Monday, August 6, 2007

Revamping our August Budget & Shopping for Value

Tonight we'll be needing to revamp our August budget (or at least see where we stand). We went over a bit on our planned spending this weekend, but most of the items were coming from categories assigned to them (eg: House Maintenance, which I bought a ceiling light & fan for our dining room we were lighting with candles for the past 2 years). My next big house project is insulating our basement

I've also swung from buying the cheapest to buying quality items. I used to look for the cheapest item and go with that, but as those cheap items start rusting away or breaking at our house (we've had a couple of kitchen items go bad recently), I'm going away from that route. As an example, I spent $4 on one whisk that has a lifetime warranty by Oneida and can be washed in the dishwasher vs. spending $3 (again) for a set of 3 whisks that are hand wash only and rusted on us. I am also making sure items with warranties are on their own receipt, stapling the receipt to the paperwork that came with it, and filing it in a folder based upon where it's used (eg: Kitchen, Living Room, Outside, Bathroom, Whole-House Appliance). For larger items, I'm putting a label on them for when the warranty expires, so that when that time gets near, we can make sure it's working properly.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Nice Mystery Shopping Date

Last night the wife and I had a great "Mystery Shopping" date. The movie theater that we visited has improved it's service from last month, though there were still items of improvement. They paid for our tickets, our food, and $5 extra. We also went to the Texas Roadhouse and had $25 off our meal at the bar. For couples ever wanting to go to a busy place like that on a weekend, I'd really recommend just eating at the bar. We had no wait (vs. the 40 minute wait for a table), the service was quick (your server is always just a few feet away) and at least at the one we went to it's an open floor, so you got as much smoke as you would anywhere else in the restaurant.

In the end, our date was a net loss of $5, because we went a bit high on our food bill at the Texas Roadhouse. It was well worth it and we'll probably do another date like this in the future.

Friday, August 3, 2007

$100K vs. $45K pay

I just talked to one of my roommates and he's got a bit of a dilemma. I don't even know what I would choose 100%, so I thought I would toss this out here. He's been working for almost a year now as a security guard at a county jail nearby, racking up 80-100 hours a week. Some of that overtime he converted to vacation time (he has 3 months available paid vacation), but the rest now he is pocketing and estimates he is getting $100K/yr gross including the overtime. Most of that money he is saving up to buy a home outright and take care of bad debts from times when he was unemployed.

He also has been interviewing in the city of Chicago to be a policeman, going through all the tests, etc. I found out about it because one of the interviewers called me yesterday about him. He was first interested in it because it's the next logical step up from security guard, but now he is a bit uncertain since it's unlikely that he would get overtime as a police officer. That would mean a pay cut down to $45K and he would probably have to move (which he enjoys our home). The fun part of the interview process too is that they may hire him in a couple of weeks, but they may call him up in 2 years offering a job.

If I was him, I would probably stay where I am as long as I physically can and then take the police officer job after that. I don't know how that man can work 80-100+ hours a week, week in and week out. If I was in the same situation (with wife and daughter), I would jump at the police officer position so that I could spend more time with my wife and daughter.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Spent $375 to make $35!

Well, we just wrapped up 2 mystery shops this evening, where we had to spend a total of $375 in order to get paid $35 ($20 for one and $15 for the other). We'll be having them refund our card this weekend, so the money spent isn't lost, but it's pretty funny to think of it as spending that much just to make 10% back.

Now one of the purchases was for sunglasses. I don't know who buys sunglasses for $275, but I pretended to be one this evening. There must be enough people that do so, otherwise the store couldn't stay open at the mall. They are nice, made of titanium, but not worth as much as my car almost (paid $400 for my car 3 months ago). I'm normally a dollar store type sunglass guy, I figure if I lose them, I won't be that upset. And lose things I do!

The other purchase was for a sofa. I don't understand that people pay $700 for a sofa or $2K for a whole living room set, but there must be folks that do that and then donate their old sofa to me =) The only piece of furniture I've bought was a bed for $300 that had drawers underneath it and made of solid wood. I don't use it as a bed anymore, but the drawers are used as tool storage in my basement. The rest of my furniture has been hand-me-downs from others no longer wanting the furniture.

One last positive thing was we were able to sell one of our gift cards that we received from the baby shower last month for a store we feel is too expensive for clothing. 2 more cards for Kohl's to sell!

No More Clutter, What To Do?

The past few months I've been using the excuse of cleaning out the house so that we would not go out and spend money. I figured it would be good to get rid of the clutter and see how much money we really wasted on things. Well, it's been a week now that I feel our house is pretty much uncluttered and I don't know what to do. It feels weird sometimes to just sit around the house and read a book, go for a walk around the neighborhood, or watch a movie we own.

I think the problem is that I've been associating my identity with being cluttered and always just moving it around in circles, that without the clutter I'm at a loss. My wonderful wife has been planning dinners with guests (2 this week). I'm tempted to go back to work so that we can tackle more debts, but she has asked that we spend some of the summer at least just enjoying each other's company.

Because of that, this coming month I may not be posting much, but I'll probably have some posts on:
  • DIY Roof Repair - Worth It?
  • Insulating My Home
  • Gardening & Giving
  • Value of Spending Time With Your Spouse