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Archive for December, 2006

More Random Than Usual

December 17th, 2006 at 07:58 pm

Yesterday I went out into the frenzy, and made it home alive. I went to the mall-gasp!-but bought two pairs of undies, deposited a bunch of checks at my credit union, and made my getaway. I stopped by the bread thrift store, and spent $5.99, including $1.99 for 8 very nice looking croissants. Third stop, used bookstore, brought a bag in for trade, and with that bag and some previous trade credit, bought some books as presents and some books for me. Last stop, grocery shopping at the Canned Foods outlet. A lot of other shoppers didnít look too happy, so I didnít feel I was missing out on a festive vibe.

Iím working right now on round two of present wrapping. I did a big binge a week or so ago, and wrapped around ten or fifteen. (In getting lots of gifts at garage sales and the like, I have more medium and small gifts, and fewer large gifts. Thatís okay with me.) I need to wrap all the gifts for work folks early, so that I can bring them in this week. I find wrapping presents very satisfying, fulfilling even.

Nothing more to report on the weekend, except that I made two batches of plum jam. My Guy isnít into giving gifts with work folk, but since he likes them I have talked him into bringing in a little half pint of jam with a ribbon. He made the last round of apple jelly, and we did the plum and blackberry batches together the time before that, so itís not as if heís taking advantage of my labor.

This week will be busy for me at work. I know many people are off, and fore many others itís a pretty loosy goosey time, but Iíll be hopping. Itís good for me.

LRJohnson's Underclothes

December 13th, 2006 at 08:04 pm

Tonight Iím tossing out some underwear. They are springing little white elastic threads everywhere, and itís time for them to go. I thought to myself, ďI have enough underwear, I can toss a pair.Ē Then I remembered that some of my new underwear werenít black, and that I had a decision to make.

A little too much information, but I prefer all black underthings. They always match. I could never understand the lure of a pretty blue and yellow floral bra, because with pink and black lace underpants they look awful. I decided that I should go black and white, but that didnít look great either, so then I went black. Could be different materials or cuts, but black.

After many years of underclothes harmony, I got a free pair of underwear as a sample: turquoise. I didnít realize it was a harbinger of colors to come.

I decided later that a nude bra would be in order, because nude is the least visible with certain tops. So then there were two.

Then my co-worker opens a pack of underwear, and realized she got the wrong cut, so she kicks them down to me. Now Iíve got freaking white, pink, and lavender, as well as black and the turquoise. And to top it all off, I get a huge back of Freecycle clothes, and shudder all you want, but there was a white bra that fit and I started wearing it.

So now all my underclothes are a mess. And Iím thinking of tossing a black pair of undies? Man. So then Iím thinking, okay, well, Iíll just buy some more black underwear at Ross (usually decent selection and $1.49 to $2.99 a pairÖ.these last ones Iím tossing gave me seven years of good service). Iíll suck it up and toss the beige bra, because itís not worn out but itís just not so great, and Iíll toss the Freecycle bra, because if itís something you donít want to admit to wearing, maybe you shouldnít wear it, right?? And besides itís wearing out.

Which leaves me with the colored underwear. So I think to myself, well, I have sleep socks (anklet socks that are pretty much dead but are good for sleeping,) so Iíll just have sleep underwear.

And where does that leave me? Iím a crazy lady with different sets of underclothes for night and day. I'm also a crazy lady who writes about her drawers on a blog that people she knows in real life reads. Not gonna read this one to your friends, huh, Dad?

Budgets Keep Coming Up

December 11th, 2006 at 08:14 pm

I am using a budget on My Challenge, because I do need to monitor spending pretty closely to achieve my goals. The mentions of budgets on other blogs and posts have interested me, because this budget is the first time Iíve used one, and I feel like Iíve been able to peek over the fence from No Budget Land into Budget Forest.

I track every penny I spend. I have done so since April 1998, so I can see that I had $10,304 in income in 1998, or that I spent $248 on auto service in 2002, or $225 on Books in 2004. Itís all there, every smart expense and every dumb expense.

Iíve never budgeted, though. My goal has been threefold: to always get a good deal on what I do buy, to avoid buying things that I donít need, and to always put as much in savings as possible. In the eight years I have almost always saved much, much more than ten percent of my income; the times I havenít have been when Iíve worked part time at minimum wage and had debt.

Iím not sure if Iíll keep budgeting after My Challenge is over. To be honest, I donít need to. I donít need to, as in, even pre-Challenge I was living well below my means. I donít need to, in that Iíve always had a cushion and never been unprepared to pay a surprise car repair bill or the like. My income has gone up quite a bit over the last few years, over 300%, but my spending hasnít even begun to approach that increase. Thatís the benefit of being frugal. I could afford to buy coffee everyday now if it was important to me; I still brew my coffee at home on a free coffeepot with Grocery Outlet whole beans and stick the coffee in my beat up Stanley thermos I got for $5 at a garage sale. (Yeah, $5 is a lot for a thermos, but it was a Stanley so I went for it.) I get maybe 3 to 4 fancy coffees a year and enjoy them as treats.

Iím not anti-budget. I know some people who are spending more than they make, or getting unpleasantly surprised at Christmas or when other large expenses roll around, would be better off budgeting. I suppose I have a decision to make come March!

(For My Challenge Iím using the YouNeedaBudget spreadsheet (youneedabudget.com) that I bought from a savingadvice member. If I keep budgeting, Iíll stick with this program, because I like it.)

Good Day

December 9th, 2006 at 11:01 pm

This week I walked to work four days out of five. On Friday I had people over to play poker. Today, I got together with a good friend, and we walked a couple miles and talked, and I even got a fancy pants coffee at a local place. Then My Guy, myself, Ms. Friend and Mr. Friend got together and had a grand time, having a cheese party. Mr. Friend is the cheese manager at the local co-op, and has all sorts of tasty cheese, and I added some. We had an aged blue ďCostello,Ē an aged swiss, a gouda-like ďlambchopperĒ an aged pepper corn jack ďrumianoĒ, and brie, with two rustic breads, a variety of olives, and apple and pear.

I always adore food, and Iíve really been working at being more social, and Iíve very much wanted to walk more, so this has been a great week.

On the money front, a great time never needs to break the bank-a dip into the underused grocery money for some fancy cheese fits in fine with my budget, as all along Iíve been trying to prove that frugality certainly doesnít equal deprivation. The cheese probably was more detrimental to the whole health thing, but man oh man do I love cheese.

I love it when a week goes well.

Walking to Work

December 6th, 2006 at 07:54 pm

My Guy has been walking to work, and Iíve been a bit too. We've noticed that there is such a culture of driving that people always ask, ďNeed a ride?Ē ďCar in the shop?Ē and the like. Clearly our co-workers are trying to be helpful, but itís just a little funny that walking is seen as so odd. My Guyís walk is longer, and even I fall into the trap. Mine is one mile one way, his is 2-1/2 miles on way. So on a morning I walk, Iíll say, ďYou can take my car today so you donít have to walk!Ē What is wrong with me? Walking to and from work should be seen as lucky-lucky that a person lives so close to work. It was a little cold today, but it felt a little brisk, and I got to really wake up on the way to work.

Not Stopping for Shopping

December 5th, 2006 at 09:52 pm

My wild spending this month is $400 rent, a $5 burrito, $7.82 on groceries, and $79 for my car registration. I am not sure how people spend so often. A large part of my ability to live on a small income has got to be to be my lack of desire to shop, to run errands that require expense. The burrito My Guy picked up, and the car registration I paid online, so only the $7.82 was spent ďoutside.Ē

How do people get coffee and soda and an item here and there all the time? Forget the cost; even if I had a gift card, Iím just not into going and buying. On a Saturday I can enjoy garage sales, but other than that, shopping is more of a chore. Being at airports lately has reduced me to the ďbuy a single beverageĒ state; my norm is to have club soda in my car, at work, and in my purse. A large part is the cost, but there is also the convenience...I donít want to be bothered stopping by the store or vending machine if Iím thirsty. Beverages are a big part, but not all of it. A run to Walgreenís for just nail polish? I use the stuff (toes) but I would not use my work break to run to the store for only that item.

Why am I riled up? Dunno. Just saw a lot of single purchase store runs going on today. If you stopped and got a coffee today, relax, Iím not against it, I just really donít understand it. You are a more patient and less lazy person than I.

My Average is Low!

December 4th, 2006 at 06:48 pm

Iím spending an average of $979 a month! Whoo hoo!

$3,541.57 for my $20 Challenge-see below!

November figures are here, and Iím alive. You can see why I havenít posted in a week...deep shame at my entertainment spending in November. $36.76! What was I thinking! Well, I kid, itís not why I was gone a week and itís not that bad a total. What is upsetting is not that I spent on entertainment, but that I spent a lot of it on takeout that did not give me pleasure. If Iíd spent that money on seeing a show or something, Iíd be perfectly happy to reduce spending in other areas to give myself pleasure.

Other areas did happen to be low. I spent so much on groceries in October that I needed little this month; the total even includes $25 in treats from Trader Joeís (fancy soda, veggie booty, etc.) Health co-pays were much lower too-I get a lot of prescriptions by mail for three months at a time, so my expenses fluctuate.

The miscellaneous is postage. Long story. Well, no, just an uninteresting story.

I expect electric to jump in December; it has been cold enough in the house to see our breaths with ease, so we are doing some heater usage.

I donít expect gifts to be too high in December; I have $26.25 going in, and I bumped my December gift budget to $40, so I have $66.25 to finish Christmas shopping. I am mostly done but I do have a couple big people left. Weíll see how it goes.



I spent $1592 a month last year. My savings are the difference, $1592-$1026 (see below) = $566 times 9 months = $5,094.

Add to that $233 in ďsavingsĒ and $24.21 in my emergency fund, Iíve saved $5,351.21. If I take out what I spend in Europe, $1809.64, which is not part of my Challenge, Iíve saved $3,541.57 living on CA Minimum Wage for 9 months.

* My income is calculated as follows: CA minimum wage of $6.75 for 40 hours a week, at 4.33 weeks in a month, $1178 total. Iíve taken FICA and SDI (CA State Disability Insurance) out for a total of $1073. I had no extra income this month (no recycling) and no overspent categories from last month.
** When I originally began the Challenge March 2006 I assumed no federal or state tax liability. Wrong! Iíd actually owe $47 a month, so I have to budget $95 a month to catch up. So my actual spendable income averaged over each month is my original calculation of $1073 less $47 for $1026.

***$757.87 is the sum of the positive numbers; thatís the amount I have banked and unspent for non-monthly expenses; this does NOT include my savings and emergency funds. It is obviously not what was budgeted less what was spent. Each month I budget for non-monthly purchases; for example, I budget $13 for AAA and car registration every month, but have yet to spend it because it has yet to be due. Thatís why the balance is up to $117. I pay registration in December-so Iíve been preparing for my once a year $79 expense all year long.