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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

A month or so ago I had a friend on Facebook say they needed wine glasses. Well, I finally found the box I put them in today, and there are five of them.

So that will be 5 more items leaving this apartment this month, once our schedules work out.

This makes me very happy.

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if there was a time to want to slack off on the blog, it’s RIGHT NOW. i got sick over the weekend (hence, prewritten posts… sorry, I know they’re a pain, but they are useful when it’s a project like this), and the kiddo is still sick.

While I was sick, I discovered a bunch of old plastic… dishes… and stuff that were kind of halfway hidden on a back shelf. I don’t know what was in them, but it was gross. Happened to be 18 pieces total. I deem this the “I think my ex-roommate stuffed them back there when they weren’t quite dry then left them there” day.

Good thing my sense of smell isn’t quite good yet. Straight to the trash. Sorry, they were to the point I wouldn’t even put them in a car wash to nuke them. At least I know what was smelling bad? =/

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I cleaned out my cat food storage and donated 17 cans of wet cat food to PetCo’s food bank donation box. I tend to bulk-buy canned cat food (my cats eat it, for medicine), and I often buy a LOT for a little because of coupons etc, so I donate the rest if the date is getting closer, or I have too many of one flavor (I don’t buy canned cat food with Liver in it because it makes the litterbox smell worse).

Kitties and doggers and all kinds of furred, finned, and feathered deserve love this holiday season too! If you want to donate in your local area, Petco usually has boxes, or you can contact places that you can find on Petfinder. Another great organization that helps out around the country (and that I got my Sheba cat from!) is the Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill animal shelter in Kanab, Utah.

Treat animals this holiday season! 😀

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I admit for years I had no budget. I really had no idea. I was a typical college student, overextending multiple lines of credit (therefore trashing it for years) and generally not understanding how to get things to work. When I moved back home a few years ago, I sat down, got my credit report, read through all 20 pages, read all the debt I had accrued, and went “well, this is a fine mess I’ve gotten into.”…. okay, it was more me running around freaking out for a while.

I had 2 part time jobs when I lived at home (I was a waitress at a local place, and then I either worked at a grocery store, or at a greenhouse) for over 12 months. 14 I think? I was let go from both jobs right around Thanksgiving in 2009, then after looking around for jobs I finally just went back to school in Fall 2010. In that time frame, even on 2 part time jobs, I managed to learn to budget very efficiently – enough I could still even take trips while managing to pay off at least one bill a month or pay down. (I paid off something like almost $15k worth of debt including some student loan in the time frame.)

Now, here’s the rub. right now, I have very little savings. It is something that right now I don’t have the luxury on, and it makes me very nervous. Which is why even with a full time job I’m working to get back to working on eBay in extra time. I lived for 3 years doing nothing but reselling, and that was really, really tiring and I hope to never have to do that again 😛 But it would be extra money, that can be used.

So now, my budget is (roughly) ~$1600/month after taxes.

When it comes to budgeting, I actually have mine in a couple areas. I have a whiteboard calendar that is dated 31 days, and on this calendar, I have the bill and usual price of bill (ie: my water/sewer/trash bill is variant between $50-70).

When you sit down to make a budget, go throughout the month, and write down what day you have what bill due, and how much it is. That’s always the first step in a budget. Make it on a piece of paper you can add/subtract to. Get a pile of all your bills. Write this all down on paper, as well as wherever else you need to remember. It’s easiest for me in multiple places as I always have a notebook with me.

So my budget reads something like:
1st: Rent – $873+60 (rent + covered parking + water/sewer/trash avg)
13th-18th: Credit card $100 (minimum is $68), Cable $50 (usually $40-45), Verizon $94 ($91-94)
13th-21st: Car Insurance – $125 ($110-125), Life Insurance – $17, Student Loan – $100 (minimum $86)

Things I don’t have on my calendar yet: Electricity – because I haven’t yet gotten a bill since it just got turned into my name. Cat expenditures, Car gas, my food. I use my credit card for car gas every month, which keeps a small active balance on it that I can pay a month. (I have some remaining balance from not being paid for work I did that involved travel that had to be paid via CC. long story)

So.. if you’re good with adding, you can see roughly I have less than $200 a month for the rest. Which is why I rarely go out – I quite honestly don’t have the money, because I PAY MY BILLS FIRST. I did have a roommate, whom I charged not quite half of even rent and utilities, etc, but I have since went back to living by myself because when I rely on people to pay bills and they choose not to – for whatever reason – it’s not a help, it’s a hindrance that almost made me lose the apartment. (can’t wait to get the money I am owed remaining from that, for savings.)

When I went back to living by myself, I decided to ditch my storage unit every month. I resigned my lease recently, and my rent went up from $789 to $848/mo for a 2/2. So I have a 2nd room that at the time was empty. I looked into moving into a 1 bedroom apartment, but the ‘cheapest’ option at the time was $750/mo, and I’d have to keep my storage unit at $60/mo.

So, $848 and move my storage stuff into my 2nd room, and set up the 2nd room to work on eBay, writing, stuff like that – or move into a 1 bedroom at $750/mo, keep the storage unit at $60 = $38 difference. I kept my slightly larger apartment – plus, my storage here is climate controlled 😀 Also, if it comes that I do eventually need to have a roommate, then I can go ahead and get a storage unit again and find someone. I have options at this rate – I do not with a one bedroom.

But, my budget can take it. Just barely, but it can take it. And I didn’t resign that lease until I knew for certain.

I hope this makes sense for people, if not, I can share more information.

Here’s some rules:

Rule A: Don’t budget on money that is not steady. I sell stuff on half.com, craiglist, etc – I’ve made an extra $60 this month alone from both those. That is extra money for me – either to buy extras or put in the bank. Overtime money? never budgeted. It’s never steady.

Rule B: Rewarding yourself is important but don’t use it as justification for overspending. My reward for working a ton of overtime? I stocked up on things I *needed* (such as cat food/litter on a great sale, stuff like toilet paper on sale) for things like peace of mind (plus, I don’t have to buy TP until like May or June at this rate), and then bought a new hairbrush and nail polish ($10). Yep, big spender. 😉 But it IS important to reward yourself now and again. Keep a wishlist.. or several. Ever seen my amazon wishlists? Full of everything from $1 books to $300 cat litter boxes. But it’s always a way to remember things I like or would like to save for!

Rule C: If you have a variant bill, either average it over the course of 12 months, or just figure high. My Car Insurance usually has ranged between $110 a month and $125. I always figure on $125/mo. If it’s lower? A little left over is a good thing. Never a bad thing. Also, round up your cents. $93.79 = $94.

Rule D: Any bill that just has a “minimum”, like a credit card or student loan? budget over it. Make yourself pay more. My student loan is $86/minimum a month, and I pay usually $100-125/mo. Not only do you get your bills down faster, you pay less in interest. Pay more for the high interest things, but always pay over your minimum. In the course of a year, even if I only pay $14 more on my loan a month, that’s $14×12 = $168. What’s $86×2? $172. So.. basically, I’m paying 14 months of minimum payments in a year by simply increasing every month by $14. When you are paying over the course of 7 years… well, you can see where I’m going. I can cut almost an entire YEAR off the time of the life of the loan…with an extra $14/month. Pretty simple if you break it down that way.

Rule E(xtreme): PAY YOUR BILLS FIRST EVERY MONTH. When I get paid, I immediately come home and pay the bills. Then, after that, I decide whether or not I can go do something fun or just go get milk, butter, and fruit at the store.

Rule F: If you’re in over your head, contact the companies you owe money to. Talk to them. Many companies will take a lower payment every month as long as you are paying. I remember paying one $2100 bill in $50 increments for a number of years – because that’s all I could afford. But they took it! And they were very happy about it!

Rule G: DO. NOT. LIVE. ON. CREDIT. CARDS. I have one. ONE. it’s cute. And it has a ladybug on it – most importantly, a good interest rate. I don’t need multiple ones. For me, that’s temptation – and I can admit it. I do not need the temptation. Living beyond your means will only get you burned in the end.

Here’s some good hints on budgeting:

Hint 1: If you want to budget in putting money into savings, DO IT. If that’s the only way to get yourself to be able to save, set up a separate savings account that the only way you can get money in and out is to go to the bank and drop off a check – and pay yourself every month. (Credit Unions are -great- for this.)

Hint 2: There isn’t a “maybe I can afford this or not”. Numbers are steady. You know how much money you have and how many bills you have. Sometimes there’s a bit of wiggle room – maybe you worked a couple extra hours overtime, but there’s an item that costs more money than that that you want? Save up for it. You can’t afford it. Learn how to tell yourself no.

Hint 3: Living paycheck to paycheck sucks. And I hate it. But it’s possible if you stick to your budget. If you go off budget, get back on board immediately!

Hint 4: Watch sales. I managed to save on my budget this month – I usually spend $40 month on cat litter, and because of sales, I bought the same amount pound wise for $30. Coupon sites are great, but only clip what you NEED. Don’t go extreme couponing just because you can – great way to throw your budget and make you spend money on things you don’t need just because you’re shopping. If you are saving up for a large purchase that you don’t need omg right away when you get the money, wait for a sale. Use sites like mrrebates.com, ebates.com – I don’t buy much online, but I’ve made over $100 back in a few years from these sites. I also use swagbucks.com – I use it strictly to buy Amazon gift cards. even 1 $5 Amazon GC every month = $60 a year I can use for laundry soap (which I can only find on Amazon, not locally) or books or whatever I’d like 🙂

Every little bit helps.

Hint 5: Remove temptation. I don’t go to malls.. or to stores.. when I’m broke and can’t afford things. There’s tons of free things to do around here, there’s always a great outdoors to go walk in, sit under a tree and read a book. I have a big weakness for books, and i never go to a bookstore unless I’m going in for a specific reason, because well….. temptation.

Hint 6: Ways to cut budgets: FOOD PRICES. Make lunches at home, take to work. Buy a french press, make better coffee at home instead of an overpriced Starbucks. Seriously – food is usually a huuuuuuuge expenditure. Add up what you spend in one week by eating out. Go budget what you can do at home… you’ll be shocked. Shop used items – I rarely buy any clothing new, or if I do, I will buy off a clearance rack. Goodwills are awesome, Craiglist is always AYOR, eBay can be great – or a temptation. 😉

Hint 7: Make yourself do it. The rewards are enormous. I’ve never been able to have my own place, like I do now, before having a budget.

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Antibiotics are working. I do not have all the symptoms that I have been suffering from (most of my cold/cough/congestion is gone, unless I lie down).

However, it means that my mono has come out in full force. I ache all over, I have severe cramps in muscles, my headache is almost like a migraine by the end of the day. I can be sitting here and before I know it a couple hours have passed. I force myself to eat 2 meals a day and even then I am not hungry at all. For me, to take a bath is about the most exhausting thing I can do.

My homework is still sitting here. I have kept up on reading, but I am finding I don’t retain it. This is scary for me. I can’t tell you about at least half of the past week since I’ve been at home. I space out more than normal. I wish I could sleep more.

Anything that is rough material physically hurts me. My comforter is of flannel material, and I have a Linus approved fleece security blanket. I have other blankets around me, and those are mostly fleece/super soft. I’ve found out a lot of my tshirts are too painful to wear, and fuzzy pants are the awesomest thing ever. My cat tries to walk on me and I bust out crying because he weighs too much. (Fortunately, I can pet him and he is very happy.)

Laundry piles up. Recyclable bottles pile up. I feel terrible because I can’t physically do anything without the world spinning, turning white, and causing immense pain.

Thankfully I can watch movies (some even for homework) and a lot of footy.

I’m going to get worse before I get better. I’ve felt worse with every passing day. Never doubt that I’ll end up fine on the other side, however.

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who knew that even with mono i still have my stupid insomnia coming into play?

I get up usually 2-3x a day for bathroom breaks + food + getting water. I won’t get up to just do one thing. Last night when i was coming downstairs from eating, I almost passed out.

the nights get longer and worse for me. I hope tomorrow I can have more help, somehow. I feel like a freak in my own body.

I’ve been napping for 10-20 minute stretches. My cat Nicky keeps cuddling up to me – he knows I feel bad. I have a king size bed and half of it is covered in schoolbooks, pill bottles, I keep snacks within range – I have had no appetite since like Wednesday, but I find that sometimes I unconsciously munch on a cookie if it’s near, for example.

I sleep for a few hours a night, wake up in bone crushing pain, then manage to get back to sleep after crying into whatever stuffed animals I can reach.

all the clothes i wear are non scratchy and all the blankets are super soft. I’m hypersensitive to everything.

this is just me writing to get it out. Not complaining (okay, a little), but it’s more.. having it written, for posterity’s sake. I will hopefully have these days run in a row later on, in a haze. i can’t believe I’ve been on bedrest for 5 days now.

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NaBloPoMo: why am I doing it when I have 11+ papers due before the end of the year? I keep doing it every year – or try to – and it’s something that maybe will help me in not getting writer’s block again (which I had for most of October).

First things first: I didn’t make it into UT-Austin. Which just saves me a semester of out of state tuition. And I know now, so I can start looking for a job (as I’m planning to move sometime in the nebulous area of after December 8). I didn’t make it, and so I just need to spend the $100 or so and apply again next semester. It also means I can start looking for a full time job now.

Positive? I don’t have to pay out of state tuition. And there’s always next semester.

~

Yesterday was my favorite holiday of the year. And I loved it. We ran a Trunk or Treat with proceeds going to the local County Food Bank. My car was filled with cans and we also had a lot of monetary donations.

However, I kept feeling worse and worse throughout the day, and today I woke up with no voice, with terrible horrible breathing issues, and an overall feeling of “yep, I’m sick”. So I didn’t go into work and I am going to try to get some things accomplished here today. I really want to clean but I have no energy to do so. Most of my energy is spent on breathing right now. So I will hopefully work on my research paper due Friday between naps.

Something I cannot understand is that some people last night got irate that we charged admission for our Trunk or Treat. Hello. It’s a can of food to benefit people that have none, or a dollar per costumed child – also to help those that have no food. Our press release said it, the advertising said it. (if the paper changed our press release, we have no control over that).

If you can’t afford that, then why does your child have a new costume, why do you have a nicer car than mine, etc? I could list a litany of things, but I’ll just sum it up like this:

If you really have such a hard life that you felt calling a 31 year old dressed as Luna Lovegood with no voice, obviously not feeling well, a “dumb slut” over being asked to donate $1 for someone else so they can have food when they might not have it otherwise, I really hope your life becomes better and you are never in a predicament like many people are.

Also: People that try to sneak around the admission line, roadblocks, etc and just go in and grab candy? Same applies. There’s no reason you can’t spend $1 or go buy a can of soup, Spagetti-Os, etc, and go in and collect your candy and go on your merry way. If you don’t want to? That’s not my problem. Go trick or treat in neighborhoods then. If you don’t agree with what we were doing, you can go somewhere else. Being rude to us and threatening to sue for “false advertisement” will only make me get out my wand and say “Reality Comeonus!”

We did a great thing last night and many people will be able to eat because of what we did. That’s what’s important. Not the negativity.

If people are looking for a good thing to do this year, call your local food bank and ask what they need. Instead of going out and eating a meal with the family, go to the grocery store and spend that $20-30 on food and drop it off at the food bank instead.

If people are going to start harping on it being Christmas season already, let’s extend the season of giving to other people instead of “this is what I want for x holiday” or “oh my god this is on sale for 4% off the price, I MUST BUY IT FOR EVERYONE”.

the more you give, the more you get. This is true of so much.

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