Last week I took a break from blogging. Nothing major was going on — I just felt little inspiration to write anything. I also wasn’t participating in my daily reading of other sites (see links on the right to most I check out often).

I also have a stack of receipts piling up on my desk that need to get incorporated into my budget for the month. Don’t get me wrong — I didn’t go on some wild and crazy spending spree. But I did avoid the grocery store and opted to eat out a bit too much last week. Time to tally that up and get back on track for the balance of the month.

So — no goals were made or worked towards last week. But onward and upward.

This week’s goals:

  • Blog every day — not just to ramble on, but to continue to use this blog as a place to keep myself accountable. I’m just setting this one goal but I think it may pay off in a few different ways for me. I’ve got many starts to saved posts on different topics, too, so some of the work is done. 

Happy Monday!

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Monday Wrap-up will be a bit delayed today but in the meantime, check out The Great American Book Giveaway. There are 5 featured books a week and they give out hundreds of them!

Giveaway Project is a great site to check daily for updates on giveaways and freebies around the blogoshpere. No strings attached — just helpful posts summarizing what’s out there for easy entry (often just a comment on a blog).

Right now, you can enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card by simply posting a comment.

I’ve been a little lax posting links to recent Carnivals of Debt Reduction so here ya’ go!

 (I may repost about Carnival #80 later, but right now the host, millionster.com, is down.) 

Money Walks is hosting #81. Highlights include articles on wasting money when you think you are saving it, the 5 syptoms of debt overload, and drastic ideas for debt reduction.

WordPress’s widgets are getting the best of me today. I was trying to edit my emergency fund savings total to $68, but it’s not getting saved. Gremlins in the system perhaps, but regardless (note: fixed) — I’m up a tiny bit towards the goal of $1000 for my emergency fund.

I set up a new online, high yield savings account with Amboy Direct that I plan to funnel money to once my Bank of America savings account gets past $100 (this also functions as my checking account overdraft protection — I plan to always keep $100 in that account).

How do I plan to save for the emergency fund?

  • Last week, I set up two $25 automatic deductions from my checking to my savings for the 1st and 15th of the month (pay days). I’ve also budgetted this into my monthly budget.
  • I’m enrolled in Bank of America’s Keep the Change program which rounds up all retail purchases to the nearest dollar and daily transfers the balance from the checking account to the savings account. I simply record my daily transactions rounded up in my check register so the accounts reconcile.
  • At the end of the month, I’ll also look to see if any additional funds are left over above and beyond the monthly budget to move into the savings account.
  • Miscellaneous income (like the $30 rebate from my recent monitor purchase, due in May) will also go directly into this fund.

But what about saving for other, smaller goals like Christmas and vacations?

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The Savvy Steward also had an interesting link in the Festival of Frugality that explains how to write and send letters with no envelope needed

 Fey, if you are reading this, I know I’ve been a bad pen pal but I am going to try this out with a letter to Ez this week!

Mapgirl’s Fiscal Challenge is the host of the 68th Festival of Frugality and my blog post on Tips for a Great Yard Sale was featured in the carnival!

Some of the other frugal highlights:

From a work perspective, I’ve never experienced a week like this one before. A roller coaster of work, emotion, feeling overwhelmed, feeling empowered. End result: going in to today I have a much larger staff and scope of responsibility.

I haven’t blogged as much as I’d like but I’m still here, still have many post ideas, and will continue to do my best to get them articulated.

In the meantime, let’s look at last week’s goals and see how I did.

  • Yard Sale – I got my items in order only for it to rain on Saturday and my dad’s POA postponed the sale! But the work is done and my stuff will be out for sale next Saturday. Check out my tips for a great yard sale that I’ve learned over the years.
  • Income tax return — honestly, it was pretty much a wash and my return was insignificant. I splurged and bought a new office chair from Office Depot (for about 50% on sale and with a coupon) and some cheap fishing gear.
  • Budget — I began my budget in an Excel workbook. Not the most robust, but something to work with this month. I’m not thrilled with Microsoft Money, honestly, and want to check out some of the 8 Free Personal Finance Management Programs that Consumerist, and their commenters, discuss to see if I can find one that’s a good fit for me.

It’s a new month and a new week. In my mind, the last couple of weeks have just been a warm-up for my serious effort of debt reduction. Had to loosen the muscles up, do a few calisthenics, stretch this one or that. Now it’s time to start the steady workout.

Goals for this week:

  • Explore personal finance software packages
  • Decide which method of debt reduction makes the most sense for “me” (i.e. for readers of other personal finance blogs and books, snowball versus high interest rate methods of prioritizing which accounts to pay down, which I’ll be discussing later in the week)
  • Have some fun! If this week is going to be anything like last week, I need to make sure to build in fun and leave the workday behind me.

Well, my coffee is getting cold and it’s about time to get ready for work. Time to take on a new week!

Sigh.

Something I forgot about when adding up my credit card debt — I spent the first week of March on vacation visiting family and friends in California and used one of my credit cards for some purchases while I was out there. I had not budgeted well for the trip and did not have enough cash.

The bad news — when I looked at my card balances today, overall I’m up to $18,640.

The good news — I have not charged a thing on any card since March 15.

I’m going to reset initial debt total to the right of the blog to accurately reflect my highest starting point. I’ve already made some good payments today and closed out one account (Pier One) that had a balance of $134 — so we should see some progress May 1.

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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