Wednesday, November 22, 2006

 

I support Buy Nothing Day

"Our consumptive, hectic lifestyles are taking their toll not only on the natural world, but our own lives as well! We consume all kinds of goods, services and entertainment only to find that there's no time left to really savor and enjoy our friends, family and life. We work longer and harder to make even more money to buy us things that bring even less satisfaction to our lives. Plus, buying all of this stuff takes even more natural resources and energy that pollutes and depletes our world that much faster!"

This quote and the graphic are from Roger Wendell's webpage on Buy Nothing Day and I agree with it completely. Now I know as someone who tries to live frugally and save money whenever possible, I should embrace Black Friday and the deals it brings, but I just can't do it. I wrote last November about how Black Friday affects my family, but I was thinking even more about the holiday season this year. I keep thinking that it seems as if the holidays are more and more about consumerism and then I thought back to my childhood and realized that this has been going on for years! When I was little I didn't like the family get-together part of the holidays because I was extremely shy and seeing all these relatives that I barely knew just terrified me. My family is not religious, so I didn't relate to that part of Christmas. Christmas for me was all about the stuff, what was I going to get and how much of it would there be. It seems I've been a consumerist since I was a small child and now I'm indignant, grrr!!

So now in order to help exorcise my demons, I embrace Buy Nothing Day. I feel a little better.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

 

Don't shop at Discovery Channel for Christmas


I've been watching this really cool show on Animal Planet called Blue Planet, its an underwater nature show, the photography is fantastic and the show is just plain fascinating, I like the show so much I decided to buy it. The Discovery channel store wants $74.95 for the 4 dvd set. Well don't buy it from them!!! You can get it for $28 on Amazon, and I highly recommend it as a Christmas present for any nature buff in your family.
 

Math mistake in my favor and it paid off my car


I bought my car in November 2002 and financed it for 5 years at a fixed monthly payment of $242.99. I've been paying the exact same amount every month so I know exactly how much I have left to pay off, one more year of payments: $2915.88. But Chase Automotive Financing is weird people or at least that's what I thought. I receive a bill every month in the mail that never matches what my online account says, its always much less. I called and they said that I must have overpaid at one time which is why the payment due is less than what my online account says. I was still confused as to why the paper bill didn't match the online but decided to ignore it and just keep paying my fixed amount. Well today I went online to pay my bill and happened to notice that my payoff amount was only $693 not $2915.88. I thought Chase must have made a mistake but woo hoo, I transferred enough money out of savings and paid that puppy off!! Yippee!! I was doing a happy dance thinking how nice it was of Chase to make a mistake in my favor when I remembered...I made the mistake myself. Way back right after I bought the car, I made a lump payment of 6k towards the principle and then completely forgot that I did so. Which explains why what I actually owed was not what I thought I owed...what a dork!!

But I am happy dancing anyway because I am still car-payment-free a year earlier than I thought, which means that I can start putting that money in my emergency and unexpected expenses accounts even faster. And my net worth will go up!

The moral of this story is, math mistakes are not always bad, but I need to do a better job of remembering and tracking when I make extra payments towards debt. I was lucky this time that it all worked out in my favor.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

 

I'm too cheap to be frugal

My newest thing now is monitoring how long it takes us to use personal care products, toothpaste, saline, shampoo etc. The big idea is that I will figure out how much of something we need over a year and buy it all at once and hopefully at a discount for buying in bulk. I emailed Walgreens and asked if they would offer a bulk discount if I bought a case of something that is typically sold by the each, but they have declined to answer my email. I chose Walgreens because I like them and they are a block from my house which makes it remarkably convenient to stop in on the way home.

Here's where I'm too cheap to be frugal, I know I could probably get a very good deal by shopping at Costco for these items, but I too cheap to pay the $50 membership fee. I'm worried that I won't save enough money shopping there to pay for the membership. So right now I'm researching to see if there's any way I can get a free membership without much success so far. If anyone knows where I can shop in bulk without paying a membership fee, please share :)


 

I'm approaching one year old

I took a look at my very first post this morning, it's dated last November 14th. I was discussing how much debt I had and how much I am paying towards my debt snowball: "Total is $12,236.68 , I am currently paying $459/month towards the snowball" My goodness, I've been a very good girl over the last year if I do say so myself. As of today, the debt is $4619 and I'm now paying $1000/month on the snowball. I also had a goal back then to be debt free in 30 months which would have been May of 2008. Well now the plan is to be paid off Feb/Mar 07 which is over a year early. Yippee! I'd like to thank the Academy...erg I mean thank you first off to my bf for getting a job which is how I was able to bump up the snowball payment amount and most importantly for all his support. And thank you to all the PF bloggers who are a continual source of encouragement and inspiration. As NCN would say, we all rock!!!
 

Oops, I need an Unplanned Expenses Fund Too?

I've been so proud of myself for doing our budget every month and tracking all our expenses, and pretty much staying close to budget, but we really blew the budget in October and it was all due to unplanned expenses: vet bills, doctor bills, new winter shoes and jacket for bf, and a shelving system for the utility room. I didn't deem any of these an emergency so didn't use the emergency fund to pay for them. Which meant I had to charge them all, eek! I completely plan to pay them all of before the end of this month so I'm not too worried, but now I realize that in addtion to an emergency fund, I need to have a fund for those non-emergency expenses that you have to charge because you don't have enough cash on hand.
 
First I'm going to make a list: unplanned unknown expenses, planned expenses with no timeframe (such as the utility room shelving),  holiday/birthday expenses. For example: clothing, vet bills the cat fund can't afford, doctors bills, tax bills (?), car repairs/maintenance, new appliances, etc.
 
Then I will research costs based on my previous purchases or use the internet to determine how much unplanned expense money I should have. And lastly I will fund it asap meaning I am going to channel my monthly emergency fund allotment into this then go back to finishing my emergency fund. Or maybe I should finish funding the emergency first and then do the unplanned expenses???