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Archive for August, 2006

How did that book end up at Buck a Bag?

August 30th, 2006 at 02:30 am

One of the buddies I got some books for wanted to pay me. The reality is that she would have been uncomfortable if she didnít pay me, and I didnít want to push it. So, she gave me a dollar. Sounded really small to her, Iím sure, especially since one of the eight or so books was signed by the author (Zilpha Keatley Snyder! The Velvet Room! A freakiní classic!). However, it puts me in the position of making a profit on being ďneighborly.Ē Not only being neighborly, but introducing a young girl to a fabulous author in the incredible world of books. Such is life; I accepted the dollar gracefully.

That dollar gets added back into my gift fund. Add that to a dime I found on the ground, the gas-less walk I took to work, the plums I picked off my tree, and the great meal My Guy cooked, and itís a positively abundant day.

Frugal Allies: Keeping and Developing

August 29th, 2006 at 01:30 am

I plan to do some jam making this weekend; we went on another blackberry run, and the plums keep on coming. Jam is always nice to have; itís a very nice little gift for so many occasions. Iím very apt to spread treats as I am definitely treated in my life. For example, 97 cents from the three dollars at the buck-a-bag book sale was for buddies; some were for capital G Gifts to be Wrapped, but some were just things I know people might be looking for. People have been kind in passing on hand-me-down items, and it makes sense to me to have it be an exchange, not a one way flow.

One woman at work has hooked me up with some beautiful sweaters from garage sales and thrift stores. When I cleaned my closet, and decided to get rid of some nice blazers (too long in the sleeves), including one gorgeous lined very high quality one, she was the first person I asked. She didnít give me sweaters so that sheíd get the blazer (she gave them to her daughter); obviously not. But weíve demonstrated to each other that we can see a lot of value in quality used items, and are frugal allies. She will get at least a couple jars of jam.

Sometimes a side benefit of leaving something from a garage sale on someoneís desk is that they see that some items can be cheap. Iíve had people say, ďIíd really like to repay you,Ē and I say, ďIt was 2 for a quarter, so thatís twelve and a half cents.Ē At that point I can usually get them to not give me the thirteen cents. My payment is their excitement that something that good was so low-priced. I do not proselytize my frugality, but Iím completely unembarrassed by it, and I like to think it rubs off a little.

Month Five Day 26

August 26th, 2006 at 11:39 pm

I'm wearing my twenty five cent footy jammies. Got out of a night hot bath. Getting ready to drink tea and read my mighty stack of books. Cheap thrills, cheap thrills.

Didn't accomplish much today, except gathering a lot of plums, some minor puttering, and adding more to my Roth IRA. Obviously the Roth is not related to My Challenge, but it is because of the Challenge that I have extra money floating in my checking that I can use for other things.

It's been almost six months, and I'm almost halfway there. I'm a little proud of myself for sticking with the commitment I made. I'm gaining an awful lot.

107 Books and 1 Freezer

August 26th, 2006 at 06:19 am

My freezer is plugged in and humming. I bought a lot of bread that is ready to go in it. It is ďThe time of Many PlumsĒ so those will be going in there. Itís filling up, and it makes me happy. I went to the Buck a Bag book sale after picking up my freezer and got 107 books for 3 dollars, so thatís less then three cents apiece. Ninety-three cents for buddies, and $2.07 for me.

All my categories that are discretional are up this month. No one single thing I did was bad, but gasoline, household, clothing, and gifts are larger than they could be, and itís only the 24th. Iím still well within The Challenge, but itís a reminder than when you are doing well overall, a little extra here and there can sneak up on you. A mango and other large quantities of fresh fruit, in the same month as a Deseret Industries run, in the same month I drive an extra four hours, in the month I do a Clinique bonus, in the month I go to lunch twice? Well it adds up.

Maybe itís comical that I am spending so much less than I could, but am still so very aware of every dollar. I was glad I had extra recycling money, to add to my gasoline budget! This, in the same month I found out that in ďreal lifeĒ I am getting a raise. However, itís only awareness of spending, not discomfort. Not regret. Just an increased mindfulness.

Iíve Got a Reputation

August 24th, 2006 at 11:46 pm

I came in to work today, and found a huge bag of aluminum cans right by my desk. It was so sweet! There was a picnic event, an Appreciation Luncheon that some supervisors put on for Staff, and they brought me the recycling! How sweet is that? Maybe weird, maybe unusual, but sweet! I did recycling today, and Iím donating back to the annual Luncheon Fund half of what I got for their contribution. So I made an additional $4.14 in recycling.

Freakin' Finally

August 23rd, 2006 at 07:48 pm

I bought the freezer. I'm using $60 from my Emergency/Big purchase fund, and $120 from my "savings" from March through July. This almost empties my emergency fund, leaving less than $5 in it. It leaves $76 in "savings. (Edited: later, I realized that including August "savings" I actually have $117!) I'll try to build those back, of course. It is satisfying to be able to make a purchase like this while on My Challenge!

I pick it up at Sear's in 3-5 days. I've got big plans, including the march of the plums, a Ray recipe I'm doing (pork, crock pot, chiles...I've gotta do a search), some frozen lasagna and stew for treat food, bread. Exciting.

Behold My Favorite Thrift Store

August 23rd, 2006 at 12:54 am

The Dork of the Day award goes to me, because I took a camera on a flight to another city only to use it to take pictures of my favorite thrift store.

Deseret Industries is huge, in Sacramento on Auburn. I believe itís in an old supermarket building.

Those of you who think thrift stores are small, cluttered, dingy places with ripped out-of-date clothing, think again.

Even if you are in a small town, you may periodically make Big City runs for certain items. You may want to check out the thrift stores. This one canít be the only huge, great thrift store in the nation!!!

The pictures arenít perfect because I felt like such a goober taking them. Iím hoping you can at least see how big, bright, clean, and organized it is.




Raise!

August 22nd, 2006 at 11:59 pm

Well, California's minimum wage is going up to $7.50 in January (and later it will be bumped to $8). I just don't know how to handle it. If I stay on The Challenge a year I'll be doing it in January and February only, since I started in March 2006. My inclination is to stay at $6.75 for my Challenge. In the "real world" I wouldn't see the money right away-if it took place the first, depending on how I got paid, I might not see an increase in my check for up to 3 weeks. So my excitement is short lived.

In my Real World, I'm getting a pay raise in October. I was amused that it is the second raise I've had since March 2006 and I won't be able to spend a dime of it.

Full Fridge

August 21st, 2006 at 12:29 am

I came back to town from the camping trip today, flush with food. I felt like a bit of an oddball, but if two pancakes or a near empty jar of jam are going in that garbage, itís my natural instinct to rescue them. Other foods that I help rescue include some garden squash, a hot dog, a bit of left over steak, hamburger and chicken; some provolone cheese, and some sautťed mushrooms. I also brought back a bunch of the chopped veggies and some of the potato salad I brought.

I did put in $5 towards a gift for the hostess at the cabin, but that and the extra gas was worth it. I did end up feeling mildly punk, but not miserable. Did nap on Saturday in the tent. I would really like to be headache free for a while but I guess Iíll take mild or medium headaches over doozies.

Iím getting close to needing a freezer. The plums are really coming in, and berries will be coming. Iím looking at a Kenmore 5 cubic foot chest freezer for $169.99 from Sears. Maybe Iíll do it next weekend. A lot of thrifty chores coming up: my favorite thrift store tomorrow in Sacramento, the ďbuck a bagĒ book sale at the library next Friday night, and freezer. The ďbuck a bagĒ sale is pretty great; I love stocking up on mysteries. If you pack the bags right, the books are around three cents apiece. Most of the gift worthy books sold at the regular sale, for 50 cents or a dollar, but sometimes there are great finds.

Another 17 hour day tomorrow, leave the house at 5 am and get back at 10 pm.

I'm not the only one doing this, right?

August 18th, 2006 at 03:57 am

This morning at work I was putting a roll of toilet paper in my Kleenex box, and didnít realize it would cause people to stare. They were kind; they found it mildly ingenious, I think, and seemed to think I was coming at it from an environmental angle. I admitted that it was thriftiness too. Iíll see if I see a bunch of tissue boxes with the flaps taped shut and TP poking out. (Tip: take out the cardboard roll in the middle.) At the least Iíll score some of these folksí empty boxes.

Not exactly sure why so slow and low on posting lately. My spending is fine; nothing exciting and I'm well within My Challenge and all that. Don't think the lack of posts means going off the wagon or guilt about purchases. Itís habit, it really is. I did a very small favor for a friend and picked her up paper plates for a work event; boy, the price of this normal item, generic store brand at the cheap store, just shocked me. I can see how if I spent the $2 here and $10 bucks there on ďnormalĒ items it could make a big dent in my budget. As it is I donít miss paper plates, so thatís fine.

Iím doing a weekend trip with some work friends. Itís my old unit, but as an alumnus I attend every year and have a great time. Itís at a friendís parentís cabin a couple hours drive away. Most of us camp in tents outside, and hang out and swim and play games and eat all day. I did buy a bunch of fresh veggies to make a veggie tray, and non-fat sour cream to make a dip, and stuff for potato salad, so Iíll spend a little more on groceries and gas than usual, but I can take the hit. I went camping last month and that cost me $12 (entertainment budget); Iím not going to avoid fun things to save money.

Tomorrow is a 17 hour day

August 15th, 2006 at 02:48 am

I leave the house at 5 in the morning to go to the airport and get back at 10 at night. Itís a darned long day, and travel seems to be a migraine trigger for me. Iíll keep my fingers crossed that eating lunch at a restaurant somehow compensates for a super long day.

Time to go to bed.

Fruit and Forums

August 14th, 2006 at 02:18 am

I picked plums from the backyard tree and picked blackberries in town today. The apples on one of out trees are already pretty pick. So it may be a decent jam, apple sauce, and apple butter year.

I may be nuts, but I think a post I made in the Forums was misinterpreted today. Whatís funny to me is that itís renting so much space in my head. Itís such a little thing, one person in the United States thought I was mean, and maybe I am not even reading the situation right. But I am just in a mini-tizzy. I know I have the capability to act childish, but Iíd rather have a mellow Sunday night.

Spree

August 12th, 2006 at 10:43 pm

Today I spent on non-necessities. I even had sort of a spree. What did my crazed self end up spending? $36.21. I love how a binge for me is still little.

My first splurge was getting a $24.67 Clinique item to get the Bonus bag of make-up. I justified it to myself just fine; I tend to get the Bonus once every two years and that meets 95% of my makeup needs. So I got lipstick, mascara, lotion, and three other items. I love Clinique lipstick.

Then I got some bubble bath and two bath pillows at the dollar store. $3.22 on pure luxury. One pillow will replace the kinda broken one in the bath (which will go in my travel bag), and one will be back up for later, so I donít spend more than I want when I need the bath pillow.

I continued to go nuts, and bought fresh fish at the store. My Guy likes catfish, and it was reduced for quick sale, so an $8 something package became $4 something. Weíll have oven fried catfish tonight, one of our favorite dishes, and one that we rarely have fresh fish for. And it doesnít end thereÖ.I got a small bag of fresh cherries! Reduced price, but still, cherries! I only went to the market to get the $3.79 2 pound block of cheese with a dozen eggs free, and I buy fresh fish and cherries.

Iíll have a good dinner tonight, and a lovely bath, and the satisfaction of having nice makeup for a long time. And Iíll have the extra satisfaction of knowing that when I spend like a mad woman, it costs me less than $40 bucks. Whew.

Random This and That

August 12th, 2006 at 05:04 pm

I hadnít played poker in a long time and it was nice to play last night at my place. At the start of the year I had tracked my winnings and losings, so that I had a better idea of my overall play. Well I started the year with $40 in winnings in first game (buy in for $20, took home $60). Then I lost $14, leaving me with $26 winnings to play with. So when I started the challenge I had an extra challenge: I had only that $26 in winnings to play with, or else Iíd have to dip in to my entertainment money, which I wasnít sure about. Anyway, we missed a bunch of games, and then I missed some games that were played, so it had been awhile. And I won $47.25! So now I have a separate jar of money with $73.25 ($26 plus $47.25) to keep playing with. Even if Iím a total loser from now on thatís 3 games worth at least.

Miscellaneous note 1: People brought over left over pot luck stuff from work to the poker game, so now I not only have ground beef, salsa, chopped tomatoes, and shredded cheese in the fridge, I scored a nice Ziploc and some Gladware tubs!

Miscellaneous note 2: My recycling income is way down, because of my decreased club soda consumption. Last run was $2.72, versus the usual $ or so. But I have been really finding a lot of bottles and cans on my breaks at work. So Iím picking up the neighborhood and making money.

Miscellaneous note 3: I was a big freebie girl and stopped for a few years, now Iím back to getting the free samples. Just maybe one nice item in the mail each week, but itís great. I love the sample antiperspirants; Iíve gotten three lately.

Itís Not Deprivation

August 10th, 2006 at 02:28 am

I keep reading little snipes at frugality (not here!), as if people who choose not to spend are depriving themselves.

Get this straight: I am not deprived. I am not missing lattes, going out to eat, spending at the mall. I am not some sad little thing sitting at home washing Ziplocs while life passes me by. I am not doing without.

Some people may under spend on important items, say, on health insurance. Others may pass up grapes they love every day for bananas that are cheaper, never really satisfying themselves in the aim to save money. Some folks may be so concerned about debt or saving money that life revolves around keeping and making money.

I am very frugal. I do not spend a lot of money on things I donít get value out of. But believe me; I have become very clear in my mind that a lot of things that donít cost money are the things most important to me. And when it is important, I will spend money and not regret the purchase.

I have a $25 entertainment/eating out budget every month. Whatís happened is that when I eat out I enjoy it much more than when it was frequent. If I am really, really in the mood to go out to eat, I do. I have learned to differentiate being lazy (can of soup works here) from wanting the experience of dining out.

I travel every year. If the stars align right, I may go to Eastern Africa next year to meet up with my folks. It will cost thousands-airfare alone to Africa is a doozy-and I wonít question in for a second. (My Dad was born there, and took my mother and me there when I was an infant, and now heíll be able to show his wife and me. Very full circle and all that.)

I will likely eat oatmeal or homemade granola with bran for breakfast every day this week. I will pack lunch every day. I will hang laundry. I will not be upset about it. I donít have to ďget overĒ being upset about it. These are not unpleasant things.

If you think being frugal is painful, youíre wrong. Being frugal is very freeing, very relaxing. My income could drastically drop, and I wouldnít have to alter my lifestyle for a second. How luxurious is that ?

If you looked at me lying on my nice bed, post-long hot bath, with my big poofy wonderful comforter, and my pile of paperbacks, on the pillows and floors and everywhere, and my tea with extra lemon and extra sweetener, youíd be able to tell I was far from deprived. Iím living a positively decadent life.

Donít misinterpret my oatmeal, fools.

Darn that Sweeps

August 9th, 2006 at 02:38 am

Some folks get me thinking. Thatís not always comfortable.

Sweeps posted in a Thread entitled Where Do You Draw the Line: ďI was a little disappointed when I looked in this thread because I thought it meant: Where do you draw the line on being frugal? I don't mean to offend anyone, but I think there are a few people who have gone to the extreme with being frugalÖ. What really makes me scratch my head is when someone works so hard to save a few pennies while they overlook very big things like:
Ľ Taking advantage of the tax savings and potentially company matching of retirement plans
Ľ Dropping unnecessary insurance coverage and/or raising deductibles
Ľ Using cash-rewards credit cards (or even cash-rewards debit cards)
Ľ Paying bills with online bill pay to avoid the use of envelopes, stamps, checks and wasted time
Ľ Paying down highest-interest debt first, instead of paying off something else that may give a warm-and-fuzzy feeling but makes less of a financial impact.
Ľ etc. etc. etc.


So I am evaluatingÖam I sweating the small stuff without paying attention to the big stuff?

Well, no work match on retirement, so I'm okay there. Iím good on insurance, high deductibles and not over insured. I donít have a cash-back card...I could, and should, look into it, but say I got 5% on everything on my card, Iím looking at maybe $15 a month maximum. Now thatís more than eight pound s of cheese, which is real, but for me, not a ďvery big thing.Ē Online bill pay? Yeah, I love it, but at half the postage for 4 household bills a month thatís 78 cents for me. And I have no debt, so I donít need to worry about paying off in a different order. So the initial list, Iím okay with.

But how about that [etc. etc. etc,?

Hereís where I am tackling my own issues. I am socking away big bucks on My Challenge. Prior to The Challenge my savings were in good shape. The bad thing is until recently I let my savings sit in a 1% account. I had a IRA (rollover from prior 401k) that I didnít add to and I didnít manage its allocation. I have a 457b deferred compensation plan that I make contributions but I donít manage the allocation.

I am making progress. I just opened a Roth IRA. I moved a large chunk of savings into ED and ING accounts. (I know ING isnít great but the $25 bonus was compelling, and itís not 1 %.) I am facing my fears and working at not being intimidated.

Okay, boring banking chatter in the middle of exciting frugfality. But thatís the problem in my head; garage saling is fun, finding out how to invest for retirement is not. Sweeps point is well taken; while saving the (shiny!) pennies, Iíll make sure that all aspects of my financial house are in order. It will be a journey-I didnít become frugal overnight-but I should continue to make solid progress.

Why doesnít that Sweeps character have a bog, huh?

Restful is Delightful

August 7th, 2006 at 02:32 am

Today was a curl up in bed with a book day. I think I was more worn out than I realized (Iíd gotten over being sick and having migraines and worked a tough week). I am grateful that the simplicity of my needs and wants gives me the gift of time.

Iíve posted about being lazy. Some people claim Iím more efficient than lazy. But either way, having a low maintenance life style and a clutter free house lets me take a full weekend day to myself. I ate a lot of plums, and some ďslugsĒ from the bagel shop. (Long bagelish sticks covered in seeds and garlic and other lovely stuff). I had some ďnewĒ garage sale books. And I made medicinal type tea: two bags strong, with lots of lemon and a lot of sweetener (some Splenda, some sugar).

I thank all of you who have posted words of encouragement. I am not unhappy with my Challenge; I had just been in a bad mood-perhaps due to being worn out? Ėand took it out on the Challenge. I am proud of being able to choose not to spend half of my net income. When I deny myself something, it could really be looked at as denial, because I would have the money to spend on it. But the real thrill is that I am meeting not just needs on the Challenge, but wants, too. My soul is as fed as my belly. And it will be very hard for me to take material goods for granted again. Quitting drinking has already given me the gift of never taking sanity and peace for granted. A day without drama and a day with plums and ďslugsĒ and a book is a very, very fine day.

Garage Sale Haul

August 5th, 2006 at 10:48 pm

Big bucks today, but some good stuff. $28.50, with $25 being for 2 items.

Two drawer metal filing cabinet in great shape, along with


A beautiful small oak table, both for $25.


A 25 cent pair of earrings for me

5 little gifts at an average of 20 cents each (including nice garnet earrings)

Wrapping paper, 8 unopened rolls

A basket

Glass Canister (that exactly matches another two I have, and was 15 cents)


Ziploc lunch box

Books, three


The small table is almost like a miniaturized version of our dining room table; same oak cooler, same design. I polished it with mayonnaise; crazy tip, but it works wonders on wood. No it doesnít stink. Let soak, then wipe up all excess, and buff buff buff. I was skeptical, too. I certainly wouldnít call either the cabinet or table a steal, but I feel like I got good value.

And I went with a friend, which makes the whole process more fun. I have another social activity tonight, which is good because I donít get out enough. Our community has an Arts Alive event the first Saturday of every month; businesses and galleries in our ďOld TownĒ district showcase local artists and crafts people, and sometimes have some food. Itís nice to wander our locally owned stores and businesses, enjoying the summer and the sense of community.

My Blog Was Hijacked

August 4th, 2006 at 01:07 am

In yesterdayís post thereís a bit of the ďpoor meĒ syndrome going on. Not my favorite trait. Iíve shaken that off. How? Well, partially from the very kind comments. But partially because of a talk I had with some co-workers.

We were walking around the block, and laughing because I was tossing grapefruit peel, and admitting that at home Iíd be saving it to scrape pith off, slice, and freeze to make candied peel. So the idea that my snackís peelings could have been my buddies Christmas presents just cracked us up and in particular cracked me up.

Hereís the deal. If Iím in a funky mood I think, well, it's a gratuitous thing, an indulgent thing, to do this out of choice when so many are forced to by circumstance. But then, later, I think, the wonderful thing is that Iím doing this by choice. It is not disrespectful to the working poor to have this as a Challenge, it is respectful to myself and the earth and my fellow citizens. By not talking what I have for granted, Iím not taking what others have for granted either. I can very clearly see the value of a dollar, any dollar: whether itís interest off an investment or from a tiny paycheck, itís still a flannel pair of jammie bottoms from the thrift store.

Much Ado About Nothing

August 3rd, 2006 at 03:41 am

Itís Day Two of Month Six of my Minimum Wage Challenge. And my inner voice keeps whispering, ďwho caresÖ.who caresÖ.time wastedÖ..Ē What will I have if I succeed in my year? I know, I know, Iíll have a full appreciation, a lot of gratitude, a healthy savings account. But Iím in the mode where Iím thinking that itís just pretty silly.

Itís not that Iím wanting to spend and canít. Really. Itís just the little kid in me feeling bumptious. Iíll get over this feeling, and go back to feeling brave and wise and grateful and complete. Knowing that Enough is Enough, and Money is a Tool not a Goal.

Got Me Some Free Panties

August 2nd, 2006 at 04:59 am

I have a buddy at work. She knows I'm frugal. I have become a way for her to recycle items. It's great for both of us. I've gotten a wallet, a few boxes of cereal the family disliked, brown paper sacks....and now, some panties. Six pair, unworn, she bought the wrong kind and didn't see until she opened them.

Some of my Issues are Unique

August 2nd, 2006 at 04:38 am

A full refrigerator makes me uncomfortable. Too much food makes it easy to lose things. It makes me antsy like I have to use things.

When the fridge is emptier I feel more peaceful. Whatís up with that?

(If I ever become a bazillionaire I will order a fridge that is twice as wide and half as deep.) I will be able to see everything and never have to go into rescue mode.)

Month Five Minimum Wage Challenge Totals

August 2nd, 2006 at 02:51 am

July was an easy month, which I am very grateful for considering I had car insurance due. Budgeting for it each month paid off in the end. Iíve really gotten used to spending so little on a consistent basis.

*ďBankedĒ Total only includes positive numbers: unspent money in each category in prior months.

** Budget includes $1073 income less $89.36 ďoverspentĒ in categories in June

*** August's budget is $1073 income less the $38 overspent (auto insurance) in July


I had no extra income this month: Iím overdue on a recycling trip. My only Challenge income was $1073 (CA Minimum Wage less FICA and SDI). If youíre a new visitor looking for further details on how I arrived at the $1073, and what budgeting methods I use, see prior month summaries.

Eagle eyes will notice Iíve boosted savings to $40 from $39, and also added significantly to my big purchase/emergency fund. Iím expecting a freezer to eat a lot of this money in August or September; it will be nice to make a needed big purchase on The Challenge but I will need to really ramp up my savings to compensate.

My spent of $1073 is $519 less than my average per month last year. (I know have some banked, but it will be spent on non-monthly budgeted purchases.) Adding back in the $40 I put into "savings" under the challenge, I saved an additional $559 for the $20 challenge. This makes for $2791 in savings in five months for my $20 Challenge.