Thursday, February 5, 2009

2009 things : january edition

as i mentioned in one of my previous entries, i am attempting to accomplish 2009 self-improving things this year. i call it 2009 things in 2009. each task has to be different. each task also has to have something to do with self-improvement.
i am trying to stay within the realm of money, relationships and health.

i started this venture thinking it would be a piece of cake, but by day 2 i was already freaking out that i might not be able to do this.

this is my update thus far for the month of january:

1. repaired boots so that my feet don't freeze while walking. they will hopefully hold out another week or two until i can afford to buy new ones.

2. packed a lunch for work with leftovers.

3. replied back to 3 of mom's emails today.

4. started working on a vday project.

5. pulled oatmeal out from the back of the kitchen cabinet so that i can have a healthy breakfast before walking to work.

6. prepared a crockpot meal out of foods i already had instead of going grocery shopping.

7. emailed my boyfriend just to tell him that i love him.

8. work on giving away 30 things this month.

9. help mom set up an account.

10. updated my account transactions.

11. went through old online diet/food journal in order to make a new grocery list.

12. made a banner and icon for mom’s etsy account.

13. uncovered a foot of snow off my car and around my car.

14. listened to morgan spurlock's audiobook "don't eat this book".

15. drank over 12 glasses of water on tuesday.

16. one of my mom's dog's died today (my favorite buddy), so i am making a card to send to her.

17. bought salad to take to work for lunch instead of high calorie foods.

18. ate salad with my boyfriend for dinner instead of pizza.

19. made turkey burgers and salad for dinner sunday night.

20. started using popcorn popper to make air popped corn for snack.

21. opened "travel home" and "gift" savings accounts on ing.

22. paid my electric bill online before i even got the statement in the mail.

23. filed fafsa 2009-2010

24. started listening to the audio book version of "a new earth" after reading it last year.

25. have decided to sell my car and go car-free for an undetermined period of time.

26. made a big bag of popcorn to take to work to share with co-workers.

27. estimated my tax return.

28. weighed myself at work.

29. bought meats at reduced cost at the grocery store because they were close to sell date.

30. stayed late at work to get a bigger paycheck.

31. made meals over the weekend for me and my boyfriend with minimal meats and lots of veggies (all on sale).

32. bought popsicles for my boyfriend since they were 1/2 priced.

33. watched 66 minutes worth (over a course of time) of virgin mobile sugar mama ads to get 66 minutes of free airtime. saved about $12 by doing this.

34. bought ice/snow cleats for my shoes so that i don't slip on ice. and it saves me from buying new boots.

35. created a daily routine schedule for my day to day life so that i can try to stay on track... and off the internet more.

36. arranged to meet a friend for lunch friday. i have not seen this friend since summer.

37. took leftovers to work for lunch for 4 days.

38. did some bonding with a friend and went out to lunch and salon.

39. got my hair cut and colored to surprise my boyfriend. he has always wanted to see me as a brunette. and i received more compliments on it than i ever expected.

40. changed some stocks in my 401k portfolio to bonds.

41. my boyfriend and i walked to work together monday morning.

42. started wearing a pedometer again.

43. chewing gum instead of snacking.

44. completely cleaned out my closet so that my boyfriend can have it when he moves in.

45. took home some scrap card stock paper from work to make gifts and scrapbook with.

46. bought jeans at macy’s for $5 each and they were a size smaller than what i normally wear.

47. bought jeans at macy’s for $15 for my boyfriend and they were also a size smaller than what he normally wears.

48. did something out of the ordinary. went out downtown for dessert and drinks with boyfriend.

49. filed taxes super early this year.

50. called boyfriend and encouraged him to get his act together so he won’t procrastinate until the last minute about moving.

some of my tasks have already started to repeat themselves. hopefully i can continue on and not have this problem too often. but with 2009 things to do, it might but unavoidable!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

blog love 2/4/09

in this edition of blog love, i will provide you with links to some bloggers who are not keeping their frugal valentines ideas and dating tips under wraps.

we only have 10 days left until valentines day. do you have something planned? would you like to do something fun while saving money?

valentine's day on a budget: full of awesome ideas.

dating on a budget: hmm hmm good! : this is not really a new concept, but it's also not something that comes first to mind when you want to go out on the town with your other half.

a do-it-yourself guide to a romantic and highly frugal date night : this article also goes with the one above, except more in depth. trent offers us a abundance of inexpensive date options that could easily work well for valentines day.

favorite dates for under $15 : mrs. micah polls her readers for suggestions.

the best frugal fling date ideas : break out those candles!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

blog love 1/21/09

i was watching the today show on hulu this afternoon. they had a segment called "R U Tech Savvy?". todays was all about tech terminology.

what does it mean to "show blog love"?

a) finding a spouse on a dating site
b) having another blogger link to your website
c) getting your picture posted and graded on
d) texting with your spouse while at work

i think all of my fellow bloggers know this answer. but just in case you are not "tech savvy", the answer is B.

with that being said, i will be starting a bi-weekly roundup called "blog love" of links from my favorite bloggers.

stretch your food dollar: beans, beans... : this edition of stretch your dollar especially hits home. because i already do it! it takes a little more time, but you end up saving so much money.

could you save money by subscribing to an addictive game? : i am surprised i had not written about this topic myself. i used to often think about how i would save a lot more money if i just stayed home and played sims instead of looking for outside entertainment. my boyfriend is also an online gamer. sure, it does keep you from the habit of spending for a short period of time, but what is online gaming doing to your social network?

11 rules of the dumpster dive : this is pretty much a guideline for anyone interested in pursuing the fine art of dumpster diving. i wish i had more guts to go further with my own dumpster diving, but i have yet to go to any dumpster but my own building's dumpster. even then, i don't jump in or rummage through it too much. if something i want is on top of the pile, i grab it, otherwise i don't bother. oh, but i wish i had the guts.

small space solutions: kitchen pantry : a good idea for those kitchen cupboard food staples. i wonder if reusing glass pickle jars would work the same?

money/life makeover - week 2 : this sort of inspired me to make my own daily routine schedule. so far, it's working pretty well.

update on my get rid of one thing a day for january challenge : i have been doing the same thing he has. i place 1 thing a day into a cardboard box in my living room. at the end of the month, i will place is on the window seat on the 5th floor of my apartment building. want it? take it. that's how we roll.

thank you to all my fellow bloggers for your inspiring articles. i look forward to providing more awesome links to my readers in the future.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

bye bye car

in just a few short days (hopefully before january 31st), i will be getting rid of my car and relying solely on public transportation and my own two legs to get me to where i need to be.

my car has served me well in the last 3 years. it's never been anything fancy. in fact, it's down right ugly. it's like the kid that got picked on it school. but, it worked miracles and got me from point a to point b. all it ever asked for was a little up keep here and there.

but the up keep now is beginning to be too much for me. i have been weighing the pros and cons of owning a car the last month or so.
and for me, monetarily and emotionally, it's better to let it go.
this winter has been trying for me because it has snowed record amounts here in the pacific northwest. i had to dig my car out from underneath FEET of snow on a regular basis. i had to move my car a lot from the street so that the snow plows could plow our streets. i did not attempt to drive my car in the snow because it's a requirement to have snow tires or chains in winter here.
it's been emotional toll for me worrying about my car in the weather and worrying how i will pay for repairs and other fees accompanied with owning a car.

let's talk about the monetary portion of owning a car:

first, there is the gasoline you have to purchase to make the car run. luckily, i don't drive my car much. so i put in about about $2.50 every two weeks. yeah, that's like... nothing. that's about the only upside for me having a car.

second, there is the auto insurance. you can compare rates. and i highly suggest that you do. if you haven't been in an accident or haven't had too many speeding tickets recently, you'll be able to find good liability coverage for $40-$65 a month. of course you can probably get it a bit lower than that if you are over the age of 24-25 and some offer lower rates for students with good grades. i was paying about $55 a month for this.

then there is the annual tag renewal. since i moved to a new state, i am not 100% certain how much i would have to end up paying. but i know that if i was still living in my old state, i would be dishing out about $70 for new stickers for my car tag. and this is minimal. in my new state, i am sure it's way more.

here in washington, your car also has to pass an emissions test if you are registering your car for the first time in this state. that would be another $15. and hopefully you past the test. if not, you get one more try for free i believe. after that, i think you have to pay again.

i also subscribed to aaa service for my car. i had the mid-grade/plus package. if i chose to keep that, it would cost me another $89 annually. even if i kept my car, i would not keep my aaa membership. i only had to use it ONE time... but it did pay for itself. unless you plan on taking long distance trips (like i did last year), it's really not worth it.

then of course there is the maintenance that needs to be performed on my car. it needs an oil change pretty bad. in fact, i think it needs a total tune-up. that will easily cost $200. i also have bad drum breaks. i have worn them down pretty low i'm sure. those would cost $80-$100 at the very very least. i also have a broken side mirror on the drivers side because a snow plow truck knocked it off. i have no idea how much that would cost to fix. and there apparently seemed to be a broken seal or something on my windshield. now, when it freezes on the outside of my windows, it does on the inside too! so i scrape inside and out before i can even attempt to drive. no idea what that would cost to fix. after looking at the costs of everything else, i kind of got overwhelmed and gave up on caring about that situation.

what it all boils down to is... i'll most likely be paying more for this car to be brought back up to speed than what i originally paid for the car when i first bought it!

luckily, there is light at the end of the tunnel. i live in a big enough city to have a bus route i have easy access to. many of the places i visit are on bus routes. i live a mile and a half from work. i live a couple blocks from a grocery store. i live in the area that i like most in my city, so i don't need to travel all over. soon, my boyfriend will be moving in with me and he will be there to help me carry a couple bags of groceries.

the only problem i can see myself having is not being able to transport heavier bulky things from the store to home. i just recently bought a 7 foot tall shelving unit at lowe's to assemble. if i did not have my car, i would have had some difficulty getting it home. when you bring anything bigger than a suitcase on to the bus, it's kind of frowned upon. maybe i could enlist the help of a friend with a car? maybe i could take a taxi home? or maybe i could just wait until someone has one on freecycle or craigslist who is willing to deliver it? there are other options... but it does make life a bit more difficult if you are looking to move big items.

i am not only wanting to sell off my car because of monetary and emotional reason. i also want to prove to myself that i can live HAPPILY without a car for at least a few months. i've went without a vehicle in the past. i was not happy. my emotions were all wrapped up in the convenience of being able to get around town fast. i want to prove to myself that i can be happy without that in my life. i proved to myself that i could be happy with my ugly car that had no heat/ac and no radio. so, i think i can make it without a car altogether now. i will be improving my daily activity level also. getting an extra 3 to 4 miles of walking in each day would definitely be a good thing.

what do you think? does getting rid of my car sound like a good or bad move? would you do the same if you were in my shoes? if i stayed in the same environment i am currently in for another year or two, do you think i should stay car(e)-free. or would it be a good idea to buy another one later on? please fell free to drop me a comment and share your ideas.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the best things

have you ever thought about the valuables you would want to have with you if you were stuck on a deserted island and could only bring 10 things with you?

- would you choose your most precious irreplaceable items?
- would you choose things that you don't own now but would like to someday own? - would you choose the best things you have ever owned?

i'd like to focus on the best things i have ever owned. these are things that have enabled me to have an easier, happier, healthier life.

i have broken them down into the following groups: bought, gifts and honorable mentions. what are some of the best things you have ever owned and why?


-macbook - it has offered me a way to stay connected to the internet even on the road and when there is no electricity at home. during the ice storm in december 2007 in oklahoma, most of my city went without electricity for a couple of weeks. i would take my laptop to work (thank you, generator) to charge it and go to a local wifi hotspot (one of few places with electricity) to get online. at night, we could watch movies on my laptop for about 2 hours before the battery died. but it kept us entertained during those 2 weeks of cold darkness.

-crock pot - it's made home cooking easier and yummier. i can now just dump all of the dinner ingredients into the crock pot in the morning before work and dinner will be ready when i come home in the afternoon/evening.

-my car - it's a junker. during the 3 years that i've owned it, it has never had a stereo or heat/ac, but i only really drove it to and from work (3 miles round trip). i've had new tires put on it and a few repairs here and there, but it was $1,200 well spent on the car. it also miraculously got me to my new city of spokane (almost 1,800 miles away from oklahoma).

-my dog - she's been my best friend when no one else was around. she's always there when i get home from work to greet me excitedly. she offers hours upon hours of amusement. and she has given me more responsibility.

-bicycle - it's been a means of transportation and exercise. during the couple of times that my car has broken down, my bicycle was very handy to have to get to and from work. i also really enjoy just joy riding my bike with my boyfriend.

-books - i only buy a new book maybe once a year. the rest of the time i swap books through or buy them used at thrift stores. if i had not started reading again, there is no telling where i would be at in life right now. reading helps me to escape reality for a little while. it also stimulates my thoughts and ideas.


-yarn and knitting needles - my boyfriend's mom taught me how to knit. now i can make nice scarves of my own and for others for really cheap. it also helps to relax me. so i guess it was not so much the yarn and needles, but the skill of knitting that i am proud to have.

-popcorn popper - my boyfriend bought me this for christmas. he probably didn't realize it at the time, but the popcorn popper has quickly grown into one of my favorite possessions. it offers me a cheap healthy snack alternative to cookies and cupcakes.

honorable mentions:

- ipod touch - this is a new purchase that i felt guilty about buying at first. i still don't know if i can justify spending so much money on it. but it has been a helpful tool to keep me organized with calendars (work schedules, birthdays, when things go on sale) and notepads to keep my to-do lists, grocery shopping list, etc. i have recently started listening to audiobooks while at work or walking because it sometimes actually puts me in a better mood than music does. the ipod touch has helped me keep several audiobooks organized into playlists for my own personal use. the wifi connection is also good to use while i am at work in order to check bus schedules and bank statements.

- stand mixer - i bought a cheap hamilton beach mixer at black friday 2007 and i used it probably at least every other day for the first month after it's purchase. all the mixer really did for me was allowed me to mix foods faster than i could by hand and allowed me the ability of hands-free mixing so that i could dump in ingredients without much hassle. i did get my money's worth thats for sure, even though my stand mixer usage has decreased.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

accomplish 2009 self-improving things in 2009

i am noticing this week that most bloggers have posted their new year's resolutions / 2009 goals.

as i have stated in my last blog entry, i no longer make new year's resolutions.
and i think that saying, "my goals for 2009..." is pretty much the same thing.

i think this year i will set a goal on to accomplish 2009 self-improving things by december 31, 2009.
this way, i have no specific goal that i can give up on half way through.
my self-improving tasks/things are sure to range from working towards a more health diet to saving money to reuniting with family members.

personally, i would like to work towards weighing another 40 pounds less by december 2009 and have an emergency fund of about $2000.
but i am not setting these as goals or resolutions.
as stated in my last blog entry, small steps are the way to go.
if i continue to make small adjustments throughout the year, i will most likely reach (and exceed) the 40 pound weight loss and $2000 emergency fund.

i plan to update my account regularly with my tasks completed.
and i will try to keep you updated on my progress here monthly.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

taking small steps to a brighter new year

with a new year on its way in, a lot of people will be make new year's resolutions.
i haven't made a resolution in a few years, because i always fail. and here's why:

i jump into my goal with both feet, and i end up miserable within the first week.
you need to develop what you want to achieve into a habit first.
habits are better formed by taking small steps towards your goal.
and the more small steps you are able to take and keep up with, the better you will feel about yourself and the more healthy behaviors you are likely to take on.
the more small steps you make into habits, the better chance you have of achieving your new year's resolution!

let's focus on the most common new years resolutions (remember, just picking one of these small changes will make a difference!):

losing weight:

- cut out soda. if you need something sweet to drink, try dry mixes like crystal light. if you get the generic version, it'll be cheaper on your wallet also. i have actually been able to do this for a year, and i have no temptation to go back to drinking soda on a regular basis. if you need to, try just cutting back on one soda a day and work your way towards having none.

- add more fruit and veggies to your diet. even if it's eating one more serving of fruits or vegetables than you normally would not have eaten. do it.

- cut out desserts. or if you need something to munch on, try a lower calorie alternative such as sugar-free jello and popcorn/pretzels.

- eat small meals every 4 hours or so. it helps curb cravings and keep metabolism going strong.

- take the stairs more instead of the elevator. maybe you couldn't take the stairs all day long, but try to slowly work it into your daily routine.

- go for walks with your ipod or friend/dog.

- exercise for just a few minutes a day, everyday.

saving money:

- if you haven't already, open a savings account, duh!

- get a savings account that you can easily deposit money into on a regular basis, but it is a bit harder to withdraw back out. i have a few savings accounts set up at ING that i can categorize for my different needs (doctor visits, christmas, new wardrobe, car repairs). i then automatically have a certain amount taken out of my checking account on payday for these savings accounts. some accounts get more and some get less, but at least by the time i need to use the money in them, it'll be there! and if i never end up using that money, i simply roll part of it into a CD at ING. they make everything super easy.

- shop only ad items at the grocery store and use coupons. if you stock up on your most used grocery items when they go on sale, you won't need to buy them every week, therefore you will only need to buy food when it goes on sale. i would suggest learning how to properly freeze food to get more use out of it. also meal planning is great for people who only shop sales.

- try to live only just a few dollars a day. make it a goal to see if you can live on $5-$15 a day. can you go without that morning trip to starbucks? could you walk to work instead of driving and paying for parking? will you have money left over at the end of the week?

- invite friends over to your place for movies or board games instead of meeting at a bar or club for a social gathering. potlucks would be another great thing to have instead of going out to eat with friends.

- don't buy something just because it's on sale. do you have a real use for this item? do you need it? can you live without it? could it be given to someone else as a gift? you should ask yourself a series of questions and even sleep on it (if you can) before making one of these impulse purchases.

- if you already have a mountain of debt that you need to take care of, work your hardest towards knocking out your smallest debts first (small steps!) and then work towards the bigger debts.

- cut out a daily indulgence. buy coffee everyday? lunch? cigarettes? take small steps to cut these items back. this goes hand and hand with trying to live on a set amount of money every day.

making your relationships stronger:

- give out compliments, not just to your significant other, but to everyone you see on a daily basis. i like to GET compliments, so i know others will like to receive them!

- listen! focus on conversations you are having with people. be sure to re-state some of what is being said so that the other person will feel like you genuinely care. it's frustrating talking to someone who you don't feel is listening to a word you are saying! this one might actually seem shallow, but a lot of people simply do not listen.

- return emails to your friends and loved ones as soon as you read them! otherwise, they will get pushed to the bottom of your inbox and will not be replied to for days... or never. it hurts when my mom forgets to reply back to my emails, so i know that it probably is not a good feeling for others when i forget to reply back to theirs. this is a big bad habit of mine.

- perform small favors for your loved ones. back rubs, doing the dishes, making breakfast in bed!

- call someone you love on a regular basis. if i had the luxury of more cellphone minutes, i would call my family more often. it's nice to hear their voices, rather than just their typed words.

- share in something your significant other enjoys. show interest, even if you find it boring or... gross.

remember, these small steps can change your behavior and changing your behavior only takes 2-4 weeks. these are things you can continue to do for a lifetime, as long as you are willing to do it one small step at a time!
it is suggested that you should try each small step for about 30 days and then work towards adding another small step to your routine for the next 30 days, and so on.
this is something i will be doing in my own life in the new year, and i would like you to join me and share with me your experiences!

another good thing for achieving your goals is to set up an account at
you can make a list of 43 goals you'd like to achieve. they can be big or small... normal or weird. you can write entries about your goals and how you plan on achieving them and the progress you are making. other users can then cheer you on to help you get your goals achieved! i have been a member of this website myself for a year and a half. and i have achieved 128 things!

remember, you wouldn't be where you are at now if you had not formed the habits that you have. let's turn it around this year!