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Juligirl's Personal Finance Blog
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Extra $$, Meals

January 15th, 2008 at 04:47 pm

Focus Group
I got a screener call from the focus group last night. I hate it that they always tell you the amount and THEN do the screener. Iím always disappointed when I donít qualify, which is what happened last week. This time, though, I qualified. It pays $100 for about 2 hours Ė which you just canít beat. And, they provide a light meal. Last time, it was a tray of deli sandwiches, and chips and cookies. It doesnít meet until the 28th of this month, though, so Iím not adding it to my challenge money yet.

Dining Out
We got really lax about this toward the end of last year, and weíre going to try to do better in 2008. So, my DH and I came to an agreement about reducing our dining expenses. In our household, we have the ĎHouseí account, which pays for all bills and household expenses.. Then, we each have about $200 per month that comes from outside sources. His is a second assignment from his job, and mine is a PT gig that I have. This money serves as our allowances to spend anyway we want to, or to save for something that we want personally. This allowance is also used for lunches out (on our own), haircuts, etc. In the past, all dinners out have been paid for by the ĎHouseí, but thatís all about to change.  Our new plan is that the ĎHouseí will provide one meal out per week, usually on Friday or Saturday night. Any additional meals out will have to paid for using our own money, depending on whose idea it is to go out. Those nights that I donít feel like cooking or Iím ďtoo busyĒ will have to come out of my own money. Likewise for DH when heís not in the mood for spaghetti again. Smile So far this is working out great. I cooked every night last week except for Friday night, and that was our date night anyway. This week, Iíve cooked Sunday and Monday nights, and I have meals planned for tonight & tomorrow. Weíre leaving Thursday evening to go out of town, so there will be more eating out, but weíve already planned for that.

A new year, a new plan...

January 14th, 2008 at 08:16 pm

Iíve decided to start my blog again in 2008. I kept up with this site all throughout 2007, but kind of lost the motivation to write anything myself. I did okay financially last year, but I really need to buckle down on a few things this year, and I hope keeping track of my progress (and setbacks) on this site will help.

So far, Iíve contributed $46.11 to my $20 challenge. Each time I make an addition; I transfer or deposit the money to my savings account. Iím using this money to pay off some debt, and I now have a plan to accomplish this (I hope). I know meÖ. Iíve always had problems with making small payments on bills or debts. I want to see the debt gone, and Iíve had the tendency in the past to wait until I could pay the amount off in full. It just doesnít make sense to keep doing it that way, so Iím trying to get past my issues with this. Iíve decided that every month on the 10th, 20th, and 30th, I will take my challenge money balance and make a payment on whatever debt I am working on at that time until it is paid off in full. Then, I will move on to the next debt.

My first payment was this past Thursday, and I decided to round up to nearest $5, so this timeÖ. I paid $50 towards Debt #1. Only $63 more to go until it is paid in full.

My goal is to have each on of the payments equal at least $50, or at least average out to $50. The first six debts on my list all have fairly small balances, and the total for all six is less that $1500.00, so using the extra $150 per month gives me a payoff date of October 2008. Iím giving myself an accelerated goal of June though, and I think I can do it!! Iíll just have to come up with some things to sell on ebay or craigslist to come up with an extra $100 per month. Or maybe I could just trim off some other budget items a little. Weíll seeÖ.

July goals revisited and monthly totals

August 1st, 2006 at 08:41 pm

Okay, it's time to see how I did:

July goals:

1. Eat out no more than 2 times per week - once for lunch and once for dinner. On average, I did manage to do this. Some weeks, I ate out more, some less.
2. Add $400 in savings -- and leave it. DONE
3. Open ING account. DONE
4. Put at least $500 toward debt.Not quite, more like $350, but getting closer.
5. Exercise 3 times per week.not even close, I'll try this again in August Smile
6. Ride bus to work 2 times per week instead of driving Yep, another one to try again in August.

Now for the total savings. I managed to save $111.01 during July that I added to my challenge account. Not quite as high as the other two months, but I still exceeded my goal, which I'm happy about. This brings my grand total to:

May 161.68
June 151.99
July 111.01
Total 424.68 Yea!!

June totals and July goals

July 11th, 2006 at 05:10 pm

I'm a little late wrapping up monthly totals for June, but I've been really busy lately. I rolled $50 worth of change and deposited it...bringing the monthly total to $151.99. My grand total:

May 161.68
June 151.99
Total 313.67

I am very happy about this. I believe that I mentioned in an earlier post that my main priority right now is paying down debt, so I transfer my challenge money at the end of the month to checking to go towards debt payments. Each month I start fresh in my challenge account.

July goals:

1. Eat out no more than 2 times per week - once for lunch and once for dinner.
2. Add $400 in savings -- and leave it.
3. Open ING account.
4. Put at least $500 toward debt.
5. Exercise 3 times per week.
6. Ride bus to work 2 times per week instead of driving.

Another monthly update

June 23rd, 2006 at 06:27 pm

I haven't updated in a while, but I really haven't had much to add lately. I've been trying not to spend -- I've done so-so I guess. I've been doing much better with bringing my lunch to work (except for today). I did have a few additions to my challenge money. $27.00 net for my ebay sale, $2.00 that I saved at Walmart with coupons, $2.00 that I saved at CVS with coupons, and $2.99 for the Advil PM rebate that I just mailed off. That brings my June total to $101.99. The good news is that I've already met my goal for the month and there are still 7 days left. The bad news is that there are 7 days left in the month (I get paid monthly and some months seem really long). My DH and I just started the envelope system this month. I have to admit, I had no idea that it would help us this much. It has definitely taken some time to adjust, but I am happy with how it's going.

I did finall receive my payment from and the BofA bonus.

My outstanding items are: $4.49 Walgreens rebate, $2.99 Advil PM rebate.

20 minutes....

June 9th, 2006 at 05:12 pm

That's how much time is left on my eBay auction. It's up to $33.55. I was really hoping that it would get to at least $50. There are 10 people watching it, so maybe there will be a last minute bidding war. Smile

Yesterday, I signed up for Shopper's Advantage through MyPoints. I will get 200 points plus 2 $10 gift cards to Barnes & Noble. I never buy books from a bookstore (I usually get check out from the library or buy at the thrift store), but I have a good friend who does. She'll be getting these gift cards for her birthday next month. I love these trial memberships!!

I'm going to add that $20 to my challenge. New total for June $68.00.

Grand total so far: $229.68

June so far...

June 6th, 2006 at 05:59 pm

I thought June was going to be a slow month for me, but it's shaping up to be better than I thought. I used coupons at Bruno's Sunday for $3.00. I had a coupon at Target for a free $10 gift card with a new prescription, which I've already taken advantage of. I also transferred one of my prescriptions to Publix and received a $25 gift card. And, yesterday, I received one of the $10 gas rebates from AutoAdvantage. My total for the month so far is $48.

I've been doing some thinking about my Challenge money. I've been keeping it separate from all other money by putting it in a separate savings account. My banks makes it easy for me to make transfers to it whenever I need to. I've decided that since my DH and I already have an 'emergency fund' set up, I am going to use my challenge money to help pay off some debt. I'm still going to keep it separate, and then transfer it at the end of the month to checking. This way, it can be quantified easily and I can pay off some things sooner. I'm going to do it this way for 3 months and then re-evaluate my situation.

My outstanding items are: $1 from (???), $4.49 Walgreens rebate, $50.00 Bank of America bonus.

Second jobs

June 6th, 2006 at 05:51 pm

My DH has decided to pick up his side job again. I'm not sure how long he plans to do it, but I'm sure it will be until at least the end of the summer. Thankfully, this job brings in about an extra $1000 a month, so it will definitely help out. We are sharing a car now, which is a little bit of an inconvenience. He's going to use his extra money to pay cash for a car in a month or so. I'm so glad because now we won't have to worry about another car payment.

I also start my part time job tomorrow night at the church nursery. It will only bring in a little extra money, but I will add it to my challenge every month.

End of the month tally

May 31st, 2006 at 04:08 pm

Well, since today is the last day of the month, I thought I would add my last few additions to the challenge. I saved $4.69 in coupons last night at Publix, and I also sent the Walgreen's rebate form in for $4.49. This brings my total for the month of May to $161.68.

I think I'm going to change my process a little, just to make my life easier. From now on, I'm not going to worry about weekly goals or totals, just monthly. I'm shooting for saving or earning $100 per month.

My outstanding items are: $1 from (which I may or may not see), $4.49 Walgreens rebate, $50.00 Bank of America bonus, and $10.00 gas rebate from Traveler's Advantage.

Weekend update

May 30th, 2006 at 03:11 pm

At the end of last week, I was at $121.50 for the month. I paid myself $5 for the massive cleaning I accomplished on Saturday (I was finally able to de-clutter a little around the house). I also met my exercise challenge, which added another $1. This weekend, I saved a total of $25 by using coupons ($1 at Walgreen's and $24 at CVS). This brings my total to $152.50. I'm very happy with my saving so far. It's amazing how quickly the little things can add up.

Free tank of gas!!

May 25th, 2006 at 08:37 pm

Well, this week has been a good one for me challenge-wise. I was off work yesterday resting from my business trip. My husband asked me to help him with a work-related errand. He had to go about an hour away to pick up a car and needed someone to drive him there. His employer filled up my car before we left and then again when I got back. I figure that saved me about $40 at least. I've added that to my challenge money, of course.

This means that this week has already made up for the slow week that I had last week. In addition to my free gas, I also had about 3 no-spend days, since all my expenses for my business trip will be reimbursed.

For the month, I have already met my goal - I am currently at $121.50.

This is a slow saving week.

May 19th, 2006 at 03:34 pm

It's Friday and my "saving week" ends today. I'm not even half way to my goal because so far I've only saved $8.27. It's so easy to get discouraged, but I just have to focus on the long term goal and the benefits of what I HAVE saved. I guess I'm up eight dollars from where I was before the challenge. Also, I have a total of $77.87 in challenge account, which means that I've done pretty good for the month. I need to average $90/month to meet my end of the year goal, and I should be able to make that for May.

Great Mail Day!!

May 18th, 2006 at 07:55 pm

I normally hate going to the mailbox, because I usually only get bills, bills, and more bills. However, yesterday I got two unexpected surprises.

1) A packet from the Publix Pharmacy. It was four coupons for a $25 Publix gift card for switching two prescriptions and having them both refilled twice. I'm very excited about this. I have really low co-pays anyway, so I don't really have pharmacy-loyalty issues. I don't mind switching at all. And, then I get $100 worth of free gift cards. Smile I'm not sure yet if I will save these and use them to buy other gift cards for gifts for others, or if I will actually use them to buy groceries.

2) The second surprise was a postcard from Toyota. If I go test drive a new Toyota before June 30th, I get a $50 Prepaid Mastercard. I'm actually in the market for a more fuel-efficiet car right now anyway, so this will definitely motivate me to start looking.

Progress so far....

May 17th, 2006 at 08:34 pm

I'm just starting my fourth week of the challenge and this is what I've accomplished so far:

Week 1:
I sold some books on a few things on ebay for a total of $18.92

Week 2:
Money saved with coupons at CVS and Food World for a total of $32.19

Week 3:
Sold books on and, met my water and exercise challenge (only one day though)Frown, used coupons at CVS, and received a gas rebate check from Traveler's Advantage. Total $18.49

I figure if I can keep averaging $20/week, I will have $720 by the end of this year.

Total challenge: $69.60

Extra work = Extra money

May 17th, 2006 at 06:51 pm

I just got a call from the nursery coordinator at the church that we just started attending. My DS is in the nursery there, and they ask that parents sign up to work one service a month. The coordinator explained to me that I could volunteer to work once a month, or I could commit to every other week or weekly and get paid. Of course, I signed up for the weekly one. It pays minimum wage and it will probably only be about 2 hours a week. It's not alot of money, but every little bit helps!!

Since my short term goal is to save or generate $20/week -- this will bring in about half of that each week.

Just getting started....

May 16th, 2006 at 08:19 pm

I actually started my $20 challenge about 2 weeks ago, but I haven't had a chance to make any entries in the journal until now. I'm so excited about this challenge because I'm always looking for new and creative ways to save money.

From what I've read on the other blogs, it seems like everyone is kind of doing his or her own 'take' on the challenge. I hope this is the case, but that's exactly what I'm doing!! LOL

Basically, this is my plan:
I want to save and/or generate at least $20 each week by doing something that I would not ordinarily do.

How am I going to do this?
1. Coupons/Rebates. Now, since I've been using coupons for awhile now, I knew I had to change it up a little. This is what I came up with. Before the challenge, I saved money by using coupons, but I never set aside any of the money, so it basically got spent somewhere else. Now, I've started looking at my receipt and actually transferring the amount that I saved into my Challenge savings account (I opened a new account so that I know this money is separate). I'm using the same concept with various rebates that I get. Instead of going into the checking account, they go into the Challenge savings.

2. Selling books on and

3. Walking/Water Challenges. I pay myself $1 if I walk for at least 30 minutes and $1 if I drink all my water that I need to drink for the day. Hopefully, this will motivate me to do these things, since I need to be doing them anyway. Smile Oh, this money gets transferred to Challenge savings too.

I'm still trying to think of other ways, so please feel free to send suggestions.