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Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm in the woods

This weekend I enjoyed my first camping trip.

That's frugal living.

Food cooked over a fire. Hotdogs, corn, beans, s'mores. Evenings spent snuggling by the fire, in the peace of the neverending chirp of crickets (I think they were crickets).

Our meals were $12 for the weekend. I made a tray of banana brownies to eat for breakfast or a snack. Lunch was those military self-heating food packs, something Robbie got for Christmas (don't ask [don't tell]), and dinner was the aforementioned hot dogs, corn o'the cob, baked beans and s'more dinner. We made a giant jug of iced tea and slurped it down. On the way home outta the woods we found an ice cream stand on the highway and ate $5 of yumminess.

Anyway, we didn't do anything except walk around, chill out in a foldable chair, build fires and rent a canoe for an hour. The camp site was $20 a night (we split the cost of the first night) and the canoe rental was $15. We brought wood we split back at home.

I would really recommend camping as a great way to spend a weekend, cheaply. $35 in room and board, $12 in food, $15 in entertainment, and at risk of sounding cliche, a lifetime of memories.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm an online reseller of books

Among the many ways I am piercing together a dollar here and a dollar there is on Amazon, where I am selling off my unloved and unread and unplayed items in my library.

It's super easy. You sign up to be a seller, click SELL SHIT and enter in an ISBN and a brief description of the quality of the item you're holding. It sells, Amazon takes an unreasonable commission, but gives you a more-than-enough shipping credit to make up for it (I guess, if you consider a $1 shipping profit some amazing thing).

So far I've sold 8 items and had about $40 deposited into my bank account. The 8 items I sold cost about $3 to ship, so I've made a $16 profit, whoopitydo. It's about an extra $5 so if my math serves it's an estimate $250 extra annually.

So yeah, whoopee!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mint that

Mint.com is my best friend.

It's like Quicken, for the Internet, but more helpful. You input all your credit card, student loan, investment, savings/checking account info, and it spits back updated info about what is going on with that account. In addition, it will see all your Dunkin Donuts transactions, whether you pay with debit card numero uno or with a credit card. So you can track spending across categories.

This was an eye opener. I saw where I was hemorrhaging money, regardless of the account I used to pay for these purchases. Mint also deduced my net worth (*sob!*) and could track my income/spending/lots-of-stuff over many different filters and search settings. Maybe I wanted to compare May income to July income. Or see how one bank account was doing this week compared with last. Or how much I was spending on gasoline in April compared with August.

In addition to these invaluable tools, Mint allowed me to set up financial goals, and track my progress and see how I was sticking to a budget.

In other words, Mint.com is the bomb, yo. I love it. It is incredibly invaluable. Hopefully it won't get hacked into and make me a victim of identify theft, but I digress.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Oh, about $60,000, give or take

Today I was checking out the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States of America. This fine entity compiles a fascinating amount of data that never fails to depress me. Data about unemployment, about job prospects, about pay and benefits.

This link http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cesan.htm directs you to a regularly compiled bit of information that spells out how Americans spend their money. The average spent on housing, on groceries, on transportation.

For me, it gave some insight as to how much you have to earn, to spend money on these things.

In other words, I needs me some $60,000 annually if I was a family of 2.5.

See what I mean about the depressing stuff?

The figure is climbing. According to their data, in 2006 consumer expenditures totaled $48,000ish, and in 2008 it is a reported $50,000ish. Over that time period, pre-tax income went from $60,000 to $63,000. The biggest chunk of spending went toward housing and then transportation.

If you contrast that over a longer period, which the BLS happily does for us, you will see a drastic difference between 1988 spending and 2008. (I assume that's because price has risen and I make a bold assumption) Of particular note is spending on food: $3,700 in 1988 compared with $6400 in 2008. Sheesh.

Thoroughly depressed.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Syonara, socks

Let me first say: I play roller derby. A sport that comes with a high concentration of socks. Thigh-highs, knee-highs, tights, footless leggings, stockings, and probably more. Ones in your league colors, ones in your team's colors, ones for travel team bouts, ones for novelty bouts, ones loved ones have bought you. SOCKS! Lots of them!

Indeed, I even have socks that are of the non-derby variety, for work/play/leisure/winter/summer. Unfortunately I also have a fascination with vintage stockings, the fishnet and seamed varieties. Lo, I have three drawers just of socks.

WTF is wrong with me.

So as part of the 100 Things Challenge, I'm coming to grips with my sock surplus. I've loaded up all my lesser-worn socks and am bringing them to derby practice, for all the new girls to scoop up. I don't even care if they go for 50 cent each. Take 'em.

It was two giant bags of stuff. I came back home with nothing, save for 22 extra dollars.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

High Yield Checking Accounts

A couple months ago I looked down at Rob's mail and saw his bank, Kearny Savings, was offering a 3.51% checking account.

I was stunned. 3.51 seemed like an amazing amazing amazing percentage rate. I immediately opened an account. The only parameters toward earning the high rate was to have an automatic payment billed from the account, have paperless statements, and agree to make at least 10 debit card transactions.

It's so easy. Any leftover money, any random scrap of anything, I plow into that account, so it can earn some interest.

I calculated the amount of extra dough I've earned in interest, over my previous checking accounts. I've racked up an added $24.95 in the three months of this account's existence. Not bad; the previous interest income for the whole year was $5.16 in the other accounts.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

100 Things Challenge

So I read this: http://www.guynameddave.com/100-thing-challenge-faqs.html

And it hit me hard.

At two points in my life previous, I had to sell off a massive amount of my stuff. I called these periods in my life The Great Liquidation. I still didn't boil my life down to 100 things. In fact, after I read the above linked web site, I looked over at the top of one dresser and was confident there were more than 100 things just there, let alone hiding in drawers underneath. And in the closet. And under the bed. And in the garage...and on and on and on.

I started to get overwhelmed and sad. Why do I have so much stuff in my life? I am not a candidate for Hoarders, but I was just feeling burdened by stuff.

So today I start to sell off my stuff. I shall keep a tally and see how it goes.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Potential to carpool

$10=115 miles

On $10 I can go 115 miles.

Unfortunately, I drive 50 miles to work -- one way. Tack on $2 in tolls round trip, and my daily commute costs me $12.

The solution: carpool.

The problem: no one has a long commute as I do. That is, until now. Now I have someone who lives a bit farther north than I, whose commute south
is just a bit longer than mine.

So I calculate it. If we split the costs of commuting, it's 50 percent savings in gas: $5 a day. That's $25 a week. It's August, there's 19 more weeks in the year, and that equals $475 in savings for the remainder of the year.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Daddy Swagbucks

So yesterday I signed up for something called swagbucks.com, which is an elaborate scheme to get me to sign up for a bunch of shit I don’t need. If I use the official swagbucks toolbar (unintentional pun) to conduct internet searches, I can rack up more “swagbucks.” I can even have a swag-tastic time searching the swagbucks blog, facebook, et al, looking for special announcements for the latest swagcodes I can swag for swagbucks.

Oh, how very exciting. If I accumulate enough of those swagbucks I can redeem them for lame shit, but also Amazon gift cards and paypal payments.

At this moment, I have 75 swagbucks and have 375 to go before I can get me a sweet $5 gift card. Whoopee! I have spent an hour of my life hunting the Interwebs for swagcodes as though they were vials of crack cocaine. Obviously, I don’t have any drugs or swagbucks to show for my efforts.

Nevertheless, I installed the swagbucks widget onto this blog. If you sign up via my referral page, an angel gets its wings and I get some fraction of a penny.

File this one under: nonexistent income.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bonus!

Is this wise or foolish? Probably both.

I often read websites such as bargaineering.com, which regularly directs readers to bank deals, where you get a monetary bonus for opening up an account.

So far I have claimed the following bonuses, totaling $250:

Chase checking, $125, need to set up direct deposit into this account. I have $40 routed from my paycheck to this account.

ING check card, $50. I already have a ING savings account, so I applied for a debit card to take advantage of the offer.

Bank of America online checking, $75. I had to have $125 in that account and make a certain number of purchases, and have a direct deposit into the account, AND, use online banking/paperless statements. I also sold my soul on this one because I frikkin’ hate BOA.

Finally, I also have a high-yield checking account. I net 3.51 % interest if I have a direct deposit or automatic payment, use online banking, and have 10 transactions with my debit card. Bargaineering gave me the great idea of making my ten transactions be $1 donations to a charity each month, so I also can claim that as a deduction on my taxes, and avoid using the card for purchases, thus keeping its balance high. I love my high-yield checking account and transfer nearly everything into it after I am done paying my bills for the month.

I am going to keep looking for this sign-on bonus accounts. I mean, $250 is not a bad take. These accounts have no minimum and no monthly fees. While I do have to claim the $250 as income, it’s the quickest $250 I ever made.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Facebook might be good for something (maybe)

If you spend most of your life worshipping at the foot of your Facebook Live Feed's altar, why not at least make that time well spent by "liking" a bunch of profiles associated with free shit.

I do. I am facebook friends with Free Sample Momma and Real Free Stuff For All, just two of many profiles who post links to samples, freebies, coupons and contests.

You're like, yeah right, pshaw, that's a bunch of crap. What sort of free stuff are they actually offering? *eye roll*

Well I will tally it up for you. Here is the stuff I learned about and actually received, not the stuff I sent away for and am waiting to arrive.

Pair of tickets to see George Clinton (won via Metromix contest) $50.

2 Free pizzas at Quik Check $8.

2 free coffees at Quik Check $2

Free slurpies at 7-11 $2

Free after Rebate, Neutragena eye cream: $35

Free sample of emergency food packet: $2

Sample tea bags: $0.50

Grocery coupons: $12.45

That's $111.45 so far.

I'll take it.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pari-muteul Thrills

As a means of earning money, gambling is an all-around bad idea. The house always wins, especially if you are playing the lottery.

Once the Pick 3 prize was so high, I tried to calculate if the prize was more than the cost of the tickets, should you opt to pick every single number combination possible. Turns out, simply printing more than a million tickets would take a couple weeks. There goes that idea.

However, I have had some luck at the horseraces, which is called the pari-muteul system of betting. I figure, someone always wins on a horserace, and often there are only 10 horses. 1 in 10 chances ain't bad.

I tried to ascertain if one philosophy of betting was more lucky than others. For example, if I bet a dollar on every horse to win, would I often come out ahead?

I tried this for one race and won a total $2 after deducting my ticket costs, and figured the winning horse would always have to earn worse than 10 to 1 odds for me to make any money. So my father taught me about all these other styles of betting (exactas, WPS) and I decided to go with WPS, or win-place-show, or across the board. All these interchangeable terms mean you bet the horse will either come in first, second or third.

So far, I am up $120 in my three days of betting. I think this is called a winning streak.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

July Random Savings and Earnings

At the end of each month, I reveal my list of random savings or earnings and tally it all up. Here is July's!

$13. Saved on my $45 monthly roller derby dues, thanks to the perk my league gives if you secure a sponsorship agreement.
$25. Got AT&T to credit my cellular bill $25, because I spent a day on the phone with their customer service because of my crappy air card.
$5. Made $5 over the rent of the table, at the flea market.
$35. Argued off a fee charged to my Discover card.
$100. Won at the racetrack.
$14. Went out to dinner and my friend insisted on paying.
$9. Random dough earned from mturk.com
$13. In stuff sold at Amazon marketplace.

July tally: $216 in randomness

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I've been Monetized!

This move should make me a millionaire.

I've hit the "monetize" button for this blog. Now, in the gutters between and alongside posts, you'll see advertising.

In other words, this blog is brought to you by Netflix.

Blogger has the option of adding this advertising via the AdSense program. I'll get paid if gentle readers check out the ads and click on them.

I probably get $0.001 in revenue. But the most frugal of us know, hey, that's $0.001 I didn't have. I'm on my way toward retirement.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Things I regret buying, July edition

Here are some things that, after thinking about it, perhaps I should not have bought last month.

Several Ralph's Italian Ices: $6 total

A handmade accessory I've yet to wear: $15

Another roller derby league t-shirt: $12

Trip to Sonic: $10

Bottle of dish soap: $1

That's a total of $44 I regret spending in July.

With hope, the August figure will be zero dollars.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Libraries are fine

I have a lot of books out of the library. Mainly, they are books about earning or saving money somehow.

I thought to myself, it's best to rent the book from the library, thus saving you the money of buying it outright.

Except in my case, where I fail to bring back the books on time, accruing late fines instead of renewing.

Because, of course, I can't find my library card.

My fines: $23.17

Or, about the cost of one book.

D'oh!

These are, unfortunately, just the current fines owed. In the last 3 years I've owed much more, collectively. I've probably had to pay the library $150 plus in fines.

That's just retarded of me.

However, I do feel the books I've read (among the library books I've actually read, that is, opposed to the ones I've let languish unread in my nightstand) were useful and actually gave my skills to help me earn or save money. Which is good, I guess.

I just wish I woulda returned those books on time and saved myself $163.17. Maybe I shoulda taken out books on time management?

Shoulda woulda coulda.

I'm committed to earning back my late fees in extra income derived from the knowledge of my checked-out books.

I checked out one book on selling books online, and so far have made $23. Another book is about using your knowledge creatively, such as freelance writing and such. I've made $12 doing that. The other book was about selling on Craigslist. I've made $150 selling shit on Craigslist.

So, that's a total $185.

Well alright.

I'm ahead of the game, I guess. Now I just have to return these currently checked-out books, on time.