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Archive for September, 2007

And the winner is...

September 8th, 2007 at 06:34 pm

I was just cleaning off my desk in an attempt to unearth my financial info so that I can get back on track and I came across a gift certificate for a wooden garden arbor that I won in a raffle back in October 2005. I never claimed it! This got me thinking about prizes (free stuff!) Iíve won over the years. Here are a few that I remember:

Early 1980s Ė I won a Billy Joel album from a Snickerís Bar wrapper (it was an LP as that was the latest technology of the day). (No cost - well, I guess I would have paid about 50 cents for the candy bar!)

1984 Ė won $10 in a boxer short contest at college (for a pair of non-boxer shorts). I didnít know anything about the contest, I had just gone to the event quickly to get the free pizza and was asked to stay as I was leaving because I had won. I stayed Ė $10 was a lot back in the day, plus how could I resist the fame and glory? They were a great pair of shorts! (No cost)

1990 Ė I won $10,000 in a church raffle (yea)! Unfortunately, I had to split it with my two brothers (boo), so we each received 3333.00 before taxes (had to claim it on our income tax returns). Each summer my mom would buy each of us a ticket in the church fundraising raffle (I think they were $100 each), with the deal that if any of us won we would split it with the other two (her rule, not ours!) My name was drawn for 2nd prize (would have loved first prize, if I remember correctly it was either $25K or a new Cadillac or something Ė I guess I would have sold it!) Was obviously glad to have the $3K, but would have preferred the entire 10K (hee Ė sorry bros)! (No cost to me, since my mom bought the ticket Ė thanks Mom!)

2004 Ė won a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant in a drawing at my credit union. I just came across that one, too (Iím a procrastinator!). Luckily, it says it never expires, so I guess Iíll treat myself and a friend to dinner one night! Iím not that keen on the place, but they have some decent food and free food is free food! (No cost)

2005 Ė won the garden arbor in a town fundraiser. It was either second or third prize. I really wanted the $3000 cash first prize! Iím going to swallow my embarrassment and swing by the company this week to see if I can still claim my prize. Thereís no expiration date on the certificate, so Iíll hope for the best. I wasnít sure where in my yard to put it, so I kept putting it off. Then I couldnít decide if I wanted it or if I should just try to sell the gift certificate at a discount (the arbor is worth about $250) and now two years have passed. (I probably bought 4 raffle tickets for a total of $20)

2007 Ė this summer I won a framed small print of one of my favorite local artists in a drawing at her studio open house. There were 7 separate pieces of work that she was giving away and my name was drawn for one of them (No cost).

It would be cool if I could claim that I won a million or so dollars in a lottery, but, alas, I donít play. Well, once I did buy a cute $1 scratch ticket at a local store and won $20! But, I wouldn't ever play regularly Ė I hate to support something that people waste money on trying to win a dream, rather than just saving their nickels and dimes toward their actual dreams. Sad.

What fun booty have you won??


Sweet Gas Price

September 7th, 2007 at 09:42 pm

I unexpectedly found a great price on gas today in the town where I work. My small fuel oil company on an industrial street has one old-fashioned pump next to a garage that Iíve never noticed. When I was in the office setting up my fuel oil payment plan for the winter, I heard people coming in to pay for gas. Then I found out that they were paying $2.65/gallon. The price at the nearest station less than a mile away was $2.799/gallon! So, I ran outside and filled my half-empty tank. Canít beat that! I love a good bargain. I only wish I had known about this secret years ago. I'll definitely be stopping by there for gas in the future.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaah!

September 4th, 2007 at 06:39 pm

Today is the last day of my 11-day vacation from work. I took a week and a half off expecting to go to the New Jersey shore for at least part of the time, but my car has been making funny noises and whatever my mechanic did to fix it (twice!) didnít work, so I ended up staying home. Not a problem, though, because I love being home! And not working is even better! I did some things around my house, spent a lot of time doing nothing, took a few day trips and mostly enjoyed my free time. I didnít spend much money, so that was a plus.

In fact, the only drawback is that I didnít get my last fix of salt water and air for the summer. I live near many lakes and rivers, which are beautiful, but they donít quite cut it for me the way the ocean and saltwater bays do. I spent every summer from early 1970 to 1986 at the shore and I really do miss it. I try to go at least once a year, but the timing is tricky Ė the shore has become so overcrowded and noisy that I only like to go before July 4 or during the last week of August or first week of September. I was able to get down there for a few days in June, so did get a little dose then.

The last few days were low-spend days. I went to a picturesque state park on a lake near my house on Sunday and Monday ($3.00 admission each day) to swim and hang out (read some free magazines from a friend). I was going to rent a movie on Sunday evening, but couldnít find anything worth my $3.18 in the tiny store near my house, so opted instead to watch that home makeover show and have a good cry. That show gets me every time Ė the generosity of everyone involved is amazing. I donít understand why they make the homes so huge, though. It seems excessive to me and a waste to use that many resources for just one family. Iím a frugie at heart! I was invited to a BBQ on Monday afternoon, but I had a dull headache all day and was in solitude mode, so I skipped it. I bought a pint of Ben and Jerryís Heath Bar Crunch ice cream ($3.99 Ė I havenít bought it in awhile and was surprised at how expensive itís gotten at the convenience stores around me. I did enjoy every penny of it!)

I just made a large salad to be used for lunch during work the next three days, using items already on hand: Local organic romaine lettuce, baby bok choy, and carrots. Sungold cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and flat-leaf parsley from my garden and some chickpeas that I soaked and cooked yesterday. Yum Ė lunch will be the bright spot in my day as I re-enter work. Wish me luck!

Thanks for all of the welcome comments to my first entry!

Hello

September 1st, 2007 at 02:55 pm

Hi all - I found this site about a year ago and was financially inspired by reading the stories captured on different blogs. I felt like I found a tribe I could relate to - frugality, money-talk, awareness, bargains, humor!

I sat down and reviewed my finances in full for the first time. I figured out how much I earned per month, sketched out a budget detailing where I needed and wanted my money to go and started to pay more attention to my overall financial picture.

This was huge (it took many, many babysteps) because I've always been afraid to do this - my fiscal picture is actually quite decent, but I do live in fear of not having enough for the future. And I don't want this fear to stop me from living in the present, which it sometimes does.

I've recently started to lose track of my daily financial life, so decided to jump on the bandwagon and start a blog as a way to get back on track and to keep focused.

I look forward to blogging with you all!