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I won't spend it all in one place...

January 6th, 2008 at 03:17 am

the $.04 in interest I earned at one bank, that is. I got my annual interest in my statement today. This was an account I opened at a local credit union, but never used as it was less convenience than my BOA account. I haven't got around to closing it yet ($5 left), so I still get the statements. Whoopee, $.04. Geez.
My mom picked up Turbo Tax today (my parents, myself, and my brothers all use it, so it definitely pays for itself). I plan to get started on our taxes tomorrow. I honestly do not have a clue whether we'll be paying or getting back this year. We have paid very, very little taxes in, but that's because we have gotten back huge amounts in the past two years thanks to the EIC (since DH stopped working and went back to school). I made about $20k in my PT job and another $7k selling real estate, and DH probably made around $12-13k in his various teaching gigs (5 different schools - it's going to be a mess this year), so based on our family of 4, I don't think we'll be paying much...but I really won't know until I get the numbers in Turbo Tax. I actually look forward to doing this every year (usually because it brings me good news) - I really find it interesting. DH and I were talking over dinner last night about what I might want to do when our kids (some of whom haven't even been born yet!) are in school - I mentioned that I definitely want to switch from what I am doing now and might look at taking some classes in the next few years. Maybe accounting/payroll/benefits admin. might be something to look into. I like money, I love to crunch numbers, and I've had enough of working directly with people in my last three public service jobs (that probably comes across as pretty rude, but I'm thinking the occasional solitude and non-travel requirements of an office job might do me well). Ah well, plenty of time to think about that, since we want to have two more kids.

Contacts schmontacts

January 4th, 2008 at 07:20 pm

Oh, bugger. DH and I are each on our last paid of contacts. DH tells me last night that the pair he just put in that day were making his eyes water in the middle of the night, so he threw them away. WHAT? Those contacts cost $10 per eye. There's $20 in the garbage can. He couldn't have soaked them for a day and tried again? Ugh.

Time to hit the websites to check prices. Last time I got good deals for both of us from shipmycontacts.com. A year's supply that cost me $280 from my eye doctor cost me about $140, after rebate. If I had been a little more on the ball about ordering them, I could have saved an extra $5 with an Internet coupon they sent me, but it expired a few days ago. Oh well.

I'm just coming off an "eye ulcer" (yes, it is as nasty as it sounds). This is the first day I've had my contacts back in this week. I have missed them so! I detest wearing glasses - probably because I am so blind, if I take them off for a second I'm lost. I would love to do Lasik, but I'm just so paranoid that my vision will be messed up permanently (I'm a moderate risk for the procedure due to astigmatism). However, that was a few years ago...might be worth asking my eye doctor about again at my upcoming appt. Hmmm...

Clean out the fridge soup (AKA lunch today)

January 4th, 2008 at 07:15 pm

two carrots, chopped
one rib celery, chopped
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
1/2 onion, diced
Saute in olive oil and Italian seasonings (I used bread dipping seasonings) until soft.

Add:
half can of leftover tomato soup (rinse container out with water and add to soup)
one can of diced tomatos (rinse can out, add to soup)
a few slices of meatloaf, crumbled
a few jumbo pasta shells, cut up
anything else that's hanging around the fridge and might be good in soup. Simmer for 15 minutes, or a half hour, or an hour...really it doesn't matter. Just don't boil it or all your liquid will evaporate. Add cheese when you serve, if you like. Mmm, mmm, good.

Now that wasn't so hard, was it? I just read in a book about living to be 100 that you should eat soup everyday, so my aim is to eat soup...well, almost everyday. It's so easy and filling - I had two bowls of this for lunch with a few cucumber slices, and that's all I needed. And really, unless you're using a lot of butter or cream, it's really quite good for you. Eat up!

Another charge

January 3rd, 2008 at 02:46 am

Just when you think you're caught up...I was so proud of not being in any cc debt from Christmas (usually we charge some, but pay it off in January) - but now we are back to being nearly $1k in debt. It will get paid off, of course, but that means another month before I can retire the Lowe's cc and really start hitting the student loans. I had nearly forgotten to pay next year's dues for being in real estate ($440) plus my quarterly MLS access fees ($114), plus a few tanks of gas for the minivan (it adds up quickly!), so here I am at $979 on the cc. Ugh.
On the bright side, I still have to submit for my dependent care account reimbursement. That will be $500 in my pocket in a week or two. WOOHOO!

2007 was better than I thought...

January 2nd, 2008 at 02:50 am

I just checked out net worth. Last year in Feb. it was $372. Right now, it unbelievably stands at $27,212. Wow. That really puts this year in perspective. I mean, I knew it was a good year as we had negative net worth last year when DH finished school. And I knew what out current net worth was...I guess I just never sat down to think about how all this happened in a year. Several things helped:
1. Apple stock! I've never had an i-phone, and probably never will, but I love them! We bought our first Apple stock at $35/share, and just sold some of it for $192/share. We probably made $10k on it, all told, and still own some. Even with the last few months of 2007, we still came out pretty well on our investments thanks to Apple's dramatic rise earlier in the year (and continued rise).
2. Paying off DH's college tuition on our cc (at 0%, so it never cost us anything). Paying off that $5k really bumped up our net worth.
3. Continued payments on our student loans. We paid off about $1000 on both our loans this year, so that bumped us up another $2k.
4. A good year in real estate (by my standards). I had a few good deals this summer which netted us about $6-7k in addition to our regular salaries. WOO-HOO!
And now that DH has regular employment, hopefully 2008 can be just as productive!

A confession...

December 30th, 2007 at 03:51 am

I dream of Broken Arrow at night! Ok, it's not so...sleazy? adulterous? stalk-ish??? as it sounds Smile I just had a dream last night that I was playing pinochle at BA's house with him and his mother - and he had made soup! Too much time spent here? I don't know...I haven't even been on here much in the past month. Maybe it was a signal to get back to this site and catch up (and it did force me to log back on - if only to talk about my dream!)
Happy holidays to all - BA, hope I haven't freaked you out. If it makes you feel any better, I blogged a while back about dreaming that I met scfr!

Who do you buy for?

December 21st, 2007 at 04:09 am

I just counted all the gifts I needed to buy this year (all done except for 2!):
27
That is four gift exchanges and 23 people. New additions to the list this year? My son's pre-school teacher, his teacher aide, and bus driver. My younger son's day care provider. My sons' speech therapist (same therapist for both kids). Am I overdoing it? Is all this really expected? I have no idea what I am "supposed" to do. I read that you are "supposed" to gift your day care provider a weeks worth of payment, but I can't afford to give a $50 gift to her. Instead I got her a $25 g.c. to a nice local store, because I really wanted to show her that we appreciate her flexibility and kindness. I got the speech therapist a $10 g.c. The teachers are receiving a notepad, candy bar, and mint lip balm (ok, it was really cute and caught my eye in Target - and at $1, I got a bunch for different people, including me!). And I'm going to give my son's bus driver a big Hershey's Kiss. (side note: I was going to get the teachers a $10 gift card too, until I realized that in several years, I could have 3 or 4 kids in school at one time, meaning 6 or 8 teachers...I just can't do it!)
Oh, and then there's the jobs. I had a gift exchange with my real estate company ($15-18). I received a present from my boss today (I'm going to take her my homemade granola next week - I hope she likes it). I got a lottery ticket from our office supervisor and candy from a colleague. We had a gift exchange with my Bunco group (can't complain about that one, it was my idea).
We exchange to some degree ($5-$50) with each of our siblings and SILs, as well as all of our nieces and nephews. DH and I both bring a gift to the cousin exchange. Of course, we still buy for all our parents and our one grandparent, not to mention our own two children.
Is anyone else driven nuts by all this?

I just ranted to my DH tonight and he told me I had a fat chance of getting any of his family (or mine, for that matter) to scale back because they enjoy the exchange. Well, I do too, but I am ready to just say ENOUGH. Enough shopping, enough organization (I have to carry a binder to organize my gifting), enough spending money.

At least I'm all done. DH can shop for the two people we have left - his grandmother and father. I'm DONE.




(I'm really NOT a Scrooge. I love the holiday - I even love shopping. I just want to simplify it - buy for my kids, DH, parents, and then maybe draw names with the rest of the relatives.)

A little update on net worth...

December 17th, 2007 at 02:27 am

Our net worth stands now at almost $26k - just down a small amount from our high before the stocks tanked last month. I only have $800 left on the Lowes card, at 0% for another 7 months, so that will easily be gone in time. I have managed to get over halfway through Christmas shopping with only $165 on the cc, and I think most of that was gas and groceries - and will also be paid off before any interest accrues. I have about $400 in dependent care credit to claim, which should more than account for any remaining Christmas shopping. And, I just got a letter from my student loan company saying they are dropping my interest rate by .75% for always paying on time! I have fully contributed to my Roth, and we have $2k left to go for DH (tax refund should take care of that, I think). Ladies and gents, I think we are in good shape to start the new year.
I would love to see one of our student loans retired next year, but I don't think it's going to happen. I think we could get rid of mine ($5k), but now wiht my lower interest rate, it doesn't make sense to pay mine off before DH's, so extra cash will go to his first. Being that his balance is still so high, it's doubtful that we'll get rid of it by the end of next year. However, we will be debt free except for the student loans, and that is a very good feeling.

Magazines for cheap...or free!

December 16th, 2007 at 04:09 am

Here's a post that's been rattling around in my head for a while (I've been trying to think of a way to make it a contest entry, but "Things I wish I knew when I subscribed to Reader's Digest" just doesn't make sense - I'll think of a better entry before the month is up!). Just wanted to share a few ways to get caught up on your favorite reading without blowing the cash:
1. Trade with friends and family. I read my mom's Ladies Home Journals. My SIL passes me her Parenting mags when she's done, and I pass her my Family Funs.
2. Check out the library. The library one town over from us maintains a big stack of their old magazines you can take for free. You can also drop off your old ones there. I borrow from the pile, then return them for others to read.
3. Ask for them on Freecycle. I got several years of Taste of Homes that way from someone who had them sitting around their house.
4. Check out E-Bay. I decided the subscription price of $3/issue for Country was more than I was willing to pay, so I looked on E-Bay. I scored 5 issues (all 2007) for less than $8 (including shipping), saving nearly half the price. I must mention this works better if your magazines are not time-sensitive.
5. Garage sales - I found an entire stack of Country Woman mags one road over from me for $1/all. These magazines also sell for $3 each.
6. Ask for them for birthdays or holidays. Someone like me, who prefers to give consumable gifts to gifts that take up space, would be happy to buy a subscription for someone on my gift list.
7. If all else fails - you cannot find them free or used, or find someone to buy them for you, check online for deals first. There are many great offers at half off the cover price - or more! Sometimes you can get two subscriptions for the price of one (a friend just offered me one of these deals for a cooking magazine - she bought the subscription, then offered me the free one!).
Happy reading Smile

still here, but taking a break

December 11th, 2007 at 03:33 am

A couple of things have led to my absence here lately - basically, a pregnancy that was plagued from the start with difficulties ended last night at 8 weeks, so that has been keeping me rather busy - and a little drained. But, we will try again as soon as we get the go ahead, so stay tuned for more happy baby news in the spring.
We've also been battling the phone company over our supposedly high-speed Internet service that doesn't work more than it works. Come to find out, our two immediate neighbors also have numerous calls in for their lousy service. Anyway, it's just been too much of a hassle to get online lately. But, give me a little more time, and I'll be back to catch up on everyone's lives. Miss you all...catch you later.

whirlwind week ahead

November 21st, 2007 at 02:50 am

Just getting over a stomach bug - the worst! Luckily (I guess), this one was relatively short lived - about 8 hours. It hit me last night when DH and I were on our way out for a nice dinner and shopping afterward. I barely touched dinner, then stayed in the car while he shopped - a big disappoint for me, as we were supposed to be looking for a new ring for me at an Irish import shop (I "misplaced" my engagement ring and wedding band over the summer - still convinced that they will turn up somewhere, as I took them off often around the house due to my eczema, which made my hands swell - he's buying me a simple band for my bday/Christmas that I can wear on my right hand when my other rings turn up). Anyway, I could not even stay in the shop for more than a minute without feeling like I was going to be ill. I briefly thought it could be pregnancy-related nausea (which I have never had), but getting sick later in the night with some other symptoms (which I won't go into here) convinced me that it was either a stomach bug or food poisoning. To make a long story short (I know, too late), I seem to be over it already. But now I want to go shopping!
I'm looking forward to the hustle and bustle of the next few days. Tomorrow I have to take the cat to the vet, go grocery shopping, then meet some girlfriends to bake pies. I'll be helping one friend, who is clueless in the kitchen, bake a pumpkin pie. I told her that the only thing I didn't have was evaporated milk and asked her if she could get it - she asked me if it was in the dairy aisle, or if it came powdered? I see I have to start from the beginning with her!
Our Thanksgiving plans are for dinner #1 at my brother and SILs hew house (built behind ours), then dinner #2 at my MIL's house in Binghamton. We're staying over there, then my family is meeting us in Binghamton on Friday morning to take off for NYC, our early Christmas present from my folks. We'll stay over in Tarrytown, then take the train to the city on Saturday to see the Rockettes and show the kids the city for the first time (reminder: we live on a farm in a town of 2000 - can you say culture shock?). Sat. night we're driving back late into the night, then meeting for a late lunch on Sunday at my SIL's house to celebrate my MIL's birthday. Whew. It will be busy, but I already know I'm going to love every minute of it. Somewhere along the way, we have to break the news of our pregnancy to our parents and siblings - still wondering how to share the news!!

I have to make some changes

November 15th, 2007 at 12:42 am

I spent the better part of the day going over insurance and investment stuff with my parents and brother. My brother had a consultation with someone from one of the big insurance companies and was confused about what, if anything, he should buy. I *think* we managed to steer him from the whole life, although he was still skeptical about putting $20/mo. into term life for 20 years and "getting nothing" back. Ah well. You can lead a horse to water...
Anyway, I got out some of my paperwork to review with him and found that I could stand to revise some of my insurance too. Right now I have:
Term insurance for me: 3x my salary (roughly $66k given my PT salary). $50k on DH (the max I could get at the time - he couldn't get anything through his job as he was a student), and $4k on my kids (I know, morbid and unecessary, but it costs less than $1/mo). I pay $5.20 per pay period, which comes out to $135.20/annually. I can't up mine any with my current company since I can only ever get 3x my salary, but I did review the newer literature and found out that I can get $100k on DH. Unless he can get something better with his new job, I think I'll make the change now that he actually has income to replace. I can't see it being a substantial raise in price - but we certainly can spare a few more dollars per month given our low rates.
Then I started to look over my car insurance policy. Anyone know how to figure out when it's time to drop collision? We have it on both cars right now, a 2005 Sentra (we'll keep collission on this one) and a 2000 Windstar (it can probably go on this one). It would save $164/yr. off our policy of about $1300. I also want to look into raising our liability limits. I *think* we have 100/300 right now, but I have heard that you really should have more. I guess you can't be too careful these days. Lastly, I'm overdue for my defensive driving course. Rats. I hate taking that thing. The good news is that I get a cheap class through my union - $18 will save me 10% for 3 years. I guess it's a no brainer.

leftovers

November 14th, 2007 at 02:10 am

Here are a few quick ideas to make new meals from leftovers (BA, are you listening??? We WILL get you cooking!).
1st meal: baked ham (really easy, since they come precooked - just boil and/or bake in the oven).
2nd meals: scalloped potatoes and ham, ham and cheese omelettes, ham sandwiches for an easy lunch.
Finale: ham and bean soup, made with the bone and a bit of leftover ham.

1st meal: Roast chicken (you can even cheat and get the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store - it's actually pretty cost effective, although I do like to roast my own with butter, garlic, rosemary, and sage)
2nd meals: chicken salad sandwiches (add mayo, walnuts, grapes, apples, celery, cheese), chicken fajitas or enchiladas, chicken cacciatore (peppers, onions, tomato sauce)
Finale: What else? Chicken noodle soup (with the bones to make broth, then strain and add leftover chicken, celery, carrots, onion, noodles)

1st meal: TURKEY!!!!!!!!
2nd meals: turkey sandwiches, turkey divan, turkey pasta.
FInale: turkey noodle soup (could you guess?)

1st meal: meatloaf
2nd meals: fried meatloaf sandwiches with cheese and bacon
finale: crumble meatloaf into a soup (add tomatoes or tomato sauce, water, pasta, Italian herbs, and veggies such as zucchini, peas, potatoes, celery, onion, carrots, etc).

1st meal: roast beef
2nd meal: roast beef hash (cubed and fry leftover beef, potatoes, carrots), cold or hot roast beef sandwiches (make gravy or use store-bought for hot beef), shread and season for fajitas or tacos.
Finale: Make soup.

Got it? Of course, you can always just reprise the 1st meal for an encore too. Just thought I would contribute a few new ideas for meals that don't require a lot of new recipes. Once you get the basics down, you can make substitutions depending on what you have on hand (that's how this weekend's meatloaf soup, and the inspiration for this post, came about).

the news

November 13th, 2007 at 02:37 am

Took another prego test this morning...just to be sure! I know it's silly since you cannot get a false positive, but the lines were so faint on the previous tests that I just couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong (I thought I had heard in the past about "false" pregnancies). Anyway, the line was darker this morning, plus I'm starting to feel a few little symptoms, so I'm much happier today Smile We have to figure out how to break the news to our families in the next few weeks.
DH went out the other day without telling me and bought a $60 coffeepot. Last year, he received a Bunn for Christmas from his mother, who has loved her Bunns for 20 years. It was supposed to last him for 20 years, but it started brewing slower and slower...till it took 45 minutes to brew a pot when it was supposed to take 3. Anyway, he decided on a whim that it could not be fixed and bought a new pot. I looked up the cleaning instructions online in 2 minutes when I saw the new pot (already unpacked and brewing, of course - unreturneable!). He grudgingly cleaned the Bunn and it works GREAT. Grrr. I was a little miffed, but I got over it - it's astounding how different our attitudes can be toward money in just a year. Last year, $60 would have set us back. Now it's just a mistake. We are going to give the new pot to my brother and SIL who just moved into their new house that they built behind ours. They need one.
Speaking of money, on the flip side of that comment, it's also funny how your spending changes when you don't need to worry about money so much. We definitely have been more lax lately (Hi-def DVD player!!). I have been paying off the cc every month, but there hasn't been a month in a while where we haven't had to pay it. In other words, we are still using it too much! I don't like owing money on cc, even when I know it will be paid. So, once the balance is gone, we are back to using it only for gas and Internet purchases. Luckily, I have already figured out where the money for Christmas is coming from (reimbursements from my health care savings and dependent care savings accounts), so no gifts will be going on the ccs. I also am terribly behind on my budgets (3 or 4 months). I am going to try to get to that tomorrow.
I decided not to try for the new position at work - it would have required going full-time, which I am just not ready for, esp. with impending pregnancy. I'm going to stick it out at my job for another nine months, then hopefully be able to take some significant time off (a few years, even) if DH finds a permanent teaching position by then. If not, I'll have to stay on, as his job will not make enough to support us (unless we can get our student loans paid off by then). So much to think about.

It's a blue line!!!

November 9th, 2007 at 03:15 am

on the prego test. Still quite faint, but it's definitely there Smile There is a baby on board, folks. DH is over the moon...I don't remember him being quite this giddy with the first two. I'm not sure I can take nine months of him!! We're already having fun talking names. I think we have the girl name down (the middle name for sure - Elizabeth - a family name on his side), but we have a long way to go to settle on a boy name. We're not telling anyone (well, besides anyone who reads this!) for a few more weeks - just want to make sure everything is fine. My midwife does not want to see me until I am 8 weeks, so I have another month before I go in. I do have a dilemma - I love my midwife. I really like her so much better than the OB/GYN I used the first time around - but she no longer delivers at our local hospital. Plus, she just moved to a new office 45 minutes away (she used to be 15). Given the frequency that I will need to see her (once monthly, then twice monthly, then weekly), I'm not sure I'm up to making all those trips. The alternative? I don't know if there are even any other local midwives. Plus, the reason she left the local hospital is because it's basically a sub-par hospital (although I had a wonderful birth experience there). If I follow her to her new hospital (my third hospital for my third baby), I don't think my pediatrician will travel to see the baby either. Luckily, I have some time to get this sorted out Smile
One other note about spending: I usually don't give Christmas spending much thought ahead of time, but this year I've got a great plan. I enrolled in the flex spending account at work for 2007 and just realized that I had yet to submit for any money back. In addition, I got a $500 credit for the dependent care account. I am going to submit for both reimbursement, which will be $740, and put it directly into a separate account to be used only for holiday spending. I don't remember the exact amount, but I think we budgeted around $800 for Christmas last year. This should nicely cover the spending Smile

How I...save on my kids' birthday parties

November 4th, 2007 at 06:00 pm

(thanks to Amder's blog for inspiring this!)
1. Don't have a party. I had only small family parties for my children's first two birthdays with a homemade dinner and cake (grandparents, a few aunts and uncles). My kids didn't have friends at age 1 - I did. I didn't see a need to invite my friends to my kids' birthday parties, thus obligating them to provide more gifts that my kids didn't need. I don't think any of them were offended by the ommission! When my son turned three and had a few friends from pre-school, we finally had a "friend" party for him because he had friends to invite. We still kept costs down by doing the following:
2. Keep the location free. Ds1's parties have both been at free, public playgrounds with picnic tables. We supplied sheet pizza and homemade cake. The kids can run around to their heart's content. There are no rides, games, or toys that need to be paid for (which means no whining for more). For ds2, who turns 3 this year, we are choosing a hands-on science museum since he has a December birthday. We are purchasing a family membership for $75, which will allow us to go to not only this musuem, but two more in our area, free all year. We will be able to bring two guests with us each time we go. One of our guests also has a family membership, so they do not need to pay. We will bring the other two children in as our guests. We will pay only for any adult who wants to join us (grandparents).
3. Make the food yourself, if possible. We don't follow this all the time - picking up a sheet pizza is vastly easier, plus not terribly expensive. But I have never bought a store-bought cake for my kids' birthdays. I enjoy the process of making and decorating it for them. I have also made plain cupcakes in the past and brought icing and sprinkles for the kids to decorate themselves - it was a big hit. The kids had fun and the activity took up some time to give them a break from running around.
4. Skip the goodie bags, or hit the dollar store. I'm not a huge fan of the toys and candy that usually come in goodie bags, but I still do provide them (I guess because I feel obligated? When did this become mandatory?). Anyway, the dollar store has a lot of little trinkets that kids enjoy. I have done coloring books with a box of crayons in the past, or hair ties for girls and Spiderman Pez dispensers for the boys. The girls had their hair ties in before the party was even over Smile
5. Limit the guests. I never understood a three year old having 20 kids at their party! Or the concept of inviting an entire classroom of kids, some of whom your child is not even friends with. Am I going to hurt someone's feelings at some point by not inviting their kid? Well, probably. But it's my kid's party, and they can invite who they want. And I am NOT going to be responsible for 20 five year olds. My kid's parties have about 5 kids, mostly cousins at that age. It's very manageable and not too overwhelming for the kids. All the kids know and like each other - no one is left out.
6. Limit the decorations. My kids have not been mad at me yet for lack of decorations. I think the most I have done is a handful of balloons at their parties. Honestly, they are too busy running around having fun to care. If you want to decorate, get a bag of balloons and a roll of streamers at the dollar store. Skip the themed parties (matching plates, cups, napkins, etc.) and get plain paper goods. Reuse your plastic silverware (my mom has a few buckets that have been around since I was a kid - I'm surprised because I have never seen anyone else save and reuse these. We have at least one big party per year, but rarely have to replenish our plastic silverware).
7. Have the kids entertain themselves. Due to my kids' ages (2 and 4), they really have not needed to be entertained yet at a party (the playground is entertainment enough). But, when they do get older, I can plan activities such as treasure hunts, scavenger hunts, sprinklers, swimming, etc. that are free. Kids are marvelous at making their own fun. Skip the clowns, oversized bouncy houses (ok, these are a lot of fun, but expensive!), characters, etc.
8. Skip it altogether. I haven't done this yet, but I can see the appeal in giving your child a choice between a party and, say, a trip to a favorite park or movie. He or she might opt for a quieter, family outing rather than a party, saving you some cash AND stress.

Sick again

November 4th, 2007 at 01:02 am

We've been fighting the runny noses and coughs in our household for about a week. First it was ds2...then ds1...now me. I'm trying desperately to keep it from spreading to the other three adults here, esp. my dad, who's 73 and takes a bit longer to recover from anything respiratory-related. Meaning, my hands (alreday eczema affected) are completely chapped from frequent, frequent washing! It will be worth it if we can keep this thing contained. The bad news is that ds2 was just diagnosed with walking pneumonia, which has a 1-3 week incubation period - so we were all exposed before we knew it. I'm definitely feeling it now. I had my dad listen to my lungs with his stethoscope (he's no doctor, but he is a farmer - good enough for me Smile) and he thought they sounded clear - but if I don't feel better tomorrow, I'm getting myself to Urgent Care to be checked out. I have the most severe sore throat and am SO tired.
But the exciting news (maybe) - tomorrow morning I am taking a home prego test. I'm not late yet, but for my past two pregnancies, I was able to test positive before I was actually late. I figured tomorrow might be the earliest that I can get a good reading. I really, really hope I have some good news tomorrow. It would, at least, explain the exhaustion!

How I ...

November 1st, 2007 at 03:34 pm

Am I allowed to reference a past post for this contest???


http://jodi.savingadvice.com/2007/10/27/how-to-costume-four-...

The problem with upgrading

October 31st, 2007 at 11:16 pm

My mom decided she wanted a big screen hi-def LCD TV. Of course, my DH agreed. We got the TV. Of course, we then had to get a hi-def DVD player, cause what's the point of having the TV if you can't get all the benefits? While DH was looking at players, he found one "better" for $100 more than he was going to spend originally. With the new player, of course, you need a $90 "monster cable" (if I sound like I don't know what I'm talking about, I don't. I could care less if we had our old 24" tv that we got 10 years ago). Now my mom has decided to upgrade the Dish Network package, to the tune of $20/month (even though we had already agreed that we didn't need to!).

I won't be surprised if I come home to a new living room set to sit on while we watch our great new TV!!

And just one rant...

October 30th, 2007 at 02:59 am

then I'm done for the night. We purchased a Netflix membership for my then-17 year old nephew for Christmas last year, as he was always running to and from the video store. It went really well for 6 months or so. We were paying the monthly fee for him, and he got a few movies every month delivered to his door. Apparently, back in June, he lost both DVDs that he had out and NEVER TOLD US. I just found out this week. I was, needless to say, pissed that I have been paying $14 per month for NOTHING. DH reported both DVDs as lost and I cancelled the account. I know 17 can be a very self-centered age, but c'mon. When someone is paying a monthly fee for a service for you, and you are no longer using that service (and, what's more, lost the merchandise), the least you can do is tell them so they can stop payments. I have been trying, more or less unsucessfully, to get some money sense into this boy since he got his first job last year. And yet, it's money-in and money-out every payday. Nothing saved. All of it going towards gas and fast food, video games and stupid things. Ugh. I hope I can get this message across to my kids when they become teenagers (although I hope it will be easier for them growing up and seeing this behavior their entire lives - I guess it's hard to undo what is learned by experience - but I sure as hell am going to keep trying.)
End of rant. I'm going to bed.

Observation on home repairs

October 30th, 2007 at 02:53 am

Wondering if anyone has had similar experiences...my parents recently contacted several contractors for new flooring in our kitchen. Of the ones that even bothered to call us back, we got estimates (after waiting a week or so after they came out). They decided to try Lowe's, who came out and gave an estimate promptly. They were $1500 cheaper. My parents booked the job with them. They called the next day to personally thank them for their business. I can't attest to the work yet as it hasn't been done, but my parents were so impressed with the customer service so far that they've been telling everyone about it. They have had plenty of work done over the years with private contractors, plumbers, etc. and usually have a tough time even getting someone to return a phone call (I know it's not like this everywhere, but people around here apparently have so much work that they don't have to bother trying to get more). I have seen it over and over again with bad customer service. So, for now, I'm really impressed with the chain store. I'll have to post more when the work is done.
One addition: if anyone has the good fortune of having Mennonite craftsman and builders near them (as we do in Upstate NY), they are IMO the best in terms of quick responses, quality work, and good prices. In addition, many of the builders and electricians we have had the pleasure to work with (and there were many, as they built my parents barn after it burned down many years ago) will work ALL DAY with minimal breaks to get the job done. The work ethic is completely admirable.

Job update

October 30th, 2007 at 02:45 am

I've been mulling over a job prospect for a few days now. It sounds like a job I might enjoy, but it's full time and a 45 minute commute. I wrote to the person who supervises the position today (she used to work in our office) and she seemed genuinely happy to hear me inquire about the position. I did ask about the possibility of working a shorter schedule, but she doesn't think there is a way to do that. In addition, the job is posted at a lower grade than I currently work at, meaning it would be a pay cut (although slight). So the pros:
- getting out of a job that I am unhappy at
- being more challenged at work
- maintaining a well-paying state job
- almost double my salary
Cons:
- Full time!!! I've got two young boys at home with serious thoughts (and some action) toward a third soon!!
- Increased need for day care. I would need to add one to two days of day care per week (depending on how much my mom might want to watch the kids) for ds2 and 3-4 days for ds1 - about $100-150 more per week
- increased commuting costs and time - about an hour per day spent on the road

I think I am going to have to stay put. I just can't fathom going to work FT with that type of commute if I don't have to. Isn't it ironic that money is the one factor that really is contributing the least to this decision??

How to costume four people for $7.50

October 28th, 2007 at 02:34 am

Well, not exactly $7.50. I did have to raid my kids' costume trunk and used some things we had bought previously (although none for Halloween).
Ds2: Woody costume (from Toy Story) that we bought ds1 last year for dress-up - bought used off E-bay. Pair of jeans, brown boots = Woody the Cowboy
Me: Western style shirt off clearance at Wal-Mart ($7.50), brown boots, red hankerchief borrowed from my dad, cowboy hat borrowed from kids' dress-up trunk, cow print vest borrowed from my brother = Jesse the Yodeling Cowgirl (also from Toy Story)
Ds1: overalls, long-sleeved shirt, another borrowed handkerchief, engineer hat from costume trunk (dollar store gift from SIL) = train engineer
DH (what a good sport): three cardboard boxes, blue and red construction paper (our supply - we've had it for years and never used it), 6 paper plates for wheels, one computer print-out of Thomas's face = Thomas the Tank Engine

Total cost: $7.50 (three costumes were free)

We wore them to a Halloween party tonight. I was surprised at how few homemade costumes there were - maybe 10 out of 50 or 60 (and don't get me started on how many store bought treats there were! I personally brought apples, graham crackers, and caramel dip. I loved seeing kids reach for the apples in the midst of all that junk). I just don't get into the commercialism of Halloween. Personally, I could do without the holiday. The costumes intimidate my kids and they don't need the candy. Oh well. I don't take them trick-or-treating - we have this annual party put on by my cousins, but that's about all we do for Halloween. We are going to carve pumpkins Tuesday, and we'll have two or three trick-or-treaters Wednesday, but that will be all. Then, we can look forward to Thanksgiving - now there's a holiday I can get excited about!

Did I waste my time?/job opportunity

October 26th, 2007 at 12:52 am

Due to an abundance of tomatoes in the garden (where were they all in August?), I decided to spend yesterday canning. I put up 6 pints of salsa, 4 quarts of tomatoes, and 5 half-pints of jalapeno jelly. It took entirely too long. After I got all done, I had to wonder if it was worth it. I mean, what was the value of all that food? Maybe $30? I earn over $20 an hour at my job. It took me several hours to do all of that, so I would have been better off to work that time and buy the food. Granted, I like the end product and do enjoy the process, but it certainly is not a money-saving endeavour as I thought it would be. Sigh. I'll feel better about this when I'm eating garden fresh salsa in January.
I saw a job posting today for a different state job that really, really interested me. The problem? Well, there are several. It's full-time. And a 45 minute commute (right now I have a 15 minute commute). I'm thinking of asking if the position could be PT - maybe 30-32 hours per week - as I know the person who previously held it only worked half time. I don't know if that's even feasible with a Civil Service position. The way I see it, though, it would be a win-win. I could get a new job and resolve this terrible job anxiety/lethargy I'm suffering from, and the state could get a person to fill the position at three-quarters of the salary of someone else. I have no doubt I could do the job - I'm so efficient now at my job that I'm constantly looking for things to fill my time. I am so yearning for a change.
Oh yeah, the last complicating factor - DH and I have started trying for that third child. If it happens the way it usually does (read: quickly!)...I should have good news in about a week and a half Wink I'm not sure I would feel right about going for a new job (even if it's in the same agency) when I know I will have to take maternity leave or might not even go back to work after. Ugh. I guess I can apply for the position and see where it goes. It's entirely possible that I couldn't even get the position and am killing myself for nothing here.

Wow - two years

October 23rd, 2007 at 01:04 am

I just noticed that I am only days away from my two year blogiversary (is that a word?). That's absolutely hard to believe. When I started visiting here (thanks Princess!) DH had just lost his job and decided to return to school full-time. We lived off my PT salary for a year and a half until he graduated. Now he has a FT job and our net worth (which until recently was negative) is over $24k. Here's to the power of investing often and wisely - we have put roughly $26k into a portfolio worth about $40k - and we just started less than five years ago. We made a few bad investments along the way, but we've recovered. Here's to living below (sometimes WAY below) your means, emergency funds, maxing out your Roths, and living la vida frugal!

Oh! I remembered...

October 19th, 2007 at 03:01 am

I was emptying my son's folder from his pre-k teacher and came across order forms for PORTRAITS. Now, maybe I'm the only mom in America who does not get professional pictures taken of my children...and maybe I'll be the only mom in his class who doesn't order them...but really? Pre-k? I even gave it a fleeting thought, thinking I could send a nice 5x7 to his grandmother, but then I looked at the packages. Prices ranged from $10-$45. None came without at least a dozen wallets, plus that many more "mini-wallets". You can order a 5x7 or 8x10 separately, but ONLY if you order a package. No thanks. Maybe when they are older and can swap pics with their friends. Maybe I'm biased because my dad took our portraits at home with his camera and developed the film in the bathroom with the window blacked out (I don't think we ever set foot in a studio until middle school, and then again after high school). Maybe it's just that I prefer "natural" shots of my kids to posed ones. Maybe it's the pile of school pictures I have received over the years that I don't know what to do with. Maybe I'm just overreacting! I just don't want to get started on this track to continue it for 13 years through multiple kids! I have ample pics of my kids, but the only time they have been in a portrait studio was when my SIL convinced me to get DS1's picture taken with my niece. At some point, I would like a nice, professional family portrait. It's just that I don't feel the need to mark every season, or even every year, with one. We take a family Christmas card picture ourselves every year, and we get tons of compliments on it. It's actually pretty fun to determine the setting, colors, etc. ourselves rather than have a cookie cutter background. But that's just me.

Dang

October 19th, 2007 at 02:39 am

I had a great idea for a blog post earlier today while I was getting dinner ready. Now that I'm sitting here...completely gone. Figures.

I spent some cash these last few days, but nothing major. Yesterday, due to the unseasonally warm weather here in central NY, DH and I took the boys apple picking (in shorts!) - $9.60 spent for two bags of apples (Crispins and Spys for eating, Cortland and Jonamac for cooking and baking), $3.00 spent for doughnuts, which always taste better in the fall at an apple orchard (nearly as good as the doughnuts at the fall festival, but I digress). Today, I stopped at a pumpkin farm and got two pumpkins ($4), a cookie ($1), and three mums for my...uh, mum ($9). I love the fall, except for the fact that it inevitably leads to winter.
This weekend is my SIL's annual Oktoberfest bash. I think this is the 6th or 7th year and we are among the elite few who have never missed a bash. In fact (don't judge), our first son was conceived at the Oktoberfest bash of 2002. With any luck, our third one might be as well Wink But I digress...anyway, tomorrow I have to make salsa, apple pie, and bierocks (AKA beer rocks, rolls filled with sausage and onion) for the party. On Saturday, I'm going to throw together a Reuben dip for the crockpot. I've never made it, but it sounds yummy. And if you're going to an Irish family's Oktoberfest party, Reuben anything will be a hit. Tomorrow will be spent in the kitchen, after a run to the store. And Saturday will be spent in various states of inebriation, being my (hopefully) last hurrah before nine months of sobriety!

would love to have a job...

October 14th, 2007 at 01:06 am

...that allows me to coach others on saving money. Finance advisors are a dime a dozen. What I'm talking about is not selling insurance or investing, but teaching people how to live below their means, how to save money, how to reach goals. You know, the stuff we do here everyday Smile A few years back (actually, it was when we lived in Syracuse, so it was probably 6 or 7 years ago), I sent in a resume to Consumer Credit Counseling. I even made an appt. to meet with them about how to get started in such a field (yeah, I know it wouldn't involve all the above, but it would be a way to help others out of debt, even if it's just calling to negotiate with creditors). I met with a few counselors who told me that they pretty much backed into the job, and had no advice for how to get into the field. No suggested classes, courses, degrees...so I gave it up. Didn't know how to do it. But now that DH has a job with bennies, I'm no longer tied to my job. And my thoughts are whirling.

The master plan is to have another two children (might have more to update on that front in 3-4 weeks Wink) and have me stay home for a few years. However, I can take that time to prepare for a career in a different field, say credit counseling! "Budget analyst" (ok, I made up that title). Money saver! (yeah, that one too). My point is that I am going to have some time to somehow create or craft a job out of what I love doing. I'm just plum tired of working at jobs that I don't enjoy, even if they are well-paying. Anyone got any ideas, cause I have no idea where to go with this!

(P.S. Want to hear something crazy about DH's new job? I'm making more half-time than he is full-time. Me: $21k. Him: $16k. So I will probably keep working as long as I can. Hopefully, this job is just a step toward getting a FT teaching position for him, which would pay a handsome $40-45k+). Fortunately, we've been living on so little for so long, that even $16k/yr. seems great!

Drat! Under contract again.

October 13th, 2007 at 01:54 pm

I convinced DH to get a Tracphone about 6 months ago, since he rarely uses his phone. After an inital $15 investment for the phone, and $120 for 1 year of service plus 300 minutes, I figured we were all set for a year. Well, he is down to 10 minutes, thanks to a flurry of calls during his grandfather's illness and passing. He decided he wanted to go back to a regular phone. I think it was a case of phone envy, as I just got a really cool mp3 player/2 megapixel camera phone (but, in justification, I use mine all the time!). Anyway, he spent literally all day researching online and found a decent deal. He ended up getting a $29.99 mo/plan with Sprint with a free phone. He ordered a car charger too, but was able to get 20% off with a coupon code. I'm a little bummed at being under contract again, but I'll get over it. I could have gotten a 15% discount through my job off the monthly rate, but that would have only saved us $107 over the course of a two year contract. Instead, we took the free phone (we couldn't take both discounts) which saved us $250 since he wanted a nice phone.

Nearly normal again

October 11th, 2007 at 01:35 am

Life is slowly getting back to normal. We've returned from Binghamton following DH's grandfather's funeral. He's starting his new job on Monday. My teeth are still bothering my from having my wisdom teeth out two weeks ago, but it's tolerable. I am so glad to be getting back to normal, mundane life.


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