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Now have it all come together...

November 26th, 2007 at 02:06 pm

So I have a problem with accountability. Obviously, as I've only updated twice in the last two months or so. Since then, I've been on a "get fit" kick and I've been visiting my health site daily. When I was on the "get rich" kick, I was here all the time. Now it's time to buck up and track away both sides.

Since my last visit, not much has changed. The ex is still living with me, but will be moving out when I go home for Xmas vacation (for 3 weeks). I think that's best as I don't have to be around to see it, and it'll be free petsitting for my cat while I'm gone. Also, that's an extra month where I don't have to assume the entire financial responsibility for the house. 2008 will be fun!

Spending wise, I've been bad. With the weight loss has come a boost in personal shopping. Not to mention the cross country plane tickets to visit my best friend (much needed post-breakup therapy). Also the $200 car tune up, and a new cell phone (the other one was deaaaadddd).

Positive note: I'm less than $4000 away from my Emergency Fund goal. And in my wallet is a check for $7000...part of the gift I received in September. I'm dumping the whole thing into ING as soon as it clears as I won't be doing any major housework until I get back and settled down. Will be nice to accrue a month or two of interest before I start hiring contractors.

Calming Down.

October 22nd, 2007 at 07:11 pm

So I've decided what to do about my recent stickiness:

1) Staying in my house. It's going to be a bit scary...this neighborhood isn't the greatest. When my ex moves out, so does his truck and his dog...both good deterrents. But the upsides are that I do have a monitored alarm system and once the garage is finally clear, I'll be able to park in there!

2) Not using the $20k to pay down the home equity loan. Either I need to completely get rid of that monthly payment, or just keep slowly chipping at it.

I got the first "installment" of the gift, $5k. Put in a transfer of $2k to give my ING a boost. I'll stop building it up once it hits $10k. Should take just a few more months. Once that's done, I'll stop the monthly transfer of $100.

So between that, also getting out of my work's ESP Plan, removing the ex from my health insurance, downgrading garbage, satellite TV and my gym, in a few months my income should be up about $100/mo, and expenses down around $160/mo. That should help a bit. I'm still very worried.

I have a lot that needs to get done around here. Need an electrician to install ceiling fans and install another motion detector light outside. Also, just had a landscaper out to give me an estimate on building the fence, and finishing up priming the flowerbeds...they are currently mostly clay and rock...very hard...there's no way I can dig it up myself. These things need to get done if I'm to improve the value of this house at all...right now it's just bare dirt and weeds. Also, I will feel better about living here.

Ah!!!!!!!!!!!!

SLACKER!

September 17th, 2007 at 08:07 am

OMG. It's been almost a month. How did 3 weeks just fly by like that??

OK. Update the little sidebar. Not bad. Oh wait, I had my birthday, update that too.

So progress is slow. I want it all GONE GONE GONE nownownow. I've been more mindful of my spending, but I have had a few slipups...though nothing stingy for me. Like this weekend, I blew $100 on a set of Tiffany champagne glasses for a friend who just had a baby. My "thing" is that I buy all my friends a pair of Tiffany flutes for their weddings. It's a good price and I always gift it ahead of time so they have them on their wedding day. It's completely worth it to watch them open a giant blue box and know they'll have them forever. Much better than a set of bathroom towels, methinks. So yes, back to the point...this friend got married before I started doing this, so I figured this is an appropriate time to "catch up" to her...also, most gifts she's getting is for the new baby girl, so I think they'll like an adult present.

Otherwise, I've been good. Eating in, bringing lunch to work, no needless driving, no mindless shopping.

Now off to read everything I've missed!

Where are you, little elves?

August 21st, 2007 at 08:56 am

Weekend Spending:

$38.62: Gas. OMG! UNDER $40 FOR A TANK!!!
$3.45: Coffee and "brunch" of 2 shortbread cookies.


I guess a downside of having this blog is that I check it compusively and somehow I feel like the magic numbers to me left should be moving faster...like little elves should come in and make deposits to my various accounts. But it's a monthly thing. A few more weeks and I'll feel like there's real progress.

My 401k has tanked about $2,000 (5.5%) in the last month. But I'm going to ride it out even though some conservative coworkers are repurposing a lot to "cash" for now. I'm young and I had my little brother look over my investment allocations (he's an investment analyst in Dubai) and he thinks they're all good choices. He gleaned more in the 30 minutes he spent in my account than I have bothered to learn in 5 years. I guess that's why he's getting paid.

UGH. *Sigh*

August 16th, 2007 at 04:40 pm

Spending:

$40: Dinner.
$12: Dessert.


Last night, out to dinner with the girls, but we were celebrating a birthday and she wanted sushi. So that was pricey. We also all pitched in and paid for the b'day girl's dinner. So the $40 cash I pulled out a few hours earlier...GONE. Then we went to a dessert diner...where I just happened to be the one to order for the group...and instead of asking for money, I just put my card down. $10 (plus 20% tip) for 2 giant pieces of cake. I need to speak up more and really pay attention and ask for more contributions. I usually wave people away because I like to treat my friends. I need to stop that Frown

It's just disheartening. That $60 surprise check yesterday? That's pretty much the whole thing just blown. And instead of just slinking back into old habits, I'm trying to come here, confess my sins, get the dissapproving frowns from the super savers.

And today was just THE WORST at work. Hurdle after hurdle. Stubborn people hijacking my meetings to complain. Looming deadlines. New projects added to my already busy weeks. So yes, I am going to go out with my coworkers to Chevy's at 5PM and have a drink. I have $5 cash and if that will cover a beer, then that's all I get. We only do this once or twice a YEAR and today warrants it.

Wah, wah, wah. What a whiner!

Surveys and Money News

August 15th, 2007 at 11:13 am

Spending Yesterday: $6.20: Lunch.

I couldn't help that. I drove straight to work from my mom's house...2.5 hours away, and I wasn't about to bang around the kitchen at 4.30 AM trying to find something to take to work. Then figure out how to keep it fresh during the drive, so the "healthy choice" cafeteria meal (portion controlled spaghetti with garlic, zucchinni, fresh tomatoes, basil and red pepper flakes) did it for me.

Reading other people's blogs here makes me wonder how big these suvey sites are! I am the only person I know who does this...until you guys! I've been a member of them for 2-4 years (Pinecone, GTM, SurveySavvy, Lightspeed, OTX, Keynote, Buzzback, My2Cents, ePoll, and until recently, the Kraft food community)...I love collecting the Amazon giftcards from some, and Paypal payments from others. It's chump change, but hey, it counts.

In bad money news, got a letter from ATT yesterday saying that "one of my plans" is going to be more expensive soon. They don't tell me which one (cell? internet? landline?), or by how much. Just a vague, "hey, we want more of your money", and a catch of..."hm, maybe you should call us and see if we can bundle services for you". Makes me angry.

In good money news, I got a check from AAA as part of their profit sharing program (who knew)...$60. Wahoo! Shame I've cancelled my insurance through them and am moving to Liberty Mutual (combined auto and home savings of $200 a year). But I will still gladly deposit that check Smile Thanks, guys!

Ouch.

August 14th, 2007 at 11:12 am

Extended Weekend Spending:
$5.90: Random trinket for my nana.
$11.90: Bundt pan to make cake.
$88.79: Gift: 3 books and a magazine.
$5.13: 2 birthday cards.
$12.95: Lunch for my brother and I.
$163.74: Birthday gift for my sister (hopefully to be split with my brother).
$21.95: Random gift for my mom.
$6.44: $2.44 for a coffee and $4 cashback for the toll bridge this morning.
$1,305.85: Annual car insurance.
TOTAL: $1,622.65


Sigh.

And I still have to buy birthday gifts for my brother, youngest sister and mom!

BUT I will revel that none of that spending was for myself Smile Which is usually inevitable when gift shopping for others.

Spenditures.

August 10th, 2007 at 02:15 pm

Spending:

Yesterday:
$53.13: 2 month supply of prescription cat food and water filters.
$8.98: 2 cupcakes for a friend who's watching my kitty while I'm gone this weekend. And 2 containers of Dreyer's because they were on sale 2/$7 and I was out of ice cream.

Today:
$49.80: Tank of gas and car wash.
$3.56: Soup and salad from cafeteria. Frown I forgot to pack my lunch this morning in my rush to get out the door.


See? Almost a week of being good and it all hits at once. Of course I could have done without the ice cream, but I've been missing it. My beloved Dreyer's Frozen Yogurt (Caramel Praline Crunch flavor).

There's going to be more spending this weekend as first I have to stop by a kitchen store and buy nonstick bundt pans. I'm making the cakes for the family gathering...and the bundt pan at my mom's house always holds on to giant pieces of cake...destroying them (and yes, I've greased and floured...they just stick).

Then tomorrow I have to rush out and buy a b'day gift for my uncle. And this may be the last weekend I see my sisters before they go back to college (in London), so I have to cover both their b'day gifts ASAP, or succumb to the pain of overseas shipping.

And of course, the 400 mile round trip will require another tank of gas. *sigh*

Not So Hungry Hippo!

August 8th, 2007 at 09:23 pm

Spending:
$16.18, dinner with the girls.
$250, plumber payment.


The dinner is almost a weekly thing, and I will NOT give it up! We have been friends for almost 10 years, and those of us who are within a 1 hour drive try to meet up for dinner 2 or 3 times a month. This was a spendy night...all I had was a dinner salad and water! Usually it can be under $10. No problemo.

Speaking of food, I am reallllly trying to clean out my pantry/fridge before I resort to purchasing more groceries. I might be able to pull it off for the rest of the week! What I need:

2 breakfasts: I have exactly 2 more yogurts left!
2 lunches to take to work: Out of my usual frozen meals, so I'm thinking tortillas, deli sliced chicken, some cheese, and a side of cottage cheese. That should do it.
Dinner tomorrow: Can of soup with added leftover kidney beans for protein.
Snacks: I have a few rice puddings and granola bars left.

See? I have plenty! Then I'm off to visit family Friday, and staying there through Monday night. So meals are out of my hands.

You know, now that I'm hyper-aware of saving, I really cannot believe how much I was nickel-and-diming myself. How many urges I've had to squash and try to break bad habits. Bored at work? Head to the outlets at lunch! Nothing fun to eat at home? Stop by the to-go sushi counter on the way home. Out of desserts? Ice cream from the gas station! No more!

Drip, drip, drip.

August 7th, 2007 at 07:59 am

Good news: I got estimates on the yard work - $150 for stump removal and $250 for the city pipe leak. $100 under budget! Fantastic! Both should be done by the time I get home today. FINALLY!

Bad news: Got a letter from the water district yesterday: I'm finally going to get metered soon. Yes, I know I've been lucky...flat rate water every 2 months, especially with a pool, a new lawn, and a boy who takes 30 minute showers. The next bill or two will show what I should expect to pay based on my current usage. I know it's going to go up, especially when I finally get some new plants in and start the drip system. *sigh*

Should I Plant a Bunch of Money Trees?

August 6th, 2007 at 04:34 pm

So this week might end up being a bit pricey. I'm trying to finish off the front yard...a few months ago, flush with tax refund and yearly bonus money, I decided to finally gut and re-do the front yard - which was unsave-able. Pulled up all the plants, grass and sprinklers and started anew. Yes, a bit pricey but the lawn was pitted, thatched and covered in bermudagrass, the sprinklers leaked and sprayed the cars and the rosebushes were about 20 years old and beyond diseased.

Then I took a break for a while and now it's time to finish it off. I need a plumber to fix a city pipe leak and a stump grinder to get rid of the two "trees" (you know, the kind that no-one plants on purpose, and in 10 years you have a weird-ass tree), so I can put in a fence between my yard and the neighbor's.

Once that is done then I can finally have fun and start landcaping as right now it's just a beautiful green lawn surrounded by dirt. So I'm guessing that both the stump grinder and the plumber together will be about $500. Getting estimates in the next two days from licensed contractors I found on Craigslist. Wish me luck!

Passive Saving!

August 5th, 2007 at 11:00 am

Weekend spending: $40 in gas.

So, almost a no-spend weekend. I ended up driving my car (I actually insisted - I do need that XM entertainment while the boy dozes off during the 3 hour drive) so the first tank of gas was on me. And I might have to fill up again on the way home, but we'll split that tank, so I'll be debiting the joint checking account. I will not be counting that as income/expenses on this blog since we both put an identical, fixed amount that covers all house bills, and sometimes groceries. Also, we did end up going to the Aquarium, but my grandmother bought the $25 tickets as gifts! And I did tag along with my mom and sister while they shopped at a few high-end stores that I would normally walk out of with at least a shirt - but I abstained.

So I've been looking for new $ software. I currently use the full version of AceMoney, but after 2 years of no new features, it just isn't doing it for me anymore. I've been waiting to see what Mint.com has to offer, and exploring everything else in the meanwhile - until last night. My Bank of America credit card recently launched "My Portfolio", where I can link up all my other accounts (EVERYTHING, mortgage, loan, 401k, etc.), and see my total Net Worth - well, it doesn't take valuables and equity into account, so I'm big in the negative due to the mortgage balance. Anyway, I thought it was a 'neat trick' and moved on until I read more and started exploring the site. Wow. I can set a budget. OMG I can categorize my spending! Whoa! It's spitting out pretty graphs! This is POWERFUL! And I don't have to do any manual work at all. And to think I was about to give up and become a QuickenHead.

So I can say, with the free Aquarium tickets, and not spending when I could have, that this was a "passive saving" weekend. Not going to take credit for stuff I "could have" done, but cool all the same!

Show Me Your Money Dance!

August 2nd, 2007 at 11:00 am

Spending Today:

$294.88: Last payment to boyfriend.

It started as a personal loan made 14 months ago - he paid for some household improvements when I didn't have the cash and I insist on keeping all spending to do with the house under my name as the house is mine. Then some things got tacked on...he paid for a vacation, I put the TV on my card, etc. So the back and forth has been tracked for over a year. To the tune of over $12,000 being exchanged between us. And today...OMG. It's done!

The biggest upside is that I was covering his portion of the home equity loan as part of my payback. We agreed to break it down so that he paid for half of the principal that was used towards renovating the pool and backyard, the rest of the loan was used towards my car, so I pay the majority. Now that frees up $90 per month starting in September.

Wait! Since I'm already used to paying for his share, I'm going to continue and snowball it into each month's payment. That just hit me! See? You guys are rubbing off on me already. Just 4 months ago I was making the standard $405 payment. Then I upped it to $505 in May. Next month it's going to be $605!

*runs off to calculator*

From 15 year term down to 8! Saving over $13,000 in interest!!!

*doing a little booty shake in my office chair*

Total stream of conciousness, there. Ahem.