Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ending The Year

I suppose you could say I'm going out with a bang after the 'quick' trip to Costco?

$40 in gas ($3.23 a gallon)

And then the shop WITH a list, which was pretty much stuck to ... but still...

Paper towels $14.89
80ct Coffeehouse kcups $37.99
5 lb beefsteak tomatoes $6.99
36 pk water $3.75
dozen croissants $5.99
TP $17.99
Aidell chicken hotdogs (1 was apple other is pineapple, delicious) $10.99 x 2
6 pk romaine $4.29
24 oz bag o' Ruffles $5.29 (hey, better than $7.99)
large bag of organic tortilla chips $4.89
8 pk Torta sandwich rolls $5.99
72 ct dayquil $14.29
72 ct nyquil $14.29
18 oz wedge of percorino romano $9.54
1 lb of Coastal Cheddar $6.99
18 pk protein bars $17.69 (score, the price dropped!)
36 ct welchs fruit snacks $10.59
12 pk 5" burger buns $2.39 (for the juicy lucys)
90 ct EmergenC $19.49
2 lb organic spinach leaves $4.29
string cheese $9.49
large jug fresh pico de gallo $5.49
2 pkgs fully cooked steak strips $12.99 each (for my steak salads and other things)
2 lb bag of peeled garlic $4.99
2 lb strawberries $3.99
3 pk english cukes $3.99
2% milk $3.35

I skipped the eggs, over $5 now for 36 ... the price really went up fast. Also skipped a few other things as the price is just not what it used to be.

I stood in line at the Pharmacy for oh, 10 minutes, just to get the real-deal Sudafed. Handed over my Costco card and debit card and realized that I didn't have my license with me. Crumb. Which is why I got the other stuff. Uggg.

So, grand total? $289.49. Geesh. Just about the amount that would have been swept over to my savings account in the morning. Bummer.

Then it was the place to fill the spare propane tank $20.00

Then Publix for cocktail sauce $3.36

Then 7-11 for ice (forgot to get at Publix), 40 lbs for $10+ ... good Lord.

Yeah, I am going out with a bang!

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Eve Festivities

We pretty much have all the food on hand that we will be preparing (well, except the water chestnuts, the chips, the fresh tomatoes ... ok, Marked picked up a few things) ...

But I was waffling back and forth about the liquor.

Yes, I have 4 bottles of Tequila (wait, make that 6, 4 are the real good stuff), JD, Gin, Titos Vodka, and a little rum and some other odds and ends. Like the Double Espresso Vodka and the bottle of Kahlua <shudder> (those 2 shaken and chilled, strained and done as a shot? delicious but wicked headache the next day ... though that could have been from the amount of wine consumed beforehand?)

And yes, I have 'some' beer in the fridge, but not enough for a party so to speak. You know, 10 or more people does constitute a party.

So I went to Wine Spirits and More. And got 3 12 pks of various beers. A 12 pk of Smirnoff Ice (variety pack, for the younger drinkers). 2 bottles of good champagne and 3 bottles of cheap'er' champagne (still $16 a bottle, but I just can't pull off cheap stuff, you know??)

Hmmm...what else?

Oh, yeah. A bottle of Crown Royal and a bottle of Sour Green Apple Schnapps ... for Washington Apples.

Honestly, I'm trying to avoid a hangover on Sunday.

Total spent was pretty much A LOT. $178. And one of the bottles of champagne was free, and $5 off in coupons for the beer.  I did put the little crown bag away for part of a pirate costume for next Halloween (I can never seem to find one when I need it!)

Appetizers will be spinach/artichoke hot dip, shrimp cocktail (freezer), mini quiche (freezer), cheese with summer sausage and crackers, bacon wrapped water chestnuts, stuffed mushrooms, chips and salsa, cheese spread, and if I'm motivated enough, I will do a few cold cut rollups (turkey and ham are in fridge). But then again, probably not as Mark bought a Honey Baked Turkey Breast (yum) today. Ummm...that was NOT on the list but he did it anyway. I guess he's figuring going out with a bang?

Just being honest here. I'm hoping that the champagne is NOT all drunk that night, as the beer, ice and Washington Apples. But if it is, it is. Just means I may have a dry spell there =D

We will probably leave the house and head to A1A and Las Olas for the Ball Dropping at the Elbow Room. However, I'd just as soon stay here instead and watch the fireworks as we can see them from the front yard.

I'm not feeling too badly (still) about the liquor tab. We generally have ONE big bash in the winter months and didn't get to do the boat parade this year ... so .... I'm ok with it. I need to go online though and look at my balance and clear out the funds to start the new year with $1341 in my checking account on Sunday ... woohoo ... let the games begin!

Best Buy and Reward Points

I've been putting off getting ink for the one printer for oh, about a month now.

Why? Because I wanted to go to Best Buy and get it ... I have $50 in reward certificates. And quite honestly, I had NO desire to head in there during the holiday crush.

Last night I finally stopped on my way home as Princess really needed to print this paper off and keep in her car (she's a procrastinator apparently) until her new tags arrive. Ha.

I avoided browsing, although I did little longingly at the new printers but moved on to the cartridges.

I debated on the XL cartridge for $40+ or just the ordinary cartridge for $15+. I opted for the $15 one.

Went to check out ... handed over my $10 and $5 certificates and forked over two quarters and two pennies ... thankfully I had change in the bottom of my purse that I scooped out of my car that morning, so I wasn't in the same predicament as I was with Target.

Yes, 52 cents is what it cost me.

I feel good. And I still have $35 left. Yippee Yahoo.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Quick Stop At Target

Heh, let's just say that for the most part, Target is NOT my friend.

See,  I stopped by there the other morning to look for any kind of good food mark downs, along with paper items since it's the week after Christmas.  Remember, over here, I was going back and forth on whether or not I should explore ....

Needless to say, I should have stayed out of there.

First trip that morning yielded a LOT of Hickory Farm summer sausage and cheeses. Like $50 worth (they were $2.49 for a 10 oz cheese and $2.49 for the 1 lb roll). A good deal in my book and something that is shelf stable without taking up valuable space in fridges and freezers. Not to mention, we all like this stuff ...

The 2nd trip (that evening) was solely to get the 80/20% hamburger for $2.50/lb. I got 10 packages because over here, I was just complaining about the lack of beef in my freezers AND the fact that it's close to $4 a pound nowdays. And a bag of frozen, peeled cooked shrimp (1 lb) $5.99. And more Hickory Farms pepperoni sticks ($2.49 again). This cost me $53.30. How do I know the exact amount? Because I had $53 in my purse but NO CHANGE. So ended up using the debit card (thankfully my bank was one of the ones who joined the no fee for using it).

So I spent $100+ at Target in one day, 2 trips. Really. On food stuff, no less. Not good. Uh uh. Not at all.

We did have cheese and sausage with crackers for dinner. Wanted to make some burgers but of course, don't have any burger buns on hand. Think I will do that for New Years Day ... thinking of some juicy lucy using the smoked cheddar cheese ... yummmm.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Coming Down To The Wire

This is it, the homestretch!

I did good over the weekend, Zero Spend Saturday and Sunday (uh, doh, it was Christmas Eve and then Christmas, I'm aware of that).

Monday would have been a great day too except that my neighbor, who is like my Florida mom, she wanted to do the casino. As she's going through heavy radiation and chemo yet again, I told Mark that I almost felt like I needed to do this as it may be the last time to do so.

$60 in. Came out with $3. Ahhh. I remember why I hate gambling.

This week should be a fairly inexpensive week as far as spending goes. Hoping that Penn Dutch puts chicken on sale as I think I'm getting low. Same with beef. Wondering if we shouldn't go back to grinding our own beef again (we have a meat grinder, not commercial size!) ... if beef stays over $3 almost $4 a pound, may consider it. Still need to get to Costco but now re-evaluating the cat thing. We have a big box that the Boy put a beach towel in and a few cat toys, and the old kitty, Gman has taken up ownership in it ... Kitty Kitty has a tendency to want to stand on it and then walk to the edge where it collapse, freaking Gman out. Not sure how long that will last before we kick it out :)

If I do Costco and skip the cat condo thing, I'd say under $100, possibly even less than that. Most likely even less than that now that I think about it.

We had no consumable water over the weekend (main waterline break) so used up most of my bottled water. Will need to replenish that, and Costco is the best price for it.

Other than that, feeling good going in to the New Year. How about you?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rule #10 - Do It Myself Beauty

Oh boy.

This could be difficult and probably one of the most painful things to do.

No manicures.

No pedicures.

No hair color.

No eyebrow/lip waxing (ok, maybe, maybe, maybe 2 times for 2012? NO??)

These are all things that cost premium money and also, things I can do myself, at home, for a fraction of the price.

Manicure/Pedicure $30 plus (simple, discount rate)

Hair color $165 plus (AND $50 for cut)

Eyebrow/lip waxing $16 plus.

Ummm. Yeah.

Fortunately, there are a TON of beauty tips out there for DIY stuff. I'm sure there will be alot of posts coming up in 2012 to share some of the one I try ... and hopefully successful!

Rule #10:

Do It Yourself Beauty.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A little update - 7 days to go

Nervous? A little!

Excited? Absolutely!

Hubby is still not 100% on board with me, I don't think. Well, not that he's not on board, but the full understanding of what this really means. It could be tough for him at first, plus, he's not one to make spontaneous purchases, so to speak, but then again, when it comes to the boats or cars, he spares no expense. So...with that in mind:

What are we going to do about Vernors AND Arnold Palmer?? I suppose I'm going to have to keep them in for now. We did limit the number of ginger ales we were buying, more as an attempt to break his horrible ale habit (better than crack I suppose??) I will keep experimenting with the Arnold Palmer stuff. Just need to find the right mix.

I'm a little freaky that I might go hog wild this week with Christmas clearance AND stuff being on sale. New pots and pans? New dishes? How about a new electric frying pan? Oh and don't forget, those boots I've not gotten yet this year ... I may just have to stay OUT of the stores coming up this week just so I don't have to torture myself.  What's worse, knowing WHAT I missed or NOT knowing what I missed??

I have 3 checks yet for the month. Well, really, only 2 as I'm putting the check that comes on the last day of the month to the first (by the time I get it deposited, it will be the new month, new year). So those 2 checks, $286 total, will be put in for any other straggler items that are out there. Then everything will be CLEARED out of my savings account and put into the NO TOUCH savings account. Huh. Pretty brutal, don't you think?

I will start the new year, January 2, with about $1400 in my account. No problem. Electric, cell phone, credit cards, $150 for food, and it just dawned on me that the Boy will need to buy some books for the new semester the 2nd week in July. Ok then. That 'may' create a small problem. But we'll see. It's a tight budget, and I'm up for the challenge!

We need to make a run to Costco. Should have done it Friday, but will probably do Monday. Hubby wants me to take our friend as he wants to check out the meat stuff. I want to get the TALL cat perch they have (condo thingy like) as I think BOTH cats would like that instead of having to hog the one single perch we currently have. It's something like $70 or so and I wanted to get it for Christmas, but that didn't work out that way.

Also need to get some salad stuff, spinach, eggs, milk, fruit, snacky crap for the kids, and this must all be under $150. Was considering buying some beef as I believe I'm out (need to do inventory on the freezers) and what kind of household are we without beef?

Yes, Costco will still stay on the list of stores I shop. I just won't be doing BIG shops like I've done in the past unless I want to borrow grocery funds from the next month. Um, no, I don't want to do that! I think Costco can be frugal IF you follow a list and a plan, don't get sidetracked, don't even LOOK at stuff outside the list (although, I've found some excellent deals by browsing BUT it puts me over the budget). I also am a firm believer that CASH is the way to do Costco otherwise, the debit card and/or american express get hit HARD.

I'm going to try very hard NOT to do a big shop this week in anticipation of the new challenge for 2012. That would sort of defeat the purpose IF I spent $500 on food this week, wouldn't it? OF course, if meat (ham and turkey) are at rock bottom prices, I will be stocking up on them, but only as much as I have room for in the freezer, which at the moment, is not much at all ... I really need to get them organized. So that's what's I'm off to do today.

So far this morning I've made the snowball cookies (using the Ande mints since it's what I have) and have the milk/oil/sugar mixture cooling to make the cinnamon rolls for neighbors delivery in the morning. The kitchen is a mess and I need to get that cleaned before I tackle the freezers.

Here's hoping that everyone is having a wonderful Christmas ... enjoy spending time with those you love!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Enough is Enough

Imagine my surprise, when a week before Christmas, TWO Women's Health magazines show up in the mailbox. Hmmm....what happened to Rule #3, no new subscriptions?? Heh. Good thing I did this LAST month.

Anyways. It can be a beneficial magazine I think.

So in December's issue (go to the library!), there is an article on page 105, titled "Enough with the Stuff". It's pretty spot on.

1. Recognize the problem. It doesn't happen overnight, it creeps in. Clutter is caused by NOT handling the item and dealing with it immediately. Same with over abundance of clothing and accessories/shoes. Having too many choices can make you lose time, which we all know, time IS money.

2. Makeover your mindset. Which is what 2012 is supposed to be all about for me. WH recommends that you focus on acquiring EXPERIENCES not things. I wholeheartedly agree. Remembering that less is more.

3. Know what needs to go.  This is a difficult one for me, although the day or two before the garage sale, I grab EVERYTHING that hasn't brought me joy in the last week. I think it's supposed to be in the past 6 months or so ... sort of goes back to the multiple black skirts I have. One for each stage of the month (you know, bloated, thin, achy, crampy, etc.)

4. Clear the clutter. Pretty much self explanatory. The first 3 items above should be leading you up to this regardless. I think I may have it covered under Rule #6 for replacement items with the one in one out rule. They also suggest a cap to the number of items, like 5 pairs of jeans. Hmmm. It's a thought worth keeping in mind.

How about you? Do you agree?

End of the Year Bonus

I got a lot of the shopping done yesterday morning at Macy's for the kids and picked up some odds and ends too. Spent a little over $100 which was pretty good for 8 items, all quality clothing. Still need to go to Best Buy (ink) and Bed Bath & Beyond (electric knife). Will probably swing over to ULTA too to get a few gift cards (Princess and the Boy's g/f). And then I think the grocery store for some stocking stuffers and bottles of sparkling grape juice and then I'll be done.

So. Wednesday, I got 3 checks for year end bonuses. Two at $500. And one at $1000.

That was way to generous, and I even said so.

The bosses treat me well, I know. But that was way too much. They insisted.

So I deposited them.

I now can pay the remainder of the property taxes AND the rest of the outstanding bills for the month.

Ahhh. I feel so much better now. I may not be going into the new year negative, as I was starting to fear (with my mom passing away unexpectedly, I drained all 3 accounts for airfare, car rental, cremation fees and getting my dads bills caught up so there would be no disconnection of services anywhere). I'm blessed and I realize that I am. Which is giving me all the more willpower to do this for 2012.

It's sad that bonuses should NOT be used to pay bills or get caught up on something. But for me, this was really a lifesaver. I was dreading paying the taxes as it would have left me in the HOLE for the beginning of the year, as in negative balance. No thank you.

What are YOUR resolutions? Did you make any?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Early Start?

Apparently, I didn't get the memo ... but I seem to have gotten an early start ... but not because I wanted to ... more that I needed to.

With my  mom passing suddenly and then finding a lot of things have gone unpaid (and prescriptions not refilled) I spent a buttload of money up north those 7 days. Which is fine because I could and no one else was able.

But the after effect is tightening of the pursestrings. Which, again, is ok, but not desired. I mean, heck, it's Christmas time. I've only gotten a few things ... one for Sonny Boy (the microwave pasta maker that I got at the garage sale from neighbor for free), Hubbys DVD set (ordered before all the stuff kicked in) ... each kid has a $25 McDonalds gift card in their stocking, and that's IT. Getting ready to do the early morning run to Macy's this morning to use my $10 off $25 and get both kids some clothes and hope they can return if they don't like (will inquire) ... then after work it's to Best Buy (ink for printer using my $50 rewards) and then Bed Bath & Beyond to get Hubby an electric knife and a Fushigi Ball for the Boy. Princess may just get hair stuff as she still likes that silly girly stuff. I also need to look for something for the girlfriend in the Boy's life.

I feel a little pressure. I've got to pay the property taxes ($5300) by months end. I have the water and cable bill to pay (about $250 total?). Then there is the American Express bill of $750 that needs to be paid (next month will be a LOT higher). I need to make my deposit of $800 today which I think will make the taxes ok to pay now.  I'm stressed, but I'm not. Because I know that looking at The Budget I created earlier, it's doable and NOT the end of the world, so long as I don't let myself get behind THIS month.

And that, my friends, is the key, DO NOT GET BEHIND.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rule #9 - Control Food Waste

I'm really bad about this one.

But mostly, it's just produce. So it should be easy to take care of this. I just need to remember that I can make a produce run if necessary, to under buy rather than over buy.

Kristin over at The Frugal Girl does a weekly post and link up on Friday for Food Waste. I'm always amazed that she has such little waste. Heh. I can only HOPE to be like that!

Fortunately we eat leftovers for lunches and carry over dinners. Sometimes, if it's something really really good, I'll stuff it in the freezer to be eaten in a week or two as a special 'surprise' leftover meal. Of course, sometimes, I forget about them. Which really defeats the whole purpose!

Rule #9:

Control Food Waste

Monday, December 12, 2011

Rule #8 - Get Serious About Saving

Number 8 of 10 ...

Get serious about saving. Really.

I get a weekly check of $143.68. Then I also get a check the 1st and 15th of each month for a lot more. And then I also get a month end check for bonuses. And another check from the one attorney for some side work I do (not sure how long this will last) and of course, the pennies from the blogs and a few bucks from Text Brokers.

So um, yeah, I make a decent amount.

Which means I should have a LOT saved. But I don't. I spend. Sometimes mindlessly. Which is why I'm where I am today.

That weekly check? That is going into the Chase no-touch savings account. I say NO-TOUCH because it's not convenient for me to get there or to take money out. I don't even have the account number memorized or my pin for the ATM card. Ha. Perfect.

This should equate to $7,471.36 for the year. That's a decent savings, don't you think?

Rule #8:

Savings account to be added to WEEKLY.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

21 more days to go

I'm giddy, nervous, excited, apprehensive, totally flipping out!

Ok, not really.

But I am really watching the calendar now to make sure that I have everything set and ready.

Primarily, my attitude.

I'm still not sure I've got Mark on board.

The kids? Well, they have no choice. Being 19 (soon) and 21 (soon), they need to either go along with the plan or support themselves. Mean? Not at all.

I've been working on the budget, putting FIRM numbers down on the monthly bills, and giving myself a dollar amount for food and gas. Then I remembered that I should have something there for medical stuff since I go to the doctor now and have a script as does The Boy. Keep an eye out for the Budget. So NOT looking forward to tracking but I realize it is important.

I am also slowly cleaning and organizing the pantry and freezers. I still have a lot of food even though I've been doing quite a bit of reduced grocery shopping lately. But when the good deals come around, I've been buying so maybe that's why it doesn't seem as if anything is showing any progress =D. I need to get an inventory list posted in the pantry, the baking area, the freezers and check off as I use the stuff (and add on when something is put in). This too shall become another 'new' habit of mine.

We had a neighborhood garage sale on the 3rd. I was able to clear out A LOT of stuff, not just the pile that's been accumulating in the guest room since summer. I feel so liberated after dropping the remains at goodwill. I knew if I didn't do it right then it wasn't going to happen.

Yes, it is about consumerism but I'm really NOT wanting to jump on that particular bandwagon.  I'm not doing this to save the environment or to make a 'statement' but rather, to prove to MYSELF (and those close to me) that I don't necessarily need all those things that supposedly make my life so much better.  Those very things are causing ME anxiety in that they are eating the very cash that I work so hard for, the need to replace them to keep because I just can't imagine NOT having those things. The very things that create clutter and cause more disorganization which consumes even more of my time.

And of course, it is about saving money. To put aside a nice cushion for those days down the road where surely, I will need to have the backup plan in place. Even at the end of 2011, contrary to what those in the media might say TODAY, the economy is NOT rebounding, nor is there a quick fix from the government on the horizon. It's going to cost more to live a normal day to day life and I want to be prepared for that day. I'm not sure where those on the TV get their facts from, but we can all be quite certain that it's not from you or me or those on the street.

So there you have it. My thoughts. My hopes. Not my prayers as those are private. Are you going to join in and make it the Year of Zero?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Accumulation of Stuff

We had our semi annual neighborhood garage sale this past Saturday.

Every year, April and late November, 3 of us get together and have it. It's really more of a socializing thing because the 3 of us neighbor ladies don't really spend a whole lot of time together, even though we enjoy the other's company very much ... just that every day life interferes. So yeah, we have fun.

But it amazes ME how much STUFF I can put out every 6 months ... and  yes, I sell the majority of it, CHEAP at about a quarter to fifty cents per item, just so I don't have to take it back in the house again. If I do have to load it up, it goes in the back of the Tahoe and off to Goodwill. May as well get a tax break where you can, right?

It's going to be very interesting to see how April pans out, and November should be REAL interesting as I won't be bringing any extra stuff in, providing I stick with the plan.

This time around, I sold alot of my partylight candle stuff that I've accumulated but not used. I got rid of my boxing gloves, hand wraps, both bags, and the Bowflex is listed on Craigslist.

I sold the two large duffle bags that the kids used to use (they've moved up in the world to real suitcases) and a few other odd things that were taking up space.

All in all, made $183. Not so bad for 4 hours of hanging with the old girls.

But more important, I can walk into the Florida Room and not have a slight anxiety at the clutter-ness of it all. All the exercise stuff was in there and it was very crowded, disorderly looking. Amazing. Now I can bring in the Christmas tree and not have to fret over where to put everything.

Less stuff = less clutter = cleaner lifestyle. My goal!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Rule #7 - No New Commitments

You know those monthly bills, netflix, the GYM, cellphones, etc? All those extra services we pay for on a month by month basis, regardless if we use them or not.

Well, I'm commiting right here, right now.


Which means, the GYM that we love but realize is way to inconvenient to get to? If I'm gonna switch, I need to do it THIS MONTH otherwise, it's cancel and cancel only. ACK.

Cable. Stays the same or goes away.

Cell Phone? Same.

Magazines? Sorry. No more.

Online memberships. Sob. That's it. Just Say No.

And this also means, them credit cards? No more. What I have is what I have. Nothing new. Which should NOT be an issue because this is the YEAR OF ZERO.

Rule #7 - No New Commitments.

PS - today is the Boys 19th birthday. Happy birthday Kid!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The REAL Budget

About 6 months ago, I started keeping the bills after they were paid.

No, they weren't filed away 'neatly', just put in a folder in a drawer in the desk. Which has come in handy as there have been a few times (damn Comcast) where I had to pull out the previous month bill to find out what the heck they were charging me for differently.

I have a GOOD idea of what the monthly bills are, give or take $15 or so dollars. Everything fluctuates, even though its shouldn't. So I went ahead and made myself a REAL BUDGET and even made them a little higher in the end.

Ready for the REAL DEAL? Here it is:

FPL (electric) $400.00 ($4800 a year!) NOTE: This is hopefully an average. With one kid gone and another only home occasionally, I'll be curious to see how much it changes!

AT&T $35.00 ($420 a year)

Tmobile $200.00 ($2400 a year!)

Sprinklers $45.00 ($540 a year)

Water $125.00 ($1500 a year)

Bugman $24.00 ($288 a year)

Netflix $23.00 ($276 a year)

Gym $43.00 ($516 a year)

Comcast $110.00 ($1320 a year!)

Credit cards (total) $400.00 (applying the snowball effect at the moment. Pay all but the lowest balance cards minimum payment first and remaining balance of $400 is applied to the lowest balance card. Once that balance is zero, that payment is applied to the next lowest balance. This will eliminate a bill periodically and hopefully done by the end of May 2012). ($4800 a year!)

Medical $50.00. This may need to be re-evaluated ($600 a year)

Food $300.00 ($3600 a year)

Gas $80.00. May be too low but will try to do with the figure ($960 a year)

That's a total of $1,835.00 out the door. Should be noted that Mark pays the mortgage, insurances, taxes, etc.

Then we add in the savings of $574.72 (Rule #8) which I suppose SHOULD be above and added in to the total balance which would make it $2,409.72. But this would also equate to a nice savings at the end of the year for $7471.36

Income should be:

$1081 x 2 = $2,162.00

$143.68 x 4 = $574.72

$400.00 x 1 = $400.00 (not sure how long this will be for)

$250 to $500 bonus a month so lets say $350 average

Total income for month is $3,486.72

Which should give me $1,077 left at the end of the month. Hmmm. That would sound about right IF I was to keep my spending under control.

What I really want to be able to do is sweep the account at the end of the month (before the 1st) to the accessible savings account and start fresh with that paycheck that comes in on the 1st ($1081) to pay all the bills with. The $574.72 savings is hopefully being deposited directly into the no touch savings account with Chase (out of my way to get to for withdrawals and not an online accessible account).

It really looks completely doable, in my opinion. There’s plenty of wiggle room if needed. Which will be needed as I’ve not included the cost of classes and books for The Boy or Princess as those vary semester to semester and I don’t have anything yet to really budget by. Plus, hopefully they will get some financial aid (not loans!) to help offset some of the cost.

Gosh. Looking at this makes me realize just how much waste there must be in my budget currently. Wow. Makes me scratch my head wondering why I am struggling so much at this very second while I type this.

I would really like to give this a test run for December but it's just not going to work that way. I'm starting the month off borderline negative with the family trip over and property taxes being due (Mark and I split this large bill).

Have you set up your budget yet for 2012?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rule #6 - Replacement Items Only

Oh boy.

This will be punishment to ME.

I love kitchen gadgets, and even though I don't think I'm a tech geek, I suppose I probably am.

My Sansa mp3 player had been giving me grief lately, the volume (where you rotate the main button in a circle) has been sticking so I'm stuck on LOUD jamming music.

Told Hubby, maybe, just maybe, I should ask for a REAL iPod for Christmas? I think I've had this one for oh, maybe 6 or 7 years? Of course, I'm probably the only one in this great city that doesn't have an actual, real, genuine iPod.

But regardless.

I 'need' this. I use it when I run. I use it when I clean. I use it when I fly.

I use it when I float in the pool.

Um. Perhaps my priorities are a tad off. Whatever.

Rule #6 - replace items only. Nothing NEW for the heck of it.

So if the iPod (or equivalent non-apple item) was to show up at my door, the old stuff goes BYE BYE. Hmmm...where does my music go??

Somehow I have a feeling Rule #6 is going to be the most difficult for me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Rule #5 - Dinner Out 1 Night a Week

I'm torn on removing this.

We typically go out every Wednesday evening to a local mom and pop place and spend about $30 plus tip.

It's our 'date night' without all the high hopes and expectations =D wink wink.

We've been doing it since Sonny Boy left for college in late August.

An d have only skipped 2 times.

Even though it's the Year of Zero ... I still think it's in.

But maybe not every week?

This will have to be reviewed further AND perhaps modified.

But in the meantime:

Rule #5 - $30 per week (INCLUDING TIP) ... which changes it up a little. I think I'm going to have to stick with water instead of ordering the $2.75 soda ... uh huh.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rule #4 - Using the Services You Pay For


Yeah, we belong to Netflix, both the streaming and 2 DVDs at a time.

When the Boy was here it was so much more practical as him and his buddies would stream movies constantly.

He still does, up in Orlando, on his laptop but it's not the same, you know?

So. Rule #4 ... Use Netflix. Those DVDs need to be on a constant rotating basis, which means, I need to be shipping them back every stinkin week!

Recently, I had The American (with hunky George Clooney) for 4 weeks. Yes, 4 weeks. Do you think that's really utilizing the $20 a month fee?? I believe I could have purchased it for less!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rule #3 - Magazines and Books

I love to read. And I can re-read stuff so that's even cooler.

But I've gotten sucked into those Tanga deals where you get a year subscription of something for $5 and then you just gotta have it when it's time for renewal.

And do not send me to the bookstore for anything. I love to just browse, but almost always walk out with a book in hand, even if it's on sale, it shouldn't be happening.

We have great libraries all around us.

And yes, I do have an active library card. Granted, I think there is a balance of $8 in fees right now (one is NOT mine, rather the Boy) and I will pay that before the Year of Zero kicks in.

Rule #3

No new magazine subscriptions.

Use the library AND avoid late fees.

Huh. Should be easy, right?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Food Waste

This should really be added on the list of things as Rule #9.

I try not to waste food. And by that I mean, we eat leftovers, we try to eat stuff before then turn south, etc.

But I'm not perfect. FAR FROM PERFECT.

Kristin over at The Frugal Girl does a weekly post of her food waste for the week (she also does compost, which is far out of my reach) ... and I'm thinking, make myself more accountable and post my food waste. ACK! That's frightening!

Ok. I will add this.

Rule #9.

Control Food Waste.

Salad stuff is my number one issue. I overbuy I think because I don't want to have to make a midweek food run. Who am I kidding? I do it anyways! May as well make that my reason to stop at the store on Wednesday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rule #1

It's November 7th, 2011.

And that leaves me 55 more days of pure, free spending days.

Anxiety? A little.

Excitement? Sort of.

I'm still making the rules as I go along.

It's hard to do that.  Arent' you suppose to have the rules of the game BEFORE you release it? Oh. I have 55 more days still.

Rule #1.

No credit cards or debit cards. Cash only.

Shouldn't be difficult. I used to be a fairly high cash only person before but then, the damn credit cards showed up. Yeah. Started out with good intentions and then look what happened? So many things that I discovered I just could NOT live without.

So there we are, 2 rules down, and a few more to go.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Rule #2 - New Clothing


I believe I may be a closet materialistic person.

The urge to shop is killing me knowing that I am about to embark on a challenge that I firmly BELIEVE IN but do not necessarily follow.

I'm thinking of adding rule #2:

2. No buying of NEW clothes, except necessary undergarments. All clothing needs to be fulfilled at garage sales/thrift stores.

I say this because as Hubby and I were getting ready to go out for a nice dinner on our 21st anniversary, I was complaining that I had no nice clothes that fit.

That really should have equated to two different sentences:

I need to lose some weight.
I need to be more creative with what I have.

I have a pretty full closet. Yes, I've been tossing things aside in the goodwill/garage sale 'pile' for a few months now. If it's snug, faded, not my taste, etc., I've been ruthless.

However, I'm starting to feel the festiveness of the holidays approaching and want all the new stuff that comes out at this time of the year.

Red fuzzy sweaters.

Black sparkly dresses.

Unpractical shoes, mostly the BOOTS get me going.

I will buy a new pair of boots this year. I've got my flat grey ones from last year but this year I want brown or black. I'd prefer to have BOTH but that's just not right.

So. Rule #2. No NEW clothes.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Getting Prepared

Wow. This could be hard.

I still need to finalize the rules of the road AND discuss with Hubby.

I'm really hoping that we can be on the same page with it, and not just me for my own stuff. Would be so much more effective ...

I've been tracking since the beginning of October everything I do and it's a real eye opener.

I've discovered that I'm an impulsive shopper. Really. What a shock! And honestly, I think i'ts because I KNOW what I'm about to embark on.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Year of Zero

I am still asking myself just what a Year of Zero is going to be.

We will still shop. I mean, heck, we have no self sustaining, homesteading type stuff in this house. I'm trying to garden but that will not feed us for long (my skills are sorely lacking!)

We will still take a few vacations.

We will still eat out.

We will still buy 'stuff'. The 'stuff' is my number one issue for 2012. Well, that, and trying to set up a serious savings account.

See, in late September, 2011, I was horrified to swipe the debit card and have it DECLINED for a mere $48 purchase. Horrified, I tell you. Because I haven't had that happen to me in over 15 years.

And it all started with my generosity and goodwill towards the Boy going to college. Paid for his first semester of school on a CREDIT CARD. Paid for his first month rent from my checking account. Paid for all this other miscellaneous 'stuff' that he needed for school on credit card and checking account.

What it boiled down to was very little money left in the checking account (which automatically pulled from savings when needed) AND the fact that I am now making about $400 in credit card payments a month just to get the balances down. OMG.

Which is what brought us here, to 2012, The Year of Zero.

Zero Waste.

Zero Junk.

Think twice, three, four times before purchasing.

The good news? I am opting out of the debit/visa/mastercard thing. I will NOT be paying that $5 a month for the privilege to use my debit card like a credit card. This will definitely put me back in my place, as I think a lot of others will be following and doing the same.

Which means, Rule Number One (as it always should be) CASH IS KING.

That's right.

I've done CASH ONLY before and did pretty darn good with it. But fell off the wagon. And then the stupid Amazon thing was offered which I nabbed (should have been a little smarter).

So check back for updates, or better yet, follow me (over on the right) to be notified of the updates when they come along.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

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