Good grief, where is March going?!? Well, let's start at the beginning and play a little Catch Up, shall we?
The Week of Birthday
Long story short, I ate so much my pants started to fit properly again! Things are settling back down to normal and the pants are reverting back to 'too baggy' like they were before, but it was nice while it lasted. The highlight of all my meals was an appetizer called Hell-Fire Shrimp served with cilantro sour cream. YUM! Birthday gifts included meals from friends and my father, a pot of daffodils from my mother, car seat covers from DH (which I asked for, don't down the gift!), and $45 in cash. Woohoo, best haul in years! Rumor has it I'll be getting a gift card from my SIL and her boyfriend, which is a very unexpected suprise. Since the things I actually want are a bit on the pricey side (a $900 camera, $85 tripod, and $100 wide-angle lens), DH suggested they get me a gift card, and I think me told them to make it for office supplies. Alas, that is my guilty, shameful pleasure: the clearance aisle at Office Depot! Who knows what goodies await me!
Money Happenings and $20 Challenge
Today is payday in Tina-land, which is always fun. I get paid 2x per month as opposed to DH's every other week, which means he gets the ubiquitous 'unbudgeted extra paycheck' twice a year. This month will be the first one, and it's going straight to the Slush Fund (aka a mini-EF in the world of others). He and I have re-discussed how much we want to have readily available for actual need-cash-now emergencies, and we've decided we're comfortable with a couple of hundred. It's enough to get us out of town, pay for a car repair, pay for new tires, or pay our medical co-pays if we both had to go to the emergency room and get prescriptions. After this month's extra pay-check, the Slush Fund should be sitting pretty.
In related news, I also have the money set aside for us to pay Uncle Sam his due in April. Bah! I'm holding onto that money until the very last minute to earn as much interest as possible, dag nabbit!
Since it's the middle of the month, I also took in my personal money for the $20 challenege. This time I took in paper only, since I'm all but out of coin wrappers. No worries, though: my bank gives out wrappers for free so I left with an envelope full! YAY! The nice teller even gave me the paper strips you wrap around bundles of bills. Guess that's what happens when you deposit 92 bucks in ones!
Here's the breakdown of this month's action:
$92 in ones
$10 in leftover allowance money
$45 in gift money
$30 in incense sales
$177 total in 28 days. Not too shabby!
My Challenege (challenged?) account currently stands at 453.59 - 145.97 in purchases = $337.20. Remember, I'm trying to use my money to make money, so the Challenge(d) Account is what I use to purchase materials or items I use for freelance stuff. Purchases so far are a backpack photographer's bag, a hard case for my memory sticks, my web hosting, and incense supplies. As mentioned above my wish list is a bit pricey right now, but I might go ahead and get the wide-angle lens and tripod as these two items will make it easier for me to get involved in real estate photography. My other option is to sell my current camera, 2 memory sticks, macro lens, telephoto lens, and filters for about $500 and combine that with my saved money to get the camera I want. Sadly, that would leave me without a decent tripod, telephoto lens, macro lens, or wide-angle lens, or even compatible memory, which means I would be back at square one. Cannon DSLR, I love you but you're going to have to wait a while... *sniff*
Apparently a 9mm is 'My Gun'
What a title...
Last Saturday DH and I went to his parents' house to pick up his skeet thrower as he will be skeet shooting with friends of ours tomorrow or this weekend. He wanted me to go skeet shooting with them, which might be fun except for the fact that I've never shot a shotgun, much less at a moving 4" diameter target. Talk about setting yourself up for failure! Anywho, his parents live in a rural area on several acres and they have a 100 yard shooting range on their property. Price, BA, I thought of you as I typed that sentence! He had me shoot the shotgun to see if I would be comfortable enough to shoot skeet, and *begin sarcasm* suprisingly enough I wasn't *end sarcasm*. Yeah, seriously: who's going to be comfortable shoot a shotgun the first time? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone want to try a moving target their first time? Duh....
While we were there he wanted me to shoot his 9 and his 45 so I'll at least know what I'm doing if push came to shove. Believe me, this is a whole 'nuther conversation in and of itself so I'll just drop that subject and proceed to the results. Apparently I'm quite good with a gun, but as someone who'd only shot a handgun once before I don't know if that's true or not. The first shot with the 45 was pure luck and hit dead center in the target at about 10 yards. HA! The rest with the 45 were nothing to write home about: it's too big for my hand and as a double-action trigger is just hard for me to shoot. The 9, however, was a different story. Out of 20 shots at 10 yards, all were within the 8 ring and about a quarter were within the 9 ring. I'm told this is good, but if you know please chime in!
Other Things Eating Up My Time: Generating Income
I've been focusing on my goal for the year of coming up with ways to make money on the side, in the event my job situation goes south. That's the lovely part about working at a small tech company, you see: it's like playing Russian Roulette with your paycheck.
Well, most know that I'm slowing working on getting the photography bit up and running. So far I've receive no responses from the emails I've sent, but our weather is starting to perk up and I think that will offer more opportunities for pictures. I'm debating about making some prints to see if those would sell or not, but I'm still on the fence.
I've made and dried 600 sticks of Dragon's Blood incense and sold half of them in bulk packs already. I also tested the 12 other sample fragrances I got in the mail: only one will work well for incense, so I'm going to try to think of something easy/cheap/sellable to do with the rest. Unfortunately, that's the way incense works: just because an oil smells good in the bottle doesn't mean it'll smell good burning, and the only way to test is to buy an ounce and go for it. If it doesn't work out, you're left with an ounce of stuff and nothing to do with it. Or, in my case, about 20 ounces between this batch and the last batch of testing... Something else I'm on the fence about: selling incense on Etsy.com... There are only so many places in South Carolina to sell the stuff!
I was invited to become a Cha Cha guide (thanks Autumn!!!), which might wind up bringing in some money down the road. I've gone through some of the training, but need to finish it before I actually begin earning money. We'll see how it goes!
Another avenue I'm persuing is 'crowdsourced software' development with Cambrian House. Basically, it's kinda like Saving Advice for computer geeks If you have an idea for some neat kind of software, you post it there and people vote on it. If you get enough votes, you're entered into a monthly challenge (IdeaWarz). If you win the challenge, you win $10,000 and a tee-shirt WOW, a tee shirt! Seriously, you get to keep a grand of the money, and the other 9k is used as 'seed money': you pay the other members of the site to help you build your project. When the project is built, Cambrian House markets it and you and the other developers earn royalty money (and of course the website makes money off of it, too). Better built projects sell better, earning everyone more royalty money... It's a long shot, but I submitted an idea anyways because I think it would be a useful, useable service, not to mention I want to win 10 grand! I've since been invited to work on someone else's project doing high level strategy and product development. For the uninitiated, that's tech speak for I get to tell them what I would want the software to do if I were a user, then they build it that way! Too Cool!
Yes, my name is Sucha Dork...
Add to this some ongoing research for the articles I'm writing, and TADA: that's what's been eating my time. Hopefully some or all of these ventures will pan out and result in some additional income, maybe even some passive income in the form of royalties. Hans Gruber said it best "by the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach earning 20 percent". Wait, maybe that first part isn't good when talking about developing software. Unless your last name is Gates
Viewing the '$20 Challenge' Category
Good grief, where is March going?!? Well, let's start at the beginning and play a little Catch Up, shall we?
For those that are curious (since I've been a slackard talking about my challenge) I am still saving my ones and my coins from my allowance. I'm not counting as faithfully as when I was tracking the 'Change and Buck Bucket' at the end of '06, but from my monthly deposits I'm still averaging about $100 per month.
And yes, my $25 birthday money went straight into the can for the challenge
In the spirit of the challenge, I'm using this money to pay for my photography enterprise. It's covered expenses for the website like domain name and hosting, and I'll use it to buy business cards in the next week or two. I have also bought a new camera bag and case for my digital memory sticks with my challenge money, for a total so far of about $100 spent. Next on my list is a wide angle lens, tripod, and lens cleaning kit. Actually, I have enough stashed to get these and still have some left over even without next week's deposit, which is kinda nice.
I guess the most impressive, at least to me, is that I've actually been spending my allowance somewhat willy-nilly and have still been able to save about 25% of it. Last month I bought a new pair of heels and a new pair of boots to the tune of $50 (12.5% of my total allowance) and saved about 30%. This month I bought myself a car charger and case for my cellphone as a birthday splurge from my allowance and am still on track to have money left over when the mid-month replinishment comes next week. What this boils down to is, while I am still buying lunch and breakfast out sometimes, I'm apparently spending significantly less on the daily 'grind' because I am able to treat myself to some nice splurges and save the same amount or more as I was before. Cool!
Seriously, I need to get better about keeping the blog posted with this. Again with the 'anonymous' accountability, although now that I'm publishing articles I guess it's not so anonymous as before. Doh!
My $20 challenge is somewhat stagnating, other than the change and ones that are slowly collecting. I may revisit whether it's just me or the house and me that are participating, but also of concern is thinking of a way to actively generate income. Combine this with the very real possibility of losing 60% of the household income at the end of February, and ACK!
And that's why I'm thinking of jumping in. To a business, that is. Not even really a business, more of a 'venture'. No, not MLM: those folks hate to see me b/c I always play devil's advocate and they can't answer all the questions I ask
I'm thinking about getting some prints made of my photographs. Specifically, I found a REALLY CHEAP place to get posters printed, 18 x 24 size.
First one is free, each add'l is $2, and S&H is $10 from what I've read online. The quality is OK from what I've read, nothing to try and sell in an art gallery or nuthin'... I was thinking, though, that I could get 10 posters printed for $28 after S&H and see if I could sell 'em for $5 each.
So, what do ya'll think? Should I try and be a photographer? More importantly: ANYONE WANNA BUY A POSTER?
OK, fine, you all talked me into it! Bah!
I'm gonna do the $20 challenge. To make it interesting, I'm actually going to do two: one for me and one for the house. The rules for both of my challenges will be basically the same.
1. I will have not one but TWO Change and Buck Buckets, one for me and one for the house. Since the house pays for its groceries in cash, it can play along!
2. Any extra income I bring in will be split between my bucket and the house's bucket. For instance, my checks are $2692 each month, but I only budget $2600. Therefore, I'm bringing in an extra 92 per month, and I will split that with the house. Before, the house got it all which is decidedly unfair IMO! On the other hand, if my checks go below $2600 when my insurance kicks in, the house will eat that amount because we consider insurance a household expense. Make sense?
3. Any extra income DH brings in that somehow makes it to the house will only go into the house's bucket. Chances of this happening are slim to none
4. For both the house and myself: if monies alloted are underspent by the end of the month, that money is put into the challenge. Similarly, categories that are overspent or splurges can come out of the challenge money at will, but they will be deducted off the total. It should go without saying my bucket would pay for me only splurges, whereas the house bucket would pay for house/couple splurges.
As a note, my fiscal calendar runs a bit odd, so there's a chance I'll be reporting actual updates monthly. See, there's the inflow of cash (which runs the last day of month 1 to the next to last day of month 2), the outflow (which includes bills due from the 6th of month 2 to the 5th of month 3), and actual calendar days.
For instance: I got paid the last day in December (actually the first business day before, but that's whatever). Money from my 12/31/06 paycheck pays bills due 1/6/07 - 1/20/07. Money from the check dated 1/15/07 will pay bills due 1/20/07 - 2/5/07. Money from DH's checks that come in between sits there earning interest.