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Archive for March, 2007

Rocking it out to Meatloaf

March 30th, 2007 at 06:23 pm

Well, here's one thing I haven't done since we moved in with my parents! I totally cranked up a Meatloaf record (yes, record - we are stuck in the 70's) and sang at the top of my lungs while doing housework today. What a freaking blast. I've forgotten how freeing it is to be alone! (well, aside from the kids, but I don't care what they think of me). Not that I'm looking to move out of here anytime soon...but days like this make me wonder if we should be moving on to get our own place soon. And then my parents return from vacation, and I remember all the good things about sharing a house, like shared dinner duty, free babysitting, and all those times when I would rather NOT be alone Smile
Still, though...there's the flip side of decorating my house the way I want, buying and cooking the things I like, and, of course, rocking it out to Meatloaf Smile

house to ourselves

March 28th, 2007 at 01:51 am

My parents went on vacation today for a week, so DH and I have the house to ourselves for a bit (I feel like a teenager - house party!). It's nice to be the only adults in the family for a while, but then I am also glad when they come home. It's nice to share the cooking and cleaning, to have company when DH is bowling or working, to haev an extra pair of hands to watch the kids if I have to work, or to be able to play cards in the evening. Most people, when they hear that we live with my parents, ask us how we can stand it. Most people say that they could never do it. I have a great set of parents who enjoy our company but respect our privacy. It just works Smile
But, for this week at least, we have the house to ourselves!

windfall

March 25th, 2007 at 03:09 am

I got handed an envelope of cash tonight at the party - a gift from a relative whose mother I had helped out before her death last year. It's actually a rather long story that I am not going to get into at all, but it was a very pleasant surprise in an otherwise aggravating weekend!
So now...I have $1k extra, a total surprise, to do something with. As much fun as taking a vacation sounds, it's not in the cards for us right now Smile Here's the realistic options:
1. CC balance of $2900 at 0% interest until August
2. Add it to DH's 2006 Roth contributions (currently at $0, but $2k slated to go in as soon as we get our state tax refund back).
3. Pay towards student loans, $5700 and $15k at about 3.75% interest.
4. Beef up EF, currently at $7k.

Only other debt is a $157 cc balance, which will be paid off this month anyway.
My parents are going to Vegas in a few days...DH said to give it to them and try to double it! He's kidding, of course...but what should we do with it? I am tempted to put it toward the student loans, but the window of opportunity for 2006 contributions is quickly closing...

Really, really frustating deal

March 24th, 2007 at 08:44 pm

Warning - rant.

Well, I went and ruined everything - talking about my house sale. The deal fell through. After we had a verbal agreement on all the terms of the sale, the buyers backed out because they decided that they didn't want to live on a main road. HELLO??? They didn't REALIZE that the house was on a main road? I was just a tad ticked off. I think my seller handled it better than I did. I am just so sick and freaking tired of all of these deals falling apart. My last deal fell apart when my buyer walked after the home inspection that wasn't even that bad - no major problems! The other few offers I have written lately have been beaten by other offers or came in too low (after I warned my buyers that they were too low...) and we couldn't negotiate an agreeable price. I swear, some days I feel about ready to pack it in. I am SO frustrated. No sales in 5 months. Aside from my maternity leaves, this has been the longest I have gone without a sale. I am really glad, with the way things are going, that my family does not rely on my sales for income (we treat it as a bonus when I get a commission). So frustrating. Just had to get that off my chest. I have spent over $600 so far this year on real estate, but not made a cent. Am I nuts, or what?

The Meatloaf concert was very good. We had a nice time. Bonus: we found a restaurant that we had a Dine A Mate coupon for ($10 for the both of us!) and we found a free parking spot instead of paying $5 to park in the lot. It was nice to get out. Last night we celebrated my father's birthday, and tonight we have a surprise 50th birthday party for my cousin's husband. It's nice to get my mind off my latest failure...I definitely plan to party it up tonight Smile

maybe a BIG positive

March 22nd, 2007 at 02:32 am

...but, shhh, I don't want to say too much and jinx anything, the way my real estate luck has been going lately...but I *think* I may have a deal on the house I have listed...we have a verbal agreement, just have to sign the final paperwork tomorrow. But then, we have to get through the home inspection. I'm not too worried - I think the house is in pretty good shape. But I never breath easy until it's over. I've had a pitiful dry 4 or 5 months since my last sale. Much of it my fault for getting lazy, but I have also had a string of really bad luck (being beaten by other offers, having a bad home inspection, losing a listing). I am ready for something to change.
Remember...it's a secret though Smile

DH is working very steadily - almost every day - subbing for four different school districts. He has a long-term position coming up in April with a small possibility of continuing throughout the rest of the year if the teacher doesn't return after her surgery - plus she is retiring at the end of the school year, so it will be so good for him to get his name in at that school. We have been living for so long on so little that I am having a hard time getting used to two incomes again! It's great because we end up with extra money left which I can throw at the cc - which is down to $3100 from $4500 not too long ago.

Tomorrow DH and I are going to dinner and the Meatloaf concert. Any other Meatloaf fans out there? I saw him once in high school - DH got me tickets for Christmas this year to go again. Ah, a night out...I love it.

Still loving Tinapbeanas find - the pocket mod. I write down all the sales in it when I go through the ads each week so I always have them with me if I want to make a quick stop somewhere. I use it for my to-do and grocery lists. No more forgetting those little things that I used to!

Have I been spending too much time here?

March 20th, 2007 at 02:45 am

Or not enough? I'm trying to figure out what my subconscious was telling me last night as I was DREAMING about savingadvice.com.
Ok, picture this (a little bit of Golden Girls melodrama here) - I dreamt that I was attending a conference on building a new home and I knew that Priceplus and SCFR were going to be there (I figure Priceplus was there because he was a fellow New Yorker, but I have no idea why SCFR was dragged into this!). I wanted to attend so badly so that I could see what PricePlus looked like when he wasn't wearing bike shorts (sorry, Priceplus!). I kept losing the directions, then finally found them a half hour after the session started, only to find out that I was 1.5 hours away from the site. Well, the magic of dreams managed to get me there anyway, where I met a very friendly SCFR (with curly black hair), but no priceplus to be found.
So, am I sick or what? Smile I wonder what my dreams tonight will bring me!

blurbies

March 13th, 2007 at 03:32 am

(a cutesy combination of "quickies" and "blurbs")

- went to BOA today to find out why I was being charged a $3 maintenance fee on my savings account. Turns out that it was my fault (gosh, I hate it when that happens). I suppose I was told at some point that I would get charged is my savings account balance falls below $300, but since it never had been (until last month), I had forgotten. The representative from the bank was extremely nice and helpful, even taking the $3 off (without me asking) because she said it was a stupid requirement! Then she gave me her card with her direct line and told me to call if I ever had any more questions or problems. GREAT customer service at the branch, although I am disappointed that no one bothered to answer my e-mail to the bank. Might have to write BOA to give a thumbs up to the lady who helped me...(and a thumbs down to the online CSRs)
- DH's car does not seem to want to start lately. I barely got it started to get home from work (remember, mine's in the shop), and then we couldn't start it coming home tonight from our card match. DH scraped some crud off the battery terminals and it finally caught. oh boy...
- A big round of applause for Tinapbeana for introducing me to the pocketmod on her Friday freebies! LOVE it! I've bene carrying it around all day, making a to-do list (5 things already crossed off) and a shopping list. I even had enough space to make three different shopping lists for three different stores (not that I go to them all, but I don't decide which store to go to until after I make the lists). I was able to write down all those little things that I always forget because I have no paper handy! Keep 'em coming, Tina!
- Lost a bet on the SU game last week with my office mate. He totally took advantage of the fact that I don't follow basketball Smile Actually, he gave me a four point spread, but I still lost and had to buy him a shake from McDonald's today. I wound up getting myself some soup there too, since I couldn't find much to bring for lunch today. Thumbs down for Jodi - way to blow $5.
- Spent - or saved - some money on dinner tonight, depending on how you look at it. DH and I were supposed to go out to a restaurant for dinner tonight before our card match, as my parents were taking the boys to my aunt's house for pizza. However...they were very late in coming in from chores due to a difficult emergency labor (cows, not people Smile), so we didn't have enough time to go to the restaurant. We went to our local pizza place instead and had a nice dinner (pizza and salad) for $8 - saved about $20 over the local restaurant we were going to go to, and we both agreed that we enjoyed it as much as we would have at the restaurant. It was a nice evening.

the curse of the free meatballs

March 12th, 2007 at 01:17 am

What, you ask? How could free meatballs possibly be bad? Well, let me start by saying that they were store-bought meatballs, which in my opinion, fall far short of my mother's meatballs (yes, I'm a meatball snob). But I digress...they were leftover from DH's grandmother's birthday party yesterday, so my MIL packed them up and sent them home with us, as MILs tend to do. Great, I thought, I'll throw them together with some sauce for dinner. Well, I did, managing to use up some leftover pizza sauce that was inhabiting the fridge for a touch too long (+1 for Jodi). However, I forgot to take off my son's shirt, which happened to be the most adorable green and white striped rugby shirt BROUGHT BACK FROM IRELAND as a gift for him. He got sauce all down the front of it (+1 for the meatballs). We did manage to stain stick the hell out of it and most came out (+1 for DH). Fast forward to today, when I decided to use up more of the leftovers for lunch. I found some of my mother's homemade sauce in the freezer and it made a great lunch (+1 for Jodi), with leftovers for dinner. At dinnertime, I prepared a bowl for my son, then somehow managed to drop it in the three feet from the island to the table. It had already been cut into tiny pieces, which all managed to fly in distinctly different directions, all over the light green carpet (yes, a bad decision made by my mother, who is counting the spills until she can get linoleum). The devastation was widespread, and I think we got one mess closer to a new floor (+5 for the meatballs). In the process, the sauce splattered all over my semi-new pants, worn about 5 times (+1 for meatballs). Again, DH and I attacked the mess with Resolve (carpet) and stain stick (pants) (+3 for Jodi and DH).
There is one serving of meatballs and sauce left in the fridge...I am NOT taking it for lunch tomorrow. I am glad I will be at work, and not here to witness the damage they are certain to inflict upon my family tomorrow.
Score thus far:
Meatballs - 7
Jodi and DH - 6
Ugh, we're still losing. It's pretty ugly when meatballs go bad...

the importance of an EF

March 12th, 2007 at 01:06 am

So much for having a nice little chunk of change to sit on for a bit! Just as I was pondering what to do with the remainder of my tax refund, fate intervened and decided for me.
1. DH got a letter in the mail from the wonderful state of NY Department of Motor Vehicles. It seems that if you accumulate 6 or more points on your license within 18 months, you are required to pay a "Driver Responsibility Assessment" to the tune of $100/year for 3 years. What the f$^&? Dh plead guilty, paid his fines plus his ridiculous NY state surcharges, and now he has to pay an additional $300? That is absolutely absurd. Just another way for NY to get its hand in the pot. I'm all for taking responsibility for your actions, but this is punishment not fitting the crime. Grrr.
2. My car decided to throw a tie rod, or something equally expensive, I'm sure (the mechanic hasn't looked at it yet). I was driving Friday when all of a sudden, my tire started wobbling and jerking. I immediately pulled over, thinking I had a flat or something, and noticed the odd angle my tire was sticking out at - and a rod that seemed like it should have been attached to something! Have I ever mentioned how much I despise my lemon, er car?

Not to mention that DH still has to pay $200 for his teacher certification...or that we have two dentist appts coming up this month (with x-rays)...and my MLS dues of $114 are due this month...I am really glad that we are back on track and I will not have to put anything on a cc. In fact, I just added $1000 to the BOA savings account last week, so we won't even have to dip into the EF (separate savings account at HSBC).

Oh, mysterious charge for $3 appeared on my BOA savings account Friday ("monthly maintenance charge" which I have never been charged before - BOA customers beware). I e-mailed them on Friday about it and was told I would get a response in 12 hours - still no reply. Looks like I have to stop in there tomorrow and threaten to take my business elsewhere. Grrr...don't mess with a lady who had a Friday like I did!

the stupid tax

March 7th, 2007 at 10:33 pm

I hate when I pay money that I didn't need to. I hate it even more when I am trying to do something smart with the money and end up wasting it!
Anyone who's following my million questions in the investment section knows that I have been pondering putting money into mutual funds for some time. I finally decided on the Vanguard 2045 fund. I wanted to buy while the market was down a little, so I transferred the money into my Ameritrade account rather than taking the time to open a new Vanguard account (which would have taken a few weeks, since I needed to use some of the money that was already in my Ameritrade fund - I called Vanguard and the forms needed to make the switch had to be sent in, not faxed). I figured that the trade would cost $10. Then I could switch all the shares over to Vanguard when I was ready to open that account.
The trade cost $40! Ouch. Of course, when I went back in to see where this was stated (or find out if we were being ripped off), it says right there in the fee section that MF trades cost $40. Man. Oh well. Hopefully, my shares will gain $40 in the next few weeks so that I can feel I made the right choice by not waiting Smile
(in 2 days, we're up $17.80!)

February recap

March 5th, 2007 at 11:05 pm

February budget:
Groceries: 200 -> 266.03
Household/Cell: 60 -> 0
Car: 190 for gas, 300 for new brakes on DH's car -> 181.69, 330.47
Medical: 27.00 -> 276 (what was I thinking? I must have forgot about my eye appt. and contacts)
Clothes: 0 -> 76.92
Loans: 100.36 -> 100.36
Entertainment: 120 -> 127.43
Gifts: 25 -> 25.19
Miscellaneous: 100 -> 127.49
Real estate: 40 -> 90.62 (forgot that my key rental comes due in Feb.)
School/Day care: 0 -> 0
Investment: 0 -> 0
Cash withdrawals: 100 with no fees -> 120, no fees!
Total income: 2400 -> 2360.50
Total expenses: 1162.36 -> 1722.20
Ok, not so bad. Expenses were a bit more than planned due to me needing contacts and an eye exam, and several get-togethers where we threw frugality out the window when shopping. Still, though, the first month in a long time where we earned more than we spent. The excess went to the cc, which is down to $3500. This month, we have a large windfall (aka tax refund) which will be used to catch up the 2006 Roth investments.

March budget:
Groceries: 250 (adjusted up for our annual St. Patrick's Day dinner - lots of corned beef and Guinness!)
Household/Cell: 160 (going to purchase DH's Tracfone minutes for the year)
Car: 190
Medical: 15
Clothes: 0
Loans: 300.36 (Dh's student loans went into repayment this month - about $110/month, but we will pay more as often as we can)
Entertainment: 120
Gifts: 50
Miscellaneous: 100
Real estate: 100
School/Day care: 200 (certification fee for DH's teaching)
Investment: 4000
Cash withdrawals: 100 with no fees
Total income: 8200 ($6k tax refund)
Total expenses: 5585.36
Wow, an excess of $2615. We had already decided to put $1k on the cc. Now we'll have to decide whether to put more on the cc, the beef up savings, or to add to the 2006 Roth contributions. As it stands now (after this month's planned investment), I will have reached $4k, but DH will only have $2k of this year's contribution made. Not a bad problem to have!

tootin' my own horn

March 5th, 2007 at 03:22 am

Just so happened that at bowling tonight, I bowled a 210 game (6 strikes in a row) - 547 series, which was the highest on our set of alleys. Just so happened that this was also against my brother, a 200 average guy, who I don't think that I have EVER beaten. We are a very competitive family, in a good way. But this is a very sweet victory for me Smile (we also beat him and his wife in our pinochle match this afternoon!)
Spent a bit today - $40 for two weeks of bowling, $35 for the sitter, $35 in books and puzzles for the boys. I had two hours to kill after showing a house (buyers not interested Frown) before I had to be at the card match, so I stopped in at the Christmas Tree Shoppe and TJ Max. My goal was to find a few jigsaw puzzles for my two year old who shows quite a proficiency for them (he shows my 3 year old where the pieces go). I found four very reasonably priced puzzles on the clearance racks. I also picked up a few books for Easter baskets, a few St. Patrick's Day cards, and a new photo album. (side note - I found a birthday card for my niece who was born on St. Patrick's Day - and they had four different ones to chose from! Imagine, four cards that all said "Happy St. Patrick's Day and Birthday!" What will they come up with next!). I don't usually buy cards, but my MIL and SILs always send them to my boys and I thought it might be a nice surprise to send one back. Well, that and they were 50% off!
Pondering calling in sick to work tomorrow - I don't feel too bad, other than the sore throat, but I work with people who often have compromised immune systems. I don't want to spread around the germs. Still, I feel guilty calling in when I feel good enough to work - we'll see how things look in the morning.

Icky sicky

March 4th, 2007 at 03:02 am

About a week ago, my mom got a cold. About 5 days ago, ds1 got a cold. About 3 days ago, ds2 got a cold. Yesterday, despite washing my hands so frequently that they are all cracked, despite not touching anything that my kids nibbled, breathed, or sneezed on, I got the cold too. Might have had something to do with the fact that when they snuggled into our bed, I didn't have the heart or desire to turn their little faces away from mine as their warm breath fell on my face. Or that I used an entire box of tissues to wipe their little noses 20 times a day. Or maybe it was when one of them sneezed in my face Smile However it happened, there's no more denying it. I'm sick too. Ugh.
We have a very busy day tomorrow - I'm showing a house at 1pm, playing in a card match at 3:30, and bowling at 6:30. This also means that we have to pay for a sitter from 3-9pm (that's IF I still feel like doing all this - I will probably feel worse tomorrow).
Moneywise, things are looking up - very up! We received our federal tax refund. I have to move it over to our Ameritrade account (and/or to Vanguard) to finish our 2006 contributions for our Roths. I made a $1000 payment on the AmEx (Dh's tuition at 0% - only $3500 left) and paid off a Discover charge earlier this month for a car repair. We have no cc debt other than the tuition. I also made the first payment on D's student loans since he finished school. The payment is $110, but I paid $200. I want to knock sucker out so early (tip of the hat to BA here). We have plenty of money in the account and several paychecks of DH's from subbing that he hasn't even collected yet, much less cashed. Yup, things are looking up.