Purchase, Purchase

I Love Shopping Picture

I have made it a point to be very intentional in my purchasing the last 2-3 years.  I run the usual investigative questions through my mind for most purchases – Do I really need it?  Why do I want it?  Do I already have something like it? How will I feel about it in the near future?  Do I have room for it? Will it really make my life better?

With these questions, I have been successful in a 2+ year handbag shopping ban and a clothes shopping ban for 5 months.  But, nature abhors a vacuum and some other interesting purchases have made it to the forefront.

I purchased a new phone last week.  I moved from a MOTO E from Republic Wireless to the MOTO G. I wanted to wait until they had a new selection that was similar to the MOTO X but my phone was dying by degrees.  I couldn’t even turn off the alarm in the mornings anymore — oh the horror!

I have discovered couponing!  I have LOTS of dish detergent, paper towels, hair products and vitamins.  I justify this shopping by letting couponing experts tell me I am saving money in the long run.  It must be a really looooog run because my MINT account is going crazy. You should see the notifications I am getting about the Shopping category.

With the exception of a few items that I only picked up because they were free, I know that I will use all the products personally or as goody bag stuffers. But I recognize the truth.  I just wanted to try something new and I wanted to SHOP.  I did a good thing by implementing shopping bans.  I did poor follow through by not replacing the shopping activity with a healthier option.

Now that my eyes are open, I am beginning a new plan. I will take full advantage of the soon to be nice weather and focus in on our garden work. Usually on gardening days I am too tired to want to do anything else anyway and that is just the way I like it.

I also plan to pick up some inside tasks.  Junior wants to paint her room and some of her furniture and that is definitely a distraction.  Her favorite colors at this moment are grays, blacks and whites. Should be interesting.

Oh yeah and I plan to eat more.  Not exactly the usual goal that is written but what can I say?  I am at an age where I finally enjoy trying new recipes, have learned a reasonable substitute for Cream of Tarter and no longer care about my weight in relation to popular culture.  A healthy enough weight is fine with me.

So there.  I am putting down my coupon clippers  and picking up my garden shears. It’s time for some growth.

The Thrifty Image

Monday Money Review

Magnifying Glass - Results

What a lovely weekend! The kind to be treasured — just the right amount of relaxation and effort; healthy choices and indulgent snacks; togetherness and alone time.

Let’s see if the money tells the same store. So, here we go:

Before

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $328
  • Gas = $25
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $5
  • Dollar Tree = $0
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
  • Fun Outing = $10
  • Total = $403

After

  • Church (tithes/offering) = $328
    • Church (tithes/offering) = $328
  • Gas = $25
    • Gas = $24.10
  • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
    • Personal Care (haircut, mani/pedi, etc.) = $0
  • Groceries = $5
    • Groceries = $5.77
  • Dollar Tree = $0
    • Dollar Tree = $19.11
  • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
    • Vehicle Service/Repair = $0
  • Clothes Shopping = $0
    • Clothes Shopping = $0
  • Gifts = $0
    • Gifts = $0
  • Restaurant = $0
    • Restaurant = $0
  • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
    • Zips Dry Cleaning = $0
  • Prescriptions = $35
    • Prescriptions = $0
  • Fun Outing = $10
    • Fun Outing = $8.80
  • Total = $88
    • Total = $385.78

Although gas prices went up .15 per gallon over last week, it was still a reasonable purchase with less than $25 out of pocket.

I went back to Aldi Friday after work to pick up some avocados and other vegetables in order to have a successful meat free weekend.

There is a new Dollar Tree somewhat in my area!  It changed over from a Deals to a DT and I was able to not only pick up desired snacks and cleaning supplies, but I was also able to use some coupons!

Mirror Image had a soda during intermission at the orchestra,our fun outing on Friday. It cost $2.00.  This combined with the $6.80 round trip train tickets brought out cultural outing in under $10!

The rest of our weekend consisted of laundry and dog hair management (yuck), exercising Thrifty Pooch, fun with homemade clay, homemade Spinach pizza, a murder mystery movie from the library and Walking Dead after Mirror Image went off to sleep.

I came in under budget because I neglected to pick up some prescriptions and I utterly failed at the Dollar Tree but came in under budget overall. Bye-bye weekend money!

Thrifty Image Mirror

Procrastination and Finances

Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow

I spent a lot of money and time in February getting some areas of my home organized.  My bathroom closet, craft and laundry supplies cabinets and new spice drawer are now functioning in a way that makes my time spent in those situations much better.  I will admit when I checked my Mint account and tallied how much I spent, I was a little affronted. That did not last long. I used money, in this case wisely and frugally, to achieve more peace in my home.  I am pretty sure that should be in the Top 10 of what money is to be used for.

That being said, by diving into home organization, I completely stalled on some other goals that I had planned for myself by the end of February.  March 1 is bringing a reckoning…

Below is a list of goals that I have put off and my musings as to why:

Finalize my will and trust and have notarized

  • Not done because I will obviously live forever
  • Not done because the notary I plan to use is a co-worker and she is out on short-term disability not to return until March 7. There are no other notary public in the world (even though I am a licensed one myself and have access to a listing of notaries).

Move my funds from current accounts to a Betterment account that I created A YEAR AGO

  • Not done because I have not had time (although I did start a blog, organize several areas of my home and caught up on the entire first season of Legends and The Expanse in that same year)

Reach out to a handyman service to arrange for attic project (clean and insulate)

  • Not done because of being genuinely perplexed as to what to do with all the items that are in the attic while the project is getting done.  The attic is huge and anything that comes done will overflow any space downstairs that is is temporarily relocated to.  Plus, I don’t want all that stuff to go back upstairs anyway.
  • Not done because because it is an $1100 commitment to pay the handyman for the project. I am hesitant.

Move Mirror Image’s College Fund from the current account to the Maryland 529 College Plans 

Not done because I haven’t gotten an answer on monthly contributions which takes into account the fund to fund transfer.  The website tool, while helpful, doesn’t completely answer this.

“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” ~ William James

None of these are good excuses.  Just excuses. So, while February has finished a little light on certain goal accomplishment, many other goals were accomplished and March is giving me a new opportunity.  I anticipate the following mixture of financial and non-financial goals to be accomplished in March:

  1. Make dentist appointment
  2. Contact and pay handyman service for attic clean-out
  3. Have trust and will notarized
  4. Finalize Maryland 529 application and start the funds transfer process*
  5. Travel to Orlando for a work conference
  6. Spring clean in advance of having family over for Easter dinner

And, by the way, I am doing a 30 day vegetarian challenge this month, too.  I anticipate this will be the best March ever!

Thrifty Image Mirror

 

*I want to transfer funds from the current account to get the State tax deduction as well as to be able to see this account on Mint. Currently, the Private College 529 is not supported by Mint.

Cleaning Up for Financial Success

Cleaning

This is the time of year for listing and embarking on goals for the new year.  Eat better.  Save more.  Exercise. These are all important goals but this is not that kind of post.

This weekend, the Thrifty Image household is embarking on one of it most exciting yearly projects — cleaning up after the holidays!  What, this doesn’t excite you?

We are taking down the tree, wrapping up the ornaments, getting the last of the presents up from the festive floor in the corner and into the appropriate closets and drawers and then…the work really starts.

I have found the post holiday cleaning ritual helpful as a clean break from the frenzied but fun pace of the holidays, and a helpful level set to the nesting and preparation and contemplation of the new year. I have found that breaking out the cleaning caddy full of gloves, rags, polishes and cleansers gets us closer to what we have.  Scrubbing the bathroom floor on your knees lets you find that diamond earring that fell under the radiator.  Cleaning the underside of the window blinds alerts you to any drafts coming through gaps that you haven’t noticed before. Dusting your home office (where you threw the excess stuff that didn’t have a home as you prepared for Christmas guests) allows you to start eyeing your financial paperwork as you start thinking about tax preparation.

Largely, though, cleaning gets you up close and personal to your possessions.  And once your get personal, your can have some important personal conversations:

  • To the missing blouse you found under the bed I have missed you.  I am glad you are back in my life again.
  • To the junk you put aside so that you could donate it but never got around to said donation It has been fun but, I am moving on.
  • To that diamond earring you found – You are so pretty, I know someone that would be a perfect match for you.

Using what you have (no need to purchase another!), giving away what you don’t but that could be a blessing to someone else (tax break!)  and putting your stuff  in order (declutter!)  all work together for financial success.  And, or course, a clean house is a healthy house which equals not spending unnecessarily on medical visits and possible medications. It’s a clean thing!

Are you ready to bust some suds?

Thrifty Image Mirror

2016 Goals

Goals - Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the time of year to set new goals and challenges so I am jumping in with both feet.  It has been years since I have formally resolved to act a certain way based on the beginning of the new year.  I am excited to see how sharing my goals in a blog helps me to progress.

Research and participate in at least six 30 day challenges in 2016

This is big for me. With the exception of the Paleo Whole 30 I did in 2014 with my sister, I have not ever been one for this type of activity.  But I am excited!  I have already started my first – the 30 day water challenge (more on this in a later post).  I think breaking in new habits through manageable challenges like this will work for me.  I don’t have all the challenges picked out, yet, but six is the goal.  The financial windfalls here are already embedded in the challenges themselves.

Spend more money 

Okay, relax.  It is not as simple as that one statement.  For years, since I started my family basically,  I have been a little afraid when it comes to spending money.  Afraid of being laid off and not having a salary, afraid of not being able to help send Mirror Image to college without the aid of student loans, afraid of not being able to pay the mortgage, etc.  So for years, I have been a squirrel.  Savings were squirreled away into various accounts for the day when the EMERGENCY came.  It was the right thing to do and I stand by it. I will always continue to save. But it was a little extreme and there has been a cost.  And in 2016, I am going to force myself to pay the cost.

I plan to spend more money on my house and health.  Specifically:

  1. Hire contractors to completely rip apart my bathroom and build it back up.  This is not just for cosmetics. I am pretty sure there is mold growing and that is no good for anyone.  Plus, it is the only bathroom in the house and the smallest bathroom I have ever lived with in my life so, it must be improved – for resale value and more importantly, health value.
  2. Hire contractors to insulate my attic.  This one I am just embarrassed by.  I should have had this done before I moved into the house 9 years ago.  (I didn’t know the importance – really!) Before all the junk that doesn’t fit anywhere else in the house got piled up there.  And before the outrageous energy bills that come with an un-insulated house built in the 40’s facing northeastern U.S. weather.  But, I can’t dwell on the past.  My goal is to get it done in 2016.
  3. Hire painters.  I bought a Groupon last year to have my living room and dining room painted and I still swoon at how awesome Groupon is and how awesome it was to have a fresh paint job with fresh colors and a professional touch.  Well, I have been putting off the  rest of the house and it is time to get the last 3 rooms complete – 2 bedrooms and a hallway.  And yes, Groupon will be my vehicle of choice for that. (Groupon will totally get it’s own post one day I am sure.  It is perfect for the thrifty minded).
  4. Participate in at least five 5Ks.  The fees for these range and take some actual budgeting and planning but I don’t see a financial barrier this goal. Also, this really should not be a stretch goal because I have done this before.  However, it is a stretch because I want Mirror Image. to participate and she is anti 5K.  Not sure why.  At home she is a bundle of energy streaking around the house with her loving German Shepherd by her side.  But, tell her it is an organized event that we have to get up at 6am for?  No bueno.  No matter, in 2016, I will tickle drag her to at least five such events and somehow get her to admit just how awesome the experience is :).

Donate more money

This has been a goal for over a year now and I think I am ready.  Currently, I set aside 10% of my income for charitable giving through my Church.  Since last year when I paid off my car, I have wanted to redirect some of that money to an additional charitable organization on a monthly basis. Unfortunately some unexpected blows sucked those funds up with blinding speed.  However, with those things settled, I plan to do it in 2016 beginning no later than March. (I will be sharing a post on my research of the finalist charities.)

Spend less money

Well, duh.  This is largely a personal finance blog after all.  Of course living frugally and thriftily would be part of the mix.  I have always been a pretty good money manager but this goal is about wisdom and not just management.  I want to purposely use money this year. Not reactively or impulsively. Therefore, I have a goal to spend less in the following categories:

Food – We are foodies and like being foodies but the amount of money I spend for 2 people needs a second look.

Energy – The amount I spend on energy is directly related to how energy inefficient my house is.  I am putting some measures in place to combat this (See the Spend More Money goal for details)

Clothing – There is really nothing I can do about Mirror Image’s clothing budget line except catch the best sales and buy off-season.  At 11 years old, she grows every time she wakes up, it seems.  But as for me, I plan to organize my closets and all the off-season clothing in the attic to make sure I am always aware of what I have for each season and  the USE WHAT I ALREADY HAVE.  This combined with keeping my clothing size stable should keep me from needing to supplement my wardrobe unnecessarily.

Expand my garden

Last year I committed more time and space to gardening and loved the results!  I grew watermelon, cantaloupe, tomatoes and Italian eggplant.  Plus, a mix of herbs in pots.  Now this may not seem like a big deal to many but I have the tiniest garden space and was still able to grow some substantial produce.  And the best part?  Mirror Image would occasionally help me in the garden, or just pop outside to pick fruit to snack on rather than candy or other junk food,  And, she is ravenous over fresh cantaloupe.  How could I not make plans to indulge this hobby?  I plan to purchase and or build some raised beds for this year’s garden to really get the biggest bang from this goal.

Get my automobile insurance lowered

If you read the previous post then, you know I had an unfortunate incident almost 3 years ago.  Well, I am happy to report I am incident for 2 1/2 years.  That puts me six months from being able to get my insurance lowered.  And that is my goal.  I think it is worthy of a goal because I expect the insurance company to resist.  Why not make me pay more rather than less?  Bring it on, I say!

There you have it.  My major goals for 2016.  I expect some new thoughts to arise as the year goes on but, these areas above are me putting my money where my goals are.

What are your 2016 goals?

Thrifty Image Mirror