Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh! And Exciting News!

I got my car insurance renewal notice today....and....

The coming six months is $200 cheaper than my last six months! (Because I turned 25, got married, and lost a couple tickets off the old record all in the last six months). That's even more cheap than I'd dared hope! I'm so excited!

More 30 Day Challenge

Tip # 21: Save thousands by pre-paying your debt.

Ramit says to pay more than the minimum on debt even if it's just a little. I already do this on my credit cards, but today I set up an automatic house payment with my Chase account--and I added $20 toward principle for each payment. (Don't laugh. It's all I could do at the moment).

Tip #22: Review Progress.

It's going ok. A lot of this stuff I'm already doing though, but it does give me a little boost when I see how far I've come from even just a year ago, and definitely from a couple years ago. Go me!

Have a great Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Go to Sally's Blog!

She's giving away a framed picture of her own or her husband's!

They're all so beautiful. I had a hard time choosing one (you have to pick which one you want if you win), but I eventually chose Melrose Abbey, one of Dan's photos. See below:

Way Behind, But Stil Chugging Along

First, the new tips:

#11: Never pay full retail for clothes/eyeglasses again.

My clothes buying moratorium is taking care of this. In the last three months, I have spent exactly 12.51 on clothing/eyeglasses, and don't plan to spend any more till August.

#12: Save on eating out with

I already do this, AND I only buy when they are 80% off, so a $25 gift certificate is only $2

#13: Negotiate Car Insurance.

I usually check a bunch of different insurance companies online every six months or so, and have negotiated my rate down by about $200 every six months, but when your record looks like mine there's only so much you can do. However, I will try this again soon (because I am close to when my insurance would renew) because I'll be 25, married, and only have 2 tickets on my 3 year record as of December 20th-ish. I will use the phone as suggested in this tip and see if it helps any. Stay tuned!

#14: Use self-persuasion to share how much I've saved so far.

-Not eating out for lunch for the last two weeks (blew week 1, but did good 2 weeks): $20 saved, will be $30 at end of month.

-Thermostat temp redux: assumed 10% of heating costs, so $8 saved.

-Sell something on e-bay (I used Craigslist): $20 earned.

-Tell friends: $0, but accountability, which is good.

-Optimize cell phone bill: $5 saved, unless I go over texting, but so far so good.

-Gas price hedge fund: $20 has been transferred into savings ($10 per week), by end of month it will be $30.

-No spending day each week: $0 saved because I don't normally spend on Wednesdays anyway, but it makes me more conscious of spending, so good tip anyway.

-Cut subscriptions: $0 saved. I have no subscriptions.

-Only buy new if you will get rid of old: $0 saved, but more conscious of buying things in general, and giving old stuff if decent to people who need it.

-Use rewards programs: $0 saved, but only because I rarely buy stuff anymore. I need to keep this in mind if/when we travel again.

-Don't pay retail for clothes/eyeglasses: Technically, the tip didn't save me anything since I'd already been not buying clothes for three months, BUT if you count those three months and take the average I spent on clothing in the 17 months prior to that, by not buying clothes (except the leggings) I saved about $112 per month for three months, minus the leggings, for a total of 323.49. Pretty good! And when I'm allowed to shop for clothes again, I'm going to try thrift stores. :)

-Use gift certificates bought at 80% off:
This (and having a kitchen) has helped me go from an all-time high (living by myself in the apartment) of (oh my lord this is staggering).....get ready.....$376.50 last July to between $30 and $50 a month now. (ASIDE: OH MY GOD I SPENT THREE HUNDRED SEVENTY SIX DOLLARS AND FIFTY CENTS ON EATING OUT--JUST EATING OUT, NOT GROCERIES TOO, OF WHICH I PURCHASED AS WELL--IN ONE MONTH. ONE. MONTH). Wow. How far I have come. Just wow. Average this year, before the house, was about $200 per month (remember, I didn't cook, and didn't buy many groceries. But yeah, that is still A LOT). So for argument's sake, we'll say I saved $150 by eating out less and getting GC's from

-Car insurance: Since I do this every so often and it's saved me about $200 / six months, I will call that $33 saved this month.

So total, I have saved $375.49 (I only counted one month's worth of the clothing savings in there) this month. Pretty good, no?

Tip #15: Forget going to a bar - ask people over for dinner!

Doing that with friends now instead of meeting places, usually. It has saved lots of time AND money. And it's easier to talk at home on the couch than in a crowded noisy dining room. I need to work on not cooking elaborate stuff that causes me to stress out though. :/

Tip #16: Cancel any large purchases this month.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.....oops. Sorry. I know I'm not supposed to be laughing at the money-saving tips, the large purchases in our house are canceled for at least the rest of the year. We got the alarm system--much needed--but it blew our budget and cut into savings, so we are holding out on anything else. Including replacing the laptop that was stolen (especially since kind, wonderful friends gave us one that will at least get me through homework!).

Tip #17: Buy generic for stuff you don't care about.

I do this with body wash, paper towels, kleenex, peanut butter, milk (though I do care, but it tastes fine)...but I could probably do more. I will keep that in mind next time I'm at the store.

Tip #18: No Christmas gifts this year:
Our families are pretty inexpensive as far as Christmas goes, and I just can't see not giving gifts to our neices and nephews, who a) wouldn't understand and b) are just as happy with inexpensive gifts. We will opt out of adult name drawing (my side of the family) and the dirty santa game (his side) if necessary, but since we are already sparse with the giving and I am ok with who we do give to, we will keep doing Christmas. It just might be smaller than normal this year. And I think we are giving each other gifts of TIME, not things.

Tip #19 (paraphrased): Use online shopping to save money on name brand clothes, organic food, etc.

This tip just made me want to buy stuff that I wouldn't have normally...but for things I already buy this might be a good deal. Just have to watch myself and not buy stuff just because it's cute and on sale.

Tip #20: Change the date of Christmas

The gist of this is do Christmas earlier (or later) depending on when it's cheaper to fly. I don't have to fly, so this does not apply to me. I guess we could be REALLY cheap and do Christmas a couple days after the actual date, shopping the day after and saving money, but really. That's a bit too much, to me.

On to other stuff:

I think buying the house was my wake up call. I LOVE our house, I love coming home to it every day, I love the wood floors, I love the kitchen and cooking, I love that my cats are happy, that I have a bedroom separate from everything else, that I can have people over and they have somewhere to sleep, that I can host gatherings and have dinner parties, that I HAVE A CHRISTMAS TREE (free from freecycle! it rocks!) and could decorate...

But most of all, I love that it forced a monumental shift in the way I spend money and think about money. I don't really miss eating out or never being home. Husband and I went out to eat on Friday night and it was insanely good because it was such a treat, BUT it was much saltier than I remembered and much greasier, and my stomach felt strange the next day (only mildly, but still). I also think I am healthier now. I lost weight from being sick (not much, but a little)--but even aside from that, I feel better, I eat better, and I'm not gaining weight anymore (which I had started doing over the summer from all the restaurant food). Also, my quality of life is SO much better--it's like night and day. Home is once again a place of solace rather than being depressing. I also don't miss spending lots of money on clothes and stuff--I have PLENTY, probably too much, clothing as it is, and not room for it all anyway. (Still weeding out).

So yay house. So far so good.

School is, however, NOT so good. I'm not doing badly (I don't think) but I HATE it. With every fiber of my being. It's stupid and pointless and not as important to me anymore what with a house and a marriage and a job, but I'm going to finish now because I only have two semesters left. I do at least like my job and engineering, which means the degree will actually help. I think I'll be glad that I have it when I finally finish. I'm becoming very, very good at just not thinking about it ( when I started. I decided to apply, got in, and simply refused to question the decision again until I get done...maybe not always the best philosophy, but my usual way, and in this case it will work out).

Monday, November 17, 2008

I'm back! Finally!

I was really sick most of last week and spent lots of time in my bed.

Anyway, on to the newest tips and what I've done (or not) about them, and updates:

Tip #7: Have a "No-Spend" day once a week.

I have decided Wednesdays will be my "no-spend" days...and as an added bonus, being sick all week meant I didn't spend much money or use much gas! So I got a jump-start on this one.

Tip #8: Get rid of monthly subscriptions and go "a la carte" for a month.

Unfortunately, the only monthly subscriptions I have are necessary: cell phone (I have no land line, and I already pared down my cell phone service. And husband and I are going to cancel our individual plans and get together on a plan soon, which will save even more), power bill, water bill. I have no cable, no internet, no magazines, etc.

Tip #9: Only buy something new when replacing something old.

I bought brown leggings this weekend (I know, I know, I wasn't supposed to buy any clothes for a year...but they were on sale for $12.51, and by buying them I have made a summer dress winter-wearable). My mom also got me a sweater. So tonight I will go home and get rid of two things from my closet/drawers. I'm thinking of one sweater that isn't very flattering, and either a pair of pants or a skirt that I don't wear/fit into.

Tip #10: Use rewards from your credit card, job, memberships, etc to get discounts.

I will have to see if any of my credit cards or memberships give me discounts on something I would buy anyway. If so, yay! Money saved! If not, I just won't spend the money. But with Christmas coming up, hopefully I'll get discounts on presents I have to buy. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tip #6: Gas Hedge Fund

Basically, because gas is a little cheaper now, Ramit suggests creating your own little gas "hedge" fund, saving the money that you would have been spending on gas a few months ago. So I started transferring $10 a week into my savings account (fill-ups are around $50 for me now, and at their highest they were $60, and I usually fill up once a week).

Yay saving money!

You should participate.

And tip #5: Optimize your cell phone bill.

I'd already gotten rid of internet on my phone, but I went online and changed my text plan from unlimited to 1000 per month, since I used 953 the month prior. We'll see if that helps. It was a $5 savings!

What If?

Sometimes I play "What If?" in my head...

What if I was given the opportunity to move anywhere and had enough money such that I could hire a private jet to visit loved ones? (Well, ok, and husband and I would have to have another property in the middle of nowhere to preserve his sanity).

I'd buy a gritty loft in a high rise in downtown Chicago. Like this one:

I had a visceral reaction to this picture for some reason, and REALLY wanted to live there.

Just a random thought from the day.

What are your what ifs?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


The time is closer than it ever has been. Now I see cute kids and it's like a punch in the gut and the scene in front of me is replaced with me and my kid and my husband and I want it so much I could stop taking the pills RIGHT NOW.

But I will wait. Need to wait so we both can finish school and so we can at least have some amount of savings.

But oh, I crave a child with him. Right now.

Feeling introspective today, I guess

Read this.

I like it when it starts as a punch in the throat and morphs into comforting and a little bit routine...

Which love do you prefer?

I Am A Dork, Officially

But this is freaking awesome.

The "Save $1000 in 30 Days" Challenge

So I'm participating in this. Here's how I'm doing so far:

Tip #1: Pack lunches for the rest of the week.

I blew it two days ago (yes, Monday, two days after the tip was given)....BUT. I pack lunches nearly every day, and the reason I went out with co-workers yesterday was threefold: one of my BFF's in the office has been out for three weeks doing site walks and he was FINALLY back, and we got a new engineer Monday and he came out to eat with us, AND it was one of the regular lunchers' birthday. Since I only eat lunch out twice or three times a month at most, I decided that it was ok. I just won't do it anymore this month. :)

Tip #2: Turn your thermostat down 3 degrees.

Done. It's now on 66 instead of 71 (I went a little overboard the first night, and found it wasn't that bad and left it there).

Tip #3: Sell something on Ebay.

Listed a chest of drawers and a stand mixer on Craigslist yesterday. So far, no takers, but may list other stuff tomorrow.

Tip #4: Involve your friends.

I'm telling everyone I know that I'm doing this, and they can all check my progress here. I'm trying to get hubby to do it too. :) (He's already much more frugal than I am, so he's already off to a great start!).

Those are all the tips so far. More updates to come!