Weekend Money #4

 

Source:Trident Fun Audit/Wakefield Research  — Jae Yang and Paul Trap, USA TODAY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What fun and exciting things are we going to do this weekend?”  I know what that means…

That means the weekend is here and it is time to plan the money!

I am going to pre-spend here on this post, then reconcile on Monday.  I plan for this to be another avenue of accountability and budgeting.  So here we go:

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $328
  • Gas = $20
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $45
  • Dollar Tree = $10
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $0
  • Total = $438

Church (tithes & offering) – I was paid this week – yeah! I set aside my tithes and offering first.

Groceries – I need to stock up on the basics – dairy milk, almond milk, cheese and the like. Aldi has chicken thighs on sale and that is my FAVORITE chicken to buy so that is definitely on the list. Aldi also has some clothes drying racks on special this week I may pick-up.  I would like to start using the dryer less to save money.

Gas – It is so inexpensive now.  I think it will only take $20 to fill me back up.  I am just below half tank right now.

Dollar Tree – I still need a few more organization bins and then I should be done. I will also likely get Mirror Image a few boxes of Hot Tamales or Sugar Babies.  She will separate those out into smaller portions to add to her lunch during the week.

Restaurant – Gosh, I hope not. I gave in to Mirror Image last weekend and went to Panda Express. But I want to stay strong this weekend.

Prescriptions – I will definitely pick that medicine up this weekend!

Fun – Mirror Image wants to have a friend over for a slumber party this weekend.  So between that and making clay for her class project, I think we will have the giggly girl and making a mess fun all covered. The adults of the house will be having fun walking the thrifty pooch many times, watching movies from the library, reorganizing the home office and taking FULL advantage of the FREE HBO PREVIEW on Verizon FiOS this weekend!!!

I will be back on Monday to tally up my successes (or fails).

Thrifty Image  Mirror

Taking Financial Advice – Credit Cards

Welcome to my new series – Taking Financial Advice –  where I share financial or money  advice I have been given and give feedback on how that worked out for me.

 

Credit-Card-Logos

For years I have operated with one credit card.  Discover Card with 1% cash back. This wasn’t always the case. Before aligning myself with the one card rule, I had several cards. An American Express from my college days. 2-3 store cards that I got in order to receive the in-store purchase discount and a random Visa that showed up in my mail one day.

But then I started listening to a professional money-head, probably Suze Orman, and the advice was, to have just one card and pay it off at the end of the month.  So I did. And I was always pleasantly surprised to receive a credit that I could apply to my future balances one the credit reserve was large enough.  I see now, while not exactly harmful advice, not stellar advice either – at least not for me.

What I did not do was research.  I took some advice from someone “in the know” and reaped the rewards – or rather lack of rewards – from that advice.

What went wrong?

#1 Closing established accounts

Closing my oldest credit accounts stripped me on my history of long-term credit relationships. This is a ding on credit reports.

#2Higher credit use ratio

Also, because I only had one card, the likelihood of having an unattractive credit utilization rate was ongoing.

Now in all honesty, I was not paying pay attention to my credit reports back in the day and had never heard of FICO and had no idea what terms like Credit Utilization or “balance-to-limit-ratio” even meant. That wasn’t the money-head’s fault.  I should have known or should have researched the technicalities behind the advice. This just goes to show that everything is an iceberg.  The advice that floats on the top and, the information that is swimming under the surface.

#3 Sacrificing rewards opportunities

This is the one that is most disheartening.  I have left so many rewards and points on the table because I thought I was taking the smarter, nobler steps of keeping just one card and paying off that card at the end of each month.  The truth is, I could have still been smart, and pay my balances in full at the end of each month. But just with more cards.

The lesson for me is, listening to advice is great and necessary.  There are so many resources that know or can offer more information than any one of us can know on our own in a single lifetime.  The real problem was not in taking the advice but in not doing more research or understanding what my real needs were and what opportunities I could benefit from.

And when it comes to our finances, only we care the most about them.

And because I care about how I can arrange my finances for things like excellent credit scores, fun vacations and cash back, I have new cards that I LOVE and these are the rewards that I received when I signed up:

Chase Sapphire – 50,000 points (can convert to free hotel nights)

IHG – 60,000 points (about 6 free hotel nights + plus a FREE night each year on my birthday)

Southwest Rapid Rewards – 50,000 points (2 round-trip tickets to Seattle for Me and Mirror Image to visit my father)

Chase Freedom – $150 Cash Back

Barclays MasterCard – $250 Cash Back

And I still pay my bills, in full, at the end of each month so as not to pay finance or interest fees.  And with these cards, as with my beloved Discover Card, I can get cash back or points/ rewards on the things I would have purchased anyway.

Thrifty Image Mirror

Celebrating Valentine’s Day – The Thrifty Way!

Pooh Piglet Valentine

Valentine’s Day has come and gone.  Here is how the Thrifty Image household spent our Valentine’s Day:

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! I started the day by walking the 70 pound German Shepherd in the 5 degree weather at 6:30am. Crazy cold weather makes me walk faster which is just fine with the Thrifty Pooch.

Half hour later, Thrifty Pooch is eating breakfast while I take a shower to warm up and get ready for Church.  Mirror Image is still sleeping so I sneak her Valentine’s present into her room.

Mirror Image is slooow to rise but is groggily thankful for the Valentine’s Day socks and the massive box of Sugar Babies I got her. She wanted to have some of the Valentine’d Day cake she had made the night before for breakfast. I scratched that idea.

Off to church we go!

After Church, we ventured back to the Dollar Tree.  This is my 3rd visit since Friday.  Since it is tax-free weekend in Maryland, I decide to buy the organization baskets sooner for the sun room project rather than later.

Once home, I made Mirror Image several vegetarian dishes to counteract the MASSIVE amount of Valentine’s cake and candy she ate at Sunday School.  We enjoyed Parmesan Roasted Broccoli and Corn Avocado Salad.  She also had green peas and a green salad.

Mirror Image handed me a homemade card and later, we enjoyed the The Princess Bride 2 and some yummy oven baked ribs I made for Mirror Image because she LOVES them and they are unbelievably AWESOME. Oh, and she ate MORE cake.

Then a walk around the block for the Thrifty Pooch and me and we returned to a warm inviting home where we wound down for the night — with the adult of the house enjoying the Walking Dead premiere.

It doesn’t take a lot of money to celebrate and enjoy Valentine’s Day. For me, it means being with the people I love, sharing the food I love and showing love.

How did you spend (or save) Valentine’s Day?

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

Monday Money Review

Monday-calendar-dreamstime_14224102-2

It was a lovely weekend but it was COLD!!  As low as I tried to keep my thermostat without making us walk around in blankets, I am sure this weekend will have affected my energy bill big time!

But that is the future; here’s is where we work out if this past weekend matched the expected weekend money. So here we go:

Before

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
  • Gas = $20
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $45
  • Dollar Tree = $10
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $0
  • Total = $138

After

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
    • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
  • Gas = $20
    • Gas = $0
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
    • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $45
    • Groceries = $35
  • Dollar Tree = $10
    • Dollar Tree = $48.02
  • IKEA – $0
    • IKEA = $24.30
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
    • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
    • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
    • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
    • Restaurant = $8.91
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
    •  Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
    • Prescriptions = $0
  • Fun Outing = $0
    • Fun Outing = $0
  • Total = $116.93

I forgot to get gas.  It was soooo cold that I think I just willed the thought of it out of my mind so I wouldn’t have to stand outside at the pump.

I spent less on groceries at Aldi this weekend due to not buying much meat and forgetting to take my list with me to the store.  I actually forgot to buy a couple of small items.  All in all though, I am pleased to have come in under budget for a change.

My Dollar Tree budget was much higher than planned because I didn’t account for Mirror Image’s room organization project this weekend or,  Maryland Tax Free shopping Weekend. I decided to buy the items needed to organize the sunroom earlier than planned when I realized I could purchase them tax free.  Plus, the new colors are in and they are cute, cute, cute.  I didn’t want to take a chance on having them sold out.

IKEA was left off the original list but I needed some additional spice jars to complete the spice drawer organization project.

I was weak and broke down and got Mirror Image an orange chicken bowl from Panda Express on Friday.  I don’t know how I lost my resolve but there it is.  I can say, she was particularly quiet on the drive home.  All I heard from the back seat was chewing and sighs of contentment.

For fun, Mirror Image organized her room (trust me – she loved it) and made a cake for us for Valentine’s Day.

So my budget came in a little lower than planned but not because of great money management. But I will take it!

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

Weekend Money #3

Girl Sitting on Money

This morning, as I was leaving the house to take my daughter to school when she pipes up “it’s Friday!  What fun thing are we going to do this weekend?”

That means the weekend is here and it is time to plan the money!

I am going to pre-spend here on this post, then reconcile on Monday.  I plan for this to be another avenue of accountability and budgeting.  So here we go:

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $28
  • Gas = $20
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $45
  • Dollar Tree = $10
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $0
  • Total = $138

Groceries – I don’t need too much in terms of groceries this weekend – fruit, fresh veggies and milk from Aldi. My freezer is already stuffed with ground turkey and lobster tails – the ingredients for some of Mirror Image’s favorite recipes.  I will be using those lobster tails for Valentine’s dinner on Sunday.

Gas – I read that gas got down to $27 per barrel on Thursday.  The lowest it has been since 2003. I am looking forward to feeling that relief at the gas station.

Dollar Tree – Mirror Image has been watching me tackle organization projects throughout the house all week.  Last night, with the help of these awesome spice jars from IKEA, we almost completely organized our kitchen spice situation.  That is until I accidentally knocked by brand new label maker into the sink.  I tried drying it out in rice overnight but I think it is dead and I will have to replace it. She was very helpful and so impressed, she asked if we could do the same in her room – “but make it look cool” .  I think we will start with some of these organization tools from the Dollar Tree.

Restaurant – Not this weekend.  We will be enjoying these restaurant worthy recipes at home however – The 10 Minute Perfect Broiled Lobster Tail and  Stuffed Peppers with Cheese.

Prescriptions – This week I need to pick up Mirror Image’s back up inhaler for school.  Schools in our County do not allow the students to carry medicine of any kind so she must register her medications with the Nurse and there it stays in case of emergency.  Expensive but necessary.

Fun – As for fun stuff.  It is going to be COLD here this weekend.  I would would like to stay in with cozy slippers and house cleaning projects and watching movies rented from the library this weekend but Mirror Image might rebel.  Maybe we will take advantage of one of the Groupons I have tucked away.  If we do, there will be no additional costs except the medical attention I will late need for frostbite.

I will be back on Monday to tally up my successes (or fails).

Thrifty Image  Mirror