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Archive for January, 2009

No eating out for a month, Again!

January 28th, 2009 at 01:20 am

Okay if there was a question about Costco, it definitely ended today. I need to take time off work to not incur overtime. I can't seem to get out of work early, so today I decided to take off and extra 2 hours in the middle of day around lunchtime.

DH and I used to eat out for lunch approximately once a week when I worked at home and had a flexible schedule. We have not gone out to eat for lunch during the week since I started my new job 10/15/08. So I grabbed the chance, called him and even though I packed up both a lunch this morning, we went out to one of our favorite places, Rita's. We ordered the cheapest things on the menu and drank water. We are good tippers, which meant we spent $15.00 for lunch.

I told DH I was starting over tomorrow and shooting for another month of no eating out. So the date would be February 27 or approximately the entire month of February.

Anyone want to try to join me?? Chickens!!

DH again thinks I am being too rigid, but I told him we cannot continue the same behavior (not sticking to a budget) and expect a different outcome (more money in the bank!).

He leaves again tomorrow for another business trip, and we talked about ways for him to cut costs on the trip. I am grateful for his participation (finally)!

We have to spend $500.00 to pay our deductible tomorrow when I pick up his truck at the body shop after his little accident when he hit some ice.

DId I just end my no eating out?

January 25th, 2009 at 10:27 pm

DH and I went grocery shopping at Costco and Winco. I ate a hearty breakfast and took my own ice tea to drink, but after stopping at MIL's first to visit a bit, then onto Winco where we saw a few people we knew, stopped to chat. By the time we got to Costco I was hungry. I ate lots of demo food (the Asian Salad kit is yummy), but got a hot dog and soda for both DH and I as we left since it's another 25 minutes back home.

Now my OD says that didn't count, what do you all think?

We spent $67.46 at Winco and 25.27 on food at Costco keeping it under $100.00 for the week the third week in a row at $92.73, plus $3.22 for the hot dogs and soda making a grand total of $95.95.

DH filled up my Camry at $16.66. He filled up the car last Thursday so that represents about $3.00 a day in gas costs for commuting for me.

We also bought toilet paper at Costco and granddaughter a cute new pink sleeper with ladybug print. It will go in her first Easter basket. So the Costco total was actually $55.28, pretty good for Costco. Also half and half, eggs, turkey lunch meat and salted mixed nuts (all on the list).

Winco included some longer lasting items including 2 packages of tea, a small jar of jam, some sugar free pancake syrup and Chex Cereals that had a coupon stuck on each package, $3.00 off any 3 making it $1.38 a pack. Cherrios were also $1.50 and I bought a box of those. Another great find was peanut butter and choco chip rice cakes. It will be interesting to see how they taste. 2 pounds of Tillamook cheddar was green tag, $1.00 cheaper than Costco's price, but still higher than last year at $6.78.

This week's menus:
Tonight: Carnitas
Monday: Chicken cacciatore
Tuesday: Fish
Wednesday: Leftover Chicken.
Thursday: Tacos

All meat from the freezer including the already cooked carnita meat that was cooked, sealed and frozen a few months ago. Fish is either orange roughy or salmon frozen from Costco.

I went to K-mart yesterday to get vacuum cleaner bags and was shocked at the price, over $3.00 a bag. I need to find a cheaper place to buy them.

So again, another no spend week is planned.

Another NSW

January 24th, 2009 at 03:39 pm

That's a no spend week! On Thursday I got up and was scrounging around packing my lunch and was considering buying lunch in the hospital cafeteria. I started thinking about Suze Orman on Oprah earlier this month challenging everyone to not eat out for a month. I started thinking and realized I have not eaten out yet the month of January. Well that's it. I am making it until the end of the month!

What makes this a lot easier is last month sometime DH found little chicken sandwiches at Costco "on sale", which made them 50 cents a piece. It is really easy to grab and thrown in my Coleman "lunch pail". I don't get sick of the same thing day after day, well okay I am sort of getting sick of them now after eating them almost every day for a whole month. Uh oh, I just went out to the freezer. I have 2 left, which means I need to plan for this coming work week. Safeway has bags of lettuce on sale for $1.00. I will probably get a few of those and see if I have some canned salmon. If not I can cook up some chicken breasts (in the freezer) and use those in my salad.

I get my $100.00 allowance for February next Sunday. This month I spent $95.00 of it on January 1st shopping with my mom and sister. The last $5.00 went to the little boy scout across the street selling raffle tickets for a cord of wood.

Speaking of Boy Scouts, etc, the little girl we bought Girl Scout cookies from the past few years has gotten totally lazy. We came home from work to a phone call asking us to call her if we wanted to buy cookies this year. I am sure her sales will be way down. We live in a neighborhood so it is really easy for her to go from house to house. I was pretty surprised. She must have saved the phone numbers from last year's form.

One more item of interest: For those of you who have considered taking 0% interest money and sticking it in a savings account, making the minimum payments, then paying in full before the 0% runs out. I did it. I was so worried I would miss the pay off date, I kept thinking never again! So back in June Bank of America called me and said they could loan me $23,000 until February 2009 billing cycle and it would cost me $99.00 "transfer fee". She caught me on a bad day and I agreed. I immediately transferred it into ING Direct and paid it off 2 weeks ago. Never do that again I thought. Then I added up what I made from it. $350.00 after the $99.00 fee. The key is that it has to be a large enough amount to make it worth you while. I doubt another offer like that is going to come along.

I have a long list of to do's for the weekend including the sock box and hopefully cutting out one of the summer outfits for my granddaughter. I bought the patterns for $1.00 each and the fabric 50% after last Easter. She was not born yet, but I knew I would want to make her some clothes.
So I could start with this:

or this:

Here she is wearing a sweater I knitted:

Okay Saturday is off and running with lots to do, getting back to my roots. Happy frugal weekend everyone!

Dodged that bullet thanks to all of you!

January 18th, 2009 at 02:15 am

So it's Saturday, grocery shopping day. I have been craving beef bourginon the last few days, so asked DH to make it this weekend. Ah yes, he says, whole sirloins are blah, blah, blah at Costco. He will buy one and make a big pot of bourginon. Yeah good. Off he goes to work early with the plan to call me later for grocery list and shopping (Costco 2 blocks from work).

I am still recovering from my cold so my goal for the weekend is to get the laundry caught up. So I bring my morning cup of coffee in here to the computer and start catching up on the blogs. It suddenly hits me that WAIT A MINUTE! Buying a whole sirloin to make one dish and freezing the rest is what the old us would do. The new us would buy a smaller amount of beef or see if there is something in our freezer we can use. So I called DH and told him my thoughts. We are supposed to only be spending $100.00 a week on groceries and if we buy a whole sirloin that would most likely put us over.

He agreed somewhat reluctantly, but came home having spent a total of $68.48 at Costco and Winco for the week. He's getting pretty good on the self-check out at Costco.

My only spending for the week was $35.75 to fill-up my Camry (DH actually drove it to work on Thursday so he could fill it up at Costco, cheapest gas in town) and $5.00 donation/raffle ticket from the little Boy Scout across the street.

DH has gone to the local college basketball game with a friend and is getting a hot dog at the game for "dinner". I had leftover chicken and S&W piquinto beans. I think I will finish off the Dreyer's Peppermint ice cream in the freezer tonight.

My low-energy day was spent comparing TV packages and I think I have found one through Direct TV that will save us about $30.00 a month over our current local cable company. Luckily I can add the sports block to a cheaper plan to get even cheaper a plan than I originally thought.

Now I need to work on the cell phones, since our contract is up in about a month. I rarely use mine, but DH uses his a lot with his work and traveling.

We offered to pay for YD, SIL and granddaughter to fly home for a visit. They really are trying to not let us pay for it, which I appreciate. If they can't come by March, I am going to have to fly back to NC. It's been 2 months since I saw my granddaughter and I am sure she has changed so much. She will be 5 months old tomorrow.

Today I'm sick

January 10th, 2009 at 04:39 pm

so I can't come up with a catchy title. I figured I would write something up before I hunker down with the TV, DVR, some Kleenex and OJ, hot tea.... My cold is full-blown and DH is out of town.

I spent no money all week. The Costco soup DH bought came in handy, I ate the last of it Thursday night.

Thursday was potluck at work for a coworker who was leaving. I managed to make ravioli and sauce, took it in to work in the crockpot, turned on low until lunch. I received rave reviews, which is a total crackup because the raviolis I am totally embarrassed to say were WAAAYYYY past their use by date in the freezer. However, the delicious sauce, based on a jar of Trader Joe's vodka sauce covered up any lingering freezer burn taste. I'm sure the last of the fresh parmesan cheese we had on hand helped too.

There was about 2 bites left in the crockpot at the end of lunch break.

I didn't use all the sauce though and ate the rest last night with some more frozen raviolis that were NOT past their due date that are in the freezer too.

So DH left Wednesday for a business trip and drove the "back way" across rural Northern California, managed to hit an icy patch in the road causing some damage to the truck. Luckily my procrastination has paid off. I had not yet raised the deductible like I planned on. We have not had a claim that was "our fault" in 21+ years. Boy do I feel old writing that. 21 years, most of you have probably not even had auto insurance for 21 years.

OD called me from her bed in her new bedroom this morning at 7:00 a.m. The sun was coming up! She "locked in her rate" at 5.75% for 30 years, which is not maybe what she could have gotten now, but she is happy with it, so I did not say anything. She plans on living in her new home for as long as she can see into the future. 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with a lovely master suite. DH and my bedroom is on the first floor so as we age, we don't have to climb stairs (of course we have about 20 to go before that is a concern).

I have not been this sick with a cold for a long time so my plan is to do nothing but relax and watch TV (DVR movies) and drink juice and tea and blow my nose. If I feel energetic, I may knit, but probably not!

The lure of Costco

January 7th, 2009 at 04:09 am

So I talk to DH this morning. We need milk, orange juice (since I am now getting his illness) and half and half.

What does he come home with:
The 2 gallons of OJ-check.
1/2 gallon of half and half-check.
but also:
Tub of chicken noodle soup-$9.99
2 doz eggs -$3.19 AND
Pork Twists??? Dog treats- $9.99

He claims to only "tolerate" the dogs! Ha, as if, he spoils them worse than I do.

He stopped at Safeway and got 1/2 gallon of milk, since I am sick, 2 gallons from Costco seemed a bit much when it was dated January 10th.

I wish I could make myself do the shopping....

Okay for full disclosure, he took out $100.00 cash and spent $40.37, which means we still have approximately $60.00 to last the until next Tuesday. And the dog treats actually go into the pets category, not food, which means we really have $70.00. We had the chicken soup for dinner and it was delicious with plenty for another meal or two.

I pulled out a plain envelope and put the rest of the cash in it.

I am determined to stick to this even with his impulse purchases.

Lowering limits/Credit Scores/Credit Reports

January 4th, 2009 at 09:59 pm

So after my last post I did order my credit report and guess what, there is a "ding" on it. It was a credit agency in NC for Progress Energy Carolinas. Well I live in California, but my SIL and YD and granddaughter all live in NC. So I called them and asked if that name was familiar. My SIL said it was their old water company when they lived in an apartment, before they bought their house.

The report was made October 2008. My DH and I did cosign for YD who was 19 with no income and my SIL was in Iraq when we moved her back to start college and await his homecoming. SIL immediately ordered up his credit report and the "ding" was not on his report. YD was ordering hers up next and I have not heard from them yet on that. They insisted they paid up everything when they moved to their house.

The interesting thing is I would not known if the whole HSBC letter had not come and I felt motivated to find out what my limit was because I blogged about it. (By the way, my credit limit was also $10,500).

Good idea Ima, I may give them a call. First I need to find my credit cards in my file cabinet. I always throw new ones in there that I don't use, but yes I have decided to make a small purchase occasionally to keep them opened.

So my advice, it's a good time of year to order up your free credit report at

It costs $7.95 to get your FICO score, which I did not do, but free to get your report from the 3 different reporting agencies. Unfortunately I could only get one because I have a hyphenated name and the other 2 companies would not give it to me online.

Wow I am part of the new club!

January 4th, 2009 at 07:22 pm

What new club? Well I received a letter on Friday from HSBC saying they were lowering our credit limit. We have not used the credit card in 3 years or so. I have to say they lowered it to $300.00 which is really low considering our limit was $10,500.

Oops just reviewed DH credit report and it says it is closed. I must have had one in my name. Something tells me it is time to order my free credit report and get some things organized and figured out.

I watched Clark Howard's first show on Headline News or CNN or one of those. He did say that lowering our credit limit will effect our FICO score. Normally I would not care, but with interest rates so low I am considering refinancing our house since it is currently a 7/1 ARM from ING Direct with 5 years to go.

I think it's time to get off the computer and start getting some financial records organized!

Happy New Year!

January 2nd, 2009 at 03:07 am

Just wanted to post briefly to say Happy New Year to everyone too!

Goals for 2009:
1. Savings back up to $10,000.
2. Attack last CC debt.
3. Replace sink and faucet in kitchen.
4. Stick to $100.00 per month each allowance (includes new clothing).
5. Get on treadmill every day I am not sick or have a migraine even if it is only for 5 minutes, but shoot for 30 each morning before work.
6. Cash for purchases, no more putting everything on AMEX "for the rebate". (We are up to a $462.00 rebate with 1 more month to go, plus we get another directly from Costco). I am sick of huge AMEX bill, plus theoretically we spent more right when using the AMEX right? I do pay it in full every month though. This month it is over $1700.00! What did we buy this month?? It runs a full month from the 1st to the end. Well okay, $300.00 on DH's truck and $258.00 to the DMV for registration of same truck... along with the usual Costco and gas and some eating out and Christmas.... it adds up fast.
7. Assign each room in the house a day for deep cleaning (or superficial depending on how tired I am).
8. Keep up better on laundry.
9. Try 1 new recipe each month or more.
10. Track spending (and keep tracking all year) with YNAB.

DH has been really good about receipts and is much more amenable to paying with cash than I thought he would be.

I already have spent my entire allowance except for $5.00 today. VS is having their semi-annual sale and I really did need new foundation garments. I also ran into Borders with my sister and mom and found some Christmas books half off so I bought a few for baby Ally along with an Easter book of baby animals. My mom bought me a jacket since she owed me for dinner out the other night for sister's birthday.

Then I stopped at K-Mart on the way home and bought a jug of ammonia and vinegar for the home cleaning I am doing over the weekend. DH also needed some Zicam and Vitamin C because he feels like he is getting another cold. I used my debit card for that, but that is still "cash" to me.

Luckily DH finally made a sweet potato pie today. It is cooling right now. I have been craving it all holiday season but we were so busy we kept buying pies and were never satisfied, even threw a couple away after having a piece or two, but then would buy another in the hopes of satisfying that craving....

Here's to a Happy 2009 for everyone! Eat more pie!