Pinching Pennies Until They Scream, or at Least “Squeak”

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Many of  you know that I left behind a very good paying job in the Boston area when I moved to the southwest to chase my simple dreams. I had a pension into which my employer put 10% of my income, in addition to my 403(b), and my rent was definitely lower than it could have been for the area I was in, and the building. (Some people might think $1100/month for a studio is a lot, but then again, they didn’t see my studio or have the awesome guys living and working in the building who took care of everything, or the reservoir out back.)

Some days, I look back and think “what was I thinking?” when it comes to how I spent my money. What seemed so important  at the time, whatever it was I thought I needed (I now know it was, I wanted) – I can’t even remember what most of it was. I made more than three times what I make now. Ok, wait a minute. I need to retype that to really let it sink in. I made more than three times what I make now.

So, how am I surviving?! Well, I am really paying attention to where my money goes, and where it doesn’t. I’m not doing the envelope system as Dave Ramsey advocates, because, to be honest, I don’t feel comfortable carrying a lot of cash on me in a city that definitely has its crime problems, even in the good areas. I do, however, have a very small pink notebook that I carry in my purse. On two of its pages, I have written down what my budget is for each category, and then I subtract from it when I have spent money in a particular category. This is the first month I have been doing it this way, so we shall see if what I have predicted or budgeted for each category is actually realistic or not.

I’ve also utilized a few apps and websites to help me whittle down even pennies. Some of you may have heard of some of these, but if not, you should definitely check them out! By the way, some of the links I have mentioned below are referral links – please note, I am not getting paid by any of these companies to discuss them or include their links. I’m just simply telling you my opinion of them, and I will be adding referral links to my page from time to time as I find what I consider good ways to or make a few extra pennies.

Ebates – I’ve mentioned this in an earlier post, but it’s worth mentioning again.  You can either use the app on your phone, or add it as an extension to your browser (I use chrome) and if you are shopping for things online, and go through ebates first, you get cash back. The percentage of cash back differs from store to store, and you get paid quarterly as long as your cash back balance is at least $5.01. Payment is made either by paper check or paypal if  you have an account. It’s like finding extra money somewhere on the ground or in a coat pocket you had forgotten about. It’s your money you are spending – why not try to get some of it back if you can? And yes, this is my referral link.

Ibotta – this is a FREE app that allows you to search for items that have rebates on them at a large variety of stores! Places like Walgreens, Walmart, Sprouts, Smith’s grocery store, you name it. You “unlock” a rebate and then take a picture of the UPC code, as well as your receipt. You can get $10 just by signing up, and then when you hit $20, you can withdraw your cash, either via paypal or to redeem gift cards for places such as Amazon. It’s not that much work, and honestly, you’re already spending the money, so why not snap a few pictures and get yourself some money back in the process? Please check out my referral link and use referral code: ergflfx !  You will get $10 just for signing up, and I will get $5!

Receipt Hog – this is another FREE app that has you take pictures of your receipts that are no more than two weeks old.  You accumulate points based on the amount of the receipt and if you keep meeting targets (such as uploading receipts every week, no matter how small the dollar amount), you get more “pulls” on their “slot machine.” Pulls on the slot machine can get you actual $ or as has been the case for me, more coins. Once you reach a certain amount of coins, I believe it’s 1,000, you can redeem for gift cards for places like Amazon. For me, I buy some of my pet’s food or other things on Amazon, so it’s like getting a discount coupon down the line to save me money. Available for Androids and iPhones!

Grocery store apps for digital coupons and fuel rewards. There is a grocery store in ABQ called Smith’s, which is what I consider something close to Safeway, like we had in Page.  In addition to viewing their weekly ad, so I can see what’s on sale, I can also download coupons to have sent to my rewards card, so not actual physical cutting of coupons, yay!  Then, if you use your rewards card at the fuel pump, you save $.03 for every gallon, just in every day use. But once you have earned 100 points with your reward card, you save $.10 per gallon of gas! However, one way to quickly rack up points without spending $100 is to fill out the survey that is mentioned on your grocery store receipt. That gets you 50 points, and you can do it once a week. So, you could spend $50 on groceries, and then fill out the survey and get 100 points in one week, thus saving yourself $.10 per gallon.  I have a smaller car than most (a Mazda2) but think about the savings, added up over time, if you were to have a big SUV or truck!

Answering surveys online and on my phone. For Androids, there is an app called Surveys on the Go. It is also available via iTunes. The surveys only pay about $.50 or $1 each, but they also only take about 1-2 minutes, if that. I’m up to $4.75, and once I get to $10, I can withdraw my cash. Every little bit will then go to my credit card balance. We all pull out our phones to kill time, sometimes, such as at the grocery store. I figure, why not earn money at the same time? I also do surveys through SurveySavvy (which also pays you monthly to install their software on your devices such as tablets or phones so that they can observe your online behavior for market research.) I’ve downloaded it onto my phone, and after a few initial snafus (it seemed to be slowing down my phone, but a phone update seemed to cure that problem), it seems to not have any effect on the speed of my phone.  There is also another website called Opinion Square, which rewards you in points for completing surveys, which can then be redeemed for gift cards, for again, places like Amazon!  SurveySavvy has been having some problems lately with their site, so for the current time, I’m actually liking Opinion Square better. If you want to join it, drop me a line or comment below and I can email you from Opinion Square so we both benefit!

I’ve signed up to be a mystery shopper via the Secret Shopper app. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but will let you know what I think of it. It will allow me to get out into the world and earn a small bit of cash at the same time. I know someone whose husband did it a lot at one point back in the northeast, and they could at least enjoy a family night out to dinner that cost them very little if nothing.

Finally, I received a flyer in the mail the other day about donating plasma. As a new donor, you make $50 each time for the first 5 times you donate. After that, the amount goes down based on how much you donate (being vertically challenged, I’m at the lower end of the donation level, so I will likely only get $20.) However, I’m told the plasma center runs promotions every month. I’ve donated twice, and they say that you can donate up to 2x per week, but I will not be doing that for a few reasons. First, you can’t donate two days in a row, and well, my days off are now going to be Wednesday and Thursday. The actual act of donation takes me about 30 minutes or so – I stay hydrated the day before (and try to every day, honestly), as well as afterward. Plus, there is the admin side of things – they only open at 7 and I’m told there are people usually waiting in line already at that point. I have to be at work every day by 11, and my mornings also consist of taking care of The Herd, which includes Morgan’s “walk the crazy out of her” walks. So I will likely only be donating once a week at the most. I also am a bit  leery of giving away too much of my plasma without allowing my body time to regenerate it.  I also value my veins, a lot.  In Europe, they only allow you to donate every two weeks. Is it a bigger industry in the United States? Possibly. They pay you on a prepaid debit card, which I’ve used for both groceries now, as well as pet food. Whatever I save from spending out of my own bank account for these items, I will then put toward my credit card balance.

I’m also starting the basics of meal planning, which I will write about in a future post too. It’s what prompted me to start looking at the weekly ads for Smith’s and Sprouts.  People who have gotten out of debt swear by it, so I figure, if  I can’t beat ’em, why not join ’em?!

As you all know, a penny saved is better than none. And five dollars saved is better than none. It all adds up, in my book. It’s like that “latte factor” we all hear about so often.   You may not agree with all of these ideas, but for now, they are working for me, and as of now, anyway, the US is still a free country where people can do what they want (God help us get through the next 4 years!!)  I haven’t started looking for a second job yet because I know I will be leaving this apartment by mid to late April, and may end up moving closer to my full-time job. (I will talk about those thoughts in a future post). If I’m going to work two jobs, I want them to be conveniently located near each other so as to save on gas and time away from my furballs.

And FINALLY, a friend has asked me to help with some legal transcription – yay! She lent me her foot pedal and I’m downloading the software to get it all to work with my laptop as I write this post. I can’t wait to get started – I used to take a lot of dictation, and I’m looking forward to learning about the subject matter at hand (for confidentiality reasons, that is all I will say.)  I hope to not let her down and make some extra cash in the meantime so I can BEAT, BEAT, BEAT THE HELL out of my credit cards.

And yes, I have made headway on my debt this month – I will update you about that and my budget probably next week. I need to get a full paycheck under my belt to properly budget – for right now, I’m just estimating the amount of taxes and things that will be deducted from it. (I didn’t get paid for Thanksgiving because I didn’t work it and it fell on a Thursday, which is one of my official “weekend” days.) Starting in January, I will also be on the company’s medical insurance, so that will affect my bottom line.

So many future posts!! Thank you as always for reading, and Morgan and the rest of The Herd say they are sending “slobbers and kisses!” to all of you! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Journey Through Debt: A Shopping Ban, You Say?

What the heck is a shopping ban, you might ask? And why in the world would one ever want to do one??

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image from Pixabay.com

So I got the idea from Cait Flanders, who decided to put herself on a two-year shopping ban, after having paid off $30,000 of debt in just two years. You can listen to her talk about it on her Budgets and Cents podcast.  I’ve taken a really good, hard look at my finances, and have decided there are just some things I have to do. The operative word in that last sentence is HAVE. If I want to be serious about paying off my consumer debt, meaning my credit card debt, auto loan and then that pesky private student loan I have, I need to get SERIOUS. Every video I watch on YouTube about people getting out of debt and how they have done it – they all include the word or concept: SACRIFICE. You can’t get out of debt without changing your ways.

So,  when Cait went on a shopping ban, she did give herself a list of approved items that she could buy if she needed to during the shopping ban. So I’ve been thinking of what that list would include for me and here is what I have come up with:

  1. nutribullet/ninjabullet/magicbullet blender system (or something similar).  Right after I posted about my debt hurdle last week, mine died. I used to have a cheaper one made by Oster which only lasted a few months – the motor on it was just not very powerful. The NutriBullet is a bit more expensive (I paid about $85-90 for mine about two years ago), but it is super powerful and I do drink a lot of smoothies. It’s a good way to get a lot of veggies and fruits and protein powder in your diet if you don’t want to eat a ton of salads. And I have to admit, I like salads, but I definitely like something that is a bit heartier at times, like rice or pasta.
  2. Jacket or sweater for Morgan. Pets get cold too, and I understand sometimes it can get down into the single digits in ABQ. So if she seems like she is getting cold out on our walks, then I will get her one. For right now though, she seems just fine!
  3. Plane ticket to Florida for May 2017. It’s my brother’s wedding and I have been saving for it since I first heard about their plan. I almost have enough money saved for the ticket now but am hoping that flight prices come down. I’m going to keep looking pretty much every day. And did you know that you can use Ebates to go to sites like Orbitz or Travelocity, and then earn money back on your ticket?! (Seriously, I’m loving Ebates!)  And I may need to get a rental car unless I split one with my mom and her husband, which they have offered to do. Just depends on which airport I fly into, I think.
  4. Still mulling this one over – a dress for my brother’s wedding. I say this because as of right now, I have two dresses and I wore each one this past year for each of my nephew’s weddings. I’m sure that if I do buy something, I can get something that isn’t too expensive, and there are always second hand shops. If need be, I could get it altered. It won’t have to be anything too fancy because the wedding will be on the beach.
  5. I will occasionally let myself buy a ticket to a movie or museum type-thing. But honestly, there are a lot of free museums and places I can go to here in ABQ, and there really isn’t one movie that I am just dying to see. Not something that I would want to spend full price on. Unless the new Fast and Furious movie comes out, because well, that I would go see as a first run movie. (No judging!!)
  6. Renewing the domain name for my website when it comes up, but I don’t think that’ll happen until summer 2017.
  7. Necessities such as food for me and the furballs, toiletries, and gas for my car.

Honestly, when I look around at my place and my lifestyle, I don’t think I need much. Nor do I think I want that much either. Because, let’s be honest, needs and wants are very different, even though we can often get the two confused. I have plenty of clothes, and I wear scrubs to work, so there’s nothing to buy for there. I have lots of extra blankets and pet beds, etc. I use milk crates as my bookshelves of sorts, and milk crates also act as the base of my bed. (I have a four-inch latex mattress topper on top of them and it works just fine for me and the furballs.)  I’m also planning on selling a few things also, to free up some cash and room in my apartment.

Also, As I’m looking toward the future and when my lease is up, I’m even considering apartments that don’t have kitchens, because I’ve realized that since living here, I don’t use mine a ton (because of the insect problem I wrote about in an earlier post. It’s getting better since they’ve sprayed, but still, I’m DONE with dealing with that.) So if that happens, a fridge will be on the approved list of items, and probably a toaster oven. But if I do move to a full-fledged studio, then I won’t need those. I even watched this video on youtube about a lady who moved into a place that only had bathrooms in the hall – she seemed to make it work and also seems happy with her choice!

How long is my shopping ban going to be for? I’m not sure yet. I should probably keep it in place until at least when I move to another apartment. In fact, I think that’s what I will plan on doing. See how much I can save or pay off debt in the meantime.

Btw, an update. I have bought a magic bullet since I started writing this post. However, I bought it online through Kohls.com, which was offering an even stronger one than I had before (this is 900 watts, the last one was 600, and it kicked ass), at 30% off. I then used an online discount code for an additional 25% off, and shopped through ebates.com to get an additional 6% in cash back! If you haven’t heard of ebates, check it out, and please use my referral link! If you’re buying stuff online, you might as well get it through ebates, so you get some more money back into your pocket.

Would you ever put yourself on a shopping ban? Why or why not? 

As always, thanks for reading!

 

 

My Debt….Journey out of Hell

I know there’s a saying that says if you find yourself in hell, just keep walking, because eventually you will get yourself out of it. The other day, I did something scary, but necessary. Except for my federal loans, I added up all of my debt. (The federal loans are just too overwhelming to grasp.) And here’s what the picture looks like (avert your eyes if you don’t want to be scared, or is it scarred, for life?!)

Tower Garden: $407.70
Capital One credit card: $2,651.65
Citibank credit card: $3,929.69
Auto Loan (through a credit union): $6,005.16
AES Loan (private student loan): $10,567.09

Grand Total (again, avert your eyes if you need to): $23,561.29

My gross income is just barely above that. As Dave Ramsey would say, I don’t have a debt problem, but an income problem. So I plan on trying to find a second job if I can. Or, finding a way to make money online. Some of you have given me good ideas in the past.

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Rio Grande River, as seen from the Tingley Beach open space area

I’ve also listened a lot to a podcast called Budgets and Cents. The “Budgets” part of the podcast is Cait Flanders, and she went on a shopping ban for one year. After the first year, she decided to continue it for a second year. During that time, she only bought essentials like food.She had a pair of jeans that ripped and she eventually had to replace them. When her one hoodie just got completely gross, she got another one, but only after months of looking for the perfect hoodie. It might seem a bit extreme, but it did help her to really appreciate the stuff she did have. I know it will help me too, even as I continue to get rid of stuff I have accumulated over the past year, but realize I really don’t need. Every dollar I save by not shopping for stuff, will go to the debt.

So, I’ve decided to do something similar. I’m not going to shop for things I don’t need. Just groceries for myself and for the furry ones, pretty much. And I am going to start checking out all the free things to do in Albuquerque. There are actually quite a few free museums that I can take a look at, ranging from the atomic bomb to meteorites! After all, part of the reason I moved to a city was to take advantage of amenities a city has, that a smaller town does not. I’ve already been checking out a lot of the free open public spaces and am really enjoying checking them all out with Morgan. We both get the fresh air and exercise we need.  So, occasionally, I may pay to go into a museum or some place like the Botanical Garden that does have an entrance fee. But I will space those out accordingly. I know if I don’t treat myself occasionally, this won’t work. I just have to remember, it’s ok to treat yourself, but in moderation.

I am going to keep my gym membership to Planet Fitness. It’s only $21/month and working out is once again, very important to me.  It all works together.  It’s helping my morale improve, and I am liking the way I look in the mirror, more.  Same thing with my running sneakers – if they wear out, I’m going to replace them. One thing I do know that it is worth spending money on is good sneakers if you want to run. Since my health insurance at my new job (once it kicks in, in January) has a high deductible, I need to focus on eating well, and staying healthy. Luckily, those are two things I already realize the importance of.

So, you will notice that up above, the debts are arranged in order from smallest to largest. I plan on paying off the tower garden first. I plan on taking a couple hundred out of savings, and then paying the rest out of my paychecks. (I’m not using it in this apartment since I heard that roaches like water, and well, it’s a hydroponic system. So I may try to sell it online.)  Then, the money I was paying to that every month (about $81) will go toward the Capital One card. I’ve found that gas here is cheaper than it was in Lake Powell (it was a tourist destination, so no surprise there), so whatever I budget for but don’t use per month, is going to go the debt payoff. I get paid $10 every month from  my credit union for having my checking account with them, having money directly deposited, and using my debit card a certain number of times. So, guess where that is going?!

I am paid way ahead (about 5 years) on that AES student loan, so I plan on making smaller than the full payments every month of $167.  It accrues about $27 in interest every month, so I plan on paying more than $27, but also paying it every two weeks, when I get paid. You see, student loans are different than other types of loans. The interest accrues daily. So while it may not seem like a lot, every little bit can help. It’s kind of like paying off your mortgage twice a month instead of just once a month. It shortens the loan time.  (I just paid $20 on it this morning.) The money that I am not paying toward the AES loan will go toward the Capital One card. That should help  a lot since the Capital One card has a higher interest rate.

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one of the few moments in which I could get Morgan to sit still on  our walk at Tingley Beach

The Citibank card is currently on a 0% interest rate, and I need to check to see when it ends. It was 21 months when I signed up, so I think I have another year or so. If that time comes up, and it’s not paid off (the likely scenario), then I will transfer it to another credit card which is giving 0% interest for a certain number of months. Then I will snowball what I had been paying on the Capital One card into the minimum payment on the Citibank card, and then on to the car, and then on to the AES loan at the end. The car loan has a low interest rate so a lot of my $142 monthly payment goes to paying off principal.

So yes, this is the snowball method. It’s different from picking the debt with the highest interest rate, but it does provide you with more “wins” and let’s face it, handling money is an emotional thing. If it wasn’t, we would all be millionaires, right?!

I’ve updated my direct deposit with my work – luckily, they allow you to put your paycheck into 5 different accounts! So from every paycheck, I will be saving for the annual or semi-annual bills that come up, like renter’s insurance, car insurance, etc. That way, when the bill comes due, the money is there. And I am also continuing to save to go to my brother’s wedding in Florida in May.

I watched this video earlier today via the His and Her Money youtube channel, and I was definitely inspired. This girl started out making $15K per year and she owed $25K on her student loans. She paid it off in about 3.5 years. I don’t know that she had some of the expenses I have, but if she can do  it, then I have no excuse to not even try on my end.

I will talk about the budget I have planned in a later post because this one has already gotten way too long!  But I wanted to get this post out there so that the few of you who read this blog regularly can be my accountability partners. I need people to know what is going on. (And thanks to those of you who do read it regularly, even though my posts have been somewhat sporadic lately.)

Finally, I will leave you with a picture of Baby O doing what she does best: sleeping. 🙂 Well, she snuggles pretty well too. LOL (She and Max are both snuggling up to me as I type away. There could be worse things in life than having two animals trying to love you at the same time.)

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my adorable baby girl, Baby O

As always, thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion below. 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Thoughts, Thankfulness, and Totally Awesome Links

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View from the AirBNB my family rented last week in Flagstaff, AZ. I was only there for a few hours but it was SOOO relaxing to look at this beautiful view.

Today, I’m thankful for being in the new apartment. It is much less furnished than the other place, so it feels more minimalist and it’s more relaxing for me to be in. It may sound weird to say this, but I think even The Herd is much happier here. Callie has been out and about more often, and HoneyBun has been quietly finding her “spot” to relax and sleep in. (As I write this, she is laying down with her head on my leg. It’s a very AWWW moment.)  Max, of course, thinks he rules the roost, and Osito just loves to sleep and cuddle, as usual. And I’m feeling more inspired overall. To write, to think about my next moves, what I should do with my life. I have a better view of Lone Rock (the image you see in my blog header), so I’ve been spending some good time on my patio, reading and looking out at it.

I’m also thankful for the Passion Planner that my friend Claudia sent me. I haven’t used a planner in a while and I think this will be helpful to me in reminding me to do a little something every day to get me closer to fulfilling my dreams. Or, rather, to figuring out what those dreams are.  It’s a different kind of planner and at the end of every month, it has a lot of self reflection kind of questions. Even though I just got it, I went through the questions at the end of August, and it helped me to think about a lot of different things, like what I was most grateful for this past month, what major lessons I’ve learned, etc. You can also download extra pages and insert them into the planner, like this finance insert.  I can’t wait to start using all of these, but especially the finance pages.

In keeping with my financial goals, I’m always looking for ways to save money. I read through the book, Frugality for Depressives, and it had lots of suggestions that anyone can use.  Among them was the website, 365 Days of Slow Cooking, and it even has a vegan page! I can’t wait to try some of them out – the awesome thing is that it usually includes a lot of ingredients I already have at home.  Another good one was Gift Card Granny, which compares prices on gift cards that can be bought via a few different websites.  Right now, I’m living in a small town, but I can definitely see myself making use of it in the future for items I do use and things that I normally buy, like gas, and groceries, etc. Some discounts are better than others, of course, but any little bit I can save will be good. It’s the small things that add up over time.  I’ve been constantly reminding myself of this at work and  when I get paid this week, I’m going to make a transfer into my savings account of $2.35 for each day I didn’t buy crap at the campground store where I work. I think it’s really going to add up over the next few months. I have an idea of what to do with the money I save up, but I’m going to leave that for another post. 🙂

Anyway, I hope that all of you are having a great Tuesday – with my work schedule, Tuesday equals Sunday, so I plan on making a productive day of it. I have animals to snuggle (they are all on the bed with me as I write this, which I absolutely love!) and animals to walk at the Page Animal Adoption Agency and Page  City Shelter. (By the way, if you shop on Amazon, please consider using their Amazon Smile link and doing your shopping, as a portion of the proceeds will go to them!  It will cost you absolutely nothing.

By the way, I am taking part in a fundraiser called Strut Your Mutt in a few weeks, at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Any funds raised by our team members will go to help the shelter with its medical bills. The shelter doesn’t get any funds from the city, and there is only one paid staff member who even comes in on her days off to take care of the animals. If you would like to support me in this endeavor, please visit my fundraising page. I will be taking little Osito with me but we will be doing more of a “carry” than a walk, since she has slowed down somewhat these days and sprained her shoulder a few months ago.  But I promise you, she will look as adorable as ever, and I will probably put her in a dress. 🙂 Laugh if you want, but you can’t look at her and not smile when she’s wearing a dress. LOL

I hope that some of these links are helpful to some of you. I’d love to hear about any websites you have found to be helpful with saving money, or following your dreams.

As always, thank you for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Thoughts, Thankfulness, and Totally Awesome Links

This photo was taken while on the Panoramic Cruise around Lake Powell yesterday. Enjoy!
This photo was taken while on the Panoramic Cruise around Lake Powell yesterday. Enjoy!

Why Tuesdays?  Well, I know on Monday we all have to get back to work. By Tuesday, we’ve caught up and if we work in an office, we might have some time to take a few moments and check out blogs or whatever else we like to surf on the net. So, I hope that this post will be a good distraction for you and if you’re reading it in the morning, help you get your day started on a good note. And I promise to keep them short!

They will include some new links of possible interest to  you, thoughts about things for which I am thankful (it used to be its own series on this blog, so this is my way of bringing those back to life), and possibly different perspectives to help you get through the day. Hope you like this new series!

By the way, if you need some cuteness overload, check out my new blog page: The Herd. Yep, there you will find pics of my awesome furballs.

  1. If you’re sitting at your desk, and not  loving your job, think of it this way – you are earning a paycheck, and outside of work, you can work on changing our work situation. Spend some time updating the resume, or take time to research into other options, even if it’s only on your lunch break. If you feel stuck, take at least one small step today to make yourself unstuck. It’s empowering. Trust me. For me, I’m grateful to at least have money coming into my life that allows me to put a roof over my head and that of my pets. I just need to stay disciplined, and it can help me to save money for my new future that I’m envisioning right now.
  2. I’m very thankful that my family (my older brother and his family) have been able to travel to the southwest for a week. They are spending a few days in Lake Powell, and then heading to Flagstaff on  Tuesday. I’ll be hanging out with them for the day!  It has been over a year since I saw them.
  3. As I’ve been trying to gain control of my financial life, I’ve started seeking out others who write about this field and came across some awesome podcasts: Budgets and Cents, and Martinis and Your Money.  Both make me feel like I’m listening to a conversation between friends, and I’ve definitely been binge listening! The latter had an amazing episode called Frugality for Depressives. Having struggled with depression, it really hit home and the lady she interviewed had some really insightful comments.
  4. Sometimes you need a little inspiration or to see beautiful things to help you get through your day – I hope you enjoy these two photography blogs that I’ve just added to my links (can’t believe I didn’t do it before): Adventures of Dorrie Ann and Joyfully Green.
  5. Like I said above, check out the newest page on this blog, The Herd!!

As I said, I want to keep these posts brief, so I hope you will all have a good Tuesday!  If you have anything you are thankful for in your life right now, please feel free to drop a line below and let me know what it is! And if there are some good links you want to share with others, please do that too!

As always, thanks for reading!

“Change Your Money, Change Your Life”

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The view outside of the public library, where I’m taking advantage of the free, amazing wifi!

The line above is one that is used a lot in one of my new favorite podcasts to listen to, called  Budgets and Cents. The “budgets” part is from Cait Flanders (formerly known as Blonde on a Budget) and Carrie is from Careful Cents. Cait got herself out of about $28,000 in debt in 2 years. Carrie and Cait are both freelancers in the financial writing field (and they do other things as well.) Their podcast is relatively new – in its second “season” as they call it. A lot of the topics relate to their freelance work, but there are also episodes that talk about how they did find life after debt, and how they take care of themselves with self-care, etc. I just find them extremely down to earth and it’s like I’m listening to friends. I get inspired listening to them. So, let’s talk about how I’m “changing my money” these days.

I have good news. I found someone to sublet my apartment, and a place where I can move to on a month to month basis starting in September. The person who will be taking my current place is only taking it until December, but there is a possibility it could be for longer, so I’m crossing my fingers the new tenant like the area and decides to stay. Because then, I can move to a larger city, sooner. Oh, so excited!!

With any change, I see opportunity. Yes, I’m only moving literally next door, but I see the opportunity to get rid of some of my stuff. Yes, get rid of some of my crap! When I moved last year, I fit everything I had into my car and a car carrier that rode on top. The only thing I originally mailed from Boston was a large painting, and then my friend Dan helped me free up some room in  my car by mailing some boxes for me. But you know what? I don’t need all the stuff I’ve accumulated, and I certainly don’t need all the clothes I’ve been holding onto. And the idea of lightening the load of crap in my life is exhilarating!

With the decrease in rent I will be paying (the new place is unfurnished and not professionally managed like the place I have now), I will plan on saving some of it and putting some of it toward my credit card bill which is currently sitting just below $4,000. I can’t WAIT to see that balance come down! To remind myself of it, I set up an alert with my account. Every day, I get a text message reminding me of the balance, as well as the fact that the balance is over $3900. When I get it below $3900, I will then change the alert to let me know when it’s over $3800, and so on. And every time I open up that freezer and see that other credit card literally encased in ice, I feel more confident and strong, and in control of my life and finances.

I’m going to start tracking my spending, and actually stick to it for more than 3 days this time. I need to know exactly how much I am spending on groceries, etc., because since I don’t do many activities that cost a lot of money, that’s really my biggest ticket item, I’m pretty certain of it. And I already know one area where my spending has got to stop. It’s going to be pretty hard though. It’s spending on junk food or munchies food at the campground store where I work. We get 20% off as an employee, but the prices are still too high in my opinion (you pay for the convenience of not having to go into town to get your food and other items.) And I can definitely find more healthy alternatives to the food offered there. (Example, eat fresh broccoli dipped in ranch dressing, rather than potato chips.) I’m trying to come up with an incentive for myself to keep that up –  I will start up another bank account and every day that I don’t buy something there, transfer $2.35 into it (that’s my cost for a large can of Pringles with my discount), or I do buy something, if it costs less than that dollar amount, transfer the difference into that savings account. And at the end of a certain period of time, decide what to do with that cash that has accumulated.

In fact, I just opened an account with CapitalOne360, and it’s called No Junk Food (you can give your accounts nicknames.)  So this morning, I transferred $1.35 to that account, since I bought two things of crackers that totaled $1.00 yesterday. And I also just went through my checking account statement and wrote everything down in a small notebook I plan on carrying around with me, and wrote down next to all the expenses what they were for. That is definitely eye-opening, but I think it will be even more so when I write down the number at the same time I’ve just spent it. I’ll let you know regularly how the money is adding up. (Yes, I plan on being more regular with posting onto the blog.)

I think I know why I hadn’t posted on this blog so much this past summer. I was feeling pretty frustrated and out of control or lost about a lot of things.

  1. Financially, I felt very constrained, and will, for a while, but now I feel like I’m taking steps to get in control.  I will write more about that in a separate post, in addition to what I’ve already mentioned here.
  2. Job-wise, I was unhappy and felt directionless. Now, even though I’m not exactly sure when I will be leaving my current place of employment, I know I am starting to make plans to do so. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I made this drastic move in my life, why it hasn’t come out exactly the way I planned, and what I can do to rectify that.
  3. I’ve realized small town living is not for me, so I’m taking steps to be more financially fit and be able to make a move to a larger city. I’m talking to folks about that new prospective city of Albuquerque and am researching into it a lot before I even go for my first visit. I’m remembering that it’s important for me to live in a lower cost of living area than where I am right now, and that that is a big priority for me in looking into prospective places to move to. Living where it’s less expensive gives me more freedom to explore work that makes me feel happy about being on this earth and contributing to society, not just punching a time clock every day for a paycheck. And I know in my heart that that kind of work will involve animals, in some way, shape, or form.
  4. Finally, I’m turning my attentions to things that make me happy. Some of them are activities that I used to do regularly and had fallen away from – like going to the gym or exercising. I’m still not at that regular pace I used to be when I worked in an office and had a very routine daily schedule, but I’m allowing myself time to get back to that gradually.  I’m not gonna make myself feel guilty about it. I know it’s gonna be rough and my body will definitely feel sore some days.
  5. Writing is another thing that makes me happy and I’m thinking up ideas for regular series of posts. Ideas about things that will remind me of what it’s like to live in a way that makes me feel like I’m grateful to be alive, and living a life of abundance, and not just deprivation. I think I’ve been spending too much time lately thinking about what I don’t have, rather than what I do have.  I’m hoping the ideas that are percolating in my brain will be helpful to others.
  6. I’m spending more time reading and learning (currently reading The Book of the Navajo by  Raymond Friday Locke and loving it because it teaches me about some of the history and culture of the folks I work with and live around every day.) I never want to stop learning and I want to be respectful of them and their history.

Speaking of things I have in my life, I have some amazing coworkers. The below photo is what a coworker and friend did as a surprise for me. She’s always playing practical jokes on me, and they just make me laugh and feel loved. I wouldn’t want her to change a thing. I hope she is reading this, because she knows who she is!  🙂

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How I Plan to Save Money

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com.

I recently put my financial picture out there for the world to see and I just got a paycheck a little while ago that finally had my health benefits subtracted from it. For 80 hours of work, the net pay was $699, but some of that went into my online savings accounts automatically.   I’m hoping this next paycheck is for 88 hours of work – that small difference of one additional day’s pay can make a big difference, money-wise, when you are living kind of close to the bone, as they say.  And yes, I do plan on doing an updated post on my financial picture, now that I received a paycheck that included my health insurance. So, stay tuned for that! Read more

Updates: Amazon Affiliate Link, NaNoWriMo, Book Reviews and Changes to the Website, and THANK YOU!

12191988_10153486362779930_4135425328327321119_nSo, this has been an insanely busy week every night after I’ve gotten home from work, so I’ve not been able to update the blog much other than responding to comments (which I love by the way, so please keep them coming!), but I wanted to give everyone an update of what is going on in this little circle of my world.

First, a HUGE thank you to everyone who has responded to and read through my post on my financial picture. I agree, cutting expenses even more will be difficult (but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it), so I need to add to my income  if I’m going to have much hope on paying off the RV and car early. So my plan so far is this (and  not necessarily in this order):

  • bust my butt to get a second job (have started making calls to local businesses and will be grabbing applications after work this evening and coming week)
  • send in my invoice to my author for work I did before I moved out here
  • become an Amazon affliliate (this has already been done, please see the link in my sidebar)
  • write an ebook (or two or three, as much as I can inspire myself to get down on paper!)
  • start learning more web-based and other marketable skills through Lynda.com (my employer has obtained access to this for all employees, so it will cost me nothing!)

Second, yesterday, a co-worker mentioned NaNoWriMo, which I have heard about before but never taken part in. No good time like the present to join in the fun, right? The goal is to write a novel in a month, and it is a huge community of writers who attempt to do the same thing. The goal is ostensibly to write 50,000 words in a month and there are forums you can join, prompts you can use, etc., to get that creativity flowing. I plan on using this to keep me motivated.

Third, in case you’re unfamiliar with the Amazon Affiliate Program, the way it works is that if you shop Amazon through my affiliate link, it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but a small percentage (I’m not sure of the exact amount) will be then returned to me in consideration of my having the link on my website.

Finally, you may notice I have a page on my blog called Helpful Books.  It has languished a bit for a while but no more! I plan on adding resources to this as well as book reviews. If you have a suggestion of a book to read or a resource that has helped you, whether it’s on budgeting, RVing, living frugally, inspiration to live your dreams or life your way, etc., please let me know! (There’s an easy way to do it by just filling out the form on that page too.) I’ve already received a suggestion or two on books to add to that page, so stay tuned, those will be added shortly.)  🙂  I am also hoping that I can learn some new skills through Lynda.com, as mentioned above, to update and customize this website as well. It might involve paying for a blog theme, instead of the free one that I currently use, but let’s see what I can learn and do on my own first!

Have a great weekend, everyone, and as always, thanks for reading!

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Thank you for shopping Amazon through my Affiliate Link! Every little bit helps, and it costs you nothing to do so.

My Financial Picture: Putting It All Out There

What's this, you ask? A credit card in water, which is now frozen.
What’s this, you ask? A credit card in water, which is now frozen.

Yep, I’ve put my credit card on ice, baby. As in permanent  ice. If you have a problem with your credit card usage, I highly recommend freezing it as an tool for helping you to not use it. Read more

Wants vs. Needs

Now that I am making roughly 25% of my income from last year, I really have to know the difference of needs vs. wants. It’s a necessity for me to be able to make this distinction, not a luxury. I know the four walls concept of needs: food, shelter, transportation and utilities. But of those, what is really necessary? Read more