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Gone, but Not Forgetting

August 12th, 2007 at 03:15 pm

I've been gone from this blog for a while, but I'm still keeping track of my savings for the $20 challenge.

I haven't been too successful at reducing my caffeine intake, but I have saved some there. I also saved a small amount by buying powder instead of gel for the dishwasher -- at some point, I got it into my head that the gel worked better, but the powder is working fine.

I didn't meet my goal for the second quarter, but I added another $80 to where I was at the end of June for my third quarter goal, which I just met today with a $90 addition!

The $90 savings came from fixing our vacuum cleaner instead of buying a new one. When the vacuum started smoking (literally) a few weeks ago, I took it right to the curb for trash pickup, but later rethought it and brought it back up. We opened it up and found that the smoke came from a broken belt. I found the replacement part online for $6, and my husband figured out how to install it, thus saving us most of the cost of a new, $100 vacuum cleaner.

Total savings: $237.34
Third quarter goal: $209.64

Reducing Caffeine

May 23rd, 2007 at 08:15 am

I drink too much caffeinated soda; I'm starting to see the effects when I lie awake at bedtime. I'm going to try to cut back to one can a day (with some exceptions for "treats"), and whenever I resist the urge for another can, I'm rewarding myself by adding the money saved to my $20 Challenge account. (I usually spend 18.3 cents per can when I buy it on sale.)

I also saved $30 last week by not replacing a part on a piece of equipment we regularly use -- we're working around that piece. With that and my ongoing savings from previous entries (I'm still writing occasionally and making cards), I've saved $118.84 so far.

Challenging a Presupposition

April 18th, 2007 at 12:22 pm

My daughter has cradle cap. We still had some of the shampoo the doctor recommended for my son, and I had been using it without seeing results. I remembered that the doctor had told us to use a kids' toothbrush with the shampoo to help get rid of the flakes, and I nearly bought one to use for that purpose.

Then I thought about it -- why would I need a kids' toothbrush? I have a stockpile of adult toothbrushes I got free after rebate, so I used one of those. It should have been an obvious thing to do, but I had a mental image of the kids' toothbrush we had used on my son, and I had convinced myself we'd have to buy another one. I wonder how many other images of particular products are in my mind, convincing me that I have to buy something new instead of using what I already have.

I credited $1.50 to my account for the toothbrush. With ongoing cardmaking and writing, I am up to $77.74 saved so far this year.

Second Quarter Goal Setting

March 20th, 2007 at 12:57 pm

When I started the $20 challenge, I set the first quarter goals at two times the $20, and I thought I might try to double the initial amount each quarter. My current total is $65.35, which isn't far from $80 but is probably too much to continue to double each quarter, so I will set my goal for $80 over whatever the total is on March 31.

Using What's On Hand

March 20th, 2007 at 12:52 pm

I like to use things I already have for new purposes if I can. When I planted chives inside, I had only one real pot that would fit on my windowsill, so I improvised. As you can see, the chives in the improvised containers are growing, but the ones in the real pot are not. Sometimes the frugal alternatives are better than store-bought things.

Adding Some Spice to the $20 Challenge

February 22nd, 2007 at 06:52 pm

We are scraping the bottom of our warehouse-club-sized container of chives, and our warehouse club no longer carries them. The grocery store charges about four times as much for chives, so today I bought a packet of chive seeds for $3.35 less than the small container of chives in the grocery store spice aisle. If I can grow them (despite my black thumb), I should be able to get more chives for the money, too.

Adding in the $3.35 savings on chives and the continuing income/savings from writing and card making, my account total is once again over my goal of $40 for the quarter -- $42.84

Writing Online

February 19th, 2007 at 09:12 am

I used to work as a freelance writer (still do, in a sense -- I really only have one client now). I gave it up not because of the rejections, as most of my family assumed, but because I spent more time and money on marketing my work than I made. (Strangely enough, I received a surprise check in the mail last week for an article I had submitted nearly four years ago!)

Anyway, I've been in the mood to write again, so I was glad to discover Associated Content, where I could submit some of what I write for a small amount of pay. Today, I got an offer for my first paid article for their site. (The article was on frugal living. If you're interested in reading it, my AC site is:
http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/49342/shannon_christman.html .)

I'm adding that pay ($6.27) plus $3.02 I estimate I've saved by making cards since my last entry to the $20 Challenge. Total so far: $32.51

Hubby Must Be Right

January 28th, 2007 at 01:10 pm

Well, the quilling didn't sell. My husband says that scrapbookers probably make their own embellishments. I may try selling some again, but for now, I've found another use for my new crafting hobby -- making my own cards. (I send quite a few.)

I invested in some card stock, and though it's a fair amount out of pocket, I have enough to make up to 500 cards. I figure that I can save $0.24 per card compared to already low-priced boxed cards I use, and I can have some fun making the cards. For cards I would have bought individually, I can save about $1.45.

My $20 Challenge fund is decreasing rapidly. After taking out the eBay fees and the price of the card stock, I'm down to $23.22. I really need to get back to work!

Going Once . . .

January 21st, 2007 at 03:49 pm

I posted my first quilling projects on eBay today -- hope they sell!

Investing in a New Hobby

January 17th, 2007 at 03:49 pm

Because I already met my (probably too modest) goal for the quarter, I took a small risk and invested $8.19 from my savings in starting a new hobby -- quilling. I bought the materials at a good discount, of course, and I hope to sell some of the things I make on eBay. (My husband doesn't think anyone will buy it, but I hope to prove him wrong; I know I've personally bought some quilling at a craft show -- I've always found it interesting.)

So my total is now down to $38.16.

Early Christmas Gifts

January 15th, 2007 at 01:13 pm

I know it's a basic frugal concept to buy Christmas gifts in January, but I rarely do it, partly because my family is blessed enough to be able to afford what they want when they want it, so I'm always afraid they'll buy the gift for themselves before December rolls around.

However, we buy gifts for my cousins' kids, who we only see about twice a year, so I'm always guessing what they have, anyway. Being a bargain hunter, I usually find what I consider good gifts for them for about $7 each. Today, I found some great, age-appropriate gifts at a going-out-of-business sale for $2 each. I bought four of them, saving a total of $20. Now, I just have to store them somewhere and remember that I have them when it's Christmastime again.

My running total: $46.35
(I met my modest goal for the first quarter already!)

My first act of saving

January 3rd, 2007 at 07:30 am

Well, after I wrote my first entry, I had to do something. I'd been planning to buy a small plastic storage box to hold the craft supplies my son got for Christmas, but I decided to move some things out of another box instead. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the box I had in mind. What I did find was a hat box my in-laws had rescued from the curb on the day their neighbors moved. I'd kept it because I liked how it looked, but I'd forgotten it was still in the garage. The sketch pad doesn't fit in it, but the other craft supplies do.

The plastic box I nearly bought would have cost $6.35 with tax, so my $20 is now $26.35.

A first time for everything

January 3rd, 2007 at 06:46 am

I've never written a blog before, though I have nearly 25 years of personal journaling experience (and I'm only in my early 30s!)

I subscribe to the Saving Advice newsletters, though, and the $20 challenge sounded intriguing enough to start my own blog. So here's my $20 to start. My time is already overcommitted, so I doubt I'll be blogging much. I'm also pretty good at saving money creatively, so I don't know how many new ideas I'll have. (Last year, I saved $1800+ with rebates, coupons, and special offers; I made even more than that on eBay & Half.com.)

I'm curious to see how I can make a set amount of money stretch, so I want to give this challenge a try. Due to my perceived lack of time and fresh ideas, my goal for the first quarter is only $40 from this $20.