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A special account just for splurges (the very best kind!)

September 23rd, 2009 at 06:55 pm

Last year, I started a GMAC (now Ally) online money market account to hold my fledgling emergency fund. I got the fund up to three months of savings and during the economic meltdown transferred most of it to my credit union account at a much lower interest rate. Silly, I know, but that was my knee jerk reaction to my fears about GM.

Anyhoo, I kept about $600 in that account and recently decided to add back into it and make it my "donations account."

Wow! What fun! I have always given a bit. Not as much as I feel I should give, but having an account that is solely dedicated to giving is...well...it is liberating! I have written checks for non-profits I love, for sad stories I read about in the paper, and for exciting stories I read about.

Today's example is a story about some local underpriviledged high school kids who are high achievers but with little to no family money. They are kids who are able to enter some of America's best universities (both private and public) and are being helped by locals to make this dream come true.

They will get, I presume, grants and loans and scholarships, but what they need today is money to travel to these schools to visit the campuses.

Guess what? I can help! I have money sitting in an account for just such an occasion!

This is extremely exiting for me because I love the community I live in for it's diversity. These kids come from families that may not speak English, and they are the first to go to college. How great is that?? They will make a huge difference in the community going forward. They will likely return to us as educated professionals and their kids will be college kids. This will break the chain of poverty. YAY!!

I highly recommend a special account for such giving. Maybe you all have done this. But, it is new for me and I am very excited about the possibilities.


$1k List

September 2nd, 2009 at 09:14 pm

Boy, not too many things have I purchased that cost over $1k.

Car $8k (1990 300ZX bought in 2000)
Condo $530k
Interior Paint Job for Condo - $2k
Repair on Car (lifters) $1.5k
Ekornes leather recliner - $1.3k

I *think* that's it. Interesting!

Spending Less on Food with My New Diet!

September 12th, 2008 at 11:29 am

Although I'm spending money on Weight Watchers, I'm spending less money on food.

I have traditionally bought breakfast and lunch at the work cafe. Now, I'm bringing breakfast (a boiled egg and V8 or Soy Milk) instead of buying an egg sandwich & juice for $4! I'm also eating less at lunch - usually soup and salad instead of the more expensive entrees.

This is a very good development! I've already lost 5 pounds. Most of which, I believe is water weight.

Spending Money On Losing Weight

September 8th, 2008 at 09:21 pm

Just about a year ago, I quit smoking. I smoked Ĺ pack of cigarettes a day for about 20 years. Iím very happy to have quit, however, I gained approx. 15 pounds. I hate the extra weight. None of my clothes fit and I am not interested in shopping for new clothes. I feel icky and donít like what I see in the mirror.

So, tonight I joined Weight Watchers Online. I used WW 10 years ago and really like the points program. They are offering 7 days free and then $49 for one month and after that itís $16.95/month.

If I keeps me focused on healthy eating, then itís worth every penny. Iíll periodically blog about my weight loss progress.

Bachelorette Party Weekend

September 8th, 2008 at 10:47 am

My friend is getting married September 20 and this past weekend we had the bachelorette party. Mind you, we are not 20-somethings, we are 40-somethings, so we did not opt for a bar/stripper party. We went white water rafting instead! It was my first time and it was amazing. I wear glasses, so my biggest fear was that I would lose my glasses and be blind. I bought the thing that wraps around your glasses and holds them close to your head and it worked (whew!).

It was a two night adventure in Northern California. We stayed in a tent cabin that slept 12, were served two breakfasts, one lunch (on the river), and one dinner. All this plus the raft and guide cost $200 per person. In addition to that cost, there was $25 each for gas, $60 for liquor, and $10 for cheap dinner the first night.

The campground was hosting a Kayak Festival party the second night and we were given free wrist bands that got us into the party and all the free beer we wanted! We danced with the band all night. For FREE!

This whole trip was a bargain in my mind. It was an incredible good time!

Expensive Anniversary Gift

September 2nd, 2008 at 06:11 pm

The weekend was a blast, but as I knew, it was expensive. Ah well, we frugal folks know how to save for things that are important to us!

My biggest expense was the anniversary gift. Tradition says either wood or silverware is the gift to give at five years. My BF has a full set (approx 120 pieces) of sterling silver flatware. He has always wanted to have his last initial engraved on them. I found a local shop which will charge anywhere between $3-$6 a piece. So, Iím in for $360-$720!

Anyone know of an engraver that would do it for cheaper??

It pays to talk to a human sometimes

August 30th, 2008 at 10:48 am

I booked the hotel last night for our weekend in San Francisco, and instead of chosing The W at $299, I chose the Clift House (extraordinary!). On their website, it said the room I wanted was $255. Instead of booking online, I called them and asked if we could take advantage of their "Summer Special" which was supposed to be for bookings in the month of September (we are booking it for August 31). And, she gave it to me! The cost of the room is $189.

Plus, I told her it was our 5th anniversary getaway (which it is) and she made note of that. So, we may have something special waiting for us in our room.

It pays to talk to a human sometimes!

Happy Long Weekend!

August 29th, 2008 at 10:25 am

It won't be cheap, but it should be fun. My BF and I are driving to San Francisco (about 70 mile trip) and staying at The W Hotel ($299/night). We will go see Beach Blanket Babalon (a SF tradition) $60/ticket, and then Yoshi's Jazz Club for dinner and a show (not sure what that's going to cost).

I'm paying for the hotel, he's paying for probably everything else.

Love that Interest!!

August 26th, 2008 at 08:11 am

Iím interested in interest!

I opened a money market account with GMAC on January 1 this year for my first ever Emergency Fund Ė it was one of my new yearís resolutions that I came up with after reading SA blogs. Anyway, they post the interest on the 25th of each month. Yesterday, I earned $17.49 in interest (3%) and have added it to my EF total on the left.

"Hidden" Money - Money I forgot to add to my Budget

August 25th, 2008 at 06:30 pm

I was playing with Pauletteís budget spreadsheet (in her blog today) and as I was plugging in my expenses, it looked like I had ďmore month than money.Ē I couldnít figure out what I had done wrong because I have a healthy savings and checking account and never bounce a check.

What I forgot was that although my monthly take home is about $4,400 (after taxes, medical insurance payments, and 401k contribution), I also put 10% of each paycheck into what is called an Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) which comes due every six months. In the last two cycles (the last 12 months), I made over 20% on my investment! This is the single greatest money maker I have and I'm so thankful my company provides it to us.

For example, on August 1 the ESPP came due and I sold my stock. I purchased it with $4,300 (which was collected out of each my paychecks over the last six months) and sold for $6,300. If I did my math right, it was a 30% profit!

This last year, my ESPP gained me about $4,000 in extra income. I got one check in February and one in August for over $6,000 each. I use this money to pay my property taxes and have a little extra buffer in my checking account.

In addition to the ESPP money I get every six months, I forgot to plug in my profit sharing checks which come every three months. They net about $650. And, I have been getting a tax refund ever since I bought the condo and that amounts to another $5,000-$7,000 a year.

Iím glad I figured out what I had done wrong on the budget spreadsheet, because I was concerned I was in way over my head!

My how rapidly the vacation fund has grown!

August 25th, 2008 at 10:26 am

It's amazing how quickly you can save money when two people focus on it!

My BF and I started a joint savings account in March of this year. We hadnít designated just exactly what it was going to be used for, but it quickly became known as our vacation fund.

We have been putting in equal amounts (this is VERY important to me, even though he earns more than double what I do) to fund this account. On the 1st and 15th of each month, we each automatically transfer $100 to the account. So, thatís $400 per month. Then, when we have extra money Ė like when we get profit sharing at work Ė we put in additional, equal amounts.

In just six months, we have reached $4,400 in the account! I had hoped for $5,200 in one year, but we are already almost there. So, itís time to set a new goal. And, we have yet to pick when and where our vacation will be. I think we could have almost $8k by Christmas. And, knowing me, Iíll want to just keep on saving it instead of spending it!

Do I have to get custom drapes?

August 23rd, 2008 at 10:07 am

I ordered new blinds for my condo living room. The vertical slats for the sliding door came in yesterday and Iím still waiting on the wood blinds for the large window. The cost for the two came to $730.

The vertical blinds were installed yesterday and they are nice enough, but they make noise (squeak) when I pull them shut or push them open. And, I bought new drapes which were 95Ē long and they are TOO SHORT! The drapes cost me $100 and I have to return them. What I need are 100Ē drapes. Guess what? They donít make 100Ē drapes. You have to buy 108Ē drapes and get them hemmed.

So, Iím considering getting drapes custom made. I have no idea how expensive that will be. Has anyone done that?

Home Maintenance vs. No Maintenance

August 21st, 2008 at 08:45 pm

Keeping up a home is expensive, but not as expensive as not keeping up a home!

I bought a condo three years ago and it was in pretty darn good shape. It was built in 1980 and the previous owner had put in new floors, new appliances, and a new furnace. The kitchen and bathrooms are still 1980, but in good working order.

I had the interior painted ($2,000) and thatís all so far. My homeowners association pays for everything on the outside of the condo, so need to do anything there. I figured I should be doing something, but what? You see, this is my first home, so Iím still learning about home ownership responsibilities.

So, I thought maybe I should get the ducts cleaned. I called Coit (a company that cleans stuff in the SF Bay Area) and they quoted me $300 to clean all the ducts, including my dryer vent.

I thought that sounded a bit steep, but when I pulled up one of the floor duct coverings and peered inside, I knew I had to get them cleaned. Good lord, have you ever looked inside one of your ducts? Itís GROSS! And, when winter comes and you turn on your heater, all that crap (dust, dirt, hair, crumbs, etc.) blows up into the room, all over your furniture, food, dishes, etc. Itís really awful! So, Iíll have them come out and do that soon.

I also decided I should get new blinds in the living room (the ones there are pretty cheap and are starting to break). I picked out really nice stuff Ė not stuff that will break anytime soon and it will cost me $730. They are being installed tomorrow. Yay! I also bought new drapes for $100. This will make a big difference and really freshen up things.

So, itís expensive to keep up with things, right? But, let me tell you about a friend of mine who has a house in San Francisco and hasnít kept up with the maintenance. His fence is falling down ($2000), his house is in desperate need to exterior paint (no idea what that will cost him, but a bundle, Iím sure!), interior paint (big house, so probably $3000-$4000), carpets (they have holes in them!), and new appliances (his refrigerator is held together with bungee cords).

He is trying to rent out the extra room right now, and everyone who comes through to look at the place isnít interested because itís so shabby. He cannot afford to do all the maintenance, but he canít attract a renter without it. He has just let this go for way too long and now heís in a pickle.

So, Iíll choose to keep things up, step by step. That way, Iíll never be hit with a huge bill to bring everything up to snuff.


Learning The Ropes

Been Gone but Boo got me back!

August 21st, 2008 at 05:58 pm

Hello folks,

I've been gone for quite a while, but have been peeking in on how you are all doing. It was Boomeyer's question about how much we spend vs. income that got me back into the game. Thanks, Boo. That was really interesting.

When last I was here, I was telling you about the Party King and the destruction of my BF's house. Well....it has been several months, and we still haven't gotten the carpet replaced or the walls painted. We did get the furniture repaired and cleaned. But you know how these things go -- you pick out carpet and then you decide that you need new window treatments, and while youíre at it, why not paint the whole house?? It's turning into a lot of work and money.

The Party King is paying his father $2,000. It is reasonable, I think. The boy fought it hard, but has succumbed. And, he is now off to college and we are thrilled.

Iím going to keep this first post back very short, but will do my best to get back into posting the comings and goings around here.

Cheers to all,


Thrifty Ray splurged. I splurge, too. Do you?

March 30th, 2008 at 06:03 pm

Thrifty Ray got me thinking about what I splurge on. She recently got a great haircut and color and it made her feel really good. We all supported her and said being frugal means we save for the things we want.

I am a naturally frugal person. I spend very little money in general and look for ways to save money on the things I must buy.

However, this doesn't mean I don't spend money. I do! I get two 30 minute massages a week at work($50/week) and have now hired a personal trainer ($70/week). I also splurge on art. I buy art almost every time I travel - my walls are now a story of the travels I have taken. I also do save and spend a fair amount on travel.

I think it's important to know what you want and to save for it. Ima & her DH spend their money on cars. What do you spend your hard earned money on?

Do you tell friends & family about your blog?

March 26th, 2008 at 07:10 pm

I haven't told anyone that I've started this blog. I like my anonimity and if my B/F or friends or family were reading it, I think I'd feel less...I don't know...less able to express myself. My B/F might be horrified that I shared all that stuff about his kids and the party and the mess. You know what I mean?

Am I alone in this? I'm curious, do you share your blog with your friends and family?

I think I'm starting to feel guilty or something and need to know if I'm alone on this one.

First Step at Co-mingling Money with My B/F

March 24th, 2008 at 07:13 pm

Iím going to take a break from the King Party saga and talk about a fun story. 

B/F and I have been dating 5 years. He has, as many of you now know, two teenage sons. Our plan is to move in together once the youngest graduates from high school in two years. Although we are not talking about marriage, (we have both been married before) we do talk about being in a lifetime committed relationship.

Anyway, we recently took the first step at a joint money venture. Hereís how it happened:

About two months ago, we had a Craigslist weekend. We bought motorcycle chaps for $50 (they go for $200+ at the store new), and lacrosse equipment for youngest son for $130 (all the equipment would have cost us $800 at the store). We were very pleased with our clever purchases.

So, I started thinkingÖ.Ēwhat can we sell on Craigslist?Ē And, I started looking around his house. I found an outdoor fire pit that heís had for probably 10 years and has never used it in the 5 years I have been with him. I looked it up online and found that they sell for $190 new. I created an account on Craigslist (took all of 60 seconds) and posted the item for $30. It was gone within 24 hours. Gone from our house, and 30 Bucks in our pockets. I was thinking: ďYahooo! This is fun! What else can we sell??Ē B/F warned me to quit looking so covetously at his household goods! LOL!

Now then, what to do with the $30? It was money for his property, but I initiated and managed the process and deal. Is it his, or is it mine? The answer, of course, is that itís OURS. So, I suggested that he and I open a joint MM account, deposit the $30 and fund it out of our bi-weekly paychecks. We talked some more and agreed on $100 each per paycheck to be automatically deposited. This will net us a nice savings account in a year from now of $5,200+.

We talked about what the account would be used for, and the logical first answer was ďvacation fund.Ē But, my frugal brain was saying ďif we donít touch it for two years, it will be $12k+ (with additional special deposits and interest) and THAT is now starting to sound like REAL money! Money we could use on our first home together.

Even though my B/F makes about double what I do in income, I am insisting that this account MUST be equal. If he puts in $100, I put in $100. I donít know why, but this point is very important to me on our first financial co-mingling.

So, kinda fun, eh? Can you dream about what to do with $5,200 or $12,000?? I can dream about saving and saving and saving and saving.

Cha-Ching! 7

Oh The Damage We are Finding after The Party Of The Century

March 22nd, 2008 at 12:19 pm

So, my B/F (aka Dad) came home last night after being gone for 3 weeks on business. The 18 y/o son (aka King Party) and the 15 y/o son (aka Prince Party) met us at the house. We had quite the talk with both of them.

Apparently, they had been cleaning all day and thought they did a good job. What they didn't know was that using furniture oil on the hardwood floors would make a bad situation worse. The floors are a MESS! They have to be cleaned again and waxed and buffed. Gah!

Things are turning up missing or broken every time we turn around. Small things like glassware, to big things like my cashmere blanket (it was a gift from my B/F this past Christmas - something I asked for. It is quite expensive, and the boys have no idea yet how upset I am), The carpet has burn holes and the whole carpet needs to be replaced. My robe is gone, the sprinkler heads are broken (cars drove over them), the pub table top had something very sticky on it and the boys scrubbed it until it was ruined, the coffee table, ditto. Both need to be refinished. Ummm, what else? Oh, hole in the wall where someone put a fist into it, a chair and ottoman needs to be recovered as there are burn holes in them, all the fabric covered furniture needs to be cleaned as they apparently had a baby oil wrestling match and then the kids sat on the furniture with oil all over themselves! (Sounds like a fun party, eh?)

Today, the B/F and I are off to price carpeting.

Stay tuned, I'm sure there's more to this story!

Glad To Have My B/F home :-) 7

I chose to spend a bunch of money on myself!

March 20th, 2008 at 07:24 pm

B/F comes home tomorrow. Yay! He has been gone for THREE WEEKS! Thatís way too long. It will be good to hand over the house repair, cleaning, and kid issues to him!

Anyway, I want to tell you about my decision to spend a hefty amount of money on myself. You should know that I rarely buy anything for myself other than dining out (B/F and I eat lunch out together every day). I am, by no means, a shopper. I buy clothes when I HAVE to. I hate to spend money on clothes. And, when I buy clothes, I buy simple, not trendy stuff. Iím a very simple girl.

So, spending $70/week, ($280/month) for the next undetermined number of weeks/months is a pretty big deal for me. I decided to invest in my health, and have signed up with a personal trainer. She spends 1 hour, 2x/week helping me exercise. We do it from her home studio which is terrific. I donít have to go to a public gym, I can talk with her about my body issues, and she really listens. I think this is going to be a really, really good investment.

I am 5í10Ē and am the heaviest I have ever been. I am 160 lbs, and very soft/weak. I have never been a regular exerciser (bummer, that!) and now that Iím 43 y/o, things are really shifting and sticking like they never have before. I have always been lucky to be naturally thin without having to exercise or diet. Boy, those days are LONG GONE! The difference really came promptly at 40. Itís funny that they tell you this will happen. I never thought it would happen to me, though. Ha! Stupid! It definitely happened.

Wish me luck on getting healthy, strong, and energized. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I quit smoking 6 months ago, and so, working out is the next big deal for my health.

Health Hopeful 7

Follow up to the B/F's Son's Party...

March 18th, 2008 at 09:19 pm

The b/f is still traveling for business, so I have to deal with the damage his son did to the house during his party. Tonight, I met with my b/f's son and his ex-wife to assess the damage. This is the FIRST time I have been in a position of authority with my b/f's children and only the second time I've talked with his ex. The first time I talked with the ex was on Sunday when I discovered the damage.

Anyhoo, mom and son came to the house to meet me at 7:30 tonight. We walked through the house and I had the son take notes of the damage and the approximate cost to repair. He admitted to causing most of it, but said his little brother (15 y/o) is responsible for some of it. Gag!

All told, I suggested the damage was approx. $3,500. He was floored.

I also told him that his father and I would be talking at great length with him (and his younger brother) about what a potentially litigious situation he put his father in. I also told him that now that he's 18, the world will look at him differently and he is now an ADULT!!

Interesting night. I wish my b/f was here to handle this stuff!

More to come, folks.

Teenagers. A Party. Destruction to tune of $3k +!!

March 17th, 2008 at 07:54 pm

My boyfriend is traveling on business right now. He called me and asked me to check on the house on Sunday. [My boyfriend has his house, and I have mine. When he travels, I stay at my house.]

I went to the house on Sunday evening and opened the door and screamed. There was trash [beer cans, 12 pack containers, posters, candy wrappers, etc., etc.] all over the entry way. I walked to the dining room next and all the furniture had been removed. All the pictures were off the walls. The rug had been removed. The beautiful cherry wood floors were stained with I don't know what. Next, I went to the living room, the furniture had been removed and other furniture put in there. There was a foul odor - turns out to be cigars left in a cup of beer. The carpet was burned. Then the kitchen. Oh, God. Heaps and piles of beer cans, liquor bottles, etc.

People, the list goes on and on. I was crying as I walked through what is a beautiful home which was now destroyed.

It turns out, the 18 year old threw a party while his dad was out of town. The word spread quickly through the high school and over 100 kids showed up.

What kills me is how they trashed the house. And, that my b/f's son left it this way. He apparently thought he'd be able to clean it up before his father got back home. He did not expect me to show up and find out what happened.

Gahhhh! Kids! It will require professional cleaning, replacement of the carpet in the living room, re-upholstering of some furniture, and more. Probably $3k+ worth of damage.

The teenager will pay for it. He said he would and he will be able to [he has a lot of money saved], but he has no idea just how expensive it is going to be.

As I said in an earlier post, I don't have children of my own, but I'm getting my "kid-fix" through my boyfriend's children.

"It's All About Me..."

March 16th, 2008 at 08:44 am

Thank you all for the warm welcome. Iím so happy to be a part of this family. Today, Fern posted a request for an SA get together. I think that sounds like a hoot! Weíd have to do it frugally Ė I think we should all stay at Imaís house! LOL!

Hereís a little bit more about me Ė and, as the baby, ďitís all about me,Ē right?? I have no credit card debt, drive an 18 y/o car (a Nissan 300ZX which I LOVE), have no debt except for a honking huge mortgage. And, the mortgage kinda freaks me out.

I bought my first home, a condo, three years ago. Yes, I bought in the peak of the market. One day, Iíll take photos of the condo to show you what $530k buys you in coastal Northern California. But for now, Iíll describe it to you. It isnít much, folks. Itís a two bedroom, two bath, 1100 sf place built in 1980. The complex has 25 units, no pool, no visitor parking, no nuthiní. Itís in the ďbadĒ part of town to boot. Although, I donít consider the neighborhood bad at all, itís just the unincorporated section of town, and has a lot of old homes mixed in with a bunch of condos. Itís actually quite unique and I like it. Itís one mile from the beach, so itís not close, but not too far either. A ďshort walk to the beach Ė for a LabradorĒ is how Iíd describe it. 

Anyway, I only had 5% to put down ($26,500) and have paid an additional $10k over the last 3 years. I got into a 5/1 interest only ARM at 5%. I have two more years left on the ARM, so I am constantly wondering what the heck to do. Should I refi now? I actually donít think Iíll qualify as I understand banks want you to have 20% equity and since the value has dropped since I bought (my neighbor just sold her condo for $499k after being on the market for 9 months) I have about 1%!! Crap!

I think I should sit tight and keep paying extra on the principle for a while. I have two more years and the 5% rate is really quite good. But, I do worry. Worry. Worry.

After finding you all and reading your blogs, I started an online MM savings account. I chose GMAC. I now have $3,000 in that account. My goal for that account is to save up 6 months of EF. I figure that would need to be $25,000 at a minimum.

I contribute 10% to my companyís 401(k) and had reached the $100k milestone a few months back. Then the market tanked and it went below $100k and then I quit looking at it. I donít want to know.

I also contribute 10% to an employee stock purchase program. It comes due every six months and I use that money to pay my property taxes twice a year. Want to know another fun fact? My property taxes are $6,600 a year. Oh, joy!

Okay, I think thatís much of my financial picture. Iíll share more about my frugality in another post.

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Hello Queen Ima and All The Others!

March 15th, 2008 at 05:31 pm

Hello to all my SA friends. You did not know you were my friends, but I did! I have been lurking for several months and decided to jump in and introduce myself to you.

As my bio states, I am a 43 y/o single female (BTW, are you ďsingleĒ when you are in a committed relationship, but not married to the guy?) living in Northern California. I do not have children Ė I just never got that ďthingĒ that others get that makes them want to have babies. Now that Iím 43, I guess it isnít going to happen. My wonderful boyfriend of 5 years has two teenage sons, so I get my kid-fix through them. 

I chose Seven of Seven as my title as it is my birth order in my family Ė I am the youngest of seven kids born to a career Army Solider and a SAHM. I had a terrific childhood! I never knew, until I was an adult, what a financial thin line we lived on. I had everything I needed as far as I can remember. My mother made clothes, and also shopped at thrift shops. I learned at an early age how to pick out good quality (look at the fabric and the stitching, buy good brands) at Goodwill stores. As a young adult, I moved to California from the Midwest and bought all my work clothes (suits mostly) from thrift shops. I looked great, and paid very little for my wardrobe.

Anyway, I will tell you more about myself over the next few days. I donít want to make my first entry too long, or you might not want to come back!

Iím glad to be here and look forward to sharing my goals, trials and tribulations along the way.