Thursday, June 26, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
77.15 - Sold textbook on Half.com
335.00 - Sold Braille machine on Ebay
11.50 - rolled change from change jar
57.83 - refund from Unclaimed money
800.00 - sold comic book collection
10.67 - reimbursement check
$1292.15 - sent to savings
I decided instead of paying off the orthodontist I would slate most of May's snowflake money to savings and pay only a little to the orthodontist. But all in all a good month for snowflakes.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Jump on over to Consumerism Commentary for the 141st edition of the Carnival of Debt Reduction! This carnival is a traveling showcase of the best articles about the process of eliminating debt.
The theme for this week is “Enemies of Doctor Who.” The concept of debt would certainly be an enemy worth the Doctor’s attention, if he had any money.
Thank you to Consumerism Commentary for including my article Free Cash for Snowflaking – Snowflake Report – $57.83
If this is your first time here welcome and please take a look around. There are many articles to help you with debt reduction and saving.
Thanks for stopping by!
If this is your first time at Debt Non Sequitur please take a look around! There are many ideas to help you save money and we hope to see you again sometime!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Since we have to eat while we are here each family picks a night that they are responsible for. Whatever night they pick out, they make dinner for the entire crew, including dessert, and clean up. They are also responsible to bring a game for the grownups to play. This still is not expensive because you can purchase all the ingredients at home and bring them with you to the beach house to assemble. For example we have the first night and we decided to do a pizza bar. We will make several pizza doughs here at the house and bring them to the beach house. The kids will all have mini-pizzas and we will make five larges for the adults. The toppings will already be cut and separated out into Ziplocs that we can take there and when we get ready to cook the kids can all make their own pizzas. I will make the pizza sauce ahead of time at home and bring it as well. Our dessert will be a sundae bar. Again same concept - lots of choices to build your own sundae. I purchased many of the toppings very inexpensively over the last few months when I saw them on clearance or had triple coupons at Harris Teeter. Again this will not be a huge expense and the rest of the nights we can sit back because other families will be cooking and cleaning up! We always take the first day because we want to get it over with and relax for the rest of the week.
We usually do not spend any money when we go on this trip. The kids basically play in the pool, eat, go to the beach, eat, play in the pool, eat, go to the beach, eat, etc. We really do not go anywhere or do anything special just let the kids have fun. Occasionally we will take them to an ice cream shop on the corner or some of the moms will go to the outlet stores but generally we just hang out since everyone lives in different places. It is a time for us to spend together. But the house is big enough that if you do need a break from your in-laws you can hide in your bedroom.
Since I have an ING account (email me for a referral) I create subaccounts that I can automatically deposit money into for different things. One of the subaccounts is labeled vacation and months ago I started deposited a bit each payday so now I have several hundred dollars in there in case I need it. No worrying about if we have enough money in the account to cover the trip or having to take money out of savings if there isn't a surplus in the checking account. We have been saving for this already. Since ING automatically debits this out for me I don't really even realize it is there until I need it. We have another trip scheduled later in the summer and this money will be used for that.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Everytime I go into a store I always have coupons. To make sure that I know what I need to get and to keep the coupons handy I use envelopes. For example, once I have compiled a list of the items I want at a particular store - let's use Target, I will write the items down on the outside of the envelope. I will write the item, the sale price and then in parenthesis what coupon I have for said item. So it might look like this:
Olay Body wash - 3.99- 2.00 (MC) - 1.00 (TC)
I know what item I am looking for, the sale price, that I have a manufacturer's coupon (MC) and a Target coupon (TC) which I can piggyback onto the MC. The coupons are then put into the envelope. I take only this envelope into Target and I only buy only what is on this list. I use this method for grocery stores as well as places like Walgreen's and Rite Aid.
As a side note, recycle the envelopes that you receive in your junk mail. You know the ones you get with credit cards offers that are postage prepaid, etc? Just flip them inside out and glue back together and you have some envelopes - FREE. No need to go out and purchase a box of envelopes if you don't have to. Creative thinking leads to savings.
This method prevents you from needless spending as long as you do not deviate from your list.
Friday, May 16, 2008
My daughter turned nine recently and we needed to throw a party. I am not going to spend a million dollars on a birthday but there are some creative things that you can do to make it unbelievably memorable. Since we had to host 14 little girls and my daughter wanted a spa theme we came up with the idea to do stations where they could get nails done or their feet massaged or a crazy hair up-do, etc.
I enlisted the moms to man the stations - FREE - each mom had a station that she "worked" at and provided a service such as nails, hair, make-up, etc. For the nail station we all brought nail polish so the girls had many colors to choose from (FREE) We already had cuticle trimmers, nail files, lotion for hands, so I only had to buy jewels to glue onto the nail polish - $.49.
- I made goodybags - I used scrapbook paper 4/$1 from Michael's Arts & Crafts and some hot pink boas to make paper cones rimmed with feathers for the goodies bags. They look like hats in the pictures but since it was a spa party we had no need for hats.
The Sign on her chair - cardboard cut to size, fancy font printed on paper and cut out, lined with feather boa.
The Goody Table - tree with pink booms from the side yard, glass bowls from the kitchen to put goodies in, glass container from bathroom - all free. Tulle - $1/yard at Walmart. White sheet to cover the table. Goodies from Dollar Store - for example pink emery boards were a pack of 8 for $1.00.
Food - I made the cupcakes and searched around for any type of bulk candy that was pink. Pretzels covered in chocolate with pink sprinkles, etc. Anything to match the theme. Glass jars on table to store candy I borrowed from friends. I raided four houses.
Having a party doesn't need to be expensive. Come up with creative, inexpensive ideas and it looks like you paid a million dollars for it. Onward snowflaking!
Thursday, May 15, 2008
When I decided that I was going to organize my day in one spot and not sticky notes all over the house I did not run out and buy a Day Timer. I posted on Freecycle that I needed one and lo and behold, the same day I got two replies for people wanting me to pick theirs up to get it out of their hair. I picked it up, stopped off at Target to get some new filler pages and priced the DayTimers there ($12.99 - $24.99) and was proud of myself for saving money.
If you glean anything from this blog know that financial security is really all about preparation and creativity. Try to seek out solutions in a creative manner.
Part of being in debt in the first place is lack of discipline - when you need something you run to the store to buy it. Then it ends up in your yard sale three years later selling for a fraction of what you paid. And don't forget you are still paying for it on your Visa, with interest.
Be in control. When you need something look around first. You might be surprised that you can acquire the item easily and for free.
Back to the Day Timer. I really did not think I was one of those people who could use one of those things and be happy about it. I can imagine that many buy these things with good intentions and then it ends up under some books somewhere never to be used after a month. I was concerned about my being able to write things down in it in a disciplined manner. I have to say after using one for a month that I love this method of controlling my madness. Before I had little post-its everywhere. Now everything is in one spot all nice and neat. The Day Timer sits on my desk and is always open so I can see at a moment's glace what needs to be done and what has been done. I list anything from appointments to what room of the house needs to be cleaned to phone calls that I need to make. After I have finished a task I cross through it with a highlighter. I use highlighters instead of marking through an item so I can still read what the item was and it is easy from afar to see what has been crossed off and what hasn't been. I am not one of those people who cannot rest if there are things left on the list for the day. I merely work on it the following day so I can cross it off. The rule is that is has to be done by the weekend so everything will be highlighted by Saturday. It is wonderful seeing how much I have accomplished. Before all the little lists were thrown away after I finished with them. There wasn't really a sense completion, that I worked hard all week to get a lot done. I knew I had done things through the week but I couldn't tell you everything.
There is something very satisfying and soul satisfying to see your work and what you have accomplished. I love the Day Timer.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
My Five Budget Busters are:
Organic Food – Since we eat only natural, non processed foods I am so tempted by organic food in the stores. You know organic cookies that appear to be Oreo’s or organic frozen dinners which, since they are a whole food and usually just have a few ingredients would be fine on a night when I am too tired to cook. I shy away from those because of the high sodium content but it sure would be nice to have one of those sitting in the freezer for a night off for me.
Home school and Kid’s Books – Hello. My name is ChouChou and I am addicted to home school & kid’s books. I need a 12 step program. I try to do what I can: buying books a yard sales for .25 or buying off the clearance rack at our local used home school store but what is my problem???? For example I went into said home school store yesterday for a new science book since my 11 year old blew through hers in like three months so I went to get her the next grade up so she can start on it. One book. One science book. I walked out of there with a literature book, a study of the Tudor Dynasty book, a science book, and a history book. What is my problem?????
Travel – Lord knows I am a Travel Junkie! Being a homeschooling family does not help the situation either in that if we are studying Williamsburg why can’t we go experience Williamsburg? If we are studying the coral reefs why can’t we go snorkel in the Bahamas (we did this by the way this past September). I really try, I really do, to find the best possible deals, accommodations, eat in our suite, etc. but there is just something about traveling that goes hand in hand with the shocking realization that you have spent too much. I start off with great intentions but when we return I am almost always surprised at how much we have spent.
Starbucks Caramel Frappiccinos – Again, my name is ChouChou and among my many addictions I am also addicted to this particular coffee at Starbucks. I only go into town once a week and will usually get one, so a once a week addiction is not that bad [rationalization] but you can bet that I break out into a rash every time I fork over $4.43 for that thing. But I like the idea of little treats for myself now and then and if my treat is only 4 bucks then I think I can handle it.
Shoes – I think all women like the idea of shoes. I mean who does not like buying new shoes that go perfect with a certain outfit. New shoes do something for the soul. But is it really necessary to have six pairs of black pumps??? Hello, my name is ChouChou and I am addicted to buying shoes.
Okay after writing all that out I have decided that I have an addictive personality. Seriously though, those are the things that tempt me and even though I have a handle on them somehow they creep in occasionally and disrupt my budget. The good news is that since I have become a frugal zealot who is in control of my money the effects are not terribly devastating and that is the key. Once you get your finances under control a little deviation from the plan, even unplanned, is okay and is not the end of the world.
I am supposed to tag three people, so I will tag:
Thrifty Florida Mama
These are great blogs. Please visit them and see what they have to say on this subject.
If this is your first time to my blog welcome! I invite you to please take a look around and learn how we live on a fireman's salary with 4 kids in a 21st century world! There are many ideas and helpful hints on how to save money, make money and reduce your debt.
I thank you kindly for stopping by!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Snowflaking is a wonderful concept. You can read about it here. I mean I love the idea of the debt snowball where you pay off one debt and then apply the amount you were paying to the original debt to the next debt and so on. But snowflaking gives you the sense of mini-successes which I love. They motivate me to keep working towards the bigger debt. Granted you are moving forward while working on your debt snowball but the successes seem fewer and farther between. Chinking away at debt in $2, $8, or $11 weekly increments makes me feel like I am doing something rather than having my successes a couple of months apart or more.
Where to find snowflakes:
- Change around the house - Look everywhere. I mean everywhere. In the couch, in the laundry room, all of the drawers in the house, in the car, the garage, everywhere. I found three dollars in change in the playroom. Who knew?
- Store mistakes - The other day I was at Harris Teeter and they were supposed to take off $3.00 for their store brand organic salsa making it $.29. When they rang me up it did not come off automatically like it as supposed to so they sent me up to customer service to get my money back. the lady at customer service said okay you'll get back $3.14. I asked her if she had to put it back onto my debit card or if she could just give me cash and she said she could give me the cash. I took the money and out it into my orthodontist envelope that I have sitting in my desk. I use any snowflakes to pay down my $1600.00 ortho bill for my son's teeth. But in my mind I had already committed and spent the $53.00 in the original transaction. Getting three dollars back and putting it back into my account seems counterproductive to me [this could just be my bizarre thinking!] but since I know that money has already been spent why not take it and spend it in a snowflake instead? If I had really been on the ball I would have quoted them their store policy which is when an item rings up at the wrong price you get that item free of charge.
- Refunds - Those of you who shop Walgreen's or CVS know the power of refunding. These stores have free items every month where all you have to do is purchase the items and send in the rebate forms and they send you a check or gift card back. They give away these items hoping that you are going to spend more money while youa re in there but little do they know that we hardcore frugal people will not buy anything but what we have gone in there to get. Instead of getting the rebate amount back in a gift card which means you have to spend it at their store get it in the form of a rebate check which is money free and clear that you can deposit at your bank. Take that money and snowflake it.
- Sell your stuff - no brainer here. Sell your stuff on Ebay, Craigslist, wherever you can. Yard sales, etc. You have this stuff sitting aorund your house that is worth money. Pretend it is money. Pretend that book on the shelf is $15.00. Pretend that those shoes in your closet are $21.00 laying on the floor. That figurine in the living room is $11.00 sitting on your entertainment center. If that was real money wouldn't you gather it all up and want to pay off your debt with it? What is stopping you?
- Windfalls - Any money that you were not expecting is considered a windfall. That could be an overpayment to your mortgage company, a rebate stimlus check (hint, hint), a birthday present, whatever.
- Coupon Savings - If you are a couponer at the bottom of your receipt it says how much you saved in coupons and card specials. Every time you go to the store check this amount and immediately throw that amount towards your debt.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Today my husband had dive training with a few other guys from the station. One guy is single. one guy is married, both of them work, no kids. The other guy is divorced, no kids. Then there is my husband - married, four kids. Since my husband is a healthy eater he tends to make his own meals at the fire station. This particular day the training was off site and on a boat for the coast guard. Now that I have set this up let me tell you the host of circumstances that can rob even the most savvy frugal zealot.
There was no warning that training was going to be off-site - This means that my husband was caught off guard and had nothing prepared to grab on the way out the door.
He was on a boat - no refrigeration. Well, you say, he could bring a cooler. Nope, not allowed.
He was hanging out with guys who do not have kids, or are single - these guys decided that hey we are off site, there is a restaurant around the corner - Hey let's go there for lunch! These guys don't really care or watch their finances as closely as someone with children would and were fine with dropping 10-15 bucks on lunch.
Because he was on a boat he couldn't opt out of lunch - Normally he would just skip lunch and wait until they got back to the station to eat but being on a rocking boat and having motion sickness, it is not a good idea to skip lunch since he would be sick the rest of the day.
Alas, he was stuck. He dropped $11.00 for lunch that day. Not a big deal but we don't want to make a habit of it. But my husband was a bit irritated because the guys that he works with do not even think twice about going out to lunch. Husband does not feel as though he is missing out on something by not being of the same mind as those guys but more that he has goals that he wants to achieve and would much rather spend his money on travel or something worthwhile than a fancy salad.
So at the end of the day, be aware of the situations that you could get in, plan for them, so you do not get into a position of being caught off gaurd as my husband did this day. Planning is the secret to frugality and living on less.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
- Invest in Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) - These are pricier than regular light bulbs but will save the earth and your pocketbook from an untimely demise. Throw a couple hundred dollars towards changing all your light bulbs out and reap the savings in your power bill and longevity of the earth.
- Fill your freezer - Your freezer doesn't run as efficiently if all you have is a tub of Chunky Monkey and a Tostinos pizza in there. Consider buying some meats or other items to fill your freezer so a.) you will have a fridge using less electricity and b.) on those weeks where you are short on cash and have little money to spare to buy groceries you can pull that rump roast out of the freezer that you bout 2 months ago and throw it into the crock pot and not have to worry about how you will feed your family this week.
- Get an electric programmable thermostat - $100-200 buys you a regulator that you can program to lower the temperature when you are not home and thus save money over the long haul.
- Invest in a low flow Shower head - Again no brainer here - save the earth and your water bill at the same time.
- Replace all the filters in your house - New filters means the less your systems have to work to clean the air.
- Buy energy efficient appliances - Yes your 14 year old Whirpool washer still works but do you think that thing isn't a water/electricity hog? Donate it to a women's shelter and get a highly efficient model to save on water and electricity bills.
Before you make any decision have all the options in front of you so you are well informed.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Last night I gave a lecture for a local MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers) group in my area about agressive couponing. I showed them everything from how to organize my coupons for maximum efficiency to how to do great "deals" so they can keep more of their money in their pockets. Here are some of the topics we discussed.
I. Types of Coupons - the secret is piggy-backing several coupons for one product
· Manufacturer’s coupons
· Store Coupons
· Catalinas - coupons that print out at register
· Holders to organize your coupons – binder or plastic tub - you can see my organizer here
II. Which Stores Work Best For Couponing
· Harris Teeter
· Walgreen’s - here is a primer on how to maximize savings at Walgreen's
· Rite Aid
III. How To Compile Deals
· Be organized
· Let others do the work for you – Coupon Mom, The Grocery Game, etc.
· Websites that post the deals for you – Money Saving Mom, etc.
· B1G1 Free - use two coupons for two products instead of just one
· Register Rewards (RR’s) - get cash back from Walgreen's
IV. Rebates & Refunds
· Be organized - if you lose you receipts or do not enter them in on time what goood is it?
· Get Rain checks - if other couponers have bought up all the good deals get a rain check so you can make sure you get the item at the same great price
· Roll savings onto Gift cards for no out of pocket expenses or get a check in the mail
· Take your savings and roll onto your next purchase by purchasing iems with your giftcard or put in savings or pay down debt by snowflaking
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I remember when I was eager to get out of debt and save money. I was so hungry for any tips that would help me and motivate me. Unfortunately there is a lot of stuff out there you have to weed through to get to the real tips that you can actually use.
Money Saving Ideas to Get you Out of Debt or increase your savings:
Make a budget - I know I know, everyone says this but it couldn't be more true. Pay everything in list of priority – pay shelter, utilities, food, transportation (PUFT) and first. Then work your way down the list of who gets paid until you are out of money for that month. Pay people in this order:
· Shelter, utilities, food, transportation
· 2nd mortgages/HELOCs
· credit cards
Increase your income - take a second job, part time job, get a better job. This is only temporarily.
Sell stuff on eBay – Since you have plenty of time on your hands because you won’t be eating out or going to the movies, etc. collect all the stuff in your house that you don’t use that is taking up space, plus you have to dust it. Recoup some of the money you spent on frivolous stuff and throw it towards debt or savings.
Have yard sales.
– you know that you are losing brains cells by sitting in front of the tv for hours at a time don’t you?
Loose the cable/satellite
Cut back on extras – No Starbucks Caramel Frappicinos. No new red shoes. No filet mignon. Remember this is only temporary until you can get your bearings. That stuff will always be there.
Ditch anything that is not in PUFT – Blockbuster/Netflicks movie rental – you can borrow movies for free from the library, piano lessons, etc.
Freecycle for what you need – Sign up for your area’s Freecycle and post what you need and someone will have it and email you to come pick it up. You can read about my recent success story here. Stuff that you think you cannot sell on Ebay post onto Freecycle so it does not end up in a landfill.
Collect all of your bills and call each company to get a better rate – again you have time on your hands since you are in lock down from yourself and your bad spending habits. Spend this time calling each company and get them to lower your rates to the very best rate they can offer – this includes your cell phone, insurance (life & car), credit cards, power company (see my post here about how to do this). Every company you deal with wants to keep you as their customer and not loose your business. Use this to your advantage.
With a few major and minor adjustments you can get yourself out of debt or increase your savings. Sure it will be difficult. Sure it might not be much fun.
But just as you teach your children that they must suffer the consequences when they make a bad choice the shouldn't the same be for you?