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Archive for December, 2007

Last day of 2007

January 1st, 2008 at 06:01 am

I watched the New Year's countdown in NYC. Well, it's only 9 p.m. in CA when it happened.

I also called my mother in Japan, and it's already afternoon on January 1st over there.

OK, I'm ready for 2008 LOL

I've been thinking about New Year's resolution, but could not really come up with one. Let's see....

While healthy finance is important for me, looking good is as important : ) Especially after turning 40, gravity is such an enemy LOL Luckily, I do not have weight problem. I've been 115 lb. for 16 years since my DD was born, and wear size 2. HOWEVER, I know my body is becoming "softer" and some body parts need to be tighten. So, I will be focusing on taking care of our finance and myself.

1. Save $5,000 in EF.
2. Save $1,000 for car care fund.
3. Keep record of coupon savings.
4. Go to pedicure once a month.
5. Go for a walk for at least 30 minutes twice a week.

Now, I'm really ready for the new year.



Great sale at Borders

December 31st, 2007 at 12:04 am

I stopped by Borders to get a pocket diary for next year. Calendars are 50% off after Christmas.

The store is having a great sale that regular priced books are now 25% off, and there was a bargain book corner that were 75% off.

I found "Millionaire Women Next Door" that had a price tag of $3.99. They took 75% off from the price, so I paid $1 for a new hardcover book.

I also bought "Hitler vs. Stalin" because my DD will be doing some research about WWII soon. The price of the book was $1.75.

So, my final price for two books and a pocket diary was $8.30 including tax, and they gave me a 30% off coupon for 1 book or CD.

Why it makes sense to coupon

December 29th, 2007 at 08:57 pm

I got a raise. It was around 3%, I think.... I barely remember because I really didn't care. OK, let's say my raise was $100. 25% will be taken away by tax so I only see $75 of it. Making $100 more is actually making $75 more. Sucks.

I coupon because couponing stretch $$. If I reduce my grocery bill by $100 using coupons, that's pure profits to me. In order to make $100, I actually have to earn about $130 considering tax effect. So, saving $100 by using coupon (or other saving methods) is actually same as making $130.

Of course, I am not complaining about my raise. It is nice. I turned around and increased my FSA contribution for next year, so I don't have to pay tax on my increased portion of my salary, and I can recoup money I used for some rebate items.

Grocery shopping

December 29th, 2007 at 01:53 am

Grocery shopping day today. Some highlights.

1st store:
Lipton onion soup mix was 99 cents per box, and used .75/2 coupon. I still have some sour cream I bought from Target that were 2 cents each after coupons. Makes cheap onion dip! I bought some other things, mainly cheap canned goods, paid $10.57 for 11 items.

2nd store:
I had a rain check for Post cereal, $1.50 per box, and used $1/2 coupon makes them $1 per box. Got 6 boxes.
Cornish game hen (twin pack) is 99 cents this week, and I picked up the one priced $3.19. Used $2 off coupon, and the final price was $1.19 for two game hen. For some reason, I got a catalina for free Lysol wipes last time I was at the store, so I got it for free. Their store brand salad is BOGO and the price is $3.49. Used two $1 coupon and the final price is $1.49 for two bags of salad. I also bought 2 gallons of milk, a dozen eggs, etc.

All and all, my final spending for two stores was about $30.





Cleaning carpet

December 28th, 2007 at 05:31 am

I spent all day cleaning carpet in DD's room. We have two dogs, and sometimes there are "accidents" and it happened last night. She tried to spot clean, but we could still see the spot.

So, we decided to rent a carpet cleaner from Home Depot. It was time to do deep cleaning, anyway. We moved all the furniture from her room, and cleaned the carpet. It looks pretty good.

Today's spending: $35 for the carpet cleaner.

I really need to go grocery shopping tomorrow. I clipped coupons today while I was waiting for carpet to be dried. I made a shopping list the day before yesterday when I got store fliers. Time to go shopping : )

Saving Advice was in Money magazine!

December 24th, 2007 at 09:27 pm

I was reading Money last night, and found SavingAdvice.com was in "The 28 Best moeny websites." (It's in P.68 if you have the magazine.)

I wonder if we will have more members joining us : ) I think it's great that this website is viewed as the place to get real personal finace advice.

We are here to help! Right? LOL

Low cost college degree

December 24th, 2007 at 03:54 am

I always hear about people's debt from student loan. I've been going to college since Fall 2001, and working on my B.S. in Business Administration, concentration in Accountancy. So far, I have no student loan, and I will not have any.

I earned my A.A. degree from community college. Tuition was so cheap, especially when I went back to school in 2001, one unit was only $8. So, I paid $24 for my history class LOL My textbooks were so much more expensive.

I paid my own money for first two years or so. It wasn't a big deal at all. I was taking two classes per semester, so the cost was less than $500 per semester. Since I was in my 30's and always worked full-time, I had enough saving to cover the cost.

Then, I applied for tuition reimbursement program at work, and it was approved. My employer pays up to two subjects per semester, for tuition and books.

I don't know how much my out of pocket expense was for my community college days, but it was really cheap because my employer paid most of it.

Then, I went on to the State University where tuition is much more expensive. It came really handy to be in the tuition reimbursement program. I didn't pay a dime for my first semester because I only took two subjects to see if I can handle both work and school. Since I was doing ok, I took more classes and paid my own money which was about $500 per semester for tuition.

Now, I'm at a point I can take only two subjects per semester and will graduate in a reasonable time frame. I know I will have to take three classes in Fall 2008 or Spring 2009, but that will be the only semester I need to pay my own money. The rest is covered by my employer.

All and all, I think I will spend about $3000 (or less) of my own money to get my upper division done.

So, if someone is working full-time, and thinking about going back to school, I recommend to look for a company with tuition reimbursement program. It's also tax free money for an employee.

Actually, this is one of main reasons I am staying with current employer LOL


Wrapping up this year

December 23rd, 2007 at 03:52 am

I finished my finals last Tuesday. Yesterday was the last work day of this year. 2007 is almost over.

I am still waiting for my grades to be posted. Two of four subjects were posted today, and I got an A for both of them. I am selling my textbooks and posted them in Amazon. Two of them were sold alreay and I made little over $100 already. Not bad.

As for my $200 spending plan, I decided to go to Hawaii LOL Aloha air is offering an insanely cheap price of $180 one way from Sacramento to Honolulu. I booked the flight in January, and paid $413 for it. So, my $200 went towards half of the airfare.

I have a friend in Hawaii, and staying at her house. I've been wanting to visit her for a while but I could not justify to pay $700 or $800 for airfare. I can live with $400, though. I can't wait! I LOVE Hawaii.

Since I don't have school nor work, it gives me some time to clip and organize my coupons. I am staying away from stores as much as I can this time of the year because it's just too crazy. I will hit stores after Christmas when everything will be 50% to 75% off.


The power of rain checks

December 18th, 2007 at 05:44 pm

I had a rain check from Walgreen for Purell hand sanitizer for 50 cents, qty. 5. I had three coupons, two $1.50 off and one $1 off. So, it's a money maker.

50 cents x 5 = $2.50
Coupons $4
Profit $1.5

When I went to the store, all Purell had $1.00 peelie coupons on every one of them!! This is the moment "I should've asked more quantity on my rain check......"

At the end, I could only used on peelie because the cash machine beeped, but I'm not complaining. I made $2.50 by buying them. I also bought a make up to not make the total negative. The make up is the free after rebate item this month, so I got all these for free.

I will go to Rite Aid today to get some batteries. I need D size battery for my Roomba's lighthouse. (It prevents Roomba to go to the area you don't want it to go.) They have $2 off in-ad coupon for Duracell batteries, and they have $8 rebate on $20 purchase. $20 also go towards cash back rewards Rite Aid is running this month. I have rain check for Taster's choice coffee. We are running low on coffee, and the price was $4.99 last week which I have the rain check for. I have $1 off coupon, so the final price is going to be $3.99.

I love rain checks.

omg...

December 17th, 2007 at 09:21 pm

I visited my friend last Saturday. She was taking a test to be a certified QuickBooks person because they need more income, she said. The story she told me was scary.

Her husband had a grandfather who lived in San Jose, Cal. Having a paid-off house in San Jose automatically makes people a millionaire. Her husband counted on inheritance when his grandfather passed away. Unfortunately, it didn't happen and the money went to his father. Oh, let me rephrase it. Her husband did not get as much as he expected. He got a decent chunk of money, if I remember right, almost 100K.

The thing is, both my friend and her husband cannot manage money.

They originally had 2000 sq. ft house. They have 3 kids, and the house was "too small." So, they bought a bigger one. But, they didn't like the location. (Well, they picked the lot!) And, they bought another huge house, counting on money coming in from inheritance. Actually, they got some money because they put a beautiful pool in their backyard that had to cost more than 40 or 50k. But, that was not enough for them.

Her husband tried to talk to his father who inherited the rest and ask for the money, but his father is not giving him a dime. I don't blame him. Where does it end? They need to learn to be responsible, and I would do the same if he was my child.

She told me their mortgage plan in one of those interest only type, and after five years, the payment will go up. They have only 2 years left. If they switch to 30 year fix, their monthly payment would be $5,000!!! By the way, she does not work.

I could not find any word to tell her. What can I say other than, oh my god.....




Got my B.D. gift

December 16th, 2007 at 07:32 am

12th was my B.D., and I told my husband I want a Roomba for my B.D. We went to Linens n Things today to get it. Ohhhhhhh! I wish I bought it earlier. I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!

I'm still debating how to spend MY $200. One idea is to go out and eat sushi or something. I won't do anything till my finals are over, though.

What would you give yourself as a reward?

December 11th, 2007 at 07:19 pm

My 401K is doing good, not as good as last two or three years, but still good for me as long as it is growing, not shrinking. The account balance grew about 20K this year.

I received my incentive pay-out letter. After paying tax & 401K contribution, I still get about 2K. Nice thing is the pay-out is on 12th that is my birthday. I feel like I received a nice birthday present.

Here's the magic number. 20K growth in 401K, 2K bonus, so, I decided to give myself $200 reward. I mean, "I can totally waste it if I want to" kind of money. Saving and investing is out of picture. It has to be fun and rewarding. What would you do with $200?

By the way, the rest of my bonus will go towards my tuition for next semester ($1300), and $500 will be spent towards holiday gifts for my family and friends.

Coupon shopping today

December 9th, 2007 at 04:00 am

I stopped by Rite Aid and bought:
Fusion razor (Free after coupon and rebate), Vive shampoo & conditioner (Free after coupon and rebate), Vicks Early defense (55 cents profit). I also bought Nyquil whish we were out. I got a box of Puff tissue for free using buy two Vicks products get one Puff free coupon.

Also went to Target, and bought a long sleeve T-shirt, $9.99. No coupon for this one. I simply needed a long-sleeve white shirt. 5 tubs of sour cream, 2 cents each after Target coupon and manu. coupon. Coffee Mate, $1 after .50 coupon. And 3 Revlon nail clippers, free after coupon.

My cashier told me I cannot use both Target and manu. coupons. I didn't argue because the line was getting longer. I went straight to customer service counter and asked for a manager. He came over and said, "Yes, you can use both." Thank you!! I'm glad somebody knows about the store coupon policy. He instructed the customer service girl what to do, and she gave me $2.50 back. Yay!

Happy Friday!

December 8th, 2007 at 12:02 am

It's Friday. It's payday. So, I splurged a little.

Breakfast: I got myself a Grande caramel latte from Starbucks, and bought a dozen donuts for co-workers. My intern asked me "Why did you bring in donuts?" I said "Because I felt like it." If $6 makes everyone in my office happy, I'm very happy : )

Lunch: Went out with my friend, and had a nice juicy Avocado burger. $6.79 with a drink. We talked about going skiing sometime soon. Tahoe area finally got some snow, and I'm so excited!!



Life and timing

December 4th, 2007 at 07:20 pm

I was looking at the stock chart of my former employer. I worked for them from 1986 to 1999, and stock split five times while I worked for them. I participated employee's stock purchasing program, but I was in my 20's and wasn't making a whole a lot of money, so bought 10 stocks here, 15 stocks there. Those small investment grew over time with multiple split, and they were worth about 35K by the time I left the company. It gave us a nice start when we moved to the States with nothing but some cash in our hands.

Thinking back.... everything is about timing, and I really feel there's the God somewhere. My family struggled financially because my father passed away when he was 43. I was 18, and my brothers were 13 and 11. My mother never worked before. While my mother moved away with my brothers to live close to her family, I stayed in the area because I was going to school there. I had NO money. I was working as a waitress at night, and hated my life.

I was still saving, though. I worked at the restaurant on Navy base, and I could earn tip. (We don't tip in Japan.) I normally received about $10 to $20 a day, and saved most of it. I saved about $2,000 after two years working there, and took a trip to San Francisco where my DH is from.

Finding a job with my former employer was a totally serendipity. I don't even know why they hired me, but my life became so much better after I started working for them. People were super nice, and the pay was good for 20 year old girl. I met many nice people there, made long-time friends, and it was financially rewarding, too.

As long as I keep walking on the right path and don't do anything stupid or destructive, I guess there's someone out there who will help me during rough times.

Grocery shopping fun

December 3rd, 2007 at 10:16 pm

I've been getting free crackers (Nabisco Cheese Nips) at Safeway. They are 10/$10 till tomorrow, and $6 off promotion kicks in when I buy six of them at once. I got 18 of them so far. I went to the store yesterday, but didn't get anymore because I was running out of shelve space for them.

Campbell's Select soup are also 10/$10, so I bought six of them because I had three of .50/2 off coupons, makes them 75 cents each. That triggered a catalina and I got $1 off coupon for next shopping and $1.75/7 coupon for Campbell Select. That will make them 61 cents per can. So, I am stocking up on these soup as well. They are handy when I need one more dish.

Pastas are also cheap this week. Gold Grain kind is 10/$10 and I used .55 coupons to make them 45 cents each. Egg Noodles are also 10/$10, and used .50 cents coupons to make them 50 cents each.

By the way, I was at Safeway buying 6 boxes of Cheese Nips, 6 cans of Select soup, 4r boxes of pasta, and a box of tangerine oranges ($4.99 for this one), and I paid $8.10 for all of these items. The lady behind me kept looking at the total shown on the display like she couldn't believe it LOL I used three $1/1 Nabisco coupons that gave me nice overage.

I love it when the deals work as I planned.