30 January 2008

Feeling it, big time.

January 1st was a soft launch. I had that car tax bill, the oil tank to refill, January clearance shopping to take advantage of, so it didn't FEEL like a crazy stringent budget. Now that February is in two days, I'm feeling it, and it hurts. I have no money and no promise of money. I have little gas in my car, no fruit, no fresh veggies, and lunches/dinners to make and kids to pick up. I've been brown bagging it and staying at work for lunch breaks to save on food and gas, and that's getting me by. I'm feeling depressed.

That being said, this weekend I will be paying off my first credit card balance. I am caught up on student loan payments, doctor's visit copays, there is oil in my oil tank and no one needs clothes. We have toilet paper, paper towels, cat food to last months. So today it hurts, but not for long. We WILL eat, WILL get to work, WILL have fun. I'm okay, after all.

28 January 2008

Have Not-ing.

I think the consumer-driven culture we live in is a well-established phenomenon. Everyone wants to be a "Have" while no one can be a "Have Not." We need hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, Coach bags and lots of shoes. The quote I posted directly below is really interesting, because it talks about how this need to have is binding, that we are constrained by our need to own, purchase, collect and display. So, in that vein, the year of frugal living has taken an interesting turn. My mission has become about more than paying off some debt. Now its about determining the emotional connection behind what we spend our money on, and choosing to spend money on things that will better me rather than tie me down. Its the emotional side of shopping.

So... what will free you? Will it be the homemade coffee? Wearing the same outfits every week? Sleeping in your really comfy but ugly yellow sheets for another year or so? Will it mean I get to keep my ugly couch that I love so much? When will you stop worrying about what you *should* have or *need* to have or *cannot* live without and live your life?

That's what this year is going to figure out.

25 January 2008


"Once you start to see through the myth of status, possessions, and unlimited consumption as a path to happiness, you'll find that you have all kinds of freedom and time. It's like a deal you can make with the universe: I'll give up greed for freedom. Then you can start putting your time to good use."
David Edwards
"Nothing to Lose But Our Illusions"

Honoring my fellow bargain shoppers

As I was checking my sitemeter referrals last night, I noticed that I'm getting hits from two blogs that I really like, Rebecca's Bargain Blog and Manda's Good Deals. First of all, that's awesome. Second, I feel inspired to share my CVS trip from yesterday, thanks to them. Here's what I did:

Pepsi Deal:
(4) bottles soda - 5.00
(4) Stacey's Pita Chips - 10.00
(2) Lay's/Doritos - 6.00

(2) Easy Ups - 18.98
(1) Duracell - 2.99

(1) Breeze 2 - 9.99
(2) M&M's - 3.49

CVS coupons:

5.00 off 30
4.00 off 20

Pampers -2.00 x 2
Duracell -1.50
Breeze - 9.99


Total: 17.17
Paid with a gift card from a transferred prescription = FREE

ECBs back:
9.99 (breeze)
3.00 (M&Ms)
10.00 (pepsi)
5.00 (P&G)

Total: 27.99!!!

24 January 2008

Okay, okay, okay, I'm back

See, the blog works. I'm back. I was shopping. Oy. Actually, I was stocking up on things that were on clearance after Christmas, but it felt like shopping. I have actually been [mostly] sticking to the frugal living plan, except for a few minor eating out incidents. I spent some money on clothes for my kids for next Winter (winter? seems like it's important enough for capitals. Canada is.) and doing the CVS deals and stuff like that.

Okay, but I need to admit this, because I said I would. I spent $50 on myself at Target. I bought a new duvet cover, kitchen scissors, and some candlesticks and stuff for my mantel. In my defense, they were all 50-75 % off. I needed to do it. I've had some great news and good things happen in my life and I needed to make my house a little more my home.

I have been selling on ebay, if you need a $22 gift card to victoria's secret, please feel free to buy from me, my seller id is sunnyjch. I've made $186 since January 1st, so I'm on track. Oh, and I also bought a seed starting kit at Ocean State Job Lot for $4.50, I consider that an investment towards the garden.

See? I've been shopping. But it's frugal shopping. There's a difference, I swear.

08 January 2008

Nay Sayers.

I was talking about the YOFL yesterday at work, and my coworkers were laughing at me! One said "What day is it? The SEVENTH of January?" I'd like to point out a couple of things about my probability of success.
  1. I am a highly motivated individual.
  2. I am actively working on this goal.
  3. Last year my resolution was to lose weight and I lost more than 30 lbs.
  4. Failure is not an option!!!!!!

I'm really ticked off about this! I will not give up on this plan. I have achieved much more seemingly insurmountable obstacles than not buying useless junk for a year. Again, failure is not an option. I have already made over 150$ on ebay, none of which has been spent. So there, nay sayers. :)

07 January 2008

Tough decisions

First of all, cool. I can post from my phone. I'm so high tech.

There's been some serious frugal living going on, and it's only the end of the first week! Yesterday I made some tough decisions at the mall. I had a gift card to Victoria's Secret, and am in need of some undergarments. So I went to the Semi-Annual Sale, only to find that the bra I liked was 20 dollars more than the value of the gift card. (Which, by the way, is RIDICULOUS! Why are bras 42 dollars? I think this is a blatant form of sexism.) Anyway, I could have, and previously WOULD have, bought the bra, paid 20$ of my own money, and walked away feeling like I got a decent deal. But yesterday I handed the bra back to the saleswoman and said "No thank you." I was a little embarrassed, I'll admit it, but I feel that I made the right decision. I'll probably sell the gift card and use the money at Target, for something a little more reasonably priced.

03 January 2008

Microsoft Money believes in me

I spent some time last night looking at the budget, paying some bills, and seeing where exactly I stand financially right now. I use Microsoft Money to balance my checkbook and keep track of my spending, which is really easy and useful, in my opinion. So MM has this feature that does a "cash flow forecast" based on your spending, and I looked at it over the next 30, 90, 180 and 360 days. Over the next 30 days, it looks like not much will change. But by 90 days, there's a dent, and by 180 days there's a bigger dent and by this time next year, there's a huge dent. I feel so encouraged, Microsoft Money. Thank you for believing in me, and reminding me that you have to stick with something for more than 30 days to see the results.

One thing I DIDN'T do, however, is take out the money in cash. I'm afraid! I want to make sure all the bills are covered so nothing gets overdrawn. Plus, I couldn't figure out how to track my spending if I take it out in cash, if I use my debit card then MM codes all the spending for gas or groceries or dining out or whatever. So I'll probably wait until April 1st (~90 days) and reevaluate my plan.

02 January 2008

$500 in car taxes and other unreconciled debts

Oh brother. I'm starting off January 2nd with a $502 car tax bill. I thought we lived in Connecticut, where we were too democratic to tax. I'm not particularly excited to pay this bill, as I am with other things like my car payment, because as far as I know, it's never-ending.

Things like this get frustrating when you're excited to start a big challenge. I mean, $502 is 5 weeks of my operating budget! But at the same time, I need to remember that if it were not for the frugal living, I wouldn't even be able to pay this bill. That's something, right there. I'm going to hang in there, and try not to worry. It's always darkest before the dawn.

01 January 2008

The beginning and the remnants

Happy New Year! It seems like I should be doing something big today, like cutting up credit cards or issuing a ban on the mall, but I'm not. Like I said, I don't think much will change for the time being. I am planning on listing some more stuff on Ebay this week, and trying to make it to Thursday without going to the grocery store. I have decided to start taking out the spending money in cash every TWO weeks, so that if there is something on sale that I can stock up on, I have the resources available (like if I can get diapers for cheap). So that will begin on Thursday, when I get paid.

On a different note, I realized this week that I have some bills I need to pay that aren't in my budget, so I'm going to need to figure out what to do with irregular bills, like oil, newspaper and car taxes. I'm thinking that my tax refund and raise will cover that kind of stuff, so when those two things come through, I'll start putting them automatically into savings to have a rainy day fund.

It's going to be a good year.