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Archive for August, 2007

Now appearing as: Mary Poppins

August 30th, 2007 at 06:44 am

Old Total: $2114.03
+ $100 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $2214.03

I had a big babysitting night yesterday: 2 different families in one night.

My "regular" family from last year is back their 2 month travel abroad. I babysat for them from 8pm - 12am and earned $40. Then I jumped in the car and went to my overnight job where I earned $60 (in actuality, it should have been $50, but The Mom only had 20's so I'm giving her a $10 credit for next time).

Half.com sale for $20 Challenge

August 29th, 2007 at 07:18 am

Old Total: $2036.33
+ $77.70 half.com sale
------------------------
New Total: $2114.03

I ended up netting $77.70 from the text book sale. The break down went like this:

$89.99 sale price of book
+ 2.64 shipping reimbursement
- 11.25 half.com commission
- 3.15 actual shipping cost
- 0.53 cost of padded envelope + tax
--------------------------
$77.70 profit

The Way to Have more Money...

August 26th, 2007 at 09:07 am

I was excited to see my Challenge top 2K. But when I shared the “good news” with Mr. Bean yesterday, he said, “Really, that’s all you’ve made?” Typically when he says something contrary I get angry, but this time I just kind of chuckled and said, “Yes, I know!”

$2000 isn’t inconsequential, but when I think of all the babysitting and selling over the last 8 months, and all of the thought put into finding new babysitting jobs and finding new things to sell, I can’t help but think that it doesn’t amount to a very big hill of beans.

That being said, as a graduate student, my income isn’t very high. Stashing away this $20 Challenge money differentiates me from many of my grad student peers who end up going into debt during their graduate careers. But, it just really drives home the point that the best way to earn money is to have one decent paying job. The amount I’ve brought in over the last 8 months is roughly equivalent to the take home pay of one month of work for someone making 65K / year.

Maybe I’m just fatigued, but I’m looking forward to being back in the real working world again and just having ONE job with a decent salary!

Challenge Tops 2k!

August 25th, 2007 at 06:57 am

Old Total: $1976.33
+ $60 overnight babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $2036.33

I was asked to come 1 hour early yesterday, hence why I made $60 rather than $50.

I think The Mom just deals mostly in $20 bills and that's why there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the amount I get paid to come early. I think that as long as it's convenient for me to get there early, I'll come early. I feel like they are trying to compensate me for being flexible and everyone is happy.

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.

Saving Water using Water: The Dehumidifer

August 20th, 2007 at 02:07 pm

It's been a dry summer here in Beanland, but my flowers look great and my water bill is low. My secret: I use the water from the basement dehumidifier for the plants.

The benefits are numerous:

1.) I don't use municipal water, hence saving money.

2.) The water is chlorine free. This water could be better for the plants; but I admit to not knowing if this is true.

2.) The dehumidifier gets emptied regularly. Yes, this means it runs more, but my stinky basement and the stuff I keep in it benefit.

3.) I water more frequently since I can't bear to put the dehumidifier water down the drain. This has resulted in me hearing the dehumidifier shut off at 10pm and then promptly going outside to water in my pajamas. On the upside, it doesn't take me long since the tank is ~ 2 gallons (not to mention that less water is lost to evaporation when you water in the evening!)

The water in the tank perfectly fills my watering can. I start at one side of the garden and work my way over systematically with each full tank. As you might guess, my garden isn't huge, but it works for me!

Goodwill Splurge

August 19th, 2007 at 11:56 am

I made a voyage to my local Goodwill today. I admit, the trip was purely for entertainment. I try not to use to use consumption and shopping for entertainment, but despite my best intentions, I like getting "new" things. I've come a long way, but my inner consumer rears its head every now and then.

Sundays are usually 30% for Students, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were running 50% off the entire store (in which case the student deal is void, but hey, who's complaining about 50% off?)

I got this fun pair of Sandals for $2.50 (they've never been worn!) I know this "George" brand is a WalMart label, but it doesn't bother me since it's second hand. I would never buy shoes like this in a store since I know I can get a lot more use out of something black or brown, so these will be a pleasant little burst of color.



For myself I also got a sun dress from the designer Dex ($3.50), a light blue Ann Taylor linen button down shirt ($2.50), and a flirty "going out" top ($2.50; again, not something I would buy new, but as a result I often feel like the ugly duckling when I'm out with friends). I'm not familiar with the designer of this top, but I have the impression that it might be a more high end designer based off the look of the label and the cut of the shirt. The designer is "Salt & Pepper" if anyone knows anything. The last item is a GAP maternity shirt in excellent condition for a friend who is struggling to find inexpensive maternity clothes ($2.50).

Total expenditure: $13.48.

There's a part of me that feels a little foolish since I didn't need any of this. I'm still trying to find a way to spend "fun" money sans guilt. Maybe once I wear the "new" clothes and bask in the compliments I'll lose the guilt :-) I rarely tell people my clothes are Goodwill finds. I would say that that I'm not embarrassed, but then what keeps me from 'fessing up? I don't know. Something to think about.

Disposable Tableware as a Societal Ill?

August 18th, 2007 at 09:35 am

I wanted to share a link to No Impact Man's blog. I read an article about his experiment some time ago in the NY Times, but I just started reading his blog this weekend. He offers great ideas on life, environmentalism, and living simply. There are many posts I've enjoyed, but this post was struck a chord with me: World's easiest-ever green living tip.

He writes:

"So here is one radical solution I came to. If I didn’t have time to sit down and drink a coffee out of a real cup, I didn’t have it. If I couldn’t eat food from a real plate, I didn’t eat it. There was no need to buy a full table setting of portable cups and bowls to be green. Instead, I finally learned to either do without or wait until later."

A guilty pleasure of mine is watching the TV show Wife Swap. I can't tell you how many times, week after week, I see families routinely eating off of disposable tableware, even when the food is prepared at home. I've often remarked that I think disposable tableware is a symptom of bigger problems, and I like No Impact Man's credo that if you don't have the time to sit down and enjoy a meal properly, then you need to re-evaluate. (Yes, this is coming from the same woman who just admitted to the internet that she loves Wife Swap. We all have room for improvement).

In other news, my roommate moved in 1 week ago. After 2 years of living on my own, followed by 3 years of living with my spouse, having a roommate feels a little bit like retrograding. However, my roommate is a wonderful person and I just need to get used to this being the state of my life. I have to say focusing on the money saving part of having a roommate helps me stay positive (for those new to my life, my spouse moved 250 miles away for work. I'm in the final year of my graduate program and plan to join him once I graduate in ~10 months).

The prices of milk, compared

August 5th, 2007 at 05:35 pm

I've never really paid much attention to the price of milk. We're lucky enough to have a dairy about 1.5 miles from our house that sells the most delicious milk in returnable glass bottles. The price has always been comparable to what you'd pay in a grocery store but the taste is far superior. In other words, there was never issue over where we would buy our milk, it was always: THE DAIRY.

However, now that Mr. Bean is gone, I find that the milk from the dairy, which can only be purchased in 1/2 gallon containers, often goes bad before I can finish it. Also, now I'm the only person running household errands, making a special trip to the Dairy for milk is sometimes inconvenient. Add in the recent press on the rising price of milk, and I decided it was time to re-visit the milk issue.

I use milk in my cereal, and occasionally will drink a glass or use it in baking or cooking. I always buy skim, but I'm not opposed to drinking soy milk instead of dairy milk. The options that are acceptable to me (with current prices / gallon):

Non-fat milk from the Dairy: ($3.00 / gallon)
Nonfat milk from grocery store : ($3.35 / gallon)
Soy milk ($5.98 / gallon)
Re-constituted non-fat dry milk: ($2.25 / gallon)

So, milk from the Dairy is cheaper and tastier. Unless it's a major obstacle to get to the Dairy, I'll definitely continue to buy liquid cow's milk at the Dairy rather than the grocery store.

But, is milk from the dairy really cheaper than soy milk?

I usually buy 8th Continent soy milk which comes in a 1/2 gallon container. Once it's in the fridge, it has a long refrigerator life. The packaging says to use with 7 days of opening, but I find that it lasts much longer. In addition, I often get 8th Continent save $1 on a 1/2 gallon coupons from the Sunday paper. This, when doubled by the grocery store effectively brings the price to $1.98 / gallon, thus making soy milk the least expensive option. When the soy milk is on sale, it's usually $2.49 / half gallon, so with the coupon I'd pay only $0.49 1/2 gallon or $0.98 / gallon.

Benefits of the non-fat drink milk are that I can mix it up a quart at a time, thus eliminating the risk of spoilage. Also, if I keep NFDM on hand, I can drink soy milk for liquid consumption, but will have cow's milk on hand for recipes.

In actuality, I'll probably end up using a mix of all 4 of the options outlined above. Since I don't really drink much milk, the cost savings of one over the probably doesn't amount to a very big hill of beans. My little analysis underlined the benefit of taking advantage of the $1 of soy milk coupons when they are available.

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