Holiday in a Cup

well, in a cupcake.

Here’s my singular attempt to celebrate another holiday which is only marginally acceptable because it comes with a paid day off work:

Sugar + Sugar = Hyper
Sugar + Sugar = Hyper
More Sugary Goodness
More Sugary Goodness


I am well aware that I over my designated grocery budget this month.  And yet I went shopping today.  It’s not that I lack the willpower or awareness of my budget, nothing could be further from the truth.  As it is there were several deals that would expire by the time July rolls around and I wanted to stock up a little before the crazies, I mean holiday shoppers, hit the stores.

I’m planning on making cupcakes for the office this week so I picked out a vanilla mix and white frosting.  I’m going to decorate them with the plethora of sprinkles I’ve been hoarding. The good news is that they already taste like cardboard so the shelf life is irrelevant!


22 cans of vegetables and beans on sale, yogurt for morning snacks, blackberries, strawberries and celery, and vegetable oil.  Not a bad haul for just two stores.  I’ll grab the Sunday paper tomorrow to see who is running sales for the 4th of July weekend.  Since I have all of Friday off this week I’m hoping to get most of my painting projects done for the list as well as the rest of scanning for my family photos.

For now here’s a picture of the pantry, all filled up!

full o food
full o food

The only things I plan on checking off the list tomorrow are the kitchen windows and cleaning out those cabinets.  I don’t know what’s hiding in the back and I’d like to see what I have in order to plan more meals.

Savings Goals in 2009

Usually I come up with fanciful goals for myself to save thousands and thousands of dollars for some thing, don’t ask me what, and then life gets in the way.  But in the last year posting on the Women In Red Savers thread on MSN has helped me focus on savings goals.  While I directed the majority of my discretionary income toward paying off my car loan, I kept making savings goals.

Now that my car is paid in full I am spending more time figuring out just how much I can save every month and, more importantly, what I’m saving for.

I find that having a concrete goal is vital to making the commitment to putting aside money.  Also this money needs to be accessible but not immediately.  The solution for me was an online savings account through ING, several in fact.

But before I start saving for a replacement computer or vacation I needed to set up an Emergency Fund.  The Emergency Fund is the foundation of any financial house as it ensures that you have options when you need to spend money you had not planned to spend.  Last year I got a flat tire, was hit by a big rig, and had to move.  Without an Emergency Fund the stress can be overwhelming. My blog buddy Nitza asked the following question:

what is your goal for your EF? Three months’ worth of expenses? Six? More?

My goal is to have one year of expenses accessible in case of a job loss or medical emergency.  One major motivation in paying off my car was that my Emergency Fund requirements went WAY down. I was paying over $3,000/year on my car payments and eliminating that bill means a little less needs to be saved.  This year’s goal was $15,000 for the Emergency Fund split up in 4 places:

  • $500 Cash
  • $500 Bank
  • $500 Credit Union
  • $13,500 ING Online

The reason for the split is simple: Cash is in case I need to get somewhere NOW and have no time to get to the bank for cash.  I want money in both of my banks in case one account is compromised and the bulk in the account with the best interest rate (in this case ING).  A full 12 month Emergency Fund is closer to $20,000 so that’s a long term goal.

Setting Categories

When it comes to deciding what to save for it’s really a personal decision.  I want to save for retirement and big expenses as well as unexpected problems like a car problem or if my dogs get sick. In addition to the Emergency Fund I have I have the following accounts:

  • Car Maintenance
  • Computer Repair
  • Furniture
  • Gifts
  • House Maintenance
  • Insurance Premium
  • New Car
  • Pets
  • Roth IRA
  • Student Loan Payoff
  • Vacations

Some of these accounts are revolving like the 6-month insurance premium, gifts and Roth IRA.  Other accounts will be used and replenished as needed such as the car maintenance, computer repair, pets, house maintenance and furniture funds.  The new car fund is a multi-year goal while the student loan payoff is in order to compile the money needed to pay off my loans – Sallie Mae makes it uber difficult to make larger payments.  And finally the vacation fund here is for Las Vegas and Disneyland in October.  Since I plan on spending very little money on my vacation I’ll roll the money over into 2010’s vacation destination (yet to be determined).

Setting Goals

It’s really easy to say you’re going to save $2,000 for this and $5,000 for that without knowing a) how much you need and b) how you’re going to save it.  I’ll be the first to admit my savings goals are optimistic but I had 2 motivations.  First is that I was able to anticipate the $7,500 first time home buyer’s tax “credit” and second is a car accident settlement that I’m expecting this summer for between $10,000 – $18,000.

Here are my goals:

Name Goal
Car Maintenance 2000
Computer/Laptop 250
EF – Cash 500
EF – Level 1 500
EF – Level 2 500
EF – Level 3 13500
Furniture 1100
Gifts 500
House Maintenance 1500
Insurance Premium 800
New Car 10000
Pets 500
Roth IRA 6500
Student Loan Payoff 3900
Television 430
Vacations 1000

Some the goals have been met such as the TV and others are in progress.  I keep it updated though!

Walgreens Again

Since June was my designated “nuclear meltdown budget” month I’ve been fortunate enough to stay out of the stores most of the time.  Except Friday, somehow I ended up at Walgreens on Friday.  While I found a few things that I needed and a few things for fun the bulk of my purchases came from the clearance food section.

Generally, I try to keep my ready made meals at or under $1 each serving.  Thus a can of soup should be $1-2 depending on the size (actually most canned goods), a box of pasta mix or macaroni & cheese should be $1 or less for 3-4 servings, etc.  Well I found some great deals:

my purchases
my purchases

Those are packets of sliced almonds for 80 cents that I can use on salads, Twizzlers, spices on sale for 50 cents, dried fruit for $1 and soup for $1.  The only full price item was the red piping icing for some 4th of July cupcakes.  Not pictured is the $2 frozen pizza and the $1 mini brownie brownie thingy.

Now I’m off to Rite Aid and grocery shopping!

Frugal Flowers

This past week a friend of the family died and since my Mom was out of the state on vacation I volunteered to attend one of the services and take flowers.  Now it would be easy enough to order a bouqet from the florist or even a plant from the nursey. But it would also be expensive.  So I created my own.  Here’s what I did:

Picked out a sturdy square vase and flower foam:

basic supplies
basic supplies

A variety of cutting instruments:

beware of sharp edges
beware of sharp edges

The knife was used to cut the foam, the shears to cut the stems and the scissors to cut off leaves.

And of course the flowers:

uncut flowers
uncut flowers

The flowers came from Costco where the prices are surprisingly reasonable.  I paid $15 for one bouquet and $9 for the other.  Since our friend who passed was a woman and the base I had was pink I decided to go with pink and purple pastels.  First up was to take out all that greenery and cut the stems.  It’s advisable to cut the stems at an angle and submerge them immediately into water. I don’t know who figured this out as I asked the plants and they refused to respond. There are NO pictures of me trimming stems because me + camera + shears = ER visit. This is also a good time to pull out any flowers that are snapped in half or stems without blooms. Once the stems were cut I threw them into a trash can filled with water:

nice pot
nice pot

Now that was so pretty I almost considered leaving it as is.  Maybe the next time a friend of mine moves into a new house a new trash can + flowers will be a fun gift…

Instead  I started to take out the blooms and put them into the water drenched foam.  Most websites will tell you to put the open blooms in the middle, closed blooms along the outside.  Yeah, I ignore that advice. After all, when the older ones start to shrivel it’s much less noticable if you trim them back from the sides, otherwise they’ll be a big hole in the middle of the arrangement.  So I started with the pink ones:

work on the center first
work on the center first

I also vary the heights so that they will bloom and fill out the bouqet.  After the pink flowers I added the carnations and purple ones (I’m terrible at names in case you can’t tell…)

filling it out
filling it out
adding more blooms
adding more blooms

Now that all the flowers are in I did a little rearranging, mostly turning flowers and making sure they were mostly visable.  I decided it looked a little sparse so I added in some greenery, the baby’s breath and eucalyptus leaves.  Here’s the finished product:

all done

And there you go! A $25 bouquet that looked great next to the other arrangements, was fun and easy to put together and conveys just some of the sympathy for the family who lost a loved one.  Showing people that you care doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

June Budget update 2

June Budget

Mortgage $1100     PAID $1,100

Car/Life Insurance $140 PAID $140

Home Phone/Internet/Cable $100 PAID $100

Gas/Electric $50    PAID   $38.86

Trash $60   PAID $72.07

Sewer/Water $75   PAID  $59.94

Fuel $150 SO FAR $98.79

Dog Food $40   PAID $21.99

Food $100   SO FAR: $117.90

Medical $20    PAID $20

Clothes $75 SO FAR $0

Student Loan Payment $52 paid $52

Savings – SM $300   TRANSFERRED $200

Savings – Car $25   TRANSFERRED $25

Savings – EF $50 TRANSFERRED $50

Savings – Roth $50  TRANSFERRED $40

Total: $2387

I’m doing rather well despite going over on my household budget (not posted) and buying a few entertainment items.  Despite putting a budget up here somehow my *real* budget tracking is different.  Like I budgeted $80 for medical expenses just in case I ended up needing another trip to the doctor this month.

In part because of my bonus this month and a couple higher than average paychecks at job #2 I’ll end up with about $1,275 extra this month even after sending $365 to savings so far.  Next I really should update my savings goals here.

Peanuts and Crackerjacks

It’s summer and I love me some baseball! Being a frugal gal I especially love when my employer offers free suite tickets, parking and lunch with said baseball.

Today’s game was everything that America’s pasttime should be: exciting, full of suspense and fun.  It was a beautiful day in this park which boasts views of the Tower River Bridge and downtown, including several high rises my company has had a hand in building.

One of my favorite movies is the 2000 Sean Connery film Finding Forrester which explores the relationship between a 16 year old writer and Pulitzer Prize winner William Forrester played by Connery who gets some of the best lines, such as:

“Writers write things to give readers something to read.”

“You ain’t seen nothing? What the hell kind of sentence is that?”

“No thinking – that comes later. You must write your first draft with your heart. You rewrite with your head. The first key to writing is… to write, not to think!”

There are many more quotes that I adore but you’ll just have to see the movie yourself.  One of my favorite quotes takes place between the writers on the baseball diamond. Forrester says:

“We’d spend our summers here. And if we were lucky, the fall.”

the young writer, Jamal, responds:

“A lot of falls with those teams.”

This was my summer day:

beautiful day
beautiful day

Over 14,000 people turned out to watch the cats and boy did we get a good show!

capturing the action
capturing the action

Most of the game was slow, we’d get a hit but the inning would end before we could score.  There were plenty of pop flies even up to the suite level, two that went back over the stadium entirely.

A home run in the 7th and RBI in the 8th put us back in the game and we went into the bottom of the 9th down by one.

tie it up!
tie it up!

After another run to tie up the game with only one out Salt Lake walked our next batter.  Now it’s tied 4-4 bottom of the 9th and bases loaded.  Then this happens:

Winning hit
Winning hit

Which resulted in the following:


All in all a great day at the ballgame and what a way to spend a summer (or fall) day!