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Archive for February, 2006

whew...a little better today

March 1st, 2006 at 03:46 am

I feel a little sheepish about my rants yesterday...especially since now I find one of them was unfounded...well, sort of. Turns out the neighbor on the next road owns the puppies. We are still not sure how they made it to our barn, being quite a bit away still and up a massive hill. But to give the benefit of the doubt...they did end up here, and we did find the owner. He is trying to find homes for the pups (do I need to go on another rant about getting your pet spayed or neutered if you don't want babies?), so he does not mind if we keep one (or two...my DH and dad are still working on getting my mom to take them both). If we can't find a home for them (or decide not to keep them), the owner says we can take them back to him. I'm still a little suspicious of his motives though -apparently someone who knows the family told him the pups were here and he did not call us to claim them. He did admit they were his when we called though. Hmm. Their mother is a Great Pyrennes/mix, and he doesn't know what the father is, but they are absolutely beautiful. Can you post pictures on this? I would love to show these two off.
Second rant - about freecyclers who don't follow through. I have just reposted all items with a note saying that if you can't get it, don't respond. Not that it works, I've done it before and still gotten replies from people who don't follow up. Such is life.
Third rant - coupon train. I have heard from all members now and found out the train was stopped in a post office box after an emergency move. I have sent out a second train today and the first should be moving along soon...so hopefully I will have some hot little coupons in my hands soon. 'Course, they may all be expired by then...
Today was a nice day. I worked until 2, ran a few errands, then came home and played with puppies and kids (3 kids, 2 puppies). For once, none of the accidents on the floor were done by my offspring! And we had a "no scribbles on the wall" day. Maybe ds1 is finally getting the message, or maybe we just hid all the writing utensils well enough...either way, I'll take it! We have plans to redo his room with chalkboard paint on one wall - might have to do this a little sooner than planned if this keeps up!
I made some bread pudding out of some old bread that my mom always saves in the freezer. Whenever she has one hot dog roll, or the end of a loaf of bread, or whatever left, she sticks it in the freezer - where they sit forever until someone throws them away. So I decided to do something with them. Turned out pretty good, except the bread did have that freezer taste. Guess I'll have to get around to it sooner next time. Anyway, I was just proud of myself for making something out of nothing.
Tomorrow I plan to go shopping in the morning with ds2 while ds1 is in preschool. I have my list all made out and quite a few coupons combined with sales. I am currently in the 30-40% off range - would like to hit 50%, but many of the fresh fruits and veggies, and whole grain items that I eat do not go on sale frequently. I think, though, that my grocery bill has already gone down significantly since I started keeping track. That's motivation for me!

people who tick me off...

February 28th, 2006 at 03:06 am

Can you stand a little rant? If so, keep reading...if not, you might want to come back tomorrow Smile
1. People who are mean to pets. About two weeks ago we had a very nice house cat dropped off at our farm - very obviously used to being inside as the poor thing meowed at our door for hours. He eventually went down to the barn and stayed on. We put an ad in the paper and found (hopefully) a nice home for him. Then TODAY - two puppies in the barn. Left in 10 degree weather by some cold, heartless person. They were in the far machinery barn, not even the one we use daily. Thank goodness my father found them. They look like they have been well-cared for up to this point - chubby, not too dirty aside from the day in the barn. They appear to be pure-bred Australian shepards, from what we can tell (my SIL is pretty knowledgable about animals). She is guessing that for some reason, they were not sellable and someone dumped them. We have no close neighbors, so it is very unlikely that they found their way here. Anyway, she took them in for a few days until we can figure out what to do. My father has already fallen in love with one, and DH with the other...but we do have one house dog already. Our other dog was put down about a month ago, and our remaining dog (13 years old) does not take kindly to puppies. So who knows what will happen. But I still find it hard to believe that people can drop off animals to become someone else's responsibility, or worse, to be left to die.
2. Freecyclers who do not pick up items. What makes it worse is that I responded to a person who specifically asked for something (instead of taking something I offered), and they still don't bother to get back to me.
3. The members of my coupon train. Well, not all of them - just whoever it is that is holding up the train. I loved the idea and posted on Freecycle to start one locally. I got 7 responses and got it started right away. Well, somewhere between participant #3 and participant #6, it got lost. #4 and #5 are not returning my e-mails, so I don't know where it is. I just started a second train, but until I figure out where the problem lies, it will probably happen again. And since I started it, I haven't even gotten any coupons out of it yet!
Grrrrr...but other than that, an okay day. The kids were not too crabby, although ds2 woke me up at 6:30 this morning, which made mommy crabby. I need to go cover his window before I go to bed as I think the light is waking him. Mommy does not like to get out of bed before 7am, and even at 7 is not very cheerful Smile Tomorrow I have to be at the opposite end of the county (45 minute drive) at 8:30am, so it will be a busy morning. This morning did not start off the best, as I spent 30 minutes supervising a child in scrubbing his artwork off the wall (child was NOT happy). We are totally in the artwork phase right now - and experimenting with all different media (today was dry erase marker - which does not come off paint easily. In the past it has been pen, pencil, and crayon). When we ask ds1 where he is supposed to draw, he answers paper. When we ask him if he is allowed to draw on the walls, he says no. But then we turn our backs...and you can guess the rest. He is not allowed to play until it is totally cleaned up (lovin' that Magic Eraser), but that still is no deterrent - any advice out there??

bowling night...

February 27th, 2006 at 03:24 am

and we did terrible. Oh well. I guess we can't be winners all the time. But we did do the NY TImes crossword in just over the time of one bowling game (we take it with us and usually finish it around the end of the second game). So either we are getting smarter...or it was an easy one Smile
I went out showing houses again today -I think we saw 7. A few possibilities, but not THE ONE yet. These past two days have been so cold that I was just chilled to the bone when I got home. I think my down comforter is calling me now...winter came late to central NY this year, but it has come with a veneance. Brrrr...I guess I can't complain, though, after reading some of Kashi's posts from Minnesota (I think). Tonight it was 17 degrees, but it felt like 0 with the wind chill.
Here's a question for some of you bakers out there...it really should be a separate post in the discussion area, but I am just feeling lazy tonight. I have tried and tried to make muffins like you buy in the store or get from mixes - all crumbly and moist - but my homemade ones never turn out like that. They are always...chewy, I guess. Any thoughts? Could it be that I substitute applesauce for oil? Just thought I would throw that question out since I read someone's journal about making TG muffins (sorry, I cannot remember who now!). I made some jelly muffins (oat, wheat flour with a spoonful of jelly in the middle) the other day - just weren't up to pay. Hmph.
This is a totally random entry, I realize. Oh well. Sometimes I am a totally random person.

saving at Mickey D's

February 26th, 2006 at 02:17 am

I don't have time to write much, but feel as though I ought to at least check in...I've been pretty lax about writing lately. Today I spent 6 hours with my clients showing houses...and we are going out again tomorrow to look at 5 more. I'm pretty confident that this couple will buy from me, so I don't mind all the time I am putting into this. But you never know when something will happen that will change someone's plans...then all this work for nothing. but it's a chance I take in this business - or any commission business, for that matter.
I stopped for lunch today after showing the houses. I was going to get a chicken sandwich at McDonald's because I had a coupon for a free medium fries and drink if I bought the sandwich. But then as I thought about it, I realized I would be paying $3.50-$4 for the sandwich, when all I really wanted was a small sandwich, a few fries, and a glass of water. So instead I got a cheeseburger and small fries off the value menu - $2.16. I have to stop myself from falling into the coupon trap every so often. I get sidetracked by what I would be saving without taking into consideration that I am spending more overall, often for things I don't want.
The kids are in bed, so I think I will go snuggle with DH in front of the fireplace Smile 'Night all.

I'm baaaackkk

February 23rd, 2006 at 04:03 am

What a great time I had this weekend. The down side - I now have a new hobby that is NOT cheap. I've already been scoping out E-bay for big lots that can get me a little bit of everything rather than buying things one at a time at the craft stores. We scrapbooked from the time we got up in the morning until...well, until the time we went to bed in the morning (usually around 3 am). It was so addicting - but I really enjoyed it and was able to finish my firstborn's book as well as get my ds2's book nearly done. I wanted to do a scrapbook for both, just the first year, in addition to my photo albums. Now I can focus on events as they arise, like weddings, picnics, holidays, etc.
We have a lot of miscellaneous money coming our way lately - $150 commission check, $60 rebate on my contacts, $60 BOA bonuses for opening accounts...plus we will be getting a nice chunk of change from our taxes, which (I think) we will pay off DH's car loan with. Then I can throw that $200/month either toward my student loans or our IRAs. So far we have put $2k in, out of the $8k we plan to (or did the maximums go up this year? I think they might have - we try to contribute the max toward both). So we are starting off the year okay.
Tonight we took ds1 (2.5 years) and my niece (3.5 years) to McDonald's for dinner and to play, then to see Curious George. Really cute movie. Ds did very well - I was quite pleased with his behavior, because I really wasn't sure how he would be. We sat in the last row, on the aisle, which was a smart move for us. The kids got to stand up for a few minutes when they got antsy without bothering anyone, and we could slip out easily to the bathroom. Oh, and we had a diaper on ds because we are not too comfortable with him telling us when has to go when we are out in public - but he did! He didn't even mind leaving the movie for a minute to go. I was certain he would just go in his diaper so he wouldn't have to get up, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Looks like all this potty training really is paying off Smile Anyway, we spent $13 on dinner and $14 on the movie (both kids were free - another pleasant surprise!). Definitely a fun night.
Tomorrow we are having ds1's Early Intervention evaluation - he gets speech services. They are going to continue services for another 6 months as he is just now really starting to talk - but we have to review his goals just the same. Tomorrow was my morning to sleep in, but they will be here at 9. So I told DH to get me up at 8:55 Smile
I'm not doing well on my real estate goals - I just have not gotten motivated to sit down and get my mailings out. Maybe I will make that a goal for tomorrow...

100 entries!

February 18th, 2006 at 01:30 am

Woo hoo! I was actually thinking of skipping tonight as I really had nothing to talk about, but then I saw that I had 99 entries...and since I will be gone until Monday, well, I just had to write that 100th entry.
Worked today, dropped my car off next door due to a faulty sensor that keeps lighting up. When I got repairs done to my brakes, the mechanic broke it off. Since then, I have had it replaced twice (at no cost to me) only to have it keep breaking. I don't really care that it stays on, but every time it comes on I don't know whether it is a problem with my sensor or my brakes. So they never got around to fixing it today because the part didn't come in, and when I picked up my car, it was DEAD. The mechanic had to jump it for me and told me to drive it a while before turning it off to recharge the battery, so I had to scrap my shopping trip I had planned after work. Oh well, I guess it saved me some money. Plus there was no charge at the mechanics since it was their fauly my battery had died. It's not often I walk away from the mechanic without spending anything.
Tonight my mom made a spaghetti dinner from scratch and my brothers both came over with their SOs. Fun night. We are going to play cards in a few minutes, but I am killing some time while my brother and future -SIL do some wedding planning. They just asked ds1 to be in the wedding, along with my niece Smile
Have a great weekend, everyone - I'll be MIA for a few days - down near Binghamton having a scrapbooking weekend with some girlfriends and no kids!!

cranky today

February 17th, 2006 at 02:06 am

Well, I think both my boys are sick due to their disrupted sleep patterns. The good thing is that they don't act too sick, just runny noses and coughing but not too miserable. Ds1 skipped his nap today, which did not help matters. plus they were both up several times last night. Ugh. DH is already in bed tonight, and I think I need to follow him there any minute. I am SO looking forward to this weekend with my cousin and girlfriends - scrapbooking, eating, and sleeping in!
Attended my training today - very interesting. And we got out an hour early Smile I stopped at my real estate office on the way back and picked up some promotional materials to mail out to past clients. Now I just have to get my form letter written so I can get the mailings out. I am sending my past clients (the ones still in the area) a coupon book (like the Entertainment books) and asking them to keep me in mind to refer to people they know - if they do and that person buys a house, I will pay them $25 (the maximum I am allowed to pay for referrals). Even if I make one sale off this, it will more than pay for itself.
Off to bed - this will be the earliest I have been to bed in weeks. And I really, really need it tonight.
Smile

glug, glug, glug

February 16th, 2006 at 02:43 am

Does it still count as my third glass of water if I chug it while writing my journal entry, after just remembering that I needed to drink it? Smile
I was really trying earlier, but ds1 has a fever and runny nose, and he wanted some of my water earlier. Well, I wasn't going to deny him, but I sure as heck wasn't going to drink after him either!
I had a very productive morning, followed by a totally unproductive afternoon. I finished cleaning out our bedroom closet, made three separate offerings on Freecycle (two of which have been spoken for), printed and signed my taxes (waiting for DH to sign, will go out tomorrow), did some other things around the house...then afternoon hit, and all the energy just ran out of me. All I wanted to do was curl up and take a nap (which I did do in 5 minute spurts as ds2 was playing and ds1 was napping...shh, don't tell). Finally shrugged it off by taking the boys outside after nap time. The thermometer said 60 degrees (unheard on in central NY in February!) but the wind made it feel quite a bit colder. We only stayed out about 20 minutes, but I still had to drag ds1 back in kicking and screaming despite the cold. A little bit of cabin fever in the household...
Tomorrow I have to attend a training in Syracuse - about a 45 minute drive. Should be interesting - it's on autism. I wanted to go because two of my clients at work have autism/autistic tendencies. I hope it's worth my time. Ds 2 just woke up - I hope he's not getting sick too, as that is the only time he ever wakes up in the middle of the night Frown

oh yeah...water

February 15th, 2006 at 02:36 am

And...I made my three glasses of water today. One at work, one in the afternoon, and one that I snuck in about an hour ago. Yeah! Now if I can make this a habit, I can move up to four glasses in a week or two - but not much more - I've tried it, and I spend too much time running to the bathroom all day! Sorry if TMI Smile

halfway there

February 15th, 2006 at 02:35 am

I got half my short-term goals done. I got my mailings done and made the Valentine's cookies. They were supposed to be rolled oatmeal cookies (you blend the oats first to make oat flour), but they tasted more like sugar cookies than oatmeal, just with a little more texture. But they were good, and I would make them again, just not what I expected. I cut them in heart shapes and spread raspberry jelly between them. I left a plate for DH when he got home from school tonight - the little sneak went out and got me some flowers today, so I wanted to do SOMETHING nice for him. He went to the flower shop where my SIL works and told her to make something that costs less than $10 or else I would get mad - and she did. She knew he wasn't kidding (my frugality is legendary). But is was a very pretty bouquet Smile
Still have to get my direct deposit set up and taxes sent out. I reviewed all the taxes last night (Turbo Tax printed out about 50 pages of my return plus all the worksheets). I found just one thing I need to fix, and then I can send them out. Hopefully tomorrow. I did stop at the sign shop today on my way home from work and got a preliminary sketch for my car magnet. Since the shop owner is on my bowling team, I am going to give him the money on Sunday night at bowling so he can make it for me. I just wanted to think it over first to see if there was anything I wanted to add. It's only $20, so I am pretty pleased. Hopefully it will give my name some more visibility around the county.
Goal tomorrow: clean out the freezer. My mom and I have been putting this off forever. The ice is built up so badly that one of the shelves is almost unusable, and some things are frozen right into it. Tomorrow will be the only day I will be home for another week, so hopefully we will get it done.
No money spent today...I was so tempted to grab a breakfast sandwich at McDonald's because I was running late this morning, but I gulped down a bowl of cereal instead. I know the $2.50 will bring me more satisfaction than an egg mcmuffin would have Smile No money spent today!

didn't quite make 3 glasses...

February 14th, 2006 at 03:25 am

of water, but I did drink two during the day at work. Then I got home to a house full of kids (2 were mine, 1 was my niece) and all thoughts left my head for the next few hours as I chased them around the house saying "no! Don't touch the hot light bulb" (to my youngest), "No! Do not jump off the bed on your brother" (to my oldest), and "Say you're sorry" (to my niece). But then my brother offered to take my older boy home with him for a few hours, and I took the baby out to dinner with my parents at my aunt's house ("No! Don't eat that french fry off the floor! Don't stick your fingers in the kitties cage" "Stay out of the toilet!"). It's been a very tiring day Smile But my mom made soup to take to my aunt (she's 91) and we had a nice dinner. She loves to see the baby and he really put on a show tonight. What a ham.
Other than that, not much done today, except work. I finally got my business cards today, meaning I can stop at the sign place tomorrow to get started on my advertising. Yeah!
I was just online looking up courses for my real estate license renewal, due in April. I have to take 22.5 hours every two years. It's going to cost me about $135, which is not bad. I will take them online, and since I read pretty fast, I will get done in less then 22.5 hours (whereas if I took an actual class, I would be there for the entire time). But it's another expense to go on the 0% credit card. Ick.
Gotta get some little things done: check over taxes for errors and file. Get my direct deposit set up in my checking account before they figure out that I haven't done it yet and start charging me fees (the account was only free with direct deposit). Mail out two thank you notes and a request for a credit to my Nextel account for putting my walkie-talkie number on my new business cards. Make cookies for Valentine's Day Smile I just saw this recipe online for cut-out oatmeal cookies instead of sugar. I think I will try them tomorrow. And drink my water too!!

productive day!

February 13th, 2006 at 03:43 am

Well, DH and I finished the taxes today. When it comes to taxes, it pays to make no money! We will be getting a substantial amount back. We made almost $20k less than last year due to both of us not working for half the year, so the taxes we planned on paying were a lot less. I can't decide if I want to throw it toward my student loans then pay off the remaining few thousand, or pay off my 0% cc and then put the rest toward our Roths. I know the latter is probably the smarter answer, since the 0% won't last forever, but I know we'll be able to pay the card off soon anyway. And it is just SO tempting to be rid of my student loan...I guess I have some time to think about it before the money gets here. We were looking at the program that lets you buy gift cards at a discounted rate, but it looked as though you would have to pay $14.95 in S & H (unless I was reading it wrong). I think its a better idea for us to just get the money.
I was able to sort through all my real estate paperwork today and get it filed in an organized manner, so I won't have to drive myself nuts looking for papers when I need them. Plus I picked up the bedroom, cleaned out the fridge, finished all the laundry (even the dry cleaning that has been in the hamper for months) - I feel so accomplished today Smile
I was noticing when I cleaned out the fridge how many things I was throwing away just because we didn't know they were in there - not too much, a handful of grapes, a few cherry tomatoes, a little yogurt left in the carton - but it adds up. And those are all things we would have eaten if we had just gotten to them in time. I'll have to be more conscious of this.
I want to add a new goal for February, rather than wait to March. Nothing to do with money, just a personal one for me - drink at least 3 glasses of water per day, between meals. Sometimes I will go until dinnertime and not realize that I have had nothing to drink all day except a glass of milk with lunch - then down four glasses of milk with dinner. I have to remember to drink throughout the day. Sounds simple, but unless I have that glass right next to me, it never crosses my mind. We'll see how it goes, then maybe bump up to four glasses a day. maybe I will save some money (and calories) but not drinking as much milk that way! (but as the daughter of dairy farmers, I am telling all of you to drink YOUR milk!)

reign comes to an end...

February 12th, 2006 at 04:30 am

we played cards tonight (pitch)and did not win Frown I guess all things must end! But we had a good time, so that's what really matters. Quite a bit of money spent today: $37 at Wal-Mart for diapers, a step stool for ds1 to use the toilet, and a few groceries. Another $33 for the babysitter (no, we are not that generous - we payed her for tonight and tomorrow when we are bowling). I showed a few more houses today, but no sales yet. I do feel pretty confident that these guys will buy through me though - and probably sell their current house through me as well. They referred a friend to me, so they must like what I am doing! The bad news is that I called my brother's friend again (they did not return my first call after they told my brother they needed help to sell their home). Turns out they had already contacted an agent before they found out that I was in the business - they were going to work with me because he never called them back. Well, that agent did finally call them back and they are working with him. But they did say they would give me a call if it didn't work out. Bummer. Still waiting on my business cards too...it's hard to move ahead with my advertising blitz without my business cards. I think they may have been delivered to my office instead of home (which I never go to - I work from home). I'll have to call Monday to check.
Nothing planned for tomorrow except bowling at night. We planned to wrap up the taxes today, but never got around to it. Maybe tomorrow...and maybe not.

almost forgot...

February 11th, 2006 at 03:06 am

...I got my fourth insurance quote today from my prior insurer. It looks like my diligence is finally paying off. If I pay my insurance off all at once instead of payments (which I have done ever since I discovered that they wanted to charge me $5 a month if I didn't!), my new rate will be just under $1200/year for both cars (and set for a year instead of 6 months). That definitely beats my current rate of $1343, especially since LM already told me that the rates will be going up when I renew next month. Phew.
Thanks, Jeffrey, for the kick in the pants to get started on this Smile Now I can move on to some other challenges!

free gift cards???

February 11th, 2006 at 03:02 am

When we returned our rental car in Las Vegas, we looked in the glove box to make sure we had not left anything behind and pulled out an envelope FULL of gift cards ($10 to McDonalds, $10 to Barnes and Noble, several restaurant cards- probably more than $50 total). We tried to turn them into the attendant, but he told to keep them because he had no way of knowing who had the car last and would throw them out. At first we thought YEAH! but then we saw that all the cards were addressed to someone. It looked as though they were birthday gifts to a little girl, by the notes that were written on them. So we were able to see that one card (Barnes and Nobles) was actually a membership card. We called B&N and explained the situation. We know they would not give out any info on the person, but we asked them if they would contact them for us. They said they would try. It's been about 3 weeks now with no word...I'm wondering if we've done enough and can go use these now with a clear conscience...
We've started the Turbo Tax...looks like we'll be getting over $3k back Smile We made so little $$ last year that I am not surprised - we weren't counting on DH being unemployed for half the year! So we actually were eligible for some of the credits we never got before. I just have to pin down some of my business expenses, and DH has to figure out some investment income, and we can send it in. I figure we'll just throw it toward my student loans. That will cut it in half, and I might even kick in the rest from my emergency fund just to be done with them. Then we'll be saving $100+ a month in payments. And since DH's loans are in deferment...no student loan payments for another year!!!

the good, the bad, and the ugly

February 10th, 2006 at 03:27 am

The good: I received another real estate referral today. Someone my brother knows is selling their home and wants to list it with an agent. I called them tonight, but they weren't home. It's someone we went to high school with, but no one I really know. The house is right around the corner from me. Hopefully this will turn into something Smile I also cleaned out a big box full of real estate papers. I was able to find some old addresses of people I want to send my "thank you for your business and please refer me to someone" letters to.

the bad: ds1 was a little miserable today. He decided to play during his naptime instead of sleep, and by 5pm, it really was showing. During one particularly bad tantrum, he flung himself on top of his little brother and knocked him over. I was quite happy to put the little darling to bed tonight.

the ugly: I finally received a response from my complaint letter to a certain cell phone company that I won't mention (but it starts with Nex- and ends with -tel). They denied my request for a credit to my account after they failed to port my number over after nearly two weeks, despite my numerous phone calls to them. They tried to make it sound like it was my fault (they claimed we never asked for both numbers to be ported, only one - why would we not ask for both when we needed both ported??? then they said it was my decision to keep my previous line open, when I was told I needed to keep it open until it was ported or else I would lose the number) Then they tried to refuse to give me a state employee discount that I had them verify for me before I bought the phones. And they never told me that call detail was $1.49 each month, each phone line (this was free with me previous provider). Then they did not give me a credit that they agreed to give me, so I had to call back again to ask for that. It seems they will tell you what you want to hear, then never follow through. They probably get away with it more often than not, too, since the cell phone bills are so confusing to read. I am so sick of it. I have written a response detailing all of this and am asking to be released from my contract without penalty. I am sending a copy to either the Better Business Bureau or the Attorney General, not sure which yet. I am just researching the other cell plans so I know I will be able to switch to a comparable one if they agree. Argh.

crunching numbers

February 9th, 2006 at 04:02 am

This morning I had some free time when ds1 was at pre-school and ds2 decided to take an unusual morning nap - so I sat down at the computer and made up a spreadsheet with all my accounts, cc, and investments. I want to be able to track where the money is going. Usually I just look at the checking and savings accounts, but then it looks as though we are losing money even though we put $2k into our retirement account. So I thought this might be a better way to look at the overall picture. I know there must be some magic computer program out there that will do this all for me, but I have tried a few and not liked them. So I just made up my own and I think it will work out fine. The only problem is that I want to track it monthly, but only a few of my accounts run from the 1st of the mnoth to the last. For example, all my BOA statements start on the 6th of the month through the 5th of the next month. I called to see if they can change my statement dates, but they cannot. Frown So I just have to do a little figuring, that's all - I would have preferred the easy route of looking at the top and bottom of me statements to know my beginning and ending balances.
So far, it looks like net worth decreased by $1200 last month (due to a whopping $2700 tuition bill for DH - paid mostly in cash, but partially with cc). But after the fact, I realized that I did not put our student loans and car loan on the spreadsheet. That will bring us up a little more as we paid about $300 on the loans last month. I think it will be a helpful tool for me to look at the big picture.
Another day off tomorrow...I'll see what I can tackle then.

bean soup and biscuits

February 8th, 2006 at 03:05 am

Yum... a hearty dinner. Bean soup is about the cheapest meal you can have. Although I have to admit that the biscuits were the Pillsbury kind that comes in a can - but I do not take responsibility for my mother's not-so-thrifty indulgences. I would just as soon make the bread, but if she's going to buy the biscuits, well then, I won't turn them down Smile
Not much to report these past few days. Went to work today and yesterday, showed an amazing house yesterday that my buyers decided against due to the taxes and utility bills - a huge, gorgeous old colonial with very tall ceilings and three floors (finished attic as master bedroom). Can't say that I blame them. We'll be going to look at more houses this weekend. I am still waiting for my business cards to arrive...
Not much planned for the next two days (my days off). I will just try to tackle some more things around the house. Seems like it's always one step forward and two backward with a 1 and a 2 year old underfoot Smile Not that I would change it for the world, of course!

We are ON A ROLL!

February 6th, 2006 at 03:08 am

Another great night at bowling - I got a 568!! Second high for the league all season (for the ladies) - right behind my mom (with well over 600). Hopefully I can hang on to this position until the end of the league to cash in a little prize money - they pay the top three. DH also bowled over 500. Not too shabby, since we both average 150 on the dot. AND...we won the pinochle tournament last night - $25! That paid for our entry fee and babysitter with a few bucks to spare. I must sound ultra-competitive, but really, I enjoy the fun of the games more than winning. But winning certainly is a bonus, especially when there is money attached Wink
I showed a few more houses today...the family I am showing them too didn't find anything they loved yet, but we are going to look again tomorrow. The best part though...they referred a friend to me who is relocating to the area. They are going to send me his e-mail address so I can start sending him some listings. So things are starting to pick up a little, and I haven't even started my advertising blitz yet Smile This probably would be a good idea for a $20 challenge (to see if money spent on advertising brings me any sales), but I don't think I would have time to keep up in it. Something to consider...

money spent today...

February 5th, 2006 at 04:05 am

DH and I went to a pinochle party tonight. My uncle puts them on twice a year. $10 to play, chance to win $25, $20, $15, or $10 in prize money. I would say we have a decent shot at getting something back - I think we did okay. We'll see - final scores have not been tallied yet. We spent $12 on the babysitter tonight, and will spend another $15 to go bowling tomorrow. Oh well - a night out with my honey is worth it Smile
DH spent some cash getting a haircut today - $14 with a $2 tip. Does that seem high for a men's haircut?? I need to find him a cheap barber to go to (he went to a Haircrafters). It's not like cutting his hair is difficult. If I wasn't such a wimp, I would buy a set of clippers and do it myself. I want to learn how to cut my boys hair, but I am so scared of screwing it up royally. I need to take a lesson from Cercis (cutting her own hair) and Princess Perky (cutting her kids' hair) and just do it. It's not like it won't grow back...I do like the sound of cercis' method of cutting hair - pulling it into a ponytail and cutting across for layers - might work up the nerve to try that one on myself.
Also spent $1.40 on library fines. The public library is the absolutely best value around. Now that I am back in a small town, it's even cheaper as the fines are smaller here. I would write checks to my old library for $20 and up sometimes (I was really bad at returning things on time), but I have never had to pay more than $1 or $2 here for fines. Of course, paying at all is REALLY stupid as I can renew online, or have DH drop off the books on his way to school. The library is only 5 minutes away anyway. So I will have to work on that...but at least I don't feel bad about giving money to the library because of the great service they provide.
No other money spent today.

progress today

February 4th, 2006 at 01:12 am

Well, my business cards are ordered FINALLY. I got the proofs today and okayed them. I ended up taking the pictures at home with my dad's digital camera. Since I saved $25-50 on the pics, I didn't feel bad wasting $10 on the proofs. I wanted to make sure the picture looked okay on the card, since it was taken so "unprofessionally" (we held a blanket up for the background!). It looked fine, so I should have my cards by the end of next week. Then I can move on to the next phase of getting my car sign made up and distributing my new cards to past clients.
I also cleaned out a corner of the "junk room" today to store my kids' clothes. It is this really large room we have upstairs that accumulates all the seasonal stuff (Christmas, pool supplies), the things we don't use often (suitcases), things we will need again but not soon (baby gear), etc etc. It is PACKED. We clean it out a few times a year, but as soon as the seasons change, it is packed again as everything just gets thrown in there on top of the old stuff. The big problem is that my dad won't let us throw anything away, even if it's broken or something he will never use. I used to have the same problem, but when you move into a house that is already full, you have to store a lot of things. After about a year, I realized I did not miss any of them. So I have managed to scale my stuff down quite a bit, although DH thinks I could still stand to lose a lot more Smile
But I digress...what a tangent I got on! Anyway, I have a wall section cleared out and have stacked my boxes of clothes there. Now I have easy access to them when I need to get out clothes of the next size or put some away (Tightwad Gazette readers may recognize a bit of Amy Dacyzyn in this!).
DId a bit of work in the kitchen today - chicken soup for the freezer out of a chicken carcass, and homemade corn bread. Never made it from scratch before, but it sure was good. I even made it with Splenda to be a little more South Beach friendly. Plus I went shopping this morning - spent $86 for $147 worth of groceries. But...$10 of that will be rebated back to me, and another $15 was for waste control (ok, diapers and kitty litter), so I should keep track of that separate than my food expenditures. Great deal on soda and chips (neither of which I really eat too much of, but the rest of my family does) - soda was 3 fridge packs for $8 and Lays chips were 3/$4.50 - total was $12.50, but Tops gave you a $2.50 coupon and Pepsi/Lay's gives a $10 rebate - so it's all FREE!
Gotta run, DH1 is at the neighbors and ready to come home.

Comments got me thinking...

February 4th, 2006 at 12:59 am

I was asked about my monthly payments for rent, utilities, phone, etc. as I did not have them listed on my budget. We are extremely fortunate to have a very cheap, compatible living situation in staying with my parents. We like to be here, they want us to be here...and we are saving a ton of money to boot. In looking over my expenses for last month, I am wondering where I would fit in a housing payment if I needed one. On a good month, we only have several hundred left (although since we have a good emergency fund already established, we pay every bit we can toward student loan and car debt, meaning there usually is nothing left anyway after we pay loans). I guess if we had a housing payment, we would not have made nearly as much headway in other areas. It really makes we wonder how other families can do it.
Our income last year was $25k, plus some unemployment benefits after DH lost his job. Certainly on the lower end of the spectrum for a family of four, but I know there are many, many more people who make a lot less. And I don't know how we would have been able to make ends meet if we owned a home. When we owned a very modest home in a city, our mortgage was $450, utilities ranged from $100-400, phone was another $50...plus all the miscellaneous expenses associated with home ownership - would have easily totaled $1000 a month. It's hard to see where that money would have come from under our current circumstances.
However, like I said, we are so very fortunate in our circumstances. so much so that I am able to work only part-time, and DH is able to go back to school. A lot of saving brought us to this point we are now at - we have a comfortable emergency cushion to rely in if need be. We could have easily wasted away the savings we had each month on material things, but instead we cook from scratch, buy nearly everything used, and just don't accumulate a lot to begin with.
I don't know where I am going with all this...just a kudos to everyone out there who is making do with little. We are not extravagant people by any means, but I still can see the difficulty in making ends meet.

February goals

February 3rd, 2006 at 02:26 am

Yesterday I posted my expenses for the month...here come the goals for next month.
Groceries: 290
Household: 165
Car: 250 - usual 200 in gas plus DH needs his car inspected
Medical: 345 - DH still needs to get some contacts
Clothes: 20
Loans: 300.36 (200 car, 100.36 student loan)
Entertainment: 150
Gifts: 30 (one birthday)
Miscellaneous: 150
Real estate: 150 (50 for business cards, another 100 for advertising)
School: 50 pre-school, I don't think DH has any anticipated school expenses this month
Total expenses: $1900.36
Estimated income: $2592
If all goes well, we should be able to clear almost $600 this month. Not much, but not too bad considering our income Smile

Other goals for February:
-Start advertising for real estate. By the end of this month, I want to have my magnet sign for my car, have advertisements posted in three local establishments, and have one ad in the Sunday paper.
-Finish tax returns early. Every year I start in February, then get sidetracked until April. I have them about half done, just need to finish collecting some info.
-Maintain weight loss. I am very happy where I am right now (142.5 lbs - and proud of it!). I am wearing a size 10. I am still following the South Beach principals, although loosely. I thought I could add back some sweets and maintain my weight, but I am actually still losing it! So my goal is to maintain the loss, but if I drop a few more pounds, that would be more than okay too!
-Get organized - one project at a time. Right now it's kids' clothes. I have them stored in cardboard boxes with lids, labeled by size and season. I have enough clothes for my boys until they are 5, even though they are only 1 and 2 now. A lot of hand-me-downs and secondhand buys. But anyway...I need to find a good out-of-the-way storage place for them, as well as get the rest of the clothes that were recently outgrown stored. I plan to conquer this in February, then hopefully move on to another project next month.

January summary

February 2nd, 2006 at 03:06 am

I don't have all my totals yet for the month...can't get into my credit union account, which was closed this month, to get my statement, so I will have to wait for the snail mail. But I barely touched it this month. Ditto on the HSBC account - DH must have written down the wrong password, because I can't get into this one either. But the only thing we did on this account is cash withdrawals (probably $400-500 due to vacation), so I will account for this when I get the statement.

Here are my goals for the month and how I actually did:
Groceries: 300 -> spent $234.83! However, my mom did a fair amount of shopping this month. I need to investigate to see if she is spending more to make up for what I am not spending (she's not a saver like me!). I don't want to save more at her expense.
Household: 200 -> $165 spent
Car: 200 -> 202.85
Medical: 345 -> 30 (DH never got his contacts that he needed, so this anticipated expense will carry over to next month)
Clothes: 25 -> 28.40
Loans: 300.25 -> 550.36 (this is only higher because my Dec. car payment did not get cashed until Jan.)
Entertainment: 400 -> 326.58 spent, not counting what we spent in Vegas in cash
Gifts: 0 -> 138.13 (new baby, thank you gift to my parents for watching the kids while we were on vacation)
Miscellaneous: 150 -> 331.73 (bridesmaid dress and new bowling ball for DH accounted for most of this)
Real estate: 100 -> 0 (business card order has not been processed yet)
Expenses I didn't account for: $145.74 in DH's school expenses, $50 pre-school tuition
Total expenses: planned for 2020.25 -> actually paid 2038.62...so close! However, the good news...income was $2534.69, so we had a month in the black - first one in a few months, it seems.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased this month. I was really concentrating on cutting down the grocery expenses and I have been able to do that considerably. Using a list really has helped.
TOmorrow I will try to post my goals for next month...