Becoming Debt Free in 2009

April 21, 2009

No Cash Needed

Filed under: Journey to Debt Freedom,Positive Thoughts,Shopping — ambercouric @ 8:30 am
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Now that I have money I don’t need as much money.  There is something a little backwards about that statement but it is the truth.

This weekend I realized that there are so many things that I just don’t want anymore.  Let me say that I am not debt free yet.  But it will happen in the next few months and the one last bill  I do have is pretty much set on auto pay so I don’t even have to think about it.

Over the weekend a friend asked me to go shopping.  I thought about it and there was nothing I needed and nothing I wanted.  The thought of shopping was just not appealing.  I preferred to sit outside and enjoy the sun.

One of our favorite things to do now is just sit outside and talk.  The boys will sometimes run to McDonalds and get a sundae from the $1 menu and bring it back  to our new “favorite spot”.  Since we no longer have cable we aren’t always tied to the TV.   Especially since we all like different  shows.

Life is simple and I’m enjoying it.

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February 11, 2009

Big Announcement!!!

Filed under: Budget,Food,Frugal,Shopping — ambercouric @ 10:17 am
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I can’t really make the announcement until tomorrow but I just wanted everyone to get prepared for it.

Now a question for all of you.  How do you balance saving money (shopping at the cheapest places) vs supporting your community (shopping at locally owned usually more expensive places)?

I try to shop locally.  But lately I have considered doing mail order for prescriptions and contacts.  I could shop at a chain pet store and a cheaper grocery store and the list goes on.   So how do you balance the whole shop locally thing?  In all, I’m talking about saving $150 – $200 a month without shopping Wal-Mart.  If I shopped Wal-Mart that number would increase another couple hundred dollars.  I will say I’m not willing to shop at Wal-Mart.  In this economy a couple hundred dollars is a lot of money and I would like to find a balance.

Do you shop the cheapest stores?  Shop mostly local? Or a combination of the two?

February 10, 2009

I’m becoming frugal

Filed under: Budget,Frugal,Journey to Debt Freedom,Shopping — ambercouric @ 9:58 am

I’m one of those people that when I need / want something I usually go get it.  One blessing for us is that I don’t like to shop.  Also, I am not one of the people who needs to keep up with the Joneses.  I made a decision yesterday that looking back on it – I’m quite surprised and excited by it.

So what did I do that was so special?  I sewed a big hole in my son’s comforter.  The stitching had come loose and I went and bought a spool of thread (no, I didn’t have one – I’ve never sewed anything) and hand sewed the entire side.  I must say that Kennedy was impressed with my sewing.  I took home economics in 7th grade and that was the only time I have ever had a needle and thread in my hand.

For me the major shift here was in my thinking.  Six months ago I would have gone out and purchased a new comforter even though I would have used cash I would have been spending money.  This is one of the first times  I can really say that my actions are becoming in line with my goals as far as money goes.

Oh yeah, I saved at least $100.

February 8, 2009

Where is the money coming from?

Filed under: Shopping — ambercouric @ 12:13 pm
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I had to go out yesterday and pick up dog food and a few other things.  The mall was packed.  I didn’t actually go to the mall but I passed by two malls and the parking lots were full.  I don’t think I could have found a parking spot if I wanted to.  I also passed a couple of furniture stores and their lots were also full.

The stores were busier than they were at Christmas.  Our town has over 10% unemployment.  Where is all this money coming from for people to shop?

January 28, 2009

Cheap Food and A Bonus

Filed under: Food,Shopping — ambercouric @ 10:23 am
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Last night I had to run into Food Lion to pick up some candy for Kennedy.  While there I decided to pick up a loaf of rice bread.  I can only eat rice or tapioca bread because of severe allergies and at $5.89 a loaf  I don’t eat a lot of it.  But while in Food Lion I noticed they had a ton of stuff in their organic section reduced to less than a dollar.  I was able to get nearly $100 worth of bread, pasta, snack bars, egg replacer, and potato starch all for less than $10.  All of the items had dates of Oct. 2009 or later so I bought enough for a long time.  This was a huge find because it is RARE that I find a deal on allergy free items.

My SAT student stopped by yesterday with a gift.  She was thrilled with her score increase and wanted to do something special for me.  She gave me a bag filled with $200 worth of giftcards to various places.  This will be such a treat since several of the cards are to places like Starbucks, Barnes & Nobles, Chilli’s and a local speciality store. 

It was so nice to have a day that just seemed to all go right.  Especially, since January has been such a hard month.

January 8, 2009

The List

Filed under: Budget,Shopping — ambercouric @ 10:14 pm
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This afternoon my son gave me a list of a few things he needed before classes start back next week.  I expected the list to contain typical college stuff – notebooks, pens, etc. but it was a list of almost a full wardrobe.

  • 4 Pair of pants – 2 should be jeans
  • 4 Shirts – should be long sleeves
  • tan socks
  • Leather coat
  • Navy blazer
  • Tan or light color blazer
  • Casual Dress shoes

He thought I could just run out and buy all of this today.   I think he has forgotten that there is NO store that carries jeans his size.  He is 6’2 and is very thin.  I have had to order his pants online for several years.  Also, I just bought tennis shoes a couple of days after Christmas so you would think that he would have mentioned that he needed some other things.

He likes quality clothes but doesn’t like for his clothes to have a brand logo that can be seen.  I honestly don’t think he considered for a second the cost of these clothes.  Hopefully, the sales will be good when I go out tomorrow.  I need to set a realistic budget and determine what he really needs and what he just wants.  I think maybe I should make him shop with me so he can see how much work and money a list like this can be.

He did offer to let me take his debit card to pay for the clothes but the least I can do is buy him some clothes since I really don’t pay for any of his day to day expenses. 

By the way, I don’t think he will be getting the leather coat – $300+ is NOT in the budget.

January 5, 2009

Wal-Mart worth the cost?

Filed under: Shopping — ambercouric @ 10:37 am
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I know that most people stand on one side or the other of the Wal-Mart good/bad fence.  I decided to download the movie that Deb of  The Writer Bee  mentioned in a previous post.

After watching the movie, I started thinking about all the things I buy that I could get from Wal-Mart but usually get from other stores. Items that aren’t grocery items. My son’s contacts are purchased from a locally owned optometrist office, our prescriptions are purchased from a locally owned pharmacy, dog toys, food and treats are purchased from a local dog/cat specialty store and plants from a local nursery.

I also talked to a couple of people who have either worked for Wal-Mart or work there now. I asked specific questions concerning information that was on the video. I was surprised by the answers. Unfortunately, most of the answers I got mirrored what I saw on the video.

But in looking at the big picture, I believe that saving money is not worth the price of my community. I also believe that I need to go further in determining where I want my shopping dollars to go. Just because another store doesn’t get the bad publicity that Wal-Mart has received doesn’t mean that it is community friendly.

I will be researching the stores that we shop to determine which ones are really community friendly.

One place that I know to be one of the most community friendly businesses in my area is Chic-Fil-A. They consistently support the arts, the school system, the animal shelter, and several other causes.

So for me, shopping Wal-Mart is not worth the cost.

Is there a particular business that you find to be community oriented?

January 2, 2009

I Saved A Ton Of Money On…

Filed under: Food,Shopping — ambercouric @ 1:40 pm
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Wasn’t there a commercial a long time ago that said “I saved a ton of money on my ….”?  I can’t remember what the commercial was advertising but this was the only title I could think of.

Back in November, I asked about shopping at Wal-Mart.  Up until this point I really didn’t have a need or desire to shop any Wal-Mart.  But since the new Wal-Mart is only about a mile from Harris Teeter (my normal grocery store) I decided I would give them a try.  I had heard from several neighbors that shopped how much lower the prices were.   I have severe food allergies and shop brand specific at least 95% of the time. 

I went in with my $100 (my budget for the week) and vowed not to spend a penny more.  I also had no intentions of “checking out the store”.  I needed groceries and that was all I planned to purchase.  I had a list and although I didn’t keep to it completely I was pretty close.  I was SHOCKED at the prices.  SHOCKED!!!   My rice milk was $1 less for double the size, rice noodles were $2.23 less, coffee was $2.89 less. Most items were only 50 cents to one dollar less but still that is a huge savings.  The only item that I bought that was more was Jimmy Dean sausage.  It was 38 cents more than Harris Teeter.   My total bill was $40.83.    I didn’t use coupons.  Most of the items I buy don’t have coupons.  I added up what the bill would have been at HT and it would have been around $79.

Some of the items I can get cheaper at HT when they are B1G1 but otherwise there is no comparison on the prices.   But most of my allergy specific items don’t go on sale or if they do it is usually on 20 cents off. 

I think this year while I’m on a cash only system and trying to reduce my debt I will shop more at Wal-Mart.  I will still buy meat at HT.  I just didn’t need any this week. 

The real key to saving money at Wal-Mart is not to venture over to all the departments.

December 29, 2008

I’ve Never Purchased Used Items

Filed under: Shopping — ambercouric @ 2:01 pm
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Okay, I have said it.  I don’t have a reason other than I just have never bought something used.   Just about every PF blog out there recommends buying used as a great way to save money.   I’ve just never thought to buy used.  I’m pretty new at this reducing debt lifestyle so give me a little break.  I do want to explore the possibilities but the question for me is there anything I really need?  New or used.

Well, actually, I bought one used car -10 years ago a Volvo that I loved and paid cash for.  And two of our five houses were “used”.    My current house is in the “historic” district and is about 60 years old.  I plan to move once more in a few years to a new house.

Now, the point of this post is really to discuss buying used items from thrift stores, yard sales, craigslist, etc.  Even the items  I have purchased on eBay are new. 

I am not sure what items are bought used.  I know clothing can be purchased used.  I went to look in a thrift store the other day and name brand polo shirts for the boys were $3.99.  That seems like a good price but to be honest most of the shirts I buy are around $5 on clearance – same brand I found in the thrift store.  Shoes I buy on sale and I just don’t know if I could wear used shoes.  All of our coats were purchased on major clearance usually 80% off.  We only wear coats a few days a year here so there are great sales in January.  I did look at a particular new coat at the mall for $250 but I would never spend that amount on a coat.   I will have to buy Kennedy a good coat for his trip to DC but I am sure I can get a good one for less than $20.

As far as knick knacks around the house, I buy only what I really love.  I have a minimalist look – less to clean- so I don’t go shopping for things to decorate the house.

Most of my furniture was purchased new.  We  tend to buy something new once every few years.  The furniture that isn’t new was given to us.  We have a couple of antique bedroom suits that we dearly love but we didn’t pay for them.  My living room furniture I bought with the credit card this year.  I do wish I would have waited until I could have paid cash for it.  But I love it and will use it for many years.

My car was purchased new.   It is a Toyota.  I’ve had three Toyotas.  The first was in high school andmy dad bought it for me.  I drove it for 8 years.  My second Toyota I bought after my first child was born and we had that car for 10 years.   We had the Volvo at the same time we had the 2nd Toyota.  Now, I have another Toyota that is two years old.  Truth is I like having a new car.  I know financially it doesn’t make sense but because we keep the cars so long I think it is not such a bad thing.  Granted my next car will probably be a used car that is not more than two years old.  But I can guarantee that I won’t buy a new one.

Books would be fine to purchase used but I tend to just borrow from the libary.

Maybe it is because I don’t tendto shop a lot, but I have never really considered buying used as an option.  Another reason maybe because with our group of friends once we are finished with something we just tend to pass it on.    Our friends do the same.  Also, we have a couple of neighbors that we share with.  I don’t own a ladder but my neighbor owns 5 so we just borrow one when we need one.  About twice a year.  We have a GPS system and my neighbor doesn’t.  When they go on a trip they just borrow ours.

Also, my kids are too old for toys so I have no need for buying used toys now.  Maybe when they were younger I should have looked into used toys.  But for now their wants are more electronic in nature and we purchase those items new.

For 2009, I would like to evaluate purchases to see if buying used is a feasible option.  The only thing I can think of right now that we have plans to purchase is a fence for the dogs.  Can you purchase a used fence?  

 Do you purchase used?  What items do you purchase?  What type of savings do you see 20%, 50% or more? 

 I would love to know what I should look for.

December 27, 2008

A 14 year old’s shopping strategy

Filed under: Budget,Dave Ramsey,Kids,Shopping — ambercouric @ 11:27 am
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I had to run out to the mall yesterday and pick up some shoes for Ashby.  They were part of his Christmas but we knew they would be on sale after Christmas so we waited to go buy them.  Kennedy wanted to go with me to the mall so he could stop by Chic-Fil-A.  While in the mall, I asked if there was anything else he wanted to shop for.  He said that he only had $5 with him.  I was a little surprised because he received a large sum of money for Christmas.  He said he had $3 for the sandwich and $2 buffer in case he decided he wanted a candy bar.  He said there was nothing else he needed or wanted.

As I added the last 20+ debits made in the account since Monday to the check register, I realized if I went to a cash only method how much easier it would be.  Having a debit card and knowing the money is in the bank makes it so easy to spend more than anticipated. 

Dave Ramsey may have a point with the cash only philosophy. 

Are any of you on a cash only basis?  No debit or credit cards.

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