Monday, December 28, 2009

The Challenge

The Challenge

I was involved in a debate on Facebook over the Christmas holidays regarding our economy, etc. It was a very lively debate with numerous responses. The best one I have ever been involved in by far. I won't bore you with the details, but I will tell you that that person who started the debate and two of the individuals heavily involved in the debate gave me a challenge. Now if you know me at all, you know that I love a challenge. Challenges allow us to stretch ourselves and to put our money where our mouth is so to speak along with using our imagination. The challenge was regarding saving my money and being frugal. The three individuals who issued the challenge (names withheld per their request - 1 local and 2 from other parts of the U.S.) had all visited my site. While, they felt it was a great site (thanks guys), they stated that I didn't really share with you what I do to be frugal nor did I show you how I was saving and/or accomplishing. I felt I had done that a little bit, but not as much as they felt I should I guess. So the challenge is on and I have to admit that it is making me sit up and pay attention. The only negative about this that I can see is that it will allow you to know a little more about my financies than you probably should but I have to be honest in what I post and as the 3 wise men of the challenge said, be accountable to you the readers....whew.

The challenge is as follows:

1) Be as frugal as possible without going without the everyday comforts. (No living like a nun were the exact words used).

2) List the bills that I currently have with their balance and show monthly how much I have been able to pay down.

3) Spend no more than $50/week on groceries - I said I could do one better and go $35/week. I do have a stockpile by the way so I thought that was only fair.

4) Keep a running tally of what I have earned/saved by being frugal, doing my surveys, cooking from scratch, etc.

One of the questions I asked was as I don't use certain things already, do I get to count those amounts not spent into my savings. The majority vote was yes. Example: I don't use paper towels. Had to do some research on this one. I settled on the site of which is big into being environmentally safe and doing what you can to diminish your carbon footprint. I went there and will keep that site to use it to calculate for things that I don't use and/or stop using and the savings by not using them, etc. Figuring out how much we save a week by cooking at home, taking our lunches, etc. will be a challenge, but I will do the research and see what I can come up with. I felt like it would be better to use national study sites for the information to make things as fair as possible. I'll do an update on Sundays as to what I spent and where, earnings, etc.

Not sure how this will turn out, but here goes. The only credit card I have left has a current balance of (ahem)....$3,249.29. OK. Yuk Yuk Yuk. However if you had seen my finances a little over a year ago you would know that between my husband and myself we had 13 credit cards with a balance on almost all of them. So that's my goal is to get this credit card paid of within the six month challenge, then I will be credit card free. You may think that's no big deal, but remember I have other household bills that I pay such as the housenote, the phone and the electric which gets much higher this time of year because our heat is gas and it's cold outside. That balance is as of 12/25/2009. The challenge began 12/26/09. I pay for the cell phones which is $126/month, the electric (waiting for bill to come in) and the house note which is $524. Current balance in my savings is $900. There you have the gist of my bills. I have to admit that the biggest part of my spending has been on us eating out (way too much) and cigarettes (yes I have a vice). It will be interesting to see, doing this challenge, how much I can actually keep in my account each month to pay down the credit card.

I have listed here the balances in all of my survey sites as of 12/25/2009:

epoll - have 7,500 points - need 9,750 for $15 amazon gift certificate

global test market -have 750 points - need 1000 for cash

greenfield online - transferred $7 to Paypal before they go to their new points system - balance zero. Hasn't hit Paypal yet so Paypal will go up once it hits.

lightspeed panel - have 2100 points - need 2300 for $20 paypal payment

mindfield online - have $11 - will let roll and continue to accumulate

mypoints - 2,665 points - need 7,400 for Amazon gift certificate/card

myview - have $22 - need $25 to cash out

opinion outpost - $29 -will let roll and continue to accumulate

send earnings - $22.71 - need $33 to cash out

survey savvy - $19 - will let roll and continue to accumulate

Paypal - $96.02 - leaving it be to use for coupons

Swagbucks - $28 - Need 45 for $5 Amazon Gift Certificate - $8.83 balance

So that's where it begins.....

This challenge may seem hokie to some of you, but maybe it will help you in seeing how you are spending your money and ways you can cut your bills/groceries and pay off your credit cards, etc. Maybe you will want to join me in the litte adventure/challenge. At least I know you will keep me honest as some of you are very vocal and I am counting on that.

Let the games begin......

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