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Frugal-ish Weekend

August 18th, 2013 at 09:45 am

Nothing exciting to report. Minimal spending - groceries, stocking up on toilet paper and using my $10 Kohl's coupon.

We also did frugal entertainment - cheapo movie at the second run theater and free Shakespeare in the Park. I used to love Shakespeare in the Park when I lived in Kansas City. Then I moved and lived in a place in Iowa for about 6 years where they did not have SITP. Now I am back in a place where they do. I love it!

Small Things Make Me Happy

August 8th, 2013 at 05:25 pm

I received a $10 Kohl's promotional coupon. $10 off any purchase. I know it's just their attempt at trying people to get something bigger and spend more money. But when I get a coupon like that, I usually buy something small worth $10-$12, and feel ecstatic at only having to spend $1-$2. It's silly, but it makes me happy. It's a nice "almost" freebie to have.

More Snowflakes

August 7th, 2013 at 08:39 am

I like doing this snowflake thing. It feels like such an accomplishment when I am able to add a little something to the list.

I added $56.50 to the EF:

$19.00 - Secret Shops
$27.25 - Secret Shop Pizza + Bonus
$5.00 - Survey Cash
$5.25 - Coin Jar

August Goals

August 1st, 2013 at 08:47 am

My August goals are:

[ ] Pay sister back $800
[ ] Contribute any snowflakes/extras to EF - Build $200 in EF
[ ] Bring lunch to work every day - I am usually pretty good about this
[ ] Don't gamble
[ ] Follow zero-based budget and send everything over to CCs
[ ] Walk 4x/week
[ ] Go to the gym 4x/week

July Freebies Received

July 31st, 2013 at 08:30 am

It was my birthday in early July. I usually sign up for birthday rewards clubs when I can, so I got a bunch of free stuff this month. I also scouted the internet for other freebies and found some other stuff. Also, I did a few secret shops which I will be reimbursed for next month. The best of them all was two free opera tickets - I received these through a special offer for employees at my workplace. I don't think others signed up, which is probably why I received them so easily.

Here is what July brought me:

Opera Tickets x 2
Free B'day Bowl @ Noodle and Company
Free B'day Icecream Scoop at Baskin Robbins
Free Birthday Pizookie at BJ's
Large Pizza from Secret Shop (will be reimbursed) x2
Free Buffet dinner at Secret Shop (will be reimbursed)
$10 B'day rewards at World Market
$5 B'day rewards at DSW
Free Sephora Mascara & Highlighter for B'day
$25 Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks
$20 Kohl's card
Free TaiPei Entree w. coupon
Free bottle of Mio FIT "water enhancer" (Had to laugh at that name!)
Other odd freebies such as free toilet paper roll, sample size toothpaste, trial size moisturizer etc.

Are there other freebies/ birthday rewards that people like/sign up for/ recommend?

Weekend Updates

July 29th, 2013 at 09:16 am

I had a pretty lazy weekend - I could have been more productive, but we were away from home last weekend, and I was enjoying just lazing around at home. I did some unpacking, but need to do some more. D is terribly disorganized and it drives me crazy. I did some deep cleaning in the bathroom and kitchen, and got him to do some cleaning/organizing in his closet area.

I got a Secret Shop check for $19.99 and this will be going to EF. I have not deposited it yet.

I also went and shopped around for some frugal wedding gifts for a friend who does not have a gift registry. I used some of the birthday saving coupons I received from various retailers, and managed to come up with a decent gift basket quite frugally.

No updates from the rental car company. They have not called me or my insurance yet. I wonder what is going on. I don't think I will call them. I am too scared to find out how much it really will cost. I suppose I will have to pay the $1000 and any fees they have for taking the car out of circulation while it is being fixed. There is a part of me that fantasizes that they will not have noticed the scratches. But that is unlikely especially since I let them know and filled out an accident report when I returned the car. I wonder why they are taking so long!

I can't wait for the 31st. I get paid on the last day of the month, and I am itching to send off a large payment to my Discover Card. I owe my sister $800 and that will be taken out too. I will probably be broke again by the 5th of August, but am looking forward to it.

Tiny Raise

July 25th, 2013 at 04:04 pm

The extremely tiny raise that they had been talking about around work finally came through. When I got back to work, there was a letter waiting for me notifying me of this. It means that I get about $54 more in my paycheck each month. I will put it towards the EF.

In another update, I also received the PIN number for my retirement account and I know know how much I have in there. It currently stands at $9061.54. It seems like a teeny-tiny amount when I think of retirement, but I am reminding myself that it was only started about two years ago, it will grow, and that this is in addition to a pension that I will have.

Lazy Weekend

July 14th, 2013 at 08:34 pm

It's been a good weekend so far. The only money I spent was on paying for my glasses (will be ready in two weeks), groceries, and $4 at Kohl's (was using a gift certificate there).

I also resisted the temptation to gamble. I wanted to, but I resisted, and it went away. I hope I am successful every single time I try to resist.

It was quite a social weekend. On Friday night, my best friend took me out to a belated birthday dinner. We spent an hour and a half talking at the restaurant, and then went for a walk around the neighborhood. On Saturday, we hosted a potluck. I made some Indian food with ingredients I already had at home - no extra money spent. My partner (henceforth to be referred to as "D") got some wine and beer. Everyone brought lots of food, and we have lots of leftovers for the week. The plan this week is to eat up everything we have in the fridge before we go out of town on Thursday.

Unexpected Expenses

July 13th, 2013 at 01:55 pm

I had a good reminder today about why an EF is necessary. I went and broke my glasses, and had to get new ones. Thankfully, I have vision insurance through my employer, and my portion came to be $154.85. I have the money in my account, thankfully. However, that is $154.85 less that is going towards my Discover credit card next month. If only I needed low prescription glasses and did not have astigmatism! I would have gone and bought them at the Dollar Store!

My insurance covers frames up to $150, and 20% over that. I got the cheapest frame possible - it was originally $155, and I ended up having to pay $4. Not bad. All the other frames were 200+. However, it got me thinking. Why in the world does an eyeglass frame cost that much? It was not a high-end or designer frame. The materials that go into making that frame would not cost more than a fraction of that amount. Who gets the rest of that amount?

This is the first time that I have got glasses in the US. I usually get them when I go home to India. I could get the exam, frame, lenses and follow up in India for the same price as my portion of the cost of the whole thing here. It makes me really sad to think about the cost of medical needs in this country. I have insurance, so I had a reduced bill. If not, I would have to pay $550+ for the service I received at the optician. What about the people who can't afford that? I hope things change for the better soon.

Frugal Steps I Have Been Working On

July 11th, 2013 at 11:28 am

At the beginning of this month, I ran short of money and borrowed $800 from my sister to be returned at the end of this month when I get paid. I want to use as little of this money as possible in order to be able to pay it back and still have money to send towards CC payments. I have been more frugal so far this month than I have been all of this year.

Eating In: Thus far, I have only spent $15 on pizza one evening. This was for a secret shop, and I will get reimbursed, but not for another two months, so I am counting it as an expense for this month. My partner took me out to Chinese restaurant on my birthday. I received a couple of free desserts and one free entrée coupons as birthday rewards and we have used them. Other than that we have been using what we have at home and shopping only for the bare perishable essentials – milks, veggies, meat etc. I cut my allowance for the Eating Out and Grocery budgets this month because I need to repay my sister. Also, we are going out of town for a wedding next week, and there will be some gas and meal costs to reckon for later.

Online Rewards and Secret Shops: I have been trying to use Swagbucks and Secret Shops to earn some extra cash. I have got two $5 Amazon cards on Swagbucks thus far, and maybe I will be able to get 5 of these this month. I have done two secret shops, and have one more scheduled. The thing with secret shops is that although they will pay you back, it is not until a while later. Maybe I will send these amounts to the EF when I receive them.

I have been tracking where all my money is going and have a spreadsheet that tracks every penny. This will be helpful, I am sure. Small starting steps, but I feel a sense of pride and motivation when I do these things. It is a good feeling.