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Archive for December, 2005

December 30 - planning for tomorrow

December 31st, 2005 at 01:36 am

We are having some friends over for dinner tomorrow, then some cards. I want to make a really nice dinner - something I don't do too often. Not sure if my parents are going to be around or go out to dinner yet. I think I will go shopping in the morning and take ds1 with me. DH heard a recommendation in one of his education classes to take your kids out more if they are slow to start talking...ds1 is getting speech services and we talk to him all the time about everything, but maybe getting him out a little more will spur some speech on. So far I am thinking about trying to cook a prime rib at home, since that's what we always order out anyway, with some nice appetizers and maybe a chocolate torte for dessert. Mmmmm...
Today I had to work all day - got some end of the month visits in. Then a quick stop for stamps ($3.70) and a neat Christmas planner I found on clearance ($3.78 - spots to keep lists, notes, and your Christmas card list - will use it for next year or give it as a gift), and then home to my boys Smile
December expenses: $5977.08 + 3.70 + 3.78 = $5984.56
December income: $3974.50

December 29 - lazy day

December 30th, 2005 at 01:50 am

Okay, I hardly got anything accomplished today, but I won't be too hard on myself since I got so much done yesterday. It was my day to sleep in, and did I ever. I got up at 10:30. I don't think I have slept that late since before ds1 was born (2 1/2 years ago). The latest I have been able to manage is 8:30-9, so it was quite a surprise to me when I woke up and saw the clock! I guess I needed to catch up after the holidays. I spent most of today just hanging out with the kids. DH went to Rochester to visit some college friends. He should be back soon - he left around 2pm. I did get most of my thank you notes sent out from ds2's first birthday, although I ran out of cards so I still have a few left to catch up on. And I finally filled out the application to get the local vocational school to fix the dent in DH's car (from his last trip to Rochester!). I took a picture with the digital camera, printed it out, and am going to send it in with the application. It's not much of a dent, but if they have some students just starting out, it might be good practice for them. I'm not expecting to get picked (the list if applicants is quite long), but it's worth a try.
Thanks for the ideas, mjrube. I did let everyone know that I got my license 4 years ago, when I was starting out. I am trying to "relocate" my business now. Unfortunately, I don't know many people in this area who might be buying or selling, but I am just so tired of driving all over the place. I don't belong to a church, but your post is making me think about other organizations that I might be able to reach out to.
December expenses: $5777.08 + 200 (car payment) = 5977.08 (this is getting worse every day!! at least next month should be a lot better. The ironic part is that even with Christmas spending, I was still way in the black for the month - until tuition time)
December income: $3974.50

2006 Goals

December 29th, 2005 at 03:03 am

I decided to get my goals for the coming year written down.

1. Pay off my student loan ($6800). I really have no idea how we are going to do this on one income, but maybe goal #2 will help.

2. Self-promote my real estate. I have decided to concentrate my efforts in my local rural area, as I have been spending too much time driving 45 minutes to Syracuse to sell real estate. I need to come up with some creative ideas to drum up some local business. I think drawing on the fact that I was born and raised in this town may help. Sub-goals:
a. Order new business cards - my old ones are outdated with info (old cell number) and my picture.
b. Once the cards are in, get a magnetic car sign made up. I know someone who does this and I know it will be a reasonable price.
c. Think up some creative marketing schemes. Right now I am considering offering a $50-100 gift card upon closing to a local department or home store, or possibly a donation to a charity (of buyer or seller's choice, in their name) upon closing, maybe 10% of my commission. These will both be a good chunk of my commission, but if it works to bring in new business, it will be worth it. And it won't cost me anything unless I actually close on a house.
d. Get new name riders for my "For Sale" signs - I need some with my new cell phone number on them.
e. possibly some direct marketing, i.e. postcards, free market analysis, etc.
All together, I want to earmark about $500 for this goal. If it is successful, it will pay off many times more than that.

3. Contribute the maximum to our Roth IRAs. We've been able to do this for the past two years (when we started), so it would be nice to keep it up. DH just started a Sharebuilder account too, and wants to put $100 a month in. I told him we could do it for now, but might need to stop if things get tight. So I guess another goal would be to put $1200 into Sharebuilder.

4. Maintain our $10k emergency fund. We have not had to touch much of this since DH went back to school, but I anticipate next year to be a little tougher.

I just asked DH what his goals were for next year - he said "To make more than I spend". Utterly simple, yet so true. Isn't that what we all want? Smile

December 28 - getting some things checked off...

December 29th, 2005 at 02:27 am

my long to-do list. It helps to have a day to spend at home with nothing to do. And I get another one tomorrow! DH and I took care of some things around the house today. Then he went shopping, and I went to the library later...I spent $1.60 on library fines, and he spent $17.76 on groceries. Other expenses...the big one. DH's tuition. We paid $2000 by check and $773 by credit card (0% interest for five more months). But that will catch us up until the summer semester. I also paid a $15 copay, $80.15 on the credit card (paid in full - not counted toward expenses as I count the purchases as I make them), sent in my vision claim, and sent in my rebate for my contacts, which will net my $60 when it comes in. I switched my direct debit on my student loans to my new bank account and only have to switch my EZ Pass now, but I still have to keep my old account open for two weeks to make sure the payment got switched in time. DH closed both our remaining ING accounts, and when the money is transferred, we will take it out to buy the boys' savings bonds. We sorted and put away all the Christmas gifts, and tallied up our Christmas spending ($850, not counting our Vegas trip, which is DH and my gift to each other) - approximately $47 per person (although we spent more than that on our kids, and less on some others). I cleaned out the bathroom cabinets, picked up our bedroom and ds1's bedroom, and folded laundry. I feel like I really have accomplished some things today!
Still on the list for tomorrow: get will notarized, finish some sorting/cleaning, print pics to send with ds2's thank you notes and get them in the mail, buy stamps, switch EZ Pass direct debit.
December expenses: $2969.72 + 1.60 + 17.76 + 2000 + 773 + 15 = 5777.08
December income: $3944.50 + 30 from mom (she bought a few entertainment books off me for gifts - I had more than I could use) = $3974.50

A few goals

December 28th, 2005 at 01:43 am

I have had a list of goals running around in my head here for a few days that I just have not gotten down anywhere. I figure this is as good a place as any, and I will feel more accountable if the cyberworld is looking over my shoulder Smile

1. Close credit union account. First I have to run through my checkbook to make sure all my checks have cleared - won't be easy, as I have been slacking on doing this. I might be missing some checks that I haven't accounted for. I have been putting this off for several weeks now, but I will just have to bite the bullet and get it done. I also have to switch my student loan and EZ Pass, which is direct-debited from this account.

2. Close my two remaining ING accounts in my sons' names and use the money for savings bonds. I had a great idea when the kids were born to purchase a $1000 bond for them at birth and a $100 bond at each birthday. I have the money set aside, but never got around the getting the bonds. Time to get cracking...

3. Send in a $60 rebate for my contact lenses. Just received these in the mail last week.

4. Complete the form for a claim in to my vision insurance, although the amount they pay is piddly. Better than nothing though.

5. Decide which gifts to keep and which to return or add to the regift pile.

6. Tally up total Christmas spending.

Some non-money things:

1. Get will notarized. It's been sitting in my "To Do" pile for longer than I care to admit. And I have absolutely no excuse as my neighbor is a notary public and would do it in a heartbeat for us.

2. Return library books. Take ds1 with me - he enjoys the trip.

3. Finalize vacation plans for Vegas - including confirmation of my time off from work (it won't be a problem, I just haven't connected with my supervisor yet) and rescheduling my meetings during my time off.

4. Get some cleaning and organizing done.

Just realized I neglected to enter some additional income: $3908.99 + 35.51 refund from Cingular (I was told not to expect this for 4-6 weeks, so I was very pleasantly surprised!) = $3944.50

December 27 - officially on the charts

December 28th, 2005 at 01:30 am

My baby had his one year checkup today and he is officially on the chart for weight (for all you parents out there who are familiar with the "percentiles"). He has been under the 3rd percentile for weight now for about 6 months, and he finally made it back up to the 3rd! He is at 25th percentile for height and (gulp) 90th for head circumference. Both our boys have heads that are quite out of proportion to the rest of them! Hopefully this is a sign of their big brains Smile Anyway, there's really nothing to be concerned about because he has been steadily gaining, but I will admit, I was worried because he was just SO small. I do feel a little better. Poor guy had to have three shots though, and is getting a new tooth.
DH and I have not been spending much money over these past few days. With all the Christmas spending out of the way, I guess there wasn't much more we needed to take care of. He did go out today and buy a new winter coat. It was originally $180, marked down to $75 with a $15 return credit and a $20 gift card, so it wasn't too much money out of our pockets. He usually buys the cheapest thing he can find, then needs to buy a new one in a year, so hopefully this one will last a lot longer. I finally bought a good coat last year and it is still in great shape - I hope to have it for several years to come.
We had a backlog of checks at the house - finally made it to the bank today to deposit them. It felt good to drop $2500 into the account. I think we will write a big check soon for DH's tuition, though, and that will be the end of it. I was planning to put my last commission check toward my student loans, but we weren't anticipating having to pay quite so much for tuition. I guess it's better to spend it now on tuition than to take out more loans.
December expenses: $ 2929.72 + $40 (coat) = $2969.72
December income: $3873.99 + $10 (check from DH's grandparents) + $25 credit (returned a Christmas gift that we decided not to give - found something better) = $3908.99

December 25 and 26 - more visits to family

December 27th, 2005 at 02:56 am

We spent today at my SILs house. All the cousins get together the day after Christmas - we missed it last year as ds2 had just been born, so it was especially nice to be there this year. We visit, eat, and do a Chinese gift exchange. The boys were great and charmed everyone, along with the other toddlers there Smile It was about a two hour trip, but the boys took their naps on the way there and slept on the way back, so it wasn't so bad. I hear a lot of controversy about regifting, but I regifted two items for the Chinese gift exchange - a tower of boxes filled with candy (NOT on the South Beach diet!) and a set of travel coffee mugs (duplicate gift) - both gifts were "stolen" in the gift exchange, so I don't feel bad about it.
Now, about Christmas...I really wanted to keep it simple for the boys, but with a total of 4 aunts and 4 uncles who all insist on buying for the kids, it's hard to do. But they did get a lot of clothes and books, some saving bonds and gift certificates...so I was really pleased. There are quite a few toys that I don't really want them to have (either we already have something very similar, or the toy is too big, or just really annoying!) so I am trying to decide how to handle that. I don't want to sound mean here - obviously if my boys really liked a toy, I wouldn't take it away, but I am talking about some toys that they have not even looked twice at. I can either try to return them or tuck them away for regifting. I think I will do a little combination of each. My family is really understanding about returning things. My brother got a near duplicate of a sports center that I just gave away on Freecycle because my kids never played with it, so I think I will take that one back. My SIL found two talking Dora dolls and bought them, one for her daughter and one for us to give to ds1 (who is absolutely in love with Dora). She asked me if I wanted it or if she should take it back - I told her I would take it (without seeing it), then asked her how much it was --- $40!!! I was about to tell her nevermind, but then DH said we should get it for him because he will want one when he sees his cousins. So we got it...and he has not looked twice at it...and I am really regretting letting DH talk me into it. But I guess we live and learn...maybe he will be more excited about it in a few days...
I don't mean to sound like a grinch here Smile I just really want my kids to not grow up expecting everything in the world to be given to them. They already have a lot of toys. They just don't need enough stuff to fill a room. Sigh. At least they were given a lot of clothes and books, which I will NEVER place a limit on!
I should get to bed...night all.
December expenses: $2918.72 + $11 (groceries for SIL's party) = 2929.72
December income: $3808.99 + $5 (DH's poker winnings) + $60 (gift from in-laws for Vegas trip) = $3873.99

December 24 - happy holidays to all

December 25th, 2005 at 02:35 am

Wonderful day, visit from the in-laws. They just left a few minutes ago. We had a great roast beef dinner, sang happy birthday to my littlest, opened gifts...the boys got a great train table that they have been playing on all night. Now I'm off to help my mom wrap presents and collapse into bed.
No expenses today.
Reimbursement check for mileage received from work: $3662.52 + 146.47 (I'll be sad when our mileage rate goes back down next month!) = 3808.99

Happy holidays to all!!!


December 23 - my Peanut's first birthday :)

December 24th, 2005 at 03:30 am

My little "baby" turned one today...I guess I have to stop calling him the baby. He is so tiny though - looks like he could pass for 7 or 8 months old, except that he runs all over the place. People look at him and say, "he shouldn't be walking!". He's been walking for three months now - started early like his older brother. We went to my aunt's house tonight for our early Christmas and ds2's birthday party. My aunt has a tiny studio apartment which we crammed fifteen people into - but we wouldn't change it for anything. She's 92 and it's harder for her to get out - plus we have been going there for Christmas every year since I was born - and my father has been going there for a few decades more. We had three kids there tonight - my two (ages 1 and 2) and my niece, 3. It was so great to see the new generation of our family running around - I could tell it made my aunt so happy. There was a time, about 35 years ago before my parents and cousin got married, that my aunt's generation was worried about the future of our family (my dad and cousin married late), but it appears that worry is over! Even my single brother and cousin were there with long-time girlfriends that we *hope* will become fiancees soon!
I had to work today - a bummer on ds's birthday. But I did go out to lunch with a client and took her shopping, which meant I got to sneak in a little shopping too Smile Then I came home and made cupcakes for the party tonight. So I spent a little money, but not much. I forgot to call Cingular today to find out about my credit - I will try tomorrow, if they are open.
My in-laws are coming tomorrow for the day with my BIL and nephew. My other BIL and his family are invited too, but I don't know if they will be here. They are coming up as we cannot go there for Christmas. I am so lucky to have the parents and in-laws that I do - no fighting over where we spend the holidays, no unrealistic expectations about traveling with two toddlers...just efforts to get together whenever we can. DH had a tradition of going all out decorating Christmas cookies on Christmas eve - a tradition we will be starting with the boys tomorrow. I love it when family comes to visit Smile
December expenses: $2907.52 + 5.58 (lunch) + 5.62 (Big Lots) = 2918.72
December income: $3662.52


December 23rd, 2005 at 02:52 am

Quick update - just checked my statement online and missed a few things...
groceries 66.42, Christmas presents 46.55
December expenses: $2907.52
Just tallied up my Keep the Change contributions..$7.90 since 12/13! It adds up fast, especially when I make sure to get one $.01 on the end of my gas bill...then it's like the bank is paying me $.99 to fill up! (for another two months, at least!)

December 21 and 22 - frustration...

December 23rd, 2005 at 02:43 am

when I try to write these entries. For the second time in a week, I have lost an entry before being able to submit it. The first time I hit the wrong button and my entire entry was gone...yesterday the computer froze up as I was submitting my entry. Both times I was too frustrated to write it all over. So here is yesterday's entry and todays...
I spent yesterday at home all day, except for a trip to the post office to mail two packages and my Christmas cards. However, I did spend a substantial amount of money on my annual real estate dues ($384 for dues and $436 for multiple listing service access - saved $20 by paying all four quarters at once). I put this on my new BOA cc with 0% for 6 months, so I can pay that one after the holidays. I checked my credit cards last night too - found out that I had somehow missed a payment. ARGH! I am usually fanatical about that. I have slipped a few times in the past - the first time, they waived the fee for me, but the second time they didn't. I really don't know how this happened - I check my balances about once a week and usually catch these well before they are due. I spent last night mad at myself for wasting $39. I'm still debating whether to call them to ask if they will waive it - I know there is no harm in trying, but I feel like a dunce. I did pay another $500 to my Discover - another $400 due by the first week of January. I will make that payment in a week - that will mean our upcoming vacation will be paid off Smile
I spent a little money today at the outlet mall - $3.74 on some sugar free candy, $2 on plates and thank you notes for ds2's first birthday (tomorrow!), two shirts for me ($14), and a few gifts (about $11 total). Then DH and I played cards with my aunt and went grocery shopping for a few things after - another $27.
I did save a little more money today by checking over my last cell phone bill from my prior carrier. I switched my service in mid-November, but they charged me until the first week of December. I spent about a half hour on the phone, but it should net me about $40. They were supposed to call me back today with the total, but they never did. Which means I have to call them again tomorrow...why can't these companies follow through when they say they will?
December expenses: $1908.33 + 8.48 (post office) + 384 + 436 + 3.74 + 2 + 14 + 11 + 27 = $2794.55
December income: $1563.61 + 1296.75 (comission check) + 802.16 (paycheck with exra time) = 3662.52

December 16-20

December 21st, 2005 at 03:46 am

Wow, I have been so busy lately that I have not had time to get on. I have a lot of catching up to do. This past weekend we played cards and went bowling, then last night I went out with some girlfriends to Red Lobster. We decided to have a nice dinner instead of exchanging gifts - and since I had a gift certificate, it didn't cost me a thing! We went shopping after and I got a few things for the boys' stockings. I have a lot of spending to record since DH and I both finished up our shopping over the weekend, so I will just record it as one lump sum (total: 386.77 on Christmas gifts and a closing gift for the buyers I have been working with). We also had some miscellaneous expenditures along the way for gas, groceries, etc.
A few positives: I already received my $25 rebate from my booking on Expedia.com for trying out Entertainment.com for a month. I received it in less than 2 weeks - great service. I also shaved about $50 off my cell phone bill after an hour long conversation with customer service today. They never gave me my discount (10%) for being a state employee that I was promised when I signed up - they tried to tell me I was ineligible because I received the phones at a discounted price, but I asked the service rep who sold me the phone and he called to verify my discount in front of me - so I was NOT a happy camper during this phone call. And they tacked on a $1.99 charge to my bill without telling me or explaining why (it is a charge to put more towers in my calling area since they have no towers here - would have been fine with this if they had told me when I signed up!). So I received a $25 credit off the bat, then had to speak to a supervisor, who credited me my 10% discount as well as another $10 off for my troubles. I ended up happy with the outcome, but miffed that it took me an hour to get there. In one phone call, I received two credits to my account - yet in my previous dealings with this company (about 8 phone calls over a 2 week period for failing to port my cell number over from my previous carrier), I was never offered a thing for my inconvenience. Not even after I wrote a letter to the head of the company (which I have still have not heard a word from).
I am looking forward to the next two days off...then to work of Friday and off again for three days! Tomorrow my priority is to get to the post office first thing to mail Christmas cards and two packages. I have been trying to get these cards out since last week, but I am sending a family picture with them. When I went to print them out, my cartridge ran out. So I bought a new photo cartridge, but apparently I have no clue how this works because when I put the photo cartridge in without the color cartridge, the pictures came out gray. Since the color cartridge was also out, I had to go buy a new one of those. Finally got them both in the printer together tonight and all the pictures printed. Next time I'll just send them to Wal-Mart!
The photo collages came out very, very nice on Kodakgallery.com and cost less than $2 in shipping. However, they did not ship the entire order. I am missing one collage. I was going to wait a day and see if it came separately...when I got ready to check out, I did a quick search for coupon codes and found one for 20% orders of $10 or more. My order was $9.98, so I ordered another $2 collage for my MIL. So basically, I got it for free Smile except that it didn't arrive!
I need to get to bed...yawn. Better tally up.
December expenses: $1173.17 + $386.77 (gifts) + $99 (fingerprinting fee for DH - has to get it to substitute teach) + $165 (to mom for expenses) + 27.01 (gas) + 25.16 (groceries) + 30.22 (printer cartridge) + $2 (donation at work) + 1908.33 (yikes!)
December income: $1221.61 + 317 + 25 = 1563.61

December 14 and 15 - behind again

December 16th, 2005 at 03:24 am

What a productive day...but I'm beat so I will keep this short. I got some things done around the house that I have not had time to do, then went to a holiday party for my real estate office - very nice. I have been trying to do some photo collages for my parents half the night on KodakGallery.com...not the easiest site to use, and I am paranoid that shipping is going to be huge. We'll see. I'm uploading pics right now, so I have to put the last collage together, then go to checkout to see what the damage is.
Spent a lot these past few days - more Christmas shopping. DH and I spent last night wrapping everything. The good thing is that we are almost done - just a few more gifts to get. YEAH!
December expenses: $1011.44 + 12.13 (thrift store - 4 shirts for me and 5 books for the kids - some for Christmas gifts!) + 22.66 (On Cue - cd and book for gifts) + 72.94 (Marshalls - gifts) + 54 (gift certficates) =1173.17
December income: $1221.61