Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Catching Up

I'm back!  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I know I did.  I had a friend staying with me for the week, and prepared two holiday meals (on on Thursday for family, and one on Sunday for friends).  I also managed to get a really nasty cold in the process.  So, with all of that going on I basically did not even turn on my computer, much less blog!  Now I am catching up.  My expenses over the last week were as follows:

On Tuesday I went back to the doctor to get the stitches out from my first biopsy, and have the 2nd biopsy taken (oh, and I get to now have a 3rd biopsy taken next week... joy).  That resulted in another $25 co-pay. 

After the news I got at the doctor, and having just had a hunk cut out of my hip, I decided I just wasn't up to cooking dinner that night so I stopped at a local Gyro restaurant and grabbed a Gyro to go for $5.69.  I made three meals out of that Gyro! 

The cold I got resulted in a trip to K-Mart on Thanksgiving night to buy more cold medicine - a much worth-it $5.29 spent.  

My friend/house guest and I went bowling over the weekend.  He bought the first three games and I bought the 2nd three games, so I paid $14.25.  I love bowling, though I only go a couple times a year.  

I spent $39.37 at Petsmart buying dog food, a dog toy, and a cat collar. 

My cell phone bill from Verizon was $54.52.

My electric bill this month was $60.35.

Last night I stopped to get gas.  Gas was $2.79 a gallon, but I had credit for $0.20 off a gallon so I only paid $2.59 a gallon.  My total bill was $41.60

Today is the end of the month.  Sometime later today or tomorrow I hope to post my monthly spending recap. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More Thanksgiving Shopping

I stopped at Giant Eagle last night to get some odds and ends.  I spent $49.61.  But, of that, $30 was gift cards for Christmas presents (so they will get categorized as gifts) and $4.03 was on cat food (this will get categorized under "pets") so that means that the actual grocery expense for this trip was $15.58.  

Besides the items already listed above, here is what I got:
• 4 pack of butter
• refrigerated biscuits
• refrigerated crescent rolls
• Cascade dishwashing tabs
• 1 white onion (I am allergic to onions so I rarely buy them, though I do always buy one to stick in the turkey while it is cooking for flavor)
• Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour (one of my guests has Celiac's Disease, which means he can't eat anything with gluten in it - like flour - and so I will be using this to make some items he can eat)

I now just need to buy one more thing for Thanksgiving and I will be set!  How about all of you?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marc's for some Thanksgiving supplies

I spent $8.94 at Marc's today getting a dozen eggs and 3 bags of Yoder's Mashed Potatoes.  If they sell these where you live check them out... they taste just like homemade and are not that expensive.  It is one of those things that helps keep me sane when preparing a big meal (shhh.... everything thinks I make them! :) ).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Denim Days!

I have mentioned on this blog before that the company I work for sometimes allows us to wear jeans for the week in exchange for a $5 donation to a specified charity.  Sometimes I take part in this and sometimes I don't.  

We were recently offered the chance to wear jeans for the entire month of December in exchange to a $10 donation to charity.  As wearing jeans throughout December appeals to me, and as is was a charity I support, I signed up for this and paid for the privilege today.  

Food Waste Friday

Spending money wisely also means not wasting it... and that includes not wasting food.  So, each week I will document what food is needlessly wasted and report it here.  Feel free to leave me a comment with your own food waste.

Here goes...
• 1/2 cup spaghetti squash
• 1/2 container of Smart Balance "Butter" Spray (Ugh - what was I thinking when I bought this?)... it expired.

I'm really not unhappy with this week's results.  I also saved some lettuce, red potatoes, and herring that, at one time (had I not been conscious of food waste) might have ended up in the trash.  

How did you do?

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I stopped to fill up my car with gas on the way home from work - $46.40.  Gas is $2.79 a gallon here.

Aldi - Grocery Shopping

I just got back from Aldi and spent $30.05.  I love Aldi!  Here's what I got:

• salmon
• bag of sweet potatoes
• 100% whole wheat bread
• 2 cans cranberry sauce
• 2 cans sweet peas
• apple pie filling
• apple juice
• set of three yeast packets
• boxed pasta
• 2 boxes mac and cheese
• carrots
• celery
• lettuce
• tomatoes
• laundry detergent
• 2 cans sweet potatoes
• vanilla ice cream
• gallon of skim milk
• box of dog biscuits

Since I am tracking pet expenses separately, the breakdown is $29.00 on groceries and $1.05 on pet expenses.

Some of these items were bought specifically for Thanksgiving.  I think I need to make a run to a 'real store' to get a few more items that Aldi did not have but, otherwise, I have most of the food I need for the holiday. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Internet/Cable and Sewer

I mailed in my sewer bill today.  It is $22.00.  I got a 10% discount for paying it by a specific date - woo hoo!  This is one monthly bill that sort of annoys me.  You pay the same regardless of how much "sewer" you use.  And you have nothing to show for the money you pay them (well, that might be a blessing in disguise!).  

My internet/cable bill was also deducted out of my bank account today.  It was $95.36.  I am currently getting a $5 a month discount simply because I called and asked for it!  There are a few months before that discount expires and when it does I will just have to call and ask for another discount!  :)  I have actually looked into downgrading my cable but, as the prices have risen since I signed up, I would actually be paying MORE for less.  No thanks!  

Monday, November 15, 2010

Swiffer Wet Jet - Frugal Solutions

I have a Swiffer Wet Jet and love it.  The problem is, it is not exactly easy on my frugal budget.  Still, the ease of use combined with my stubbornness has (so far) caused me keep using the product.

The other day I was thinking there had to be a way to reuse the solution containers so I could use my own (cheaper) cleaning solution instead of the expensive kind made by Swiffer.  I googled it in hopes of finding a solution - and, alas, there is one!  You can read it here, or if you prefer videos there is one here

As for the pads... I have been reading up on this too.  I have seen suggestions ranging from using old washcloths to using old socks.  Either option lets you wash and reuse, so that is great from a money-saving perspective.  I am eager to test out these solutions and will let you know how they work out. 

Do you have any suggestions for making your own Swiffer Wet Jet pads?   

Saturday, November 13, 2010

This is why I love Salvation Army....

I got all this today for $23.27
2 pairs of shoes (one pair was a NEW $69 pair with tags still on)
like-new suede winter coat with fur lining
    Actually, $23.27 is a pretty high bill for me from Salvation Army, considering I only got 5 items.  But considering the type of things I found and considering their great condition, I can't complain.  

    Isn't funny that I have been conditioned to think that $23.27 is expensive?  HA!  

    In other spending news... I paid my car payment today ($345).  Also, I took my friend's daughter to the store so she could buy a toy to take to school to give to some needy kids.  I got off really easy as the item she wanted to buy ended up being on sale for $1, so I only spent $1.06.

    Friday, November 12, 2010

    Six Items or Less

    Have you heard about the six items or less craze?  Basically, it is where you take six items of clothing (not including shoes, workout clothes, pajamas, or accessories) and wear them exclusively for a month (see here for the official "rules").  The Today Show even did a month-long experiment to see if it was possible (it is).

    Now, I have no desire to live with six items of clothing for a month.  But that doesn't mean that simplifying my wardrobe wouldn't be nice.  Especially during the holidays when things get so hectic.  I also think being on a 'clothes budget' could prevent me from wasting money during the holidays on new clothes (impulse buys) for holiday events.  If I am not going to be able to wear something I buy right away, I might just reconsider buying it.  Right?

    Like I said, I have no desire to live with just six items of clothing.  But I am thinking I could narrow it down to maybe 15 or 20 items to be worn between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That is still a large assortment but small enough to keep me from getting stressed out over my clothes choices.  Also, from a frugal standpoint, I feel six items of clothing is too much of a detriment to my water and electrical budget as I would be forced to do lots of smaller loads of laundry in order to always have something clean to wear.  I want enough items of clothing at my disposal so that I can run full loads.  

    So what do you think?  Has anyone done this?  Is it realistic?  Does anyone else want to do something similar with me?  Let me know!  I'll keep you posted as to what I decide.   

    (Sorry for the abundance of blog posts today - I am getting caught up after a busy week!)

    When Christmas Shopping Goes Bad

    Last night I was invited to a 'purse and jewelry party.'  I typically HATE these types of parties because they do not fall into my 'frugal' mentality.  However, I went to this party because I was looking for a somewhat specific Christmas gift for someone on my list.  I am pleased to say I found a very suitable gift within my budget.  I spent $38.16 (my budget for this person for Christmas was $40).  

    This is where things turn bad....

    I found a necklace that I really liked.  I seriously considered buying this for myself.  But, with tax and shipping is would have been over $42 and I just could not justify spending that on costume jewelry, especially this time of year when expenses are high anyway.  But boy oh boy did I want that necklace.  

    The host, who is a friend of mine, got some 'half off purchases' for throwing the party.  She could not use them all, so she offered to let me use one for the necklace if I wanted.  That meant I was paying half of the retail price plus tax, and no shipping.  I couldn't pass that up.  Can we say "unnecessary spending of money"?  Still, I feel a lot better about spending $19.08 on myself than I do about spending $42+. 

    Food Waste Friday

    OMG!  I almost forgot about Food Waste Friday this week.  And this was a good week, too. 
    Spending money wisely also means not wasting it... and that includes not wasting food.  So, each week I will document what food is needlessly wasted and report it here.  Feel free to leave me a comment with your own food waste.

    Here goes...

    But... I do have some lettuce that looks iffy so look for that next week.  What can you do with old lettuce?

    Thank you to my blogger friends who gave me good ideas for using some older pears.  Those suggestions saved me from having any food waste this week!

    Thursday, November 11, 2010

    1,000! (And Growing!)

    Sometime during the night I hit 1,000 visitors to my little blog here.  I know it isn't much compared to some sites, but it is very exciting (and humbling) to me.  Thank you, all!

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010


    I spent $2.12 at Walgreen's today for a generic container of Vaselene.  I need it as I was instructed to keep my stitches (see yesterday's post) covered until they are removed, and as I will have stitches for a month (between the two procedures) I guess i can't really complain about spending $2.00 on generic Vaselene!

    I really do not like this waiting game.  :(  I will not know the results of the biopsy from the thing on my stomach for two weeks and it will be two weeks later for the thing on my hip.  Today I was feeling so stressed and depressed about it (not to mention tired from not sleeping last night) that all I wanted to do was stop at a restaurant on the way home and get take-out.  But I didn't!  Yeah!!!

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    More Gas (this time for the car) and a Doctor's Visit

    I spent $52.76 on gas today.  Gas is $2.88 a gallon here. 

    I also went to the doctor today, resulting in a $25.00 co-pay.  I actually had a full body skin scan done and two suspicious spots were detected.  The first was removed tonight (I now have a inch long incision on my stomach - fun) and I will be going back in two weeks to have the stitches removed, and then they will remove the other questionable spot (this one on my hip) at that same time.  Then I will return two weeks later to have those stitches removed.  So, I am looking at at least two more visits and two more co-pays.  :( 

    Gas (Heat) Bill - The Calm Before the Storm

    My gas bill from last month was deducted from my bank account today.  It was $21.74.  This is the start of many months of higher heating bills for me as we move into winter.  This particular bill only reflects about a week's worth of heater use in relatively mild temperatures.  I keep saying a prayer for a relatively mild winter, overall! 

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    Dry Cleaning Part Two (and other assorted expenses)

    I finally got around to picking up the rest of my dry cleaning.  The cost was $16.83.  Most likely, this will be the last time you see a dry cleaning expense for the rest of this experiment, as I rarely go to the dry cleaners.

    While I was out, I stopped at the Post Office and bought a book of Forever Stamps (I was out) for $7.92

    I also mailed my water bill today - $25.98.

    Why does it feel like I am spending lots of money with nothing to really show for it?   :)

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Phone Bill

    Here's a expense from a few days ago I forgot to log here... my home phone bill was $33.10.  I have really been thinking hard lately about canceling my home phone service and just using my cell phone.   I like the convenience of it - not having to carry the cell phone with me all around the house and having an effective way of filtering telemarketers.  I also LOVE my home phone number.  :)  However, I also know it is probably a silly expense in the scheme of things.  What do you think?  have any of you dumped your home phone and what do you consider the pros and cons?

    Weekend Spending Hodge Podge

    I have spend money on a few items so far since Friday.  I have a good excuse for not reporting them here yet, though - I have had a good friend come to town and stay with me since Thursday night (he just left for home a little while ago).  In fact, a couple of these expenses are a direct result of him being here. 

    I spent $19.05 at Home Depot for a new double cylinder deadbolt lock.  When my house was built I had a "service door" put in the garage, so you would get into the garage without having to open the garage door or go through the house.  The door the builder used has 9 window panes in it, and a single cylinder deadbolt (this is the kind with a key on the outside and a turn-latch on the inside).  This is not a very safe door from a security standpoint.  I have thought about changing it to a solid metal door, but I really liked having the natural light coming into the garage.  My other thought has always been to switch out the deadbolt so it required a key on either side of the door to unlock it (this is called a double cylinder deadbolt).  This was, even if some hypothetical bad guy broke the glass he still couldn't reach in and unlock the door without a key.  My wonderful friend offered to help me do this, hence the unplanned purchase from Home Depot on Sunday.  I now have a new double cylinder deadbolt that is keyed to my original house key (for free, thanks to the nice locksmith at Home Depot). 

    I also spent $6.33 at Walmart on some black automotive paint.  Awhile back I had an unfortunate incident when a rabid cement support pole in a parking garage attacked my car.  Here is a picture of the result.  I will say the damage wasn't quite as bad as the picture would make it seem, but it was still bad enough I knew I couldn't just leave it for fear it would eventually rust.  

    I had some rubbing compound on hand and my friend offered to work on the car for me and using the rubbing compound got many of the less major scratches to go away completely!  He offered to touch up the other spots with automotive paint for me.  I am really impressed to say that after his paint job, it is basically impossible to see where the damage had occurred.  I don't have an "after picture" but I should take one just to show you how well it came out.  I am so grateful that my friend saved me a VERY expensive paint bill. He is so talented!

    I spent $9.48 at Giant Eagle (grocery store) on two items - a rotisserie chicken for dinner last night and a jar of my favorite salad dressing.  As you know, I love Aldi so most of the food I purchase is generic.  There are a few items I don't go generic on, though... one is peanut butter (love Skippy) and the other is T. Marzetti's Honey French salad dressing.  :)  We ate the rotisserie chicken last night for dinner along with mashed potatoes and peas, and I still have enough chicken left for a couple more meals (I love to use the extra meat in chicken wraps for lunches!) and I will use the bones to try to make homemade chicken stock.  I have never done this before... does anyone have any tips on making this process successful?  

    Interestingly enough, only a week into this experiment I can see how extra money gets spent without you even realizing where it goes.  The paint and the deadbolt were both unplanned expenses.  Neither was very expensive and both were valid expenses all things considered, but as projects like these add up they do take a chunk out of the overall budget. 

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    Food Waste Friday

    Spending money wisely also means not wasting it... and that includes not wasting food.  So, each week I will document what food is needlessly wasted and report it here.  Feel free to leave me a comment with your own food waste.
    This has not been my best week.  :(

    Here goes...
    • 1/2 can of split pea and ham soup (Okay, I feel the need to defend myself here.  Two hours after eating the first half of the can I got violently sick - in all ways possible.  I can not say for sure that the soup made me sick but there was no way I was going to take the risk with the 2nd half of the can.  This is one I happily threw away.)
    • 1 zucchini (It rotted; I threw it in the compost bin.)
    • 1 package of blueberries (I admit that I forgot about these.  They now joined the zucchini in the compost bin.)
    • 2 cups of milk

    P.S.  Anyone have some good suggestions for what to do with pears?  I am afraid I am going to have several pears on this list next week if I can't come up with some good use for them.  

    Thursday, November 4, 2010


    I just reordered my prescriptions.  Total cost = $120.  It's painful, but at least it is a 3 month supply.  The bulk of the cost is for my migraine medicine, and that is one expense I am not willing (or able) to give up!

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Dry Cleaning - Part 1

    Yesterday I dropped off my winter coat at the dry cleaners.  I picked it up today, at a cost of $8.41.

    This is "part 1" because I also had four cashmere sweaters and a skirt to drop off, but when I dropped off the coat the lady at the counter told me where I could get a coupon to get a better price on the sweaters.  So I dropped those (and the coupon!) off to be cleaned today.

    This is the first time in five years I have used a dry cleaner.  This coat is only a few years old and I have managed to spot clean it myself up until this point.  The other items are only worn for special occasions and a few of them have been waiting two years to get dry cleaned!  So, after I post "part 2" of this dry cleaning adventure I doubt you'll see any more dry cleaning bills listed here.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    Back from Aldi

    I love Aldi's.  You will hear me say that time and time again.  I really don't enjoy grocery shopping... at all... but Aldi takes a lot of the pain out of the experience for me.

    I just made a quick run there today.  There were a few "staple" type items that I needed before the weekend.  All totaled, I spent $12.58.  The breakdown is as follows:

    • 1 gallon skim milk
    • 1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream
    • 1 package baby carrots
    • 1 pound butter
    • 1 block of sharp cheddar cheese
    • 1 can baked beans
    • 1 package flour tortillas
    • 1 package allergy/sinus medicine

    I am very eager to try to sinus medicine out (well, as eager as one can be to have to deal with a sinus headache in the first place).  I have never bought anything like this at Aldi before.  To be honest, I normally buy the generic Wal-Mart brand of sinus medicine, which is cheap, but the Aldi brand was over half the price so I figured it was worth the risk to try it out.  I'll let you all know what I find out... though for my sake let's hope it is a long time before I have to sample it!  :)

    First expenses of the month... and the experiment!

    Okay, normally I would not be happy to be spending money.  Especially large sums of money.  But this feels different.  First of all, it is the official START to my year-long experiment.  That just feels good, for some reason.  Secondly, these are all reoccurring expenses so it isn't as if I have been surprised.  Finally, I consider all to be long-term investments.

    Here goes:

    Mortgage Payment = $880.79
    When I built my house I put 30% down and got a really low interest rate, so I feel pretty comfortable with my monthly payments.  My payment includes my property taxes, but not insurance as I pay that separately through my insurance company.  I do try to pay a little extra towards my payments when I can.

    Money Market Contribution = $125
    I have a higher interest money market account through my stock broker.  Basically, I use this account as my 'long term emergency only' savings account.  Periodically I will also use it if I want to purchase a stock or other investment.  I contrbute $125 monthly to this account.  It is automatically deducted so I can't "forget" to do it and go shopping instead.  :)

    IRA Contribution = $200
    I contribute $200 monthly to my IRA account, which is automatically deducted.  

    Stay tuned... I am making a run to the grocery store later today so I should have an update for you later tonight.  

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Ready... Set... Go!

    Okay, today is the official start to my year long experiment in documenting all my expenses.  I have decided that full transparency is the best approach here.  I want to know people are watching and expect me to follow through.  I want to be honest with myself, and with you.  And at the end of the day... week... month... and YEAR I want to be able to identify all the ways I have been wasteful in spending my money.  
    As an added bonus, perhaps knowing my every move is being watched I may just refrain from making silly 'impulse buys' in the first place!  (fingers crossed)

    Thanks to each and everyone of you in advance for your support and encouragement along this journey.  

    P.S.  Things are off to a good start.  No spending yet today and I am not anticipating any spending for the rest of the day, either.