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Archive for May, 2009

Limiting spending on groceries and entertainment

May 29th, 2009 at 11:47 pm

For the month of May, I was 100% successful in packing food/drink for work! Yay for me Smile I'm going to try to keep it up next month with maybe one exception when my work group goes out for lunch. You know, I find that I eat better food of more variety when I pack my lunch? Who woulda thought?


For the month of May, I have also kept the heat and A/C off for 29 days straight! It may be more, but at the end of April, there were a few days where I had the A/C on and I can't remember which ones. I'm hoping to keep the air off as long as possible. If I'm reasonably comfortable with the windows open and air off, then I'll do it. When summer hits & the humidity goes on, the air will go on Smile


I went grocery shopping today, purchased almost everything I'll need for the week. Just have to head to the Farmer's market tomorrow for fresh produce. I have a grocery plan for this pay period and I hope to purchase the rest of my staples tomorrow and will only need to hit the grocery for milk, eggs & yogurt and the Farmer's market once more between now & the 15th.

Total Grocery Spending today: $36.29. This included some more expensive items such as olive oil and five 12 packs of soda (at least 5 weeks worth of soda). I also purchased a treat for dinner!

Now for social obligations: As I've said before, I'm working with a limited budget right now & am wrestling with the conflict of wanting to have a social life vs not spending too much money for entertainment. So, with planning, I seem to find my balance Smile

- I planned to stay in tonight - so I got that treat at the grocery store - shrimp. LOVE it. Its yummy AND very low in points (for the Weight Watchers I'm following). I have books & movies from the library. In fact, I'm about to watch Murder on the Orient Express Smile Since the shrimp came out of my normal grocery budget - tonight is Free!

- Tomorrow, I am going to my nephew's baseball game at 9:30. I'll pack a water & snack for the games. (Free) After, I'm going to the park for a 2.5 mile walk. (Free)

In the evening, I am spending time with some good friends. I'm hoping to convince them to stay in so that we can catch up. Maybe make some dinner together. Shouldn't be a problem because we've done it many times before. (Free - or just the cost of food)

- Sunday, I am supposed to meet an old coworker and a friend of hers for lunch and drinks. I think we'll be hitting a local restaurant I know where I can just get a small app and a single drink. No need to overdo, especially since I'm watching what I'm eating Smile (Estimated spending: $10)

- Tuesday, I am meeting friends at a pub for karaoke. Well, they'll be doing the karaoke and I'll just be watching Smile Plan on buying a few beers. (Est spending: $10)


- Thursday, a friend is having a book club meeting at a local bar. They serve their own beer. If I go, and I haven't decided yet, I'll just get a soda & bring my book to talk about Smile (Est spending: $5 tops)

- Friday, I'm going to a minor league baseball game. Very local. My nephew's class is singing between innings and most of my family is going. I plan on eating ahead of time (est cost: ticket, drink $15.00)

Saturday, I'm going to another one of my nephew's baseball games (free). Saturday night, I'll be heading to a friend's house for a small party. I'm bringing veggies on my new to me veggie plate! (est cost $3.00)

So lots of obligations and none too costly. The trick is to not spend a ton of money on eating out and drinking!

Previously, I talked about setting a walking goal for the summer. I still plan to do it, but haven't figured out how to incorporate the elliptical into that Smile

And lastly, here's a picture of my little boy kitty. He's watching the storms roll in over the field behind my house. Such a little cutie!

Food, air & plants

May 26th, 2009 at 08:45 pm

I don't know about you guys, but I had a VERY relaxing and enjoyable weekend. I overspent Sunday night when I had a date that went from dinner & a movie to drinks afterward. But overall, it wasn't excessive spending :-) And we had a good time.

I enjoyed the good weather. It hit 90 here (which is high for this area) and I was able to still keep the air off. Mostly because the humidity wasn't terrible. I kept the shades mostly closed during the day & opened all the windows and let the heavy breezes in at night. Very nice! I ran some fans when I was home and when sleeping, but that's it. Ironically, now that I'm back to work today, the weather's only going to reach mid - 60's. Its actually COLD today :-)

I did some veggie and fruit shopping on Sunday at the Farmer's market and yesterday I prepackaged smaller amounts for the 4 days of work this week. I have pre-portioned amounts of animal crackers, watermelon, strawberries, salad and cheerios. I'm doing very well with my goal of packing breakfast, lunch & dinner 100% this month. And I'll be able to keep it up easily since I took the extra time to pre-package most of the food that I'll take! I also lost 1.5 pounds this week on Weight Watchers. I've been wavering on the plan (bad!), but packing my food has made it much easier to stay on plan.

My plants are still growing well in their containers. I'm going to post some new pics soon. Those tomato plants are GROWING!

I may have mentioned that I'm looking for a roommate again. No legit responses to my ad on Craigslist. But I also have friends keeping an eye out for potential roomies as well.

I have found that since I have been focusing on staying on track with one thing - packing food for work, its benefited me in other ways and I save more money. Today was even a No Spender!

Did I tell ya about the birds?

May 23rd, 2009 at 12:03 am

So I may have mentioned this, but after the carpenter bees created a hole under my roof, a bird moved in and had babies.

Seriously.

Babies! I hear their chirping right now. Normally, I enjoy the sounds of wildlife, but it panics me to know they are up there and going to the bathroom. The babies possibly could wander and even fall into the walls. Ugh.

Ok, on to better news ... THREE day weekend! I left work at about 3pm today, ran errands, grabbed groceries and came home to sit on the deck, admire my container garden and enjoy some sun.

I plan on enjoying the holiday at home. Hope everyone has a great holiday weekend!

Chickened out on cancelling the cable

May 21st, 2009 at 01:23 am

I'll be honest, I was putting off researching options on changing phone service and lowering my cable to the very very basic plan.

I have a lot options and I guess I'm moving out of my comfort zone with cancelling it, so I decided to hold off one more month.

I'm going to start researching the best options for switching phone plans. Verizion would only be $6 less than Comcast, but there has to be a better deal out there. All I need is local phone - no call waiting, caller ID, voicemail. Just plain ole local.

Also, I requested to have 2 coupons for the digital converters to come to my house. I only have 2 tvs and I hope to try them out soon. Then I can skip the very, very basic cable altogether, which would save me about $12.00.

So basially, I chickened out. Crazy how cable feels like a necessity even though I KNOW Its not. I almost want to get rid of it just to prove I can live without it. But I would like to keep channels 3,6 & 10. So I'm gonna hold out for the converters & go from there.

Utilities and Medical

May 20th, 2009 at 01:50 am

Today was a very busy day. I worked, took a 2 mile walk, went to my nephew's ball game, did 2 loads of laundry, made dinner and premade food for tomorrow.

I spent $2.89 for a drink for my mom & a soft pretzel for me at the ball game.

In the mail, I received my water bill - $68.82 for 3 months. The water bill went up from last year. I can attribute it to two things - using more water for the garden and being lazy and using the dishwasher more often. So today, I went back to handwashing for meals and using the dishwasher when doing big cooking.

Also, my electric usage has been down. No air or heat usage this month. So hopefully my usage will be really really low Smile

I also received my car insurance renewal in the mail. It went up again - third year in a row. I'll be doing the usual calls for quotes before making a decision. I like the company I'm with, but I also need to make the best economic choice. In the past two years, I still was getting the best deal with this company, but who knows what this year will bring.

Tomorrow, I'll be calling Comcast about downgrading the cable. I'll probably cancel my phone service with them & switch it to Verizon who can give me a local only plan for about $12 per month. When I had the cable, phone & internet package, it was the most frugal choice. But changing the cable will stop be from being able to use the package. By itself, the phone is $24.95/month.

I also went to the dentist Thursday last week - I have 2 cavities. They say they'll need $285.00 after insurance, but this dentist is not in the plan that I have. It never mattered before because the dentist's office always gave me a discount, and I used to pay just an additional $5.00 after the insurance. But now, they have a new office manager & that went away. And with the needed fillings, its too costly to continue to go out of plan. I'm going to have to finally make the leap to an in plan dentist. Its a shame, I really liked the dentist that I was with.

Tomorrow should be a no spender - I plan on coming home after work & heading straight to the park or get on the elliptical. Thursday, I'm going out with some friends, I have $10.00 to spend, thats it. Should be doable.

Spreadsheets & Entertainment

May 18th, 2009 at 12:03 am

I'm a superdork at times. I keep a spending spreadsheet, a budget spreadsheet, a grocery spreadsheet and a meal plan spreadsheet for each week/pay period and/or month. I feel that they keep me in focus & its truly not a time consuming activity.

Today I spent money for groceries only. Tomorrow I have to get some gas, but my goal is no other spending til either Tues or Wed night when I'm meeting up with some friends.

Out of my $74.04 grocery budget (odd number I know, but I work a zero based budget), I spent $19.87. I didn't get a few things that were on my list, but I'll pick them up later this week if I still find a need for them.

And, I can't believe it, but I only spent $5.00 out of my entertainment budget this weekend. I truly had a good weekend and don't feel deprived in any way! I spent time with friends, with my family, and time at home with the cats. I went to a birthday at a bar, played shuffleboard, went yard sailing, watched my nephew's Little League game, watched movies from the library, read a book, worked out, cooked and enjoyed my container garden. I even got a nap on the couch in this afternoon Smile

I also enjoyed a half hour on my new elliptical machine. I have to say that also I'm a frequent walker, this machine was challanging Smile

Grocery Budget & Meal Plan

May 17th, 2009 at 06:51 pm

Strict Grocery Budget:

I have a budget & a meal plan set for this pay period, which runs 5/15 to 5/31. Basically, this covers 3 weekends and 2 work weeks.

For the most part, my budget will be spent on salad stuff, veggies & fruits as well as some dairy & grains. I have plenty of meats stocked up and will supplement meals from what’s already in the freezer and pantry!

This weekend, I plan to spend roughly $38.00 of the $74.04 grocery budget.

This will include:

Milk
Yogurt
Lettuce
Tomato
Cucumber
Celery
Onion
Bananas
Tortillas
2 types of wheat Pasta
Good Seasons dressing mix
Cheerios
2 liter soda

I plan on hitting the Acme, the produce stand and Walmart. Then not hitting another grocery until the following weekend.

Meals will be the following: Not in any order

Breakfasts:
Cheerios & milk
Fruits
Yogurt
Oatmeal
English Muffins
Breakfast potatoes

Lunches:
Salads
Pasta salad
Tuna Fish sandwiches
Meatloaf muffins
Taco Salad

Dinners:
Sloppy joe
Soft Tacos
Meatloaf
Shake N bake chicken
Pasta with meat sauce
Turkey Bacon BLT

Snacks:
Cheerios
Popcorn
Pretzel thins

And here's pic of my little boy kitty for no real reason, except he's such a sweetie! He plays fetch with the toy you see in the pic.

Garden Update & Pic of the Yardsale Find

May 16th, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Two posts in 1 afternoon! I have to admit an addiction to taking pics of EVERYTHING I talk about in my posts - hope you guys don't mind Smile

Here are some updated pics of my container garden and yard sale finds.

Here's the whole garden all out of order. I fixed them after taking the pics.



My oregano is growing abundantly.



Parsley's working out too.



However, the basil is struggling. But there's hope because, if you look closely, there's new sprouts.



Pepper's going strong.



Tomatoes are doing VERY well!



And so is the lettuce.



I have other plants - more peppers, parsley & chives, but I figured that was enough with the garden pics.

And here is the great yard sale buy of the day! The eliptical!



Lastly, here's one of the rugs I picked up at a dollar apiece. One is for the entryway and one is for in front of the sliding doors.



Hope you enjoyed the pics & they weren't too much Smile

Yard Sailing and Baseball

May 16th, 2009 at 08:32 pm

My mom talked me into going to yard sales today. There was a crazy amount of neighborhood wide ones and she really wanted to go. I, however, did not. But I figured it would be ok to get some Mom time in.

We spent about 4 hours driving around. Mom ended up treating me to several things. She refused to take any money or let me pay, so finally I gave up. I scored 2 small matching entry rugs to go in front of my sliding glass doors and in the entryway for $2.00. I got a clear plastic veggie tray for $0.50. That was something that I was actually looking for Smile

But the big score was a small eliptical machine. My mom treated as part of a belated birthday present. $20.00 for a machine in great condition. The owner had all the paperwork, manuals, bolt tighteners and was able to give a tip on the batteries running out easily, so taking them out between use helps. She obviously cared for the machine well and it appears to be in very, very good condition.

When I got it home, I went online to see product reviews. It appears to sell brand new for $449.00. It was a really, really great deal! I'm very happy.

After the yard sales, we went to my nephew's baseball game. They are so cute at that age (7-8 year olds)

So today was a no spender for me, but I came home with some great stuff!

I may or may not hang out with friends tonight, but I have plenty of entertainment options either way Smile

Lunch Challange Part 1 complete!

May 15th, 2009 at 09:18 pm

So my friend & I completed our little lunch challange. Both of us succeeded 100%! My friend was the one that said he'd fail the first week, but he pulled through. AND he suggested that we do it again next week, with 1 exception out of the 10 days.

So next week, we'll continue the challange. He can use his exception if he wants to, but I'm going to try not to. Money is tight & I'd rather go out at night or on the weekends than eat a sandwich from the cafe at work.

I've cashflowed the bee treatment ($190) this month, but it means less funds in other budget catagories such as groceries and entertainment.

So I've already made a meal plan and grocery list for today through the 30th, which I'm going to do my darnest to stick through. I leave the meal plan flexible because sometimes I just don't feel like eating what I planned to Smile

This weekend, my goal is to do a lot of free or nearly free things Smile

I do have a birthday party at a bar tonight. I plan on eating dinner before going, buying only a beer or two and leaving early. I'm pretty beat and want an early night.

Tomorrow, I have my nephew's baseball game - as long as the weather holds. After, I'm supposed to hang out with some friends. I'm gonna try to convince them to grill out for dinner & watch some movies.

As for entertainment - I have several movies from the library & a bunch of housework on the to-do list. I certainly don't have a problem with things to do this weekend Smile

And a final note - I'm on day 15 of no heat or air!

Still going strong with the lunch challange!

May 13th, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Every work day between the 1st of May and today, I've managed to pack my breakfast, lunch and snacks for work. My friend and I have managed to do very well for our little challange. I think he'll actually make it through to the end of the week as we orginally planned.

I plan on continuing the challange through to the end of the month. Getting in the habit of packing food is easy, but once you stop, its hard to start up again Smile

Today I spent $3.00 at the dollar store. I bought 1 three pack of toothbrushes and 2 large cans of tomato sauce.

Tonight, I have friends coming over for the LOST finale. I'm making spaghetti for dinner. I had all the ingredients except the sauce Smile

Hope everyone has a good night!

Lots Going On

May 13th, 2009 at 01:21 am

Sunday I did the Philadelphia Breast Cancer Walk. It was very moving. Thousands of people walking for such an important cause. Here are a few pics to give you an idea of the crowds.

The people in the all pink tee shirts are all breast cancer survivors participating in the opening ceremonies.



This is a view of all the people in front of us waiting for the walk to start.



This is a view of all the people behind us at the same time.





Yesterday, I ran errands, but resisted eating out & came home to make dinner.

Today I had a doctor's appointment. $30.00 coapy. Afterwards, I met up with a cousin to head over a family member's house to start a plan for cleaning out it out for sale since she's moved into a nursing home. Its a long complicated story, but lets just say that I've met them both on only one occasion, so this was awkward.

We took the family member to her house to discuss what we would be doing. There is a TON of stuff to go through. Thousands of books, cookbooks, instruction manuals, tons of cookware & old construction equiptment. Its going to be overwhelming, but I think its doable.

While we were there, we cleaned out her fridge. Unless it was very old, they didn't want to throw out anything. So we split the stuff up between my cousin, a neighbor and myself. I came home with a bunch of stuff that I would never eat because its sketchy if its safe. And a bunch of baking supplies that I have no idea what to do with.

I did, however, come home with some english muffins, 2 containers of butter (frozen), 2 containers of cool whip and a large package of chicken wings. Also came home with some pine nuts, so I'm going to make some pesto - or at least try to Smile



She also gave me a marble cutting board and a very nice italian piece of cermanic flowers. Really pretty. I didn't ask for any of the things, but I think it made her feel in control to give things away, so we let her.




And actually, we had an interesting conversation about how she packed so much stuff in there, never wanting to let stuff go. Its something that I've seen discussed before. Its leftover from living during the Great Depression. Somebody might have a use for it someday!

Finances seem to be getting tighter & I
have a lot of upcoming house expenses. I FINALLY paid to have professionals come out to spray for the carpenter bees. $190.00 for a one time treatment to kill them. In 2 weeks, hopefully, I'll have my sister's boyfriend's company to come out and replace the gutters & soffits. That should be around $800-$900.

In good news, I spent nothing but the doctors copay. I'm still packing breakfast, lunch & snacks 100% for work! So has my friend. I think he'll finish the 2 week challange with me. But I plan on continuing through the rest of the month.

I called Comcast about dropping my cable or lowering it to the extreme basic. But I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to do. I have til Monday to make up my mind.

I also responded to a couple of ads looking for rooms to rent from facebook. Getting a roommate would REALLY help right now.

In more good news, I've had the heat/air off since before May 1st. Not sure exactly when it went off & stayed off, but I'm hoping to keep it off for a long, long time.

Also, my garden is doing very well, but I don't have any updated pics. I'll try to post some tomorrow.

Full Week of Packing Lunch

May 8th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Yay! I've made it through the first week of my Lunch Challange. As far as I know, my friend is packing his food today & will be on track as well.

I've managed to pack breakfasts, lunches, snacks & drinks for work. Now that I've gotten used to it again, its pretty easy Smile

Tonight I'm doing happy hour with some friends. I think we're going to a place with a free taco bar as part of the happy hour. I'm going to try to keep my spending to 1 drink and then get my free taco dinner Smile

Tomorrow should be a no spender. I'm having a movie day with friends. I'm supplying movies that I already own - The Usual Suspects and Suicide Kings. We're bringing our own snacks and just plan to enjoy each other's company. Should be a fun day!

Sunday, I'm walking in the Philadelphia Breast Cancer Walk. We have to get up really, really early to get there on time. I have to fill the car up with gas, but we're packing breakfast for the car ride & the walk organizers supply us with water & snacks there. So really, this should be a low spending weekend.

$2.00 spent yesterday

May 6th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Well, yesterday would have been a no spender. Especially since I left my purse at home for the work day. However, my family asked me to go to the batting cages with my nephew. We had a blast and I spent $2.00. Very reasonable for an hour or so of fun!

Today is day 3 of the Work Lunch Challange. I packed breakfast, lunch & snacks. Tonight I'm going to a girls night out. I'm planning on keeping my spending under $10.00.

One Way to Curb Spending

May 5th, 2009 at 11:35 am

Well, I left my purse at home today. I'm at work without my cell, wallet, ect. At least I won't be spending today! And boy am I glad that I packed my lunch. Otherwise I'd be begging off of friends Smile

Flat Stanley

May 5th, 2009 at 02:00 am

Today, I spent $1.90. I packed my breakfast, lunch & snacks for work. Bought nothing all day.

However, my nephew's 2nd grade class is reading a book called Flat Stanley. Its about a boy who has a bulletin board fall on him & flatten him. Its about how Flat Stanley goes through life and travels by mail to many places.

So I received a flat version of my nephew Smile I had a week to take him around, show him my life, take some pics. It was actually quite fun and there were several places where people recognized Flat Stanley! Very fun.

So today, I spent $1.90 to purchase 10 pictures of Flat Stanley and me to send back to my nephew's class. This project was a LOT of fun!

Rain, Rain Go Away!

May 3rd, 2009 at 12:17 pm

For the 3rd day in a row, its raining. Although now its pouring! There goes all plans that required me to be outdoors.

So today will be made up of doing all the things on my to-do list that require me to stay indoors. Which are:

- Clean the house top to bottom
- Do my nails
- Go through photos that I collected from my Aunt's house after she passed
- Try a new recipe for dinner Sunday
- And I'm going to add split & prepackage meats purchased. Make ahead meatloaf & sloppy joe for the freezer

Saturday

May 3rd, 2009 at 12:55 am

Well, today it rained, so my nephew's baseball was cancelled, I was unable to mow the lawn & couldn't walk. So instead I went to the library, the bank, the grocery store and the farmers market.

Then I've spent the rest of the day doing stuff around the house, watching movies from the library. I declined to head to a friends for movie night and instead am having one at home by myself Smile

I'm proud that I skipped the awesome sausage sandwiches at the farmer's market, the 5 fast food places I passed while driving around, and the 2 movie stores. So no entertainment spending today & I've still had a great day!

My best purchase of the day was that I bought a flat of strawberries - roughly 12 pints - for $3.00! I've set some aside in the fridge for the next few days. I cut up the rest & froze them in individual servings to be used for smoothies & daquiries. Very yummy!

Lol - lunch challange postponed on Day 1

May 2nd, 2009 at 02:38 am

My friend & I are still doing the Lunch Challange, but he asked that we start on Monday, which was fine with me. I still need to do a big grocery shop Smile

Today I packed part of my lunch, but did buy a soda and a 1/2 sandwich. I have a nasty sinus headache & wanted some caffine. But I have soda on my grocery list & will no longer be buying it at work Smile

So all in all, today I spent:
-$2.90 at the work cafeteria
-$1.25 in library fines - gotta work on that
-$4.00 on grocery items at the dollar store.

I'm also going to be tracking heating/air usage. Our weather has been crazy - going from 89 degrees to 50, up and down every few days. I have managed to keep the air/heat off since Wednesday.

Tonight, I have spent a pleasant evening at home. I have windows open, so a fresh breeze is coming in. The sound of the rain is relaxing. There's a wonderful smell of birthday roses on the coffee table next to the couch. I'm watching library movies and tv and am catching up on emails, mypoints emails, and reading. It was a great way to wind down tonight!

Tomorrow, my plans are to hit the farmers market for fruits & veggies. Head to my nephew's baseball game. I want to try to get a walk in at the park. But that & the game all depend on the weather. So we'll see how it goes.