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Archive for August, 2008

We spent $22 on gas for our car this month

August 29th, 2008 at 11:35 am

I couldn't believe it when my husband told me that we only spent $22 on gas this month. Yes, we still have two more days left, but geez we still have over a 1/2 a tank left in the car. I know it's unusual, and it is for us too. However, when we decided in June to home school our daughter, and go down to one car to save money, who would have thought.

Okay, I admit most people do have to leave the house. But I work from home, our daughter's piano class is 10 minutes away, our bank is 2 minutes away, and the grocery store is 10 minutes away. We go to church once a week, which is 25 minutes away, and we always do everything to avoid traffic. My goodness, we live in the burbs of Atlanta, and it is pure "traffic hell" at certain times.

Anyway, to think I'm excited about having paid $22 for a 1/2 of a tank of gas, when it used to cost us $12 to fill up the whole tank. We will probably fill up the gas tank on Sunday, because the gas station on the way from church has the cheapest gas. My husband will only put the medium grade gas in our car.

How much do you spend on gas each month, and have you done anything drastic to cut down on gas expenses for your car(s)?

A complaint got me two free dinners with dessert

August 27th, 2008 at 11:42 am

The other day I blogged on restaurants’ prices going up. Well, I'm not one to complain and not do something about it. So I emailed the owners of the restaurant to tell them what I thought about their prices going up. It wasn't a mean email, just factual. I really didn't expect to get an answer, but I did.

They thanked me for my comments, explained why their prices are increasing, and the direction the restaurant is going. Then the amazing part, they thanked me for being a loyal customer, and said, “To bring in the email, and me and a guest can have lunch or dinner with a dessert and beverage on them. Also, they invited me to the grand opening in their new building in October.

Okay, I'm so EXCITED!!! Now, I am a loyal customer for life, at lunch time of course, the prices are cheaper. I even put a great comment on a blog for them on Atlanta's major online newspaper today.

I'm a nice "complainer," that seems to walk away with free stuff. What happens when you complain?

Would you rather have cable or a roof over your head?

August 25th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

I use to have cable, but I got rid of it because I didn't have the self-control to get up off the couch and do my work or just go to bed. However, when I did have cable, it was basic. Not standard but basic. A lot of people get confused between the two. Basic is around $20.00 with all the fees and standard is around $40.00 or so. The cost difference is around $240.00 a year.

Okay, so in mentoring people, one of the biggest money wasters is what they pay for cable. I've had clients paying $240 a month for cable on the verge of foreclosure. Unfortunately, they had determined that premium cable was a necessity, and having a roof over their head wasn't that important.

When looking at ways to cutback and save, there should be no "sacred cows." Meaning, you cannot get attached or joined at the hip with anything. My customer was paying $2,880 a year to watch the "boob tube." So when I suggested they get basic cable to save money, they weren’t hearing it. “What about standard cable,” I asked? Not happening! Their solution was to get a plan that cost $110.00 a month.

Again, basic cable with about 30 channels is around $20.00 including fees. If you were behind on your mortgage, your car was in fear of being repossessed, or your lights were going to be turned off, would cable still be your priority?

New prices at restaurants are highway robbery

August 22nd, 2008 at 01:34 pm

I went to my favorite bbq restaurant today. About every two months I purchase a discount coupon for $12.50 that is valued at $25.00, and I meet my sister for lunch. She lives over an hour away, and it's a half-way point, and it's a nice treat for her.

Our favorite bbq restaurant's food is outstanding, and the prices are very affordable. However, for the last year we have been anticipating their move to a new location. They have been renovating the building for probably a year. I'm very happy for their success. However, yesterday evening when I went to their website, they had a new website. It was beautiful, classy, and they had new menus.

Then I noticed the prices had increased significantly. I mean, the combo that was $13.00 with two sides was now $18.00 with only one side order. The grilled tilapia with two sides that was $11.00 was now $17.00 with one side order. Even the kid’s meal went from $3.00 to $6.00 and the drink was no longer included. We would have to pay $1. The new menu has appetizers now. The chips and salsa/guacamole is $10.00. Crab w/spinach and artichokes is $12.00. Geez, is my bbq joint becoming a fine dining place without my permission?

I called my sister to give her the bad news. We felt sad, because they had now priced us out of their market. Lunch was still affordable, but the drink that was included in the $8.95 price would cost an extra $1.49. Thank God, they have not moved to the new building. They are still using the old prices.

However, we are disappointed because we know the move is coming and it will be rare or never that we will go there.

Have you noticed some of your favorite eatery prices escalating to unreasonable rates? Can you share your experience?

I'm drinking more water for my health & to save

August 20th, 2008 at 11:17 am

Okay, everyone knows we need water to live, right? I mean, water is what makes our bodies operate. Soda and juice habits can be expensive, and can do damage to your body. So I suppose water is the answer, and I'm not talking about bottled water either.

People drink bottled water because they feel it is safer. We're told and programmed to believe that bottled water is cleaner, safer, and healthier. However, a study that did a comparison of tap and bottled found that there was no difference.

Well, you know I'm all about saving money and being healthy. I do not necessarily like bottled or tap. Bottled water was costing us about $10-15 a month. Now, we use filters on our tap faucet and our water pitcher. We have double filtered water. It probably saves us around $90 a year. What is most important, we feel we have made steps to have safer, cleaner, healthier water on our terms.

Do you drink water? What do you do to save money and have healthier water?

Bad news has made me evaluate life, health & money

August 18th, 2008 at 07:53 am

Today I received bad news. I found out my roommate from 17 years ago died after being in a diabetic coma. She was only 41 years old. I had no idea she was even sick. She lives in a different state. We kept in touch via email, but we had not had a real phone conversation for two years. She had emailed me that she was coming to town, and wanted to meet in Atlanta this August. I'm heartbroken, devastated, and re-evaluating my life, and how everything I do affects my life, health, and finances.

Like me, she worked from home. I know working from home you can get into a routine that excludes exercise. You sit and sit, and maybe you hardly take a break. Sometimes I do that. Hearing about my old roommate, I realize how precious life is. How blessed we are to have good health. And how not taking care of yourself can ruin your life, health, and money.

Yes, healthcare is expensive. However, there are some things we can do that are preventative. Cook and eat right, take the time to exercise to circulate your blood, and be in tune with your body to make sure things are functioning properly. Bottom line: if you truly care about your life, do what is necessary to stay healthy. By staying healthy hopefully it will not rob you of your life, health and wealth before your time.

If this helps one person, I will feel like I'm made a difference today.

I'm wondering if home warranties are a waste

August 15th, 2008 at 08:41 am

I just got the bill for the home warranty for our rental property. It is $515.00. Gosh, let me see, last year the company says they saved us $253.00. But we spent $515.00 to save that. Plus, our tenants are responsible for the first $50 of repairs. We had two incidents last year, and then one wasn't even covered under the warranty.

I want a cheaper warranty, but can't seem to find one out there. I'm thinking of putting the $515.00 in an account each year for repairs or emergencies. Our rental is 15 years old, so thankfully we haven't had any major problems. I know something huge could happen and we could be out of alot of money. However, with those home warranties, what you think is covered isn't always covered. We tend to find that out at the last minute, and it's too late.

What about you, do you use a home warranty company for your primary residence or rental property? Know any good deals? If so, are you happy with the service?

I love PIZZA but Geez is it worth the price?

August 13th, 2008 at 07:24 am

One food I love is pizza. Pizza is fun, good, and if you do it right you may be able to get at least three food groups on it. Anyway, at my favorite pizza place, the pizzas start at $20. That's a lot of money for bread and sauce. So we decided to do something about it.

Saturday is officially our pizza day. My husband shops on Saturday, so he picks up a large french bread loaf. That is our crust. Okay, so one way I make my pizza is to:

- cut the french bread in half
- put both halves on a large cookie sheet
- spread spaghetti sauce on the bread (as thick or thin as you like)
- sprinkle some cheese
- sprinkle ground turkey
- slice tomatoes (thin) and spread over pizza
- cut thin sliced onions and spread over pizza
- sprinkle more cheese on top
- bake on 350 degrees or so, and leave in for about 15 minutes (maybe 20)

We experiment with other types of pizzas with french bread too. A nice salad on the side is icing on the cake. Yummy, yum, yum!!! We figure we save at least $13-$15 making our own homemade pizza. The plus, we know our hands and kitchen is clean, and our food is fresh.

So have you come up with any creative ways to save on pizza?

Do you really need a cell phone?

August 11th, 2008 at 11:24 am

What did we do when there were not cell phones? We lived! I realized around six months ago that I really didn't need my cell phone. I work at home, I rarely have it on, and I have NEVER used it for a "real" emergency. I now realize it is a convenience incase of a "what if." However, a "what if" hasn't happened in 10 years.

So now I have a phone plan that is only $26 a month. I get 200 minutes during the day and anytime minutes starting at 9pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. However, I still do not use it. The other reason I do not use my cell phone, is because I believe cell phones are not good for your health. When I have used it, I end up with a headache and a hot spot on my head where I had the cell phone.

Also, I do not need my cell phone for long-distance, because I have unlimited long distance on my landline, and hardly anyone has my cell phone number anyway. It's a convenience that is costing me $312.00 a year. For some people a cell phone is a necessity, but for me it is not. Unfortunately, I have a two-year agreement. However, if I continue to pay monthly for a service I never use, I will say bye-bye to the cell phone.

Do you really need your cell phone or is it more of a want and convenience?

A painless way to save on utilities

August 8th, 2008 at 07:40 am

Many people have problems figuring out how to save on utilities. But the reality is there are many ways you can save money on utilities. One of the things that we do to save money is to only use our washer and dryer when it is completely full loads. Also, instead of using the heavy load, we use the minimum load and wash using cold water. Also, we take the lent out of the dryer after each load dries, so the dryer will dry and run more efficiently.

Next, only use the dishwasher when it is full. Every time you use it, if it isn't full you are using lots of hot water and electricity. Save by making sure the dishwasher is full. Additionally, as an alternative use more paper plates, and use the dishwashing only once or twice a week.

Finally, turn off lights when you leave a room to save on your electric cost. Unplug the television, radio, iron, and other appliances when they are not in use. If they stay plugged in electricity is still going through the current, and you are still being charged.

So, what do you do to save on utilities?

Does giving more set you free from debt?

August 6th, 2008 at 11:05 am

The more you give the more you receive. That is what the Bible says, and I believe it is true. However, if you give will it help you get out of debt? Probably not!

You see, you can give away a lot of money and material things, and be down right foolish when it comes to managing your finances. Therefore, while you may reap a harvest, you may let the harvest slip through your hands. Paying off debt takes discipline, patience, and self-control. It also takes basic common sense and a strategic plan.

You can give, give, and give until you're blue in the face. Then you can receive, receive, and receive. However, it's what you do with what you get. Don't get mad at God when you feel like you've been duped. Maybe you did reap based on your giving, but what did you do with what you reaped? Did you pay-down debt, pay bills, save, invest or give more? Or did you buy a new car, bigger house, bigger toys, and pretend to be rich for as long as it would last?

Thing is, we should give because it's the right thing to do, not because of what we may get out of it. However, if you reap abundance be a good steward over it, manage your resources and money properly, and you may actually be set free from debt.

Simple ways to save on groceries

August 4th, 2008 at 09:29 am

We're always thinking of ways to save money. Always! Well, my husband does all the grocery shopping and he does an excellent job. We spend around $250-$300 a month for a family of three on groceries (food). Then we spend around $100 for supplies. My husband shops every Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. at Super Wal-Mart. No traffic, hardly any people, so he gets in and out.

We always brainstorm on how to save and do things better. Well here are some ideas we implemented to cut our grocery bill.

- instead of buying a six pack of yogurt. We now purchase one large container, and put it in individual containers with lids. Instead of six, we now get around ten yogurts.

- instead of buying cold boxed cereals, we now purchase hot cereals like grits, cream of wheat, and oatmeal. We discovered it's more cheaper, more filling, healthier, and by rotating the three, it last almost a whole month.

- instead of using a pound of turkey hamburger for one dish, I use it for three dishes. The benefit, I stretched it by making it last, and I usually end up cooking once a week instead of two or three.

Do you have any tricks to save on groceries? I'd love to hear them.

I get $75 today to say what I think

August 1st, 2008 at 08:04 am

Today I'm going to a focus group for 90 minutes. Fridays are usually my slow day, so this opportunity came up and I took it.

About 3 times a year I'll do a "focus group," which means a face-to-face survey to find out what you think. They do not sell you anything, you get refreshments, and a check or cash when you leave. I've gotten as much as $150 for 90 minutes. Focus groups can be 45 minutes to usually 2 hours. You can make as much as $200 or sometimes more.

So today, it will take a couple of hours out of my day including drive time, but it's worth it. I usually meet other nice business professionals, eat a few snacks, and walk away with quick easy cash. I even met a girl in college that makes her living only doing focus groups. I'm only signed up with one company, but she was signed up with alot. She said it's the only way she makes her living. I guess, depending on how busy they keep you, you could easily make $400-$500 a week for a few hours. Can't beat that.

Have you ever done a focus group before?