Archive for March, 2007

There are several links to some great freebie sites on the blog roll to the right — check them out on a daily basis.

Once in a while I may highlight some of what I think are really good freebie deals. This is one.

Try out a 1lb. bag of  Wellness dry cat food.

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Debt Hater is hosting the 67th Festival of Frugality this week.  Check it out for a series of great tips on eating cheaper, smarter shopping, and getting lots of cheap and free items.

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This Saturday, I’m joining in on my dad’s homeowners association’s huge neighborhood yard sale.

I love having yard sales. Once a year, I find that it’s time to take a good luck at the clutter and see what can be sold for someone else’s use. Not that I’m a pack rat, but I’m always amazed at the stuff I buy or are given that I have no longer have a need.

Admittedly, I’m working on not making many of those purchases from now on — there’s still stuff lying around the house that I’d like to sell for a few extra dollars.

Here are some tips I’ve learned over the years that have really made my sales successful:

  • Price and label everything — a pack of removable Avery garage sale labels are more than worth the $1 I just paid for them at Kroger.
  • Be ready to haggle — haggling is not something many Americans are very good at, except yard salers. I always price my items a couple of dollars higher than I expect to get, knowing I’ll likely come down a bit, if asked.
  • Hang up clothes on a line or clothes hanger — clothes sell much better when people can look through them like a department or clothing store.
  • Make clear and concise signs — Simply put “Yard Sale”, the time, a large arrow for the direction, and the street address. Use flourescent or bright poster board and a very thick black Magic Marker. Make sure it’s securely affixed to a pole. I also like to buy a couple of cheap helium balloons and tie them to a tree or pole in my yard. Here are some great examples of what, and what not, to do.
  • Have plenty of change and small bills ready — because of course your first customer is going to buy a 50 cent item and only have a $20 bill.
  • Have a helper — it hasn’t happened to me often, but there are pro shoppers/scammers out there that work to distract or overwhelm you, clammering with prices, until you say yes to a total lowball offer just to get them to leave you alone.
  • Donate everything after the yard sale to the Goodwill or another thrift store –don’t bring what doesn’t sell back home! Or if you do, Freecycle it that weekend.

The Yard Sale Queen also has some great Yard Sale Customers from Hell stories. I hope this weekend I don’t have a story to add to the list!

I won Becoming and Staying Debt Free’s first book giveaway! What a great way to start the week — thanks so much!

Stay tuned for a review once I have a chance to read it.

Also, there will be two more giveaways so get your comments posted.

Last week was interesting. In a very short time, my life at work has changed — I’ve become much busier and engaged in our business. Exciting, but tiring, too.

As far as my personal goals here is what I accomplished:

  • Complete calls to credit card companies — Ok, I only made one but was successful in lowering that APR to 14.99. Big difference. I have a few more calls to make this week.
  • Download statements and begin to work with Microsoft Money – I tried it out, and honestly, I realized that I didn’t want to spend that much time with this program. Instead, I began a simple Excel spreadsheet to let me track income and my expenses for the month. I put down a sample budget that I’m sure I’ll be editing over the next few months as I used it more. I’m happy to now have a framework and April will be the first month I’ve ever budgeted, well, anything on paper.
  • Finish taxes — Done! More on what I’ll be doing with my return later in the week.

Some other things that happened this week as far as how I spent money. A couple of days last week I had to work through lunch. I live very close to work so I almost always come home to eat. Instead I ate at Quiznos. Not terrible on the finances, but I was unprepared.

Also, I finally returned about $100 worth of clothes I didn’t like or didn’t fit to Old Navy. These were charged on my Amex over a month ago. I picked up 2 polo shirts and some socks and still had about a $77 credit to the account — yay debt reduction!

Goals for this week:

  • Yard Sale — Begin purging closets and drawers for things to sell at my upcoming yard sale on March 31.
  • Income tax return — make a plan for that money, likely to include a few household purchases and seeding of my emergency fund.
  • Budget — continue to refine.

Book Giveaway

There are still a few days left to drop a comment over at Becoming and Staying Debt Free and enter the Prince of Thrift’s drawing for a copy of Good Debt, Bad Debt.

This is the first of three weeks of giveaways, happening every Monday.

I’m entered — I’m hoping to add to my personal finance library and plan to share my reviews of various books over time on this blog. I’m open to any recommendations, so please let me know if there are any books you recommend!

A 2% merit increase in my pay should be seen in next week’s paycheck!

It’s not a huge amount, but every little bit…

This weekend I’ll be making my first stab at a budget — wish me luck. The 2% pay increase will get funneled directly into the debt reduction category.

Whew! It’s been a crazy few days at work.

My employer is a well known corporation, but where I work, we are a bit of a maverick operation in business processes.  I’m responsible for a small administration team as well as executive assistant duties for the general manager.

Profits are way down. Revenue is stagnant but costs keep rising.

Things are tough and we are being challenged to dig deep quickly to trim the fat. Cut spending and get more efficient.

Sound familiar?

It’s a busy but exciting time. Some hard decisions are ahead but I’m thrilled to be taken seriously and to be a part of the team looking at how to streamline many of our critical services.

The energy I’m feeling taking on these challenges is the same energy I’m feeling taking on my personal challenges with my finances. Feeling empowered, but also a little scared.

Am I biting off more than I can chew? Isn’t it easier to just not try that hard and get by ok?

How long can I sustain this level of energy? Does it get easier or harder as time goes on?

Cheap Eats #1

This is the first in an occasional series of posts about inexpensive meals that I’ve actually cooked for myself and I find to be tasty bargains.

First, I’m a huge fan of using a slow cooker. I’m single and not the greatest cook in the world — so the convenience of preparing ingredients in the morning, setting a timer, letting the slow cooker do it’s thing and coming home to warm smells of freshly cooked food can’t be beat!

I get many of my slow cooker recipes from Fix-It & Forget-It Lightly. Here’s one I made Monday and following the recipe will be a breakdown of the costs directly from my grocery receipt.

Chicken Chowder Recipe (serves 4)

  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 cup onions, chopped
  • 1 potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 ” chunks
  • 1/2 lb. uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 15-oz. cans cream corn
  • 1/2 cup dried potato flakes
  • 1/2 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

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  • Combine all ingredients except potato flakes and cheese in the cooker.
  • Cover. Cook on low for 5-7 hours.
  • Add potato flakes and stir well.
  • Cook on high, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until chowder has thickened.
  • Top each serving with cheese (optional).

This was my first try with this recipe and it turned out to be quite tasty. It was a hearty meal that I paired with a small salad and a roll. Reheating it for dinner last night, it kept it’s flavor and didn’t get too mushy.

Keep reading for the cost of the meal… Continue Reading »

Ask Mr Credit Card’s Blog hosts this week’s 79th Carnival of Debt Reduction. Time to enroll in a few courses at Debt Reduction University!