Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Day 26

Well, I have reached Day 26 tonight and I ate rice again. Today, I thought I would let you see what my favorite way to fix rice, so it's not so bland.
1 cup of rice
2 cups of water
2 Tablespoons Sugar

Bowl rice like normal, once rice is cooked add sugar and cinnamon and mix together until well mixed (white rice will turn cinnamon color).

Then enjoy. I ate my rice tonight with a helping of the yogurt that I bought earlier in the month.

Introducing Joke of the Day

Good evening. In addition to the "Bumper Sticker of the Day" blog that I introduced this morning, I would like to introduce you to another new member of the "Debt Free 4ever Network." "Joke of the Day," is a blog that will, like it name says, list a joke of the day. Like it's Bumper Sticker counterpart the site will rely, in part, on submissions from it's readers. Right now a number of political jokes are in Que for the next few days, but I see other areas to be touched upon as time goes by.
In the next month, there are plans to introduce another blog to the network. That site is still be worked on, and I will give more details on that site, when it becomes appropriate.
If you have a submission for Joke of the Day, please email them to frugal -at-

Winding Down 1st 30 Days

Good Morning, after 25 days I have been doing pretty well on my extreme budget. Sunday, after the convention I ate the last of the potato soup that I had leftover in refrigerator. Monday, I munched on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yesterday, I ate some scrambled eggs. In addition, I went to a wine tasting last night, and besides a few samples of wine, I ate some crackers.
Today, with snow flying, I ventured to the grocery store and picked up a few things. I used money from my next months budget. I still have some Rice and beans to get me through part of the next month. Below is my purchases from today.

Strawberry Preserves - 99 cents
Peanut Butter/Choc/Hazel Nut Spread - $1.69
Split Top Wheat Bread - 89 cents
2 Hot Cocoa Mix (89 cents ea) - $1.78
Corn Flakes - 99 cents
47 cents tax
Grand Total Spent 6.81 out the next 30 day budget.

Pilgrim and Democrat

Q: What do you get when you cross a pilgrim with a democrat?
A: A god-fearing tax collector who gives thanks for what other people have.

Welcome the Newest Blog

I would like to welcome my newest blog to the Debt Free 4ever Network. is a blog that seeks to post a new funny Bumper Sticker phrase every day.
To submit a bumper sticker that you enjoy, email me at frugal -at- or better yet, I would love to have a copy of the sticker in my can mail them to:
Kevin Surbaugh
P. O. box 4551
Topeka, KS 66604

Live For Jesus

Live for Jesus Now, and spend eternity in the non-smoking section.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The New Festival of Frugality Is Up & Running

Yes, it is that time of the week again when the Festival Of Frugality hits the blog world. As I looked through the postings, I found several to be interesting. Here is a list of those posts:

A frugality quiz presented by Ben in the article, How Frugal Are You? posted at Money Smart Life.

An interesting read was Sunday Insulating Adventures, where frugal mama uses duct tape in place of caulk.

of course the list would not be complete without postings from two of my blogs:

Kevin Surbaugh shares his free-food endeavors in Eating Well on $0 posted at Eating On A Budget.
Prince of Thrift wants to avoid paying $4 to repair the holes in his jeans pockets by trying to learn how to sew. Read about it in Patching Holey Clothes posted right here at Becoming & Staying Debt Free.

Ok so there is the quick wrap up of the festival, I encourage everyone to look over the festival for themselves and see what they find interesting.

3 pack, 10-pack or Family Pack

A girl asks her boyfriend to come over Friday night and have dinner with her parents. Since this is such a big event, the girl announces to her boyfriend that after dinner, she would like to go out and make love for the first time.

Well, the boy is ecstatic, but he has never had sex before, so he takes a trip to the pharmacist to get some condoms. The pharmacist helps the boy for about an hour. He tells the boy everything there is to know about condoms and sex. At the register, the pharmacist asks the boy how many condoms he'd like to buy, a 3-pack, 10-pack, or family pack.

The boy insists on the family pack because he thinks he will be rather busy, it being his first time and all. That night, the boy shows up at the girl's parents house and meets his girlfriend at the door. "Oh, I'm so excited for you to meet my parents, come on in!"

The boy goes inside and is taken to the dinner table where the girl's parents are seated. The boy quickly offers to say grace and bows his head. A minute passes, and the boy is still deep in prayer, with his head down. 10 minutes pass, and still no movement from the boy.

Finally, after 20 minutes with his head down, the girlfriend leans over and whispers to the boyfriend, "I had no idea you were this religious." The boy turns, and whispers back, "I had no idea your father was a pharmacist."

Hey Hillary!

Hey Hillary! There's a village in Arkansas missing their idiot.

Monday, January 29, 2007

More Carnivals

Another article appeared in the Carnival of credit Cards
Carnival of Credit Card #3

Carnivals This week

We made it into several Carnivals this week, below are the carnivals as I became aware of them.
Carnival of Personal Finance #85

Carnival of Debt Reduction

the Urge to Splurge Is Sapping Savings

U. S. News and World Reports reported that Americans are splurging more then ever before, however, it's not cars or other big ticket items that are sapping their savings. (see snippet below) In addition the Average American savings rate is even lower (see chart), as it drops to a negative 4%.

While Americans are finding it harder and harder to afford big purchases such as homes and cars, a new survey of household spending and savings shows that it's not the big-ticket items that get many consumers in trouble.

Instead, it's the little things that consumers admit they splurge on that often prevent families from reaching their savings goals. And surprisingly, the biggest culprit isn't frequent trips to the mall, according to the survey, released this week by the Pew Research Center. Many consumers admit that dining out at restaurants is the thing they "splurge on most."

What's more, consumers have drastically expanded the list of things they deem to be necessities of life. For instance, 68 percent of adults now believe that a microwave oven is an absolute necessity, up from just 32 percent a decade ago. Fifty-nine percent say they absolutely must have an air conditioner in their cars, up from 41 percent who thought so in 1996. And roughly half of all respondents say that a home computer and a cellphone are needed to function in day-to-day life.

Yet, when surveyed about their own savings goals, the vast majority of Americans describe themselves as thrifty. The Pew survey, based on telephone interviews conducted nationwide this fall, found that 77 percent of adults describe themselves as "the kind of person who always looks for ways to save money." Meanwhile, 67 percent say they are the kind of people who are "always aware" of how much they're spending. And 88 percent say they closely watch how much they spend.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Eating Well on $0

As I stated previously, I was going to a state political convention this weekend (2 blocks from my house). I went from reception to reception drinking free soda, water and occasionally wine. Most rooms served cookies crackers, etc, which of course I partook of all that junk food. One room even had (plain) strawberries as well as chocolate dipped strawberries. (those were so awesome)

However, the Abates, a motorcycle advocacy group, served ham and roasted turkey, constantly warming in a crock pot. Let me tell you, I loaded up on that turkey. It was so delicious, and a nice change from the beans and rice that I have been eating so much of. (note: the Abates room is the only room open through out the entire 2 day event, even when other rooms are shut down for meetings or expensive banquets.)

The best deal though, was when I surprised by someone selling tickets to one of the banquets, who said that he wanted to give me a ticket to the luncheon on Saturday. So I went to the Veterans luncheon free and was able to hear former Topeka City Councilman and former Assistant-Secretary of Defense (currently employed at the American Trucking Association) Dan Stanley speak. Not to mention the meal that I was able eat.

However, the blessings did not stop there. As I was preparing to get ready to leave and walk the two blocks home, someone came into the ABATE reception where I was still milling about and asked if I wanted the extra ticket to the Kansas Day Banquet he had. The banquet is pretty much the end all banquet for the weekend and celebrates the birth of Kansas (Kansas will be 146 on January 29). I graciously accepted the gift and thanked him as I had my seat in the room, in front of my salad, that started the meal.

All in all, even though a lot of it was junk food, I ate very well this weekend and didn't go hungry. Not to mention, I spent nothing on food. One thing I learned though, was soda pop (especially my coca-cola) is beginning to taste to sweet to me. Maybe that's a good thing. Most certainly a great first step to weening myself from the sugary concoction.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007

Looking Forward to This Weekend

This morning, when I got home from work I was hungry, so I fried 2 eggs and 2 slices of toast and made myself an egg sandwich. Boy was that a delicious "midnight" snack.

I am off to bed now, but before I do, I wanted to let my readers know that I may not be posting tonight or tomorrow, because I am headed to the annual state convention (for my political party) tonight and tomorrow. I really don't think I will be eating at home instead I will be partaking in the free drinks, snacks, sandwiches and finger foods that will be served in the hospitality rooms. I won't say here which party it is, but I do know that at least one person who has formally announced his candidacy for President will be there. I will also say that I will be looking forward to talking to a man, who I have considered a friend for several years.
At any rate, I am not expecting to spend anything on meals tonight or tomorrow, thanks to the free food. Of course, most of the food will be junk food, but oh well.

Enjoy your weekend, look for the re-creation of an old blog this weekend. More details later.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Homemade Potato Soup - day 20

Tonight I made homemade potato soup again (my recipe below). I was going to make corn-potato soup, but when I went to my pantry, I didn't have any cans of whole kernel corn. Dang it anyway.
So my recipe is very simple.
peel and cut your potato (usually 2-3)
boil in water until tender
add 2 cups of water and 3 cups of milk
season All (or salt and pepper if you prefer)

cook until butter melts...that's it

some people like onions in their soup and that is fine if you like (or can eat) onions
. If I had-had the can of corn I would of replaced that for one of the cups of milk.

How To Plan The Unexpected

I recently received an email from a reader with the following comment:

Everyone knows that writing a budget is the best thing to do. But in all my efforts it is hard to make a monthly budget when you are unable to foresee emergencies and so bills are not fixed -- like this winter with my gas bill!

This is a common problem, people don't plan for the unexpected. When writing our monthly budget, we should be expecting the unexpected. A savings account should be set up for such "emergencies," this savings should not be touched at all. It is only for such emergencies as the car breaking down, the water heater needs replaced, etc etc.
Start with building this savings to $1000. Then Dave Ramsey advises saving enough in this fund equal to 3-6 months of your salary.

As for utilities, what I called both the gas and electric companies and asked to be set up on level payments. This means that in the summer when gas bills are almost Nil, I am paying more, but in the winter time when gas prices are high, I am paying less.
There is still some fluctuation, but not nearly as much. For example, my last gas bill, which I received last week, was $70. If I was not on level payments, it would have been $150 considering the mild December. When I get my next bill, it will probably be $5 more, but that is better then the $200 bill I would have received with the harsh January winter we have been having.
Breaking it down

OK so how do they figure leveled payments?
They take your 12 most recent bills and add them together. Then from that they determine the average billing. Each month the oldest bill drops off and the newest bill is added on. For example, when I got my "January 2007" bill last week, the period they were figuring ran from February 2006-January 2007. Next month, February 2006 will fall off and be replaced by February 2007.
I am behind right now though

If you are behind in your utility payments, the best thing to do is call the utility companies that you are in arrears to and ask for payment arrangements. They will take the past due amount and divide it by 12. You will then be required to make full payment (or more) of each months bill plus the 1/12Th payment until your account is brought back current.

I hope this explanation helps. However the key to all of this is to write a monthly budget and the beginning of every single month. We don't write one budget and think that covers every month. The best place I know for free monthly budget forms is here.

Patching Holey Clothes

It seems, that my pants love to get holes in the pockets. Especially the jeans that come from that evil Wal-Mart. People claim that the store is cheaper then everyone else. However, how much cheaper are they, if you wear their jeans once, before holes develop in the pockets?
Really, this isn't a post about how bad Wally World is. Instead, I need to figure out how to sew, so that I can replace those holes in my khaki's and jeans. In the past I have taken them to a nearby seamstress who charges me about $4/pair to repair the pockets. Not very frugal.
Any idea, how I can learn to sew? I learned to sew 20 years ago in my independent living class in high school, but never have used it. When I have tried to sew the threading is loose and quickly falls out. I need to re-learn how to sew and get a good tight threading so it will actually patch what needs to be repaired.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Over Budget in January

Last night, I finished eating the burned rice. This 2ND day, was not nearly as bad as the day before. What I did was put some Vanilla Yogurt on the side and then mixed them together. The Yogurt hid the burnt taste, making the rice much more palatable.

Tonight, I am eating a grilled cheese sandwich. I bought a package of Velveeta ($3.99 for a 1 lb box) and now I am able to eat such a thing. The only problem is the cheese, yogurt and gallon of milk I bought, put me over budget for the month of January. Of course a lot of that was bad chooses that I made earlier in the month. I foresee February going much better. I am going to lock the checkbook up in the safety deposit box and only use cash, which I have already placed in the food envelope.

Clinton Says Spouse Will Be an 'Asset' reported,

WASHINGTON (AP) -- If elected president, Hillary Rodham Clinton says her spouse and former Oval Office occupant will be a "tremendous asset," but she's the decider.

"I'm running to be the president, to make the decisions," the New York senator told ABC's "Good Morning America" Tuesday.

Since formally entering the race for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination over the weekend, Mrs. Clinton has been repeatedly pressed to elaborate on what role her husband, former President Clinton, would play in her presidency.

When he sought the presidency 15 years ago, Bill Clinton described his wife as a political partner, saying his campaign slogan should be: "Buy one, get one free."

Asked if that slogan would apply to her as well, the former first lady responded: "I wouldn't say it quite like that."

But Mrs. Clinton also said she would "count on his advice and his experience, not only here at home with the great progress that was made on so many important issues when he was president, but also what he knows about the world in which we find ourselves today."

In separate interview on NBC's "Today Show," Mrs. Clinton called her husband "a tremendous asset."

I will see her defeated, in her first ever campaign loss.

Savings Agent is Really A Money Grubbing Whore

In recent weeks, I have received 2 emails from a reader asking me to review a new personal finance tool. When I reviewed Cd's, DVDs and books on blog critics, I received free copies of those items. This website that contacted me, gave me, no compensation in any way, but I looked at the site any way, to see if it was something I could actually use and recommend.
What I found was a big disappointment. The site claims to help you save money. However, it wants to keep you in debt by pushing to sign you up for credit cards. Anyone, who has read my blog on a regular basis knows that I do not do credit and as such am opposed to credit cards. I cannot, therefore, give a positive review of
Anyone, who seriously wants to get out of debt, will avoid this site, the credit cards that pays them to be listed there and for that matter all credit cards.
I am going to get debt-free $1 at a time and never go into debt ever again.
The key is writing a monthly budget and stick to it. Which, I admit can be difficult. I even, have a hard time sticking to it, when I so often desire something that I really can't afford.

Top Ten Credit Tips has listed the following "Top 10 Credit Tips," that I found an interesting read. I don't agree with all the tips, as pointed out in previous posts, but still interesting.

1. Use disclosure box to shop for the best deals

Inundated with credit card offers? Well, the best way to sort through to find the best deal for yourself is to go strait to the "disclosure" box. It is required by law to tell you everything. If the interest rate seems too low, go find out what the interest rate really is in the disclosure box.

2. Get your FREE credit report with no strings attached (unlike Consumer Info

You can get a copy of your credit report FREE. We tell you how in section 2 of Credit Strategies Seminars. A quick hint is to avoid any site that advertises free. Free in the ad is almost always a bait and switch.

3. Use a recorder to track expenditures

Spring Break is again upon us! When you're finished with midterms, it'll be time to work on your Spring Break tan. The key problem that you want to avoid is to not overspend on your credit card. The best way to do so is to track your purchases. Some students have used a checkbook recorder. In recording how much you spend, your credit card bill won't be as big of a surprise.

4. Keep your card active!

Instead of leaving your card inactive charge at least a very small amount. What you want to do is manipulate your credit report to look like you pay on time every month. Your credit bureau does not record how much you pay. Therefore, if you charge only $15 and pay it all off on time, you get credited for a "1". Do this if you have zero for a balance. Do not do this if you already have a balance. Most students use their card sporadically. This strategy of charging a small amount will make your credit report look better.

5. Be careful of credit scams

Credit scams are all around. Be extremely careful in giving out your credit card number. A scam that has been reported recently goes like this. A telemarketer calls to notify you that you have won a prize if you have a visa card number that starts with a "four". The scamee runs to get his card and realizes HE'S A WINNER. His visa credit card number starts a "four". In his elation, he gives the rest of the number to verify his winnings. What the scamee does not realize is that all visa cards start with a "four", all MasterCard's start with a "five" and all American Express cards start with a "three". Be careful out there!

6. Work with the retention department as opposed to the customer service personnel

Have you ever seen a $10 late fee appear on your statement? When you call they will tell you that they received your payment a little late (sometimes they charge the $10 fee just after three days). The person in customer service says that it is policy to levy this fee. At this point, you should politely ask as a "courtesy" that they waive the fee. There may be real, legitimate reasons why they received the payment late (post office delays, system backlogs...). Regardless, ask this person in customer service to waive the fee.

If they do not agree to waive the fee and you feel as if you have a concrete gripe, then you should state that you would like to cancel the account and take your credit card business elsewhere (you do see one or two banks on campus begging for your business, don't you?). At this point, they will know who the boss is. They will then either:

1. waive the late charge or
2. transfer you to an "account closing specialist".

This "specialist" is really going to be smooth and his/her job is to keep your account. Please note: if you perpetually pay late don't expect preferential treatment. Working with the "account closing specialist" in the retention department is your best bet when it comes to getting results. Aren't we sneaky?

7. Rebate Cards

Do you notice some credit card companies on campus trying to sell you a credit card? Yeah, pretty sickening how they're on every corner you turn. Well, we're here to talk about REBATE cards. Among the different "bait and switch" schemes, credit card companies are the most guilty.

8. Reduce your balance

We've all heard horror stories... There's always some friend of a friend of a friend who is just completely out of control with their credit card. Interest can really add up quickly. Here are some tips that are really helpful in reducing your balance (if you have one):

1. Watch what you charge! Small purchases (movie, food, Cd's) can really rack up your debt. Recording transactions is a great way to keep track of what you'll be owing at the end of the month.
2. Keep your balance manageable. Don't charge huge amounts in the hopes of paying them off with future income. Sale items that appear to be "too good to pass up" can be costly. A good rule of thumb is to never have a balance that is three times the amount that you can pay off in one month.
3. It's O.K. to have a "0" balance! Some students are so used to a balance that they feel the need to charge something big when they don't owe anything.
4. If you do have a balance you're trying to whittle down, use not only the above strategies, but also LOWER YOUR INTEREST RATE. The benefits are obvious--you'll owe less money. How do you lower your rate? There are two ways: negotiate the interest rate with your bank or shop for a lower rate offer.

9. Bad credit can raise your insurance premiums!

In a Wall Street Journal article (Nov. 6), insurance companies were cited using credit reports to predict the likelihood of future claims. The most glaring example is Allstate which has "on the basis of statistical analysis" concluded that people with bad credit are more risky to insure.

Is this fair? Hardly. This can potentially have a big negative impact for you. Car insurance premiums are high enough for us. Having to pay additional for the same coverage isn't very appealing. The article goes on to elaborate State Farm policies for evaluating. State Farm concentrates on, "bankruptcies, foreclosures, repossessions, judgments, and multiple large charge-offs". They imply that they don't care if you are a few days late paying on a Sears card...or do they?...

What I wonder is that if bad credit can raise your premiums, will good credit lower them?

10. Rip up incoming credit card solicitations

Be really careful when you're throwing away those credit card solicitations--someone may be digging through your trash. Why? Most credit card solicitations contain a lot of very personal information. Some even come in the form of a certificate that is very easy to forge. Here's potentially what can happen:

1. a thief finds your credit card offer that you do not rip up,
2. that person fills out the application and
3. gets the card sent to some other address.

Credit card companies do take precautions to ensure that this doesn't occur but why trust them? Your best protection is to be safe with our personal information.

Bonus - Your credit card interest rate can be negotiated!

Last month, we talked about "reducing your balance". One of the best ways to owe less money and save money overall is to NEGOTIATE DOWN your interest rate. Here are some specific strategies for doing so.

Negotiating strategy number 1:
Call your bank. Ask for them to lower the rate. Most banks have multiple rates that range from 5.9% (a teaser rate) to 19.9%. Use the principal we outlined in an earlier "Tip of the Month" (October 1995 - Work with the retention department...). Remember, your bank values your business and will do a lot of things to keep your business.

Negotiating strategy number 2:
Shop for a better rate. Look around for offers that are really aggressive. Going from a 17% rate to a 13% rate saves you quite a lot.

Negotiating strategy number 3:
Make your credit report look stronger. This will reward you in the long run. Remember, loan officers use a scorecard. When you make a conscious decision to improve your score, that will make you more qualified for better offers in the future. People with good credit are inundated with low interest rate offers.

Here's an example of how you can work these "negotiating strategies" into a real life situation. Let's say you owe about $750. Your current bank charges you 16.95%. Here's exactly what you do. Call your bank's customer service department and have them tell you what your current interest rate is. Then, tell them that you are considering a much lower rate offer. An offer you recently received in the mail that is much cheaper, 5.9%. Listen to what they then say. It will probably go something like this, "Oh, that's just a teaser rate to get you to switch... " and then they'll say, "we provide outstanding service and we're #1". Your reply should be, "Can you as my current bank match this new bank's offer?" Say nothing and wait for their response. Be ready to walk away from your bank. If they say "yes" you are happy as a clam and we're glad that we could help. On the other hand, if you meet up with some resistance...

Ask to cancel the account and go through the retention department (do this with confidence if you have good credit and know it). The conversation with the retention department should go along the lines of, "Hello, my name's Mike and I can handle the details of closing your account. I am sorry that you are closing your account... we very much value your business. Before I start the process of closing your account, can I ask you why...Is it something that we did?... " This "Mike" will be super smooth but you'll be ready. Tell him, "Look, it's not that I don't like the wonderful service because it's terrific. I might even miss you guys...but what it comes down to is money. It's important to me. I want a lower interest rate." Be very nice but also very firm. Either he lowers your rate or you're taking your business elsewhere. This "Mike" has the authority to review your account and will most likely help you out.

Some notes we want to make clear. Make sure you have good credit before you start exercising these negotiating gambits. There is no clearer example of the benefits of good credit than when your bank values your account to the point that they feel they can't afford to lose you. That is the position that you want to be in

Free Popcorn Sample

If you like popcorn like I do, you might be interested in this free sample

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Burned Rice

As I finish up day 17 of this 90-day experiment, I was again making rice. Today, though was different, because I accidentally let it cook to long. Allowing it to boil dry and burn. Since, I am on such a strict budget, like so many of the poor, I was forced to eat burned rice. It actually wasn't as bad I figured, but it definitely wasn't as good as it should have been.
Tonight, I am taking a bowl of ham and beans from the freezer with me to work. No forgetting my food tonight, like I have done so many times the past 2 and half weeks.

Kansas Attorney General To Convene RoundTable

The newly sworn-in Attorney General has done one thing that I agree with. I know it may sound amazing, to those of you who know me, but he has. Take a look at this:

TOPEKA - Saying their industry takes advantage of the poor and the vulnerable, Attorney General Paul Morrison (D) promised Friday to push for new restrictions on payday loan companies.

Morrison announced that he'll convene a daylong "round-table discussion" on payday loans and check-cashing businesses, with an eye toward lower limits on what they're allowed to charge consumers who take out small, short-term loans.

To lead the discussion, he appointed Holly Petraeus, the wife of Fort Leavenworth's commanding lieutenant general, who led a push for restrictions on payday lending to soldiers. Morrison said he hopes to have proposals for the Legislature to consider before it adjourns in late April or early May.

"We think we know the direction that we need to head, and we're just going to get these heads together, people who know about a lot about this issue, to make some recommendations," Morrison said during a news conference.

Whitney Damron, lobbyist for the Kansas Payday Loan Association, said he wasn't aware of any problems within the state and that rates charged by its companies typically are lower than those in surrounding states.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Soup All Weekend - Strong Meat Cravings

As the snow blew into Kansas, I spent all weekend eating my tomato soup. It's good, but man have I been craving a hamburger, more specifically a breakfast burger. What is a breakfast burger? In my area a fast food place called Spangles has what they call the breakfast burger. It is a hamburger bun (sesame seed) with a beef Pattie, fried egg, bacon and hash browns. They serve cheese on it, but I don't eat cheese on my burgers. They are so good. Out on the west coast Carl Jr's has the same thing, so far, Hardee's the Carl Jr's sister restaurant, does not have the burger. I would fry one up myself, if the hamburger was in my budget.

oh well, I have to ignore that craving for now and stick to my experiment.

Blue Tiger Tactical Defense

Thank you to Blue Tiger Tactical Defense for the $5, sent today.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pressing Debts & Medical Concerns

Many of my readers know that I have been blogging for several months now about my debt, and how I have been changing my spending habits. I have not mentioned my need to visit a doctor, but am unable to because I cannot afford the deductibles and co-pays. I really don't believe my 2 brain tumors (non-cancerous), that need to be watched (regularly) is important.
The fact is I must get debt-free. I am hopeful to get 4 years of debt payments paid off this year. After which I will refuse to go into debt ever again. Right now, I must come up with an extra $1,000 by the end of January and a total of $15,000 by the end of the year, if I am going to be successful in getting debt-free by the end of the year. Obviously the $1,000 this month is more pressing, to keep my car on the road, and to begin looking at making that visit to the doctor, all though that visit and the resulting MRI will kill my debt repayment plan.

I have said that I will get debt-free $1 at a time, and I am asking that 1000 people send me $1 or 200 people send me $5 or well you get the idea. I have visited after seeing it on last nights 20/20 and I cannot afford their fees to post a message on their site. Besides, I have this site here with great readers, and with the pay pal link below or the p. o. box listed at the bottom of the post, I don't need to pay such fees. Won't you consider helping to get someone back on their feet who really has changed their spending ways?

Kevin Surbaugh
P. O. Box 4551
Topeka, KS 66604

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sponsor: Property In France

Have you ever dreamed of owning a house or property overseas? I know from my very first trip to Europe, I have dreamed of owning that nice piece of vacation property in Europe. Well, this week I came across a website that allows you to at least dream even more. The website, is specifically geared toward the oversea buyer.

Property in France, is a fantastic site. I easily found properties as cheap as 3,000 Euros. Each time, I look at Property in France all I can do is dram. However, if you have the funds, property in France could be the perfect starting point to purchasing that home in the French countryside.

I would make one caution though, if you are going to buy Property in France, then be sure to actually visit the property before buying. Never, repeat never buy property site unseen.


I am not much into the psychic realm, in fact I believe it is a bunch of bunk. As a Christian, the scriptures tell me to avoid such things, but even I must admit that I find this interesting. I recently heard a lady, known as the "numbers lady" discussing peoples "Life path numbers."
What is a Life path Number?
Tom Cruise was born 7-3-1962 Break down the birthday numbers:




1 is the Life path Number for Tom Cruise.
Why do we break it down? Because Numerology numbers go from 1 to 9, and you must get the numbers down to one digit.

But when you add together the month, the day and the year, that is the number that will truly fulfill you. We call that number the Life path Number. That number is the most important number in Numerology.

so I was born 7/13/1968 which would translate into 7+1+3+1+9+6+8=35=3+5=8

Looking at her description 8 pretty much describes me:

EIGHTS do not feel safe unless they have found a way to establish financial security. It is difficult for the 8s to take advice.When they make a choice, they must feel it is their decision, NOT SOMEONE ELSE'S. As a result, they do tend to learn the hard way. 8s are very honest and by being so blunt, they unintentionally hurt feelings. Although they can sometimes appear insensitive, what is going on inside them is the exact opposite. They do feel deeply about everything that goes on in their lives.

If you wish to check what your "Life path number" means click here.

Sponsor: N2Growth

Do you own a business? Do you wish you could find someone to help promote your business? I may have found the place. N2Growth, is a research firm, a business intelligence firm, a sales consultant, a strategy firm, a PR firm, a capital formation advisor, an executive search firm, an advertising agency, a branding firm or a design house, rolled all into one.
N2Growth, is a well organized blog with excellent tips on succeeding in business. For example, I really enjoyed reading their "5 tips to better communication." The tips? In a nutshell they are:
  1. Walk the Floor (make it a point when not traveling to get out of the office and tour the building each and every day.)
  2. Hit Conflict Head-on (Never stick your head in the sand. Problems don’t solve themselves and will only get worse if not attended to.)

  3. Utilize Technology (There is only so much time in the day and while technology is certainly no substitute for direct personal communication, used properly it can nicely augment your efforts and increase your leverage.)

  4. Maximize Meetings (Don’t have meetings just for the sake of having meetings and don’t call a meeting without a purpose that results in actionable items.)

  5. Make the Most of Lunches (make it a point to take an employee to lunch once each week. Don’t fall into the lunch bunch click of having casual “executive lunches” with the same group on a frequent basis.)
N2Growth is a great blog and a great website, I encourage everyone to check it out, if they want to grow their business.

Homemade Tomato Soup - Day 13

Tonight, when I woke up I decided to try something different. Making my own tomato soup. A 1-quart can of tomato juice is only 99 cents, so I could make a huge batch for not much more then $1. Which would translate into well less then $1/day once served up.

To make it in the microwave, I started with the "white sauce" (if making it by stove top, this portion is made separately and then stirred into the rest.
  • 2 Tablespoons butter (or margarine)
  • 2 Tablespoons Floor
  • dash of season all
  • 1 cup milk

Melt butter (about 30-40 seconds in microwave), stir in floor until paste like. Slowly add milk stirring until well blended. Add Season all (or salt and pepper
if you prefer)

Then add
  • 2 cups of tomato juice
  • 1 cup of water.

Stir together then add sugar to taste.

Estimated cost: 52 cents with crackers (38 cents w/o).

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Quotes From The News

Speaking in reference to a proposed bill to tighten regulations

Rep. Melody McCray-Miller, D-Wichita, is planning to introduce legislation that would rein in payday loan companies in Kansas.

McCray-Miller said the loan businesses, which have proliferated across Kansas since the Legislature raised interest caps in 2005, charge short-term rates that equate to about 391 percent interest when annualized.

She said she wants to cap that at 36 percent annualized interest, similar to laws in other states and a federal law regulating lending to military personnel.

McCray-Miller said there are numerous problems with people -- primarily the poor -- having to take out multiple payday loans to pay off other payday loans, locking them into a cycle of borrowing from which they can't escape.

"You can't make a payment on it (a payday loan), you have to pay it off," she said. "If an individual couldn't pay their bills that first week, it stands to reason they won't be able to pay their bills and the loan that second week."

McCray-Miller said she will propose creation of a database to track payday loans, along with a cap on what any individual consumer could borrow in a year.

Whitney Damron, a lobbyist for the Kansas Payday Loan Association, said payday loans have gotten a bad rap.

He said the loans provide an opportunity -- sometimes the only opportunity -- for low-income people to obtain money for short-term needs.

"We think it's a matter of customer choice," he said.

He said the only alternative for many payday loan customers would be to write bad checks, which would cost them more in penalty charges than a payday loan costs and damage their credit ratings.

He said the problem of people borrowing money to pay off a loan is common in the credit card and mortgage industries, so it would be unfair to single out payday loan companies for special attention.

Frugal Living As A Form Of Tax Resistance

I recently read a couple of articles by David Gross, that I found very informative. His tips are geared towards resisting taxes legally, however, even if you aren't trying to make a statement, his methods are fantastic tips to remember so that we can all save on our taxes.
Here is how Mr. Gross says it works:

It starts by noticing that the federal income tax isn’t designed to tax all of your income, just your “taxable income.” So path #1 involves removing as much
of your income as possible from the “taxable income” category.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll end up with a certain amount of “taxable income” and a certain amount of tax owed on it. But that’s not the end of the story. This tax can be offset, eliminated or even reversed into a “refund” by using various credits. Path #2 is qualifying for these credits.

Then, once you run the numbers and figure out how much money you can earn and
spend without owing taxes, you need to take a look at your lifestyle and your
goals and adjust them if necessary so that you’re living in your means
at this income level.

That’s it, in a nutshell.

Some income is invisible to the tax man. For instance, if you had money
deducted from your paycheck before taxes are deducted from your check.
  • 401-K
  • Health Savings Account
  • Some companies may withhold money from your paycheck to buy bus and subway
  • passes
  • Check your company to see what is available to you

  • Your “total income” also includes any “capital gains” you might have made during the year — for instance, if you sold stock
    or property at a profit. On the other hand, if you sold stock at a loss you
    can subtract this loss when calculating the “total income” (up to
    $3,000 — don’t worry if you lost more than this because you can
    save up the rest of the loss to use in future tax years).

  • Business owners can deduct business losses.

  • other deductions may apply to you as well

Now that you have your "Total income" it's time to get to your "Adjusted Gross Income"

By “adjusted” they mean “lowered” because all of the
adjustments are deductions (so use as many of these as you can). Your
“adjusted gross income” is what is used to calculate some of the
credits that I cover in “Path 2” below — and the lower it
is, the better. For myself, the key to qualifying for credits that brought
my taxes down to zero was to get my “adjusted gross income” under

  • a tax-deferred Individual Retirement Account (IRA) — not only because the money you put in (up to $4,000) is deducted right away from your “total income” but because by putting money in a retirement account, you can qualify for a generous credit. Beware, though, that there are forms of IRA, such as the “Roth IRA,” that aren’t tax-deferred and that won’t lower your adjusted gross income. Ask about the tax ramifications before you invest.

  • You can also “adjust” up to $4,000 off of your income by spending
    money on tuition for higher education.

  • If you run your own business or are otherwise self-employed, you may be able to take a number of deductions here on things like your health insurance costs, and part of the cost of your payroll taxes (FICA)

  • Other deductions are available for interest paid on student loans and on
    educational supplies bought by teachers. These aren’t the only
    deductions, and I haven’t covered any of them in much depth or detail.
    It’s just an overview to give you a feel for what is available.

From “adjusted gross income” to “taxable income”

There are two remaining deductions: the personal exemption, and the itemized
or standard deduction. Once these are subtracted, you are left with your
“taxable income.”

  • The personal exemption is just a certain amount of income that the law lets
    you have tax-free, no questions asked. Don’t get too excited —
    it’s only a little over $3,000. You also get a similarly-sized
    exemption for each of your dependents

  • The standard deduction is similar, and somewhat larger, but you have the
    option of either taking it or “itemizing.” By itemizing,
    you can take a whole mess of deductions for things like charitable donations,
    medical expenses, interest paid on loans, job expenses, tax preparation fees,
    and such. Even so, for a lot of people, the standard deduction is higher than
    their itemized deductions would be, so they’re better off taking the
    standard deduction instead

  • (Itemization note) A few years ago, when my grandmother died, I inherited a few thousand dollars, I donated a percentage of that to charity, however, the donation was large enough that I couldn't deduct the everything at once. The law allowed me to carry that deduction over, I was able to deduct that one donation (or a piece of it) over the course of three (3) years.

Finally, Mr. Gross touches on tax credits:

There are a handful of ways you can get tax credits. These credits are not
deductions that are subtracted from your income, but they are subtracted
directly from the tax you would otherwise owe. For instance, if you looked
up your taxable income in the tax table and found that you should owe $750,
but you qualify for a $500 credit — that credit is subtracted directly
from the owed tax: $750 − $500 = $250.

Among these credits is one for education expenses (but note you can either
take this credit or the deduction on tuition I mentioned in
“Path 1” above — not both). Another gives you a credit for
income tax you’ve paid to a foreign government. Another gives you a
credit if you spent money on child care or dependent care. You also get a
per-child “Child Tax Credit” — and that is higher now than
it has been in recent years. My favorite credit, though (childless as I am),
is the retirement savings credit.

Remember how when you put money into a 401k or an
IRA, you
were able to deduct that amount from your income before calculating your tax?
Well now it gets better. You can take a certain percentage of the first
$2,000 you put into retirement accounts as a credit. If your “adjusted
gross income” is under $15,000, that percentage is 50%, and your credit
is as much as $1,000, which is guaranteed to drop your tax burden down to
zero. That’s how I did it.

The “Earned Income Tax Credit” is a special creature. Most other
credits allow you, at best, to lower your tax to zero. The Earned Income Tax
Credit allows you to lower your tax below zero so that the government
actually owes you money.

In order to qualify for this, your adjusted gross income has to be very low
(but you must have earned some income during the year). It’s also
easier to qualify if you have at least one dependent child. Millions of
people do qualify for the
EITC (and
many of them fail to take advantage of it), but it does typically require
having a very low income

Something to Consider

Something I had not considered, even though it was something that Evan had talked about, is the possibility of weight loss. I spent many years (all of my high school years and then some) stuck at a constant 120 lbs. Wanting to gain wait, but seemingly, no matter how much I ate, I never gained weight. Then in 1995 (some 8 years after high school), I moved to Chicago, as I entered the ministry, and with-in one month I had gained 10 lbs. I never looked back from that, I ultimately got up to 142 lbs, which is where I have been sitting the last 7 or 8 years. However, I could actually lose some of that weight with this experiment. If I feel healthier, it could be a good thing, but I am not sure that I want to gain or lose any weight.
I don't own a bathroom scale, so I can't weigh myself, and going to see a doctor, that I can't afford would be a waste of money, especially just so I could get weighed. Maybe, I should consider going to target, and getting a bathroom scale. Then again maybe, I could find a good one on
At any rate, the possibility for weight loss is there, and i should keep that in mind.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Temptation - Day 12

Looking around the Internet, I found this chart showing how many people around the world live on less then $1 a day. Yet we Americans, think it's not possible. Friends of mine think I must be starving myself and I struggle to resist temptation when hunger pangs do knock, when I forget to take my lunch to work. Especially, when you work in a grocery store like I do. Like the other day, I left my lunch at home, and the hunger pains were beginning to kick in around 3 or 4 a.m. and it was all I could do to resist buying something to appease my apatite.
Something else this extreme budget has taught me is that I have been really spending more on snacks and groceries then I actually had budgeted. I am now forced by this commitment to actually cut the spend and eat better.

Tonight, I am eating Macaroni and Cheese.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Day 11 - Stocking The Freezer

I finished cooking up my 3RD batch of beans in a week. After eating the 3 or 4 bowls of beans, I ended up with 15 meals worth in my deep freeze and 1 more that I plan to take to work with me tonight.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Day 10 - Beans Again

I.m not sure how I can write another post about eating beans again. Except to say I ate 2 bowls this time with the corn bread I made yesterday. I Will have to think about it. As a result, I feel stuffed. Which is a different filling then I have felt since the holidays. The past 10-days there has been days that I actually had hunger pangs. Of course, I always have them, it has just been a couple more times each week then usual.
Doing this project, has reminded me of those who struggle with being able to buy food, more then I do. The people, who I left in Chicago (in 1996), to return to my home in Kansas to help here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Day 9

Tonight I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich , finishing off the last 2 slices of bread that I had in the house from before I started this experiment. (note to self buy more bread) I also consumed 4 cups of tea and a can of coke, not to mention the bowl of ham and beans that I took to work with me, last night. All together that means I spent a grand total of 79 cents. That is my cheapest day so far. This is actually becoming easier then I first figured it would.

On a side note, I bought 2 boxes of cornbread mix at 39 cents each and made a corn bread to go with my beans.

SPONSOR: Edible Wedding Favors

I recently stumbled upon a website that I thought was a great idea. It had a fantastic idea for weddings, baby showers, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, corporate events holidays, and bridal showers. What is this fantastic idea? Edible wedding favors. Of course, that isn't exactly new, but on this website they create candy bar wrappers to go around your candy bars.
These wrappers are specifically designed and printed for your event. The candy bars their self is 1.2 oz measuring 5"x2".
As I said, I think this is a great idea, if you have a special event coming up. So why not provide some unique wedding favors (or whatever event you have) to your guests.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Secret Santa Dies

Once I make my millions, I want to be a philanthropist, like this guy, whose identity was unknown before this past Christmas.
Larry Stewart, a millionaire who became known as Secret Santa for his habit of roaming the streets each December and anonymously handing money to people, died Friday. He was 58.

Stewart died from complications from esophageal cancer, said Jackson County Sheriff Tom Phillips, a longtime friend.

Stewart, who spent 26 years giving a total US$1.3 million, gained international attention in November when he revealed himself as Secret Santa. He was diagnosed in April with cancer, and said he wanted to use his celebrity to inspire other people to take random kindness seriously. "That's what we're here for," Stewart said in a November interview, "to help other people out."

Day 8 - made the budget for 2nd day

It's been nearly 3 weeks since Christmas and I had barely touched the banana bread and pear honey that I had received for Christmas, until this past week. Now the loaf of banana bread is almost gone and I am working towards finishing off the 1ST (of 2) jar of pear honey. There is nothing like home cooked foods over store bought, though I can't say that I have ever seen pear honey in the store. These items while not really filling are great snacks and are so "oh so good," to borrow the phrase from Mr. Food.

Anyway, my report for today is that I consumed 1 slice of banana bread, 2 glasses of milk, a bowl of ham and beans, 1 can of coke and a cup of tea. Over all that would mean I spent about 86 cents for the day.

Day 8 - Various Thoughts

Last night, as i mentioned in my previous post, I went to an art exhibit opening at the public library. They had fruit and veggie trays as well as a tray of brownies. It occurred to me, how strange it was that I had a plate full of healthy and delicious fruit and carrot sticks and this huge brownie.

I then went on to work . Before leaving the store this morning I spent $10.83 to purchase milk, beans, rice, eggs and a ham steak (most of which will b used to flavor the beans, which I put in the pot when I got home. All in all, I figure what I bought should last me about 3 weeks, except of course the milk d eggs. The eggs were on sale for 79 cents dozen and I picked up a rain check for another 2 dozen, which includes a 50 cents off on eggs or ice cream. I of course will opt for the cents off on eggs, which will make one of those dozen eggs only 29 cents. Not bad at all. I almost picked up a quart of yogurt. Something a friend of mine learned from an Indian (someone from India) roommate of his in college is having yogurt with your rice. However, as I was mentally figuring things up in my head I decided that, I should go ahead and skip that item this time. I figure for this first month, I can only spend another $10 on groceries and I forgot to buy cornbread mix to go with my beans. I do still have one more bowl of beans (w/cornbread) in the deep freeze.

Well, I am off to bed. Hope all of you have a great day. I will probably have an update tonight after I wake up and finish preparing that big pot of beans.

Romans 12:11

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Day 7

I am making tonight's post a little early, because I am going to the opening of new art exhibit at the public library, before I go to work. I am happy to report that I ate 2 meals today at a total cost of 85 cents.
What I ate is listed below.

In addition, though I don't usually get to take an actual lunch at work, I am taking some rice with me to eat on lunch.
  • 2 cups of tea
  • corn flakes, 2 eggs and 2 slices of toast with 1 glass of milk
  • 1 can of coke
  • rice with a cup of tea


Well after some work trying to save the old template, I have completed the migration to the new blogger. Gone is the old template, but I am hopeful you will like the new look. Maybe eventually blogger will introduce a 3-column template that I can use with their new improved service.

Free 4 -1-1

Did you know that you could call information for free? Yep, you read that right. I said that could call information for FREE.
When I first heard about it, I couldn't believe it. However, it looks to be true. Here is the details, that I learned from Fire Finance.

Often when we have no access to the Internet and we need to look up a business we dial 411 on our cell phones. Most carriers continue to charge an average of $1.25 for each 411 call. But now we can call 411 FREE! Thanks to a couple of services by different providers namely 1-800-FREE-411 (Jingle Networks) and 1-800-411-SAVE.

1-800-411-SAVE works in this way:
  1. Call 1-800-411-SAVE for a phone number for any business, government or residential listing nationwide.
  2. Search by name or business category
  3. Give your request for any US listing
  4. Listen to a brief sponsored message (10-15 seconds) for a special offer
  5. Receive the number you requested -- it comes from the same national database used by the carriers

Similarly 1-800-FREE-411 works this way:
Simply dial 1-800-FREE411 and get the listing you need for free. It’s just like 411, only better because it doesn't cost anything. So who pays, you ask? Our advertisers do. And should you be interested in one of their great offers, we’ll connect you free of charge.
Want to look online? No problem. At, you’ll get the most accurate residential and business listings on the Web. That’s because we use the same real-time data as the phone companies.

What a great idea. One or both of these numbers would be great to save in your cell phone or put on speed dial for your home phone. If you don't have speed dial, put it with you list of emergency numbers by the phone.

State of the Finance

As the new year begins, my finances are beginning to look better. I have been doing better at cutting out wasteful spending, and I expect to actually get the credit card and home improvement loans paid off this year. I know I thought the same last year, but so far I have actually saved more then $600 in my emergency fund, which also covers my insurance deductibles. Speaking of those deductibles, the next time the quarterly premiums comes due, I will be upping the premiums to semi-annual, as I work my way towards annual premiums.
The year began with me looking at consolidating all 3 of my loans into one, and cutting my payments in half each month. However, after the appraiser came to the house, it is beginning to look like a no go, because of a grant through the city (funded by HUD) to fix up the place 8 years ago after I bought the fixer upper. Oh well, while I could have used the stress relief from my budget, it is probably for the best. Continuing to pay on these debts with current payments, will pay them all off in less then 4 years, instead of the 15-20 of the new loan.
About a week ago, I added a new blog to this network and as such am conducting a 90-day social experiment, to see if a single man with bad eating habits can change those habits and eat healthy on just $1 a day. To follow along, just go to Any blog, forum, Internet or media buzz of the project would be appreciated.
Something else that I have been looking at is making my own liquid hand soap. I am about ready to take on this project as soon as I can get some bottles to put the soap in. If anyone wants to send there empty (refill size) soap bottles (still in good shape) please mail them to my PO box listed in the sidebar, or if you are in Topeka, leave a message on my voice mail so we can arrange a place to pick them up.
It is also my goal to continue increasing traffic to this site and get to the point that I can start earning $100 every month from Google adsense, with eventually reaching $1000 or better in revenue each month.
Finally, I am making preparations to attend Blog World Expo—a convention about blogging which will be held in Las Vegas! It’s not going to be held until November 8Th and 9Th, 2007. One way or another, I am going to scrimp and save to make sure that I have my first trip to Vegas and attend this first ever convention for blogger's.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rolling Through Day 6

Today was an interesting day. As soon as I left work, I had to run to a meeting with Congresswoman Nancy Boyda's office. For those outside of my area, she is the Kansas Congresswoman who was on ABC news last week,

During the televised exchange last Thursday, Boyda said she would vote to fund an increase in troops. Gibson responded that the recent election results indicated voters desired a change in direction of the war.

Boyda then said, "They should have thought about that before they voted for President Bush not once, but twice."
I then left there to try to catch up with State Rep. Melody McCray-Miller, before coming home and going to bed. Before I left work, the guys in the meat department had fried up some bacon that they were going to throw out, so I got to eat 4-5 slices of free bacon. Once I arrived at home, I ate the 3rd and last bowl of potato soup.
In addition, I actually avoided pop last night, and drank 2 bottles of water, that I took to work with me. When I woke up (tonight), I ran off to my Neighborhood Improvement Association meeting (drinking my 1 can of pop), then came home and ate a bowl of rice, 2 slices of homemade banana bread (Christmas gift from my mom) and 2 glasses of milk.
All in all, I spent $1.32. Looking over the list, it would appear that the 2 bottles of water put me over the top.

note: the rice has been in my cabinet for a year or better, so I do not know how much it costs. I do know this container was more expensive, because it's one that came in a sealed "jar." After it is used up, I will buy the store brand and store it in this same air tight container.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ending Day 5

Tonight, as I look back over the day, it seems I have done better. I am still not where I need to be, as I am still consuming way to much pre-packaged stuff and to many cokes. However, tonight, as I get ready to hope in the shower I ate 3 friend eggs and a little bit of corn flakes, along with a cup of tea. All in all tonight's meal cost a mere 39 cents.

That's a total of $1.09 for the day.

Hopefully tomorrow, I can do even better. I am going to work on limiting myself to one can of coke a day.

Healthy Eating as a Frugalist

I recently made mention of my new extreme budget blog. As many of you noticed I consume way to much junk. Especially the number of coca-cola's. However, even the bottles of water and milk cost about the same as the cans of coke (that I buy by the case). I will find a way to eat both healthier but without drinking nothing but tap water.

You can follow along by going to
I appreciate each and everyone's comments thus far and will continue to appreciate them.

Morning of Day 5

This morning as I head to bed, I would like to report that I drank 1 glass of milk, ate a 2ND bowl of potato soup and am currently on my 3rd cup of hot tea.
All together, I have consumed about 70 cents worth of food and drinks.
  • 4 cents per cup of tea with 2 teaspoons of sugar each
  • 40 cents (estimated) per bowl of Potato Soup
  • 19 cents per glass of milk

Meeting with Keep America Beautiful

Our NIA President, Tom Beneka, spoke today to the Keep America Beautful (of Topeka and Shawnee County). He told the members present, about the progress of the mural project and that painting will resume when the weather gets nicer. In addition, he noted that we still needed to raise approxmately $6,000 to finish the first 60 foot section.

Day 4 (part b)

Since I had tonight off, I was up extremely later then normal attending meetings. I ran from a neighborhood meeting at 11 am to a Keep America Beautiful meeting at noon. During that time I drank 2 cans of coke (again from my stash at home). When I finally woke up around 10 pm, I fixed some homemade potato soup (I have had the potatoes and am not sure how much they cost and since I react to onions, I don't use those). Milk and crackers are about 38 cents per bowl, or so it appears at the moment. If I can squeeze a 3rd bowl out of what I made, then I can get that number down to 33 cents.
Since I don't know the exact cost of the potatoes, I will estimate for the time being that eating soup tonight cost me about 40 cents per bowl.
A total cost for the day was $2.48

I really need tio break the habbit of buying stuff at work and cutting back on drinking pop. Those 2 areas are realling killing my extreme budget.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Day 4

As several have pointed out, I consume way to much convenience foods. A fact I am will aware of. As a single person, I have cooked this way for a long time, not every night of course, but probably even more since I started working these dag numb, over night hours.
I have started posting, the prices of the foods in my diet, in the side bar in an attempt to make my posts my reader friendly.
At work tonight, I blew my extreme budget by purchasing a pint of milk (at a cost $1.07 - 7 cents of which was tax). Then I also purchased 2 "cans" of yoplait yogurt, which were on sale for 29 cents each. All together at work I spent $1.64 which includes 19 cents for a bottled water.
Here at the house I am going to try to drink more water and less pop, so I bought a case of bottled water. I am going to make this work and start eating better as well.
Once I got off work, I took the gift certificate that I won from the News You Need 2 Know ( late last month, and had some biscuits and gravy with orange juice. (mm mm good)
More later on.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Day 3

so far not so good sticking to my NEW extreme budget.

At work (overnight)

  • 1 can of Coca-cola (from home) 22 cents
  • Yopliat Yogurt 31 cents
  • 1 snickers 59 cents

9 am (at home)

  • 1 corn Dog 34 cents each

Wake up (5 pm)

  • 1 can of coke 22 cents

8 PM Breakfast

  • Ham & Beans (from Deep freeze)
Total Cost = $1.68

Taking The Plunge

A couple days ago, I mentioned a blog that talked about eating on $30 a month. I had mentioned that I thought it was an interesting idea. So I took the plunge. Tonight will be my 3rd post, as I attempt to change my spending habits and become extremely frugal in my meal preparation. So far, I have not been very successful, at meeting my budget.
In actuality, it is not my meal preparation, instead it is the things I pick up at work. So I will have to continue working on that, but you can follow along as I track my spending.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

day 2

so far not so good sticking to my NEW extreme budget.

At work (overnight)

  • 1 can of Coca-cola (from home) 22 cents
  • 1 can of Energy Drink $1.84
  • 1 candy bar 59 cents

9 am (at home)

  • coke 22 cents
  • muffin $1.07

Wake up (5 pm)

  • can of coca-cola 22 cents
10 PM Breakfast

  • Rice (unknown cost --had in cabinet for a while)
Total Cost = $4.16

The 411 - 90-day Experiment

After reading Hungry for a Month, I decided that I would embark on a 90-day social experiment. In which I only spend $30/month on food. The only exception will be things that are freely available to the average person (salt taken from restaurants, ketchup packets from McDonald's, potluck dinners, etc). Buying in advance is fine, but at the end of the month, it all has to add up to $30 or less.

I may continue this extreme budget, after the experiment is over. However, I will see how well I did and how much healthier I am come April 6, 2007, when this experiment officially ends.

NOTE: This blog is organized according to date, which means you’ll see the last day of this thing before the first. It might make more sense if you start from the beginning: January 6, 2007.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Starting It off

As I mentioned in my regular blog, I thought I would try eating on $1 a day. So to track how well I do on that goal, I will post the efforts here.

Today I ate:

1 Muffin $1.07
2 corn dogs 24 cents each for a total of 68 cents
total $1.75

Friday, January 5, 2007

$30 A Month is Worth a Look

This looks like something worth trying. With my little budget, cutting my grocery budget to $1 per day, would be a winner, if I can do it successfully.

Reader Survey: How Frugal Are You?

I recently read a column which posted frugal tips from several of its readers. Some of them sounded too frugal, like this one:

I've been to Bangladesh where people have nothing but the clothes on their backs, one pot for cooking, all natural animal fuel, and a "botna." The botna is used to clean yourself after going to the restroom in place of toilet paper. They come in plastic or aluminum, or homemade clay. They look like teapots without handles or lids. We use it for the same purpose only using toilet paper to "dry up" after washing.
It's cut consumption in half. Plus we stay cleaner. Bangladeshi and Indian friends of mine use flowerpot watering cans (small of course) to replace their botna if it breaks. - Crystal

Others sound interesting, even though they go further then I have ever gone, like this one from Lillian,

Lillian says: We recycle our bath water, using it to flush the toilet! Instead of letting our shower water run down the drain we stand in a wash basin and dump it into a bucket to hold it until we have to flush.

So what about me? What do I do that's frugal? I tend to do some basic things like
  1. making sure I turn the lights off when I leave a room.
  2. using a tea bag a 2ND time.
  3. Re-use the empty butter/margarine tubs, for use of food storage. (great to put in the deep freeze to)
  4. Re-use old peanut butter/jelly jars (especially the plastic ones) to store nails and screws in my workshop, and for staples, thumb tacks, paperclips, etc in my home office. The smaller (15 or 16 oz) ones also make great pen/pencil holders.
  5. Save soap scraps to make my own liquid soap. (I also save the small bars of soap from the hotels, when I travel)
  6. Freebies - I pick-up pens, rulers, calenders, whatever a business maybe giving away as advertising. If there is a grand opening in your area, they will probably be a great source for give aways. I also request the free samples that can often be found online. Recently I received a free breakfast sandwich from Chick-fil-a, thanks to a website that was advertised during a recent televised ball game. (Not to mention once a month I call in and win free gift certificates for local restaurants and fast food places.
  7. I take old bath towels and use them for rags...great to clean up a spill, or to wipe your hands when changing the oil. If you wash the car in the driveway, they work great for that as well.
  8. Use the both sides of the paper in the printer.
  9. Use the plastic grocery sacks in the small trash cans around the house (bedroom and bathroom) and the paper bags in the kitchen trash can. When I lived in a rural town, I burned my paper trash, that I put in these paper bags, while the plastic sacks where used for the items that could not be recycled or burned. Those items were sent to the dump.
  10. I am in the process of switching to those newer florescent bulbs instead of the incandescents.
I remember my grandma (who grew up during the depression) re-using old bread sacks, bread ties, sandwich bags and practically everything else.

So now, how frugal are you? Please click on the comments and tell me what frugal things you do. Let's see how big of a list we can come up with. If you don't have a blogger account that's OK, just tick other and put your name in the "name box."
I will be awaiting your tips.

Fair Taxes & Cracking the Millionaire Code

When I went to my mailbox today yesterday, I found two packages there. One, was sent by someone pushing an agenda, that he hopes will be introduced into law. On the surface the proposal known as the "Fair Tax," looks pretty good, but looking through the book, I have some concerns. More on that after, I can watch the DVD and read through the book.

The other package was from the library. It was one of the two books that I had placed my name on the waiting list for. Cracking the Millionaire Code, was the second book that I had requested, but first one to arrive. I am looking forward to going through it. It is co-written by the author of the Millionaire Next door (the other book that I am waiting for from the library).

I plan to talk more about this book later, but he asks the common question does it take money to make money? "Absolutely not," Allen says, "why do most business' fail? ...because they fail to access their hidden resources."

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Tagged: You're It - 5 Things You Didn't Know About P. O. T.

I was tagged, I guess, by No Credit Needed. So now it is my turn to rack my brain and come up with 5 things you didn't know about me.

  1. I have never been to New York, even though I once visited Niagara Falls (Canada).
  2. When I was 18, I became the youngest person in my county (at the time) to seek public office. The position is elected in the primary and both parties elect someone to this position. I only received 10% of the vote (IE: I only received 4 out of 40 votes, but 10% sounds better). I have since switched parties and been elected numerous times to this position that makes me part of my county parties central committee (IE: I am a party activist).
  3. I hate pork, but I love bacon, ham and regular pork sausage.
  4. I have what would probably be considered the most complete collection of presidential campaign buttons from the last election (2004). Yes, I was even able to obtain a button from the communist/socialist candidate (who wasn't even on the ballot in Kansas). They are the only buttons in my collection that is actually framed. Before next years election, my buttons will probably go into 2 (maybe 3) more frames (once I have the funds). I am hopping I can get my 2008 collection without spending a dollar on the buttons. Then I only have to buy the frame.
  5. Not much of a meat eater, I once considered being a vegetarian, but I like my hamburgers to much and my Chick-fil-a even more.
OK, so I am suppose to tag 5 people. I know a lot of you have already done this, so I will tag everyone that has not been tagged yet.

My Financial Irresponsibility (this past year)

So recently i have been noticing something on my credit Union's website. When I log into my account at the end of each month I am given a nice little message of how irresponsible I have been. The end of the year was no different. So I thought I would bare all and admit my faults here. With that said, here is what my Credit Union reported to me.
Insufficient Funds Charges for the Year: 475.00

Think of all the bills that I could have paid with that. Almost 50% of my credit card could have been eliminated. That could have helped with my grocery budget also. This year, I plan to do better with the checkbook, and get most of the debt paid off.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Colossians 3:15

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Cranivals Rave Over DebtFree4ever's Interview has made it into several carnivals this week. The carnivals are abuzz about the interview I did with Rep. McCray-Miller. There are several more carnivals to sound in as the week continues. Each carnival seemingly is giving my interview with Rep. McCray-Miller rave reviews.

Carnival of Debt Reduction said,

Debt Free 4 Ever with a cool post about payday loans.

Cavalcade of Risk #16 said,
Melody McCray-Miller, a Wichita Democrat is hoping a measure she plans to introduce in the upcoming legislative session - which could include and interest rate cap similar to the one that drove the payday loan industry out in North Carolina - would make “predatory lending” less lucrative in Kansas. The DebtFree4ever site discusses this issue and includes an interview with Mrs. McCray-Miller.

the KGB Weekly Carnival (Kansas Guild of Bloggers) said,
Kevin (a.k.a. The Prince of Thrift) has a lengthy Q & A with Melody McCray-Miller, a state representative from Wichita, on her plan to introduce legislation that would cap the interest rates that payday-loan companies charge.

Carnival of Personal Finance simply states,
DebtFree4Ever interviews Kansas House of Representatives member Melody McCray-Miller about legislation that would cap payday loan interest.

More Carnivals:
Carnival of Ethics, Values and Personal Finance

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Thank You Janet

I want to thank Janet on FreeCycle for the pans...they are much appreciated and will be great in replacing my rusted pans.

Thanks Janet