Posts filed under ‘goals’

Food, my only weakness! How did you know?

So I am kind of sticking to weekly updates. Kind of.

As for my budgeting goal of $300, still looking good-I think. It is after the 15th, and I’ve only spent $280 on food, moving, gifts, travel, everything but rent. So in that way, I succeeded. On the other hand, I still have one and a half gifts to get and those will probably come to more than $20.

On the bright side, I made $110 selling stuff I didn’t need on craigslist, and tricked people into taking some of the rest of the stuff I won’t need any more. One of the best ways I can save right now is by having less stuff. Plus, free money!

On another down side, I still keep spending way more on food than I intend to. I am trying to come up with a reasonable food budget for the next four weeks and it’s really hard. I know I spend too much, but what’s a limit I can set that I won’t break? Is it better to set an overall budget, a budget for eating out and eating in, or a budget and a set number of times I can eat out? I think an overall budget makes the most sense, but I also think it might be harder to stick to based on past experience. Advice totally welcome!

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December 18, 2008 at 3:31 pm 1 comment

Moving on up

So I’m moving twice in a little over a month, and moving stuff to three locations. It’s pretty nerve wracking. Or, it is for a likely-to-be stressed person like me. But this blog isn’t about stress (well, sometimes it is)-it’s about saving.

photo by Eden Hensley

photo by Eden Hensley

I’m planning on saving on boxes by using discarded boxes from work. If you don’t have boxes at work, you can try grocery stores and liquor stores, and sometimes drugs stores, for the boxes shipments come in. Be friendly and willing to accept a no when you ask for boxes, but also try to find out what day they get shipments in since that’s when they’ll have a lot of extra boxes to get rid of.

I am also getting some of the bubble wrap we normally throw away from work. it actually coincides well with my goal of cleaning out my office more-I used to stockpile bubble wrap for mailing things, and then never actually use it. I’m also planning on grabbing a bunch of the free newspapers available at the subway station.

You can always try craigslist and freecycle. I see packing materials listed all the time on craigslist on my free in my neighborhood feed, and if they were nearby I would totally grab some.

I’m also using craigslist to sell the big stuff I don’t need anymore. Even though I just bought some of this recently, it’s almost like free money, which is exciting.

The rest of the stuff I am giving away for free, because, well, I like getting things for free. In fact, I am giving away a couple things I got for free recently, but that’s okay.

**

As for my goals, it looks like I will make it and be under $300, but I still have to see how much gas ends up costing me, and am short a gift still. I broke it down into categories to help me not overspend. I’ve spent a bit too much on lunches, but I’ll just cut back on my dinners and/or miscellaneous fund to balance it out. Eating out is always my weakness.

December 5, 2008 at 7:53 pm 1 comment

Carnival, Goals, Being Happy

I don’t know about you, but I had a pretty great Thanksgiving.

Now I’m back, vacation over, and it’s time to assess what I’ve done and what I’m going to do.

First off, I was included in The Carnival of Personal Finance for my post on holiday gifts, which was pretty cool. Mighty Bargain Hunter is a really good blog, and a lot of the posts are pretty interesting, so I suggest checking it out. I always love reading these things (even when I’ not in them) because there is almost always at least one post linked that gives me a new idea or helps me get motivated.

So, as for goals, well:
1. Implement my new weekly budget system and stick to it. Not so good =( I think I need to start doing weekly checkup posts again if I want to stick to a weekly budget.

2. Use images in my blog. Very good! I only made 7 posts in November, but 5 had images, and I do think it made the posts better.

3. Make things new. I mostly did this on a larger, more metaphorical level, but I still feel I succeeded-I re-focused and gained new perspective and appreciation on things I already had in life. Sounds cheesy, but it is true. And I love cheese.

As for my December goals, those will be divided into two chunks since I am making Dec.15th-Jan.15th one chunk, of time with one goal, as I mentioned previously. For the next two weeks the goal is to not spend more than $300 on gifts, travel, eating, and moving. I think this is fairly do-able =) My other goal is to make weekly update posts again.

I am really happy and excited, December looks like it will be a good month.

December 1, 2008 at 3:55 pm 1 comment

October & November Goals

So October was slow month, blog-wise.  I only made 7 posts.  However, that’s because it was an awesome month, life-wise.  As I mentioned, two of my favorite people got married, I went to visit my boyfriend for his birthday, and I went to Hawaii.

All of this sounds like it should be really expensive, but it wasn’t.  Well, the wedding was really expensive by my standards but I think as far as weddings go, it was cheap.  For Hawaii the expensive part was the plane tickets, which  my mom paid for.  While we were there we kept it cheap by staying with family, buying groceries and eating at home & bringing snacks with us, and trying hard not to go crazy on souvenirs.

I also managed to spend $0 on my costume and still, I think, do a pretty good job, so that was a plus, and I did a freelance job and got paid which helped balance out all my crazy spending. I also set up my first C.D., at ING. I have a road trip fund that has been sitting around in cash. It is only $150, but it is better earning interest than not and I know the trip won’t happen in the next 12 months.

Here’s how I did on my goals:
1. Implement my new weekly budget system and stick to it. Poorly. To be honest, I entirely lost track of my budget. I started using mint.com, which I like, but I can’t keep track of my cash or weekly totals the way I am used to. I think I should stick with using my spreadsheet from now on. As I mentioned, I got kind of bored with entering things but if I do it every day it didn’t too bad, and I really do a better job when I write everything down. Because I was so lax, I am not even sure how I did. I just know I spent way too much money and didn’t allocate enough.

2. Use images in my blog. Of my 7 blog posts, 3 have images. However, it’s a better percentage than before. Should I keep working on this one? Do you guys like reading better when I use pretty pictures?

3. Make things new. I was very excited about this and started working on my dresser the first day. I got a bunch done, and then, well, that was it. This month should be a LOT calmer for me, so I am going to keep working on this.

I think, since October was so out of the ordinary, I am going to try again with the same goals for November. I hope that isn’t cheating 😉

How did you do?

November 3, 2008 at 9:41 pm 3 comments

50 Percent

I was trying to lose weight for a bit.  I started eating about half of what I had been eating at meals.  Then, if I was still hungry, I’d eat more.  It worked really well, and I discovered I felt better when I did it, because I wasn’t overeating and feeling sluggish.

It took me about two months to realize I could do this with other things.  I read a bunch of suggestions at Get Rich Slowly recently about making do with less.  What a lot of it summed up to was something very similar.  Try using half of what you normally would.  if that’s not enough, use more.  Try using half as much shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, etc.  Try getting have the subscriptions or paid services you have now maybe.  Then, if it isn’t enough, use more.  People tend to default to certain portions of things without considering that portion.  I know that every time I have gotten my hair cut after growing it long I have taken a day or two to adjust how much shampoo I need. You can also use 50% (or maybe two thirds) of things in recipes, assuming you know what you are doing.  I know a lot of people do this with sugar, and it can help with both health and budget.

So I am going to try using 50% of things for a bit and see how it goes.  If anything (including me) is less clean, I will up how much I am using.  This is going to be a goal for November.  Monday I will see if I have any more, and post how I did with October.  I think the answer is: not very well.   You?

October 31, 2008 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

De-slumpifying

So the wonderful Cris of www.queenofthecatpeople.com posted suggestions of ways I could save more. And I realized, I am doing these. Well, I don’t do once a month grocery shopping-I keep an eye out for coupons, buy my staples when they are on sale if I can, and then just pick up things as needed to supplement them. Since I’ve started tracking my expenses I’ve been very good about not making unplanned purchases at the grocery store unless I see a sale, so it doesn’t matter how often I go. If I try to plan too far ahead I always end up wasting something.

My faorite shot-the cake I made.  Photo by Steph Flanders.

My favorite shot-the cake I made. Photo by Steph Flanders.

And then I realized, go me. I am already doing a lot. My close friends got married, there was bound to be some expense involved. I had to pay for cake things, part of a car, part of a hotel room, and shoes. These were all optional (well, the cake really wasn’t at this point)-I could have taken a train I suppose, and not stayed in the hotel, and worn shoes I own or borrowed some. But this was not just one of the biggest days of their lives, it was one of the biggest of mine, That’s what having money is for. Ten years from now I am going to value the memories of the weekend far more than what they cost. In the meantime, most of the point of being so careful with my money is so I can spend on what I care about most, which these people certainly are.

But I knew that, and it is okay. That’s not something that’s going to set me back on a regular basis, and I won’t have to budget so tightly to make things come out okay in months where that isn’t happening. I have already planned for holiday gifts and I think my expenses shouldn’t be too bad, except for a couple people I don’t have gift ideas for yet.

I also now have cat supplies for the next several months because I decide it was more important to get the best possible price overall than to fret about my weekly budget, and buying in bulk is cheaper.

So next month I am going to try week-to-week budgeting again, but I’ll be able to give myself more leeway while staying within my overall monthly budget. And this month, I am just going to do the best I can in the remaining weeks.

I just need to focus on the good, and remind myself that big expenses happen.

October 15, 2008 at 9:40 pm 3 comments

New Year, New Goals

Well, it’s a new month, and for some of us, a new year. As of yesterday I am feeling pretty happy with what I achieved in September.

I’ve got some big things coming up in October, but most of them are pretty unrelated to this blog. I’m going to tie them in, however. Some people have an “other half” in a best friend. I have other thirds, because I am twice as lucky. One of my other thirds is getting married this month, and that’s going to be most of my goals and energy for the next two weeks. It relates in terms of balancing the budget for the month, but also because she’s going to be doing a series of guest posts on doing a frugal wedding. I think a lot of her tips are great not just for wedding planning, but for any big event you might have.

Meanwhile, I have some goals related to the blog and saving money.

1. Implement my new weekly budget system and stick to it. Since having the same budget every week didn’t work because my life varies from week to week, I’m going to implement a new system starting Friday. My budge last month was $50 a week, not including rent/utilities, cable/internet, or the cost of food and such I already owned. This month my budget will be $54/$76/$77/$38. Which means I am going to need my Halloween costume for very cheap. I can do it-two years ago I was Beaker for Halloween. I spent about $5, mostly on orange hair spray, and did so well that I won a prize for my costume. Wish me luck! Also, these numbers don’t include my boyfriend’s birthday present. I’m not putting the budget for that up, in case he reads this.

2. Use images in my blog. I always like it better when blogs have pictures, so I want more in mine. Pictures add to a point, and if I am explaining how to do a project or recipe pictures will be key. I can finally get pictures off my digital camera again, so that should help.

3. Make things new. I was inspired in part bythis post. I have a dresser that I’ve been meaning to collage. I’ve got a couch I’m not that excited about. And I’ve got some clothing that is functional but not fun. I am going to go through and see what I can do to make old things feel new to stave off the desire to buy more. That will be especially important since this a tight month between the wedding and my boyfriend’s birthday and Halloween.

I do think it is going to be hard to stick to a budget this month. I have a bit of leeway, since I am still erring on the side of smaller numbers because I would rather go over than spend up through what I have allocated. I need a better method than that, but I don’t have one yet. As I get more data on how much various things cost it should be easier to build more realistic budgets. I also have to allow for buying things this month on sale if they will be good Christmas presents.

So, what are your goals? And how are you feeling about September?

October 1, 2008 at 3:29 pm 4 comments

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