Friday, September 28, 2007

Being Prepared

Ok, Yes I was a Girl Scout and I like to think I am prepared. After my car decided not to work yesterday I was talking to some folks in the office only to find out most people don't have what I consider the basics in their car-flashlight, jumper cables, blanket, etc.

Somewhere along the line, I had a friend whose mother insisted all her children and childrens friends carry the below list of items in their car

1) Blanket

2) Jumper Cables

3) Heavy Duty Flashlight

4) Decent Set of Maps

5) $20 in case of emergencies, some of this should be change for a pay phone (this was pre-cell phone days)

6) Small shovel in the winter.

Following her advice for many years I do carry all of the above, plus my new jump start gizmo in a big LL Bean canvas bag in my car. I still have the emergency money (though I did dip into it one time for gas money, but I replaced it).

Like I said in my previous post, the jump start gizmo (known as a jump start pack) has been one of my best purchases this year. I've lent it out to about 4 people who have been stranded someplace with a dead battery (and no jumper cables to get a jump from another car). I was told by a friend of mine to buy one and I wish I had had it when my car battery decided to die one day at one of those mini mart gas station places. It did not help that after I was able to get a jump, that one reason my battery died was that it was the original car battery and about 6 years old, but that is another story. Had I had this gizmo, I could have gotten my car started and gone on my way instead of practically attacking strangers asking for a battery jump. At 6:30 AM at some little mini-mart in the middle of the country, I was not pleased to be stuck.

You can find these gizmos at Costco, probably BJ Wholesale Club, Wal-Mart and probably most auto supply stores. I recommend getting one for peace of mind.

Sometimes You Have to Really Love Your Neighbors

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned my car was running a little funny and would probably need some work. Well that day came sooner, rather than later. Yesterday it decided it did not want to start. It has a fairly new battery, but I tried a jump anyway to see if for some reason the battery was running down. No such luck. To say I was unhappy in an understatement. Being stuck at my house at 8:30 AM, no decent tea or coffee and a non working car made me an unhappy person.

I have this great item that is a portable battery jumper. I got it at Costco for like $50 and it has been great. A friend of mine recommended it to me (no TOLD me I needed to have this item) after letting his battery die one time in the middle of nowhere. It can jump start your car, has an air compressor to inflate a tire, and also has a light so if you are really stuck, you have some light. The only thing this model does not have is a standard plug to plug in a low voltage item. I carry this in my car for all of my away trips and it's already been used about 4 times by other people. I can't tell you the number of people in this world who don't carry jumper cables in their car.

I woke up my neighbor (not realizing she had gone to bed at 4 AM) and she also tried to jump the car with me (in case my gizmo was not working), still no luck, the car would almost start, almost turn over, then would die. My very nice neighbor gave me the keys to her daughters car and said take it! My very nice neighbor also helped me get my car towed to the garage by using her auto club towing service ($50 compared to the $152 I was quoted by the local tow service). My very nice neighbor is letting me use the kids car again today.

The garage I took my car to is a new one to me, it was recommended by a co-worker and I thought I'd give it a try. So far the report has been a good one. Instead of some massive repair bill, they have told me I need new spark plugs, new wires, an oil change (that was on my weekend agenda anyway) and a bit of a tune up. So my visions yesterday of an outrageous repair bill hopefully is gone. The tune up obviously bites into my car fund budget, but when your only source of transportation needs work, you have to make it work.

I'm filling up the borrowed car with gas (something the neighbors daughter will love when she gets home from university tonight) and am planning on getting my neighbors a small gift to thank them for their kindness.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Link of Note

Part of my whole bankruptcy process is also doing research on line and finding forums and web where I can go to get information on the whole process.

One web site I found was What I like about the site is the user forums. There are forums on Credit Repair, Dealing with Collection Agencies, Bankruptcy, Creditors and collection agency databases. You can link to their forums here

There are also links to their other sites on insurance, mortgages and credit in general.

What I like about this site and the forums are you are hearing from real people with real problems, some of them heartbreaking, some inspiring and some really great advice from folks who have had to go through the same process.

For those looking for information, I suggest you check out the site and the associated links as part of your personal research.

Just Trying Not to Lose My Temper, The ups and downs of it all

Probably one of the nice (if you can say that about this process) parts of going bankrupt, is when these nasty bill collectors call, I can refer them to my attorney's office and I get at least a little peace and quiet. At this point in the process, I know letters have been sent to each creditor so they have been notified. The number of calls has dramatically dropped. Except for one company.

I had told one such credit card company that called that I was filing and to contact my attorney, they said they would. They instead sold my account to a collections agency for more aggressive collections. This agency sort of stepped it up a notch, they must have Googled me because they called an acquaintance/sort of friend of mine who lives across the country looking for contact information. I have my name on a public web site for some outside work. It has my current contact information, so why the need to harass some poor volunteer, I don't know. It's hard to find my name on Google, I mean I'm back a good 5 pages if that and then it's linked to a small reference on this web site. My own personal web site that I've been working hard on to get better search engine rankings for my outside business doesn't even come up under my name. I know, because I look! I had to call said agency AGAIN, tell them my attorney contact information AGAIN and tell them if I found out they called friends, acquaintances, family, I would report them to the State Banking Commission for harassment. I also Googled them and it seems that this particular company's collection practices border on the illegal if not illegal with some. (Ripoff Report was an excellent read). I'm also sending them a certified letter with above information just as a CYA.

Their messages to me this week have been. "We want to work with you to resolve this" sort of thing. HA! Had said credit card company worked with me 9 months ago, I might not be in this position. I really had to laugh, I really did. When it became apparent to me that I was getting in way over my head and tried to set up a payment plan, these folks did not want to play. It was all or nothing as far as they were concerned. And at that time I only had partial, which to them is nothing.

Believe me when I tell you had I been able to pay it all months ago or pay at all, I would have. But to have to deal with these idiots even post filing is just a pain in my rear. I kinda wonder what part of the following line they don't understand "I have retained legal counsel and am filing for bankruptcy, all further communications about this account must be referred to my attorney's office at the following number 555-555-55555. I do not authorize any further communication from you to my home, friends, family, or work numbers. To do so is considered harassment and will be reported to the authorities."

I guess even though I think I speak clearly and in English, I really must be speaking bastardized French-UGHH

To be continued

Is it Fall yet?

It's the end of September and it's supposed to be like 88 degrees today. It's humid, it's sticky and it's not fun anymore. I'm really in the mood for things like warm days (high 60s/low 70s) and nice cool nights.

I like the hot weather in the summer, not in the fall. This is not Alabama, this is not Florida, this is the Northeast of the USA and darn it, we need fall!

The sun tea I made just doesn't taste right and I am actually getting tired of salads. Despite the warm weather, I am starting to crave things like hearty soups and stews, good solid comfort, fallish food.

Sometimes the US Goverment Rocks

Last week I stopped by my local SSA office to get a replacement Social Security Card. I lost my only other card after having it for like 30 some odd years. I think I shredded it by accident over the winter. I looked in all my usual and some unusal hiding places and never found the old card.

I "ordered" the card on Wednesday and it was in my mail on Tuesday. The very nice clerk at SSA office told me it would take 7-10 days at the earliest to get the card. It took about 4 days. Now to find a new and secure hiding place for this card.......

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Some Days I Just Feel Lucky

Today I had to go on the road for work. We tend to forget to stop and smell the roses, or just enjoy the view. Here is my view that I had eating a picnic lunch today. Nice isn't it?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

And Finally

And Lastly, this is how I feel about some things in my life now

You Are Elektra

"You don't know how I feel. I want revenge."

Another bit of Fun

This is so True! I love London

You Belong in London

A little old fashioned, and a little modern.
A little traditional, and a little bit punk rock.
A unique soul like you needs a city that offers everything.
No wonder you and London will get along so well.

A Little Fun

Your 1920's Name is:

Dessie Violette

How this all Happened and What's Going to Happen Next

I took a few days break from blogging because I was short on time, my internet connection at home sucks, and I needed to get my head together. This will be a long one and will include some new blogs of note, and my plan for the next week.

As I posted earlier, I had my "signing session" at my attorney's office. Other than me not remembering that I needed to fork over extra money (filing fee, title search), it went rather well. I talked to the paralegal yesterday and she is filing the paperwork with the court. It seems these filings are all done electronically now. The next steps are to look in my mail for a court date and I'll have to trek down to Federal Court for the hearing. If all things go as they should, I'll be able to keep my house, maybe keep my Rollover 401K (now a Roth), and be able to get my life back on track. Or so says Ladies in the Red.

Somewhere in someones's blog comments, was a comment that Bankruptcy was the easy way out. I reiterate it is not the easy way out. It was a difficult and long thought out decision to file. Like so many people, it hit me hard. The Tough Broad describes how even without being thirty days late on a credit card payment, even being one day has a way to hike up your interest rates. That happened to me. Like Ladies in the Red, I too had a side business and a personal guarantee on it and it went ass over tip and so did my investment. And like Ladies in the Red, I lost my money. Unlike Ladies in the Red, I think I will be able to keep my house and my bank account (the UK system is different than the US system, but the stigmas are the same and it sounds like the courts there take all your assets, your money and the banks close your accounts OUCH.)

The funny thing is, I work in management and sales and a lot of my income was commissioned based. I balanced budgets, ran departments, managed a staff of 21 and made money for my company. Somewhere along the line, I totally lost control of my own finances. I kept thinking I could control what was happening to me, our sales would increase and so would my commissions and bonus, and I could pay down more debt. My side business really was not in danger of floundering as badly as my partner and I thought it would, I thought I could get an additional part time job to make ends meet (part time jobs that met my schedule were almost non existent, most part time jobs in my area are non existent). It still amazes me how successful I was at my job and I could not make it translate to my personal life. Where did I go wrong? God I lived in such a fantasy life!

I had stopped almost total use (emergencies only) of credit cards for a number of years and all I did was work on paying down the balances. I'd pay my minimum plus extra on each card. I transferred balances so I could pay down and get rid of cards. For a while, it was working, then the couple sort of late payments and the drastic rise in interest rates. A couple cards came down after a lot of time on the phone, a couple did not. My personal life also seemed to take a weird turn and it seemed like all my good luck in life came to a grinding halt. I felt like someone had cursed me (seriously-I went from really good to moderately bad to freaking miserable in a few short months) My minimum amount due increased and the progress I was making paying down balances came to a grinding halt. One credit card minimum due more than doubled, I first thought I had missed a payment, I had not, it was the increase in the interest rate and the increase in the minimum amount due. I had a minimal emergency fund that I dipped into when I should not have (unexpected dental visit, unexpected home improvement emergency). All of the above plus some other really stupid financial decisions ALL added up. Last summer I lost my job, I also had an unexpected $1000 medical emergency (my health insurance was a $5000 deductible plan and at the time no HSA) and my side business cost me the rest of my savings (I bailed out of the business a month later when it was apparent my partner and I were not going to be successful and I could not spend anymore money on it and they were not willing or able to live up to their part of the partnership work wise or money wise-can you say Betty the Doormat?) and I while I got a new job almost immediately, it did not start for three weeks. Between the medical emergency, the lag in unemployment (would have only been one week of salary), the side business draining my account, I just lost control and silly me, I stopped paying my bills to pay my mortgage, buy food, pay my electric bill. I just got soo depressed.

It all came to head months later. I got served with a summons, try as I might to negotiate a payment plan with one company, they did not want to set up a plan (I had set up a special repayment plan with Bank of America when they bought out my old CC, it was a reasonable and prudent plan and the those folks did not make me feel like I was evading my responsibilities, they worked with me to come up with a reasonable plan) and the Marshall came by my house with a summons. That is what finally drove me to my attorney's office and now here I am. 43, facing bankruptcy, facing a major life change, and wondering if I will be able to keep my house and if indeed I have hit bottom and can I bounce back. My house needs repairs, my car needs work, two of my dogs hate each other and are making me crazy (one is for sale or free to a good home, they are good with people and other dogs, just hate each other) my computer is on it's way out, my body feels like it is breaking down. When I get stressed I eat, I've eaten so much that I've gained two sizes (not good).

Finding Ladies in the Red was a breathe of fresh air yesterday. Here is a woman who had it all and lost it all. Her list of famous people who have declared and survived bankruptcy was a good read. Even though her experience with insolvency (I like that term so much better than bankrupt) was horrible, she has made lemonade out of lemons. Ms M&P wrote and said she had a friend who declared bankruptcy last year and is on her way back up.

Part of my process for this year is trying to use the Law of Attraction and Creative Visualization to put me in a better frame of mind and to help get back my focus. I put together a poster of various sayings, goals, and pictures of things I'd like to accomplish/have this year and two of the sayings where A Fresh Start and Starting Over. By using this process I have achieved two of my goals and am working on achieving the others.

I think that once I survive the court date, I will have a Fresh Start to Start Over with my life. Having these Personal Finance blogs to read has also been very helpful. I cheer when a Tough Broad reports she paid off a credit card and I can relate living like a college student. You do what you have to do to make it work. I love the post Saving Diva had on inexpensive cosmetics, I think it's great Krystal at Work as maxed out her RRSP this year (though I wonder how she manages to work as much as she does and play in all those hockey leagues, far too much energy for me!). Laughing at Gilded Butterflies writes wonderfully about sensibly using her credit card to manage her life and finances to help simply her life. Even though Jenn Lancaster is not a true PF blog, reading her books really make me laugh. I too have dumbed down my resume to get a job, any job, have spent a ton of time tanning (melanoma be dammed) and I admire her dedication to lose all that excess weight (it has inspired me to find a way to afford a gym membership again, I could stand to loose at least 30 if not 45 pounds myself) and can't wait to read the new book when it comes out. I'm totally envious of Karyn Bosnak for coming up with the novel idea to grub shamelessly on line for money and one of my favorite lines (Swipe, sign and it was mine). Each time I read a new blog, I find some great blog links, some PF, many not, most pretty darned good reads!.

My plan for the rest of the month is to lay low, keep working on the decluttering of the house and my life (I have not let my desk get out of control in three weeks). I've put some books on, but no takers yet. Probably time for a price reduction or a change in inventory. Since I don't have any spare money to spend on anything (I had the shopping spree and the other attorney's fees), I will re-evaluate my budget progress for the past month, plan my October budget and work hard on visualizing a new and better life for me and my dogs. Keep blogging folks!

The SSA Office

I guess one advantage to living in a fairly rural area is the local Social Security Office is usually not busy. I stopped in at lunch and ten minutes later I was out the door, new SS card ordered. I lost my old card (I think I shredded it by accident when I was shredding old, dead credit cards). New one to be to me in the mail in 7-10 days. I need a card for my court hearing.

I think I'll put this one someplace really safe. I thought I had done that with my other one :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Taking a Break,Taking Note, and updating

I've been taking a break from blogging. The main reason is my home computer is at war with the internet, takes forever to access the web or download e-mail. Too much of a pain at the moment for me to deal with and my ISP bill is going to be huge next month. I'm on dial up at home (yes I live in the dark ages).

I have been spending my lunch breaks reading other peoples blogs, old archieves, etc. It's nice to see improvement in peoples lives! I'm hoping to post some new blogs in my blog roll and links to some of the very interesting posts.

My own update is very small. I had my meeting with my attorney last week, signed all my paperwork, had to write out another check (this time my fault) for the filing fee and title search on the house. It all feels so weird. Someone posted in another persons blog that bankruptcy was the easy way out. Take my word on it, it's not. And coming back from bankruptcy is no easy journey either.

Writing out the check for the last set of fees was a little unexpected. I had hoped to earmark that money for my student loan and computer fund. I'm trying to get a head on my SL. Student Loans are not forgivable debts, and I still have about $6500 to pay back to the government.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Few More Strides

I had my second meeting with the attorney's office yesterday, signed all the paperwork that needed to be signed, and was pretty much told that I won't lose my house. HUGH relief. I had no idea where I would be able to live with my animals. I'd be hard pressed to find affordable housing in this area, much less housing with my animals. Plus what I pay in a mortgage is cheaper than most rents. That house purchase was probably the smartest thing I did in the past 7 years.

I do have to stay current on my mortgage payments (which except for one month when it was 5 days late, I am) and I should be ok. Should be, so keep your fingers crossed. The bank still has the final say. The attorney's office still needs to do a title search and one last credit check, then everything gets sent off.

I will need to get a new Social Security Card. I can't find mine and I was told I'd need it for the filing. I did stop by the local SSA office only to find out they closed at 4 (I was there at 4:40 PM), I'll see if I can sneak out at lunch tomorrow and apply for a new card. I downloaded the application this am, filled it out, but you need to be there in person with valid photo ID. I'm hoping since we are a fairly rural area that this process won't take too long.

Anyway. I'll be back with some cool blogs and links in a bit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Making Strides

I took my on line credit counseling course this AM. My computer at home was not cooperating with the internet so I snuck in to work early and took the course. It was easier than I thought it would be and pretty much was a repetition of the worksheets I had from the attorney's office. I now have my certificate number (I have to call in and speak to a counsellor, pay my fee, and then they will send me my copy).

I am soo glad this part is over. The good part about this on line course was that it gave good clear consise explanations of the process I am going through. Better than what I have gotten from my attorney's office.

It has been and continues to be a rollercoaster ride through this process. I have taken out a lot of my frustrations by eating and drinking (beer, fattening beer). I eat for comfort when I am stressed. I've been trying to avoid the stress eating by doing some stress walking. I'm hoping the exercise endorphins will make me feel better and keep me away from the fridge.

The Weekend Round Up

The money spent

Gas: $51.49
Outlet Shopping: $184.88
(2 shirts, 2 skirts, 2 prs shoes, 1 pr sunglasses, 1 totebag)
Misc. Eats and Treats: $12.91

Total Spent: $266.28

I have "leftover gas" from the trip and probably won't have to do my weekly fill up until Friday. I'm still debating on the additional shirt, keep or go back. I think I'll try it on tonight and make my final decision then. That would put me almost back on budget for the clothes shop. The miscellaneous eats and treats was coffee and a muffin at Duncan Donuts each morning and lunch at the local fair we went to. The burger booth did not do receipts. Costs were low because I stayed with freinds (no hotel and no additional food fees) I made a side dish with things I had at home (except for a small packet of frozen peas) for our pot luck. Good friends that they are, they did not expect a hostess gift. Instead, I helped to weed some flower beds which was a better gift to the family than a bottle of wine or other treats.

As I state earlier, the clothes budget for the fall is done and dusted. No more new purchases. All my money now is going towards my car and computer fund.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Frustration Factor 2B

And the Beat Goes On... or so goes that old Sonny and Cher song. I caught up with my attorney's office and guess what! I was told I had to take my financial course before I could file! I also was told we had to re-adjust my current amount of funds on hand. That was easy to do, I had just paid a load of bills and had taken money out for my weekend away.

The paralegal gave me the name of a course I could take on line (I wish she had recommended this to me weeks ago). I'll do it tonight after I tidy up the house and deal with the dogs. It's a bit of a disaster from flying out of the house on Friday and then coming home late last night and not property unpacking. Plus it got all hot and humid over the weekend and the house was uncomfortably warm. I was in no mood to clean up after myself, all I wanted to do was crash into bed with the fan on. I'll just have to do it today.

I'm still sitting here wondering what the heck is going on with this whole ah, adventure. I feel like we could have had this done a month ago but all I get is bits and pieces of communication from these folks.

Ah well, it is what it is right now!

Just Some Thoughts

I can add to Frustration Factor 2b later, as they say, The Beat Goes On. I went away for the weekend to see some freinds and at least the 5 hour car ride gave me some time to think and think about my situation. But just some other random observations of my weekend

I budgeted $160 for personal shopping this weekend. It is pretty much my clothes budget until mid winter. I was in an area of great outlet stores. I don't have all my recipets here, but pretty much this is what I ended with: 2 pairs of shoes which can be worn year round (and one pair is soooo comfy) $90, 2 skirts (ended up being 70% off), 2 shirts, 1 pr new sunglasses and one new tote bag $80. I think I went over my budget a bit, the shoes were a tad more expensive than I normally pay, but they are both comfortable and can be used year round. Both pairs are replacing two very old pairs of shoes, the sunglasses replacing a pair that are too scratched to really see out of (and i did buy an inexpensive eyeglass case to protect this pair) 1 shirt I may be returning, I got home and went to put it in the closet and thought, hum, I really don't like you all that much. That may drop me back to my budge range.

The good part was I stopped shopping after I scored the two skirts on the big sale. The skirts were on my list of things I needed. I got them, I stopped shopping. The old me would have tried one more store.

Just like going to the grocery store, keeping to a list was very helpful. :)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Frustration Factor 2

I called my attorney's office today and finally got a hold of the paralegal doing my filing. She now tells me that she can't accept my faxed copies of items I sent early last week and I need to give her all the originals. Two weeks ago, she told me faxed copies were fine, she never told me the copies did not scan well. Now I totally understand they moved offices last week and moving is difficult enough, but still, she has my home, work and mobile numbers, what the F&(C()?


I am very frustrated for a couple reasons

1) I used this particular law firm because I have used them in the past. I used the other partner for both my personal real estate transactions and my office has used the firm. No complaints, very prompt, very efficient. Not the case with this attorney and his paralegal in the firm.

2) They were not cheap compared to other attorneys, but I was relying on my past experience with this firm for prompt professional service and telling me what I needed to do and when, that has not happened at all. I can't help myself unless I'm told things.

3) Time is of the essance and time is slipping away. I had the majority of my paperwork into them by the beginning of June. I was told at the end of June/beginning of July that the process was started, but both the attorney and paralegal would be on vacation for 10 days. No problem. I was told all I needed to get to them was my CMA on my house and a copy of my retirement account statement. It did take longer than anticipated to get the CMA, a freind of mine did it for me as a favor and that took a few weeks, but this is just making me crazy.

I feel like I am being stymied at every turn this week. I am desperaterly trying to move forward, make concrete plans and get my life back on track.

The realization here is the court could tell me I need to sell my house, or sell it out from under me (I hope not, I pay less in my mortgage for my small house than most people pay in rent and I can have my dogs), I could be ordered to dispose of my retirement account. I have no other asessts other than those two items.

These things scare me, scare me a lot. When I had my second consultation with said firm, they pretty much assured me that the court would probably let me keep my house as I've been able to afford it, was not behind on my mortgage and my income showed I could keep making the payments. The way this is being handled does not thrill me, impress me or instill any sort of confidence in this whole procedure.

I can't cry, I'm at work, I can't scream, I'm at work. I will probably go home and eat my way through this. No wonder I have to buy new pants.

I feel like it is three steps back and no steps forward this week.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Progress and Update

I'm a bit turned around this week,not posting as I should, but an update non the less~ due to two small checks coming in the mail, I have been able to update my progress. I've added the money from the extra work to the appropriate account. Nice to see it increase. I need to add in my Student Loan (yes I'm STILL paying off student loans.) to my side bar.

I did price computers on line today. My boss said I could have one of the monitors from the office (15 inch flat panel). That will save me some money. I built a basic computer on line and it went form $399 to $700 by the time I added in the software that I need and that was without the monitor.

I paid my bills for the first part of the month (student loan, phones, electric). I wondered why my electric bill was so high, then I realized because of my (now former) messy desk, I did not pay the July bill. Even with running an AC, my August bill was comparable to last year. I am curious to see what the bill will be for September. I also went around and unplugged all the unneccessary electronics and am curious to see if there is a change in my rate.

Monday, September 3, 2007

September Goals

I guess what I have learned this weekend between my grocery shopping and my weekend that I tend to justify too many purchases and I have to work on these "treats" and budget better. That will be one of my September goals

September Goals

1) Stop justifying purchases as treats. Examine why I feel the need to treat myself with various purchases and work on it!

2) Be better about planning and budgeting. The budget needs to be worked on.

3) Get that pay per post up and running and ad-sense up and running on my blog.

4) Seek a part time job and ear mark that money for an emergency fund and new to me car fund.

As I pointed out earlier, I spend about $25 on things I really did not need or want. That is $25 that can be put to better use (student loan, utilities, car fund) and I have to work on my impulse and then justify spending the money. Can't keep doing it, it is distracting from my monetary goals.

I'm all for a treat to oneself. Even when someone is on a budget, a little treat or indulgence is good for the the soul, but my treat to myself this moth is going to be going outlet shopping next weekend. I have budgeted money for my weekend trip away. I am visiting friends this upcoming weekend and they live in a town with some great outlet stores. I know what stores are there, many of them have good deals and after assessing my wardrobe, I need a couple items (socks, underwear, shoes, a couple items of clothing) that I can't get at the thrift shop or consignment shop. I will take cash out of the bank on Thursday and use only cash (not my debit card) to purchase those items. The old me would have used my credit cards and said budget be dammed. I know in an earlier post I went through a needs and wants list and really needed very little (slippers) but that was before I did a purge of my wardrobe. I'm lucky that I work in an office where I can be casual, but even my casual wardrobe is starting to look shoddy. A few key pieces are what I need and I have my list written down and already in my wallet for the shopping expedition.

I guess my question to folks is. 'What do you do to stop the urge to buy or justify a purchase when working on a budget"?

Given my predicament, I'm trying not to drift back into my old spending habits. And it's hard.

Where Does $100 Go?

On Friday I got out $100 to have as my spending money for the weekend and upcoming week. This is how it broke down

$9.85-drug store

$10.30-take out food (ate left overs for Saturday lunch)


$2.00-lotto (hope springs eternal!)


$3.00-fresh corn


$17.50-odd lots store

$5.30-DIY store odds and ends

$6.50-grocery store

$5.00 Braclet

Total: 84.75

I was too tired on Friday to cook (and this seems to be a recurring theme on Fridays), so I ordered in some food from the local pizza place. There was enough to have the leftovers for lunch on Saturday. I also got a 6 pack of beer that has lasted the weekend (A cold beer with my picnic supper on Sunday was part of the perfect meal). I'm finding that my Friday routine is stopping off for a bottle of wine or some beer and ordering a takeaway meal when I have a fridge full of food.

I had a day out with the girls on Saturday to the local garden center and I bought a plant for my garden. I had weeded my gardens and had a gaping hole in the flower bed by the front gate. I read some where that you should always grow lavender by your garden gate and I saw this great big healthy plant and treated myself to this. Could I have passed on this plant, probably, but the garden looks better and I feel better and the lavender has a heavenly smell.

I'm looking over the receipt from the odd lots store and as I look over it, it's is the one purchase I should have just not made. I decided to try out this particular odd lots store (the one closer to me is very small and sometimes does not have great inventory) to see if this one was better stocked. It really was not. I wasted my time, gas and money. I wandered the isles and bought things for the sake that I did not want to walk out of the store empty handed. There were only two things I really needed to get (a disposable pan for a pot luck picnic I'm going to next weekend 89 cents and a new pair of gardening gloves $5). I had also been looking for a citronella candle (still a bit buggy at night and I sit on my patio), but none to be had, too late in the season. I ended up spending $12 on items I really did not need and did not want. And I'm down $12 of my mad money cash.

Weekend Update

I ended up having a good weekend of not doing a whole heck of a lot. It's has been almost a year since I have had three full days off at home. I got my desk cleaned off, organized some files, picked out a couple books to sell on, got my laundry done, did my food shop for the first part of the month. I will say that the grocery shop was more money than I thought it would be, I spent $57 on groceries and almost spit when I forked over the money. That was just over one third of my monthly food budget on the second day of the month. I looked at the receipt when I got home and almost everything I bought was store brand, which is fine and I got a number of staples that I was out of at the house. I did buy four 'expensive' items, a package of two steaks (but with a $2 off coupon), couple pounds of ground beef, a bunch of pencil thin asparagus, chopped walnuts and fresh grated cheese.

I used the walnuts and grated cheese to make pesto this weekend. My basil plants are perfect for pesto and I made two batches to freeze. I sort of choked when I realized the grated cheese was $7 (and not even a full pound) but fresh cheese is key in pesto. I love making things like pesto and even thought the basic ingredients were a bit pricey, come the middle of the winter, the taste of summer will be worth it. The steaks were a steal. Two nice steaks that I can grill and make two meals out of each one (dinner and then leftovers for a sandwich or on my salads). I also got enough burger to make 7 burgers, that are pre-formed and neatly wrapped in my freezer waiting to be grilled for suppers. I will admit, I love a good burger. The asparagus was a pure impulse buy and treat to me.

I did splurge yesterday and make a grand picnic supper, steaks, local tomatoes with fresh basil and onions, asparagus, local corn, steamed broccoli and some hollandaise sauce. The corn, onions and tomatoes I got at the local farm. I picked up some decent looking broccoli from the reduced produce isle at the store and I had a grand time cooking the meal. If I tried to make this meal, I probably would have had made a mess out of it. I had enough food to feed at least two people and the good part is I get to have the leftovers I want to eat.

The trip to the Laundromat ended up being a money saver. The dog decided that it would be FUN to pee on my bedding, ugh, gross, not just on the corner of the blanket, but he hopped on the bed and peed in the middle of it. Why, I'm not 100% sure, but it meant that I had drag all the bedding (and I did a load of dog laundry as well) to the Laundromat. I have a small portable machine at home; it hooks up to the sink, but can not handle things like blankets or all the dog laundry. The weather was great, so my only consolation was that I could hang everything on the line to dry. I spent $5.50 on three loads of laundry. I ended up saving myself around $40. As I was waiting for the last load to finish I picked up an old home improvement magazine. There was an article on how to give your vacuum cleaner an overhaul. Since my vacuum is not working as well as I'd like, I thought I give it a try. I spent part of my afternoon doing a mini tune up on my vacuum, and lo and behold, the vacuum works a lot better! It would have cost me $45 to have the vacuum repair shop do what took me 15 minutes with a little help. The laundry dried courtesy of the sun and the wind and I now have clean, fresh bedding for my bed.

All in all, a good weekend.!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Just Some Random Thoughts

I have had a pretty good day overall. Did a little work for work this am, but spent the rest of the day visiting with friends, going out to lunch (and got treated to lunch, even better!), window shopping, and generally doing not much of anything in the most delightful way. The highlight of my day was going to a local church gift shop, they feature crafts from around the world and I bought a really nice copper bracelet for $5. That was probably the best $5 I've spent in the past month.

I did manage to clean off my desk, file some papers, and do a perusal of my food cabinets. Tomorrow morning early, I need to go the the laundromat, and the do a brief grocery shop and I'm hoping to spend most of the day in the garden weeding and just hanging out.

I did not hear from my attorney's office last week, so I will call them on Tuesday and find out where things stand on my filing and then take it from there.

I took some money out of my account for the weekend and so far, I've not gone too crazy with it. A shop at the drug store, a plant, the bracelet, orderd some food from the local pizza place (ate the extra for dinner this evening), I'm going to see if I can make this money last until next weekend!