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Getting Ready to Splurge

April 19th, 2007 at 07:43 pm

In March I didnít spend as much as I thought I might have. My big three day weekend trip to Santa Rosa that included rack of lamb, escargot, and a historical register hotel was $420. Other than that, I spent $1140. $84 on dining out, the first month off The Challenge (not including the rack of lamb!).

After all that moderation, itís time to buy a laptop.

Man, my home-made frozen lunch ended up being great. I will definitely continue making them. I think the next batch will be the whole-wheat pasta, with chicken thigh meat, artichoke & red pepper tapenade, and green beans.

I spent $977.74 a Month

March 25th, 2007 at 02:11 pm

Iíve finally crunched My Challenge numbers. I spent an average of $977.74 on living expenses, after savings and taxes.

Hereís a recap of my income.


Hereís a concise summary of my spending.



Hereís the detail.


For some reason, all my current and prior images show as boxes wiht a little x, although if I click on them I see the image. A quick review of the forums hasn't helped me figure it out. If anyone has hints, let me know. Current and prior images are jpegs from my hard drive.

I spent $1592 a month in 2005. (I have already been saving a large portion of my income.) I wasnít on any Challenge in 2005, and the trips I went to Oaxaca, Poland and Belgium are included in the $1592 a month average.

I spent $978 a month on the Challenge. If I take off, as I should, the amount I spent on my trip to Europe (Croatia and Bosnia, Sept. 2006, $1810) I saved an additional $5558 for the year, for an average increase in savings per month of $463.

During My Challenge, I lived on less than half of my net income. That's just the numbers. Later, I'll post on what the Challenge really meant for me, as far as my lifestyle.

Just Checking In

March 4th, 2007 at 04:18 pm

March 1: did I go crazy and buy lots of stuff? No, not really. I did feel a sense of giddiness, but I didnít go shopping. I made a $50 donation to charity; that solved the money burning a whole in my pocket issue. I took My Guyís car to the shop for him on the 2nd and Iíll be paying; it needs work that wasnít a priority to him, but now that I have more room to spend, I knew Iíd feel more comfortable if the work got done. Itís a nice gift to My Guy, too, in that he has lower income right now; although itís by choice so that he has extra time, he does still need to watch his money.

I joined Weight Watchers on 02/28/07 (yes, my $39.95 membership is coming out of Challenge money), but I was thrilled to be able to discover that it is not nearly as restrictive as I thought, and I was able to take My Guy out to Mexican food, and I spend a whole $21 total. I know thatís not a whole lot, but on the Challenge it was almost an entire monthís dining and entertainment, so it was a spree of sorts.

Other than that, no crazy spending. I have bought a lot of fresh fruits and veggies and other foods, but I am looking forward to see what happens to my grocery budget; Iím really curious how much it goes up past My Challenge average of $97 a month. I think that a lot of my spending habits are with me to stay.

Am I a Freak?

February 27th, 2007 at 06:12 pm

Okay, so I just put it together. The first day after My Challenge is the first day I am planning on being a Weight Watchers participant. MeaningÖ.I canít go out and have a ďItís Been a Year and Now I can Spend Like CrazyĒ amazing Sushi and Tempura Dinner. You think Iíd have allowed a week of freedom, except that I really like the idea of February being such a start month for me . I quit drinking eight years ago, quit smoking six years ago, both in February, and Iíd like February to be the month I stop overeating, too.

I did get my hair cut today, $55 including tip, very expensive, but I love the cut and really like the woman who cut it. I knew it wouldn't be cheap. She cuts a friendsí hair and does a really great job, and I had been meaning to find a good person to commit to. I like being able to trust someone. Like my auto mechanic; I could probably find cheaper, but he is solid and honest, pays his men a fair wage with benefits, and never takes advantage of my lack of car knowledge. Quality can be worth paying some more for. Scheduling the hair cut was the expense that made me realize I was committed to not cheating on the Challenge; I could have gotten a cut two days later and had it not affect my Challenge, but I didnít want a big change in spending post-Challenge.

I also made a Costco run yesterday, filling up with gas and getting some other goods. Again I could have waited three days but My Challenge has not been about not spending, itís been about not unconscious spending, and I bought good solid stuff. Broccoli and TP!

January 2007 Month 11 Totals

February 13th, 2007 at 08:53 pm

Some delayed totals, eh? Well, think of it this way; your next recap is close and it will be the final for the year!

Standard Recap Info:
I spent $1592 a month in 2005. My Challenge savings are the difference, $1592-$1026 (see below) = $566 times 11 months = $6,226.

Add to that $303 in ďsavingsĒ and $30.61 in my emergency fund, Iíve saved an additional $6,559.61 over what I had saved before. If I take out what I spent in Europe, $1809.64, which is not part of my Challenge, Iíve saved $4,749.97 living on CA Minimum Wage for 11 months.

*$703.82 is the amount I have banked and unspent for non-monthly expenses, saved from March 1st through January 31st. This does NOT include my savings and emergency funds. I really needed my banked money this month; but I guess I bank it for a reason.

** 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 $10.13 in extra income from recycling this month, $1 from a GoZing survey, and $17 from SurveySpot for the last yearís surveys. This brought my income to a mighty high of $1101.13.

*** When I originally began the Challenge March 2006 I assumed no federal or state tax liability, but Iíd actually owe $47 a month, so I have to budget $95 a month (for the last 6 months of the Challenge) to catch up. So my actual spendable income averaged over each month is my original calculation of $1073 less $47 for $1026.

***** I spent a lot in January, for mainly two reasons. My semi-annual car insurance was due; thank goodness I had prepared and been putting a little away every month. My annual car registration also came due. My Guy had a birthday, and my other big expenses were for his present and taking him out to eat.

***** This money I carry over into the beginning of February.

No Posts Because

February 12th, 2007 at 01:12 pm

My folks are in town!

D & D are visiting prior to leaving for Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Bali. My travel bug was definitely caught from my dad; he was born in East Africa, and has traveled many continents for various reasons; missionaries' child; Air Force; wandering hippie.

My dad just retired at 69, and if all goes well he and D will be world travelers for the next few years, spending from a month to many months in places, depending on the cost and how much they like it.

That is a dream retirement, for me. A goal to work towards; they arenít doing this rich, just very focused. I will meet up with them in a couple places; unfortunately I canít follow them everywhere.

Also I am managing to almost catch a cold, or to catch a light cold. I*t gets a little tedious.

Nothing much on the spending front; entertainment will be a little high due to visitors, but Iíve got excess in other areas.

It is really very odd that I have sixteen days left on My Challenge.

Cost of Bathing and Dressing

February 4th, 2007 at 01:10 pm

Iíve written about how I overall keep laundry costs low and household costs low. Prepare to be wowed, or lulled to sleep, or both, by how I keep personal item spending in check. Since February 1st,2006, I have spent $136.88 on toiletries (including haircuts, bathing items, and female hygiene supplies). I have spent $54.35 on clothes in the last 11 months (although I did exchange some clothes I had bought earlier, so I think I got maybe $80 worth total).

Overall look:
I think I have a plain face, but I think I have a very friendly face, so Iím overall not too worried about how I appear. Iím overweight, but not too much so-I can still wear Misses size clothes instead of Womanís Worlds (Misses is "regular"; Womanís World is larger sizes). My one real vanity is that I want to look smart; I don't even know how thatís possible so itís a pretty dorky vanity, eh?

Bathing:
I am a very simple bather. Sometimes I think I am a little bit of a boy; I just donít get into the beauty routine. I prefer baths to showers; itís my one real day to day luxury. I take a lot of bubble baths. I find it comical when people talk about bath stuff as gifts theyíll never use-I got bath supplies from three sources this Christmas and Iím using it all. I work in an office, so I donít get too grubby; if Iím really dirty, I rinse off in the shower before my bath. I like bath salts and bubbles baths, and bath oils on the weekend (greasier hair). My soap is in a liquid soap bottle-My Guy uses bars of soap, I put the ends in the liquid soap bottle, the bottle has been going for years. Soap, shampoo, and conditioner: thatís it.

I do shave legs and underarms, but not as frequently as some. I very rarely wear skirts, for one. I use my liquid soap, and I do use refillable blades.

I have gotten enough deodorant and anti-perspirant for months in free samples; itís weird how that one product is so available. I am not brand loyal. I normally donít pay more than $1.49 for my anti-perspirant.

Hair:
I use the cheapest shampoo and conditioner I can find. I prefer to pay no more than $1 for 16 ounces for shampoo and conditioner, but sometimes I do pay more (or less!).
I am pretty lucky in that I have decent hair; itís in good condition and wavy and healthy, and cheap shampoo works fine. I have a big pump bottle that I got as a gift; I keep refilling that bottle; often I am using a mix. I use conditioner maybe half the time; the more recent my last haircut is, the less I need it. I also use a pump bottle, and itís refilled periodically, so again, a blend of cheap stuff.

I sometimes get free samples, but usually I give them away at work for ďClean KitsĒ: grooming supplies for the homeless and down and out.

Iíve never dyed or permed my hair. It used to be a very nice blonde and now itís a light brown; however I am too lazy and/or low maintenance to get better color. With no dying I donít have to worry about roots (I have a laser eye to spot them on people out there) and I donít have to worry about maintaining my hair's condition. A couple people I know who dye their hair have crispy flaky hair that is kinda awkward looking. Plus I never blow dry my hair. I bathe at night and sleep with it wet. Some folks I know who blow-dry have damaged looking hair. I know others who blow-dry and dye and look fabulous, but I am sure they have to pay attention. The less I do to my hair, the less I have to protect it. Iíve already admitted Iím lazy; itís no secret.

I donít get my hair cut enough. I got it cut in April, and again in September, and Iím scheduled for 2/27. I donít like letting my ends to get dry or split; when I get my hair cut I let them take off plenty. I want healthy and Iíll get rid of length to get it. I do spend $35 including tip on my hair cuts; Iím about to jump higher for a woman whoís very good. Iíd like to get my hair cut at least four times a year.

Grooming:
I use little makeup. I am just now trying to remember to use lotion on my face every night and morning. I do like Clinique makeup; I think itís a childhood thing; my mother always got the Clinique special kits at ďBonus TimeĒ and I would get her left-overs. I still spend $25 every couple of years and get the Bonus extras, which tend to last me. (Almost half of my spending for the year is from one Clinique Bonus.) I sometimes use foundation, sometimes eye pencil, rarely shadow, and frequently mascara and lipstick. I have actually been trying to wear more; girding myself, as it were, for certain meetings at work. Itís a form of armor, Iíve discovered. Even when I wear what I think is a fair amount, sometimes other folks canít tell; Iím so used to little or none that I am naturally a light hand.

Clothing:
I wish I was a better dresser. Itís not a spending thing, itís a lack of interest and a lack of innate fashion sense. Left to my own devices I dress like a young boy. I like menís pants-I know a pair of 34x30ís will fit me, whereas with womenís clothes the sizes are all over the place. I worked for a few years at Ross Dress for less, and I bought more clothes than ever-7 years later I still have clothes I bought back then.

I like hand-me-downs and thrift store and garage sale clothes. I have access to so many of these low or no cost clothes that I can afford to be choosy: I only wear them if they fit right, and look good. I donít have great clothes sense, but I am lucky enough to be recently getting hand-me-downs from people who are well-dressed, which helps me out.

I clean out my closet a lot. I hang things like I used to when working at Ross; short sleeve knits, long sleeved knits, short sleeve wovens, and long sleeve wovens. Woven=blouse and knit=stretchy, for the most part. I try to purge anything that is wearing out or isnít too flattering as often as possible. I have zero dry cleaning only clothes.

I do buy my own underclothes. I also will buy regular clothes; Iím not anti-new clothes, I just usually donít need to buy new clothes that often.

Even if I was a better dressed person, more put together, I think I could do it low cost. Two of the best dressed women at work are avid thrift store shoppers; S. always looks fabulous-she is a choosy and frequent thrift store shopper, and her being slimmer helps-she has a lot of good choices available.

Jewelry:
I love silver and semi-precious stone jewelry, I admit it. The benefit of preferring semi-precious stone and silver is that itís usually cheaper; I can get pieces from $8 to $25; $50 for super pieces. I donít have a digital camera right now; otherwise Iíd love to show off some of my jewelry. When I travel I always pick up pieces; jewelry is my favorite souvenir. It never gets dusty, it takes very little room, and I wear it all the time. It also lasts and lasts and lasts. This is an area I let myself spend in; I am not interested in spending no money as a goal in itself, I like to spend less in areas where I donít need to spend, to have money to spend in other areas.

So there you have it, how I spent less than $200 in 11 months to bathe, groom, and dress myself. I checked my 2005 records, and I spent $300 on bathing/grooming, $300 on clothes, $200 on shoes, and $300 on jewelry, so it looks like I was relatively low cost prior to the Challenge, too.

25 DaysLeft; Wow

February 3rd, 2007 at 07:44 pm

I was in a hotel room for work, last week, and for fun I was writing up a wish list of things I wanted or needed to buy. Well, I had a hard time thinking of things. A few items I got for Christmas-a kitchen rug, silicon rubber scrapers, so they were off the wish list. So now, I want a bookcase, another bookcase or cabinet, an mp3 player, and thatís it. I actually have nothing else I want. No clothes, no personal supplies, no kitchen items, no other furniture. (I want a bra fitting; I suppose Iíll get a bra at the same time.) Going with little has made it not so that I want more, but so that I want and need less.

Iím in my last month, but hardly aware of it. Despite my grand plans to not be sick or have any migraines in 2007-ambitious, I know-I came down with a bad cold Wednesday. I have managed to fend off 4 migraines so far this month by taking my medication very early on, so I still feel like I am having some success. But Thursday and Friday I was home in bed, pretty out of it, and today I just am sorta peeping my head out of the covers.

I wonít be closing my books until at least tomorrow if not later. It does feel odd that February will be my last month on the Challenge. The Challenge has really been such a gift to me. I am so much more at peace with my money and my spending.

Used Clothes and New Fruit.

January 28th, 2007 at 11:50 am

An underrated plus of thrift store, garage sale, or hand me down clothes: I know how theyíll hold up. With new stuff, sometimes Iím surprised at how things that look like they have solid construction pill, or dry permanently oddly wrinkled (collars!), or fade, or somehow fall apart. With used clothes, I can tell the clothes can take a wash or two.

Results of recent (2007) hand me downs:

Flannel old-school nightgown

2 sweaters

A dress

2 pair sneakers

1 pair shoes

A skirt

2 pairs corduroy pants

3 or so blouses

Bathing suit


Plus, in a ďpossibleĒ pile: a bathing suit, a dress, and 2 pair pants. I keep a ďpossibleĒ box; I try on the items every six months or so. If it doesnít fit or I donít decide to wear it after the item has been in the box 6 months, itís gone. This way I donít have to decide immediately, and I donít end up with things in my closet Iíll never wear-too tight, too loose, or just isnít a color or style that floats my boar.

Yesterday I bought grapes-red and green, strawberries, and cherries. Even though itís January and the fruit wasnít perfect, it was all very good, and I at it in the bathtub and watching some record TV. Such a small thing can bring so much joy. Post-challenge I plan to allow myself to spend more on fruits-getting some organic stuff sometimes, and also, getting the fancier stuff. Right now I buy a lot of apples and oranges, pears and sometimes grapes. I plan to be a pineapple queen.

Today I drive to Sacramento. I donít have to fly, thank goodness. I donít mind flying, but the cost, even though it doesnít cost me directly, always irks me-we have a small airport up here in Eureka (itís actually a half hour north of Eureka in McKinleyville). Plus, a huge concern, I kept getting fogged in (or out)-itís annoying to miss an important meeting that way. Itís a 5-1/2 drive, but that can be soothing-the scenery out here in Humboldt (to Mendocino, to Lake) counties is incredible. Iíll be back Monday night. I plan to eat a lot of fruit on the way! Itís also nice to be able to take a bunch of food-I donít like checking baggage for a one day trip, but it does drive me nuts to not have my 12-1/2 cent cans of club soda.

Oh, and I got $10.13 from recycling yesterday-my biggest run yet! Whooooo!