<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Home > Archive: April, 2006

Archive for April, 2006

I cannot believe this...

April 30th, 2006 at 01:21 am

my favorite pasttime...ruined by my own frugality. I kicked off the garage sale season today by hitting a few local sales. After the first three, I realized that there is nothing I need to buy...and very little that I want! I suddenly found myself wondering what I was doing wasting my gas driving around when I wasn't really looking for anything. Grrr...this is how I love to spend my Saturdays all summer long. I enjoy this...so why am I ruining it for myself? But, then, at the next few sales I found three little things that I could use (a pair of like-new shoes for ds2, a huge travel coffee mug for DH, and a game for the kids) for a total of $1.25, so I felt redeemed. Anyway, just brought this up because I was so surprised at myself. I have always been frugal, but I was shocked to find myself at the point where I no longer wanted to accumulate ANY MORE STUFF!
DH and I had a nice (cheap) night out with friends last night. Dinner at Olive Garden: $45 - $35 in g.c. = $10 spent. Shopping at Target: free (used g.c.), Ice cream at Friendly's: $11. Reconnecting with old friends: you guessed it - priceless Smile

looking forward to tomorrow...

April 28th, 2006 at 02:16 am

I have plans to go out to dinner and a movie with DH, my two brothers and their SOs, and a friend from high school. I think we are going to Olive Garden, where we have $50 in gcs. Plus we have one free movie pass. So it should be a cheap night out for us.
We received DH's tuition bill today for the first summer session - $1440. A little more saving and we should be able to pay it off without taking any more loans and without touching the emergency fund. It will just put us a little further back in paying off his car ($2000 left). I would love to get a nice real estate deal going, as my commission checks run anywhere from $500-$2000. That would really put us ahead in the game.
We took the kids out to my elderly aunt's apartment tonight for pizza. She's 92 and still lives alone. I hope I can maintain my independence for so long. Anyway, we had a nice visit and she enjoys seeing the kids. There was a time before my dad and mom met that she thought none of the men in our family would marry. Now the men are all married with kids and even grandkids. I think it really makes her happy to be surrounded by family, just as it makes up so happy that she is still around and doing well. Family is so important.

falling prey to the Golden Arches

April 26th, 2006 at 01:29 am

Ah, I was so happy Sunday that I had already packed a lunch for Monday and would not have to spend any money to eat out. But, alas, the best laid plans...etc etc. I ran out of the house Monday morning without breakfast, facing a two hour drive to pick up a client, so I succumbed to the golden arches for a bagel sandwich. Mmmmm. When I got back to my office, what did I find but a McDonald's bag sitting on my desk - with a note from a coworker saying my DH had dropped it off for me because I left the house without breakfast! So I ended up with two fast food breakfasts due to my poor planning. Today was better - breakfast at home and a packed lunch and snacks for work, although I did splurge $.25 for a cup of coffee. We have a $5/month coffee club at work or it's $.25 per cup. I opt for the latter as I only drink an occasional cup - maybe 3 or 4 per month.
I spent quite a bit of time sorting through the coupon train last night - I felt like a kid in a candy store Smile It will be on its way to flash tomorrow.
I took some time last night and today to catch up with some real estate clients. I put everything on hold last week after a coworker/friend died unexpectedly, so I feel as though I have been neglecting my business. Luckily, the clients I have now are all friends, some of whom even knew my coworker, so they understand. That is one of the things I do not like about the business - you are expected to be working all the time. If you're not and the right house slips by, then you have some very upset clients. Sometimes I wonder why I am in this business at all, but I really do enjoy helping people find the right place. The commissions don't hurt either Smile
I deposited over $400 in miscellaneous checks yesterday - it was nice to be putting some cash back into the account for once. I will be picking up a LOT of extra hours at work for the next few months due to our severe short-staffing, so maybe we'll even get the car loan paid off soon. That would be nice...

coupon train, take #4

April 24th, 2006 at 02:14 am

I am again attempting to get my local coupon train up and running. I think this will be my last try, as I am tired of chasing everyone down and of paying postage, for which I get nothing in return! The last train was sent by me, at the post office, with the correct postage, to someone in the same town, yet did not get there. Grrrrr....
I also joined the coupon train coordinated by flash (thank you!) and am hoping to see that in the mail too soon. I have separate stacks set aside for each train depending on whether the coupons are local, how soon they expire, if I have duplicates, etc.
$15 for the babysitter tonight...I'll be glad when the bowling season is over so I can spare that expense! Two more weeks and we are tied for first place. I have never, in all my years of bowling (10+) come in first in a league. I am really hoping we can pull this one off. We didn't bowl too badly tonight, but the team against us bowled incredibly. Grrrrr again....
Spending for tomorrow: postage for the train. I already have my lunch ready to go, so no rush trips to the fast food places. I have a stack of checks to deposit, so I will have to make a run to the bank too. I have a rebate check from Staples that came to my DH with MY maiden name. Scratching our heads on that one. I am going to check at the bank to see if there is anything they can do, as I hate the thought of sending it back to get it corrected - too much possibility to get lost along the way or ignored.

quiet day at home

April 23rd, 2006 at 02:26 am

DH left this afternoon for Binghamton - spending the night there before heading for NYC tomorrow with his brother and nephew to catch a Yankees game. A boys day out...
I spent the day home with the boys. We took a trip to the library this morning to get a few new books. No money spent. I finished watching the movie version of Rent this afternoon and really have the desire to get the soundtrack. I have not bought any cd's in years, but I have recently brought a radio in to work to break the quiet there and need something to listen to, since I can't get NPR tuned in Frown Anyway, I am scouting E-bay since I don't like to pay retail for anything. I am hoping to get it for around $10-15 (retail $22), although the bids are already that high with a day or two left. I might just use a Target gift card that has been hanging out in wallet for months and splurge on it. I can get 10% at Target if I order online, but then I will have to pay for shipping...got to do some figuring.
I signed up for the Discover 5% cashback on gas today. I have been really happy to not have cc bills, but since we spend upwards of $300/month on gas, that is $15 per month that they want to give us for free! I can handle paying $300 month to the cc instead of debiting it. And it will only be for 2 months, then I will stop using it again. I hate to pass up free money.
We are dogsitting my brother's very energetic Brittany spaniel. Along with our energetic pup, not to mention my two energetic boys, I am pooped. I think I will remind my brother and his fiancee that they owe me some babysitting hours for this Wink

Catching up

April 22nd, 2006 at 01:34 am

Just a summary of the past few days...very hectic at work this week. I worked all five days instead of 2.5. We are supposed to have 5 service coordinators (4 full timers and 2 halftimers). Now we have 2.5 (myself being the .5, though I am currently carrying near a full-time caseload). A new full-timer will be starting 5/8, but it's still going to be very busy for the next few months until we get back to full staff.
I have moved my office temporarily - too difficult to be sitting next to my friends desk everyday. Luckily I had a spot to move to. It seems a little harder everyday to go into work, but I know it will also start to get easier as time passes.
Today I had the pleasure of a visit to the dentist - $105 for a filling, but I will get a little of that back - and probably not much, as my dentist is not a participating dentist. Oh well - anything is better than nothing. I had to spend on a quick lunch yesterday too due to my lack of planning. Wendy's, 3 items from the dollar menu for a grand total of $3.21.
Tonight we took advantage of the mild evening to go out for ice cream Smile My parents treated, despite our objections and attempts to pay. Yum. I am looking forward to a day of doing nothing tomorrow - absolutely nothing, stay home and relax - NO STRESS! I've had enough this week to last the rest of the year. Here's hoping things look brighter next week...happy weekend to everyone!

stepping down from my soapbox...

April 20th, 2006 at 02:16 am

and getting back to business...
Had to spend a little cash today for lunch - $2.15 eating off the dollar menu at McDonald's. The funny thing about the dollar menu - I used to get a meal for $4-5 and eat the entire thing, including a soda. Now I order one cheeseburger and small fries, drink it with a glass of water, and feel full. I have saved a few bucks and a lot of calories. If anyone out there is struggling with fast food, try it. You can always for back for more, but you might be surprised that you are full with less Smile
I spent the day running around - to work at 9, to an appt. 45 minutes away and back, then home for a few hours respite before calling hours this evening. I met my friend's wife for the first time. She told me that they had gone shopping on Friday and my friend had bought me a bag of Goldfish crackers to replace the ones he had eaten from my work stash. He had it sitting on the table so that he would not forget to bring it to me on Monday. That made me smile. He was always thinking of others, no matter how many times I told him not to worry about it. As I search my memories of him, I find that they are all positive. It's a very nice way to remember someone.
No more money news except my gas expenditures. $10 this morning (used up a free gift card), then another $63 on my way home tonight. OUCH. I hope the prices go down before I need to fill up again, but I doubt they will.

What do we really "deserve"?

April 20th, 2006 at 02:10 am

Ok, I was watching "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" tonight (I DVR it because we bowl on Sundays). One phrase caught my attention - Ty usually starts off the show by saying that this family really "deserves" a new house. Now, I'm not saying that they do or they don't, but what exactly do you have to do, or go through, to deserve a new home? Does going through a life-altering tragedy entitle you to a new home any more than someone who has scrimped their entire life to save for one? That must sound really unsympathetic, and I really am not saying that these families shouldn't benefit from the show, but do they DESERVE a brand new 4000 square foot home?
I guess what got to me about this phrase is that it implies everyone should have what these folks are getting, that a big hous is something we all should want to attain. Personally, I do not want a 4000+ square foot house (and some of them on this show have been even bigger). It's almost considered abnormal to NOT want the material things that society says we should want. When I first started watching this show, they would remodel an existing home and the owners would be thrilled. Then they started tearing down houses and putting up nice ones - and now it's progressed to tearing down houses that really could be remodeled (which just seems like a total waste to me) to put up these huge houses that often look completely out of place. What started out as a neat concept seems to have snowballed - now they have to do bigger and better every week. I guess what bothers me about the entire thing is that there are probably plenty of people at home thinking that they have had a rough life and "deserve" this too. When you feel entitled to something, it seems easier to get angry at not having it than to work to get it. Maybe I'm just being really pessimistic here. It just seems that a feeling of entitlement gets in the way of knowing you have to work hard to get what you want.
Disclaimer: I am NOT against giving a helping hand to those who are really in need (this show in particular seems to chose very grateful families who make a difference in their communities). I just wish they could present a more realistic view of the "American dream".

Love is...

April 18th, 2006 at 09:34 pm

coming home to a huge pile of clean, folded laundry! DH knows how rough these past few days have been and it was so nice to see that mountain of laundry done. And love is coming home to two wriggling little bodies who are enjoying the sunshine and saying "Hi Mama! Watch me!". It's good to remember the things that make you smile.
Just to check in moneywise, aside from all else that is going on personally - things are going well right now. A lot of little things trickling in (waiting on that Pepsi rebate still - anyone else get it yet?) and not too much going out. I mailed out an $800 car payment last week, so now we'll only owe about $2000. It is really nice to not be sending out several hundred dollars per month to the credit card companies - not that we ever carried a balance, but we did charge a lot then pay it off every month. I actually think we are spending less since we agreed NOT to use the ccs for anything but true emergencies.
I would like to give some money to my friend's widow - not for anything specific, but to use for expenses or just for the kids. Anyone have any advice on how to do this tactfully? I was thinking of finding a close relative at the calling hours and ask them to pass it on to her. I would prefer it to remain anonymous, since she does not really know me. If anyone has been in this situation before, I would love to hear ideas. TIA.

one stupid move...

April 18th, 2006 at 01:38 am

What a horrible, horrible day. I went in to work to find my office mate and good friend died over the weekend in a stupid accident. He drowned after standing up in a kayak. Why? I have no idea. I don't know if they know why he did it. It was probably one of those split second decisions where you never think "what if...". But now it's too late. My heart aches for his widow and two children. And I ache for the friend I lost. I have only known him about 9 months, but we shared a lot of laughs and had a very similar outlook on work, family, politics, even money (he was the one I brown-bagged it with when everyone else ordered out). We both had a sweet tooth and would share the chocolate we both hid in our desks. When office politics got to be too much, we would close the door to our office and swear up a storm. We both took pride in doing our job well. We would talk about how nothing, nothing at all, was more important to us than our families. And now my office feels just wrong without him there to bring a smile to me face.
I don't feel much like writing tonight. Please, everyone, hold your loved ones a little closer today. Think before you act. I am as guilty as anyone of driving a little too fast when I am late, of taking convenient shortcuts when I should be thinking about safety, of not wearing my helmet or seatbelt when I am only going to the neighbors - but the impossible can happen, even when we think it cannot. Take care, everyone. I'll be checking in later.

Another warm, fun day

April 12th, 2006 at 02:35 am

Shorts today - the first time I have worn them this year. And the best part is that they were a pair I have not worn since before my first pregnancy. Smile Anyway, the boys played outside all day again. I absolutely love living where we do, knowing that I can let my boys play in the yard while I cook dinner. I can hear and see them from the window or door. We have no neighbors except my brother and his family next door - and we live on a big hill not close to the road. Today the play items of choice were the dirt pile (again - always a hit) and the Little Tikes playground that was a hand-me-down from my SIL. Ds2's toys of choice were three metal lids. He carried them around, stacked them up, put them in and took them out of containers...played with them for probably an hour in all. Just reinforces my desire to keep it simple for my kids (which brings up an interesting question about gift-giving occasions - I will post this in the discussion area).
Our part-time service coordinator switched job locations, so we are now short staffed one full time and one part time position until our new person starts on May 8. So...I have again volunteered to work extra hours. It will only be for three weeks. I don't really want to pick up more hours, but I can't turn my nose up at $17 per hour of extra time either. I have agreed to work 5 hours more per week. It starts tomorrow Frown
I did take one new listing today - so at least I am back in the real estate game again. And I ran into an old client who told me that they are "casually" looking again and could I let them know if I see anything? I will definitely keep my eyes open...If I could score just one decent commission, I would be able to pay of DH's car loan. I will be showing some more houses tomorrow to, so maybe I will have an actual deal soon.

What made me happy this week (moneywise)

April 11th, 2006 at 02:12 am

1. Free Nestle Stixx in the mail today
2. Rebate checks from Staples
3. Homemade meals
4. Dentist visit reimbursement from insurance (more than I thought!)
5. Not having to pay items that I already prepaid
6. Three new listings (ok, they are just land listings, but it's a start) and one new buyer prospect for real estate
7. $10 found in my spring jacket pocket
8. The return of my first coupon train - only a month and half after I sent it out. It's a start!

Smile Smile Smile Smile Smile Just my and my silly good mood tonight!

Why do I feel that I need to buy...

April 11th, 2006 at 02:08 am

so many things for my kids??? Not that I do - I am pretty good at reigning myself in, but whenever they have an interest in something, I want to rush out and buy ten more. Example: The Dora doll my SIL talked me into getting for ds1 for Christmas ("It talks! It says his name! He'll love it!"). Yeah right. He never looked twice at it. Yet he loved Dora so much...and now this month, he loves Bob the Builder. Go figure. Just my random thoughts here.

I try so hard to not overbuy for my kids - maybe to the extreme sometimes - but there is always this want to just make them happy and see their smiles. But it is more important to remember (and to impart to them) that happiness does not come from possessions. And then I watch my boys run around outside, play in the dirt pile and visit the cows in the barn, enjoy the sunshine and go on a walk with me down the road...and I know I'm doing the right thing.

If I thought I didn't do much yesterday,

April 7th, 2006 at 01:32 am

then I really didn't get much done today. A little more work on ds1's room a little more laundry, some dishes, and a lot of research on a wine tour/bachelorette party I am setting up. I have never been on a wine tour, so I don't really know why I volunteered to do this! But I am finding my way.
I am going out to lunch with a friend tomorrow. She's my best friend from high school, but it seems our lives have gone separate ways (she's a single professional, I'm a mom who only works for the health insurance). Still, I value our friendship and always try to sneak in some visits. We do have a good time, even though our lives are completely different now. So I will figure about $5 for lunch tomorrow since we usually go somewhere fast and casual.
I did get assigned a secret shop for tomorrow. So that will be an extra $6 in my pocket. (hey! that will cover my lunch!) This will be my third one, but now that I am doing more, the secret shop agency is making the effort to make me aware of new prospects. It's not much money, but it's a little extra, and I only take assignments that are close to my home or work so I don't waste a lot of time going out of my way.
Spent $1.00 today at the library - $.80 on fines (I actually talked them out of an extra $.50 because my DH dropped a video off after closing time on the day it was due) and I dropped my change in the book fund jar. It's not much, but I also give a yearly donation to the library. Definitely a cause worth supporting. I got the book "Welfare Brat" out - heard about it a few months ago on NPR and have been wanting to read it.

couldn't resist...

April 6th, 2006 at 02:30 am

Well, I was going to try to post a picture of my desk, as Jeffrey did in his blog, but I seem to be braindead tonight. Maybe I'll figure this out...I try to add the image, then click "update" but it never gives me a link to put in the post. I know I'm missing something (probably obvious), but I'm too tired to figure it out.
I felt like I got nothing done today, but I did okay. My three loads of laundry got done and folded (along with the loads I found in the washer and dryer, courtesy of DH and my mother leaving them there). I got two more lessons done for my continuing ed. I made a nice new recipe for dinner with enough left over for breakfast (crab quiche). I put ds's bedroom back together after painting (almost). I went grocery shopping with a 1 year old. I guess on the days I am home, I sometimes feel like I should do as much as possible, but then the time spent just hanging out with my boys is more important than cleaning too Smile
Spent about $60 at the store today - no other money spent. If I can aim for less than $68.75 per week, I will be under budget. Of course, my shopping trip on 3/31 came through in my bank account for 4/3, so technically it will be on this month's expenditures...which means I should be aiming to spend a little less every week.

It pays to ask

April 5th, 2006 at 02:51 am

Dh and I got a $15 charge on the cc last week from EBay. After some detective work, we discovered it originated about a month ago, after DH tried to pay for something without noticing that our old bank account (which had been closed) was still listed as the payment source. The payment was denied and our cc charged - then they levied the $15 charge a few weeks later. I encouraged him to write (okay, I wrote it for him) and ask for the charge to be reversed based on our prior payment history and the fact that it was a simple error. They wrote back that they will take it off as a courtesy. YEAH! It never hurts to ask.
I sent out my THIRD coupon train today. I have removed one person who is not following through, but I also added a new person (an unknown!), so I hope it works out this time. I am getting rather sick of wasting my money on postage, not to mention the time I take to clip all the coupons, and getting nothing in return.
A lot of money out lately - $100 to pay for the remaining 5 weeks of bowling, $50 tuition for ds1's preschool program, $100 cash withdrawal that slipped through my fingers in a day (however, it was spent on all unavoidable expenses that I otherwise would have used the debit card for, so I don't feel too bad). Not to mention the $70 DH donated to the local economy (in other words, lost at the casino). Time to tighten the reins a little.
Luckily I have the next two days absolutely free Smile I plan to get a little more organized (but can you ever really be organized with a 1 and a 2-year old???). Tomorrow's goal - catch up on laundry (probably 3 loads) and put ds1's room back together after painting. Get two more lessons in my real estate continuing education course done.
Longer term goals that I might start: tracking systems for expenditures, receipts, net worth, and real estate mileage (for taxes).

Painting done...

April 3rd, 2006 at 02:51 am

in ds1's bedroom. I woke up this morning and realized that is we did not bite the bullet and get started, we would put it off indefinitely. Since today was the last day Dh and I will both be home until next weekend, we just did it. It took all day. We painted to bottom half of the walls blue and the top white, and used chalkboard paint on one half of a wall. We also took off and repainted ALL the moulding (baseboard, ceiling, door and windows). We were quite tired tonight Smile and tomorrow we still need to put the room back together! But I think it will look very nice.
Also went bowling tonight - paid for the remaining 5 weeks, so now all we have to do is pay the sitter every week. Our team is currently in first place, but I am not getting excited yet. In all my years of bowling, I have never finished first.
My car magnet sign came back to me today - a neighbor dropped it off. But it's pretty beat up - it would look pretty unprofessional on my car. Sigh. I hate wasting money.
I am getting ready to send out the third coupon train that I am attempting to start in my area. The first two have not made it back to me. This is getting pretty discouraging, but I have "purged" a few people off the list who seem to be holding things up, so I am really hoping this will work out. I am going to drop this one off in person to avoid those postage charges. Ouch! Who knew coupons weighed so much??

April spending

April 2nd, 2006 at 03:56 am

Ooops... forgot to put in my goals for April spending. Not that anyone cares, but it's good for me to set forth for myself!

Groceries: 275
Household/Cell: 412 (have to pay for last month's utilities!)
Car: 250
Medical: 100 (85 for DH's dentist appt.)
Clothes: 20
Loans: 800 (going to aim for an extra 500 to be spent)
Entertainment: 150
Gifts: 50 (2 birthdays)
Miscellaneous: 100
Real estate: 100
School: 50

Total expenses: $2307
Estimated income: $2800
If all goes well (ha!) we will have more than $500 extra to put towards debt/retirement. I'm sure something will come up though...