Penny Pinchers


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Budget Simple

By Julie Norman
Friday, November 14, 2014

Recently my question at the end of each month has been, "Where the heck is my money going?" Yes, there have been a few medical bills, and September/October is always a crappy time because of birthdays, car registration renewal and quarterly taxes for the freelance work I do...OH and car insurance...So maybe I just answered the question! But in any case, I decided to do a better job of seeing, visually, where my money is going.

I looked around online for some free budgeting sites.  Mint.com is very highly reviewed, but I didn't like the thought of sharing my bank username and password, so I kept looking.  Eventually I found Budget Simple.

Budget Simple has a free version and of course a "premium" version, but the free one does exactly what I wanted.  It allows me to put in what I spend money on each month.  I start by putting in the budgeted amount (for example, $415 for groceries).  Then, as I spend money from each category, I can go in and update the "actual" column.  This shows what I've spent of my budgeted amount.  Finally, there's a "what's left" column that shows the remaining amount for each of my budget categories.

Budget Simple also tells me if I have extra money around that I might want to put in savings. I can track my credit card balance and see how long it will take to pay off certain amounts and even set savings goals.  My favorite part, though is this:

I LOVE graphs and I love seeing exactly where my money is going.  Most of it clearly is for groceries and the mortgage/utilities  (that gets split with my better half), but it's also good to see a big chunk going into my savings account. If you've been looking for a free tool to help you track your money, I really recommend checking this one out.  It truly is simple!

*Budget Simple did not me to review their products or site. 

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Thred UP! Review

By Julie Norman
Monday, November 10, 2014

A few weeks ago I blogged about ordering some clothes from Thred Up!, an online consignment shop.  Well, now that the clothes have arrived I thought I'd give a final review:

The clothes were shipped in a heavy-duty polka-dot shipping bag and were neatly wrapped with tissue paper.  The signature "Thread Up" clothing tags were attached with string, not those ridiculous plastic things! I was happy to see that.  The clothes were in great shape.  I found one teeny tiny hole on the underside of the sleeve of the Gap Body wrap sweater that I bought, but other than that everything was perfect!

I'd definitely use Thred UP again, though I'll still try to stick to the local consignment shops the most. There's no shipping fee with them ;)

Here's a selfie of me in my new J Crew sweater from Thred Up:

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Yes! The holiday savings continue!

By Julie Norman
Monday, November 3, 2014

Last night, while the BF was at a work meeting, I had 2 hours to work on some Christmas presents.  The first was a calendar that I make every year using either Shutterfly or iPhoto.  This year I decided to stick with Shutterfly because it's much faster than my current iPhoto program.  I got SO lucky.  There was a Halloween sale going on: 30% off EVERYTHING until EOD on November 2.  So I got my act together and got that calendar finished within an hour.  I used the 30% off sale code and then remembered that there was also free shipping on orders of $39 or more.  Since I like to have one of these calendars for myself every year, I ordered 2 and used THAT special code too! Check out my savings:

Money spent so far towards the BF's Christmas? $24.

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Homemade Christmas

By Julie Norman
Thursday, October 23, 2014

Don't even start with me about it being "too early" to post Christmas-related posts! I have to ship presents to Georgia before my mother's birthday on Dec. 20th, so planning starts early, especially when homemade gifts are involved! This year we all agreed that expensive gifts were ridiculous and that we should all cut back.  To me that meant, "get busy making something!" The problem is that I"m not super crafty.  Someone else can pour layers of lentils and dried beans in a glass vase and it'll look gorgeous.  If I do it it looks like I poured beans in a vase.

SO I turned to anyone's source of thrifty craft ideas for the holidays: Pinterest!  Below is a screenshot of part of my Homemade Christmas board.

My mom's favorite drink is a cosmopolitan (too much Sex in the City watching!).  So I thought a cool gift "box" for her could include a few different cosmo mixes, some recipes on pretty cards, and that watercolor print in a frame (probably from Goodwill).  I might even throw in some chocolates to eat while she's sipping a drink - or a cool martini glass if I can find one!

My sister loves Citrus, so Citrus soaps, salt scrubs, etc are on her list.  I found some awesome tins on the Container Store website for a cheap price that I can order to store the scrub in.  She also has a dog whom she loves very much and little miss Luci the dog will get homemade dog treats for Christmas.

Anyway, my point is that there are lots of crafts and ideas on here that anyone can do.  Spice mixes might be a little more costly, but I think the key is to just be careful what types of rubs you're making.  Garlic and onion powders are very inexpensive, so you could put together several homemade ranch dressing mixes for people.  Or do a fancy sugar or fancy salt, like one I found for chili pepper salt. Those aren't quite as pricey and people will still love them!

Follow my pinterest board if you want for more ideas! http://www.pinterest.com/jewelsingjco/homemade-christmas/

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Online Consignment Shopping

By Julie Norman
Friday, October 17, 2014

You all know I love a good consignment store.  What do I love even more? Finding one online! Don't get me wrong, shopping local is GREAT and should be encouraged, but sometimes life just gets in the way and shopping gets put waaaaaaay on my back burner. Then I stare at my clothes thinking, "This is IT?" So I found this online site called thredup.com.

It's the largest online consignment and thrift store and has quite a few benefits: You can design your personal "store" so that you only see items in your sizes, price ranges, etc. You can join their "Thred Everyday" program and get FREE shipping on all of your orders, and you can also sign up for emails from them touting special deals, new clothes, etc.  They stock mostly designer and high-end brands: everything from J Crew and Gap to Juicy and DKNY.

I'd been poking around this site for a while.  I even went so far as to put some items in my cart.  Then I'd back out and just leave the stuff there...eventually ThredUp figured they needed a better way to entice me, so they sent a 25% off coupon! Consignments AND 25% off? So today I visited the site and purchased 3 items: a skirt, a sweater and a body wrap cardigan. Here's the confirmation email i got from them.  If the final cost of those three brand-name items doesn't get you, the SAVINGS based on their original in-store prices certainly will!

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