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Monthly Progress Report (#6)

I can't believe it - it's almost June! Which means it's time for another monthly progress report! That's right, it's been a full half year since my very first progress report. Time sure does fly.

Now let's see where we are now!

May has had it's ups and downs. I've probably spent more than I should but I think I've made some progress on my debt payoff too. My renovations have been pushed back because of all of the rain we've had, so I won't lie, a little bit of extra time (and interest) has helped on that front.

It's been great to benefit from holding on to the money a little longer but, on the other hand, I'm pretty much bursting at the seams to start the renovations. So if it could STOP RAINING that would be great. I mean really, really great! But since I can't control the weather, we'll see what happens..

Like usual, I'm not sure where these numbers will end up until I write this post, but I'm cautiously optimistic about May.

Let's start with taking a look at my debt:

Mortgage: $148,800 
Car Loan: $8,300
Student Loans: $4,500
Credit Cards: $2,900
Grand Total of Debt: $164,500

My student loan balances

It's not great but it is an improvement over last month. I'll take it. And I'm seriously psyched those credit card balances are back in the $2,000 range. It still rounds up, but hey, it starts with a two! I'm a glass half full type of person!

Those renovations may have been pushed back a little bit which has given me more time to figure out my shortfall situation, but unfortunately, I still do have a shortfall.

Renovation fund requirement: $1,400
New Grand Total of Debt: $165,900

My debt balances improved by $1,200! And that renovation fund requirement is starting to look more and more doable. Maybe I can get down under the $1,000 mark by the time the Northeast US monsoon season is over? Just maybe.

Unfortunately, that's all the good news I have. Another month has passed without any changes in my savings balances at all.

Here's a quick look at the savings side of things:

Savings account: $2,000
P2P Lending account: $300
Investment account: $150
Grand Total of Savings: $2,450

So overall, my financial health has improved $1,200 during the month of May. With any luck June will be another good month! I'm proud of the fact that my renovation fund requirement has kept getting noticeably smaller and smaller. It's so nice to see real progress.

I'm hoping by the time I write my June progress report we have some serious renovating going on! Here's hoping for a very, very dry June!

Has it been crazy rainy where you are? Has it gotten in the way of any plans or are you cool with the wet weather?

Broke Dolly
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18 Tips to Pull Off a Successful Garage Sale & Make Some Extra Money

Disclosure: This post may contain third party affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link within a post Broke Dolly may earn a small commission which helps support the blog and content (at no cost to you). Please check the disclosure and privacy policy pages for more details. Thank you so much for your kindness and support.

This coming Monday is Memorial Day where Americans honor those who have died while serving in the US Armed Forces.

The importance of Memorial Day tends to get lost in the shuffle of things, so I wanted to start this post with a gentle reminder about why Monday has become a day off.

With that said, Memorial Day tends to signal a few other things to most Americans 1) summer has (unofficially) started and 2) garage sale season has begun!

It should come as no surprise - not only do I love going to garage sales but I love having a garage sale too. Not only do you get to get rid of your junk, er, I mean - great stuff, you don't want but you also get to make a couple of bucks!

If you’re thinking about having a garage sale this weekend, or sometime during the summer, I have some tips for you!

1) Get organized in advance. Don't wait until the day before your garage sale to start digging around your attic. Know what you're planning on getting rid of in advance and have it gathered together in one spot. This way after the sale has begun you won't be thinking about how you could have sold that extra set of dishes you have buried somewhere in the basement - they'll already be on their way to their new home (hopefully!).

2) Don't get too selective. When you're going through stuff and gathering your items, don't get too hung up on if it's "garage sale material" or not. My advice here is to not toss anything just yet. You know the saying - one man's junk is another's treasure. You'll be surprised what people want. I know I was surprised when my dad's old CD collection was a HUGE hit! If something doesn't sell, toss it then.

3) Pick a date. Commit to a day (or weekend) and stick to it. My mother has a garage sale every Memorial Day weekend, rain or shine. The good news is we all have a set in stone date to gather all of our items and bring them over (my poor mom!).

4) Start saving your bags. You'll never have enough plastic bags for a garage sale. Most people ask for a bag, others look like they're struggling with their armload of stuff so you offer them a bag. Do yourself a favor and start saving your plastic bags before your garage sale, you'll be happy you did.

5) Ask your friends to join in. Enlist your friends and neighbors to participate in your sale. Not only will having more items attract buyers (who can pass up a giant garages sale?!) but having your friends there will make the day all around more fun. Plus, they can help you with all the other steps - especially number 5!

6) Advertise. Post to Facebook, Craigslist and similar sites to advertise your sale. Include pictures of bigger items like furniture in your online ads. Make signs with the date, time and location of your sale and post them around the neighborhood. My mother, in her infinite genius, made signage that she can reuse by saying Memorial Day weekend Saturday & Sunday compared to specific dates. She has to store them but she only has to refresh them every few years compared to making new signs every single year.

7) Gather your supplies. You have all of the items you want to sell gathered and ready for the big day, but you're not quite done yet. You'll want to make sure you have tables to set out your goods, chairs to sit in, all those plastic bags you've been hoarding, lots of singles (quarters too!) for change, food and drinks for you and your helpers and a pen and paper in case you need to keep track of totals.

8) Setup the night before. I know this isn't practical for someone who doesn't have a garage (FYI I'm one of those people!) However, if you can set everything up and close the garage door or if you're ok with putting tarps over everything for the night, you'll appreciate not having to setup the day of! One thing to know about garage sales: people will be there early. Probably way earlier than you expected and earlier than your signs said. Just a word of caution.

9) Organize your items. Don’t just throw items on your tables. Spend some time on setup and group like items together. Make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for and for them to find and buy similar items.

10) Decide to price or not price items. Ok, so I’m on the side of not pricing. My mother is firmly on the pricing side of the debate. You’ll need to decide if you’re going to price each item or let the buyer name the price. Personally, I think you do better without prices because a buyer will pay more than you expect. My mother swears people won’t ask about a price and will walk away. It’s up to you. But if you are pricing your items, make sure you skip the fancy price tags. Masking tape works just as well and is much cheaper.

11) Get up early. I’ve already warned you - garage salers like to be up and at ‘em nice and early to find the good deals. Be prepared to open your sale early. They’re showing up early regardless, might as well take advantage of potential customers!

It's time to sell that old PlayStation!

12) Be prepared to haggle. Unfortunately, sometimes someone will offer you less than you were hoping. Be prepared to haggle or say no. Just because someone offers you money doesn’t mean you have to take it.

13) Be friendly. Let’s face it, someone is more likely to buy something if you’re nice to them than if you’re playing Candy Crush on your phone and ignoring them. Say hi to everyone and engage in some small talk.

14) Reorganize and condense your items. After a busy couple of hours your sale will look more like a train wreck than the neatly organized tables you started with. Be prepared to reorganize your items. Take down tables once stuff has started to go, that way you’ll spend less time cleaning up later.

15) Bring extra money inside. This may sound obvious but it’s worth stating anyways. The people at your garage sale are strangers. Don’t trust them with large sums of cash laying around. Bring extra money and large bills inside.

16) Have fun. Having a garage sale can be stressful - there's so much to think about, there's a ton of strangers at your house and you're constantly thinking about what you're going to do with all the stuff you have left afterwards. Stop worrying and try to enjoy the day with your friends and family.

17) Take down your signs. This is a pet peeve of mine - leftover garage sale signs. Don't leave them up all summer. Be a good neighbor and make sure to take your signs down when the sale is over. This way they don't leave people searching for a nonexistent garage sale (yeah, I've totally been that person) and they don't end up littering the street. It's just common courtesy folks!

18) Get rid of leftover stuff. Pack up your buddy's pickup with items that need to make their way to the town dump, throw out and recycle items or put the items on the curb with a big ol' free sign. Unfortunately, clean up is the not so fun unavoidable last step of having a garage sale.

I hope whether you decide to have a garage sale, or go garage saling yourself, you have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. I'd love to hear all about your garage sale successes or failures.

I hope you have a great BBQ and beautiful weather.

But please, let's not forget why we celebrate Memorial Day.

Broke Dolly
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Running Low on Cash? Here’s 14 Cheap Date Ideas

Since my most popular post by far is my post about budget friendly Valentine’s Day ideas I thought it might be time to write down my ideas for inexpensive dates in general.

Let’s face it, whether it’s your first date or your tenth, dating can be kind of expensive. And while we're at it, let’s be honest ,does it really get less expensive when you’re in a relationship? Gotta keep the spark alive! But the good news is it doesn’t have to drain your wallet. Skip the expensive dinner date in favor of one of these ten budget friendly date ideas!

Be forewarned, I’m really looking forward to summer so some of these might be a little biased towards warm weather. But I mean come on, we’re almost there! Alright fine, it’s like another month away if you want to be all technical.

1) Farmer’s Markets. As we’re gearing up for warmer weather I’m starting to get excited about the idea of farmer's markets and all the yummy fare they offer! Nobody says you have to buy anything, but the food is usually inexpensive and amazing, so check it out. If you’re trying to avoid spending money, just walking around is a fun time. There’s usually crafts to check out and some offer free games and activities too!

2) Bookstores. One of my favorite date ideas is going to a bookstore (or library) and each selecting three books - one that represents the person you’re with, one that represents yourself and a random pick. Meet up with your three books and explain why you picked each book. It’s a fun first date idea to try to guess what your date is all about but it’d also be fun to see what your long term partner comes up with.

3) Movies in the Park. A lot of public places offer movies or community organized plays for little or no money. Sure you might have seen the movie a hundred times but it’s still fun to grab a blanket and hang out under the stars.

4) Hiking. Enjoy Mother Nature in all its glory and check out your local hiking trails. Pack a picnic lunch and find a nice scenic overlook to enjoy it. Just be careful in the springtime, trails tend to get muddy! Make sure you have on shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.

5) Netflix and Chill. Get your mind of the gutter, I’m talking about genuinely watching some Netflix. You know I have some series recommendations too! Try watching Love Sick (as long as an STD story line won’t kill the mood) or Grace & Frankie (vibrators are less awkward than STDs right?) for some good laughs. On second thought, maybe stick to a movie and ignore my series suggestions altogether - To All the Boys I Loved Before scores big on the romcom scale.

6) Roller Skating. Get all nostalgic for the days of middle school birthday parties at the roller rink. Make a day out of it and go hit the hardwood. You’ll get to show off your sweet moves and get a good workout in simultaneously. What could be better? Well, maybe owning your own skates and taking this adventure outside.

7) Thrift Stores. Ok, to be fair here I love me some bargains and thrift stores are a great way to find them. Ergo, I would totally be cool with an afternoon digging through the goods at my local thrift store. Maybe that’s not your thing, I get it. So stop in and head to the outdoor section, grab some tennis racquets, badminton racquets, a volley ball, a soccer ball, something! Then head out to the local park and get your game on. Plus, it’s even more fun if you can’t play!

8) Amateur Theater. There’s several community theaters near me that offer Broadway shows at Main Street prices. Even if you don’t have the option of community theater, there’s another great option - the local high school. Yeah, that’s right, the high school play - go check it out. Those kids work hard and can put on a good show. Support the arts and have a great time. Even better, if you’re close enough, go to a show at your old high school. If your date went to school nearby check that show out too. Bonus date night!

9) Community Events. Hit up the local street fair, festival, parade, soap box derby, whatever. Admission is usually super cheap if not free and hey, it’s a good ol’ time. Plus the food is usually pretty amazing if the festival is food based... One of my favorite local festivals? Wing Fest! Also a fan of chili cook offs. I like spicy foods! What can I say?

10) Psychics. Usually found at the above community events, an inexpensive psychic reading can be a fun date. Besides finding out what the stars say about your future it can be interesting to have a discussion about the merits of mediums.

11) Stargazing. Speaking of stars, instead of reading them how about just looking at them for a night? Set up a blanket in a nice and quiet, super dark field and spend the night checking out the constellations. Bonus points for whoever can finds the most. I wouldn’t win because high school earth science wasn’t my scene but it’d still be a ton of fun!

12) 36 Questions to Fall in Love. Ok as if psychics weren’t controversial enough, let’s introduce the idea that asking someone intimate questions and staring into their eyes can lead to falling in love. I’m serious, this was a real experiment conducted by psychologist Arthur Aron. So maybe you think it’s crazy or maybe you’re already head over heels in love with your partner, it could still be interesting to see if you learn anything new about each other!

13) Minor League Baseball. No secret that I’m a huge baseball fan (I even worked at a minor league stadium all through college. I love watching any baseball game but minor league games are pretty fun even if you don’t love the game itself. There’s so many things going on with on the field games, crazy mascots and fun promotions. Plus, you can get good seats for $10, the food is cheaper and major league guys pass through town on rehab assignments. What’s not to love? Go catch a game at your local stadium!

14) Volunteer. Work on a town beautifying project painting an old fence or planting a new garden, spend a couple of hours at the nearby hospital or retirement home with patients that rarely have visitors, volunteer at a local food pantry or collect trash from the side of roads. There are so many different things you can do. Things you can do together to make the world a better place!

I hope you enjoyed this list because I had a great time making it! Now I have so many ideas for things to do over the summer.

What about you? Do you think you'll try any of the things on my list for date night? Do you have any other cheap date ideas that should be added? I’d love to hear all your ideas, tell me in the comments!
Broke Dolly
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Tomorrow is Teacher Appreciation Day! Here’s Where Educators Can Get Free Lunch (or Dessert)...

May 7th is Teacher Appreciation Day! And restaurants everywhere are celebrating by giving teachers free meals and sweet treats.

I love it! I have no doubt that being a teacher is a tough and under appreciated job. But our teachers are so important. They help shape who we are. I can’t tell you how big a role my eleventh grade English teacher played in my life (besides introducing me to my favorite author of all time - F. Scott Fitzgerald in case you're wondering).

I’ve been out of high school for over ten years and every so often I still think about the crazy man with wild hair who invented the game of turkey bowling (which was really just throwing frozen turkeys into his neighbor’s garbage pail much to said neighbor's chagrin) and made me appreciate the classics.

So in honor of all the educators who have made us who we are, all the educators who still have an impact on our lives, here’s a list of restaurants that will be giving out free food in your honor:

1. Arby's - Participating Arby's restaurants are celebrating by giving teachers and school administrators with ID a free sandwich. Side note here - I haven't been to an Arby's in years - but I kind of want to try their new gyros! I wonder how their tzatziki sauce is?

2. Chick-fil-A - Select Chick-fil-A locations are offering teachers with valid ID a free sandwich between 11 AM and 8 PM.

3. Chipotle Mexican Grill -
It's no secret - I love Chipotle and they regularly participate in appreciation promotions. For Teacher Appreciation Day Chipotle is offering buy-one/get-one free entrees (burritos, bowls, salads & tacos) from 3 PM to close. All you have to do is show your school ID.

4. McDonald's - Select McDonald's locations are offering teachers with valid ID a free six piece chicken McNuggets meal.

5. Roy Rodgers Restaurants - Roy Rodgers is celebrating all week long (it’s also Teacher Appreciation Week afterall)! Teachers can stop in anytime from today, Monday May 6th, to Friday May 10th and show your ID for a free milkshake or dessert with purchase.

6. Sonic Drive-In - Sonic is one-upping Roy Rodgers by celebrating almost all month long. And expanding the offer to not only teachers, but "those who appreciate them as much as Sonic does." Awww. Starting on Teacher Appreciation Day and ending on May 31st, order using the Sonic app using the promo code TEACHERS for a free Route 44 drink or slush with purchase.

I cut this list short, including only places that are near me. If you're not in love with these options, check out USA Today's comprehensive list of all restaurants participating in Teacher Appreciation Week.

Who said there’s no such thing as free lunch! Well, um, every economics professor I've ever had. But, semantics!

Now I'm just going to hold out for Accountant Appreciation Day (seriously, it's a thing - November 10th is celebrated as International Accountants Day!) Unfortunately, I don't think it's become a Chipotle promotion just yet.

That just leaves me with one final question... tacos or burritos?!?

My vote is burrito all the way. With extra guac please! You know what, you’re right, I have plenty of time until November 10th to think about it. Hint, hint, Chipotle!

All joking aside, thank you to all the teachers out there. You’re doing a kick butt job and we ALL appreciate it.
Broke Dolly
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Monthly Progress Report (#5)

This post was supposed to be up yesterday but I totally spaced. I guess I think April now has 31 days. Luckily, that's not the case. Nope, it's officially May! We've made it through April and (hopefully) all those April showers.

Besides getting closer and closer to summer, we're another month down and you know what that means - it's time to check up on my progress throughout last month!

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, take a peak at last month's progress report.

Ok, now that you're all caught up, let's get down to the details!

April hasn't exactly been great for my spending. There have been a few unexpected expenses that arose and needed to be taken care of so I expect my credit card balances to be pretty bad this month. I HATE carrying a balance on my credit card. I try to pay them off month to month. Seriously. Every month.

But sometimes life happens and it doesn't exactly go as planned.

Besides my credit cards, I'm not really sure where everything is in the grand scheme of things but I know I haven't saved much, I've spent more than I wanted to and I paid down very little debt. So April isn't looking great.

Let's start with taking a look at my debt:

Mortgage: $149,000 (this feels like some sort of small milestone!)
Car Loan: $8,500
Student Loans: $4,550
Credit Cards: $3,150 (ugh, I knew this number would be high!)
Grand Total of Debt: $165,200

My student loan balances

Totally disappointing that debt number is bigger than last month.

The real exciting news is that renovations are expected to begin on my house this month! The not so exciting news is the budget deficit I’m running.. but, hey, if the US government can do it! Just kidding. I’m totally freaking out. But I have a game plan to make up the difference. Which is take on more debt. Yeah, I didn’t say it was a good one.

Renovation fund requirement: $1,900
New Grand Total of Debt: $167,100

Unfortunately my debt total went up $50. But, big picture here, $50 isn’t so bad. I was expecting worse. And hey, we’re all bound to have a bad month here and there! This is definitely a bad month with some backwards progress but at least it’s minimal backwards progress.

Since my savings balances haven’t changed at all, here’s a quick reminder of what they look like:

Savings account: $2,000
P2P Lending account: $300
Investment account: $150
Grand Total of Savings: $2,450

Alright, it’s been a rough month and I’m not happy about it. But it’s a new month. There’s no time to dwell on my bleak April. Nope. Moving on. 

Here’s hoping that May is a killer month and my debt balances go down! With any luck maybe my savings will get a little boost too!

Alright, enough talk about money - I’m super excited about the renovations! The weather has been a bit rainy so I’m anticipating a little bit of a delay. But hopefully the renovations will be in full swing for my next progress report!

Yeah, May is going to be a good month! Do you have anything exciting going on this month?
Broke Dolly
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