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Archive for December, 2007

Challenge Year Total: $3477.01

December 31st, 2007 at 08:33 pm

Old Total: $3445.86
+ $12.75 textbook sale
New (and final) Total: $3477.01

The 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 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


I also made a 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 don’t 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, I’ve just received 3 inquiries about the

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childcare ad I placed on Craig’s List! I’m 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 Craig’s List. I’m 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.

$50 for Challenge

December 13th, 2007 at 01:22 pm

Old Total: $3100.86
+ $50.00 babysitting
New Total: $3150.86

I made $50 babysitting last night. The kids were eagerly anticipating a snow day today-
and they got it! It's snowy an icy this morning. The public schools are closed, but not the University. Rats!

Sushi at $0.11 / piece! Why I love Aldi!

December 12th, 2007 at 02:04 am

I had to drive 30 miles each way to a Doctor's appointment today- ahh, the joys of small town life!

On a positive note, the doctor was in the same town as the Aldi Supermarket, so of course I couldn't help but take a gander ...and drop $60.

About $20 of the bill has spent on nuts to make

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spiced &
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salted nuts as
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gifts for the Holidays. Nuts aren't something I buy regularly, so I'm not certain the Aldi price was necessarily better than the grocery store, but I figured there was a good chance.

Anyone care to enlighten me?

16 oz Walnut meats: $3.99
16 oz Sea Salt Cashews: $3.99
16 oz Shelled walnut pieces: $2.69
6 oz Pecan halves: $2.69
8 oz Raw Almonds: $1.99

My most exciting purchase were 5 of these frozen 9-piece Sushi ensembles:

They caught my eye during my last visit, but were priced at $5.99 / box! However, today they were on sale for $0.99! I guess Sushi isn't popular with the rural clientèle! If I had room in the freezer, I would have bought more. I figured they would be a great alternative for days when I don't have leftovers for lunch or ever as an appetizer for dinner.

Easing the spending qualms

December 11th, 2007 at 01:19 am

Lots of people have been

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blogging about
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spending more than usual this month.

I feel similarly. Nothing is out of control, but it's adding up. The mattress. A haircut. Gifts. More gifts. I have enough money, but as Madame X wrote, it's watching it evaporate that makes me feel a tinsy bit uneasy. I know I'd feel better if I could make just a little more this month to try to balance it out.

So, to assuage my anxiety about all the spending this month, I posted an ad advertising myself available for New Year's Eve childcare. No one has contacted me yet, but there's still time.

I also responded to an ad from a family looking for in-home childcare for the week of Christmas, 5 hours each day. I am actually going to be with Mr. Bean visiting my parents the week of Xmas, but I said I would be available the last three days they needed someone. I'm supposed to call them on Thursday to talk, so I don't really know what their childcare situation is. I said I charged $10 / hour. I'm not going to do it for less, but if it works out, it will be an extra $150 and possibly a connection to a new family with occasional childcare needs.

Contest Cash!

December 10th, 2007 at 01:51 pm

Old Total: $3075.86
+ $25.00 Blog Contest
New Total: $3100.86

Thanks to everyone who read and commented on my

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blog contest entry and a special thank you to those who voted! Good luck to the December entrants, too!

In case, there was any doubt, I'm adding the money to my Challenge total!

Ride Share

December 10th, 2007 at 03:54 am

Old Total: $3050.86
+ $25.00 rideshare
New Total: $3075.86

I gave a rider (identified through Craig's List) a ride from Mr. Bean's city back to my town earlier today. She gave me $25 for gas.

Kitty Wigs!

December 7th, 2007 at 07:56 pm

If I wasn't a Cheapskate, I'd totally get one of these for my little furry friend.

She'd really look smashing, although she'd probably like destroying and chasing it more than wearing it.

Intrigued? Horrified? Find our more at
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$30 for the Challenge

December 6th, 2007 at 05:03 am

Old Total: $3020.86
+ $30.00 babysitting
New Total: $3050.86

I made another $30 babysitting tonight. I haven't been back to the overnight job since September. I don't know if it will ever resume again-- and if it does if I'll have it in me to go back. As graduation nears, my money making schemes are becoming less of a priority as my thesis work become more time consuming. I've always worked a steady 8-9 hours a day on it, but the final stretch might involve marathon effort.

There will be no babysitting this weekend as I'm going to see Mr. Bean. I was able to find someone to ride one way with me-- which should amount to $25 for "gas".

A Spending Limit for Christmas Gifts?

December 5th, 2007 at 02:01 am

Do you set a spending limit for Christmas? I've thought about it, but I never have. I imagine it might be more of an issue when we have kids and it can be easy to go overboard.

I'm almost done with my shopping, and I was strating to feel a little anxious/guilty that I'd spent too much-- especially given the mattress we purchased this month a a plane ticket I bought to get together with my high school friends in February to celebrate turning 30 together.

A quick analysis in Quicken shows I've spent just under $450 of my own money. I'm unsure how much has been put on our joint credit card since Mr. Bean tracks that. I imagine it's somewhere around $100? We put family gifts on our joint credit card, but oftentimes I'm buying stuff for myself or a gift for a friend at the same time and don't bother to divvy up the purchases. I'm comfortable with these numbers, but knowing what they are will (hopefully) motivate me to cool the spending for the rest of the month!

6 tips on how NOT to get taken to the cleaners when buying a new bed

December 4th, 2007 at 03:57 am

After spending the past 3.5 years sleeping on my husband's 10 year old futon, the Bean's are upgrading to a bona fide bed! Alleluia!

Here are some main points I learned in the process:

1. Mattress prices are negotiable.
Do not pay the sticker price, nor the price that the salesperson says is the "sale" price. Negotiate. If he/ she will not go down in price, head elsewhere. I was getting initial price quotes of $599 and $699 on the exact same mattress at the exact same store chain in retail outlets less than 4 miles apart. When I asked the salesman at the $699 store if it included the frame and he said "no", I realized he thought he could take me. I said thank you and headed for the door.

2. Different stores sell the exact same mattresses using different names.
This is to confuse you and make it harder to comparison shop. Take careful note of the mattress you like so that you can compare it with those at other stores. For example, Simmons offers three lines of mattresses. The lowest is "Classic". A Simmons Classic mattress at Mattress Warehouse is probably the same as the Simmons Classic mattress at Mattress Discounters. Make note of the details and compare. When I tried to tell a salesperson at one mattress chain that I had been offered a better price on the same mattress at a competitor, he asked me the name of the competitor's mattress and then proceeded to pull out a sheet from his desk that named the names of all the mattresses sold at their store with the names of comparable mattresses at other store. Oh how I would have loved to get my hot little hands on that sheet! Alas, I couldn't steal it from him, but it confirmed what I thought was true.

3. Sales at mattress stores are fake.
Don't be pressured to buy something because it's on sale. Mattresses are never truly on sale. You can get the same price weeks later.

4. Ask the sales person to write down the name of the mattress you like on a business card with the price.
Not only will this help you keep the mattresses and their silly names straight, you can also use this as a quote to negotiate with other chains.

5. The sales people will try to keep you away from all mattresses priced under $1000.
When we first started shopping, I thought mattresses under $1000 didn't exist. Then I realized we were just constantly being steered away from them. I had one salesman tell me the mattresses lined up against the back of the store (where the less expensive mattresses were displayed) were only for "children and guest rooms". Huh? So, would it be illegal me to purchase one for my room? I guess so! If you're shy and want to at least test a less expensive mattress, tell them you're shopping for a spare room. Generally speaking, the farther back in the store you go, the less expensive the mattresses will be.

6. If you need a frame, don't get ripped off.
You can order a Queen sized bed frame from for ~$45 and have it shipped free to a store. Don't pay $80+ for a frame at a mattress retailer.

We ended up buying the Simmons Palm Cove Queen Size mattress, box spring and frame from Mattress Warehouse for $550 with free delivery. The sticker price was $699 + $59 for frame. Interesting, in the city where Mr. Bean lives, the identical matress at the same retail chain had a sticker price of $899. Yowsers!

Back in my neck of the woods, the salesman initially he said the best price he could give me was $640 + cost of frame, but when I said his competitor offered $599 and I had a card to prove it, the price dropped to $550 and included a frame.

I can't wait to sleep in my new bed!

More great mattress buying tips are available at MyMoneyBlog

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Part I and
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Part II. Make certain to read the comments-- I learned a lot from them!