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Extreme Couponing

December 31st, 2010 at 04:26 pm

I am not sure if this has already been mentioned here, but in my quick search I could not find anything about it. TLC is going to air a show entitled "Extreme Couponing" on Jan 4th at 10pm EST. The description on their website is:

"Extreme Couponing profiles four shopaholics who use coupons to save thousands of dollars and amass huge stockpiles of goods.These shoppers go to the extremes, dumpster diving for coupons and spending hours a day searching the internet for great deals."

If you copy and paste the link below into your broswer you can see a preview of the show (My apologies upfront that the only place I could find this link was Perez Hilton's website).

http://perezhilton.com/2010-12-30-extreme-couponing-reality-tv-tlc

Scheming, Saving and Cancelling

December 19th, 2010 at 05:23 pm

This christmas my husband and I decided that we would get one joint present to cut down on expenses. We are trying to build our cash savings for the next few months as we both have some questions about the stability of our jobs and basically do not want to be caught with our pants down if anything were to happen. So we decided that we were going to get a playstation 3 with 2 games. To keep the cost as low as possible and because after some discussion we realized that it is entirely unnecessary for us to have them all, we have decided to exchange our Wii and all the games we have with it for store credit, which will results in us paying a little under half the original price tag of the PS3 and the 2 games. On a side note, I think the PS3 is a much more attractive looking console to have sitting in our living room than a Wii and it has the buildt in blu-ray player. We have never had one before but our TV is blu-ray ready. I know renting blu-ray movies is more expensive, but we can also play non-blu-ray, so we will not go razy on the blu-ray movies, but it is nice to know we have the option.

We have not gone crazy on spending on our credit cards, just as an update to my last post. Infact as I obtained it with the goal of building credit history in mind, my problem is if I don't use it at all, I am not sure I build any credit history. So I am desperately trying to remember to use it at least once a month to buy something small, like a small grocery shop or a lunch if I happen to need to eat out instead of eating lunch brought from home. It is a good problem.

The idea of exchanging the Wii for the PS3 got me thinking about other things I could be getting rid of to help us shore up our savings the next few months. I am selling my old cellphone to usell dot com, it will not bring in much but more than if I just let it sit around the house gathering dust (I am a recovering hoarder - not as bad as what you see on Buried Alive but enough that we felt like we were living in a warehouse instead of an appartment for many years - so getting rid of old stuff is quite a novel concept for me). When we moved to Florida, I took the oportunity to clear out all my old stuff with a rule that if I had not used it in the last year it was out. It was a good cleaning of the soul as I had kept things from since I was old enough to remember - first book I ever read, all my school reports, stones picked up from different hikes we had been on, de-merit cards form school, every single letter I had ever received addressed to me, etc. It is scary how those things can build up and just take over your life. Yes it was lovely to be able to look through them and remember things long forgotten, however I realise now that the only thing that really matters is the present. Do you know why it is called the present? Because every moment is a present from God which we should enjoy and then move on to the next moment. :-)

So I am now looking thorugh our stuff to see if there is anything to which I can apply the "I have not used it in the last year, so it must go" rule, not that there is much. But I have found a very small amount of gold jewelry that I have not used in years and which carries no significant emotional importance to me which I am going to try and sell. I have heard that the price of gold is doing well lately. It is a very small amount so I do not expect much for it. I have requested a packet from cash 4 gold dot com and will see what they offer me.

I still have an iron I need to sell. I have posted it on craigslist but there were no interest shown. I do not want to post it on ebay simply because I refuse to pay to sell something when I could probably find a free way of selling it.

I also have started reviewing our bills again and am calling to cut some of them. Because I was not sure how a credit score worked, I had signed both my husband and myself up for the experian credit score service, where we paid a monthly fee of around $14. Well a while ago we had tried to cancel my husbands service over the phone (the only way they allow you to cancel) and rather than lose his business they had offered to half the monthly charge. So we agreed to keep it on. Well I had signed up 2 months ago and when I called yesterday to cancel they offered the same deal, however I have checked our the credit karma website mentioned on Monkey Mama's blog and I feel comfortable using that free service moving forward. So I cancelled my service and will get my husband to call to cancel his service saving us about $21 a month ( $252 a year wow).

Well that's all for now folk's! Hope you are all having a good holiday season!

Baby steps

November 4th, 2010 at 02:12 am

I am now eligible for my companies 401K plan, so I signed up this month to start contributing. I have started off with a 10% contribution and will get the full 4% match offered by my employee. We have not made any contributions to retirement in a year, so we need to catch up as much as possible. I will monitor our finances closely the next few months to see if we can up our contributions.

Both my husband and I received our first credit cards this month and will start building credit history finally.

Visual Budgeting

January 9th, 2010 at 01:49 am

I have be playing around with some ideas to build a budget in excel which can show in various graphical representations how the budget is broken down. I am wondering if anyone here would be interested in such things and if so what they would want included in the file?

2010 Goal Setting

December 31st, 2009 at 04:43 pm

With everything that has been going on in our lives I have lost a clear overview of where we are exactly financially and have not had much times to set some goals for 2010. I did set goals for 2008 and 2009 and I certainly saw the benefit of tracking our progress and working towards achieving them. However with the big move in 2009 I stopped tracking things so closely as of course we took a huge financial hit to get here. We do still have a semblance of an emergency fund in place and I am amazed at how quickly we have been able to put a life together in Florida, so I am happy we took the hit and so far it is paying off (knock on wood nothing will change).

2010 is a new year with new opportunities and challenges, so I am going to lay out some general goals and define them as our situation becomes more stable. It is always good to lay a foundation you can build on.

1) Hurry up and get us on a health plan ASAP.

2) Put together an overall view of where we are financially by updating our networth report.

3) Complete the monthly budget document I have started working on and ensure there is a comprehensive overview of our cash flow.

4) Build up 3 months of emergency fund here in florida.

5) Investigate IRA option for me and my husband and open up one for each of us before the end of March.

6) Look into options for purchasing a second car (first car was purchased in September. It is a second car paid for in cash in full). Our lack of much credit history and funds may delay this one for quite some time.

7) Make extra payments to husband's student loan.

8) Obtain (secured) credit cards for both to start building credit history.

9) Investigate the best way to file taxes. As we have only recently move to Florida we need to file taxes in the country we lived in for most of 2009 and in Florida. This may mean that we are eligible for some refunds, but I will need to check.

10) Change husband's address with all pension companies in old country.

That is a basis foundation for us to get started on in the oh ten. Looks like we have our work cut out for us, but considering what we achieved in oh nine, I am confident we can make it happen. :-)

Have a great 2010 everybody!

How to Choose a Health Insurance Plan

December 29th, 2009 at 05:34 pm

I am currently trying to find my way through the maze of health insurance plans on offer here in Florida. There are quite a few things that vary between each plan and the deductibles here are much higher than I am used to having, but then so are the monthly payments. I used to pay 200 a month and have a deductible of 150 per year before the insurance would cover all remaining costs (socialist health care system). So I thought I could ask from some help from some people in the know about what information is important to look at when you are investigating which health care plan to take. So I am asking the savings advice readers for some help on what things you would recommend I look at when researching our health care plan?

My husband is 33 and I am 27. He smokes but is trying to quit, we are both a little overweight and I have some minor allergies to certain fabric softners. That is all, so I believe we are resonably healthy. I would like to aim for monthly payments of around 200 a month for both of us with a deductible as low as possible (looks to be around 2500). However I do want to make sure we are covered for any emergencies as as though we are reasonably healthy right now, you never know what will happen ( and knock on wood that nothing does happen). I understand this is very general, but as I said earlier, I am just starting my research and I am a bit lost.

Also I need to investigate if dental and vision are worth it.

Arrived in Florida in Time for Thanksgiving

December 22nd, 2009 at 04:42 pm

Much has happened in the time between my last entry and I have found out much about myself. I realise that when my finances feel out of my hands, I have an urge to not follow them too closely as it creates more stress than necessary. My husband managed to find a job here in Florida and started working in it 1 and half months after he arrived. I think that must be some sort of record given the current unemployment in our area is 12% and rising. I am incredibly proud of him.

In making our decision not to bring the furniture we had with us, I ended up having to sell as much as I could a donate the rest. This was a loss but as we had planned to move for a long time, most of the stuff we had was acquired with the knowledge we would be immigrating in mind, so it was not a horrendous loss. I did manage to sell most of our electronical devices which cost more than the furniture, but it was a good lesson in the depreciation of value of your items and I also learned that it is better to sell as you go along rather than to hoard old things which you no longer require when you are forced to do so. When you can sell things at your own leisure you can ensure you get an acceptable price, rather than accepting the money offered because you have to get rid of the item.

Once I sold off all the things I could not bring with me, I also needed to ensure our appartment was clean to hand over and then got on a flight to come join my husband. Oh, but before I get to that point, I also needed to ensure all those companies I needed to communicate my new address to were informed. If I did not recieve a bill correctly or a retirement account statement regularly, who knows what state our financial affairs may be in after several months.

Joining my husband here in Florida was fantastic. We had been apart for just over 3 months and that has been the longest seperation we have ever had through our relationship. I know many couples go through much longer seperations, under much more stressful situations. However, to know it happens and to actually experience it is 2 different things. My heart goes out to those couples who are going through periods of seperation, especially those miltary couples.

So I arrived the weekend before Thanksgiving and we celebrated our first one in the US together. It was wonderful and I thoroughly enjoyed becoming acquainted with the new home my husband prepared for me and exploring our new neighbourhood. He had purchased furniture for our apartment and I loved every piece of it. In fact the furniture here is so nice I have not regretted once having to leave behind the furniture we had before. I feel that furniture was very student like and we now have invested in some grown up furniture which could be with us for the new decade or more. We have an apartment for the first time, which I could see us bring kids into. Although we are still young and we need to settle before we do any other life changing move.

I have started to job hunt and have had some interest. Thank goodness! I was very scared to start looking for work here as it is very different to my home country. I having been looking for an analyst position in the Tampa area. I have my fingers crossed that something might come up soon. I'll keep you updated on the search. I have found that posting my resume on monster.com and careerbuilder.com has not been very fruitful, so I have made it might job to apply for 2 or 3 positions from those website a day and then to search around for other company websites with job postings or smaller job boards in the area. As I said this tactic has resulted in a few companies calling with some interested, but also A LOT of rejection emails. I am not used to the amount of rejection, but I guess if I am going to live here I will need to start developing a tougher skin.

So so far, so good. I have not touched much on our finances in this post, because I think I'll only be ready to post on those in the New Year. We are living off of my husband's income for now, with some money still in our emergency fund. Not where I want to be but we knew when we started on this journey that it we would take a huge hit to savings. I will be working on a financial plan for 2010 to get us back on track. I am think our priorities will be to maintain our costs as low as possible, to increase emergency fund to about 9 months, start a car fund up just in case the used car we brought needs to be maintined/replaced and ensure we have some pension fund savings in place so that it does not fall to the wayside.

Irresistable Introductions

August 16th, 2009 at 09:20 am

In Arabian Nights, Aladdin and his mother are allowed to enter the court of the Emperor because they offer irressistable introductions of jewels,pearls and gold. I am happy that this is a community of frugal people and that such a grand gesture would probably be frowned upon and scrutinized. So instead I offer my story and my financial information.

We are a young couple, looking for new opportunities to have a simple yet full life. My husband and I decided we wanted to move to Florida some months ago and we have been saving up to have a moving fund. He recently quit his job and has now moved to Florida. I am still working and will hopefully keep my job until he finds something (Some of you may have already read my post asking about jobs in the forum).

As we have chosen to live a frugal life, my salary covers all my living expenses plus a little more. This has allowed me to keep our apartment and everything else going while he has enough money to sustain him for a year while hunting for a job. As the job market in Tampa is quiet bad at the moment, we have allowed for a long job search. I am confident he should find something as he works in customer service which is a field which always has openings even in a down market. He is also a reliable worker with steady experience in this area and as long as he is not too fussy about his salary, I'm sure he can find something.

In the meantime, I am cleaning up our things and preparing myself for the big move once the time is right. Our apartment requires a few repairs before our landlord investigates it and as I am a recovering hoarder I am finally clearing out everything I've collected since I was a little kid until now with the rule that if I have not used it in the last year, it is going out.

Financially, we are so used to keeping a close eye on all our money and saving as much as we can to see our savings grow, that I am struggling a little with the idea that our savings are now going to drop due to all the costs of the move. It is shocking just how expensive a move can be. So I may let my constant money watching go for a little while just in an attempt to reduce the stress. I trust my husband will watch his spending and we have an agreed cut off point which if reached, he will return home and pick up things here (this is an extreme measure of course but in this economy we would rather be safe than sorry).

We also have students loans which we want to pay off before we buy a house, a house down payment to save up for but thankfully we do not carry a CC debt. We'll need to improve our credit scores before we buy a house, however buying is maybe 2 years away from now, so we have time.

Well, that's all for now folks!
Thanks for tuning in.