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Loosening up the purse strings

December 7th, 2008 at 10:26 am

I might have loosened them a little less if I hadn't made a mistake in Quicken. (For awhile, I thought I had about $500 more available than I actually did!) Grand total was $615. It's a lot to spend the first month of working full-time, but I thought about each purchase and don't regret any of them. I shopped sales and used coupons. Some of the clothes were almost Goodwill-level prices.

New (to us) TV through Craigslist $200
New throws for living room chairs $20
2 prs winter pajamas $38
4 tubes Revlon lipstick $12
Sneakers, one pr black and one pr white, $62
Bra $24
Nylon knee-hi's for work $22
2 velour track suits $72
6 long sleeve tees $22.50
1 sparkly henley tee $7.50
Black stretch corduroy jeans $15
Navy polyester slacks $15
Route 66 DVD set $37
Black leather purse $34
6 cloth napkins $7
2 computer books for reference at work $10
2 battery lanterns for when power is out $17

My body is changing, due to lots of walking, and I'm now wearing a 16W on the bottom. A lot of my older pants are baggy 20W's. The vinyl purse I bought last year is crazing and not repairable. We gave our lantern to my mother when her power was out, and decided we actually needed two at our house. The napkins I really didn't need, although they may help us cut down on the use of paper napkins. It was either spend the $7 on the napkins and get free shipping, or pay for shipping and get nothing else.

I need more decent casual clothes for running errands, in order to reserve work outfits for work. If I take my mother to a doctor, lawyer or stockbroker or we go out to lunch, I don't want to look like too much of a schlub. My old jeans are not only baggy but getting faded at the knees. That's where the track suits, tees and sneakers came in.

The "new" tv is digital, so it gives us a whole new range of channels on cable that we couldn't get on the old one, for no extra monthly fee to Comcast. It's a larger screen. It's a model that we like, but it's been discontinued, so we wanted to grab it when we could find it. And the picture on the old one kept shrinking every so often.

The new throws replace old ones which have numerous holes, pulls, and stains. The extra PJs are to help stretch out how often I have to do laundry.

I know the spending has to slow down. Next year, my ceiling for discretionary spending like this is the $40 a week being direct deposited into Electric Orange checking. But for now, it feels really good to be catching up on things and ridding my life of some shabbiness. Next project--bathroom towels. Smile

I've bought a freezer

September 18th, 2007 at 10:08 am

I guess it sounds nutty, being that DH will be unemployed in less than two weeks. But I'm glad I did it.

The reasons I had for deciding to get one a month ago have just gotten stronger. My stress level is even higher, and it's even more important to cut down on the time I spend on errands. I know I'm going to have to devote time to the computerized end of DH's job search, and I want to be able to pick up extra hours at work if they're available. We need to have enough easy stuff for dinners at home so I'm not tempted to pick up take-out.

On Sunday at Shop Rite I was behind a woman with three girls, who spent $495 on two piled-full carts of groceries. I was shocked at first--I would have at least used some coupons and not bought full-price pomegranate juice!

But then I looked at how calm they all looked, and how the mother was slim and looked like she took care of herself. I thought, well at least she's done shopping for awhile now and can go live her life, exercising, playing with the kids, whatever.

That's what I want, in addition to keeping the grocery budget under control. I'm tired of having to make a weekly trip to the bread outlet for the whole grain light bread that helps me control WW points. Why weekly--I don't have room to freeze bread for future weeks. And I'm sure not going to pay full price at the supermarket.

I'm tired of having to decide between the bag of burgers and the bag of chicken at Aldi's, just because there won't be room in the freezer for both, and then having to make another trip there a week or two later.

I'm tired of shopping sales all day, not able to really stock up at each store, being so tired I stop at Wendy's for dinner, and then having to do it all again the next week.

I'm also tired of putting things in my mother's freezer temporarily, and not being able to get to them right away.

I've spent hours pursuing possible used freezers on Craig's List, to no avail. I've been watching prices online for the model I really want, and the sale prices at the big box stores aren't any better than our local appliance guy is every day.

So today I did it. With actual cash money out of our home/car repair savings account.



DH quitting job, with nothing else lined up

September 5th, 2007 at 07:18 am

Vent Alert! Guess what the D stands for today?

I'm about as angry and frustrated and scared as I've been since I started writing this blog. DH told me the end of last week, and it sounds like he actually gave his notice at work a week before that--without even mentioning it to me beforehand.

I started out with a sense of calm, because I finally knew what was going on. See entry here: http://stressless.savingadvice.com/2007/07/27/fud_28650/

I know he hasn't been crazy about the job for some time, and it does sound like it may be getting harder. So I can understand it. I immediately got on the stick and started cancelling automatic transfers to savings, figuring out how much more I can get in take-home by adjusting my W-4, and looking up how much individual health insurance might cost. I've done a lot of thinking about how I can reduce the food budget more, and what else we can cut. My Weight Watchers membership, perhaps?

Then this morning, DH started picking at me about the state of the house, and how I should be spending my vacation week. A vacation week I scheduled out of desperation because I was already feeling exhausted and frazzled before he hit me with this news.

All of a sudden I'm not feeling like such a team player. He's still spending money on discretionary stuff, and hasn't applied for any other jobs yet. While I'm doing my financial fiddling, he's happily watching tv or sleeping. I've been trying to be cooperative, and then he has the gall to start browbeating me.

Right at this moment, I'm feeling like I shouldn't have to give anything else up. I've been working hard at getting our expenses down over the past few years. I'm not willing to go any further. I still need to lose weight. With him at home, it's going to be hard to find time to myself, and WW meetings would be a good escape. So that stays. I need clothes, and I already have money set aside. He's still spending money on books and cigarettes. AND I'M NOT THE ONE QUITTING A JOB! So today, I'm going clothes shopping as planned, dammit.

Oh, and to top it off I found out today the car insurance bill has gone up 26%.

Whistling in the dark

July 28th, 2007 at 06:31 pm

Thanks for the comments about my health insurance worries. The support here is always great. Smile

I spent the best part of a day worrying about it, and have at least a month to go before we really have any answers. And it's not the only thing I'm worrying about right now, so..

At this point, I'm looking for ways to distract myself for the duration that 1) won't cost extra money, and 2) won't undermine my weight loss project. It's so easy to fall back into bad habits when under stress.

So, here's what I've come up with so far:

--Writing to a library that might have info on an author I've become interested in
--Getting back on track with housekeeping stuff
--Watching lots of movies
--Taking walks, exercising
--Reading
--Taking quiet time in the morning to relax, maybe write affirmations
--Listening to podcasts
--Playing Bookworm
--Closing out another credit card account, as an act of confidence in the future
--Getting to an extra WW meeting each week
--Going back to recording every penny in Quicken, and doing the 4-week reports again




Today's compulsive little project

April 26th, 2007 at 12:13 pm

I started a new file in my shopping list program for keeping cost per portion info. (Such as, one Italian sausage is 50 cents and saltines cost less than a half a cent each.)

I figure I've been counting calories for almost 40 years, and it hasn't done me a whole lot of good. I'll try something new and see how much I've eaten in dollars and cents each day.

I thought of just continuing to track what I spent on groceries overall, but it would be hard to take into account how much DH and I each ate. Also, it wouldn't give me such a close look at which items are the best buy, like a banana vs. an individual applesauce cup.

What I found, and didn't find

April 25th, 2007 at 09:06 am

Made a trip to Aldi's last night, at what I hoped would be a slow time. I was able to take my time in the aisles, looking for things I couldn't find previously, and writing down prices.

Pleasant surprises:

Nonstick cooking spray (canola-based) $1.29
Turkey bacon $1.89
Splenda, in addition to their own brand of aspartame
Plain, nonfat yogurt
Sugar free "jello" and fat free pudding, in the refrigerated section $1.79 for 6 cups
Fat free "cool whip" 75 cents
Baked nacho tortilla chips $1.49
Mixaid (like Crystal Lite) $1.75
Lite mayo $1.49
Corn tortillas in the bread section, that I turn into baked chips myself, by slicing and baking, 89 cents
Sunflower seeds 39 cents
Tomato juice, large can 89 cents

Some disappointments:
No 1% milk; there's skim but I'm not wild about it
No reduced fat sour cream
No reduced fat sliced cheese
No vinegar besides white distilled (cookbooks say too harsh to be used in salad dressings)
Not much selection in bottled diet salad dressings
No flavored lite cream cheese, only plain
Diet frozen meals limited to "Lean Pocket" type wraps

Still and all, I think I'll find plenty to eat and lose weight. I'll try their diet dressings, and I'll try making some homemade ones calling for lemon juice rather than fancy vinegars.

How to eat healthy and lose weight with Aldi

April 24th, 2007 at 05:36 am

No, I'm not entering the blog contest. Wink Actually, I'm not even starting this project til May 1.

I signed up over on the Let's Lose A Person thread, and am getting nowhere. I need some way to jumpstart my weight loss, some way to make it interesting enough to stick with. The accountability of blogging helped me to get out of debt--maybe it could help me lose weight, too.

So, for the month of May, I'm going to eat nothing but Aldi food and see how it affects my weight and other health factors. I made a doctor's appointment for May 1, so I can get official weight and blood pressure numbers. And I'll be getting some long overdue blood work done this week, so I'll know where I'm starting with cholesterol and such. The trick might be getting a slip for more blood work after only a month!

I'm actually looking forward to working within a limitation like this--I think it can force you to be more creative. And being creative is usually fun. Wish me luck!

Christmas is beyond my organizational skills

December 28th, 2006 at 05:24 am

I finally found a missing restaurant gift certificate we received, in a pile of books and mail. I finally remembered where a missing $30 went--our holiday drinks supplies. But I still can't locate the Petsmart gift card with $29 still left on it, or the Target card with about $6. And the house is a mess. I don't like being this out of control!

I've been thinking about how setting up automatic things has really helped me get on top of our finances (direct deposit, automatic transfers and bill payment). Things go better if I don't have to re-decide or remember to do things over and over again. It's turned out to be mainly an organizational battle, rather than some big psychological hangup that made me overspend in the past.

So I've been looking for free or cheap "automatic" ways to solve my housekeeping and weight problems. I finally remembered about Flylady--completely free, she does the remembering and the emails just come. I don't have to think, just DO.

Now if I could just find a free way to mimic Jenny Craig or Nutrisystem!

Joined a gym, and no buyer's remorse

December 16th, 2006 at 12:57 pm

I'm really zipping along on revamping my life for 2007. Today I joined a nice gym and paid for the next year in one lump sum. It comes out to $20 a month, plus they gave me a certificate for a free massage. Smile

I discovered them through a discount program offered by Blue Cross. But it ended up being cheaper to directly pay for a year in advance, at the gym, rather than through the Blue Cross program. The basic program is fine-I don't need childcare and tanning anyway.

All through paying off the debt, I figured on rejoining the gym I'd been a member of before. It was to be my reward at the end. But when I called them I couldn't get any information over the phone; I was supposed to wait for a "consultant" (salesperson) to call me back, which they never did. As I remember, if I finally did get in to see them, they'd drag it out into a 45 minute meeting ending with a complicated set of membership levels to choose from. And there'd be pressure to choose right then, or else I'd lose some of the options the minute I left to think about it.

The one I just joined, I was able to talk to the owner on the phone on my first call. They had the prices posted inside and on sheets you could easily pick up. It was just a totally different experience. I feel like I got a bargain rather than feeling like I'd been taken. A much nicer way to start!