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One year since.......

July 10th, 2009 at 03:34 pm

As I look at my last entry, I am surprised to see it's been exactly one year ago. What has changed? Very little, unfortunately.

Thankfully, I am still gainfully employed, will qualify for the company's health insurance benefits and am on the rebound regarding my 401k. I was fortunate that I didn't lose very much.

My $20 Challenge went the way of the dinosaur, unfortunately. I tried over and over again, to no avail. I've simply got too high a cc debt to focus on first. I've tried to pay myself first, but that, too, has been put on the proverbial back burner.

I am hoping that perhaps returning here will hold me accountable regarding the above. So, that said, it's back to the drawing board.

My Challenge is growing!

July 10th, 2008 at 08:02 pm

I sent off a small box of paperback textbooks that my son gave me. They were his history books from his senior year at university. He knew I liked reading about the Civil War, which is why he gave them to me, adding that he had been unable to sell them back at the campus bookstore.

I decided to sell them myself to books4cash and managed to get over $25 plus an additional 3% for having it deposited into my paypal account.

That said, I will be adding:

$26.00 books sold online
$74.00 current challenge amount

That will make it come to my first $100. I certainly can't complain!!! Smile

Baby steps, true, but .......

July 2nd, 2008 at 04:58 pm

...at least money is going in rather than going out.

Last week I added to my challenge:

$10.00 June 27
$3.00 July 1
$61.00 current total

$74.00 total in challenge

More to come this payday; it's going to be a healthy paycheck.

Added more to the Challenge today

June 19th, 2008 at 02:55 pm

After picking up my paycheck, when filling out the deposit slip, I rounded out the amount to be deposited. The change I received in return ($15.00) was put into my $20 Challenge. That said, here's my update:

Previous amount: $45.00
Added today: $15.00
Total to date: $60.00


A question of which I would really love to hear a few responses. Many of you have huge chunks of change to your challenge. Where to you "park" your challenge money?

You know I currently keep mine in a large plastic Coke bottle; I don't have enough yet to make an impact on interest earnings. But as the amount grows, I will put it into a high yield savings account...

More for the Challenge

June 18th, 2008 at 12:58 pm

I managed to throw an extra $25 in my $20 Challenge(very large plastic Coke bottle piggybank). That said:

Target gift card for transferring prescription from Sam's: $10

Saved with coupons after food shopping at Walmart: $5.70

Extra cash in purse added to the "piggy": $4.30

$20 Challenge
$25 Added

Fresh $20 Challenge start

June 15th, 2008 at 05:20 pm

So, I am back from CA as of the 6th of this month. I had a nice time visiting with my mother and playing tour guide to my daughter. I took her to Seaport Village, Balboa Park, the Viejas Casino in Alpine, and where I went to school. I wish I could have taken her across the Coronado Bay bridge. We would have gone to the Hotel Del Coronado; that's where I went for my senior prom. Time was limited, as well as the cost for going on the bridge. Besides, I wanted to spend as much time visiting with my mother, too.

Anyways, I did put what leftover cash I had into my large plastic Coke bottle *piggy* bank. After adding a few more dollars on my last payday, it's up to exactly $20 - what I have to have in order to start *recording/reporting* here in my blog.

Tomorrow I am going to Target with a Target coupon where I get $10 for getting a new prescription or transferring one from another pharmacy. I plan to get $10 in cash and putting it into my piggybank.

Woohoo!!!!! It may be a fresh start, but it is indeed a start.

No more putting it off despite the cost

May 31st, 2008 at 04:40 pm

Monday I am leaving for San Diego with my daughter to visit my mother/her grandmother. Tickets and rental car are paid for - they weren't cheap. Fortunately, I'll be there until Thursday, so this won't be an expensive trip.

I will be bringing only one checking account and my debit card to it - no credit cards! I've got a set amount in the account while there; my plan is to be careful not to spend extravagantly. I'll be asking myself if I need this item, or need that one.

I felt the need to go see my mother, especially after she experienced what might have been a mini-stroke. Life is a very complex entity; for many of us we can never know when our time is up on this planet. I wasn't there for my father's passing on, but he and I were estranged. Also, he had an extremely painful death from cancer. I seriously doubt I could have handled watching him suffer.

My mother is healthy and robust despite having had surgery just recently. She is looking forward to going back to work; staying home and simply relaxing isn't her forte.

Anyways, whatever money I end up coming back with will end up going to the $20 Challenge. I feel if I keep my focus on the challenge, it will be to my advantage.

$20 Challenge: Need to Start Over

May 21st, 2008 at 03:00 pm

Alas, I had to "break into the bank" this morning. I'm talking about my 2' tall plastic Coke bottle bank. I had $114 tucked away from the $20 Challenge which I needed to access and put into my Health Savings Account. I also included a $50 check into the account.

I am in desperate need of a new eye exam and eyeglasses. Since I don't have eye vision insurance, I will probably get a discount for simply having insurance, but I know I will be footing the entire amount. I am going to go to Sam's Club since there's an optometrist and they take walk-ins. But before I seat myself in the eye exam chair, I will see what kind of a collection of frames they have and how much they cost.

So, that said, I am starting from "ground zero" again, which will be tomorrow. It's payday at Cracker Barrel.

Another way to save.......$20 Challenge

May 18th, 2008 at 07:21 am

There are numerous ways to save, I mean truly save. The key thing is that you learn to discern the offers out there to make sure you won't be *had*. I have a checking account with US Bank, which offers cash rewards if I use the debit card to purchase items from their connected shopping link to 150 sites.

For me it's worth it, since drugstore.com is one place I buy from every month. For clothing, it's Land's End and Eddie Bauer. What's key is that I hit drugstore.com the first week of each month because that is when GNC has their 20% Gold Card savings. I also treated myself to a few Vera Bradley accessories, including a small handbag from e.bags as a Mother's Day "entitlement." All the items were on sale, AND, I received $5.00 cashback. This is actual money that *collects* in my rewards account. I can transfer this money to my checking account in increments of $5.00. Not a bad deal.

Discernment is important to know if you are truly saving. Since I go to GNC via drugstore.com, I can tell if prices are deliberately inflated to get their money back. They aren't.

For now, that's not a bad deal. It's also a good way to add to my $20 Challenge account.

What health insurance?

May 17th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

I buy my own health insurance. It's an HDHP with HSA. Because I turned 50 last month, my premium jumped almost $50. I have two riders on my plan, yet when I go to the doctor to see about more medications for my fibromyalgia, they send me an EOB stating that my doc visit isn't covered because of a rider. What rider? Because I filled in a square where the symptoms bunched together are headaches, neuromuscularskeletal, low back, neck, shoulders, blah, blah, blah. Even tho I wasn't diagnosed with fibro prior to getting health insurance, they feel they should not cover it.

This includes Lyrica, a brand new Pfizer drug for fibromyalgia. I went to Sam's to get a 90-pill supply. It cost me $186. There are still 30 pills remaining to be filled; I wasn't able to afford the full $250.

When all is said and done, all that health insurance companies are interested in is the profit margins and their year-end bonuses.

Everyday is a No Spend Day at work

May 16th, 2008 at 04:05 pm

I work at Cracker Barrel on the retail side. You know, the side where all the neat and unique items are displayed. I have to admit that it is very difficult to resist taking something home after each shift. And the fact that something might be marked down plus my discount card makes it truly tough.

This may have been the case initially; I was practically spending my meager paycheck there. But things have changed now, since coming here and seeing how the $20 Challenge works, plus other interesting ways to save.

My [plastic] Coke bottle, which stands 2' tall, is getting fuller with the continued addition of my 1s, 5s and 10s each week. I started the Challenge with $86. I know now that I am over $100, or close to it.

NOT shopping at Cracker Barrel is a challenge in and of itself, but I have the willpower to succeed, if nothing else than to tell myself it's that much less I will need to pack for our eventual move.

Challenge off to a good start

May 13th, 2008 at 07:09 pm

I got a check in the mail from the IRS yesterday. I thought perhaps it was my rebate check. When I saw the amount of $25, I knew that wasn't it. So, what was it for? It seems I paid too much in what I owed the IRS, so got a refund for overpayment.

Since I wasn't expecting this, I went ahead and deposited into my Challenge account. I am going to want this baby to grow, grow, grow! Smile


May 11th, 2008 at 06:46 pm

How do I add a TickerFactory ruler to show progress on my side bar?

thx in advance....

Mother's Day was a NSD for me....

May 11th, 2008 at 05:49 pm

I am happy to say that I did not leave the house to visit stores or even eat out. I have the weather to thank for this. Today was an absolutely bad day for going anywhere. The wind was blowing so hard - gusts up to 49mph! EEK! There was certainly enough rain with that. I am glad no plans were made.

I did all my running around yesterday after work. Since I knew that the weather was going to be truly lousy on Mother's Day, I decided to buy a few groceries and pick up my prescription before heading home. Fortunately, my SO took me out to dinner Friday afternoon, and then afterwards we went to Barnes and Noble, just across the street from the restaurant.

So, I can thank the weather for keeping me at home and staying out of trouble. Big Grin

Am Getting Disciplined

May 9th, 2008 at 11:27 am

Woohoo! It is finally working! I've reworked my budget (YNAB) and using the BudgetMap registers to keep track when I am unable to enter transactions online. I am able to avoid overspending in each budget category because I've given each of my earned dollars a job. Nothing gets put into a miscellaneous or other category. Also, as soon as a deposit from any source is made, it gets put into the needed categories.

I can't believe I've finally done it. It's all good..... Smile

Shopping with a list and coupons

May 3rd, 2008 at 11:34 am

Had to run a few errands this morning; thought it was a good idea to hit Walmart very early to avoid the "herd." After all, this was a payday weekend.

I put together a list of items and associated coupons into a pouch, along with my debit card and checkbook from which I'd be making the payment. No worries about overspending because all that was in the account was my weekly "allowance" for food shopping.

At the checkout, the total for everything, even tho I slipped a wee bit, came to $25 and change UNDER budget; this also included the savings from the coupons. The money from the latter was taken out and put in a separate budgeting column titled "Coupon Savings." Perhaps I should title it "$20 Challenge" and save from what I get back using coupons and rebates.

Why not? Yes?

Challenge on Hold...

April 30th, 2008 at 06:24 pm

Looks like I am going to have to put the Challenge on hold, alas. With an unexpectedly high electric bill, high satellite dish bill and my health insurance premium having gone up because of my age - I turned the big 5-0 back on the 11th, it's all a bit over the budget for now. Thankfully, this is a 5-paycheck month for most of us, so that'll help.

Hopefully next month.....

My take on the $20 Challenge

April 27th, 2008 at 12:39 pm

I've decided to join the $20 Challenge, perhaps because it will get me disciplined in the true art of saving. At the same time, I can pass this challenge on to my kids - one's 23; the other almost 20.

I've got a pretty good start on the challenge. $86 to be exact. One way I add to it is by checking a newspaper vending machine at work for coins left behind in the coin return slot. I also believe in picking up coins, be it pennies or of the silver variety, and adding it to my coin jar. I don't like mixing coin and paper money.

Something else I do when I get my weekly paper check is to deposit an even amount into my checking account for paying bills. Then the odd amount of dollars and change will go to my Challenge Account.

I've decided to invest my money in SmartyPig where the savings yield is currently 4.30%.

My rebate check...

April 27th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I've decided to deposit my rebate check of $600 as a contribution in my Health Savings Account. I need to work towards my deductible, which is also the max amount I can contribute tax free.

The beauty of a HSA is that all contributions and distributions (medical payments/expenses)are tax free; they lower one's tax liability.

A worthwhile endeavor if you want to avoid paying too many taxes.....