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Archive for December, 2005

December 30 - planning for tomorrow

December 30th, 2005 at 05:36 pm

We are having some friends over for dinner tomorrow, then some cards. I want to make a really nice dinner - something I don't do too often. Not sure if my parents are going to be around or go out to dinner yet. I think I will go shopping in the morning and take ds1 with me. DH heard a recommendation in one of his education classes to take your kids out more if they are slow to start talking...ds1 is getting speech services and we talk to him all the time about everything, but maybe getting him out a little more will spur some speech on. So far I am thinking about trying to cook a prime rib at home, since that's what we always order out anyway, with some nice appetizers and maybe a chocolate torte for dessert. Mmmmm...
Today I had to work all day - got some end of the month visits in. Then a quick stop for stamps ($3.70) and a neat Christmas planner I found on clearance ($3.78 - spots to keep lists, notes, and your Christmas card list - will use it for next year or give it as a gift), and then home to my boys Smile
December expenses: $5977.08 + 3.70 + 3.78 = $5984.56
December income: $3974.50

December 29 - lazy day

December 29th, 2005 at 05:50 pm

Okay, I hardly got anything accomplished today, but I won't be too hard on myself since I got so much done yesterday. It was my day to sleep in, and did I ever. I got up at 10:30. I don't think I have slept that late since before ds1 was born (2 1/2 years ago). The latest I have been able to manage is 8:30-9, so it was quite a surprise to me when I woke up and saw the clock! I guess I needed to catch up after the holidays. I spent most of today just hanging out with the kids. DH went to Rochester to visit some college friends. He should be back soon - he left around 2pm. I did get most of my thank you notes sent out from ds2's first birthday, although I ran out of cards so I still have a few left to catch up on. And I finally filled out the application to get the local vocational school to fix the dent in DH's car (from his last trip to Rochester!). I took a picture with the digital camera, printed it out, and am going to send it in with the application. It's not much of a dent, but if they have some students just starting out, it might be good practice for them. I'm not expecting to get picked (the list if applicants is quite long), but it's worth a try.
Thanks for the ideas, mjrube. I did let everyone know that I got my license 4 years ago, when I was starting out. I am trying to "relocate" my business now. Unfortunately, I don't know many people in this area who might be buying or selling, but I am just so tired of driving all over the place. I don't belong to a church, but your post is making me think about other organizations that I might be able to reach out to.
December expenses: $5777.08 + 200 (car payment) = 5977.08 (this is getting worse every day!! at least next month should be a lot better. The ironic part is that even with Christmas spending, I was still way in the black for the month - until tuition time)
December income: $3974.50

2006 Goals

December 28th, 2005 at 07:03 pm

I decided to get my goals for the coming year written down.

1. Pay off my student loan ($6800). I really have no idea how we are going to do this on one income, but maybe goal #2 will help.

2. Self-promote my real estate. I have decided to concentrate my efforts in my local rural area, as I have been spending too much time driving 45 minutes to Syracuse to sell real estate. I need to come up with some creative ideas to drum up some local business. I think drawing on the fact that I was born and raised in this town may help. Sub-goals:
a. Order new business cards - my old ones are outdated with info (old cell number) and my picture.
b. Once the cards are in, get a magnetic car sign made up. I know someone who does this and I know it will be a reasonable price.
c. Think up some creative marketing schemes. Right now I am considering offering a $50-100 gift card upon closing to a local department or home store, or possibly a donation to a charity (of buyer or seller's choice, in their name) upon closing, maybe 10% of my commission. These will both be a good chunk of my commission, but if it works to bring in new business, it will be worth it. And it won't cost me anything unless I actually close on a house.
d. Get new name riders for my "For Sale" signs - I need some with my new cell phone number on them.
e. possibly some direct marketing, i.e. postcards, free market analysis, etc.
All together, I want to earmark about $500 for this goal. If it is successful, it will pay off many times more than that.

3. Contribute the maximum to our Roth IRAs. We've been able to do this for the past two years (when we started), so it would be nice to keep it up. DH just started a Sharebuilder account too, and wants to put $100 a month in. I told him we could do it for now, but might need to stop if things get tight. So I guess another goal would be to put $1200 into Sharebuilder.

4. Maintain our $10k emergency fund. We have not had to touch much of this since DH went back to school, but I anticipate next year to be a little tougher.

I just asked DH what his goals were for next year - he said "To make more than I spend". Utterly simple, yet so true. Isn't that what we all want? Smile

December 28 - getting some things checked off...

December 28th, 2005 at 06:27 pm

my long to-do list. It helps to have a day to spend at home with nothing to do. And I get another one tomorrow! DH and I took care of some things around the house today. Then he went shopping, and I went to the library later...I spent $1.60 on library fines, and he spent $17.76 on groceries. Other expenses...the big one. DH's tuition. We paid $2000 by check and $773 by credit card (0% interest for five more months). But that will catch us up until the summer semester. I also paid a $15 copay, $80.15 on the credit card (paid in full - not counted toward expenses as I count the purchases as I make them), sent in my vision claim, and sent in my rebate for my contacts, which will net my $60 when it comes in. I switched my direct debit on my student loans to my new bank account and only have to switch my EZ Pass now, but I still have to keep my old account open for two weeks to make sure the payment got switched in time. DH closed both our remaining ING accounts, and when the money is transferred, we will take it out to buy the boys' savings bonds. We sorted and put away all the Christmas gifts, and tallied up our Christmas spending ($850, not counting our Vegas trip, which is DH and my gift to each other) - approximately $47 per person (although we spent more than that on our kids, and less on some others). I cleaned out the bathroom cabinets, picked up our bedroom and ds1's bedroom, and folded laundry. I feel like I really have accomplished some things today!
Still on the list for tomorrow: get will notarized, finish some sorting/cleaning, print pics to send with ds2's thank you notes and get them in the mail, buy stamps, switch EZ Pass direct debit.
December expenses: $2969.72 + 1.60 + 17.76 + 2000 + 773 + 15 = 5777.08
December income: $3944.50 + 30 from mom (she bought a few entertainment books off me for gifts - I had more than I could use) = $3974.50

A few goals

December 27th, 2005 at 05:43 pm

I have had a list of goals running around in my head here for a few days that I just have not gotten down anywhere. I figure this is as good a place as any, and I will feel more accountable if the cyberworld is looking over my shoulder Smile

1. Close credit union account. First I have to run through my checkbook to make sure all my checks have cleared - won't be easy, as I have been slacking on doing this. I might be missing some checks that I haven't accounted for. I have been putting this off for several weeks now, but I will just have to bite the bullet and get it done. I also have to switch my student loan and EZ Pass, which is direct-debited from this account.

2. Close my two remaining ING accounts in my sons' names and use the money for savings bonds. I had a great idea when the kids were born to purchase a $1000 bond for them at birth and a $100 bond at each birthday. I have the money set aside, but never got around the getting the bonds. Time to get cracking...

3. Send in a $60 rebate for my contact lenses. Just received these in the mail last week.

4. Complete the form for a claim in to my vision insurance, although the amount they pay is piddly. Better than nothing though.

5. Decide which gifts to keep and which to return or add to the regift pile.

6. Tally up total Christmas spending.

Some non-money things:

1. Get will notarized. It's been sitting in my "To Do" pile for longer than I care to admit. And I have absolutely no excuse as my neighbor is a notary public and would do it in a heartbeat for us.

2. Return library books. Take ds1 with me - he enjoys the trip.

3. Finalize vacation plans for Vegas - including confirmation of my time off from work (it won't be a problem, I just haven't connected with my supervisor yet) and rescheduling my meetings during my time off.

4. Get some cleaning and organizing done.

Just realized I neglected to enter some additional income: $3908.99 + 35.51 refund from Cingular (I was told not to expect this for 4-6 weeks, so I was very pleasantly surprised!) = $3944.50

December 27 - officially on the charts

December 27th, 2005 at 05:30 pm

My baby had his one year checkup today and he is officially on the chart for weight (for all you parents out there who are familiar with the "percentiles"). He has been under the 3rd percentile for weight now for about 6 months, and he finally made it back up to the 3rd! He is at 25th percentile for height and (gulp) 90th for head circumference. Both our boys have heads that are quite out of proportion to the rest of them! Hopefully this is a sign of their big brains Smile Anyway, there's really nothing to be concerned about because he has been steadily gaining, but I will admit, I was worried because he was just SO small. I do feel a little better. Poor guy had to have three shots though, and is getting a new tooth.
DH and I have not been spending much money over these past few days. With all the Christmas spending out of the way, I guess there wasn't much more we needed to take care of. He did go out today and buy a new winter coat. It was originally $180, marked down to $75 with a $15 return credit and a $20 gift card, so it wasn't too much money out of our pockets. He usually buys the cheapest thing he can find, then needs to buy a new one in a year, so hopefully this one will last a lot longer. I finally bought a good coat last year and it is still in great shape - I hope to have it for several years to come.
We had a backlog of checks at the house - finally made it to the bank today to deposit them. It felt good to drop $2500 into the account. I think we will write a big check soon for DH's tuition, though, and that will be the end of it. I was planning to put my last commission check toward my student loans, but we weren't anticipating having to pay quite so much for tuition. I guess it's better to spend it now on tuition than to take out more loans.
December expenses: $ 2929.72 + $40 (coat) = $2969.72
December income: $3873.99 + $10 (check from DH's grandparents) + $25 credit (returned a Christmas gift that we decided not to give - found something better) = $3908.99

December 25 and 26 - more visits to family

December 26th, 2005 at 06:56 pm

We spent today at my SILs house. All the cousins get together the day after Christmas - we missed it last year as ds2 had just been born, so it was especially nice to be there this year. We visit, eat, and do a Chinese gift exchange. The boys were great and charmed everyone, along with the other toddlers there Smile It was about a two hour trip, but the boys took their naps on the way there and slept on the way back, so it wasn't so bad. I hear a lot of controversy about regifting, but I regifted two items for the Chinese gift exchange - a tower of boxes filled with candy (NOT on the South Beach diet!) and a set of travel coffee mugs (duplicate gift) - both gifts were "stolen" in the gift exchange, so I don't feel bad about it.
Now, about Christmas...I really wanted to keep it simple for the boys, but with a total of 4 aunts and 4 uncles who all insist on buying for the kids, it's hard to do. But they did get a lot of clothes and books, some saving bonds and gift certificates...so I was really pleased. There are quite a few toys that I don't really want them to have (either we already have something very similar, or the toy is too big, or just really annoying!) so I am trying to decide how to handle that. I don't want to sound mean here - obviously if my boys really liked a toy, I wouldn't take it away, but I am talking about some toys that they have not even looked twice at. I can either try to return them or tuck them away for regifting. I think I will do a little combination of each. My family is really understanding about returning things. My brother got a near duplicate of a sports center that I just gave away on Freecycle because my kids never played with it, so I think I will take that one back. My SIL found two talking Dora dolls and bought them, one for her daughter and one for us to give to ds1 (who is absolutely in love with Dora). She asked me if I wanted it or if she should take it back - I told her I would take it (without seeing it), then asked her how much it was --- $40!!! I was about to tell her nevermind, but then DH said we should get it for him because he will want one when he sees his cousins. So we got it...and he has not looked twice at it...and I am really regretting letting DH talk me into it. But I guess we live and learn...maybe he will be more excited about it in a few days...
I don't mean to sound like a grinch here Smile I just really want my kids to not grow up expecting everything in the world to be given to them. They already have a lot of toys. They just don't need enough stuff to fill a room. Sigh. At least they were given a lot of clothes and books, which I will NEVER place a limit on!
I should get to bed...night all.
December expenses: $2918.72 + $11 (groceries for SIL's party) = 2929.72
December income: $3808.99 + $5 (DH's poker winnings) + $60 (gift from in-laws for Vegas trip) = $3873.99

December 24 - happy holidays to all

December 24th, 2005 at 06:35 pm

Wonderful day, visit from the in-laws. They just left a few minutes ago. We had a great roast beef dinner, sang happy birthday to my littlest, opened gifts...the boys got a great train table that they have been playing on all night. Now I'm off to help my mom wrap presents and collapse into bed.
No expenses today.
Reimbursement check for mileage received from work: $3662.52 + 146.47 (I'll be sad when our mileage rate goes back down next month!) = 3808.99

Happy holidays to all!!!


December 23 - my Peanut's first birthday :)

December 23rd, 2005 at 07:30 pm

My little "baby" turned one today...I guess I have to stop calling him the baby. He is so tiny though - looks like he could pass for 7 or 8 months old, except that he runs all over the place. People look at him and say, "he shouldn't be walking!". He's been walking for three months now - started early like his older brother. We went to my aunt's house tonight for our early Christmas and ds2's birthday party. My aunt has a tiny studio apartment which we crammed fifteen people into - but we wouldn't change it for anything. She's 92 and it's harder for her to get out - plus we have been going there for Christmas every year since I was born - and my father has been going there for a few decades more. We had three kids there tonight - my two (ages 1 and 2) and my niece, 3. It was so great to see the new generation of our family running around - I could tell it made my aunt so happy. There was a time, about 35 years ago before my parents and cousin got married, that my aunt's generation was worried about the future of our family (my dad and cousin married late), but it appears that worry is over! Even my single brother and cousin were there with long-time girlfriends that we *hope* will become fiancees soon!
I had to work today - a bummer on ds's birthday. But I did go out to lunch with a client and took her shopping, which meant I got to sneak in a little shopping too Smile Then I came home and made cupcakes for the party tonight. So I spent a little money, but not much. I forgot to call Cingular today to find out about my credit - I will try tomorrow, if they are open.
My in-laws are coming tomorrow for the day with my BIL and nephew. My other BIL and his family are invited too, but I don't know if they will be here. They are coming up as we cannot go there for Christmas. I am so lucky to have the parents and in-laws that I do - no fighting over where we spend the holidays, no unrealistic expectations about traveling with two toddlers...just efforts to get together whenever we can. DH had a tradition of going all out decorating Christmas cookies on Christmas eve - a tradition we will be starting with the boys tomorrow. I love it when family comes to visit Smile
December expenses: $2907.52 + 5.58 (lunch) + 5.62 (Big Lots) = 2918.72
December income: $3662.52


December 22nd, 2005 at 06:52 pm

Quick update - just checked my statement online and missed a few things...
groceries 66.42, Christmas presents 46.55
December expenses: $2907.52
Just tallied up my Keep the Change contributions..$7.90 since 12/13! It adds up fast, especially when I make sure to get one $.01 on the end of my gas bill...then it's like the bank is paying me $.99 to fill up! (for another two months, at least!)

December 21 and 22 - frustration...

December 22nd, 2005 at 06:43 pm

when I try to write these entries. For the second time in a week, I have lost an entry before being able to submit it. The first time I hit the wrong button and my entire entry was gone...yesterday the computer froze up as I was submitting my entry. Both times I was too frustrated to write it all over. So here is yesterday's entry and todays...
I spent yesterday at home all day, except for a trip to the post office to mail two packages and my Christmas cards. However, I did spend a substantial amount of money on my annual real estate dues ($384 for dues and $436 for multiple listing service access - saved $20 by paying all four quarters at once). I put this on my new BOA cc with 0% for 6 months, so I can pay that one after the holidays. I checked my credit cards last night too - found out that I had somehow missed a payment. ARGH! I am usually fanatical about that. I have slipped a few times in the past - the first time, they waived the fee for me, but the second time they didn't. I really don't know how this happened - I check my balances about once a week and usually catch these well before they are due. I spent last night mad at myself for wasting $39. I'm still debating whether to call them to ask if they will waive it - I know there is no harm in trying, but I feel like a dunce. I did pay another $500 to my Discover - another $400 due by the first week of January. I will make that payment in a week - that will mean our upcoming vacation will be paid off Smile
I spent a little money today at the outlet mall - $3.74 on some sugar free candy, $2 on plates and thank you notes for ds2's first birthday (tomorrow!), two shirts for me ($14), and a few gifts (about $11 total). Then DH and I played cards with my aunt and went grocery shopping for a few things after - another $27.
I did save a little more money today by checking over my last cell phone bill from my prior carrier. I switched my service in mid-November, but they charged me until the first week of December. I spent about a half hour on the phone, but it should net me about $40. They were supposed to call me back today with the total, but they never did. Which means I have to call them again tomorrow...why can't these companies follow through when they say they will?
December expenses: $1908.33 + 8.48 (post office) + 384 + 436 + 3.74 + 2 + 14 + 11 + 27 = $2794.55
December income: $1563.61 + 1296.75 (comission check) + 802.16 (paycheck with exra time) = 3662.52

December 16-20

December 20th, 2005 at 07:46 pm

Wow, I have been so busy lately that I have not had time to get on. I have a lot of catching up to do. This past weekend we played cards and went bowling, then last night I went out with some girlfriends to Red Lobster. We decided to have a nice dinner instead of exchanging gifts - and since I had a gift certificate, it didn't cost me a thing! We went shopping after and I got a few things for the boys' stockings. I have a lot of spending to record since DH and I both finished up our shopping over the weekend, so I will just record it as one lump sum (total: 386.77 on Christmas gifts and a closing gift for the buyers I have been working with). We also had some miscellaneous expenditures along the way for gas, groceries, etc.
A few positives: I already received my $25 rebate from my booking on Expedia.com for trying out Entertainment.com for a month. I received it in less than 2 weeks - great service. I also shaved about $50 off my cell phone bill after an hour long conversation with customer service today. They never gave me my discount (10%) for being a state employee that I was promised when I signed up - they tried to tell me I was ineligible because I received the phones at a discounted price, but I asked the service rep who sold me the phone and he called to verify my discount in front of me - so I was NOT a happy camper during this phone call. And they tacked on a $1.99 charge to my bill without telling me or explaining why (it is a charge to put more towers in my calling area since they have no towers here - would have been fine with this if they had told me when I signed up!). So I received a $25 credit off the bat, then had to speak to a supervisor, who credited me my 10% discount as well as another $10 off for my troubles. I ended up happy with the outcome, but miffed that it took me an hour to get there. In one phone call, I received two credits to my account - yet in my previous dealings with this company (about 8 phone calls over a 2 week period for failing to port my cell number over from my previous carrier), I was never offered a thing for my inconvenience. Not even after I wrote a letter to the head of the company (which I have still have not heard a word from).
I am looking forward to the next two days off...then to work of Friday and off again for three days! Tomorrow my priority is to get to the post office first thing to mail Christmas cards and two packages. I have been trying to get these cards out since last week, but I am sending a family picture with them. When I went to print them out, my cartridge ran out. So I bought a new photo cartridge, but apparently I have no clue how this works because when I put the photo cartridge in without the color cartridge, the pictures came out gray. Since the color cartridge was also out, I had to go buy a new one of those. Finally got them both in the printer together tonight and all the pictures printed. Next time I'll just send them to Wal-Mart!
The photo collages came out very, very nice on Kodakgallery.com and cost less than $2 in shipping. However, they did not ship the entire order. I am missing one collage. I was going to wait a day and see if it came separately...when I got ready to check out, I did a quick search for coupon codes and found one for 20% orders of $10 or more. My order was $9.98, so I ordered another $2 collage for my MIL. So basically, I got it for free Smile except that it didn't arrive!
I need to get to bed...yawn. Better tally up.
December expenses: $1173.17 + $386.77 (gifts) + $99 (fingerprinting fee for DH - has to get it to substitute teach) + $165 (to mom for expenses) + 27.01 (gas) + 25.16 (groceries) + 30.22 (printer cartridge) + $2 (donation at work) + 1908.33 (yikes!)
December income: $1221.61 + 317 + 25 = 1563.61

December 14 and 15 - behind again

December 15th, 2005 at 07:24 pm

What a productive day...but I'm beat so I will keep this short. I got some things done around the house that I have not had time to do, then went to a holiday party for my real estate office - very nice. I have been trying to do some photo collages for my parents half the night on KodakGallery.com...not the easiest site to use, and I am paranoid that shipping is going to be huge. We'll see. I'm uploading pics right now, so I have to put the last collage together, then go to checkout to see what the damage is.
Spent a lot these past few days - more Christmas shopping. DH and I spent last night wrapping everything. The good thing is that we are almost done - just a few more gifts to get. YEAH!
December expenses: $1011.44 + 12.13 (thrift store - 4 shirts for me and 5 books for the kids - some for Christmas gifts!) + 22.66 (On Cue - cd and book for gifts) + 72.94 (Marshalls - gifts) + 54 (gift certficates) =1173.17
December income: $1221.61

December 13 additions

December 13th, 2005 at 06:44 pm

Just a note for my own records...just made a payment on my Discover - $500 on a $1468 balance...ouch. That added up fast, between the Vegas and Long Island trips, eye appointment and year's worth of contacts, etc. etc. But I am not going to count this toward my monthly expenses as I counted all the expenditures as they were being made. I have until January 1 to pay it off, so I will make another payment in about two weeks.
I do have a few adjustments to make to my totals, though. In going over my cc statement, I came across a few transactions that DH did not remember to tell me.
December expenses: $962.38 + 5.67 (groceries) + 26.05 (gas) + 25.01 (gas) - 7.67 (overestimate of DH's expenditures) = 1011.44

December 13 - a few more gifts gotten

December 13th, 2005 at 06:26 pm

Thanks Kashi for the info on savings bonds - I did buy one today for my niece, but I had her SSN with me. I guess I could have gotten it all done in one trip, but I'm sure I will be at the bank again soon. I have to get my banking straightened out. What a mess. I have been with a credit union forever, but since we moved back home there are no local ATMs. It never used to be a problem with DH commuting to Syracuse, but now that he is not going out there...it got to be a pain. So I have switched to BOA (so far, so good), but haven't closed the other account out yet until I can sit down with the checkbook to make sure all the checks have cleared. Plus I opened ING accounts for me, DH, and my two boys. DH opened us up a HSBC savings account because they were paying 4% interest - a much better place to stash the emergency fund than our piddly little 1% savings account. So we just have too many things to keep track of. So far I have closed my and DH's ING accounts, but kept the boys open until I can take their money to get some bonds. Hopefully I will be organized enough soon to close the credit union account, so we would only have two left. Two is manageable. I have been trying to do the same with my credit cards. Somehow we ended up with 2 Discovers, 1 Mastercard, and an Amazon Visa. I closed one Discover and the Visa, but managed to get talked into a BOA credit card (hey, they wanted to give me free money and 0% interest), so I can live with 3 cards for now. I use them frequently, but always pay them off (unless it's 0%), but it's still one more thing to keep track of. And if I were to miss a payment...I shudder at the thought of paying those late fees.
Not a bad day today - to work at 8, brunch at 10 prepared by my supervisor. She must have spent all day yesterday in the kitchen - ham, egg, and cheese casserole, sausages and apples, cinnamon rolls, fruit tray with granola and yogurt, muffins...it was yummy. Out of work at 1 (my short day) and spent the afternoon running errands before coming home. I stopped at the bank to deposit some checks (I got a surprise $5 check from my MD's office for an overpayment!?!?) and get the savings bond ($25) - then to the Salvation Army to look for a pair of jeans that fit. My two good pair are now too big for me Smile Smile Smile it's not a bad problem to have! So I found a pair of size 10 jeans that are pretty much what I was looking for - a little tight in the...uh...posterior regions, but it will be good motivation to stay on track and lose 5-10 more pounds. Then to Wally World (AKA Wal-Mart) for diapers, wipes, a few Christmas gifts, and groceries. I spent $111.65 there - about $30 on diapers/wipes, $30 on gifts, and that would leave about $51.65 for groceries. Then tonight we went to my aunt's house for spaghetti and meatballs...homemade...it was wonderful. DH stayed to play a card match with my aunt & parents and I brought the boys home. Now...a little catch-up on my finances, then I am going to wrap some presents.
Tomorrow I have to stop in to work for a meeting, but then might try to get some more shopping in. Christmas is getting so close so fast...
December expenses: $766.03 + 25 + 111.65 + 9.70 (TSA) + 50 (gas) = 962.38
December income: $1216.61 + 5 = 1221.61
Saved money today by: Getting free brunch and dinner, drinking water at work, shopping secondhand for jeans and clothes for ds2.

December 9-12 - lots to catch up on

December 12th, 2005 at 07:03 pm

Whew, what a weekend. What a great weekend. I got to snuggle an adorable new baby, relax at a salon, and visit with relatives I only get to see a few times a year. Fun, fun, fun. It didn't start out so well - delay at the airport, de-icing the plane, rough flight. This is the first time I have flown Jet Blue - excellent service, leg room, tvs for every seat. However, the down side...I am flipping through the tv stations just after we took off and caught a news story about a plane crash...so I kept flipping and caught another news story about a drunk pilot...not the best thing to watch when you are in the air! Then I was able to catch some true crime story to take my mind off the snow and turbulence! We had a safe landing and I was glad to be off the flight, no matter how short it was (about 45 minutes). My cousin was waiting for me at JFK and ushered me out of that maze. You just can't put a hick into the big city Smile
I bought lunch for my cousin and her husband that day ($19.00), but her parents treated us to dinner after winning in Atlantic City, where they were staying with my parents. The next day we took our salon trip (already paid for on E-bay) - an hour massage ($20 tip), a hair cut and makeover ($15 tip) and ice cream after! ($7). We were so dolled up we decided to go out to dinner - this time on my parents, who also won in AC (they wouldn't let us pay). So the trip didn't break the bank completely. I love my boys, but it was nice to have some time alone with no diapers, runny noses, or whining...of course that also meant no hugs, kisses, or giggles, but I got plenty when I returned Smile
Last night, after surviving the long drive home (made longer by bad weather), DH and I made a quick dinner and went bowling ($100 - prepaid 5 weeks of bowling, and $15 babysitter). Today I managed to avoid spending any money thankfully. We put up the Christmas tree and decorations finally. I can't believe Christmas is less than two weeks away - it really snuck up on us this year. We're only about half way done with our shopping. oh boy...
another collection at work...$5 for a gift for the maintainence guy. This much I don't mind because he always goes above and beyond to meet our office needs. My supervisor is making us a brunch tomorrow, and she always puts on a good spread, so I'm looking forward to that. Then I may have to sneak away to do some shopping after work. I think I may stop at my bank to pick up some savings bonds for nieces and nephews - although I think this requires their SSNs, which I don't have. I guess I will have to do a little research.
December expenses: $587.78 + 19 + 20 + 15 + 7 + 100 + 15 + 2.25 (bagel at airport) = 766.03
December income: $537.61 + 634 misc. income + $45 from cousin for salon visit = 1216.61
Saved money today by: bringing lunch and snacks to work, drinking water at work, renewing library books online as I won't be able to get there (ok, they were already late, but I saved money by not making them later)

December 8 - less loans!

December 8th, 2005 at 06:06 pm

DH just got his bill from the bursar for this semester of school. It's not paid yet because his Stafford loans have not come through. Well, I was a little shocked when I looked at it. He signed up for both the subsidized and unsubsidized loans to the tune of over $8k! He thought we could use the extra money (since he thought it was interest free) to pay for other things that are not interest free. I agreed with the plan at the time, but I thought it was only going to be $5k. He insists he told me, I don't remember...it's not important who's right though. The fact is that I don't want this! So I looked up some info on the unsubsidized loan and found out that the interest starts accruing immediately, whereas the subsidized loans do not accrue interest until he is out of school. Luckily, since his loans did not come in yet, he was able to go to the Bursar today to say he did not want the unsub. loan. Whew. So now we will have to pay a little out of pocket to cover the balance that the sub. loan does not cover, but that's okay. It will be a lot less money to pay back down the road.
Dh went shopping last night and picked up a few Christmas presents for his brothers, who are pretty tough to shop for. He stumbled upon a slew of Stars Wars collectibles (ok, toys, but calling them collectibles make them sound a little more appropriate for 30 year old men) at K-Mart reduced, plus buy one get one half off. So now there are two more people completely shopped for. Yeah! He also spent some money for school project supplies, but I don't know the exact amount. I'll guess it at $60.
I managed to dodge the gift for a coworker - the luncheon is tomorrow, but I will be out of the office. A lot of times, baselle, they just ask you to give whatever - then I can slip a few bucks into the envelope and pass it along. However, in this case, they had a specific gift in mind and asked for a $10 contribution. Despite being in a state job (where I had always assumed there was a lot of stability), we do have a lot of turnover - mostly people leaving for other positions internally in other counties or other state departments.
The nicest thing done for me today: a co-worker, who has a daughter a few years older than ds1, brought in a bag of books for me! There are some in great condition that I already know my son loves, as we got them out of the library a while back. Guess what will be in his stocking this year for Christmas!
The kids are doing a little better - although ds1 was a little bit of a monster today. My niece was over again. They either get along wonderfully, or are at each other's throats all day. Today was the latter. Ds1 was completely exhausted too, which did not help. And yet ds2, the sicky, was laughing and smiling. I didn't know his eye drops stung! Ds2 doesn't seem to be in pain, but maybe that's because I have yet to get them in his eye! He's a wiggler Smile
December expenses: $527.78 + 60 = 587.78
December income: $537.61
Saved money today by: bringing lunch and snacks to work, drinking water at work, eating dinner from the freezer (okay, it was a t.v. dinner, but we are trying to get the freezer cleaned out!), saved interest by not getting the unsubsidized loan to pay for DH's school

Tomorrow I will be on my way to Long Island to see a new baby girl and get pampered at a salon. Have a great weekend all - I'll check in on Monday!

December 7 - poor little baby of mine

December 7th, 2005 at 05:34 pm

Another trip to the doctors for ds2, another round of antibiotics for an ear infection, this time with the bonus of pinkeye thrown in - so a round if antibiotic eyedrops as well. Poor little guy. As always though, he's happy as anything most of the time. Wish I was such a good patient!
Day off from work - actually got quite a bit of picking up done and several loads of laundry despite the trip to the doctors, pharmacy, and watching my 3 year old niece for the better part of the day. Spent $25.78 at the grocery store, mostly toiletries but also a few food items that we were out of - and another $23.35 at the pharmacy, not to mention the $15 copay at the pediatricians.
I was thinking over my big grocery bill from last month and realized that it included all of the diapers ($10/kid, 2-3 times per month) and toiletries, since I get them while I do my grocery shopping. So I feel a little bit better about the amount, although there still is room for improvement.
December expenses: $463.65 + 64.13 = 527.78
December income: $537.61 (paycheck today)
Saved money today by: eating at home (leftovers for lunch, dinner made from scratch from pantry/freezer - made enough for lunches tomorrow), combining errands (MD, grocery, pharmacy - all are a fifteen minute drive from home)
I did NOT save money today while shopping. Anyone who has been in the grocery store with an overtired baby will understand me when I say that I was not going to read labels and compare prices! I felt terrible walking through the store with a whimpering baby, but I had to get the script filled before I left. He perked right up again after his nap Smile
Now I am off to snuggle in my down comforter on this cold, snowy night, and finish Mary Higgins Clark's latest!

December 6 - party day

December 6th, 2005 at 06:25 pm

I had two parties to go to today - our office party, which was lunch at a nearby restaurant, and a holiday party at one of the group homes I provide service coordination services for. Yeah! I love parties. I took my youngest son to the second party. He had a ball, running all over the place. Almost a year old now, and he just completely skipped over the "stranger anxiety" phase. He took off in a crowded house, not knowing anyone but me, without a backward glance. He's going to keep me on my toes for sure.
I spent some money today on lunch ($9), an oil change ($14.03), and a donation to sponsoring several families for Christmas through my office ($20). I don't mind giving at all to causes like these - so don't get me wrong - but it seems like every time I turn around, there are requests for another donation. At the grocery store, they want you to donate $1 for this or that...I got asked at a craft fair over the weekend...I get at least 1 or 2 requests in the mail EVERY WEEK for a different cause. It seems like they waste so much money in the asking than they would receive when someone does donate. Personally, I have my two or three causes that I donate money to every year through payroll deduction or outright donation, and then I consider myself done. But I still feel like a jerk when someone asks me if I want to give to such-and-such a cause and I say no.
And then on a different, but similar, note, it seems like every week or two there is a collection around the office for someone who is leaving, or getting married, or whatever. It really adds up. I have been dodging the sign-up sheet for a luncheon for a co-worker that I barely know who is leaving. It has everyone's names and then you check "yes" or "no" to whether you want to donate. I don't want to be the only person checking no, but I also don't want to shell out $10 to send a co-worker to a spa for a day. I know this sounds really scrooge-ish, and I don't mean it to be because I am the first one to donate for a cause or to a friend, but it seems that there is always SOMETHING.
December expenses: $420.62 + 43.03 = 463.65
December income: nothing yet! should get paid Thursday
Saved money today by: taking snacks to work, drinking water, going to the place that does oil changes for $12.99 (cheapest around), using SIL as a babysitter (she owes me tons of babysitting hours!)

December 5 - a closing!

December 5th, 2005 at 06:43 pm

Yeah! I had a closing today, which means I'll be getting another commission check soon. This one will be about $1300. Since we don't need the money right now, I'll probably throw it toward my student loans again. No money spent today, although I was very tempted when I met my clients at a coffee shop after our walk-through of their house in 30 degree weather. Then I looked at the prices - since I am not a regular coffee drinker, I only get the fancy-schmancy chocolate-cappucino drinks. They were over $3! So I grabbed my bottle of tap water instead. Not quite as good at warming me up, but it did quench my thirst. I went from that job to my regular job for a few hours, then came home to a crockpot of chili courtesy of DH, who typically does not cook dinner, so it was nice to see that I wouldn't have to do a thing tonight except play with the boys.
I was without my voice for the better part of the day, which in itself, was not that bad of a thing. I had an excuse to not return phone calls and got some paperwork done instead. But I have this terrible cough that kept me up for the better part of the night last night (until about 1:30am), and then my soon-to-be one year old decided that 4:30am was an excellent time to wake up for the day. NOT typical for him, so I hope he's not sick too. So DH and I should really be in bed by now, but he's still at school...and here I am. Oh well.
Expenses and income same as yesterday. I can't count my commission check until it's in my hands.
Saved money today by: bringing lunch and snacks to work, drinking water all day, taking DH's car b/c I had a lot of driving to do (more fuel-efficient, and more fun to drive than the minivan!)

December 4 - bowling night

December 4th, 2005 at 06:39 pm

Feeling a little better today, but still losing my voice a bit. Ds1 has a runny nose, but so far, that seems to be the extent of it. I'll keep my fingers crossed. I took ds1 to a craft fair today to get out of the house for a bit. He had a good time, but we didn't buy anything. I just kept walking around thinking, "I don't really WANT anything here." I was hoping to pick up a few Christmas gifts, but nothing really struck a chord with me. It's funny that I am reading "Your Money or Your Life" right now and I am just at the part where the authors talk about how you really redefine your wants when you put it into perspective how much you worked for an item versus how much pleasure you derive from it. I think I had that "A-ha!" moment about 5 years ago, but it still gets stronger all the time. Back then I was content to not buy more, but now I am at the point where I am ready to get rid of what I have accumulated. Too much stuff that serves no purpose. I have been doing it very slowly, with a post on Freeecycle or a bag to the Salvation Army, but I do feel like I am getting somewhere. Ahhh......
Expenses today: $26.08 in gas (was that really all it took to fill DH's car?), $20 bowling, $15 babysitter, $10 locker rental at the bowling alley (DH was tired of having a cold bowling ball and shoes b/c we were leaving them in the trunk), $1 for a snack at the alleys (DH). I also forgot to record some expenses I incurred for my upcoming trip to Long Island - $94 flight, $89 spa getaway on E-Bay (half to be paid back to me). I am so incredibly psyched about this deal. I won two packages for $52 each, then used a PayPal coupon code that I found on this freebie site (a big thanks to whoever posted that!!!! I didn't even know they existed!) to save an additional $15. So for my $44.50, I will be getting an hour long massage, a hair cut and style, and a cosmetic makeover. I cannot even believe that deal. Of course it will cost a bit more in tips, but it is still a phenomonal package. I can't wait - we are booked to go on Saturday.
December expenses: $165.54 + 255.08 = 420.62
December income: still waiting for a paycheck...
Saved money today by: Eating leftovers for lunch and dinner (and they are almost gone...where did all these leftovers come from???), eating dinner before bowling so as not to be tempted while there, drinking free water at the bowling alley, coming home for lunch instead of eating at the craft fair as planned (nothing looked good), using a BJ's membership for gas ($2.29 compared to $2.39).

December 2 and 3 - getting behind

December 3rd, 2005 at 07:10 pm

We had my birthday party last night Smile nice time. We had a houseful of people - we were celebrating my birthday, my brother's, and my great aunt's. We always celebrated with my grandmother and her twin, but since my grandmother passed away almost two years ago, we definitely make it a point to still include my great aunt. I can't imagine what it must be like to celebrate your birthday without your twin. But we manage to make it a fun time. We ate some pizza, had some cake, and played a lot of cards. I think we had about 16 people in all, some playing pitch and others playing poker. The kids got to stay up late and trashed the toy room, but isn't that what parties are for? Smile
I am still sick, sore throat and cough. Although the sore throat is easing up, which means I am heading toward recovery. Ds1 has a runny nose too, but I hope that's the extent of it. Tomorrow is my day to sleep in and get some much needed rest. Today I got up with the kids, but took a two hour nap when DH got up. The kids are usually sound sleepers, but they were up a lot last night. I felt like I would just get to sleep and then they would wake up again. ZZZzzzz....
I have some spending to record, but no income yet! I bought another magazine subscription for a gift ($15), a gift on E-bay ($3.29), some movie tickets (4 for my brother's birthday, 2 for DH and I) through my Entertainment trial (total $38.25), and reserved our car for Vegas ($90 for 4 days), although I don't think they charged my card yet, so I am not going to count it in my totals. I also submitted my $25 cash back through Entertainment for making a booking on Expedia. That will take about 4 weeks. Someone posted a neat BYGO offer on DeepdiscountDVD.com - buy one box set, get one free. I found two that I can buy for gifts (once I make sure my brother doesn't already have it). They both cost $32, so the total cost will only be $32 (free shipping). That's an awesome deal and it would cross two people off my list! I have bookmarked the site so I can go back once I determine my brother would need this. I think that's all my spending...although DH might have some of his own. I'll add more later if I remember anything.
December expenses: $56.54 + $109 = 165.54
No income yet.
Saved money by: Making soup out of leftovers (some beans & greens that were oversalted, beans out of the freezer, half a can of tomatoes that I needed to use up or throw out, etc.), ate leftovers for lunch, shopped around for the best deal on car rentals and got an extra $25 back. I noticed an extra charge on my credit card from Winkflash.com for my prints - I have e-mailed them and asked them to remove it. I realize that this is not "saving" money, but it would have cost me if I were less observant.

ouch...month end totals

December 3rd, 2005 at 06:56 pm

Oh boy. I could not believe how much I spent in November when I added everything up. I have this little sheet of paper that I thought would be enough, and I have numbers crammed all over it. I am going to total these up as I go...I hope it's not too painful. I haven't kept track of things this accurately for a while, so I might be in for a shock.
Let's see...groceries: 330.06 This is WAY more than I usually spend. However, we had to buy a lot of "staples" for our first month on the South Beach diet. For example, several boxes of whole wheat pasta, brown rice, healthier (read: more expensive) cereals, tons of fresh fruit and veggies. I expect this to go down because 1. we have a stockpile of healthier items to chose from now, and 2. we made a lot of quick dashes to the store this month to grab something quick when we found we did not have anything diet-compliant in the house. Now that we are more familiar with the diet, we can plan a little better (I hope).
Household expenses: $570 (elec, phone, Dish tv, Netflix - check written to my mom who pays all of these things). This was higher than usual as I was a little behind (sheepish grin). It's nothing intentional, I'm just an airhead when remembering to pay every month. And my mom NEVER will ask for it, so I keep track to make sure I am paying her all that is owed. This will definitely be much better next month (if I remember to pay...)
CLothing: $20.65 - A few new items for me and one shirt for ds2 (from a thrift store). This will maybe go up a little as I need some clothes that fit me better.
Car/gas: 280.05 ($15 oil change, the rest is gas). I expect this to decrease because the price of gas is falling steadily, and also because DH will be done with this semester after 12/9 (he drives 30 miles each way, 4 days per week). However, I do need to get my snow tires put on and DH still needs to get the dent in his car fixed, so we will have to budget a little for that.
Medical: 380.00 - will probably stay the same, as DH needs to order his expensive contacts this month. Hopefully it will go down in January though.
Gifts: 256.75 - mostly Christmas shopping, although we did have a few birthdays this month (about $60)
Loans: $4200 - definitely will decrease. I put my huge commission check onto my student loan ($3700) but there will be no huge checks next month! Other loans: $300 to DH's student loans, $200 to car.
Entertainment: 845.24 - Wow, I was most scared by this total, but when you take out the Vegas trip ($644), we only spent $200. However, $54.99 was to eat out. I thought we were doing really well in this area, but DH and/or I ate out a total of 7 times this month. Sometimes it was just a slice of pizza here or a taco there, but it was a lot more than I thought. However, it still was a lot less than we used to eat out before going on SB diet, so I guess that's a plus. It also helps to think about the money we are saving on eating out while I'm paying the grocery bills! We spent just over $100 on bowling night (counting paying the babysitter), so that will stay constant, although we won't be bowling on Christmas.
Miscellaneous: $238.79 - there are a lot of non-negotiables that fall into this category such as son's pre-school, vet bill, and chocolate covered espresso beans Smile, but there is definite room for improvement. There are some expenses that will not be incurred regularly (new cell phones, magazine subscription renewal), but I'm sure there will be other expenses to take their place.
This is going to be a huge entry - more for my benefit than for anyone reading it - but I hope it will help to direct my spending next month.
Grocery: $275.00
Household: $250
Clothing: $50
Car/gas: $200/gas, $200 car-related expenses
Medical: $375 (DH's contacts plus two co-pays for getting bloodwork done plus one prescription refill)
Gifts: $500 - we should be able to make this since we took ourselves out of the budget with our trip to Vegas Smile
Loans: $1200 (I should be able to put about $1000 more toward my loan with my next commission check, then out standard $200 car payment. DH's loans are in deferment, so we can wait on his).
Entertainment: $150 - I'll try to cut this a little, although I am not going to feel bad if we go over.
Miscellaneous: $200
Total expenses: $3400, estimated income (with commission check): $3692.
Now back to my regularly scheduled entries...I have some catching up to do.

December 1 - new month

December 1st, 2005 at 05:56 pm

I had planned to review my November expenses to see where I spent the most money, but I'm short on time tonight so that will have to wait. Quick entry night. My pictures from WInkflash came yesterday ($.12 prints, $.99 flat shipping - I love this place!) so I have to get them into albums. Plus ds1 seems to be putting off bedtime...he just called me for a drink and he's calling me again.
Spent $109 at the grocery store today. No income. I guess that puts me in the hole right off the bat. Smile More to follow later...