Friday, December 28, 2007

Tale of the Tape to Be Posted Later and January Goals and Budget

I've down loaded my bank statement for the month and will be cross referencing it with my receipts over the weekend and will post my Tale of the Tape then.

I do already have a few January Goals as I've already stated, but here is a new one for me

Plan a zero based budget for February.

Since I've started this blog, I've put myself back on a budget, but while I was easing myself into it, I did not have a zero based budget. I needed a few months to figure out what my expenses were and where I could, can and must cut back. Like I've stated before, I'm in a huge re-learning curve with my personal finances.

Having a zero based budget will make me more accountable for those things I'm currently marking "miscellaneous" and should not be.

If I am serious about saving for a new to me car (and darn it I am), I need to be serious about doing a zero based budget. I know I can afford a new car, now to budget for it and be accountable for all my income.

No Spend Day #6

Yesterday was no spend day #6 and I had hoped to make today no spend #7, but I just realized I left my lunch at home on the kitchen table, so out to buy my lunch!

It's the little things that are killing the no spend days......

The Need to Purge Possessions

Like so many folks, I read my horoscope on a daily basis. For a number of years, I have been a fan of Yasmin Boland. I just really like her site and her 'scopes. The following message was on her home page this morning:

Friday December 28 – Moon into Virgo
As we cruise through “Christmas Week” the skies are quiet, in readiness for New Year.
This is a good time to start to work out your New Year’s Resolutions, as the next major astro link is between Mercury and Saturn – the planet of the mind and the planet who makes this stick. It’s also an excellent time to do any end of year decluttering that you want to get done pre-2008. The quick rule of thumb is to go through your pile of stuff, hold each item and ask “Do I love it?” and if the answer is no, throw it in the bin before you change your mind! Decluttering is very good for raising the energy in your home

Last night I took a good look around my small little space and decided I really needed a good declutter. I'm feeling a little claustrophobic in my space and I know I have a bunch of possessions that just need to go. Plus I'm running out of room in what limited storage I do have! This part of my life is getting out of control. What really bothers me is my desk is becoming a repository for all sorts of things. I'm not using my lap top on a regular basis, so I find I'm just dumping stuff on the desk top and not filing, puttting away, etc.

I'm hoping to spend an exciting Saturday Night purging possessions so I can take them to the dump or Goodwill on Sunday or post on Freecycle or Craig's list. The stuff just needs to go.

I've given myself a goal this weekend to be fairly ruthless in picking out the things that can stay and the things that can go. And if I'm really good about this, it will help clean out space in my kitchen so I can paint it on New Years Day and start 2008 with a freshly painted kitchen.

Books are selling

I listed a bunch of books on just before Christmas and they are slowly selling. Which is good. Slow is ok for the new ones. I've earmarked any funds from those sales to my DVD purchase allowance. I still have a number of books in my inventory that have not sold. I'm going to bunch them in a bag as see if I can sell them on Craig's List. If not, as part of my decluttering plan, I'll take them to Goodwill or the local library as a donation.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Doing My Part To Be a Bit Greener

Not only will I be more "green", but I'm hoping I will reduce my energy consumption. My electric bill came the other day and I was more than a little surprised to see my energy consumption rose (almost doubled) November 2007 vs. November 2006. Thus my electric bill was higher than I anticipated. My local utility company has had two rate hikes this year and I am planning for larger bills than last year, but I was surprised to see that I supposedly used more electric this year than last for that time frame. I have this memory of being home more in November 2006 and using the electric heat, more lights, etc. I guess not!

Since it was part of my plan, I changed as many light bulbs as I could to CFL bulbs, I have the ceiling fixture in my bedroom to go. I don't have that many items that are plugged in and are sucking energy, but I did unplug my hardly ever used VCR and the USB hub for my home computer.

I did notice that I've been in the bad habit of leaving a lot of lights on when I'm home that I don't need. For example, I had four lights on last night, I only needed one. Why I had all four on is beyond me, my house is not that big and with only me in it, it's not like someone else will be stuck in a dark room. Off the lights went and I just have to remind myself I don't need all those lights on!

Sent in the Paperwork And I'm on My Way.

I spend this morning mailing out the appropriate forms for my real estate license. Between the reactivation and professional fees, I shelled out $610. YIKES. And in a down market, but something says, give it a go non the less.

I have a meeting on Monday with the real estate folks, (I get the day off from my regular job). So we shall see what's expected and whats happening.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What I Got for Christmas

Here be the list:

1) A bottle of Irish Whiskey.
2) Assorted Gift Cards (most to be used for my new TV) to various stores and some that are visa/mc/AE types.
3) A new dog toy storage bin, plus some toys for the dogs.
4) A 6 pack of new dish towels.
5) A set of holiday themed napkins (I actually can use these).
4) A new Indoor/Outdoor Thermometer.
5) A mini crate of oranges (Yummy!)
6) Two loaves of date nut bread (Yummy again).
7) A box of decent chocolates (already split up and part in the freezer for later consumption).
8) A new lunch sack.
9) A Black Watch plaid throw.
10) A travel set of body wash, conditioner, body scrub and shampoo-all in my favorite scents.

All in all, not too bad and I'm very happy with everything I got and the dogs were pleased with their new toys as well.

No Spend Day # 5

Because all I had to do was drive to and from Christmas lunch, no money was spent and I had no spend day #5. Half way there to that goal. That is a good thing.

Overall, A Good Couple Days

The weekend was full of those last minute chores that needed to be done before Christmas, cleaning the house, wrapping the last few gifts, double checking and making sure I was all set on presents. I kept it very low keyed this year and I'll post the tale of the tape later this week.

My holiday was lovely and low keyed, had a fabulous meal with friends, the weather co-operated, I was able to get some quality work done around the house, my desk tidied up, all my clothes ironed, folded and put away. I was able to make my space a bit more clutter free.

I was lucky enough by careful saving and the receiving of several gift cards to be able to afford my new LCD Flat Screen TV that I have been wanting for a while. I have decided to go for a serious look-see at a couple stores this weekend as well as comparison shop on line for the best price.

Part of me is very excited to finally have a real TV (my current TV has a small 12 screen). I'm in my TV/DVD watching season and the thought of having a larger screen is exciting. Part of me is dreading spending the money, I'm feeling reluctant to spend any money on myself, even for something that I have budgeted and saved for. Total price for the TV I want is $490. I got $185 in gift cards from various folks and I had saved $225 in my TV fund. That comes out to $410 and I think I can swing the extra $80 to cover the difference and get the TV sooner rather than at the end of January. This of course, goes completely against my belief that you should enjoy your money. A new TV will bring me hours of enjoyment. Why all of a sudden I am feeling like I can't spend the money is beyond me. All my bills are current, I have even paid in advance my first quarter of my homeowners insurance, I have a ton of food in my cupboards and I don't have anything due until after January 15th.

I feel that this month marks a turning point for me, I am getting comfortable using and staying within my budget (something that fell to the way side for a number of years) and I am starting to make some headway in my projected savings plans. Even though I have saved the money for the TV a part of me says DON'T BUY IT. Another part says BUY THE TV, YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT AND CAN AFFORD IT.

Ah well, we shall see, who knows, maybe the TV will go on sale and I'll be able to get a real deal over the weekend.

Friday, December 21, 2007

December Goal Update and Plans for 2008

Since I've got some time before I head out for the weekend, I wanted to review my December Goal Progress.

Here they be

1) Work towards finding a second job or alternative source of income that will net me at least $300 a month. Well I did get a tentative job offer in an animal related field, but that does not start until March and I decided to re-activate my Real Estate License, no money in yet, but a start. I'm still going to look for an income producing job in January Percentage of Goal Met: 50%

2) Work on personal web site and other personal blog (something I have been neglecting) at least three times a week. I've been blogging about once a week. Percentage of Goal Met ; 33%

3) Continue with the meal planning. Done every week but the very first. Percentage of Goal Met: 75%

4) Decrease the number of animals I own. Two of my animals now have loving new homes. And that is a good thing. Percentage of Goal Met: 100%

5) Continue to scale back unnecessary possessions (Craigs list, E-bay, Goodwill, Freecycle). I listed and sold 4 books on, I need to really do a possession purge! Percentage of Goal Met:20%

6) Paint Kitchen-Well, I picked out a color and bought the paint. Percentage of Goal Met: 50%

7) Get more quality content in this blog relating to Personal Finance. Not going as well as I would like, but I am finding more interesting links. Percentage of Goal Met: 40%

8) Have at least 10 no spend anything days. (not even my lotto ticket purchases!). Oh not going as well as I would like, it's the little things that stop me (soda for lunch at work, postage for outgoing packages) Percentage of Goal Met, only 50% as of this point.

I'm not a big believer in Resolutions per say, but I do like goals and goal setting. A couple of my goals for the upcoming year are:

1) Try to go as green as possible at home and at work. I already use (and have used for a number of years) my own reusable shopping bags, I recycle everything I can (town dump mandated), I have a compost pile for my food scraps, etc. I'll be following the Green Boot Camp Blog for more ideas that I can incorporate into my home and work life.

2) Continue to work on my re-installed budget.

3) Start to contribute to my Roth IRA again and see if I can reach my personal goal of $5000

4) Continue to fund my Emergency Fund.

5) Find a second paying job.

6) Remodel my sorely outdated bathroom either by a little (or a lot) sweat equity or with minimal cost from outside labor (perhaps a trade in kind).

7) Get on a regular exercise program again.

Well that's what's planned for me for 2008 as of now. I'm hoping to meet these goals so I can go on to bigger and better ones! good luck to all in planning yours.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Couple New Blogs and Links

Check out Penelope Trunk, I just found her blog and I think it's great.

And one of my 2008 goals (I hate the word resolution) is to "go greener" and here is a link to Green Boot Camp. This is Leah Ingrams blog on how to become greener in the upcoming year.

At some point, I'll upload the Blogroll me link, but for the time being, this is what I got.

Feel free to contact me for a link exchange!

Thank Goodness the Present Madness is Over

As I posted earlier, I really had no idea who I was buying holiday gifts for, I knew not a lot of people, but some. I specifically opted out of the holidays this year for a variety of reasons, but I still have a few folks to send to. I am having a hard time getting into the holiday vibe, and that makes shopping for even my few gifts tough.

I did want to get my lovely neighbors a present, but was stuck on what to get. I ended up buying a laundry basket, a fleece jacket from Old Navy (on sale 50% off) , gift cards for the two girls, some warm fuzzy socks, assorted snacks (they love salty snacks), a dog toy for the dog, and I'm going to have my local liquor store arrange it all in the laundry basket with a six pack of the adults favorite beverages. My local liquor store does great gift baskets and will customize and pretty up the laundry basket for me and the service charge to do this is minimal (the joys of being a regular customer!)

I got a small Starbucks coffee gift pack and a gift card to give to someone who was very helpful to me earlier in the year. I am also going to Christmas dinner at an old friends house so a couple bottle of cheer will come with me and I'm bringing dessert from the local fancy pastry shop. Another mutual friend will be at dinner and I got her a microfiber couch throw (on sale for $13.99 ), she is always cold and this was one of those impulse buys that actually works out (and being on sale helps). Plus she gave me a present last year and I did not give her one.

I have to go through my receipts as I send my friend James a food goodie box and a lot of that food was tacked on to my grocery bill. I think I went over my $25 limit, but his birthday is in February and the overpriced candles I got at the Candle Party will be his main gift. They did not make it to his Christmas Box this time around.

I did send out a ton of Holiday cards and I actually had over half of them written, addresses and mailed the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The last batch went out last week. That's better than last year when I barely sent out any at all.

My Christmas present to myself was a heated mattress pad (bought on sale at Linens and Things, plus a 20% off coupon). This by far, has got to be one of the best presents I have ever gotten myself. I feel like I'm sleeping in a warm cocoon. I have no desire to get out of bed in the mornings, I will also get myself a nice bottle of bubbly, a gourmet pizza, and a DVD for Christmas eve. Yup a pizza and a DVD. (My DVD player sort of works, I thought it was dead, but it is in fact just dying I'm planning for a replacement in January).

Last year I cooked a full roast meal for the now exBF(Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Gravy, Two Veg, cheese, crackers and fruit for desert) for Christmas Eve which was nice, but a lot of work.

Right now I can't think of a better way to spend the night. Feet up, fuzzy pajamas, good drink, good pizza and a movie.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sometimes When You Least Expect it, Help Arrives

As I posted earlier, I've decided to re-activate my dormant Real Estate License. One of my big concerns are the fees involved in this process, totalling just over $600, money I have, but earmarked for other things like my emergency fund.

Over the weekend, my ex boyfriend stopped by to return some DVDs of mine he found on his book shelf and to say happy holidays, and we got to chatting. I've not told him about the bankruptcy, but he knew I was struggling fiscally. I mentioned to him that things were getting better slowly and I had made the decision to try real estate but was concerned over the initial outlay of cash and told him I'd figure it out. He commiserated with me, wished me luck, happy holidays and went on his way.

Today he stopped by my office with an envelope and a plant, gave the envelope to me and said, "Consider this a no interest loan, pay me back when you sell your first million dollar property and not until then". And he walked out before I could say much more than Hi.

In the envelope was $650 cash and a note that said, Good Luck, I know you can do this.

Wow. My ex is a nice person, he can afford this, but we are no longer an item, our relationship just did not work out, he has been seeing someone else, we rarely run into each other (we have different social circles), but when we see each other it's always a very pleasant exchange of greetings. This is something totally out of left field.

It's nice to know that someone has faith in my abilities and I'm very lucky to have a such a generous gift to start my real estate career.

My Christmas List

I thought I'd post what I wanted for Christmas, I'm not giving much, and I am not expecting much, but I thought I'd post a couple five things I want (as compared to what I need). I can supply a ship to address for anyone who would care to purchase one of these items for me :)

1) A new flat screen HDTV with DVD player.

2) A gift card to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks (gotta have my coffee when I travel).

3) 3 Pairs of Smart Wool Socks.

4) A new blade for my Felco Pruners.

5) A new wooden cutting board for my kitchen (mine fell apart over the weekend).

6) A new tube of L'Occitane Hand and Body Cream with 20% Shea butter.

7) A GPS for my car (I used one a couple weekends ago while traveling with a friend and it was great). That little Magellen would be so handy and useful in my auto.

8) UNSCENTED pillar candles.

Just throwing it out there.!

A Wasted $25 Last Night

Yesterday was just one of those days, we all have them. Sometime around 4 PM a friend called me at work and we decided to split a Chinese Take Out and some wine and do a bit of a gossip catch up session. I would have rather had a pizza, but she said she was craving Chinese and I offered to pick up the food on my way over to her house. She kindly called in the order for both the food and the wine, all I had to do was pick them up and she paid for her half when I got to her house.

Let me preface this by saying where I live, the quality of the ethnic food is fair to middling at best, but usually edible and acceptable. This particular Chinese restaurant has a few dishes that are above acceptable. I've gotten a number of items from them and tend to stick some some basics that I know are OK. But not last night. We ordered our usual, soup, appetizer and an entree to split. We bought a bottle of wine. It was by far one of the most disappointing meals I have had in ages. The hot and sour soup was not hot and almost sweet, the lo mien totally lacking the vegetables, not enough mustard packets and far too many soy sauce packets in the take out bag. Plus the bottle of wine we got was nothing to write home about either.

I don't mind spending money on food as long as it tickle my palate and is pleasing, but this particular meal was not good. All I can say was the company was great even if the food was not. Oh well, live and learn, but boy do I feel like I wasted my money last night and I ended up with a case of indigestion as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Forms, More Forms and a small update

It's been a form filling day. I had to redo one of the court forms (thankfully, it was done via e-mail as a pdf), I had to fill out the forms to reactivate my real estate license and I had to fill out forms for work.

Ugh, I'm tired of filling out forms.

I did do a small update to my money progress bar. Not great, but some progress.

I had hoped to have a no spend day, but I really feel like I need a bottle of wine with my dinner tonight.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Ring Is Back...........

As I previously posted, the Trustee in my Bankruptcy Case had asked (no demanded via a court order) my mothers wedding band~my only piece of real jewelery that I own worth much of anything. I had it re-appraised as asked, and since I truly believe the ring has bad ju ju (anytime I have ever worn it, something weird, odd, bad, has happened, the last time was after the hearing and my transmission blew on my car), I decided for my own peace of mind to turn it over. And I was happy to do so.

As I reported here, the Trustee sent it back to my attorney. I picked up the ring today while I was running errands. It will sit in my jewelry box forever and ever. The letter enclosed said "I have no further interest in this case and have filed a Report of No Distribution."

No further interest in this case. Boy does that MAKE me feel good!

Going Back to Meal Planning

Even though there is no meal planning contest this month, I've gone back to planning my meals because being the lazy git I am, I'm being bad about not packing my lunch to take to work. My meal choices are limited and expensive at work, so it just makes more sense to pack lunch, either from leftovers or from fresh fixings.

I was too lazy to even make a pot of soup yesterday, but probably will this evening. Plans for food for the week are :

Lunch: Soup,Salad and Sandwiches-I need to pick up a few salad fixings this evening to supplement the lettuce.
Dinners: Pasta, chicken, soup and burgers. I picked up some ground beef last week, made a meatloaf with part of it and some pre-made burgers that I froze. I'll pick up a couple burger buns and use my little George Foreman Grill.

I do have some ready made Asian meals in my cupboard as well that I'll bring to the office for those days I am too lazy or forget to pack my lunch. Since we have a real kitchen (complete with a stove, but no one uses the stove), I should have a little food stash here, but I don't.

And the Credit Offers Keep Coming In

A few weeks ago I posted about getting credit card offers in the mail for those who have "Challenged Credit". Now in this weekends mail were two letters from Car Dealerships offering to speak to me about getting new car loans for those who are post Bankruptcy Discharge. All I need to do is show up with 1) My discharge statement 2) My pay stub 3) Proof of residency via a phone bill and 4) A valid driver's license. Both promise to be able to put me in "the car of my dreams" that day. Either without or with a very low down payment. Yikes !

As I've whinged on before, I do need a new car, but I'd rather scrimp and save and get a substantial down payment to help lower my monthly costs. I'm more than a little leery of these no money down offers. Would I be stuck with a 6 year car payment? Would I need a co-signer? Is there a pre-payment penalty? Lots more questions and I need answers. I know folks say don't buy a new car because of the depreciation factor, but my last car was purchased new and it has lasted 8 years, over 226,000 miles, and except for this past fall, very few repairs other than regular maintenance. I think I have gotten my monies worth out of it.

I've decided to start a file on all these offers that are coming to me in the mail. I'm curious to see what I get over the next few months. I will keep you informed.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

No Spend Day 3 & 4~Six More to Go

Just an update, Thursday was another no spend day (helped out by the fact I went home from work early because of the snow storm). Today is another no spend day as well.

It's frightful weather outside and the animals and I are all enjoying a quiet day by the gas fire, reading, doing a little on line surfing, and listening to the wind howl outside.

I could have had a couple more no spend days earlier this week, but I was too lazy in the bring my lunch to work department and bought some soup both Monday and Tuesday. I'll see if I can get enough energy later this afternoon to put a pot of soup on the stove. Probably after my nap.

A Wasted Trip to The Mall

I am down to the last few gifts I am purchasing for holiday presents. Last night I realized I had to venture to a shopping mall for the last couple items. I was looking for a specific gift (being given to three people) and it was not available locally. I found a store that carried these items and decided to brave the holiday shoppers and go out for these items.

I was dead certain a particular mall had a particular store, so after an early dinner, I hopped in my car and off I went. I should have gone to the mall web site, the store I was looking for was not in this mall, or the other shopping center close to it, nor was there a comparable store in either mall. I did check the store web site and saw it had a location in the same town as this particular mall. I made the wrong assumption that since the store was listed in the same town, it would be in the big mall. It was not. In fact, for all the hype this mall has about it's great stores, (except for one of the anchor stores) I was not overly impressed at all. The prices where the same as my local stores and I wasted 40 minutes each way of travel time.

I was annoyed at myself for wasting the trip and the time it took to get there. The only highlight was finding a great parking spot close to a store entrance. Lesson learned, I should have double checked the mall web site 1st and the store web site more carefully before heading out the door.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Some of My Best PF Tips for 2008-Part 1

Part of the purpose of this blog was to see if I could give out some PF advice, based on me making my own bad decisions, so that others don't have to go through the same process I am going through. Learn from my mistakes so you don't have to.

Some of these tips are tried and true, and almost all are borrowed from others.

1) Pay yourself first. I set up an auto debit to my HSA, my Emergency Fund and to my ING account. Every pay period, a set amount comes out of my base pay and goes directly to these accounts. I am slowly increasing the amount of my EF and my ING fund (new to me car fund) without having to even think about it. Also do this for your 401K or Roth IRA. This was something that I did not do for a number of years.

2) Make a budget and stick to it. I'm back to a budget and it's been tricky these first few months, I have been tracking my expenses, figuring out where I can cut back, etc. My suggestion is to track your expenses for a month, then review where you spend your money, then sit down and create a budget and see where and how you can economize. I have several set budget items, but some categories change each month(Utilities, Misc) depending on what is happening in my life. If you are very disciplined, you can start this from the get go, others may need to ease into it. You may have to do the envelope method, you may have to use another system, BUT DO IT!

3) Snowflake your debt: I Paid Twice for This has an excellent primer on Snowflaking. One of those lucky folks without debt, use the snowflake technique to increase your Emergency Fund or meet another financial goal.

4) Get rid of your excess credit cards. In this day and age, there is almost NO reason to have (in my mind) store specific credit cards. They tend to carry a higher interest rate and if you are trying to reduce your debt or use credit responsibly, you don't need them. Pay them off, freeze the account, cut up the cards, close the account.

5) Remember to enjoy your money. If you reach a specific financial goal, treat yourself! Save for and buy that flat screen TV, enjoy it! Take yourself out to a nice meal when you pay off a debt. This is not about cashing out your emergency fund, but to give yourself a treat when you reach a specific goal. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Being debt free is completely liberating, but it is a long process. You did not gather all this debt overnight, it will take more than overnight to get rid of it, but a little treat here and there makes the process more palatable.

6) Remember to give to charity: I know there is a lot of debate about donating to charity or tithing when folks are in debt, but I am a big believer that even some charitable donations can be done even on the tightest of budgets and folks should support the charity of thier choice with a donation, no matter how small it may be. I have drastically cut back, but I have two charities that I give to each year, one is a local food bank and one is animal related. This year my givng allowance is very limited but I still made a small donation to each charity. I buy a bag of food every couple months and donate it to the food pantry. I shop the specials and get the items on their needed list. The animal related charity got a very small check this year. A little good Karma does not hurt!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Going on Instinct This Time...

I spent the better part of the past couple days mulling over do I or don't I re-activate my dormant real estate license. I talked to a couple brokers, I went through the pros and cons, the biggest con was the initial outlay of cash to switch the license to an active broker, total cost $608 (various fees, board dues, etc). It's money I do have, but have earmarked for my new to me car fund,Emergency Fund and Health Savings Account Fund.

I found two brokers who are willing to let me hang my license with their office and are willing to work around my full time work schedule and my weekend limitations and understands what my weaknesses are in the real estate field. Both offices are also willing to work with me to develop the skills I feel less than proficient in. That's good, my biggest concern was my lack of certain skills pertaining to real estate and how I could work on those skills. I like both brokers and my gut says to do this!

The rational part of me says "Why are you activating your license and spending the money better earmarked for other items in a down market?'

The other part of me says "Remember you have made sooo many bad decisions over analysing situations, your gut says go for it!

Truly, most, if not almost all, of my bad fiscal decisions these past couple years have come from me over thinking my money decisions. For someone who prides themselves on making sound rational decisions, I've made a bunch of bad ones these past few years and yes, those decisions have come from overthinking, reading too much into things, taking the "safe" way. That has just NOT worked for me.

I'm going to go with my gut and re-activate the license.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Laundry Saga

I've written about spending a lot of money at the laundromat. I live in a small house and I don't have a regular sized washer or dryer. I do have a small portable Haier washer that I use as much as I can. It hooks up to my sink and has been a great little workhorse for me. It does have it's limits. It has a very small capacity and I can only wash one set of sheets at a time, one pair of jeans plus a couple shirts, you know, small loads of stuff. If I load it incorrectly and try to shove too large of a load, nothing gets really clean. It also then oversuds and I end up with spillage on my floors. If I'm really good and do a couple loads during the week, I can keep up with my clothes. Sometimes.

The machine works OK for the most part, but it can not handle the animal laundry (too much of it and too bulky) nor can it wash or wash well the large bath towels, bath mats, jackets, etc. For these items, it's off to the laundromat I go.

What I do like about the laundromat is that in less than two hours I can wash, dry, fluff, and fold a bunch of laundry. It's one of the few times I multi-task and multi-task well. I go to the laundromat put my clothes in the washer and then take off for a quick grocery shop or other such shop. I get back to the laundromat in time to put everything in the dyers and usually I read a magazine or book while the clothes tumble dry. In good weather, I do hang as many clothes as I can out on the clothes line. Tough to do in the winter, clothes will freeze before they will dry.

I have two nice laundromats I use, both are clean, and safe (safe meaning it's OK to leave my things in the washer and not worry about my clothes getting stolen). One location has these great triple loaders that are perfect for the animal laundry. I can put all the animal laundry in the machine, turn on the hot wash and my stuff comes nice and clean and without animal hair all over it (and yes the laundromat is OK with me doing animal laundry there).

The downside to this is IT IS NOT CHEAP. I can easily spend $20 a weekend on washing and drying all those clothes and items. A washing machine runs anywhere from $1.75 to $6.00 depending on the size of the machine and 25c only gets you 7 minutes of drying time. When the dog decided it would be fun to pee on my blanket, the whole blanket had to get washed. I have this one dog that likes to stealth pee on and in my bed. It's gross, it's disgusting and it's costly. Every once in a while he manages to sneak in to my room and does this almost under my nose. I scream, I yell, I yell at myself for leaving my bedroom door open, I strip the bed and then I go to the laundromat, again.

As they say, it's wash, rinse and repeat.

Sleeping Better

This is a Sponsored Post .

I don't know about you, but I'm really fussy about my bed, the linens, the pillows and especially the mattress. I'd like to update my mattress this year to a memory foam or Tempur-pedic mattress. Since I am on budget, I need to find a source that carries these mattresses that won't break my budget. When I go to source out a new mattress, I will be looking closely at A tempurpedic mattress, sold by Angel Beds.

Angel Beds sells tempurpedic mattress offers a 90 day risk free trial, the lowest prices, fast shipping, and the strongest warranty in the business on all of their products.

A Tempur-Pedic mattress is a high-density, memory foam mattress that is comfortable and therapeutic, contouring to your body and providing support where it is needed. Your body is perfectly supported on a Tempur-pedic mattress, no matter what position you sleep in. You get a great nights sleep and wake up refreshed and feeling great. Even better, AngelBeds offers these sleep systems at discount prices.

Angel Beds tempurpedic mattress is unique in that they are the ONLY memory sleep system manufacturers to offer identical NASA-developed HD (higher density) foam technology. This revolutionary technology relieves pressure & stress while conforming to every contour of your body. This scientific break-through is what makes Angel Beds & Tempur-Pedic memory sleep systems the best on the market today. But only tempurpedic mattress from Angel Beds can bring it to you at substantial savings of up to $3300.

A Little Unexpected Surprise

I forgot to post and say that I won $54 in the lottery last week. Not a ton of money by any stretch of the imagination, but for a $1 investment, I got back $53.

I used the money to do the ubiquitous laundry at the laundromat, treated myself to a Latte at Starbucks while Target Shopping, and put the remainder in my wallet as fun money.

Yes I probably should have stuck the remainder in my EF or my Car Fund, both looking rather drab at the moment, but I wanted to be able to have a little unexpected discretionary cash to blow on whatever in my wallet. I've used it for a small shop at the grocery store, to pick up a container of soup (I felt the need for soup for lunch on Monday and did not pack soup). I bid on and won a small print on E-bay ($4.99) as a Christmas present to myself. The seller actually lives local to me so I will pay cash and do a local pick up.

My Horoscope Today

Thought I'd share my Horoscope with you today, courtesy of Yasmin Boland.


So have you bounced back yet? Or are you still reeling from all the tough times and hardships? Are you back on top of the world in a Leo-style way? Or are you still in self-doubt and at least partial misery? The sooner you start to revitalise yourself, the better. The sooner you remind yourself of who you really are, the better. It's still crucial for you to focus on having some fun. So stop with the negativity if you can, and look around to see who looks like they could give you a laugh.

Since I know I've been focusing on the negative in my life recently, this is a nice little reminder to go out and have a laugh.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I Want a Dog for Christmas Charlie Brown

OK- I already have a dog, but playing on the radio right now is Vince Guaradli (he wrote the Charlie Brown themes) and last night on TV was I Want a Dog for Christmas Charlie Brown. I am a bit Bah Humbug about the Holidays, but I love Charlie Brown! Just could not resist the post!

Present Update

Since my last post on presents, I've made my list and gone over it more than twice. I made the decision that those folks who are getting gifts from me will get one of three things:

1) A toiletries basket with a gift card to either a Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks gift card.

2) A little Starbucks gift pack (coffee, travel mug) and a Starbucks gift card.

3) Some sort of bottle of wine or liquor tastefully wrapped with a small chocolate treat.

The exceptions to the above are my friend James and my wonderful neighbors two kids. Since James does not cook (and spends more eating out in one month than most folks do in five) I have spent about $25 on various food items-packets of side dishes, a small hickory farms gift basket, some chocolates, jellies and jams, crackers. Thank you Aldi,Target, and the grocery store for allowing me to do this well in my budget.

The neighbors two kids will get a gift card for either Borders or for gas. Not a ton of money, but a little bit. The neighbors have been good to me, and a small gift for the kids (both teen aged girls who now drive) is in order.

I'll go gift card shopping on Friday and right now, this is a huge load off my mind. Not meaing to sound like the Grinch or Ebenzer Scrooge, but I just can't get into the Holiday frame of mind while going Bankrupt.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Second Job Hunt Continues

One of my goals this month was to find a second part time job and or find a way to earn additional income (both earmarked for the new to me car fund).

As I have said before, I live in a section of my state that is not overabundant in evening work and I'm just that much too far from the larger towns/small cities that would enable me to work in a store in the mall or something like that. My local stores tend to close at 5 or 6 PM, just when I would be gearing up to do some night time hours.

Needless to say, it's a challenge and I have to think creatively to get around this.

What I have done so far.

1) I have told most everyone I know that I am looking for some part time work, evenings or weekends. I am trying to find something that will at least use some of my skills.

2) I've been searching the local paper and any and every bulletin board in the area for any kind of a lead.

3) I have a potential lead to work in an animal related field on weekends, but that would not start until late winter and I need to find something sooner. It would be two to three weekends a month and would give me the perfect amount of extra money I need for the car fund. But it is POTENTIAL and not definite.

4) I run into the problem of businesses saying I am overqualified for a lot of the positions. Which in reality, I am, most jobs don't require a post secondary school education, which I have, even with dumbing down my resume and my past work experience. Heck, I just want a part time job to supplement my income. At times I feel penalized for spending all those years getting a Masters Degree (for a field I no longer work in-can you say major burn out at age 36 and now still trying to figure out my next career path).

5) I have been toying with the idea of re-activating my real estate license. I took and passed the test for a real estate salesperson a few years ago, had a Broker who would hold my license, but he went into semi-retirement soon afterwards and my license is in limbo. Still active, but in limbo. You can't hang your shingle out as an independant agent unless you are a Broker. Salespeople need to work for a Broker. The downside to this is the real estate market is very soft, supposedly gets dead quiet in the early winter (like now) and while I think I have some transferrable skills that would work in Real Estate, I know I don't have a lot of other skills that are needed to be successful. The upside is the money, selling a house can net anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000 in commission depending on sale price of house, commission split, etc.

I'm thinking about re-activating and transferring my license to an active broker, but I need to find out what expectations they would have. Lots of the local brokers don't need or want part-time agents, especially part time inexperienced agents. At this point I'm just feeling out a few folks to see if it would be a good investment of my time (and money).

And the job hunt goes on......

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Already New Credit Card Offers

I don't even have the official from the Court discharge papers. What was in my mail box this am? A pre-approved credit card offer for "those who have challenged credit". With an APR of 16%. I did not read all the fine print, there's gotta be a catch. This was not a secured credit card I shook my head and put the offer in the shredder.

Honestly, my credit at this point is more than challenged. AND my discharge is not official yet. AND I'm getting credit card offers in the mail.

Prior to my couple years of really bad fiscal decisions and bankruptcy I had decent credit. I had figured that between the bad fiscal decisions being on my record and the bankruptcy, it was going to be next to dammed impossible to get credit. I plan on getting a secured credit card in the upcoming months, when I am ready to cross that bridge. Yet the offers are coming in and it's not even "official". Heck for all these folks know, I could be one of those multiple bankruptcy repeaters!

Christmas Presents~It's OK to Give Contact Lens Solution!

I’ve been reading various posts about what folks are buying as Christmas presents. Lots of homemade items (cookies, cakes, sweets, knitted wear, scrapbooks, coco mixes), lots of planning for special gifts (I Pods, TV’s) and the usual selection of candles, fragrance, clothes, DVDS, CDs, Etc.

I’ve misplaced the link, but one PF blogger is getting a relative contact lens solution as a present. At first glance, this might seem odd, but when you think about it, it’s not. I use contact lens solution on a daily basis, it does not go bad, so why not give someone a couple bottles as part of their present? My ExBF and I used to pack our stockings with what some folks would consider the mundane items of life, toothpaste, moisturizer, toothbrushes, bar soap, emery boards, etc. Each item was nicely wrapped in festive paper (scraps from the previous years gifts). I have a friend who lives in the UK and each year for Christmas I get a bottle of Lemon Scented Fairy Liquid, a box of PG Tips Tea, and a tin of Cadbury Drinking Chocolate. Cost to her, about 10 USD, priceless to me. I can’t get these items easily in the States and I love the smell of Fairy Liquid.

Personally, I can’t bake well enough to give food items away, I’m not creative enough to knit or sew, I don’t draw or paint, I'd forget that I offered someone a coupon for a service (babysitting, lawn mowing, etc) and if one of my relatives will be happy with toiletries, I’m all for it. I don’t need a lot of “things” in my life, what I need are big ticket items and no one in my circle will be buying me a flat screen HDTV this Christmas, nor do I expect them to. Nor do I really enjoy sweets (and that includes Christmas cookies) to have more than one small tin. I’ve put on my “present list” items I would like to have, most of which are less than $8 each.

I’d be happy with a couple new good quality screwdrivers for my tool box ($3-4 each). I’d be happy with a nice bottle of real balsamic vinegar (not the wine vinegar stuff with caramel coloring)$6 for a small bottle at my local organic grocer, a new paring knife would be helpful ($5), as would a new set of kitchen towels ($3.99). Since I tossed all the various open jars of condiments from my fridge a couple months ago, I know a visit to Pearl River Mart and $15 will give me hours of cooking happiness and about 5 jars of sauces and spices, a three pack of Chocolate Cover Altoids would make me very happy and satisfy my occasional sweet tooth, the list goes on.

So folks, proudly wrap up those bottle of contact lens solution and happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

No Spend Day #2

8 More to go, but the streak was broken today, I bought a soda at lunchtime.!

Monday, December 3, 2007

No Spend Day #1

Sunday was my first no spend any money day-easy enough to do when I was home in bed most of the day feeling sick. I never even got out of my PJ's........

9 more to go.