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Viewing the '$20 Challenge' Category

Almost free money!

August 24th, 2007 at 04:07 pm

I'm so excited! I just made ~+$85 for doing practically nothing with no investment.

Today a professor in my department set a pile of books outside his office with a note reading "free". The textbooks were mostly intro level so I have no need for them, but I knew I could sell them on half.com and make a profit.

I waited a few hours to see if anyone took them (I felt a tinge of guilt taking them only for re-sale), but no one did so I took two. Just hours later, one has sold for $89.99! I'm going to wait until after I mail it on Monday to add it my Challenge so I can subtract out the proper amount for shipping.

This truly is an example of how the $20 Challenge has changed my outlook. Last year, I wold have seen them and thought: "No use to me". This year, I saw dollar signs!

$$ For Challenge

August 24th, 2007 at 06:12 am

Old Total: $1896.33
+ $80 overnight babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1976.33

I was expecting $90 last night ($50 for last night + $40 in "back pay" from Monday). I'm not sure if The Mom forgot that she paid me $30 rather than $40 last time, but effectively I was only paid $10 for coming early the other night. If it turns out they are only going to pay me $10 to come early, I probably won't be so willing to do it. I completely understand that this arrangement isn't cheap, but coming early at the drop of a hat kills my night at home, and $10 isn't enough for that.

However, all in all, this arrangement is working out.

Nearing 2K in the $20 Challenge

August 22nd, 2007 at 01:03 pm

Old Total: $1866.33
+ $30 overnight babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1896.33

I actually made $70 the other night, but The Mom had given her ATM card to The Dad and she didn't have enough on hand to pay me the full amount. She'll pay the remaining $40 when I go back tomorrow night. In the mean time, I'll count only the cash I have received.

Typically, I'm getting paid $50 / night, but if The Dad has the opportunity to go into work early and I can come a few hours early with little notice, they pay me an extra $20. This was the case the other night and the reason why I should have been paid $70.

More babysitting $$

August 4th, 2007 at 02:25 pm

Old Total: $1796.33
+ $70 overnight babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1866.33

I did the overnight babysitting again last night. The Mom called me at 6:30pm and asked if I could come at 8:30pm (instead of my regular 11pm-ish). The Dad had been offered to come into work early. I said I could come. She paid me an extra $20 for doing so, so I ended up making $70 last night.

I slept better this time and the girls slept through the night, too. Hopefully this trend will continue!

Overnight babysitting

August 3rd, 2007 at 09:42 am

Wednesday night was my first night doing the overnight babysitting that I wrote about back in June.

All in all, it went well. I arrived around 11pm. Everyone was in bed. I went to my bedroom, read a little and went to sleep. I woke up around 12:30 when I heard the Dad get up and leave for his work, but went back asleep relatively quickly. I was up again at 3am when I heard one of the girls get up. It turns out she was only going to the kitchen for a drink of water, but she literally RAN to the kitchen so I wasn't sure what was going on and immediately shot out of bed to see what the situation was.

Mom was home by 7:25 am and paid me $50. I go back again tonight. The downside is that I feel a little uncomfortable spending the night in someone else's house and that I didn't sleep particularly well, but hopefully both will improve as time goes on.

Some of friends think I'm a little crazy for doing this. But, like the people in the recent NYT article on people who bought a home on their own, I realize that the money for a home down payment isn't going to magically appear some day.

Old Total: $1746.33
+ $50 overnight babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1796.33

Garage Sale Earnings

July 24th, 2007 at 08:31 am

Old Total: $1506.23
+ 240.10 garage sale
------------------------
New Total: $1746.33

My total for the 2-day garage sale was $240.10. My big ticket items included:

Stereo ($50)
Guitar ($40)
Desk ($25)
Sega Genesis and Games ($15)

All in all, I'm pleased. If the time permits this week, I'll write about it in more detail, but I wanted to get my final tally down for the count! My parents made ~$350, and our neighbors made over $900!

Beauty is in the Eye of Beholder

July 17th, 2007 at 09:09 pm

Tomorrow evening I'm driving some 240 miles away with a car load of my finest j-u-n-q-u-e to participate in my parents' neighborhood garage sale. We're participating Thursday- Friday although the actual sale goes until Saturday. The timing is perfect since I would have had to drive up there anyway to attend a family wedding on Saturday (albeit I would have waited until Friday).

It's always interesting to see what people will buy... and what fails to sell. Mr. Bean is in CA this week for work. We were on the phone earlier this evening and I asked if he would mind if I tried to sell an old Oxford blazer of his. The blazer is of poor quality and rather unattractive. His response was: "You can try- are expecting many hobos to come through?" Some combination of the use of the word "hobo" and my fatigue at the late hour made me laugh until I cried. The thing is: I bet it will sell!

What are some of the junquiest items you've sold at a garage sale? What have you been surprised to see people pass up?

My aunt commented that she sells less at neighborhood garage sales compared to when she holds one on her own. How about you? I know I'm not going to bother to lug a foldable chaise lounge I never use up to the sale- my parents are already trying to sell two!

Challenge Money and a New Bike!

July 10th, 2007 at 08:28 pm

Old Total: $1486.23
+ 20.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1506.23

I made $20 babysitting tonight. I still need to take those clothes to Plato's Closet and start rounding up stuff to sell at my parents' garage sale next week. So much to do, so little time!

I bought a new bike today to replace the one that was stolen. I was perusing some online classifieds for bikes (both to buy and to try to see if anyone was selling mine) and ending up emailing someone about a used bike for sale. He was asking $100 but told me he would take $75 if I bought it today. He even drove the bike over to my office so I could test it out. The bike is a Mongoose Pro Rockadile SX from 2002 and had hardly been used. I think it probably sold for ~$230 when it was new. After testing the bike out, I wasn't sure if I loved it (I think I'm still mourning the loss of my last bike). I asked him if he'd take $60- and he consented. I'm happy to have wheels again and feel like I made out pretty well for $60. The guy said he won the bike in a card game, so I figured he had no use for it (plus it's way to small for a man his size).

Challenge-- almost at $1500

June 29th, 2007 at 05:52 am

Old Total: $1481.44
+ $4.79 eBay
------------------------
New Total: $1486.23

After I paid all the fees and mailed the goods, I netted $4.79 off my latest eBay auction. I lost money on one item with the shipping, and another item didn't even sell (although I still deducted the cost to list it).

I don't have any riders coming with me to DC and I forgot to stop at Plato's Closet to re-sell clothes, so I feel pretty safe to say that my total as of June 30 will be the amount listed above. Hence, I fell a little short ($13.77) of my goal of $1500 by June 30. But, If you include the interest I've made off the money (it's in a high yield savings), then I probably surpassed the mark).

Next month I should have more regular babysitting jobs and I'm brining items to my Mom's garage sale to sell.
Have a great weekend!

$$ for Challenge: Free Market edition!

June 26th, 2007 at 06:23 pm

Old Total: $1441.44
+ $40.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1481.44

I babysat for 2 hours on 2 occasions (total time of 4 hours) for the new family that I will be doing some overnight sitting. Based off some comments from the mom regarding what they pay their other babysitter, I expected a day time rate of maybe $5-$7 / hour (my overnight sitting will be a flat rate). To my surprise, when she paid me she said they would pay me $10 / hour for daytime babysitting. In our initial interview they asked how much my other family pays me. The other family pays me $10 / hour, but they have 3 kids (this family has 2), they live farther away, and they are very wealthy (not that that should effect what they are charged, but they certainly appear to have a generous amount of disposable income). Honestly, I think the new family upped their rate to make themselves a more "competeitive" job. Hey, works for me! It's fun to see the free market in action.

Now if I can just round up $19 in the few days, I will meet my goal on earning $1500 through new streams by June 30. I have eBay auctions ending tonight, so that should generate $5- $10. I alo have some clothes to try to re-sell at Plato's Closet, and some ads posted offering a ride to DC this weekend (I'm going to see Mr. Bean).

I'm a bad, bad girl!

June 21st, 2007 at 08:15 pm

I'm a bad girl for a couple of reasons:

1.) I haven't been entering expenses in Quicken. I've caught up with it now, but it's a pain to get behind and try to remember where the $$ went (especially cash ).
2.) I was over "budget" in May, and will also be over budget in June.

Beginning in January, I challenged myself to live each month off my stipend (usually about $1340 / month take home) while contributing $150 to my Roth IRA. I have other streams of income beside my stipend, like babysitting, interest, and random odd jobs, but I've been trying to just sock that money away.

I won't bother listing all the categories, but I was $262.81 over my stipend in May. I did so well with this Challenge until April. I need to get back on the wagon!

There are a few reasons for the extra expenses, but the major reason is that I've allowed myself a little more liberty in spending because in May I was offered to teach 2 summer classes for which I will be paid ~$5,000 in total, before taxes. I will get the money at the end of June. I decided to use this unexpected "windfall" to max out my 2007 Roth ASAP (by the end of June, I will have contributed $2000, so I'll use the teaching money to top it off at $4K). The remainder I'll put in savings, but I have been very liberal the last few weeks in treating myself to some new clothing, some nice shampoo, etc. All in all, it will probably end up being a few hundred dollars in "treats".

I was going to write how I work really hard and deserve the "treats", but I know that's just rationalizing. It is what it is. I wanted the stuff. I have it now. I think I'm still in good financial shape and the world will keep turning.I need to find a way to balance feeling guilty about spending and enjoying the money I earn. Actually, the more I think about it, I don't really feel guilty about it. I'm just cognizant, and perhaps that *is* the middle ground.

Overnight babysitting and more $$ for Challenge

June 14th, 2007 at 06:30 am

I spoke with the Mom in need of overnight babysitting and she agreed to doing a 1-month trial. In fact, she said she appreciated my concern about the commitment and implied that it showed that I was serious and responsible. I'll start in late July. I feel very comfortable with the situation now.

Last week I went to see Mr. Bean in Washington, DC. I posted an ad one of our Community Message boards offering a round tip ride to DC in exchange for $40 to cover gas and tolls. I ended up taking a a very pleasant female graduate student from India. I appreciated the money, and she appreciated an affordable way to get out of our small college town and see Washington. In fact, she asked to ride with me next time I go to see him in a few weeks. All in all, a win-win. I'll add the $40 to my Challenge:

Old Total: $1401.44
+ $40.00 ride share
------------------------
New Total: $1441.44

A new job...

June 12th, 2007 at 07:32 pm

I met with a family earlier this evening in need of regular overnight childcare. Mom is nurse who works 12 hour overnight shifts, Dad works for FedEx and was recently moved to nights. They need a sitter 2-3 times / week from ~9pm (some nights 11pm)until 7:30am. The kids will be in bed at arrival and Mom will wake them up and get them ready for school in the morning. The house is just a few miles from my own. Sitter will have use of the spare bedroom and can sleep. The pay seems negotiable, but she suggested $~50 / night, but said she would "pay me what I needed". I'm very tempted. At $50 / night, I would make ~$500 / month-- and most of the time I'd be sleeping. However, it's a big commitment and I would feel obligated to stay even if it wasn't working out for me just because that's the way I am. Even though I would be sleeping, it would mean I'd be away from my home (and my adorable kitty) a significant portion of the week. I'm not hard up for money, and next year, after I graduate, I'll be making at least 2.5x my current graduate student stipend as a post doc. But, I still like making money, and have gotten very good at socking away the cash from my "odd jobs" into my high yield savings.

I think I'm going to call the mom back tomorrow and say that I'd like to give it a try, but would like to do so on a 1-month trial basis. I know she's interviewing other people, so I'll also add that I understand if she prefers to go with someone who is willing to make the commitment from the get-go.

What do you think?

Challenge Update

June 6th, 2007 at 09:19 pm

Old Total: $1389.44
+ $20.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1401.44

Tonight was probably the last time that I'll babysit for the "usual" family until they return from their summer travels in August. I'm so sad! I've really grown close to the kids- especially the little girl (the boys are great, too, but they are older and more independent). The little girl asked me If I babysit for other kids and if she was my favorite. I said that was indeed my favorite because she was my friend. She seemed pleased- but it's true!

I interviewed yesterday with another family who needs an occasional sitter. I expect that they'll call at some point, but their kids also go away (to Grandparents) for a substantail part of the summer.

$20 Challenge Update... So Close!

May 31st, 2007 at 05:48 am

Old Total: $1349.44
+ $40.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1389.44

I keep meaning to write a real entry, but I've been so busy all I can do is keep up with the Challenge for now!

When I set out to reach my goal of $1500 by June 30, I had no idea I'd end up being this close! Yes, I realize I still have a month to go, but the family I babysit for is leaving the country in a few weeks for the entire summer- hence the main source of my $20 Challenge income goes on vaction, too!

To make up for the loss of income,
I have contacted another family who posted an ad for summer babysitter. I also have a small pile of clothes to try to re-sell at Plato's Closet. I'm going to need to get creative to come up with another $100 in the next month (I anticipate making another $30-40 babysitting before they go on vacation).

Challenge Addition

May 28th, 2007 at 01:12 pm

Eveery little bit helps, right?

I sold a book on half.com

Old Total: $1346.88
+ $2.56 half.com sale
------------------------
New Total: $1349.44

Reaching my goal of $1500 by the end of June is going to be close!

Challenge Addition

May 24th, 2007 at 06:00 am

Old Total: $1304.88
+ $42.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1346.88

April Spending Analysis

May 20th, 2007 at 05:03 pm

One of my goals for 2007 is to live off my monthly graduate student stipend while paying $150 / month into an IRA. All other money I receive (odds jobs and gifts) is funneled into my high yield savings account.

My April expenses looked like this:

Auto: $47.00
Clothing $109.97
Dining $18.82
Entertainment $7.00
Gifts Given: $88.13
Groceries $29.65
Joint Expenses $900.00 (includes rent, utilities, food, gas, etc)
IRA Contribution $150
--------------------------------
TOTAL EXPENSES: $1303.79
Total March Stipend $1296.00

Uh oh! I overspent my stipend by $7.79.

A few explanations, I went to three baby showers in Aprilóhence the high gifts given category. One of the showers was out of state. I rode with a friend, and gave her $47 to cover gas and tolls (typically I donít have an ďautoĒ category since the car expenses shard my Mr. Bean and I go into our joint expenses). Clothing was high this month because I bought a new business suit.

Once again, I failed to live directly off my stipend, but this month was at least closer to target than last month. In reality, I wasnít really in the red because I had other sources of income during April (primarily babysitting, ~$175.00). I also traveled for a work conference in April and didnít spend my entire per diem, so I should profit ~$50 off that once the re-imbursement is made.

Still, the point is really being driven home how careful I need to be if I want to stay within the means of my current income!

Babysitting $$

May 17th, 2007 at 06:39 am

I have so much to write about, but I've been so busy! At the very least, I can keep up with updates of my Challenge:

Old Total: $1264.88
+ $40.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1304.88

More to come, soon! I still need to review and psot my April spending analysis, too!

$3.50 for the Challenge

May 9th, 2007 at 06:10 pm

Mr. Bean recently cleaned out his closet in preparation for the upcoming move. I washed and ironed a bunch of his rejects to try to sell at Plato's Closet. After all the ironing, they denied all the clothes, but they did take a pair of shoes for $3.50. Since I took the intiative to try to sell the stuff, he said I could reap the rewards. Big whoop :-)

The rest of the stuff is going to Freecycle.

Old Total: $1261.38
+ $3.50 shoes
------------------------
New Total: $1264.88

Challenge Addition

May 6th, 2007 at 06:07 am

Things have been crazily chaotic in Beanland.

Mr. Bean has accepted a job in a city ~ 250 miles away, but I need to stay here to finish up my PhD. He's movng, I'm staying and getting a roommate so I can stay in our current house without breaking the bank. Roommmate interviews currently underway. Oi Vay! This promises to be an interesting year! On the positive side, his new job sounds very exciting and the compensation sure beats a graduate school stipend. I've also agreed to teach teach 2 summer sessions of Nutrition 100 at the University where I'm a graduate student. I'll get paid ~$5000 (before taxes) over the summer for this. I'm not sure if I'll add this to my Challenge tally. Maybe I'll keep it on a separate line or something.

I do have a few more Challenge additions:

$60 for babysitting and $7.69 for selling a little tester of a Lancome perfume on eBay. I was going to throw the perfume tester out and then thought, "Huh. maybe someone would buy this on eBay?!?" Glad I did!

Old Total: $1153.69
+ $60.00 babysitting
$7.69 eBay sales
------------------------
New Total: $1261.38

Challenge Addition

April 20th, 2007 at 05:58 am

I earned $40 babysitting last night.

Old Total: $1153.69
+ $40.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1193.69

I just checked back in the archives and saw that my goal for the Challenge is $1500 by June 30th. I knew my goal total for June was was $1500, but I couldn't remember if it was June 1 or June 30. I'm glad I made it June 30th- I think I can do it!

Challenge Addition:

April 17th, 2007 at 07:03 pm

I decided to try again at "selling" coupons ons eBay. I had three coupons for free bags of pet food (13 lbs in total). The coupons sold at auction for $6.00 + $0.39 shippping, but after all was said and done, my profit was $5.18 which I will add to the Challenge.

Old Total: $1148.51
+ $5.18 coupons on eBay
------------------------
New Total: $1153.69

More for the Challenge

April 15th, 2007 at 07:48 am

Old Total: $1084.51
+ $64.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1148.51

Last night was a late night babysitting- the parents didn't get home until 1:30am so it was after 2am by the time I was home and in bed.

Luckily I was able to sleep in this morning. The good news is that the later they stay out, the more I earn!

Challenge Addition

April 14th, 2007 at 07:57 am

Old Total: $1057.51
+ $27.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1084.51

I made $27 babysitting Thursday night. I'm supposed to babysit again tonight, so (hopefully) I'll have more to add by the end of the weekend.

Challenge addition

April 8th, 2007 at 08:56 am

Old Total: $1014.51
+ $43 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1057.51

It's been a while since I've babysat or been able to add to the challenge.

I met a new family earlier this week who needs an occasional babysitter, so hopefully that will develop into a new job. Let's hope thing will start looking up again!

Happy Easter!

March Spending Analysis

April 1st, 2007 at 04:11 pm

One of my goals for 2007 is to live off my monthly graduate student stipend while paying $150 / month into an IRA. All other money I receive (odds jobs and gifts) is funneled into my high yield savings account.

My March expenses looked like this:

Clothing $36.69
Dining $46.62
Entertainment $84.85
Gifts Given $42.97
Groceries $6.89
Household $3.50
Joint Expenses $1000.00 (includes rent, utilities, food, gas, etc)
Medical $6.00
Parking $4.00
Personal Care $66.00
IRA Contribution $150
--------------------------------
TOTAL EXPENSES: $1447.52

Total March Stipend $1377.50

Uh oh! I overspent my stipend by $70.02.

Luckily, Iím not worried. I underspent the stipend by $90.14 in January and $139.31 in February to leave myself a $229.45 surplus. In addition, I made $290 this month in odd jobs.

So, while Iím not worried, Iím not ecstatic, either.

There are a few reasons why this month was unusual. First, Mr. Bean and I took a weekend trip and incurred extra expenses in gas and hotel. For this reason, we each contributed $1000 to our joint account rather than the typical $800. I also got my haircut this month and bought a new jar of my preferred (but pricey) moisturizer. Both of these expenses are what drove my ďPersonal CareĒ category up to $66.

I also spent ~$70 on a new paid of running shoes (I place this in entertainment category). I am an avid runner, but can typically get my shoes to last ~4 months since I have custom made orthodics which help preserve the life of the shoe. However, when my knees start to ache, I know itís time for new shoes. My knees started hurting around March 28. The thought crossed my mind to wait a few days so I could stay place the expense in April, but then I realized how silly that was. My Challenge to live off my stipend while contributing $150 / month to an IRA is just that Ė a Challenge- and the months that I stay under my limit provides a cushion for monthís like the previous.

Regardless, this month proves the point of why itís important for those of us on a relatively lower end of the income spectrum to watch how we spend our money. A few extra indulgences and youíll find yourself in the red!

Challenge Total Surpasses $1000

March 22nd, 2007 at 06:37 am

Old Total: $974.71
+ $40 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $1014.51

I babysat last night and made $40. It feels good to pass the 1K mark since I haven't been able to add as much to the Challenge this month. This money represents new earned income from new income streams since the New Year. The bulk of it has come from babysitting and selling on eBay.

This upcoming weekend Mr. Bean and I are taking a much anticipated weekend trip to the Lodge / Hotel where we had our wedding reception. I'm really looking forward to it, especially now that I hear they have an outdoor heated hot tub! I splurged and bought a new dress at Ann Taylor Loft (my favorite store). I LOVE the dress, the price was right, and I know I'll get a lot of use out of it.

After our night at the Lodge, we're going to visit our family. While Mr. Bean was lying low and recovering from his wisdom teeth, I was cleaning out my closet. I have about 15 items I'm going to take to a higher end consignment shop near my parentsí house. They are picky about what they'll take, but I imagine I've got to have some winners in my bunch. I donít know how profit I stand to make, but since it requires no investment on my end I figured it was worth a try. I would have expected that my town (being a College town) to have consignment shop, but all we have is a Plato's Closet. Plato's Closet is for great teen wear, but not for more professional looking clothes. They snubbed some nice Ann Taylor pieces that no longer fit me, but I expect they will be perfect for the other consignment shop. If nothing else, my clothes will be going on a 500 mile sightseeing trip this weekend!

Challenge Addition

March 8th, 2007 at 05:44 am

Old Total: $ $939.71
+ $35 babysitting
---------------------
New Total: $974.71

I made $35 babysitting last night. I won't be babysitting for~ 2 weeks since the family is going on vacation. It will be nice to have a little break. I have a lot going on in my graduate program right now and I can focus exclusively on that.

February Spending Round Up

March 5th, 2007 at 03:34 pm

After taxes, my February stipend was $1343.

The February expenses looked something like this:

$800 joint expenses *
$35.00 Education
$16.44 Clothing
$82.43 Entertainment
$ 38.22 Groceries **
$81.60 Medical
$150 Roth IRA contribution
--------------------------
January Expenses $1203.69

* Mr. Bean and I make the same amount of $$, so we transfer equal amounts into our joint checking account to pay joint expenses. Joint expenses include rent, groceries, car payment and car insurance, cable, meals out together, etc. If our joint expenses are under $1600, the remainder just sits in the bank account. He tracks the specifics of these expenses in Quicken.

** Typically this is a joint expense, but for various reasons I made some purchases with my own cash or credit card.


Entertainment was abnormally high this month because I went down hill skiing and paid a $41 fee that will cover my membership at the University Fitness Center for the entire semester.

I expect to be re-imbursed by my insurance for a portion of the Medical expenses, but I can never figure out exactly how much that will be until it happens.

Iím happy about not spending any money buying lunch or other snacks this month.

The clothing purchases all came from my newly discovered favorite store- The Good Will! They were offering a 25% sale for students this month so I visited it a couple more times than necessary. Iím really happy with my purchases, (including a brand new BCBG Max Aria sweater for $5), but now that Iíve had my fun I think I need to stay out of there for a while- or at least until the weather warms up and I need to quell an urge to buy something to update my Spring look!

So, I have succeeded another month living entirely off my stipend while making a Roth contribution. In fact, I even ended up $139.31 to spare.

Not included in this is $554.31 I made this month in odd jobs, selling things Iím not using, rebates, etc.

I canít believe I spent so long in the dark about my finances and money. Saving and spending wisely is fun!


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