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Free $100!

February 28th, 2008 at 03:56 am

Did you get your free Suze Orman book on Valentine's Day?

If not, there's another chance for a freebie advertised on page 85 of the book:

Get started on Suzeís Save Yourself Plan by opening a new account with TD AMERITRADE, featuring a special high-yield deposit account with a 2.78% Annual Percentage Yield (as of February 1, 2008). Your cash is held in an FDIC-insured Money Market Deposit Account (MMDA) at TD Bank USA, N.A.

There are no maintenance fees on the account, plus you receive the $100 offer for making 12 monthly automatic deposits of at least $50 each to help you build up your account balance. [Ö] Should you need to withdraw the money prior to the twelve-month commitment, you may withdraw all of your deposits, plus the interest earned. However, you will forfeit the $100 bonus.


I'm game! AMERITRADE's money-market interest rate isn't as good as others, but the $100 bonus makes up for it.

For more info, see A Message from Suze and Jonathan from MyMoneyBlog's post on this offer.

Ripped Denim

February 21st, 2008 at 03:49 am

Sidestream Income:
$1474.93 old total
$35.00 babysitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $1509.93

I made $35 babysitting tonight and then fell on the sidewalk after leaving their house and ripped a hole in the knee of splurge jeans. Uggh. Ripped designer denim IS NOT the look I'm going for!

Sidestream Income

February 19th, 2008 at 02:29 am

Sidestream Income:
$1114.93 old total
$360.00 House / Dog sitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $1474.93

I received payment for the house / dog sitting I did earlier this month. I've decided to deposit all house sitting money in my Roth IRA to help me reach this year's 5K maximum contribution.

Free Suze Orman "Women & Money"

February 14th, 2008 at 03:53 pm

Download a free copy of Suze Orman's book "Women and Money" until 8pm tonight from Oprah's web site.

The related show looks very interesting. Unfortunately I'm traveling and won't be able to watch my Tivo'ed episode until next week!

Leftovers + Creativity

February 12th, 2008 at 02:19 am

I love being able to make dinner using odds and ends in the kitchen.

Last night I threw the following into the Crockpot:

1/2 diced onion
1 diced green pepper
Tomato Sauce (leftover from a 28 oz can I opened last week for homemade pizza)
1- 8 oz package tempeh, crumbled (purchased for a recipe I intended to make weeks ago but never did)
Leftover black beans from my dried-bean experiment
2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

I turned it to low and let it work it's magic while I was at work all day.

Any guesses to what this made?

Anyone?

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes! I spooned the "meat" onto a roll with some lettuce... the result was super yummy, frugal, and easy.

Frugal Valentine's Day

February 10th, 2008 at 03:30 pm

Even though we're currently living in different cities, I am going to be able to spend Valentine's Day with Mr. Bean this year. That's a special treat itself since Valentine's Day is on a Thursday and I usually can only visit on weekends.

Our Valentine's Day plans are pretty much the same as they are every year: a special home cooked meal and night in. We're both happy with this arrangement. We do have tickets to a performance on Friday night, so that's another something special to look forward to. I blogged about our Valentine's Day last year- it was fabulous, but again, it was the time together rather than any fancy event that made it so much fun.

Read Meredith from Like Merchant Ships post and comments on St. Valentine's Day Without Spending post for more ideas. I particularly liked the one idea in the comments to secretly spruce the guest room as a romantic Valentine's Day suite! What a fantastic idea! We don't have any spare rooms, but if someday we do, I'll definitely keep that idea in mind!

Pinecone Survey

February 7th, 2008 at 01:54 am

Sidestream Income:
$1111.93 old total
$3 Pinecone Survey
--------------------------
TOTAL: $1114.93

I received my first PineCone check today! The money certainly is better than MySurvey.com-- the only other survey site I participate in. At this rate, I could stand to make $20 / year from surveys ;-)

I haven't babysat in a week, but I will housit starting on Friday for 6 days. That should bring in another $360.

Aldi Love, Aldi Hate

February 6th, 2008 at 02:06 am

Remember my excitement over the $0.99 boxes of sushi from Aldi? Well, put your jealousy to rest, beacuse that was about all they were worth. The rice was hard, and the fish texture was off. All in all, I was disappointed and glad I hadn't paid the original price of (gasp) $5.99 / box. With that said, I ate all the boxes I purchased and was glad I had them on hand for days when I didn't have leftovers for lunch. I'd say I was as happy with the frozen sushi as I'd be with a microwave meal.

This got me thinking about what Aldi items I do love. Things that came to mind:

Mama Casita Canned tomatoes with chilies, at $0.49 / 14.5 oz can these are a great value, plus the chilies are nice and spicy- unlike my store brand. The plain diced tomatoes are also a great value at $0.44 / 14.5 oz.

Block Cheese, $1.79 / 8 oz

Just Juice (a Juicy juice knock off), $1.89 / 64 oz

Millville Cereal (most are $1.69 / 16 oz. box and taste just like the name brand)

Millville Rolled Oats ($1.49 for a huge canister)

Fresh baby spinach, $1.39 / 9 oz bag. although the last time I was there it was close to expiration and on sale for $0.50!

Butter, $1.89 / pound.

Chicken Broth ($0.39 / 14.5 oz can)

I am disappointed with the Aldi shredded cheese. It has a lot of extra preservatives and it doesn't melt terribly well. Similar issues with Aldi's 100% Whole Wheat. It is 100% whole wheat but also has a laundry list of other ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup.

What Aldi items do you love? What are you disappointed with?

Dried Beans

February 4th, 2008 at 11:59 pm

My blog's title is due in part to my fondness for the humble bean. Legumes are wholesome, tasty, versatile and cheap, what else could you want in food?

Despite my bean penchant, I admit always buying the canned rather than dried variety. Once, as a college student, I tried to cook dried beans and the result was less than appetizing. My local grocery stores sells a variety of canned 15.5 oz beans for $0.55 each, so dried beans hardly seem worth the hassle.

However, yesterday I threw caution to the wind and cooked up some dried beans in the Crockpot. The result was superb! I mixed 1 cup dried beans with 4 cups water and 1 bay leaf, turned the crock pot on high and ~5 hours later, I had a pot of tasty, fragrant beans.

I used about 3/4 in a chili recipe and will use the rest later this week.

I'm converted!

More babysitting cash

January 30th, 2008 at 05:09 pm

Sidestream Income:
$1046.93 old total
$65 babysitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $1111.93

I made $65 babysitting last night. I think that's most I've ever made in one bout of babysitting ($60 was my previous high).

This has been a big month for side stream income! I don't anticipate future months to be this good! The money is welcomed, since I was also on a bit of a spending binge this month.

Sidestream Income

January 28th, 2008 at 04:04 pm

Sidestream Income:
$756.93 old total
$40 rideshare
$250 airline vouchers
--------------------------
TOTAL: $1046.93

I went to visit Mr. Bean this weekend. I took along a rider who gave me $40 for the round trip ride. I also sold the airline vouchers we received as audience members on the Dr. Phil show this past Fall. I wish we could have used the vouchers, but it didnít seem like we would have time before they expired. At the very least, we got some cash and the buyer got a great deal!

I feel a little guilty counting the $250 for the vouchers as income because we quickly spent the $250 (and then some) hosting a very big, very non-frugal party. Whoopsies!

It's my lucky day!

January 24th, 2008 at 03:50 am

I have a CD at Emigrant Direct maturing in early February. I planned to re-invest the money in a CD, but was worried that interest rates would drop again after the Fed meeting next week (note: this thought process was BEFORE Monday's emergency meeting and rate drop).

So, over the weekend I filled out the necessary forms online to open a new CD at Emigrant Direct with money from my Savings account close in value to the CD that will mature in February. I figured once the CD matures, I'd cash it out to replete my savings account. Over the weekend, Emigrant's CD rate was 4.55% APY.

My confirmation said the transaction would b e complete on 1/23. When I checked out Emigrant web page today (1/23), I saw they had dropped their CD rates to 3.5% APY. I fully expected this was the rate I would receive, but to my pleasure, I still got the 4.55% APY.

Yea! Every little bit helps!

Overcharged!

January 22nd, 2008 at 04:16 am

It pays to review your receipts and purchases! I've had two overcharge incidents already this week.

Incident #1:
I recently bought 2 pairs of running shoes online. My e-receipt was for $119.15 but my credit card was charged $154.35. I emailed customer service and they said the problem would be fixed-- you better believe I'm going to watch my statement to make sure it is! That's a $35 difference!

Incident #2:
We pre-bought heating oil at $2.699 / gal, but the invoice following the latest delivery was at $2.711/ gal. When all is said and done, I was only overcharged a few dollars, but I'm going to call and get it corrected. It's not right, and if they're doing it to me, I wonder if they are making this "mistake" with all the pre-buy customers!

Interestingly, I shredded a bunch of old receipts from a few years ago earlier this evening, including our pre-buy oil receipt from August 2004 when we paid 1.499/ gal!

I most likely wouldn't have caught either of these mistakes prior to my financial conversion. Ahh, the lessons learned!

Babysitting $$

January 20th, 2008 at 06:05 pm

Sidestream Income:
$726.93 old total
$30 babysitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $756.93

I made $30 babysitting last night. At least my side stream income for 2008 is surpassing my the amount I've spent on the self-beatification splurge this month!!

More Splurging!

January 20th, 2008 at 04:59 am

Well, the splurge was not complete! I went ot the Mall this afternoon to return some clothes my mother gave Mr. Bean for Xmas. He said I could use the refund money to get something for myself since I was doing the return. So, I spent the return money (~$20) and then some. Good golly the stuff was CHEAP-- the prices were what I would expect at the end of season, although we still have a good 2-3 months left of winter in my part of the country. I guess that's what happens when consumer spending declines. I couldn't resist a few more items to spice up my wardrobe.

Lest anyone worry I've fallen off my rocker, I can afford these little splurge. I've already contributed $900 to my 2008 Roth. But, I still feel a little uneasy about the spending. Even though I think I'm doing OK with saving, there's this little voice in the back of my head saying: "Save more! Don't rationalize your wastefulness!"

Since I've been using Quicken for over a year now to track all my expenditures, I think it would behoove me to go back and analyze it a little closer. By doing so, hopefully I'll come to ease with these occasional splurges or be able to somehow quantify how much of a splurge will still be responsible.

1/3 Life Crisis!

January 17th, 2008 at 04:00 am

Sidestream Income:
$701.93 old total
$25 babysitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $726.93

I earned $25 babysitting this evening. Thanks to the house sitting earlier this month 2008 is looking GREAT!

Now, if I can only quell my spending! I just ordered the granddaddy of ceramic hair flat irons for $100 earlier today. Designer jeans, highlights, expensive hair products? What has become of me! Is this my one-third life crisis? When all is said and done, the total for these items is ~$225. Let's hope the splurge is complete!

2007 $20 Challenge Recap

January 15th, 2008 at 02:56 am

A relatively quick look through my Quicken records reveals a few insights from my 2007 Challenge.

My top new income streams were:

Babysitting: $2026.00
eBay Sales: $507.91
Housesitting: $300.00
Garage sale: $240.00
Half.com sales: $231.14


My final Challenge total was $3477.01, the bulk of which (95%) came from the 5 sources listed above.

I am particularly proud that all of these income streams are things I wasnít doing prior to 2007. Furthermore, these money generating "schemes" are sustainable activities that I will continue to do in the future. I have decided to try to limit my babysitting to one family for 2008óthe family for whom I first started babysitting for in January 2007. They typically need me 2x / week, so the income is not inconsequential. As I took on more families, I realized I wasnít leaving any free time for myself. I felt cranky and worn out. I think this will be a healthy compromise.

My take home pay for my graduate student stipend plus salary for teaching summer school was $20,685 in 2007. The money from the $20 Challenge represents an additional 17% in income. At times I felt like all the work to add to the Challenge was for nil- some weeks I felt like a professional child care provider, yet after one year I earned just slightly more than $2000 from babysitting. I also think that by focusing on earning more money I was more hesitant to spend money. My thought process was something like: ď$50 for a sweater when I have a drawer full already? Thatís 5 hours of babysittingóIíll pass!Ē Also, for better or worse, when you babysitting on Saturday night you are not out spending money!

What I will do with the money? I had thought about using the money to begin to dabble in some non-retirement investing. However, after learning more about the tax consequences Iíd face and weighing my other goals (ie- continue to save for house down payment and max out Roth IRA for 2008) it seemed foolish to use the money for anything else.

Thanks to all who supported me with your comments and encouragement!

Beauty dilemmas

January 14th, 2008 at 09:43 pm

Sidestream Income:
$211.93 old total
$480 housesitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $701.93

I got paid for the house sitting I did last week. House sitting involves living/sleeping at the house and taking care of the dog, mail, trash etc. The home is ~10 miles from where I live, so I used much more fuel than I typically do in a given week, but it's still a good gig to have.

I wrote a lengthy entry last night about the money I've spent in the beauty/fashion care department in the last week (new jeans, highlights etc), but lost the entry before it was published. Hopefully I'll find the time to re-write it. The post basically told the tale of woe that I've been feeling really frumpy as of late. It's probably not coincidental that I also turned 30 this week. To be honest, I'm happy with my size and shape, I just don't feel like I have the right clothes or take the time to look a little better. I think with turning 3-0 I came to realize I might as well enjoy what I have because it won't be around forever.

Interestingly, other bloggers I read have recently expressed similar feelings. I took a plunge and got highlights last week--but held onto my frugal ways and had them done at the beauty school. I couldn't be happier! They look great and they cost only $30! I wouldn't go to an inexpensive chain salon like Super Cuts for highlights, however. Why? The stylists at the chains are typically inexperienced and they are pressed for time. The beauty school stylists can take all the time they need (note: don't make an appointment at the beauty school if YOU have someplace to be!), and they have an experienced instructor guiding them.

The money saved on the highlights will help to offset the the price of the designer jeans I also splurged for :-) People say having one great pair of jeans is better than 8 pair of ill-fitting jeans. Well, I have 8 pair of ill-fitting jeans, so and the verdict is still out on this purchase. I will say their fit is definitely better, and the store altered the length for no extra cost. I had been contemplating taking the designer denim splurge for some time, but Madame X's musing on the topic helped remind me of this pressing priority! The jeans were originally $175, but on sale for $79.50. Yikes! Frugal? Heck no! But my butt looks good!

More Sidestream Income

January 13th, 2008 at 03:54 pm

Sidestream Income:
$161.93 old total
$60 babysitting
--------------------------
TOTAL: $221.93

I babysat for 6 hours last night (until 2am-- I'm tired this morning!)

Side Stream Income

January 9th, 2008 at 05:34 pm

Iíve decided not to participate in the Challenge for 2008. I really like the idea of using the Challenge for finding new income streams, and frankly, I donít think I can come up with anything new after the last yearís romp! Plus, what I did last year (selling things, babysitting and housesittng) is still working for me, so Iíll continue to use my time and energy to pursue these endeavors. Hey, if it ainít brokeÖ..

Although Iím not going to participate in the Challenge, Iím going to continue to track my side streams of income here. Itís fun for me, and from what Iíve read in the comments, itís motivating to some readers.

So with that said, Iíve made some babysitting money and half.com cash in the New Year. The babysitting jobs were both found in response to ad I posted on Craigís List for babysitting available on New Yearís Eve. Although no one took me up on NYE, people did you the ad to inquire about my availability on other dates. I babysat for 3 hours on New Yearís Day for one family, and for 3 dates for a total of 8 hours for another family. I also sold one of the textbooks I got for free on Half.com.

Sidestream Income:
$110 babysitting
$51.93 Half.com profit*
--------------------------
TOTAL: $161.93

*sales fees, shipping and mailing supplies deducted

Over the weekend I hope to be able to reflect and post on the 2007 Challenge.

Keepin' it Real Since 1978

January 8th, 2008 at 04:29 pm

Reflections of my $20 Challenge are coming... next week?

I'm house sitting this week and away from my desk top computer and Quicken records. On the bright side, I'm making $60 / day for sleeping a house 5x the size of my own and walking a dog. Between the babysitting and house sitting, sometimes I question my decision to get a PhD and wonder if I'm just better suited to be woman-servant to the well-off.

Yesterday was also my 30th birthday! Yes, I've been keepin' it real since 1978. Mr. Bean is in town and helping me enjoy the palace lifestyle (this was OK'ed by the homeowners first, of course). We're going out to celebrate the birthday tonight at one of the town's finer dining establishments, expense abatement compliments of Restaurant.com.

Be Nice to Your Babysitter

January 3rd, 2008 at 04:46 am

The ad I posted on Craig's List for babysitting jobs has received a great response-- I'd call it a babysitting blitzkreig. I babysat yesterday for three hours at a hotel for a new Professor's kids while he and his wife went househunting. The kids were a little on the wild side and potty-mouthed. Tonight I babysat again for the new family with the 2 yo and 8 month old. I babysit for them 2 more times and then.. I AM DONE aside from my one glorious family whom I regularly babysit for.

At $10 / hour, babysitting can be profitable, but given the big jump in income I'll be experiencing in a few months after I graduate (I have a job lined up), it's not worth it when I don't feel like I'm getting treated well. Case in point, both parents were home while I babysat tonight from 5-9pm but they were in other parts of the house. The mother warmed up some leftovers for me to feed to the little boy for dinner, she then dished the remainder onto a plate for herself and her husband then then disappeared, leaving 'ol Beanie with nothing. Luckily, I was able to find a loaf of bread in the fridge so I ate a slice of that. I don't think they meant to leave me hungry, but it just seemed like as long as the kids were out of their hair, no one thought about me. When I took the job, the mom actually asked if I would wait to eat until I got there so I could eat with their son-- like many kids, he eats better when others are eating. I guess I made the erroneous assumption that they would provide me with a little food to eat!

One of the other new families made a big deal of constantly emailing and reminding me when they wife overpaid me $10 when she didn't have the correct change. We all acknowledged I had been overpaid and agreed to just carry over the "credit" for the next time. So what was the reason for all the emails reminding me of the $10 credit? Did they think I was going to skip town with their $10 bucks? I mean, seriously, who among us is the student and who is the "professional"?

The irony is, all these people want me to keep babysitting for them! Like many situations, it's a two way street and the money alone isn't enough to make me coming back. So, to all the parents out there, if you have trouble finding a babysitter and then finally find one, make sure to be nice to her! People think it's the kids that make the babysitter not come back, let me tell you, parents can be equally deterring!

I know many jobs involve weird bosses and difficult personalities, but when you hiring someone to come into your home and care for your kids-- don't make her feel like a second class citizen.

Challenge Year Total: $3477.01

December 31st, 2007 at 08:33 pm

Old Total: $3445.86
+ $12.75 half.com textbook sale
$18.40 MySurvey.com
------------------------
New (and final) Total: $3477.01

The half.com sale represents the sale price of the book ($18.99) minus the shipping and commission. I also added in the amount I've earned over the past year from a survey site to arrive at my yearly total: $3477.01.


The half.com sale was another textbook I got for free from a professor who was cleaning out her office.

The total represents only new income streams for 2007- in other words, all money represents opportunities I sought out as part of the Challenge.

Later in the week, I'll post some reflections on the experience. Some of you may wonder what I plan to do with the money- as I've eluded to on the Message Boards, I plan to use it to invest in my first non-retirement mutual fund. I'm still in the process of determining which one.

Almost at Year's End!

December 30th, 2007 at 06:05 pm

Old Total: $3395.86
+ $50.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $3445.86


Phew!

I also made a half.com a sale and have some survey cash. I'll add that in tomorrow after I mail the book. It looks like my yearly total will be just under $3500.

$40 for Challenge

December 29th, 2007 at 07:02 pm

Old Total: $3355.86
+ $40.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $3395.86

I returned from 5 days at my parents last night and then babysat this morning from 8am-12-- earning $40. I'll go back again tomorrow for 5 hours.

I can't decide if this push for more babysitting jobs is worth it. After the holidays I'm cooling the babysitting. I suppose it **IS** worth it (at least for a short while)-- I've made about $200 in picking up new families. It doesn't seem like much, but I guess that's how money accumulates-- slowly and piece by piece.

$105 for Challenge

December 21st, 2007 at 03:29 am

Old Total: $3250.86
+ $105.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $3355.86

I made $105 babysitting for the new family this week. Tonight was a little easier-- maybe we all just needed to adjust to each other. The little boy is jealous of the 8 month year old. I understand why, but it makes it difficult to care for her while trying not to make him feel like second fiddle. If I can toot my own horn for a minute, I will say that I think I have a knack for kids. From what I've heard from their other sitter and the parents, I think I'm making a lot of progress with the little guy.

Oh well. I said I'd sit for them the week after Christmas. I'll have to see how that goes and them decide if this is something I want to continue.

$40 for Challenge

December 20th, 2007 at 04:50 am

Old Total: $3210.86
+ $40.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $3250.86

I babysat for my "regular" family tonight. I've also babysat 2x for a new family, and will do so again tomorrow. They said they'd pay me at the end of the week, so I'll wait until then to add the $$ to the Challenge.

The new family has made me realize how much I love my regular family! I'll spare the details, but it's made me think that I'm better off losing out on a little bit of $$ and continuing to babysit only for the one family. My sanity is worth more then $10 / hour!

$20 babysitting

December 16th, 2007 at 11:27 pm

Old Total: $3190.86
+ $20.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $3210.86

New babysitting jobs

December 15th, 2007 at 10:36 pm

Big babysitting day today: This morning I met with a new family who needs help over the University's Winter Break. They seem like a really nice couple. My first time babysitting for them will be Monday night, but if all works out, there should be ~ 40 hours of work over the next several weeks (the Mom is also a PhD student, and she needs 2 hours / night M-F to do her own work uninterrupted since she spends part of the regular work day home with the kids).

Then, at 2:00pm I went to the home of another family and babysat their 14 month old for 4 hours. Mom and Dad are professors and need uninterrupted time to work (I'm sensing a theme here!). If the weather isn't bad, I'm supposed to come back tomorrow and again for the Saturday-Sunday after Christmas.

I'm charging both families $10 / hour (I've just decided to say that's my rate).

This evening I'm going to my regular babysitting family- but as a guest at their Christmas party! I was happy to be invited. I bought Webkinz for the kids... I know they'll be thrilled!

Old Total: $3150.86
+ $40.00 babysitting
------------------------
New Total: $3190.86

Babysitting Galore!

December 13th, 2007 at 07:47 pm

I donít know if the first snowday of the year has made people start to think about their childcare situation, or if the snowy weather is keeping people inside and in front of the computer, BUT after a week of silence, Iíve just received 3 inquiries about the childcare ad I placed on Craigís List! Iím meeting with 2 families on Saturday- one for just a meeting and the other for a 4 hour gig (Mom will be home, but working in her office) and she wants me for another 6 hours on Sunday!

Safety is always a concern when using Craigís List. Iím lucky to live in small town where almost everything is centered around the University. Everyone who has contacted is affiliated with the University and I can double check all the info they have provide me in the Directory, so I feel comfortable that people are who they say they are.


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