April or early May...I think I probably saved some gas by doing that. Does anyone know if our home heating cost are going down like auto fuel is?

Same Old Investments

November 24th, 2008 at 06:53 am

With the economy tanking, we haven't changed one thing with our investments. That's what you are suppose to do, right? Buy low, sell high.

We have continued to send in our daughter's education contributions as well as our Roth contributions. Same amounts, same time of the month. We even are investing in the same mutual funds we have always been in.

Those low prices allow us to buy more shares in those mutual funds than we could before. In time, when the economy recovers, those same shares will be worth much more. I'm looking forward to those days, too! And they are coming...just don't ask me to predict when!!

Let the Sales Begin!!!

November 23rd, 2008 at 01:01 pm

I have 8 items ready to start on ebay this evening. Two are new with tags! Most of the items are children's holiday dress wear...perfect timing, huh?

If I sell all items I will gross a minimum of $36.60. I'm starting most of them pretty low, hoping for some hot bidding wars! I'll let you know how I do in a little over a week.

I expect this to be some of my last sales for 2008. Did you know I have grossed over $1000 on ebay this year? I only sold things we have around the house and no longer need. Just think what you could do with a grand! If you didn't alreay have one, you could have a baby emergency funded by this time next year...or sooner if you have lots of stuff!! Start that pile, today!

Spent Money on Needs...and a Want

November 22nd, 2008 at 03:47 pm

We spent our Saturday shopping and driving in the snow...it covered the lawns, but the sidewalks and streets are just wet...isn't that the perfect kind of snow?

We bought dress shoes and snow boots for our youngest daughter at Target. Spent $45. These were needs.

The pets are about to go hungry, so we bought cat and rodent food at Petsmart, and spent $43.00. The cat food should last 3 months and rodent food could last at least 6 months. I went to Petco originally because I had a 10% off coupon, but their regular prices were significantly higher than Petsmart...the coupon didn't even help make it even!

We also bought body butter at Bath & Body Works. DH has pretty dry skin and discovered last year that this stuff works really well for him. It lasts awhile, too. After the coupon I had we paid $22.26. Two stocking stuffers were included, too.

The want...an extra dish of ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery. We never go there, but I had a coupon for a free dish for my birthday. One was free, paid $4.50 for the other. It was very good!!

Total spending for the day...$114.76. We still have $174 in the checking account until December 1st. We will need to use some money for wine, gas, and to chip in a little cash toward the dinner on my in laws side of the family. Looks like we'll be good!

Almost There....

November 21st, 2008 at 08:19 pm

I am so close to meeting our holiday cash account goal of $750. I'm less than $34 away.

I added a $3 Pinecone check today. I also decided that the Land's End gift card I received in the amount of $119.25 would also go to this fund. If you want to know about that...see the previous post.

Old Balance $594.26
Pinecone $3.00
Land's End $119.25
New Balance $716.51

Only 9 more days to accumulate more! I expect to make up the difference with ebay sales and interest on our money market account.

Side note: I've been amused at myself with this challenge. I think it is interesting that I decided to save this way for Christmas, rather than using this technique for paying down our HEL. Of course, after the holidays I won't have any other choice but to do so!!

I Feel Guilty

November 21st, 2008 at 07:00 am

The background is this: About four years ago I bought a slipcover on clearance from the former Land's End Home for a 1980's couch I inherited from my parents. I paid about $60 with shipping.

The problem: It never really fit right, but it worked okay in our basement. We moved two years ago and the couch moved to our front living room. I decided the slipcover made the couch look worse, because it did not fit right...it just looked down right sloppy.

Initial solution: I decided to sell the slipcover. I tried ebay, craigslist, and two garage sales. Keep in mind this is a high quality slipcover, made of durable fabric and was free of rips and stains. It was a moss green color, so still fashionable. I couldn't sell it!!

The guilty solution: Instead of donating the slipcover, I decided to take advantage of Land's End Lifetime Return policy. They will take any item back for any reason at any time. I inquired about this in July. I just had to mail the package. I was so in conflict with this I waited until two weeks ago to mail it back. I finally did...hoping to get a few dollars for it to apply to my holiday fund. It cost me about $11 to send.

The result: Two days ago, I received a Land's End gift card in the amount of $119.25. Wow!! I didn't expected to be compensated for the full retail value. I didn't even send in my receipt...I didn't even have it. I thought maybe I'd get $20-$30.

Now, I feel guilty! I sure could use this for holiday shopping, but should I?

More to My Holiday Cash Account

November 20th, 2008 at 02:45 pm

Yesterday, I wrote that my holiday cash account had a balance of $549.11. It is now at $594.26!!!

I made a sale on ebay and netted $45.15.

I am now only $155.74 away from my $750 goal....I'm so excited!

Principal Payments

November 20th, 2008 at 04:57 am

The principal payments on our home equity loan are small...since we are still near the beginning of the loan.

The regular payment is $118.01. Only $28.55 went to paying down the principal in November. The new balance after the regular payment is $14,778.43!!

My goal is to get the balance just under $14,000 by the end of the year. I only need $750 to meet this goal, since I expect December's principal payment to be a little more than November's. Why does that number seem familiar....

Oh, yeah, our holiday account goal is $750!! Still working on that one. The focus will remain there until Christmas shopping is complete.

Two goals to meet in such a short time...wish me luck!!

Update: Holiday Cash Account

November 19th, 2008 at 04:06 pm

Several posts back, I explained that I have been trying to accumulate the cash for the holidays outside our regular budget. Most of the cash has come from ebay sales. The goal is $750.

Currently, I have accumulated $549.11! I am short only $200. I will continue to put items up on ebay until at least December 1st. I also will add the interest that is earned in our savings acccounts at the end of the month.

I only started this challenge for myself back in late September after I made $60 at our garage sale. I decided to stash the cash away for the holidays. I honestly never thought I would get so much cash outside our regular budget...but I did.

If I can do it, so can you! If not this year, maybe next year. If not for the holidays, then maybe some other goal.

Just a note: I have actually started shopping in small amounts, so the amount I have on hand is less than the amount above...but I'm keeping track of everything so I know whether I meet my goal or not.

I also have a small goal not to spend the whole $750...the extra can go to our home equity loan!


November 18th, 2008 at 04:15 pm

My oldest daughter lost her glasses after swimming class on Friday. They looked everywhere at school, but they could not be found. I brought her a spare pair and she has been wearing them since.

She has asked the secretary the last two days if they have been turned in...they have not. She can't see the board very well at school, so after school we went to JC Penney's optical to order a new pair.

The lost pair was only $49 back in August. This same pair was $79 today. Obviously, the sale was not as good. We also tacked on an additional $10 to get them by Friday of this week. Of course, it was not money I wanted to spend, but was necessary.

If the glasses are found...we will have a duplicate spare pair. The two older ones we have could then be donated. I'll let you know if we ever find them.

Money spent today: $89.00
We ate dinner at home. We had french toast and juice, but it was so tempting to pick something up since we were out running the glasses errand around dinner. I did good!!

My Sales Results Are In....

November 18th, 2008 at 04:57 am

I listed 10 items for sale on ebay a week ago Sunday. I sold 6 items! I'm a little disappointed that the others didn't sell...several people were even watching them. Sign of the economy?

The gross total was $50.02! I have yet to figure the net, as I am still waiting on payment for one item.

All of this money will help fund the holidays. Tomorrow I will update my holiday fund for everyone. I mentioned in an earlier post that I am attempting to find $750 for holidays outside our regular budget. So far most of the money is a result of ebay sales. It's been a fun challenge.

I will be putting more items up on ebay this week, or by Sunday, at the latest. I think only one of the items that didn't sell will be relisted. The new items I have are a girls coat and a girls holiday dress. Every bit helps!!

It's My Birthday!!

November 17th, 2008 at 02:14 pm

I spent most of my birthday with two friends at Panera Bread. We spent the whole morning there, eating breakfast and lunch! We really have a hard time stopping the conversation when the three of us are together. It was great.

I received $100 from my parents, a candle from a friend, and lotions and soaps from my sister. I will spend some of the money on a few things for myself. This may be too much information, but I could use a new bra!!

I bought this item on Saturday at the antique store. It just makes me happy.

Tomorrow, I will update you on my ebay sales...stay tuned!

I Bought A Christmas Gift

November 16th, 2008 at 10:21 am

Yesterday, I took my parents, sis and kids to a very cute antique store here in town. My daughter's just love the store. My DD1 has an apron on her Christmas list. We decided while at the store that she could pick one out for her gift...but that she doesn't get it until Christmas. It was marked at $12, but with their "Pop a Balloon" Sale, I got it for $9! My ballon had a 25% off slip of paper.

Here's what she picked:

The family was in town to celebrate my birthday which is tomorrow. We visited the botanical garden...free admission for all of us with our membership. Lunch at botanical garden, paid by my parents. They also treated us to bowling! Unfortunately, my score was the lowest ever. I had a 28!! My daughters had higher scores because they had the bumbers up! LOL! I did better the second game with a 78! Can you tell I'm not a professional? I was just having an off day.

DH is still out of town for another 5 days. This is not the first time he's been away on my day, but I'm a big girl and can handle it. Tomorrow I'll share what I purchased for myself!

I treated them all to Apricot Chicken in the crockpot from this website. We also had mashed potatoes, salad and apple pie from the local orchard (2 blocks away). Yummy!!

It was a nice day celebrating with family.
I have ebay auctions ending today. I will sell at least 4 of the 10 items I have listed. There seem to be quite a few people watching...so I'm hopeful for some good returns. I'll update in a day or two.

I Did It!

November 14th, 2008 at 05:48 am

We made it to payday without using all the cash left in our checking account. We have just under $40 left. I'm thrilled.

I must say I think we made it because DH was out of town. I would have made different (ie. more expensive) meals. He would have probably needed gas for his car.

I'm also left with $14 in cash. I have put $10 aside for the Christmas fund. I will hold onto the $4 for daughters lunch next week.

I guess it doesn't really matter why it happened, just that it did and I'm excited about it! Here's to the rest of the month being just as successful!

FYI...there's a $5 coupon off a $20 purchase at Walgreen's for this Friday & Saturday. You can get it here.

How Low Will it Go?

November 13th, 2008 at 10:09 am

Three days ago, I noticed gas prices had risen by 12 cents. But today, on the way to the gym, I noticed that prices had dropped back down 10 cents.

Our local news also stated that gas could go as low as $1.50/gallon. We are at $1.79 right now.

Could it go below a $1?

My Challenge this Week: Look How I'm Doing!!

November 12th, 2008 at 02:18 pm

At the beginning of the week, I had $60.10 in our checking account to last until payday on Friday. We are doing great. There has been some spending...here let me tell you about it.

I already mentioned in a previous post that I bought DD a coat for $20.94. Checking balance now equals $39.16 and remains there. But, I've spent more.

I had $6.00 in my wallet. I used $1.50 to buy a cookie mix for girl scout snacks on Monday. Yesterday, I spent $4.12 at the grocery store for cilantro, 2 cans black beans and feta cheese. My parents were in town and I didn't think two cans of soup were going to cut it for dinner. Remaining cash $0.38.

Today, I turned in cans for my deposit refund and received $3.15. Cash now in my wallet: $3.53. I then bought hot chocolate packets on sale for the kids with a coupon. I spent $1.58 (20 packets). Cash remaining $1.95.

Oh, actually I have more cash in my wallet because my parents reimbursed my for a book I purchased for my sister on their behalf. Add in another $13.23. Cash now in my wallet: $15.18!

I went on a Walgreen's shopping spree today, too. I had a gift card with a $28.60 balance. I left with a balance of $10.90. I spent $17.70 on the items below after sales, coupons and tax. Can you tell I'm thinking ahead to the holidays?

I'm thrilled to be doing so well. It does help that DH is out of town, but I feel like I've done well to stay within some limits this week. I do have motivation...that extra checking account money will be going to my Christmas Fund. I guess the cash that remains will, too!

My Payment Dropped!

November 11th, 2008 at 06:30 am

We received notice yesterday that our mortgage payment will drop by over $22 per month beginning in January. The escrow payment rose by less than a dollar. Because it is a fixed mortgage, our P&I payment are also the same. So, what gives?

It appears that that the reserve requirement has dropped. That's nice...I really don't want them holding on to more money than necessary.

I expect that the extra money will now be applied to our home equity loan. That's an extra $271.44 per year ($22.62 x 12)!!

Give, Buy & a No Thank You

November 10th, 2008 at 01:45 pm

I took a large box of items to the Goodwill today. I feel lighter already! One item I gave away was a doll I've had since I was 2 or 3. I stored her in a box with no plans for her. I did try to sell her on ebay...but no buyers. Many of the other things I took were also ebay and garage sale rejects.

I bought my daughter a winter coat on sale for $20.94...including tax. She has two coats that she has outgrown. Those will be up on ebay soon! I may make enough to cover the cost of the coat!

On my last errand today, I took two 10K gold rings to a jewelry store to see how much I could sell the gold for. I was offered $25. For now, I decided that I would decline. I was hoping for a little more. One was my high school class ring...which I will never wear again. I don't even know why I bought it. I may still sell since $25 seems like a better deal than holding on two rings in a drawer!

Grocery Shopping

November 9th, 2008 at 01:29 pm

DH is out of town this week. This means I tend to make simple meals for the girls and I. I went looking in the cupboards to come up with some meals for the week. This is what we are having for dinner:

Sunday - BBQ Chicken & Broccoli
Monday - Cheese Pizza, carrots & apples
Tuesday - canned soup, cresent rolls
Wednesday- Spaghetti & Frozen veggies
Thursday - Microwaveable meals
Friday - Bean tacos
Saturday - Eggs or Pancakes, applesauce

Obviously, I splurged on the microwaveable meals. I spent $5.37 on these alone. The total grocery bill was $44.99. I did have quite a few things on hand, particularly for the dinners. The rest was two boxes of cereal for breakfast, and items to fill the girls lunches for the week. Of course, there are some snacks in there.

Last night, I bought DD an outfit and shoes. Total at Kohl's was $69.74. I'm not thrilled with that price at all. She is happy and the shoes should last her quite awhile. She also found some items that no longer fit...so I will get those up on ebay soon, to help offset the cost.

I still have $60.10 until Friday's payday. I hope to have most of that left to put towards the Christmas fund.

$200 Left

November 8th, 2008 at 07:43 am

Payday will be this coming Friday. We have $200 left in our checking account that is within our budget.

Things we need to buy:
Dress shoes for DD1 (band concert Tues)
Pants for DD1 (if we can find a deal)
Groceries for 5 days

I think we will be okay. It will get a little tight at the end. DH will be out of town next week, so the grocery budget can be a little slimmer!! I'd love to end the week with some left over so that I can add it to my Christmas cash.

How I Have Saved Cash for the Holidays

November 6th, 2008 at 08:32 am

I did a quick budget to see how much cash I would need for the holidays...about $750!! I have been saving since September and have accumulated about $450 so far. Here's where the money has come from:

1) Garage sale proceeds $60

2) Craigslist proceeds $10

3) Ebay sales $237

4) Debit card rewards $50

5) Target gift card $10

6) Survey points redeemed $30

7) Money market interest $35

8) Misc cash $18
I pulled a few dollars here and there from my purse and DH's wallet. Smile

Now I still need another $300. I am trying to find this money outside our regular budget when possible. Last night I found several more high quality items to sell on ebay. Those will be up and running on Sunday.

If I can't accumulate it outside our regular budget...I will dip in, but I'm sure not ready to dip in yet!! I'm also going to be looking for bargains...maybe I won't need to spend $750. That would make me very happy!!

2008 Goals Reviewed

November 5th, 2008 at 09:31 am

These are the goals we set for 2008:

1)Save 15% of gross salary - retirement
2)Save $2000 for each child - college
3)Save down payment & purchase newer van
4)Begin to payoff home equity loan

The college and retirement investments are on track to be completed as planned. Automatic payments on the retirement plan sure help there!

We did save money for our Honda Odyssey purchase back in May. We are paying nearly $500 a month for a loan that has a 3.9% interest rate. I am pleased that over $400 goes to principal every month.

We have made extra payments on the home equity loan this year in the amount of $709.12. This is far less than I thought we would send in, but the year is not over.

We did have a car repair in this last month that took away some extra cash I was hoping to send in...but I'm sure I might be able to come up with more cash by the end of the year.

I'd be happy with at least another $300, but love to find another $800+ so I could get the loan under the $14K mark. Wish us luck!!

A 12 Vote Win

November 4th, 2008 at 01:44 pm

Just felt like sharing this little tidbit.

My oldest daughter's school voted for President today in a mock election. My daughter was a poll worker for one half hour, too.

The result...Obama beat McCain by 12 votes. Talk about close!!

Good Deals Before & On Election Day

November 3rd, 2008 at 06:54 pm

Today I realized I had a $10 coupon for Famous Footwear that was expiring. It was good for any purchase amount. I didn't have time to get to the store, so I looked for socks online at their website. I have needed some new workout socks, so this worked out perfect. I scored 8 pairs of socks for $2.10...shipping was free!!

The other good deal can be had by all of us who vote tomorrow. Check out this link for information on free donuts, coffee and more. I guess early voters miss out on this one...sorry!

Happy Voting!! Really, I hope everything goes smoothly for all of you at the polls.

Does anyone want to buy...

November 2nd, 2008 at 10:44 am

cookies and wrapping paper? Just kidding!!

My youngest daughter came home from school with two fundraisers on Friday. Sally Foster wrapping paper and gifts, as well as, Otis Spunkmeyer cookie dough. The school has already done one...I bought an Entertainment book for $20. This time I just can't decide if I should really put any more money out there.

This year the fundraisers are even more important, because school districts in our state can no longer ask parents to pay a fee for field trips. So, if I want my child and other children to still be able to participate I need to support the fund raising.

The school does allow one to donate any amount directly to the school without participating in the fund raisers. I like the idea, but seem to fall for the gimmicks!! Last year, I even had the idea of donating a set amount and then treating my child to an item or two at the dollar store..or even give them the cash as a way to compensate them for the trinket they get if they make a sale or two. So, far I haven't used that idea.

I think I will skip the wrapping paper, since I'm looking forward to a great deal at Walgreen's in a couple of weeks with my gift card. I will probably buy at least one container of cookie dough for $15 , maybe two. These could come in handy for gifts or just a holiday gathering...not the cheapest route to go, but it does help the school!

Even as I finish writing this I still feel torn about which way to go...maybe it is because I like the cookies so well. Help?!!