Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cash4Books Insurance

If you sell books to Cash4Books and I know some of my readers probably do, you need to know that you can get insurance on your package. My last shippment was stolen by someone at the post office. My box, which was wrapped VERY securely, in fact more securely than my first, was found floating around in Memphis. I got a nice little letter saying that I should be more careful next time and make sure I pack my package along with the label. Uh, DUH! Who would accept an empty box at the post office anyway? Well, I emailed Cash4Books just to let them know what had happened and that I didn't just forget to send the package. They let me know that they have information on their website with the exact postal code to give the cashier if you are told you cannot put insurance on a pre-paid label. Apparently many of thier customers have been told this and it is not true. I will not make any more shippments to them without putting insurance on the package. It is not that expensive and is well worth it if your items are stolen like mine.

Ways to Waste Money

You know I have never really thought of this until today. I mean I know it is a waste, but I had never thought of it as a waste of money.

I am talking about letting food spoil before it is eaten. This week I went shopping and bought things for two new recipes I wanted to try. I also bought some other odds and ends. Well, the bananas I bought are sitting on the counter getting browner and browner (only two left, but still). The meat I bought I just checked and it expired two days ago. I don't know if I can use it or not now. I know those dates are kind of just guidelines but I don't chance it when it comes to our health. Luckily I put the fish in the freezer so it is still okay. However, I am so aggrivated with myself because it was such a waste of food AND money.

So of course I thought well, if I didn't eat that food I obviously ate something else right? And, more important, did that cost me more money? Yes and no. I bought more things for breakfast which is why the bananas did not get eaten. And, especially since I am pregnant I don't really think the cinnamon strusel cake was a good choice over the banana! Also one night my husband didn't want to wait for me to cook so I went to taco bell. The meal I was going to prepare with the now spoiled meat was going to be low fat and low sodium.... oh well. And the reason I say we didn't spend more money every night is because one night a friend came over and he bought pizza so on that night we didn't spend any extra money and I even took some pizza for lunch the next day.

Wow, I just realized that not only are we spending more money but I am really eating poorly.

So how do I fix this? I bought less food last week knowing that a couple of times we would probably do take out. So that was good, but I let the food get ruined. The meat is easy enough. I just needed to put it in the fridge. As for the bananas, one meal I never plan for is breakfast. I need to start doing that too. Actually I need to make a little menu and stick it on the fridge. Since I have been pregnant I haven't wanted to eat anything in the morning. Not morning sickness, just being hormonal I guess. So maybe if I make a menu I will just make myself what is on it. I will try that this week.

If anyone has anymore foodwise money saving tips I would love to hear them! I hate wasting money. Don't you?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Update. My survey earnings

I haven't talked about my big plans to become rich taking surveys in quite a while. Ok, so I never really expected to get rich, but I thought you might like to know exactly how much I have made. Well since March of this year I have made a grand total of...... 40.50! Wow, I'm rich! No, no I'm not. :) Anyway, while it isn't very much, it was very easy and hey forty bucks is forty bucks. I still do the surveys. In fact part of that total includes a $10 survey I took just a few weeks ago. Would I be willing to take more surveys to increase this total? Probably not. I did say it was easy but it drives my husband crazy when I am sitting on the computer for 20 minutes answering a bunch of silly questions. So I am not planning on joining any more companies. I think the ones I have joined already are some of the best. If you would like to make some cash of your own look on the sidebar and click on Survey companies I use. There you will find the ones I am allowed to tell you about. I am also a member of another group that pays five dollars per survey but I am sworn to secrecy. If you head over to the Volition forums you can probably find the one I am talking about and tips on how to get an invitation.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What Happened to Pear Budget

I had a really bad mix up last month. Two weeks before the month was over I only had $60 left in my account. I went over things again and again but I couldn’t figure out what happened. I don’t want to just come right out and blame the Pear Budget software I started using this month, but I put in every single thing that I spend and it is still telling me I have money left over. If I go by this that means that on my $60 I should have been able to pay two more weeks of daycare, and two more weeks of gas. Now, gas alone was going to be $80 so something obviously went wrong. Next month I am going to use it again, but I am also going to keep up with my paper budget that was working so well before. I can’t have a screw up like that again. I ended up having to pull close to $200 out of my emergency/crisis plan savings to cover it. That is really not good.

On the up side. I will have an exact total of what I spent on groceries and gas. I have found that there is no way for me to save as much as I was planning each month. I am going to try to do as much as possible but it won’t be near as much as I was hoping for.

Anyway, I still think Pear Budget is a good tool. I am sure somewhere I just messed it up. I will try again next month and see how it turns out.

I would be curious if anyone else has used this program and experienced any problems.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Grocery Game is Over!

Whew... I will be glad not to have to keep up with those receipts this month. But seriously, I did learn a lot from tracking my spending. So here are all the weeks added up (they may not all be in order but you can click here to see all of the posts together.

$84- This is for the final week that I did not post here. It actually was exactly $84 once all of the extra expenses were taken out.

Total- $331

Now this is way more than I had budgeted for but not as much as I suspected it was. I also did not count the very first spending spree my husband accompanied me on because I know we bought a lot of stuff that was not related to grocery shopping. Plus it came out of his budget and I will continue to shop at least once a month from "his" money. (we don't really keep it seperate, but I do keep it seperate from my own budget)

So what did I learn? Here are some of the best things I learned.

1. Budget more. It will save me a lot of trouble in the long run having to transfer money in and out of my accounts. Plus if I have any extra at the end of the month it can be added to the next month's budget or put away into savings.

2. Buying store brands saves cash. I only tracked it once but the savings from one grocery trip was over $6.00 That was on my usual purchases too. Stuff I buy all the time, so I know I can continue to save that much by buying store brands.

3. Pay attention to how you are feeling before you go. Everyone knows you should not go shopping if you are hungry. HOwever I would like to add a few more. Don't go if you are- with your children and you are not able to say NO a LOT... with your husband/wife if he or she is an impulse buyer (mine is a HUGE impulse buyer).... not feeling well, be it morning sickness or a runny nose, if you don't feel well you will just be wanting to get out of the store.

4. Definitely go with a list. Also, make yourself stick to it. You should only put something in your cart if it is something you really do need and just forgot to add to the list.

5. Keep track of it for a month. It really will open your eyes. Not only do I now budget more to my grocery shopping but I have also added an "other" category for things like shampoo, dog food, etc. THose things that we don't buy every week but somehow they bust the budget every month.

6. Maybe this will only works for me- Shop one week at a time. I used to try to shop for two weeks,but let's face it. If you have two weeks worth of snacks in the house the kids will eat two weeks worth of snacks in a couple of days. I may try buying my meat and baking stuff for two weeks but I will still need to go once a week for snacks and produce.

While I will not be adding weekly updates to the grocery game this month, I will be keeping track and hopefully I can post it at the end of September. If you have any tips of your own please post them. I am sure we can all use some more tips.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

I Have Will Power?

In case you aren't aware, credit cards are the easy way out. Yeah, of course you knew that. But if you haven't completely stopped using yours you can't possibly imagine the amount of will power it takes to KEEP not using them.

My family has recently had some misfortune that in the past would have had me running to the store with my credit card, but not any more. And, my husband is finally jumping on board too. He recently had a little accident with our lcd tv. While he would like to take out a loan and buy a new one, I have convinced him to save for it. So far he has nearly enough money to buy the new one. The best part is we will own it free and clear.... well, except today my daughter threw his cell phone in the bathtub and he had to use some of his "tv money" to replace the phone. But hey, he actually HAD money to buy the phone. In the past I would have listened to him complain about it until I finally broke down and put it on my card. (He does not have any).

What I find funny is how hard it is to not want to take the easy way out. I know how much I hate being in debt and yet when these things happen I really have to stop myself and put it all in perspective.

I guess what I am really trying to say is, if you are on this journey with me, I am really proud of you and you should be really proud of yourself. It is the harder way to do things but your future self will truly be greatful.

By the way I will be back soon with a complete report on this month's grocery challenge!! I have one last receipt to check out and have to put it all together.