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Archive for May, 2014

Food challenge update

May 31st, 2014 at 07:59 am

I've been crazy busy, but I thought I'd pop in and give a quick update on how the food situation is going. I brought back a bunch of stuff from my mom's, so this week wasn't too bad. For lunch two days, I had a cheese flatbread with some mashed cauliflower and grapes. By Friday's lunch, I was running lowon momovers, but scrapped together a garlic biscuit, the last of the mashed cauliflower and pineapple slices. I cooked up a box of mac and cheese Wed. night, so dinner Wed. and Fri. was mac and cheese (one night with garlic biscuits; the other with chicken tenders). Tues. and Thurs. nights were frozen pizzas.

Overall, I haven't had a bad meal yet and haven't touched my bank account all week! I also somehow only managed to use a quarter of my gas tank so far, so double win.

The food thing is about to get significantly harder though, as I took inventory yesterday. I have half a bag of frozen chicken tenders, a pack of chicken that has to be cooked, a frozen meal, 2 bags of frozen veggies, one tortilla, and then 10 or so pantry items like mac and cheese, ravioli, and ramen. (Remember, I live in a basement, so I never keep too much food on hand.)

How I spent my Memorial Day

May 27th, 2014 at 11:49 am

Remember those 'How I spent my summer' presentations we always had to do the first week back at school. This one won't be nearly as interesting. About a month ago, I took my dog to the pet expo like I do every year. They were having a raffle, so I put my name in. Imagine my surprise when I actually 'won'!Turns out, it wasn't a real raffle, but one of those timeshare presentations. So today, I had to sit through 90 minutes of a timeshare sell. I was upfront with them and let them know that I could not afford it and would not be swayed, but that I'd politely listen to their offer and keep it in mind for the day when I am in a financial position to even consider it. For my time, I got $125 gift card, 2 $25 gift cards to Tropical Smoothie, and a voucher for a follow-up stay. Not a terrible deal. From there, I drove my brother down to his girlfriend's place. And then sat in ridiculous traffic on the way home. I finally made it to the last highway stretch when BAM! dead stop. I immediately switched to the parallel road and started flying home....

And then I saw the sirens. I was so tired by that point that I didn't even bother to fight it. I told him to just write the ticket fast, so I could continue on my way. He marked it as speeding rather than reckless, and since I have 5 years of fantastic driving, I'll still be positive in points. The fine sucks, but I took the risk and got caught. Oh well...

On the positive side, my aunt and uncle had a cookout, so I got some delicious chicken and filipino barbecue Smile

Tough challenge coming up

May 22nd, 2014 at 08:11 am

Today's payday! Unfortunately, it's all already spent. I'm talking every dollar (and then some...). So for the next two weeks, I'm attempting to spend nothing outside of gas money. No nights out with friends, no fast food, nothing. This will be a real challenge as my pantry is pretty bare. Last night I cooked up a chicken breast, so I have that with some leftover broccoli and rice for lunch today.

The only other fresh food I have is a pack of chicken tenders in the freezer. Everything else is processed/prepackaged....think mac and cheese, ramen, ravioli, etc. Luckily, I'm visiting home this weekend and my babysitting family buys fruit from Costco and doesn't mind if I occasionally have a little, so I'll have some fresh fruits and veggies. Wish me luck!

Moving slow this morning

May 19th, 2014 at 08:31 am

It was a very active and relatively low-spend weekend. Did a 10-mile run/walk to my Saturday Zumba class, took line-dance lessons at a country bar Saturday night, and then another 5 mile hike on Sunday. Luckily, dance rehearsal got cancelled. Otherwise, I don't think I would have made it out of bed today.

In other news, I've been obsessing over the Vegas trip. Need to make a bucket list and start fine tuning a realistic budget for the trip. I also need to refigure my goals for the year (the car and personal loan). I think they'll still be doable even with the trip, but that will depend largely on my yearly evaluation which happens within the next month. Fingers crossed that it's as big a bump as everyone's leading me to believe...

MyVegas Rewards

May 16th, 2014 at 12:50 pm

So this happened earlier in the week. Now I'm faced with a new goal of saving for an efficient, but fun vacation. Looking Forward mentioned something called MyVegas. I looked it up and now I'm hooked. Basically, you play slots for the the chance to earn real rewards like buffets, show tickets, and yes, even comped rooms. I'm hoping to be able to use these rewards by my trip to help defray the cost. Even three rewards at $40 each will save me $120. I'm also trying to get my family to play as each person can only redeem three rewards, but so far they haven't shown much interest in it.

Added bonus: by the time, I actually make it to Vegas, I will probably be all gambled out...

A big decision

May 14th, 2014 at 07:40 am

Yesterday, I made a choice. It's not one I regret as this was a goal I've wanted far longer than I've been wanting to get out of debt.

Frontier Airlines was running a special sale. Tickets from Dulles to Vegas were $15 one-way. The other way was $109. Altogether it was about $125/person. While I want to go to Vegas, my mom was the real motivation behind the purchase. She's always wanted to go (she loves casinos, but just the penny machines Smile). I've been wanting to surprise her with a trip for years. (Last Christmas, I framed a Vegas skyline puzzle and she asked me if it came with a plane ticket...) I decided it was worth the $250 to knock off one of her bucket list items.

...But it didn't stop there. I went ahead and also got them for my brothers. To be fair, this is all of our presents for Christmas this year, so that $400 I budgeted for November and December will be open for debt repayment.

All told (stretch seating for two people), 4 round-trip tickets from DC to Vegas for $610. Not a bad deal in my humble opinion.

We've also already worked out tentative plans for the pets and my mom is going to look into using her credit card points for the hotel. (She also gets free hotel offers from the sister casinos of the one here, so we may also be able to use those.)

For the next few months, I will take $100/month and put aside all snowflakes into a new Vegas account in Capital One 360. This will be our first ever real vacation as a family and even though we're all adults, I've never been more excited!

Quick Editor's Note: I did not go into more debt to fund this, but it will be taken out of the money I allot to debt repayment. There are some other opportunities in the works that will hopefully offset this minor setback that I will elaborate on later.

So much for that no spend weekend...

May 13th, 2014 at 08:23 am

I went way overboard. Part of it was last-minute plans that cropped up.

Saturday I went on a blind date. When I date, I usually offer to split the bill. Never have I been taken up on the offer, but it's a polite gesture. This guy said 'Sure. Okay.' If there wasn't already 0 chance of a second date, that'll do it. (I'm thinking he took me up on it because he could tell I wasn't interested...)

On Friday afternoon, I made brunch plans with a former coworker. We're trying to get her back for a program, so I met her Sunday morning. There goes another 20 bucks.

My brothers and I hadn't coordinated Mother's Day plans. Turns out, the little one and myself were planning to go home and surprise her. The older one (who lives at home) mentioned that she'd been really sad because she was having trouble streaming Frozen. We also both planned to pick up Frozen on DVD for her. So the little one got the movie and I got food so she didn't have to cook.

All in all, most of the expenses were worth it. All I can do is try to be better next time...

Just checking in

May 9th, 2014 at 12:02 pm

It's status quo over here. I'm hoping the dance gig kicks in more soon. Trying to make this weekend a no spend weekend except for one check that I have to turn over for some cheer gear for the coaching gig.

I'm also debating surprising my mom for mother's day. She already got her present, but I may pop in for the day to say hi since my ex used my car today and was nice enough to fill the gas tank.

Snowflakes (that aren't really so)

May 6th, 2014 at 08:04 am

So I got paid for my first show. It was supposed to be 50, but she gave me $75 since I did a solo and was basically one of the main dancers. Normal shows are $100 which is way more than I had thought. Side note: this month is Pacific Islander month, so hopefully there will be the opportunity to do a few more shows this month.

I also cashed out my dietbet winnings. $74 and change to lose 10 lbs. I'll take that!!

Unfortunately this money won't go to snowflaking my car. I'm still having major problems getting my credit card spending under control, so I'm using both of those to pay the card to avoid taking extra money from my car payment. (I'm hoping to get this under control in the next month or so as that extra spending was for bike and show stuff.)

First show success!

May 4th, 2014 at 07:02 pm

Had my first Polynesian show last night. What a rush! I even did a solo because we were short on dancers. The woman who runs the program seemed impressed (although she did say I had to work my fast hip movement...). She gave me 75 since I went for it and did the solo. Shows are normally 100. I volunteered to do a lot more. She said they were waiting to see how I did in NY first one, but I think they'll book me more now. I'd much rather spend my Saturday nights getting exercise and making money Smile

Unexpected Expenses (and an impulsive one...)

May 1st, 2014 at 06:19 am

So I just posted my updated April numbers. I think part of the reason I end up so far over is that little things keep coming up. For instance, with these two new jobs I've taken, I'm going to have to shell out some upfront money that I wasn't expecting. For the Polynesian gig, it's not too bad. I bought two practice pareos (12 each) and need to get some additional costume attire, but I'm not sure of the cost yet (one piece was 4 bucks). The cheerleading job is a little pricier. For the new hire packet alone, I have to get fingerprints, a background check, have a document notarized, and take 3 courses. I found a place that does free fingerprinting and apparently, I just have to turn in the whole hiring packet and the office will mail out the background check and everything else to where it needs to go, so I just have the cost of the notary and classes. Two are free (one being a CPR course which is great since I've been wanting to get certified...), but the third is $75 out of pocket. The good news is that this is reimbursed; the bad news is that it's not reimbursed until the end of the fall season.

As for the impulsive purchase...I will say that I paid cash for it. I went running last weekend and by the end of my 3 mile run, my knee was in a ton of pain. I needed a low impact way to get regular exercise, so I stopped in at a bike shop on the way home. They were $300-500 bikes. Now I really want a new way to commute to work (4 miles) without stressing my joints or taking more than an hour, but I really DON'T want to pay $300 for said way. So I checked Craigslist. Lo and behold, they had a decent Schwinn bike for $60. I do have to clean up some slight rust on it since it's been sitting in storage and never used. I also need a new seat because the one on it is a little too tall even with lowering it all the way, but even $100 is better than $300. I was willing to take the slight hit in my debt payoff plan because it'll save me on gas this summer.

Have you had any unexpected costs or impulsive purchases recently?

(One more side note, I felt really guilty after the impulse purchase, so I've started a 30 day want list - I had two things on there that I decided I didn't need already...)