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Archive for September, 2007

I just love freebies! And cheap stuff, too.

September 30th, 2007 at 07:35 pm

Today I went to lunch at Cheddar's with my mother, stepfather, and some of their friends. I didn't have to pay so it was a very nice free lunch and I brought home quite a bit of my Dijon Mushroom Chicken and will have that tomorrow for lunch or supper. That was my first time at Cheddar's and I imagine I'll go back some time.

In yesterday's mail I got 25 coupons for a free bottle of Country Bob's all purpose or spicy hot sauce. I just love that sauce and will buy it when I have no coupons but I'm happy to do as Al asked and get 4 bottles for myself and give away the other 21 bottles. I have no problem spreading the word about such a great sauce! If you haven't tried it, go to countrybobs.com for a coupon for a free bottle of it. Tell 'em Denise sent ya. Wink

I also got a very pretty hand made hot pad from a friend online. It's varying shades of green and looks nice in the kitchen.

And today I finally found a clothes line for inside the house. My back yard, if you can call it that, is too small for a line and I wanted something that would work inside. Today I found a retractable clothes line for less than $7 so I bought it and installed it over the tub. It has shorts drying on it and so far, so good. Anything that helps save me money is a good thing! $7 isn't much to pay to stay out of laundrymat, huh?

And I've now spent all but $6 of the $50 I got for groceries for 2 weeks. But I'm set for boneless skinless chicken breasts, ground beef, frozen vegetables, and coffee. Yaaaaay!

It's been a good couple of days for freebies and cheap stuff. Smile

Some little financial goals for October

September 28th, 2007 at 09:12 am

There are a few money-related things I need to work on so I've set some goals for myself for the month of October. They are:

1. Learn more about maximizing coupon use via thegrocerygame.com, CVS ECBs, and other methods. I've paid for membership with GG for October, November, and part of December and that should give me plenty of time to decide if I like it and if it's worth the money to me.

2. Keep my grocery spending at or below $125 for the month. Normally I go for $100 but with Thanksgiving approaching I'll need to buy a few things for the family get together.

3. Cook less and make better use of leftovers so little to no food is wasted. It's difficult to cook for one after years of cooking for a horde - or even a few people who eat like a horde!

4. Look for a local part time job.

5. Have at least two no spend days every week.

6. Put aside for savings 10% of all money I bring in.

There are other things I need to work on but if I try to do too many, I won't succeed at any!

Oh, the humanity!

September 27th, 2007 at 06:29 pm

Of paying bills, that is. Yes, today was bill paying day.

For most of the last 25 years of my life, bills were rarely paid on time. Yes, there were months when I was flush and they got paid on time or even a tad early but for the most part, it's been a major source of stress for me.

However, I have a new system that involves my mother helping me pay bills. At 45 I really shouldn't need her help but honestly, I have serious math problems and stress-over-money issues and this works for us. We sit together with a cup of coffee or a soft drink and go over the bills then write out the checks, drop them in the mail and go for lunch and just a little bit of shopping. There's a lot of giggling in there, too!

The total for rent, cell phone, and everything but the electric bill since I haven't gotten it yet and the storage unit since I want to move to a smaller one pronto, was $835.95. Ouch! But that includes $150 for spending money for me for two weeks. No, that really isn't all fun money since $50 of it is for groceries and $50 of it is for gas. I don't use $50 worth of gas every two weeks but since I'm looking for a job I might need that much. What I don't use will be put back in the account.

After we got checks made out and mailed we went to a local place for lunch then went to Wal-Mart and Target. I got a few little things I need and spent $19.88 and that included the cost of curtains for the living room. Then I got a couple of things at CVS and spent $8 and some change. I'll wait til Monday or Tuesday to do the grocery shopping since I'm okay on food right now.

Anyway, my bills other than those two are paid, I have money to go grocery shopping and put gas in the car and I feel fairly good about my financial situation. No, it isn't easy and I need to find at least a part time job but wow, it feels absolutely great to have paid the bills before their due dates and to know I only have two more to pay over the next month!

The last couple of months have been hellish but my mom has really been here for me. I'm blessed to have a mother who loves me as she does and tries to help me keep the stress under control. At some point, she'll turn the reins back over to me but not until I tell her I'm ready.

So that's my financial day in a nutshell. Smile

Confessions of a person with really suckie credit...

September 27th, 2007 at 06:45 am

It all started back in the 80s when my first husband and I got our first credit cards. In the beginning we treated them with great respect, only using them for emergencies and diligently paying them off each month before any payment was due. Before long we were making payments that were more than the minimum but less than what we'd been paying but we paid them on time, faithfully. Then, sometime later, we made only the minimum payments and those would be a day or two late.

Of course, it went downhill from there to the point where all the accounts had been canceled and we owed more than we could pay, even in monthly installments. When we got divorced, nothing about those debts was in the agreement. I don't know if he got notices about those credit cards but I sure did. I paid what I could on them but ended up with several charge offs.

Fast forward to the late 90s. New relationship, different house, and I responded to a credit card offer. Lo and behold, I got the card! In fact, I got two or three for which I applied. (Were they nuts or what?) Apparently I hadn't learned my lesson yet as the same thing happened with those cards. I treated them with great respect at first but that didn't last long.

Eventually, my mother got me a card on one of her accounts and I would use it when I "needed" something and pay it off each August when I got my yearly payment from a lawsuit my first husband and I had been involved in years before. I could sit here and put some of the responsibility on the other half of the 12 year relationship that ended in late July of this year. But I won't. That card was mine and regardless of what he did or didn't do, I wasn't responsible with the card or my mother's trust. And I paid for it, dearly.

Each August I owed a little more than I had the previous August. In truth, the card was often used to pay the electric bill, buy food, and more times than I care to admit, get cash to prevent foreclosure on our home. It was definitely reassuring to know it was there in case of emergency but it was also a crutch and I abused it.

In 2006 I paid almost $6,000 in August. This year it was more than $9,000. After I paid the balance, Mom canceled the card with my wholehearted blessing. I wanted to celebrate after it was done!

My credit is ruined but that's not such a bad thing for me. If I choose to, I can work on improving and rebuilding it.

I do things on a cash basis now and don't have access to any credit cards. Nor do I want access to any. If I can't pay cash for it, I just don't get it.

So, I get a certain amount of cash each month to pay my bills and live on and when it's gone, it's gone. There's no more until the next month. I have money set aside in case of an emergency but getting to it would be deliberately difficult.

Honestly, it's hard at times living this way. I don't like it when I'm out of money for the month and have to make do like I am right now. But I don't know any other way to handle my finances. I have to be fierce with myself about money, almost ruthless. But it's working.

Oh and when I get credit card offers, they immediately go into the trash..unopened.

It is what it is.

Supper menus for the next two weeks

September 26th, 2007 at 08:24 pm

I'm stretching what I have to last through this month. Since I have Type 2 Diabetes, I try to keep the carbohydrate intake down and can't fill up on the inexpensive foods like pasta, beans, rice, and potatoes.

I have a 3 and 1/3 lb beef boneless rump roast I bought for $1.99 a lb and it's thawed and ready to go. I find that if I cook the entire roast it doesn't last very long as I'll eat it two or three times a day and snack on it, too.

So rather than cook the entire thing, I'll divide as follows: one third will be thinly sliced and used for pan frying or grilling and will be added to salads and other dishes, one third will be cut into chunks to use for soup, beef "tips", and the remaining third will be cooked as one piece with lots of carrot, potato, and onion. I should get at least 6 meals from that roast but may get 8 or more.

So, here's my basic dinner menu for the next two weeks in no particular order other than tonight's meal. I might change the meals slightly but this is the basic plan and I'll stick to it for the most part.

Wednesday - Thinly sliced boneless rump roast cooked on the George Foreman grill with a little olive oil and generously seasoned with fresh garlic and basil, served with steamed cauliflower.

***Note - I steamed the entire head tonight and thought I'd turned off the burner. I'd actually turned it to high and the pan scorched some but I think the cauliflower is fine. The house sure stinks, though! Have I mentioned how much I detest an electric oven/stove? If not, consider yourself told now. Smile***

Leftover great northern beans and tossed salad.

Tuna salad rolled in leaf lettuce, served with green beans and half a baked sweet potato.

Beef franks with chili, cheese, red bell pepper, and onions.

Sliced turkey ham cooked on the GF grill, scrambled eggs, and pumpernickel bread with butter.

Beef and cheese melt. I just recently had this at a friend's house and it was great! The overall effect is similar to Philly Cheesesteak, one of my favorite things to eat. We made it with beef labeled Carne Picada but I'm going to use thin strips of the boneless rump roast instead since that's what the beef looked and tasted like and that's what I have. Cook the beef with chopped onions and chopped green pepper. Add some garlic and other spices to taste. When the meat and veggies are cooked and tender, throw a handful or so of your choice of shredded cheese on top. Don't stir it - just cover it and let it sit until the cheese is melted. Spoon onto lightly toasted rolls or buns and enjoy! I'm going to add sliced mushrooms and eat it rolled up in a low carb tortilla with a salad on the side. I'll prepare a little extra to use later for beef quesadillas.

Chef salad with a crusty roll.

Oven baked chicken with tossed salad and half a baked sweet potato. I'll bake a whole chicken, de-bone what I don't eat and use it later.

Beef and vegetable soup with a crusty roll.

Beef and chicken quesadillas made with LC tortillas on the GF grill and served with tossed salad.

Poor Man's Steak, brussels sprouts, and pumpernickel bread with butter.

Beef tips and gravy over faux mashed potatoes and served with tossed salad.

Leftover Poor Man's Steak with leftover faux mashed potatoes.

Making a realistic budget

September 25th, 2007 at 10:27 pm



So, I've been working on my new budget, trying to come up with a realistic one.

Originally, I'd budgeted $100 a month for food. I'm slightly over that for September and the month isn't over. But the grocery money is gone so I'll make do with what I have for the next six days. And I really do think I can do with $100 a month as long as I'm very careful about what I buy.

I registered at thegrocerygame.com and will see if that helps. Of course, after I registered and paid, I found groceryguide.com which is almost the same but free. Argh! I talked to a few people who have tried both and they all prefer the grocery game. I'll try it for the few weeks I paid for and if I don't like it, it's worth the money to know that.

Most of my expenses are fixed and I'm trying to keep the ones that aren't fixed under control. One of the big concerns I have is paying the electric bill. For nine days in September it was almost $37. Of course, those were nine very hot Texas days!

That doesn't sound too bad until you multiply it by 3 and see that a month of electric usage is about $120. That might not seem like a lot to some people but that's more than I can handle right now so off the AC went and off it's going to stay for some time. Unfortunately, the unit that cools is also the unit that heats so once it's cold, I'll have to use it unless I come up with an alternative. There's always layering clothes and hot coffee, though.

Here's to cooler weather and low grocery spending... may they be with me for awhile. Smile

Long time no post...

September 25th, 2007 at 09:46 pm


Well, it's been a long time since I posted an entry here. I could give a hundred reasons why but honestly, I'm not sure why I haven't posted.

Anyway, my life has taken a sudden change...for the better? for the worse? I think it's the former.

I'm now separated and have been since the very end of July. It's a long story I won't go into here but I'm starting over and what an adventure it's been so far! Not all good but it is what it is.

So, here I go on a new journey. I have new goals, new ideas and hope to keep track of them here.