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Archive for May, 2010

Spendy Weekend

May 29th, 2010 at 03:02 pm

This weekend looks to be spendy. DH's home for the weekend and that means we'll be out doing more. We are going to dinner as a family tomorrow night.

Yesterday, he wanted to see Iron Man 2. Not too bad. The writing was a bit cheesey! We went to the early show while the girls were in school, and did buy popcorn and a drink. I brought my own water from home!We skipped lunch.

We also picked up a headset he can use when he calls us on Skype. Skype will be a lifesaver this deployment. And it's free!! He also needed a new cover for his Ipod.

We did take a free bike ride last night as a family and our plans are not really firmed up for the rest of the weekend. I just know the probability of spending is pretty high!

Update on the house painting: The house should be done today! I'm pretty picky, so I have had them go back and redo some areas. So far it is a great improvement. In the end, I think it will be money well spent.

Once a Month Fill Up

May 27th, 2010 at 03:36 pm

With my husband away, I only filled up the gas tank once in 27 days! I didn't check how many miles that equated to, but it was between 200 and 300.

So it looks like we will be spending about $40-45 on fuel each month for the next year. That is nice!! We are probably saving around $100 each month because he isn't driving to work daily.

Miscellaneous Updates

May 26th, 2010 at 07:07 pm

1) DH will be home this weekend on a 4 day pass. It's likely the last time I'll see him before they fly out. It sounds nice, right? Well, it is an emotional mixed bag. With all the training, I've had too many goodbyes this year already.

2) I was able to reduce my gym membership while DH is away from $73 to $49. They offered to reduce it while he is away. Very nice!

3) I had to start on some prescription medications, which will cost $22 per month. Makes the gym membership savings about a wash. Frown

4) Our painters are finally prepping our house for painting. We had too much rain over the last couple weeks, so things have been delayed. Gives me more time to come up with cash!!

5) My youngest daughter is going to play flute next year in fifth grade. I will rent to own the instrument at about $35 per month. This will begin in September.

6) End of month payday arrives early on Friday! Of course, that just means that money has to last longer.

Another Ebay Challenge Update

May 25th, 2010 at 09:12 pm

My last post was about the ebay challenge, too. However, since that post I have sold an item on ebay and one book on half.com!!

New sales = $5.72

Not big bucks, but the little amounts do add up!

2010 Ebay Challenge Totals
January: $201.89
February: $46.40
March: $55.50
April: $4.74
May: $265.99

Monthly average: $114.90

Unless I make a sale on half.com, I expect that will be the final total for May. I'm only $25.48 away from meeting my minimum for June. I think I can do it!!

Update Ebay Challenge Totals

May 24th, 2010 at 10:30 pm

I added $14.72 this week for a sale made on half.com and a sale made on ebay (that I hope to be paid for soon). The new totals are below:

2010 Ebay Challenge Totals
January: $201.89
February: $46.40
March: $55.50
April: $4.74
May: $260.27

Monthly average: $113.76

I'm still meeting my monthly goal!

Reuse = Repurpose

May 24th, 2010 at 12:16 am

I did some sewing yesterday and today. I primarily made a couple of new things. However, the other one was a used item that I repurposed into something else. I made a tote bag or reusable shopping bag out of a t shirt!

The t shirt was a Life is Good shirt that unfortunately met it's match by my cat's claws. Yep, the one in the picture. She looks so innocent, too. She just doesn't like to be picked up. The claw holes just made it unwearable.

I turned the shirt outside in and stitched up the bottom of the shirt. Turned it right side out again. I cut the sleeves and the collar off. I also trimmed the back of the shirt down to match the front collar. I now have a new tote bag...for free!!

I also used an old gift card as a scrapper earlier today. What kinds of things have you repurposed?

Paid In Full

May 22nd, 2010 at 03:10 pm

The dance and tumbling recital for the girls was last weekend. Today, it was time for preregistration. Yikes!

I paid in full for each of them to take a 30 minute class each week for the next school year. Only set me back $808. They waived the $90 recital fee with full payment. That is a 10% savings. And I don't have to think about money for that activity again for quite some time.

In other money news, I received my second Pinecone survey payment this week and made one small sale on half.com. I will net only $1.70 on the sale, but it is $0.70 more than if I had sold this item at the garage sale! I will add this to my ebay challenge totals at the end of the month.

Today is a mow and sew day here at my house. I'm only sharing because I really plan to do both of these things and they rhyme! Smile

An Allowance Really Helps

May 21st, 2010 at 12:45 pm

In previous posts, I've mentioned that my husband will get a twice monthly allowance of $200. This has really worked out great from my perspective. I think this is primarily because his spending is a known quantity. I also do not need to track each receipt and record each purchase. What a relief!

I mentally set aside $200 on payday. So far he has pulled the money out in cash soon after. I record that transaction when I see it. After that it is our regular bills and any spending I need to do.

Honestly, $200 is likely way more than he needs. He did spend the full amount the first payday, however. I have to ask how he stands this time, next time I talk to him. I know he cut back on cigars and stopped drinking pop. That will help financially a bit.

The really great news...he's coming home on a four day pass next week! I can't wait. Of course, the time will go entirely too fast, but we'll enjoy every minute of it.

Selling Three Books

May 20th, 2010 at 12:52 pm

I mentioned in my last post that I was looking to sell some books for cash. I found three that could be sold. The rest of the online companies were not buying what I had, so they are listed on half.com in hopes someone may want them.

I am selling each book to a different company! They are paying the shipping. I expect to receive a total of $6.29 in my paypal account once they are received and processed. It's not a lot, but it is something towards my ebay challenge goal. I will add it to my totals once the cash is received.

Here's are the companies I used this time:

Powells.com
Bookbyte.com
Cash4Books.net

I have used all but bookbyte in the past with no problems. I will see how bookbyte does.

Do you have books around your house you could sell for cash? I encourage you to grab a stack and see what you might be offered.

Goodwill Donation

May 19th, 2010 at 07:29 pm

I made a Goodwill donation today of three boxes. Yes, primarily leftover garage sale items. I did keep some things for our fall sale. Probably too many things!

I did finish sorting the books and clothes from my sister. I kept a shirt and a pair of pants. I also pulled two books to read. I will attempt to sell them at the next sale.

While sorting books yesterday, I attempted to see if any could be sold on the cash for books websites. There seemed to be two or three that I could sell. I just need to decide if it is worth my time for $3.

Yesterday was a no spend day. Today I purchased a sympathy card and a couple of stamps. Money well spent.

Ebay Listing and More

May 18th, 2010 at 12:45 pm

I put one item on ebay Sunday and it already has two bids. If it sells at its current price, I will be happy, but I expect it will go up a little bit. So...even happier!!

I received a $3 Pinecone Payment in my paypal account. I love how fast that is. There are no fees to receive the cash!!

My sister brought quite a few books to our garage sale. Some sold, but there are plenty left. I'm going to check today if any of them can be sold online for cash. I will also take them to the used book store if needed. She said I could have the money!!

My sister also had quite a few clothes that didn't sell, but are very nice. I'm going to try a few on. Maybe I'll get a new wardrobe! If they don't work for me, I will also consider putting them on ebay for some cash.

I'm Still Working on Goals

May 17th, 2010 at 01:16 pm

I know it may not seem like it from my posts, but I am still working on our emergency fund goal. We are getting our house painted, which wasn't originally a 2010 goal! So, right now, I'm collecting funds for that project before focusing again on the emergency fund.

I would likely have at least $1000 to add, if it were not for the painting. Ah, wouldn't that be nice to add to my sidebar? But, the house painting comes first. If they ever get started! It has been power washed, but it has been raining off and on the last week, so they haven't shown up. Maybe this week!

I think once much of the extra deployment money starts flowing in we will see more progess on our goals!! I'm looking forward to that. Smile

Debt Reduced Again!

May 16th, 2010 at 08:13 pm

Our regular payment on our van loan was processed yesterday. We paid $439.26 towards principal reduction.

New Balance: $17,262.29

Next month we will be under $17,000!! I'm looking forward to that.

Garage Sale Results Are In!!!

May 15th, 2010 at 03:55 am

I'm happy to report that our garage sale was a success. We did really, really well on the first day even though it was cold and rainy. We still had good traffic today as well, however, the sales were not as brisk!

I did this sale with two of my neighbors. They brought in more than I did. Our combined total for the two day sale was $914.80!

My sales, which will be added to by ebay challenge goal, equaled $245.55. I'm thrilled! I was hoping for over $200. I made that goal and then some. Smile

2010 Ebay Challenge Totals
January: $201.89
February: $46.40
March: $55.50
April: $4.74
May: $245.55

My average is now $110.82 per month. I'm exceeding my $100 average per month goal.

Garage Sale Photos

May 13th, 2010 at 11:36 pm

Okay...here are two photos of our garage sale set up. I took them pretty quickly, so they really may not do the sale and all my talk of organizing it justice.

Here they are:





We had lots of traffic. I'm not sure what our totals are yet and we have another day to go! I think we are suppose to have sun all day tomorrow...which should bring out some more people.

Sale is On: Rain or Shine

May 13th, 2010 at 02:38 am

The garage sale begins tomorrow. We are all set. The three of us are almost pros at setting these things up!

It is raining like crazy here today. We will likely have rain in the morning, but it should clear off a couple hours into our sale. Somehow we packed it all into a three car garage. A few things can be pulled out into the rain if needed. Friday we expect a full day of sun!!

The free craigslist ad is up and running. Bring on the buyers!

Under the Weather

May 10th, 2010 at 09:54 pm

I've been busy with out of town guests, school performances and not feeling quite up to par. No spending the last two days!

It's going to be a cool and rainy week here. I think the garage sale is still on! There is plenty to do this week. I'll check in when I can.

Garage Sale Tip #4

May 9th, 2010 at 02:46 pm

I have priced nearly all of our garage sale items! I have about 12 boxes worth of stuff. I have been finding a few more items each day as well.

Garage Sale Tip #4: Keep the change

We start our sales with $60-70 worth of change, in quarters, ones and fives. Five to ten dollars in quarters, and $25-30 in ones and fives.

Many people use a cash box for change, but this is actually a bit dangerous unless someone is able to literally sit by the money the entire time. We use a fanny pack! One of us gals wears it around our waist, so that the cash is with us even if we need to help a buyer with something. It can be so easy to get distracted and walk away from the money opening yourself up to possibility of it being stolen. As the cash accumulates from the sale, we pull the large bills out every so often and put them inside the house.

We also try to keep the bills in order inside the fanny pack, so that it is easier to make change. Ones in front, 20's in back and change on the bottom. It works for us!

Do This During Your Garage Sale...

May 7th, 2010 at 08:07 pm

have your house painted! Yep, the first step in the painting process, power washing, is scheduled for Monday. Our garage sale doesn't begin until Thursday and Friday and it isn't even at my house. Thank goodness for that.

It is forecasted to rain quite a bit next week, so they are likely to get delayed during the process. I guess that means I have more time before I have to pay them!!

Next week is the last week of my girls dance and tumbling classes. They have recital rehearsal next Friday with the actual recitals on Saturday. Smile

How many votes that my next week is a little more stressful than usual?

Garage Sale Tip #3

May 7th, 2010 at 03:15 pm

There is no completely wrong way or right way to have a garage sale, however certain things just lend to a better sale! These tips are just based on my experience and I'm thrilled that you have been adding your suggestions along with me.

Garage Sale Tip #3: Setting the Stage

First a clean garage is very important. Of course, it is not possible in most cases to empty the garage completely. However, most things can be moved to one side, the back or a corner. I like to then cover those things up, so they can't be seen. I don't want to explain 50 times that my lawn mower is not for sale! I have used a tarp hung from nails to cover our things up. You could use duct tape if you didn't want to put nails in the wall or ceiling. If you don't have a tarp, consider a sheet, blanket, shower curtain, table cloth or painting drop cloth as alternatives.

Sweep your garage floor to eliminate much of the debris that tends to accumlate. If a clothing item is dropped on the ground it will get less dirty. Dirty clothing is hard to sell!

Set up tables. Personally, I avoid garage sales that are primarily boxes lining the driveway because I don't want to dig through boxes. I like to browse tables! Borrow tables from neighbors or relatives. You can make a table from a pieces of plywood and sawhorses. Maybe you don't have sawhorses, but can find something else that would prop up a piece of wood nicely. If you want to get fancy, cover the tables with plastic table clothes. We usually skip this, but it does make a sale a bit upscale.

Group like items with like items. It is easier for the buyer to look at things when they are grouped together. It's hard to find clothes for your child, if they are set up with toys and books. Seperate clothing by type, size, and gender. It is okay to use boxes or plastic bins to help group like things together. If they are small enough they can be put on the tables, otherwise it is okay to put them out on the driveway or under a table.

My neigbor's husband made a clothing rack primarily out of 2x4's and a clothing rod. It's a bit unstable, but it works great to hang the adult clothing. We have hung clothes from the garage door rails. This helps buyers see the really nice items you have. I've noticed that putting the items up sells them better, we just keep restocking those hanging items! You could buy a clothing rack, or use a tension rod somewhere in your garage. I think we have even hung clothes from a tall step ladder! Think outside the box and look for places to hang the clothes.


Remember to set up a table for where you will accept payments. We prefer to have ours near the front of the garage where we are in the shade, but can see everything happening during the sale. You'll need a calculator, notebook, pens, tape, sissors, safety pins, additional price stickers, dust clothes and plenty of grocery bags. Put the items you will use the most on the table in a container, the remainder in a box or basket nearby. A small garbage can is very handy, too.

I like to use the slow times to reorganize the merchandise too. Things get moved around while buyers are looking and contemplating their purchase. They often just lay things back down anywhere. I put like items back together and fold clothing.

Don't forget safety! You want wide aisles for people to browse without tripping. If you don't have room in the garage, you will have to move those things to the driveway or yard.

What other tips do you have regarding setting the garage sale stage?

Garage Sale Tip #2

May 6th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

Single Guy commented on my last garage sale tip, regarding sale signs, that one must always take down your signs immediately after the sale! Please remember to do this for the safety of your neighborhood, your home and the beauty of your community.

Garage Sale Tip #2: Price to sell

My neighbors and I each price our own items for the most part. I'm a little more organized and have my pricing done before we begin set up. This year we each have a different colored dot. In past years, when we had white dots, we used a different colored marker to write the price on with!

We price everything to the nearest quarter. We really try not to price items for nickels or dimes. If something isn't worth a quarter, combine it with another item to make it worth a quarter. Otherwise, you should add it to your 'free' box. People love a free box. Last year, one man took the entire free box!

Pricing to sell, also means that you should be willing to accept a lower offer. With this in mind, just price each item and know that someone who is interested in the item will pay your stated price or will ask to buy it for less. Always say yes to a reasonable offer, or at the very least counter their offer.

You will get rid of more stuff if you say 'yes' to a lower offer. One of my neighbors doesn't say yes often to offers. Guess who still has some of those items in her house? Yep, she still items someone was interested in her home because she wouldn't take $5 less! I think she's getting more motivated to move things on this year.

We pull all stickers from our items as we sell them. Each person has a page in a notebook, marked with our name and divided with a paperclip. We stick our corresponding sales stickers to these pages. This makes it very slick to total each person's sale items at the end of the day. Personally, it is one of my favorite parts, counting the money! I'm sure that doesn't surprise you.

What are your pricing tips?

Garage Sale Tip #1

May 5th, 2010 at 08:43 pm

The garage sale I'm holding with my neighbors is next week. I am looking forward to the cash, but really looking forward to getting rid of a pile of stuff! Over the next week I will post my favorite garage sale tips:

Tip #1: Make bright easy to read signs.

I use fluorescent green, yellow or pink posterboard and a broad tipped black marker. I only use one color per sale. I fill the entire board with information. Include address or intersection, days and times. A large arrow on the bottom of the sign is also very helpful. Make sure the letters on your sign are thick and bold. In fact, aim for two inches thick and 4-8 inches tall.

I actually use two pieces of posterboard per sign and tape them together on the top and sides with clear packing tape. I slide it over an old realtor sign or a large piece of cardboard with a stake attached and then tape the bottom of the posterboard together. This makes for a very sturdy sign.

If you think it might rain, you can cover the entire sign in clear packing tape! Put the signs out during the late evening before the sale on nearby intersections. We live off a major street, so we put about 3 signs at major intersections about a mile away each. We also put one right at our main corner and a smaller one in our yard, so people know they found the right place!

Good looking signs are important. If you are not getting compliments on your signs from buyers, you are doing it wrong!

No Spend Day

May 4th, 2010 at 11:58 pm

I didn't spend any money today. Yipee!!

I spent my day at the gym and baking chocolate chip bars. Seems contradictory, huh? The bars are my contribution for the teacher appreciation lunch at school. I did eat a couple extra ones. Frown

I am going to lunch with a friend tomorrow and helping at school, so my spending will be minimal. I think I can make it through Friday without any big expenses.

The water bill arrived and it was less than normal. I think this is a result of last month's being higher. I think it was a billing date change, so it just evens out really.

Spent Money on Myself

May 3rd, 2010 at 10:41 pm

I so rarely do this. Spend money on me. And the money spent today were on needs. But it felt good! $17 worth of good!!

Oh, now you want to know what I spent money on. You'll be a bit disappointed. Remember. Needs.

I bought three pairs of white no show socks, primarily for working out in. I do wear them other times with my sneakers. This means I can throw out a couple pairs that are really worn. Smile

Second, a new tube and shade of lipstick. I don't wear makeup very often, so it takes awhile to go through one tube. I'm hitting the bottom of my current tube and at my age I needed an update in color as well.

A pair of cotton shorts to sleep in. My last pair was very worn. I bought that pair at a garage sale, so there were like a hand me down pair. I tossed those old ones out last month when I came across them. It is now getting warm enough to need something other than pants to sleep in.

It was definitely happy spending, with no guilt!

I Feel Like a Homesteader

May 2nd, 2010 at 02:56 pm

I made my homemade laundry detergent yesterday. I think it looks like it will work great. It seems like soap anyway!!

I also prepped our garden for planting. It was becoming overgrown with weeds and grass. Luckily, my girls were up for digging in the dirt. They dug out the grass and weeds, while I pulled much of the dirt off the roots. It felt good to get my hands dirty! I'm also glad the garden is only 64 square feet because that did take a couple hours. I have yet to decide what to plant. We have really enjoyed beans and peas in the past. They are plentiful, delicious and always available for picking.

I also made cookie dough last night. Butter, sugar, vanilla and flour. We are going to wrap the dough around Hershey's Kisses to make Secret Kisses cookies. The girls recieved a Hershey's cookbook as a gift and this is the only recipe that I had all the ingredients for and probably the easiest!

Only spent money on haircuts for the girls yesterday. If only I were that much of a homesteader!! I've tried cutting their hair before, but I'm never satisfied with the results.

Very Small Addition to Emergency Fund

May 1st, 2010 at 01:10 pm

I'm only adding the small amount of interest earned in the month of April to our emergency fund goal. The amount $11.52. New total $1,419.52.

Since April was spendy due to our many before deployment projects and the purchasing of an airline ticket, I was able to save $293 from yesterday's paycheck. Oh and it was a smaller paycheck by about $225. I'm going to save that money for the house painting.

Happy May Day!!