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Envelope, job, & challenge updates

January 8th, 2008 at 06:16 pm

I wrote this then added to it and am now adding to it again so I edited the name, also. I might as well post just one entry rather than three.

So far the envelope system is working! Yes, it's only been three days but there is money in each of the envelopes, including the savings envelope. Smile

It feels great to know our bills are paid for the month and we're working for the next round of them. We have a ways to go before we have enough for the next round of bills but we'll get there, I know.

Yaaaaay for envelopes, cash, jobs, and a little discipline!

Speaking of jobs, I'm a reasonably intelligent person and am capable of doing just about anything I set my mind to. But correctly marking cups at work boggles my mind and I'm close to admitting I've been outsmarted by paper and plastic!

I did pretty well today but still messed up at least 6 cups. I either had the wrong size or marked them incorrectly or something else stupid. It doesn't help that customers often don't ask for an item by the name on the menu board. So I think they're asking for one thing and they're really asking for another. Example: "I'd like a Chi Tea." I mark the cup for what I think is Chi Tea. Then I look around and don't see Chi Tea anywhere. After doing this three times I realized they were asking for a Chi Latte!! Doh! When I ask what size, they say they want the medium and I mark it. Then they change their mind and want a large. Okay, no problem, I can handle that. I get another cup and mark it and bam, now they want the other one again!

It's fun and I love my new job. Wink

My $20 challenge is up to $27 now thanks to a couple of meatless meals and not buying a snack or drink while out running errands. I have some change to add to it tomorrow, about $2. Yippee!

A day off....

January 7th, 2008 at 07:20 am

I don't have to work today but unfortunately I can't just laze around all day. I was hoping for a no spend day but it isn't to be.

I have clothes to wash and have to get some stamps to mail the bill payments DH and I wrote out a couple nights ago. I also need to do some cooking for the week since my work schedule is wacky and subject to change. I'm supposed to be off Friday and Saturday but won't be surprised if that doesn't pan out.

I also have to buy a few shirts and a pair of black shoes for work. What I have doesn't meet the dress code so yep, today will not be a no spend day for me!

So, I'm off to plan meals for this week and do some piddling things around the office.

A great day & input/suggestions needed

January 5th, 2008 at 05:41 pm

DH and I paid bills last night . Almost $1300 - gulp! But at least we had it to pay! It was great paying those bills and knowing we still have some money left.

I had a no spend day today and I really love those. The fact that it was warm today was a special bonus!

I got to work at noon and it was crazy busy. During my 15 minute break I drank one of the diet sodas I'd taken. Later in the afternoon I needed to eat but wasn't scheduled for a lunch period. I told my boss I was weak and shaky and needed to eat (I'm diabetic) and she let me sneak to the breakroom long enough to wolf down some chicken wings I'd brought from home and a couple of crackers. So no money spent there.

I got home and we had fish, green beans, and salad. No money spent there, either.

I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning so I'll head to bed before too long.

But it was a nice no spend day. I hope I have many more soon! Smile

By the way, I'd like some suggestions and feedback on this. DH's business is doing well considering that it's only 5 months old. It isn't paying all the bills yet but it's paying for itself and giving us a little extra. It's a mostly cash business so we have an almost daily cash flow now. And I'm working and get paid every two weeks. The last two checks have been good but the next check or two might not be so good as hours are being cut. However, we can handle that for a short while. The problem is that neither of us is good with money. We're like little kids with it - if we have it we want to spend it. We've used the envelope system before and we think we need to get back to it.

So, we set up envelopes for the business expenses (rent, advertising, electric bill, supplies, etc) and one for saving and each envelope has the budgeted amount for that expense written on the front. The plan is to sit down every evening and put cash that came into the business that day into the envelopes, $10 here, $30 there, and allow a small amount for his pocket. My checks are deposited into our account. I think if we do this regularly when it's time to pay the bills, voila, the money will be there. We can then deposit the cash into the account and write and mail the checks.

Does this sound like a reasonable way to handle it? We have to find a way to ensure the money for expenses is there and that we don't spend it. We know from experience that if it's in envelopes we won't spend it. If it's in his pocket we will!

Suggestions, input, and advice welcomed!

Fall is MIA.. really, it must be

October 9th, 2007 at 07:43 pm

But according to weather underground (http://www.wunderground.com/) by the end of this month we should be averaging temps in the low 70s. Oh please, please, come a little sooner! I miss Fall! Not that we really have much of one here - it goes from green to brown to dead, basically, but the cooler weather means no need to run the AC and possibly not even the fans and that means a lower electric bill.

Of course, on the tail of that is winter and that means trying to stay warm and a higher electric bill. But hey, it isn't so bad in Texas. We can put off using the heat for quite a while and enjoy those lower bills.

But really, I want Fall.. now, please!

My bill envelope

October 7th, 2007 at 08:33 am

I don't use a multiple envelope system where there's one envelope for each bill that's coming due but I use a single envelope system. It's a bank envelope and the amounts due are written in list form on one side of it. Once the entire amount for that bill is in the envelope, I check it off. I can easily look at the envelope and see how much is in it, how much I still need to get, etc. But it's a new system for me and this is my first month using it.

Right now there are no unchecked items and it's only October 7th! I just put in enough money to pay the storage and electric bills. The electric bill isn't due until the 24th but I'm going to pay it early this week.

Wow, it feels great to have all bills paid or the money for them set aside so early in the month.

The system I'm using seems to be working.

Go, Denise! Wink

A very pleasant surprise!

October 6th, 2007 at 02:46 pm

I checked my electricity account online and got a great surprise. The amount I owe is $72.06 and not close to $150 like I suspected I'd owe. Since this is the first full month and the first electric bill which was for 9 days was almost $40 I just knew it would be between $120 and $150. I'd figured my average daily kWh as 22 but the bill shows it to be 20. What a pleasant surprise to get a utility bill that's actually about half of what I thought it would be! I've tried not to use the AC much but I'm really not sure how it worked out this way. But hey, I'm not complaining.

And I managed to keep the kWh at 20 or less which has been a goal.

Yaaay, go me!

Yuck! I had to spend money today!

October 5th, 2007 at 09:14 pm

I had to spend money today, money I hadn't planned on. I have a Mac Mini and a beautiful ultrathin keyboard shown here:


I cleaned the keyboard this morning and couldn't get all the keys to work afterwards, although I didn't douse it with anything. I tried letting it dry in front of a fan but that didn't help so I went to a local place to get a new keyboard. None of them had USB ports and since I thought the cord on my Mighty Mouse was too short to reach the back of the Mini, I got a new mouse, too.

When I got home I found out the keyboard works fine with my system but the mouse doesn't. Fortunately, the Mighty Mouse cord is long enough so I'll return the other mouse next week. I'm also going to ship my Apple keyboard to my son in Austin and he'll take it to the Apple Store for repair or replacement and ship it back to me.

The total for the new keyboard and mouse is $37.64 but when I return the mouse I'll get about $16 of that back. I'll keep the keyboard - it's nice to have a back up, just in case!

But I sure miss that sexy Apple keyboard..and my $37.64!

On my way home from the store I stopped at BK and spent about $3 on a double cheeseburger and fries. I don't eat that way often but I was very hungry and it was very good!

So, I spent a little over $40 today. Ugh...

Cash on hand

October 3rd, 2007 at 09:55 pm

Right now I have $17.48 on hand and $15 of that is spoken for. Wooohoooo! I won't get too far on $2.48!

But my bills are paid for this month, other than electricity and storage, neither of which is due yet, I have enough food to last a couple of weeks, and I have a full tank of gas in my car. I also have a house to clean tomorrow and will get $60 for that but it all goes into the bill envelope.

Oh well, I'm set for at least another week and a half to two weeks so all is well. It's just kind of sad to only have $2.48 in my pocket...maybe I need to run a coin rescue like baselle does!

Average daily electricity usage

October 2nd, 2007 at 02:27 pm

I was curious how much electricity I'd used since I got my first electric bill (for just 9 days) so I just checked the meter. I've used 562 kwh since that first bill.

My average daily usage on my last statement is 17 kwh. With today's reading and the number of days since the last reading, I can guesstimate that my average daily usage now is almost 22 kwh. Not as good as 17 kwh but it's been really hot and though I've kept AC use down, I have used it here and there. I'm also cooking more than I was the first 9 days I was here. So I can see the increase being reasonable. But I'm using the AC less than I was so I figured it would stay the same or be slightly less. Things that make you go hmmm....

On a website about green technology and tips to reducing electric consumption I found this:

"Monitor your electric usage daily. Chart it, if it helps. Keep a daily eye on it; like one would you were living off-grid. This will keep your focus on conservation. Set a goal for daily kWh usage, achieve it, and then try to go lower. An average American home uses 40 kWh per day. Efficient homes use as little as 14 kWh a day, which includes winter heating (electric heat pump). Some off grid homes as little as 1 kWh a day!"

So, my consumption is right at slightly less than half the average American's and that seems about right considering there's just one person in the household.

Since I want to reduce my electric bill, I'm setting an average daily use goal of 20 kwh or below, starting right now. I don't know if I can do it but hey, it can't hurt to try! If I can get it down to 20, I'm going to try for 18 and see what happens.

Here are a few good links about energy to check:

Find out how much energy is used by common household appliances:


And here's how to do a home energy audit on your own home:


And here's a nice heat loss quiz:


I imagine most of you know about the Energy Guy and others like him but it's still interesting information!

Out of curiosity, what is your household's average daily kwh usage and how many people are in your home?

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!

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