Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Expenses...

...were crazy. I budgeted high and stayed within the plan, but it's definitely more expensive to buy a pre-made costume than to collect things and put together my own costume like I usually do. I'm hoping to go back to that plan next year, but I did have a lot of fun.

I spent $36.69 on my costume (Oktoberfest girl-on sale and the bf used his work discount to get it for me), and bought the BF his costume for $38.83 (a mug of beer). I also brought a case of Corona to the party I attended ($9.99).  Here's the end result...
My favorite part is the beer holster,
with shot glasses attached with velcro. Handy!
I also dressed up for work (in a different costume, obviously). I was a Dodger fan, and I wore my jersey, hat, and bracelet, all with the Dodgers' logo on them. I also drew the LA logo on my face in blue eyeliner, and stuck a rally towel in my back pocket and ta-da! Costume complete. Not my finest effort, but it worked. And it was free, unlike my party costume.

Anyway, I definitely spent more than I know most frugal people would, but it was fun to dress up. Next year I'm hoping to peruse the thrift stores and get a costume for less money or make my own and still manage to look fabulous. :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spending Money to Make Money

So, in order to get a raise at school, I can take continuing ed classes and earn more units. You max out after a certain point, and obviously it makes sense to max out as soon as possible to get your salary up sooner rather than later. I am two jumps away from the top. Each jump is 14 units.

Anyhoo, I decided to get on the ball and work on getting another jump done this year. But of course, the two classes I am most interested in are both this month. So, I crazily decided to take 32 hours of classes within the next two weeks. But, I will earn two units and am only spending $80 total. And that includes four dinners for one of the classes and snacks.

One class is digital animation, where I will leave with a DVD of some digital animation that I made and can hopefully use in my classroom. Sweet!

The other one is about the Holocaust. It includes entrance into two museums in LA, curriculum, a DVD of Defiance with educator extras and a series of short documentary films about the Jewish resistance. We also get to hear survivor testimonies, learn about Modern Israel, and modern genocides like in Rwanda. Which will be really sad, but I think also really good.

And it gets me on my way to a raise...just don't expect to hear much from me for the next few weeks...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Weekly Money Check Up

My Pretty Pennies Weekly Money Check-Up is a fill-in-the blank post once a week. The first four questions are always the same each week and the fifth is always different. Care to participate? Fill in the blanks in the comments section or post it on your blog and link back to!

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was $126 on a new battery for my car. Loads of fun.

2. Today I feel focused towards money. I am trying to find extra money in my budget to still make an extra car payment even though I had to buy my new car battery.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was babysit for two super fun kids on Saturday!!

4. I will consider this week a success if I go for a walk at least three times this week. It's time to get back on the exercise bandwagon.

5. This year for halloween I am dressing up as a beer garden girl. The BF is being a mug of beer. :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Not Wasting Food

You know how some PF bloggers do "Food Waste Fridays"? I don't. Because it would probably be embarrassing. I could make excuses about how it's hard not to waste food when it's just you. And justify that I do better than I used to. But frankly, I end up throwing food away fairly often. It's not good.

But today, my friends, I had a food waste victory. Here's the recipe for my breakfast:

*3 eggs
*Last bit of salsa left in a jar from a crock pot recipe
*Last bit of cheddar cheese, sliced because there wasn't enough to really grate
*Half a leftover french dip sandwich from a restaurant two days ago in which the meat is still good, but the bread is definitely questionable.

Heat up a pan with some butter. Scramble the eggs into it. Once eggs are almost cooked, pull the meat off of the sandwich and throw the bread away. Also, throw away the one random french fry in the leftover container. Mix meat, salsa, and cheese into the eggs to make a southwest scramble. Best served with the last little bit of cranberry juice that you're not sure why you didn't just finish off last time you had some.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thanks, Emergency Fund!

On Friday I drove out to Fullerton to pick up my friend Shelley so we could hang out one last night before she flew back to Portland yesterday. I drove to my old house, pulled in the driveway, went in for a few minutes, and when I came out my battery was dead.


Didn't leave the lights on or anything...I've had this battery for about four and a half years, so I guess it was just time. I called AAA and after diagnosing my battery with a handheld device that ran tests and printed out charts and graphs, the nice man set me up with a new battery on the spot. With tax it came out to $126. He said I could have gotten one cheaper at Walmart, but the convenience of having him do it as well as the six year warranty made it worth the few bucks I could have saved.

Here's the best part. Instead of worrying about that amount or hemming and hawing about using my credit card, I handed over my debit card without a worry. I knew that if I couldn't squeeze it into this month's budget, I could easily transfer the money over from my emergency fund. It was such a nice feeling!

It was also nice to be able to crunch the numbers on my budget for the month and know exactly where I stood with my money to see if I could do it without the emergency fund. In the past, I would have said a wish and a prayer and taken a guess. Now I know I can use my regular account, since I have some cushions in my budget categories. I'm a little bummed, since that could have been $126 toward my car loan this month, but oh well.

I guess what I'm saying is, it's nice to have an emergency fund, even when you don't have to use it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

So, I took the plunge and finally tried out They are having a sale where all their $25 gift certificates are only $2! (They are normall ten bucks). I bought three of them-one for a Thai place near my house, another sushi restaurant I've been wanting to try, and a third for a local pub. All three require a purchase of $35, but I figure if I go with the bf we'll reach that total and then save $25 off of our bills. I'm hoping this works out and becomes worth it. It'll be nice to have some cheap date nights, since we can easily rack up the totals when we go out to eat. And I couldn't resist $75 in gift certificates for only $6!

Has anyone out there used Any advice?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Birthday Gift Bonanza!

Due to the generosity of friends and family, I was able to get some things I needed (not just wanted) for my birthday...

My grandma got me a gift card to Marshall's, which I used to buy new sheets...the other ones were just dingy, and I love the two colors of blue together...
Did I make my bed just for this picture? You'll never know.

My roommate bought me a new crockpot, which I've been wanting for a while. Here's why...
I think this is my roommate's mom's crockpot from her wedding or something.
It no longer has a lid.
Here is the beautiful new one. I think I'm most excited that the inside comes out, so I don't have to have the cord in the sink when I clean it, like I did with the old one. That just seemed risky.
Stainless steel, locking lid, beautiful.

I also spent part of a Border's gift card on thank you notes and a Christmas gift for my grandma...still have some on there, so we'll see how I spend it. And I used a 33% off coupon to buy her gift. Perfect. I'm also planning on using the last bit on my Marshall's gift card to buy some Christmas gift wrap, so I'll be all set when the holidays get closer. I know that's probably not what people expected when they gave me the gift cards, but since what I really want is extra money toward my car payment, this is my way of making it happen. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I've got spirit, yes I do. I've got spirit, how 'bout you?

Last week was Spirit Week at my work. I was absent Tuesday, but I participated in all the other days, without spending a dime. Monday was Nerd Day.
Braided pigtails, tape on my real glasses,
a button down, a cardigan, and rolled up jeans
to look like high-waters. 
Wednesday was Neon Day...I wore a shirt I bought at Target three years ago for an 80's party. It's come in handy for two different 80's events, and once again for neon day. I almost got rid of it over the summer, but decided to throw it in my costume bin. Glad I held onto it, it worked perfectly.

Thursday was Character Day. I'm not a t-shirt, cartoon kind of girl, so I didn't have anything. Lucky for me, the BF found a Disney princess button on the ground at Disneyland, which I pinned to my shirt on Thursday. Perfect! I didn't feel bad about keeping it because there were no little girls crying about their lost princess button around.

Friday was Pink Day, in honor of breast cancer awareness and in memory of a teacher at our school who passed away from breast cancer last year. This was easy, since I wear a lot of pink.

It was fun to participate each day, and nice that I was able to round up all the items without spending any it sad that Nerd Day was one of the easiest to put together? What does that say about me?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I noticed...

...that I have a different attitude about stuff than I used to. I've actually seen this in a lot of ways. But my birthday once again showed me the difference in my mentality.

You know how you ask some people what they want for their birthday and they say, "Oh, nothing. I can't think of anything I want." I have so never been that person. I can always think of a list of stuff I want...movies, clothes, books, jewelry...I could go on.

Now don't get me wrong. I still thought of some things I wanted, but it wasn't like before. I get books from the library, I rent DVDs on Netflix. While I always like new clothes, I don't feel like I need a whole lot. Instead of having a laundry list of stuff, I could really only think of a few things. Most of them were items I'd been meaning to buy, but it was nice to get them as gifts instead. And I used my gift cards to get some things I actually needed, rather than just buy more stuff.

I like that feeling. Less materialistic, not as consumed with stuff, a little easier to please.

A little extra...

I went to a paid training last month, which didn't make it into my regular paycheck. I noticed it got added today, so I immediately transfered a whopping $67.92 toward my car payment. I know, alert the media.

It's in fact such a small amount that when I updated my status bar, it didn't move up a percent. But, I have committed that all my extra money go toward my car payment, and since I was only able to put $155 toward it with my regular check, it felt good to make another transfer toward my principle.

My regular payment goes through in a few days, which will put me at less than $8,000 left to pay. I am also hoping to get at least another small payment in before my November check, which will have some pay missing due to a furlough day.

I am really hoping to have that loan paid off by June...and so far I am on track! And every little bit is getting me there!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's Fall!

...and that means my bargain decor gets to come out and play!

I got the acorns from Pier One right after Thanksgiving two years ago. I paid less than $2 for each of them. I have a few more that I put in various places around the house. The pumpkins are's another view of them...

The pumpkins are actually candles that I got on clearance with a Pottery Barn gift card at least four years ago...if not more. I have about six more of those, four of which I lined up on our mantle, interspersed with candles. I also have a Fall wreath on my door, which I love. 

Fall has fallen at my place, how 'bout yours?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekly Money Check Up

From My Pretty Pennies...enjoy.
1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on getting my hair did...$100 including tip.
2. Today I feel great towards money. Due to my birthday, I am way under budget in a lot of categories compared to where I normally am at this point in the month. And there are more birthday coupons to use!
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was this is a big cheat, but my mom's cousin signed the bf and me in to Disneyland today for free, since it's my birthday. Connections! But other than that, it would be going to church for the first time in a few months.
4. I will consider this week a success if I get my birthday thank you notes written and mailed.
5. If I could could quit my job for a month and travel throughout one country, I would choose just one country??? Umm,  a big one. Italy? Since there's so much to see there and I only saw two cities on my first trip there.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Best Week Ever

Well, it's close at least. Due to some random generosity and since next week is my birthday, I've been able to eat out several times without spending a penny!

Wednesday-Rubio's for dinner, using my birthday coupon for a free meal
Thursday-Yearbook Adviser Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. The rep from the publishing company takes us out for a fancy dinner with drinks and appetizers once a year. YUM!
Friday-Free happy hour at Shakey's from the union. This too is a once a year tradition which we all look forward to.
Saturday-friend treated me to birthday pedicure (haven't had a professional one in over a year!). She told them we were celebrating, so the nice lady at the salon gave me a free parafin treatment on my hands. They feel so soft! Then we went out to a BBQ place where they have 22 microbrews on tap. A group of friends came who covered my meal and my drinks. One friend couldn't make it until after, so she took me to the movies last night as well. So nice!
Sunday-went to Marshall's and used most of the gift card my grandma sent me on new sheets (the old ones just looked dingy, no matter how clean they were). Then my friend Shelby took me out to sushi to celebrate my birthday (we always treat each other to a birthday dinner instead of exchanging gifts.)

I'm feeling very loved and lucky that I have so many generous friends I get to spend time with. It's nice to have a gift that involves quality time, and I truly am thankful! And, it's definitely been a HUGE plus for my budget. I was expecting October to be really spendy, but barring any emergencies, it looks like I'll be able to pay a little more on my car at the end of the month!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Birthday Freebies!

So my birthday is next Tuesday the 12th. I plan to post pictures of my birthday celebration, but there is another reason I love October...the birthday freebies I get from restaurants! Just today I got a bunch of them in my inbox, and I'm expecting some more in the days to come. I'm listing them not just to show off, but to encourage you to go to these restaurant's websites and sign up for birthday freebies too!

Daphne's Greek Cafe-Free combo meal
Rubio's: Free meal up to $7
Red Robin: Free burger
Ruby's Diner: Free sundae
Pick up Stix: Free order of cream cheese wontons
Starbucks: Free drink of my choice
Del Taco: Free milk shake
BJ's: Free pizookie
Denny's: Free grand slam breakfast (has to be on your actual bday)

I'm thinking all these freebies will make staying in my eating out budget much easier this month, which might be nice to get me back on track! I'll post any others I get over the next week...I'm expecting El Torito and Acapulco for sure and we'll see what other ones I forgot about. I told the bf that I'll be a cheap date this month!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sidebars Updated...

I updated my sidebars as of payday today, and the good news is that I have a fully funded Emergency Fund! I've got Baby Step 1 complete. I definitely chose to do this out of order, but I went with $100 per month while aggressively paying off my debt. I have been happy with this system, and plan to keep $1,000 in there until my car loan is paid off, when I'll up it to 3-6 months expenses. It's funny, that money doesn't really feel real to me, because it's not on the table to spend...but if I ever need it I will definitely be glad it's there!

October is an expensive month for me, so I was only able to pay an extra $155 on my car. :/ I set aside $100 for Christmas this month, as well as $100 for Halloween (costumes for the bf and myself...I'm making him go along with my ridiculous idea, so I'm covering his). Hopefully I will have extra left over for Halloween and I'll be able to slide a little more over to my car at the end of the month. But, I adjusted the sidebar and I'll do so again when my regular payment goes through on the 15th.

I'm also really, really, really going to try to stick to my "fun" budget. I've been going over on this for the past few months, and I need to get it in line. I am going to use my debit card but carefully track it this month. I think the cash system was getting me in trouble, because having all that cash at the beginning of the month made me a little spendy. We'll see how that goes. If I can stick to it, then the extra on any other budget lines can go toward my car at the end of the month, instead of me playing musical money and moving things all around to cover eating out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Errand List for the Week

I have a lot to do this week, so I made my to-do list broken down by day. And I'm sharing it with you to see if it will make me stick to getting it all done:

Monday: Mail book at Post Office (sale from Amazon), grocery store (stick to meal planning), drop off bag at Goodwill, get cash from ATM for fun for the month.
Tuesday: Clinique gift with purchase, free lotion at Bath & Body Works (coupon), buy mattress pad (use coupon for 20% off), free mascara coupon from Sephora, pick up book at library
Wednesday: Doctor's appointment 4:15
Thursday: Yearbook Adviser Dinner (free night out! Yeah!)
Friday: Shakey's event with teachers union (more free food!)

Miscellaneous: Reschedule hair appointment again, pay extra on car payment, new shirt or dress for reunion, organize files (this might not get done this week)

If I get all this done it will definitely be a productive week...and a little pricey actually. But it's the week of payday, so that makes sense. We shall see if I can do it. I broke it down by day to help me stay on track with all of it, hopefully that helps.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Weekly Money Check Up

Here are my answers to My Pretty Pennies Weekly Money Checkup. She does hers on Mondays, but I just sorta grab it and do it sometime toward the end of my week. Because I'm organized like that. Enjoy!

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on $23 for my dinner and part of a friend's for her birthday. We went to Olive Garden and I resisted wine and drank water and had soup, salad, and breadsticks.
2. Today I feel impatient about money. I get paid Monday, and I'm ready for a fresh start in my budget categories and to get moving on my car debt...I want to make another lump sum payment!
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was went to a Kings pre-season game. I got to go for free with a friend and all I did was pay $7 for parking.
4. I will consider this week a success if I make dinner at home 5/7 nights. I want to work on not burning through my fun money at the beginning of the month.
5. The thing I am most looking forward to about this autumn is wearing my boots with dresses and tights. And the holidays-Halloween, my birthday, and Thanksgiving.