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Mighty pleased with myself

December 22nd, 2006 at 01:15 pm

Looking back at this week I am very pleased with myself. I did good!!

Starting sunday:
I finally started to write my dreaded article and I have now two-thirds done. And I think it is turning out ok, for a first draft. So I will get it finished on time before my deadline.

I prepared a lecture I had to give today in my own time and gave it on my day of. Adding another day to my personal debt pay off. Bringing my new total to 11 out of 48 days (and four hours spare).

I did my end of the year finances today. I gave 10% of my inheritance I received this year to 5 different good causes. And signed up for a tax friendly investment fund that finances mikrocredit (so instead of the already wealthy the poor will benefit from my surplus).

I went to the gym 5 out of 6 days! This is truly spectacular for me! And I am not going to stop here, I will follow up with my boot camp untill my supervacation.

Less than perfect since sunday:
I only had one no spend day. Allthough I can say in my defence that there was very little frivolous spending. But still money has left my wallet fast this week.
I am eating way too much. Especially candy and other empty calories. Really have to work on this one

So I am smiling tonight and really feel good about myself for a change.

Never too late for new beginnings

December 17th, 2006 at 11:17 am

I guess I have been slacking. Not really with my frugalness, that comes pretty natural now. But with everything else. My household chores, my work responsibilities, my work-out regime. And my house, my results and my waistline are all showing my lack of discipline. So onto new beginnings. I have made a schedule for myself starting tomorrow. And with this schedule I will not only be able to catch up with work and household responsibilities but I will also be on a fitness bootcamp. So no vegging in front of the tv the next weeks, tv time is scheduled in, no more mindlessly watching I don't know what for hours. I have better things to do with my time.
In five weeks I will be on a six week vacation break, so I have a very definite and pleasant goal to reach.
I will do this!!! You are all witnesses to my goal.

Today was a total no spend day. Yesterday I did my groceries and bought a small christmas tree, and I spent € 25 on a night out. We went to a concert in Tongeren (Belgium). The singer had a lovely voice but I found the concert a bit boring because she lacked emotion. Everything was crystal clear but you really couldn't tell whether she was happy or sad in a song, they all sounded the same.

Unbelievable that 2006 is almost over. The year didn't start very well, my father died january 17. But 2006 has also been a year with many things to be gratefull for. One of those things being that I am so happy and gratefull that settling my fathers estate, handling all the money issues involved, did in no way come between me and my brothers and sisters. I have seen so many families brake up over the stupidest of things when it comes to money and inheritance. We divided the money and everyone got to take the momentos that were most dear to him or her. No fights or angry faces anywhere. I know that my parents would have been proud to see their children so harmoniously taking care of that very sad business.

I get to see all of my brothers, sister and nieces and nephews over christmas. The house will be full, and that is a good feeling too. And than in january I get to visit my other sister in New Zealand. A vacation that I can completely pay for in cash, frugality rocks!

Forgot to report Big Frugal YeaH!

December 11th, 2006 at 02:14 am

How could I forget. We got our electricity and gas bill in last week. We are on a fixed plan and get the real bill once a year. We are due back €270,- in december! That will mean that decembers gas and electricity will be free and we will get an additional €120 from them. That's € 270 into joint savings to help bring up our total back to where it used to be. Big yeah!
I guess all my frugal strategies (hanging all my laundry, using most of my appliances during reduced hours and keeping the thermostat really low and use many sweaters, blankets and candles to stay warm) really worked.
Strangely enough they reduced my payment for next year with only €2 each month because they predicted a higher usage next year. Well I'll surprise them, my challenge is to get back at least the seem amount next year (and since we are going on holiday during the most expensive months this year january and february, that will happen!)

Progress report

December 11th, 2006 at 01:57 am

I've made good progress these last few days. I have been to Ireland for my uni job. That resulted in four no spend days, since all my expenses will be reimbursed. And I did so much overtime that I can add 3 days to my personal debt reduction challenge, bringing my total to 10 days.
About Ireland, it was mostly windy, wet and cold and I didn't get to see any of it. But I got to stay in a very good hotel with gym and pool. I went to the gym twice and did 30 laps in the pool. So I did keep up with my planned exercise. So far I have been very good with that, but sadly enough my weightscale does not show it yet. My goal of losing 4 kilos before my january holiday seems still very far away.

I started with making my price book. As it turned out I am already doing very good and there is not much to gain by shopping at other stores. I routinely go to Lidl (a kind of Aldis) and comparing prices showed that on most products they are the cheapest and when not the difference was only cents. So if I continue to shop there I will be getting the best deal. The only savings on groceries that I can make is cutting back on the amount of groceries I buy. But even than the projected savings will be small, because I allready don't buy many luxury items and look for sales religiously. Cutting back too far will make me (and most of all DB) feel to deprived and that has a possible countereffect anyway (making up for it by going out to often for example). But I will challenge myself to cutting back my grocery budget with 10% next year (over the year average) w'll see if that is doable.

Pissed of with my bank

November 27th, 2006 at 06:01 am

I am having the day off, because I worked almost two extra days at my govjob. Of course I had lots of plans for the day, but up till now I haven't realised many of them.
But I did try to work on my finances. For several months now I have been trying to buy green bonds (they have low profit margins but a high tax benefit). I hadn't heard from my bankman some time and was prepared to take my money elsewhere. But before doing that I decided to call him first. He informed me that he had indeed signed me up for the latest release of the bonds, but couldn't tell me if I had gotten any and probably won't know untill way into december. So now I am stuck. I want to have this money moved out of my account before december 31. because of the taxes, but might not hear untill 20 december or so If and for what amount I have bonds. That will leave me very little time to make other arrangements. Needless to say I was pretty annoyed with him and less than friendly. Usually not my style but I am beginning to feel pretty helpless in the claws of the big money making machinerie. I have been trying to get these bonds since july. Never new it could be so hard to get a bank to invest your money.

I did balance our joint account and things are looking good. We saved €150 automatically this month. This means that we are totally caught up on our checking account since last months auto repairs and are working on our savings account again (which has been more than halved since july).

Good day!

November 16th, 2006 at 11:27 am

It's 8 pm here and are allready longing for my bed, but today was a good day and I wanted to let you guys share in my bliss. So here are today's accomplishments.

1. Absolute no spend day, no money left my pocket.
2. Had a good work day, got two interviews typed up, only three more to go, for now.
3. Typed up my list of goals to finish before january 1. (isn't it a beauty when you can add blogging as an accomplishment of your day Hihi)
3. DB cooked dinner, all from the freezer and pantry. (got to love that guy).
4. Went to work on my bicycle and in 'springlike clothes', it was a beautifull sunny and warm day, allthough it could be freezing around this time of the year. (so no heat on in the house, more saving!).
5. With the cycling I at least got my minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.
6. Eat my portion of fruit and veggies of the day, remembered to take my vitamins and drank plenty of fluids.

So that's all for now and it is only 8 pm, who knows what I will do next (probably go to sleep early but these days that's an accomplishment too).

CU next time

Just 6 more weeks until 2007

November 16th, 2006 at 04:29 am

I just realised that there are only 6 more weeks in 2006 to get things done.

For some weeks now I have this running list in my head (to which I keep adding of course) of things I want to get done before january 1. 2007. So I am going to put them here and report on my progress.

1. Get some 'gift worthy'items listed on ebay (I am still a virgin when it comes to ebay) well before the end of november (6 december is the gift giving holiday of Sinterklaas) and in time for christmas.

2. Make a price book for the food items I use most. I am going on holiday for 6 weeks the beginning of 2007 (visiting my sister in New Zealand. Happy Dance!!). I want to have both my freezers and my fridge totally empty before then so that I can turn them off completely. And I will need to replenish when we return. So 3 would be:

3. Eat my way through everything that is in my freezers and fridge. I have allready made an inventory of everything that is in there. Most things are easy enough to use up, but some others will require more creativity. LOL

4. Lose 2 kilo's. Preferably more, but have to be realistic.

5. Go to the gym 3 times a week. I have this expensive membership but am not very consistent in using it. NOT frugal at all, I know. (bows her head in silent shame)

6. Check out all the work that needs to ben done on our car before january 21 (when it is due for its yearly inspection) and start calling around for the cheapest places to have the work done.

7. Get DB to sit down with me and decide whether to change our car insurance, get a different arrangement for tel./internet/cable etc. Of course I will have to do all the work getting the information and making the decision in the end, but I do want DB opinion. Usually I just get 'everything is fine by me honey!' which serves me right because I am way to opinionated anyway to do anything differently. Guess it isn't a coincidence that I have all the financial responsibility in this relationship. LOL

8. At the end of the year. For our joined account. Tally up everything we spent, on what, in which month etc. for the entire year (I have kept records every month in Excell so this shouldn't be too difficult). To evaluate our finances of this year (first year that I was very conscious about our spending) and plan our finances better next year and set a goal of how much we will save in 2007.

Well there must be more but if I get all of this done I can be pleased with myself.

Now back to typing out interviews (finished one this morning already, so that is a work-yeah for me.

Guilty pleasures

November 15th, 2006 at 05:01 am

You sure are a nice bunch of people. And it is comforting to know that there are other people out there who can relate to my discipline problems.

Since I am at my uni-job right now, and I'm blogging, you can all guess that I am not working on my research. But I just finished an interview this morning and I am working up the courage to start typing it out. Not a very nice task to do (and I have 4 more to go).

Miclason thank you for your suggestion. I think that could work for me. To end my day making a list with all the small things I accomplished. I can see how that would work as a motivator to make sure that I have something to add to that list. Making my list of 'frugal Yeah's' works the same way.

Lau, you're right. If and when I get the wind behind me I am a very efficient and fast worker. I guess that's why nobody knows about all of my non-working-time, because I always catch up in no time and work faster than most of my collegaues. But I usuallly still feel guilty about not doing more, or doing things better.
Ok. enough of this, back to my frugal lifestyle goals.

Tuesday I only spent €30 to send a package to my sister in New Zealand. And I paid for my sewing lessons in November (but that is a bill and I don't count it in my no spend days).On that note, I finally! finished all the prep work for my skirt and actually started sewing (the nicest part of the whole project), so it is starting to look like a skirt.

Today I did bring my lunch and snacks to work (as I do everyday) but decided to have lunch with my collegeaus and ended up buying some extra soup and yoghurt. I have to work on bringing the extras too and than staying out of the cafeteria (and stil have a social lunch with my collegeaus). Room for improvement here.
My credit card got a good workout today, because I did a lot of online booking for a trip next month for me and a collegeau. But all of that will be reimbursed, so I do not consider it spending. Usually it ends up to be a kind of saving actually. The reimbursement comes often so late, that I have already absorbed the spending in my checking account. When it finally comes in it feels as extra money, and I often transfer it to my savings account. So I guess I don't mind paying up front for work expenses (if they are not to big).
Tonight a simple homemade soup is on the menu and then of to salsa lesson. So no more spending planned for the rest of the day.

Other than that: all is quiet on the frugal front.

Untill next time: CU

Here I go again. The sequel (warning Long)

November 13th, 2006 at 02:30 pm

Wow, what a warm welcome! Thanks everyone for making me feel at home here. So I guess it is time for an update and some more information about the issues I am struggling with.
But first an update about my frugal voyage.

Saturday - Monday
Frugal Yeah!
(always start with the positive)
- got a free winter car check on saturday
- did my grocery shopping for the week and only spent € 10 (I am seriously working my way through my stockpile)
- other than groceries, three no spend days
- had lunch and dinner at a friends house on sunday and got leftovers to take home with me

Frugal OH NO!
- the car's winter check reveiled some serious problems so after already three expensive problems in the past few months, so some more bills will come.

And now about my other debt. As I said in my bio I work at two jobs. One is with a regional government as a policy maker (the job I do not like), the other is as a researcher at a university (the job I love, but struggle with). My main job is at the regional government, I have worked there for five years and it is a job that controlls me and my time. I work form deadline to deadline, and for everything there is some kind of procedure, rule or regulation. Not much creativity asked for. And after five years I know I have this trick down. No anxiety issues just frustrations.

For two days out of my workweek I am assigned to the university to do research. I have a PhD allready so I am supposed to know what I am doing as a researcher. I love this job, and it was a great opportunity for me to be asked to join their team (temporarily for four years). But here is the kicker. I don't function at all at this job. I do not seem to know how to kick my butt into gear and start researching. So I have set this deadline for myself (and with my boss) that I will have a serious draft for an article ready in january before I leave on holiday. And I have not written a word yet. Do not even have a clear picture in my mind how the article will look like. Since I started working there a year ago I have made so many 'research avoiding movements' (ram) that I am getting to be really annoyed with myself. The thing is I know that it is part of my work style. I am like a chicken, I have to sit and brood before I can write, but this brooding thing has gone to far. I have calculated how many days since september last year I have effectively not worked and I calculated 48 days! all together. I consider that a serious debt to my boss. Don't ask me what I have done with my time I couldn't say, played games, surfed the net (how do you think I found you guys), stared out of the window etc.
Since I calculated my lost days I have started to work them off using my friday off day and weekends. I have since then worked an extra 8 days, but that is still 40 days left and last week was a really low point because I started adding to my debt again.

The stupid thing is, nobody knows, everybody is pleased with the work I am doing and is not suspious about the work I am not doing (guess I am a good actor). In the past these kind of situations have always worked out in the end, because I do function best when under stress. But I do not feel good under this stress I create myself, and I feel guilty as hell (probably my catholic upbringing, can't shake that).

So that's my big secret: I am a big fake! And probably simply lazy and undisciplined.
But because I hate to feel this way, I am always looking for ways to discipline myself, hence this blog.

So what do y'all think. Still want me here?

Here I go again...

November 10th, 2006 at 12:00 pm

Wow, here I go again...
Me opening up a blog, who would have thought. I have tried journaling many times in the past but never could discpline myself enough to keep doing it. I really feel I could use it though. So maybe this potential 'anonymous' crowd out there in cyberland will help me keep myself on the right track.

First a few personal details. I live together with my Dear Boyfriend and allthough we have different 'moneystyles' we have worked out a system that works very well for us. I am mainly in charge of both OUR and MY finances. DB takes care of HIS money. I am definitely the frugal one of us. I have some short and long term financial goals that I'll explain about later. Except for a hefty mortgage we have no debt and between the two of us we have a very solid EF going. So no money problems for us, just goals.
I hope it is ok, to tackle a debt of a different kind here as well. Right now this 'debt' is the one I am really struggeling with and allthough it has nothing to do with money somehow in my mind it feels the same. I definitely feel a lot of shame for it and it is my big secret. I created this debt because of a lack of discipline, careless spending (of time) and it can get me in serious trouble. Working my way out of it will require discipline (my big weakness), consistency, determination and babysteps. So I guess that really isn't so different from getting out of financial debt.
So If you all won't mind (and even if you do I am going to do it anyway, hè this is my blog!) I am going to give you updates on both my financial goals and of settling this personal debt.

I guess now I have to see whether anyone is interested in knowing what that debt is and if I have enough courage to confess.