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Amazon tips and tricks

December 15th, 2009 at 03:40 pm

Being 8.5 months pregnant, I'm doing most of my Xmas shopping online this year. I'm too tired to scour the sales and and paranoid of sick people.

I'm usually thrifstoring gifts, but this year I also wanted some new things and had great luck with Amazon daily deals.

I bought hubby two magazine subscriptions that normally go for $25 only $5 each.

The board games I bought as gifts were all 1/2 of the price than Target or Walmart wanted for them, with free shipping.

Getting a trial Amazon Prime subscription and canceling within 30 days will let you get free shipping on everything for the month.

Text is
Filler Item Finder and Link is http://www.filleritem.com/"

Filler Item Finder
is great for when you're really, really close to $25 on your order total and want to get that free shipping.

There are also tons of sites like spendfish.com that list all the most marked down items on amazon that day.

Luckily I have a clear idea of what I want to get beforehand, because if you end up buying a bunch of stuff just cause it's on sale, obviously that defeats the purpose.

Craiglist sales update

December 10th, 2009 at 03:35 pm

I've been nesting and cleaning out things out of the basement and the guest room which we're turning into a nursery.

I've got a huge pile of stuff to give my parents, a big pile of stuff for Goodwill and a large bag of clothes for consignment which I need to drop off next week.

Craigslist This week

Dresser - Sold $35
Metal Bed Frame - Sold $30
Laundry Hamper / Sorter - Asking $10
Coffee Table - Asking $30

I usually just save all the cash in an envelope and take out of it before heading to the thrift store looking for baby bargains. This makes me feel a whole lot better about shopping even if it is for second hand goods.

In baby news - one of the few things we're going to be buying new is a carseat. And the best rated one goes for $160, eeek! But the basic ones get horrible reviews so I think we will have to pay for some good quality on this purchase. So that will be going on the Amazon Christmas wishlist that I'm going to send to the in-laws and hope for the best. Smile

Back from a long hybernation

December 1st, 2009 at 10:59 am

Well I'm back to perusing the PF blogs after a long hiatus. We've been so busy with home remodeling, getting new jobs and getting ready for a baby that I've just left all the finances on autopilot.

Well after some long and hard consideration, and realizing that daycare in Denver costs $1500-2000 for an infant, we've decided that I will be staying home after the baby is born. Right now we're thinking it will be a temporary 1-2 yr situation, but considering we want more kids it might hopefully turn into something closer to 5 with me freelancing on the side.

This will cut our income in half, and really test all the budgeting and thrifting habits that I've been trying to learn and follow. But I can't think of a more worthwhile reason - family - to do this for.

So far so good. No going out to eat in ages, I've been inviting all my friends over for lunches and making them myself. No extraneous spending, almost everything baby is coming second hand or through thrift stores and I've been selling anything and everything on craiglist and have an Ebay list too.

Now I have to catch up on everyone's posts for the past few months!

Do you get a deal at dollar stores?

July 20th, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Text is Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store? and Link is http://blog.moneymanagement.org/do-you-get-a-deal-at-the-dollar-stores/
Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store? - Blogging For Change

Reading this article made me think if the trips I make there are worth it? Not so much.

Food/toiletries/plastic products are not safe, electronics are of poor quality, and we use only natural cleaning products (vinegar/baking soda/elbow grease).

Some things I have/do pick up there:
> A quick gift(candle, etc) and a gift bag
> microfiber cleaning cloths
> dishwashing gloves
> glass dishware (bowls, etc)
> dish sponges

Text is Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store? and Link is http://blog.moneymanagement.org/do-you-get-a-deal-at-the-dollar-stores/
Do you get a Deal at the Dollar Store?

Got my consignment check!

July 16th, 2009 at 03:33 pm

Well it's not much, only $33 bucks (4 things), but it's something. These are items that are not worth the hassle of listing on ebay and are still too nice for the Goodwill.

I've got another bag of summer things I am going to take in next month, and two more full of fall stuff sitting in the back of the closet for later on.

This is the first time I've dropped items off at this particular store, but it's 5 min from work so I figured, why not? I'm honestly surprised by their turnover, they are way overpriced! But this is posh Boulder and many rich people seem to shop there and there are also no reasonable thrift stores around. This works in my favor as long as I walk out of there with my money and not instead with a pair of gorgeous, red, lacquered, Nine West ballet flats. (I had to hold myself back, it was hard)

I often come across name brand items that are not in my size at the local thrift store during their 99c sale days. I need to start buying them and bringing in to consign, everything sells and for 10 times what I paid for it!

If only I had the extra time to clean, press and mend everything. Maybe it's just something else I could do instead of watching TV after work, which has been a hard habit to kick, even after we got rid of all the channels but the local ones, I still rely on Netflix too much!

I guess consignment stores are doing great in our economy, so if you have something that's not worth the ebay hassle, it's another great way to get a little extra cash.

Where does the money go?

July 14th, 2009 at 12:53 pm

Text is and Link is http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck

I'm a sucker for infographics, and this one from April 2009, is pretty good:

Text is How The Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck and Link is http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck
How The Average U.S. Consumer Spends Their Paycheck

The top 4 are obvious: housing, car, food and insurance. But it was interesting to see that people spend almost as much on groceries as going out (7% vs 5.4%) and that cash contributions (I'm assuming savings) is only at 3.7% of the total monthly budget.

We spend .02% of our income on reading but 3 times that amount on alcohol? I bet that most of the entertainment cost is TV, Cable, movies, video games...anesthesia for the masses.

What does it say that Americans only spend 12.4% of their income on food, but spend 5.7% on Healthcare? If you buy high quality food (healthy organic fats and proteins, fruits and veggies) then you will not have to spend anywhere near that much on healthcare.

Unexpected Car Repair

July 13th, 2009 at 09:27 am

There we were, all packed and ready to drive to the airport for our Portland vacation. We loaded up the car, grabbed all the snacks and water, locked up the house and..... DH's car wouldn't start. It made a weird clicking sound, and nothing. He tried it a few more times, and still nothing. At this point he was starting to get sweat on his brow, we were already running late for the airport!

Thank God for our second car! We quickly shuffled everything into my car which was sitting in the garage, she started up like a champ (should hope so, she's a 2008) and off we went. Not the best way to start a vacation, worrying about how much that surprise is going to cost you when you get back.

I was convinced it was the starter, but DH tinkered with it and decided the battery just bit the dust, brought on by the strong storms we've been having and the car sitting out overnight. That and I think I've let it drain completely a few years back by leaving the dome light on for the weekend. Off to Walmarts he went, and luckily a new one was only 70 bucks, and we get 10 of it back when we bring in the old one. It was a snap to put it in, and she started up like a champ. Whew!

Considering this is a 92 Honda civic, and the first and only car I've owned throughout highschool and college and my 20s, we should consider ourselves lucky. Aside from regular maintenance: replacing break pads, filters, alignment, etc she has had no major problems since we got her. And now my husband uses her as a very gas efficient commuter car. That's probably the reason we own nothing but Hondas, and neither do my parents, they've served us too well! Smile

Back from vacation, and UNDER budget!

July 10th, 2009 at 10:34 am

DH and I had a wonderful 5 days in Portland!
We had an amazing time. We stayed in a beautiful Victorian guesthouse in the heart of Nob hill, ate and explored to our content, and took several roadtrips to the Willamette valley and to the coast stopping at small towns along the Pacific Coast Highway (101).

Pictures coming soon!

This is what we spent overall:

Roundtrip tix Denver-Portland : $308
4 nights lodging in Nob Hill(inc all taxes): $300
Car rental 4 days (compact): $62
Gas: $38
Food, attractions, etc: $260

Grand total: $970 (rounding up)

We were hoping to stay under $1500, that was about how much we spent in Seattle last year, so we must be getting better and better with each trip Smile

Portland or bust

July 1st, 2009 at 12:06 pm

Today is the end of a three day week for me, and tomorrow my DH and I leave for Portland for a mini 5 day vacation. I am actually getting 5 days off with only having to take of 1 from work, thanks to the holiday!

I am absolutely enamored with the Pacific NorthWest, and my recent trips to Northern California (driving the PCH, visiting wineries, staying at b&bs) and Seattle(best chowder in the world) have only made me love it more. I'm really looking forward to the moisture, the tall redwoods, the smells and sounds of the coast, and all the greenery. Summer in Colorado is arid, desert like and the unrelenting sun tends to turn everything brown and crunchy with dryness, so it'll be a nice change.

The bills are paid, the house is pretty clean and I've got a little packing left to do after work today. I wish you all a fun and festive 4th, see you next week!

At a crossroads with our house

June 30th, 2009 at 10:11 am

I've been a bit antsy over making a decision about what we're going to do with the house over the next few years and what our 5 year plan is. As I've mentioned before on here, I bought this house in 2003, before I met my husband and when I worked about 5 minutes away, it made perfect sense and it's in a very nice, safe area of town along the Rocky Mountain foothills.

A lot of things have changed in the following 5 years. I went from being single and fabulous with roommates, to meeting my husband and getting married and from having a cushy local job to now both of us working in a nearby university town, 45 minutes away. We're also not near our family who live in another large town 1.5 hours south of Denver. So currently we're comfortable but neither close to work nor to family, and not in a place where we would want to raise a family long term, hence all the speculating about what we should do.

While our home is nice, roomy and a great couple's home, it doesn't meet our main requirements for when we start a family hopefully in the next couple of years:

*being closer to family
*being near a park so the kids don't have to play in the street like all the neighbor kids do
*more backyard privacy, currently we on a low-maintenance, but very small lot, and can hear our neighbors sneeze because we're so close, and have no place for a garden.
*a larger kitchen with more counterspace

I also have a dream of downsizing to a smaller home, putting the sizable equity we have in our house now (approx. 70K) towards the smaller mortgage and paying it off in 5-10 years. It that case it makes sense to plan to sell the house soon and start saving money. To throw a wrench into that plan is the fact that this house would make a good rental over the next 5-10 years too.

*It is near major roads and close to I70. You can be isolated in the mountains in 10 minutes, or downtown in less than 30.
*it is very close to a large Federal Center compound employing approx. 8000 people
*a huge new hospital is currently being built approx 3 miles away which will employ close to 2000 people
*a lightrail station is slated to be built and operational by 2012 within a 5 minute drive of the home, allowing people to commute into downtown and tech center of Denver with ease.
*current rental prices for comprables (via craigslist) would cover our 30yr 5.5 mortgage payments.

I am definitely not in a bad position, the homes in our neighborhood are selling within a few weeks and for almost full asking price, and the home would also make a good rental should we decide to go that route. I think I need to research more on what renting and being a landlord would entail, from other posts on here it sounds like no walk in the park and we would have to prepare to do it over long term, since the house will get trashed and will be harder to sell. While we have no plans to move out of state, I'm not sure we're cut out to be landlords. Decisions, decisions!

Starting up the ROTH, again.

June 29th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

When I got laid off last October, the economy was bombing and I stopped my ROTH contributions. I've been gainfully employed for 5 months now and I'm a little embarrassed to say I haven't picked them up. My thinking was that with the market the way it was it made more sense to invest in things that will have more tangible return on investment, like topping off our emergency fund and making some good headway on our goals savings account, and completing our badly needed master bath remodel.

While I am still very reluctant to do so, I do have faith that the economy will start to come back up in the next few years, and obviously missing out on the growth would be missing out on the whole point of investing. We're mostly a target date fund kinda family when it comes to retirement investments so I am going to re-start contributing to the Vanguard 2040 once again and try not to obsessively watch it month to month like I tend to do.

Cancelled TV today

June 26th, 2009 at 10:43 am

And I feel so much better already! I've had an exhausting couple of months, and have gotten into the rotten habit of plopping onto the couch when I got home and numbing out in front of the tube for the evening, consequently feeling pretty worthless. I'll even admit to eating takeout for dinner off our coffee table, a new personal low.

There are really just a few shows we watch most of which we get online. We own the dish and the TiVo box, so local channels are still available and free, and we still have Netflix for movies, so I'm weaning myself off it slowly. But it had to be done, and the cost savings is a nice bonus.

Now I just hope that I don't substitute browsing time for my previous TV watching time. Better stock up on some books and get a home to-do list to chip away at.