Monday, January 28, 2008

I love a head start

I have my first meeting with the CPA that is doing my taxes for me this year. I can't tell you how excited I am to not be doing them this year. I am certain I should be able to do them myself next year, but with the move and this being the first year I'm filing seperately, I afraid I'm going to forget a bunch of deductions and, worse yet, monumentally screw up my taxes.

I am waiting on a few more items to come in the mail but am really proud of myself for keeping my info pretty much in line. I have misplaced only one or two receipts but am pleased to find 90% of them. Also, the totally anal rententive tracking of my charity mileage is a good thing. One of my goals for this year was to find a better way to file and store information so this tax prep is helping me do that.

There are two reasons I'm starting so early. First, since I am using the majority of the tax return to pay down my credit card, I want that money as soon as possible. The longer I wait to do my taxes means the more money I will pay in interest. If I get my taxes done by mid-Februray, I should be able to have the return but my birthday early March. That's perfect.

The second reason is that I am certain I am over paying my federal taxes and do not want that money going to Uncle Sam so he can gain all that interest. I want to pay down those damn cards so I don't have to pay interest. I found a calculator online that helps figure what you should take in allowances. It said I should take Single 9. I take Single 4. I want an expert to help me figure out exactly where I should be. Again, the sooner I get this down, the sooner I can adjust my paycheck and the more money I will end up with in the long term. If I find I'm over paying and can make a $25 a week increase in my take home pay beginning in March, that will mean an extra $1,000 this year.

I'm loving finding new sources of increasing the amount of money coming in by doing nothing other than evaluating how money goes out. It's important to me to think about the long term. $25 seems like a little. But, over time, every little dime adds up...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thanks for the $600!

Well, didn't we all get fabulous news today! I am excited about tax season as it is. I know I'll be getting a sizeable return this year that is really going to help me get the credit cards paid off. This $600 is going to be even better. Ever since reading the article on MSN, I have been daydreaming about what I will do with the $600.

My first thought was to put the whole damn thing to the Discover card. I love that that was my first thought. Of course, what I do with the $600 will be highly dependent on what I get for a tax return. I plan on putting at least half of the return to the credit cards. If the two store cards are not paid off by the time I get the return, I will put the money there first. But, there are a few things I would like to be able to do that deal with vacation or taking some time off. If I am able use half of the tax return for the credit card and save enough to be able to take a small vacation or two (I travel cheap too), then the whole $600 will go to the credit cards. If not, I will still put at least half of it to credit cards.

I am hoping to be able to put at least $1500 toward the credit card debt and save about $1000 for the year for vacations. I'll be posting real soon about the vacation planning and how I'm going to cheapen that out. That just means I need to start praying for a $1900 tax return. We'll see. I have the preliminary meeting with the tax guy on Tuesday. It's my dad's CPA so I'm hoping he cuts me a break in fees. Regardless, he is really good and my dad assures me anything that I pay in fees will come back to me in found money for the return. More on that later. For now, I have to go to the tax rebate happy dance with jazz hands and a fan kick finish.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Exciting news! Voodoo works!

All of the crossing of fingers and shaking of chicken bones and standing on one leg and facing Mecca and everything else that was done prior to my salary review has worked! Our company has not had a good year and I had to cut the budget back quite a bit. I was expecting a 2% raise and hoping for a 5%. I got a call last night after the salary review meeting and I am getting a 6.2% raise! This is phenomenal news and just what I needed.

The raise brings me up to $86,000 a year and, after using my ubiquitous Yahoo Payroll Calculator, should give me an extra $62 per weekly paycheck. That's $250 extra income a month! Oh sweet baby Jesus, I can't tell you how relieved I am right now.

This is going to allow to to meet all my bills and pay and extra $50 a month to my Discover card and and extra $25 to my Victoria Secret card while having a little bit more of a cushion. That means that when the VS card is paid off in April, I can switch that $75 over to the Discover payment and make a big $275 payment per month. That will make a huge dent in my goal to not have any credit card debt by the end of the year.

What really excites me is the thought of having an extra $325 a month next year to put toward savings and down payment on a car in three years. Is is frightening to think that I'm already thinking and wanting to plan for 2009?

Monday, January 21, 2008

House is empty and I'm behind

I had a houseload of friends the last few days, hence my absence. It is nice and quiet and I have today off. I am going to be doing a good amount of work today researching some new ideas for some extra money and doing some financial planning for the end of the month.

Luckily, my guests were all so happy that I was putting them up that they sprung for groceries for the visit so I don't think overspending happened at all. I kept very close tabs and tried to plan meals and such that weren't elaborate. I pulled my from existing liquor supply and that helped. I need to jump on to my bank site to see how well I did. All part of today's plan.

I am very behind in my goal to make $200 a month in extra income. I'm only at $115.63. However, a friend gave me a great idea last night. I used to make bead jewelry and had big plans to sell it online. Ebay was chock full of similar products and they take a huge cut. She told me about Etsy, which is a site where people can sell handmade items. It's really a great site and she spends a lot of time on it an is certain I could unload some of the stock I've had sitting around for ages there. It was a great hobby and I loved doing it. My new digital camera is up and running so I plan to take a bunch of photos and see of I can get some things up today. Jewelry making made me happy as I'm a creative person by nature. If I find that I can make some money off of it, I may go back to it. It's very relaxing and I need more of that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Did you notice something different when you clicked on over here? Like how I presume you are a return visitor? I'm playing with Adsense! How fun!

I love the amount of comments that are left on this blog for two reasons. They are a great vehicle for communication and that they offer an immense amount of feedback and suggestions. I hope that you find some good tips and ideas here but love that you're willing to share yours as well. One tip I got came from a guy who's blog address I don't even have (but thank you c.crowe!) or I would so link to him and call my my friend. On my previous post about my month-to-date supplemental income earnings it was suggested to put an Adsense banner at the top of the page, above the fold.

My first reaction was, ugh. I have seen some blogs where you need to scroll way down past the fold to get to the meat of the blog. I am not a fan of that. I can't imagine you would be either. That's why we're friends, right? You get me. But, I thought I'd see how it looks and how it works. I just ran over to Adsense and made up a new banner and was shocked at how not ugly it is. It's not awful!

So, here's the challenge. I'm giving it a good run until the end of the month. I'll let you know what changes in income I see on February 1st. I'd love some feedback from you though. What do you think of it? Do you mind it? Do you not even care? Have you had success with similarly placed ads? I'm new to this stuff. I have no idea what I'm doing but will try anything once! I'm learning as I go. I've done a good amount of reading about monetizing but I have to find a blog titled, "Breaking down monetizing Barney style."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

But there is some good too...

After banging my head on the wall for a little while, I made a little head way. I have a business trip at the end of February. I also have a Discover card. I will be reimbursed for all expenses. This is good.

What make it better is that Discover has chosen now until the end of March to offer 5% cash back on all travel purchases including airfare and hotel. I just booked the flight and got a reimbursement check same day. See? It pays to be nice to the folks in accounting! I immediately paid the flight amount to the card so I don't accrue any interest and will deposit the check on the way home. Done.

At the end of the trip I will have gotten back about $30 cash back at no cost to me. This will be applied right to my balance. Now I only have to find $30 more to cover the cost of being a bonehead. I feel a little bit better. Not a whole lot, but a little...

I am my own worst enemy

I am not in a very pleasant mood. I am downright pissed off. I have cost myself $60 plus this month from being a total bonehead. It's really aggravating. I think I have just about undone all I have worked so hard to do this month in one week.

I had two things on autorenew and I failed to realize that. The first was a subscription to that I had totally forgotten I even had. See how closely I've been looking at my bank statements? Nice. So that hit this week at $15. I got dinged with an overdraft protection charge of $10 through Bank of America because I just didn't look closely enough. Seeing the recurring issue? Then I got dinged by my electric company because when I entered my banking info in last week, I transposed my bank account number and the payment was refused. What the hell kind of banking mental block do I have?

The last is the worst. I got a lovely little deductionon my Discover from, which I thought I had cancelled last month but didn't. Apparently, in my haste to cancel, I missed the last button that actually cancels you. $34.99 gone. I didn't even want it to begin with. I have effectively wasted $104.97 in the last three months on spiting my ex-boyfriend. This is just rich.

Damn it. I am going to go bang my head on a wall for a good long time. Be back later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More green = more green

I have finally gotten around to watching An Inconvenient Truth, or as I like to call it The Really Cool Power Point. It's a startling movie. I have to say that one of my favorite parts was actually the credits when they offered bits of wisdom: "When you pray, use your feet." - African Proverb. The movie's website is great and has a very cool tab where you can look for ways to take action. This got my mind going. It seems that some of my money saving tactics are helping the environment and that in helping the environment, I can save money. I save the Earth, the Earth saves me money. Cool!

I'm a fan of hydration. If I go for a run, I end of drinking nearly a bottle of water per mile during and post run. In general, I drink about 4 bottes of water each day. What the hell am I doing?!?! According to the Container Recycling Institute, the oil it takes per year to make plastic water bottles in the US could fuel about 100,000 cars for that year. Think about that when you go buy a bottle while filling up your gas tank. And, only 23% of those bottles are recycled. Nice.

My solution: I'm getting the gallon water jugs at the store and will pay $.35 at the local water place to get them filled. I figure that average weekly consumption is about 3 gallons. That's $39 a year for water. In order to make it easier, I'll treat myself to the $8 32 oz. Nalgene bottle that can be washed and reused. So, $48 a year. I would have spent $4 on 24 bottles of water for the week so this will save me $160 a year. Not a huge savings but it's worth it monetarily and environmentally. Again, good for the karma, good for the wallet.

I have more ideas and more plans. Check back in a few days when I've had some time to do a little more research on some things. I'm feeling good about this!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Oh, I am a CHEAP date.

In the interest of having fun without incurring cost, I have taken up hiking. I really used to love it but haven't done it for years and years. After my daughter went to her dad's I headed off to go attack Piestewa Peak. It was one hell of a workout and certainly served it's purpose of being entertaining. There was lots to see. It's the most popular hiking trail in Arizona that's not at the Grand Canyon. I have no real proof of this. I have just declared it so. My right to do this will be explained in the next paragraph. Ready?

It took me a little over an hour and a half to get to the summit and down. I mentioned last week that I went over on my grocery bills because of my need to have a beer after a hike. I got home a litte bit ago. Grabbed the laptop, turned on the Giants/Cowboys game and had my beer. Oh, it is goooooood. But, damn, I'm loopy off one of those. Shush. It's an IPA with 6.5% alcohol volume. This is what happens when you hike and rehydrate with beer, kids. Loopy bloggers. Hense, why I can make random declarations. Like now that my fantasy football league is over, I have decided that Tony Romo is a putz.

My goal last week was that I could buy the beer but that I would ration is wisely. I had a side personal goal to not consume as much liquor this year. So this fits in. My beer rehydration program works well here. It allows me one beer. Anything beyond that and I'm going to be just downright silly. I know I need water and have to switch over in a minute. But, really, a six pack of beer could last me a month. Oh, sweet baby Jesus! I'm a tee-totaller!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Good for my karma and my wallet

You will come to know that there are few things I love better than a well organized spreadsheet. It's true. Sad, but true. I started one a month or two ago and just finished it up yesterday. I can say I'm pleased. It tracks my mileage driven for all three non-profits.

I have three organization with which I volunteer. One of them consume a ludicrous amount of my time and requires me to drive all over God's country. Needless to say, I haven't thoroughly enjoyed it and won't be returning next year. The other two I love and they put much less time constraint on my life. Lesson learned: time spent volunteering does not directly correlate to level of satisfaction realized.

The reason I track the mileage is that you can get a $.14 tax deduction for each mile driven in order to volunteer for a 503(c) non-profit or school. You're on the PTA and drive there for meetings outside of times during which you pick up your kid? Deduct it. You're a Boy Scout troop leader? There you go.

I have carefully logged every single meeting, mapquested each destination and plugged it all into a spreadsheet. All I have to do is print it out and give it to the tax guy. It shows the date of each item, where I drove to, for what reason, for what group and what the amount is for each item that I can deduct. My total I can deduct is about $230. Not too bad. I deserve that for the gas expense incurred.

On top of this, I get to deduct another $475 in dues paid or donations to these organizations. This will definitely help. So think back to what you may have done this year and certainly look forward for this year to see if you can reduce you tax bill by giving some of that money up. Good karma and good planning!

Friday, January 11, 2008

The clouds parted!

And the angels sang! I just came to a fabulous realization. Something I had completely forgotten about. So, I have been sweating the $325 vet bill as, obviously, it was totally unexpected and I have no money for it. I have been trying to figure out what I need to balance and how I'm going to do that. I had to dip into the money I has sent aside for the week to pay my February mortage and that is a scary thing to do. I knew I would have to put nearly my whole paycheck toward making up the difference.

The good part about my current situation is that all of my monthly bills are paid save my credit cards bills. But, that totals $250. I could scale back if I had to but that just makes me ill. I need to get that Discover bill paid down big time. It's an ugly little card. The only other expenses I have for the rest of the month are gas and groceries. It will require a little bit more cutting back. How I have no idea, but I'll let you know what I come up with.

My realization today was that my salary review is on the 22nd! How could I have forgotten about this? I mean, I knew it was coming. I just had a conversation with a Board member, who was my old boss, and she said she is doing a salary study for me and did I have room in my budget for a raise. I told her I did. This conversation makes me hopeful. I had planned on 2% but I am thinking she might be able to get me 5%. At 5% it would mean a weekly increase of $77, which would be about $55 after taxes. The great news is that I get paid retroactively from the 1st when the raise would go into effect at the end of the month!

This means, if I get the 5% raise, I will get an extra $220 in my last paycheck of the month. How perfect is that? And, if I got the raise, I would see an extra $220 a month consistently. Oh this idea makes me feel very happy and less stressed. I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I don't think I'm way off. Even if I get the expected 2% raise, it's $100. It's good knowing that some kind of increase is on its way. So, be thinking of me on the 22nd!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

On my way but off the path?

I am a third the way through the month and though I am short of making my goal of $200 in supplemental income, I can't help but feel like I could be doing a lot better. My income is trickling in a few cents here and a few cents there and I'm still looking for extra ways of gaining income that does ot involve a street corner. I have made $62.06 so far. The majority of that is still from Cash Crate. I've made about $33 there so far. Bottom line is that I need to get more referrals. I am going to head down to the university this weekend with about 25 flyers with tags on them and post them on a few boards. If I was a college kid and someone could pretty much guarantee me $50 a month, I'd shake their hand and call them friend.

I am adding a few affiliate programs to the site. You'll see some additions in the sidebar in the next few days. I have a hard time putting stuff above the fold because I know you're here to read content, not view ads. I'm going to try and combine the two by give some good details and feedback as to how the programs are working for me and what I learn along the way.

I'm in a holding pattern for two more months as my blog is still too young to be accepted to any pay per post groups. I was accepted by Blogsvertise on a probational basis but have only gotten one offer from them. I have no income from them this month. Meh. I feel much the same way about Pinecone Research. Lots of folks out there are making $20-$50 a month through them because the panel surveys are good and pay well, and though I've been approved, I haven't heard from them. I mean, really, do I smell funny?

The good side to all of this is that it is giving me a good few months to really work on content and marketing this blog. I know that a good reader base and feed subscribers can really help how well a monetized blog does. I love that in less than a month I have a good few regular readers! I'm trying to genuinely reach out other bloggers. I'm enjoying the hell out of Entrecard. I am getting a really good amount of traffic and it gives you great exposure. I'll be talking more about that in the next day or so.

I still have a lot of hope for this month. Of course it's sparked by the one day in which I had 8 clicks on my Adsense ads. That day was pretty and made me $6.24 in a snap! I have dreams about days like that. I have some serious work to do in the next three weeks. I'm up for it and I hope the work I do now makes the coming months easier. In the meantime, I'll be over here working and shaking chicken bones. Yes, folks, I am resorting to voodoo...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The shoe fell

I shouldn't have said a damn thing. The what if expense happened today. Today, I lost my cat of 12 years. She was sick but I thought she'd be okay. She needed a good amount of blood work and the results came back overwhelmingly horrible. She kidneys had completely shut down. Poor little girl was just done. Early this afternoon, I had to put her to sleep.

I'm having a really hard time giving a shit about the $325 bill or what I'm going to have to put off to cover it. I just can't care right now. I'll care later. Sometimes, there just seems like there are bigger fish to fry.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It doesn't look like a brandy snifter, but...

Do you remember that show back in the 80's It's A Living? About the four or so cocktail waitresses? I know, I hadn't thought about it in forever either. Now I'm sitting here on my couch waxing nostalgic about how I really wanted the blond chick's pageboy hairdo. But, that's not why I bring it up. You remember Sonny (I think that was his name, correct me if I'm wrong) the piano singer? He always had the really large brandy snifter on the piano for people to throw a buck or two into. Didn't that just make piano bar playing seem intriguing?

I'm taking a page out of the Life of Sonny. If you look to the right (this way, for the directionally challenged --------->) you'll notice that I have installed a large brandy snifter on my blog. Okay, fine, it looks like a widget. It's for a program called ScratchBack. It works like this: You, kind soul that you are, click on the brandy snifter and tip me one whole American dollar. You can be more generous if you'd like, I won't mind. That whole American dollar will get you one of my Top Spots for a week. Your website appears there and folks can click on it and go visit you after I've confused the hell out of them. See? You scratch my back, I scratch yours!

Other benefits include feeling good about helping me end my reign of debt, getting exposure on the wittiest personal finance blog written by a jackass, and I will speak of you well. I may even name my next born child after you, regardless of gender. That right there is a deal. Now go be kind.

This ain't easy.

I'm a week in to 2008 and I think I'm doing okay so far. I must say that being a fiscally responsible as possible is very draining. The good part is that I am doing much more thinking before spending than I used to, which is good. The bad part is that I am worrying and analyzing way more than I want to.

I'm still not fully caught up on some folly of 2007. I have a few bills that are past due. Nothing major. Nothing that would affect my credit score but things like DirecTV and the electric bill. I should have this taken care of by the end of the month but it's still giving me that unsettled feeling that I hated all last year. I still feel like I'm juggling and the balls could land on my head at any minute.

I worry about not having a cushion. Some of the money saving victories are a great start and I am so happy about it. But I worry about the "what if" bill and that is a dangerous thought. I am going to try not to let it get me down. I am certain I will feel better as soon as the end of themonth comes and I am moe on track with my bills. I hate that 2007 is lingering a little into 2008. I just want to be done with that year! Enough of that. I'm off to go pay a cable bill and an electric bill!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Well, it worked once.

I did my grocery shopping today. I was right on it. I was doing good. I had combed the flyers and wrote my list and planned my meals for the whole week and even planned to hit two stores that are right acoss the street form each other to maximize the deals. I even had a coupon. One little coupon, but it was a good one. Even though my total savings was $45.29, my grocery bill was $60.86. I blame it on my hike today.

I have been wanting to get outside more because sitting at home all day on Sunday after my daughter goes to her dad's is very boring. Relaxing but boring. So I have taken up hiking. I loved it many years ago and haven't done it for a while. The bad thing is that it always makes me want to have a beer. I think nearly every time I've gone hiking I've either stopped at a microbrewery on the way home or gotten home and popped open a beer. A nice hearty, full bodied beer. It's nearly religious, I tell you.

So it occurs to me that there is no liquor contingency built into my budget. None whatsoever. I had not planned on this. I bought more than a week's worth of groceries today for that $60 so I assume my bill may be lower next week. Still, the beer sent me over. I'm a total beer snob. I can't drink the cheap crap. Oh no way. I needed the Red Hook IPA (on sale for $6.99). Now I have to think about liquor in a rationing sense. How long can I make this six pack of beer last? What about the two bottles of wine in my possession? It's a very good thing I have spent the last year stockpiling vodka. Really, it's damn near silly how much of that stuff I have.

I'm no lush, honest. But liquor money should be planned for. A grave error on my part. Would it be bad to reward myself for positive momentum with liquor? For example, it would be appropriate to allot supplemental income over my hopeful $200 month to booze, right? Right? Oh, please tell me I'm right...

The line between frugal and cheap

I am starting to wonder where this line is. Where does that line get drawn for you?

To me, it seems that the line gets drawn when you become unreasonable. I dated a guy who negotiated prices on a lot of things. But, the were big items - furniture, appliances, etc. If he did this everywhere he went, it would cross the line from frugal to cheap.

I have seen downright embarrassing acts of cheapness. I have learned a lot about where this line is for me and I never want to cross it. In that spirit, I have written myself the Ten Commandments of Being Frugal (Not Cheap).

  • I will bring tupperware to my parents' for a holiday to take home leftovers. I will not bring tupperware to a party thrown by someone not related to me.
  • I will find a way to eat reasonably at a restaurant by ordering a half portion, splitting an entree or having a less expensive appetizer. I will not forgo the waitress' tip to cut costs.
  • I will look for a great deal on a deeply discounted bottle of wine to bring to a party. I will never show up to a party bearing Two Buck Chuck.
  • I will clip coupons to save as much money as I can on tin foil and will buy generic if it's a better deal. I will not wipe off and reuse tin foil. The same goes for ziplock bags.
  • I will shop at high end consignment stores that have very good resale brand name clothes at excellent prices. I will not give such items as a gift.
  • I will turn off or keep my heat on very low and bundle up while I am home. I will not insist all people visiting my house bring their own parka.
  • I will feel no shame in finding a great deal on something fun and funky at a garage sale. I will never in my life "dumpster dive."
  • I will cook something for a potluck that people will enjoy that will not cost much (can we say potato or pasta salad?) I will not cut costs by only bringing enough for half the people at the potluck.
  • I will research the lowest gas prices and carpool if it is every possible. I will not take turns bumming rides off people without reciprocating the offer.
  • I will look for opportunities to save money on purchases by buying multiples or bulk. I will not buy and live on Cheezit's for 3 months because I could buy them at 75% off if I bought 20 boxes.

That's it. That's the list. Feel free to add to it. But, please don't cross the line. If you do we all reserve the right ot make fun of you. It's that simple.

Friday, January 4, 2008

No, young lady, you cannot go to lunch!

Oh, the horror! The horror!

I was just sitting her eating my little lunch of leftovers and quietly pondering my eating habits (my day seems so peaceful, no?). This is the third day this week I have brought my lunch. Two days were leftovers and one was a frozen meal of sorts. One of my resolutions for the year is to stop going out to eat for lunch. It was draining my checking accounting. Of course, I never thought about to what degree. It's shameful, folks.

Last month, despite the holidays mixed in, I spent $207.33 on meals out. Some were lunches and some were dinners at night meetings I attended. One was a lunch meeting with my friend Rob that I would have felt bad about expensing. It was partly business but more of a catch up with each other and I don't want to be called out on that stuff. Another was a lunch with a friend that was in town. I splurged because I hadn't seen her in a while. Damn those martinis. Still, it's a lot of money. It's more than I was spending on paying off my credit card. No wonder my finances are screwed up!

Ask me how much money I've spent on meals out this month. Go ahead. NOTHING! This is what I love about New Year's, it's like a contest to see how long I can possibly go without eating out. I am so going to win! It made me think of how this is a good thing overall.

  • It will save you a good amount of money. If you ate lunch out twice a week, taking $20 out of your wallet and put it aside. Look! 80 dollars a month to pay off bills!
  • You have more control over what you are eating. Face it, you cooked it, you know what's in it. You can plan to eat healthier this way.
  • You can spend the rest of your lunch time doing something you enjoy, like reading a book or your favorite personal finance blog ;)
  • While your co-worker is eating Subway, again, you're having roasted herbed chicken with steamed green beans with pinenuts. It's okay to laugh at their sandwich. Do it.

Bringing lunch is easy for me because I'm single. I hate cooking for one. Hate it. So, now I make a little more knowing I can take leftovers. I just have to shop smartly. It can be done. That was then, this is now.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Money saving victory!

Ladies and gentleman, The Little Dough Girl has had a very good day!

I just got off the phone with USAA. They gave me an outstanding quote of $62.50 a month. This is a hundred dollars less a month than what I was paying with American Family. Fabulous. I can't even tell you how good that is going to be for me. If you have ever been part of a policy through USAA, you are eligible for thier services. So if your parents or a spouse ever had you on their account (and you've not since remarried) you can sign up. It's worth looking into.

Other small victories: I got all my papers signed for my once a week mortgage payment and they sent me a grocery card with $500 in coupons. All I have to do is search for the products I buy and they swipe the card for $1 off when I buy the product and deduct from my bill and card. I can do this 500 times. That's a good deal. Along that same line, I had mentioned that I thought I could try to get my grocery bill to $50 a month. I went shopping onTuesday and just by reading the flyers to see what was on sale I spent $50.12 for the week! No coupons or anything. That even included dog food at $12.99, cat food at $7.99, and cat litter at $7.49. I think my pets need to get a damn job. I got a lot of good food too: pork chops, Italian sausage, sirloin, lots of fruit and veggies (which are cheap).

I am feeling very good and very optimistic. I have created a file at home where I am putting ALL of my receipts so I can review my expenses in detail at the end of the month. I need to look into software for my computer to track it. I hear a lot about Mint, which is a free finance software, but I need to do some research. You can bet I'll be posting on that in the next few days.

This blog was one of the best ideas I have had to get organized. I strive to have something positive and of substance to post every day so I look at each day as, "What can I get done today?" And, you all have been very gracious with your comments giving suggestions, tips and support. So, thank you! I'll stop with the warm fuzzy crap now...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I'm getting a Sirius ulcer

I mentioned earlier that I put $25 a week into my Sharebuilder account. For the last few months, the stock of my choice has been Sirius. I bought a bit of it a while ago and it has been in the crapper for a good while now. Then all of this talk of the Sirius/XM merger kept poking and poking at me. So, I set out to buy a bit while it was cheap. It's currently at $3.05. When it hit $3.81 a few weeks ago it made me giggle like an 8th grader cheerleader.

I own 653 shares with a market value of $1,991. I was just reading over on Make Mad Money Work that Jim Cramer believes the merger will be a go in the first quarter and the stock will take off from there and should be sold at $6. Oh, how I would love this to be so!

On the other hand, I'm certain that there are plenty folks out there that think I am wasting my time. I don't like those people. The first time I went to Las Vegas to gamble I sat down at a roulette table. I had never played and asked a nice gentleman to show me what the hell the do. He said, "It's very simple. You minimum bid is $5. Put $1 chip on 5 numbers and never change. The minute you change, your number will hit." I did what he said. I won over $200. I think of this is the same way.

I think this merger is going to go through. I have been watching it for a while. I just have to wring my hands for a little bit longer, it seems. In the meantime, I want to find that solar energy stock to buy when I sell Sirius. Then I can commence wringing my hands over that.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

How much I made in December

I started this whole adventure late in the month, on the 19th as a matter of fact. So these numbers are pretty good, I think. Take a look.

Online Surveys, Paid Emails, Trial Offers


  • GoogleAdsense - $.33

Paid Posts

  • Blogvertise - $2.00


Not bad for 12 days! As you can see, Cash Crate is doing really well for me. I really like the program. I would like to shift my focus there a little bit more toward referrals and doing the trial offers. I think referrals are the key here. I have some good ideas on where to get referrals and will be working on them this week. I really do think I can do at least $100 through these guys.

Another thing I've realized is that three of the survey site (Cash Crate, Inbox Dollars, and Treasure Trooper) all have two daily surveys. I could, feasibly, do all six each day. That's a lot of survey. But even if I did only one per day the payouts, respectively, are $.80, $.75, and $.75 giving me $69 a month guaranteed. I'm just learning I'm not as much of a fan of the long surveys. I did sign up for Pinecone Research but have not gotten an email from them yet. I'm interested to try them out.

I still need to wait over 2 months to get into some of the paid posts sites like PayPerPost and Smorty. I'll be looking at some affiliates fr the site to see how that goes. I have a feeling this is going to be a long slow process that includes hard work and a good amount of blog marketing. So, do me a favor and go tell your friends about me!

So begins the budget

Today is officially the day of fresh start. I'm damn happy about that. I didn't get to posting my budget yesterday as I had a lobster bearnaise sauce to make. Good excuse, no?

I think this budget is manageable but it's way too tight. You'll immediately see why I need to supplement my income. I had my year end review last month but won't find out about a raise until the end of January. Our budget at work is tight and I'm hoping for 3% but don't even want to plan for it so I've used my favorite Yahoo Paycheck Calculator to see what my net pay will be.

My weekly net pay takes into consideration: 15% of my salary, or $234, going to my 401(k) and $96.15 going to my Flex Spending. The net pay per week come right on the nose to $900. I figure my budget multiplying that by 4 paychecks. The extra paycheck 4 times a year goes go my mortgage payment and the left over $300 will go toward my credit card debt.


  • $3600


  • Mortgage - $2,348
  • Groceries - $250
  • Electric - $125
  • Water - $0 (paid in full for the year assuming $80/month)
  • Natural Gas - $50
  • Cable - $65
  • Internet - $50
  • Cell Phone - $0 (paid in full for the year assuming $60/month)
  • Ann Taylor Card - $50
  • Victoria's Secret Card - $50
  • Discover Card - $150
  • Car Insurance - $150
  • Gasoline - $200
  • Car Payment - $0 (paid in full for the year assuming $285/month)
  • Child Care - $50 (this is the amount left after FSA payment)

Total Expenses - $3,540

Cushion - $60

Yes, folks I will have NO social life this year. You see why I need the supplemental income? I don't care how many online surveys I need to do at this point. I just need the cash. I need to find solid sources of income online. I do, however, see places to cut.

I am farming out my car insurance. It's really high. I had a minor fender bender in April of 2005. That comes of this year so that should drop my rate pretty well to begin with. My ex-husband was in the National Guard so I can get a good rate through them. He pays $50 a month. That's a steal.

I'll be watching the grocery store flyers and cutting coupons and printing them online. I hope to be able to drop my grocery bill to $200. The only other thing I can see is dropping the electric bill below $100. My Victoria's Secret card will be the first one paid off and it's scheduled to go away on February 1 with the additional paycheck I get in that month. I'm hoping to have a new and better card to transfer the Ann Taylor balance to. It occurs to me that need to be top priority in my goals.

Let's hope I can do this and manage my personal finance right. I am open to any and all suggestions or tips you may have. Let them roll!