Temporarily Off Air

Don’t worry – everything is fine!  But I’m on hiatus until further notice. Thanks for reading along. ;c)

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5 Ways You’re Wasting Money

When we’re in debt, we spend a lot of time figuring out how to save money and make more room in our budgets.  Sometimes the solution is as easy as looking at the other side of the coin at what you’re wasting.  Correct a few of these behaviors, and you’re likely to find more room in your budget.

1.  NOT USING COUPONS

Yes, they’re a pain.  Yep, they’re time consuming.  But if you shop sales and use coupons, it’s realistic to save 25% – 50% or more on your grocery bill.  For many of us, that’s more than $100 a month.  And coupons aren’t just for groceries!  Check newspapers and online venues for codes and discounts, or sign up at your favorite retailers’ websites for email offers.

2.  NOT COMPARING INSURANCE RATES

Also a pain, but there’s room for savings here.  My in-laws recently compared coverage and were sick to discover they could match their policy terms and save over $900 a year with a new company.  When you compare, have your old policy available to make sure you are comparing apples to apples.   New coverage isn’t much of a deal if it doesn’t adequately protect your assets.  (And remember, your car may be a clunker but you need to be able to pay for what you run into, and that other guy might have more expensive tastes or deeper pockets than you!)

3.  NOT CHECKING TIRE AIR PRESSURE

One very simple ways to save money on gas is to ensure your tires are properly inflated.  The majority of cars on the road are operating on about 80% of optimal tire pressure, and this translates into 144 GALLONS of wasted fuel for a 12,000 mile a year driver.  That’s over $500 a year with today’s fuel prices, which breaks down further into over $40 a month.  (source)

4.  THROWING FOOD AWAY

Statistics vary, but Americans throw away 25% – 40% or more of the food they buy.  That’s hundreds of wasted dollars!  To avoid this, shop your pantry first to ensure nothing expires on the shelves.  Make use of perishables in a timely manner, and after a day or two portion leftovers in freezer containers.  Do this, and you’ll save money on frozen meals – for the cost of what you were already throwing away, you’ve got home made.

5.  SKIMPING ON MAINTENANCE

If you don’t have the money to keep your car well maintained, you’d better have a plan to cover catastrophic repairs.  Don’t want to pay to have your home heat or a/c system serviced?  You may find yourself replacing the entire system years ahead of schedule.  (A side note on maintenance … BEWARE OF THE UPSELL.  Companies get you through the door – or into yours – with cheap “system checks” and then proceed to sell you other services at exaggerated prices.  This is a common scam.  To help avoid becoming a victim, ask friends or neighbors for recommendations, then do your homework on the companies they suggest.)

If you can tackle that short list, you’ll start to notice savings almost immediately – certainly within the week.  It’s like paying yourself to be diligent, and the IRS can’t touch that “income.”  It’s a double win!

It Almost Seems Contrary…

to feel better about debt when you get rid of stuff, but for some reason it works.  The more I STUFF I get out of this house, the better I feel.  And the less STUFF around me, the calmer I am and the better I feel about our progress.  Of course, a calming environment is good for any stressful situation but I’m still amazed by how much it helps.  What the heck am I getting rid of, you ask?

1.  Ebay.  The best kind of outgoing stuff, because I get money in return.  And boy, oh boy, is my mailman probably sick of me!  I’ve shipped several items a day since I listed those cups last week.  I had NO IDEA I’d sell so many!  I’ve got a whole room full of stuff to get up there – literally – but that was a good start.  My weekly listings end tomorrow and everything has bids, so that’s another handful of boxes gone – hundreds of diapers, literally!  I think I have over 400 diapers listed, LOL.

2. Promo stuff.  I just ordered a whole bunch to send to my publisher for a convention, and I’m about to ship it out.  That will take care of another four or five boxes (btw, I paid about $95 for all of it – well within my promo budget – and saved over $300 total).

3.  Baby stuff.  One of my out of state friends is having a girl, so I’ve started packing up some of my baby’s outgrown stuff to send her way.  I’ve been saving it to see if she could use it, and I’m thrilled to pass it along to someone who does.

4.  Trash.  In addition to what the kids break, I ‘m finding all kinds of items which weren’t trash when I put them wherever, but are most definitely on the way out now.  GOOD RIDDANCE!  LOL.

But … it can’t all go away.  We’re about to head out to see about that love seat.  On the receipt from last time the sofa is only $15 more than the love seat.  If they’ll match THAT price, we’ll get the sofa.  I have a feeling we’ll get the runaround, though.  We had a good experience this time and do like our sales associate but my gosh I can not STAND that store.  At any rate, we “found” enough money to pay for this without putting a dent in our budget – some from our cash stash (not to be confused with the emergency fund) and an $86 refund check from our insurance company for good behavior.  It’d be nice to flake it, but it’s equally nice to be able to have folks over and let them sit down.  So, yay.  ;c)

I have about three weeks to come up with the rest of the money to pay for the new kitchen floor if I want to install it before the first party.  That means I need to get listing … guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow?  LOL.  Shouldn’t be much trouble to get there, so yet another thing to be excited about.  Hey, it beats being bummed out, right?

We’re headed out now.  Wish us luck with the furniture store.  GAH.  (LOL!)

 

 

 

So Much for THAT Budget

We picked up the furniture.  Remember we had a $1200 budget and spent $1100?  Yay, us?  Well, after arranging it we decided we wanted another love seat.  (Yes, the room is big enough and heaven knows we can always use more seating with our brood.)  Hopefully we can get it for the sale price, but best case that’s another $300.  Budget blown by at least $200.

BUT, the H is quick to point out, he talked down the price of the truck we just bought by $500.  So he says we’re still ahead.  *I* say we could be ahead by $500 instead of $300ish, but the upside is the furniture is fantastic.  LOVE IT.

My ebay sales are INSANE.  I think I shipped eight different packages today.  I’m not used to so much action on buy it now items.  I usually ship big on Friday and Saturday, so this is odd.  And they were smallish packages so I put one big box out by the road and put everything in it.  My poor mail man took out piece after piece after piece until he finally got out and took the whole box, LOL.  (I expected him to do that anyway.)

I flaked $189 and paid off a medical bill today.  YAY.  Now I need to schedule *12* appointments.  Six for the dentist and six for the pediatrician.  (All of the above will be covered at 100% without a copay, so you’d THINK I’d get off my butt and DO IT, but the idea of actually going to those appointments?  UGH!  LOL.)

In other news, I’m really struggling with keeping the grocery bill down.  I know I don’t work as hard at it as I should so the frustration – for now – is with me and not yet to the point where I feel out of control, but it’s still frustration.  It still stinks.  I need to refocus, but I need the drive to do it first.  I’m in a bit of a slump at the moment, but I don’t have to look far to know how lucky I am.

For now, I’ll just focus on that.

10 Random Facts about Debt

If you didn’t already know how easily amused I am, this will clue you in.  Following are 10 random, fascinating, or otherwise notable facts about debt.

  1. Think you’re alone?  In 2009, 26% of adults said they did not pay all of their bills on time.  (source)
  2. In 2010, consumer debt totaled $2.4 trillion – an average of $7,800 for every man, woman, and child in America.  (source)
  3. In one 2009 survey, 36% of respondents didn’t know the interest rate on their most-used credit card.  (source)
  4. As of the last quarter of 2010, VISA has more debit card users (397 million) than credit card users (269 million.)  Mastercard holders prefer to get a bill with 171 million credit card users versus 123 million paying with debit.  (source)
  5. As of April 2009, Miami residents owed more of their income to debt (22.61%) than those of any other major city in the U.S.  Tampa came in second at 17.1% and L.A. took third at 16.81%.  (source)
  6. At the end of 2010, there were an estimated 181 million credit card holders in America.  Each cardholder is estimated to carry nine cards and $6,500 in debt.  (source)
  7. In 2009, credit card companies raked in a whopping $20.5 billion in penalty fees.  <<That’s practically a donation on your part, folks. (source)
  8. In 2007, 93% of American retirees carried debt.  30% of them considered it a problem.  (source)
  9. As of January 2011, the U.S. national debt increased by a shocking $4 billion a day.  <<Roughly what the cost of oil is doing now, LOL. (source)
  10. As of January 2011, the U.S. government borrows 41 cents of every dollar it spends.  (source)

And, finally, for those of you feeling bored with your own debt, the treasury invites you to make a direct donation toward the U.S. national debt.  (You know you wanna check that out, so click here – I promise not to look.)

Numbers Updated

…and we are now officially more than 50% paid off.  Of course, we still have 100% of our current debt total – now $45,845 – to go, but it beats the 92k we started with a couple of years ago.  My next goal is to edge out those medical bills and get rid of that $3900 car loan.  And that, my friends, is the ONLY kind of blizzard I want to see this year.  I am SICK of snow.

I have ebay going again.  Tons more to list and I’m already getting a bit burned out, but I keep thinking about my new kitchen floor and I’m SO there.  I’ve got exactly a month until our first family birthday part of the year and I want that new floor!

Groceries are expensive.  Gas is expensive.  Sometimes I wonder if the universe isn’t working against the whole getting out of debt thing.  I think my retirement plan is NOT having to feed six kids every night, LOL.  Although I’m not sure what in the world I’ll do with myself when the H and I are the only ones at the table.  Wow.  And speaking of tables, we found one while sofa shopping that we love love love for the new house when we actually have a dining room.  It had a distressed look (you know, what the kids do to the furniture anyway) and will look PERFECT in our house plan, which is a totally modernized Victorian farmhouse.  From the outside it looks 100 years old, but the amenities are amazing.  Why, yes, I AM drooling again.  But to have that GOAL ….  Anyway, needless to say there were no thoughts of buying it.  It just lingers, motivating me.

It’s so hard to believe spring is right around the corner.  And daylight savings.  I looove daylight savings.  Between the extra daylight and the warm weather, I have extra hours to myself each day.  (My kids don’t like or play video games – they play outside here at home.)  And they seem to finish school work faster when there’s a beautiful day waiting.

I bet there will be a lot of those when we’re debt free.

 

Regrouping Again

First of all, what day is it?  My gosh.

Okay, the printer works and ebay listings are going up.  I have about 300 personalized cups to list (don’t ask) and I’m trying to get those listings created so they can all show up at once.  I’m going to get them all in five listings, I think, using the variations.  At any rate, I’m not there yet.  Once those are up, I can get going on the rest of it.  I hope by sheer volume I’ll make some money. ;c)  I need to pay us back for about $90 worth of promo stuff I ordered for a convention (I didn’t have it in paypal) and after that, my next goal is to pay for the new kitchen floor.  It will be less than $400.  I’d love to get it in before the first party of the year on April 9th, and it might be do-able.  Last time I had a set goal I made over $600 in a couple of weeks, and I have even more stuff now than then.  Fingers crossed!

We paid off our smallest loan – it was down to $1380ish.  YAY.  That’s an extra $250 a month (the payment was $215 but I always paid extra).  Our next lowest is at $3970 or so.  Can’t wait to get rid of it!  It’s exciting to make progress.  If we ever get rid of those medical bills I’ll be extra thrilled because there are so many and they just feel like clutter.

On the flipside, we got our new auto insurance policy and I noticed a vehicle on there we took off LAST AUGUST.  I called and had it removed, but I’d already removed it once.  I just didn’t have proof.  So unless I can come up with something I’m going to have to eat the last six months we paid for the insurance.  Grr, but I understand what they’re saying.  Anyone could claim that.  All we did was call DMV to report it sold and they deactivated the tags, so I don’t have proof of that, either.  And at this point a handwritten bill of sale won’t do any good b/c that could be easily faked.  Moral of the story?  ALWAYS RE-VERIFY, no matter what they say.  Sigh.  That failure to follow through on my part cost us $309.  I might be able to come up with something if I contact DMV, so its not over yet, but boy do I feel stupid.

But onward and upward.  Lesson learned.  Moving on. ;c)  Hope everyone has a great day – minus any such lessons, LOL – and I’ll see you here tomorrow.  (No, really!)