Sunday, February 28, 2016

February 2016 update of goals

A Dozen Goals For 2016

1. Pay off two cars
Yeah, right. We spent too much on groceries to get anywhere on this. However, I do have some money set from the study I am in and a surprise payment from the electric company. We got our deposit back. Yay!  I will deposit those checks and write a check towards the one car in March.

2. Cut spending and figure out ways to cut spending even more
I was able to save money by fixing the hem on two of my work pants. Of course they are work pants I bought from the thrift store so I was able to save again!

3. Lower the grocery bill and reduce our eating out substantially
Well this month started out great! Then came the bill for half the organic pig that I had forgotten about. I decided to go in on the pig with a friend and totally forgot.  Not sure how that happened!  It totally blew the grocery budget for the month. 
$1287.95(groceries) + $51.67(eating out) = $1339.62 - $350 for the pig = $989.62
I guess this isn't so bad since we were about starting from scratch. We had staple items we needed to buy and the deep freezer was about empty. We still have plenty of meals left, and of course, pork to eat. I plan on making more freezer meals and then will only have to buy breakfast, lunch, and occasional snack items. I REALLY think we can beat the budget next month. 

4. Turn our junk into money and find new ways to bring in extra money.
We have not started this yet, hopefully in March.
5. 12 house projects in 12 months
I was able to pressure wash the deck. I was going to stain and seal it, but it rained.  :(   I did get the kitchen shelves up for the cookbooks. Thanks hunny!!

6. Vacation on the cheap
We tentatively have a NYC whirlwind weekend planned for June. The man and I were discussing it and he is thinking of selling our concert tickets and forgoing the weekend. I mentioned it to our girls and the reception was not great!  I am thinking he should go with the girls and I will stay home. Plus our son in law is not even sure he can get leave for that weekend as he will have just started a new post. If we decide to do that, then that is two tickets we can get money back for. The price of one ticket will be given to our son in law as it was his birthday present. The cost of my ticket will probably go towards the trip. If only the man and the girls go, then it can truly be a whirlwind experience. Drive up on the day of the concert, attend the concert, sleep at a cheaper hotel, then drive home in the morning. Only one hotel room would be needed. Still only a thought though at this point.

7. Have Christmas gifts made or paid for before December
I now have 3 paper napkins set aside for one of my stepmom's gifts. I hope to get one for each month/holiday. So far I have Christmas, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day. I also found a great deal on some silicone tea infusers for the stockings too!

8. Lose 50 pounds in 2016
I am able to cinch my belt one notch tighter! Woohoo!

9. Declutter, organize, and decorate the house
I finally got the main tv area cleared out and somewhat organized!  This has been 2 years in the making. Since we had several people over the other night, I was able to convince the man to clean up his stuff.

10. Learn more about blogging and keep up with this one
I am not sure I have learned anything, but I sure am keeping it up better than I have!

11. Learn new one new thing a month
Does learning how to pressure wash count? I think it does!

12. Put forth more time for family and friends
I spent an afternoon with my middle daughter this month. We went to the local pottery/glaze store and each glazed a piece of ceramics. She did a cat. I did a cool ladybug to add to my front yard display!  I hosted a painting party this month. It was so fun and only cost us $10 plus snacks and wine for everyone. I got to spend time with family and friends and made some artwork for our house too!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Decisions about garden beds

I think I am one of the most indecisive people out there!

Tonight I have been thinking about garden beds. I know where I am putting them. I just cannot decide what to make them out of. I have it narrowed down to 3 choices. Just when I think I have the decision made, I change my mind. I think I need to leave it to price. Let's take a comparison, shall we?  Now I am sure that as soon as I do this, the local prices will change and my mind will change again, but I'm gonna humor myself. So let's say I want a bed that is 50 feet long and we will say 2 or 3 feet wide. Let's figure out how much each of the following will cost...without any of the extra supplies.

Corrugated steel roofing sheets
-- 8 ft long and 25.75 in wide.
-- $11.92 each sheet.
-- I think that if I can cut the sheets in half, it would be perfect!
-- There is additional cost of screws and corner posts.
-- The approximate total without the additional costs for 48 feet would be about $83.44 plus tax. This would be for 7 sheets, providing I can get them cut in half.

Cedar planks
-- 8 ft long and 4 in wide
-- $8.42 each plank
-- This can get pricey because I would need 2 planks for each side.
-- There is additional cost of screws and either braces or brackets for support.
-- Cost without the additional costs would be about $ for 48 ft long is $218.92 plus tax. This would be for 26 planks. 12 for each side for 24 and then 2 more to half for each end.

Cement blocks
-- 16 in long and 8 in wide
-- $1.42 each
-- I like this idea because it is simple. I just lay the blocks and that's it! I can add an additional layer on top anytime I want.
-- Total cost $147.68 plus tax for 104 blocks

Friday, February 19, 2016

The forgotten pig, the dryer, and the jeep = Broke

So it is the 19th and we are already about broke!


I thought we were doing okay, but I guess we are not.  I need to balance the checkbook again to see where the money is going. I "think" the man is mostly responsible, but who knows.

We were doing great with the grocery budget and I really thought we would easily break that $800 budget I had planned for the month. Then I was reminded of the pig. I had planned on going in with a friend on an organic pig. I really do not remember saying for sure I would, but I must have because I get a text stating the pig was ready and I owed her $350.  CRAP CRAP CRAP. There went the grocery budget for the month. I not only used up the budget, but I went over. ARGH!  Oh well, on the bright side, we have enough pork sausage, pork chops, etc to last awhile!

Why dont they make appliances like they used to?  I mean seriously!  When we were maybe 5 or 6 years into our marriage, my nana wanted a new washer so she graciously gave us her old one. Her avocado green one from who knows when...the late 70s maybe?  When we got it it ran perfectly and it was already over 20 years old. It lasted us several years before we got a new one. Honestly now that I think about it, I think we only got a new washer because the dryer went out. I think we purchased a set. The darn thing probably still worked when we got rid of it!  When we moved to the south 7.5 years ago, we bought a new set that could be stacked.  It has only been 7.5 years and they are sputtering out.  The washer functions fine, but leaks at times. The dryer?  That thing is possessed. It will begin to beep in the middle of the night, the middle of the day, while it is drying clothes, whenever. It only stops the random beeping when we unplug it. Now it doesnt ALWAYS beep. It may go a few days or even a week before a random beep escapes, but that is rare.  Besides the random beeping, it decides how long it needs to dry clothes and that decision isnt always accurate. This past week I had to turn the darn thing back on 5 TIMES and the clothes were still wet!  I was not about to go out and buy a new dryer. I was going to get that thing drying or else a laundry line was going to be installed, by golly!  I was watching Youtube videos. I was googling answers. The plan was to diagnose what was wrong (like it was a patient of mine or something...haha) and then fix it.  After spending over an hour researching, the man go into the laundry area, unplugs it for a minutes, plugs it back in, and turns it on. Thirty minutes later, dry clothes.  I did not know whether to kiss him or give him the stink eye!  Whatever, The clothes got dry.  Crisis diverted!  For the time being.

In addition to the forgotten pig, the possessed dryer, we have the jeep.  Well, the man's jeep. The check engine light has been on for most of a year now. Normally he wouldnt care, but it is inspection, tax, and plates time for it. It wont pass inspection with the engine light on. He had an idea what was wrong since he has replaced a few other things it could have been without success.  That darn catalytic converter.  He went to one place and they tried to "trick" the jeep. Nope, its too smart. Then they gave him a quote for $250. He decided to get a second cost from another place (a national brand place at that).  They quoted him $1600, Ummm...really??  I guess it all has something to do with where they get the part.  I think we will stick with the $250 quote.

So THAT is the reason we are broke and it is only the 19th.  I mean I have reserves we could dip into, and we may have to, but I was so trying to avoid it!  Maybe I can get the man to help me list some things on Craigslist?  I'd rather sell some stuff and declutter than dig into the reserves!


Maybe next month will be easier?!?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Renew on a nickle

I've been watching Fixer Upper and Design on a Dime on Netflix lately. I'd rather be watching Breaking Bad, but that is the show I watch with the man so HGTV shows it is when he isn't home.

I've decided that after living in this house for a few years now, I am ready to make it more homier. Of course, I am also ready to be out of debt so how do I decorate with a non-existent budget?

1. I scour for free items on Facebook groups and Craigslist.

2. I also snag up items that friends are throwing out.

3. Another idea is to reuse what I already have, and being a reformed hoarder that hasnt completely gotten rid of her hoard, I have plenty to pick from!

4. Thrift stores are also a great way to score some goods!

Since even the budgets that Design on a Dime has is too rich for my blood at this point in time, I've decided to rename my redo as "Renew on a Nickle"

Like it?  I got a good giggle from it.

Now, to decide what area to do first!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Timeline to pruning bushes and trees

I originally was going to hire someone to trim all the bushes and trees this year because I didn't want to hassle with it. In order to save money, I've decided to do it myself. I have the equipment so why not. I just need to find the right time to do it and then how to do it. I decided to look online for links to help me with this task. 

Here is one link that I think will help

Holly bushes:   February. Pictures, Video  Prune in late February to desired size. Rejuvenate by pruning out 1/3 of shrub each year. As a general rule try not to cut more than 1/3 of bush in any one year.

Crepe myrtles:  February. Prune if shrub-like form is desired or if plants need shaping.

Persimmon trees: Winter. 

Abelia bushes: March.  Shape plants to desired form early in March.

Spiraea japonica: March.  Prune IMMEDIATELY after flowering, but not after July 10th. In general, cut oldest limbs near the ground level for constant rejuvenation of shrubs.

Nandina:  March. Prune as needed. Cut the leggy and oldest canes near the ground. New shoots will develop at the location of your pruning cuts.

Flowering Cherry: April. Prune only as needed, immediately after blooming.

Weigela:  March.  Prune IMMEDIATELY after flowering, but not after July 10th. In general, cut oldest limbs near the ground level for constant rejuvenation of shrubs.

Pyracantha: April.  Prune while in flower to prevent removal of all berries. Shape to desired form.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

How I am saving money, or rather making money to save it

Considering I am a salary worker now, I have to make money to save money. Does that make sense?

There are several ways I can think of to make money to save money.

1. Join a study. We live next to a few big universities and there are always studies going on. One can make extra money by qualifying and joining one. Some may not offer money but may offer gift certificates to places like Amazon which can then be used to buy things needed and thus saving money.

2. Sell some unwanted items. If you are like most, you have at least a few items you do not need. This can help declutter your money and you earn extra money. Win win in my book.
-- Things I am thinking of selling:
    -- Old chicken coop
    -- Baby spider plants. My plant has plenty to share!
    -- Eggs. I have plenty of duck and chicken eggs that I could potentially sell (I do enjoy giving them away though so I am not sure yet about selling)

3. One way to save money is to get rid of garbage service. We have gone without it before and I am debating on doing it again. I do drive past the dump on my way to work so I could leave a few minutes early to drop off a bag here and there. I think they do recycling too. I may look into this.

4. Another way to make money to save money is to join sites like Swagbucks, Ibotta, Checkout 51, Google Snap, Shopkick, Target Cartwheel, Walmart's Savings Catcher, Retail Me Not, and I am sure there are some that I don't know about. It takes a little while for these savings to add up, but they will and any little bit helps, right?

5. With tax season upon us, I have been gathering all our receipts and necessary papers to get ready to file. For 2016 taxes, I need to keep a good track of all the expenditures. Since I am considered a "professional" I have to attend conferences and such. All these, I believe, may be able to be a tax deduction. I have to look into this.

So that's it. That is the quick list I have come up with for now.