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Archive for July, 2006

deep breaths...

July 30th, 2006 at 07:13 pm

that's what I had to take when I looked at my net worth today. It had gone down by $10k (into the negative) and I almost had a heart attack. I saw the reason - my Roth IRA had a balance of $0 - and I nearly had a second heart attack. I scrambled onto the website to find an error message telling me my balance was unavailable...breathe. Ok, it must be a computer error. A few minutes later it had straightened out and I could look at my positive (though not by much) net worth again. Phew.
I've been so busy keeping up with the No Spend Challenge that I feel like I've been neglecting my blog! Everything with any financial ramifications over the past 3 days is written in that thread, so it would feel redundant of me to repeat it all here. But I will say that it is surprising how much the little things add up. I'm up to over $30 in savings already without even sacrificing.
Our sweet corn is ready - delicious. We had it for lunch and dinner, and will probably continue to do so for another few weeks. Tonight I made some awesome zucchini muffins - very moist and flavorful - from a recipe I got off recipezaar.com. I am really getting into this muffin thing, and once I get a few more batches under my belt, I want to start experimenting a little more. my muffins always used to come out bad, but the last few batches have been wonderful. I like the idea of popping them into the freezer. I always get the mid-morning munchies and it would be so nice to grab one on my way out the door to work to have for a snack.

five Thursdays in August

July 28th, 2006 at 07:47 pm

and it times out to mean three paychecks for me! Happy dance, happy dance. Since I figure out the budget based on two paychecks, this means an extra $526 for the month.
The good money karma continues - I uncovered another dollar today while cleaning off my dresser. My money pile is growing as I am not spending Smile

good money karma

July 27th, 2006 at 07:27 pm

Plan to spend no money for a week, and the money will come to you Smile I purposefully took no money out of the ATM to avoid temptations. Then I found $16 in one pair of pants and $10 in another. Good money karma!! Now I have to hide it for the week so I won't be tempted to stop at any garage sales.
No major plans for the weekend, except my broker's annual party for all the agents who work in her two offices. She holds it at her house and puts on a delicious feast - lobster and steak, clams, corn on the cob, soda and beer. All I have to bring is a dish to pass. I signed up to either bring a salad or dessert - either of which I can make with things on hand at the house. I shouldn't have to spend any money this weekend.
I did (hopefully) pull together the offer on the land - but it still needs to be signed and the seller is out of town until Sunday. Until then, we will have to hold our breath that no other offers come in. I also got a phone call today from a buyer who wants to look at another lot - so possibly another potential sale.
Still pulling buckets of veggies out of the garden - and never got around to making the pickles. Probably will do it tomorrow.

Starting the challenge - with DH on board

July 26th, 2006 at 06:59 pm

With a roll of his eyes, DH agreed to not spend any money this week. Actually, he has $7, so I told him he could spend that and no more. Myself, I have nothing, so no temptation there. I might have to pay for a few small things here and there (i.e. parking if I go to an appt. for work), but I should be pretty close to nothing for the week. My bills are all paid off, so I have $27 left in the checking account until next payday ($61 yesterday minus $34 at the grocery store today).
Our garden is starting to overwhelm us already. I have enough cukes for a jar of pickles, though I might wait until I get enough to make several jars before I make them. We have all the lettuce and swiss chard we can eat, not to mention the beans (I already froze three bagfuls). Tonight we had beets - I cooked two big ones with the greens, but we didn't even finish half of that. After a disappointing year last year, we decided to plant an entire row of beets this year - and I think it might be too many!
I opted not to go sell at the Farmer's Market, as the blackberries are nearly gone and the mosquitos are viciously guarding the ones that are left. It just would not have been worth my time. I'm still short about $80 on my goal to earn an extra $200 this month. Hmmm...already had the garage sale and posted some things on Craig's list - maybe I'll advertise in the paper (anyone want to buy rock records or an extensive Reader's Digest collection dating back to 1917??).
Tonight we are writing out the thank you notes for my son's birthday. We are very fortunate to have so many people who love our kids so dearly.

a week without spending

July 25th, 2006 at 07:14 pm

Ok, I've committed to the week. And in good timing too - only $61 left in the checking and a week until payday. I'd like to avoid hitting the savings account if possible. We had two expenses this week that nearly wiped out my last paycheck - $153 for the vet (had to get DH's dog neutered - non negotiable!) and DH's speeding ticket ($155). Wow does that man cost me money! But he's worth it Smile
Tomorrow I have to take ds1 to get fitted for the tux he will be wearing in my brother's wedding next month - I believe DH paid for it already, so that won't cost us anything. I also want to stock up a little on groceries before the challenge begins for me on Thursday. Here's hoping the next week goes smoothly...I told DH about the challenge and asked if he would join me - he rolled his eyes and said he'd let me know. He just doesn't see the fun in the challenge like I do.

Another reason I love my garden...

July 24th, 2006 at 07:08 pm

Today I was cutting some swiss chard for dinner and my three year old walked up to me to ask "Can I eat this?" I have a three year old who will eat ANYTHING fresh from the garden! Tomatoes, cukes, beans, peppers, and even plain lettuce. What a great way to encourage kids to eat their veggies - to let them help you in the garden and get to eat the results.
On a less positive note...DH's speeding ticket cost us $155 tonight. Gotta love those NY surcharges. He was caught going 60 in a 45, JUST past where the limit dropped from 55. What a bummer. I told him we have to readjust the budget now Smile

wrote an offer...

July 22nd, 2006 at 07:53 pm

on a piece of land for a buyer. We got a counter-offer and I am waiting for a response from my buyers as to whether they will accept it. Hopefully I will know more tomorrow...
Reading up on the gardening posts by flash and contrary...I LOVE my garden. This year we expanded it (again). We grow: zucchini and yellow squash, yellow and green beans, beets, spinach, mesclun mix lettuce, swiss chard, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, broccoli, and cukes. I also put in an herb garden this year, but there are no cost savings to me and I really have no preference for fresh over dried, so I won't be doing it again next year. We eat 1 or 2 things from the garden every day, and that will be up to 3-4 in another few weeks. The best part is no waste - I only take what I need for each meal. No yucky watery bags of lettuce in the back of the fridge, no mushy cucumbers. I can't say enough about how great gardening is. It's really not that much work, either (of course, my father plows it for us with his tractor...) - but we only weed about every two weeks and water it only during the hottest of days. I have even been thinking about rereading TG to see Amy's methods for extending the growing season. How nice it would be to have fresh veggies through the fall and even into winter! It's something I will have to look into.
Speaking of gardening...I have totally fallen in love with one of my kitchen gadgets - a salad spinner. I bought it at a garage sale a few years back for $1, then it sat on a shelf for all this time. This year, I finally got it out and started using the colander part to gather my greens. I take a pair of scissors out to the garden with me and cut the greens as I throw them into the colander (leaving the stems in the compost) - take them inside, give them a wash and spin, and they are ready to serve or cook. Last year, I would gather the greens, wash each leaf individually, cut it up, have to bring the stems and unusable parts back to the compost heap...this is SO much easier. Wish I had thought of it sooner.

rebate frustration

July 21st, 2006 at 08:14 pm

Ok, has anyone gotten the rebate from Walgreens back yet (Kotex)? I called today to ask a question about whether proof of purchases were required (they aren't) and while I was on the phone I asked whether using a coupon for the product would affect the rebate (one of flash's posts made me think of this). The CSR I spoke with said that the after-coupon price of the Kotex had to be over $10, not the price before coupons. Meaning that if I want this rebate, I have to go purchase one more package before the end of the month ($3.50 x 3 = $10.50 -$3 in coupons is only $7.50). GRRRR... just wondering how everyone else read this and if anyone has been able to sneak around this requirement.
I am looking forward to a weekend with NO PLANS. I was so hyper-scheduled last weekend that no plans sounds wonderful.
I checked our car loan today - still owe $1450. I was a little disappointed - it seems like it should be going down faster, but we have only been able to pay slightly more than the minimum lately.
Oh yes - hopefully some good news. I got a call tonight about writing an offer on some land tomorrow. It won't be a lot, but it will be a quick cash closing, meaning some money in my pocket if our offer gets accepted. Keeping my fingers crossed! My other two deals are going well - all major obstacles crossed. We are looking to close both in the second week of August. That money is already spent on DH's tuition, though Frown At least we didn't have to take out a loan with the higher rates now though.

yea for flash! yea for mjrube! and yea for me!

July 18th, 2006 at 08:08 pm

I embarked on a flash-like crusade today to see what I could get for not much moolah - and thanks to mjrube for the tip about Walgreens rebates this month. I got $25.14 worth of stuff for $2.36 (okay, $2.75 if you count the stamp I need to mail in my rebate).
I want to post a picture but am somewhat impaired on posting pics...any help??

Here is what I bought:
2 cans of mandarin oranges, $.99 on sale for $.39 each with in-store coupon
5 boxes of Royal gelatin, $.69 on sale for $.20 each with in-store coupon
3 packages of Kotex, $3.49 each, $3 in coupons used, $10 rebate = -$2.53
1 bottle Sunsilk conditioner (not a brand I have ever used, but it's free!), $4.49, free after rebate
1 bottle children's shampoo off the clearance rack, $2.19 (impulse buy, but it was on my "needs" list)
Total spent: $17.30, but I should get $14.94 back
Yea!!!!

net worth in the toilet...

July 17th, 2006 at 06:03 pm

Ouch. This is getting depressing. Net worth is done $3000 today. The charge for DH's summer tuition came through on the credit card. I can't wait until I get that one paid off. Net worth is still positive by a few thou, but this is probably the lowest it has been since we got married. I just keep telling myself that it WILL get better when DH gets out of school and gets a job.
He did consolidate his other student loans - and they are no longer in deferment (he is still in school for 5 more months). I don't know if that happens when you consolidate them, or if they just don't know that he is still in school. He needs to call to find out before the first payment is due in September. If we can defer them without interest accruing, then we will do that. Otherwise, we'll just start paying them.
Saved money today by: not leaving the house. Normally I would have worked today and not Wednesday, but I have two meetings to attend on Wed. In the past I would have worked a shorter day today and still went in on Wed., but I decided (in line with my new goal of avoiding unnecessary trips) to take today off and work my full day on Wed. I love having a flexible schedule.
I also made baby wipes today instead of running to the store for them. This is something I have done on and off through two babies, but not consistently. They are a little more inconvenient to use since they are made out of paper towels and still perforated (not detached, like baby wipes), but it does allow me to use up my baby soap and oil that I otherwise have no use for (my sons both have sensitive skin, so I don't use the perfurmed soaps regularly).
I picked wild blackberries today, as well as green beans and lettuce from the garden.
And I ate leftovers. I hate to throw food away. Smile
Making progress, little by little, even though it feels like we are going backwards.

Parties #2 and #3

July 17th, 2006 at 05:53 pm

I had a wonderful weekend...but I am SO glad it is over! Party #2 was my future SIL's bachelorette party. We booked a limo for a 6 hour wine tour. Turns out the cheapest limo is definitely NOT the best (duh), but we didn't figure it would be as bad as it was. I feel a little responsible since I did all the research and presented the options to the rest of the bridal party, but then again, I let everyone make the decision together on which agency to use. Anyway, we are in the midst of a 90+ degree heat wave for about a week now, and the limo's AC was broken. And the door fell off. Nearly. The chauffer opened the door to let us out and part of the door fell apart on the floor. I could not see her face, but the other girls told me that the chauffer looked like she wanted to die. The other ladies who paid for the trip "encouraged" me to ask for a partial refund based on the condition of the limo and the fact that they had guaranteed a temperature of 10 degrees less than outside. I wrote an e-mail this afternoon. I told them I would follow up with a letter if I did not hear from them, and if I still received no reply, I would send my letter to the BBB. I figured that would get their attention. Granted, the limo was cheaper by $100 than any other company, but we still should not have to sweat like pigs for six hours!!! We'll see if it goes anywhere.
Aside from the limo, we had a blast. It was a lot of fun. I only bought one bottle of wine, keeping the budget in mind (and the fact that I rarely drink). My meal after was only $10. I spent about $5 on the tour for tips and ice cream. I think my future SIL had a really nice time, so that was what is important Smile
Party #3 was yesterday - 20+ people over for my son's third birthday. Most of DH's family came from Binghamton, which was really nice. Again, a beastly hot day. We had the AC on all day so people could escape from the heat. We took the crew to our pond where DH and my brother had built a platform and rope swing, as well as a floating raft. It was the first time some of those city folk had done anything like this - a ton of fun. We had way more food than we needed and are still eating it three meals later. And the best part - no huge obnoxious toys that my son won't play with. He got some clothes, pajamas, a lot of books (which he loves), and a few versatile toys that he will really enjoy. Not to mention a little cash that I plan to use to purchase a savings bond for him.
Whew. I'm glad it's all over though.

Party #1

July 14th, 2006 at 07:09 pm

A success! I think all had a good time. There were 7 kids total with parents. We met at the playground and played. Then we had pizza, played some more, had cupcakes and ice cream, played some more, opened presents, and played. It was a great place to have it - I didn't have to plan anything at all to keep the kids busy. I did splurge and bought ice cream for everyone at the stand across the street - $23 for 14 ice creams. There was no way to bring any with us in this heat (90 degress plus). Stupid me forgot the lighter, so my poor little boy had to pretend to blow the candles out (doesn't anyone smoke anymore?? not that I'm complaining!). He took it rather well.
Pizza: $20 for 17
Ice cream: $23 for 14
Drinks: $.88 for a can of lemonade, also brought water and 2 bottles of soda for $2
Paper goods: Used from stockpile, cost was neglible
Candles: $.68
Balloons: $1.49
$48.05! I can live with that. It was a very good time.
Party #2 tomorrow: Bachelorette party. No expenses for that except dinner at a casual restaurant.

and the money keeps rolling out...

July 13th, 2006 at 08:16 pm

Time to write the antithesis of my upbeat post a few days ago about how we were finding sources of income to make up our shortfalls...now out shortfalls have crept back up on us to set us back again. But not for long...we'll lick these debts yet.
Dh just informed me tonight that he got a speeding ticket. Bummer. It happened right as he went from a 55 MPH zone to a 45 MPH zone - but he was still doing 60. He's going to write a letter to try to plead it down, but even if he gets it dropped to some other type of violation, it will still be probably $100 with the NYS surcharges.
And we just charged nearly $3000 on the credit card- DH's summer tuition. This should be paid of in early August when we get the commission checks. Sigh. I hate having money spent before I even receive it.
And I spent $97 (saved $36) at the grocery store today to get ready for the party-weekend. Tomorrow we have ds's friend party at the park, Sat. I have organized the bachelorette party for my future SIL (starting with a brunch at my house and snacks throughout the day), and Sunday we have EVERYONE (parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts) coming to the house for ds's family party. I spent a lot of money getting ready for this weekend. But I should be set for a while now...I hope.
I have one more week until next payday ($526). I still have $350 in the checking account and over $1000 in the savings (not counting EF), so life is still good, right? Smile

Money making ventures:
I left home this morning without my blackberries, so I was not able to try to sell them at work - but my mom did take a few quarts to our neighbor, so I'm glad they went to good use. I'll pick more tomorrow.
I posted my Reader's Digest collection (issues from 1917 to present) on craigslist, along with some records DH wanted to get rid of. No bites yet...I have been waiting for E-bay to have a commission sale, but I haven't seen one in about two months now. We have all this stuff taking up space!
No other ideas thus far...hmmm...

God of wealth coin

July 12th, 2006 at 06:44 pm

Here is a pic of where the coin has been visiting...now it's off to NJ...
Ok, I am having trouble posting this pic - any advice? The process seems to have changed since the last time I did it. I remember posting a link, but now I browse to find the image, click "update entry" and nothing happens...? I must be missing something.
...I just reread the instructions for uploading - it says I will be given a tag, but I am not getting one??

My oldest is 3 tomorrow!

July 12th, 2006 at 06:41 pm

Three? How did that happen? He was just turning two yesterday...
We have planned a family party (Sunday) and a friend party (Friday). The friend party will be at a local playground with his cousin, three kids from his preschool class, and one other little boy we know. Very low-key. He has asked for red balloons, so those will be the decorations. I am going to pick up a sheet pizza before the party, make a homemade cake, and walk to the ice cream store across from the park to get baby-size dishes of ice cream for the kids to eat with their cake. So far I have spent $.68 for candles (we will use these for multiple parties over the next year), $1.47 for balloons, and $1.50 for favors per child ($1 coloring book, $.10 crayons, and $.40 Play-Doh). I will make the cake from scratch, so that will cost next to nothing. I figure $1 per child for ice cream and maybe $25 for the pizza. I guess that's a pretty cheap party, seeing as how we would probably have pizza at home anyway to celebrate.
The family party will be a cook-out at home - no special decorations, games, favors, etc. Just a day to surround my little boy with the people who care about him Smile
We spent $109 total at Wal-Mart tonight This included the favors, supplies, and his gifts (a bike, art supplies), along with about $30 in school supplies for DH, $10 in diapers, and $5 for dinner. I'm pleased that we were able to get him some nice gifts for less than $60. His bike was on clearance, marked $30 down from $60. We spent another $8 to get the training wheels. We bought some cheap art supplies (markers and paints), and I got a set of construction truck puzzles a month ago from Books Are Fun for $12. I think that's pretty reasonable. He will be getting a ton of stuff from relatives, but I have been asked a few times what he needs, so he might get some clothes too (yeah!). My parents already bought him a life jacket, which I am really happy about because we like to do a lot of water activities.
I'm looking forward to this weekend - it's going to be fun!

no market today

July 12th, 2006 at 06:26 pm

It rained. It poured. It rained some more. I think we ended up with 3-4 inches here in central NY. So, no, I did not even bother to go to the Farmer's Market today. I would have been drenched, and I doubt anyone even come out to buy anything in this deluge.
I did bake up the two batches of cookies I mixed up last night - into the freezer they go, to be saved for my brother's rehearsal dinner next month. I have to say, I was disappointed in the texture of them. I don't know if it was because they were still cold when I baked them, or a result of sitting overnight before baking...but they were different - and not as good.
I did sneak out between the rain and picked four more quarts of blackberries. These are some of the biggest berries I have ever seen growing wild. Enormous! I'll take a few quarts in to work tomorrow to leave in the break room. If I sell two, well then, that's $10 in my pocket! The last quart I am taking to my neighbor, as she always shares her strawberries with us - and lately, raspberries too.

Farmer's Market

July 11th, 2006 at 08:41 pm

I got a head start on the baking for tomorrow's market - two batches of cookies all mixed up in the fridge to be baked tomorrow. In the morning I plan to head out to pick blackberries before it gets too hot. And then I will just have to make 2 or 3 more baked goods and I'll be ready to go. I hope this week goes as well (or better!) than last. I'll post tomorrow on the outcome.

garden goodies

July 11th, 2006 at 08:39 pm

Just a quick record of what we have harvested from the garden so far:
beet greens (x3)
spinach (x1)
swiss chard (x1)
lettuce, mesclun mix (x2)
basil, rosemary, and oregano (haven't used thyme or chives yet)

This is the first year that we have done the mesclun mix and I absolutely LOVE running to the garden to cut fresh salad. And it is so abundant, we probably could have it every night if we wanted. The best part? My brother gave us his leftover seeds, so it is completely free. And this is the stuff I pay $5.99/lb. for in the winter.
The beets we don't usually eat this early, but I planted way too many. We have been eating the greens as we thinned them. I think we have them thinned to a reasonable degree now, so we will wait a little bit until the beets are bigger before picking.
We have peppers to be ready soon, and many green tomatoes. I saw a teeny tiny cucumber today, so those will be exploding in a week or two, as will our teeny tiny green and yellow beans.
Broccoli and squash are still quite far off...broccoli was planted very late, and squash just seems to be taking its sweet ol' time.
Oh, how I love it. Life is fresh!

June household goals

July 10th, 2006 at 07:11 pm

Real estate:
-Send letters to past clients with new contact information - DONE
-Look into joining women's professional organization in nearby town for networking opportunities - not yet done

Money:
-Pay DH's tuition without loans - DONE
-Pay off all credit cards accounts (3 with small balances) - I paid off all my balances, but had to run one back up for DH's tuition. This will be paid off by the end of the grace period (only $250 left)

Health:
-Maintain 140 weight - DONE
-Get back on track with eating right - this has gotten better. I have been gorging myself on all the wonderful fresh fruit that ripens in summer!

Sorting/simplification goal:
-Get rid off all unnecessary paperwork that is floating around - DONE
-Find a good, used desk for cheap. DH needs it for schoolwork, I could use it for organization - still looking
-Continue my "5 minutes per night" rule for getting my bedroom/upstairs in order - I need to be back on track with this one.

Goals for July
Real estate
-Look into joining women's professional organization in nearby town for networking opportunities
-Make an effort to pick up one new client

Money:
-Pay second summer semester's tuition without loans, using commission checks I should be receiving in June
-Make an additional $200 through various means (garage sale, farmer's market, E-Bay, etc).

Health:
-Maintain 140 weight

Sorting/simplification goal:
-Find a good, used desk for cheap
-Continue my "5 minutes per night" rule for getting my bedroom/upstairs in order
No big sorting tasks for this month - I'll be concentrating on making more money instead.

June totals

July 10th, 2006 at 07:05 pm

Wow, now that I can check my net worth on Yodlee every day, I am not so anxious to get my monthly totals done. I just got to today - 10 days late - and realized I never did it for June. Here are my projected expenditures compared to actual.

Groceries: 275 -> 293.31
Household/Cell: 240 -> 89.76 (I still owe my mom about $160)
Car: 275 -> 292.20 (that's the closest I have been in a while!)
Medical: 40 -> 30
Clothes: 20 -> 7.79
Loans: 300.36 -> 350.36
Entertainment: 100 -> 66.69
Gifts: 160 -> 123.45 (due to some creative regifting)
Miscellaneous: 100 -> 187.36
Real estate: 50 -> 0
School: 1493 -> 1537.40
Investment: 100 -> 100
New category: Cash withdrawals -> 286.50 ($6.50 being fees)
Total expenses: 3078.32
Estimated take-home income: 1768.54
I ended the month with $650 in credit card debt, $400 of which I have already paid off. The remaining $250 will be paid off before the due date of 8/1. That means I still took a few hundred out of savings, something I might just have to get used to until DH is out of school (5 more months!). Overall, I am pleased that most categories came in under budget, and that my two big budget breakers (gas and groceries) were very close. I keep toying with the idea of going to the envelopes system for groceries, miscellaneous expenses, entertainment, etc. (I wouldn't do it for gas because I use my reward card) - but I don't think I am ready to take the plunge just yet.

A few goals for next month:
1. I made four grocery runs for $15 and under (in other words, quick trips to the store for only a few things). This is a waste of gas, time, and money. I want to cut out these small runs between the big shopping trips.
2. I need to cut back on gas consumption too. I have not even made an effort in this area, but $300 on gas every month is ridiculous. It will be hard for me to do this, since we live in a rural area close to nothing. If I can cut out one or two unnecessary trips per week, it might make the tiniest of dents Smile
3. No more ATM fees! (although I can blame Dh entirely for this one, since our bank is across from my work). Dh and I recently came into some cash as a result of our garage sale and going to the farmer's market to sell blackberries. We are going to see how long we can live off of this. And when we do need to go to the bank, we need to go to OUR bank and plan ahead. Sure, it's only $6.50, but it was MY $6.50 that the banks now have.

Goals for next month:
Groceries: 275
Household/Cell: 409 (two months of household expenses to my mom plus one month of cell phone)
Car: 300 (I have to up this because DH is back at school four days per week this semester - a 45 minute drive)
Medical: 15
Clothes: 20
Loans: 300.36
Entertainment: 75
Gifts: 200 (four graduations, one wedding shower, and ds1's third birthday!)
Miscellaneous: 150 (our puppy is going to the vet)
Real estate: 0
School: 2886 (summer tuition due, um, today!)
Investment: 0 (I have asked DH to postpone this for a few months as we could better use the money now!)
Cash withdrawals -> 160, no fees!
Total expenses: 1904.36 without tuition, 4790.36 with! I am not counting tuition in this months expenses because I plan to pay it with next month's commission checks (or, worst case scenario, emergency fund). It will go on the credit card for this month.
Estimated take-home income: 1893 (counting garage sale and farmer's market income)
Well, it will be tight...that's for sure Smile

and the money keeps rolling in...

July 9th, 2006 at 08:15 pm

Another $67 to add to my checking account. It was from the stuff we took to my brother's garage sale. Yeah! Every bit helps. We sold my son's sandbox for $25 (bought for more than $100 last year - ouch), some records, etc. It was nice to get the house cleaned out a bit too.
I have made three blackberry pies over the weekend (two to eat, one to freeze) and decided it is not worth my time to make them to sell. I could only get $8, maybe $10, but I could sell the same amount of blackberries for $7.50. I'll stick to the cookies and sell the berries separately. I was thinking about taking some berries into work to sell too. Every once in a while stuff shows up in the kitchen for sale, so it's allowed. I won't have time to go picking again for a few days, though. DH starts classes again tomorrow.
We held the shower for my SIL-to-be yesterday - very nice. And the price came in about $25 less than I had planned, so that was a nice surprise. The guest of honor had a great time and was really touched by all the work we did Smile A very nice weekend!

Continuing with the blackberries...

July 6th, 2006 at 07:46 pm

Okay, this farmers market thing has gotten pretty consuming. I keep thinking about what I can do next week! it's fun. I think I am going to try my hand at blackberry pies. Pies are not hard to make - it just seems like they are. Every time I make one I surprise myself with how easy it was, as I always seem to remember it taking longer. I'll have to find out how many blackberries it takes, though. If I sell a pie for $8, but it takes $5 worth of blackberries to make it, then $3 is not worth my time. But if it only takes $2 worth, then I can make a tidy profit. Anyone know how to make blackberry pie??
Today I paid $400 of the $653 cc bill, so we don't have a lot left. However...I did decide to charge next semester's tuition, since I will have to commission checks by the time the payment is due. Even if I don't I can pay it from the emergency fund rather than take out more student loans at the higher rate. We will definitely have to take out loans for the last semester (Sept-Dec), but then DH will be DONE (with $20k in loans...).
Went out to lunch with a friend today - nice visit. I had to charge lunch ($5.12) as I forgot both my cash and my ATM card. Duh.

one more thought...

July 5th, 2006 at 07:51 pm

I think the most empowering thing is not the $60 in my pocket, but the feeling that I CAN DO IT. I AM in control of my money. I came up with a plan last night and made it work for me today. If you want to get out of debt, come up with a plan and make it work. And if it doesn't, then try another plan. Don't be passive!
Just a thought to think on tonight...Smile

Happy dance!!!

July 5th, 2006 at 07:49 pm

It was a good, good day. Moneywise and otherwise. Today I:
1. Received the final sign-off for the contingencies on the home I am selling, meaning all the major obstacles are out of the way.
2. Got a paycheck with almost $500 extra in it (extra time worked last month - I wasn't keeping track of when I was getting it, so it was a nice surprise)
3. Made $60 at the farmer's market.
Yeah!!!
Ok, maybe I have held on to the God of Wealth coin too long...I'll send it on tomorrow (so sorry, Stressless - look for it soon!). Then again, maybe I can pat myself on the back and attribute some of the cash to my hard work - and I did work hard today. At 7:30am, I left the house to pick blackberries until 9:00. As soon as I got home, I started baking: cinnamon rolls, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, and lemon blackberry muffins. Whew. I made up my signs and trotted off to market, where I sold nearly EVERYTHING, save 8 cookies (out of about 9 or 10 dozen) and a few cinnamon rolls. That is including the 7 quarts of blackberries I took, which sold for $4-$5 each (okay, I let myself get talked down on a few, but I won't next week - promise!). I spent $5 for groceries this morning (butter - my biggest expense. I need some recipes that use Crisco instead) and paid $5 in order to have a stand, so I netted $50. I probably had another $5 or so in ingredients already at the house. Aside from butter and chocolate chips, the rest of the baking supplies are relatively cheap. Anyway, I was very pleased with the outcome and plan to go back next week. I have even toyed with the idea of approaching our local mom-and-pop market to see if they want to buy some blackberries from me. I know they have bought strawberries from my neighbor in the past.
I'm not sure when I will have the time to pick a lot more, though. This weekend is my future SIL's bridal shower. We have out-of-town relatives coming in on Friday, so I'll be spending a lot of time at home and getting ready for the shower. But a lot of the blackberries are still red, so I should have at least another week or two to pick - maybe more.
DH scolded me for worrying too much (not in a negative way - he is the laid back one and I am the worrier). He believes everything will work out just fine. Well, I know it will work out too - I just want to help everything along so that it all works out faster!

How not to pick blackberries

July 4th, 2006 at 07:39 pm

1. In shorts
2. Without bug spray
3. With two children who eat faster than you can pick

Owwwww....
For all my hard labor today, I have three and half quarts of blackberries to share and/or sell. I probably would have a quart more had the kids not been with me, but what a learning experience for them. They were a lot of fun to show which berries to pick, to help me find more bushes, and to wipe the purple off their faces when we got home. Tomorrow, I hit the bushes again...and again in a few more days, and again, until the blackberries are all gone.
There is something in blackberry picking that appeals to me in suc a frugal way. I mean, free food, no strings attached, completely mine for the taking. I can take as much as I want, and nature will make more. I get started and I cannot stop until my buckets are overflowing and I have no more room for more. Maybe it's the solitude of being in the woods, maybe it's the thoughts of blackberries on my cereal in the morning, or the lure of trying to make a profit selling them at the farmer's market - but tomorrow, I'll be back out there again...in pants, though. Smile

a plan...maybe

July 4th, 2006 at 07:34 pm

I think I may try something new tomorrow. I might set up a table at the farmer's market. It is a very small deal, only two or three vendors every week (usually one or two for produce, sometimes one for baked goods, and sometimes another miscellaneous table - last week it was a guy selling dog treats). It will cost $5. I have three quarts of blackberries now to sell, and I can probably pick another 3-4 tomorrow. If I can sell these for $5 each or $2.50/pint (is that too high? I see them for about $3 a pint in the store), then I would only need to sell a few to come out ahead. I can also make a few batches of cookies or cake tomorrow to take. Hmmm...this might actually work. It would put some spending money in my pocket and let me feel like I am in control of the money situation again. I would need to figure out, though, how much baking supplies would cost to see if I am really making any headway here. We have to bake many dozens of cookies for my brothers rehearsal dinner in August, so I can freeze whatever is leftover for then - I don't need to worry about wasting whatever is leftover.
I asked Dh if he minded, since I would probably be busy most of tomorrow getting ready. He said no, as long as I put up a sign advertising my real estate there too. At first I thought that sounded ridiculous, but then the more I thought about it, the better it sounded. I could offer business cards or magnets, along with free market appraisal coupons. I could put up a sign to the effect of "Not only do I bake, but I can sell your house too!". We'll see. I might say the heck with it and not do any of this at all! But it is nice to be coming up with ideas.

Taking a deep breath...

July 3rd, 2006 at 07:36 pm

Ok, recovered a little from my last post - paid my mom for part of the living expenses, minus a few things she owed me for - I still owe her about $160, but she told me she does not need the money and not to worry about it for now. That took me down to $14 in the checking account, but frees up a lot more cash to pay down the credit card (I get paid on Wed). Now to get DH to agree to a belt-tightening for the next few months until he gets out of school...
Forgot to mention a few other upcoming expenses - future SIL's shower ($125) and gift ($40). Luckily I have my part of the bachelorette party already paid off, plus I will be getting $30 or so from the girls who haven't paid me for their share yet. But I also have two more graduates to give gifts to, plus two more birthdays this month (one being my son!).
on the plus side, I did get a $90 mileage check. I also got a $380 check from my health insurance company, but I am 99% sure it is an error. I will call them on Wednesday to see. Boy, that would make my week if somehow I had that to cash Smile

Bummed out

July 3rd, 2006 at 06:39 pm

I have been totally stressing over the budget situation lately and today only made it worse. I got word of a snag in the real estate deals I have been working on. If this one deal falls through, then the other one will fall through as well, as my sellers need to close this deal in order to have the money to buy their new home. I am so bummed. I know I should not be counting this money before it gets to me, but we could really, really use it. I had plans to pay DH's tuition with the commission checks, and have enough left over to nearly pay of DH's car. If it doesn't work out, I will be saddled with this debt even longer.
And then there's the whole issue of paying off $900 in bills with only a $526 paycheck. Anyone know how I can do that?? I have to pay a credit card bill of $653 (remainder of DH's $1443 tuition) and pay my mom living expenses for the past two months. I know she will wait for this, but I hate to ask. They have done so much for us, that I really want to get them the cash, even though I know they don't need it. I was planning to charge DH's tuition this semester too, since we would have the commission checks to cover it, but now I don't dare. That means he will have to scramble to get a new loan for it. I guess if the commission checks come through, we can put them toward the loan (which will be at 6 or 7% interest now that they have raised the student loan rates).
Of course, this is on top of all my other expenses (monthly: $184 car, $100 sutdent loan, $90 cell - needed for business, $300 groceries, etc).
Here's the plan: I get paid $526 on Wednesday. This has to last two weeks. We can cut way back on the grocery budget and use our stockpile. The car payment has already been made, and the student loan is paid out of savings. So, I can give my mom $240 and that will catch her up. Then I can throw $100 at the cc and wait until my next paycheck to do more. I haven't even gotten the statement yet, so I have at least a few weeks before interest kicks in. And if it gets to that point, I'll pay if out of the emergency fund before I'll pay interest.
Which brings up another point - the emergency fund. We have been slowly chipping away at it. It was $10k when DH lost his job last year and went back to school. Now it is $8700. But it's there for emergencies, right? So why do I feel so incredibly guilty about touching it?? And how low can I take it before I really start to feel uncomfortable? Ugh. I need to get my head on straight and figure this out.
My brother is having a garage sale this weekend - we have taken over some stuff to sell. We really don't have much, though, having jumped on the frugal bandwagon some years ago. But DH has some duplicate records that usually sell well, and I am going to try to sell my Readers' Digest collection (some date back to 1917) which really has brought me little pleasure and takes up space. So maybe we'll get a little extra from that.
Ok, just rambling now...had to vent. I appreciate anyone who took the time to read this and any feedback they might have. I'm just so stressed over this, but I know that I shouldn't be. We have plenty to eat, a place to live, healthcare, and clothes on our back. What else do we need, right?