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Three No-Spenders in a Row!

June 30th, 2008 at 05:39 pm

I know some of you are laughing, but that's pretty major for me! Three in a row, and seven total this month.

Despite the no-spenders, I went over total anticipated spending by quite a bit.

Dental Emergency: $430
Veterinary bills: $500
New Glasses: $470
Plane Ticket $400

All of these events *were* planned for, at some point, just were not in the original budget for the month. Medical expenses (both human and animal), of course, are hard to plan; I knew I'd get glasses and buy the plane ticket this summer, just wasn't sure on June 1 whene I'd do those things. On the other hand, I *thought* that the gutter replacement would be done in June, but it will be done in July. Here's hoping for no medical bills in July and that the gutter project comes in as budgeted.

Snow Day

February 22nd, 2008 at 03:21 pm

We've been hit by the winter storm, and I cancelled my classes today, although the college was open. Over 90% of the students live on campus and half of the professors are within walking distance, so they almost never shut down (although the support staff often are given a late start). I live driving distance AND on a hill. If I didn't have classes first thing in the morning, I could make it, but at 7:30 in the morning on a snow day, my street is always a snowy icy mess.

I'll remember not to schedule such early classes next spring term!

I took advantage of the snow day to sit home and finish reading a novel I had started (reading chapters in between bouts of shoveling).

Tonight I'll sit down with the exams I have to grade and get a start on those. I have a set of exams and a set of papers to grade, and a first year seminar proposal to write this weekend, so I just took my "fun" time first. I'll also be going to a play on campus on Sunday--hopefully the work will be done by then.

I finally finished the "incomplete" from the course I was taking last fall on Monday. It's good to have it completed, but with one thing and another I didn't devote the study time to it that I'd have liked, and I actually failed one of the exams (the only exam I've ever failed in my life; personally quite traumatic, although I ended up with a B+ in the course). I'll have to go back and practice those 4 chapters and learn them thoroughly before the CPA exam.

Today was a no-spend day, bringing to 10 the number so far this month. I've received my monthly paycheck and paid all the bills--current monthly spending is $1983. I'm not going to bring it in under $2000 as I need to fill my gas tank and to buy groceries for the week, but I'm still hoping to come in fairly close to that $2000 goal. Doing so counterbalances the heavy spending I did in January and puts me on target for my annual savings goal.

Grocery & other weekly spending

February 16th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

After spending $130 at the grocery store last week, I was going to try not to spend anything there this week.

No go on that. All the things that I use the most--soymilk, sliced turkey breast, cereal, fruit, salad fixings, frozen burritos--were used up, so I did replace those. That "basic grocery shop" used to cost me about $35/week if that was all I bought. Now the same basket of goods costs $40/week. Inflation.

Only 1 no-spend-day during the week, but 2 more this weekend, for 8 days out of 17 so far this month total. The kitties ran out of litter and I ran out of feminine protection. Both are items that I order in bulk online, saving money over the long term but requiring an inital outlay, so that was about $100 out the door, but now I'm stocked up on both for 6 months.

I also ordered tickets to a play on-campus for my sweetie & I to attend as a late Valentine's celebration. That wasn't too bad--community members pay $15 per ticket, but as a member of the campus community, I can go for $5/person, so that was $10 out the door.

Total spending so far this month $732, still on track to bring the month in at about $2000 total, barring any household/car repair or medical emergencies. I *thought* I was going to have a big vet bill for Henry, but we managed to avoid it. He has a wart on his nose and scratched it so that it began bleeding intensely--I look up and there's blood EVERYWHERE and it's still pouring down his face. Fortunately applying pressure (and hydrogen peroxide) to the spot managed to stem the bleed. Darn wart's still there, though.

My February Challenge Update 3

February 9th, 2008 at 05:15 pm

My February Challenge is doing a "fiscal fast," minimizing extras and sticking to spending on monthly bills, food, fuel, and medical emergencies.

This week was so-so. I *did* have two more no-spend days (and I expect tomorrow to be another, as I'm planning not to leave the house and to spend minimal time on the internet), so that's 4 so far. If tomorrow is indeed another NSD, I'll be batting .500 as far as NSDs go, which is pretty good for me.

I *did* buy a couple of unplanned extras. Both were not really unplanned, but not planned for this month. I was called up on Monday and asked by the Dean of the Evening College to supervise an independent study class for a student (which will bring in over $600 more income this term). The class I am supervising for her is one that I am not otherwise teaching this term. I taught it last term. A new video very relevant to the class appeared in January, and I decided at that time to buy it the next time I taught the course; but until this week, I thought that wouldn't be until next January. In addition, I replaced a copy of another videotape I use which was wearing out with a DVD of the same, since both purchases were from ABC video. So that was an unplanned $65 in unreimbursed business expenses.

Then today at the grocery store, I fell prey to the sale bug and bought two pretty glass carafes and a new coffee mug, for $13. These had been on the "to buy" list so were not totally impulse expenses, just taking advantage of the sale.

I did end up spending $130 at the grocery store, so I'm going to do my best to have that last two weeks if I can and skip my regular grocery shopping trip next weekend.

Finally, this week my local public library decided to charge me full price for a book I'd borrowed, as they said it was "too damaged" to go into circulation. I got a lecture from Miss Priss the librarian on the phone and was relieved not to have another one when I went in to pay the fine. I was thinking that I must have written in the book more than I thought, but no. Yes, I KNOW one is not supposed to write in library books--I'm a librarian's daughter. My mother and I used to fight about my habit of writing in books. I do minimize this for library books. (And I frankly I cannot understand people who can read nonfiction books and get involved with them *without* writing in them. Reading a book is like having a conversation with the author, and one has to record one's own side, is my view. Just like "an empty desk is a sign of an empty mind," an unmarked page of a nonfiction book is a sign that the reader was not involved in the reading, IMHO. But really, I DO limit my extensive conversations to books I own.) The "writing all over the book" turned out to be approximately 8 pen dots, lines, and exclamation points marking key passages, and one 6-word annotation pointing to another book on the same issue which also appeared last month (the book in question was Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food," which I am just as happy to own, and the book I referred to was Gary Taubes' "Good Calories, Bad Calories," which Pollan eventually mentions, about 25 pages after the point at which I first found it relevant. Personally, I am happy when a link to a related reference is posted.) Anyways, that ended up costing me $30.50, for the book, the processing fee, and late fees for a couple of other books I was not allowed to renew earlier this week because of the charge.

Despite the couple of extra expenses, it's still looking as though I'll come in under $2000 in total expenses easily (current projection is for $1825 total), just so long as the pets stay well and no other crisis emerges.

I also got another $25 reward certificate from amazon.com if the spending bug really hits.

As far as my other major goal for the year, I've lost 9 pounds so far. I've been keeping track of my miles walked, both for exercise and otherwise, via a pedometer. To date, I've walked 170 miles so far this year, 74 aerobic miles and 96 other. Much better than I was doing in 2007!

No Spend Day

July 1st, 2007 at 06:34 pm

I'm trying to limit my expenses this month to necessities. Off to an ok start with a no-spend day today.

Free Computer Tax Program and a good last-minute Charitable Donation

December 31st, 2006 at 02:14 pm

I downloaded the TaxAct program (basic) for free from their website and used it and the information from my December paychecks and statements to run-through a draft of my 2006 taxes. Looks like I'll be getting about $1450 back, which will make a nice boost to the Emergency Fund (which desperately needs it).

I also made a last-minute donation to one of my favorite charities, Co-Op America. They actively support sustainable and socially just businesses, and I think that making in-roads on the environment and social justice concerns by supporting corporations that act in favorable ways is a tremendously smart move. Until midnight tonight, Co-Op America has a donor grant that will MATCH any contribution you make, making your gift twice as effective. (Of course, that doubles the money that Co-Op America gets, NOT the amount you can deduct on your taxes.) But since this is one of the groups that I most consistently support, I made an extra $30 contribution (I'll get $13 of it back when I file my taxes, according to the calculations I did with TaxAct.)

Other than that, today has been a "no spend" day--in fact, other than taking the dog for a short walk, it wasn't even a "leave the house" day.

No-Spend Day

October 22nd, 2006 at 03:56 pm

It's been a while since I had one of these, I think. Most expenses have been related to the dog and his surgery, but a smaller subset (eating out/buying prepared meals and renting videos) have been devoted to keeping me together and sane while being his nursemaid and working full-time-plus.

Henry is mostly feeling back to himself, though he's still having the occasional bout of the digestive problem that led him to surgery in the first place. That was diagnosed by biopsy and on Wednesday we'll get the details and get him put on the right medications to hopefully stop the episodes altogether. I'll also be looking for the right diet to keep him on now that he's been diagnosed with a chronic digestive ailment. This means additional expense because we'll end up doing some combination of an ultra-premium food and home cooking, I suspect. My buying food in 40 pound bags and stockpiling bisquits when they went on sale means only that I have about $100 worth of food to donate to the local shelter. But anything to keep my baby healthy!

Not yet ready to do the bills and face all the damages--I'll map out a plan by the end of the month for the additional $4000+ in unplanned expenses Henry's illness has cost me.

First Day of School

August 28th, 2006 at 05:36 pm

and that means that a paycheck, at long last, will not be far behind. My full-time teaching job pays monthly and I won't get that check until Sept. 20th--but the good news there is that they gave me a 3.6% raise (as a temporary faculty member, one is never sure what the raises will be). I have a part-time one-night-a-week evening job as well, and that one pays biweekly. I'm hoping the first check comes Sept. 8th--if not, it will arrive the 15th. There's just over $1000 sitting on the credit card bill right now, and groceries still to be bought, so I'm looking forward to getting cash in, paying off debts, and starting to save again after draining my liquid funds this summer.

Oh, today was a no-spend day, too.

Slippery Slope

August 20th, 2006 at 04:59 am

I've not been terribly good during this so-called no-unplanned spending week. School is about to start, which has a number of concerns (and related purchases) bubbling up. Those total about $30, plus I had a library overdue fine of $4 and had to contribute to a wedding gift for my boss for $25. So only 3 true no-spending days this week. I think this next week will go better.

Two no-spending days in a row

August 14th, 2006 at 04:51 pm

Loaded up my prepaid cards for gas and food on Friday, spent my $10 on festival food on Saturday, no money going out Sunday or Monday....and hopefully not for the rest of the month. I *did* get asked at the office to put in for a wedding gift for my boss (there's a party for her & her new husband on Saturday), so that's going to be a bit going out that I didn't plan on later this week.

Pantry Challenge Check-In

August 12th, 2006 at 04:15 pm

Almost a month ago, I gave myself a pantry challenge--trying to live as much as possible off what was already in the pantry.

It was only modestly successful; one thing I learned is how much I prefer "fresh" foods to foods that are dried, canned, or frozen. During the month, I bought a lot of the following: soymilk, yogurt, deli-turkey, "lite" cheese, hummus, fruit, carrots, celery, and lettuce. Oh, and sherbet (so much for the diet).

I did use up all the frozen chicken breasts and ground beef from my store, and had a couple of times where I cooked beans from my dried stores. The frozen burritos and veggie enchiladas from Trader Joe's got used up pretty early, too, as did the veggie chicken patties. But I guess I don't like the Indian meals as much as I *think* I do--a month later, I've only used one from my "stash." And I ate hardly any pasta at all, other than half a pound of egg noodles for making tuna noodle casserole.

Here's what's left from the original pantry list I started almost a month ago (July 14):
3 4 oz frozen salmon patties
3 various bags of frozen
1 frozen pad thai entree from Trader Joe's
3 ready-made Indian meals from TJ's
two small boxes butternut squash soup from TJ's
can of cranberry sauce
can of turkey gravy
one can of chili w/meat & beans
6 oz canned crab meat
1 6 oz cans tuna
1 can mandarin oranges
1/4th a box of dried felafel mix
3 #s pound of pasta (2 spaghetti, 1 macaroni, 1 # egg noodles)
1.5 pounds of brown rice
3/4 pound of red lentils
3/4 pound of brown lentils
a pound of split peas
1.5 boxes of cereal
.75 packages whole wheat pitas
4 apples

Since this is a no-spend month, I'll see what I can do to work away at these stores. I really should use those apples right away--maybe a baked apple crisp or something. They're in Evert-fresh bags so they're still good, but I guess apples are just more appealing to me in the fall (same for butternut squash soup and cranberry sauce!)

Getting Ready for a New No (Unplanned-) Spending Challenge

August 11th, 2006 at 07:34 am

I just got online and made sure that all my bills are set up to be automatically paid when due for the next month, and I set up automatic transfers from savings to ensure that the money is in the checking account when it needs to be.

I'm on my way out of the house and I will stop and buy a $50 gift card for the local convenience store which usually has the cheapest gas and is on my way to work, and a $125 gift card for the grocery store, and then when I get home tonight, I'm taking my ATM card out of my wallet.

So I'll be able to get gas and groceries with the cards--and I have enough cash in my wallet to pay my $4 library fine (oops!!) and dine out one night at Musikfest--and that's it for the month.

Staying within those limits really will be a challenge.

Money is really tight right now--haven't had a paycheck since May 20, don't get another until Sept 20 (41 more days--almost 6 weeks!), so I really had to struggle over a couple of expenditures when I was setting up the automatic billpay. I decided to cancel Netflix just before my next billing cycle on the 20th; I'll start it up again around Thanksgiving. I should be too busy this fall semester to watch many movies anyway! I *was* going to cancel the newspaper, too--but I decided to keep it for a few reasons. In particular, there's a big decision coming down locally this fall about whether or not my town is getting a casino; that news will only be in the local paper and not in my beloved online NYTimes, and not all of the relevant stuff (notices about community groups, etc) even gets into the online edition of the local paper. Plus after an event like yesterday's thwarted terrorist attack, I do get more news hungry. Thirdly, I'm on a special plan where I get the paper for half price; if I stop it now, there's no guarantee that I'll be eligible for the special rate again. I figure I'm just going to have to use at least $21 worth of coupons in the next 13 weeks so that the subscription will pay for itself!

Another no-spend day

August 9th, 2006 at 05:54 pm

I've only had two since breaking the no-spend challenge last Friday. Back to the typical pattern. I think of myself as "hating" shopping, but what I mean by that is mall-shopping. The kind of shopping I get sucked up into is at the grocery store, the hardware store....and the bookstore. (At least when I go to the bookstore, I usually just buy a cup of coffee and browse. When I go to the grocery store and usually when I go to the hardware store, money gets spent.

Not today, though!

Ready or not,, no-spend week, here I come

July 28th, 2006 at 01:25 pm

OK, the car is gassed up; I stopped at the grocery store for yogurt, turkey, soymilk, cheese, and fruit; I bought another big sack of dog food since I only had about two days worth left...so I am commencing with my no-spend week. Of course, I realized when I got home from the grocery that I had forgotten (a) coffee filters; (b) herbal tea; (c) a bag of ice; (d) a frozen treat, but none of those are essentials, so I am going ahead. If I had forgotten the *coffee* itself, as opposed to the filters, it would be a different story! I am addicted to my caffeine. I do have a plastic *tea* filter that fits in my teapot, so that will just have to serve for coffee for the week. I have ice cube trays somewhere (probably in the basement freezer) and can just make ice. I have some powdered ice tea that I will use for the week instead of Apple Cranberry Zinger or whatever it is I have been using for iced tea this summer. And the 5 popsicles sitting in the fridge are just going to have to last. I will stick a couple of yogurt cups in the freezer in case I get really desperate, and I can always try making my own popsicles from the orange juice I have sitting in the fridge.

An already-scheduled service repairman comes tomorrow and needs to be paid; I will not count that against the "no spend" rule.

Fourth No Spending Day this Week!

July 23rd, 2006 at 07:44 pm

Once I get to the fall and paychecks resume, I'll set an amount (5? 10?) and put it in my special $20 challenge account every time I have a no-spending day, but for now since the money is tight until the next paycheck Sept 20th (8.5 weeks away!), the money stays where it can help pay the bills.

Today was an entirely at-home day. Did some homework, did some housecleaning, cooked a meal with leftovers for later this week, unpacked some of my books now that my big bookcase has been resurrected, mowed the lawn, and spent too much time on the internet.

No spend day and a nifty goal-tracking tool

July 22nd, 2006 at 06:16 pm

Yesterday was another no-spend day. Iforgot to say that then. That's two in a row, and three for the week!

I found a great little tool for tracking goals: joesgoals.com. It allows you to input goals and put a little green checkmark (by positive goals, that is, things you want to do) and a red X by negative goals (things you want to avoid doing). So I've set up "no spending" as a positive goal since it's something I want to get "rewarded" for; and I've set up "eating out" as a negative goal. since it "punishes" you with the red X. I also set up goals for aerobic and strength training exercise, maintaining a calorie deficit, updating my "You Need a Budget" files and writing. The site will send you a reminder if you don't update for two days too (you choose the reminder period--I set it for two days since I want to get frequent feedback).

TWO no-spend days in a row

July 4th, 2006 at 05:29 pm

Spent the day at home...didn't even take the dog for a real walk since it's been so hot & muggy all day.

Puttered, worked on homework, and in the afternoon DBF came over and took apart and reassembled my big bookcase. Two friends--both retired professors in their 80s--had volunteered to help me put it together back in April, and while it was great to have the help, the whole thing was so unsteady once it was together that I never dared put the books in it. DBF took it all apart and reassembled it, so it's sturdy now the way it always was. It still needs a couple of finishing touches, including bolting it to the wall, before I can fill it--we'll get to that next weekend. Then I can unpack the 32 boxes of books that have been sitting in the middle of the floor of that room since I moved in Nov. 1 and get that room organized and usable. It's 1/4th of my living space, and I've been fine without it, but it will feel nice to feel like I'm finally finished "moving in" 7 months after the fact!

I made a homemade pizza for dinner for us. My recipe calls for beer in the crust, and all I had was dark beer that a friend had brought. That and the whole wheat flour and a bit too much cornmeal on the bottom--the crust didn't come out well and neither of us ate much of it, but the toppings were good, and I'll remember all of that for next time. With the bread machine, it's only 15 minutes of work to make the pizza (and 2 hours for the bread machine to do its job, and 15-25 minutes for the pizza to bake once it's ready for the oven), so it's a pretty easy recipe that I should use more than I do.

So between the bookcase help--which would have cost me at least $150 for a handyman to do it, and the homemade pizza (let's call that $12 for a large pizza with mushrooms, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, onions, and pepperoni), I "saved" at least $162 today that I could easily have spent.

Finally, fireworks tonight are free. I live up on a hill half a mile from the place on the river where they set them off, so I have a great view when I go out and stand in front of the neighbor's house.

A No Spend Day

July 3rd, 2006 at 03:34 pm

No $$ out. I'm taking summer school classes, so I worked on homework, mowed the lawn and did a bit of gardening, went to the gym, walked the dog. I *did* stop at the grocery store briefly but decided there's enough at home to last me a bit--probably 2-3 more days til milk runs out and then I'll go. Tonight I'll do more homework and either watch one of my NetFlix DVDs or play a computer game.

Three No-Spend Days This Week

June 28th, 2006 at 10:21 pm

Don't know how much has been the almost-incessant rain of the past week (finally letting up today), how much has been keeping the blog, and how much has been anxiety over making my existing savings last 3 more months, but I managed 3 no-spend days this week.

I suppose I should find a way to account for/reward myself for the no-spend days. Things are tight right now, so I'll throw $1 in the savings kitty for every no-spend day now (and move it up to $5 once the income starts flowing again regularly in September). So that's 15, plus the 6 and change from last week (no response on the magazine cancellation request...try direct customer service next time).

On the other hand, $74.20 went out the door to get my A/C installed. Ouch! That was about twice what I thought it'd cost. But I needed to have it done as I do very poorly in the heat. It's too heavy to do it myself, and I'm imposing enough on the boyfriend who spent two hours installing a pet gate last week and promised me another stint helping me put together my full-wall bookcase next week.