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Our crap

George and I spent the first 50 years of our lives buying all kinds of crap and it looks like we may spend the next 50 getting rid of it all.

Case in point: The Christmas dishes I just had to have look so ugly to me now.

I know you have to dress and live like a civilized human being. You have to have a way to get to work and to drive the kids around. But make it a game to do it without mortgaging your future. How can you outsmart the system to look the part without breaking the bank? I wish I had asked myself this with every purchase “How will this move us forward?” We were out the other day and saw the pre-lit Christmas tree we’ve been wanting had been marked down significantly. Part of our old one doesn’t work now and George strings lights on that section. I suggested we get it to make it easier on him this year (we go through this discussion every year it seems!) He asked me how it would move us forward and I shrugged. He’s the one who strings the Christmas lights so if he’s good with it, I am too. In his mind, taking the extra hour to put up the tree was worth having an extra $230 in our bank account. (I haven’t moved it over yet – we still aren’t through the Christmas season yet.)

Also consider challenging yourself with “How can I get the same result spending less? Can I do it with something I already have? Do I have a better use for this money?”

If after all that, you still see you need to make the purchase, then make it with confidence and enjoy! This isn’t about not having nice things. It’s about you deciding what you need and analyzing the best way to use the dollars you choose to spend. I don’t thing many things feel worse than forking over money only to realize later you’ve been had by a crew of marketing wonders from some office.

George’s expense check is $130.23 and I don’t have to tell you where it’s going!

Today’s Deposit: $130.23
Level Completed: 175 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,972.42
Total Balance: $25,887.56
Our Money Game fund has increased 8.25% so far this month.

$921.81 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

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Is it just me?

Every time I start to open an email with a great deal, check out a sale or consider a purchase, the Money Game starts tapping its foot, sighing loudly and making sure it will NOT be ignored.

I wrote earlier that it took on a life of its own. I meant that figuratively LOL.

We have a teensy power up with the cable/internet bill coming in under budget by $1.14. Yup it’s little. I still take the time to transfer it to the Money Game. It all adds up! Sometimes I think these little ones are what power the bigger ones.

Today’s Deposit: $1.14
Level Completed: 175 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,842.19
Total Balance: $25,757.33
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.7% so far this month.

$1,052.04 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Our latest Costco score

SiblingGifts
We found cute sets of dishes at Costco to use for serving appetizers for $10 a set. I snagged 3 of them for sibling Christmas gifts and an extra for an office gift. I budget $35 each for them so that gave me $25 times 3 siblings extra to put in the Money Game.

I honestly think I’m more excited to have the hardest part of my Christmas shopping done. My kids are easy – they need and want cash.

Gift giving has been a cash cow for me on the Money Game. I hate shopping so I’d procrastinate and then spend too much on gifts that weren’t great (I was trying to buy my way out). The gaming aspect makes the shopping more “fun”. We know it’s coming so we keep our eyes open for something at or under budget. I keep a spreadsheet going so I don’t forget what I bought and for whom. I’m lucky to have a large walk-in closet (DH has his own) so I keep one side on the end just for storing the gifts I track on my spreadsheet.

This isn’t “funny money”. The old me was always going over on Christmas and birthday gifts and I hated, hated occassions. The people getting gifts didn’t really like them and it was costing us so much money!! The Money Game works beautifully for those we love and for our own financial health too.

Today’s Deposit: $75.00
Level Completed: 175 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,800.64
Total Balance: $25,715.78
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.5% so far this month.

$1,093.59 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Are credit cards evil?

One thing that Financial Peace University (Dave Ramsey’s course in personal finance) gave me was a perfect hatred for debt. We had a few “discussions” about George’s unwillingness to give up our American Express card as he had frequent business travel expenses that required him to rent cars, reserve hotel rooms, etc. He taught me how to use those perks without having to pay interest. I’ve learned it isn’t “evil”; credit cards are financial tools that can be used wisely or foolishly.

We now use a Costco Visa like a debit card. YNAB lets us assign each purchase to a budget category. YBAB doesn’t care if it’s a debit card or a credit card. It still requires that a spending category be associated with the transaction. That keeps us accountable and on budget. Costco’s Visa allows us to make a payment every day that there is a balance so we just keep it paid in full. I often make a payment every day. That way it feels like cash and it keeps me checking the budget and staying on track.

The Costco card gives a generous rebate tied to your purchases. Since we buy most of our fuel and groceries at Costco and since we run most of our purchases through this card, the rebate is usually about $500 a year. That’s a lot of money to us and we deposit it directly into our Money Game fund when it arrives.

This wouldn’t work for us if we didn’t use YNAB. Most people advise that you spend more if you use a credit card. We found that doesn’t happen as long as we track it through YNAB.

Fuel is under budget for the week giving us a nice little power up of just over $25.

Today’s Deposit: $25.13
Level Completed: 175 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,750.77
Total Balance: $25,665.91
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.32% so far this month.

$1,143.46 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Considering vacation rental property

Grayton

We just got back from camping at Grayton Beach on the Florida panhandle. It was incredible! I snapped this picture on my phone. It was warm enough to actually swim in the gulf. We spent the week walking on the beach and riding our bikes in Seaside.
Seaside
November is a wonderful time to visit 30A and we felt like we won the lottery with the temps hitting 80 each day. We’ve often considered buying some vacation property to rent and we got more information while we were there. As the Money Game fund grows fatter, we’re both getting excited about the different options that are opening up to us. We are both realizing that we would rather invest in property that grows in value rather than having nicer cars, etc.

Vacation rentals don’t net a lot of money if you are paying a property manager and servicing a mortgage. We learned if we gross 10% of the property’s value in rent, it will be cash flow positive but not by much. It seems like the real money will be made in having renters pay for the property while it appreciates in value over time. Obviously we have a lot more to learn.

We came back with food in the cooler so I’m cleaning out the food category a day early. We’re powering up with $44.62 left.

Today’s Deposit: $44.62
Level Completed: 175 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1,725.64
Total Balance: $25,640.78
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.22% so far this month.

$1,168.59 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

A new to me site for saving money

Here’s a link to some greats reads on saving more money from SquawkFox.

If nothing else, check out the one on making your own frappuccinos at home (it promises they taste the same as Starbucks’).

Fuel was under last week. We’re powering up with a $57.90 deposit to the Money Game!

Today’s Deposit: $57.90
Level Completed: 175 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1681.02
Total Balance: $25,596.16
Our Money Game fund has increased 7.03% so far this month.

$1213.21 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

Level 175 and side hustles

Side Hustle Nation

Jessica asked me about peer-to-peer lending in the comments and I noticed #59 deals with that.

Raw land flipping interested me the most. I think I’ve written here before that George made a low ball offer on an empty bank owned lot at our favorite beach that was accepted. The lot has since doubled in value and the (few) other empty lots on the same street sold briskly this past season.

I think this is a good list. I found myself nodding my head at several of the suggestions as I could see myself doing some of them.

I’m doing a pantry challenge on the Debt Fanatics Board. Trying to clean out our freezer and our pantry gave us a super low spend week and we had $72.61 leftover in the grocery budget last week. That was enough to finish level 175!

Today’s Deposit: $72.61
Level Completed: 175 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1623.12`
Total Balance: $25,538.26
Our Money Game fund has increased 6.8% so far this month.

$1271.11 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

This video is everywhere

But, in case you haven’t seen it:

A guy makes a commerical to help his girlfriend sell her used car.

I love that attitude – “luxury is a state of mind”!! I think I’ve watched it ten times and every time I smile so big it hurts!

My social security check hit our bank account. After taxes and tithing, we have $839.69 more to transfer to the Money Game.

Today’s Deposit: $380.78
Level Completed: 174 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $1550.5`
Total Balance: $25,454.54
Our Money Game fund has increased 6.48% so far this month.

$67.09 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

5 minutes and a crock pot

Dump a pack of stew meat, a bag of frozen stew vegetables and a jar of pizza sauce (spaghetti sauce works too) into your crock pot. Cook on low all day.

Hey! That was probably less than 5 minutes.

My oldest son came up with that when he was 9. We loved it and named it “Pizza Stew”.

Why is this tagged “Food Friday” on a Monday? It’s all I got!!

Yesterday was the property tax for our home. Today it’s the property tax for the lot we own at the beach. The taxes went up and so did the value of this property in its red hot market. It has doubled in value since we bought it two years ago.

It’s giving us a power up of $177.10.

Today’s Deposit: $177.10
Level Completed: 174 out of 251
Amount Deposited this month: $710.82
Total Balance: $24,625.96
Our Money Game fund has increased 2.97% so far this month.

$906.78 is needed to reach the next level

New? Start here …

Google Doc spreadsheet showing all 250 levels of the Money Game

ADD deep cleans the master bath

And I mean DEEP!

Here’s how it’s done and how long it takes:
Take the product bottles out of the walk in shower (I put them in the bathtub.) Toss the towel used that morning into the shower and spray the walls with Clorox bleach cleaner. The cleaner runs to thes hwoer floor.

using baby wipes, quickly wipe up the cleaner and use the towel to clean and dry the shower floor. Clean the door the way you normally do it.

Take the scale, bathrug and basket of bath towels out of the room. Shake the rug outside.

Completely clear off the vanity. The soap, towel holder, clock and sonic care toothbrushes go in the bathtub. Everything else goes into a clean dishbin I keep under my sink.

Spray the vanity and sink with cleaner (I use Scrubbing bubbles) Let that sit and work while you clean the mirror.

Wipe the vanity and sinks with one or two baby wipes.

Clean the toilet.

Swiffer the room.

once it’s dry, put the shower prodcuts back and replace items on the vanity.

spray the tub with scrubbing bubbles and wipe clean with baby wipes.

Done and one. The bathroom will feel as clean as an upscale hotel’s.

Every time I do this I ask myself how to make it easier next time. That’s helped me toss clutter along the way and pare down the number of products we use. We found a shampoo/conditioner we oth like and a grapefuit scented shwoer gell we both enjoy that works well for us. That cut out the full array of his and hers bath products. i decided I liked shower gel mroe than dealing with messy bars of soap.

i found it faster to dump my makeup into a makeup bag that gets stashed in a drawer by my sink than looking at it sitting out all week. I pull out a baby wipe every morning when I do my makeup. I use it to clean up any fall out of eye shawdow on my face and then fold it in half and quickly wiipe up the sinks and vanity each morning after getting ready.

Every time I have to pee I use a different bathroom. After its use, I quickly swish and swipe the toilet (there is a toilet brush, cleaner and a pack of wipes in every bathroom).