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Archive for September, 2012

Buying a Tree Tomorrow

September 28th, 2012 at 12:14 am

Hello, everyone. Another step in my list of goals to reduce overall spending will be accomplished tomorrow. The dh is going to pay for a red oak tree that will be delivered and planted on the west side of our house where the sun is the worst in the afternoon. That is also the side where the kitchen is. I look forward to lower utility bills when the tree is mature. It is already about 6 feet high.

And speaking of reducing spending, I just received our latest gas bill today. We are on a level payment plan and they finally got around to re-evaluating our payment based on last year's usage. Our payment went from $57.18 to $36.86! Holy cow!! I thought the gas bill might go down some because we have been using the energy efficiency features on the dishwasher, but this is beyond believable.

We have not received our evaluation of electric usage yet. Maybe next month...

Menu for the Week

September 23rd, 2012 at 06:31 pm

My checking account is looking a little skinny right now, so I mostly bought a lot of fruits and veggies

1) Broccoli slaw with cut up chicken, cut up red bell pepper, diced red onion, cut up cucumber, and shredded carrot. - 2 lunch meals

2) Chickpea and Chicken Salad. - 2 lunch meals http://allrecipes.com/recipe/vegetarian-chickpea-sandwich-fi... - I did not have celery, so I used cucumber instead.

3) Sister Slaw - 1 dinner meal http://allrecipes.com/recipe/sister-slaw/detail.aspx

4) Matt's Garlic Salad - 1 dinner meal http://allrecipes.com/recipe/matts-garlic-salad/detail.aspx

5) Green Salad with Chicken and Pecans. - 1 dinner meal

6) Oatmeal. Side of ham. Side of grapefruit with stevia. - 4 breakfast meals.

7) Eggs. Side of ham. 1/2 serving of oatmeal. 3 breakfast meals.

8) Mediterranean Kale Salad. - 1 dinner meal. http://allrecipes.com/personalrecipe/63344509/mediterranean-...

9) Caron's Kickin' Quinoa Salad. - 1 dinner meal. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/carons-kickin-quinoa-salad/deta...

10) Salad My Way. - 1 dinner meal. http://allrecipes.com/personalrecipe/63331549/salad-my-way/d...

I am hoping to be able to decrease overall expenses soon. My gas and electric are both on level payment plan. The usage gets re-assessed yearly in September I believe, so I should get a bill with the new amount in September or October. The dh and I have worked really hard on decreasing usage of gas and electric.

1) We have installed LED bulbs in nearly every lamp and fixture in the house. On less-used ones, we are waiting for the bulbs to die before we replace them. We also have a outside security light that we have to get someone to come over and replace for us. It requires a 10 foot high ladder to do it and we don't have one. I think we can have that done on October 14th. We also keep lights in some rooms turned off in the daytime if there sufficient light from the sun.

2) Because our dishwasher was about to die and we use it every day, we needed to buy a new one. We bought a new one with energy efficiency settings that we always use. We also only run it once daily except for the weekend when I do a lot of cooking.

3) We keep the blinds closed on the west side of the house because it gets so hot.

4) We are committed to buying an oak tree which we are going to have planted on the west side of our house. The tree is reserved for us. We just have to go on the 28th, my next payday, and pay for it to be delivered and planted. It is about 6 feet high right now and in time, will provide plenty of shade for that side of the house. And a lot of leaves to rake, too. ;P

5) I do the bulk of our cooking on Saturday and/or Sunday, so that the kitchen does not get so heated up. This was crucial in the summer months.

6) I have been taking shorter showers to reduce the load on the water heater. I also don't use a blow dryer. In the winter, I get up earlier to take a shower to make sure my hair is dry in time to go to work. Or, I take a shower at night.

Assessment on 2012 Goals Progress

September 15th, 2012 at 09:45 pm

1. Pay Down Credit Card to $300.00 by 12/31/2012

As of 9/15/2012, one credit is about $1900 and the other is $795. This was due to purchasing of a dishwasher and new computer. Both were about the die and I knew the savings would not cover it. Ugh. Ugly. I will continue to keep both cards open and pay down the debt aggressively.

2. Bring car savings account up to $2000.00 by 12/31/2012. As of 9/15/2012, this account is $1006.85. Not great, but better than nothing.

3. Complete some minor, and major, maintenance on the house. We have succeed in some minor maintenance/repairs, including getting a brick mailbox enclosure built, fixing a plumbing leak in the kitchen, and getting a new faucet installed.

4. Increase house savings account. As of 9/15/2012, it is $113.04. I spent some out of this account for maintenance on the house, so it is down, but I will get it back up again.

5. Reduce unnecessary spending.
I am having a lot of trouble with this one, but have reduced the average monthly amount spent on groceries from $700 to around $480 or so. Major progress. That savings is being split up between the credit cards and the house and car savings accounts. I'm also working out a way to spend less on daily sodas/tea that will also result in greater health.

All right, friends and neighbors, I have A LOT of work to do.

Another Payday - More Debt Paid, More Saved, and More Home Repair Done

September 15th, 2012 at 06:31 pm

Hi, everyone. I had to save my entry and run earlier, so I didn't finish with my financial update. We had a plumber install a new faucet yesterday. Normally, dh could have done it, but he is having a lot of trouble with his shoulder due to arthritis and I know nothing about plumbing.

I got paid again yesterday. I already paid the gas and electric bills and allocated for the car insurance and 1/2 of the mortgage. I made a payment on one of dh's medical bills and deposited more to car and house savings. I made payments to the credit card. I also got a rewards check from one credit card. I am using it to make an extra payment to the other credit card.

My goal with the car savings is to have it up to $5,000 by the Fall of 2013. I also want to get the house savings up to $1,600 by the spring in order to have the rest of the mortar on the south side of the house and all of the east side done. The tax refund should help out with these goals a lot. The dh is going to sell some of his video games to a second hand store. I don't think he will get a lot, but even if it's only $10.00 each, he has promised to put all of it on the credit card he charged his new computer to.

The dh is still on a salad kick, so that's why there are so many salad meals. The chicken soup is for my lunch. Here are my meals for the week.

1) Chicken Soup with chicken, onion, garlic, brown rice, cannellini beans, stock, carrots, celery. - 3 lunch meals - (using brown rice, spices I already had)

2) Thai Salad with whole grain rice and chicken. - 1 dinner meal - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/thai-salad-with-whole-grain-bro... (I already had olive oil, garlic, and onion. This recipe also calls for peanut butter, but I don't really like that taste in salad.)

3) Green Salad with Carrots and Cucumbers, and either chicken or ham - 1 dinner meal - (We already have lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and carrots to make it.)

4) Quinoa and Chicken Salad - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/carons-kickin-quinoa-salad/deta... - 1 dinner meal (We already have the quinoa, lemon juice, and black pepper. This one is really good and fast to make.)

5) Grilled Chinese Chicken Salad Slaw. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-chinese-chicken-s... - 1 dinner meal - (We already have the ginger spice and olive oil. We are substituting lemon juice for lime juice and white onion for scallions.)

6) Oatmeal. Side of grapefruit. Side of ham. - 4 meals.

7) Eggs and ham with garlic, onion, and parsley. Sliced tomato. - 3 meals.

8) Mediterranean kale salad - 1 meal - http://allrecipes.com/personalrecipe/63344509/mediterranean-... This is what we had tonight. The dh loved it, and it's my "recipe" that I just made up on the spot to use up some 2 week old garlic cloves that I thought might go bad soon and leftover black olives.

9) I am not sure about the rest of the meals. Hmm...

Something else I am trying is using one of those reusable plastic cups with its own straw like this only I didn't buy it at Starbucks.

http://www.starbucksstore.com/cold-cup-kit-24-oz/bundleColdC...

I am making my own iced tea. Part of this is about my health. I have been using too much sugar and it is causing me problems and costing too much. For every day I don't buy iced tea, I will send extra dollar to the credit card. This will give me an incentive to pay it off quicker.

1 Week Til Payday, Food Challenge

September 9th, 2012 at 03:49 pm

Hi, friends and neighbors. I have 1 week until my payday on Friday. My checking is a little low, so we will be using it very little this week. I have to mail a package on Monday. That and maybe getting some extra lettuce or kale should be all I use it for.

We have some leftover spinach, garlic, parsley, oregano, lettuce, cucumbers, 1 green pepper, carrots, and white, red, and green onions from last week, so in true frugalness, I will be using those in my meals.

1) Thai Salad with whole grain rice and chicken. - 1 dinner meal - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/thai-salad-with-whole-grain-bro... (I already had olive oil, garlic, and onion. This recipe also calls for peanut butter, but I don't really like that taste in salad.)

2) Green Salad with Carrots and Cucumbers, and either chicken or ham - 1 dinner meal - (I just made this one up. We already have lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, carrots, cucumbers, ham, and chicken to make it.)

3) Quinoa and Chicken Salad - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/carons-kickin-quinoa-salad/deta... - 1 dinner meal (We already have the quinoa, mayo, lemon juice, black pepper, chicken, and tuna. This one is really good and fast to make.)

4) Grilled Chinese Chicken Salad Slaw. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-chinese-chicken-s... 1 dinner meal - (We already have the ginger spice and olive oil. We are substituting lemon juice for lime juice and white onion for scallions.)

5) Ham and Bean Soup - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/basic-ham-and-bean-soup/detail.aspx - 4 lunch meals. (This is absolutely delicious and so easy to make, it almost makes itself. I will top with a little green onion.)

6) Oatmeal. Side of grapefruit. Side of ham. - 4 meals.

7) Eggs and ham with garlic, onion, and parsley. Sliced tomato. - 3 meals.

8) I am not sure about the rest of the meals. Hmm...

Another Payday - More Debt Paid and More Saved

September 1st, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Hello, financial savvy people. I got paid my third paycheck of the month yesterday. It is not turning out exactly the way I planned, but it is better than it would have been without any planning. Here is my plan for what to do with my third paycheck. The reality of what happened is in red.

1) $00 to regular savings in favor of paying off more debt
2) $100 to house savings - $140 spent on new faucet for kitchen instead, more than I expected
3) $100 to car savings - $40 added to car savings
4) $150 to cc - $100 to cc. I will be getting about $13.00 more to add to this courtesy of mrrebates and about $8.00 or $9.00 courtesy of cash4books. So, that gets me closer to my goal.
5) $200 set aside for mortgage - $161.61 set aside for mortgage - had intended to have $33.00 extra for the principal and $5.00 extra for the escrow, but wanted to get dishwasher (cc #1) paid off as quickly as possible, so compromised there. The credit card is a higher interest rate than the mortgage.
6) $240 for groceries - We were out of practically everything, so I have already spent about $150 out of the $240 two-week allocation I give myself for groceries.
7) $30 gas for car - spent $20.11 on gas
9) $50 water bill - water bill was $51.95
10)$7 cigarettes - spent $7.00 on ciggies for dh
11) $40 lawn mowing - allocated $40.00 for mowing, though I am not sure we need to do this much longer this year
12) $80 internet and landline phone bill - just switched over separate internet and cell bills to a combined internet and landline bill and it was more than I thought it would be - $105.86
13)$100 Miscellaneous - Who knows?
TOTAL $1097.00 I don't want to think about it.


Due to the unexpected expenses, I am trying to use my food as wisely as possible to get as much out of it as possible. I bought about 5 pound of chicken breasts and a pot roast. I also got 3 packages of Farmland ham. That will give me my meat for the weak. The rest is mostly raw veggies. I will also make some soup for my lunches. My meals for the week include:

1) Eggs and ham - 3 meals

2) Oatmeal. Side of grapefruit with stevia. Side of ham. - 4 meals

3) Chicken salad with green onions and cayenne pepper - 3 meals - (already had cayenne pepper)

4) Kale salad with beef, olive oil, cider vinegar, cranberries. - 1 dinner meal - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/kale-and-feta-salad/detail.aspx (I already salt. I am leaving off the feta cheese because I am allergic and substituting strawberries because I could not find currants. I will add some chicken strips. I can't seem to find the currants for this recipe in my area. So far, I have tried making it with strawberries and cranberries, and I must say that I vastly prefer the strawberries. Delicious. With beef is better also.)

5) Flat Iron Steak and Spinach Salad - 1 dinner meal - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/flat-iron-steak-and-spinach-sal... (I already had red onion, olive oil and red wine vinegar instead of wine. I left off the cheese. This one was delicious. We had it last night.)

6) Thai Salad with whole grain rice and chicken. - 1 dinner meal - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/thai-salad-with-whole-grain-bro... (I already had olive oil, garlic, onion, chicken, and peanut butter.)

7) Green Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumbers, and either chicken or ham - 1 dinner meal - (I just made this one up. We already have lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, ham, and chicken to make it.)

8) Quinoa and Chicken/Tuna Salad - http://allrecipes.com/recipe/carons-kickin-quinoa-salad/deta... - 1 dinner meal (We already have the quinoa, mayo, lemon juice, black pepper, chicken, and tuna. I haven't decided whether to make it with chicken or tuna, but either way, it should be good.)

9) Grilled Chinese Chicken Salad Slaw. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/grilled-chinese-chicken-s... 1 dinner meal - (We already have the ginger spice, and olive oil. We are substitution lemon juice for lime juice and white onion for scallions.)

10) Chicken Soup with Rice. Already have brown rice, broth, carrots, onions, salt, and pepper.