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Archive for May, 2006

budget breakers

June 1st, 2006 at 02:47 am

1. $323 to rent a cabin for the week in August. Well worth the cash, as all of DH's family is there renting cabins too. It will be a great time - but I thought it was more like $150/week, so I nearly fell over when I saw the cc bill. OUCH. But to put it in perspective, it's a week-long vacation, with family, without eating out at all. Food expense will be the same as regular grocery expenses since the cabins have a full kitchen. We can swim, lay on the beach, hike, have campfires, etc. at no extra cost.
2. $1443 for DH's summer class. The good side - we did not have to take additional student loans out. The downside: $643 on the credit card. This should be paid off next month though.
3. $50 for Mother's Day gifts. No surprise here, except that I forgot to include this in the budget! Oops.
4. $25 to refill my EZ Pass. My parents borrowed it twice to go out of state because it is so much easier than waiting in line for the tolls. I'll have to get them one of their own...
5. $60 to take the dog to the vet.

All in all, it was not a horrible month, except we ended up putting the cabin and tuition back on the credit card, which we haven't used in a few months. We could have used the emergency fund, but I figure we can always use that in 4 weeks to pay the cc if we can't swing it before the finance charges start. It seems that once the money leaves the EF, there is always something else to spend it on before replenishing the fund. I try not to take any money out at all.
Several years ago DH and I had nearly $30k sitting untouched in that fund. Just to toot our own horns for a minute, I think that's pretty impressive for a could in their mid-20s who never made more than $60k combined. However, two cars (one paid for in cash and one with a $5k downpayment), one family emergency ($5k), one set of braces ($4500), two years of fully funded Roth IRAs($16k), and a job loss/return to grad school ($$$$) later, we are down to $9k. That really depresses me, but then I have to force myself to look back at all we have been able to do, and know that we will get back there again. Right now, thought, I would really like to get that EF back to $10k. I don't know why, I just really like that number. I think I will hold off on that though, only because we are so close to paying off DH's car - less than $1500, I think, so the money would be better applied there. Sometimes I wonder if I am an idiot for letting so much money sit there untouched when we have so many student loans to pay off, but then again, the interest we are getting at HSBC is higher than the interest we are paying on the loans, so I guess it works out okay. Just my random ramblings...

spend spend spend

May 31st, 2006 at 01:52 am

There goes my eat-out budget for the week. I had my weekly allowed lunch out today with a girlfriend - $4.31 for a mediocre fast-food lunch. Then when I got home to a 90+ degree house, DH told me he did not care what was for dinner as long as it was "someplace cold and with someone bringing it to me". We really do not go out to dinner much, so I was happy to oblige. We took the boys to a new authentic Mexican restaurant that just opened last night. Pretty good stuff, if you like authentic Mexican. Another $26 spent. No other cash spent today, though.
Ds1 fell and cracked his head open on his headboard today. DH originally wanted to take him to Urgent Care, but once the bleeding stopped, it wasn't too bad. We'll have to see how it looks tomorrow - might still warrant a trip to the pediatrician. Anyway, between that and the heat, we had some cranky kids today. luckily, they behaved well in the restaurant, other than the 1 year old wanted to run all over the place. Can't blame them for being toddlers, though Smile
I have been waiting until the end of the cc billing cycle (5/28) to pay DH's tuition so that we would have nearly 2 months to repay it. The time is here...I am going to put it on the 0% card, but pay about $800 of it off immediately, since we have the extra cash. The rest (about $600) we'll work on in the next month or so. Bummer. I liked seeing all that money sitting in my account. At least for this one semester, though, we won't have to add to his student loans.

Donation goal

May 30th, 2006 at 01:52 am

I made a goal of donating 40 items this month. I have exceeded this greatly, although I have no idea by how much. I estimate I have probably donated closer to 80-100 items, mostly small items like clothing and books. I just cleaned out my sons' books tonight and came up with about 20 more to give away. I feel my life getting simpler already...aaahhhh.

My 5 minute plan is working great too - a little bit every night really helps. Some nights it amounts to just picking up my clothes from the day or putting away the laundry, but other nights it means huge piles of paper get filed or tossed. Now, it's nearly the point where I look around my room and wonder what is left to be done. And that, my friends, is a wonderful feeling. Smile

Using up leftovers

May 30th, 2006 at 01:48 am

I found myself creatively trying to use up stuff from the fridge these past few days - I hate throwing food away, yet we seem to do a lot of it.
1. Used half a loaf of Italian bread to make Oven French Toast. Failure. I have made this before and it was great, but something went wrong this time. I think it might be baecause I tried to cook it faster on convection but did not leave it in long enough - it was more like soggy bread than french toast.
2. Pudding pops - great success. I made a fruit salad last night that was wonderful, but used a half package of vanilla pudding. I made the other half today and froze it with some leftover crushed strawberries. We ate it a few hours later when it was slushy, but not frozen solid. A big hit with the kids.
3. Jello with some of the aforementioned leftover strawberries and some old sour cream (sounds gross, but I found the very highly rated recipe online). Decent, but not an outstanding recipe. Still, good enough that I will eat the rest of it.
4. Yogurt pops made with the remainder of a carton of yogurt and, yes, leftover strawberries. Quality to be determined as they are still in the freezer.
I made the popsicles in little Dixie cups - worked well, but I think I will need to find something more permanent if I plan to do this all summer. I used to have a popsicle mold, but DH got rid of it as I never used it!
Some good experiments, some bad. This week alone we have discarded two cucumbers, a few stalks of wilted celery, a few tomatoes, and some brown lettuce. I need to find a way to keep on top of those things that always seem to get pushed to the back of the fridge.

how to save money on diapers (the hard way)

May 29th, 2006 at 02:25 pm

Just a little humor to start off the day...do NOT read if you are considering having children soon Smile

1. Decide to let your toddler run around with his diaper off, for "just a minute" while you finish breakfast, since it's good for the diaper rash, right?
2. Put one bite of blueberry pancake in your mouth before you hear the wooosh of running water.
3. Look up in time to see aforementioned toddler finishing #1.
4. Go over to clean up the wet spot and notice #2 on the back of his leg. EWWWWWW.
5. Look all over the house for a pile of #2 - don't find it, and conclude that you caught the toddler in time. Relax.
6. Five minutes later, after one more bite of breakfast, hear your toddler scream as he steps in hidden pile of #2 and tracks it on the carpet.
7. Scream.
8. Try to hold toddler down while cleaning the mess off of him. Wrestle the diaper on. Cry. Clean up the carpet.
9. Resolve to never let toddler run around without a diaper on again, even though technically, I did just save myself one diaper Smile

hot, hot , hot

May 29th, 2006 at 01:34 am

We opened the pool today! Sure, it was green and stinky, but nothing a ton of chlorine won't fix. So in a few days, we'll be cool....until then, I'll just keep the kiddie pool (recycled sandbox) full for the kiddies (maybe me too...it's supposed to be 90 tomorrow).
Yesterday I felt like I did nothing...yet I got a lot done. Today I felt like I ran around all day, but really did not get much done. Must be the heat. Being hot just throws off my day. I'll have to get DH to hook up the ACs soon.
I bought some more seeds today and almost finished up the garden - just need to find zucchini and squash plants, and rhubarb and lettuce seeds. I am planning to plant rhubarb this year to reap the benefits for future years. We used to have a neighbor who shared her rhubarb with us - she always had more than she could use. My family loves my rhubarb desserts and they are always requested. I priced it at the store the other day - $4.99 a pound! So growing it seems to be the only economical way to have it a lot Smile Other plans: a pear tree, once I find somewhere to plant it. I would also love to plant asparagus - but it being a perennial, it can't go in the garden (which is dug up each year by tractor). Last year I bought a plant but never found anywhere to put it. I need to try again this year. I live on a farm, for goodness sake. I ought to be able to find a little patch of land somewhere for my rhubarb and asparagus! I have heard that the rhubarb leaves are very poisonous, so I need to make sure it is planted out of the way (kids) - anyone know if they are also poisonous to animals (dogs, cats, cows)?
Maybe I'll get more done tomorrow...but maybe not...
Goal for tomorrow: get ACs in windows.

Maps!

May 28th, 2006 at 02:39 am

Ok, I hit upon a new idea today - which undoubtably some will think is wonderful, and others will think I have WAY too much time on my hands. Last weekend I took the newspaper, jumped in the car, and hit the garage sales. Even though I knew where the roads were last weekend, I still wasted too much time driving around because I didn't have a route planned. So, this week...I printed out a map of the area I was planning to hit, marked down ALL the garage sales in that area, and planned a route. By looking at the entire picture, I saw that all the garage sales were concentrated around the perimeter of the city, so that I could start on one side and do a big loop, hitting nearly all of them without going out of my way. I would have driven probably twice as much as I did if I had not mapped it out first.
Now...what I need to find is some Internet site that will let me input addresses and plot them on a map for me. I looked today, but couldn't find anything. This will save me a lot of time in searching for roads AND it will tell me exactly where on a road the sale is. Anyone know of a way to do this?
Anyway...onto the $$$. I bought three pairs of jeans for $3.25, two books for $.50, and a shirt for $.75. But the best find of the day was two Guinness signs (DH's family is very Irish and very into Guinness) - one for $1 and one for $.25! They were pretty scrungy looking, but a quick cleaning and they came out great. Dh is going to keep one and give one as a gift to his grandfather. Total spent: $5.75 for a morning of fun with ds1, who really has gotten into going with me. We stopped at my elderly aunts house for lunch on the way through - a nice visit.
A quick stop at the greenhouse after garage-saling ($10.80) and we came home to plant the garden. So far we have tomatoes, three types of peppers, cukes, beets, green and yellow beans, spinach, and swiss chard planted - still need zucchini, yellow squash, lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli. I love this time of year!

a sale! a sale!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 27th, 2006 at 01:36 am

I presented the offer on the house and it was counteroffered, which my buyers accepted! We have a bona fide, dually accepted, signed, initialed, delivered contract. It is contingent on my buyers selling their house, though, which will be on the market June 1. I am hoping for a very quick sale on that one. We already have some potential interest in it.
A little side note: when I was telling my buyers what they would need to bring when we signed the contracts, I asked them to bring an earnest money deposit of $1000 (typical for a house in this price range) and was met with an incredulous stare. They could not come up with $1000, even though they were putting an offer in on a $120k house. So we settled for a $500 deposit, which luckily was acceptable to the sellers. Wow. It makes me really appreciate our emergency fund and that we can pay for nearly any expense that comes our way without batting an eye. Those of you who are struggling to fund you EF, keep at it! The security it provides you is immeasurable. It is such a sense of relief to not worry about where you would get the cash if the car breaks, if you suddenly become unemployed (happened to DH last year and now he's a full time student!), how to pay for medical bills or co-pays, etc.
Absolutely no plans for tomorrow, except maybe to hit a few garage sales if the weather is nice. DS1 said he would go with me again (he's 2), but I will have to keep it short if he goes, as he tired out pretty easily last weekend. I think I will go make a french toast casserole for the morning out of a leftover half loaf of Italian bread. It will be a nice Saturday morning treat.

Money spent today: $17.83 pizza for dinner (DH's idea - neither of us had time to cook tonight as I was running all over the place for this offer and he was helping my brother with farm chores as my parents went out of town), $3.95 postage for the coupon train, $3.87 for coffee and a muffin this morning with a client (my treat, although this client did bring me a pair of hand-me-down, but perfect condition, sneakers since we are the same size). Lunch with my friend was cancelled by her, so I ate a half bag of M & M's at my desk, then another snack when I got home at 3pm. Not the best, I know, but the M&Ms were given to me and it beat going out for lunch. So I was able to stick to my one-lunch-out-per-week rule!
Did my 10 minutes of quick-clean last night. Back to 5 tonight.
Goal for tomorrow: plant seeds in garden. If I have time, I'll run to the greenhouse for my tomatoes, cukes, broccoli, cabbage, and pepper plants too.

the good things...

May 26th, 2006 at 03:11 am

Now that I got my rants out of the way...I wrote an offer on a house for the buyers I have been working with! Everyone keep your fingers crossed - we should hear in the morning. It's not the best offer, but I hope we can get the ball rolling and at least get a counteroffer. Plus I wrote up the listing agreement to sell my buyers' house, to be listed on June 1. If I were to sell them both, then I would have enough money to pay off the car loand and DH's next semester of tuition. Oh please please please!!!
I did break down and buy lunch today because there was absolutely nothing to take from home. $2.15 for a McChicken and a sundae. Normally I wouldn't mind, because I allow myself one lunch out per week, but I already agreed to meet a friend out for lunch tomorrow. But it's done, so I'm not going to beat myself up over it.
Yesterday we had a surprise trip to the zoo. I went to drop my son off at pre-school and his teacher asked me if we were going on the field trip to the zoo that day. Uh...field trip? She said she told DH, who swears she didn't! anyway, we ran home, packed up the kids and some bag lunches, called my niece next door to go with us, and off we went. $17 for admission, but no other money spent. It was a good time Smile
I think that about covers the past few days...haven't had a lot of time to write. Last night I was so exhausted I fell into bed at 9:30 and slept until 8:30. Now it's 11 and I have to be up at 7 (plus I have 10 minutes of cleaning to do tonight as a result of my exhaustion last night!), so I better get going.

How I wasted three hours of my life

May 26th, 2006 at 03:04 am

(really long post, I'm warning you)

1. Finally called on that old medical bill.
-I started with my husbands former employer (ECC) to find out who our insurance coverage was with during the date of the bill. They told me Aetna and gave me the number.
-I called Aetna - they were not our carrier at that time.
-I called ECC back and they gave me the number to North American insurance (NA).
-I called NA. They were our carrier at that time, but did not pay the bill because they considered it "over reasonable and customary" - in other words, they said, I was overcharged and they would not pay it. I was advised to take it up with the lab.
-I called the lab - they said I needed to take it up with the doctor who ordered the test.
-I called the doctor. They said the lab was nuts and they had nothing to do with what the lab was charging me.
-I called the lab back. They looked again at the claim and told me that NA had paid for two tests, but had not paid anything on a third test. Even if the amoutn was above what NA considered reasonable, they should pay at least a portion of it, and the lab can write off the rest. They told me to call NA back and have them fax the explanation of benefits.
-I called NA back - they looked again at the claim and determined that DUE TO COMPUTER ERROR THE TEST WAS NEVER PAID FOR. However, since ECC dropped NA as the insurance carrier, there was nothing they could do. I would need to go back to ECC and have them pay the bill, since ECC was on a self-funded system at that time (meaning ECC paid the bills out of their own funds, NA just processed the claims for them). In other words, NA not longer has the money from ECC to pay for it.
(At this point I was absolutely livid and NOT the nicest person to speak with, especially since I was just told to call the person I had started all this with).
-I called ECC and was told that since they were no longer on a self-pay system with NA, they could NOT pay this bill, absolutely no way, under any circumstances. They recommended that I refuse to pay it based on the fact that I never received the bill for 2.5 years, and now it was too late to go back to the insurance company for payment.
-I called the lab back and left a message explaining what ECC had said, and asking them what I should do.

Then they called back and left a message with my DH not to worry about it, that they would take care of it. Believe it or not, this made me furious!!! They made me go through all of that when they could have just let it go to start with, based on their failure to bill it to me for over two years????? At least it's done now. Saved: $95.20. Estimated time spent: Two hours. Hourly wage: $47.60 (if I look at it this way, I do feel a little better about it!)

2. Called back to check on why the charge from Yahoo has not yet been reversed (we received a charge for $25 for a service we did not order - it was supposed to be refunded to us, but never was). I spoke to a customer service rep about this charge, but we apparently were not getting our points across to each other. At first he told me the refund had already been credited, at which point I told him I was looking at my statement online and no, it was not credited to my account. Then he told me it must be a problem with my bank, because it was credited. When I pressed for more details, he put me on hold and then came back to tell me that he could cancel the service. I told him that would be fine, but I still wanted my money back. He cancelled the membership, but told me he could not refund the $25 because it was made with a valid credit card. I calmly explained that the purchase was made with MY cc, but I did NOT make it and I did NOT want this service. He advised me to cancel my cc, as it appeared someone else was using it. I asked for the specifics of the service request (who made it, what date, online or in writing, to which Yahoo account it was attached, because no services were listed under my or my husbands Yahoo accounts), but the rep told me he did not have any of this info in front of him. I asked for my money back again and was transferred (after 30 minutes on hold) to a supervisor, who looked into the situation and sent my refund for processing. I again asked specific information on the Yahoo account that had requested this service and was told that he COULD NOT GIVE THIS INFORMATION OUT!!!! So if I want to get information about who is using my card, I have to get a freaking subpeona. Unbelievable. So my only option is to cancel my debit card. Which, I just realized, I have not done and will have to do in the morning. Amount saved: $25. Total time spent: 1 hour. Hourly wage: $25.
Of course, this really is not a savings at all since this is money I did not spend in the first place. I can see how people get easily frustrated and just pay rather than fight a system that treats them like dirt. Yahoo WILL be getting a letter about this, oh yes. Jodi_m is not one to give up easily. In fact, I would have done the same for a $10 bill rather than a $100 bill because IT'S THE PRINCIPLE.

poker

May 23rd, 2006 at 01:47 am

DH played in a poker tournament over the weekend - didn't win. But his entry was free (my uncle sponsored him), so it didn't cost him anything. Then he played on the tables a bit and won $30. However.....some friends invited us over for mroe poker last night. After we picked up a pizza and DH lost $19, we were down again (although I did win $1!). I play much more conservatively than DH - meaning when he loses, he loses bigger than me. And of course when he wins, he usually wins much bigger too! I'm not complaining though - turns out we only spent about $7 overall for two nice evenings. We did get to catch up with some friends of our friends, who will be looking to buy a house in the next year and said they will give me a call, so that was nice.
Busy day today - barely got to see my boys Frown I'm just not used to this. I used to be the one who stayed home all day! But we have talked about switching again once DH gets his degree. or at the very least, I will stop working extra time and go back to 20 hours. After work, I had to meet the other bridesmaids in my brother and future SILs wedding to finish making the invites for the shower, so I never got home until just before the kids went to bed. Boy did I get a good reception from the boys though Smile
Oh, here's how my stupidity cost me money. Saturday night my foot just happened to find a finishing nail that had been abandoned on our carpet. Ouch. I thought I would still be covered by the tetanus shot I got in 1998, but I asked a nurse today at work to be sure. She said I probably would need to go back for another - and I did. $15 gone and a sore foot (and arm) to boot. No other money spent today. I SOOOO wanted a doughnut and coffee this morning, but I resisted Smile
Goal for today: set up card match. Done.
Goal from last week that I have not gotten done yet: call about old medical bill. Somehow I keep forgetting until 7pm, when it is too late to call. I need to make this a priority tomorrow!
Last night I missed my five minute clean up for the first time - we didn't get home until well after 11pm and I was pooped. I guess tonight I'll have to take 10 minutes to catch up!

dump and donate

May 21st, 2006 at 03:03 am

We had our Dump and Donate day today at my real estate office - a chance for clients to bring in garbage for the dumpster and doantions for the Rescue Mission. I took a minivan full - mostly donations. It felt good to unload all of that - and I got a free hot dog (ok, two) and doughnut out of it.
I took my older ds (almost 3) garage saling with me this morning. He did great, for about two hours. Then I bought him a new construction vehicle for $1, and all he wanted to do was "Go home, play in dirt pile". So I ended up taking him home before heading over to the office. It was a cold, drizzly day - quite miserable - so we stopped for a hot cocoa and doughnut. It was a nice treat to share with ds Smile Worth the $1.50. Other money spent: $1 for truck, $.50 for book, $.50 on two travel mugs, $2.00 on two pairs of pants for DH and one shirt for me, $.25 on a pair of shorts for ds2. Not a bad morning for $5.75 total. I love cheap entertainment...although I would probably faint if I figured out how much I spent in gas. Some things are better left alone.
Goal for tomorrow: Set up my next card match, which was due to be played by this week. Oops. I am going to try to set it up for next weekend. It will be the last one for me until fall.
The five minute rule is still working out well - I haven't missed a night yet and slowly, slowly, my bedroom is taking shape.

forgot my goal...

May 20th, 2006 at 01:13 am

Ok, my goal for today has now become my goal for tomorrow...actually, Monday, since I may not be able to get in touch with anyone who can help me tomorrow. I just plain forgot about it. I will try to get the medical bill taken care of soon.
absolutely nothing to report today - no money spent, no money earned. How boring.

a quarter made my day

May 19th, 2006 at 02:45 am

The nicest thing...I went into an office building to look for change for $1 for the parking meter - I stopped in the first office and asked the secretary where I could get change and she tried to give me $.50 from her wallet! She pushed my money back at me and told me to take it. Then I tried to fish out some dimes to give her and she stopped me. I ended up taking one of the quarters because I would not be there long enough to need two. That was SO nice and it made my day. And not just because of saving a quarter! It was just a very nice thing to do. She could have easily directed me to another place to get change. Smile
Spent $14 on a chicken barbecue fundraiser at work and $15 on a co-pay today.
I cancelled two of my trial memberships, as planned. One left. I did not get a goal accomplished today because I forgot to set one! Tomorrow I will work in paying a medical bill I got in the mail. It is from 2003 and I just received the bill last month. The lab has been fighting with the insurance company all this time. We had a different insurance company at the time and I have no idea how to contact them now, or what my ID number was - I threw all that info out about a year after we changed companies. I have already called DH's former employer to see if they can help, but they have not returned my call. I will try to get this done tomorrow. It's a $95 bill that I should NOT be paying.
We did get a huge amount of cleaning and sorting done in our "junk" room. It feels so nice to lose all that "stuff" - and even nicer to donate it rather than have it continue to take up space until we get around to having a garage sale. None of it is big stuff - nothing would sell for more than $1 anyway. Not worth my time this year to have a sale.
I started a new thing - 5 minutes of pick-up time every night before bed. After five minutes, I stop and go to bed. It's amazing how much can get done in 5 solid minutes. Our bedroom looks great, and now I am getting caught up on some filing too.

so...sleepy....

May 17th, 2006 at 03:09 am

I have just spent three hours working on a comparative market analysis for my buyers - both to analyze the house they want to purchase and the one they want to sell. The good news - the house they are selling should be able to be sold for about $10k more than we had originally thought. The bad news: the house they want to buy seems to be quite a bit more than what the rest of the houses are selling for around it. So...they either need to get the price down (which will be hard, given the contingency that they need to sell their home in order to buy - they are already asking the seller to make concessions), or accept the fact that they might not be able to sell the house for what they bought it for, if they decide to move within a few years (however, this is not the case). But I have been searching with this couple for many months now, and this is the most excited I have seen them over a house. I want everyone out there to cross their fingers for us...I hope we will be writing a purchase offer soon. Then I would really have something to look forward to Smile
Money spent today: About $48 in groceries and $16.91 for my Mother's Day gift, which I picked up today. It's a new mug with my boys' faces on it - so cute, if I may say so. My DH sure is a good listener when I tell him exactly what to get me!
Goal for today: Pay cell phone bill - done.
Goal for tomorrow: I am off from work and had planned to clean out our "junk" room - where everything seems to get stored. My mom is going to help me. We want to get done by this weekend, when my real estate office is sponsoring a "dump and donate" day (dumpster and donation truck set up for people to come by and get rid of stuff - designed to attract people who might be moving soon and in need of a realtor!). Anyway, we are taking advantage of the free garbage removal since we don't have pick-up. However, I don't know to what degree I will be wrapped up in this house stuff tomorrow, so that may get pushed back. Since I do need a goal, though, I will make it my goal to cancel two of my trial memberships for which I have already received the gift cards. The third one I have is the one with the $10 vouchers, but I have not gotten a check from them yet. I'll hold on until day 30, then cancel even if I haven't gotten it, just to be sure.
And now...to bed.

aahhh....the fast food demons have me again!

May 16th, 2006 at 01:41 am

This time it was that sweet faced Wendy girl with her innocent looking pigtails. Actually, it was my own fault as I packed a "light" lunch (ok, I just couldn't find anything to bring this morning) and I was starving...then I heard the secretary walk by saying she was stopping at Wendys...$2.15 later, I was slurping my frosty and munching my chicken nuggets. Oh well. I did manage to score a "free" lunch tomorrow. Sort of. The office was doing the usual collection for food for our office meeting, $3 per person. I offered to bring dessert instead of paying. It's probably a wash, since I had to pay for the cookie ingredients, but I got to do something I enjoy, use up a few leftover bags of chocolate chips, and keep a dozen at home to eat. I feel better about not spending the cash, and I still get pizza for lunch tomorrow Smile
The United State Post Office is on my Frown list for today. Not specifically the entire organization, but the post office across from my job (inside a Hallmark store). There is no other post office convenient to me, and I HAD to mail out some postcards today, so I stopped there. They DO NOT SELL POSTCARD STAMPS. What type of a post office does not sell postcard stamps??? I had to pay $.15 more per card to send them out with regular postage. I could have done that from home! It was only 5 cards, for a total of $.75 wasted, but it's the PRINCIPAL, y'know?? I actually did take a minute to think about it, and decided it was not worth my time to drive to another post office since I had to have these out soon.
Enough ranting...
Let me tell you the GREAT service I had today. I always like to give kudos when I feel they are deserved. I tried to call DH to see when he would be home from the baseball game, but I didn't get an answer. Then I got a call back from his cell phone - from a lady. Now that surprised me a little, because who was this lady on DH's phone??? Turns out she works at Applebees, where DH left his phone (without even knowing it - I told him when he got home!). She called me back after she saw the number I had called from to find out who the phone belonged to - then the manager offered to Fed Ex it to me (we live about 2 hours from the restaurant) and would NOT accept payment from me for the shipping! Very, very good customer service. As soon as I get the phone, I am going to write a letter full of praise to Applebees.
Nothing to do with money...for I like to share happy endings Smile
Completed my goal for today of sending out the postcards.
Goal for tomorrow: Show two houses to buyers. Pay cell phone bill.

Happy mom's day!

May 15th, 2006 at 02:13 am

I hope all you moms out there had a wonderful day! I sure did. It was my day to sleep in but....ever have to go to the bathroom SO bad you dream about it? A trip to the bathroom got me out of bed at 7:40, but then I could not get back to sleep. I heard my boys in the hallway, so I called them in for a snuggle. Not a bad way to start the day! Then I dropped enough hints (finally) for DH to bring me breakfast and the Sunday paper in bed and stayed there for another hour. We had a lunch BBQ at my brother's house, then came home and played outside for the rest of the day. Ds1 has a toy tractor which he "worked" with in the garden forever. I had to drag him in kicking and screaming for dinner, then again for bed.

YeH! My picture worked - don't ya just love the cow boots?? Smile
I spent $12 on herbs yesterday - so I will count this toward the grocery budget. I hope they are as good fresh as everyone says, because I could definitely buy dried cheaper. I bought parsley, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and basil. I also dug up some chives from my SIL and planted them all together. I'm hoping I can bring them inside in the fall.
Other money spent: $10 on a plant for my mom (from my boys), $10 on a partial gift for my mom (I have to check for size/color and go back to buy more - seat cushions for chairs), $40 on g.c. to Cracker Barrel for my MIL and DH's grandmother, DH also spent about $10-15 on a mug for me with my boys' picture on it. I went to set my old one down on the counter at work and missed - it shattered Frown so I told him that was all I wanted to Mother's Day and he was happy to comply! The gift budget is obliterated this month, but it's my own fault because I forgot to factor in Mother's Day. Oh well.
Tomorrow it's back to work. DH is going to volunteer at the Baseball Hall of Fame game in Cooperstown - he has done this every year since he was 16. His father, cousins, a friend all go too. Anyway, there's some money spent for gas and lunch. His friend's wife offered to watch the boys for us since I will be at work, so that was very nice.
I need to get back in the habit of setting a small to-do task every day. I was doing great until last week, when it just fell by the wayside.
Tomorrow I will: send out the postcards advertising an event our real estate office is holding.

saved $60...kinda

May 12th, 2006 at 02:05 am

well, it wasn't really saving money, but it's money that we don't have to pay. I got a notice to pay $35 to EZ Pass for a violation. DH took my EZ Pass last month and for some reason, it did not work when he went through the EZ Pass lane. I called up today to explain what happened and to show them that it worked on the way through (it came through on my bill), but not the way back - and they agreed to charge me only the toll and not the administrative fee. And then DH and I noticed a $25 charge to my debit card from Yahoo. He called them up and found out that somehow, we were signed up for Yahoo Messenger. This makes me a little nervous, as we have not bought ANYTHING from Yahoo, and I have no idea how they even got our card number. Nevertheless, they cancelled the charge.
DH also cancelled his Gevalia coffee subscription. He had his orders scheduled for every 5 months. He cancelled it and received a notice saying that it would go into effect after his NEXT shipment, in October! He politely wrote back to say that he had given AMPLE time to cancel, and any further coffee shipments he received, he would consider a gift as he was NOT paying anymore. He received a reply that his membership was cancelled immediately Smile
Tomorrow I am splurging on lunch with a friend. We are meeting at a Chinese buffet. Tomorrow night DH and I are playing cards (free entertainment), Saturday morning my mom and I will be taking the kids to a Mother's Day brunch with DH's family. All the ladies get together (with kids) the Saturday before, so it will be a nice chance to catch up with the aunts, cousins, MIL, and grandmother. Then Saturday night is our bowling banquet, which was a little pricy, but already paid for, so it's no additional money out of pocket.
The good news: a big check to my mom for past expenses, no longer sitting on my conscience. A decent sized check to the car loan. I have decided to put DH's tuition on the BOA cc, just after the billing cycle ends in two weeks, so I will have almost two months to pay it off.
Also good: finally received the Pepsi rebate I had been waiting on, two Bed, Bath & Beyond gift cards (which came just in time to give as a gift to my son's speech teacher, as she is closing his case), and two gas gift certificates.
The bad: DH lost some more money at the casino. I'm going to have to rein him in...just joking - he only goes occasionally (twice this year) and I don't think he will be going again too soon after his last two visits.
Ahhh...I think that catches things up. Been pretty busy lately working extra hours...it will be nice when the extra money starts to show up.

we lost...we LOST!

May 8th, 2006 at 02:33 am

Our last night of bowling...we needed 5 points out of seven to clinch the title. And we took 0. Big, fat 0. Sniffle. SOOOOOO close. Oh well, at least it's over and I don't have to shell out $15 a week anymore for a babysitter, plus $20 to bowl.
Busy weekend for us - we took the boys to Binghamton on Friday to see DH's grandparents, who just returned from Florida. A nice visit, as usual. Today we did some odd jobs around the house. The boys played outside all day. Tomorrow I have 5 checks of varying amounts to deposit Smile but unfortunately, several bills to pay of much larger amounts!
I seemed to have omitted several gifts this month from my budget. I think I budgeted for an anniversary and birthday ($50), but I somehow forgot Mother's Day! So there are another 4 gifts to add in (two moms, one grandmother, and me!). I have a feeling this month, the budget is out the window.
I have toyed with the idea of going back to work at my cousin's greenhouse, maybe one day a week, if they need help. It's only $5 an hour (nearly one quarter of what I make at my day job), but it's enjoyable. I like the environment, the work, and mostly, the company. DH rolled my eyes when I mentioned it as he thinks I am just freaking out about the money situation (which, I admit, I do on a regular basis), but I do like the job. I should call them soon, though, as May is their busy month.

April goals recap

May 5th, 2006 at 02:25 am

Goals for April and progress:
Real estate goals
-Send prospecting letters to people I have worked with in the past - NOT DONE - didn't even think about this all month. It will go on May's list
-Continue to search for an on-line lead generator - NOT DONE - not really happy with any of the ones I checked out, considering the cost ($100+/month) - possibly a goal for the future, but not anytime soon
-Finish my continuing education and renew license (this MUST be done by mid-April) - DONE

Money goal:
-Send an extra $500 to debt reduction OR Roth IRA contribution - DONE (car payment)

Health goal:
-Maintain 140 weight - DONE (139)

Sorting/simplification goal:
-Redo my son's room so that my other son can move in with him - DONE - I had actually decided not to do this, as I didn't think it would work, but DH decided to do it without me one day. It's been three nights and it's going okay - although they both have been getting up a little earlier, which does not make mommy too happy!


May goals:
Real estate:
-Send letters to past clients with new contact information
-Look into joining women's professional organization in nearby town for networking opportunities

Money:
-Pay DH's tuition without using a cc
-Work on building saving's account back up to level I want it to be (needs app. $800, which we won't be able to do this month, but maybe we can get a start on it) - deposit $100 this month

Health:
-Maintain 140 weight

Sorting/simplification goal:
-Donate at least 40 items (I already have 10-15 ready to go)
-Sort out three upstairs rooms full of stuff, persuade my parents to donate too, since it is mostly their stuff!

No money day!

May 5th, 2006 at 02:16 am

Yee haw! It's been a while since I've had one of those. Shoot, DH is sitting beside me and just told me he spent $1 on a diet Coke. Bummer. Way to rain on my parade. Actually, I have to write a check to my mom today too for past expenses, so I guess this wouldn't have been a no-spend day anyway.
I have started a daily to-do list. I don't remember where I read it, but the idea was to start with one thing to do each day. Then after it's become a habit, add a second, then third, etc. until it's second nature to get through your to-do list everyday. It might be something little, like make a phone call, or something big, like clean out the closet. The point is to write it down and commit to getting it done. Today is the first day since I have started that I missed my goal, only because I was supposed to deposit some checks in the bank but I forgot to take them with me to work today. It turned out okay, though, because two more checks came in the mail today Smile It will go on my list for tomorrow.
DH and I are heading down to Binghamton tomorrow to see his grandparents, who just returned from Florida. So...I probably won't be back around until Sunday. A great weekend to all!

wasted a $1...

May 4th, 2006 at 01:31 am

in hopes of making a few more. I went to the library today to get some books out and perused the used books for sale. I found an Amy Tan book that I thought was her new one (the name escapes me right now...) for $1. I bought it, thinking I could probably sell it for a few bucks after I read it (it's hardcover and in perfect shape). Lo and behold, I get home to look it up online and discover it's the book she wrote in 2001, but I didn't recognize it as such because it has a different cover (it appears to be a British version as the price is listed in pounds). Darn. Now I have a hardcover book that I have already read, that I will be lucky to sell for $.75 on half.com. Bah.
It feels like money has been flowing out these past few days. I took the boys for haircuts today (well worth the $8 + tip, as we found out when we tried to cut ds2's hair ourselves a few weeks back) and stopped to split an ice cream (3.19). I booked the limo and wine tour for my future SIL's bachelorette party in July ($80 for the tour, $108 deposit for the limo). I have gotten about $40 back of this so far from the other ladies involved. Plus DH had to get a haircut today (desperately needed!) as well as buy two gifts for the teachers that he has been observing for school. None of these are budgeted expenses. Sounds like I need to think of a way to make some extra cash this month to avoid taking even more out of savings Frown

On the bright side, DH just walked in without a haircut. He said since he is planning to visit his parents this weekend, he will call his cousin to come over and cut it for him. I think he is really getting into this saving game, although he would NEVER admit it Smile

May goals

May 3rd, 2006 at 02:43 am

Groceries: 275
Household/Cell: 635
Car: 200 - I am optimistically dropping this by $50 because DH will be out of the school for several weeks.
Medical: 40
Clothes: 20
Loans: 300.36 (probably will not be able to pay any extra this month due to the tuition bill)
Entertainment: 100 (I can drop this amount too since bowling ends next week - no more babysitter!)
Gifts: 50 (one belated birthday and one anniversary)
Miscellaneous: 100
Real estate: 50
School: 1493
Investment: 100

Total expenses: $3363.36
Estimated income: $3150
Ok, that's not good...but understandable. I would much rather dip into savings one month than take out another loan for DH's school. So we'll manage.

Monthly accounting

May 3rd, 2006 at 02:35 am

Time to compare my goals with my actual expenditures...

Groceries: 275 ->295.90
Household/Cell: 412 -> 0 AHHH! I forgot to pay my mom again...now I owe her two months...why won't she ever say anything???
Car: 250 -> 292.19 ALL gas, no maintenance this month. Ouch.
Medical: 100 -> 205 (I would have made this exactly if not for my unanticipated $105 cavity)
Clothes: 20 -> 36.23
Loans: 800 -> 915.36 Yeah! $600 extra to the car payment!
Entertainment: 150 ->154
Gifts: 50 -> 8.00 (still owe a gift to my SIL...)
Miscellaneous: 100 -> 208.48
Real estate: 100 -> 50
School: 50 -> 50
(new category: Investment -> 100)
Total expenses: $2307 -> 2315.16
Estimated income: $2800 -> 2353.50

Wow. I didn't leave a lot of room to spare there. DH and I have a lot of priorities next month, the biggest two being his summer tuition ($1443) and paying our share of the utilities, which we have disgracefully neglected to do for no other reason than complete airheadedness. It's not that my parents NEED the money - they are very comfortable - but I do not want to be a leech! I feel much better if I pay my share around here since we do not have a house payment. That will be about $495, plus I want to pay my mom for a tank of gas since I had to use her car several times over the past few weeks. Luckily we will have some extra income coming in next month, so I hope it will even itself out.
Our net worth went up over $1100 this month, all due to the value of our IRAs rising. Otherwise, it would have stayed the same.

Whoa

May 2nd, 2006 at 02:08 am

My head is spinning after today. I went non-stop from 8am to 7:30pm, got home in time to play with the kids for a few minutes before tucking them in, ate dinner, and collapsed here in front of the computer for some down time. I had to take an elderly gentleman with dementia and severe mental retardation to a nursing home today - very sad. He had been living with the same family for 18 years and I could not explain to him in any way why I was doing this (he is non-verbal and deaf - does not understand signs). I feel terribly for him, but there is no alternative as he can no longer stay where he was. I lost my grandmother two years ago this month - she died suddenly in her sleep, but was in the beginning stages of Alzheimers herself. I think it was a blessing in disguise for her to depart before she lost herself. Nothing to do with finances here, but a good reminder for me to be thankful for my parents good health. My thoughts are with those who are dealing with this everyday.
On a cheerier note, I did show a house that my buyers were really very interested in. It was a gorgeous old house built in 1884, with ceilings nearly 10 feet tall. It had the old servants staircase and pantry - a ton of character. And just to shock all of you on the west coast or in NJ (just two eamples of many), it was priced at $124,900 for over 2300 square feet, a good sized lot, two car garage, four bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Beautiful.
I ate out again for lunch today - didn't get around to eating until 2:30 with my busy morning getting the gentleman settled in to his new room. I grabbed something quick on my way back to the office. This is becoming a bad habit that needs to be nipped in the bud NOW! I think I will go pack my lunch for tomorrow as soon as I finish here. It's is so much easier to pack it at night and be done with it.