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Archive for January, 2006

Coupon train chugging along

January 31st, 2006 at 08:02 pm

Well, not yet anyway...but I have set aside my coupons to start a train with. I liked the idea, but wanted to do it locally. I posted on Freecycle and got about 5 or 6 responses, so as soon as I can get it organized, I will send the first batch out. Hopefully it will earn me some savings for the cost of postage.
Nothing too exciting today - worked, came home and cooked a darn good roast chicken. My brother and his fiancee stopped by for dinner. They originally told me that they couldn't come, then e-mailed back to say they could...problem is, I wasn't on the computer anymore. So I had to think of a quick way to stretch the meal when they called to say they were on the way. Added a salad and another veggie - I don't think anyone walked away hungry, although I also don't think there's a spot of chicken left on the carcass!
No money spent today - I just double-checked one of my cc bills that is due tomorrow, and saw a big fat 0 for the balance. That's nice. I still have one cc bill to pay, but it's at 0% for a few more months. We had a few rather large expenses this past month - my real estate dues for 2006 ($850) and DH's tuition ($773), along with the usual Christmas spending. So we are not doing too badly. Course there's always room for improvement Smile
I have an appt to show houses Thurs., and am going to set up another for Friday! Plus I should be getting a small check - maybe $230 - for a land deal. Tomorrow I will (hopefully) get around to adding up the monthly expenses.

new baby to visit

January 30th, 2006 at 07:30 pm

I just spent a half hour talking with a friend who had a baby last week - we set up a lunch date at her house for Wednesday, providing she is up to it. I hate to intrude on new parents, but she is sounding like she might enjoy the company. I might go out Sunday too, as her hubby is going back to work and she is nervous about being alone for the first time. I can't wait to meet this new little girl Smile
Ran some errands today on my lunch break - bank (dep. $317), Staples (spent $9.49 on padded enveloped for mailing books, rather than buying one each time we go to the post office), post office (mailed a $35 half.com book for $2.07), dropped off some listings to a coworker Smile I have two clients I am working with - both with a house to sell if they find one they want. A potential 4 houses altogether. And if I were able to sell their houses myself (find them a buyer), then it would be 6 "sides" (each transaction - buying or selling- is a side), meaning big bucks. So I am going out of my way to be a super-agent for them.
Off to bed - later then I thought.

Victory at the alleys

January 29th, 2006 at 07:40 pm

DH and I had a good night bowling - we both shot about 530ish for three games. I had a 211 game Smile Biggest game in a while. Spent $20 on bowling and $15 on the sitter. Babysitting is going to be expensive these next two weeks - we need a sitter the next two Saturdays and Sundays. So it goes.
Today we met my brother and SIL at David's Bridal to pick out the bridesmaids dresses. She told us what colors we were wearing and we got to pick out the style. Out of about 12 or so styles, 7 girls all picked a different one. It should look nice. I had a minor heart attack at the price tag ($140), but it was nothing compared to looking at the shoes (starting at $40 and going up to $65). The dress, I expected to pay that much for. But the shoes...lets just say I plan to do some comparative shopping. My dress is celadon (lt. green) with rum (off-white) accents. I was going to have to dye shoes when I thought I was getting a green dress, but now that I have two colors, I am hoping I can get some shoes that will match without having to dye them. And this is just the start...next we have the bridal shower, tux, hairdo, and gifts of course. Not that I am complaining - I absolutely love that I have been asked to participate in the wedding. It just gets so expensive so fast.
I made a jambalaya for dinner tonight - quick, easy, and I usually have all the ingredients in the cupboard or freezer. Plus there is enough to take for my lunch tomorrow. Last Friday I was caught without anything to take and ended up stopping for Chinese. Not good for the pocketbook or the waistline. I have to get back to my South Beach principles, especially in light of the size 10 dress that I just ordered today!

visit with the in-laws

January 28th, 2006 at 07:52 pm

My MIL and FIl decided to drive down today to visit the boys. What a nice time! I have been so lucky to get the in-laws that I did. Anyway, they arrived from Binghamton at 1 and stayed until 7pm. We had a London broil on the grill for dinner (unheard of in January in NY! it was unseasonably warm today) and played a little cards.
I took ds1 for a haircut this morning and to get groceries for dinner. This is the first time I went shopping without a list since I started to revise my food bill, but I did okay. I got the meat for tonight ($2.99/lb), a roasting chicken for a later dinner ($.98/lb), some shredded cheese (3/$5), and splurged on some yogurt for ds1 with M & M's ($.60). Plus they had a big book sale at the grocery store, for some reason, and I picked up one new book for the kids - something I never feel guilty spending money on Smile I spent $10 for the haircut and just over $20 for the groceries. Not too bad.
Ds1 woke up at 5am this morning...then when he came into our bedroom at 6:30am (after being in and out since 5), he woke up ds2, who sleeps in the room adjoining ours. At that point, he decided to go back to his room and go to sleep. So of course I had to get up to be with ds2, meaning I have been up since 5 this morning. But tomorrow is my morning to sleep in, so I plan to take full advantage of it. The only problem is that I have become a very light sleeper since having kids, meaning that anytime the kids need something, they wake me up first. It takes DH forever for DH to wake up, so most of the time I end up going to the kids. And even when I sleep in, I hear EVERYTHING, so I wake up a hundred times. But at least I get to lounge in bed until I am good and ready to get up. Enough rambling, I guess. Ta ta.

wow, new blogs!

January 27th, 2006 at 06:38 pm

I started to write a new post the other day, but then when I saw I had to create the blog, I gave up. Not that I felt I couldn't do it, but I was SOOO tired and did not feel like doing it. So tonight I got around to it and it took about two minutes! Easy!
I have not written in a while...don't even remember where I left off last. I guess I will just ramble about the last few days. The weekend is here again - meaning I get to sleep in on Sunday! I don't know what my problem has been lately, but getting out of bed has been such a chore. I just cannot shake off the grogginess. I keep telling myself to get to bed earlier, then find something else that needs to be done. Last night it was my business cards (for selling real estate), which finally got ordered. I ended up taking the pictures at home with my father's digital camera (8 megapixel), which the company said they would accept (I was originally told that they would only take film pictures). So I saved $25-50 there. I just hope it comes out okay on the card. Once I get those, I can get my car magnet made and put some ads in the paper. My broker has agreed to split the cost of a weekly ad in the local paper's house section. She will be running an ad with five other agents, so the cost to us will only be $10/week - very reasonable. She also suggested I put up signs at the local grocery store, library, etc. A little hokey if I were living in a big city, but it might work here in our little one-stop-light town. I am hoping that since I grew up here, plastering my face around town might catch the business of some people who do not know that I am in the business. We'll see.
Some good news - a couple we are friends with had their first baby a few days ago. Julia. How beautiful. We might go visit tomorrow or Sunday, if they are feeling up to it. I would like to take them some dinner - just one thing they won't have to think about for a night. I remember well those first few weeks with a new baby Smile
Sunday I am going dress-shopping with my future SIL. She has picked out the colors but is letting us pick out the style. Fun!
Maybe I actually WILL get to bed early tonight...

another cheap night...

January 23rd, 2006 at 07:07 pm

We went to dinner at my aunt's house. My brother brought the pizza. We brought dessert. It was a nice time. My aunt is 91, so we try to stop over as much as we can, since she does not like to go out so much anymore, especially in this cold weather. She really enjoys seeing the kids, although tonight they were getting a little rambunctious so we made a hasty exit. She has a cat that's bigger than my one year old - and I am not kidding - that she keeps in a cage when we visit. The kids didn't want to leave the cat alone, and I'm sure she was getting annoyed (as cats do). Plus the more tired kids get...the louder. But I can't complain. For the amount of sleep my kids had last night, they were WONDERFUL! They both woke up with soggy diapers and sheets (I think I may need to hold a diapering tutorial for the babysitter). Ds2 went back to bed, but ds1 did not. He was up from 3am, with two short naps (20 minutes and 1 hour) yet has was wonderfully behaved all day! I told DH that if I wasn't so tired, I would consider letting him do this all the time! Smile Actually, I have great boys, so I can't complain. But they all have their moments...
No money spent today - I was at work all day and took my lunch and snacks in. Came home, played with the boys and picked up the house, then went out for dinner...not really a chance to spend anything. Although I probably will go online to pay a cc bill after this, so I guess that will be money out of the account. DH did get a rebate check today - another $30. When it rains, it pours Smile we have been getting a lot of checks this week. Have to hold on to them for when the windfalls ease up.

I'm in the wedding :)

January 22nd, 2006 at 06:29 pm

My brother and future-SIL asked me and DH tonight to be in their wedding in August Smile I love weddings. I love trying on dresses. I just love everything about it! So I am very excited. We might go dress shopping on Thursday - if I can get a sitter.
Bowled tonight - took all seven points. DH and I are on some type of mad winning streak here. Too bad it didn't start earlier, when we were still in Vegas Smile We had to pay the babysitter ($15), but that was our only cost as we had prepayed bowling. Oh, and I did have to stop for a slice of pizza ($2) since I didn't have time to come home from dinner after showing houses.
I talked to my broker today about getting ideas for advertising. She mentioned a few - putting up fliers in the grocery store, library, etc (I live in a very small town, so there really are not a lot of advertising opportunities). She loved my idea about getting a magnetic car sign. She is also going to put some money towards an ad in the local paper. Yeah! I guess since a good chunk of the money I make goes to her, she is willing to put up a little of the cost for me.
I think I will head up to bed...back to work tomorrow.

pinochle champs!

January 22nd, 2006 at 12:03 pm

Ok, so I am bragging a little bit. We have had five pinochle matches this year, and won all 5. Not just won them, but won them HUGE. a 500 score is a really good score that you are lucky to get once or twice a year, but we have made 500 points in all of our matches so far this year. In fact, they are threatening to kick us out if we don't start slacking off Smile We played last night, another night of free entertainment. It's my absolute favorite game - not one that many twenty-somethings play though.
Tonight we bowl - not free like last night, but still a good time. We are very lucky to have babysitters available - a fact I am reminded off every time I talk to other parents who have not had a night out in years. My parents always bowled at least one night a week since before we were born, so I guess it has been ingrained in me to take some time off and have fun. plus my kids have fun with the babysitter, so I don't feel bad. Before bowling tonight, I am going to show two houses to a couple that we bowl with. Plus I received a call from a coworker on Friday that she wants to start looking again. So I am getting back in the game slowly.
Had a little disagreement with Dh about money- not a fight, just him rolling his eyes at me when I asked him for some receipts. He even went as far as to suggest, although not too seriously, getting separate accounts so I can stop harassing him about every penny he spends. We came up with a compromise though - anything he puts on the debit card, credit card, or check I can look up, so he does not need to tell me. Anything he spends in cash over $20 he will tell me about or give me a receipt (this whole discussion came about because I dared to ask him how much he spent in cash for his textbooks - over $200! I only wanted to know where that cash went!). But any of his small expenditures in cash he can keep to himself. He has been extremely reformed in that money used to be spent all over without any idea of where it went - he is much better now, but I know there are still a lot of small coffee-snack-lotto tickets, etc. that I don't know about Smile
Oh, and the icing on the cake - he threw out a toothpaste tube that was not empty and then taunted me about it! I have one of those squeeze-thingies to get all the toothpaste out which he thinks I am nuts for doing, so he likes to get my goat sometimes. Geez, I am making this sound bad, but it was really quite funny. It was kind of a little kid thing - "ha ha, I threw out the toothpaste tube and it wasn't even empty!" Maybe it was just funny to us though...I just have this thing about wasting things that still have use left in them, which he totally just does not get. Smile
Clever idea for reusing things: My mom wanted a t.v. stand - the type that attaches to the wall - so that she could watch t.v. on her treadmill. My dad had our old Dish t.v. satellite that was outdated - they did not take it with them when they replaced our old one, and it wasn't usable anymore. He attached it to the wall and the t.v. fit perfectly on it. I just wanted to share that cute idea as a reminder that many things have uses above and beyond what was intended. You just have to think outside the lines!
A reminder for me of recent cash expenses: $2.50 for lunch (the four of us went to McDonalds yesterday to play on the playground - we had $10 in g.c.), $6 in "big boy" underwear for ds1 - but we did get a $26 credit for returning a toy that the boys would not use, so really we were ahead of the game yesterday. Plus my mom took all of our change to the bank for us (my bank does not have a machine) and we came out $86 ahead (plus the $60 I cashed in before Vegas). Not too shabby!

ahhh...the weekend

January 20th, 2006 at 05:13 pm

I love Saturday. And Sunday. I get to stay home with DH and the kids, sleep in a bit...nice. We have no plans for tomorrow other than to play pinochle at night with our league. Maybe I can get some things done around the house. I was going to get my pics done at Wal-Mart today, but then I realized that I would still be waiting for them to come in (I called to check - it takes three weeks). So I looked around for a place that could develop them instantly for me. Sears will do it - they have a "professional" picture package that gives you the copyright to use for other purposes (I never even thought about having to get permission to use this photo for my business cards), but it costs $50. My other option is to go back to the place I got them done the first time and pay $25, but that's in Syracuse (45 minute drive compared to a 10 minutes drive). Sears was supposed to try to find a better deal and call back, but I never heard from them. I guess they couldn't do any better. So now I just need to determine if the extra $25 is worth an hour of my time for the drive - yup, it is. I would work for an hour to get paid $25, so why wouldn't I take an hour's time to save it?
Busy day at work today - kept the day moving fast. I slept in again this morning (7:30) because my kids slept in - not that I'm complaining, but I am going to need to start using the alarm clock again! So by the time I got ready and ds1 got dressed and fed, I was already late - and I still needed to drop him off at preschool. Better get the alarm clock out. I stopped to get some breakfast on my way in to work today because I didn't have time to eat at home - $2.37. Oh well. No other money spent today.
DH lost his wallet...again. This is probably the fourth or fifth time. Darndest thing though...it always comes back to him and never with anything missing. He really has the luck of the Irish. This time it turned up in the parking lot of the grocery store we were at. The lady who returned it to him was apologetic because there was only $1 in it (she thought someone took the rest), but she felt a little better after he explained that he only had $1 when he lost it! The best time, though, was when he lost it in the ocean in Florida. He never even realized it was gone until someone came walking down the beach calling his name. When he answered, they handed him his wallet. Lucky guy Smile
Last night went pretty well with getting ds to sleep in his big boy bed. But tonight...right now he's crying because I took his book away and turned off the light. Mean mommy! I already let him "read" for a half hour - he's got to go to bed sometime! better go see what he needs now...

still no professional picture...

January 19th, 2006 at 05:43 pm

...but the good news is that we are getting DH's car fixed for free (or possibly for the cost of paint). The local vocational school accepted his application to repair the dent that some moron left in it (I say moron not because the accident happened but because the person never stopped to tell him - he found it the next morning). I was about to get ready for my professional picture - again - when we got the phone call that they needed the car to be there this morning. So DH and I hopped in our cars to go drop it off. We took ds1 with us - ds2 had just gone down for a nap so my mom stayed with him - and ran a bunch of errands. We stopped at the bank, post office to mail the book, and grocery store. This was my second attempt at making my own "grocery game" since it is not available in my area. My groceries came to $126.16, but I saved $48.09 (38%), paying only $79.02 with tax. I am pleased with this. Plus I finished buying the rest of the items needed for the Del Monte rebate, taking another $10 off the total when I get that back. My coupon use was quite disappointing though - only $5.65. I had several coupons for $1, which the store will not double. I also had six store coupons that can be used to triple a coupon, again only if they are less than $1. It seems every coupon I had was for $1, so I hardly got to double or triple anything. Plus I just don't find a lot of coupons I can use since I buy a lot of fresh foods and meats instead of prepackaged items. But, it's a start. I need to get back to the days of "stockpiling" rather than buying what I need for a specific meal.
Back to work tomorrow...and if I have time to primp a bit in the morning, I will make another attempt at getting my picture done on my lunch break. Not that I am particularly vain or anything, but I will be using this picture for years...and hopefully it will be seen far and wide Smile I liked my old picture, but I had waist length hair then - and it's now at my shoulders. I did have an idea as I was falling asleep last night (isn't that when all the good ideas come?). After I get my new business cards, I am going to send some out to all my past clients with a $10 super-certificate (that I can get at a discount) thanking them for their past business and to let them know I am back working at full-speed again (most know that I took time off when I had my boys). I am also going to offer an additional $25 certificate to them if they refer any new clients to me, and $100 certificate to them if they return to me to buy or sell another house (maybe more, I have to think this through). Maybe I can drum up a little new business that way...and it would still fall within my $500 budget that I have allotted myself for advertising (I wouldn't be sending to all past clients, i.e. ones that moved out of state, so I should be able to limit myself to 20-25 certificates bought at $9 each). Then I have about $50 for business cards, another $50-100 for new signs and a car magnet, and possibly use whatever is left for advertising in the local shopping guide, or I have even considered putting up a sign at the bowling alley, where I know a lot of people who might not necessarily know I am in the business. They sell advertising at the ends of the alleys. We'll see...
Enough for tonight - have to get to bed early at least one day a week. We have just moved ds1 (2.5 years) to a big boy bed tonight from his crib. We tried this about 10 months ago, and it went terribly. Then we got him a crib tent and the last 10 months have been great. But...he just figured out how to get himself out of the tent, so we decided it was time to try the bed again. He skipped his nap today, as it was MUCH more fun to play in his room. Tonight it took him about a half hour to settle down, but (fingers crossed) it has been quiet up there for about 30 minutes. Who knows if he'll be waking us in the middle of the night though...any thoughts/tricks on this would be welcome!

not a very productive day...

January 18th, 2006 at 06:09 pm

I did get to show a house, and I did get to my meetings, but nothing else on my list got done. My alarm clock (AKA ds1 and ds2) did not "go off" (AKA start crying) until after 7:30 this morning instead of the usual 7am, so I did not have time to style my hair. That factor, combined with a drizzling rain all morning, meant that there was no way I was having a professional picture taken today. But I did stop at Wal-Mart to check out their prices, as it was recommended to me by our office secretary for being cheap. They have a package now that it $7.88 - it includes a lot of pictures and all I really need is one, but the lady working there said it would be cheaper than paying a sitting fee just to get one picture (there's no sitting fee on this package). So I hopefully will be doing that tomorrow. And after work I just felt like coming home, so I skipped the grocery store - also on my list for tomorrow, when I don't have to work.
DH sold another book on half.com - yippee! I didn't even know he had any more listed, but since he lists them under my account, I get the e-mails first. So I will have to add a trip to the post office on the to-do list for tomorrow.
Another pleasant surprise - the refund for overpayment of property taxes over two years ago came in the mail today ($470). Plus a paycheck. So I will have a lot of moolah to deposit tomorrow at the bank - another errand. I was planning to take my older son with me, but this is getting to be a lot of stops!
I want to try to catch up on everyone else's journals...I feel so out of touch! I really enjoy reading them and gleaning ideas - thanks to everyone who shares their life experiences with us!

Back to work today...

January 17th, 2006 at 06:30 pm

It's not easy to go back to work after a week off...but I can't complain, working half-time as I do. But it still stinks Smile The good thing is that I was busy all day, so it flew by. DH started his second semester of grad classes tonight. We were getting so spoiled with me having so much time off for the holidays and DH not having school for 5 weeks. Back to reality for us now.
Tomorrow I have quite a list of things to do. I have to drop ds1 off at pre-school, show a house at 9am, then get a professional picture taken so I can order new business cards (part 1 of my attempt to drum up some local business). Then I have to go back into work for a few hours for two meetings, stop at the grocery store (my list is made already!), and get home in time for DH to go to school. But Thursday is looking pretty empty so far.
A few good things - DH sold two more textbooks on half.com. We should be getting our first check soon, I think. Yeah! Bad news is that we are out of textbooks to sell! Also, DH could not find any of this semesters books online, so we had to buy them new at the -ouch- bookstore.
Another good move we made - closed out two accounts we no longer used, so we have less to keep track of now.
No cash spent today - spent about $30 on gas, but I will total this up at the end of the month since it's on the credit card (bad move on my part, but I did not have my debit card in my wallet). It is a 0% card though.

Wow, am I rambling tonight...I find myself a little less focused when I am not accounting for the purchases of the day.

back from Vegas - and not broke! :)

January 16th, 2006 at 06:21 pm

Hi to everyone! DH and I had a great trip to Vegas. We lost a little, maybe $100 or so, but it was an amount I could live with. DH started losing money right off the bat and I freaked out a little - really, it took the better part of a day for me to step back and realize it was okay to lose some cash if we were having a good time - at the same time DH was realizing he had to slow down to avoid going broke before we got home! So we reached a happy medium and had a wonderful time. We stopped playing the blackjack tables and started playing the poker tables instead (Texas Hold 'Em) - much more enjoyable, easier to win, and you can play for hours on $50 (if you play right, that is!). We met my high school best friend for a day - she drove in from Phoenix. We saw the sights, stayed up late, got up late, and didn't have to change a diaper at all for four days!
On a related note, since I do not want to tally up the Vegas expenses, I am going to wait until the end of the month to post my income/expenses for January. I find that if I try to remember them as I go, I inevitably forget some which never get accounted for. However, if I review all of my statements at the end of the month, I won't omit anything. So I will just use this as a means to post whatever is on my mind for the day rather than a way to account for money spent. Of course, I might change this again...let's just call this journal a work in progress.
That's all for tonight - just wanted to get in the habit of posting again. Later...

January 9 - playing the grocery game...kind of

January 9th, 2006 at 06:33 pm

Priceplus - how true. Except it's mostly family in the league, not friends! My parents, husband, brother and his fiancee, and several cousins all bowl in the league. It's like a family reunion every week! Smile
Well, since the grocery game is not available where I live, I tried to make my own. I scoured three grocery store ads this week, clipped coupons, found some good ones on the Internet (which, it turns out, I can't use becaues the grocery store I went to did not accept them). I ended up going to the store that offered 4 "double your coupns" coupons, up to $1. None of the local stores double coupons around here, so this is a pretty good deal. Everything that I bought was either on sale or I had a coupon for, and I bought nothing that I would not normally use anyway. I only bought one thing that was not on my list, only because it was a good deal (whole wheat spaghetti - 2 lbs./$2). So the grand total is...9.30 saved with coupons, an additional $4 saved with double coupons, and 15.10 saved with the membership card...total bill, 61.19 - amount paid, 32.79. A 47% savings. I know some people do a lot better, but I don't think this is too bad for not having double coupons! Plus I managed to stay away from the really cheap foods that are terrible for you (i.e. Ramen noodles). Among the best buys:
Degree deodorant $.99 cents each - coupon to save $1.50 on two, total cost = $.24 each.
Kashi cereal on clearance $1.59 - $1.00 coupon (not doubled) = $.59
Del monte tomatoes and College Inn broth (I use a ton of both to make soup, although I usually buy generic) $.89/can - $1.00/6 (doubled) = 12 cans for 6.68. But here's the good part - they have a deal where you can get $5 back on 15 cans or $10 back on twenty. So if I find a similar deal one more time before April, I will end up paying only a few dollars for twenty cans. I have already set my receipt and all UPCs aside for the rebate so I won't forget to do this when I use them. Now I just have to remember to buy a few more.
Dove soap (I use this due to my eczema) $4.99 for a 6 pack - $1 coupon (doubled) = $.50 per bar - about half what I have paid in the past, although still more than some other soaps.
Folgers coffee, small can $2 - $1 off/3 (doubled) = $1.33 per can (I used to stock up if I found this for less than $2!)
DH looked at me like I was nuts when I rattled off all of these (is there a theme in my postings about DH thinking I am nuts??), but I was excited. I used to do this all the time when we lived in the city and had better supermarkets, but I have gotten really lazy about it. It is time consuming. It probably took me at least an hour to prepare for the trip, between reading the ads, clipping coupons, deciding how to use my doubles, etc. but if I can save $30 in an hour, I am going to do it! Besides, DH doesn't seem to mind my thriftiness so much when it means we get to go on a trip to Vegas!
We have to be up at 4am to catch our flight tomorrow...and we still have to finish packing...so good night to everyone and I will touch base when we are back from Vegas - hopefully richer than when we left Wink but most likely we will be just a little poorer.

January expenses: $445.34 + 3.24 (breakfast - I had to fast for bloodwork this morning and was starting after) + 2.89 (lunch - I forgot mine for the first time since being on South Beach) + 32.79 (groceries) = 484.26
January income: $905.41 + $60 in rolled quarters that I cashed in = 965.41

January 8 - bowling night!

January 8th, 2006 at 06:03 pm

Just got back from bowling - a mediocre night. Oh well...our team took five points out of seven, so I guess we did pretty good overall. I did end up talking with some friends of my brother who are casually looking to buy a new house (and sell theirs if they find one), so that might turn into something positive. We spent $15 for the babysitter and arranged for her to come back one night next week while we are out of town to give my parents a break. No money spent for bowling because we prepaid a few weeks ago.
Not much to report tonight- I've been staying up way too late for too many nights in a row now, so I have got to get to bed early tonight.
January expenses: $421.12 + 15 + 9.22 (Wal-Mart - $5 medical and 4.22 misc.) = $445.34
January income: $905.41
I am fasting for a cholesterol check in the morning...how does your body always know to become absolutely starving when you can't eat??? Another reason to get to bed...

January 6 and 7 - bubbles in the potty :)

January 7th, 2006 at 07:58 pm

ok, so now I am blowing bubbles into the toilet for ds1 to hit...I plan to try the food coloring too - great idea! He does great with a little motivation, but without any prompting from us, he would stay in a wet diaper all day Frown
Today we took the boys to return a few things at the mall, out to lunch with DH's parents, who met us in Syracuse, and then stopped at a local restaurant to pick up a g.c. for my parents for dinner and a movie. That turned out to be my biggest mistake of the day. After I got home from playing cards tonight, I logged onto my BOA account so that I could finish tallying up last year's totals. Well, the first thing I saw was a pending authorization on my debit card for $42.49 from Zebbs, a Syracuse restaurant that we have not been to in years. But, still, I thought maybe they owned the restaurant we stopped at, so I got out my receipt to check the amount. It was different. So I called BOA (had to try three different numbers to get one that was open at 10:30pm), then got transferred FOUR times to find someone to help me. They cancelled my debit card and put a fraud alert on it. Then I called the restaurant to find out what I could about the transaction. The first thing they said was, "were you at a Kirbys?", which is where I was earlier. So I told them I was, but that 42.49 was not the amount of my purchase. Turns out they automatically add 20% when they are authorizing a purchase, which is not counted when the actual transaction goes through. I felt relieved, annoyed, and stupid. I had to call BOA back to undo the fraud alert, though it was too late to un-cancel my card. DUH. I am now kicking myself for not calling the restaurant first, but I was paranoid that someone was out there making purchases with my card.
I need to go to bed...
January expenses: $328.78 + 16.21 (golf balls, t-shirt at Dicks) + 36.95 (Kirby's) + 12.18 (med.for dad) + 27 (gas) = 421.12
January income: $898.41 + $7 (credit from return) = 905.41

January 5 - shopping with my list!

January 5th, 2006 at 07:46 pm

I had to run a few errands after work today - bank, gas ($53.02), and grocery store. I actually made out my list beforehand - about ten things - then promised myself that I could have two impulse buys, but no more. And I did it! I usually walk casually up and down the aisles looking for things I might need, but this time I went straight to where I needed to go, got my things, and left. I did add a head of lettuce, as we had just run out, and some pull-up diapers for ds1. We have tentatively started potty training, although we are not going full-speed ahead until we get back from Vegas. I did not want to saddle my mom with that while we were gone! So I got those "Feel and Learn" pull up pants from Pampers with a $2 coupon. I am hoping that if ds1 is uncomfortable in a wet diaper, he will start going on his own. He does really well on the potty when he is naked, but if he is wearing a diaper, he could care less if he is wet or messy. From what I read, this is a sign that he is not ready, but I feel we should at least start trying because he has the ability to do it. The more I read, the more confused I get! Some books say all kids can be trained by 2-2.5, others say not to push until he shows he's ready or else you will make it harder in the long run...AAAHHHH! I hope we figure it out soon. Lately we've been throwing Cheerios in the bowl and having target practice Smile that is working for now, but I can't quite picture him doing this forever Smile
Anyway, I spent $36.78 at the store. I am going to split this into groceries/non-groceries in order to track spending better. $19.03 was spent on two packs of diapers and a pack of dry-erase markers. So that leaves $17.75 on groceries. This was almost all for fresh fruit, veggies, and milk, so there was little room for coupon use.
I just received an e-mail from half.com. I sold my first book! I had put two books on about a month ago with no response. Last night I went back in to lower the price and add one of Dh's textbooks. It would have only gotten $6 at ebookdrop.com, but it sold for $30 in one day at half.com! It was in terrible shape (which I explained in the description), but I figured some college student who was looking to save a few books wouldn't mind. He bought it used for about $40, so paying $10 for a college text is not a bad deal at all. I won't count the money yet until we get it, but that will be another $30 in income!
January expenses: $176.73 + .25 (cup of coffee from work coffeepot - you can either pay a weekly fee or pay by the cup - since I rarely drink it, I just pay for a cup when I want one) + 53.02 (gas) + 19.03 (diapers, household) + 17.75 (groceries) + 62 (DH's bought a flash drive off E-bay, but was able to pay for most of it from his Paypal account from his last two sales - we only had to pay $12) = 328.78
January income: $551.41 + 317 + 30 (DH's E-bay sale) = 898.41

January 4 - finally, some income

January 4th, 2006 at 05:08 pm

Got my paycheck today...I have five checks to run to the bank tomorrow. DH's grandmother is becoming a little forgetful. We celebrated with them in November before they left for Florida, and she gave both of our kids some money. A few weeks ago, we got a Christmas card from them. A few days later, we got another one. We told DH's mom about it, and she said Grandma had just called her for our address to send a birthday card to our youngest, even though she has been sending things to us all month. Then about a week ago, she sent us another Christmas card with three checks, for DH, ds1, and ds2. Hmmm...the boys had already gotten money, and they had decided to stop giving the grandchildren (DH) money this year. So now she sends him money anyway, but not me? I don't mind at all that she didn't - it's just out of character for her to give money to one grandchild and not the spouse. She has always been very inclusive. So DH and I were on the fence about whether to cash them or send them back (it was only $10), but we decided that sending them back would probably cause her to be embarrassed. So we are going to deposit them, whether it's right or wrong, I don't know. So to make a long story short...there's an additional $10 for the month. I will put my sons' into their accounts for when we get around to buying them bonds.
DH and I had a very productive day. I tallied up our expenses for the year, although I have not entered them into the computer yet, so I don't have a "report"!. He worked on getting our information into Microsoft Money. I really liked that program at first because you can import all your information from your cc and bank accounts directly into the program, but I have found a few glitches that make we want to stop using it, unless I can figure out how to fix them. First of all, since my cc statements are already in there, it looks like I am paying twice when the cc payment is taken out of my checking. I can't find anyway to delete this entry as it is imported directly from my statement. Second, the same thing happens with transfers from one account to another - it appears as though the money is being "spent" from the first account. Even though the numbers look the same after, it messes things up when you want to do a graph of what you are spending your money on. DH has been playing with it, so maybe he has found a way to get around this. If anyone has any input on this program, or another one that they find helpful, I would love to hear it. I may start a new post about this...
Anyway, I got a little off topic there. I also got a few loads of laundry done, arranged to have my will notarized (before our trip next week!), cleaned and organized our bedroom, set aside some donations which DH took to ds1's preschool, looked up some deals for our upcoming trip, and cancelled a membership that we no longer used. But the best part - I followed up on a tax overpayment from two years ago and they will be sending me a check. $470!!! It was an absurd amount of time to let this go uncollected, but I didn't even know there was an overpayment for a year, until the lady who bought our house called us. Then we followed up with our closing attorney, who was supposed to take care of it and never did, and our former mortgage company, who (twice) was supposed to send us the paperwork to prove the money was ours, and never did. So it has been on the back of my to-do list forever, and all it took was a ten minute phone call to the tax office. DH thinks this is going to be his gambling money for Vegas Smile
January expenses: $126.73 + 50 (pre-school tuition) = 176.73
January income: $10 + 10 + 531.41 = 551.41

January 3 - a no spend day, technically - for me, anyway

January 3rd, 2006 at 06:57 pm

I had to stop and buy diapers after work today, but technically, I didn't spend anything. I returned a toy to Wal-Mart that my son has shown no interest in (and, I will admit, I hated the look of it - the last thing we need is a freaky doll that talks). So I was given a Wal-Mart gift card for $16. I used most of it on diapers and a few jars of baby food. I still have $2 left on the card. Normally I would have browsed Wal-Mart for a while - the grocery section - but I decided to hightail it out of there. I think I may have to start shopping from lists instead of my usual browse. I really need to tackle those grocery bills. I was so pysched about possibly getting into the grocery game, but they don't carry it in my area Frown the closest store is 72 miles away, which I find hard to believe since we are so close to a decent sized city (Syracuse). But for whatever reason, they don't carry it there. Oh well...I guess I will have to do it on my own. I have to admit, I rarely use coupons. I buy mostly fresh fruit, veggies, and meats, as well as generic foods (I find they are usually cheaper even when taking coupons into consideration). So when I browse through the coupon inserts in our paper, I only find one or two that I *might* use. Most of the coupons are for prepared foods, which we avoid thanks to being on the South Beach diet, or for health or beauty products, which we buy very little of.
Last night I did make myself feel pretty good though - I whipped up a homemade veggie beef soup in about ten minutes using things up from the fridge and freezer. I was able to get rid of three partially used bags of veggies (the ones you don't eat plain because they've acquired that "freezer" taste, but work good in soup), part of a leftover roast beef that was thrown in the freezer, and some veggies from the fridge. In the crockpot, on all night, and I was able to grab a bowl to take to work with me for lunch today. It didn't cost a thing other than some leftovers that may not have gotten used and a few minutes of my time, and it will feed us for two lunches and then some (picture me patting myself on my back here).
DH decided to spend some cash today, but I can't fault him. A few weeks ago a chunk came loose from his bowling ball. He wanted to get a new one right away, but since we only had one more week of bowling left before Christmas, I convinced him to wait and put it on his list. My family is full of bowlers and there was a good chance he might have gotten a gift certificate toward the new ball. But he didn't, so he decided to get a new one today. $120. Ouch. But it is something he really enjoys, so I don't mind. I told him we were going to be on a stricter budget for a while, but I think it went in one ear and out the other. He thinks as long as we have money in out emergency fund, we're fine...but I hate to use it for expenses like these.
I went through all my paperwork tonight and threw out a ton of outdated stuff. I set my credit cards bills and bank statements aside so that I can tally up my expenses for the year. I think I need to get a grip on the overall picture, not just the last two months. Maybe it's not as bad as it seems...or maybe it is, and I can prove to DH why we need to buckle down.
January expenses: $6.73 + 120 = $126.73
January income: $10

January 1 and 2 - a new start

January 2nd, 2006 at 06:35 pm

Ok, so I freaked out just a little after looking at the totals for last month. Our savings has gone done about $7k from last January. But then DH reminded me that we put $2k into a Sharebuilder account and paid $2733 in tuition, so really we are just in the hole less than $2300. Which is not bad, seeing as how both of us had a half year off. I was on maternity leave until June, and DH lost his job in July and has been a full-time student ever since. Still, though, he is going to be a student for another year, getting his teacher certification in December. Plus, he will be student teaching next fall, so he won't be able to work or substitute teach at all. So next year might be tough. We'll just have to watch the bottom line and tighten things up if they get too bad. We are extremely fortunate in our living situation (no housing payment) and in having a large emergency fund (about 6 months of my current earnings) - which, by the way, we worked very hard to achieve while we both worked. So we'll be alright, but I hate the thought of dipping into the emergency fund.
No much spent so far this month - only $6.73 at the grocery store, which was offset by the $10 my mom gave us for groceries and to offset the cost of our New Year's Eve dinner.
January expenses: $6.73
January income: $10 It's good to be in the black again Smile

Month end totals :(

January 1st, 2006 at 06:37 pm

Ok, so December was a little worse than I thought...I managed to stay way under budget for some things, but went way over on others.
Category Goals Actual
Income 3692 3974.50
Expenses 3400 6095.49 (minus 2773 tuition and we were actually 3322.49)

Groceries 275 480.37 (I have NO idea what happened here - the holidays didn't cost us that much!)
Household 250 165 Smile
Car: Gas 200 154.15 Smile
Repairs/maintenence 200 14.03 Smile
Medical 375 53.35 Smile
Gifts 500 806.08
Clothes 50 74.83
Loans 1200 300.82 - never made that big planned payment towards my student loans as we had to pay DH's tuition instead
Entertainment 150 377.33 (trip to Long Island bumped this one up by $200)
Misc. 200 2956.52 (183.52 is you don't count tuition)

New column: Real estate expenses - I keep these separate from other expenses for tax purposes: $820

I did pay off all of the existing credit card debt, but managed to put another $2k on due to tuition and real estate expenses, as well as a few gifts - although most gifts were paid for by debit card. I will have all my interest-bearing cards paid off during January, but I might let the 0% interest card slide for a month or two. I think I may have to come up with some kind of a system here, as it is so easy to spend a little here or there without realizing how much it adds up. However, I cannot usually get DH to go along with anything like that. He is not a spendthrift by any means, but figures if we have the money, he should not have to account for every penny. We'll see...
I guess I should revise my estimates for next month...I know income will be a lot less as I have no commission checks coming in. Income should be about $2392.
Expenses goal:
Groceries: 300 (I guess I will have to aim a little higher than my original goal and gradually work my way down)
Household: 200
Car: 200 - I will estimate a little higher than last month's expenses since DH goes back to school later this month
Medical: 345 - DH really needs to get his new contacts this month
Clothes: 25 - should not really need anything this month
Loans: 300.25 - 200 for car, 100.25 for student loan. I don't think there will be anything extra this month to pay down the loans with.
Entertainment: 400 - I will have to go a little high on this one due to our trip to Las Vegas. Hotel, airfare, and car are paid for, but we have all of our dinners and gambling expenses Wink
Gifts: No Christmas, no birthdays, no anniversaries, no closings...$0!
Miscellaneous: 150
Real estate: I am going to set aside 100 this month to start advertising...it won't get me far, but it's a start.
Total expenses: $2020.25

Side note: We had a wonderful dinner at my brother's house tonight. We were crossing our fingers that he and his girlfriend would have a special announcement...and they did!!! An engagement - it made our night Smile

December 31 - nice dinner at home

January 1st, 2006 at 02:05 pm

I went shopping as planned yesterday and bought all the fixings for a nice dinner. We had filet mignon, potato skins with bacon, green beans, corn, salad, foccacia rolls, and pie. Plus I made hot onion cheese dip and stromboli for appetizers. Yum. It was just as good as anything we get in a restaurant, except of course we had to cook it ourselves! I thought we would save a lot of money by doing it all ourselves instead of ordering dinners to go, like we did last year, but now I'm not so sure. If we all ordered a filet mignon dinner, it defintely would be a lot cheaper. But if we did it like last year and ordered 3-4 meals for 6 people, we probably did not save much, if anything. The take-out meals around here are so huge that we have even split one between 4 people before and still had leftovers for lunch the next day. But, at least we didn't have to go anywhere to wait a half hour on New Years Eve to pick up the meals. I spent $50.06 at Wegmans and $60.87 at BJs, but not all of that was for dinner. In fact, I bought nothing except the filets, cheese, pepperoni (for the strombroli), rolls, and green beans. We already had everything else on hand, even the beer and sparkling grape juice (our friend who came over is expecting) - plus the friends brought us a nice bottle of wine. The meat was really expensive - about $36 for 6 filet mignons. I probably didn't spend more than $10-20 on the rest of the food, so I think we saved a little money. We definitely made out better than if we had gone out to a restaurant.
I will try to tally up my December expenses when I get home tonight. My oldest brother has invited all of us over to his house for dinner. I am not too excited to see the final tally for the month - but I think January will be better. DH has gotten his fingerprinting done - now he just needs to send it in to get checked out, and he will be able to start substitute teaching.
December expenses: $5984.56 + 50.06 + 60.87 = $6095.49
December income: $3974.50