7 Things I Do That Save Money Part 1

There are so many ways to save money!  Here are some of the ways I save.

1.  Carpool

My boyfriend and I work for the same company and work the same hours right now.  Ever since we moved in together, we’ve carpooled, and it has saved me a lot of money and wear and tear on my car.  Mr. Frugal Turtle usually drives since he has way less miles on his car.  I usually only end up buying one tank of gas a month.  I know this won’t always be the case, and one of us will switch to a different shift or get a new job completely, but I’m enjoying this while I’m able to.

2.  Garden

I’m very green when it comes to gardening.  (Get it?  Green.  HaHa!)  But I’m trying to grow some plants in pots right now.  Lettuce, cilantro, tomatoes, a few different kinds of peppers, basil, and spinach are what I’m attempting to grow right now.  My mom on the other hand, has been gardening her whole life and whenever I go visit, I end up coming home with grocery bags full of fresh veggies and greens to enjoy.  For free!  It’s awesome!  You can’t beat fresh from the garden produce.

3.  Cell Phone

Right now I use a three and half year old Virgin Mobile phone.  It has some character and can be fussy at times and shut off for no reason, but I can call and text and do everything I need to do on that phone.  So I’m keeping it.  So many people tell me I should upgrade, but I’m holding strong!  I pay around $38 every month for my phone and when I eventually do get a new one, I’m probably going to look into Republic Wireless.  I’ve heard good things about that company.

4.  Cook at Home

I love to cook and bake!  One of my favorite things in the whole world is being in the kitchen with music blaring and having a good drink on the counter to sip from. If Mr. Frugal Turtle is around to keep me company it’s even more awesome!  I find great recipes on Pinterest.  If I’m not sure what I want to do with an ingredient I get from my mom’s garden, I’ll just search that item on Pinterest and a lot of delicious, interesting dishes pop up.  I can usually find one where I already have all the ingredients right here at home, and if I don’t, I improvise!

5.  Shop the Deals

I tend to shop at four grocery stores.  I love the local Food Co-op in St. Cloud, MN!  They have all the delicious, local and organic produce and other different foods that are harder to find.  Unfortunately they are pretty expensive, but this is probably the one area where I splurge on.  Then there’s the cheaper, large grocery store where I buy the bulk of my groceries.  They send out coupon books every so often and I make sure to stock up on the items I use the most.  Then there are two smaller, slightly more expensive grocery stores I frequent.  One is close to where I work, so if I want to make something after work, but need one ingredient, that’s the store I head to.  The last grocery store also sends out coupon books, and is relatively close, so I usually only go there when I want to use their coupons and it’s on my way to or from someplace else.

6. Cut Cable

I cut cable out of my life about four years ago.  Haven’t missed it.  Mr. Frugal Turtle cut out cable before I moved in, so we rely on mainly Netflix for our shows.  When I hear about all the stupid reality shows that are on television now, I realize we made the right choice.  I thought people were more open to cutting cable lately, but a co-worker found out recently that we didn’t have cable and I think her mind was blown.

7. Thrift and Discount Stores

I’m pretty lucky that I can wear jeans and a t-shirt to my job every day.  As a result of this, I buy most of my work clothes at thrift shops.  The rest of my wardrobe is largely made up of clothes purchased at Kohl’s with a 30% off coupon.  There are so many cute clothes at thrift shops that I spend a couple hours there whenever I go and  my arms are heavily weighted down by armfulls of clothes waiting to be tried on.

September Net Worth

My networth at the beginning of September is way to close to my networth at the beginning of August.  I know the markets are down temporarily and they will come back up, but I was really hoping to hit a networth of $60,000 or be extremely close to it.  Unfortunately, as of September 1st, my net worth was $58,507.36.  I shall try to look at the bright side of things, and realize that it is still an increase over last month’s amount.

Also on the bright side of things, my expenses had another amazingly low month!  Mr. Frugal Turtle and I are planning a camping trip in September, so I reserved and paid for the site in August.  Other than that, it was a pretty straightforward boring month where I socked away any extra money to my savings account.  I love that feeling of having hundreds of dollars left over after all my bills are paid that I can just save.  This leads me to another subject…

I haven’t really talked about my job at all since I’ve started this blog, but there was a change in management recently and the environment at my employer has become scary. People, mostly upper management, are being fired or suspended for very weak reasons.  Other managers are quitting before they get fired.  They lowered the starting wage to $10 an hour whereas before, the company paid so well, people were thrilled to get hired there.  There are rumors of decreasing the amount of vacation time to save money.  This is causing everyone a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.  My job doesn’t feel safe anymore.  I’ve begun the job search, but haven’t applied anywhere yet in the hopes that once the new manager has fired everyone that he wants to, things will go back to normal.  In case that doesn’t happen and the company would go under or I would quit or get laid off, I’m very happy that I have a large emergency fund, and I would be able to take my time finding a new job that I would enjoy instead of just settling for anything.  Frugality brings choices and I have a feeling I’m just starting to experience those choices.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program!  Here are my expenses for August:

Rent $400
Netflix $8.54
Movie theater snacks $19.86
Gift Certs for grocery store and restaurants $85
Cat Food $62
Groceries $108.53
Gas $33.44
Cell Phone $38.45
Campsite $77.5
Household Items $55.91
Checking Account Fee $3.95

My total is a very low $893.18!

There is an awesome website for my area called The Value Connection that has deals on gift certificates to local businesses.  One of those local businesses is to the expensive organic co-op that I frequent.  I can buy $20 gift certificates for $16.  I also buy gift certificates for restaurants that I frequent.  It’s an awesome, easy way to save a few bucks!

The cat food that I buy for my tabby, Rus, is the organic, no fillers type.  Very expensive, but I feel it’s the best cat food for him.  He’s like family, so I do everything I can to keep him healthy and that includes buying good quality cat food.

Unfortunately, September’s expenses are looking to end up a little higher.  We’re half way through the month and I’ve already spent more this month than all of August.  I don’t expect to spend money on anything other than groceries at this point, so hopefully it’s not too terrible!

August Net Worth

I thought I should probably update the blog for August, considering August is nearing it’s end.  I can’t believe summer is almost over!  Kids in the area started school already, the temperatures definately feel more like fall than summer, and I’ve already made a pumpkin pie.  Summer went by way too fast.

On August 1st, 2015 my net worth stood at $58,229.61.  It has happily been trending upwards the entire time I’ve been keeping track.  Mostly because I continue to add to it every couple weeks when I receive my paycheck, but with the markets spiraling downward right now, I’m curious what my networth will be at come September 1st.  I’m not complaining about the markets though.  I’m not even close to retiring right now, so I want to be able to buy as many funds with my money that I can, and right now they are on sale!

Income/Expenses for July 2015

My net income for July came in at $1770.01  This is purely take home pay as I contributed $1528.8 to my 401k.  From the $1770.01 I transferred $641 to my savings account for a grand total of $2169.8 placed into savings/investments for July.  Not bad!  I do what I can with my average income, and I think I am doing alright for myself.  My expenses for July were also pretty low.  If only they could be this low every month…

Without further ado – my expenses for July 2015

Item Cost
Rent 400
Netflix 8.54
Groceries 195.10
Lunch with Mr. Frugal Turtle 18
Miscellaneous 83.35
Gas 33.75
Liquor 29.09
Cell Phone Bill 38.44
Household Items 10.34
Haircut 35.5
Checking Account Fee 3.95

Total expenses = $856.06

Mr Frugal Turtle and I were invited to take a weekend mini vacation and travel to a lakehouse cabin several hours away.  We spent the weekend with two other couples and one of the women absolutely loves to cook, so she offered to buy the food and cook all the meals for the weekend as long as we pay her our share for the food.  Hell yes!!  The food was amazing!  Well worth the $20 per person total.  This is included in the miscellaneous total along with a birthday gift for my niece.

Groceries were also pretty low considering I was the one who did all the grocery shopping for the month.  I must confess though that my parents live 10 minutes away by car and my mom has a huge, amazing garden with a lot of variety.  Whenever I go visit them in the summer I usually end up leaving with one or two reusable grocery bags filled with freshly picked from the garden produce.  I probably leave there with about $25-50 worth of organic produce once a week.  Thanks mom!

With August just about over and no real plans to spend any more money, I can look forward to another low expense monthly report for this month.

Here’s to frugal living!

 

July Net Worth

Happy 4th of July!!  I hope everyone enjoys a safe and fun holiday weekend full of friends, family and good food and drinks!

My net worth on July 1st, 2015 was $55,462.88.  A increase of $1,558.92 over last month. But $2,262.55 went into my savings, IRA and 401k accounts.  Ahhh, the joys of a down market.  I just need to remember that I’m buying more shares when the market is down, and then when it starts to rise, my accounts should enjoy the ride up.

Income/Expenses

I spent more of my hard earned money in June than normal.  I had my car insurance due in July, so that got paid up a little early.  I have an old car that I don’t entirely trust, so I have AAA in case I break down.  That yearly fee got paid in June.  Mr. Frugal Turtle and I also went on a weekend trip to Minneapolis to visit an old friend of mine, and we got a hotel room in the downtown area.  The Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis is beautiful and in a very convenient location.  It was well worth the very reasonable room rate.  I also started this little blogging endeavor in June, and paid all the associated website fees.

My net income for June was $3,702.72.  I only have one source of income, my job.

June Expenses

Item Cost
Rent 400
Car Registration 59.44
Groceries 226.31
Website 348.71
Netflix 8.54
Gardening stuff 4.99
Gas 33.14
Cell Phone 38.44
Car Insurance 300.4
AAA Renewal 101.95
Dinner and Tip 57.03
Bus Fares 2.5
Coffee and Tip 5
Hotel Parking Fee 14
Credit Union Fee 3.95
Hotel Room Charge 117.94

Total = $1,722.44

I don’t think my expenses will be this high again for awhile.  Mr. Frugal Turtle and I are going away next weekend to a friend’s cabin, so our grocery bill might be a bit higher than normal for that next month.  Side note:  The $226.31 in groceries was our total grocery bill for the month.  Since we keep our finances separate, he pays for the groceries about half the time, but with his work schedule being pretty full last month, I was the lone grocery shopper.  That’s pretty good!

Enjoy your weekend!

Oh No!

One of my goals for this year is to max out my 401k at work.  $18000.  That’s a huge amount of money to me.  So, after fully funding my IRA I turned my focus to my 401k contribution.  I figured out how many more paychecks I was going to be receiving for the year.  Then I calculated how much money I would need to contribute each paycheck in order to max it out for the year.  $764.40 was the scary total.  Scary, but doable.  At work I printed out the 401k contribution form and wrote in the amount and gave it to HR.

Friday was payday.  When I woke up that day I excitedly went to the computer and logged in to my bank account.   Shock hit immediately.  $414.76 had been deposited into my account.  I normally take home about double that after my 401k contribution.  Excuse the language, but WHAT THE FUCK!!  I didn’t miss any days, so there was no reason it should by that tiny.  My only thought was that the 401k contribution got messed up somehow.   I couldn’t wait to get my hands on my paystub on Saturday when it came in the mail.  $414 is an extremely small amount, but honestly, I’ll be just fine until the next payday.  I normally put everything on my credit cards to get the points, then pay those off every other Friday.  This Friday though, I was only able to partially pay one of my credit cards off.  Not a big deal.  If I can’t pay it off with the next paycheck I’ll just transfer some funds from my savings account.  I’m not paying interest on my credit cards!!

I work overnights, so I sleep until late afternoon.  Mail arrives at the Frugal Turtle household in the morning.  So, when I woke up on Saturday (today) I pretty much bolted for the mailbox, grabbed the paystub out of there, and ripped it open to see what went wrong.  I looked at the deductions and sure enough, there was a 401k flat amount deducted along with my original 401k % deduction.  I didn’t even know that was possible!  How could HR forget to stop the percentage deduction??  Before I had turned in my contribution change form, I had some questions so I had sent them an e-mail explaining my plan to max out my 401k for the year, so they should have known I didn’t want the double deduction.

So here I sit.  I’ve already calculated the new amount that should be deducted from my 401k in order to max it out.  Unfortunately it’s Saturday and there is no one from HR at work.  I’ll have to wait until Sunday night when I work next to write them an e-mail and get this mess fixed.  This is going to consume my thoughts until I get this straightened out.  *Sigh.*