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Archive for February, 2007

WORMS! Wonderous, Wonderful Worms!

February 17th, 2007 at 08:21 pm

First, let me state that I am not much of a gardener, but I got a bug up my patooty a few months ago when I read the book, "Lasagna Gardening". Basically, you build layers of compostable material on top of either newspaper or cardboard that you've layed down to block out the weeds.

My neighbors weren't all too happy about me starting this project in my side yard...especially when I went and came back from a mushroom company with a full truck bed of "fresh mushroom compost", also known as horse poop! Smile Now, granted, it didn't smell quite like flowers in Spring, but it was something that would compost well and add a lot of the nutrients my homemade soil would need. I also understand that having my side yard only 15 feet from their front door wasn't going to make them my steadfast friends. Smile (You can tell my neighbors LUV me, right...hehehehe). The gal next door didn't understand why I just didn't rototill the whole thing and be done with it. She just didn't get the idea of lasagna gardening (blocking weeds) and what I was trying to achieve (creating new, nutrient rich soil).

Anyway, today I went out to the side yard to yank up all of the straw plants that had decided to pop up from one of the "brown" layers of the lasagna. Low and behold, under the roots, squirming around, were TONS of BEAUTIFUL worms! Now, if you garden at all, you know worms are a sign of good soil. Good soil equals a strong base to feed your new plants. I was THRILLED. It's exactly what I wanted to have happen.

I used to have lots of worms, until, while I was away from home for a couple of months, a friend of mine decided to do me a favor. She scraped off all the topsoil and redwood compost in my entire front and side yards so she could lay sod for me. Frown Well, she never layed the sod and I came home to a soupy, wet, muddy mess because of the stormy, heavily rainy weather we had. I was in shock, literally shocked at what she had done. To add insult to injury, she hauled off all of the topsoil, along with my lovely worms, to the DUMP!!!! The final kicker was when she presented me with a bill for the dumping AND for the BACKHOE they (her and her husband) rented to scrape off all the topsoil!!!!

You better believe I've never had her watch my house since then! Also, I have never told her what I thought of her "landscaping" and never will. Just some things are better left unsaid, especially if you want to keep the friendship. *heavy sigh* I'll tell you about her killing off my huge plum tree someday. Talk about a black thumb! Smile

I'm looking forward to planting in my new soil soon. It's not a huge space, maybe 20'x 10'. Half of the space gets sun about 2/3 of the day, the other half gets very little because of the layout of the house. Not sure what I'll put there , but it will have to be two different types of plants..shade loving and those that can handle partial sun. I'm pretty sure that I just want to go with flowers. There's an area in my backyard that receives full sun, where I'd like to get a vegetable garden going...eventually. Smile

Completed 3 of 9 Financial Goals for the Year

February 11th, 2007 at 11:48 am

I've been working (slowly) towards completing the goals I set up for myself at the beginning of this blog.

FINANCIAL GOALS for 2007:

-set up a retirement account through work

-contribute fully to an IRA

-sell unwanted items and use the money to pay for home repairs

-research new home/auto insurances to find the best for less than currently paying

-have a will drawn up

-find a place for all financial paperwork to be centrally located, easily obtainable place

-get a free electronic bill paying system through my bank to save $$ on paying bills

-set up a PayPal account through a separate bank other than main one

-check into cancelling monthly cell phone plan and going to a pre-paid plan


COMPLETED:

-Changed over my insurance both on my house and for my cars.
SAVINGS-$386.80 per year.

-Set up a Paypal account through a different bank other than my main one.
SAVINGS- None really, but I have already received payments through the account. Smile

-Cancelled monthly cell phone service and went with pre-paid plan.
SAVINGS-Estimate of $160 or more per year. Prior cost was about $360 a year. Current estimation of less than $200 a year. Smile

IN PROGRESS

-Started selling items on Half.com. Have sold two books so far, but considering I only put them up a couple of weeks ago, I'm happy. Although this goal isn't "completed", it's one that will be in progress through the entire year. I'm putting the $$ into my $20 Challenge and will use this money for fixing up the house.

-Also, checked on setting up a free electronic bill pay account through my regular bank, but was told they don't offer that option. The bank is being sold to Washington Mutual Frown and it was said that they should offer electronic bill pay within the next year.

-I have all the paperwork needed to start contributing to a 403(b) through work. I just need to find the time to call up CALSTRS and find out what exactly I need to do to select one of the funds that they represent. There was information on their website that stated there was a $50 a year charge for their management of the account. What wasn't clear is if that's $50 for one's entire account or if it's $50 per fund you invest in. I want to contribute the full amount allowed each year ($15,500).

There's also the option of doing the same with a 486 Plan (at least I think that's the number). That will allow me another $15,500 a year. Smile I just need to find places for this $$ so they stop taxing and taking so much from me!

-I'll be working on a ROTH IRA in the next few weeks. Not the best timing as my property taxes are almost due. I need to research where the best places are to put my money.

Although not on my list, I would like to consolidate all of my traditional IRA accounts and find out if an old 401K from a prior job can be rolled into a traditional IRA. I'm hoping to put all the $$$ together, as they are just bits of money, but together it's a tidy sum (about $10,000).

I'm going to look online to see if I can get some ideas about how to organize all of my finiancial papers. Seems I keep bills in one spot, pay them in another, have my taxes stored somewhere else...I just need a central spot that will work for all of it. Organization isn't a strong point of mine. Once I've reorganized something, it's like my mind can't remember where I've put it! Go figure!

I Saved $386!!!!

February 6th, 2007 at 07:36 pm

$386.60 to be exact! Smile I looked into changing over my car and home insurance and going with a company that is connected to my career "association". Almost better that the savings is that I was able to increase coverage on both policies for my house and cars.

I paid for the entire year's coverage with my rewards credit card and will be getting 1% back in addition. Smile Now I have to go down to my ex-insurance company and fill out a form that will reimburse me for premiums already pre-paid. I'm figuring that should be around $250 or so. Smile I should have time tomorrow to do that. The company will probably then take X amount of weeks to cut me a check, but hey, at least I'll get the $$ back.

My next big endevour is getting a retirement account or two started. I need to reduce the amount of taxable income I have. Being single with no real deductions is a killer in taxes...at least for me.

Wasteful Frugalist?

February 4th, 2007 at 11:58 am

I know that I'm frugal, but lately I've been noticing how much I actually waste, too. Take for instance my refridgerator. When I clean it out, I end up throwing out a lot of food that I bought but never ate, cooked or finished. My dogs are in hog heaven, literally, as they get to eat just about anything that comes out of the fridge. I mean well when I purchase the food. It just seems like my eyes are bigger than my stomach, or that I just don't get around to doing what I wanted to do with the food I buy. Living alone, I only have myself to blame.

This is not the only area where I waste. I've been cleaning out my closet, finding clothes I hardly wear and others that still have tags on them. I'm not much of a clothes hound, as I hate shopping. Seems I have an idea of what I want to do with a piece when I buy it, just (again) never get around to using it. Either it has to be ironed and I don't have time or it doesn't work with what I wanted to do with it (like complete an outfit).

The list goes on: books I collect but never read, junk mail that should be recycled as soon as it comes in the door, my mom's furniture that is just taking up space in my house as I ponder what do to with it, crafts that I start and never finish. Maybe it has to do with being a procrastinator? My intentions are always good, but making it to finishing the actual initial concept is what is most difficult.

Being wasteful costs me money, so how can I be frugal if I waste so much? Saving $$ doesn't seem to be much of a problem, but how much more could I save if I didn't spend money on things that go unused? Now that I'm more aware of this waste, will I cut back on buying things I won't use or bringing things into my house that take up space and make everything feel cluttered? Stay tuned...we'll see. Smile