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

January 5th, 2008 at 07:17 pm

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 11:20 am

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 11:15 am

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.

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 2nd, 2008 at 06:46 pm

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 1st, 2008 at 06:50 pm

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 29th, 2007 at 07:51 pm

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 20th, 2007 at 08:09 pm

I just counted all the gifts I needed to buy this year (all done except for 2!):
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 16th, 2007 at 06:27 pm

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 15th, 2007 at 08:09 pm

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 10th, 2007 at 07:33 pm

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 20th, 2007 at 06:50 pm

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 14th, 2007 at 04:42 pm

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.