Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thursday LinkFest

I got my second paycheck of 2009, so now I know just how bad it's going to be with the maxed out HCRA deductions. The result? It's bad. I officially can't afford to live on my takehome pay, so I will have to lower or possibly stop my retirement funding for the time being. I'm disappointed about it, but I just can't live on $300 for utilities, food, savings, medical expenses, transportation, clothes, and everything else. And right now, that's what I've got after paying rent.

Luckily this month I'm okay since I also got a $600 payment for some freelance work, which brings my paycheck to a normal level. But it's time to batten down the hatches real good.

The nice thing is, next year I'll be used to living on less than I was before, so I can max my retirement savings out to 6% for a 401k (the most they'll match) and dump another 15% into a Roth, and I won't even notice. Hopefully.

Now, on to the LinkFest!

Painfully Hip has a really excellent guide to thrifting. Ironically, I have found that thrifting is not so great here in New York, land of designerwear, but maybe if I follow her tips, I'll find some better deals.

FruGal and AskMeFi both discuss: Has the recession changed your shopping habits? I'd say the recession hasn't changed it so much as my own personal choices to withhold more from my paycheck, but my spending is definitely getting downsized.

I made this twice baked potato casserole from Cooking During Stolen Moments last weekend, and I heartily approve!

Seen at The Non-Consumer Advocate: February's challenge as a no buy month.
Despite my frugal leanings, I already know that's not going to work for me next month. Maybe I'll try to participate with a series of No Buy Days, but a month? Even with things as tight as they are now, it's just not going to happen. Here's a few reasons: Superbowl party (committed to buying snacks), Pub Quiz (contribute to the pot and buy a beer), dr. appt and ensuing prescription (would that count?), books to buy for classes, drinks with a friend/fellow student for networking, Dad coming to visit (maybe that would be a no spend weekend!), and so on. Okay, yes, I'm copping out. I will try to institute one full No Buy Day per week, how's that?

The Consumerist dashes my hopes but saves me from sending off lots of cranky emails by letting me know companies are NOT obligated to send my 1099s by Saturday, but by February 17. This is very irritating as I want to file my taxes ASAP (and in fact, NEED to--my university's priority deadline for FAFSA is February 15!).

Money Smart Life helpfully lists all the tax forms I need.

The Poor Skills community at LiveJournal discusses how to build credit: store card vs. secured card. I personally started with a secured card, then graduated to a store card, and now have only one store card (not used in three years) and one "regular" card. I remember being so frustrated that no one would give me credit because I had no credit. If I'd had BAD credit, I could have gotten something with a high APR, but having no credit was like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Here are two things I should explore more often: Making money with affiliate programs and creating passive income with niche sites. I have multiple streams of income, but not a single one is passive, meaning I don't actually have to DO anything for the money to come in. I want to focus on this in some future blog posts.

And one I probably spend plenty of time on as it is: The top ten paid survey sites. I participate in maybe half plus I think two that aren't listed there. I do make some money off them, but it's not more than $50 per year, and some of the surveys are very time intensive. I still might sign up with some of the companies on that list that I'm not currently working with.

MoneyMateKate asks for readers to nominate themselves for her blogroll--which is a great reminder that I should update mine! So, here's your chance. If you want to be listed in my sidebar, drop me a comment and let me know. I'd appreciate it if you'd add me in return, but it's not a requirement.

JD over at Get Rich Slowly is soooooo close! Visit his site to push him over one million unique visitors for this month. (My suggestion is not just a one-time thing either; I really like his blog and think you should read it!)

This neat little Lifehack allows you to email your transactions to Google Docs and track your spending automatically. Peanut and I already use a shared Google Doc to keep track of how much joint money we spend on food during the month, and we don't find our method burdensome so we won't be switching to this just yet but how cool! I love what Gmail can do for me.

CNN/Real Simple talk about 20 common money leaks and how to plug them. Some good ones you may not have thought of: paying for postage for almost anything, paying shipping for online purchases without searching for sites that sell the same item but offer free shipping, paying a fee for frequent flyer credit cards (I'd say for ANY credit card), paying fees for ATM withdrawals (that gets a "stupid tax" category in my spending tracker), and thinking that "all inclusive" means "all inclusive".

This is irritating, and if this recurring "valuable service fee" shows up on my credit card, I will be mad as hell. I thought seemed shady, and although the one time I've used it so far it went very well, an unexpected $14.95 charge will have me blacklisting them and being loud about it.

I've now been reading Give Me Back My Five Bucks for a whole year! Last year's Feb-March Lunch Challenge got me hooked, and Krystal has a similar one up now: The February Food Budget Challenge. I'm hemming and hawing about signing up...think I'll have to make a decision by tomorrow!

Oy. That's it for now. I was going to go pick up a free desk chair tonight, but I'm beat, in desperate need of a (home) pedicure, and have decided to go sit in a hot tub instead. At least I emailed the guy to tell him I'm flaking out on him.


  1. Hey, thanks for the shout-out! Looking forwards to seeing how you re-work your budget next month.

  2. Wren here from Tired of Being Poor and True Adventures in Money Hacking signing up for the LinkFest! Let the party begin!


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