Sunday, January 31, 2010

January is over

I have not been keeping up on posting as much as I want to. I started doing our taxes today and it looks as though we actually owe money. This is the first time ever. I then looked at our withholding amounts and they have dropped substantially. I suppose that explains why we now owe money.

Why is it that as soon as I think I am getting a handle on the finances, something comes up that costs money. In attempting to save money, I feel as though I am actually spending more. I suppose that I will simply have to be even more cautious. I think that finding better methods to save will prove the best method.

I got Tim a book on investing and I think that it is very well written, it explains concepts in everyday language. I think that the information will definitely come in handy as soon as we have some discretionary money.

I continue to search for tips that will help in changing our saving habits, yet not detract from our quality of life. I have found some, but one thing that I need to employ all of them is time. I suppose finding more time in the day is like finding more money in the paycheck. I don't see either happening any time soon.

For now I am getting together some stuff to donate to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of New Mexico. It is nice when they come out and pick stuff up. So much easier to simply get bags together and put them out on the curb.

I just found out, this week, that my younger daughter needs braces. We already got them for my older daughter, now we get to go through it again. This time, the orthodontist wants more than last time. I have to do some Orthodontist Price Shopping. It would be wonderful if we could get her braces done for about the same price.

Yesterday we went to get the oil changed in my older daughter's car, we had to get an Oil System Flush as well. There are a few things we need to get fixed on her car. I suppose that we will have to take care of things one at a time. The next thing to get fixed is her tail light, one of them is out. I also need to find a good after market body shop so that we can get her moon roof repaired.

It seems as though things continue to pile up; however, there are a few things that have been taken care of. I have most of the papers in the house shredded and have a plan for keeping them under control. The Dining Room is almost done and looks great (I still need to find 2 captain's chairs that I like, but that can wait). I was, also, able to fix a crack in the wall and re-caulk the dining room. There are some other small projects that need completed, but I will get those taken care of over time.

Love to all! Have a great money saving start to your week.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What a long week

This has been a really long week. It went by so fast that I haven't even had the opportunity to post. A bunch of stuff happened this week:

I painted the dining room and it looks great.
I refinished my big mirror to match my table.
The lady who bought the hutch came to pick it up.
I got a second chair for the living room.

My husband keeps getting on my for spending money when I am supposed to be saving. I keep telling him that this is a process. I have to have an organized place to start. I am trying to get everything in the house organized so that I have the organization to respect the money that we are getting.

I continue to think that once I have the house totally clean and organized I will be able to concentrate on finances. I really need to learn how to invest. Hopefully, it will not end up being as confusing as it seems. I think that my biggest problem is the fear that I do not understand money and investing. I have to change my mind set if I want to really save.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cleaning is Therapudic

I have been cleaning and clearing clutter all last week and this week. Yesterday, I finally shredded all of those papers hanging about. I hope I can keep it up.

I have settled on a style to clear up some of the paper mountain. I am going to keep the bills in my center desk drawer and shred the old bill as soon as the new bill comes in showing the previous one paid. Hopefully, this will work.

I had a little bit of a back slide yesterday on the budget issue. I did just a little bit of shopping that I probably should not have done, although I did only buy a few items for the house, which is an improvement. I got curtain rods and curtains for the dining area. I will post a picture once I get it all set up.

Today, I got up on the ladder and cleaned one of the upper cabinets in the kitchen. When I was taking down the holiday stuff, I noticed that they were very dusty. I think that I am going to try to clean at least one more this evening and leave the other for tomorrow. I did get one side of the Plexiglas sealed together, it has to cure for 12 hours so I will have to wait to do the other side until tomorrow.

So far, so good. I have to remember to take one day at a time on the budget. It seems as though as soon as I get a plan to cut spending, some expense comes up that cuts into my plan. I guess I will have to continue to work on it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Baked Ziti is a hit

We made Baked Ziti tonight and it was fabulous.
Here is the recipe that we used:

First Roast 3 red bell peppers
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. Cut peppers in half lengthwise; discard the seeds and pith.
3. Place peppers in one layer on large pan.
4. Broil, 4 inches from heat for 5 minutes on one side (or until quite charred)
5. Turn and cook until second side is charred
6. Place in bowl and cover with plastic wrap and cool.
7. Peel and discard skins.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 cups water
14 1/2 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
6 oz can tomato paste
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 pound ziti
2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions.
3. In skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add onions; cook stirring, until softened (2 minutes). Add water, tomatoes (with liquid), tomato paste, parsley, oregano, and basil. Break up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Slice roasted peppers.
5. Drain pasta, return to pot, but do not heat.
6. Stir the tomato sauce, roasted bell peppers, 1 & 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, the Parmesan, and sun-dried tomatoes into the pasta pot.
7. Spoon into a 9 X 12 baking dish. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over top.
8. Bake 20 minutes or until heated through and the cheese has melted.

I found this great web site for investment information, for those of us who are invest-mentally challenged.

I went out today and got my refund for my chairs and then was able to get the other two for the sale price.

I also created a budget in excel, where I will record all of my spending every day. I hope that I can keep that up. I have begun going through all of my papers. I always have trouble keeping the paper under control. I am trying to come up with a system that I can maintain that will cut the paper clutter. I do have a filing cabinet, but I have a difficult time getting all of these papers filed.

If anyone has any paper control suggestions, please let me know. At this point I am open to any paper organizing ideas.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Weekend is Here

Today my daughter had her birthday party, 17, I can hardly believe it. She had a couple of friends over for food, conversation and a few rounds of video games. I ordered Sushi and a party sub for food. I think that they had fun.

I found this web site today and I thought some of the tips were good:
12 Steps to Being a Zen Millionaire

So, I had to figure out how to protect my carved table now that it is in the dining area. I do not want it to be ruined by use. I had checked on getting a glass top to protect it, I just can't afford that. I thought that Plexiglas would work.

I went to the hardware store and tried to buy a piece for it and the largest pre-made piece is 72" X 36" @ $45. Well, wouldn't you know that my table is 72" X 39". The assistant there was a great help, he helped me figure out that if I bought three smaller pieces ($18 each) and cut the long end to 39" that I could piece them together to get the 72" length. I got some sealant and will seal the joints tomorrow. Then, the table top will be completely protected.

Putting this table in the dining area has completely changed the feel of the room. We actually want to eat there, just because the table top looks so cool.

I am going tomorrow to get the price adjustment for the two chairs that I bought yesterday and will pick up two more. Now that these chairs are on sale, I can afford to get the other two. I am still on the hunt for two larger arm chairs that match.

Today's grocery bill was roughly the same as last weeks, although we did buy laundry detergent and a large bag of dog food. We, also, got a few extra dinners. This is so that we can stock our pantry and have food for those nights when I do not feel like cooking. I am still waiting for the food bill to drop drastically, this might be a very long wait.

Tomorrow I am going to try my new cooking hands at Baked Ziti. If it turns out well I will post the recipe.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The end of the first week

Well I have successfully made it through week one.

I sold my kitchen table and chairs on craigslist and used the money to buy two of the chairs for my cool table. We moved the table into the eating area and were able to put my desk in the living room.

While I was paying for my chairs, the sales clerk told me that the chairs would go on sale on Sunday for $20 off each. I will go back on Sunday and get my price adjustment and then I will have almost enough for another chair.

Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday party. I have to pick up the food at 1:00 and the kids will show up at 2:00. I think that she is excited although with her you just never know. Teenagers!?!?!?

I have to go through my sale items for next week and plan the menu, my menu planning worked out very well this week. I am excited to continue to see if I can keep our food bill decreasing. It should be interesting.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Back to it

Today everyone is back to work or school.

Tried out Ratatouille last night, wasn't impressed with the recipe. I guess I will have to try out some different ones. That is what happens when I try the easy recipe. I have a couple of others that I may try out.

I am still working on getting the house organized, hopefully that will not all year. If I can work on one thing at a time, I should be able to get through it all.

The best part of saving is having to be creative. I have so many ideas I hope that I can work them all in.

I have an idea to paint the dining area off of the kitchen and then to hang curtains. I think that I have found the material to use for the curtains from some that I have had hanging around the house. Now that I have to think outside the store for some things, being a bit of a pack rat is going to come in handy.

I know that I can creatively get the house looking great and organized.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Preparing for the Grind

Well, today is the last day of Winter Break. Back to work tomorrow.

I have been attempting to find other means to cut back.

I did spend some money today, my husband and I both got our hair done and I had to fill up my car with gas. Lucky for me a tank full of gas usually lasts around a month.

I am getting ready to begin dinner. I found an amazing recipe for roast chicken.

1 Whole Chicken (4-5 lbs)
1 Lemon
1 onion, peeled
4 garlic cloves, peeled
thyme or rosemary
olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put chicken in a roasting pan. Cut onion into quarters and put in cavity. Put garlic and herbs in also (no need to chop). Cut lemon in half, squeeze juice over chicken and put into cavity also. Massage chicken with olive oil sprinkle with sea salt and season with pepper. Bake for one and a half hours.

Easy meals are the best to make, especially since I don't cook much.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

One Fine Day

Okay, so now I am one day into the new year.

I have been searching for money saving opportunities at every turn. We went to the grocery store today and spent a total of $230. This is ultimately not bad since we actually got enough food for two weeks of dinners and 15 pounds of pork roast (enough for six family size roasts). I will find out next week if we really succeeded. Trying to figure out where to cut costs without over-spending is going to continue to be a challenge.

I must remember to take things one step at a time. I know that I can do this, I just have to keep in mind that changing habits is never easy.

I began purging my closet, I have quite a few clothing items that I should have gotten rid of long ago. Slow moves will make things easier to take charge of.

I should mention that I am selling my second dining table, chairs and china hutch. I figure that we really do not need two and I absolutely love my new one. Step two of clearing out the clutter.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Day, New Year, New Decade

Well it is day one of the new year and I can check one item off of my list.

I got my desk and it came with a matching chair.
I found it on craigslist.

I got it for $200 and I think that it will work perfectly.

Now we have to pack away all of our holiday decorations. Once this is done, we can begin cleaning the house and putting everything in order. I am going to take my time going through all of our stuff. I have to get rid of so much stuff.

Simplify life, save money, regain sanity.

There are only 364 days left to gain financial sanity.