Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekly Review

It's been a crazy week. I've picked up a few house sitting jobs to bring in some extra money, but they are on opposite sides of the city. I am focusing on paying off another credit card by the end of the month and I know all of this craziness will be worth it when I mail in that payoff!

For posts that really hit home for me, check out:

The Simple Dollar ~ Lying To Yourself About Money Or Anything Else I particularly relate to this post because this is my Achilles heel. If you don't acknowledge it, it can't be wrong, right?!?

Wise Bread ~ Managing Your Charitable Giving, by Phillip Brewer I'm a big advocate of being smart about charitable giving. There are lots of people out there that want to separate us from our money. Let's not fall prey to poorly managed organizations or groups selling snake oil.

Being Frugal ~ 50 Frugal Christmas Ideas You can't ignore it. The holiday season is upon us. Prepare now and you can have a debt free Christmas.

One Frugal Girl ~ Does My Generation Care About Quality One Frugal Girl looks at how different generations value quality and how we are changing more and more into a disposable society.

Working For Financial Freedom ~ Procrastination Is Expensive An excellent example of the games we play with ourselves that help us get into trouble with our finances.

Donating Your Time

Today, I had the pleasure of helping my mom pick up donations from Trader Joe's and deliver them to a needy organization. It's such a wonderful feeling knowing that I can not only give something back to the community, but help to keep perfectly good food out of the landfill and get nutritious food to those that might not have it otherwise. Heading into December, the focus turns to giving. I've never had a lot of money to give, but I do make time. Its frugal and each volunteer hour saves the organization about $40.

Next weekend I'm volunteering at another organization to sort books. The organization gets donations of books from a local bookstore and we get to sort through them to pull out the children's books to send to classrooms. I admit there's a perk. I also get to pull out books that they can't use for other organizations. A small town library is in need of new books and the organization my mom works for teaches parenting skills to teen mothers. She gets any books for new moms.

At the end of the month I'm volunteering for a charity event that will feature a live and silent auction. You may ask why I do so much. Well, I have to admit I don't usually make this many committements in one month, but I find its a great way to spend an evening out and its really easy on the budget.

No Spend Days Update

The first full week of the "Reduce A Bill Challenge" is over and we are 11 days in. I'm happy to say that I have 3 No Spend Days down and 7 more to go. I had three meals out that I paid for, but all of them cam in at less than $15 each including tip. With $10 going to my emergency fund for every No Spend Day, that's $30 to deposit.

To check out how others are doing on the Reduce A Bill Challenge, Working For Financial Freedom has set up a page dedicated to the challenge. Want to challenge yourself? There is still time to make the commitment.

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Weakening Dollar - How Will It Affect You?

I love reading about personal finance and investing, but I'm not always good at sharing information. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one to tell you the next big investment. Nobody really owns that crystal ball unless they can spot the trendy investments and grab onto the coat tails. I also believe in taking everything with a grain of salt. One of the "investment gurus" that everyone is familiar with is Jim Cramer, the loud and obnoxious advisor seen nightly on MSNBC. Well he also hosts a website called While checking out Yahoo!Finance, I found this fascinating article featured on TheStreet by Jeffrey Strain, 5 Ways To Survive The Dollar's Dive.
The article outlines 5 areas that the decreased value of the dollar will affect our lives and offers some helpful advice on how to prepare for it, including paying off as much variable interest rate debts as possible because banks will increase interest rates to appeal to foreign investors.

Check out the full article at

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Get A Jump On The Holiday Shopping Season

While poking around The Motley Fool, I found an interesting article on Black Friday and websites that leak holiday ads before they actually come out in the papers. The article, titled Holiday Spoiler Alert ~ Sites Already Leaking Deals begins by giving out three websites that will give you the inside scoop on holiday sales out the day after Thanksgiving.

Now before you think that this is some sort of espionage or someones making a mint off of selling company secrets, the company's are are getting free publicity and able to find out what their competition is up to.

The article finishes up with outlining a clever how-to guide for taking advantage of the sales without having to get up at the crack of dawn. This is the most appealing part. While I like a good bargain as much as the next person, I am not a morning person and the doors seem to be opening earlier and earlier. When they stop bothering to even close, I'll be right there in line at midnight.

For the full article, check out

Home Improvement How To

A house can be the single largest investment you ever make, so why not take advantage of free opportunities to make sure your investment is well taken care of. Minor repairs and improvements don’t have to be left to the professionals. They tend to cost a bit of money. Instead, check out Home Depot’s free clinics. With subjects ranging from installing a faucet, learning to tile, and electrical basics, their classes provide a base for building a solid foundation of home improvement education. Not near a Home Depot? Don’t worry. They also have online classes. Check

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Thanksgiving Is Only Two Weeks Away

We are entering what is considered one of the most stressful times of the year. Expectations are high, time is short, and finances are stretching, so how do you prepare? My family is working on redefining expectations while working together to discover what is truly important to each of us. It still gets a bit stressful. My great aunt has been the hostess for many holidays, but we are working on transferring the responsibility and workload to my mom and I. I've hosted a couple of Thanksgiving feasts, but this year will be at my mom's. We will also invite a few people that don't have a place to go for the holiday. Rather than expect her to take care of everything, the meal will be shared between a number of family members and friends. Mom will take care of the turkey and gravy. I usually get potatoes and rolls. My great aunt is in charge of pie (her specialty!) There are certain traditions we keep, but we also switch things up a bit to try new ideas and keep things fresh.

So how do we take advantage of Thanksgiving, switch it up, and utilize it for our frugal lifestyle?Use my family as an example and share the cost by asking family members to bring a dish or two. The bonus is you also get to share in the leftovers.

November and December see the most sales in the grocery stores because the competition is high to lure our grocery budgets out of our pockets. I tend to save more left over grocery money in September and October to prepare for two months ripe with stock up opportunities, specifically baking supplies and cuts of meat and poultry that lends itself to frugal meals that stretch to multiple meals. No Credit Needed has posted an example of a grocery store price book he uses to track bargains.

Take advantage of Thanksgiving leftovers to really stretch you grocery budget. Start planning the menu now so you know how much to put aside for which meal. Don't feel like you have to finish the whole turkey in three days. Freeze portions for later use.

Keep an eye on the stock market and search for bargains there too. While the fall is a great season for good returns (minus that black monday thing of course), its the move to cut loses before the end of the year tax deadline that is where to find the deals.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Its Official!

The 99th Festival of Frugality is up at I've Paid For This Twice. My post on Dining Out was included. This was my very first Festival I've participated in. Check it out along with other scholarly advice.

Monday, November 5, 2007

November - A New Start On No Spend Days

Its the 5th of the month and I already have 2 No Spend Days under my belt. I'm working on starting out this month strong since I fall short by a hair last month. In case you haven't heard, I'm participating in the "Reduce A Bill Challenge" over at Working For Financial Freedom. There is still time to make the commitment. Just stop by the blog and sign up. Don't forget to post updates. If you need extra support, I recommend checking the comments and seeing what other participants are doing. Heather at Not Keeping Up With The Jonses and I are working on the same goal and its exciting to compare progress and cheer each other on.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Week In Review - A week of firsts

I've meant to start a weekly highlight of blog postings I've enjoyed during the week, but until this week have not had much success getting myself organized enough to do it. Well, its a new month and a great time to get to those things I've been putting off. So without further procrastination...

The Simple Dollar discusses Customer Loyalty Plans and how to make them work for you in his post How to Maximize Customer Loyalty Programs - Even If You've Never Tried One.

Being Frugal shows us tips for a children's birthday party with Frugal Birthday Party Planning.

No Credit Needed is adding another day to his 33 Days and 33 Ways to Reduce Debt and Increase Savings. He's created a great tool for those needing help with budgeting. Check out Single Page List Of Monthly Expenses No Credit Needed Notebook Page 2.

Its time for a new month of the "Reduce A Bill" Challenge. Check out Working for Financial Freedom's site to join the challenge.

Also, I've Paid For This Twice Already is hosting the Festival of Frugality this week. I've submitted my first post and hope to improve participation in future weeks. Check it out if you are not familiar with it already.