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Viewing the '$20 Challenge' Category

Interest for July

July 28th, 2007 at 03:18 pm

$20 challenge:

$8,080.32 - Balance 7/12

$ 108.00 - Interest

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$8,188.32 - Balance 7/31
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$108 in interest this month. Very sweet.

Looking back earlier in the year it was $50/month and has slowly inched its way up over the year, helping my challenge greatly.

With $15k in balance transfers now in place, I expect closer to $120 next month. & in the $100 range for the rest of the year. Woohooo...

This is one of the smartest things I have done since coming here and working on my finances - finding a 5.3% - 5.7% interest rates for my cash. It's an easy way to make more money. When I had double the cash in the bank all we ever made was $40/month at most (1.5%???). So things are looking up. Just an area we were horrible with our finances before and are improving.

Are all the BTs worth it? It's not a ton of money, but at this point EVERY little bit helps. So I'll say yes, definitely worth it!!!

More challenge money - Over $8k!

July 12th, 2007 at 03:51 pm

$20 challenge:

$7,875.32 - Balance 6/30

$ 55.00 - June writing money
$ 100.00 - Price match on PS3
$ 50.00 - Gift card - last credit card reward for a while...


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$8,080.32 - Balance 7/12
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I just remembered I had some stuff to update and while I was at it I also remembered dh's score with the price match. Which brings me up past $8k...

I mentioned earlier I would probably need so much overtime to get to $10k... I don't remember how much. But I am definitely working overtime this month. Trying to pull in 10 hours/week OT which would be around $700 take home for the month if I could pull it off. I am not sure I have really been working any overtime lately but July is a deadline month and I have little choice. I worked an hour on the laptop last night over dinner on some more mindless stuff and have more for tonight. A client meeting tomorrow night and I may only have to work a few hours Saturday to make it to 10 hours for this week. We'll see...

I also haven't written much if anything this month because I feel SO swamped though I have 10 articles floating in my head. Plenty of ideas but still a bit of writers' block. I think mostly stressed and trying to find a decent chunk of time to write a proper article. I am hoping once we get past July things will settle down. At least August is a rather quiet month - hopefully plenty of time for catch up. I should probably buckle down and do the overtime then too. Maybe I could take some time off in September. October is busy and November is slow and I am taking around 8 days off as is. December is CRAZED. I probably should just buck up, work hard, and take a week vacation in September or something. I had wanted to spread out my vacation time and work a reduced schedule in the summer. But summer is half way over and I have to work overtime instead. I can work hard knowing I will have a week off in September and a week of in November. Sweet! Well, we'll see...

I'll probably also received $30 next week or so for mileage reimbursement. I have been traveling a bit... Will help...

I still have a pile for ebay and Craigslist - just haven't had much time.

Moolah...

June 29th, 2007 at 05:33 am

$20 challenge:

$7,635.32 - Balance 6/18

$ 90.00 - Interest
$ 75.00 - Focus Group
$ 75.00 - Gift Cards (reward)

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$7,875.32 - Balance 6/30
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Dh did a focus group last night. They only take a few people so you can get paid to show up and just leave (kind of like jury duty - but a much bigger paycheck).

So he made $75 for 2 hours - he did get called in. They paid cash. He kept $20 to replace his emergency $20 in his wallet, I took $5 since I also had no cash, and will put $50 in the bank with my paycheck next week. I might just save it, but am thinking to holding onto it in case I need babysitting next month. He is going on a big 3-day hike but no date set. Not big on planning - LOL. I may need a babysitter since it will be a busy time at work. We'll see. $50 would hardly cover it either, but it's a start. Otherwise I'd put it straight to the efund.

He filled out a form that asked questions about me too. So now 2 of us are in the focus group pool. SWEET. Hell he made more per hour than I do. I am impressed!!!

Interest ran around $90 this month. Yes I did the balance transfer but the money was only in there a few days before interest was paid for the month. Actually most of it comes from my new 5.7% c.d. It's only a 0.4% increase but gosh between that and the balance transfer for a few days made QUITE a difference. A very good month.

Oh yes and the $75 gift cards - credit card rewards. We used them for stuff we were going to buy anyway (food, laundry detergent, kids PJs, kid birthday presents). Free money.

Our credit card bill thus far looks INSANELY low for the month (knock on wood). The gift cards no doubt helped. Well just a few more days. We may come under budget. Even with some huge excesses. Lord knows how - we just haven't spent much on gas and groceries since we got back from vacation. ??? Even with ALL the driving. Gas prices going down certainly helps.

In other news I think I lost my mind. Though I am not big on putting the kids before us financially (well their college anyway - obviously we put them first today). On the other hand, I am learning about the power of compounding. I am considering dropping in $50/month into a mutual fund for them. Looks like they will get enough money from grandma to open a fund this year. If I open one I kind of want to make regular contributions, and the AIP minimum is $50. I believe per month. So I am considering it. I could easily redirect the money I was prepaying on the mortgage to this for BM this year. & next year I can start to add the money for LM too. $50 by itself is small beans. & since LM is younger I can easily wait another year to better afford his contribution.

I will consider it if I can fully fund my IRA. Dh's IRA next year will be left to windfalls and him working. Then again all I need him to scrounge up is $400/month to fund his IRA and put our retirement savings at 25% (25% of my wage anyway). It's not that big of a deal. I think though I like this idea because I can put a very small token amount to the college funds now and it should REALLY pay off with time. I estimate with a pretty conservative balanced fund that their money would be $50k/each at college. Just doing $50/month plus grandma's money. & if she eventually stops her contributions, if dh is working we can make up the $1k/year easily. So I think $100k for college (for both the kids) is a worthy & easily attainable goal. The fact is the longer we wait the more it costs us. I am coming around.

I am not a big believer in 529 plans since we didn't spend much at all on college. I don't like the penalty for not spending it on college. I am considering UTMA accounts instead. We could avoid taxes in the meantime. Which is not really my aim. Well, maybe it is. LOL. I have always been against saving a big chunk in the kids' name - entitlement issues. But whatever. Between that and their already existing 529 ($4k or so?) and any taxable investments we'll save down the road, yes this is why I never really worried about it. The kids will have so much more money for college than I could have ever even imagined having. They are truly blessed. Up until now I figured a paid off mortgage before they start college and a 2nd income would have them WELL covered. & it really would. But hell if we save now then that is less we have to save later - more we can enjoy that second income when it returns. Big Grin

Well it's a plan, for now I am looking at a budget like this:

17% Retirement (long-term)
13% short-term ("escrow" fund)
5% mid-term (car/house fund)
1.5% Kids

I think I can throw them that bone. My aim has been 15% retirement so if we made it and everything else is covered, the kids will just have to be darn spoiled...

My parents hinted they would trickle down more money (they have been getting a lot in inheritance/wealth management gifts from their parents). So it is likely we can scrounge up a full IRA contribution for dh next year as well. Part sweat, part windfall perhaps. Not counting on it but there isn't really anything else we would need the money for at this point. Well I hope it stays that way anyway!

If you told me in 2003 that I could swing this all on one income I would have never believed it. WOW. We used to save dh's money. I keep pondering the many scenarios if he goes back to work and we won't even need it for savings. Perhaps early retirement will be back on the table. Since we have had kids I figured that was out the window. Wink I try not to get too ahead of myself there. Health insurance is still a huge issue and I also need to save pennies for orthodontia and all that too. I think we will still have PLENTY of challenges ahead. But my more immediate goal of working part-time is becoming more and more realistic by the day. My goal was to support my family on part-time income by age 40. Getting there. With each raise we rely less and less on my entire income, and the market is still conducive to some big raises. So I am feeling good these days about everything financially. I really haven't for the last couple of years. So PHEW.

More Challenge Money

June 18th, 2007 at 07:07 pm

$20 challenge:

$7,549.32 - Balance 6/15

$ 86.00 - Writing Money

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$7,635.32 - Balance 6/18
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Made $86 writing articles in May. woohoo.

I am starting to wonder if I may make $10k this year. I estimate $200/month with interest and writing money through year-end.

Would put me around $8,800, or just a mere $1200 away from $10k. I am starting to wonder if there is anything more I can do to get there. Looks like dh may be pulling a little bit of weight, and I am sure I can come up with a little bit more.

If I commit to working an extra 2 hours/week for the rest of the year I can pull it in overtime. Something to consider... I had really wanted to cut back my hours, but it is too busy anyway. I can certianly see the bright side of more money though. (For one year anyway...)

I can't believe I pulled an extra $3600 so far this year with just a little more sweat and some new ideas, better control of money, etc. I say $3600 because $4k of my challenge was just pure windfall. But a windfall that normally would have gone to bills. It would have gone to property taxes or something, but since that was already paid... Big Grin

But seriously, if I can pull in $10k by year-end, it would mean windfall aside I found on average an extra $500/month. That would be a whole IRA contribution & a half! Not bad...

Challenge Money

June 16th, 2007 at 03:56 pm

$20 challenge:

$7,330.02 - Balance 6/10

$ 54.30 - State Farm Rebate
$ 15.00 - cash found on the ground
$ 150.00 - gift for trip

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$7,549.32 - Balance 6/15
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I got lots of cash I am depositing in the bank. & my state farm refund - woohoo. It's sweet that this refund is for the compact car with no collission so I wonder if my rebate will be bigger for the van! We'll see... (Not that we don't pay PLENTY in insurance anyway...)

In-laws gave us $140 for our trip (not to mention free babysitting for a week and the cruise - spoiled as usual). We had $10 cash leftover as well from the $200 cash I withdrew from the ATM so just adding it back in. Since we didn't spend it all!

Challenge Money...

June 6th, 2007 at 02:30 pm

$20 challenge:

$7,070.02 - Balance 5/26

$ 250.00 - Credit Card Rewards
$ 10.00 - change found

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$7,330.02 - Balance 5/26
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Finally got my 200 points from Chase which I redeemed for $250. Woohoo!!! Should receive the check in a few days. I am just going to deposit it into my e-fund when it arrives. I didn't think I'd have room to save this month and it turns out I will. I may have to juggle things around a bit and am unsure how it will affect next month - since we have vacation and birthdays on the card this month to pay next month. But I was really surprised I should have cash to spare at the end of the month so figured I would just pop it in the bank. Brings my efund to $10,750. $1250 to go!!!!! 2 full months saving and some interest should put me there pretty darn soon - woohoo.

Oh I also added the change I found when I unpacked boxes. Using it as spending money ($1 lunches) - will get me through the rest of the month easy and save a trip to the ATM.

BTW I am earning about a 3% return on all of my purchases. We probably average $1500 on the card each month and are earning $500/year in rewards so it is about a 3% return. Pretty sweet. Love it.

May Interest

May 26th, 2007 at 11:19 pm

$20 challenge:

$6,998.02 - Balance 5/3

$ 72.00 - Interest

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$7,070.02 - Balance 5/26
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For whatever reason, most my banks like to post interest around the 25th, so got most of it. Will get around $2 from my 2 smaller savings accounts, on the 31st, so rounded up to an even $72. Close enough.

Passed the $7k mark!

Was updating Quicken, retirement is still up above $53k. I recall it being around $49k in December. Moving right along...

Challenge Money

May 4th, 2007 at 02:25 am

$20 challenge:

$6,925.52 - Balance 5/1

$ 72.50 - Writing Money

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$6,998.02 - Balance 5/3
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Just got word on my writing profits for April - woohoo - another great month.

Had earmarked it for Monterey - and well, will be just enough to get us all in the aquarium and pay for parking. Guess gas and lunch will still be out of pocket - a pretty penny. But not often we splurge like this.

I didn't really expect to be earning this much, so is nice. Had earmarked this for fun money and figured we would work on making another couple of hundred per month for savings, selling old items and such. All of this makes a huge difference in our finances. Every little bit helps!!!!!

Challenge Money!

April 27th, 2007 at 01:34 pm

$20 challenge:

$6,863.14 - Balance 4/16

$ 62.38 - Interest for April

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$6,925.52 - Balance 4/16
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This is how much money I have accumulated since 1/1 by doing things a little differently. Gosh, it is amazing.

Starting to accumulate significant interest. Gosh, wait until I cash out a credit card for the interest too. Wink

$20 Challenge

April 23rd, 2007 at 09:04 pm

I don't have anything to add. But I just had to say it has been kind of dry over here. & I just wanted to say I am excited as my busy season draws to a close and I can get cracking on Craigslist and ebay and all that. I plan to be adding a lot to my challenge in the next few months. Wink

I don't really mind losing momentum the beginning of the year because my overtime bonus is usually my biggest windfall for the year. So I haven't done a lot of little things but I got a big check for my hard work. But now I can focus on pinching pennies a little more. I am definitely ready for some spring cleaning!

Another good thing is working so much means I just don't get out much. Well, good and bad. I am trying to figure out how to work lunch back in the budget so I can see my friends once in a while. Luckily they don't mind that I prefer Taco BEll. Wink I think I am going to start tending to meet my friends for simply a soda or something - I can eat before I meet up with them. It is a new strategy in staying social without spending a lot of money. Lunch time is frankly the only time usually I can keep up with them so I am not keen on dropping friends when I can just alter my habits a bit. Just in recent months I have been using that eat out money elsewhere I guess - who knows where it's been. I have just been trying not to go to the ATM but only have had $2 in my wallet for the last couple of weeks. Guess I usually go to the ATM more... But it's been nice in a sense not having to. But man I feel like I have been living under a rock too.

Overtime Paid - woohoo

April 16th, 2007 at 06:42 pm

$20 challenge:

$4,963.14 - Balance 4/9

$1,900.00 - Overtime Bonus (after big bad tax)

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$6,863.14 - Balance 4/16
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I just blogged about this in a prior entry and occured to me to add it to the challenge. All my extra working for tax season - sweat and tears - is paid off with an unexpected early bonus payment. Going straight to pay off the $2500 balance on my car. I am once again debt-free besides the mortgage. Woohoo. I'll take $500 or so from savings just so I can pay it off tomorrow. Will replenish the savings on the 1st. I am a happy girl.

Bonus was actually $2500 before taxes. I lucked out big time because I had asked my boss to only withhold $50/check for state. & so he did not adjust it for the bonus. Which is awesome because my state is always overpaid but I was worried if I was too aggressive on my allowances for Fed. Not with this check (withheld about $400 Fed even though all year-to-date only withheld $200 or so before this check). I think Fed will be okay and I am glad no more state was withheld - no need. Yes with our mortgage, insane health insurance, and kids our income tax rate is nil. But I did play it a tad aggressive by 1 or 2 allowances so the excess bonus withholding helps. I think I played it pretty well. I had in mind all along the bonus checks withhold way too much. I know it wasn't too nasty, but I usually get to keep 90% of my gross pay, so nasty enough for me - LOL. But with advanced planning on the withholding, get to keep it the rest of the year I guess. I just hadn't thought about the state tax - that the boss would just leave it at $50 - that was grand!

$20 challenge

March 31st, 2007 at 06:55 pm

$20 challenge:

$830.64 - Balance 3/15

$ 50.00 - Interest

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$880.64 - Balance 4/1
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If I do nothing else my money will earn me an additional $600 or so over last year, even though I have way less, because I am earning 5%+ interest. Woohoo.

I think by June I will be earning about $60/month!

Challenge Money

March 1st, 2007 at 03:33 pm

$20 challenge:

$778.50 - Balance 2/4

$51.89 - Interest

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$830.39 - Balance 3/1
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Wonderful News & I need your HELP too!

February 25th, 2007 at 03:48 am

Okay, first I admit I Am shamelessly copying TinaP! So please forgive me.

But I have awesome news. I have always said I have wanted to write a book someday, and lately fancy what it would be like to be the next Suze Orman or Laura Rowley. But I figured I am busy with kids and a career and that is something I will get to in a decade or 2 or 3 when I am a little older and wiser, have more life experience behind me, and more time too. I kind of fancy semi-retiring early and writing or something, just not at the top of my list right now. At least not until my husband brings home some bacon so I Can relax a little more. Wink

BUT I popped onto the blogs a few days ago and saw a comment in someone's blog that SA was looking for some contributing writers - a paid gig at that. I think I Would have been excited regardless paid or not, but committing the time and the effort, I think it would have to be paid to really justify, particularly in the middle of busy tax season.

Anyway, I saw Jeffrey had picked some new writers and figured I most defintitely hadn't gotten the job. I Was actually surprised how disappointed I was. I must be crazy - it is so busy over here. But yes, disappointed - I am a perfectionist. I must have it all - LOL.

Anyway, I had just jumped the gun a bit much. Today I got invited to be a contributing write - woohoo - I am so excited. On a trial basis to start. So I need your help!

I was just reading Tina's blog and I really thought she had an excellent idea to ask for article ideas. So I just had to ask too, what kind of articles would you like to see? Taxes and all that is most definitely my forte. So I am kind of curious what it is about taxes that demystifies you??? What have you always wondered? What have you been unable to find the answers to? Just let me know, it will help me.

Thanks so much. Wink

Oh yeah and my hubby is the BEST!!!!!! I know this is going to be more work on him, watching the kids so I have some time to write (after watching them ALL day and such), and I know he may come to resent this whole thing. BUT he was 100% just happy for me. He's so swell. On the other hand, I tend to waste a lot of time on the blogs and forums so it kind of feels good to convert that into such a productive venture. & I apologize if it keeps me from my blog...

& I will have some money to add to my challenge too - so excited.

Oh yeah and if you promise not to roll your eyes at me - I have been kind of looking at all this *secret* talk thinking it sounds a little like my life philosophy but WAY overly simplified. but reading all about it the other day I thought - fine - I Am going to put it out there that I want to be a writer - that I can have this wonderful side career and blab about personal finance all day. I must admit the immediate results are downright creepy. Though I do feel now the ball is in my court and I must prove myself worthy now. I don't believe for a second that good things will come to me without a little effort on my part too. Wink So I am not sure I am a Secret convert yet. But well, it is a little weird...

Really though, I am absolutely in love with this place and feel very honored to be given a chance...

Okay - so what do YOU want to know about taxes?

One thing I am curious about is how well people really understand their payroll taxes. On one hand it seems so basic to me but on the other hand I get the feeling few people really understand where that big chunk of their paycheck goes. Am I underestimating you all? I would like to write an article on that.

Challenge Update

February 4th, 2007 at 10:22 pm

$20 challenge:

$769.50 - Balance 2/1

$9.00 - Savings on ebay purchase

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$778.50 - Balance 2/4
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I decided to do some shopping today. I had set aside $200 to get some nice clothes for work - preferable suits and such - I have been "waiting to lose a few pounds" for about 18 months. Whatever. No quicker way to lose a few pounds than buy a new wardrobe, so it goes.

Anyway, I thought I would peek online real quick for pantyhose - on ebay. I bid before I went shopping. Came back and got 6 pairs brand new for $11 including shipping ($5 for product/$5 shopping). Woohoo. I really don't know where to get a deal - usually go to Marshalls or Ross where you are lucky to find $3/pair so I figured I saved $9 on 6 pairs at the least.

I hit MErvyns and Kohls because Mervyns generally does good in my size and Kohls was having a big sale. I was so super frustrated - I tried on a pile of jeans thinking I could maybe find a pair that really fits. good luck. Fine - I rather hit Marshalls anyway - good for jeans & much cheaper. I did score big on pants - my pants were on sale 1/2 off and they are extra nice because no hemming - since apparently I am so short. But I did get 1 pair for my mom to hem for me too. But I just LOVE this brand and they had a ton in my size. Even better the other style I tried was just a little tighter, but I figured better if I did lose a few pounds - would last a while. my other ones are getting big - or maybe just stretched out since I had 1 pair I loved and would wear every day if I could (at least 3 times a week). So long overdue for a couple of different pairs.

No suits or skirts - just weird. No nice tops even. ???

So I Went to Kohls. Again - no suits or skirts in sight. So frustrating - apparently women don't wear suits anymore. Or skirts for that matter. I can usually get away with a skirt and a nice blazer, but I Would like to wear more than 1 blazer all tax season. Hmmmmm.

Though both stores had huge sales racks 60-90% off, I did not have time to go through. my shopping trip was 4 hours as is with all the endless trying on clothes. BUT Kohls wasn't as overwhelming so I Went through a few racks and found a bunch of very nice professional tops for around $13 each. I didn't try anything on there - only 1 item to return - too tight.

All told I spent $200 - my budget - and no suits or skirts - LOL. I still need to go by Payless or check online for some new shoes as well. But I have another few weeks to go find a blazer. Bah! If nothing else I think I have enough in my closet to get by. I have 2 black blazers, 2 dresses, and a couple of skirt - with mixing and matching I can look like I own more than I do I guess - I generally only see each client once. But for the rest of the year I got some nice quality clothes at a good price - woohoo.

Now let's lose some weight so I Can start all over again - hehe.

I find Marshalls and Goodwill/thrift shops tedious to shop for suits and such - but I may hit them over the next month.

I think my office will be happy I bought some clothes - LOL. Just been lazy since the last baby - thinking I don't want to buy anything and then lose these few pounds.

LAst time I bought this many clothes I immediately got pregnant - lOL. I should have a nice wardrobe then if I lose some weight!

$20 Challenge - + Interest

February 1st, 2007 at 03:34 pm

$20 challenge:

741.65 - Balance 1/26

$27.85 - Interest savings

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$769.50 - Balance 2/1
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Woohoo.

I have much to blog about but little time, so it goes.

Cash wise though we are really short. I went to Bunco last night. Dh had used his emergency $20 for my tire (since it was a PITA to pay by card). THen I Stole the rest of his money for Bunco. Figure I would turn it to gold - hehe. Well not so much but I did win $15!!!!!! pAid in $12, won $15 - pays for my lunch out this week - woohoo. Leaves $15 cash in my pocket - plenty. Dh needs $40 - $20 for spending & $20 emergency back. I took ALL his cash - LOL. Anyway, today I get an auto reimbursement around $40 so will go to the ATM for him. Cash is usually in our budget, but just tight with the winter gas heat bills. Plus instead of using all the cash we generally come across, I have been depositing it aLL in the bank. Leaves us cash tight but that is okay. IT always seems to work out. & my savings is growing - woohoo.

Bunco - I didn't add my winning to the challenge because I Always win - LOL. Just nothing new. THough if I took the cash to the bank and deposited it I would. My $15 saves me a trip to the aTM instead - for myself anyway - and that is usually what I use it for - so no challenge for that.

I got free dinner to boot - woohoo.

Our electric bill has also gone missing. I get it paper and electronic. Since I paid the last one 12/29 I figured I should have gotten it by now - I generally set them to pay electronically when due. Weird. Guess I will have to call - no electronic or paper bill in sight. I Can't figure out January budget - this is messing me up.

Today is pay day and I plan to immediately transfer $1000 to savings. $200 for the EF and $800 for Short-term savings. Most of that will go to the dentist this month. LEaves $1200 for credit card (on track before mechanic - grrrr) and 500 for utilities. CC went over so will just pray utilities fall below, have a little in the slush fund for mechanic anyway - so works out. Nothing will keep me from putting $1k in saveings. (well almost nothing. Wink )

Ask me the last time I saved $1k from a check - LOL. It has been a LONG time. Woohoo.

$57 for challenge

January 26th, 2007 at 05:28 pm

$20 challenge:

$685 - Balance 1/15

$31.71 - added to mortgage
$24.94 - Interest on c.d.

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$741.65 - Balance 1/26
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On top of that I just got the new Cookie Lee catalog and I already made $70 or so on 1 order. Woohoo. Not adding to the challenge because this is nothing new. BUT I am strongly considering adding the profit to the e-fund. I usually spend it on jewelry. Who knows if I have the will - hehe. The new catalog is GREAT. Problem is when I like it no one else does and that is always bad because I want to buy much more than I can sell. But selling over $150 on 1st day out is probably promising - hehe. Oh well, I pretty much can vow not to buy more until I dig out my jewelry from storage anyway. I can not find ANYTHING in our house, much less jewlery - we threw it all in boxes when our house was up briefly in July. Time to look through some boxes... The more I wear, the more I sell, the more I buy. Most effectively I should probably set a % to save and % used to buy more. Hmmmm... I'll think on that - would work best.

The mortgage - ah. I had a brilliant idea. This month I got a $35 auto reimbursement from work (pretty rare overall) and I also left $50/month cushion in my raise. NO doubt it will get spent - LOL. So I decided something simple I could do to the fill the void of not paying anything extra on the mortgage, was I could round up and pay $1350 instead of $1318. The difference is $31.71 to be exact. When the car is paid off I Was going to save $200/month as well. The payment is $215. I will add the $15, or maybe make it an even $20 once the loan is paid. That alone shaves 2 years off the mortgage. & that is the best I can do until our retirement is FULLY funded. Only then will I get more aggressive. At least in the meantime I can make progress...

Also made about $25 on my c.d. at 5.4% that used to get 0.2% or something. Woohoo.

In other news looks like out grocery bill (including a lot of non-food items)will be in the $400-$430 range this month. OMG that is so amazing, it usually runs $500-$600. All our effort is paying off over time, we have stocked up on a lot (thus the more $600 bills) but going forward this is just incredible. It included a lot of extras at that - woohoo. Big thing of diapers (LM is too sensitive for clothe at night). Pizza for fiends over, etc. Just about $400. Oh well, will try not to get too excited - another week left - anything can happen...

$20 challenge update

January 15th, 2007 at 03:21 pm

$20 challenge:

Balance 1/6: $590

Ebay 1/15: 95

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Balance 1/15: $685
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Got my ebay money from 2 auctions. Our auction earned us $10.00 after fees - not bad!!!!! For an old video game.

MIL's auction earned $185. She was going to give us 1/2, we said 20%. She called me last night and insisted we take 1/2 and splurge on dh's birthday. I decided fancy dinner out and a movie would run about $75. So I Took $75 (before fees though - we'll eat them) and sent her $110. We had planned to maybe get a fancy $50 dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant regardless, but now that it is financed we figured we'd go to the movies. IT has been AGES.

She basically insisted we took 1/2 and so I think we took 40%. Not bad. She is coming up to babysit the kids saturday and so dh and I are having a BIG date night - hehe. That has been ages too...

I am not expecting to do so well every month - particularly with work being so CRAZY through the spring - just focusing all my energies on that now - trying anyway. January has been super profitable though - wow!!!!

Challenge Update

January 13th, 2007 at 01:37 am

Well I tried. I tried to think big - hehe. MIL was not into cashing out the life insurance. IT's okay I guess. She swears it is not costing her a dime anymore (dividends outweigh premiums). I was reading that after 10-15 years they pay off, but I Am looking at 2001 statements when dh was 25 and it was NOT paying off. So if she says so, whatever. We told her not to keep it for us. & she said she wanted to keep it, so we didn't push it - she is the one that paid all that money in. I decided to think positive about it (because I still think it is a horrible investment and rather get rid of it) I Decided if something happened to dh it would cover child care probably for the rest of the kids preschool years. SO whatever, it is better than nothiing. If he lives to 90 though might as well be flushed down the toilet- LOL. But I rather him live to be 90 and so oh well, whatever. I tried. Wink

I have 2 items on ebay. So far dh's game is up to $1 (hoping to sell for $10). & the GPS we are selling for MIL is up to $108. So far we decided we'll probably take 20% commission though she may insist on giving us 1/2. We'll see! I have 1 baby item to try to sell and so between all that I think we make $50 this month off ebay - woohoo. Auctions close Sunday - we'll see where we land... & I'll have some challenge money!

De-Cluttering

January 7th, 2007 at 02:25 pm

I know I had a good start to the year and with an extra $700 or so this month didn't intend to push too much this month.

(Plus I earned around $150 OT!!!!)

But dh asked me to a sell a game of his on ebay - listing #3 for me! Will net around $10 I imagine. I was telling him there was a minimum to pull the money out of paypal and I think we needed more - just thinking ahead to what else we could sell. Then he reminded me we are s'posed to sell a relative's GPS system for them. They offered 50% of the cut, but we refused. He was telling me he might take 20%. Even that is too much if you ask me, but whatever. IT is around $400 so 20% would be pretty darn sweet!!!! So I Am posting them today - we'll see how much that adds to the challenge.

HAve a few kitchen items for freecycle - most notably our old toaster oven since I got the new black one for christmas to match the kitchen (As I was pulling ideas out of the air from pushy dh's family). A perfectly good toaster oven - to freecycle I guess.

Dh also bought some jock straps for his surgery that were too small. HE tried one on and the other never worn. I Want to freecycle it but it seems a little weird - LOL. Then I thought about it, since they were size small - maybe good for a kid in sports or something. I just feel weird about an adult male coming to my house to get jock straps. But there is no way I could throw them away either... I guess we'll see if anyone responds. Tempted to throw in the Goodwill pile, but since it is an opened package fear it would just go to the trash.

I have to relist 2 toys on craigslist. Going way down on price. If not will goodwill probably.

We still have boxes and boxes from storage to go through. I am thinking of making a goal to do 1 box a week. The funny thing is with all our junk in storage, our house looked pretty de-cluttered (to show the house). Yet we haven't unpacked the boxes and the clutter still abounds. Where does it come from???? Christmas didn't help.

Dh and I have been meaning to go through and do a goodwill pile of toys. & he has a pile of books to sell too. Will push to get this all done this month I guess.

I have been super lazy lately, so I thought, felt like I have not accomplished much. But then I Remembered we have been gone every weekend, tons of family over with the holidays, etc., etc., etc. IT has been so hectic. Even today I have a little bit of work to do - just so crazy at work, figured I Would squeeze in a couple of hours today. But otherwise the rest of the day is free - phew. & i am in de-clutter mode, so we'll see what we can accomplish!





$20 Challenge Update

January 6th, 2007 at 11:22 pm

$20 challenge:

Balance 1/1: $400

1/6: $190 Broker Fees saved 2007
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Balance 1/6: $590
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I was just thinking about how much we changed things these last few months and as I am tracking it I Decided to see how much we paid in broker fees last year. About $200, not even counting any loads. Our new fee is $10 a year (though we may avoid that if we add $1k before to our funds before they take the fee).

I figure that is money saved and I would add it to the challenge.

In fact - on a monthly basis I want to compare how my investments are performing to the broker's. Somehow I feel confident mine will win. Wink But I will separate it from the $20 challenge since it could be a loss. If it is - that is okay, but I want to keep it separate for tracking - I'll net the 2 at the end of the year. I think it could be fun to track. So far $190 saved though!!

Ooooh - suprise surprise - my index funds have fared $130 better in just 3 stock trade days than the broker's picks. In fact - we would have lost money in 2006 if we stuck with him - ridiculous. I won't do an update until the end of the month though - how much saved each month with the low cost index funds. not hte kid of thing you can compare ona daily basis - need a bigger picture. I know it is not too scientific because he bought and sold, but not very often and always had commissions/loads, etc. But what I do know is my self-managed 401k has fared WAY better over the years so it will be interesting to see how much better we do, not just on our own, but with a little more care and overseeing.

Will be an experiment...

Starting the $20 Challenge

January 2nd, 2007 at 06:32 am

$20 challenge:

1/1: $400 Side Income (helping neighbor/client with Quickbooks setup)
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Balance 1/1: $400
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I am excited to jump in the $20 challenge and I already have $400 to add!!!!!!! Cheating you say? Nah, it just bugged me to start mid-year, don't ask me why. Probably because I didn't really figure out what it was until the last month or so. So I figured I would wait until January 1. & I received a $400 check today - so woohoo.

My rules... Overall I would like to establish a few rules for my challenge. I had thought about it already and wanted it to be cash basis, and I Wanted to incorporate all the things I have been doing different, both before and after joining savingadvice.com, but after realizing we needed to cut back a little and try to make more as well, around September 2006. I really want to see how much I save by incorporating these rules for a whole year. So my rules are as follows:

1. Will track on cash basis (when cash or discount is received).

2. Includes all money from selling items (but not Cookie Lee since I did that for years before).

3. Will include interest earned on cash savings (since I just started focusing on higher returns on cash, vs. pretty much nil before).

4. I am not going to include coupons and sales and such because I have always done so, and thrift shops, etc. BUT I am trying to do a lot more 2nd-hand and ebay shopping. For stuff I have not done so much in the past I will add money saved to the challenge. For example, I tend to buy the kids clothes from thrift shops but have been finding better deals in bulk on ebay, so I would consider the money saved in this type of instance, challenge money.

5. Any income dh earns will be added to the challenge money. I include it because he has not worked 4+ years and I have been encouraging him to make money, not to pay the bills, but simply to add to our savings and our retirement. This is a new thinking so I will include it. Before we could pay the bills so I didn't see the point, he would make plenty down the road, but now we are focusing on him bringing a little now so he doesn't have to work FT down the road. So we'll see what he comes up with and how it helps the bottom line! **If any of his work requires paid childcare, will subtract that out though. Is a possibility as we are open to it when Little Monkey turns 2 soon.**

6. Includes any extra money I make too outside my salaried job.

7. I get paid OT and am expected to work around 50 hours/week January - April. Any OT pay I receive above and beyond that, and any OT May - December, plus performance bonuses, will be added to the challenge. I am putting a big focus on boosting my earnings at my current job, this year. For the regular/expected overtime I will count it if it goes directly into the untouchable e-fund (or debt).

8. Will include any cash windfalls: credit card rebates (essentially interest on purchases), cash gifts, money found on the ground, tax refunds, etc. This is all not new stuff BUT I have doubled my credit card rebates this year with better rebate offers AND we haven't historically saved gifts, we spend them or counted on them to pay bills. Since we will be saving all of these towards retirement and e-fund, will count. If I don't directly deposit to the untouchable e-fund or retirement, then will not count.

9. I am going to include the fees we are saving on not using dh's broker any more. I am considering tracking those stocks against ours and seeing if we come out ahead. I guess the thing is if we come out behind I have to subtract that out. But somehow I find it unlikely. Wink

All of these measures are the only reason we are really saving anything right now so they will all count to my challenge. Anything else I do new going forward, that saves money, will count toward the challenge.

& we're off!!


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