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Saturday, November 19, 2016

Frugal Living ~ November

Two months ago I started a series on saving money after finding out that our house repairs were going to be significantly more than what we had budgeted for.  Here is an update on our past month adventures in saving!

Part 1 - things that have worked
1.  Winter Consignment - I worked many evening hours to get $1,445 in clothing ready for sell and I only sold $324, which was 26% of my stock.  The lady who runs the event apologized and said no one did well and it might have been because the sale was a month later than normal.  From what I could see, the event wasn't as well advertised as the spring event.  It was way less than what I'd hoped to make back but it did allow us to buy all of Sam's winter clothes with $200 left over to put towards the home expenses so I consider this a success.

2.  Donations - I have a number of items that are not quite good enough for consignment sales but I don't want to send them to a landfill.  I've itemized my taxes for years and after researching it again, I found the itemized price for most items was very close to what I was selling the used clothing for.  Light bulb moment!  It's less work to make a list of donated items and itemize them than it is to consign clothing!  The only differences is potential money now VS money later back through taxes.

This is a very significant point for me because I agonize over our stuff, not wanting to throw things into the garbage, needless filling a landfill and I want to get something back if possible!  Donations worked out to be a great solution for anything that's not in mint condition.  I'll write a much longer blog post on this later as we get closer to tax season.

3.  Pinecone Research - I've enjoyed the survey's I've done for this company.  I did 5 survey's in October and earned 1100 points so I have enough to get a $10 gift card.  I do these in the evening while watching Hulu after the kids go to bed.  They haven't sent more than 5 per month and I find that each one is well thought out and interesting to fill out.  They take about 20 minutes each.

4. Ebates - I've heard wonderful things about this online company but I guess I don't buy enough online to get much in return until I realized that they include Ebay and Hotels.com.  For my recent trip to Florida, I went to Ebates first, selected Hotels.com and then ordered a 4 night stay and got back $34.47.  Awesome Sauce!  Should you feel compelled to set up an account, please use this link so I can get referral credit.  Ebates will even give a $10 credit just for signing up!

6.  Amazon - I made $6.42 profit from book sales.  It's not significant but it's very easy and I like doing it.

7.  Ebay - I posted 4 items and sold 1 for $15.00.  Ebay's a tough market, but I'd say the effort to sell something is minimal if you can easily take good photos which I have a photo stand for so it's only about 5 minutes max per item set up.  It's not something I can do every month but when it does work out it's a nice little boost.

Part 2 - things that have not worked:
1.  MySurvey - they are great at sending tons of survey's but after completing more than 10, I don't see my points going up, in fact, I'm at 250 and you need over 1000 to buy the smallest gift card.  I'm not sure I see the value in putting time into these survey's.

2.  Advertising on my blog - I've signed up for blogger and Amazon affiliate advertising and haven't gotten back a single penny.  I attribute this to my lack of time and ability to promote my blog.  It's okay, these things work well for some bloggers.  I'm glad I at least tried.

3.  Yard Sale - we did ours very late in the season, October 22nd and made $36.00.  I was very happy to get rid of some large objects that had been gathering dust in my basement but after doing the donation research, I think our time can be better spent elsewhere.  The majority of people who came to our yard sale were re-sellers who were looking for that cheap item to resell elsewhere.  They were asking for things that we already know have value like Pokemon and Lego.  We've been in the toy industry for 15 years, we aren't selling those for cheap!

Maryland House 2016 Update

We bought a house for 40K that had a leaky roof and to our knowledge, we probably needed to do some rebuilding of the water damaged parts and put a new roof on the house.  We had budgeted 20K for this work.

We started calling contractors in May and went the entire summer trying to solicit quotes.  We'd get people to come out for assessment and then they wouldn't call us back.  Finally in September we got a contractor to come out who told us we'd need to do major demo work before he could quote the new roof.  The quote for demo work was 20K, our entire budget for the new roof!

We decided to proceed with the demo work because it was needed and we had hopes to get the roof done before winter sets in, and the company promised they could seal the house if we cannot get to the roof before winter.  The demo work was extensive, removing interior plaster walls and taking everything down to the studs.  This part was needed because we knew we needed to rewire and we'd been told by State Farm that plaster walls were so outdated that they couldn't insure because there was no one in the area who even did plaster walls anymore!  The stuff we've learned since buying this home has been interesting.

So two months ago, realizing this demo work would take our entire savings, we decided to look at our budget and squeeze as tight as possible along with looking for more earnings with other streams of income.

I can honestly say that living on a tight budget hasn't affected our quality of living, we still have fun with the kids but we're very careful about eating out and pack meals for all days when we will be away from our home for a lengthy period of time.  It's worked out well because the kids tend to like what I pack better than any restaurant or fast food place.