A Christmas Bonus and a Cash Only Christmas

It was so wonderful-we paid only cash for Christmas this year! That was very exciting- the funny part is that credit cards were such a normal way of paying out Christmas in the past that I don't even have memories of feeling guilty about credit spending. This year we had cash budgeted for Christmas. We had every thing bought and paid for when my husband brought home a special Christmas surprise last Friday- a very nice bonus!

Since we already paid for our gifts, we are thinking we will use this to pay down extra on our debt. We did splurge and go out for a nice dinner that night. It was also a celebration for us on the beginning of a long-awaited vacation.

We are still looking at used cars, while in the meantime paying down the negative equity we owe so we can get rid of the car. But that is a post in itself... :)

It is such an awesome feeling to not have new bills waiting for us after Christmas- instead we are ringing in the new year with an emergency fund, thousands less in debt, and with an extra bonus to pay down our old debts. We've worked harder and spent less this year- but the funny thing is we didn't even increase our income over last year because I was working part-time last year and this year I didn't.

And that is what makes me think- if we can do it, anyone can. That's what is the most exciting about the whole thing. We aren't special. We are middle-class people who simply had a radical perspective change and decided to change our behavior. And now we are on our way to becoming debt-free!

Frugal Confession- We Walked Out of a Restaurant

There was a new restaurant in town- very chic and was said to have decent prices. We decided to give it a try. We walked in and were seated by the hostess. We picked up the menus and started looking.

The server had yet to greet us, but as I was looking at the menu, absolutely nothing sounded good. Especially for the $10+ per plate. If there is anything I hate spending money on, it's food I don't even like. Not only do I have nothing to show for my money, I don't even enjoy the food.

So on this day, I was thankful the server hadn't greeted us yet. I asked my husband if he liked anything and he hadn't found anything, so I asked if we could leave, because I didn't want to spend that much money eating out when nothing even sounded good.

He was okay with us leaving, which is actually amazing because he is much more easily embarrassed than I about these kinds of things. We got up and told the hostess we had changed our minds and gave back our menus.

Were we too cheap? I'm not sure- I think it may be borderline. Maybe next time a new restaurant comes into town we will ask to see the menu before being seated. :)

Do you have any Frugal Confessions? Please share them with us- just leave a comment or post about it on your blog and use Mr. Linky to leave your link! Find out more about Frugal Confessions Thursday here.

Walgreen's Coupon Today Only

Get a $5 off $20 coupon good today only (Dec. 18th, 2007) at Walgreen's. If nothing else, it's 25% off diapers! ;)

How to Keep People from Buying your Car

I was looking at Craigslist for cars last night when I saw the title, "Hate it. I hate this car! Somebody help me!" I thought it had to be a joke, but it was definitely real, and completely hilarious!

I kid you not, this was the listing, misspellings and all:

Hate it! I hate this car! Somebody help me!

Reply to:
Date: 2007-12-11, 12:46PM CST

Yes, I HATE this car! Long story, but here goes. Bought the car about four years ago, for my daughter/son-in-law. The car had a couple of issues, mainly it had the famous peeling-paint-looks-awful-problem. It also had a ton of miles, but seemed to run alright. So, I spent some bux on a few things it needed and then saved money to re-do the paint. While I tried to save some for the paint, it seemed like every couple of weeks, something new would go wrong and once again, Dear Old Dad would buy another part. I just got lucky, I guess, and bought the car right before some parts were due to expire. It certainly SEEMS that way, at least.
I couldn't afford to re-cover the seats, that would just have to wait. The car just seemed to know when I thought I was done for a while; just as I started to think that the widget that I replaced would be the Last widget for some time, well it seemed like just a couple of weeks and then...something else would break. I'm exaggerating, maybe, but not much. Over about two years and not many miles (maybe 15-20,000) we did paint the car. We changed the color slightly from the original maroon to bright red metallic and it looks "like a million bux".
During this time it seemed like a never-ending parade of things I had to replace. I'm sure I will forget some, but a partial list is Hubcaps,Motor mounts,Brake master cylinder,brake pads (f&r),Heater core,Radiator,Battery,Water pump,Belts, Throttle position sensor, Mass flow sensor, CV Axle, Spark plugs,Wires,ignition module,Fuel Pump, Oil pan gasket, Muffler, All new tires, Window motors (2),this doesn't count the usual oil filters,etc.
During this time the grandbaby was born and everyone is strapped for cash, of course. Then, the transmission quits. Just flat quits. At this point we're desperate and we get a used trans and put in the car. All is well for about two weeks and then this *new* trans starts acting up. It doen't quit, but seems kinda wonky when it shifts so we don't have any confidence in it we worry about the kids traveling with it, especially with the baby. At this point we collectively throw our hands in the air! Arrangements are made to get the kids a different car and this beautiful bright red monument to my poor judgement is parked in my driveway in early '06 right after buying the new registration and the new tires. And there it has been...no-one will drive it even though it drives. I have not registered the car or had it inspected even though it will pass. It has set for nearly two years but its time to go. the car runs and drives and since I've replaced so many parts in the last 10000 miles of its life, it might be a great car for someone....there can't be too much left to break!!
I stupidly said to myself that "I'm not gonna spend a nuther dang dime on this car, I'm just gonna sell it"! and then found that the battery was dead as a doornail...I had to buy a new battery just to be able to put it on the market!!
This thing's gonna kill me I swear!
Well there you have it. Take a look at the pics, let me know MAKE OFFER!
1987 Pontiac Bonneville 3800 V6 cruise,AC,power steering/locks/windows/seats cloth seats.

Frugal Confession- I Didn't Price Shop

A couple of weeks ago I made a trip to Big Lots to buy a few Christmas gifts. As I was browsing, I found several good clearance deals on toys, and it didn't take long to load up the cart. I was in "spending mode" and ready to get a few bargains.

I saw tucked away in a corner a specialty fire box that we had been wanting to get for a long time for $22- a bargain. I thought about it for a while, and called my husband to see if he was okay with it. He was, and so I went ahead and bought it.

I had a general idea of what these fire-proof boxes cost, and in my mind they were usually $30+. I didn't check on what the price was for that box specifically before I bought it. That's why I felt really stupid when I saw the box at Walmart for $17. I overpaid $5 from Walmart's price! I will go to trouble to fill out a much-hated rebate for $5- it's a lot of money to me! $5 is an entire meal at home with leftovers, or even 1/2 of the cost of dinner out with the family!

It was a rookie mistake- I should have at least checked the price on my phone before I bought it. I lost $5 because I was just too busy getting all these clearance deals with three children and I "thought" it was a good deal. I learned- never buy the first thing you look at with out doing some research. Or at least look at Walmart first.

Do you have any Frugal Confessions? Please share them with us- just leave a comment or post about it on your blog and use Mr. Linky to leave your link! Find out more about Frugal Confessions Thursday here.

Rebates = Work

I used to think that rebates were just free money- all you need is to make a few copies and put a stamp on it- but after a few years of sending in for them I realized that you really have to earn the money they "give" you.

Since May I have been sending in for various rebates. I have an ongoing list of what rebates I am owed. I also make copies of everything I send in to each company so I know exactly what I am supposed to be getting.

In May, I got a set of pots and pans for Mother's day. I was supposed to receive the $50 mail in rebate 10-12 weeks later but 4 months rolled around and I still hadn't received it. I looked up the info and gave them a call. Turned out that the rebate had been transferred to another company and they just needed to flag it in the new system for approval- and it was going to take an additional 6-8 weeks to get the check! Sometimes you wonder if they are telling the truth or if they are trying to keep your money.

Just today I had to call another rebate company to see where the other half of my rebate was. I had received only $10 out of the $20. This seems to be a common problem, the representative said, and they are sending out the other $10 to me in 2-3 weeks.

Walgreen's did the same thing to me last week. I sent in my October rebates and only got $9.40 out of the $118 I was expecting. Wow- they must have just missed those others the rep said- they were flagged and the balance and certificates will be mailed out as soon as possible.

It makes me wonder how many people aren't paying much attention and would only notice if they didn't get any rebate at all. Is this a new industry standard to pay as little as possible- kind of like the insurance companies? Just give them less and see if they notice?

If I didn't have time and 500 cell phone minutes a month, I would lose out on all of that money- just this month I would have lost almost $120. Rebates are work- that's why the companies offer them. They are counting on you to not send in that form or not notice when they don't send the money to you.

Frugal Confession- I am a Bag Lady

I love bags. Some people collect shoes, but I collect bags. I have loved and bought purses, computer bags, totes, diaper bags, beach bags- every kind of bag one could imagine. I gave away a ton of bags in April at our garage sale and then donated the rest to Goodwill. I thought with my new more frugal attitude that I would realize the silliness of the bag obsession and be done with it.

I cleaned out a closet the other day, and to my dismay I found that I had been collecting bags again. Straw totes- oh- it's pink- only $2.50? Wow I have to get it! I have a brown leather purse, but I need a black tote sized one- in leather- only $18! and I have a gift card to help out!

It's a disease. I love bags. I would like to think I have gotten better, but the only thing I do differently now is that my bags have to be on clearance or a great deal.

I have got to change this habit. This bag addiction has done no good. Wait- maybe if there was a natural disaster- we would be able to carry out all of our belongings... Yeah. I know. It's no good. I know I have a problem, and that is always the first step to overcoming it.

Do you have any Frugal Confessions? Please share them with us- just leave a comment or post about it on your blog and use Mr. Linky to leave your link!

Not Feeling Frugal with my Dollars

It's Christmas time. A time when it is so easy and often necessary to spend money. After trying and trying to *not* spend money at all for months, it is very difficult for me to get right back on the spending horse. I am doing pretty well I think- I have most Christmas shopping done, and I bargain hunted and found the gifts I wanted to give for much less than they would have cost while staying in my budget.

It's just hard. I feel torn, because even though we have enough money designated to cover these purchases, I just hate spending it. It feels just wrong to spend any money that we do have coming in.

Not only do we have Christmas presents to buy, my oldest son has outgrown his clothes, we have a room to repaint, several events to attend which involve bringing food and gifts, and we need something to wear to them. We aren't going into debt by any means, it just means that money is going toward gifts and other necessary expenses rather than paying down more debt.

I just need to be okay with that, and remember to do the best I can with each purchase- find the best deal, don't buy anything unless its absolutely necessary, and remember that any money we have is directly from the Lord, and He is in control.

Perhaps that little bit of unexpected money He has provided was given to us so we can buy clothes and gifts for our children this year and still contribute the same amount toward our debt this month. I just need to pray before I buy and ask my husband what he thinks about each purchase (well, besides his gift- we are only talking numbers there ;). And there's always the spending fast in January... :)