Sunday, January 31, 2010

No Spend January Recap

I did some number crunching and came up with some data for No Spend January...although after looking at this list I should really name it something else.

Money In: 

Amazon/Ebay Sales: $61.47
Cat-sitting: $80
Spare Change: $7.60
Medical Reimbursement: $10
Owed Money: $36.16
Recycling: $7.08

Total: $202.31

Money Out:

Social Food: $84.59
Bars: $51.50
Convenience Food: $35.72
Entertainment: $13.05
Parking: $10
Shopping: $6.82

Total: $201.68

On the one hand, I feel victorious since I was able to bring in extra money this month and not spend out of my regular paycheck in all of these categories. I also think it was really good for me to track how much I spent throughout the month-it is eye opening to see how much I spend (and in a month where I was thinking about it too...I can't imagine what the total must have been over the summer, when I sort of went crazy with the spending). I would not have predicted that this is the amount I spend in a month on top of necessities. It encouraged me to continue to keep track of my expenses (on a spreadsheet, not on a blog. I am thinking this string got a little boring).

Also, it was nice to see how much extra money I was able to bring in this month. My foray into selling on Amazon was a success. I got rid of lots of extra stuff in my house, and brought in some money. Normally I would have either left it there forever or donated it to the Salvation Army. While donations are a good thing (that's still how I get rid of clothes), by making a little bit of extra effort I was able to bring in an extra sixty bucks this month. I am also glad I have been recycling. I know that's not a lot of money, but it's good for the environment and good for my wallet. Every little bit helps and I plan to keep that up all year.

Honestly, the amount spent on social eating and bars doesn't really bother me too much. I know I could eat out less and spend less at bars, but those are social outings. I don't clothes shop anymore (not until my credit cards are paid off at least), but it is important to me to be able to socialize with friends. And believe it or not, I actually did say not to some things this month. So, while those are my highest numbers, they are acceptable to me. It just tells me that I need to sacrifice in other areas to stay in my monthly budget.

However, the convenience food category has got to go. I categorized convenience food as any time I ate out alone. First of all, most of these choices were unhealthy (fast food, pizza, etc.) I don't need to be going anywhere with a drive-thru. Second, if I am trying to live on a budget, I need to cut out unnecessary expenses, and not being in to mood to cook or eat at home does not constitute necessary. I also sometimes ended up eating out alone because I did not plan well, and was out and about without food.

So, in closing. From now on I will...

*track the amount I spend each month by categories.
*make a goal to keep convenience food spending under $10/month.
*keep recycling (I am aiming to make an extra $100 this year)
*keep selling items on Amazon (also aiming for an extra $100 this year)k

Thanks to those of you who read this marathon thread and who commented on it. The accountability was really helpful, and I do better with a rambling narrative than a spreadsheet with formulas. I will now return to blogging like a (semi-)normal person. :)

No Spend January Day 30

Saturday I set out to bring in some extra money. First, I mailed the DVD I sold on, which after shipping netted me $1.27. (I think I only spent $5 on that DVD in college, so I'm fine with that profit). Then I took in my recycling and got $3.80. Next, I went to the grocery store and picked up stuff to make tacos, along with other basics to get me through a week or two.

I spent most of the afternoon reading Middlesex for book club (the longest book ever). Then I made dinner for my roommate and my sister, along with making a pot of spaghetti with Italian sausage that I separated into meal-sized portions right away. Erin brought chips, Kerri provided beans and beer and we had a lovely dinner.

So, I brought in $5.07, meaning that I am back in black, with a total of 63 cents to my name.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 29

Okay, I decided to add back in the money I spent on groceries a few weeks ago, because buying myself food is allowed. So, that brought me back up to $12.66.

Friday after work I came home and invented a dinner since I am pretty low on food at the house and didn't want to go to the store until Saturday. I sauteed half an onion with some garlic, added frozen hash browns that were in my freezer. I also cooked two turkey patties with BBQ sauce in the George Foreman grill (I didn't have sausage, so I improvised). Then I mixed it all together and had that for dinner. It was not bad. I also took a moment to appreciate that I am single, since I can't imagine saying, "Honey, I didn't want to to go to the store, so we're having hash browns and turkey patties for dinner."

Then I went to a place called Pelican Isle in Sunset Beach because a co-worker's uncle was playing in a jazz band there. A group of work people were all there, and it was a lot of fun. I bought a round, spending $17. So, my total is negative 4.44. I'm off to go recycle some cans in the next few hours, hopefully I can get that amount and end the month breaking even. Sunday I will post a full run-down of how I spent my money this month (I think carefully tracking spending has been one of the best parts of this experience).

Also, I carpooled to work and a friend picked me up to go out, so I got in another No Drive Day. :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

No Spend January Day 28

Today I went on a field trip to LACMA with my students. It was a good day and the kids had a lot of fun...and I am EXHAUSTED. I ended up getting lunch from Subway this morning, spending $6.24. I realized that all of my lunch stuff is items that need to be microwaved, and since there is no microwave at LACMA, I bought lunch. Ugh.

I honestly think I am going to end up in the hole for January. I am recycling on Saturday and I just sold a DVD on Amazon (but only made a few bucks on it. I'll know exactly how much after I ship it and deduct postage). I have a commitment to go out to a bar and listen to a jazz band tomorrow night, but I am planning on just having one drink.

On the plus side, I carpooled today, so I have another No Drive Day under my belt! That makes eight this month!

I ended the day down $11.77.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Toolbars

I came to a decision tonight, and updated my toolbars accordingly. I have decided that before I start my savings for a down payment on a house, I should completely pay off my car loan. I have a large car payment and two and a half more years left if I keep paying the scheduled amount. I had originally planned to go with that and start saving separately, but upon further reflection, I have set the goal to aggressively pay off my car loan and completely own my car by July 2011. (Ugh, that sounds SO far away).

My reasoning is as follows: the sooner I pay off my car loan, the more money I save on interest. Once the car is paid off, I can pour more money into my house down payment fund, but can also diversify and work on some retirement investments with the extra money I will have each month.

I am sort of disappointed that I won't get to start saving for a house right away, but I think this way makes more financial sense. And, it will be great not to have that car payment hanging over my head anymore. So, the progress bar just reflects how much I owe on the car starting from today. I am going to continue with the regular payments until my credit cards are paid off, and then start dumping extra money into my car payment. 

No Spend January Day 27

Today I worked and then stopped by the library to check out my book club book along with the book on CD. We're reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides which is about a million pages long. So, I checked out the audio book to make sure I get through it in time (I plan on listening in the car). The CDs cost me $2.10 to check out for two weeks. Technically, I shouldn't have done it since I am in the red according to the No Spend Rules, but I think it's a worthwhile investment, so oh well.

Today was profitable in two other ways. First, I got my last Swagbuck I needed to get another $5 Amazon gift card. That means when the gift cards post on February 1st, I will be able to order Big Love Season 3 without spending any money! I'm so excited about this!

Also, I came home and did my taxes tonight and found out I am getting a little over $1700 back this year. Score! I am planning on putting all of it toward paying off my credit cards. If I put it all towards my Capital One card, I can have that one paid off by the end of March (assuming no major unforeseen expenses come up). That would take me down to only one card with a balance, which would be exciting.

So, I am down $5.53 for the month. Let's hope recycling goes well on Saturday!

Day 26

Well, on day 26 I worked, had a meeting after school, and then came home to meet up with my roommate to go to a Haiti fundraiser. A restaurant/bar in Redondo Beach was hosting an event where all the food and drink proceeds went to an orphanage in Haiti. I had a twenty dollar bill in my room (because some of my spending was on debit card) so I decided to go and not count it against myself-it's for Haitian children, after all. So, I went and spent $17 and had leftovers for my dinner on day 27.

I have been gathering recyclables to take in on Saturday and hopefully make up my $3.43 deficit. We shall see though. It's not as much as I would normally take in, but I figure if I can get into the black by Sunday, it will be worth it. If not, I know I definitely saved some money this month, and made some money by getting rid of extra books, CDs, and movies in my house.

Monday, January 25, 2010

No Spend January Day 25

Today I went to work and carpooled with my friend Kari. The annoying thing about carpooling with Kari is that she leaves earlier in the morning and stays later in the afternoon than I do. The great thing about carpooling with Kari is that she leaves earlier in the morning and stays later in the afternoon than I do. I was at work for nine hours and twenty minutes today. Here is a list of things I got done (other than teaching my normal day):
*Graded District Assessments
*Sorted field trip slips and made list of who is missing them on the board
*Emailed a bunch of people about a bunch of stuff :)
*Uploaded all the yearbook photos I have been trying to get to
*Edited the yearbook master pages (almost done with this project. So close!)
*Got transcript info from Biola to National University all ready to fax tomorrow morning
*Requested Middlesex from the Library for book club

Seriously, I got so much done by sitting in my classroom and working, rather than running around after school. I have a stack of stuff to deal with around campus tomorrow, but I got it all in one place, ready to go. I felt really productive at work-totally worth staying until 4:30.

Anyway, after I got home I did a little baking, ate dinner, finished Weeds Season 5 (gasp!) and Lost Season 5 (Double, no Triple gasp!!). And actually, since I needed to get caught up on Lost by next week, that actually feels productive too. TV is on my to-do list.

I also gathered my recycling, and am planning to go on Wednesday to cash that in. Hopefully it's enough to put me back in black. We shall see.

So, it's another no spend, no drive day for me. :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

No Spend January Day 24

This morning I got up and made soup with Becca's recipe. Here it is:

Saute onion and garlic in large stock pot. Add a can of stewed tomatoes (chop them up a little) and a carton of chicken broth. Then add three cheese tortellini (the kind from the refrigerated section, I got mine at Trader Joe's). I cooked it until it was almost to a boil and then added a can of artichoke hearts (not the glass jar, but the can you can buy from Trader Joe's. Juice and all.)  It was delicious.

Then I took advantage of the sunshine and went for a bike ride on the beach, down to the Queen Mary with some friends. Then I came home, did laundry, and watched the rest of Weeds Season 5. Another free day, and another No Drive Day, and now I am off to bed.

No Spend January Days 23

Since I am in the hole, I made it a real no spend day. After I did my homework for my online class, I went on a beach walk. It was the first day it wasn't raining all week, so I took advantage of it by walking around three miles. I am hoping to go on a beach bike ride Sunday as well. Then I headed to South Coast Plaza to meet my friend Rene for lunch. I ate at home and brought my coupon for a free milk shake with purchase of an entree at Ruby's Diner. Rene ordered lunch and we split a chocolate-banana milk shake. Delicious and free. :) Then I headed to the Aveda store to use this coupon to get a free sample of shampoo, conditioner, and strengthening treatment. They are sulfate free, which is my shampoo requirement-one that no drugstore brands meet, so it was nice to get a sample that I can actually use. It's a small amount, but it will be perfect for a weekend trip or something like that.

Then I went to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a recipe my friend Becca told me about, along with a few other things (I already decided this trip was allowed, so I'm not counting it as spending). I also went to Best Buy and used my Christmas gift card to buy Weeds Season 5. I took Weeds over to Becca's house, where she made dinner and then we watched a few episodes and hung out.

I started the day with negative 3.43 and ended the same way.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

No Spend January Days 21 & 22

It's been a bad couple of days for spending...

Thursday I worked, came home and ate something so I would be less tempted to get food at happy hour. I went to happy hour at Rock Bottom Brewery, had two beers (three bucks each) and then ordered a half-price appetizer which came out to around four dollars. I put in $12, leaving the restaurant feeling okay about only going two dollars over what I had planned and having a great time with my old high school friends.

Then I got to the parking structure and had to pay $5 for parking. They validated two hours, but I was there a third hour. Crap.

But, oh well, right? I ended Thursday with $11.59.

Then Friday after work I came home exhausted. I am pretty much out of food, unless I wanted ramen for dinner. Ramen does not fill you up, for the record. What I should have done is gone to the store, which I would not have counted against myself, since I need more food. But at work, people were talking about different pizza places and it sounded good and I didn't want to drive anywhere in the rain, so I caved. I ordered a pizza from Papa John's. Including delivery and tip I put $15.32 on my debit card.

Which leaves me, um, with negative $3.73.  Crap.

I'm annoyed with myself because it wasn't a social event, it was just laziness. Granted, I am eating the pizza for three meals and it was delicious, but still. UGH! I am going to list a few more items on amazon/ebay and see if I can recoup that money, but I am running out of things I am willing to get rid of. And there are nine days left in the month.

So, I guess the lesson is two fold: One, have more willpower. Two, when I make my budget, I need to plan for things like this and give myself a cushion. The parking situation is a good example of an unplanned for expense causing problems.

Now, if I wanted to justify things, I could add the grocery money I spent a few weeks ago back into my balance. Because I decided groceries are allowed, but I wanted to not be so free with the extra $80 I got from cat-sitting. I may end up doing that, but I would have liked to make it through the month without having to get sneaky. We shall see.

On the plus side, I had another No Drive Day on Friday (another perk of the pizza delivery). That puts me up to five days so far. I would like to have two more this month, which I think is do-able.

Okay, I'm signing off to go not spend money and look for spare change. Over and out.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

If I could marry TV shows on DVD, I probably would. That's how much I love them.

I only need 14 more of these....

Search & Win

To be able to buy this...

That's right...I am a mere 14 Swagbucks away from being able to buy a season of Big Love on DVD without spending any money! When I get there, I will have my fourth gift certificate ($20 total) and will combine that with my Amazon Mechanical Turk money (which I am totally over, but managed to earn $14.50 with.)

So, if you are interested in joining Swagbucks (totally free, earn "bucks" for doing internet searches) click the above link. They have gift cards to all sorts of places, as well as some other prizes. And if you're interested in Big Love (you really should be) click the link next to this one. (Yes, I'm trying out Amazon Associates.)

Days 18-20

I've been busy.

Monday I went and saw Up in the Air with Shelley and Kerri. One of the problems with No Spend January is that it falls during awards season, when there are millions of movies I want to see. So, I went to a matinee and spent $8.75. I liked the movie and was glad to get at least one probably Oscar contender off of my To-See list. Later, I went to have dessert with my friend who was in town visiting. Her hostess made cookies, so that was free. :)

Tuesday I worked all day and then had curriculum council after school. The day also involved being on lockdown for tornado warning. Yes, you read that correctly. Tornado warning in Southern California. Crazy. My carpool buddy graciously agreed to swing by the library on our way home so I could keep it as a No Drive Day. And then we drove through Del Taco because I was in the mood for something cheap and dirty. I spent $4.

I had another moment of weakness this morning, and stopped at McDonald's for an iced coffee and also ended up getting some cinnamon melts. So I spent another $3.89. I know, I know. It's especially terrible that I had fast food again, since everyone else in the personal finance blogging world is starting 30 Day Shred AND I watched the Biggest Loser last night, which should have motivated me not to have McDonald's. Sigh. But, on the plus side I also came straight home after work (the streets were flooding, so my errands are postponed), ate food I had at home, and transferred another $14.03 into my checking from I've spent the last few hours watching LOST on hulu...I can't wait for the last season!

So, after a few fast food purchases and one good movie, my balance is $29.59. I am going to happy hour to catch up with some old friends from Jr. High. My goal is to spend no more than $10. Hopefully by making that public, I will stick to it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

No Spend January Day 15

Haha, I realized I skipped Friday...that's what happens when it's the weekend, I guess. :)

Friday I went to work, ate dinner at home, and then went out in Manhattan Beach with my friends Jess and Elizabeth. We went to The Shark's Cove and listened to live music, hung out, and made new friends. I spent $20 on buying a round of drinks for the three of us. I ended up spending the night at Jess and Elizabeth's place and they made me breakfast Saturday morning. Awww.

So, I adjusted yesterday's total for the $20, but I have no idea where I was Friday night. See the Day 17 post for where I am at in my 'balance.'

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Days 16 &17

I'm combining the weekend, for simplicity's sake. :)

Yesterday I did my homework (ugh), mailed another DVD I sold on Amazon, and then headed out to Huntington Beach to meet up with my friend Rebecca who is visiting from Idaho. We hung out and then met up with some more old friends from Biola and went to Ruby's on the pier. I had the Super burger (my favorite) and resisted spending five more bucks on a milkshake. Then, after I'd eaten half of it, my friend Katie accidentally spilled an entire glass of water on me and my dinner, so they brought me a whole burger, which I ate for lunch today. Then we played games and caught up. It was fun to reconnect and see how we've changed since Biola, but also how some things never change with old friends. I spent $13.

Today I slept in, cleaned my house, did a load of laundry, finished Mad Men Season Two, and am now watching the Golden Globes. And I have tomorrow off. Score!

So, this weekend I am left with $32.20 and have added one more No Drive Day to the tally. Also, it's the halfway point of the "No Spend" month. I feel like I have to put it in quotes, since I am still spending money, but I've managed to do it all with extra income so far.

Friday, January 15, 2010

No Spend January Day 14

Thursday was a long day-worked all day and then had book club (which I love!) in the evening. After work I headed to The Market (an upscale Vons in the neighborhood) to pick up an appetizer to bring to book club. I bought some parmesan pesto dip and parmesan olive bread, as well as some orange blueberry Italian Soda, spending $9.67. Then I headed to book club, where the smorgasbord of goodness was overwhelming. It was delicious and I always have fun at book club.  :)

Also, one of my friends who is in book club is the one whose cat I fed over the break, and she paid me last night. She was very generous, so I got to add $80 to my extra income. (Wow!) Considering how much I spend on my National University class this month, I am going to stick with the original plan and deduct my groceries from my running total. I definitely wasn't expecting $80, so this is quite the windfall. :)

Anyway, with all the adjustments, that leaves my spending balance at $65.20. Not too shabby heading into the weekend.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

No Spend January Day 13

Today was another busy workday. I shipped Better Off Dead, which I sold on Amazon after work, and got home around 5:00 to discover another CD sold, which is good. But also means I am making my millionth trip to the post office this week. Oh well, money is money!

After I got home, I hustled to get ready since I had another date (with a different guy. I'm telling you, is an investment.) I went to a lovely dinner at The Rusty Pelican, a nice seafood place in Newport. I had a raspberry lemon drop martini and salmon for dinner. Yum on both counts. The restaurant overlooked the bay and the boats, so it had a nice ambiance too. My date was a gentleman and paid for dinner, so I only spent $5 on the valet parking, making my "balance" $18.98. (I think I will transfer my recent Amazon sales this weekend, but it's nice to know they are there.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

No Spend January Day 12

Today was another work day. Had waffles for breakfast, bean/rice/chicken bowl from lunch, and the last of my chicken and white bean chili for dinner. All food I had pre-prepared, and at no cost to me. :) I also stopped by the library to check out season two of Mad Men. I rented all for discs for $2.20, and I get to keep them for a week. Take that, Blockbuster! If this were six months ago, I would have ordered the season on Amazon, and part of me does still want to own this show, but I am proud of myself for making wiser financial decisions.

I also need to get gas before work tomorrow, which ideally should last me through the month. But, I am driving to Newport for dinner tomorrow night (another unofficial New Year's resolution is to do more dating), and then driving to hang out with a friend who I haven't seen in a few years. But, my carpool buddy drives next week, and I plan to ride with him as many days as possible, so we shall see how I do on the gas front.

So, after a well-spent $2.20, I have $23.98 to spend.

Monday, January 11, 2010

No Spend January Day 11

Well, today was my first day back at work after vacation and also a no spend day. This is no coincidence. When I work, I am way less likely to spend money. We only get half an hour for lunch, so going out isn't an option. And, if I have food at home I am likely to eat it rather than going out. So, after having delicious mac and cheese that I mentioned in the last post for lunch, I came home and had leftover chicken and white bean chile for dinner. Then my friend Shelby came over and we made a few margaritas, shared a mini-frozen pizza, and caught up. We talked about going to Acapulco for Margarita Monday, but I wanted to get another real no spend day in, and I know she's on a budget too, so we stayed in.

I also sold another two items on Amazon, but I will wait to add them to the total until they actually post to my checking account toward the end of the month. So, my balance is the same as yesterday, $24.18. :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

No Spend January Day 10

Today was a lazy Sunday, which is nice because I am starting work again tomorrow. I slept in and then caught up with some shows on Hulu and finished my book club book. Then, determined to get in one more no drive day before work starts, I walked to Ralphs to buy some groceries. I realized that my shopping before the month started wouldn't tide me over, so I decided to stock up before school starts. I bought the ingredients to make Gouda and Beer Mac & Cheese, a recipe I got from my friend Lana's blog. Delicious, and with plenty left over for other meals. I also bought more waffle mix and some blueberries, which I am currently making in the waffle iron to freeze so I will have plenty of breakfasts for when I'm working. (I make them in the waffle iron, let them cool completely, and freeze them in ziplock bags. They are super easy to throw in the toaster and taste WAY better than Eggo). I also picked up a couple of frozen pizzas and some ramen, in case I get desperate.

I also did some planning with my bank account, and realized that it's a very good thing I am working on not spending money this month (at least not my regular income). Since I paid for my online class and put a couple hundred toward my credit cards, I am Broke with a capital B. Along with my traffic ticket being due next month, January and February are not going to be great savings months for me. But, I still feel victorious because neither of these expenses went onto my credit card. I am not more in debt because of them. My credit card balances haven't gotten a whole lot smaller this month, but I feel victorious because in the past I would have just put them on my credit card and gone even further into debt.

It's frustrating, because I feel like whenever I decide to really take control of my finances, unforeseen expenses sneak up on me. In the past I have thrown in the towel and put things on my credit cards. But this time, I refuse to give in.

2010 will be the year when I take control of my finances. That's it. I know there will be hurdles and challenges, but I can do it and I will.

Wow, that was a tangent. But I started the day with $24.18 and ended the same way. (Grocery store came out of my checking account.)

No Spend January Day 9

Saturday I slept in (80's cover bands are exhausting) until it was time to get up and go take the CSET, so that I can get my English credential. I took the written test, the whole time wondering why it could not be on the computer so I could just type it and not have my hand ache by the end of it. Grrr. Anyway, I was really tired, so I stopped at McDonald's to get an iced coffee and ended up also get a big n' tasty burger, since I hadn't eaten at home. Interestingly, McDonald's has started printing the nutrition info right on the packages for their food. I was actually surprised that it wasn't too horrible. Not good by any stretch, but not horrible. 

Then I came home and wrote the paper I had procrastinated on, since it was due that day. Then my sister came over and we watched Ally McBeal on DVD and stayed up super late talking. She brought a bottle of wine and I went to the grocery store to get some food. I am actually not counting the grocery store against myself, because I realized I didn't buy enough to last me all month, so I am going to do one more (reasonable) grocery run. That also makes sure I get some fresh fruits and vegetables, which is important.

So, I started the day with $28.50 and spent $4.32 at McDonald's, leaving me with $24.18.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

No Spend January Day 8

Yesterday I went and got my haircut (built into my budget under bills, which is totally questionable, I realize). Then I had lunch with my friends Becca and Krista. We went to Rubio's and I got a kid's meal, spending $5.90. We hung out for the rest of the afternoon, which was lovely. Then when Becca's husband came home we had sandwich's at her house and went to get frozen yogurt, which ran me $3.02. I left to head home, but then decided to meet up with a few friends who went to a bar in Hermosa Beach where an 80's cover band was playing. Super fun! It might be one of my new favorite spots, the band was awesome and the crowd was pretty mellow. I spend $8.50 there, since one of my friends generously bought me a drink.

In terms of profit, I sold an item on ebay and was able to transfer $12.32 into my checking account. So, I started the day with $32.60. After adding and deleting, I ended up with $28.50, and had a great time with old friends, new friends, and singing along to Journey songs with strangers. :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

No Spend January Day 7

Well, today was another lovely day of of those few left. I slept in and awoke to the good news that my Amazon sales were now eligible to be transferred to my checking account. Hurrah! I transferred over the funds and after I deduct what I spent on shipping (envelopes and postal fees) I made $33.85. This number would have been about $10 higher, but I made the rookie mistake of not using media mail for my first two book sales.

Overall, I am pleased with selling items on Amazon. Basically, you set up an account and link it to your bank. Next, you list the items you have to sell by their ISBN number and set a price. Amazon charges a commission only if the item sells. You also get a shipping credit included to account for those fees. It doesn't take too long to set up an account and list the items, but I will say that being on vacation it's been easier to find time to go to the post office several times to ship the items. The expectation is that you ship it within two business days, and I've stuck to that over the break. It could get tricky while I'm working. 

For someone like me who has in the past bought way too many books, this is a good way to weed out what I really want and what I don't from my collection and to bring in some extra money. I'm not selling the items because I'm doing a no spend month. But, the no spend month has challenged me to finally sell the items that I have been meaning to get rid of. 

So, today I mailed a DVD, stopped and got a grilled chicken wrap at Wendy's ($1.95 with tax) went on bike ride with Juliet and her kiddos, had dinner at her house, and went out for a drink. The drink was no cost to me since it was a date. :)

I started the day with $0.28. After I added the Amazon money, deducted for the chicken wrap, and added a few more coins that somehow appeared in my wallet (really, I have no idea, but there was more than twenty-eight cents in my wallet today. Weird.), I have $32.60 at my disposal.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

No Sped January Day 6

Well, today I finally did it. I had my first "No Drive Day" of the year and my first actual no spend day of January! Today my friend Shelley came over and we watched the movie Up, which I had been wanting to see (an excellent movie, by the way! I laughed, I cried, etc.). It was fun to hang out, and she was such a sport-she even brought over her lunch so we didn't have to go out. :) After that I finished my paper for my National class (ugh), which ended up being ten pages. I also finished The Secret Life of Bees, which was on my to-do list. I graded some book reports and generally got things done. I ended the day with a few episodes of Scrubs on Hulu and went to bed.

I started the day with $0.28 to spend and ended the day the same. (Wish that darn buyer would pay for their ebay purchase!)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

No Spend January Day 5

Well, I collected my spare change this morning (minus my laundry quarters) and headed over to the coin machine to cash in the change I keep in my giant martini glass on my nightstand. I upped my total from $2.28 to $6.68. I also went to the library and checked out my book club book (which I most certainly would have ordered on Amazon six months ago). Next, I hit up happy hour at Taco Surf (a cheap favorite). I had a great time and since I only had one beer, I only spent four bucks. Then we actually headed to a second bar, where I enjoyed the delicacy known as "Bud Light." :) I spent two more bucks on that leaving me with twenty-eight cents to my name (well, not to my name. But that I am allowed to spend).

Luckily, I sold an item on ebay today for $11, so as soon as that comes through I am back in business. I am also hoping to make tomorrow my first no drive, no spend day of the year. Wish me luck!

Ways I Can Save by Living Alone

Tired of posts about moving yet? Well, here's another one!

I am switching from living with a roommate, which I've always done, to living alone for the first time. I know that having a roommate saves a significant amount of money each month. If I knew someone to live with, I would go for it, but I'm sort of past the point in my life where I'm willing to live with a stranger. Thus, my own place.

I've been playing with my budget and obviously I'm going to be spending more each month. It's unavoidable. But, I've also been thinking of ways I can save money by living alone. Here's what I've come up with so far...feel free to tell me how any of you single folks save pennies each month:

-Pay all bills online: since my roommate and I split all the bills right down the middle, we still wrote checks each month for our utilities. Now, I can pay the bills online, using less checks and less stamps.

-Unplug all unused appliances: for the sake of not totally annoying my roommate, I haven't done this before, but I'm going to start. I'll keep my TV, microwave, and any other not necessary appliances unplugged when they're not in use. I know I can buy power strips that do this for me...any tips on if those are worth it?

-Speaking of utilities, my electric and gas bills should definitely be lower. With only one person using these items, I know I'll save in that way.

-Now that I live alone and have my own washer/dryer, I am thinking of trying to use rags instead of paper towels. This is better for the environment and will save money on paper towels.

-I might also try making my own cleaning products. Any suggestions on that?

-Since I have a balcony where I can keep cans and bottles, I might also start saving my recycling again. I stopped because it was too much of a pain to keep in my car, but since I can load them up before I take them in, I'm going to give recycling for cash another shot.

These are definitely small things that won't make up for the extra rent. But, anyone who reads my blogs knows I am a fan of little things adding up to make a doing these small things will help my budget and make me feel better about living alone.

No Spend January Day 4

Well, today was an expensive day...I'm not super excited to write this blog entry, but the point of this is to hold me accountable and share the reality of saving money, highs and lows.

I started the day by running a few errands. I returned my unworn New Year's Eve dress to Marshalls and exchanged it for a birthday gift for my friend Juliet, whose birthday is at the end of the month. Then I mailed six packages at the post office-all of them items I sold on I am going to write a post about my (relative) success of selling books, CDs, and DVDs on Amazon on Thursday when I actually have the money transferred to my account and can use it for the month.

I had already agreed to go to The Boiling Crab with some co-workers for dinner tonight. First of all, let me give it a glowing review. The fish was super fresh, delicious, and more reasonably priced than Joe's Crab Shack. It's not a place for a first date, since there are no plates, silverware, and just tons of paper towels to control the mess. We had a blast eating and took some pictures wearing our bibs, with our messy table on display. I shared shrimp, crab, corn on the cob, and fries with my classroom neighbor Analiza. Yum!

However. But. You see. Okay, I spent $18, which means that I am left with $2.28. Here is where I justify it: I will have approximately $30 at my disposal on Thursday, when my Amazon money is deposited. I am also selling an item on Ebay, that I expect to net about $10 for in the next day or two (assuming the buyer pays in a reasonable amount of time). And I fed a friend's cat over Christmas, which she said she will pay me for when I see her next. So it's not like I have no more money for the month. It just puts me in a bad place since I am going to Taco Surf happy hour tomorrow. I would get out of it, but this is one that I planned, so I need to go. Luckily, it's a great deal, so I think I can get out of there for under $5. Here's the plan: I am going to count my spare change in my room tomorrow and add it to my running total. Then I am going to hit up the bank or grocery store and get bills so it's not obnoxious when I pay at Taco Surf. Hopefully I can do it without dipping into my upcoming money-the idea is that I don't spend it unless I physically have it. We'll see though. :/

I think the interesting lesson I have learned is how easy it is to spend money when I am on vacation. I fill my days with socializing, and that tends to revolve around spending money. In fact, there are activities I have said no to, knowing that they are not in my budget...I could be spending even more. When I am at work, I still find ways to spend money, but I am much more occupied and am less likely to splurge. This shows me that I need to save/budget for more spending during the summer months, so I can stay on track. I know I could also spend less money-and I plan to try to find ways to make that happen. But frankly, enjoying my vacation is a priority, so I think planning ahead for the summer will be a theme in upcoming blogs.

Anyway, that's the scoop. I ended the day with $2.28.

Monday, January 4, 2010

No Spend January Day 3

First of all, bonus! I checked my mail Saturday evening and found something from my health insurance company. I opened it and found a refund check for $10-something I've never gotten before. It's funny, when I followed No Spend November's blog, he always mentioned using medical reimbursements and I scoffed, knowing I wouldn't get any of those. Who knew?

Today I had my aunt's birthday lunch with my family at California Pizza Kitchen. It was fun family time, and I had a delicious sandwich with soup and ended up getting diet coke because I was SO sleepy (getting up and going to church will do that to me sometimes). It was fun to catch up with everyone and I think my aunt had a good time, which is the most important part. :) I did my first gas fill-up and have to admit I am nervous about only filling up twice this month-I need to make some serious efforts with carpooling and walking for that to work out.

After watching Lost on Hulu for a few hours I headed over to my friend Jessica and Elizabeth's house to watch a movie, eat some snacks, and hear about their trip to Vegas for New Year's. We watched Adventureland on demand and had fun. Then I headed home.

Adding in the ten dollar check and counting the spare change in my wallet (i hadn't added that in yet), I started the day with $35.28. I spent $15 at lunch to end the day with $20.28.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

No Spend January Day 2

Today I had several errands to run. First, I went to the post office to mail a few items I sold on (I will add the profit of selling my items when it actually posts to my checking account, which may take a few weeks.) Next, I stopped by the bank to deposit the check I mentioned yesterday, so I can legitimately spend some of my money. Then I went to the recycling center at Cal State Long Beach to turn in my bottles and cans. I learned that wine bottles don't have CRV, so you don't get money for them. This resulted in me getting a little less than I anticipated, but I wanted to get rid of the two bags of cans in my car, and I got $3.28 for the items. Not amazing, but I think every penny will count this month.

After I picked up my sister from the airport I headed to Mimi's Cafe to meet my good friend from High School, Adriana. We enjoyed a meal and sat talking forever. I think we could sit and talk forever-she's just that kind of friend. I ordered the caesar salad and soup and ended up spending $8 with tax and tip. Totally worth it to hang out with Adri. :)

Tonight I think I am just hanging around the house-it doesn't feel like a Saturday night since we celebrated New Year's Eve by going out on Thursday. Might watch a movie or something with the roommate, but I am done spending money, unless it is spare change to rent something. Tomorrow will be another spendy day for my aunt's birthday, but hopefully I can slow it down in the days ahead.

So, adding recycling and taking away what I spend on lunch I now have $24.62 at my disposal.

Friday, January 1, 2010

No Spend January Day 1

Happy New Year! Well, today I slept in after some celebrating last night, so most of the day was spent in bed not spending any money. :) First, I have a check from my friend that I am cashing first thing tomorrow, but I also had some leftover New Year's Eve cash, since I ended up not spending any money last night. :) So, the check I will cash is for $36.16, which I am allowing myself to spend since it's money owed to me (See the post about the rules).

I had some Christmas gifts to return to Macy's, and I hadn't seen my friend Shelley in a while, so we met up at the mall for me to do some returns and her to do some shopping. With my returns I was able to get a new watch, which has been on my list for some time. It has a black leather band-it's simple and classy and I love it. Because of the generosity of my gift-giver, I was able to get a new Guess watch with only $6.82 out of pocket. After visiting several stores with Shelley, we were starving, but I resisted the temptation to get food at the mall since I have plenty of groceries at home...and it's my No Spend month! Also, I have to pre-planned activities where I will be eating out (catching up with an old friend, a birthday lunch, etc.), so I need to save my free money for those events.

That means at the end of today I have $29.34 available this month.