Okay, so I have only been on the "Personal Finance Blog" for a month. This is my first blogging adventure. I have made 15 entries, mostly about home issues. Since I am presently a stay-at-home mommy, it comes to mind first.
However, I have owned several businesses, saved wisely, play the market, taught when bored, and have a vast knowledge of a great many things. My question is....can I help anyone here?
If anyone has any business questions, tax concerns, start ups, franchising, ways to better make a better dime, etc..please do not hesitate to ask! I may just know the answer. But, no promises!!
I have really enjoyed reading all the blogs and the wonderful comments. Just keeping a blog, makes you aware of your spending. It keeps you in check.
Today, I was actually alone for 6 hours and I didn't buy any shoes. That is a first for me! Not buying the shoes, I mean. I think I have been left alone for 6 hours before, I just can't recall when!
The temptation was hurrendous. I would have normally bought several new pairs. But, I knew if I did, that I could not justify the purchase. It would be horrid to admit to all of you that I was weak and wasteful!
Since I am speaking at a local college here on Monday, I thought a new pair was needed. Shoes are my weakest. But, I was just caving to a want and not a need! I have you to thank for that!!
So, Thank you!! If I can be of service to anyone, please let me know!!
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Okay, so I have only been on the "Personal Finance Blog" for a month. This is my first blogging adventure. I have made 15 entries, mostly about home issues. Since I am presently a stay-at-home mommy, it comes to mind first.
July 1st is just around the corner and I generally have half , if not more, of my Christmas shopping done. I need to get in gear and quick. Is your holiday shopping going well?
Winter items go on sale in January. Huge savings can be found in March. Plus, you are just wasteful, if you don't do the 50 or 75 percent off sales after Christmas.
We have a large family, plus organization gifts, teachers, service people, etc. to buy for each year. I am always looking for gifts. Not just holiday gifts. We have a gift closet in our home. It is filled with children's games, dolls, gift baskets, crystal, frames, etc.. When someone is invited to a birthday party, shower, wedding, house warming, or event we look in the closet first. Most of the time, a great gift is already waiting.
I buy items all year round. I carry a list of people and events with me in my day planner. I am always writing in ideas for a perfect gift. When we have family functions, I always write down any items that people off handedly say they wish they had. During our June Birthday party , my grandma mentioned at dinner that she hadn't been feeding the birds as much this year. Bird feed was getting so expensive. 100 pounds of feed will thrill her at Christmas. My brother was complaining that the airport handlers had ruined yet another piece of luggage on his recent trip. So, I will be getting him new luggage. Keeping your ears open, can lead to great gift ideas.
My mother just keeps a list of things she wants on her desk top. My dad is not a great shopper. This way she gets what she needs and wants. When I vist my parents , I look at her list. Always making sure to tell my dad, not to get the item I am getting.
When I am at a store, I always check the clearance aisle before I leave. My mother-in-law is a scrapbook and craft queen. So I pick up clearance items for her all the time. They only may cost 10 or 25 cents. When you put a hundred of those items in a new box, it looks really impressive.
I have not done as well this year as years past. I am not even half way done. But, I am going to try to make a better effort in the next month. Plus I am going to be all ears at the July 4th party for ideas.
We do not buy things on credit cards and we rarely buy last minutes gifts. So we do not have debt after Christmas. Plus, I can devote more time to the kids, charities, and fun during the holidays. I am not running around trying to find gifts for everyone, so I am more relaxed.
Our immediate family members do not buy gifts for each other. We make things, or give of our time. The kids learn to be creative and it gets my hubby out of buying a gift that I will have to return.
Is your holiday shopping going well? I would love to hear your great ideaas.
So, I am going to ask all the intelligent and frugal person on here about the all important issue of grocery shopping. Do you go armed with a shopping list or without when you go grocery shopping?
I have always been a big advocate of no list from pre planned menus. My reasoning has always been because I only buy items that are on sale or that I have a great coupon for. My decision could also be based on the fact that I buy a great deal of things in volume. If canned vegetables are on sale for 25 cents a can , I will buy 5 cases of corn, green beans, a case of peas. If hamburger meat is on sale for under a dollar a pound I will buy 100 pounds. If I have 10 coupons for laundry soap and it is also on sale, I will buy 10.
I have a large pantry and a large freezer. If it is an item that I know we will use and it is on sale, I buy a great deal of it. Now, please keep in mind that when I say on sale, I mean really on sale with a huge price break. I don't consider it on sale if it is just a few cents off.
I go to the grocery store once a week with my coupons and sales ads, and spend a glorious hour without the kids. We have to go to the store two other times a week for items that we go through quickly and fresh produce. Our family consumers 8 gallons of milk each week, 10 loaves of bread, etc.
When one of us has to go stock up on more milk, lettuce, bread, friut, etc then I add on any items I need to complete a meal for that evening or the next few days. Which might be two items a week, maybe.
If I plan out menus before I go to the store, the items I need are not on sale it seems. I have tried to planned menus from the sales ad before I go to the store, but it doesn't seem to work for me. The sale ads here generally only have one really good sale on meat. My family does not want to eat the same kind of meat several days in a row.
We buy a side of beef every 6 months and I buy other meat when it is on sale. Our family likes to eat chicken, pork, fish, and turkey.
I realize that some people use a list so that are not tempted to buy expensive items that they don't really need. I do not do that. I only go grocery shopping after a meal when I am not hungry. That way I am not tempted to buy any junk.
So,.....help me please. If I am going at this wrong and you can reduce our food bill, I will be forever greatful. Our grocery receipts for last year equaled out to be 158.00 per week. That does not include the beef we have processed. I think we do a pretty good job. If we can lower it though I would be really happy.
I want to hear your suggestion, please!
The nicest part of coming home from vacation was a clean house. The second was the mound of mail we had received while we were gone. Our seventeen year old daughter's best bud fed the dog and fish while we were gone. She also brought in the mail. She was in awe of all the free stuff we had received. She counted 58 packages in the 8 days we were gone. We received free cd's, medicine, food, coloring books, stickers, key chains, jewelry, educational videos, books, tools, lawn care items, paint, and more. I also opened up seven envelopes with coupons for free items such as cat food, creamer, medicine, and etc.
I sign up for every free sample I find. If we can't use it, we pass it on to someone whom can. I have found some great new products that our family uses after trying the free sample.
Last year, I sent three of our god children off to college with wonderful gift baskets full of free sample items. They were perfect size for dorm life and they don't have to spend their money on medicine, personal hygiene products, and single serve food items.
My personal favorite sites for free samples are: afreebieempire, walmart, and startsampling.
We also send care packages to soldiers overseas. The free samples are great for that as well. Just remember to add tons of hard candies as well, so you can be their heros!!
You can sign up at many free samples sites and get a daily newsletter. When you are waiting for something to download, on hold on the phone, or just your normal computer habit, click a few times on the free sites and watch your mail box fill up with free items and not bills.
We are home after a week in the sun! I took our laptop to stay in touch with my email and hubby's stocks, but didn't use it once. We just didn't have any desire to miss a moment with the kids and great friends. Loaded and ready to go by 10 p.m. Friday night, June 8th, our caravan of five cars hit the road. Two of the vehicles held eight of our family. ( The oldest had a dance competition and work issues, so didn't join us.) One vehicle held our great friends ( research doctors and two sons, ages 24 and 19 ). The other two vehicles held my best friend's family. One was the truck to hold all the fishing pools, coolers, chairs, and boogie boards. My god son drove the truck with my god daughters boyfriend. We stopped to get gas at the end of the hills in Arkansas. Stopped in Jackson, Mississippi for Waffle House tradition breakfast. Hit Mobile at noon. Stopped and loaded up on food and drinks at Wal-Mart. Playing on the beach and unloaded at the house in Dauphin Island by 1:30.
Saturday was spent making menus for the week, swimming in the ocean, and walking in the glorious sand. Seventeen of us dined on lasagana, fresh salad from doctors garden from home, garlic bread with cheese, fresh fruit, and dessert was cake for our daughters 17th birthday. The group also downed 5 bottles of wine. ( Our family doesn't drink wine.)
Sunday was a day of celebration with my god daughter getting engaged on the beach. He did great. Very romantic and she loved the 2 carat diamond. The day was spend talking about kids schooling and watching the kids swim. ( We have 7 in college as a group ). Texas Caviar with chips and sandwiches after a huge breakfast of biscuits and gravy, sausage, and scrambed eggs. Dinner was greek grilled chicken, angel hair with homemade pesto, huge salad, cheese biscuits, and dessert was another birthday cake with our daughter turning 19. Monday was spent with 10 of the group deep sea fishing. They had a blast. They caught their limit and then caught the other 30 people on the ships limit for them. You can only get 2 red snappers each. They also brought back groupper, sea trout, and one even caught a small shark.
Since this entry is getting way too long, I will simply telling you that we spent the week swimming, sunbathing, reading, talking, playing cards, games, watching a chick flick, star gazing, walking along the beach, fishing, cooking, and great political talks. We ate snapper, hamburgers, eggplant parmesania, fresh corn on the cob, jumbalaya, fritters, hush puppies, cheese toast, cauiflower with mustard dressing, peach cobbler, watermelon, cherries flambay, shrimp scampi, green beans almadine, pancakes that were skillet size, cheesecake, toad in the holes, sweet cornbread, steamed rice, lemon pepper fish , etc.
Our cost for a week of sun and surf...
house rental 1000.00
gas car one 127.00
gas car two 168.00
food for week 305.00
waffle house 41.00
snack on way home 14.00
total for our eight 1655.00 equals a mere
207 a person.
best friends family of five equals
house rental 1000.00
gas car 121.00
gas truck 210.00
food for week 305.00
fishing for 5 600.00
waffle house 36.00
all you can eat crab on way home 120.00
hooters on way home 78.00
shopping at mall 507.00
cost 2927.00 equals 585 per person
We all had a great time. I will post pictures when I figure out how to, from our digital camera. I am not the greatest techno person.
Dauphin Island is a great family place and a cheap way to make all the members of your family happy. Our house rental is so expensive because we rent the largest house on the island. You can find houses for much cheaper.
Next vacation is in a few weeks. We are headed off to the lake and family time with my hubby's family.
Remember, its not where you go or how much you spend, but the quality time that you spend with the ones that you love. You talk more, laugh more, and share more when you are on vacation. Plus, the biggest medical problems today are caused by stress. Vacations reduce stress. It is a winwin. How can you not afford to vacation?
So, day two of the garage sale didn't go as we had hoped. We started at 8 and the first two hours were awesome. We made 247.50. Then the wind came. The weather man said it hit 40 m.p.h.. We had stuff blowing everywhere. Then the dark clouds started to move in. We ended up calling it a day around 11:30. It was not suppose to rain, but it looked very stormy. We decided to pack it all up and put it back in the garage. Generally, we just cover with tarps for the evening. It took us till 3 to get it all boxed up and put away. We ended up with only 253.50 for the day. It started raining around 9 p.m.. Since we were leaving to go to the beach the next evening, we decided to call an end to our sale. We ended up making a little over 700 dollars. It was our worse sale ever. My hubby has decided that I can just list stuff on ebay now. He hates clutter. He has given me till the end of August to get rid of all the stuff. He had no idea we ( me ) had so much stuff in the attic. So,....looks like I am going to be spending my mornings listing on ebay, then off to swim and play in the afternoons with the kids this summer. I am so looking forward to the fun!
Well, the weather was awesome until about 2 o'clock when the temperture hit in the high 80's. We did get started at 8 and wrapped up at 3. Grand total for the day was 472.25.
Surprisingly, we sold the junk and little things and not the big ticket items. Hubby came home and ask what we had sold. He said the driveway looked the same as when he left this morning.
Sold loads of clothes at 50 cents each. I don't price the everyday stuff. I just seperate it on different tables by sex and sizes. One table baby, toddler, boys, girls, ladies, men, and three tables of juniors. I was amazed that we sold stuffed animals as well. Gave away a bunch ,too. Books were a hot item. My daughter's old purses went fast.
All and all, I feel pretty good about the day. In great hopes we sell tons more tomorrow. I really do not look forward to boxing any of it back up Friday afternoon.
The baby stuff is going to a new shelter for woman and children in a neighboring town. It works out perfectly, because a friend needs to use our tables for a wedding reception next weekend and she can take the clothes when she picks up the tables.
I am tired! One long bath and I am going to try to convience the kids to go to sleep early. Okay, I am going to take a long bath and hope my hubby volunteers to stay up with the kids. My odds are much better that way!!
We spent the day getting ready for another garage sale. We had one three weeks ago and made over 1200.
After the garage sale in May, my hubby decided to clean out the attic on the last day of the sale. What started out as a project to get all my old business documents from the attic out, turned into a two day project. It has been seven years since I sold my Domino's Pizza franchise and I can finally pitch all the paperwork.
Our attic is divided into 4 main areas. Paperwork from businesses, Christmas and holiday stuff, keepsakes, and crap I am just throwing up there to get it out of the way.
Okay, so the crap area has been added to for 12 years and it was time to sort and go through.
Our garage sale in May was stuff from the house that the kids have outgrown, don't play with, gifts that didn't get used, etc.
This sale is stuff from the attic and stuff from the first sale that didn't sell. Our three lane driveway is full.
We have furniture, clothes, tons of baby stuff ( strollers, beds, walkers, swings ), 57 pairs of shoes, books, etc.
Our cranky neighbor worked in his yard most of the evening. Glaring, but never saying a word. The last sale we had, he yelled out anyone that stepped on his lawn. Yes, I realize people shouldn't walk in his yard, but we live in a nice area on a dead end street. Only seven houses on the street and people park all over the place for the sale. Some people get out of their cars towards the curb and they walk on his lawn.
He has not one, but two lawn services and is always working on his yard. We don't have any service and our looks just as nice. However, we generally have a big wheels, bike, scooter, skateboard ramp, dune buggy, or something left out in our yard. It kills him to see it. My hubby makes sure nothing is left in the yard before bedtime, but kids are kids.
I am excited about the sale. We are having it wednesday, thursday, and friday. We leave for the beach friday night at 10:30. ( We drive at night, so the kids sleep most of the 12 hour drive.)
The garage sale money is going towards the house rental, gas, and food on the beach. Seven days of sun and surf, and I am ready. Made 13 garage sale signs today to go with the other 10 I have. Advertising really helps in any kind of business. My business is the garage sale business for next three days.
I will post and tell you how much we make this time. I have stuff from a dime to 50 dollars. Plus we have the free pile as well. ( Magazines, cords, parts,and etc)
Our stuffed animal area is for children that are good for their parents at the sale. If they are good and don't ask for anything. We let them pick out any stuffed animal to take home free. It works out great. They sit and play with the huge pile the entire time their parents are "shopping". We have people that come to our sale all three days and bring friends. They love that their kids get something free and they always buy stuff too.
School is out. Summer has begun for the children. I am now the official driver for the next three months. Man, am I excited!!
School year ended here on Friday. Our first Monday of summer will and has been spent with me driving around wasting gas.
7:00 a.m. 14 year old to weight training for football at high school.
7:15 grocery store run on return trip home, for candles for our daughter turning 19 today.
7:30 Target run for poster board for garage sale signs.
10:00 a.m. 13 year old to junior high for weight training for football.
10:15 a.m. Babies to swim lessons
11:00 Pick up 14 year from high school
11:15 14 year old eats half the food I had out for tonights birthday dinner.
12:00 Pick up 13 year old from football.
12:15 13 year old eats 4 sandwiches and complains he has lost another 8 pounds.
12:30 16 year old takes her car to pick up 18 year old from work.
1:00 Marching band practice at high school
Now the car needs a rest, so I will peel 15 pounds of potatoes, make dumplings, watch babies ride big wheels, play in pool, possibly clean something, and make list for stuff I need to pack for vacation that starts on Friday.
4:00 Pick up band survivors.
4:15 Grocery store for more milk, bread, and soda for tonight. ( The kids only get soda on special occasions. )
5:00 20 year old will drive her car over here. The next hour will be spent with the older kids chasing the babies around the house screaming.
6:00 Dinner and cake.
6:30 16 year old in her car to work
7:00 20 and new 19 year old will take her car and go party with friends.
7:30 Mommy is meeting girl friends to gossip and relax. Drive across town to play.
10:00 Mommy drives home.
11:00 16 year old drives home
???? 20 and 19 year olds drive home.
Hubby left this morning to drive 50 miles to larger town to get parts for 16 year olds car, meet people about buying a business, pick up clothes from friend since we are having a garage sale this week. On return trip home, hubby has to drive 20 miles out of way to pick up 7 of our tables we let friends use for wedding they had over the weekend. We need the tables back for the garage sale.
HMMMMMMMMM!! A taxi driver would get how much for the services?? Oh well!! Thinking back on it, I guess I am the lucky one. I won't get cash, but I hope to get hugs out of the deal.
I love summer time! So does Exxon-Mobil.
I realize that this must sound really weird, but what do you do to reuse or make of use of, pantyhose that you can no longer wear because of runners?
I was never a big fan of pantyhose. I wore stockings for years. Lack of time and finding stockings, I finally went over to the other side and started wearing pantyhose. When one leg got a runner, I cut off the other leg and wore two cut off legs together. It works and gives you really great butt support.
I have hundreds of pairs. The only use I am aware of is using a ruined pair while camping. You put a bar of soap in the toe and tie it off. That way you can hang the soap and dip it in boiling water to use to soap cast iron, etc.
I do not want to fill our landfills with more junk. Does anyone have any ideas for the nylons? Yes, I know this is a silly question. But,......someone must have a great idea. Thanks
The secret of wealth in ten easy steps!
Step Ten: Knowing how to keep the first nine steps a complete secret.
I attended a Bridal Shower this evening. I do not know the bride or the groom. I do slightly know the mother of the groom. Apparently, both the bride and groom are young and expecting.
I have attended many Bridal Showers over the years. Some large, some small, some lavish, some thrown together. This was one for the books. OH MY GOD!! The mother of the bride, grandma, and aunt went in together to give a gift of 12 miss matched dish towels to the bride. Yes, all three on the "gift". No they were not heirloom they were new.$ 3.99 at Wal-Mart maybe.
I realize that not everyone has tons of cash, but please!!! Some thought could have gone into the gift. And, no they are not paying for the wedding. The brides family has spent exactly zero on the event.
I might also add that the oldest car in the parking lot was probably a 2004. The clothes they wore were current. They all three had enough money to have their nails and hair done, so.........I am just floored by the lack of class and creative energy.
Now, I am probably just a little more upset than I normally would be, because my gift was recycled and I had prior guilt before arriving to the Bridal Shower. Since I didn't know the couple and I don't have tons of cash, I regifted kinda.
I took one of the four picnic baskets we have and filled it with a bottle of sparkling grape juice (their under age), nine different cheese samples I had, a box of deli crackers, and a cleaned and presses tablecloth and matching napkins. The basket already had service for two in it including plates, silverware, cups, and wine glasses. Yes, the basket was new, it still had the tags on it.
I felt bad because I probably spent more in wrapping, tape, and giantic bow than I did on the gift. Needless to say, my gift was the nicest one there.
Please don't get me wrong, you don't have to spend money on a gift to make it great. Coupons made on the computer for free babysitting, cleaning their new home, etc would have been nice. A new laundry basket filled with household items for their new home bought with coupons would have been nice. A family recipe book or better yet family recipe cards in a box would have been nice.
Anyway.....that was my evening!!
We started "borrowing" movies from other families. We have several different groups of friends, co-workers, etc that we trade movies for the weekend with. To make it easy and less confusing, we always borrow 5 at a time. If they dont have 5 you want, you take five anyway, so you always know how many to return. We have often borrowed movies with no real interest in the movie and have ended up enjoying it immensely. Rules are easy. They must be returned on Monday. If you cant return on Monday, no matter what the excuse, then we dont borrow anymore. We have yet to lose or get one back scratched. One family did have one get lost, so the other family replaced it with the same new movie on monday. One couple we know borrows movies from their entire softball team at each game and returns at the next game. It works well for us. You might try it at church, work, clubs, gym, salon, daycare, etc.. Just an idea to help you all save money!!
We are not a small family. We have 7 children. Our family does a great deal of vacationing, because we feel it is extremely important. My point can be made easily for most people. Think about your favorite vacation as a kid, now ....what did you get for Christmas that year? Isn't it amazing?? Its not about what gift you received, but whom you are with that creates lasting memories.
One of our vacations is a group event each year down to the beach. We share a 6 bedroom house with two other families that we have known for years. The house sleeps 18 comfortably and we generally have 21 people go. Please keep in mind that 9 of those are teenagers that could care less where they sleep. Most of the boys love sleeping on the decks listening to the ocean.
We eat unbeleivably delightful meals of red snapper, steaks, italian feasts, shrimp, etc. As a group, a great deal of wine drinking also happens.
The week is spent swimming, sand castle contests, volleyball games, kite flying, deep sea fishing, reading, cooking, and just relaxing.
Our family cost for our 8 days beach vacation totals for 9 people are:
One third of rental: 900.00
Gas for two vehicles: 380.00
Food split three ways: 241.00
Fort passes for day: 12.00 ( kids free )
Kite flying: free
Touch football : free
Tour of USS Alabama and sub: free ( hubby Marine)
Collecting sea shells: free
So total comes to 1533.oo divided by 9 equals 170.34 a person.
The same vacation by one of the other families that went with us are:
One third split of rental 900.00
4 airline tickets: 1472.00
Rental car for week: 272.00
Food split for week: 241.00
Deep sea fishing for 4: 800.00
Wine/Alcohol for week for 4: 367.00
Krispy Kremes for all: 172.00
Ferry ride to USS Alabama: 24.00
Meal in Mobile one night for 2: 111.00
Movie rentals for week for one son: 36.00
Matching t-shirts for 4: 48.00
Total for same week vacation totals :
4443.00 divided by 4 equals 1110.75
We all had fun! But there is a huge difference in the cost. We drove for 10 hours there and back, they flew. They drink, we dont. You can find time and money for vacations, if you try. They are one of the most important things you can do for your family!