Sunday, December 2, 2007

Found Money is Nice at Christmastime!

Today, when I was bargain shopping, looking for my cheap eats, I found some cash. It was blowing in the wind. I saw about 5 people step over it. We are talking bills, not change.

When I was little, my brother and I found around $100 blowing in the snow. We got off of a warm city bus (remember when it was safe to ride the bus?) and ran for a block to pick up a bunch of $20 bills blowing in the snow. We gladly waited in the snow until a friend picked us up.

So, when I find money, I get all warm inside and remember the fun I had when I found money with my brother. So, it is only $7 but, it is more than I had before! At least I have 'earned' money this month!

On the stroll

P.S. By the way, I did try to find the owner but, I was the only person there when I picked it up and I did not see it fall from a pocket or purse. I only saw people step over it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cyber Monday, Where?

I heard all weekend about these fabulous deals for online shoppers that would be available on Monday only. Well, I did not see any new deals. It was the same old line that was fed to shoppers on Friday.

I checked my ING Direct account and was very happy. I wanted to buy something that I would need. I need a hair dryer. My blow dryer is missing the vent cover . . . I would like to dry my hair without worrying about electrocuting myself because something flew into the wrong end of the dryer. I was hoping that Ulta or Sally would have something . . . nothing.

I ended up buying a CD that I have wanted since last summer. It was cheaper on eBay than using the 40% off discount at Borders. I keep checking for jobs but, I am patient and know that He will provide.

Enjoy Cyber Monday!

On the stroll

Friday, November 23, 2007

Still unemployed.

Since it has been a week, I will fax deferrals for my student loans. Besides rent, they are my highest expense each month and without a steady income, I cannot afford it. Okay, without any income.

I have applied everywhere and am just waiting to get callbacks next week. I started reading What Color is Your Parachute? I have never read it and am hoping to get a bit of direction. If I could test hair and beauty products for $100K per year, I would do it. However, law school did not prepare me for that.

Anyway, on to saving money. I am about to cash my final check and add it to my ingdirect account. That should allow me to gain some interest.

I did something different this year for the Thanksgiving meal. I bought the meat and my friend (a regular at holiday meals) bought everything else. I spent less than $25 for a turkey breast and 8 pound ham. So, I think I had the better end of the deal. He bought the potatoes, green bean casserole ingredients, mac n cheese, bread, etc. However, since this is a man, we only had one can of cranberry sauce. We LOVE cranberry sauce so, that did not work well.

Today, I am having a no buy day. I'm still in my nightgown and just did not need anything. I have a couple of gifts for my son and he wants one other thing; dominoes. This fit into my monthly budget so, I bought 2 of the 3 things he wanted already. Should be a very good Christmas.

On the stroll

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Great time of the year

Well, I lost my job the other day. I'm not sure what happened and the issue will be resolved in litigation (or mediation). The sad thing is that I had an interview scheduled with another department today and we kept the interview. I guess that is all I should say about the situation until it is resolved.

The good part in all of this is that I have a plan to get me through the next few months. My F - U fund is not fully funded but, if nothing else, I can quickly get a retail gig to provide us with the basics.

Thanks to an ownership interest in an apartment building, I have a couple of places to move into at a minimal cost. I may try an alternative living arrangement like the one suggested by the simple dollar. I know someone that is having a HUGE financial crunch and by moving in, I can assist. Between that and deferring my largest school loan, I will save over $2k per month.

By the way, I need to send a shout out to my girl, she passed both the NY and NJ Bar! If we were the drinking kind, I would buy her a few rounds!

On the stroll

Monday, November 12, 2007


First, I must say thank you to all Veterans! My freedom is very important and I am so happy that you enlisted and served this wonderful country!

Because of my poor planning, I paid for lunch with plastic. I get paid on the 15th.

I know that I have major billage between the 1-15th of the month. Somehow, I added money to my ing account. Forgot to put it back into the checking account. Checking account is dry (at least my bills are paid). I transferred the money late so, I am waiting for the transfer to hit my account.

I guess this budgeting thing requires more planning than clipping coupons!

The best part is that I have money to transfer.

Plan these transfers so that you can take money out of the atm!

On the stroll

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Another Coupon Bonanza

I LOVE getting lots of coupons in the Sunday newspaper! Today was as good as last weekend!

Well, I didn't need much. Would love some fresh fruit but, seems in short supply. I ended up with bananas and oranges. Due to my dental issues, I passed on the apples. I may go back though because I had the most amazing apple pie last night.

According to my receipt, I saved $28.39 and spent $26.77! I did not even use coupons for most of the items I purchased! I LOVE IT.

Right now, the savings are earmarked for my big baby boy's Christmas.

Thanksgiving is in just over a week. I have the turkey breast, fried onions for the green bean casserole, bakings goods for the desserts . . . and have watched Martha Stewart's Thanksgiving Special.

Her trick to use a lemon to make the turkey juicy works and does not leave lemon flavoring in the turkey meat.

Last night, I attended a potluck for my cooking class (I made potato leek soup). I had lamb for the first time and met an interesting group of people. It was so nice to talk to people that understood how little good food there is in California. Very interesting people--okay, I have to say it, why would a 50 year old man need a myspace page? yes, he is in the entertainment industry. WOW.

On the stroll

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Has it been a week?

Saving money is hard to do. Well, not so much when you don't shop.

Staying home, going to the movies, relaxing with friends. All save money!

Guess what I've done? All of the above. Have I shopped? Not really.

I really need a bucket. Simple, right? Not so much. Stopped at Target. Red buckets only. Great price of $1.49 but only in red. Red is not my color.

Hit the drug stores. $6.49 for a 1 gallon bucket. Red does not sound too bad right now. I will look at Lowes (I need to return some hardware) and if they do not have it at a decent price, will check WalMart.

I really need it to wash the car and mop the floor. But, with gas at $3.25 per gallon, is it worth an extra trip? I think I will improvise until I need something else from WalMart.

On the flip side, I needed to fill a prescription and had a nifty coupoon from C>V>S> to get at $25 gift card for a new or transferred prescription. The co-pay on the prescription was $5 and I have $15 left on my flexible benefits card so, I spent nothing to get $25. When C.V.S has a good sale on something I need, I can use the card or, I can save it for a Christmas present.

On the stroll

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Bertoli Pasta and other musings

Today has been a long day. Busy at work. Had to rush home to feed the man sized 11 year old and am now relaxing. I needed to check the post office box and pick up some bread for the kid's lunch. Instead, I'm on the phone with his dad trying to bribe him into making the lunch. If I'm nice, maybe he will.

Anyway, those frozen Bertolli meals are good! We had the one with pasta and sausage along with a green vegetable and garlic bread and the kid is happy. We also have ice cream for dessert but, I'll wait until he is in the shower to have that treat!

I was so discouraged because I though that I was short for my 1-15 bills. When I did the math, I have extra and do not even need to touch the ing account! I truly thought that I needed to empty that sucker and borrow some more money. Made my day to see that I do not need to borrow, I have money in 2 interest earning savings accounts and I'm fine. As much as I think I have gone over the budget, I have remained on track!

In my daily exercise in frugality, I went to Target to get Dunkin Donuts coffee. When I grabbed the package, I saw the Maxwell House. I grind my own beans and make my coffee daily but, I decided to try the Maxwell House as it was less than half the cost of the Dunkin. So, I will have Maxwell House for the next month and $3 extra dollars in my pocket.

On the stroll

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Vons is doubling coupons again (limited time)

Vons had really good sales this week but, they don't double coupons anymore. They bring it back a few times a year but, people complained that the lines were long because of people using coupons.

Well, now they do not have lines because no one shops at my local Vons unless it is to buy items on sale at REALLY good prices. Why? Their prices are HIGH.

Anyway, on my way to a more reasonably priced grocer, I saw the signs hanging that double coupons are back. WOO HOO.

So, I stopped in and for $30, had 7 bags of groceries. I had some things such as chips ($1.66 each), Bertoli frozen meals for 2 (so good and easy to make--$5.99), and assorted other items. Well, besides the chips, I had coupons for everything. Frozen veggies for $3.00 (2 boxes), four frozen pizzas for $3, Bertoli for $2.99. . . I'm pretty proud of the damages. I think I saved over 63% by using coupons.

I do not make any menus nor do I cook huge meals on weekends. I simply buy what we like. We are well fed and the cabinets are full. I do not make elaborate lists. I am antsy if I am in a store for longer than 30 minutes (including the checkout lane). By 2pm on a Sunday, I want my shopping complete for the week, unloaded and put away neatly. Now, if someone can give me some easy way to get a good movie on Showtime each Sunday at 2, that would make my day!

On the stroll

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Bringing Lunch to Work is Good for the Budget

I was going overboard with eating out. Have a co-worker that LOVES eating out. I found that I was spending in excess of $10 per day (and I am a single mom) and throwing the food out because it was not what I wanted to eat.

About a month ago, I quit. Cold turkey, bought some cute little containers, researched bentos, bought a thermos. I was prepared. A month later, I've lost weight, am calmer and have disposable income. Guess which I like best?

I'm using the saved funds to rebuild my emergency fund. Well, and Christmas is just around the corner.

Trust me, even if you open a can of soup, you can save a bit of money plus, you get to eat something you like rather than taking a chance.

On the stroll

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Easy to save when you are looking for something

I have wanted a silver or black tv stand for almost 2 years. I was determined to find one this weekend. I think I drove over 150 miles looking for a stand under $150 with at least 2 shelves and taller than 24 inches. I think I would have more luck finding a leprechaun holding a four leaf clover.

So far I have hit liquidators, Costco, Target, furniture stores, Sears, Best Buy, Circuit City and nothing. Most places now sell the stand with the tv. Oh wait--I also went to Ikea and have checked Craigslist! Why is tht so hard to find?

Besides gas, I have not spent a dime. Necessities only (food and gas). Good for my bank account. Bad for the retail world.

Want to save some money? Look for something that you have wanted for a long time. Works every time for me. Want a blue suit? Go to the mall. You won't find a blue suit and you will become more determined and end up leaving with nothing. If I am just looking, I will spend $500 easy.

Still have no idea what to do about the tv stand,

On the stroll

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Grocery Savings

Our local Albertsons had a great deal. I normally pass these by but, actually thought about it and wanted to go in on it with a friend. The deal was that you buy 10 items for $25 and the store gave $15 off. You ended up paying $10 for 10 items. Sounds good so far, right?

Well, I read the disclaimers a number of times. Essentially the only caution was that all items must be purchased in a single transaction. Sounds good so far. I quickly found 10 items that I wanted (a wide variety of items were included; frozen, chilled and canned). My friend did the same so, we decided to pay separately. At the checkout, I thought I was overcharged but, when I looked at the receipt, they took off the $15 once. There were no limits on the promotion. I went back and the store manager gave me the addtional $15 off. So, for 10 bags of food, I paid $27 (I did buy a few items not included in the promotion).

The bad thing is that the store does not double coupons. I had about 7 coupons for the 20 items I purchased through the promotion. So, I saved a ton and got several items for $0.50 (soup, break and bake cookies, snacks).

My friend went back yesterday (with coupons this time) and paid $6 for 10 items! He's learning.

I scanned the flyers last night and did not see any deals like that for the near future. I will keep my eyes out for baking goods because I try to buy spices, flours and other holiday baking goods just before Thanksgiving.

I am going to the mall at lunch today. I hope I can resist big spending.

On the stroll

Text Messages

I'm 36, I never thought I would communicate with friends via text messages. Once in a while is fine but, some people like to send 10 or more per day. Essentially, I have been forced to add a text plan to my cell. Of course, I have a very old plan with lots of minutes, rollover and free nights and weekends.

Originally I said that I would only add a text plan if the texts costs more than the plan. At the time, they were 5 cents each. I checked again last week and they were $0.15 each. So, ten would be $1.50. To add a plan, $4.99 per month. The plan includes 200 messages. Additional messages are discounted as well.

I have at least 3 friends that send texts so, I should be covered.

If only I could add nationwide coverage so that travel does not lead to EXORBITANT roaming charges. Of course, they will not offer that. To upgrade to national coverage would double (or more) my current plan. The good thing is that I am covered in CA, NV, AZ and somewhere else. It could be much worse.

I keep reminding myself that I am saving money by not having a landline. Any tips to saving on cell plans?

On the stroll

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

I've been crazy. I'm at a seminar for the rest of the week. It took me 2 hours to get there this morning and 90 minutes to get home. It's 27 miles away! Then, the only parking is at the hotel for $15 per day. I'm being reimbursed but what the HECK! This is why I am considering leaving California.

I've been so good. No unncessary spending, no extravagant lunches. Only necessary items. I am under budget for the month.

This weekend, I spent less than $60 and I even bought meat. I hardly buy meat because I am only home on the weekend to cook it. Plus, I stash leftovers in the freezer for quick weeknight meals.

Sleep deprivation leads to impulse purchases. I am going to bed.

On the stroll.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Blew the budget - possibly

Today, I spent over $100 at Talbots. Completely unplanned. And somehow, I feel good aobut it!

I had a date. I wanted to look good but, be comfortable. I found Khaki's tht fit almost perfectly, a blue jacket (cotton) that fit beautifully and a purple top that works under suits or with jeans. Because I can wear it to work or for fun, I think it was a good deal.

I started the day with a garage sale with a friend. We only did the sale for about 90 minutes but, we both sold more than we anticipated. I think we made around $150 between us. We stopped because it was too hot, traffic dwindled and we were starving. I spent most of my earnings eating but, I cleaned my trunk, garage and provided items to someone that needed them at a fair price.

During the yard sale, we met a couple that had recently adopted their 7th child. I don't know how many were biological and how many adopted but we were so impressed by this couple. Adoption has been a goal of mine for a very long time. So nice to be reminded of it.

While I went over budget today (or ignored the darn thing), I also made some money with the yard sale. Because I have virtually eliminated the daily lunch ($10+ at a restaurant), I do not spend as much so, we're going to call it even.

On the stroll

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Well past my bedtime

Last week, I had an insatiable desire to shop. This week, no desire at all. I feel that I have what I need. What a difference a week makes. I think it is the blog. Others can see what I am up to and keep me in line.

I just went over my budget for the remainder of the month and I will be about 400 under budget this month!

Here are a couple of tips:

If you buy books, sign up for a frequent buyer card (if it is free). I have a Border Rewards card and just bought a book that I wanted to read and it is not at a local library . . . after the discounts, it cost me $4.73! Originally $19.99!

I had a long conversation with a co-worker about store credit cards. She was against it because she knows she can't control her spending and an extra discount makes her spend more than intended. For me, it works -- well, it would if I would pay the darn thing off each month. However, being able to purchase 3 tops to wear under suits for $17 makes up for the interest charge (becuase of the 3 suits I purchased the month before). None cost more than $79 so, they were good deals. I know I am rationalizing but, if you pay them off each month, you can get better deals in some stores by having a store card.

This month, I am trying to do like Single Ma and put all discretionary expenses on a credit card (which will be paid off in full each month). This month is the trial. I am brown bagging it or skipping lunch. $10 per day is too much for food that I do not want to eat (more on that later). So, already my spending has dropped drastically.

Anyway, I am terribly sleep deprived,

On the stroll

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Balance Transfers

Today, there were a few blog posts about Balance Transfers. Then, I received word that my new card has a balance transfer. I had forgotten that I wanted to transfer the balance to that card. That is a good thing for my budget. I will save about $40 per month in interest charges!

Yes, I have been a bad girl. At one time I had over $25,000 in debt. When my baby boy was born, I decided to get my stuff together and pay it off rather than add to the debt. Can I just say that I loved Barneys and Needless Markup and expensive cosmetics? Designer suits every day and getting cash from one card to pay another. Yes, I was dangerous.

Now, my total debt, excluding educational loans is less than $10K. That includes a car! I can pay that off in a year. I will add at least $200 per month into my high yield savings account and once I build my $1000 nest egg, pay those bills down.

I probably keep repeating myself but, I want to remind myself of my goals or I will just blow it off and increase the consumer debt.

My frugal tip of the day is freecycle. Freecycle is wonderful. The very item you need is probably being stored in someone's garage, gathering dust. And guess what? They will probably give it to you. I've given away school uniforms, books and movies.

On the stroll

Monday, October 1, 2007

October 1

two weeks ago, I started a savings account at ING direct. Ask for a referral, I heard that they were offering $50 to start an account with a $250 deposit. Yes, I would get a referral of $10 but, you would get $50 immediately. I only got $25.

Anyway, I earned my $25 with that account and added $100 yesterday. Based on my fine coupon clipping skills, I save $60 yesterday. I think I spent $93. My freezer is full and I stockpiled items for the future.

My goal is to follow Dave R. and rebuild my nest egg of $1000. I also got a new credit card and will transfer my credit card debt to that. No interest until January 2009! So, I want to transfer about $150 per month of minimum payments to this card for that period to pay them off!

One day I will figure out how to add a tracking feature but, let's just call this month the gimme. I will post what I'm doing to save and pay off debt until then.

I have picked up a couple of freelance gigs and posted some items on ebay. Those funds will pay off consumer debt.

On the stroll

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I'm trying to create a list of goals which will motivate me to pay off my debts faster.

Right now, the only motivation is to pay off the debts so that I can spend more. For me, this will lead to spending more and the debts will remain.

Today, I spent time with a spendthrift. I encouraged him to clip coupons, make a list for the grocery store and plan meals. He purchased toothpaste at Target. It was a good deal for $3. However, if he waited until tomorrow morning, he could have purchased the same thing at Ralphs for $0.50. Of course, that motivated him to pick up a Sunday newspaper and compare the grocery ads to the coupons. It would have been nice if he offered me a portion of his savings but, I am just happy that he won't throw away any money this week.

He then signed up for something called The Coupon Game. I don't know how this works (if you know, please explain it to me). It looked as if he had an old list . . like I said, I don't understand the site.

If you have not already guessed, I am a coupon clipper. My methods are simple: subscribe to the Sunday newspaper, clip coupons for items that I use or am interested in, keep coupons in a folder, keep coupons that expire at the end of the current month in a separate envelope or in my coupon organizer, throw away expired coupons at the end of each month. Works for me and takes less than an hour each week.

There are other methods and some people keep a pricing notebook. I don't because I know which items are at good prices and which are lower at other stores.

Clip some coupons and save some money,

On the stroll

Friday, September 28, 2007

October is a great time to start seriously paying off debt and saving

I'm a mid thirties professional with under $10K in credit card debt but over $100K in educational loans. Therefore, I am on the stroll for school loans.

I realized that I could take a weekend trip each month, buy a newer car or simply save more for retirement with the $700 in loans made to Sallie Mae or Wells Fargo.

Not long ago, I had this idea that after grad school, I would have free time, take extravagant trips and never think about grad school. Then, my wonderful school gave me this letter which said that I owed almost $200K in loans! Whoa, Nelly. Where did that come from?

Of course, they overestimated. I consolidated but, two loans were left out of the mix. I guess they were unsubsidized or someone was making too much money to let them go . . . this is why Sallie Mae is a pimp.

Anyway, I hope that I can share some moneymaking and moneysaving ideas with you.

On the stroll