Friday, June 25, 2010

Extra Income

This year I made the goal to earn an extra $100 by selling items online (ebay or Amazon), and an extra $100 by recycling. I am way ahead on one goal, and a little behind on the other.

This month I earned $29.14 by selling stuff online. I sold several beauty products on Ebay (Clinique leftovers from gift with purchase and random Bath and Body Works items I received as gifts but never used-all new of course!). Also, one of my Amazon book listings sold this month, bringing in $8.61. Obviously, the longer I do this, the less stuff I have to sell, but it's been awesome to get rid of items I don't want anymore and earn money by doing it. So far this year I have earned an extra $146.29 just by listing items I already owned. Not bad!

The recycling is a little more difficult. I just took in a few bags today, bringing my total for the year to $26.97. Part of the reason this number is low is because my roommate stopped drinking (good for her!). I used to get extra money by recycling her bottles and cans as well. I am not going to be heartbroken if I don't make my $100 goal on this one, but I'll keep plugging away and see how it goes.

Both of these things require a little extra effort, but in my opinion it's totally worth it. Every little bit has added up, and it's definitely come in handy to have a little extra money in my account here and there, either for unexpected expenses, or to throw a few more dollars at my credit card debt.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It's officially summer...

...which along with getting to sleep in starting tomorrow and enjoying my time off also means that there are WAY more opportunities to spend money. This week we had four days of professional development meetings without the kids, which is always when we're able to actually go out to lunch for once, so I have been asked everyday if I want to go out to eat. I went on Monday, to celebrate the freedom, but I've said no every other day, opting to eat the food I have at home instead. I'm trying to plan some free activities in the next weeks (a hike and a bike ride are in the works), but it really is amazing how summer just kills my budget. I also went to Stroll and Savor last night-an awesome event on 2nd Street, where you get to sample food from all sorts of restaurants for ten bucks. I can go out every night if I want to, walking to get frozen yogurt is one of my favorite summer evening activities.

I adjusted my July envelope money, increasing it by about forty bucks because realistically I'm just going to spend more. But, I also want to try to come up with some fun, free things to do...otherwise I'm going to have a lot of trouble meeting my summer financial goals.

Anyone else have any fun, free summer fun ideas?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Phone Upgrade Success!

I was finally due for my phone upgrade. I've had a Blackberry for almost two years now. I've really liked it, but was looking for a cheaper phone plan and since I've dropped my phone like a hundred times it's pretty beat up. Also, I don't think I use a lot of the services that I am paying for.

I had called T-Mobile previously to ask about upgrading and my different options. I found out that I can save fifteen dollars per month by getting a "phone first" model, which has limited internet capability instead of a full Blackberry. Since I really only use Facebook and Google Maps for navigation, the woman on the phone recommended the Nuron, since it has a Navigation program and can do basic internet. I was online while on the phone with her. When I clicked on the phone, it told me it as $19.99, but whenever I put it in my car it came out at $69.99. I told the helpful woman on the phone about the issue. She looked it up and after putting me on hold for a few minutes came back and told me that the $19.99 price was a system glitch. BUT since it's what the website told me, they offered to honor it if I bought the phone online today. They are going to put a $50 credit on my phone bill so that I will end up with that price. SCORE!

So, I am paying $120 on my next bill, but I will have a $50 mail in rebate and a $50 credit on my account. I'm so excited about my new phone, glad I asked questions in order to get the right phone and the best deal for me, and to pay less each month on my phone bill. Yessss!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Possible Business Trip

I found out today that for the first time in recent history, the yearbook account actually made money this year! Huzzah! Due to gross mismanagement in the past (not by me), this had never happened before. I talked to the Student Store manager and she said it looks like we have made about $2,000! Yeah! I will know a final total on Monday, when I close the accounts with her, so it could be even more, since we'll sell books tomorrow at graduation.

This means possibly adding some cool stuff to next year's book, and that I might be able to go to Yearbook Adviser Academy at the end of this month in Kansas City (everyone's favorite hot spot). It's three days and it's coming up way fast-that might be the only hurdle. I would spend around $1,200 for this trip (flight, hotel, and conference) but I think it would be a great opportunity. I'd get to network with other advisers, learn, and plan for next year's book. I also wouldn't mind getting to go somewhere new. I know Kansas is not exciting for some, but I do want to visit all 50 states...and I am always up for new things. I am really hoping it works out. I will probably have to put the flight and hotel on my credit card and get reimbursed-which makes me a little nervous, because that's not always the most timely process. But I just sent an email to my AP, and I am optimistic that we can make it work.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Productive Weekend

*Walked to grocery store
*Made egg bake
*Gave myself a pedicure
*Cleaned my kitchen
*Watched my Netflix movie (this is productive, I'm telling you...)
*Had a no drive day :)
*Went to church
*Picked up prescription from CVS
*Washed car (including removing sap with Goo Gone)
*Cleaned makeup brushes
*Took bag of clothes to Out of the Closet (Thrift Store that supports AIDS patients)-I had been putting this off for MONTHS, I tell you.
*Cleaned out nightstand drawer

Discipline Spillover Effect

Does this happen to you? When I am more disciplined in one area (finances) that discipline spills over into other areas of my life. For example, I have been much better about cleaning and being organized since I made it a goal to get my finances organized. I'm not sure why this is. I think part of it is just less clutter (less shopping=less random stuff in my house). Also, I think part of it may be that I see how satisfying a little bit of discipline is when it comes to my bank account, so I am more willing to apply it in other areas of my life. It's been so nice to not have tons of stuff all over my apartment and to have a clean car.

Now, if the discipline could just spill over into working out and eating healthier, I'd be in business.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Talking Money at Work

Yesterday at lunch I had an interesting conversation with some colleagues about working after you have kids. I am nowhere near this position, so I was more listening than anything else. Now, I am all about women having options. If you can stay home and you want to, go for it. If you want to go back to work, that's great too.

Two of my friends were both commenting that while they could both technically stay home, it would require sacrifices to their lifestyles that they didn't want to make. For one of them, that made sense to me, but to hear the other talk of the "sacrifices" she would have to just felt odd to me. "I want to be able to shop without worrying about what I'm spending" or "I want to be able to go on nice vacations...I'm not doing sleeping bags" and "I don't want to sacrifice at this point in my life. And why should I?"

Now don't get me wrong. People can spend their money however they want to, and both of these women seem to have their finances in order. And I'd be lying if I said I don't even plan on taking a nice vacation or buying designer clothes in the future. But as someone who grew up in a house where my family really did make sacrifices so my mom could stay home (hand-me-downs, rarely a vacation, only eating out with coupons, etc.) it was weird to think of not being able to travel to Europe as a sacrifice. It bothered me on a level I can't completely explain.

Part of it is also knowing how little most people have. The "why should I sacrifice?" mentality forgets about all of those who sacrifice in ways we can't even imagine. I also think the sense of entitlement rubs me the wrong way. I talked with one of the women after, and we agreed that people's financial backgrounds totally affect how you view these issues. And that money conversations are complicated and should be handled sensitively. But it was certainly interesting...

Friday, June 11, 2010

More accidental savings...

I got a pay stub today for $33.94 (training rate of $25 for an hour and half training, minus taxes). When I was in the office someone was asking what it was for. Our AP said that it was a training we did a few months ago and that the only reason we got paid is because I noticed it wasn't on our checks and followed up, otherwise she would have forgotten to submit the paperwork. Obviously it's not tons of money, but it made me glad I have been double checking my pay stubs with my extra hours.

And, since the first $100 of all my direct deposits goes into my savings, I just saved some extra money this month, moving my emergency fund closer to $1,000. Good news all around!

What have you eliminated that you do not miss?

I got this idea from Me in Millions. : ) In my quest for financial freedom, I've definitely given things up. Some of them are difficult to do without, others I don't really miss at all. Here are some of those:

*Buying books: I am in love with the Long Beach Library. I request books online, they email me when they're ready to pick up at the requested branch. Then a few days before they're due, I get an email reminding me to return them to avoid a fine. Lovely. I still have a large book collection, but I really don't miss my Amazon addiction.

*Plastic water bottles: I have a few Nalgene bottles and a cool stainless steel one from my friend Becca that I use. I know this helps the environment and it makes drinking water free. :)

*Jewelry Shopping: I have missed buying clothes, but I must say that I have plenty of earrings and jewelry, something I really liked buying when I shopped. I've been fine with what I have. Honestly, except when I go out, I rotate between the same two pairs of silver hoops, so I could probably get rid of some of my jewelry.

*The video store: I subscribed to the cheapest Netflix instead. I spend less overall and watch way more movies. I made it a rule that I couldn't go to the video store since Netflix was actually something I added when I started budgetting. It also helps me fight the temptation to buy DVDs, especially seasons of TV shows I would normally spend a couple hundred dollars a year on.

*Bath stuff: I have all the lotion and body wash I need, and I actually got rid of some of these. Haven't missed a bunch of random lotion and having three different kinds of body wash in the shower. I'm fine with one of each, thank you.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Surveys at Swagbucks

I'm sure most of you noticed that Swagbucks added a new surveys feature yesterday. I have mixed feelings about doing surveys online...I haven't had a ton of luck wtih it (maybe I'm not a desirable demographic?). Usually, I end up starting one and being told I don't qualify. But, there was a Swagbucks satisfaction survey available to everyone and I did qualify for an entertainment survey this morning, which took about 15 minutes and earned me 100 Swagbucks (equals about one Amazon dollar). I think I'll definitely try to check out the Swagbucks surveys everyday, but don't know how many I will really complete. I definitely like using Swagbucks to earn Amazon gift cards ($55 in the last six months), so it's worth it to me to try to do a few surveys each week.

What about you Swagbucks users? What do you think of the new survey feature?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Road Trip Stats

Like I mentioned in my last post, I drove my sister out to her new job in Bryce Canyon Utah this weekend.  Here are some non-financial but interesting (to me) facts:

States Visited: 4 (California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah)
Out-of-State License Plates Viewed: 28 (Not including semi-trucks, my sister wouldn't let me)
Freeways/Highways Driven Upon: 9
Stops Made: 6 (three there, three back. The highlight stop being the Liberace Museum in Vegas!)

Also, I laughed so hard I cried (like rolling tears) at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. I love my sister!

Money and Marriage

I drove my sister to her new job in Utah this weekend (nine hours there on Friday, nine hours back on Saturday). Last night in my hotel I was enjoying the rarity of basic cable and stumbled across a show called  'Til Debt Do Us Part. I'm sure many of you have seen it, but it was a new one for me.

I can see how it would get really repetitive if I watched it all the time, but watching just one episode got me thinking about how important it is to marry someone who is on the same page when it comes to finances. The couple had so many issues that they hadn't dealt with, and so many financial issues they hadn't even talked about. I think some of the issues are not only financial, but are actually communication problems. So I guess the first thing to keep in mind is to marry someone who you communicate well with. But it also seems important to talk about money, which gets tricky. It's not exactly appropriate to discuss finances on a first date, but at what point do you bring it up? How do you talk about something so important but so taboo to discuss?

I'm not really at a point where this is an issue. Most of my dating has been casual lately, but watching the show got me to thinking. Any of you people in relationships want to throw in your two cents?

Thursday, June 3, 2010


This morning my direct deposit went in and after some number crunching, I was able to...

(I'm trying to build the suspense...)

(This is a big moment, people...)


It feels so good to have that card paid off! It's nice to see that all this effort is actually doing something, and that I am closer to being debt free! That was my highest interest rate as well, so it's a great feeling to be done with it. I cut up that card during FPU, so now I only have my Schools First Visa to think about.

I'm not even going to talk about how I still have another credit card to deal with...I'm just going to be excited that Capital One is no more!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A lucrative day

Today I had a long day...but one that will pay off when I get my paycheck on July 5th. Our July check will once again have two furlough days taken out of it (deducting two days of pay), so any extra income I can earn during this month will really make a difference. Today I covered a class during my conference period ($42 pre-taxes) and then went to a Learning Teams meeting for an hour, which I also get paid for (another $42 bucks). So I had no break today and have some extra copying to do tomorrow before I take Friday off to drive my sister to Utah for her new job, but it was definitely worth it!

We also have two professional development days right after school ends, which are optional, but are also paid. And I have a summer school training/faculty meeting that is paid the Friday we get out of school. Last, I should get my stipend for being yearbook adviser on my last check, so if all goes well I'll still come out ahead or at least even, despite the furlough days.

This blog post is WAY ahead of myself, since I won't even get my June check until Friday, but all my June hours go for my July check, so I am planning ahead. Lately, I find myself looking forward to payday not because I'm out of money (the budgeting is really working), but because it means I get to make another payment on my debt. I am so eager to be out of debt! Sometimes I can't believe I am still a year and a half away from having only my student loans left (meaning my cc bills and car are paid off)...that seems FOREVER away. But it's like Aesop taught us...slow and steady wins the frickin' race.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

May Budget Recap

Okay, I'm not going to go through every line on my budget...because that seems boring even to me. But here are the highlights (and the put it in hair color terms).

Grocery budget: If I just included groceries, totally made it. But, since I had to buy shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste, razors, and paper towels this By $6.60, which considering all the added expenses isn't terrible. I think $175 per month is pretty reasonable for me in general.
Gas budget: Check! Came in under, spending $114.71 out of $200 allotted. I could probably bring that budget down to $175 and have money to spare, which I'll try in June.
Unexpected expenses: Dry cleaning, new laptop cord, car wash, and parking ticket (I hate you street sweeping!) for a total of $90.74. Yuck. This is why I still leave a cushion in my budget.
Unexpected Income: Including my coverage pay that came in mid-month and a book I sold on Amazon, I earned an extra $177.16, on hundred of which went into my savings. This was good, since my paycheck took a big hit because of the furlough days.
Envelope System Success: That's right, my friends. I successfully stuck to the envelope system for my eating/drinking out and entertainment expenses! I ended up with $10 cash leftover, which I will use as a cushion until Friday, when I get paid. I still feel like I had a social life, just made better choices. And going out on a date or two helped as well. Being a girl is awesome sometimes! :)

That's right, when all is said and done and balanced, I came in below budget this month! So, I made a credit card payment of 28.58 today-every little bit helps! I will update my status bars again when I get my June check (deposited on the 4th). Hopefully even with the furlough day deduction I will have enough to pay off the Capital One card once and for all!