Creating a price book

Something that is mentioned in what seems like every ‘getting your finances together’ type of book or blog that I read is creating a price book so that you can really take hold of the reigns when it comes to grocery shopping. Since I have read this so many times, I have decided that I should do this as well. But I am a procrastinator. Then I happened to go to Target right before going to the grocery store a couple of months ago. I went back to the food section to get a Ritter Sport chocolate bar since they are so hard to find and saw some other things that were on my grocery list. I didn’t get them though because I was going grocery shopping upon leaving Target. So, I get to the grocery store and guess what? Every item that was at Target was cheaper there than at the grocery store!  😯  That is what really got me to thinking I needed to get me a price book.

According to The Dollar Stretcher there  three steps to creating a price book.

  1. Start saving up your receipts.
  2. Go through all the store ads and copy down prices of items you regularly buy.
  3. Start taking your book with you to the store and adding to it as necessary.

For me, the problem is what am I going to put this in? Clearly a small little notebook would be the easiest in terms of size and portability. But it would be hard to update. That brings me to creating an excel document. Easy to update but not exactly small like I wanted. This decision is what has kept me from making a price book!

I have decided that excel is the way to go and I can print it out in any way that I want to make it small and compact. Plus I can just write on the print out any updates. Then when I get home I can update it and re-print for the next store shopping.

So, I have been saving my receipts for a couple of months now. I am pulling them all out to create this price book and I am wishing I had not been such a procrastinator. The descriptions on the receipts do not make it easy to tell what everything is!

So, now that I have a basic idea of what I want my price book to look like I will take my gathered up receipts and start plugging the info into excel. And I suspect it will go through a lot of updating over the next couple of months before I get everything in it that I want to have in it.

How do you do cheap travel overseas?

I have mentioned before that I am treading water in a sea of debt and that is no joke. Most of my debt is due to an addiction. Travel. I love to travel! I just can’t help myself when I see a good travel deal.

I try to justify it in my brain with the thought “You got a really good deal though” even though I really should be putting all my money towards debt. On my behalf I have been doing pretty good as I have only fallen off the turnip truck a few times. (If this phrase is unfamiliar to you I issue the following warning – I grew up in the South where this is said all the time. I said this phrase in the NorthEast last week and was met with blank stares.)

Usually my travel addiction is limited to U.S. locations as the both cheapest and easiest option for me. However, every now and then I get the itch to go back overseas. Unfortunately (fortunately?) I have a lot of airline miles with British Airways that are set to expire in March. I can get a free ticket to London. But I’d have to pay for everything else.

Now, a smart person would say “If I can’t afford the ‘everything else’ then I will just lose the free flight because it’s not worth it.” But a chica with issues like me says “Dude, it’s a free flight to London! And I love London. ” See how I get myself into trouble?

The real issue here is the current state of the exchange rate. Oy. Looking at XE.com today. Ouch. It will cost a fortune to go to London or Europe!

I seriously doubt that the exchange rate will turn to my favor before I find myself overseas, so that means I have about 7 months to figure out how I can use my free plane ticket without needing to rob a bank. (that was a joke – it’s hard to convey sarcasm over the internet. we need a special font for it.)

After reading a lot lately about people getting to their destination overseas and their checked luggage not showing up I know for certain that I will not be checking anything. And I do not want to have a lot of luggage anyways as I usually take a lot of trains when overseas. So, since peanut butter is a banned item I cannot pack that to save on food like I did last time.

I am thinking I should make a list of what I will need to pay for in order of most expense and work my way down the list so that I will have the more expensive things covered first. This way if I don’t get everything covered on the list the expensive stuff will be taken care of. I’m not sure where I want to go yet, so it will be sort of general. (estimating high here…I hope) Here is what I imagine those expenses to be and a rough estimate:

  1. Hotels – let’s say 7 nights at $150 = $1050
  2. Food – let’s say around $850
  3. Transportation/Rail pass/ Ferry pass (Ireland?) – at least $500
  4. Emergency money (in case get sick/injured while there) – at least $500
  5. Misc. activities – around $300
  6. Misc. shopping – around $200
  7. Airport parking -around $125

If anyone sees anything I may have left off, please let me know as I want to make sure I account for everything. Granted, I have a few months, but still.

For the hotel, I think I will focus on trying to get some free stay with a hotel rewards program. I have a Marriott, Hilton and Holiday Inn rewards account. All of them have some points. I can also earn Hilton Honors points through MyPoints. And my American Express Rewards program offers points for all three. E-Rewards also offers up Hilton Honors points.

For food, the cheapest option may be to go to a grocery store once I get where ever it is that I end up going. The problem will be how to make what I get. You can make a lot of stuff in coffee pots, but if I remember correctly there are not coffee pots in the hotel rooms overseas. At least not the ones I stayed in. Sandwiches may be the only way to go here. Last time I was in London I did really well with finding local places to eat away from tourist areas, but the exchange rate kills that savings.

I don’t know how I can save on any of the other costs. Sure, I don’t have to shop or do a lot of activities that cost money. And I probably won’t but I like to plan with a bit of a cushion.

Something else to consider when traveling abroad are the currency exchange fees that credit card companies charge you. I know that Capital One does not do this. When I was in Ireland the hotel I was at converted charges to dollars instead of Euros and charged for it and then my credit card company charged me too!

Wow, trying to plan overseas travel on the cheap is difficult! If you have traveled overseas recently and were able to do it inexpensively feel free to give me some tips! I have a subscription to Budget Travel magazine and plan on looking through the latest issue of it for some pointers. If I find anything great I will point it out.

Stop self-defeating thoughts and realize your self-worth

It is easy to fall into a negative and depressing thought pattern when you are going through something particularly stressful. The problem is when this pattern becomes the norm because it slowly works on eroding our self-worth. An example of such a thought would be for me to think that my recent job loss is my fault be cause I’m a terrible person. I don’t think that, but it is a perfect example of a self-defeating thought.

If I were to think like that I would likely spiral down into a deep depression and consider myself worthless. See how these self-defeating thoughts are bad news? Cognitive therapy deals with the idea of all of this – that certain thought patterns lead to depression and worthlessness by attacking the self-esteem.

It is important to be able to recognize defeating thoughts as they surface. Most times we do not even realize we are having self-defeating thoughts as they appear so quickly. There are some typical types of self-defeating thoughts out there, so recognizing these and then replacing them with more positive and realistic thoughts is the key.

1. The “I should have…” or “I should”

I am guilty of this one myself. I wrote on here that I should have gone about asking for a salary increase differently. A more healthy way would have been to have said “Next time I want to go about it differently.” A Common example of this thought pattern is “I should have known better.” You’re just beating your self up when you say this! Instead say, “Next time I will know better.”

2. Overgeneralizing things

This is something that I think is fairly easy to pick up on. Granted I am quicker to notice it in others than in myself. Overgeneralizing in this instance means that you define your life on negative experiences. Examples are “I always ruin everything” “Everyone hates me” “I can never get it right” and so on. Sure, you may ruin some things and some people may dislike you and you may have a hard time with things sometimes. I seriously doubt it is always or all of the time. The key here is to realize that it is not ‘everything’ and just ’somethings’ that may be bad at the current time.

3. Assuming the worst

Just because someone around you is angry does not mean that they are angry at you. People that assume the worst see an angry friend and just assume “He’s mad at me.” The newsflash here is that it’s not about you. People get angry for a lot of reasons and the only time you should assume it is your fault is if you know you did something really bad to get someone angry. And we’re talking about beyond the shadow of a doubt you did something to make them mad. Otherwise just think that they must be upset. In my experience, if it is your fault you will certainly know it!

4. Dwelling on the negative

I used to be the victim of this a lot. I used to think of it as ‘looking for a reason to be upset.’ It is quite ridiculous when I think about it now, but I would do something like get a bad grade in a class and spend the rest of the day obsessing over it. The rest of my day would be tainted by me dwelling on something negative and I would totally miss all of the positives that were going on. I think this is a fairly common thought pattern though. We spend so much time thinking and brooding about the bad that we have no time to see the good. What did I learn? As hokey as it sounds, don’t sweat it because in the grand scheme of things it’s probably not that important. So maybe I got distracted and let the roast burn and we can’t eat it for dinner, that doesn’t mean we can’t go out for ice cream and to a movie and still have a good time. See?

5. Blaming someone else

Ever blamed someone else for your crappy lot in life? Yup, that’s the blaming thought pattern. Yes, your husband cheated on you and then walked out on you and the two kids. That sucks, it really does, but he is not responsible for the rest of your life. I am a firm believer in the saying ‘You create your own destiny’ and that means if your life sucks then you need to take ownership of that because its probably your fault. For instance, I am in a lot of debt and I say it is because my parents did not teach me about money but I was the one charging the credit cards up like there is no tomorrow. I did it and now I have to fix it.

6. Creating your own catastrophes

I have a good friend that emails me regularly with this phrase: “Why does this always happen to me?” The most recent email with this phrase was followed by the catastrophe of a 15 year old freezer dying and needing replaced. My friend has convinced herself that everything that happens in her life is a major catastrophe. As you can see, it is really not that serious. That is what you should remind your self if you start falling into this thought pattern.

7. I feel it, so I must be it

Saying that you feel like a worthless schmuck does not make you one. Feeling ashamed about something does not make you bad. Feeling inadequate at your job does not make you inadequate. Remember that the way that you feel is not the way things are. It sucks that you feel like a loser, but you need to remember that these are just negative thoughts trying to take hold of you and not reality.

Those are some of the more common self-defeating thought patterns. You may be able to recognize some of these in your self as well as some that I have not listed. I have found that journaling is a great way for me to become aware of these negative thought patterns and to tackle them head on. Whatever method you use, you are sure to being seeing things in a different light once you can rid your self of self-defeating thoughts.