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How do I love thee, kitchen items? Let me count the ways!

April 12th, 2015 at 08:52 am

This morning I entered the amount for the few little groceries I bought yesterday into EveryDollar. I also checked balances in my envelopes. I'm doing very well with my spending. When I funded my envelopes last Friday I got $60 for groceries. I'd budgeted $75 for two weeks but wanted to come in under that if possible so $60 seemed like a good goal. I still have $40 of that so I feel as though I've accomplished something. However, there are a few things I need before Friday, the next pay day and I'll probably get those later today or tomorrow before work. I budgeted $25 for gas for two weeks and still have $15 of that and $10 of the $15 I'd budgeted for Sammy the cat. Yeah, all in all I'm doing great!

I posted some clothes and household goods on a local free stuff group. I hope someone wants it all because I very much want the stuff gone. Decluttering is pretty easy for me but I have a few emotional issues with some of it, especially kitchen items.

My apartment is about 540 square feet with a seemingly impossibly small kitchen. It has few cupboards, a tiny amount of countertop, two drawers and no pantry. But I love to cook and do it daily. Fortunately, most of my cooking is simple so all I really *need* are basic items. The problem, though, is that I'm so very attracted to kitchen gadgets and doodads! An all expenses paid trip to Bed, Bath and Beyond is my idea of a great contest prize! Ha ha!

Over the last few years I've managed to calm down that crazy side of myself but I still have things I rarely use. For example, I found a blender at Target three years ago for $6. It gets pulled out a few times a year, generally to make hummus. Keep it or let it go? And there's my KitchenAid mixer. I'd wanted one for many years and scrimped until I had enough to get the red one that made my heart sing. The problem is that I haven't used it for over a year and prior to that its main job was to make shortbread, my all time favorite treat, and that was done only between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The thought of getting rid of that beauty causes anxiety so I keep it. It sits on a counter and takes up space but I smile each time my eyes spy it. I think it needs to stay, at least for now. Maybe soon I'll feel ready to sell it but not yet.

And then there's the electric digital pressure cooker. Another tool I love and one I rarely use now. It produces the best tasting and most tender roast I've ever had but I don't eat much meat now. Of course, I could use it to make vegetable soup. Hmmm, maybe I should try that today. And what about the stovetop pressure cooker? One of my sisters gave it to me a couple of years ago. I've not used it but can't seem to part with it because it was a gift. And let's not even get started on the slow cookers and coffee cup collection!

See the problem?

That darn kitchen. I have so much affection for the inanimate objects contained within it and have saved that corner for the last of the big push to simplify. I thought I'd be ready by now but I don't feel ready. Yes, I know it's just stuff and I know that each item can be replaced easily, if not cheaply, if necessary. But it's still so hard to even consider letting some of those things go.

I think I'll list the kitchen items to which I have no attachment (like a few of the many whisks I have and the wine bottle opener thingamabopper I've used once..what are those even called?) and enjoy the freedom of that for awhile. Maybe then I'll feel ready to rid myself of the other stuff. We'll see. It's a process and for me it's been a long one.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying a day off work and am about to head into the kitchen to give vegetable soup in the pressure cooker a try!

Happy Sunday. :-)

Long time no blog!

March 28th, 2015 at 07:34 pm

Way too long! Umm, a little over three years too long. ;-)

I'm still alive, still working as a barista at the same place, and still keeping my head above water, though sometimes just barely on that last one.

So much has changed in my life in the last three years. The man person, the one from whom I was separated, passed away after a brief illness. That threw me into a tailspin for awhile.

My stepfather's dementia has escalated and he was recently moved into a nursing home after a short hospital stay. If he's going to be there long term, I'll move in with my mother. She can't handle the expenses alone and taking care of the house and acreage is physically too much for her. Fortunately, they moved closer to me last year so although my drive to work will be a little longer than the one I currently have, it won't be bad. Also, there will be plenty of space for a garden! We've already decided to do container gardening again and are both very excited about that.

On the PF front, I'm doing okay. I have a little bit of money saved, have honed my scrimping skills, drastically reduced food waste, still use Netflix for entertainment, and my love for Dave hasn't waned. I still use his envelope system and still listen to his show. His EveryDollar app is one of my favorites! Yeah, I finally upgraded to an iPhone from my decrepit, barely functioning Blackberry. I have my son to thank for that, though. He gave me his old iPhone and added my line to his account so I now have a better phone and no phone bill. Thank you, son!

I'm still plugging away at paying off a couple of older debts. Ugh, would they please just disappear? At least I have no new debt and I'm thankful for that.

Before I stopped blogging here, I'd quit smoking. Well, that quit was busted but on January 21 of 2014 I had my last cigarette. I started vaping and although I still vape I'm down to 3 mg nicotine most of the time and foresee giving it up before too long. I know it's not as good as *no* nicotine but even my physician approves as long as I have a doable plan for quitting.

I'm still on my journey to minimalism. It's been a long and very interesting one. I've been in this one bedroom apartment for almost five years (wow, has it been that long?) and had accumulated too much stuff. Dealing with it was a source of distress for me, though. I'm not sure why except that it had taken me so long to get what I had that getting rid of any of it just seemed not quite right. On the other hand, it really was just stuff. I've given away a lot of it, sold some, and put some in dumpsters. Having more space and fewer material possessions to care for is so very liberating. Having less is easier now because I just seem to want less. I see this as serious progress in my emotional and financial health.

Anyway, I decided I really need to blog here again and to read other blogs here. The motivation provided is so helpful and I need that.

Nothing says "Don't buy that blouse/book/coffee!" like some of the entries here.

So there you have it, folks. Howdy! Again. :-)

Quick wrap up of 2009 & today's spending

December 31st, 2009 at 02:19 pm

Okay, so this year was good, bad, and even ugly financially.

The Good:

The man person's business is doing pretty well and pays most of the bills. I'm still working at the job I've had for two years and we manage to save a good portion of what I bring in or we use it for "fun" stuff.

In May of 2009 I opened a 401(k) with my employer and while there isn't much in there, it's something. I also have a very small pension amount with them. I doubt that I'll be with the company for 20 more years but who knows? It could happen.

We're about 1/3 of the way to having a fully funded EF but feel pretty good about what we have in it now. Even the amount we have gives us some security.

We rarely are late to pay a bill now. When it does happen, it's because I simply forget to deal with it, not because we don't have the money.

Our credit reports look a hell of a lot better than they did two years ago.

The Bad:

There isn't much in my 401(k) or pension account. Yeah, they've only existed for a few months but I want them stuffed with goodies..now!

We're only 1/3 of the way to having a fully funded EF. I want it fully funded..now!

Once in a while I'm forgetful and we don't get a bill paid on time. I want to have no bills to pay..now!

Our credit reports, while looking a lot better than they did two years ago, still have a hickey or two on them. I want them cleaned up..now!

Okay, so I'm a little impatient.

And the Ugly:

We have that $45,526.52 hospital bill to tend to. We have a payment plan set up with the surgeon but will throw extra at it and are paying on the pathology bill and will throw extra at it, too, but that hospital bill just looms over us as we try to figure out the best way to deal with it.

All in all, I'd say 2009 was a good year for us financially. Not spectacular but better than 2008 and certainly much better than previous years.

And here's hoping the upward trend continues in 2010.

Oh yeah, here's today's spending:

Laundry - $2.50
Cigarettes - $4.70
Denise Cell Phone - $80 (this is normally around $45 but I got a new phone and part of the monthly charge was pro-rated so this bill was higher than usual)
Americano to have while washing clothes - $2.11

Probable explanation for why business has slowed...

December 20th, 2009 at 01:41 pm

As I mentioned in an http://pinchthatpenny.savingadvice.com/2009/12/12/pardon-me-..., the man person's business has been slow recently. It isn't dangerously slow and we aren't really worried but it's a little troublesome. This week the shop brought in a little over the minimum we need it to and that's a great thing but since October there's been a definite lag going on.

While we were out today we went by one of the businesses that very often sends referrals our way. The man and the employee at said business started talking shop and the employee mentioned that her company didn't hire new folks for the holiday, implemented a hiring freeze, is consolidating management, and is laying off quite a lot of people. She also stated that they're having a hard time meeting last year's numbers much less exceed them as they're expected to do and they're being pushed to sell, sell, sell. Ahhh, this explains why we don't get so many referrals from them and it's exactly what we thought was going on!

The pressure is more than likely on all the corporate stores that send us referrals and the smaller local shops are probably feeling it, too. We're still not worried but we're very grateful for our low operating expenses and emergency fund which we haven't needed to tap but lends some feelings of security.

Dave and Suze (and other money savvy folks) are right - everyone needs the security of an emergency fund, call it what you will, and if you don't have it, 2010 is a great time to get it. Start now by selling what you don't need or want, working extra hours, cutting back on whatever you can until you have at least 3 months of living expenses. Once you have that, work toward having 6 months, then 9 months, then a full year.

Trust me, the security alone makes the effort worth it. And a good night's sleep goes a long way toward making all sorts of rough times liveable.

Pooh, no Roth for us!

December 14th, 2009 at 03:06 pm

Because we file separately we can't do the Roth thing. We were geared up to get that going when we found out. So, now we're looking at Traditional IRAs and SEP IRAs. I'm sure we'll come up with a good alternative but it's a little disappointing. Don't ask me why because I can't say why...I guess I just was all prepared to open the Roth.

Oh well, flexibility is key in investing, I'm sure.

On a slightly, and I do mean slightly, more positive note the man person wanted to go out to eat tonight. I told him I was going to make chicken, dressing, and some sides and it wouldn't take long and he decided he'd rather do that than eat out. It took less than 15 minutes from start to finish and it was a lot cheaper than a trip out to eat would have been. Yaaay for choosing to eat at home and double yaaay for using up the last of the leftover chicken! And there's enough left for lunch for both of us tomorrow. Wink

Credit Reports - not great but not as bad as I thought!

December 8th, 2009 at 03:39 pm

For a little back story, http://pinchthatpenny.savingadvice.com/2008/04/03/settling-o....

Since we don't use credit cards and don't have a mortgage (and hope not to have one i the future) I'm not overly concerned about credit reports but since I hadn't checked mine in a couple years I did so this afternoon. I was only able to get two of them;Experian and TransUnion but neither had the slew of stuff on them that was present when I checked it in 2007.

They each have four things listed under "Accounts in Good Standing" and two things listed as negative. One of those things is the home foreclosure from 2007 and there's nothing I can do about that. But the other is a $340 electric bill in collections from last year that I knew nothing about. Now that I know about it I'm going to deal with that one.

DH checked his reports, too. There's a small medical bill we don't recognize and are going to call about tomorrow and an old cable bill from when he was working in another part of the state.

The total of things that need to be paid on both reports is a little less than $1000. Hey, not bad from $16,000 eighteen months ago, huh? Of course, the one report I couldn't get might have a lot more on it but I don't think so. I'm going to send them the request form tomorrow and should get a printed copy of that before too long.

I don't plan to need credit anytime soon but it's good to know that the report isn't the disaster it was the last time I looked. Yaaay for paying off debts and getting them off credit reports and for old debts rolling off credit reports. Smile

But we mustn't get too terribly excited - DH's heart procedure a month ago is costing us $52,000, all from our pocket. We've worked out a payment plan for the physician's $5,000 but not the remainder. Ahhh well, life's a bitch.....wear a helmet, right?

The envelope system revisited

November 28th, 2009 at 08:54 pm

DH and I talked (again) about going back to the envelope system we used a couple of years ago. He agreed that it really helped us rein in our spending and that carrying a debit card or wad of cash makes overspending just too easy. So tonight we decided to revisit that envelope system and to make it work for us. Honestly, I think we need to go back to revisiting our budget at the end of each month, too. We have a few new expenses (gym membership, a new medication for him, life insurance, etc) but the business is doing well and we need to get a handle on all of this so we save/invest money productively rather than blow it.

And we've decided to start saving/investing my pay, all of it! Gulp! Not that its that much but I'm just sayin'...I think we'll start with saving rather than trying to invest it so that if something happens we have that little cushion. Once we feel a little safer we'll probably feel comfortable investing it. We're both sure we can live off what the business brings in, probably somewhat less than the business brings in but we'll see.

As LuxLiving said in the comment to my previous entry, we've come a long way! But we really do have a long way to go. I hope we're up to meeting the challenge and I'm so excited about trying!

Finally over the flu and catching up

March 9th, 2008 at 11:37 am

We're finally over the flu. Well, we still have horrible coughs and off and on headaches but that's it. I have to say that was the worst virus I recall ever having. It was horrible and it seemed to take forever just to feel human again!

I've missed reading all the blogs so today I'm trying to catch up on them. I'm off today and tomorrow and though I don't feel really chipper (I stayed up too late last night) I'm going to get some cooking done today for the coming week. We're eating out too much again and better meal planning is necessary to put an end to it.

Hey, guess what? Today is the 9th of March and our rent, electric and phone bills are paid already, two of them well ahead of their due dates! How is that for progress, sports fans? I say it sure does sound like progress! We have a storage bill due on Tuesday and my car insurance is due next week but that's it for this month, I think. Yep, the envelope system is definitely working for us. Except we do have one snafu. One day last week, DH needed change for a hundred dollar bill a customer gave him. He didn't have it in his money so he took the $80 from our food envelope and gave it to the customer. And he didn't replace that money yet. But that's okay as long as he pays for whatever food we buy for the next week, up to $80. But he agreed to get change from the bank and stop using the envelope money, which was good.

Anyway, I'm off to catch up with y'all. By the way, thanks for the well wishes and notes of concern while I was sick. I appreciate them! But for the most part, I was too sick to respond to them. Frown

$66.07 so far...

February 2nd, 2008 at 04:04 pm

That's our spending for yesterday and today. That includes $10.59 for food at Wal-Mart, $2.24 for a hot dog and drink for me at work, $1 for coffee for me at work, gas in our truck, and $35 for my oldest stepson. The hot dog and drinks for me at work should come out of the food money since that $87 is for groceries and eating out so I removed $3.25 from the food envelope and slipped it into the savings envelope. I'm not sure if I should have just kept it for myself since I used my money to buy the things at work but I decided to just put that money in savings. That seemed fair to me. Wink

$66.07 seems like a lot of spending for two days but we didn't spend $28.71 on cigarettes in the last two days and that's a very good thing. Smile

DH confessed that he found a couple of butts and has smoked them but he's an adult and I can't prevent that. As for me, I haven't had a smoke or even touched a cigarette since we quit the morning of January 31. I know myself. I can't smoke one, not even one little drag, or I'll be off and running again.

My patch came off at work last night and I haven't replaced it. I'm fine without it. Oh yeah, now and then I think about smoking but it's when I have nothing to do, which isn't often. And even when I think about it it's a fleeting thought. For some reason I don't experience the physical agony and such that so many people do. But that doesn't change the fact that I love to smoke and am addicted. Or that I have to avoid only one cigarette...the next one.

I so very much wanted to go out to eat tonight. Instead, I grabbed a container of store bought barbecued shredded beef from the freezer and nuked it and we had bbq sandwiches. I'd also put some wings in the slow cooker this morning and DH had drained them a few times for me. When I got home from work I drained them again and covered them with Country Bob's Sauce, let them cook about an hour more and we had those with the sandwiches. Not as tasty as mexican food would have been but certainly much cheaper!

And now I want a cigarette. Oh yes, I do want one. I won't have one but I want one!

Thoughts on baldness, saving money, and quitting smoking

January 31st, 2008 at 05:59 am

This is Day 1 of what DH and I call "The Quit". Before I got up, he'd made and eaten his breakfast so when I got up I made a cup of coffee, sipped a little of it, checked email, then cut his hair for him. Rather than have that "man losing his hair but not admitting it" thing going on he keeps it cut very short all over. I like it but then, I think bald is sexy. I do! Yul Brynner was one of the sexiest men in my opinion. And while DH has much more hair than shaved Yul, I can only hope he is someday totally bald! So yes, I cut his hair for him and that's always a nice savings.

I also shaved a spot on his back for his nicotine patch and placed it on for him. It isn't sticking too well but it's there. I might have to use some medical tape to keep it on. Mine is on my left arm. And we're each in possession of a small piece of straw. It gives us something to hold in our hands and in our mouths. It really does help with the physical habits acquired during years of smoking.

So far, so good. We aren't yelling, snapping or biting one another but it's only been a short time. We'll see how the day wears on. The nice thing is, even if we have a rough day, at the end of today we'll have saved close to $10. How 'bout that, sports fans? I need to get my quitmeter up and running. It really helps keep with motivation.

So, here's to those of us who are bald or love bald, saving money, and quitting smoking. May we be successful! Smile

Session One of Financial Peace University

January 28th, 2008 at 07:16 pm

Tonight was the first session of Financial Peace University. It was great! We met some seemingly very nice people, some of whom seem to be very deep in debt, and at least one couple that is debt free except for their house, thanks to what they've learned from Dave Ramsey.

I've never really watched Dave but have listened to his radio show quite a bit. He's absolutely hilarious to watch and really does a great 'show'. Learning is an added bonus. Smile

The kit is nice. In it is the book, Financial Peace Revisited, the Financial Peace Course Workbook, Dave's envelope system, and each course session on CD along with several bonus CDs.

The first session is basically information on Baby Steps 1 and 3, both of which deal with the Emergency Fund. Dave explains why its so important to have an emergency fund and gives some very convincing scenarios of how the EF can save your buns! I have to say that although DH was already on board with the EF concept, he wasn't really focused on it. Well, he is now!

I didn't get the savings account opened today but he said we'll have the money to get that opened this week and building that EF is a real priority for him now. Yaaaaay! It will be so much easier to stay on track if we're working toward the same goal.

On the way back from the session we talked about what constitutes an emergency and came to an agreement about that and how we'll prepare for it. We also talked about our eating out habits. We eat out a lot less than we used to and although we agreed to eat out once a week, he still likes to go to Chik-Fil-A for a particular breakfast sandwich and he likes to go get chicken wings. I don't begrudge him those things at all but if we're going to get 'gazelle intense' to use Dave's phrase we're going to have to put an end to that. So our compromise is that we'll eat out once a week only (my goal is once a month, if that) and if we get breakfast sandwiches one morning or wings for lunch that's our one meal out for the week.

So all in all, I think the first session was great and I think FPU is going to help us get on track..both of us!

I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it.

January 24th, 2008 at 07:37 pm



That's a quote from the lusty and busty Mae West, who was known to overindulge in many areas of her life. I have to admit I can relate to her in some ways. I've overindulged in many things, too. And it becomes habit if we let it. Breaking the habit of overindulgence, regardless of the 'drug' of choice, isn't easy. But I think that with work and dedication, progress comes. Baby steps are a start if they're in the right direction...

I went to the store today to talk to my boss about something. DH had commented last night about how he likes the cheap Mossimo knickers I got there and how they make my rear look 'very nice' and I should get more of them. So when I went to the store I intended to get more of those knickers if they were still at the nice clearance price. I figured I might treat myself to a Java Chip Frappuccino while I was out, too. I had $24 in cash in my coin purse and a check "just in case".

I got to the store and my boss wasn't there so I left her a note then headed to the clearance racks only to find there were no more knickers. There were very similar ones on other racks but they were full price between $14 and $17 and I didn't want to pay that.

I wandered over to the accessories and looked at the purses that were clearanced. There were some great ones for $4 but none of them appealed to me enough to choose one so I mosied over to the stationery.

I'm in the market for some kind of purse sized notepad or journal but they were all priced between $7 and $20. I found one I really liked but the thought of paying $20 for something in which to record expenses just struck me as incredibly stupid. I didn't want or need one that badly.

I headed back to the java joint to see if my boss was there yet. She wasn't but I talked to one of my co-workers for a few minutes. Soon the fragrance of coffee met my nostrils and the sound of the blender whirring assaulted my ears and I was tempted to order my favorite drink. I won't deny it;I was sorely tempted! But even with the discount, it costs over $3 so I left empty handed, consoling myself with the thought that I could make a cup of joe at home.

So yes, I left that store without buying anything at all. Nothing! No $4.84 knickers, no $4 purse, no $20 journal, not even an overpriced Java Chip Frappuccino!

Oh my, what's happening to me?

A call to action

January 14th, 2008 at 04:01 pm

I absolutely must have a financial plan of some sort for 2008. I tried talking to my other half about it a couple of days ago but he was distracted at the time and we haven't resumed the conversation. I don't want him to see me as nagging so I'm going to concentrate on things I can do without his help or approval for awhile and talk to him about it at a better time. Some of these actions are small and some aren't so small but here are my current ideas.

1. Since he's already stated that he wants to attempt to pay all the bills with the shop income and save at least half of mine, that's one step of the plan already going. My income varies depending on what position I work and how many hours I get so although I can say we want to save half of my income, I can't get a handle on just how much that will be. I'm going to set up Direct Deposit at work with the hope that doing that and having half of my check automatically go to savings will make the saving part easier. A lot of people claim it does and I think it's worth a try.

To go along with paying the bills with shop income, I've been thinking of ways to reduce those bills to make it easier for DH and to help us save.

I really want to unplug appliances when not in use but my love dislikes when I do that so for now that's out. I'm faithful about turning off lights we aren't using and go behind him doing the same when needed. But I can be more faithful about that. The phone and internet bills are basically set amounts so there are no reductions to be found there. That goes for the rent, also.

2. Vehicles and the gas for them are issues. Right now I take his truck to work, which is only about 3 miles from us. I need to get my car registered so we have another vehicle to drive so he can do some minor stuff to his truck to prepare it for inspection. We should have the money to register my car by the end of the week. The truck is a gas hog and the car is only a little better but once it's legal again we can drive it rather than the truck. We already try to combine trips to minimize driving but we can do more of that. We can also have at least two non-driving days a week, perhaps, if we prepare for them.

3. Food is definitely one area we can cut back. We eat out too much and though we're better about it than in the very recent past we can improve. I just need to plan better since I'm often at work when it's meal time. I need to make sure there's food ready at the office for DH and I need to take my lunches, snacks and drinks with me to work. I know how to meal plan so this isn't difficult - I just have to make myself do it.

If we do those three things - save half of what I earn, reduce driving, and spend less on eating out, we should save a lot.

Okay, so this isn't really a plan yet. Right now it's more me writing out my thoughts. But to formulate a plan I have to think things through and get a handle on them and I'm doing that slowly but surely.

Now, what do I do with these ideas? How do I make an actual plan? I guess the answer is to just do them. Right?