Quick Share: My Items Acquired for Free Today

One tube of Colgate toothpaste (CVS – store coupon, plus manufacturer coupon), and two boxes of Angel Soft tissues (Price Chopper – sale, plus manufacturer coupons doubled)!

Did you pick up anything for free today?

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May Goals Update and June Goals

May Goals Update:

  1. Earn $300 through “side hustles”.  Success! I earned a total of $426.20.
  2. Write four blog posts each week. Close. I published a total of 14 posts
  3. Read one book each week. Success! I actually read a total of six books in May.
  4. Exercise three days per week. Not quite. While I didn’t keep close track of this throughout the month, I’m pretty sure I exercised twice a week all but one week, when I did three times.
  5. Decrease our total credit card debt by $500. Nope. Sadly, it increased by $508.

June Goals:

  1. Earn $350 in side hustles.
  2. Write four blog posts each week.
  3. Read one book each week.
  4. Exercise three days per week.
  5. Try two new recipes each week.
  6. Decrease our total credit card debt by $1,000.

What about you? What are your goals for this month?

Last Week’s Frugal Highs

Happy Monday! Sadly, this is a brief list of frugal highs. We had weekend visitors, and I spent a good bit of the week preparing for their arrival.

  1. Used a gas credit from our grocery store (I had accumulated $0.32 off per gallon) when filling up the near-empty car tank, plus the gas cans for our lawn mower and weed whacker. It feels great to maximize those credits!
  2. Received another payment from Amazon for purchases from my store.
  3. Started reading Financially Fearless, but haven’t made much progress, yet.
  4. Put my YMCA membership on-hold for six months, since I can run outside now. This will save $47 per month.
  5. While at the Y, I changed the credit card on-file for my daughter’s Y membership from the one with the highest rate, to one with a lower rate.

What about you? How was your week?

June 1 Debt Totals

Here are my June 1 debt totals – the good (Chase #2 and Citibank), the bad (Chase #1 and Discover), and the ugly (the total):

Chase Card #1: $21,074.10 ($168.83)

Chase Card #2: $4,549.06 (-$1,313.78)

Chase Card #3: $8,244.38 ($1,011.08)

Discover Card: $12,518.20 ($858.88)

Citibank Card: $7,969.72 (-$216.96)

Total Credit Card Debt: $54,355.66

Change: $508.05

A few thoughts on the numbers… I may have gotten a little over-zealous about paying down Chase card #2. I’m very happy to have paid down our highest-rate card  by $1,300, but some of the money used to do so, could’ve been used in other ways. We had several large-ish expenses in May, and we used cards to pay for all of them. (Both cars needed to be serviced, our daughter desperately needed a mattress, and our cat with health problems had a flare-up and required veterinary care.) We did pretty well using cash for the first 2 1/2 weeks of the month, but obviously fell off the wagon later in the month. I’m happy to be starting with a clean slate this month!

What about you? How’s your debt repayment going? Already debt-free? What tips do you have to share?

Did I Do the Right Thing?

Like many girls her age (four), my daughter is pretty obsessed with Disney princesses. Even if she hasn’t seen a particular character’s movie, she loves her and wants all of the related merchandise. Each time we go to Target, she begs to walk through “the princess aisle”.  While I think she knows I’m not going to buy her anything, she still asks begs for pretty much everything there.  Last summer I started responding, “Let’s put it on your birthday/Christmas list”, which worked surprisingly well. Instead of asking me to buy things for her, she would say, “Can we put this on my birthday/Christmas list?” I’ve noticed lately, though, that she’s back to just asking me for things – or better yet, longingly saying, “I wish I had one of these…” Clearly I have to resurrect the, “Let’s put it on your list”, line!

As soon as I told her we were going to Target a few days ago, she asked if I would buy her a princess doll. Never mind that she already has countless princess dolls, including the seven she received last Christmas alone! I was not going to buy her one, but I said that if she wanted to spend some of her piggy bank money, she could buy one for herself. Naturally, she was excited and agreed.

Before we left home, we counted the money in her piggy bank, which totaled $19.56. (Significant monetary gifts are deposited into her 529 account, and gifts of more than $1 or so are deposited into her online savings account. Her piggy bank contains mostly change that she’s been given.) We then headed to “the princess aisle”, where she proceeded to point at nearly every item and ask if she had enough money for it. The fact that she doesn’t really understand numbers in relation to each other yet, works to my advantage, and allowed me to maintain control over the situation. In the end she chose a Belle ballet doll, which happened to be on sale for $6.49. It was a completely unnecessary purchase, but one that I could live with.

Here’s my question: Did I do the right thing? My husband doesn’t think I should’ve let her spend her money on such a frivolous purchase, and I understand where he’s coming from. However, I want to teach her good money habits early, and hope that spending her own money will make her think twice about what she wants and how badly she wants it.

What do you think?

Last Week’s Frugal Highs

I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, while taking time to remember those who fought for the freedom and rights we enjoy as Americans.

Here are last week’s frugal highs:

  1. Received my first payment for items sold through my Amazon store.
  2. Updated my trash/recycling account so the payments come out of my bank account, rather than being charged to my credit card.
  3. Read The Complete Cheapskate, by Mary Hunt, and How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously, by Jerrold Mundis (from the library, of course!).
  4. Updated the credit card on my EZ Pass account from the one I’m paying off first, to another, lower-interest one. (EZ Pass only allows payment via credit card.)
  5. Cashed in some points in my MyPoints account for a $10 Home Depot gift card. We’ll use this the next time we have to buy salt for our water softener.
  6. Purchased a mattress/box spring set for our daughter during a Memorial Day weekend sale, at the store with the best prices in our area, 40 minutes from our home. Avoided the $89 delivery fee by strapping them to the roof of our car and driving home VERY slowly. (I nearly needed a Xanax for this last part of the trip!)
  7. Dropped some items for sale off at a local consignment store, and picked up a $58 payment for previously sold items.

What Made Me Think This Was a Good Idea?

I’m currently reading the book, How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously, which is based on the principles of Debtors Anonymous. Yesterday I read a portion that seeks to help people identify the personality traits that have made them vulnerable to debt. For example, there are people who buy things because they believe they deserve them, people who buy things to comfort themselves, and and people who buy things to maintain a certain image. There are many more “types” covered in the book, but none of them really fit well with me. As a result, I found myself wondering how I managed to accumulate so much debt. Sure, there are the practical considerations that I considered here, but what made me think this was a reasonable path for our family?

My parents are both extremely frugal and major savers. They paid for two children’s private college educations completely, including prepaying all four years of tuition at the beginning of my first year, in order to avoid tuition rate increases in the following three years. When I was growing up, we didn’t eat out very often, and when we did, we never ordered drinks, appetizers, or dessert. It wasn’t until I went to college and went out to eat with friends that I really understood that this was an option! My parents always pay cash for cars, and they NEVER carried a credit card balance. And while I wouldn’t say that they really gave us learning opportunities about money, they heavily indoctrinated us in living below one’s means, eschewing brand names, and living without many things.

So how did I end up allowing myself to accumulate over $50,000 in credit card debt? (It pains me every time I type that number!) I think I made the classic mistake of expecting a certain lifestyle, even when the funds weren’t available to support it. I grew up with a successful, professional father and a SAHM mother, went to a private college, and all of my friends were also on a professional track. As a result, I had and still have many financially successful friends, whose lifestyles are what I want for myself. (Let’s set aside the fact that some of them may also secretly be in debt.) I believe that I have allowed myself to get so carried away with having the same things and lifestyle for myself, that I lost track of whether or not I could really afford it. And not only that, but I didn’t stop to think about how the debt would impact our family until it was really huge.