My Retoroactive Raise and Other Mumblings

I found out yesterday that my raise is retroactive to Dec. 2 not Dec. 12 as I originally thought. Great! Every little bit helps. I will see on the mid-February cheque what my normal take home pay will be with this raise in place.

I bought a pair of shoes from Winners a couple weeks ago that I was not so sure about. I kept them past the 10 day return period so could only get a GC and not my cash back but that is okay as I shop there quite a bit, though not usually for clothes. I exchanged them today for a pair of boots ($39.99), a blouse($19.99), a sweater ($29.99)and two pieces of wall art ($3.99 each on clearance). I still have a little over $100 left on the GC.

I went secondhand store shopping last weekend as I wrote about doing and it just reinforced for me that I do not enjoy it at all. I was looking for Barbie Doll clothes since they are so expensive brand new but neither Value Village nor Goodwill had any. Both stores had many naked Barbie Dolls, but no clothes. While there, I looked through the women's tops but found nothing but stained or very out dated clothing. I would much rather shop at new clothing stores that have sales.

Food Baskets

Well I won't be trying out food baskets this month after all.

The baskets are supposed to be picked up on Thursdays and when they had not cashed my cheque by earlier this week, I called to ask what was happening and they had no record of me signing up and no record of my payment. After search for my cheque for some time, she called me back to say she found my envelope stuck inside her desk drawer.

I have not decided if I will get a food basket in February. I think I will most likely just continue to buy meat in bulk at Costco, where it is inexpensive, and buy produce at my really inexpensive neighbourhood produce market and the Asian grocery store. The price difference of bok choy at Safeway and at my Asian grocer is staggering!

A Raise is Always a Good Thing

Though it is not large and I likely won't see much of it after taxes, I got a raise yesterday, retroactive to Dec. 12. I am thankful for this increase and I really do not want to seem ungrateful. I still am making a lot less than what I made at my previous two positions (more than $10K less per annum - that is significant!).

I was told yesterday that I will get another increase at my year anniversary, which is in 1.5 months (middle of March). I don't know if that will be the same percentage increase or not.

My boss is very bad at procrastinating - hence why my raise is retroactive to Dec. 12 - and I really hope I do not have to remind him at the one year mark but knowing him the way I do, I most likely will and that makes me uncomfortable.

I think the best thing to do with this additional income will be to put it toward paying off my car.

Weekly eBay Sales - $148.98

This week started off slow as far as eBay sales were concerned but finished at $148.98, which is not bad at all. I have one other item that I am expecting payment for but the buyer said she cannot pay for it until late this coming week so I cannot count that in this week's total.

This extra cash is coming in very handy.

Today wasn't exactly frugal...

I spent a fair amount of money today.

Tuesday night I got home from work and my power had been out and that seemed to have zapped my digital cable box as it was dead and could not be resuscitated no matter how hard tech support tried. It must have been fried by a power surge as it was not plugged into a surge protector.

So, today I purchased a new HDPVR for $312.90 including tax. While this was totally unexpected, I can use my eBay sales to cover the cost. I don't go out much to the movies or other recreational things like that that cost money as I am happy to spend quiet evenings at home watching a very few select shows, which I am happy to watch over and over.

On occasion I would still record the odd thing on tape but I also just discovered this month that my VCR only went up to 2010 so it is not useful for timed recording any longer. So, all in all, I think having a PVR will be really useful for me and is a justifiable, if not necessary to get through life, expense.

I also spent $20.55 on mailing supplies for my eBay items, gum, a couple small items for a gift exchange and Static Guard at London Drugs.

Secondhand Shopping

I've been reading so much on various blogs and on a forum I frequent about the great deals people find at Goodwill and other thrift or consignment stores.

My idea of enjoyable shopping is not having to dig though racks upon racks of clothing to see what might be worthwhile. I don't even like doing that at Winners (Canadian arm of TJMaxx) with new merchandise (I will look at Winners for shoes and bags). The few times I have looked at Goodwill or Value Village I just have not found anything I would wear and found it to be a total waste of time. Given the number of hours I put in between my two jobs (I'm at my part-time job right now) my free time is very precious to me.

I have found the odd thing at consignment stores but, again, it is the having to dig through everything that I really dislike.

I'd love to be able to find a great dress or skirt for $3, $5 or $8 but that just never happens. Maybe if I looked at least once per week I would find something but I just don't have that kind of time.

I have this weekend off from my part-time job and live 5 minutes from both Value Village and Goodwill. Since last weekend I cleaned out my drawers and have some items to donate, I am resolved to go and give it another chance in both stores to see if I can find anything worthwhile. It would be great to be pleasantly surprised.

Tomorrow's Dinner

Ahhh, CrockPots make life so much easier. Tomorrow's dinner - lemon herb chicken - is in the fridge ready to cook on low all day tomorrow. I think I will have it with couscous and a salad.

Weekly eBay Sales - $286.95

I am very pleased with my eBay sales this week. They are a whopping $286.95.

Listing on eBay can be time consuming and I have been out and about all day driving around in the snow - it has not stopped snowing in 9 days - and now that I am finally home and the day is practically over, I do not feel like listing items on eBay. So I may not get items listed this week. We'll have to see how I feel tomorrow night after work.

I love getting bonus money coming into the house. The items I've been selling have, for the most part, just been things around the house that I have not been using, many of which I received for free.

'Free' Money - the best kind

Using some of the money from my recent eBay sales, I purchased a CrockPot, which I posted about earlier, and today I purchased a humidifier as my house is so very dry with the furnace running so often.

It's great to get some needed household items, not have them cost me anything and still have plenty of 'free' cash left over to put toward the car I recently bought.

I Love Getting a Deal

The CrockPot I wrote about yesterday that was on LD's website for $49.99 was on sale in store for $29.99. That is an amazing deal for a 7qt, programmable CrockPot with auto warming mode with BONUS Little Dipper. I was thrilled as I was fully prepared to pay the $49.99. This was paid for by items I had around the house collecting dust that I sold on eBay.

My eBay sales for this week are doing very, very well as another item sold today and I look forward to posting my sales total on Sunday.

I am inspired

I already know that I need easy dinner solutions due to my busy schedule and I have been using my slow cooker a bit but not nearly to its potential.

I have been reading A Year of Slow Cooking and am so inspired. I have printed out a several recipes and have a chicken thawing in the fridge to turn into lemon herb chicken this weekend.

London Drugs has a programmable 7 quart CrockPot with a bonus Little Dipper on sale right now for $49.99 so I am going to take some of my ebay sales money and pick one up as I don't have anything small enough to make dips and the CrockPot I do have is not programmable and does not have a "warm" setting.

This and That

When I post my ebay sales, I only include items that have been paid for. My mid-week ebay sales from items I listed on Sunday are at $216.96 so this is already a great ebay week. I hope to hit the $250 mark by week's end.

I have been really busy this week as I covered an extra part time shift on Monday, worked my own part time shift on Tuesday and had a board meeting tonight. Due to being so busy all three nights so far, I did not have a chance to cook dinners so ended up buying lunch both yesterday and today and probably will again tomorrow unless I find something in the cupboard to take for lunch as everything else is frozen. Actually, I think I have one of those microwaveable rice packages at work so could have that with some fruit or yogurt for lunch tomorrow and save some cash. I may even have one of those small tins of flavoured tuna, which would go great with crackers.

Weekly Ebay Sales - $170.15

I think I mentioned some time back that I was planning to clean out my clutter and sell as much as possible on ebay.

I have been doing that fairly regularly for years but am now again really concentrating on decluttering and bringing extra cash in to the bank account.

It is amazing how much "stuff" one person can accumulate. I listed a number of things on ebay this past week and my sales for the week are $170.15.

I will be listing more items today.

Clearly, frugality is going to take some time...

I did not do nearly as well this week with my spending as I would have liked. Some spending was necessary but most was not.

  • $82.85 on toner for my printer (necessary)
  • $40.07 gas (necessary)
  • $37.00 cheque for grocery basket that I will receive at the end of Jan. (necessary)
  • $40.42 (groceries at 3 different stores - unnecessary for the most part)
  • $$17.07 M&M Meat Shop (totally unnecessary spending on snack food)

My weakness has always been food; just ask my waistline. I did quite well with eating at home but I did pick up more groceries than I really needed to get. I could have gotten by for the week without picking up all those extras. And the M&M trip was completely on impulse.

Here's to a better week this week.

Shoppers Drug Mart Bonus Points Event

A very easy way to get 5,000 bonus points - that's more than half way to a $10 GC.

SDM is having a great bonus points event, which has not been held since August 2009.

If you would like to receive 5,000 bonus points for shopping at SDM, I would be happy to send you an invitation for this event. In order to receive the 5,000 bonus points you must:

- be set up to see your SDM Optimum Points account online
- register for the event through the email I will send you
- shop on January 11, 12, or 13
- spend a minimum of $20 (excludes GCs, tobacco, lottery tickets, bus tickets - the standard exclusions)

That's it.

If you are in Canada and would like to participate, please email me (sydney01 at shaw dot ca) and I will send you an invitation. My email to you will be an affiliate link and I receive points for those I refer.

Hmmm... Food Baskets

I was perusing the web looking for ways to sponsor hampers for less fortunate families throughout the year (not just at Christmas) when I came across a website for a Food Basket Society that is open to everyone and anyone who wishes to partake.

The way it works is there is a $5 annual membership fee and once per month you can pre-order a fresh meat order for $12, an example of which would be 1 kg beef or pork roast, 1/2 kg chicken thighs, and 1/2 kg lean ground beef; a fresh produce order for $8, which consists of 3 kg of seasonal fruits (3 different kinds), two seasonal veggies and potatoes; or both. You can also purchase more than one meat or produce order.

For $20 this sounds pretty good to me. Now, I normally would buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs and I'm sure these would not be and I normally would buy extra lean ground beef for tacos, chili, spaghetti, etc., but for this price I think I am going to give this a try this month and see how it is.

I need to start pinching pennies and cooking at home.

This organization is not a food bank and one does not have to qualify to use it - it is open to anyone who wants to save approx. 25% off grocery store prices. The food is purchased in mass quantity from wholesalers.

Some of the money this will help me save (if I find this is a good system for me) can go toward what I was originally searching for, which was The Food Bank. Now, of course since I need to pinch pennies I need to use the majority of my scrimped and saved dollars to pay off my car loan but I still need to be able to give to those who need a hand up.

Do any of you use a program like this? What are your thoughts?

Pantry Inventory

In order to meet my objective of eating homemade meals the vast majority of the time, I took inventory of my pantry this morning to determine what I need to pick up at the store for meals for the week. Luckily, I am not adverse to leftovers and do not mind eating the same thing for a few meals in a row (e.g. chili or spaghetti).

I am going to pick up the ingredients I am missing for:

  • egg and salsa tortilla wraps
  • Mama Cheddar Salad
  • chili

I am going to take advantage of the PG Brand Saver mail-in rebate and stock up on some items I am either out of or am very low on like toilet tissue, facial tissue, Tide, etc. The timing of this rebate is perfect though my shopping bill will be quite a bit higher this week because of it.

2011 Financial Goals

I will borrow GVO's phrase for my first goal for 2011:

1. Get to the end of the month before the end of the money (I am still not making as much at my current company as at my previous 2 positions by a significant margin)

2. Buy an investment property

3. Pay off $7,500 of my new car

4. Continue with retirement, short-term and emergency savings. Amount for retirement savings in addition to TFSA yet to be determined.

Happy 2011!

I am quite happy to ring in 2011 and I am really looking forward to getting back into the blogging world (I know, I have said this before).

Life truly was chaotic the past 2 years and my finances really went out the window given a number of unexpected expenses, some of which went on for over a year (supporting a second house on my single income), and coming up with the funds to cover my dad's funeral, to name just two.

Things have settled down now and I am dedicated to getting back on track financially for 2011 as well as with eating better - which means eating at home as often as possible and, therefore, ties into cost savings. I work about 60 hours per week so do find it hard to always fit in time to make meals but I am certainly going to try.

I have updated my sidebars, which are all looking quite pitiful except for the car loan (LOC). I bought a car in July and have paid a fair amount of it back so that at least feels good.

I took a vacation to Mexico just a couple weeks ago so my vacation fund has been drained and needs to be rebuilt for 2011. It was my best hot weather trip to-date and I definitely plan to go back.

Aside from my TFSA, I do not yet know what my retirement savings goal is yet for 2011. I just plugged in a figure for now to make sure my sidebar is working.