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Archive for November, 2005

November 30 - officially sick

December 1st, 2005 at 02:52 am

Well, that's that. I'm definitely sick. Had a sore throat all day and just felt like crap. Oh well. Hopefully this will be short-lived. At least the kids were in a better mood today. I had a nice surprise - a birthday present in the mail from one of my closest friends who now lives across the country in Phoenix. She sent me chocolate covered espresso beans Smile That really made my night.
My parents are taking a week-long trip to Philly, Atlantic City, and Long Island (to see relatives). I have been dying to go see my new cousin, born in July, so they told me that if I could get myself there, I could ride back with them. I was on the fence about it, but DH looked up the airfare and told me I was going Smile I love that guy. I think he has seen that I could use a weekend away. So I have written to make sure it's alright with my relatives (which it always is) and then I will book the flight. It's only $84 one way on Jet Blue. I have also been looking up spa packages on E-bay. I found a few on the Island, but I don't know how close they are to where I'll be staying. I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my cousin (the new mom). All in all, though, the weekend will still cost less than $200 and it will do me a world of good.
No money spent today - I never left the house. I dressed myself head to toe in fleece and hunkered down. I am a miserable sick person. I did spend some money last night, though, after I posted. $36.80 on magazine subscriptions (half for me, half for gifts). No income today.

November expenses: $7212.81
November income: $7087.93
Saved money today by: making turkey pasta for lunch and turkey soup for dinner with ingredients on hand (turkey is officially GONE!), not leaving the house Smile
A little disappointed that I ended up in the red for the month, but not too bad. This month was highly unusual. If you take away my large commission check and large student loan payment, that would approximate more closely a typical month. So, my real income and expenses is more like $3500. I didn't sock any into savings, but then again, we have adequate savings at this time, so extra money is better spent to pay down loans.

November 29...a better day

November 30th, 2005 at 02:44 am

A rather nice day today, aside from the kids being cranky. I really think they are getting sick. DH has been sick, and I just got a sore throat today, so I guess we are all going to be hit. Oh well. Nothing too exciting today - work, eye doctor, home. I spent a lot of money on my contacts. $330 total. $60 for the exam and $280 for the contacts, but I got $10 off. I will also get a $60 rebate on them since I ordered 4 boxes at a time. This is one of my extravagant expenses that I budget for. I could probably buy a years worth of contacts for less then half the price, but I splurge for the Night and Day contacts (the ones that you wear up to 30 days straight). Being blind as a bat and rather lazy when it comes to taking my lenses out, I will gladly pay extra for these. With the piddly amount my insurance will reimburse me though, and the rebate, the final bill won't be as bad as it sounds. The unfortunate thing is that DH has to order his too (the same kind).
However, the really good news of the day...I took my car to a repair shop and will not have to pay a dime! A few months ago a mechanic broke my ABS sensor while repairing my brakes. After initially being told that I would need to pay $120 for a new part (excuse me??? After he broke it???), they replaced it for me at their cost. Well, the sensor broke again. The mechanic said it had a hole worn right through it and apologized to me! They will be fixing it again for free when the part comes in. I was so petrified that it was going to be a problem with my brakes rather than just the sensor. Whew!
I have two good options to use for any payments this month, so I have to analyze this to see which is better. If I use my BOA debit card with the Keep the Change program, they will round up my debit and match it. But if I use my Discover card, they will pay me $1!!!! (up to $20 this month only). So it seems that I need to use my Discover card for everything until I reach 20 transactions, as that is a guaranteed cash-back dollar, whereas the BOA will always be less than $1. However, if it seems that I will be over 20 transactions, then I will need to start using my BOA card when I charge things that will earn me a lot of money when rounded up. I'm a little bummed that these deals didn't come at different times!
No income today.

November expenses: $7176.01
November income: $7087.93 (darn! in the red again!)
Saved money today by: taking lunch and snacks to work, drinking water, ordering all of my contacts at one time to get the rebate (basically amounts to one free box), using my Discover card to pay for my lenses (I will pay it off at the end of the month, so I am not paying interest to earn a buck!), made dinner from scratch using what I had on hand.

28 on the 28th...happy birthday to me :)

November 29th, 2005 at 03:54 am

Not the best birthday in the world, but I still have a lot to be thankful for. We had to put our dear old dog down this morning. She was 13, had cancer, and was obviously in a lot of pain. It's kind of quiet here now...seems weird after so long.
Otherwise, normal day. We had a little party at work for myself and three other people with birthdays this week (a little rare, given that there are only about 20 people in my office). I have a real estate closing coming up in a week, so that will be another nice bonus check, although it will be the last one for a while as I have no more deals pending. I just got a call from a long-time investor client tonight who wants to get out of a contract for a lot he has listed to sell. However, it's not my decision, and my broker will not release him from the contract unless he pays half of the agreed on comission for time and expenses incurred. So I feel caught in the middle. I'm really not a great business person! I tend to identify too much with my clients and want to help them out, even if it's at my expense. If it was my call, I would let them out of the contract and I know they would return to me in the future (they do a lot of transactions and have referred several clients to me). However, now I get the feeling they are a little ticked off, so I am worried that they will take their business elsewhere. On the other hand, I did make it clear to them up front that my broker would try to collect a commission from them if they pulled out of the listing, because they already pulled out of a prior listing. Ugh.
No money spent today by me. DH spent $8 for school supplies and $25 on gas. Misc income of $317.

November expenses: $6846.01
November income: $7087.93
Saved money today by: taking lunch and snacks to work, free entertainment at night (pinochle match).

November 27 - star envy no more!

November 28th, 2005 at 03:04 am

Yeah! I got some stars!!! Just as I was getting so jealous of everyone else. Thank you Smile

Nice relaxing day. My turn to sleep in, so that always puts a good start to my Sundays. DH and I did some things around the house today, but mostly spent too much time on the computer while the kids were sleeping. Then we made jambalaya tonight for dinner (new recipe from recipezaar.com, very good - we made it with brown rice to be South Beach compliant and tasted no difference), then off to bowling. DH did not bowl so well, but I shot a 455, which is almost exactly my average (152).
Expenses today: $15.00 babysitter, $20 bowling, $3.50 beer for DH at the alleys, $18.08 at grocery store for juice, snacks, lunch and dinner tomorrow, few other things.
No income today.

November expenses: $6813.01
November income: $6770.93
Saved money today by: getting a free $5 g.c. to Petco (found on this Freebie site), eating dinner before bowling and waiting until I got home for a snack rather then buying food out, leftovers for lunch (turkey AGAIN!)

November 26

November 27th, 2005 at 02:53 am

Wow, did I spend a lot of money today. I decided to surprise DH with a short trip to Vegas for Christmas, but after trying to wade through all the offers to book it, I decided to let him in on the surprise so he could help me Smile I also had him agree that it would be our present to each other for Christmas (aside from a few small items), as it was such a big chunk of money. He has never been west of Buffalo, and I know he has always wanted to go, so he seems to be happy about it. We have been searching online for days now and finally settled on a package tonight. We were originally going to fly out of Buffalo (about a $100 savings for both tickets), but after looking at the additional mileage, gas, and parking, we decided to pay a little extra to fly out of Syracuse. That way, we can have someone drop us off and don't have to worry about parking. All together, the price was $644 for the flight and three nights hotel stay. I still have to book the car. Right after I booked the trip on Expedia, I got a pop-up ad to try Entertainment.com free for 30 days and receive $25 on my next Expedia booking. So I signed up for that - it will cover a day and a half of car rental, plus DH is already scoping out the Entertainment site for Vegas coupons. Now I just have to remember to cancel in a few weeks or pay $9 a month (I'll have to print out as many coupons as I can before I do that though!).
I also went shopping for a few hours today. I was hoping to get some new clothes, but didn't find anything at the thrift store. By the time I got to the mall, I was too tired to try on clothes anymore! I was hoping to get some Christmas shopping done as well, but didn't really find anything that looked appropriate for anyone. I have a lot of shopping left to do still.
Expenses today: $644 Vegas trip, $20 Sears (for me), $.65 shirt for ds2 at the thrift store, $27.27 ordered digital pics at Winkflash.com - $.12 a print
Income today: None today, but I just realized I missed a check about a week ago...$317 misc.

November expenses: $6756.43
November income: $6770.93 (still in the black after the trip - yeah!)
Saved money today by: Eating all meals at home, eating leftovers for lunch and dinner, taking DH's car shopping (better gas mileage)

November 24 and 25...still full

November 26th, 2005 at 02:28 am

What a lovely, lovely holiday. Second only to Christmas. We ate our first dinner next door at my brother and SIL's house, then drove to Binghamton in a snow storm for our second dinner. The roads were fine for the first 45 minutes of our trip, but they got very, very bad as we neared Binghamton. We were pretty much driving in white-out conditions for the last half hour - pretty scary, but we just went really slowly and kept in the tracks ahead of us. A trip that normally takes about an hour and twenty minutes took over two hours.
We had another wonderful dinner and got to see some relatives we don't see too often. DH's grandparents were there, who are usually in Florida for Thanksgiving, but are late in going this year due to some health problems. They will be leaving tomorrow, so it was nice to see them before they left. After dinner we had a friendly little game of Texas Hold 'Em poker, won by yours truely. I love getting the "sure, you know how to play poker" looks by the male relatives, then kicking their behinds Smile So I walked away $20 richer, although I guess $5 doesn't really count since it came from DH!
Today we headed back home. The kids were exhausted and slept all the way home. They both went to bed early tonight too. We let them stay up WAY late last night with all the excitement. We got a little scare when we came home and my parents were gone with the dogs. Our one dog is terminally ill and probably will need to be put down soon Frown so I was afraid they might have taken her in (the only place our dogs ever go is to the vets). But my dad had to run some errands in the truck and just took them along for the ride. So we have her for a little while longer. She does not seem to be in pain yet, only some discomfort, but we don't want her to suffer. So I think the end is near.
Aside from getting gas on our way home ($50.05), we haven't spent any money these past two days. Tomorrow, however, I plan to shop Smile For some reason, I have just been itching to go "thrifting". Maybe it's because I need some smaller clothes! Smile Smile Smile
November expenses: $6064.51
November income: $6453.93
Saved money today by: waiting to get gas until we were near a BJ's ($2.29/gal compared to $2.39), eating leftovers for dinner.

November 23 - missed Santa :(

November 24th, 2005 at 02:06 am

We took ds1 to see Santa today at the mall, but he did not get there until 3, so we missed him. Oh well. There is plenty of time to go back. We bought a few presents there so some money spent today. And I got some more dark chocolate covered espresso beans...my splurge while on the South Beach diet. Two or three of them will head off a sugar craving, and since dark chocolate is allowed (in moderation) on the diet, I don't feel bad.
Spent the rest of the day just hanging out and getting ready for tomorrow. I made some honey wheat bread dough for rolls and will make some butter rolls in the morning. I also made a rye dip. I LOVE Thanksgiving. Tomorrow we are having dinner at 12:30 at my SIL's next door, then driving to Binghamton for dinner at 4pm with my in-laws. We are going to be STUFFED.
Expenses today: $25 g.c. for my MIL's birthday, $5.61 for espresso beans, $10 for a Christmas gift (paid for with a gift card though, so I guess I won't count this as money spent), $34 at the grocery store for Thanksgiving supplies, $200 car payment
Income today: paycheck $834.21

November expenses: $6014.46
November income: $6438.93 (yeah! back in the black!)
Saved money today by: making homemade soup - lunch and dinner and some for the freezer, made homemade rolls and dip for tomorrow instead of buying them.

Oh yeah, I also wrote a letter to Nextel telling them how unhappy I was with their service. I asked for a credit to my account since I had to keep my other wireless account open for an extra week and a half during all this fiasco. I'll be anxious to see their response.

November 22 - getting close to my birthday :)

November 23rd, 2005 at 02:59 am

Less than a week until my birthday! The countdown has begun...this year I celebrate my champagne birthday - 28 on the 28th. My SIL just turned 30 on 10/30 and introduced us all to the concept of a "champagne" birthday, so now I get to make a big deal out of it Smile Unfortunately DH's just passed (28 on 6/28) before we heard the term, so no champagne for him this year.
Today at work I got a free catered lunch for a staff meeting. We were supposed to chip in for it, but when I gave my money to my supervisor after the lunch, she told me she already had enough money and wouldn't take it. I told her I would be sure to get my money in early for the next luncheon.
They finally got our cell phones straightened out. One less thing to worry about.
Expenses today: $16 grocery store, $4.75 post office (DH mailed his E-bay sale), $30 vet for check-up, shots, and nail clipping (I was really surprised this was so cheap). I realize that I forgot to include DH's coffee purchase the other night - about $50. Should last him a long time though. Also $6 spent on E-bay by DH.
November expenses: $5749.85
November income: $5604.72 (added DH's E-bay sale)
Saved money today by: Getting a free lunch (who says there is no such thing??), cooked dinner from scratch using things on hand or out of the freezer, DH bought a car charger for $6 from E-bay rather than spend $20 at the store.

November 21 - grocery shopping again

November 22nd, 2005 at 01:17 am

Quick entry, got things to do tonight...have to stop at Wal-Mart for diapers, coffee, fresh fruit...and stumbled upon a bunch of marked-down meat. I bought a few things of hamburger and stew beef to put in the freezer. DH gets nervous when I tell him I found "bargain meat", but all of it is still before the expiration date by a few days, so I don't worry. I love a good find Smile But I did end up spending $50. That's it for money spent today.
I am still working with Nextel to try to get my prior phone number ported over. I finally got them to do it today, but then they ported it to DH's phone instead of mine!!! Now they are telling me that they can't get DH's old number back. GRRRR. I hope this is not indicative of their customer service or else I will have a very unhappy two year contract. I am going to write them a letter tonight telling them about all this.

November expenses: $5643.10
November income: $5576.71
Saved money today by: bringing lunch and snacks to work, drinking water and tea at work, bargain meat!

November 20 - what a nice day

November 21st, 2005 at 03:34 am

I got to sleep in again this morning, at least until 8:30. Hey, I'll take it. Then we piled in the car and went down to Binghamton for the day to see DH's parents and go to his nephew's birthday party. When we got there, the house was empty. DH called his mom and she was in the ER, getting her finger looked at because SHE SEWED THROUGH IT ON THE SEWING MACHINE! Luckily, she's fine - they glued her finger up and sent her home. Ouch. This is why I don't sew Smile Anyway, we had a nice visit, and then we went to the birthday party and saw the rest of his family. My boys got to play with their cousins. It was just really, really nice. Smile Smile Smile
We didn't get to bowl tonight because of the party - we still have to pay our $20, but at least we didn't have to pay the babysitter. Had to stop on the way down to for a drink and snack, and then got lunch after we arrived. We will definitely plan better next time.
I spent a while talking with my SIL at the party about her E-bay income. She has been buying things at thrift stores and clearance sales to resell on E-bay and says she is doing really, really well. She says the secret is to list things in big lots under the wholesale heading rather than just in the clothing sections. I might try again, I don't know. Her lots are at least 30 items or more...that would take quite a bit of upfront costs. Something to think about...we had a little debate about whether it was ethical to buy from thrift stores to resell - I thought it was okay, because the store is still getting your money for their cause, and it's not like they ever run out of clothes to sell, but my MIL wasn't too hot on the idea.

Today's expenses: $49.52 gas for the minivan, $1.50 convenience store, $10 lunch, $20 bowling
No income today.

November expenses: $5593.10
November income: $5576.71
Saved money today by: Buying gas at BJ's (few cents cheaper and it was on the way), not having to hire a babysitter.

November 19 - again :)

November 20th, 2005 at 01:30 am

I see I labeled yesterday's entry as the 19th...oops. Even though DH thinks I obsess too much about money...and that I am too anal about keeping track...he wants to make sure that I mention his superb money saving move last night here in this journal. He went on-line to place his next order for Gevalia. He usually gets four boxes every few months. Well, I read that even though the shipping increases with the size of the order, it was still cheaper to order more at once. So we decided on our order (12 boxes), which got the price of each box down to near $7 (it was well over $8 when we only ordered 4). Then, just when we were about to order, he noticed a box to enter a promotional code. So he did a Google search for "Gevalia promotional code" and found one on the first site for free shipping with 10% off. We ended up saving nearly $20, and it brought the price of each box down to a little over $5. Kudos to DH! Maybe I am rubbing of on him Smile So, whenever you are about to buy anything online, a quick search for promotional codes can save you a bunch.
Had to show houses today again for four hours...and after it all, my buyer said she might just wait a little while longer till she figures out what she wants, as she can't find anything she likes in her price range. Frown That's the downside of working on commission - no sale = no commission. Oh well. So I got home about 2 and spent a few hours with DH cleaning and organizing. I listed a few items on our local free yard sale site (rock records and Reader's Digests), but no bites. I think I might also list a vintage dress I have (that is so cool I can't bring myself to give it away, but a little money might make it easier!) and some other things I have around. If I get no bites, I'll just Freecycle it. We haven't seen that E-bay money yet, so I can't count it as income. I got a few notices for secret shops, but I won't be going in the area of the store in the next few days, so I can't cash in on those.
Expenses today: $.99 for a loaf of Italian bread, which I found out after the fact that my mother had already bought. So now we have two loaves...and it's not even on the South Beach diet Frown
No income today.

November expenses: $5512.08
November income: $5576.71
Saved money today by: bringing my lunch and snacks while out working today (ate in the car), not doing anything!

November 19 - loving the weekend

November 19th, 2005 at 03:48 am

Played cards with my mom tonight as a sub - another night of free entertainment. I also (finally) got to the BOA to open a Keep the Change account (mjrube, used your referral!). I was just a little miffed though...I asked when my three months started (the time period for which they would match my savings) and they said right away...but I won't get my card for 5-7 days - or even longer due to the holiday! Grrr....
Also a little ticked off at Nextel. I switched my cell over to them to get better reception where I live (and b/c I was just sick of Cingular). They were supposed to port my old cell phone number over to my new phone, but it's been five days and they still have not done it. DH's was ported over within a few hours. I called them yesterday and they told me to wait a little longer, that it was in the works. So now I am still paying for my Cingular line because it's my business phone, and I cannot be without my number. GRRRRRRRRR....
I might sound grumpy, but I actually had a very nice day (besides the large corporations conspiring to cheat me out of my hard-earned pennies). Went to work, the bank, grocery shopping, came home for dinner and a little playing with the boys, then off to play pinochle (kicked butt again).
Tomorrow I am hitting the road again with my buyer - another 7 or 8 houses. This will make well over 20 total. She is bringing her dad with her tomorrow for a second look at a few houses, so maybe we're getting close...
Expenses today: $3.00 bowl of soup for lunch to go with the salad I brought in, $30.00 Waldenbooks (b-day gifts for nephews), $14.00 K-B Toys (Christmas gifts for ds1), grocery shopping $60.58
November expenses: $5511.09
November income: $5576.71

Saved money today by: bringing part of lunch and snacks to work, using a referral to sign up for an account at BOA (earned $60 through this between checking, savings, and cc), free entertainment

November 17 - SOLD!

November 18th, 2005 at 02:00 am

DH sold a chess set (Yankees vs. Red Sox) on E-bay today for $16. Yeah! That was a nice little bonus. I have never had good luck with E-bay. I tried to sell some children's clothes - designer labels (that I got at the thrift store!), stuff that had tags on it still, but I only sold about half my stuff. By the time I paid my fees, I only made a few bucks for several hours work. So I generally I shy away from that.
Tomorrow I plan to get my new bank account (I know, I said that yesterday, but I mean it this time). I hope this Keep the Change program is at good as it sounds. I think I will close out my ING accounts too - I've made over $100 in referrals Smile but I have no one left to refer. I opened an account for the boys with some birthday and holiday money, but I am thinking about looking into those I-bonds that I have heard about on the discussion boards. Have to talk to DH about this.
Expenses today: $24.28 gas in DH's car (WOW! I haven't spent this little in so long!), DH spent about $15 on a poster off E-bay that was not what he thought it was - he didn't read the description carefully before bidding...so he got a fair amount of chewing out over that one Smile It will be a Christmas present for his brother.
Income today: $317 - misc., won't count the E-bay $ until we see it

November expenses: $5442.79
November income: $5576.71
Saved money today by: eating all meals at home, taking snacks to work, drinking tea at work (brought the teabag from home), listing things for sale on local "yard sale" site for free (offshoot of Freecycle that one of our members started)

November 16 - a catch up day

November 17th, 2005 at 03:31 am

A day to stay home and get caught up - it was nice. I finally made that large payment to my student loans. Sigh. It was a little sad letting go of that chunk of money after all the work I did to earn it, but it will be worth it when the student loans are paid off. I also paid up a credit card ($500) for the month. I only have another $100 - $200 left on other cards, but I don't have to pay them for a few more weeks.
I think if I have time tomorrow, I will go sign up for the account at BOA. Another poster was kind enough to send me a referral, so that's free money for both of us! Then I can close my my existing account after all my current debits have cleared.
Today I got about 6 things crossed off my To Do list - some bills, e-mails, set up some appts. It is nice to be able to cross them off. I have a few things more to do that will save some money - order DH's meds through our mail order service (90 day supply instead of 30 - will save $5-10 a month) and list my Reader's Digest collection for sale. I have several hundred, from 1918 to present - not sure of the best method for this. Right now I am leaning toward listing lots of 10-12 (for each year) on E-bay. There are a lot listed - some selling for $.50 to $1 for individual issues or $5-10 for a lot. I also could list them locally for sale to avoid the shipping hassle, but I doubt there's much of a market around here. I listed two books on Half.com today, but since there are already some of the same listed, I am not expecting great things.
I played cards with my aunt tonight, so I got another free night of entertainment.
Today's expenses: $3700 student loan payment, $500 cc payment (I am not counting this in my total expenses as I count the purchases as I make them), $55.50 on Entertainment books (discounted) for Christmas gifts
No income

November expenses: $5403.51
November income: $5259.71
Saved money today by: eating at home, free evening entertainment, picked up some free items from a Freecycler

November 15

November 16th, 2005 at 03:24 am

Work, show houses, dinner, kids to bed. Pretty much the same as yesterday. I feel like I haven't seen much of my kids in the past few days. I agreed to work some extra hours at work when on of our Service Coordinators went out on leave. Well, he was supposed to be back in October, then November, and now he's not coming back until January. I am not obligated to work any extra hours, but I feel guilty dropping now since we are still short a person. I guess I'll stick it out a while longer. My sympathies to all the parents out there who need to work full-time. I miss my babies Smile
I actually ate a fast food restuarant today - the first time since starting the South Beach diet. I had a bean burrito at Taco Bell with a side of beans and cheese. I think it was an okay meal - certainly a lot better than a cheeseburger and fries. I just could not motivate myself to make a lunch this morning. I guess we all have those lazy days Smile
DH received a CC offer in the mail today that actually caught my eye - 0% on balance transfers for the life of the loan. I thought it was just for CC balances, which we don't carry, but I called anyway to check out if we could transfer our student loans - and we can! Here's the catch - it will be interest free until 7/06, at which point it will continue to be interest free IF we make two purchases per billing cycle. The problem is, any payments we make would go toward the original balance, meaning interest would accrue on the new purchases until the original balance is paid off. Granted, we could make $1 purchases and the interest would be minimal...I'm not sure if I want to get into this CC game, but it is SO tempting to have our student loans at 0% instead of 4.6%. If we transferred $5k (the card limit), we could save over $200 in interest charges in a year. Hopefully, we could have it paid off by July 2006 and cancel the card, but I'm not sure if that's a game I want to play. I'll think on it some more.
I made a small payment ($300) on DH's student loan. I planned to make a big payment on mine, but I had a problem registering with the Web site. I meant to send in a payment today, but I will do it tomorrow. Have the day off, so I plan to get a lot done.
I started a new system of carrying a small notebook in my purse at all times. That way, I can write down expenses as they occur instead of trying to recall everything at the end of the day. I also have a Christmas list and to-do list started so I can write down things as I think of them. We'll see if it helps.
Expenses today: $3.22 Taco Bell, $12 groceries (had to stop and get something for dinner, bought meat for tomorrow's dinner while I was there along with some low-fat cheese and whole wheat pasta), $300 student loan payment
No income today

November expenses: $1648.01
November income: $5259.71
Saved money today by: drinking water at work and during the day.

November 14

November 15th, 2005 at 02:08 am

Nothing much to report today. Went to work, came home, made dinner, put the kids to bed. I guess I will make this a short entry.
No money spent today. I do plan to spend some tonight as I finally make a big, big payment on one of my loans (probably student loan), but I haven't done it yet. I don't think I have an online acct. set up for my loans, so I will need to go through all that before I can make a payment. Or I could just send it in, but I don't want to waste a stamp Smile
DH spent $7 at the store today for milk, bread, lunch items.
November expenses: $1332.79
November income: $5259.71
Saved money today by: Taking snacks and lunch to work, drinking water at work, cooking dinner from scratch (chicken cacciatore...yum).
I am seeing the benefits of this South Beach diet - lost another pound from last week (about 8 total so far) and I have gotten several compliments over the past few days. People are starting to notice Smile That's really nice! So I guess all this expensive food is at least getting me somewhere!

November 13 - Christmas shopping and house showing

November 14th, 2005 at 02:56 am

Busy day! Sundays are my day to sleep in (DH gets Saturdays), so I rolled out of bed around 8:30. I used to think 8:30 was early before kids, but now it's a luxury Smile I headed into the city (Syracuse, not a huge city, but it is to country folk like me) to do a little shopping before meeting my client to show houses. I stumbled upon a huge sale at Old Navy. All of their clearance was an additional 50% off. I wish I had more time to stay and look around, but my client called and said she was ready to meet me. As it was, I got four pieces of adult clothing and four pieces of children's clothing for about $28. I usually only buy clothes secondhand, but a deal like this makes new clothes cheaper than used! I stopped at Marshalls later and got a bunch of books for the boys for Christmas - ds1 loves to "read" and I hope ds2 will also. And I found this toy plane that comes with it's own tools for taking it apart and putting it back together - a screwdriver, wrench, etc. I think ds1 will really enjoy this. He loves to help his Papa fix things with his little tools, and he loves planes too. For some reason I am really looking forward to Christmas shopping this year. I usually make it a rule to not even think about it until after Thanksgiving, but I am really into it already. Maybe because I don't have to worry about how much it is going to cost!
I would like to pay for all the gifts in cash this year and keep a running tab. I was thinking about putting $100 or so into an envelope at a time and taking cash from there for gifts. Then I can keep a running tab on the outside of the envelope and throw all the receipts in there as well. Now I just have to convince DH to go along with it. He thinks I am a little (ok, a lot) too anal about money, but I really enjoy doing all this. I tell him it's like a game, and that there are far worse habits to have!
Bowling night - so we spent another $15 for the babysitter and $10 to bowl, although we paid in advance last week so it was no cash out of pocket tonight. I also had to eat out tonight as I was gone from 11:30am-9pm! My buyer did not find any houses tonight, but we are going to look again on Tuesday. We looked at 10 houses today, which makes for a really, really long day. It does not sound like a lot, but I usually only show 3 or 4 at a time.
Expenses today: $28 Old Navy on Christmas gifts and one shirt for myself, $49 at Marshalls, $1.62 for dinner, $15 babysitter, $1.25 for soda at bowling (DH), $4.00 for a book off E-bay (Christmas gift)
No income today, although I finally did deposit all those checks, so I can pay down some loans tomorrow.
I'll add this all up later - time for bed now.
(DH just read this and said "fat chance" at going along with my Christmas tracking system. Grrr.....I told him all he had to do was give me his receipts and I would take care of the rest. He's so stubborn.)

Saved money today by: finding clothes at a huge discount (cheaper than used), buying a slice of pizza for dinner instead of a meal, drinking free water at the bowling alley instead of buying a drink, showed a lot of houses at one time instead of making multiple trips to the city (60 miles round trip).

November 12 - on the mend

November 13th, 2005 at 02:47 am

DS2 woke up happy this morning - he spent the day running around again Smile Either he was already on the tail end of this virus, or the antibiotics kicked in really quickly for the ear infection. Either way, it's just good to see him smiling again Smile
DH and I took the boys out tonight for dinner and a little Christmas shopping. Before we went, I got on Restaurant.com and printed up a $10 certificate (cost: $3 with 60% off coupon = $1.20). So we saved $8.80! I was a bit disappointed in the dinner though...just wasn't very good. Then we went to the mall, which apparently just got a Nextel booth. I had planned to switch to Nextel through my job rep, who offers a 5% discount. However, when he faxed me the papers, he was going to charge me $60 for delivery and $70 for activiation fees (2 lines). So I told him to forget it. Tonight I got them at the booth for no delivery charge, since they were in stock, free phones, and only $21 in activation each. Plus I found out that Nextel gives a 10% discount to NY state employees!!! So I have to call in the morning to have my current cell number ported over, since I use it for work. The only bad side is that I think my current provider might charge me for the remainder of the billing cycle, which just started (I found out tonight when I got home and found my bill on e-mail). If that's the case, I am really going to kick myself for not planning this better.
I'll be going to show some houses tomorrow in the $80-100k range, so that would mean a decent commission if I sell one Smile I'll keep my fingers crossed. Those commission checks are always a nice bonus.
Expenses today: $15.27 dinner plus $4 tip, $2.16 for phones, $6.47 for a book (Christmas gift)

November expenses: $1216.92
November income: $5259.71
Saved today by: visiting Restaurant.com, researching cell phone deals before purchasing one (I visited the booth of the other provider we were considering - same monthly rates, but their phones cost $100!)

November 11 - baby still sick :(

November 12th, 2005 at 04:10 am

Today we decided to take ds2 back to the doctors. He was so sad looking this morning, just laying on us like a limp rag. This is not like him at all - since he learned to walk at 9 months, he has not sat still for a moment. Plus he now has a rash all over. The good news is that his fever is down - but it looks like he has a virus (roseola?) and definitely has an ear infection, so it's back on the antibiotics. Thank God I have a good insurance plan - it only cost $5. It would have cost a lot more when we were on DH's plan. We are very, very lucky in this sense. My job may not pay the best, but I do get good benefits Smile (like a long weekend for Veteran's Day!)
I spent most of my day off home hanging out with DH and the boys. I did have to go grocery shopping, to the doctor, and to fill the script. Then DH and I went out to play a pinochle match tonight. We kicked butt, and endured a good amount of ribbing about it. But we had a good time and did not spend any money to do it.
Expenses today: $15 doctor's visit co-pay, $5 script, $48 groceries, gas for DH $30, misc. expenses from DH estimated at $100 (grocery run, night out, stuff needed for school)
Income today: $317 misc.

November expenses: $1189.02
November income: $5259.71

Saved money today by: Eating all meals in and from scratch, eating leftovers for lunch, free entertainment, comparing prices carefully at the store (had to buy medicine for ds2 - two were the same price for the same amount, but a dose of one lasted 4 hours, but the other 8, so it was a better value)

November 10

November 11th, 2005 at 03:27 am

Not the best day today...had to attend a funeral for my great uncle. Ds2 is still sick - now he has a rash over most of his body. My mom saw it and said it's roseola, which we all had as babies. But he is acting like he's feeling better still today. You would never know he was sick if it weren't for the rash and runny nose.
I had to get gas for the minivan today - $56. That's the least I have spent in a long time. Gas here is about $2.60 a gallon. I had a choice today between a full-serve station at $2.59 or a self-serve one at $2.62. Hmmm...it's cold and snowing a little, full serve is cheaper...tough choice. DH went out after school tonight with a friend from his old job, so he'll probably be spending $10-15. No other money spent today.
November expenses: $991.02 + DH's misc. expenses
November income: $4942.72 (still haven't paid down my loans yet as DH never made it to the bank, so the checks still aren't deposited)
Saved money today by: comparing gas prices, taking a snack to work, having cereal for dinner (funeral luncheon was at 3, so none us us were very hungry tonight)

It's really nice to look at my income column this month, but this is NOT a typical month. This amount represents a very large commission from a $200k+ house I sold. I wish they were all like this, but I typically only earn about $8k a year from my real estate (this commission is nearly half that!). I treat all income I receive from real estate as a bonus. It's not counted towards expenses, so if I don't have it, we don't miss it. I usually use it to pay down loans.

November 9

November 10th, 2005 at 02:14 am

Had to spend some money today groceries, again. DH went to Wegman's this morning after his orthodontist appt. for coffee, juice, peanut butter, some other things. He didn't tell me what he spent - he doesn't think it's necessary to track EVERY purchase, but I do, so sometimes I have to hunt down the totals. Then I had to run to the local mom and pop store again today to get two ingredients for dinner (eggplant lasagna again - soooo good).
Not the best day...I was off from work, but had to go to calling hours for my great uncle and ds2 is still sick. not so feverish, but now he's coughing and has diarrhea. If he is not showing improvement by tomorrow, then it's back to the doctors to make sure there is no ear infection.
Money spent today: ??? at Wegmans, $6.25 at local store
Income today: $542.72 paycheck

November expenses: $935.02
November income: $4942.72

Ways I saved money today: I'm a little hard-pressed to find something today...well, when I was shopping for sausage for my lasagna today, I picked out the smallest (cheapest) package. I find you don't need a lot of meat when you are making a casserole type dish. I guess I can also list that I ate all meals at home without processed food.

November 8

November 9th, 2005 at 12:59 am

Yeah! No money spent today. Ds2 is feeling a little better - not quite so feverish - bit still not acting like himself. This cold has been through my mom and dad, niece, both sons, SIL..it's a miracle that I have not gotten it yet as I am usually the first. Maybe it's because I am eating a lot better than I used to, or that I have been washing my hands like crazy. Probably both...
Not much to report today. DH took all our checks to the bank today finally, so I can start writing checks and spending them! We are still going back and forth on whether to pay down his car or my student loans. The car loan rate is slightly lower (3.75%, I think) than my loans, which are about 4.5%, so I guess we really should pay the loan down first. But we owe several thousand less on his car, and it would really be nice to be done with it. We'll see...
A few nice things today...I went to Bank of America right next to where I work and got some information on their accounts. I will probably close our HSBC account as they are closing the HSBC bank in our village (so we will have no bank in our little town of 2000 people). Since I will have to go to the bigger town where I work to bank, I might as well go to a branch that is close to my job. So I think I will sign up for an account at BOA, especially now that they have the "Keep the Change" promotion. I got the application in the mail today for the vocational kids to fix our car (if we get chosen). I'll cross my fingers on that one. And DH found the piece of paper that I had written all the information about the massage on and thought it was a birthday list, so maybe he'll "surprise" me with that for my birthday later this month Wink (mjrube, thanks for the tip...I like to peruse the g.c. section on E-bay every so often, but was always a little wary of the spa deals...it's good to know that you have had a nice experience). Lastly, I gave away a car seat that had been taking up room on Freecycle, so that made me feel good to get it to someone who could use it.
No changes in expenses/income, so I'm not even going to post that here.
Ways I saved money today: Brought my lunch to work, drank water at work, ate leftovers for dinner instead of letting them go to waste in the back of the fridge (a common occurence here - I don't have anything against leftovers, but I just never seem to remember them), took DH's more fuel-efficient car to work today since he didn't need it.

November 7

November 8th, 2005 at 03:24 am

What a day. Ds2 was up several times last night sick. I took him to the doctor today because I thought he had an ear infection (that's the only time he ever wakes up in the night), but he just has a sore throat and a 103 temperature! if he's not sleeping better tomorrow, we may have to take him back because he could still develop an ear infection. Poor little guy. You wouldn't know it by looking at him, though - he's still happy as ever. I have never seen a happier baby Smile So my only expense today was the co-pay, although I was able to pay that out of a balance that I had at the office due to an overpayment, so it wasn't really money out of my pocket today. I had to add in a few more expenses below that I forgot.
My babysitter (girl next door) brought over a friend last night to get to know the kids in case she ever can't babysit for them - she wants me to have a back-up. I still paid her the regular amount ($15 for 3 hours) b/c I didn't ask her to bring this girl. Now I am wondering if I should have paid them more? I just paid my sitter and figured she might give some to her friend for helping. Hmmm...I hope I didn't short them, but I am still only getting three hours of babysitting, so I didn't really feel justified in giving more.

New expenses: $6.72 from lunch on Friday - I went out with a client. I forgot to add this in earlier.
$3.72 buying fish last night for dinner tonight - I had to break a twenty for the babysitter, so I figured I might as well get dinner.
$15.00 co-pay for doctor's visit
November expenses: $928.77
November income: $4400.00 (I thought I was going to be able to add in a sizeable rebate from DH's laptop, but when I opened the letter today from Best Buy it said they needed more information to process the rebate...grrr)

Stupidest way I saved money today: Trying to squeeze in a doctor's visit with the time that was already on the meter where I parked (31 minutes) instead of dropping in another quarter. I would have made it to, if I didn't have to stop at my doctor's office in the same building. What should have been a two minute visit turned into nearly 15 as I had to wait for the nurse to get off the phone. I was about 10 minutes late getting back to the meter, but luckily did not get caught by the meter reader.
Other ways I saved money today: Brought my lunch to work, drank water at work.
Potential money saver: I called to find out if the local BOCES (vocational school) can fix the dent on DH's car. They are sending me an application - I would needs to pay for parts only, but if they can bang the dent out, they should not need to replace anything. I am not getting my hopes up though, because there is a really long waiting list and the repair needs to fit into their class needs. But it would be nice...I also looked around on the internet for a local massage school. I found one about 40 minutes away that does 50 minutes massages for $30. I may just have to treat myself! The last one I got (nearly 2 years ago, only the second one in my life) costs $25 for 30 minutes, and that is relatively cheap around here. When I lived in the city, I used to get my hair cut at the hairstyling school for $4. I always got a decent cut (but my hairstyle is not hard). They have great services like cuts, colors, manicures and pedicures, etc. for at least half the price. So the schools are definitely worth checking out if you want to save some bucks. Just passing that along...

Nov 6

November 6th, 2005 at 07:40 pm

I'm ahead of myself here since the day is not over yet, but I don't think I'll get back on the computer again today. Bowling night, so we have some expenses there. We also took the boys out to Wal-Mart today b/c ds1 needed a haircut, and not many other places around here are open on Sunday. If I had any talent at all, I would be buying clippers and doing his hair from now on. $11 ($8.95 plus tip) for a haircut that I really did not even like! I am so paranoid that I would screw up majorly if I tried to do it myself though. We'll see...maybe I'll screw up the courage for the next cut. I guess at this age you can always just shave it off and thye really don't care Smile

Expenses today: $11 haircut, $65 groceries (including $16 for Star Wars Episode III that DH had to have now instead of waiting for Christmas) - we had to stock up on some essentials for the South Beach diet that we are almost out of, like a big container of olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, cereal - hopefully things that will last us a while. I also got online to pay off a few credit cards. I use them a lot, but pay them off every month. Technically, I guess I shouldn't count them as expenses, since I document the amount I spent on the day I spent it. But, for the record, I spent a total of $273.93 paying off two cards this month.
$30.75 to Gevalia coffee - DH's luxury. He loves the coffee, but only gets it delivered every 12 weeks because it is SO expensive. He uses Folgers the rest of the time. I had to write Gevalia a nasty little note a few weeks ago. They sent us a postcard saying we will be sending you two boxes of some specialty coffee (and billing you for it) UNLESS you write us back and tell us not to. I sent my note back asking them not to and telling them that I thought that was a terrible way to do business. I should not have to go out of my way to tell them I don't want something - they should send me only what I order. I was hoping for some type of response, but nothing. If DH didn't like their coffee so much, I would drop them in an instant.

Expenses tonight: $20 bowling (I may write a check and prepay several weeks - I hate having to run around for cash every Sunday night), $15 babysitter

November expenses: $903.33
November income: $4400.00

Some ways I saved money today: We are eating in instead of getting pizza out tonight, like we sometimes do on Sundays before bowling. No snacks tonight at bowling either. We took drinks in the car and snacks for the store trip today so the kids did not start asking for things. I washed a load of laundry in cold water.

November 5

November 6th, 2005 at 02:56 am

No money spent at all today Smile Stayed home with DH and the kids all day, then played cards with my brother tonight. I spent some time finishing up the garden - got a handful of carrots and some hot peppers, and I was able to pull up most of the old plants. The weather here was unseasonably warm, so the boys enjoyed playing outside for quite a while. It will probably be one of the last times we do that for a while.
I forgot to add this expense in from yesterday: $29.82 at Wal-Mart for a prescription, diaper pail refills, and cheese sticks (got to have our snacks!)
November expenses: $761.58
Today I received a mileage reimbursement check from work for $95.06 and another $317 in misc. income.
November income: $4400.00
Some ways I saved money today: Salvaging a few more veggies from the garden, free entertainment tonight (cards), ate my leftover dinner from last night for lunch.

Nov 4

November 5th, 2005 at 07:56 pm

I need to play catch-up with our expenses today. Quite a few to add in. DH and I went on a "date" last night - first time in a while. He was given a gift certificate for dinner and a movie for his birthday, so it barely cost us a thing too Smile
New expenses: DH's haircut $15
DH's oil change $15
gas for DH's car $31
dinner $6.16 (what the g.c. did not cover) plus $5 tip
two kites for Christmas presents for ds1 and my niece $10.98
check to my parents for utilities,dish tv, other expenses (few months worth) $570
check to ds1's pre-school $50 for the month of November

New income: $317 miscellaneous income
$3.78 credit from some clothes I returned (we bought some new clothes with the rest of the credit - caught a good sale at J.C.Penney's with an additional 10% off). DH and I both are losing weight on the South Beach diet, so I had to return some pants I bought a few weeks back. He had to buy a few new pairs in a smaller size Smile
$6.00 secret shopper check

Total expenses: $731.76
Total income: $3987.94
I'll have to finish this later - ds1 just woke up from his nap.

November 3

November 4th, 2005 at 01:47 am

Not a bad day today. My back seems to have straightened itself out, so I can walk again without looking funny Smile I did have to spend some money today, at the grocery store AGAIN. DH called me at work to ask me to stop for kitty litter and olives (ds1 is an olive addict - we indulge him b/c olives are actually good for you, as opposed to most addictions). So between one jar of green olives and two cans of black olives, kitty litter, chicken for tonight and beef for tomorrow, and a package of strawberries (ds2's current addiction - he just had his first one a few days ago and can't get enough), I ended up $20 poorer. Oh well.
I did shop around on-line last night for car insurance. Progressive quoted me $568 for 6 months based on the information I gave them, which from my memory, may not be the most accurate. I looked up what I am paying now, and that is about $1330 per year, so it won't be a huge savings, but it is substantial enough to make me think twice if it's worth the hassle. Gotta talk it over with the hubby.
November expenses: $28.62 (DH got an oil change, a haircut, and gas - I have to find out the cost so I can add it in)
November income: $3661.16
Things I did to save money today: Brought my lunch to work, researched how to dry out my gladiola bulbs for replanting next year so that I don't have to buy more, made a pot of soup for lunch tomorrow, in the process of soaking my old showerhead to see if the gunk can be cleaned out and we can use it again in place of the cheap one we have now (a new one this nice would be $30-40).

November 2

November 3rd, 2005 at 02:12 am

My husband picked up my commission check from the office today - it was my largest ever, by quite a bit. We are now debating whether to put it toward his car loan or my student loans. The interest is higher on my student loans, but so is the balance. I like the idea of paying off his car, which we could probably do with my next commission check (due the end of this month). We'll see...my most recent real estate deal just fell through over the weekend due to a lousy home inspection, so I've only got one more deal in the works right now. But hopefully more will come my way soon.
A no spend day for me - I spent most of the day hunkering down at home trying not to move, as I pulled something in my back. I did have to go to work for a few hours though. Tonight I made eggplant lasagna - it was absolutely wonderful. I didn't even miss the noodles. Both the kids are in bed now so I can just relax for the rest of the night. Ds1 has the sniffles, so I know I'll be sick to in a day or two. I have been washing my hands like a lunatic, but it never seems to matter. it's not like I can turn down a kiss when he offers Smile so I better get my rest now while I can.
November expenses: $8.62
November income: $3661.16
Goal for this week:
1. Get an estimate on repairs for DH's car. Some moron hit it during the night while he was visiting friends (he was parked on the road by his friend's house). So now we either get to pay for it out of pocket or possibly take a hit on our insurance. It really, really infuriates me that people can be so inconsiderate. It's not only the car they hit, it's money out of our pocket and future black marks on our insurance. Speaking of this, it also infuriates me that any claim can potentially count against you for insurance, whether it's your fault or not. Grrr.
2. So I am also going to shop around for car insurance this week, if I can get to it. I went with the insurance offered through my union because I got a good discount, but now I wonder if I can find it cheaper elsewhere even without the discount. I think we are paying about $1500 a year for two cars (a 2000 minivan and 2005 car), which isn't bad compared to a lot of areas, but I think we should be able to do better with our good driving records.
3. Speaking of driving, my last goal for the week is to sign up for the driver's safety course offered through my union. It's only $18 and I will get a 10% reduction on insurance for three years. Sure, it's a waste of a perfectly good Saturday (6 hours - ugh), but it's worth it.

I like the idea of writing down the ways I saved money today - I have seen it in some other journals. It serves as a good reminder of the proactive things I AM doing, and I like reading about what other people are doing. Today I brought my lunch to work and had a cup of coffee at home, instead of getting one while out. I forgot to stop at the store to buy meat for the lasagna, so I found some in the freezer to use (bonus: cleaning out the glut of food in the freezer).

November 1

November 2nd, 2005 at 12:53 am

What a beautiful day for central NY this time of year. We took a picnic today over to one of my father's fields where he was working (we live on a farm). Some fruit, sandwiches, and three kids who got to run around an empty field (we had my niece with us) - what a nice way to spend an afternoon. Then I finally got out to the garden today while the kids were napping to pull up all the old plants and my gladiola bulbs (by the way, if anyone wants to share with me what I am supposed to do with them now, I would be grateful. I have never planted gladiola's before so I am not sure how to preserve the bulbs for next year - just dry them out and store them?). Plus there are a few things still out there. I have some carrots, greens (spinach and swiss chard), and a few peppers left. We ate out of the garden everyday from late June until the end of September - talk about a money saver. I really need to learn to can so I can preserve some of this bounty. Right now I freeze a lot, but that takes up so much space. My mom was supposed to teach me how to can this year, but we never seemed to get around to it. Next year I will make it a priority.
Had to make an emergency run to the store today for a necessity that I forgot yesterday. Plus I picked up an eggplant while I was there as it was a lot cheaper than the ones I looked at yesterday, and I want to try a recipe for eggplant lasagna (you use eggplant slices instead of noodles). That's on the menu for tomorrow. Otherwise, it was a no-spend day.
November expenses: $8.62 at the grocery store
November income: $0