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Cash Only for One Month Yahoooooo

January 31st, 2007 at 09:21 pm

For this whole month, I have been using cash only for all of my purchases. No debit card or credit card use for an entire month! The only checks I have used were to pay bills that needed to be mailed. This system has really saved me a lot of money, plus money was added to savings and credit debt was paid down. Even the hubby has got on board and he is now using the cash only system too. {{{doing the happy dance}}}

A Couple of Raves...Cash Only and the Dollar Store

January 29th, 2007 at 07:51 pm

I'm still on my cash-only spending plan which is working out amazingly well. I thought I would blow it this weekend because I just moved into my new offices and the first thing I wanted to do was decorate/shop/basically blow a lot of money. Fourtunately common sense took over and I only spent what cash I had. This is where the Dollar Store comes in. I have rarely shopped at this type of store but figured it was worth a shot if I was going to be able to stretch my cash. To make a long story short, the office looks beautiful and I LOVE the dollar store! Everthing for the kitchen was bought there, the daycare room was completely decorated a la dollar store and lots of odds and ends that would have cost more than a dollar at Walmart were also bought.

Cash Only...Its Harder Than it Seems

January 12th, 2007 at 07:16 pm

Today is day twelve of my cash only challenge (actually about day 20 but I'm counting from the first of the year to make it easier to remember). I've learned a lot in these past couple of weeks...
...Now I know why grandma's major purchases were few and far between, why she bought most things at garage sales and why she was the loss leader queen at the grocery store. Using cash only (which she did. always.) it takes time to save up for a big purchase and even when you have the money it is hard to part with it since it took so long to save it! Cash only really makes you aware of the value of each dollar.
...You have to plan ahead. When you rely on credit cards, you can always "afford" gas, food, clothes, an ipod, etc. right now and figure out how to pay for it later. With cash only you need to plan ahead for each day/week/month and ration your money accordingly. Sure you can buy the beautiful sweater today but will that leave you enough money for gas next week so you can get to work?
...Using cash only makes you get creative. There is such a challenge to stretch every penny as far as it will go so that your cash will last to cover all of the things you want to buy. With $100 today I was able to get gas ($20), stamps ($7.80), groceries--including laundry soap, toothpaste, meat, veges, baking supplies, fruit, etc that will last a week and a half (most all on sale for a total of $68) and savings ($4.20). Now for the creative part: I try to stay home two to three days a week so I dont waste gas making unnecessary trips, I pay most bills online so I dont waste stamps, we eat all of our meals at home which saves a considerable amount of money over eating out, and savings gets transfered to my ING account each week so it can make a little interest.

Overall, this is quite a dramatic change for me and something I have never tried before but it sure is giving me a financial attitude adjustment.

Thanks to everyone for all of the great tips they post in their blogs...it really is inspiring/educational/helpful to share this kind of information. Without this site I would have never thought to reign in my spending and try to live "cash only".

Day 7 Update

January 7th, 2007 at 12:36 pm

It's been seven days since my New Year's Resolutions officially started (actually it has been a little over two weeks but it is easier to count from the beginning of the year...). Here's how Ive done so far:

--regularly deposit $5 into my savings account whenever I go by the bank. So far have $77 (goal is $5000).
--pay cash only for all purchases (this is almost painful but I am much more aware of where I spend my money than when I use a credit or debit card).
--paid off the Macy's card.
--set up an automatic transfer to pay double payments on the home equity loan each month.
--generally saved money in a variety of way: bargain shopping and comparing prices, shaking out clothes after washing them and before putting them into the dryer so they dry faster and use less energy, not eating out, changing my habit of $4 Starbuck Frappacinos each day to buying milk and coffee ice cream and making them myself (at a cost of like $6 for 20 drinks!).

Overall I fell like Im doing pretty well. My next tasks are to write more freelance articles and apply for a freelance position with a local newspaper.

Another Benefit to Paying Cash

January 1st, 2007 at 03:21 pm

One of my resolutions for this year was to pay cash for all purchases except bills. No credit cards and no debit cards--cash only. So far I have been paying cash for ALL purchases for the past week and a half. I figured that by only paying cash I would spend less (which I do) but I didn't realize how quickly my change jar would fill up. Since all of the change in this jar goes for resolution #2 Save $5,000 this is a great added bonus!

Two Accounts = Simple Spending

November 11th, 2006 at 03:49 pm

OK...this is so simple I'm not sure why I didn't think of it before. I have a main checking account that I use for everything (paying bills, buying groceries, basically all of my spending via check/debit card). This past month I started using another of my checking accounts (it's free, there are no service fees) that basically has just been sitting there empty, as my "spending" account. I put a few hundred dollars into it at the beginning of October and now use it for my disposable income spending. Now bills and big items such as airline tickets, etc. come out of the main account and I use this new account to pay for gas, food, Starbucks, clothes, gifts, etc. This has really simplified things.

I keep a running total of how much is in this new account and it has actually stopped me from spending. Today I was at the mall and previously I would have used my main account to buy a few hundred dollars worth of clothes since there is always a lot more money in that account, but by using this new account with a limited amount of funds in it, I only bought a jacket (at 40% off the clearance price). It's nice having a seprate amount of money that I can use as I want while at the same time I am aware of just how much I am spending because there is so little money in there that I can't go on a major spending spree.

My next task is to link this account to PayPal and fill up the funds in this account by EBay sales, refund checks, etc. Hopefully I will be able to keep this account topped off without having to transfer funds from my main account.

Food Shopping at International Stores

October 28th, 2006 at 12:52 pm

Here's one trick I use for saving money when grocery shopping--I do a lot of shopping at international (mostly Asian) grocery stores.
The fruit and vegetables are usually locally grown and cheaper than regular stores. Spices are a fraction of what they cost at the local chain store (ie: a tiny pack of Bay leaves at the chain store is $1.99, at the Asian market a giant pack of Bay leaves is $1.99). Depending on the store, meat, fish and dry goods (if you like the Asisan variety such as noodles, rice, etc) are much cheaper as well. Both Asian and Middle Eastern stores usually import directly so you may not be able to read what is on the label but start out with the basics and see how much you save!

Something to Make You Laugh

October 27th, 2006 at 03:32 pm

Well this week has been pretty lousy (see previous post) but as I was checking out a couple of websites I came across this video that made me laugh. (And it is financially related--it's from a website about getting out of debt).
www.daveramsey.com/media/video/funny_gazelle.wmv

Good Links

September 4th, 2006 at 06:38 pm

One thing about not having much to do this weekend is that I have lots of time to surf the net. Here's a few useful links that I found:

A free downloadable day/financial/life planner... www.diyplanner.com/templates/official/classic

More money saving and get out of debt ideas...www.simpledebtfreeliving.com/

Transportation Decisions

August 28th, 2006 at 06:32 pm

Today I figured out I can only drive 575 miles a month. I have leased my cars for the past half dozen years and it is a vicious cycle. You lease, you go (way) over the alloted mileage so the only way to get out of the car is to lease a new car and they roll the negative equity over into the new lease amount. Anyway, I have 39 payments remaining on this lease and if I keep the total mileage under 40k, then I can just hand it over at the end of the lease. It is an expensive lesson learned but I swear my next car is going to be paid in full with cash--no more leasing or loans. So calculating how many more payments I have and subtracting how many miles I have on the car, I can now drive a total of 575 miles a month. We always drive my car because it gets the best gas mileage so I told hubby this is going to change. We will be driving his car a lot more and leaving mine in the garage. I also researched taking the bus starting this fall to my college classes if I don't have any meetings afterwards. Since I usually work from home and only meet with clients a couple of times a week, I figured I will take the slow boat (uh...bus) to school. At least I can read on the way there. A bus pass is only $35 a month and although no one of any status in our little yuppy corner of the world would be caught dead on a bus I don't care. Im tired of being tied down by debt!!!
--venting completed--

Why the Price Difference?

August 20th, 2006 at 09:44 pm

I've been looking for a Columbia fleece jacket for the last couple of weeks. The Exchange (military department store) had them for $25.95 in the women's department (already a very good discount over regular stores) then as I was going through the boys department I saw that they had the exact same jacket for $14.95! So I bought a boys size 12 jacket instead of a women's size small jacket...and saved $11!

Found Money Links

August 18th, 2006 at 08:19 pm

Here's a bit of info for you all...

Check out www.missingmoney.com and www.unclaimed.org and if your have ties to Washington State check out www.claimyourcash.org. While I haven't found any money this way, I have looked up friends and relatives on these sites then called them with the good news that they have money waiting.

Saving Money in Lots of Ways Today

August 7th, 2006 at 06:03 pm

Today has been a money saving day...
--played racquest ball (free at the local military base)
--went to the grocery store (and used coupons)
--switched from cable to DSL (a savings of $25 per month)
--hubby took me out to lunch (instead of $6.99/person at the buffet we opted for Subway's $2.50 lunch special)
--got a refund from Subway (noticed that after hubby paid for lunch they had charged him the regular price for the sandwiches instead of the sale price so they refunded the difference)
--bought a backpack for school (after comparrison shopping found a great bag for $15 less than I though I would have to pay)
--got a free jacket and T shirt (from a client...I was admiring their new jackets a couple of months ago so they ordered one for me)
--went to the college book store to find out about buying books for next quarter and found out that I can order them online...even the used ones!
--researched the local bus system (I always drive but gas looks like it will be astronimical soon...want to figure out some alternatives ahead of time)

Spending, Earning and a Preparedness Project

May 13th, 2006 at 06:45 pm

OK, first for the spending. Went to Walmart (bad, that store makes me spend a lot of money), but only bought the things on my list (good, I passed up the clearance racks). Cooked a gourmet meal at home (good...really good actually it was spinach and ricotta stuffed chicken breasts) but I needed to buy ricotta and went to Albertsons instead of the military commissary which is further away (bad...the commissary is REALLY cheap when it comes to most items; Albertsons isn't). Thoroughly cleaned the inside of my car (good, it needed it) then drove it through the car wash (bad...it costs $8. However, by the time I spend a couple of hours washing it myself I usually wished I would have spent the $8).

As for earning, I sold one of my Coach purses on Ebay (for about a third of what it originally cost) but got paid immediatly so mailed it off to the buyer today.

And my preparedness project. I take preparedness pretty seriously. Lots of extra water and food. Alternative heating, cooking, and sanitation options, etc. Today after cleaning out the car I updated all of my preparedness stuff that is kept in the car. This includes new maps of our area/state (the others were ancient), made sure I had cash stashed in the car for emergencies, backed up all of my computer files on a jump drive and put this in the car. Rotated the water and food that is in the car for emergencies. Went through my tool bag and made sure all of the tools were still there and the flashlight had good batteries in it. Reviewed the contents of my emergency bag (this contains a spare set of clothes, toiletries, survival supplies, etc). Everything was in order and I didnt have to spend too much on replacement stuff so overall it was a pretty good day!

Random (Useful) Information

May 12th, 2006 at 05:30 pm

And now for some random musings...

Great Books:
--'The Success Principles' (Jack Canfield)
--'Living the Simple Life' (Elaine St James)
--'The Magic of Thinking Big' (David Schwartz)
--'Ask and It Is Given' (Esther and Jerry Hicks)
--'The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity' (Catherine Ponder)

Most Versatile Food: plain yogurt
With plain yogurt you can...add it to granola for dessert or breakfast, mix it with berries for dessert, mix it with fruit in a blender and make a smoothies, drain it through coffee filters in a strainer and use the resulting "cheese" in place of sour cream on baked potatoes, on crackers, as a base for dips, mix it with garlic and dill for a simple tzatziki sauce, and use it as a sandwhich spread.

Most important business skills:
--positive attitude
--public speaking ability
--professional appearance
--good manners
--basic computer skills
--continual study in your area of specialization
--ability to see the big picture
--ability to grasp basic financial principles
--ability to get things done on time and under budget

Most useful websites:
www.download.com
www.stretcher.com
www.craigslist.com
www.boardroom.com

My Personal Financial Goals:
--always have $100 in my wallet
--have no credit card debt
--pay off my house
--have $50,000 in savings
--have $1,000,000 in liquid assests when I retire
--pay cash for a BMW
--have enough passive income each month to cover my basic living expenses

Money, Money Money and How to Save $3000

May 9th, 2006 at 09:25 pm

It's been a good money day today. The lady came for the bunkbed set and paid me $145 (my asking price, she didnt even quibble about it). Last night she said she wanted the set and would be here ASAP then didnt show or call. Happy that she made it today.

Didn't spend any money at all today (whoohooo) and actually listed a couple of more items on EBay (thanx to the bloggers who noted the ten cent inclusion special on eBay otherwise I never would have known about it!). Even went to the mall because Macys was having a "great" sale and I have money to spend on a GC but bought nothing. I think reading all of these blogs is making me subconsciously unable to spend anymore...not a bad thing.

Now, how to save $3000... I run the DUI Impact Panels for our county. Each month we get about 150 people busted for DUI. The average cost for a DUI (court fees, insurance increase, alcohol counseling program, restitution, etc) runs about $3000+. Moral of the story, don't drink and drive and you will save a bundle of money.

p.s. By the time offenders have aquired two or three DUIs they could have bought (depending on the situation) a brand new car or even a small house with all of the expenses they have incurred.

~~~hopping off soapbox now~~~

Earning Money...A Little at a Time

May 8th, 2006 at 02:58 pm

This has been a great Monday. Hit the ground running at 6:30am and got tons of computer work done before running to a clients office.

Today I didnt spend any money at all. Lunch consisted of leftovers instead of a run through the drive through so that saved us money. Also spent an hour pulling weeds in the rose bed (yucky but good for exercie, good for fresh air and Im not having to pay anyone to do it for me--although I almost relented when this huge centipede came charging at me :P)

As far as earning money, I have an ad in a local newspaper ($3 for 3 days of listing) for a bunkbed set. A lady just called and has to have this set so she will be over to pick it up later Smile Next up I will put an ad in the paper for a sleeper sofa and dining table that has been residing in the garage for a few years.

Later today I will put ads for some of my old Coach purses on EBay. EBay is quite the eye opener for the bottom line on consumer spending. Im sure if there was a sign next to the Coach and Kate Spade purses in the department store saying what the purse would be worth after it has been used people wouldn't be so quick to shell out the big bucks for these basically useless ego-propper-uppers.

Anyway, I'm trying to talk the hubby into letting me sell the huge chest freezer that also resides in the garage but he won't hear of it. All of this stuff was useful when the kids were small but now that they have moved out, a lot of it is unnecessary for just the two of us. If I had my way I would live in an RV (hubby nixed that idea as well, though).

Happy savings Smile

Lesson Learned--Plan Ahead

May 7th, 2006 at 05:03 pm

Today went pretty well. Cooked a great brunch then worked in the yard all day. I went to Walmart for bark dust and those sunny looking little flowers (Pansys I think) for the yard. Of course now that I've found this site Im analyzing everything I do for ways to save more money. Lesson learned--plan ahead. If I would have borrowed a truck I could have went to the landscapers supply place and bought lots more bark for what I paid at Walmart for six bags of the stuff. Also, the flowers are cute and add instant color to the flowerbeds but if I would have planned ahead a few months ago I could have grown them from seed and saved $$.

As for my goals, paid cash for everything today (Goal 1--Pay cash for everything except bills that need to be mailed), added $5 to my savings jar (Goal 2--Pay off the $2100 credit card this month), and didnt go grocery shopping today (Goal 3--make do with what I have and don't shop so much. Since I didnt go grocery shoping I will be forced to use up the older food in the fridge before I buy more).

Thanx to all who make this such a great blogsite! Smile

Saving Money...A Lesson A Day

May 6th, 2006 at 06:05 pm

Since my goal for May is to pay cash for all of my purchases in addition to saving money in general, here's a quick update on what has happened so far this month...
May 1. Went to Walmart with my list but only had $30 in my wallet. Usually I would buy everything on my list plus some extras and just charge everything. Today I prioritized my list and only bought the stuff of highest priority, stopping when I ran out of cash. I left the other items to be purchased when I had more cash with me. Lesson learned--using a cash only system saves a lot of money.
May 2. Ate all of our meals at home today. Actually we have been doing this for a few months. For years we literally ate out at a restaurant every day, often more than one meal. Then one day a few months ago hubby and I just stopped eating out. It's expensive (dinner for two is easily $20 to $40 a pop!), the portions are HUGE, and the healthfulness of the food is questionable. Lesson learned--cooking at home saves lots of money, portions are more reasonable, and the quality of the food is better, not to mention the benefit of left-overs which can be used for another meal.
May 3. Went to the mall. Macy's is my favorite store...everyone knows this which is why I had in my posession a $350 gift card (a birthday gift from friends). I may have money to burn since it isn't coming out of my pocket but that's not good enough. The stuff I buy needs to be 50% off regluar price plus an additional 30%-50% off of that. Wasn't a very good sale day so I bought a couple of deeply discounted items and saved the rest for later. Lesson learned--everything goes on sale eventually...with a little patience I can save lots!
May 4. Friends came over and I showed them how to purchase their airline tickets online. The most amazing part is that this family of eleven, only three of whom work and make minimum wage, and who have lived in the US for less than a decade, was able to pay cash for five of them to return to their home country for vacation...that's $8,500 just for airline tickets plus they will take more savings to pay for their other travel expenses. Lesson learned--saving an incredible amount of money is possible, even on the smallest of wages.
May 5. Stayed home all day. Didn't have to work so stayed home, cleaned the house, mowed the yard, cooked a great lunch and dinner and checked up on my eBay auction. Lesson learned--staying home whenever possible saves gas, gives me time to do tasks I would otherwise hire out (house cleaning, yard work) and even lets me dabble in alternative income strategies such as eBay. Cool Smile
May 6. Went to the Children's Festival in a town an hour away. I staffed a booth there for one of my clients, got lots of freebies from the other booths and even the gas to get there was paid for by the client. Lesson learned--take advantage of free events in the community, group your errands so that you can get things done while on the way to your final destination, and take advantage of free/compensated stuff from your clients/employer.