Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I liked J.D.'s post on how he spends money. What with all the craziness in my life lately, I haven't been too focused on spending consciously - in fact, more than once I have said to myself, "It's just money; I'll go earn more." This is a temporary attitude, and his post reminded me of how I want to be when it's all over.

J$'s reader wrote in about how he found out his credit card number had been stolen when he got an alert about the spending - not a fraud alert, but an alert about a charge over a certain dollar amount. I didn't even know that was an option! I went and set it up on both of my credit cards; you should, too.

Debt Ninja's not going to the personal finance blogger conference. Neither am I! And as it turns out, for most of the same reasons. Well, except for that whole skin suit thing - that's all him. But yeah. I blog anonymously and I don't remotely earn enough from this blog to justify the trip, so I can't think of any reason why it would make sense for me to do so.

This iPhone tracking news is a little--well, a lot--unnerving. My contract is up in June, and I'll lose my corporate discount when I quit my job anyway. I was planning to just hang on to my old iPhone since it seemed like the most economical thing to do, but now I wonder. Besides, I just saw this list of cheap smartphones, so now I'm thinking of options....

I love The Happy Homeowner's list of side hustles! Maybe I can pull off some of these while I'm waiting for a job to fall into my lap after the move.

New Facebook security features - HTTPS and two-factor authentication. I'm enabling both - my grandparents are on Facebook, and I REALLY don't want them thinking I'm chatting with them from London where I've just been mugged.

Hey, Consumer Reports is hiring mystery shoppers! Now that's a legitimate opportunity. (I know, I said I was done with mystery shopping, but I totally applied.)

Five Cent Nickel takes on the poor-little-rich-people struggling to survive on $250,000 per year. I've been doing a lot of thinking about choices over the last few weeks, and one of the reasons I wanted to move somewhere--anywhere--with a lower cost of living is that yes, I think we would feel poor in NYC on $250,000 per year. Even at that income, we might never be able to afford to own our own home here. Looking at a true calculation of what our lives might be like, I realized that even if jointly Peanut and I never make more than $80,000, we will still have a higher quality of life by moving - so while it seems strange to think it, I kind of feel their pain.

New, very interesting flyers' rights. Things I'm particularly noting: the reimbursement you're entitled to if you get bumped from a flight and a no-penalty cancellation period of 24-hours after purchasing any ticket. By June, Peanut and I will have made a total of four round-trip and two one-way flights in eight weeks, which is about the entirety of our normal traveling schedule for three years. It wouldn't surprise me if one of these issues comes up at some point, so I'm glad to know my options.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Change is lame

Change is hard. I've struggled with change my entire life, since I was a first grader swapping out knee socks for ankle socks in the summertime (true story). The kind of change I'm facing right now is massive and wreaking havoc on me in many ways - tense back and shoulders, loss of appetite, anxiety. Pretty much the only thing it's not affecting is my sleep, which is weird since I normally battle insomnia when things are going fine. Now I fall asleep on time and stay asleep until the alarm goes off. So at least I'm fairly well rested in my stressful state. 

Those of you who've been reading my blog since the last time I moved two years ago might remember how stressed I was then - and that was literally a move of three blocks. This one is 1,200 miles, and I'm ending a beloved job, living without my husband temporarily, and saying goodbye to the only adult life I've ever known all at the same time. It's enough to make anyone crazy. (Luckily, I am handling it better than I did two years ago, which shows that *I* have changed and matured!)

For all that it's stressful, I do feel we are making the right decision. And I know that there is very little in life that's irreversible - if I hate the midwest and want to come back to New York in two years, that option is still available to me. I'm very much looking forward to the end result, I'm just not crazy about the journey.

But in the midst of everything that's going on in my life, I'm going to be pretty quiet around here and on Twitter. I have so many real-life obligations that I am trying to severely limit my computer time. If only y'all could reach through the computer monitors and pack my boxes for me - then I could be online all the time!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Giveaway 2 Update

I'm very sorry to do this, but after an extremely unpleasant experience at the post office today, I am limiting this giveaway to US winners only. Many apologies to my Canadian and overseas readers, but the tongue-lashing I got today for trying to ship liquid items to the great white north is not something I am anxious to repeat.
If you know of any way to ship goods like this internationally, I am all ears and would consider re-opening giveaway 2 to the world again. I did not budget $50+ to ship via FedEx or UPS, so unfortunately I can't afford those.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spa Week Giveaway 1 Winner!

We have a winner for Spa Week Giveaway 1!

That makes the winner Jenny! Send me an email at littlemissmoneybags at gmail dot com and we'll get your package on its way. Congratulations!

If your name didn't get drawn, don't forget to enter Giveaway 2!

Spa Week Giveaway 2

Here's giveaway number two from the Spa Week Media Event Giveaway!

Giveaway 2
Spa Week Giveaway Number 2 contains:

Kiss Nail & Toe Art stickers
Lash Card individually wrapped mascara shields
Dole Real Fruit Bites Mango Chunks with yogurt and whole grain oats
Dole Real Fruit Bites Pineapple Chunks with yogurt and whole grain oats
PediSavers toesocks for pedicures
No-Frizz comb
Unnique Amino Keratin straightening treatment
New York Streets Clean shampoo
SpaRitual nail polish, Eye of the Beholder (green)
CND nail polish, Flamingo Feather (pink)

How to enter:
  • Entry 1:  Leave a comment in this post telling me whether you've ever had a spa service and what you thought of it! (This is the required entry.)
  • Entry 2: Tweet about this sweepstakes with the following message: “Check out @lilmsmoneybags for a chance to win a Spa Week Gift Bag”. (One entry for tweeting, regardless of how many tweets you send out.)
  • Entry 3: Subscribe to this site via email or RSS and leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so (or leave a commenting telling me that you had done so already)
  • Entry 4: Write a quick post about this contest on your blog, and link back to this post. (one post limit, 5 entries for one post)
So: maximum of eight entries by any one person. I'll pick a random winner on Sunday, April 24 after 12 noon Eastern time. Good luck!

**Update: this giveaway is open to US winners only. Many apologies, but the items are proving hard/impossible to ship internationally.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I made FB's chickpea and potato cakes recipe! YUM. I used turmeric instead of cumin, and I will add a little more salt next time, but I was a big fan. Totally making them again.

Ninja asked whether married couples combine finances or not. Peanut and I combined finances as soon as we were married and we are jointly paying off our student loans together. We're a lot more comfortable with this arrangement - it allowed Peanut to go freelance last year and is now allowing me to quit my job and move across the country with nothing lined up.

I was featured over at My Pretty Pennies while she's on her honeymoon -- I wish her all the happiness in the world! (There's a wedding pic of mine over there if you're interested...)

Five reasons a walkable neighborhood is valuable. 

Perhaps our utilities bills will not be going up 12% after all. That'd be nice!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Spa Week Giveaway 1

Remember my promise from my Spa Week Media Event Review

Well, here's the first giveaway!

Giveaway #1
Spa Week Giveaway Number 1 contains:

Mystic Tan Sunless self-tanning lotion Build color
Bikini graffiti intimate body decoration
Ecru New York Luxe Treatment Shampoo
Carols Daughter Orange Ambrosia Dry Oil Mist
Ola Hawaii Tropical Mist
Pearly Wipes to clean your teeth, lips, and tongue
Dole Real Fruit Bites Mango Chunks with yogurt and whole grain oats
ShaTo Bu high waist tights, jet black, x-large
Dr's Remedy Enriched Nail Polish, brick (dark red)
China Glaze nail polish, second-hand silk (pink)

How to enter:
  • Entry 1:  Leave a comment in this post telling me whether you've ever had a spa service and what you thought of it! (This is the required entry.)
  • Entry 2: Tweet about this sweepstakes with the following message: “Check out @lilmsmoneybags for a chance to win a Spa Week Gift Bag”. (One entry for tweeting, regardless of how many tweets you send out.)
  • Entry 3: Subscribe to this site via email or RSS and leave a comment letting me know you’ve done so (or leave a commenting telling me that you had done so already)
  • Entry 4: Write a quick post about this contest on your blog, and link back to this post. (one post limit, 5 entries for one post)
So: maximum of eight entries by any one person. I'll pick a random winner on Monday, April 18 after 12 noon Eastern time. Good luck!

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Trent at The Simple Dollar talks about using deliberate practice to improve your finances and life. With no job lined up when we move, I've been thinking of things I'd like to practice and get really good at -- things like yoga and cooking and growing herbs.

I was included in the Carnival of Personal Finance this week for my how to split a check at a restaurant post.
I was also included in the Festival of Frugality for the post What do you spend on gifts? 
5 chemical free ways to clean your house from Squawkfox. I'm going to try the baking soda paste thing, hopefully this weekend.

Adaptu gives some ideas for great gifts for bridesmaids.

10 Weird and Wonderful Ways to Use Vinegar from Wisebread

The Simple Dollar talks about the old green chair. I totally had an old green chair! So ugly! So comfortable! So gone from my life, and I don't even remember where it went.

Should you buy travel insurance? Two months ago I would have said it's a silly additional expense, but that was before this.
That is my mother's ankle, broken in the Caribbean a few weeks ago. Emergency transportation back to the states, hospital stay, surgery and post-operative care has been all covered by travel insurance. While her regular insurance would probably have covered the medical care, in her opinion, the travel insurance was invaluable in opening doors, getting them on the next flight out, reimbursing them for the $1000 fee they had to pay the emergency room to be seen by a doctor and more. I've promised to purchase travel insurance on any trips out of the country in the future, and this x-ray reminds me why.

Things to keep in mind when renting a moving truck. Note to self!

Small Notebook's guide to adding classic style to a small wardrobe.

101 places to donate stuff!

Friday, April 8, 2011

April Love Drop

Last month's Love Drop was amazing. It was as much about community as it was about cash, and, well -- it was broughten. Check out the video below.

This month, Love Drops on the Kahlen family, whose daughter suffers from Tuberous Sclerosis which causes brain tumors and lots of other issues. Love Drop aims to raise money for the Kahlens to ease their financial situation, but also getting artists together to host an auction on their behalf!

Want to help? Here are two ways you can participate:

1. Give $1.00 - This is the best way to help out and join their team at the same time.
2. Donate a piece of art - They will be hosting an auction this month, and would love to feature your artwork in it. Proceeds go to help the Kahlen's this month, and is a great way to promote your work :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: Spa Week Media Event

Whoa, y'all. Just whoa.

I got invited to the Spa Week Media Event last night and decided to check it out. I'm so glad I did!

First of all, it was totally fabulous, with a little red carpet and photographers and everything (boy, was I underdressed!). There were a number of spas there offering mini-massages, facials, and services like eyebrow grooming and foundation color matching. Then there were lots of companies offering samples of makeup, pantyliners, snacks and whatnot. THEN there was a FOOD TABLE filled with really delicious little sandwiches and snacky things PLUS a CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN and COOKIES AND FRUIT to dip in it (are you salivating yet?). And then I got a free glass of red wine and basically thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Then I went and got a free hand massage and was pretty sure.

Oh, and then I got my goodie bag and knew it.

Doesn't look like much? Well, it weighed about 14 pounds. 

And want to know WHY it weighed so much? Take a look at what was inside!!


That's a bunch of free full-size hair products, slippers, three packs of gum, five bottles of nail polish, stockings, socks with no toes for warm pedicures, a candle, lip gloss, a hot/cold pack and tons more stuff. And yes, some undies.

Basically, it was a night made of awesome. And I'm going to pass it along to you, because some of this stuff is not my size/color/hair type, and I'm not going to sit on all the love. Keep an eye out for giveaways!

And in the meantime, make sure to check out Spa Week, which starts on April 11. Thousands of spa treatments are only $50! (Make sure to tip on the full cost of the service, not the $50!) Click the image below to find out what's in your area.

Spa Week

(Other than the goodies posted above, I received no payment for this post, and the post was not required for me to get the swag. I'm just a very happy spa week customer and have been for many years.)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

spray bottles

Do any of you fellow frugalites use plastic spray bottles with a vinegar/water mixture?
I've been doing this for years, and every 6-9 months these bottles get sort of stuck and really difficult to squeeze the handle. I'm so irritated at having to buy new bottles so frequently, especially because the whole point of using vinegar/water is to save money, not keep buying plastic crap!
My routine is to put a mixture of roughly 50/50 or 60/40 vinegar/water into the bottle, spray my laundry or whatever needs spraying, and then transfer the mixture back into an old vinegar bottle. Then I rinse out the spray bottle and squeeze the handle a few times with regular water to "clear out" the nozzle area. That helps it last a little longer but it still happens.
Does this happen to anyone else? Any other tips or advice on this? I just had to go buy another bottle last night, and I've got two under the sink that are in perfect condition except it's so hard to squeeze the handle they're useless.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Big News Reveal!

Peanut and I are leaving New York for good and following Moneyapolis and her DH to the chilly wilds of Minnesota. There's still much to be worked out, but for now here are some answers to the hints.

Hint #1

That's a picture of Peanut's suitcases - he actually left last Friday to go out there to start his new job. (If I'd posted it that day, no one would've believed me!)

Hint #2

The Lakers, Spam, and Marshall Ericson are all from Minnesota originally. 

Hint #3
If you look through all 11 New Year's Resolutions posts, you'll see a letter in each one in bold. When put together, they spell the word "Minneapolis".

Hint #4
Now, come on.

Much more to come!

Big News Hint #4

Have you guessed yet?

If not, maybe you'll find some of my recently bookmarked links useful. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Big News Hint #2

What's the common thread among these pictures?


Well, hello retirement: man selling 212 number for a million dollars. That's the traditional landline area code for Manhattan, particularly for businesses, so it's a fairly prestigious and in-demand number to have. Actually, I'm the only person I've ever met to have one for a cell phone, and I've always toyed with the idea that I would try to sell it someday. Hopefully he gets a big paycheck for it so I have a precedent!

A (very long) very good article about the sunk cost fallacy.
Down and out on $250,000 per year.
Should you keep your hobby or turn it into a business? Trent investigates the question

Are unpaid jobs the new normal? I sure hope not!

I love this dreamy/practical list combination.

A great interactive 31 step financial tuneup for once you've completed your taxes.

Cate's Homemaking Binder is inspiring to me!

Via email, an interesting article on the history of banking - money has really been around longer than almost anything else.
This woman rents a 90 square foot apartment in Manhattan for $700. I'm honestly not sure whether to feel pity or jealousy for her. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Big News Hint #1

What do you think this is a picture of? 

March Recap/April Goals

March Goals
1. Make and go to dentist appointment. Done!

2. Plan and execute a birthday situation.  I'm not sure it qualifies as a "situation" but gifts were given.

3. Get things under control at work. Things are better. And different. And better.

4. Keep up this way-under-budget trend. I don't think this was very successful!

5. Try a new recipe. Done! I made a pan-fried chicken with red wine vinegar sauce and roasted sweet potato and cauliflower. It was so tasty, I made it several times!

April Goals
1. Spend less eating out. Last month was unacceptable, and the only way to avoid it happening again is to stay home and cook.

2. Deal with Evil Internet Company. Despite asking for help with this almost six months ago, I buried my head in the sand and did nothing further. But I need to take care of it this month because the billing situation is going to become a problem.

3. Serious hardcore decluttering and cleaning. Spring is in the air (maybe, tentatively, sort of, kind of) so it's that time of year.

4. Three yoga classes. That's it! Just three! If I go to more that's awesome, but I'm only holding myself to three. You heard it here first!

5. Use stuff up. I peeked under the bathroom cabinet the other day and discovered a plethora of beauty care products I'd completely forgotten about. I might start bathing twice a day just to use them up!

Resolutions Update
1. Single-task. Still struggling, and to be honest, I'm completely ignoring it in the mornings. I'm still watching the Today Show while reading email and eating my breakfast.
2. Participate in The Happiness Project. Going well!
3. Be able to do headstand in yoga. Oh, it's like I didn't even make this resolution.
4. Save enough to hurt a little. It's not really hurting, but we're definitely saving.
5. Change our net worth by the value of our student loans. We're on schedule for this!
6. Prepare to leave my job. All things considered, this is going well.
7. Declutter -- ideally, reduce our possessions by about 1/3. I made a trip to Goodwill in March and am going to make another one this weekend.
8. Organize digital photos and finish physical scrapbooks. This is something to focus on this month!
9. Take up a crafty hobby. Hey, maybe the scrapbooks can be my crafty project!
10. Create a bucket-list of New York adventures and start checking them off Sort of on schedule?
11. Read through my library. I ruined February's progress by bringing home a zillion books from the free shelf at work. However, I did get an app and am at least keeping track of the books I own now!

March Spending Report

Miscellaneous income $48

Alcohol $37.40
Business expenses $53.23
Charity $105
Clothing $62.57
Dance expense $26
Entertainment $20.52
Food—dining out $365
Food—groceries $231.54
Household $254.40
Gifts $75.52
Hygiene/Medical $56.65
Laundry $10
Rent $1444.69
Student loans $453.83
Stupid Tax $21
Taxes $1,344.21
Transportation $20
Travel $504.80
Utilities $196.89
Total spending: $5,294.25

This was kind of an expensive month! Here are a few reasons:

- Business expenses are a little higher than normal -- I bought some domain names and hosting for something other than this blog.

- Household expenses were way higher than normal! Our Costco membership came up for renewal and so did our non-owner's car insurance policy.

- Gifts were higher than normal. My mom was unexpectedly hospitalized so I went flowers, and one of my sisters had a birthday.

- We did our taxes! That amount represents what we owed both federal and state plus our TurboTax fee. We also paid Peanut's estimated tax for the first quarter of this year.

- Our food spending was out of control! We went out to eat a LOT more than normal, but I think we're over that now. I hope.

- You may have noticed that the regular income section of this report is missing. Peanut and I have decided we are not comfortable with posting our day job income anymore. We know that this blog is not as anonymous as I would like, and it's only a matter of time before more family members find it and we're not okay with all of them knowing exactly how much we make. We don't care if they know how much we spend though! I'll continue to report on "side hustle" income - money that comes in that's not earned by our normal day jobs or interest. This month, that was mostly rebates and some survey income.

I can't believe it's April already!