Friday, August 26, 2011

Breaking the Bank

I've been worried for a while. Worried that my part job will come to an end. An end quick and sudden. I know it's coming and there is nothing I can do about it. I have an idea when it might end, but not an exact date.

It's been up in the air for a while. I wasn't sure what was going to happen. My boss is of that age where he would like to retire. As a small business owner it means either going out of business or selling it. Ideally that latter. He's found a buyer and at some point soon they should be signing a contract for it all. When that happens, my job is gone.

At first we (Sweetheart & I) thought it would be fine, as it was implied they were keeping the current employees. Then they did interviews for those on a salary and then the hourly employees. Sweetheart had his interview and it will be on a trail basis. No surprise really, it's almost as if getting a new job with a new company. (A sort of probation period.)

I however was not asked to interview. It's been a little over a week since the hourly employees got interviewed so I asked my boss if I would still have a job once the sale and moving was complete. He told me I wouldn't be working there as soon as he signed the papers. I can't even help with moving.

Now it's a waiting game. Will I still have a job at the end of this month? How about until the end of next month? Or maybe the one after that? There have been at least three dates for the 'takeover' that we've been given. We've passed each one so far without a fuss. So I really wonder how long it will be until it's done.

In the mean time I'm not going to pay extra on my loans. I'm going to save all that I can, because I don't know for sure how it will work out. I've asked Sweetheart to do the same, just in case. I've reworked my budget and it looks short by about $200 a month. Sweetheart says he'll help with that part. Life will be okay . . . just a much tighter budget than before.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Expanding The Grocery Budget

Vanilla Beans to make Vanilla Extract & Pumpkin Pie Mix, meant to get plain pumpkin, but this works just as well for my pumpkin muffins.

In my last post I talked about wanting to go organic and unprocessed. I realize that on a tight a budget as mine this is an extremely daunting task. (If anyone knows an easier way speak now please!) I need a way to expand my food budget with out actually putting in some cash. Enter the Amazon stage left & Swag Bucks from stage right.

I've found that many 'savings' bloggers are also members of something called Swag Bucks. It's a web site that you 'win' Swag Bucks at random for using their search engine. That's their main thing. There are many ways to earn Swag Bucks such as 'watching' tons of SwagTV. (I usually just run them in the background while I do other things on the computer.) There are also daily polls, surveys, special offers (such as signing up for netflix or credit cards) & so much more.

Just a brief summary. There are many bloggers who would be more than happy to tell you about Swag Bucks. Me? I'm just letting you know how it fits into this picture. One of the many rewards to be redeemed using the Swag Bucks you've earned are Amazon Gift cards. As soon as these show in Swag Bucks I'm adding them to my Amazon. So far I can usually earn about $10-$15 worth of Amazon credit in a month. Not bad.

Amazon sells almost everything under the sun it seems. This includes food. In my search I've managed to find organic versions of vanilla beans, canned pumpkin/pumpkin pie, oat meal, flour and more. I'll have to buy it in bulk for many items (25lbs of flour?!), but it's almost like getting it 'free'. I've talked to my mom and she's willing to 'split' the cost on some items given she thinks she can use them as well.

Yippie! Now how do I go about actually going unprocessed, organic & local?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Groceries Are Not Cheap

$15.82 was the cost of items above. That's not a lot of food for that amount. My budget is only $60 for two weeks, that's one forth of it! Outrageous! One of the biggest expenses from this particular trip was the organic cinnamon. It's well worth it because I need it for my raisin & cinnamon baked oat meal and my pumpkin muffins. Nummy!

For some time now I've been following a blog about eating real whole food. (100 Days Of Real Food) I've thought about going organic for sometime, but have come across the idea that it's even better to eat less processed foods. The best combo is unprocessed, organic & local. Unfortunately it's expensive! I read through the original 100 days and then 100 days on a budget. No getting around it, it's a costly undertaking.

So how exactly do I go from a $15 per person per week budget buying what ever appeals to me and is affordable to real food? I don't know. I hope that I can make some starting rules for myself. There is no way on earth I could afford to go complete 'real food' as I would like, but I can try darn it!

First I need to do some major research and price checking. I already started by writing down prices from Target of items I would like to buy. (Or at least fit my definition of 'real food' for the moment.) I've also looked into a local Dairy farm that has milk (obviously), chickens, eggs and beef for sale. It's only about 15/20 minutes from my apartment! That's exciting! Not so exciting is the price $4 for a 1/2 gallon of milk, $4 for a dozen eggs, $10 per pound of cheese? Yikes! What am I getting my limited budget into?

Monday, August 15, 2011

CVS - Freebies!

It's a good week to stop by CVS and scan your card. Most individuals are getting coupons for free Caramello bars and CVS band aids. Some even luckier people are also getting the the free Carefree! (Although from what I've seen on the boards, it's not an entirely new coupon. Just taking it's good old time getting to everyone.) My store ran out of the Caramello bars on Sunday, so we started subbing any regular sized Hershey Bar. Also out of the specified CVS band-aids, so we are subbing any CVS band-aid up to the listed value on the coupon. We're going to run out of those by tomorrow I think. Then what? Wish we had been told what the items would be before Sunday . . .

Jack Links Jerky $3.50
Caramello $1.19
5 G Fit 02 @ $1.00 each = $5.00
2 Ghirardelli bars @ $.92 each = $1.84 (75% clearance)
Care Free 20ct $1.67
CVS Band-Aid $3.79
Total Before Coupons: $16.99

$1.19 Free Caramello Bar
$4.29 Free CVS Band-Aids (scanned at full value on Sunday, now it asks the cashier for a price.)
$1.87 Free Care Free 20ct (again scans at full value)
Total After Coupons: $9.64

$5 EB G Fit 02
Net: $4.64 (Not bad for Jerky & chocolate!)

Will I do another trip this week? Maybe, because on Saturday I ran short of time and couldn't pack dinner. I ended up buying some jerky & Starbucks for my meal. (Not that healthy. A bit expensive, but I had EB to burn.) I currently have $9 towards the gas rewards. I'm debating about buying up some TP to finish it off. It's time to check the stash.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Shopping, or Not

Trip from last month.

I haven't been shopping as much lately. Part of it is because I don't see as many exciting deals as I did a year ago. Another part is all the change in policies. (Rite Aid anyone?) The biggest reason is I'm a little burnt out. I've built up a nice health and beauty stock pile for myself and my Sweetheart. (We don't need anything for a while.) I really want to work on my grocery stock, but with the cash so tight, there is hardly room for extras.

I wonder what direction I should be taking this blog exactly. I started out wanting to write about getting out of debt. I thought a monthly update was good, but I need some more content in between. So my shopping trips got posted. I think I would like to refocus a little on the debt climbing. Not sure how, but I'll give it a shot. Hopefully I'll come up with something soon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

August Budget & Climbing

This month went by so fast! It's unbelievable. It's been a long month with a chance to learn and grow. I've enjoyed some more training on the Rx end of the store. I'm really hoping to find some time to jump back there and work on my newly acquired skills. Alas, my co-worker hasn't come back from leave yet. Hopefully soon.

I've also learned an important lesson about frozen food. Pictured above is a bento I made a while back. Those strawberries had been frozen at one point. Frozen strawberries are good. Thawed berries are bad . . . very bad. I'll never to that again. Are there any fruits that are okay to freeze and then thaw?

The Budget:

Bills (Electric) $104
Bunnies $30
Car Insurance $36
Car Repair $100
Cellphone $36
Clothing $20
Cruise 2012 $50 *A trip that's been in the works for about 3 years.
Free Money $40
Gas $140
Groceries $120
Health $20
Rent $310
Student Loans $372

Grand Total: $1378/month (Take home pay.)

*Extra money tallied up at the end of the month. All extra funds are to pay off one of my student loans.

Ah! The taste of fresh strawberries! Seriously, what was I thinking about thawing them out?

No obvious changes to the budget this month. My internal change is going from weekly pay checks at CVS to bi-weekly pay checks. It's got me all over the place this month. I had prepared myself for the switch but I had too little and then too much money in my account. I'm a little at a loss. So . . . I took only a $100 extra for payments this month. I'm going to wait and see if I can't get this to all balance out somehow. In the mean time:

Monthly Climb!!!
Grand Total Last Month: $40,482.25
New Grand Total: $40,125.68
Amount Paid Off: $356.57

It's lower than I had hoped, but I'm getting there. Other than the extra $100, which had normally been paid there was nothing to fill out extra payments this month. I'm expected to bring home a larger than normal check because of working a few extra hours for the next check. I would really like accelerate the pay off plan. just have to wait and see what happens.