Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Elbow Grease Saves Money

Despite recommendations from the area Carpet Cleaner, I rolled out my carpet cleaner that has sit new in the box for the past 4 years and cleaned the whole house! Cost out of pocket? $2.96 for new belts!

I picked up the Bissell as we were building our new home. It was after the purchase, and after the decision to use light colored berber that our local carpet cleaner told us that "Berber carpet should ONLY be cleaned by professionals." When asked "Why?" he responded, "1. You will get huge yellow stains that cannot be removed. 2. Think of it as shampooing your hair and after rinsing you still don't get all the shampoo out. 3.Don't clean Berber more than you need to. It's actually bad for the Berber." Long story short - I beleived him and have paid hundreds of dollars over the last few years having HIM come clean it and left the Bissell in the box in the basement.

I figured I had been sharked by so many people claiming to have my best interest at heart lately, I decided to break the puppy out and see what the worst was going to happen. After all, the carpet was filthy - and I didn't have funds to pay him! Well, the worst thing that happened was the pump belt broke right after I got started - but good old Walmart had replacements for those. All the cleaners I had already.

I saved over $100.00 and have clean carpets for the holidays! Now I can set up the tree!

Monday, November 26, 2007

December's Budget

From our YNAB program: (click on pic to enlarge)

December Oddities: A little more personal money going out because of the holidays & both cats need to go to the vet.
Keep in Mind: DS pays $50 into this budget because of his phone and subscription.

Our Weekly Menu

Boring week for menu planning. Very little left in the budget for groceries so I have to be inventive on the days I do have to cook. I didn't realize how many meals out we had this week. What a treat!

Monday: Italian Breakfast Casserole
Tuesday: Meatloaf and Potatoes
Wednesday: Hot and Spicy Tacos (got my free seasoning packet from Old El Paso)
Thursday: Mom's taking us out for Pizza for DS's birthday
Friday: Burgers on the grill (weather permitting)
Saturday: My DS's 16th birthday party - eating on the fly.
Sunday: Ravioli Shrimp Scampi (ds's favorite meal)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Weekly Update

So call me a hypocrite:
So, I WASN'T going to go. But I did wind up leaving the house at about 8:30. That's pretty early for me to do anything, really. Well, maybe drink coffee and read email. I hit a few stores and basically walked in and out -- except Kohls. Kohl's checkout lines were to the back of the store. Other than that, I braved: Best Buy, JCPenney, Yankee Candles and got in and out. We went out for our monthly dining out experience - no wait for a table. I guess all the hub-bub was at the wee hours in the morning because the trash outside Best Buy would lead me to believe that had line sleepers prior to opening.

Christmas Shopping:
My Shopping is done! UNDER BUDGET - and even played Santa's helper for my mom who is usually at a loss for shopping for my dh and son.

Not too bad!

December Budget:
Will be posted soon. I have to tweak a couple of things and rework a couple of ideas.

Busy Busy:
Looking ahead to next week - work, my son's birthday, My Tastefully Simple Party, Work X-Mas Exchange, and grocery shopping. Whew! Busy Busy!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Black Friday??

You know, I've only done it a couple of times -- each time I vow that I would never do it again. Are the sales THAT incredible that you would risk putting yourselves in harm's way, wait for store openings in the cold, and wait in those LONG check out lines?? Thankfully, my shopping is about done already. I may head out tommorow, but it definately will be when those early birds are back at their nests! I like shopping online better. My coffee. My jammies. My hair in a .... hmmm.. I don't know how you'd describe MY morning hair! LOL

But if you plan to go out -- and want a heads up:
Good luck! Let me know what deals I missed!

Happy Thanksgiving!

You know, we had such an unusually warm fall that I think it really messed with my annual timing. Although working in the restaurant industry - especially one that promoted and sold complete turkey dinner packages to go, that the concept that today is Thanksgiving shouldn't astound me. But it does!

We got a little snow last night - again confirming the fact that fall is indeed over and I really need to get myself geared for winter.

We head to my mom's for Thanksgiving Dinner in a few hours - and I look so forward to it. It's only 5 of us for dinner, but my mom lays down a spread for 20.

So... to you and yours from me and mine --- HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

Monday, November 19, 2007

A New Look aka Wow THAT took all day!

Messing around looking for a more appropriate template for my blog. What could have been simple --- turned out to be a lesson in HTML that I wasn't prepared for!

Welp, off to the medicine cabinet for some Advil!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Good Week for Surveys - plus other favorites!

You know, some weeks are just dead. Or I receive surveys that I don't qualify for. I guess it doesn't help that I am a spoiled brat because I rarely fill out any that don't offer CASH rewards anymore. I've got so many entries into the BIG prize, but I just don't win.

Here's a few of the survey sites I have been banking with lately. - I started out with them when I was an AOL member, I have since moved onto PAYPAL payments rather than AOL credits. You have to remember to check up with them because they don't send many invites to you. You can only do one survey every week (unless you don't qualify - then they give you a new "come back" date)
My rating: A- - I've earned $29.oo with them so far. They seem to be slim on their surveys, but when they have one - the payout is pretty good.
My rating: C+ - I've been with TestSpin for awhile. It was one of those places that you could cash out for certificates. I've noticed SO many more survey opportunities lately than I ever have. I cashed out $10 in October, and I'm about to do it again. I might hold off because they are switching to allow payment in PAYPAL! You do get a lot of surveys -- I notice that I can actually qualify for about half of them....however if you are in the IT field, you will BANK! I get a TON of those I don't qualify for.
My rating: B+ - This used to be an old favorite of mine! I had forgotten about it when I dumped AOL. I recently signed up for a $20 product testing (no problems here) and a $5.00 survey. I'm glad to have found this one again!! The only drawback is they offer a lot of sweepstakes surveys, but if I sift through a few of them - there are good amount of paying surveys.
My rating: A- - This one is new to me. I've already made $18.oo since September. You have to wait for check, but they arrive pretty quickly. The surveys were pretty easy. My son just did one for beverages and made $11.! I'm still new to this program to really give a great feel for it.
My rating: B+ - I joined this - and the only "surveys" you get - are ones you have to pay for a product and they will reimburse you. I never did a survey and didn't seem to be worth my time. If you like trial offers - then you may like this program. If not, I'd avoid it.
My rating: N/A

Send - This is a new to me program also. Seems similar to MyPoints (see below)but the downfall I noticed is that the payout is set to $30. But I recently signed up and have only done surveys and opened emails and I have a bit over $8.00 (granted some of that is by help of a referral) I'd like to see more surveys.
My Rating: C

My Favorite Online $ Makers: - At it's most boring - it's a pay per click program. You read their emails - they give you points. And they add up pretty quickly! I've been around with this company for moons! I've cashed out COUNTLESS times and have used earnings to help pay for gifts or just as a perk for me. You also get good points for shopping your favorite stores through them. NOTE: Keep your confirmation emails until you see your points credited. They will need a copy if you are going to dispute a purchase. Good choice of rewards to pick from and pretty quick to ship.
My Rating: A+ - This is a NO BRAINER for online holiday shopping! You shop as you normally would and you get paid a % back on your purchases! A very reliable program. I've made $143 with them so far! Most during the holiday season. NOTE: They offer a downloadable "reminder tool", but I never downloaded it. I just always remember to look at Ebates before I shop ANYWHERE online! Cash out in either "Big Fat Check" or PAYPAL.
My Rating: A+

Annual Budget 2008

I haven't started working on it yet. I felt that I could roll over each months budget to the next month - but I have a couple of hurdles to jump. Into my budget I have to re-insert homeowners insurance and taxes. I don't escrow mine with the bank and because I had a suplus in the account to pay for those, I had stopped funding those in order to work on Baby Step One and Two. Come January, I will have to fit those into the budget. I'm curious on how that's going to pan out.

A Year of Thanks

First and foremost - I am thankful for my family and our health.

I'm thankful that even though I've had some pretty big vet bills lately, that all of my kitties are still with me!

I'm thankful to be able to afford my house, taxes and utilities in a time where people are losing their houses because of the mortgage they signed.

I'm thankful my aging car still loves me enough to get me back and forth. I love that car!

I'm thankful for Dave Ramsey that I stumbled on in July. He helped me establish a full fledged plan which was better than the plan I had adopted to get out of debt.

I'm thankful for my husband's overtime and willingness to pick up a second job when he wasn't working overtime to help with our new plan.

I'm thankful for budgets and envelopes and YNAB!

I'm thankful for new friends I have made at LLNOE! What a blessing those folks are. I can't even express it enough!!!

I'm thankful for printable coupon sources and the for getting my grocery savings plan in check!

I'm thankful for a fully budgetted Christmas, so I don't have to stress out about blowing the plan.

Ending with the thing I started with: I'm thankful for my family - their love, support and strength can see me through anything!

The Tale of 2 Grocery Stores and then 2 More

From the Beginning:
Once we moved here, you had two choices of grocery stores in town. Sentry and Pick n Save. Both decent stores. Decent prices. Decent sales. Sentry won my business because Tuesday was DOUBLE COUPON DAY! Their expired coupon policy varied by checker. Pick n Save was a little further down the street, but I would shop there occasionally too - depending on the deals.

Beginning of the End:
Walmart was to become a SUPER Walmart soon - so Sentry (seeing this as a threat, I would guess) decided to update their store. Once the update .. higher prices. Even on double coupon day. Our local PicknSave decided to take the cheaper route and stopped putting their sales fliers online. What's worse is that you couldn't compare the next town's sales flyer and assume that you would get the same sales - because they weren't there.

The End:
I stopped going to PicknSave because I couldn't get their sales flyer ahead of time to "plan my attack" and after the Super Walmart went up, it didn't take long and they ran our hometown Sentry out of business.

A Ray of Hope:
We moved again, a little closer to the state line, which opened up more opportunities for shopping. Meijers: God love them. Nice store with good selection and good prices. Their coupon policy - you never really knew. Depended on the cashier, I guess. I honestly have heard all of these lines coming from a Meijer checker at one point or another.

"Yes, we take expired coupons."
"No, we don't take expired coupons."
"Yes we take expired coupons but only Store coupons, not manufacturer's coupons."
"Yes, we take expired coupons, but NOT store coupons, only manufacturer's coupons."
"Yes, we take expired coupons 6 months out."
"We won't take expired coupons from 2006" (this was in January)
"We can take expired coupons, but it's at the discretion of the cashier."
"We no longer take expired coupons." (this was the most recent)

Frankly checking out of Meijers is like playing Russian Roulette. You never know when you are going to hit the one checker who doesn't know the policies and you have to explain yourself like you as to let them know you aren't a common thief and trying to rip the store off.

Backtrack a few months -- the store remodeled. (OH NO! Remember what happened to Sentry after the remodel?) Ahhh, indeed. The prices went up and their coupon policies changed again. Now a good portion of Meijers have a double coupon policy in place. Ours decided to take the expired coupon route instead of adopting the double coupon policy. Now they choose neither. And guess what - THEY LOST MY BUSINESS.

Last Resort:
I hate shopping here, and the check out lines are insane - but I found myself at SuperWalmart the other day jotting down the prices and being completely flabbergasted by the low prices. Their everyday prices beat the sales prices at Meijers on a bunch of things. SO, I think I have to change my December envelopes to have a grocery and meat envelope - I will go elsewhere for meat, but I guess Walmart wins my grocery business. I never thought I would go there for groceries - but when you are on a limited budget you have to go where the deals are. Don't you?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Week in Review

More Vet Bills
Our other senior citizen went to the vet this week. Can you say - "When it rains, it pours?" Or is this officially a visit from Murphy? Either way, Cahoots needed to go in because her lower lip look like she went through the worst boxing match you could imagine. Her lower lip swollen and infected. Of course, she's old (19) and hasn't needed to get her "senior citizen blood work" done. Total Bill: $147.00

Christmas Shopping:
I've done a little bit of shopping this week. Now, I just have to keep reminding myself that some of this stash is also for my son's birthday that falls BEFORE Christmas AND the fact that I do the shopping for my mom too. But I hit some clearance racks at Hot Topic and the annual dvd sale at with code DVDTALK for an additional 20% off! I've been waiting MONTHS for that one! I also hit up the Veteran's Day sale at Yankee Candle and picked my mom up a couple of things.

Plans for my Blog:
Does anyone really want to hear about my week to week struggles and triumphs? Are they more interested on what I'm doing to get myself OUT of this mess? Of course, I think starting this blog has been theraputic for me -- however I think I can do so much more to make my struggle more valuable to the readers. Stay tuned - I'm learning quickly.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Cash Crate?

Is it me or did I jump onto this program a little late? I've heard stories of wealth with this company, but I'm not seeing it. Sign up for spam sites - and I've signed up for every survey site I could find. Maybe it's another case of referral wealth. I'm not buying into it. I'll probably cash out at my $10.00 and dedicate my time elsewhere.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Week in Review

In our tourist town, November first signifies that summer is truly over. The locals come out from their hiding places and enjoy their town. The weather has cooled off and the leaves had long but changed colors and have fallen off the trees. This year has been different. It's November - the weather has been mild, some trees still have their fall colored leaves, and the tourists are still running amok though our town. Tomorrow starts the cold snap, so we'll see how quickly this all changes.

I made my envelopes for the month. It's so fun divvying out the money, I wish it didn't go by so quickly. I actually had to make more envelopes!

Budget is in place for November. Since I am on the pay this month's bills with last month's income -- I knew what I had available to budget. This has been the second month on THAT plan. I'm learning so much about debt and budgets -- it's been very rewarding!

Supplemental Income
So, I've been reading blogs lately. Trying to figure out what I'm doing ... what I should be doing ... and come up with what I'm going to be doing. It's a learning experience. I've signed up for a lot of different programs, surveys and commission sites. Most of which may just work if I had more traffic to my blog. But then again, how many people are interested in MY debt? LOL
I'll update you more about what programs are working for me in a later entry. I'd really like to come up with an extra $800 before the end of the year.

We go back to the vet on Tuesday. This cat - she's going to use all 9 lives. A couple of weeks ago, my blood pressure was through the roof because I was tortured by the notion of putting this cat down. You'd have to understand the nature of this cat, the story that resulted in her being our cat, and all she's done for this family in the 20 years we've had her - to fully grasp what a devastating decision it would have been. She's definitely blind in the one eye. There's no doubt about that. Her arthritis is settling in on her hind legs ... but she's more active than she's been int he last two weeks! She's not hiding in her favorite spot all day and all night. She's even battled with the evil younger cat who likes to antagonize the elders whenever she gets a chance. It's great to have her back. But I know, I'll go through the heartbreak again. I just don't know when. If it's true that a cat has 9 lives - I do believe Chelsie has gone through 3-4 of them that I'm aware of.

My favorite message board: has just started a Christmas Accountability thread. I've always budgeted Christmas, so I'm not too panicked by the thought of being held accountable for my Christmas spending - but I am trying to sneak by on a dime so I can have a sinking fund set up for next year plus sneak Christmas dinner and my son's birthday into that budgeted money = $750. My husband and I are planning on getting our wedding rings re sized as our gift to each other. It's been three years since I wore mine (and I believe I can still see the "groove" in my finger where the ring once was) and my dh was able to extract his ring from his finger...with lots of help from dish soap! Besides that, I have a few gifts left to buy.

Tastefully Simple Party:
I've been really good about staying away from the at home party scene. It's basically meant to be a budget buster. Tastefully Simple sells spices, dip mixes, bread and dessert mixes, sauces etc. After going to a party a couple of weeks ago and only being able to afford a couple of things: Warm Savory Cheese Dip and Sun dried Tomato and Feta Cheese Ball Mix -- but having a huge "I WANT MORE..." list - I decided to have a party of my own. If you happen to need a couple nibble nabs for the holidays email me at sbchat101 at yahoo dot com. Tastefully Simple ships direct!

In Search Of:
One of the people left on my Christmas list is my mom's husband who LOVES Yosemite Sam. If anybody knows of anywhere that I can find cool YS things - please let me know. I've done the EBay route - so anything but that!

Are you reading?
If you are there and reading. Please drop a comment and say hi. I'd like to know someone is out there.