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Archive for June, 2008

Looking towards Christmas

June 30th, 2008 at 05:35 pm

Thinking ahead. I currently have $377.84 in my Christmas savings.

I will be putting $15.00/mo from July to December into the fund. ($90.00 total)

Right now, I have 4,611 points in a MyPoints account. Once I get the total to 4900, I will use my balance to get $25.00 and $10.00 gift cards to stores that I shop at each Christmas.

Also, I'm utilizing my Amazon.com rewards cc. I'll be putting my gas, grocery, and cable budget on the card, pay it off immediately. With my current rewards balance and those charges, I will have enough rewards points to get a $25.00 gift certificate to Amazon by the end of August.

So, the plan is that I'll be working with $527.84. I plan on making up a gift list soon and will be looking for good bargains.

July Budget

June 29th, 2008 at 03:36 pm

I've set up my budget for July. My pay just was deposited, but since I don't have any spending needs, I'm going to try to wait until July 1st before using up the budget.

After monthly bills that I pay in the first half of the month, I have:

Gas: 60.00
Groceries: 50.00
Enteratinment: 39.75

Any extra goes to my student loan. I plan on coming under budget in all 3 of the above catagories.

Looking at Electric usage and another vet visit

June 27th, 2008 at 05:47 pm

So its been a full week since the little kitten got declawed. And last night, as I was preparing stuff for my trip to the beach, I noticed little bloody pawprints on the hallway carpet. It looks like he pulled one of his stitches and had been too active, which reopened a wound.

Poor little guy was apparently in no pain though. He was still running and jumping around and I was able to clean his paw with no problem. Thank goodness, I would have felt terrible if he was hurting.

Anyway, the beach trip is now postponed until tomorrow and I headed to the vet this morning. Luckily, there is no infection and I just have to keep the kitten confined for a few more days. The best part- the vet didn't charge me for the visit. Thank goodness, I really couldn't afford another vet bill right now.



In other news, I just received my electric/gas bill. Both are supplied by the same company, which is how my state does things. Anyway, the new bill is 69.87, down from 71.84 from last month.

And because I'm a big nerd, I looked up the past electric/gas bills to analyze them. Since I bought the house in October of 2006, I've paid a total of $1,730.72 for electric and gas. Which averages out to $108.17 per month.

I'm doing my own version of budget billing. I've budgeted $119.00 monthly for electric/gas. When my bill is less, I'm socking it away in an ING account and when the winter months hit, I have a surplus to use for those higher bills. I'm thinking about increasing it a bit since its likely that prices for electric/gas will continue to rise.

I am also working on conserving more energy. If I do get that roommate, the usage will go up, but I've already allocated a portion of the rent to cover potential increased utilities, which are electric/gas, water and sewer (which is based on water usage).

One more thing that I did is compare bills for the same month in the prvevious year. For example, this month was $0.82 more than this month last year. And the prior 4 months (Feb-May) were under what they were in 2007. The heavy winter months this year were higher than last years though. And keep in mind, I'm just comparing the bills, not the usage.

Purging Paperwork & Clothing Donations

June 26th, 2008 at 02:45 pm

Today, I shredded 5 large bags of paperwork. It's been piling up for a VERY long time and I shredded a ton of stuff, freeing a lot of space in the wardrobe that was housing the paperwork. I worked my shredder so hard that it overheated 4 times! I think I might need to upgrade the shredder soon. Junk mail is coming in more & more these days.

Also, I got together more clothes for Goodwill. 3 full bags, plus a bunch of dvds, in adittion to the 3 bags of clothes I've previously donated. Losing almost 40 pounds freed up a LOT of clothes to donate Smile





To prepare the documentation for tax purposes, I made up an itemized spreadsheet of both batches of clothes with descriptions of the items and their values for a total donation of $476.00.

I researched valuation charts from Goodwill and the Salvation Army to make a good determination of the value of the donation. I stayed towards the lower range of values in an effort to stay fair with the amount I'll be deducting in my taxes. All of the clothing was in Very Good to Excellent condition. Several of the dvds were never opened (they were gifts).

The local Goodwill by my work has a large dvd and video selection, so I know they'll go to good use.

I am probably going to have more clothes to get rid of in the next few months, but I'd rather do things in smaller batches than load up a dozen bags at once at the end of the year. Plus, all the extra room in my closet is nice!

Found 3 cents & gas at under $4.00

June 25th, 2008 at 07:47 pm

I found 3 cents today. Two pennies were heads up, one was heads down. So I guess my luck is still good at 2 to 1 Smile

I filled up my gas two days ago and I was so excited to find gas at $3.99 at a local gas station. Down from $4.04. I'll take it while I can get it Smile I still have a 1/2 tank left after running to Philly & back plus all my errands today. I'll probably fill back up tomorrow since I'll be driving 2 hours to the beach and back and I certainly don't want to fill up down here. Prices are MUCH higher at the beach.

Update on the roommate interview

June 25th, 2008 at 01:32 pm

So the guy came to see the room today. I promised my dad I'd call him it as soon as it was over, which I did. But the interview went very well.

He's pretty nice. A few years younger than me, in the year between undergrad and graduate school. He's working at a restaurant in the local hospital and saving money towards grad school. (I liked that!)

We discussed the rent ($450.00) and the need for 1 month's deposit. I showed him the house, introduced him to the cats, which he responded well to. He said he was impressed with the amount of space and cleanliness of the house. And he even asked why I had priced the room so low.

Before putting the ad on Craigslist, I had reviewed 'the competition' and determined the rent of $450.00 was appropriate. I actually was hoping to attract roommates who were near my age, maybe just a few years out of college. And I knew there were a LOT of housing options out there right now. So I priced what I felt was the amount where I would come out ahead enough of the increased utilities to make renting the room out worth while.

I asked about references (yes), drugs (no), smoking (no), parties (no). We talked about overnight guests (no/rarely).

He's looking for a one year lease, which is where I was comfortable. We'll have 30day out clauses just in case.

He liked the room and was fine with sharing a bathroom. He'll have full access of the living areas, kitchen, basement & washer/dryer. He only has bedroom furniture, although I had plenty of storage room in the basement if he had needed it.

We talked for a little under an hour after the tour, getting to know each other. We talked about where we work, what he'll be doing in grad school, pets, and movies. We seemed to get along. Of course, you can never really know someone until you live with them.

All in all, I let him know to think about it, email or call with questions and let me know. I'm not in a huge rush and I want to think things over for a few days, talk it out with my family.

We'll see how it goes. I have a feeling he'll be calling back and saying he'll take it. He won't need the room until August 1st, which gives me plenty of time to put up rods and shelves in the spare room and install the new pantry door.

I have someone coming to look at renting a room

June 23rd, 2008 at 03:52 pm

Last week, I put another Craigslist ad up for a room for rent. Got a couple of responses. Couple of scams responded. But one guy seems ok. So we did the email thing and he asked me to call to set up a time to meet & see the house.

Calling him felt like calling a boy for the first time. I was all nervous. Well, he's coming to see the place on Wednesday.

Its a little nerve-wracking to let a stranger into my house. But, I really could use the money. So hopefully, it works out.

I did some cleaning today and I'll sort out some stuff from the pantry and linen closet to make room for his stuff.

I'm requiring a deposit and am going to write up a contract. Which is something that he suggested (I was already going to do it). I am going to do research online about agreements for renting a room in your home. But if anyone has suggestions, please feel free to give me advice. I really need it!

Turned the air back on and getting stuff done

June 21st, 2008 at 11:00 am

Today I turned the AC back on. I'm trying to keep it up during the day and use the house fan, turning it down a bit more when I go upstairs to bed.

This weekend, I'm working to get some stuff down around the house. I have a ton of boxes of items that I had bought/or was gifted when I moved into the house. I don't know why I was keeping them, but I'm broke down the boxes and drop them off at a recycling box. Wow, that cleared up a LOT of space.

I have several other goals for stuff to get down around the house this weekend.

In between all this stuff, I'll be snuggling with the kitten, watching movies borrowed from the library and cooking up a storm.

- Clean kitchen, wash kitchen floor
- organize cabinets, purging some inherited, but ugly glassware to give to Good Will
- clean, dust & vac living room.
- organize basement, sweep basement stairs
- clean litter boxes
- clean spare room, remove all stuff from closets, and put desk up sale on craigslist
- clean my bedroom
- clear weeds from rock beds in front of house
-trim bush in front of house
-trim area around deck in back of house
-take back borrowed chairs to mom & dads
-put up items for sale on craigslist: chair pads never used, TI-83 calculator, scientific calculator, and movies
- talk to mom about putting up extra furniture that I inheritied from my aunt up for sale. Its not quite my style and its just sitting in the basement.

Whew! I need a break and I'm getting one

June 20th, 2008 at 03:20 pm

Things were crazy at work today. As an exempt employee, I worked a 43 hour work week, but got paid for 40... Boo! I needed to get some things done before going on vacation and I'm glad I did, because now I can just let it all go. Under that day I go back to work and have 300 emails to deal with.

After work, I picked up the kitten from the vet. The vet's office staff said that he was acting like he had no pain at all! They said he'd been showing off all day, running around and chasing his tail. They said they all took time to snuggle with him because he's such a lovey little kitty.

I packed lunch for work, but did spend $4.49 for special newspaper litter. And I stopped at a different veggie stand and spent $18.10 for a TON of fruits & veggies.

I thought it was interesting that the produce stand guy thanked me for using cash. He said they get charged 99 cents for every time a customer uses a card. I'll have to remember to take cash next time.

I also went online and bought a season pass, plus one guest to Philadelphia Zoo. Its about $4.00 more expensive than buying a ticket for me, one for nephew, plus parking. And it'll motivate me to take him at least one more time in the next year.

Tonight, I'm vegging. I still have my headache and I want to rest up. But tomorrow, I'm going to clean and organize and make lists, all of which I'm looking forward to. I'm also heading to Lowes to look for a new pantry door. I can't wait to get one Smile

1 more day of work before vacation!

June 19th, 2008 at 05:57 pm

Today was a no spender. I packed lunch and ate dinner at home. I'm prepacking food for tomorrow. I'm fighting a migrane right now though. It started at work and just isn't going away with meds.

If it doesn't feel better, I may end up splurging on some food on the way home from work tomorrow. I am SO not up to cooking when I have a full-blown migrane.

Tomorrow starts my week long vacation. Given my vet bills, I plan on making this a VERY frugal vacation. I'm not going away for the week, but am planning on taking day trips.

I plan on vegging over the weekend, hanging out with family and friends.

I may head to the beach on Monday, which is about 2 hours away. I'm going to pack lunch & drinks, but splurge on some beach fries. My other expenses will be tolls, parking and gas.

Tuesday, I will be going to the Philadelphia Zoo with my nephew. I plan on bringing lunch & drinks, so my out of pocket will be gas, tickets & parking, which is close to $50.00.

Wednesday, I'm going to chill again. Maybe see a movie with my parents. I also might make it to happy hour with some people from work.

Thursday and Friday are up in the air, as is next weekend.

I want to hit two different state parks or walking/hiking. $3.00 entrance fee each. I'll pack water & a snack.

I also have a list of things I want to do around the house, as well as getting my hair cut, car oil changed and making dinner for my parents one night.

I've also stocked up on movies and books from the library. Several cookbooks caught my eye and I plan on trying out some recipes.

Expensive Vet Bills

June 18th, 2008 at 06:09 pm

The new kitten has cost me about $600.00 between shots, neutering, declawing and one sick visit. UGH. The kitten was not planned, but I do love him. So I'm going to work hard to cashflow the bills.

In the meantime, I packed food for work, but we had an unplanned food day & I contributed $3.00 for pizza. It was SO worth it. The pizza was great Smile

I dropped the kitten at the vet after work and headed to my parents house for a birthday dinner for my sister and dad. I had already given my Dad his gift (shared with Father's Day).

For my sister's birthday, I had previously bought a ticket to an event for her, but I didn't want to go over empty handed. So I gave her a small jewelry box that I had gotten from the dollar store and I regifted a vanilla candle. So no money out there.

Tomorrow, I'm planning on packing food for work and am hoping to get a no spender. We'll see Smile

Meal Plan (Tuesday through Sunday)

June 16th, 2008 at 06:02 pm

Breakfasts and Morning Snack:
T: Cheerios & milk, 1c fruit cocktal, 1c strawberries
W: Cheerios & milk, yogurt, strawberries
Th: Cheerios & milk, 1c fruit cocktail, 1c strawberries
F: Cheerios & milk, yogurt
S: Waffles, yogurt
S: Cheerios & milk

Lunches:
T: Cheese sandwich; salad w/ turkey
W: Meatloaf muffin, salad w/ turkey
Th: PB&J, salad w/ croutons
F: Turkey salad in wheat pita; cucumber salad
S: Sloppy joe over pasta; cucumber salad
S: Morningstar crumbles taco salad

Dinners:
T: Tuna sandwich
W: Buffalo chicken tenders, baked potato
Th: Tuna sandwich
F: Grilled chicken, green beans
S: London broil; baked potato, salad
S: Penne with morningstar chicken, salad

Taking Kitchen Inventory - Long

June 15th, 2008 at 04:55 pm

I decided to take inventory of the food I have in my fridge, pantry and freezer in order to meal plan and use up some of the things I'd forgotten about.

I also had gone shopping today and got some good deals on olive oil (51oz for $8.99) and Cheerios. You'll also see that recently I've gotten some dirt-cheap deals on whole wheat pasta & chicken, so I've got lots Smile

The breads and most of the meats are frozen to be used as individual servings since I'm usally cooking for only one.

So here is it, in no particular order.

2 - 51oz olive oil
Popcorn kernals
Blueberry muffin mix
peanut butter
sugar free jam
angel food cake
fat free croutons
bread crumbs
2 boxes Barilla Plus Penne
4 granola bars
SF FF syrup
4 boxes whole wheat spaghetti
5 boxes whole wheat penne
1 1/2 bag no yolk egg noodles
1 1/2 boxes generic cheerios
4 14oz boxes real Cheerios
3/4 bag baked tortillas
1 box whole wheat rotini
1/3 box regular elbow noodles
1/4 box whole wheat elbow noodles
3 packs of shake-n-bake
1 box brown rice
1 package tuna (for salads)
4 jars pasta sauce
4 cans tomato sauce
2 cans tomato paste
1 can diced tomatos
12 ff chocolate pudding
5 servings of Crystal Light mix (assorted)
8 cans of tuna in water
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
4 cans green beans
1 can peas
2 cans pears
4 cans fruit cocktail
apple sauce
5 bottles of 2liter soda
eggs
ff cheese slices
12 ff yogurts (8oz)
1/2 pack ff mozzerella
1/2 pack ff cheddar
assorted salad veggies
2.5 pound pre-grilled chicken tenderloins
3 - 1lb packs Purdue Chicken tenderloins
2 - 10oz Perdue Shortcuts Oven Roasted Turkey
7 Lean Cuisines/Healthy Choice
2 boxes whole wheat eggo muffins
6 Morningstar veggie Sausage patties
4 Veggie burgers
1 box Morningstar buffalo bites
1 lb ground turkey
3 lb bag frozen strawberries
8 tyson grilled chicken strips
5 lbs potatoes
4 granola bars
5 12 packs of soda
6 pre-portioned frozen sloppy joe
8 pre-portioned frozen meatloaf muffins
3 pre-portioned serving London Broil (freezer)
1 1/2 bag Morningstar Chick'n
3 loaves lite wheat or rye bread
1 bag frozen corn
1/2 gallon milk
1 lb turkey bacon
4 whole wheat pitas
1/2 gal sf ff strawberry ice cream
1/2 gal sf ff mint choc chip ice cream
homemade turkey meatballs
homemade banana bread
6 Tilapia fillets
1 bag Morningstar crumbles
1 Lite Whipped cream


In addition, I have staples, such as butter, salad dressings, seasonings, flour, sugar, vinegars, ect. I'll post my meal plan tomorrow.

Quick For Father's Day

June 15th, 2008 at 07:24 am

My dad's hard to shop for, but I got him a 50 cent Father's Day card and a Sidney Sheldon biography for $1.00 at the Dollar Store. I already had treated him to Indiana Jones last week as part of his present.

My nephew spent the night last night and I had him make a Father's day card for Pop-Pop. His dad's not really in the picture much, so my dad has stepped in. The little bugger made a card with a picture of a butt on it. Yes, a butt. Because he's a bit obsessed with the word lately. So I made him make another card. But I'll let him give Pop-Pop both since he'll get a kick out of the butt one Smile

New Student Loan Balance & AC is back off!

June 12th, 2008 at 07:17 pm

It was 90 degrees out today, but while I was sweating my butt off at my nephew's baseball game, a strong wind picked up and the temp started dropping. YAY! So, now I have all the windows open and am enjoying the nice fresh air. (And the savings in electric!)



So now for the even better news! My student loan is SOOOO close to being paid off! Here's a snapshot of where the balance has been in the last few years.


December 31, 2005: $15,694.69

February 28, 2006: $15,100.52

January 31, 2007: $12,512.40

April 30, 2007: $12,312.40

October 3, 2007: $8813.28

January 8,2008: $ 4,650.35

February 28,2008 $4013.09

March 31, 2008 $3047.79

April 15, 2008 $2832.26

Currently..... dum, da dum, dum, Dum.....


ITS $1,963.58!!!!!!!!!!

And I'm about to $45.22 to the loan Smile

Changed Vacation Plans & Recipe

June 10th, 2008 at 04:13 pm

Well, due to a budget constriction at work, they will no longer be sending me to Arizona. Boo! So I won't be able to enjoy a few days of vacation there before heading back Frown But maybe I'll have the chance in a few months.

I still have my vacation scheduled for the week of the 23rd & I'm looking into things to do besides enjoying not working for 9 days in a row Smile I'm going to try to keep things frugal. So I'm making a list of my vacation goals & estimated expenses.

1. Spend at least 2 days of doing Nothing. Sit around in pjs, make food, play video games, watch daytime tv, watch Netflix movies. (No extra cost)

2. Try a few new Weight Watcher recipes - meals, cookies, sweets. (Estimated $25.00 cost)

3. Take my nephew on a day trip. No destination set yet. I need to see what he's like to do. (Est budget $50.00)

4. Go to the beach, which is 2 hours away. I'm considering getting a hotel room & crashing over night so I can get two days in. (Est cost: gas $50.00, food $40.00 and room $100.00)

5. Go to a state park about 30 minutes away. Pack a lunch & spend all day hiking around. I will be packing LOTS of water. ($3.00 admission plus maybe $5 for Subway)

6. Organize basement. List at least 20 things on Craigslist. I have tons of stuff to get rid of. Dvds, video games, seat cushions, glasses, and more. (Free)

7. FINALLY get around to getting a new pantry door. I have a $50.00 gift card from my birthday to go towards it. (Hopefully free after gift card)

8. And I'm thinking about painting the downstairs bathroom. Should be a one-woman job. Small amount of paint. (Est $20.00)

I'm still playing around with what I want to do with my vacation. I might keep or purge some of the above ideas. We'll see Smile



And completely off topic, here's the Mini BBQ Meatloaf muffin recipe that Mom-Sense requested:

1 pound Ground Turkey (Or lean ground beef)
1 Box StoveTop Stuffing
1/2c Water
2 egg whites
1/2c BBQ sauce

Mix together & divide by 12. Bake at 350 in muffin tin. 34-40 minutes.

Meal Plan

June 8th, 2008 at 06:14 pm

Monday:
B: Cheerios & Milk, carrots
L: Pasta salad, Cheese sandwhich
D: Penne with sauteed veggies in red sauce, salad

Tuesday:
B: Cheerios & Milk, carrots
L: Large salad, meatloaf muffin
D: Tunafish on Lite Rye; Tomato salad

Wednesday:
B: Cheerios & Milk; yogurt
L: Large salad, meatloaf muffin
D: Buffalo Chicken; baked fries

Thursday:
B: Cheerios & milk; pears
L: Sloppy joe over pasta; salad
D: Tunafish on Lite Rye; cucumber & tomato salad

Friday:

B: Oatmeal, yogurt
L: Pasta salad
D: Tilapia & Rice

Hot, hot day

June 8th, 2008 at 04:29 pm

I turned the AC on today, its in the high 90s outside with high humidity. I'm keeping the AC at 80 now, supplementing with the ceiling fan. I was keeping the AC lower, but I keep upping it, seeing how much I can take Smile

Today I did a ton of laundry, and line dried it. It'll dry quickly in this heat Smile

I worked on a meal plan and my goal is to not spend on eating out this week. I pre-made some meals to take to work. So I'll be all set.

Tonight, I'm enjoying a Netflix movie & I'm heading to bed really early. We're swamped at work & I'm going to head in at 7. Ugh.

No spender

June 4th, 2008 at 09:07 am

In an effort to get back on track, today will be a no spender. I packed breakfast, lunch & snacks for work. I am heading to the park after work (as long as its not raining). Otherwise, its Tae Bo in the living room.

As for tonight, I plan on playing with the kitten (he's got WAY too much energey), watching a Netflix film (reactivated by accident), and organize the kitchen. Fun times Wink

I have a lot of planning to do about my upcoming trip, so I'll be making lots of lists for that!

I'm Baaack :) Sorry, its long

June 3rd, 2008 at 05:34 pm

Finally received my new computer A/C adapter today. Boy did I miss the internet! I survived, but if I don't have to, I don't want to Smile

Lots of things going on:

-First, my new Student loan #1 balance $2181.08! Sweet!!!

-Second, I had to put out $49.00 for the new adapter. Thats after discounts and free shipping for screwing up my order and causing a nearly 2 week delay.

-Third, my work may be sending me to Arizona. Tempe, to be exact. If the trip goes through (the company's cutting back on travel), then I'll leave Sunday the 15th, work Monday through Thursday. I would have flown back on Friday, but I'm going to take a mini vacation and stay a few extra days. I'll have to pay for hotel and food for those extra days, but the flight back is still on the company.

This is an unplanned expense and I really don't have the funds just sitting around. But if I'm getting flown to a place I've always wanted to visit, then I'm going to take advantage of the trip.

I'm hoping to even get in a bus tour of the Grand Canyon. We'll see. I've been pricing them at around $150.00 for the day. But this will include several hours of driving, lunch, an actual tour of the Grand Canyon and Park Fees. The alternative would be renting a car and I just don't see the point in that.

-Next, the kitten got sick $70.00 in vet fees. Ugh. He's a cutie, but man, is he expensive.

-In frugal news, my electric bill has stayed low. Prices have been rising, but my bills stayed the same, meaning my usage went down. I need to watch using the dryer though. I saw some increased usage the month before when I was trying to shrink some clothes to get a few more wears out of them before giving them to Good Will. (That was actually successful, by the way).

-Also,no heat in the last month. Windows stay open most of the time, sometimes I use the room fans. But no central heat/air! I'm hoping to keep that up.

-AND in great news, my car insurance premium went down by about $75.00/year. I don't know exactly how it happened, but I'll take it Smile

-I am really working on getting back into Frugal mode. I've been spending all over the place. New clothes, vet bills, eating out. All of that needs to get back under control. Especially if I get to Arizona.

-When I get back, I'm going to get a part time job. I've been talking about it for about a year now, but haven't really followed through for various reasons. With the kitten and continued weight loss, at least two of those expenses will continue. So more income will allow me to continue to pay down the student loan while taking care of these additional expenses.

-I'll update my side bar soon. Its safe to say that my clothing & vacation funds are back to zero. Ugh.