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Archive for January, 2010

Extreme measures I take to save $

January 30th, 2010 at 11:33 am

I'm stumped. I've been really focused on cutting back on expenses. So why, oh why, did my electric bill come to $87 this past month, more than it's been seen March 2007?? I know the days are short, but still....

And why was my January grocery bill equally high, at $266?? I've been trying to keep it under $200.

I'm hoping my "Use-the-Flashlight-at Night" mantra, for moving from room to room, will help with the electric bill. While I'm home most days now, I don't use lights during the day, just the computer and TV.

As for food, I see that in January I shopped at the following grocery outlets:

Costco: twice ($79)
Shop Rite: once ($44)
Stop & Shop: twice ($63)
Xpect Discounts: once ($43)
Trader Joe's: once ($13)
Unknown: once ($23)

That's 8 trips in the month! Seems like a lot, but often if I'm in the area of a supermarket for another reason, I'll stop at the supermarket for a "few things" while I'm there, to save gas.

Ono top of that, I rarely buy red meat (beef, pork or lamb) and only once in a great while I buy chicken. The pricier items I do buy include things like maple syrup, dried fruits, nuts and good cheeses. I try to aim for cheap protein sources, like chicken livers, which I actually like, or canned tuna or chicken, eggs, beans or Lean Cuisines on sale at $2.50.

I'm really going to have to rein in the groceries. I honestly don't know how I could have spent so much. I do try to use up what I have, don't waste much and I do still have plenty of frozen tilapia on hand. I don't buy fresh produce out of season and in fact only shop for what's on sale that week.

The good news is, since I did my January expense statement a few days early, that I earned $99 more than I spent. Which is pretty good, considering I'm living on unemployment benefits and a very small amount of freelance income ($225 for this month) and $148 I got in other ways, including $100 from my dad as late Xmas present (thanks, Dad!) and $48 from doing a focus group ($25) and a few surveys.

Here's just a sampling of the crazy things I do to save money:

I continue to enter and leave my house, not through the front door, but down the basement stairs into the garage, so as not to let a blast of cold air into the main part of the living area each time.

As mentioned above, I will now always use my flashlight when traipsing from room to room for brief periods of time if it's still dark in the a.m. when i get up and at dusk, before settling in at computer or TV. I find myself constantly turning lights on and off after just a few minutes in a room, which wears out CFL bulbs more quickly. So unless I'm in the kitchen for a while, making dinner, for example, or reading a book, I'll use the flashlight.

For a long time I used to follow the rather gross habit of "If it's yellow, let it mellow, if it's brown...." but my toilet got disgusting stains that were hard to remove, so those days are over. I found that if I had unexpected guests who wanted to use the bathroom, that damn dirty toilet was the first thing i thought of and I'd have to race to clean it first.

Of course, I'm still consolidating driving trips as I have for some time.

The heat remains on at a higher daytime temp (64) than any other year since I've lived here, but it was my bad luck to lose my job as cold weather approached, and since I don't want to be tempted to spend much, I usually stay home. I can only layer on so much clothing before it becomes bulky and uncomfortable, so i usually pad around here in sweatpants, a turtleneck and a sweatshirt. Also, one of my newer cats has short hair and gets chilled as he's less active than the 1-year-old.

I rarely use my big oven and have successfully used my smaller toaster-oven style appliance for everything from roasting vegetables and fish to baking a quick bread. Once in a while I pull the slow cooker out, too.

Because of continued concerns about the health hazards of eating foods contained in bisphenol-lined cans, I'm avoiding as many canned food items as I can. So like last night, I had a recipe calling for 2 cans of chickpeas. I bought the dried variety, saving myself some money, but then they had to simmer on the stove top for over an hour, causing me to use more energy. (Always a trade-off.)

I also have been wearing the same clothes, day in and day out, when I know I'm not going out anywhere, or only running an errand. Unless they smell or get some kind of food stain, I could wear the same clothes for 5 days in a row, no biggie.

Same goes for showering. My hair actually looks better if i don't wash it daily becus washing strips all the natural oils away, so I also skip showers for 3 days or so. Sorry if i gross you out, but it's saving me on my water bill and toiletries.

(I realize many of you don't share my unemployed situation and so must go out into the world daily and look "presentable.")

I don't often launder towels, since when you step out of the shower to dry yourself, you're already clean! Exception would be in the summer when they start smelling mildewy. Same for bedsheets. It's only me, living alone, so I don't think I'm offending anyone.

I always line-dry my clothes in summer, but I'm also now going to start drying my clothes indoors in winter, since even with the relatively cooler indoor temp of 64, it's enough dry heat to do the job over the course of a day. Plus, the damp clothes help humidify my home, which, with its forced hot air system, is exceptionally dry in the winter. I can always tell how dry it is by looking at the cats' dry, staticy, lackluster fur.

I still have a huge inventory of old stationery I nabbed from my office 2 jobs ago when the office was closing. It would have been thrown out otherwise, so I'm sure I have several years worth of paper for my printer as well as envelopes.

I also have enough shampoos, body washes, deodorant and hand lotions to cover a naked mastodon. All those freebies and Walgreen's free-after-rebates were really worth the effort.

When I start feeling "deprived," I make a point to attend an MS conference and physician lecture sponsored by the pharmaceutical company. It's a free dinner and free tote bag, pens and chap sticks, too. The Masonicare in my town also periodically offers free lectures with free dinner and I did one of those, too, with a friend.

I have dropped all subscriptions, and actually enjoy reading my local weekly paper at the library now in their nice reading room. It's too cold to walk there now, but it's just a mile from my house.

When I fill up my tea cup to heat in the microwave, I used to be in the habit of letting the water run cold first before filling the cup becus I'd read that the cold water makes it unlikely any old iron in the pipes would leach into the water. Instead of wasting that water now, I keep a pitcher on the counter to capture it, and i use that water to water my houseplants. I do the same with the previously wasted water from the shower when I waited for the water to heat up. I have a bucket in the shower that captures, some, though not all of it.

Just a few of the many little habits I've adopted, and I doubt I'd stop doing many of them even if I hit the lottery tomorrow. What are some of your secret frugal habits?

Energy efforts and strange goings-on at the gym

January 28th, 2010 at 03:32 pm

I have seen a few people here are still going to extreme lengths to save on their heating bills this winter.

I haven't done that this year, mainly on account of one of my 2 new cats who seems to get chilled easily (don't laugh, it's true, and yes my heat bill will be higher), but I've been focusing more on my electric bill.

Despite the best of intentions, i got the bill today and it was pretty high...$84. That, despite walking around in the a.m. and at dusk half in the dark, going down the stairs in the dark, etc.

I turn an awful lot of lights on for very short periods of time, mostly going from one room to another. I know that's not good for my CFLs (it shortens their lifespan) and so now, becus that big bill proved I wasn't doing the good job I thought I'd been doing, my next trick is to learn to carry the flashlight around with me in the evening. It's a rechargeable battery and I'm guessing will be cheaper than flicking lights on and off all the time, not to mention safer than stumbling around in the dark.

Getting back to the heat situation, looks like I'll need a 3rd fill-up around 1st or 2nd week of February. Ordinarily, due to my willingness to freeze in a chilled house, i get through the entire winter with just 2 fill-ups. But since I'm not working and home all the time, since I don't want to be tempted to spend much, I find myself home sitting at the computer or TV a lot, and I get cold myself. So this winter i've "splurged" on relatively balmy indoor temps of 64 during the day and 63 at night.

I did a month ago change electrical suppliers; here in CT, electric rates are high and the state has been trying for years to deregulate and make prices come down. My switch to a different supplier just went into effect earlier this week, so we'll see if that helps. Their kilowatt rate appeared to be lower than what I had before.

I worked out at the gym today, 4th day in a row; when i got there around mid-day, just a couple of guys were there and no staff in sight. About 15 minutes later, the guys left and i was the only person there!

I'm really not happy with the way this gym operates. When they do have staff there, it's just one person, the personal trainer, and then when they're working with you, they have to go running to the door to let someone in every 5 minutes. Unless you're a full-fledged member, you don't get a card key. My town is pretty safe so i don't know what's with all the heightened security. It causes the trainer to be distracted and my whole session is disjointed becus they're constantly interrupted by either people waiting at the door to be let in, or others who need to be directed to fill out paperwork at the desk or the phone ringing.

I'm more concerned with my OWN security when there is no staff person on the premises. I don't know that i'll be signing up when my 3 weeks are up after all.

What i do like about this gym is that most of the people who work out there are over 40, and some are well over 40, in their 60s. It just makes me feel comfortable not to have to measure myself against a bunch of svelte bodies.

After 4 consecutive days of working out, though, with or without my trainer, I am getting a little tired of that trip to the gym. I had told myself i wanted to take maximum advantage of my 3 free weeks, especially if i end up not joining, but it does wear on you a little to go every day, so i am looking forward to the weekend off from there. My goal was/is to go 5 days a week, just for these 3 weeks.

I got some more freelance work from my "old faithful" #1 client. So it should keep me busy tomorrow and/or over the weekend. I have one other project up in the air waiting for client revisions.

What a complete yo-yo

January 27th, 2010 at 04:18 pm

I am really upset.

A few days ago i distributed a press release I'd done freelance for a company I've worked for, for years. Among the dozen or so publications and online publications I sent it to was a newish website that focuses on a particular industry and was, of course, appropriate for the press release I was sending out.

As is customary, I put "For Immediate Release" at the top of the press release, along with my name, phone and email in at the top right portion of the page, in case the editor receiving the press release should have any questions.

I have also set up 2 or 3 google alerts, one with my name, to let me know when anything with my name is published online, or when an aggregator news site picks up something I wrote at my last job.

So I just got a Google Alert. Would you believe this website posted the entire thing on their website today, including all my personal contact info (name, email and phone)??????

What idiots. How dumb can you be?

I've emailed them to correct ASAP and will call them tomorrow. I guess that tells you the caliber of the person handling this stuff.

Kick A** Workout

January 26th, 2010 at 02:27 pm

Talk about sore muscles.

Yesterday, 1st day at the gym, did the stair stepper for 25 minutes = 230 calories burned.

Today, did the stair stepper again, this time for 30 minutes = 301 calories burned.

Boy are my leg muscles sore.

Got my hair cut. It's short and looks pretty good. Although she put a lot of product in it ("hair wax") and i think that makes it look less clean. Cost $23 with tip. I thought it was going to be $15 + tip but apparently they charge extra for the shampoo. Next time, it'll be a dry cut. I consider this a splurge.

She let my hair mostly cover my ears and i think it looks much better when i curl that hair behind my ears, so next step will be snipping off those pieces, I think.

Exhausted, but it's a good thing

January 25th, 2010 at 10:19 am

Today was the first day of my free 3-week fitness training with a personal trainer.

We seemed to get through a variety of exercises fairly quickly, and then I went off on my own to do about 25 minutes of stair steppin' and burned off 230 calories!!

The gym is short-staffed and i can't say the trainer is really professional (too much chit chat and griping about her job and her co-worker), but it's free so I won't complain. I just wish the door wasn't locked at 9 a.m. With only one person there from 7 to 10 a.m. (the trainer) it takes a while for her to notice you banging on the door, and the people already working out on machines don't won't budge. They just look at you.

Tomorrow is the big day..I'm getting my hair cut....SHORT....for the first time in about 15 years, at least. I'm really ready to have it done and am just tired of always having hair in my face and having longish, thick, dried out looking hair with no body. I think it will look much tidier when it's short. This is the time to do it, when i don't have to face co-workers with a shocked lookeon their faces. It's a big step, from long to short, but i don't think it can look any worse than it does now. Can't wait to have it done.

I wrapped up one press release today but will wait til tomorrow to bill him so i don't appear too "eager." The other one it looks like will have to undergo a third round of revisions.

It's incredibly windy and rainy here. These 50 mph wind gusts seem like they're going to take trees down here, but so far, they're all still standing.Well, small branches have come down and i see the 2 bluebird boxes are listing wildly, but those i can fix later.

After that big workout today, i am sore and tired but now i can relax without feeling guilty. Ideally, I'd like to return to the gym not just on the 3 days with the trainer, but also on the other 2 days to work out on the treadmill or stair stepper, which is my preferred torture device. I hope to return tomorrow after my hair cut.

I have to remember to bring a small hand towel with me and a bottle of water.

Crushed

January 20th, 2010 at 05:15 am

I was incredibly saddened and disappointed to hear morning newscasters say, "Health care reform is dead" with the defeat of Massachusetts Senator Coakley.

It's something that I felt would have really made a difference in my life, having a chronic health condition.

For the life of me i can't understand the opposition so many voiced. There seemed to be such a groundswell of support. We've all heard the stories of people whose financial lives were turned upside down by a sudden illness, surgery or other medical debt, or of people who decided to get divorced just so they'd be able to get or keep health insurance for their family or of people who had to make choices between paying the utility bills or paying for their prescriptions.

So what's going to happen to these people now? Will everything just remain the same? Why does corporate America (in this case, meaning the health insurance industry) continue to dictate how we live our lives? Yeah, capitalism and is great and all that, but why does profit trump doing the right thing, time and again?

Miracle of miracles

January 19th, 2010 at 05:28 am

I made some progress on my downstairs bathroom wallpapering project.

It's only been undone, and putting that entire bathroom out of commission, for about 2 years now. (There's a toilet leak, too, so i shut the water off ages ago becus i don't want to pay the big bucks to get a plumber out here just for that. He fixed a leak on that toilet once before, but this leak, i suspect is where the tank joins the toilet. It's that seal thingy.)

Anyway, somewhere along the way I lost steam and found i had NO interest in finishing the project. Problem is, there's only me here, so no one's coming to the rescue.

I kept beating myself up since I've had nothing but time since being laid off last fall. And still, I couldn't bring myself to work on this d*** project.

I had stripped all the old wallpaper, repaired some of the holes, primed the walls and primed the wood trim, which was going from an ugly flat royal blue to a neutral semi-gloss cream. (Before that, I also replaced the old window and put in a new light fixture, so the place will look sharp once it's all actually done.)

So yesterday's progress was this: I actually put a coat of the new paint on the baseboard and crown moldings, the window trim and the cabinetry. Phew. Unbelievable. I have to check in there this am to assess whether I'll need to do a 2nd coat. That blue will be a little hard to completely cover.

The real challenge, of course, will be the actual wallpapering. I wallpapered my upstairs bathroom and 2 walls in my office, and was pretty happy with the results. But you really have to mentally gear up to do it, and that's been my problem.

I would love to start the wallpapering today, becus i think once i START it, it'll look so good, I'll want to continue. It always creates such a mess, though. I need to find something good to cut the wallpaper on. Last time i did this i just broke down a large cardboard box and it was a very imperfect solution.

This has just been one of those projects that's been hanging around forever. (My dad had commented that maybe I should hire someone to do it.) I would hate to get a job and still have this job undone because if I can't get to it now, I sure will have a harder time doing so once I go back to work!

My mundane life

January 17th, 2010 at 10:02 am

Yesterday was a no-spend day. Having a hard time remembering what the heck i did yesterday...i know i forced myself to take a 25-minute walk though i wasn't really into it. Despite it being over 40 degrees here.

I did go through some old utility bills from 2008 and 2009 and shredded the ones from 2008. The 2009 bills will be stored in my attic trunk of paperwork just in case i need them for something.

I also finally got around to updating my beneficiaries on my tax-deferred investment accounts to include the Audubon Society, which i'd somehow inadvertently left off. I was feeling guilty cus they're the ones who are sending me a complimentary beautiful engagement calendar every year. Anyway, got that done so i can finally take that paperwork off the right-hand corner of my desk, where it's resided for about 2 years.

A survey company i've registered with but have done very little work for called me yesterday and after a few qualifying questions, I'm now ready to drive down there later this week, about 35 minutes, to do a market survey. I'll get $25 out of it.

This morning, I swept the garage floor; amazing how much grit and dirt gets picked up by my tires and deposited there. I also did 2 loads of laundry and am hang drying it indoors; the air's so dry, it should work ok, and i should really do that ALL the time instead of using the energy-hog dryer.

The other energy-saving thing i've been doing, first time this winter, is making a point not to enter/exit my house through the front door, which opens directly into my dining room and living room. I've always wanted a foyer/mud room. Without that, all that cold winter air flushes into the house each time that door is opened, causing the furnace to kick on, so all winter long I've been coming and going through the basement and into the garage from there. I think it must be making a difference on my heating oil consumption.

I'd been meaning to call my dad last night to see how things are going with his macular degeneration, which recently worsened. I didn't call him then, but he called me this a.m. just to chat so i was able to talk to him about it. He saw the doc once, has to go again tomorrow. Last I'd heard from him, once the disease progresses from the "dry" stage to the "wet" stage, there's a brand new drug they can use to halt progression of the disease. I asked him about that again and he wasn't sure. I guess I have to trust the doctor knows what he's doing. My dad's 76 and it would have to be devastating to lose your sight. He hasn't noticed any real change in vision at this point except that he needs a very bright light to read by and he can't read digital displays, like on a cell phone, that well. He brings a flashlight with him when they go to eat out at restaurants.

I wrote 2 press releases (freelance) this past week, 1 for a client I haven't worked for in 5 years. I'm especially happy about that work becus even if i do more work for them this year, it won't add up to $600, which is the threshold at which they're required to report the income paid me to the IRS; if it's under $600, i don't have to report it and it's tax-free for me!

I still have $152 left on my cell phone and all the minutes that represents (608 minutes, or 10 hours!!) will expire by March 26. It's a prepaid cell phone i don't use much at all. The reception isn't great at my house, so when i called my dad back after getting his message that he called, i was standing out in the driveway, freezing my butt off.

So I can renew that plan, but if I don't want new minutes to expire in less than a year, than i have to pay for $100 worth of minutes at a time. So that works out to a little over $8 a month for the cost of the cell phone. It's worth it to me for safety reasons on the road, but i have certainly thought repeatedly about either cutting the cell phone, or my AAA coverage for my 10-year-old car, as a cost-saving measure. (I've decided that i won't.) And in February, after getting 3 weeks free, I'll probably start paying $35/ month for a fitness club. I really need to get back in shape, and while i can't control being out of work right now, i can control my weight.

So, since i'm headed to to the market research survey place Wednesday, I'll do a dump run then, since it's in the same direction. I'll also return the animal scale to the SPCA (also in same direction) and pick up some odds and ends at Stop and Shop on way back (also same direction).

simple pleasures

January 15th, 2010 at 02:55 pm

I had a rather enjoyable day today although i never left town.

My one and only work-related task today was to write up a press release, so I wanted to get that out of the way first thing this morning.

I spent a lot more time on it than usual, but i wrapped up around noon. Then I left the house to mail out my car insurance payment for the next 6 months; it had been delayed because i needed to retake the safe driver exam. I scored a 98, got the certificate in the mail and included a copy of it with my premium payment. But anyway, I made a special trip to the post office to drop it off since it's due in exactly 7 days, which is cutting it close for me.

After that, I deposited 3 checks in my checking account and picked up some egg noodles I plan to cook up with the second half of green cabbage I've got.

Then I went for a 40-minute walk, which really revved up my appetite, to I somewhat impulsively decided to treat myself to a Subway lunch (meatball marinara with onion and green pepper and cheese and a small Diet Coke). I brought the sandwich over to a local park where I sat and enjoyed the view from my car. My hunger really made that sandwich taste great,and even eating from my car at a park felt like a "treat" after always eating at home.

After that, I ended up at the library to return 4 DVDs due today, and then I spent a leisurely 40 minutes or so reading my hometown paper since I let my subscription lapse as a cost-saver since losing my job.

After a 40-minute wait on hold, i finally got thru to unemployment office right before they closed to tell them i didn't get a check last week becus the previous week i reported freelance income. This always happens; the automated phone system treats occasional freelance work the same as a regular, part-time job and it necessitates that you call in to the unemployment office and speak to a live person so that your future weekly checks aren't frozen.

It wouldn't be a big deal except that earlier in the week, if you have the luck to not get a busy signal, the system will tell you the lines are too busy and please call back later. Well, i've been "calling back later" Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and today. It's one big hassle. You would think they would want to encourage people to honestly report partial income by making it relatively easy to report it, but no, that's not the case.

I'm looking at outstanding invoices for my freelance work; I have 2 things left over from 09 that i haven't yet been paid for, plus 2 new jobs I did in January; all 4 together will yield me $495 in income, although many clients really drag their feet in paying, so who knows when. Sometimes, I have to invoice a 2nd time and put "LATE PAYMENT" at the top of the invoice.

Is this a good price for a fitness club?

January 12th, 2010 at 01:12 pm

I got a postcard in the mail the other day from yet another of the proliferating gyms in my town. The offer was for 3 weeks (9 visits total) of one-on-one with a personal trainer, 30-minute sessions. Your $20 deposit is fully refundable as long as you complete all 9 sessions.

I was very interested in this and after having to leave messages twice on their answering machine, I decided to just drive down there to sign up. They've gotten so much interst that i can't start my 3 free weeks until toward the end of January, but that's ok, i can wait.

It's just one room, not overly large, and so there are a lot of machines crammed in there, but again, that doesn't really bother me. I just want to get in shape.

So i asked how much it would be if i decided to continue after the 3 free weeks. He told me $35 a month, and i believe it's just on a month to month basis, no contract, so i could drop it in the summer and pick it up again in fall and winter, which has always been my preference. I'll have to confirm that's the case.

Is that a good deal these days? It's not what i would call a state of the art facility; they don't even have a locker room where you can change, you just wear what you plan to work out in. They have a bunch of machines and i haven't gone through them yet so not sure what exactly they have.

Last night a friend and i went to another pharmaceutical company-sponsored physician talk. They indicated on the invite they'd have a "light buffet," which ended up being THREE entrees (fish, pasta and meatballs), salad, bread rolls and THREE desserts (brownies, cheesecake and chocolate cake). Needless to say, I was stuffed. Plus I loaded up on free pharmaceutical company-branded chap-stick, pens and another nice canvas bag i can use for groceries.

Pluggin' along

January 10th, 2010 at 09:43 am

Not a whole heck of a lot of news here. It's very cold here, but so is most of the country. I plan to venture out shortly to pick up some groceries, but otherwise, fuhgetabouitttttt.

Watched a good DVD last night, very touching, called Departures. It was Japanese, made last year. A classical musician (cellist) who plays in an orchestra loses his job. He moves back to his hometown and in desperation, takes a job working at a funeral parlor. (He thought the job had something to do with a travel agency becus the help wanted ad referenced "departures." Turns out that was a typo and it was supposed to say, "Working with the departed.") ha ha ha ha ha

So at first he's totally squeamish about the job, which involves preparing the dead for burial, but he comes to like the job. A most unusual movie.

I'm kind of psyched becus i got a postcard in the mail the other day from yet another local fitness center looking for "volunteers" to take part in a supervised 21-day fitness training program. Your $20 deposit is fully refundable as long as you complete the study, which involves 30 minutes of exercise 3x a week. I'm in! Perfect timing and the price is right. Have I mentioned I gained 15 pounds in the past 4 months??? I hope it's not a "Biggest Loser" style training program.

This week is a "busy" week becus i've got something going on Mon/Tues/Wed. Monday night is a dinner/talk by a physician, Tues night a literary agent will talk on how to get published at the library and Wed. I have a meeting with a fitness club i'm writing a press release for. Whooee. Work. Nearly forgot what that word sounded like.

And, since the weather will be moderating, i aim to walk Monday through Friday. I'm bound to slip up out of sheer laziness, but ya never know.

Waiting around to collect all my various tax forms so i can start thinking about doing my taxes. I should get a decent refund this year which i could really use.

Found myself surfing websites browsing flannel sheets last night, all the while knowing I don't NEED any more flannel sheets and that I shouldn't spend the money. Still, I lingered over the $20 full set of Queen sized sheets over at sears, or amazon, or wherever the heck my travels took me. Thankfully, i didn't buy anything.

There are certain categories of "things" I like to buy, in excess of what I need. Flannel sheets is one of them. Writing stationery used to be another, though I think i've more or less weaned myself off that since there's only 1 person in the whole wide world that i still write to, once a year, at Christmas. I also have a thing for mortar and pestles, and oh, yes, gemstone jewelry. And shoes. And nice dishware and glassware.

A haircut will be just the ticket

January 6th, 2010 at 02:59 pm

For some time now, I've been feeling very unsatisfied with the way my hair looks. To save money, I've had my mother cut it for years, now, just a few inches off the bottom usually. It's mostly straight with a little wave, a few inches below my shoulders and an off center part.

It just feels ick lately and I've decided to get a professional haircut to a shorter length. I'd love to go all out and get a short haircut, modeled upon some gorgeous actress, but you know how most haircuts never look the same on you as it does in some magazine.

So I guess I'll go slightly more conservatively with a chin-length cut, definitely off the shoulder, no heavy bangs, maintenance free and something that hides the part, a somewhat tousled look. My friend recommended a place at the mall that does a $15 haircut.

I like this cut, but probably don't have enough wave in my hair to pull it off:



I don't like hair in my face or hair that i have to constantly pull back. I want something that will make me look a little neater and professional when i next go in for a job interview.

I've had long, unstyled hair for most of my life and since not working, i dress like a slob and feel like one whenever i venture out anywhere. I need to pull my act together.

I'll wait til the end of the month so i can time the salon visit to right after a hair coloring cus no one would like to see my roots.

Really excited to finally do it. People seem to really like this particular salon, and it's certainly cheap enough for me. Anything would be an improvement over what i have now, which i would describe as "unstyled blah."

I wasted a lot of time at the car dealer today cus i had an awful sounding rattling noise coming from the back, like something was loose. I've also been driving for months with a periodic high pitched whining or whistling noise from the front (fan belt adjustment?) After a long and boring time, they said they were done and had fished out a pebble that got inside my alloy wheel, but they couldn't replicate the whining noise from front. At least they didn't charge me anything, but it sort of wrecked some other plans i had for my time.

The one thing i did accomplish today was i received in the mail the safe driver exam that gives me a 3 year discount on my car insurance. My car insurance is due in 1/24 so i knew i had to do the exam quickly so i could apply it to to my now due premium, so i read the booklet and took the exam today and got it in the mail. So that was a sense of accomplishment.

Good Food and Mostly Hunkering Down Indoors

January 5th, 2010 at 03:32 pm

So my mother got me a nice, red cashmere scarf for Xmas. Problem is, I have literally dozens of scarves she's knitted (crocheted?) me and I doubt that cashmere one would see use more than once a season. Mom, what were you thinking?

so I was able to return it to TJ Maxx and get a store credit for $20. I put that money to much better use, I think, but not before browsing the entire store from top to bottom. It was actually hard to find anything I felt I had to have. I wanted something that could be used and useful, not another tchotcha.

I bought a pair of cute red flannel pajamas with little puppies on them, marked down to $11, and had enough money left over to buy 4 pairs of panties, also marked down to $2 each. After that, I still had exactly $1.01 left so i searched for socks, but they were all sold in sets, so I shelled out a few extra dollars ($4) for an overpriced bottle of pineapple-scented hand soap. I've discovered I really like a hand pump soap dispenser at the kitchen sink, cus that's the first place I'm headed when I come home from being out, to clean any germs from the outside world from my hands. I haven't been sick yet this year.

The other day I also was able to make use of a $10 coupon from Medco at their online store. It took me the longest time to get that coupon to "take," but I finally managed to get a free bottle of Centrum Ultra Women's multi-vitamins with total out of pocket being .99.

After food shopping at Costco and Shop Rite yesterday, I stopped at Arby's with a coupon for a free roast beef sandwich (obtained from this site) with the purchase of any soft drink. I hate Pepsi, but got a small one, which still cost $1.59, and I didn't drink much of it, but the sandwich was pretty good.

Today I made a BIG pot of vegetable soup making use of the last of my frozen tomatoes from last summer's garden and chicken broth, plus shredded green cabbage, halved Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, baby spinach, some leftover ham, Italian green beans, mushrooms, onion, garlic and zucchini. I put so much stuff in their that the pot threatened to spill over, and I have leftover mushrooms and spinach for a pizza, though that means running out to buy a crust.

Really trying to minimize spending to only essentials, except for a dollar or two here or there. I have been out of work for 3.5 months and have yet to spend any out of pocket for living expenses. I've been surviving on the unemployment and can do so for a year, if i have to, as long as i live like a Norwegian monk.

I have a little over a half of tank of gas and I hope to make that last the rest of the month.

Net worth (almost) back up to where it was 2 years ago

January 2nd, 2010 at 11:19 am

This past year's nice little stock market recovery did wonders for my portfolio. My net worth is now 28% higher than it was a year ago last December 2008. (Steady paycheck deductions into my 401(k) also didn't hurt, either.)

But, it's about $2,450 less than my net worth in 2007, which was my all-time high.

Upward and onward!