Saturday, September 27, 2008

Clutter corner

Today the bathroom is squeaky clean, except for the corner where I keep my swiffer stick. The kitchen is cleaner than it has ever been, except for the corner where I keep my cleaning rags. Somehow at least one corner always remains cluttered at home and ironically its the corner where cleaning supplies are kept. I'm sick an tired of looking at the corner and thinking "Oh how I wish..". So I turn to you today, there's got to be a way of keeping those nasty areas clutter free and pleasing to eyes, like other do you do it...please share your tips on how you keep all those dusting clothes brooms and mops out of sight.
PS: I don't have the luxury of a broom closet yet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Looking back: Did I really use money wisely or was it just my imagination

I had been reading Trent's blog The Simple Dollar, when the idea of doing this exercise struck me. Over the last year I have grown to be much more careful with my money and wary of wasteful expenses...or so I think. I am going to put this notion to test. I'm going to look at all the things that I bought this year, that are over 50$. And see if I have just bought things that are useful, or I have also collected some junk. I can already see that it is going to be fun. It will be easy to do this exercise because I usually jot down all my expenses, with a short note on what item that money was spent on. If I have time, I'll also try to evaluate the expenditures between $25 and $50, but for now, I'm sticking with $50 limit. Let's see...this is going to be interesting.

January expenses over 50$

Breakfast bar - being used almost daily
my shoes - used almost daily - now worn out
BEB's hoody - impulse buy - but used quite a few times


BEB's jacket - Used it a lot last winter, took it to Lake Tahoe trip
My training pants - Currently using them a lot in gym
BEB's Jeans - Has been wearing them day in and day out


My bag - BEB bought it as a gift for me, the most expensive bag I've ever had. I had used it a lot during India trip.


Patio set - Have not used it as much as I would have liked and summer is almost over.

Sewing machine - Not used it a lot, although I sew a skirt and a bag and repaired a couple of clothes. So its not a total waste but could have been used better.


My clothes - I consider it money well spent. I have never felt the dearth of clothes after that shopping. And I love the clothes I bought then, am wearing them everyday to work.


Food Processor - This was a long pending item, but we still bought it on impulse. Although we use it daily. I still feel that we overpaid on this item. Lesson learned - never go to a store when you're to exhausted to compare and check.

GPS - the verdict is still out on this one. We do use it when we travel out of the city and on those rare ocassions its a life-saver.

Bed - It was a delayed purchase that we should have made an year ago. But I couldn't be happier when we finally bought it. Its good.


Sofa - This may get the award of best purchase of the year. We bought a very lightly used one and the price at which we'd snagged never fails to amaze people. We spend most of our time at home on it and we just love it.

Biking gear - We used it for a month but then we started going to the gym, instead of biking and now it is not being used that much.


My clothes - These were solely want based purchases, but I have been wanting to buy these kind of clothes for almost 6 months, and now that I have them, I just love wearing them. Pls I got them at a super low price from the clearance racks. I can't classify these as bad purchase.


Gym membership - so far so good. We have been going almost daily.
Bathroom accessories - This is also one of those "nice to have" purchases. We didn't really need them, but then I got tired of our dull looking bathroom, so we just went ahead and got them.

The verdict - Except for the patio set, there isn't much that I can classify as bad investment. So I can pat my back on this one and can reassure myself that I have gotten better with money.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

September half month pulse check: Sweat it out edition

Hmmm...we have been doing ok, but not as good as I would like to see us do. We made use of all the wiggle room we had already. A Gym membership, some gym accessories and bathroom makeover later I see that there's no way we are going to hit our targeted budget in September.

The good news however is that we have been making full use of our gym memberships, this is our fourth week in the gym and both of us are really happy with our decision to get a membership. We have been going there everyday ( touchwood! ) and now that we have become fairly comfortable with their cardio equipments, we have been trying some weight training as well. So yes! Its one extra expense but this is something I would like to keep despite the expense.

Coming back to the expense report, we have already spent about 70 percent of the month's budget and we still have half a month to go. The biggest mistake we made was being a little lax in the beginning of the month. We didn't observe "No expense days", ate out twice and spent on purchases that could have been postponed, and before we knew the 'total' went through the roof.

So now we have to be more careful with our purchases for the rest of the month and try to get away within our targeted budget - its not going to be easy.

By the way, the bathroom looks really good and inviting after adding new curtain, and matching bath set. I might just ignore the budget mismatch for once.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Frugality is not about cheap, its about the choice

I like the frugal way of leading life. I like living light and having less stuff. I like the money in the bank and peace of mind that comes from being debt free. But even with all this I had a very difficult time explaining to myself why should I look after every penny I spent, why can't I buy a few things ( inexpensive) on impulse, why don't I feel right whenever I spend even a single dollar that I could have saved. Very recently I got the answer to this question through a personal experience.

Me and my husband used to go to a nearby trail everyday for biking. It was a great workout, we got to spend some quality time together and it was nice to breathe in the fresh air. It worked out really well from December to April but as summer approached our routine began to change. In summer, the sun would shine even before we could get up and get ready. Most of the days I began to avoid going out once it was even a little hot. Growing up in India and that too in relatively hotter parts of the country, I have this habit of avoiding sun as much as possible. Now the habit has become so ingrained that I can't stand even mildly hot sunshine. I experience headache, parched skin, breakouts and get really jumpy and irritated if I have to remain outside in full sun.
So during summers our workouts became smaller, because I just didn't want to remain outdoors for long. Now, that led to another problem because I was desperately trying to lose weight and reducing workouts was not really an option for me. To solve this problem I started going to the gym at my workplace. We have a nice one at my office and it is free for employees. I got a great workout and could see the impact on my weight. Still, a small issue remained. After tracking my weight for about one month, I noticed this pattern - my weight would steadily decrease during the week, but would climb back to its original place on Mondays. It was easy to see the reason for this - no workouts and an increase in the calories consumed. I realized that my weekends were undoing the whole week's workouts. Biking was not possible on weekends because we would usually get up late and by that time, sun would be shining brightly, making it difficult for me to remain outdoors for an hour or so. I had an obvious choice - taking membership of one of the gyms around here. So we tried a couple of gyms in our area and have finally settled on joining one of those. We're currently in the seven day trial period, but as soon as it ends, we are going to become paid members here. What has it got to do with frugality? Everything.

Had it not been for leading a frugal lifestyle, I wouldn't have been able to isolate needs from wants. Once I had known that I needed a gym membership for my physical well being, it didn't take me any time to make up my mind and add this expense to my monthly budget. Contrast this with the situation when I already had subscriptions of n magazines that I never bothered to even flip through, had paid for the fees of 4 classes that I had left after 2 days, had numerous unfinished craft projects stowed away here and there, I would have had a difficult time convincing myself that this gym membership is different, I really need it and will use it.

Frugality is not about sacrificing, its about choosing and prioritizing. Frugality makes you sift through unending list of expenses and come up with a few that are really important to you. I feel that it unclutters your view so that you can focus your time, resources and energy on the few things that really matter. With this thought in mind I add another twenty dollars to our monthly budget. Here's to a healthy life...!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Guest post - Making money online

I have written a guest post about online money making options over at Wide Open Wallet. Check it out and share your experiences if you've tried earning money online.