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Archive for January, 2006

Coupon train chugging along

February 1st, 2006 at 04:02 am

Well, not yet anyway...but I have set aside my coupons to start a train with. I liked the idea, but wanted to do it locally. I posted on Freecycle and got about 5 or 6 responses, so as soon as I can get it organized, I will send the first batch out. Hopefully it will earn me some savings for the cost of postage.
Nothing too exciting today - worked, came home and cooked a darn good roast chicken. My brother and his fiancee stopped by for dinner. They originally told me that they couldn't come, then e-mailed back to say they could...problem is, I wasn't on the computer anymore. So I had to think of a quick way to stretch the meal when they called to say they were on the way. Added a salad and another veggie - I don't think anyone walked away hungry, although I also don't think there's a spot of chicken left on the carcass!
No money spent today - I just double-checked one of my cc bills that is due tomorrow, and saw a big fat 0 for the balance. That's nice. I still have one cc bill to pay, but it's at 0% for a few more months. We had a few rather large expenses this past month - my real estate dues for 2006 ($850) and DH's tuition ($773), along with the usual Christmas spending. So we are not doing too badly. Course there's always room for improvement Smile
I have an appt to show houses Thurs., and am going to set up another for Friday! Plus I should be getting a small check - maybe $230 - for a land deal. Tomorrow I will (hopefully) get around to adding up the monthly expenses.

new baby to visit

January 31st, 2006 at 03:30 am

I just spent a half hour talking with a friend who had a baby last week - we set up a lunch date at her house for Wednesday, providing she is up to it. I hate to intrude on new parents, but she is sounding like she might enjoy the company. I might go out Sunday too, as her hubby is going back to work and she is nervous about being alone for the first time. I can't wait to meet this new little girl Smile
Ran some errands today on my lunch break - bank (dep. $317), Staples (spent $9.49 on padded enveloped for mailing books, rather than buying one each time we go to the post office), post office (mailed a $35 half.com book for $2.07), dropped off some listings to a coworker Smile I have two clients I am working with - both with a house to sell if they find one they want. A potential 4 houses altogether. And if I were able to sell their houses myself (find them a buyer), then it would be 6 "sides" (each transaction - buying or selling- is a side), meaning big bucks. So I am going out of my way to be a super-agent for them.
Off to bed - later then I thought.

Victory at the alleys

January 30th, 2006 at 03:40 am

DH and I had a good night bowling - we both shot about 530ish for three games. I had a 211 game Smile Biggest game in a while. Spent $20 on bowling and $15 on the sitter. Babysitting is going to be expensive these next two weeks - we need a sitter the next two Saturdays and Sundays. So it goes.
Today we met my brother and SIL at David's Bridal to pick out the bridesmaids dresses. She told us what colors we were wearing and we got to pick out the style. Out of about 12 or so styles, 7 girls all picked a different one. It should look nice. I had a minor heart attack at the price tag ($140), but it was nothing compared to looking at the shoes (starting at $40 and going up to $65). The dress, I expected to pay that much for. But the shoes...lets just say I plan to do some comparative shopping. My dress is celadon (lt. green) with rum (off-white) accents. I was going to have to dye shoes when I thought I was getting a green dress, but now that I have two colors, I am hoping I can get some shoes that will match without having to dye them. And this is just the start...next we have the bridal shower, tux, hairdo, and gifts of course. Not that I am complaining - I absolutely love that I have been asked to participate in the wedding. It just gets so expensive so fast.
I made a jambalaya for dinner tonight - quick, easy, and I usually have all the ingredients in the cupboard or freezer. Plus there is enough to take for my lunch tomorrow. Last Friday I was caught without anything to take and ended up stopping for Chinese. Not good for the pocketbook or the waistline. I have to get back to my South Beach principles, especially in light of the size 10 dress that I just ordered today!

visit with the in-laws

January 29th, 2006 at 03:52 am

My MIL and FIl decided to drive down today to visit the boys. What a nice time! I have been so lucky to get the in-laws that I did. Anyway, they arrived from Binghamton at 1 and stayed until 7pm. We had a London broil on the grill for dinner (unheard of in January in NY! it was unseasonably warm today) and played a little cards.
I took ds1 for a haircut this morning and to get groceries for dinner. This is the first time I went shopping without a list since I started to revise my food bill, but I did okay. I got the meat for tonight ($2.99/lb), a roasting chicken for a later dinner ($.98/lb), some shredded cheese (3/$5), and splurged on some yogurt for ds1 with M & M's ($.60). Plus they had a big book sale at the grocery store, for some reason, and I picked up one new book for the kids - something I never feel guilty spending money on Smile I spent $10 for the haircut and just over $20 for the groceries. Not too bad.
Ds1 woke up at 5am this morning...then when he came into our bedroom at 6:30am (after being in and out since 5), he woke up ds2, who sleeps in the room adjoining ours. At that point, he decided to go back to his room and go to sleep. So of course I had to get up to be with ds2, meaning I have been up since 5 this morning. But tomorrow is my morning to sleep in, so I plan to take full advantage of it. The only problem is that I have become a very light sleeper since having kids, meaning that anytime the kids need something, they wake me up first. It takes DH forever for DH to wake up, so most of the time I end up going to the kids. And even when I sleep in, I hear EVERYTHING, so I wake up a hundred times. But at least I get to lounge in bed until I am good and ready to get up. Enough rambling, I guess. Ta ta.

wow, new blogs!

January 28th, 2006 at 02:38 am

I started to write a new post the other day, but then when I saw I had to create the blog, I gave up. Not that I felt I couldn't do it, but I was SOOO tired and did not feel like doing it. So tonight I got around to it and it took about two minutes! Easy!
I have not written in a while...don't even remember where I left off last. I guess I will just ramble about the last few days. The weekend is here again - meaning I get to sleep in on Sunday! I don't know what my problem has been lately, but getting out of bed has been such a chore. I just cannot shake off the grogginess. I keep telling myself to get to bed earlier, then find something else that needs to be done. Last night it was my business cards (for selling real estate), which finally got ordered. I ended up taking the pictures at home with my father's digital camera (8 megapixel), which the company said they would accept (I was originally told that they would only take film pictures). So I saved $25-50 there. I just hope it comes out okay on the card. Once I get those, I can get my car magnet made and put some ads in the paper. My broker has agreed to split the cost of a weekly ad in the local paper's house section. She will be running an ad with five other agents, so the cost to us will only be $10/week - very reasonable. She also suggested I put up signs at the local grocery store, library, etc. A little hokey if I were living in a big city, but it might work here in our little one-stop-light town. I am hoping that since I grew up here, plastering my face around town might catch the business of some people who do not know that I am in the business. We'll see.
Some good news - a couple we are friends with had their first baby a few days ago. Julia. How beautiful. We might go visit tomorrow or Sunday, if they are feeling up to it. I would like to take them some dinner - just one thing they won't have to think about for a night. I remember well those first few weeks with a new baby Smile
Sunday I am going dress-shopping with my future SIL. She has picked out the colors but is letting us pick out the style. Fun!
Maybe I actually WILL get to bed early tonight...

another cheap night...

January 24th, 2006 at 03:07 am

We went to dinner at my aunt's house. My brother brought the pizza. We brought dessert. It was a nice time. My aunt is 91, so we try to stop over as much as we can, since she does not like to go out so much anymore, especially in this cold weather. She really enjoys seeing the kids, although tonight they were getting a little rambunctious so we made a hasty exit. She has a cat that's bigger than my one year old - and I am not kidding - that she keeps in a cage when we visit. The kids didn't want to leave the cat alone, and I'm sure she was getting annoyed (as cats do). Plus the more tired kids get...the louder. But I can't complain. For the amount of sleep my kids had last night, they were WONDERFUL! They both woke up with soggy diapers and sheets (I think I may need to hold a diapering tutorial for the babysitter). Ds2 went back to bed, but ds1 did not. He was up from 3am, with two short naps (20 minutes and 1 hour) yet has was wonderfully behaved all day! I told DH that if I wasn't so tired, I would consider letting him do this all the time! Smile Actually, I have great boys, so I can't complain. But they all have their moments...
No money spent today - I was at work all day and took my lunch and snacks in. Came home, played with the boys and picked up the house, then went out for dinner...not really a chance to spend anything. Although I probably will go online to pay a cc bill after this, so I guess that will be money out of the account. DH did get a rebate check today - another $30. When it rains, it pours Smile we have been getting a lot of checks this week. Have to hold on to them for when the windfalls ease up.

I'm in the wedding :)

January 23rd, 2006 at 02:29 am

My brother and future-SIL asked me and DH tonight to be in their wedding in August Smile I love weddings. I love trying on dresses. I just love everything about it! So I am very excited. We might go dress shopping on Thursday - if I can get a sitter.
Bowled tonight - took all seven points. DH and I are on some type of mad winning streak here. Too bad it didn't start earlier, when we were still in Vegas Smile We had to pay the babysitter ($15), but that was our only cost as we had prepayed bowling. Oh, and I did have to stop for a slice of pizza ($2) since I didn't have time to come home from dinner after showing houses.
I talked to my broker today about getting ideas for advertising. She mentioned a few - putting up fliers in the grocery store, library, etc (I live in a very small town, so there really are not a lot of advertising opportunities). She loved my idea about getting a magnetic car sign. She is also going to put some money towards an ad in the local paper. Yeah! I guess since a good chunk of the money I make goes to her, she is willing to put up a little of the cost for me.
I think I will head up to bed...back to work tomorrow.

pinochle champs!

January 22nd, 2006 at 08:03 pm

Ok, so I am bragging a little bit. We have had five pinochle matches this year, and won all 5. Not just won them, but won them HUGE. a 500 score is a really good score that you are lucky to get once or twice a year, but we have made 500 points in all of our matches so far this year. In fact, they are threatening to kick us out if we don't start slacking off Smile We played last night, another night of free entertainment. It's my absolute favorite game - not one that many twenty-somethings play though.
Tonight we bowl - not free like last night, but still a good time. We are very lucky to have babysitters available - a fact I am reminded off every time I talk to other parents who have not had a night out in years. My parents always bowled at least one night a week since before we were born, so I guess it has been ingrained in me to take some time off and have fun. plus my kids have fun with the babysitter, so I don't feel bad. Before bowling tonight, I am going to show two houses to a couple that we bowl with. Plus I received a call from a coworker on Friday that she wants to start looking again. So I am getting back in the game slowly.
Had a little disagreement with Dh about money- not a fight, just him rolling his eyes at me when I asked him for some receipts. He even went as far as to suggest, although not too seriously, getting separate accounts so I can stop harassing him about every penny he spends. We came up with a compromise though - anything he puts on the debit card, credit card, or check I can look up, so he does not need to tell me. Anything he spends in cash over $20 he will tell me about or give me a receipt (this whole discussion came about because I dared to ask him how much he spent in cash for his textbooks - over $200! I only wanted to know where that cash went!). But any of his small expenditures in cash he can keep to himself. He has been extremely reformed in that money used to be spent all over without any idea of where it went - he is much better now, but I know there are still a lot of small coffee-snack-lotto tickets, etc. that I don't know about Smile
Oh, and the icing on the cake - he threw out a toothpaste tube that was not empty and then taunted me about it! I have one of those squeeze-thingies to get all the toothpaste out which he thinks I am nuts for doing, so he likes to get my goat sometimes. Geez, I am making this sound bad, but it was really quite funny. It was kind of a little kid thing - "ha ha, I threw out the toothpaste tube and it wasn't even empty!" Maybe it was just funny to us though...I just have this thing about wasting things that still have use left in them, which he totally just does not get. Smile
Clever idea for reusing things: My mom wanted a t.v. stand - the type that attaches to the wall - so that she could watch t.v. on her treadmill. My dad had our old Dish t.v. satellite that was outdated - they did not take it with them when they replaced our old one, and it wasn't usable anymore. He attached it to the wall and the t.v. fit perfectly on it. I just wanted to share that cute idea as a reminder that many things have uses above and beyond what was intended. You just have to think outside the lines!
A reminder for me of recent cash expenses: $2.50 for lunch (the four of us went to McDonalds yesterday to play on the playground - we had $10 in g.c.), $6 in "big boy" underwear for ds1 - but we did get a $26 credit for returning a toy that the boys would not use, so really we were ahead of the game yesterday. Plus my mom took all of our change to the bank for us (my bank does not have a machine) and we came out $86 ahead (plus the $60 I cashed in before Vegas). Not too shabby!

ahhh...the weekend

January 21st, 2006 at 01:13 am

I love Saturday. And Sunday. I get to stay home with DH and the kids, sleep in a bit...nice. We have no plans for tomorrow other than to play pinochle at night with our league. Maybe I can get some things done around the house. I was going to get my pics done at Wal-Mart today, but then I realized that I would still be waiting for them to come in (I called to check - it takes three weeks). So I looked around for a place that could develop them instantly for me. Sears will do it - they have a "professional" picture package that gives you the copyright to use for other purposes (I never even thought about having to get permission to use this photo for my business cards), but it costs $50. My other option is to go back to the place I got them done the first time and pay $25, but that's in Syracuse (45 minute drive compared to a 10 minutes drive). Sears was supposed to try to find a better deal and call back, but I never heard from them. I guess they couldn't do any better. So now I just need to determine if the extra $25 is worth an hour of my time for the drive - yup, it is. I would work for an hour to get paid $25, so why wouldn't I take an hour's time to save it?
Busy day at work today - kept the day moving fast. I slept in again this morning (7:30) because my kids slept in - not that I'm complaining, but I am going to need to start using the alarm clock again! So by the time I got ready and ds1 got dressed and fed, I was already late - and I still needed to drop him off at preschool. Better get the alarm clock out. I stopped to get some breakfast on my way in to work today because I didn't have time to eat at home - $2.37. Oh well. No other money spent today.
DH lost his wallet...again. This is probably the fourth or fifth time. Darndest thing though...it always comes back to him and never with anything missing. He really has the luck of the Irish. This time it turned up in the parking lot of the grocery store we were at. The lady who returned it to him was apologetic because there was only $1 in it (she thought someone took the rest), but she felt a little better after he explained that he only had $1 when he lost it! The best time, though, was when he lost it in the ocean in Florida. He never even realized it was gone until someone came walking down the beach calling his name. When he answered, they handed him his wallet. Lucky guy Smile
Last night went pretty well with getting ds to sleep in his big boy bed. But tonight...right now he's crying because I took his book away and turned off the light. Mean mommy! I already let him "read" for a half hour - he's got to go to bed sometime! better go see what he needs now...

still no professional picture...

January 20th, 2006 at 01:43 am

...but the good news is that we are getting DH's car fixed for free (or possibly for the cost of paint). The local vocational school accepted his application to repair the dent that some moron left in it (I say moron not because the accident happened but because the person never stopped to tell him - he found it the next morning). I was about to get ready for my professional picture - again - when we got the phone call that they needed the car to be there this morning. So DH and I hopped in our cars to go drop it off. We took ds1 with us - ds2 had just gone down for a nap so my mom stayed with him - and ran a bunch of errands. We stopped at the bank, post office to mail the book, and grocery store. This was my second attempt at making my own "grocery game" since it is not available in my area. My groceries came to $126.16, but I saved $48.09 (38%), paying only $79.02 with tax. I am pleased with this. Plus I finished buying the rest of the items needed for the Del Monte rebate, taking another $10 off the total when I get that back. My coupon use was quite disappointing though - only $5.65. I had several coupons for $1, which the store will not double. I also had six store coupons that can be used to triple a coupon, again only if they are less than $1. It seems every coupon I had was for $1, so I hardly got to double or triple anything. Plus I just don't find a lot of coupons I can use since I buy a lot of fresh foods and meats instead of prepackaged items. But, it's a start. I need to get back to the days of "stockpiling" rather than buying what I need for a specific meal.
Back to work tomorrow...and if I have time to primp a bit in the morning, I will make another attempt at getting my picture done on my lunch break. Not that I am particularly vain or anything, but I will be using this picture for years...and hopefully it will be seen far and wide Smile I liked my old picture, but I had waist length hair then - and it's now at my shoulders. I did have an idea as I was falling asleep last night (isn't that when all the good ideas come?). After I get my new business cards, I am going to send some out to all my past clients with a $10 super-certificate (that I can get at a discount) thanking them for their past business and to let them know I am back working at full-speed again (most know that I took time off when I had my boys). I am also going to offer an additional $25 certificate to them if they refer any new clients to me, and $100 certificate to them if they return to me to buy or sell another house (maybe more, I have to think this through). Maybe I can drum up a little new business that way...and it would still fall within my $500 budget that I have allotted myself for advertising (I wouldn't be sending to all past clients, i.e. ones that moved out of state, so I should be able to limit myself to 20-25 certificates bought at $9 each). Then I have about $50 for business cards, another $50-100 for new signs and a car magnet, and possibly use whatever is left for advertising in the local shopping guide, or I have even considered putting up a sign at the bowling alley, where I know a lot of people who might not necessarily know I am in the business. They sell advertising at the ends of the alleys. We'll see...
Enough for tonight - have to get to bed early at least one day a week. We have just moved ds1 (2.5 years) to a big boy bed tonight from his crib. We tried this about 10 months ago, and it went terribly. Then we got him a crib tent and the last 10 months have been great. But...he just figured out how to get himself out of the tent, so we decided it was time to try the bed again. He skipped his nap today, as it was MUCH more fun to play in his room. Tonight it took him about a half hour to settle down, but (fingers crossed) it has been quiet up there for about 30 minutes. Who knows if he'll be waking us in the middle of the night though...any thoughts/tricks on this would be welcome!

not a very productive day...

January 19th, 2006 at 02:09 am

I did get to show a house, and I did get to my meetings, but nothing else on my list got done. My alarm clock (AKA ds1 and ds2) did not "go off" (AKA start crying) until after 7:30 this morning instead of the usual 7am, so I did not have time to style my hair. That factor, combined with a drizzling rain all morning, meant that there was no way I was having a professional picture taken today. But I did stop at Wal-Mart to check out their prices, as it was recommended to me by our office secretary for being cheap. They have a package now that it $7.88 - it includes a lot of pictures and all I really need is one, but the lady working there said it would be cheaper than paying a sitting fee just to get one picture (there's no sitting fee on this package). So I hopefully will be doing that tomorrow. And after work I just felt like coming home, so I skipped the grocery store - also on my list for tomorrow, when I don't have to work.
DH sold another book on half.com - yippee! I didn't even know he had any more listed, but since he lists them under my account, I get the e-mails first. So I will have to add a trip to the post office on the to-do list for tomorrow.
Another pleasant surprise - the refund for overpayment of property taxes over two years ago came in the mail today ($470). Plus a paycheck. So I will have a lot of moolah to deposit tomorrow at the bank - another errand. I was planning to take my older son with me, but this is getting to be a lot of stops!
I want to try to catch up on everyone else's journals...I feel so out of touch! I really enjoy reading them and gleaning ideas - thanks to everyone who shares their life experiences with us!

Back to work today...

January 18th, 2006 at 02:30 am

It's not easy to go back to work after a week off...but I can't complain, working half-time as I do. But it still stinks Smile The good thing is that I was busy all day, so it flew by. DH started his second semester of grad classes tonight. We were getting so spoiled with me having so much time off for the holidays and DH not having school for 5 weeks. Back to reality for us now.
Tomorrow I have quite a list of things to do. I have to drop ds1 off at pre-school, show a house at 9am, then get a professional picture taken so I can order new business cards (part 1 of my attempt to drum up some local business). Then I have to go back into work for a few hours for two meetings, stop at the grocery store (my list is made already!), and get home in time for DH to go to school. But Thursday is looking pretty empty so far.
A few good things - DH sold two more textbooks on half.com. We should be getting our first check soon, I think. Yeah! Bad news is that we are out of textbooks to sell! Also, DH could not find any of this semesters books online, so we had to buy them new at the -ouch- bookstore.
Another good move we made - closed out two accounts we no longer used, so we have less to keep track of now.
No cash spent today - spent about $30 on gas, but I will total this up at the end of the month since it's on the credit card (bad move on my part, but I did not have my debit card in my wallet). It is a 0% card though.

Wow, am I rambling tonight...I find myself a little less focused when I am not accounting for the purchases of the day.

back from Vegas - and not broke! :)

January 17th, 2006 at 02:21 am

Hi to everyone! DH and I had a great trip to Vegas. We lost a little, maybe $100 or so, but it was an amount I could live with. DH started losing money right off the bat and I freaked out a little - really, it took the better part of a day for me to step back and realize it was okay to lose some cash if we were having a good time - at the same time DH was realizing he had to slow down to avoid going broke before we got home! So we reached a happy medium and had a wonderful time. We stopped playing the blackjack tables and started playing the poker tables instead (Texas Hold 'Em) - much more enjoyable, easier to win, and you can play for hours on $50 (if you play right, that is!). We met my high school best friend for a day - she drove in from Phoenix. We saw the sights, stayed up late, got up late, and didn't have to change a diaper at all for four days!
On a related note, since I do not want to tally up the Vegas expenses, I am going to wait until the end of the month to post my income/expenses for January. I find that if I try to remember them as I go, I inevitably forget some which never get accounted for. However, if I review all of my statements at the end of the month, I won't omit anything. So I will just use this as a means to post whatever is on my mind for the day rather than a way to account for money spent. Of course, I might change this again...let's just call this journal a work in progress.
That's all for tonight - just wanted to get in the habit of posting again. Later...