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Archive for July, 2006

deep breaths...

July 31st, 2006 at 02:13 am

that's what I had to take when I looked at my net worth today. It had gone down by $10k (into the negative) and I almost had a heart attack. I saw the reason - my Roth IRA had a balance of $0 - and I nearly had a second heart attack. I scrambled onto the website to find an error message telling me my balance was unavailable...breathe. Ok, it must be a computer error. A few minutes later it had straightened out and I could look at my positive (though not by much) net worth again. Phew.
I've been so busy keeping up with the No Spend Challenge that I feel like I've been neglecting my blog! Everything with any financial ramifications over the past 3 days is written in that thread, so it would feel redundant of me to repeat it all here. But I will say that it is surprising how much the little things add up. I'm up to over $30 in savings already without even sacrificing.
Our sweet corn is ready - delicious. We had it for lunch and dinner, and will probably continue to do so for another few weeks. Tonight I made some awesome zucchini muffins - very moist and flavorful - from a recipe I got off recipezaar.com. I am really getting into this muffin thing, and once I get a few more batches under my belt, I want to start experimenting a little more. my muffins always used to come out bad, but the last few batches have been wonderful. I like the idea of popping them into the freezer. I always get the mid-morning munchies and it would be so nice to grab one on my way out the door to work to have for a snack.

five Thursdays in August

July 29th, 2006 at 02:47 am

and it times out to mean three paychecks for me! Happy dance, happy dance. Since I figure out the budget based on two paychecks, this means an extra $526 for the month.
The good money karma continues - I uncovered another dollar today while cleaning off my dresser. My money pile is growing as I am not spending Smile

good money karma

July 28th, 2006 at 02:27 am

Plan to spend no money for a week, and the money will come to you Smile I purposefully took no money out of the ATM to avoid temptations. Then I found $16 in one pair of pants and $10 in another. Good money karma!! Now I have to hide it for the week so I won't be tempted to stop at any garage sales.
No major plans for the weekend, except my broker's annual party for all the agents who work in her two offices. She holds it at her house and puts on a delicious feast - lobster and steak, clams, corn on the cob, soda and beer. All I have to bring is a dish to pass. I signed up to either bring a salad or dessert - either of which I can make with things on hand at the house. I shouldn't have to spend any money this weekend.
I did (hopefully) pull together the offer on the land - but it still needs to be signed and the seller is out of town until Sunday. Until then, we will have to hold our breath that no other offers come in. I also got a phone call today from a buyer who wants to look at another lot - so possibly another potential sale.
Still pulling buckets of veggies out of the garden - and never got around to making the pickles. Probably will do it tomorrow.

Starting the challenge - with DH on board

July 27th, 2006 at 01:59 am

With a roll of his eyes, DH agreed to not spend any money this week. Actually, he has $7, so I told him he could spend that and no more. Myself, I have nothing, so no temptation there. I might have to pay for a few small things here and there (i.e. parking if I go to an appt. for work), but I should be pretty close to nothing for the week. My bills are all paid off, so I have $27 left in the checking account until next payday ($61 yesterday minus $34 at the grocery store today).
Our garden is starting to overwhelm us already. I have enough cukes for a jar of pickles, though I might wait until I get enough to make several jars before I make them. We have all the lettuce and swiss chard we can eat, not to mention the beans (I already froze three bagfuls). Tonight we had beets - I cooked two big ones with the greens, but we didn't even finish half of that. After a disappointing year last year, we decided to plant an entire row of beets this year - and I think it might be too many!
I opted not to go sell at the Farmer's Market, as the blackberries are nearly gone and the mosquitos are viciously guarding the ones that are left. It just would not have been worth my time. I'm still short about $80 on my goal to earn an extra $200 this month. Hmmm...already had the garage sale and posted some things on Craig's list - maybe I'll advertise in the paper (anyone want to buy rock records or an extensive Reader's Digest collection dating back to 1917??).
Tonight we are writing out the thank you notes for my son's birthday. We are very fortunate to have so many people who love our kids so dearly.

a week without spending

July 26th, 2006 at 02:14 am

Ok, I've committed to the week. And in good timing too - only $61 left in the checking and a week until payday. I'd like to avoid hitting the savings account if possible. We had two expenses this week that nearly wiped out my last paycheck - $153 for the vet (had to get DH's dog neutered - non negotiable!) and DH's speeding ticket ($155). Wow does that man cost me money! But he's worth it Smile
Tomorrow I have to take ds1 to get fitted for the tux he will be wearing in my brother's wedding next month - I believe DH paid for it already, so that won't cost us anything. I also want to stock up a little on groceries before the challenge begins for me on Thursday. Here's hoping the next week goes smoothly...I told DH about the challenge and asked if he would join me - he rolled his eyes and said he'd let me know. He just doesn't see the fun in the challenge like I do.

Another reason I love my garden...

July 25th, 2006 at 02:08 am

Today I was cutting some swiss chard for dinner and my three year old walked up to me to ask "Can I eat this?" I have a three year old who will eat ANYTHING fresh from the garden! Tomatoes, cukes, beans, peppers, and even plain lettuce. What a great way to encourage kids to eat their veggies - to let them help you in the garden and get to eat the results.
On a less positive note...DH's speeding ticket cost us $155 tonight. Gotta love those NY surcharges. He was caught going 60 in a 45, JUST past where the limit dropped from 55. What a bummer. I told him we have to readjust the budget now Smile

wrote an offer...

July 23rd, 2006 at 02:53 am

on a piece of land for a buyer. We got a counter-offer and I am waiting for a response from my buyers as to whether they will accept it. Hopefully I will know more tomorrow...
Reading up on the gardening posts by flash and contrary...I LOVE my garden. This year we expanded it (again). We grow: zucchini and yellow squash, yellow and green beans, beets, spinach, mesclun mix lettuce, swiss chard, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, broccoli, and cukes. I also put in an herb garden this year, but there are no cost savings to me and I really have no preference for fresh over dried, so I won't be doing it again next year. We eat 1 or 2 things from the garden every day, and that will be up to 3-4 in another few weeks. The best part is no waste - I only take what I need for each meal. No yucky watery bags of lettuce in the back of the fridge, no mushy cucumbers. I can't say enough about how great gardening is. It's really not that much work, either (of course, my father plows it for us with his tractor...) - but we only weed about every two weeks and water it only during the hottest of days. I have even been thinking about rereading TG to see Amy's methods for extending the growing season. How nice it would be to have fresh veggies through the fall and even into winter! It's something I will have to look into.
Speaking of gardening...I have totally fallen in love with one of my kitchen gadgets - a salad spinner. I bought it at a garage sale a few years back for $1, then it sat on a shelf for all this time. This year, I finally got it out and started using the colander part to gather my greens. I take a pair of scissors out to the garden with me and cut the greens as I throw them into the colander (leaving the stems in the compost) - take them inside, give them a wash and spin, and they are ready to serve or cook. Last year, I would gather the greens, wash each leaf individually, cut it up, have to bring the stems and unusable parts back to the compost heap...this is SO much easier. Wish I had thought of it sooner.

rebate frustration

July 22nd, 2006 at 03:14 am

Ok, has anyone gotten the rebate from Walgreens back yet (Kotex)? I called today to ask a question about whether proof of purchases were required (they aren't) and while I was on the phone I asked whether using a coupon for the product would affect the rebate (one of flash's posts made me think of this). The CSR I spoke with said that the after-coupon price of the Kotex had to be over $10, not the price before coupons. Meaning that if I want this rebate, I have to go purchase one more package before the end of the month ($3.50 x 3 = $10.50 -$3 in coupons is only $7.50). GRRRR... just wondering how everyone else read this and if anyone has been able to sneak around this requirement.
I am looking forward to a weekend with NO PLANS. I was so hyper-scheduled last weekend that no plans sounds wonderful.
I checked our car loan today - still owe $1450. I was a little disappointed - it seems like it should be going down faster, but we have only been able to pay slightly more than the minimum lately.
Oh yes - hopefully some good news. I got a call tonight about writing an offer on some land tomorrow. It won't be a lot, but it will be a quick cash closing, meaning some money in my pocket if our offer gets accepted. Keeping my fingers crossed! My other two deals are going well - all major obstacles crossed. We are looking to close both in the second week of August. That money is already spent on DH's tuition, though Frown At least we didn't have to take out a loan with the higher rates now though.

yea for flash! yea for mjrube! and yea for me!

July 19th, 2006 at 03:08 am

I embarked on a flash-like crusade today to see what I could get for not much moolah - and thanks to mjrube for the tip about Walgreens rebates this month. I got $25.14 worth of stuff for $2.36 (okay, $2.75 if you count the stamp I need to mail in my rebate).
I want to post a picture but am somewhat impaired on posting pics...any help??

Here is what I bought:
2 cans of mandarin oranges, $.99 on sale for $.39 each with in-store coupon
5 boxes of Royal gelatin, $.69 on sale for $.20 each with in-store coupon
3 packages of Kotex, $3.49 each, $3 in coupons used, $10 rebate = -$2.53
1 bottle Sunsilk conditioner (not a brand I have ever used, but it's free!), $4.49, free after rebate
1 bottle children's shampoo off the clearance rack, $2.19 (impulse buy, but it was on my "needs" list)
Total spent: $17.30, but I should get $14.94 back

net worth in the toilet...

July 18th, 2006 at 01:03 am

Ouch. This is getting depressing. Net worth is done $3000 today. The charge for DH's summer tuition came through on the credit card. I can't wait until I get that one paid off. Net worth is still positive by a few thou, but this is probably the lowest it has been since we got married. I just keep telling myself that it WILL get better when DH gets out of school and gets a job.
He did consolidate his other student loans - and they are no longer in deferment (he is still in school for 5 more months). I don't know if that happens when you consolidate them, or if they just don't know that he is still in school. He needs to call to find out before the first payment is due in September. If we can defer them without interest accruing, then we will do that. Otherwise, we'll just start paying them.
Saved money today by: not leaving the house. Normally I would have worked today and not Wednesday, but I have two meetings to attend on Wed. In the past I would have worked a shorter day today and still went in on Wed., but I decided (in line with my new goal of avoiding unnecessary trips) to take today off and work my full day on Wed. I love having a flexible schedule.
I also made baby wipes today instead of running to the store for them. This is something I have done on and off through two babies, but not consistently. They are a little more inconvenient to use since they are made out of paper towels and still perforated (not detached, like baby wipes), but it does allow me to use up my baby soap and oil that I otherwise have no use for (my sons both have sensitive skin, so I don't use the perfurmed soaps regularly).
I picked wild blackberries today, as well as green beans and lettuce from the garden.
And I ate leftovers. I hate to throw food away. Smile
Making progress, little by little, even though it feels like we are going backwards.

Parties #2 and #3

July 18th, 2006 at 12:53 am

I had a wonderful weekend...but I am SO glad it is over! Party #2 was my future SIL's bachelorette party. We booked a limo for a 6 hour wine tour. Turns out the cheapest limo is definitely NOT the best (duh), but we didn't figure it would be as bad as it was. I feel a little responsible since I did all the research and presented the options to the rest of the bridal party, but then again, I let everyone make the decision together on which agency to use. Anyway, we are in the midst of a 90+ degree heat wave for about a week now, and the limo's AC was broken. And the door fell off. Nearly. The chauffer opened the door to let us out and part of the door fell apart on the floor. I could not see her face, but the other girls told me that the chauffer looked like she wanted to die. The other ladies who paid for the trip "encouraged" me to ask for a partial refund based on the condition of the limo and the fact that they had guaranteed a temperature of 10 degrees less than outside. I wrote an e-mail this afternoon. I told them I would follow up with a letter if I did not hear from them, and if I still received no reply, I would send my letter to the BBB. I figured that would get their attention. Granted, the limo was cheaper by $100 than any other company, but we still should not have to sweat like pigs for six hours!!! We'll see if it goes anywhere.
Aside from the limo, we had a blast. It was a lot of fun. I only bought one bottle of wine, keeping the budget in mind (and the fact that I rarely drink). My meal after was only $10. I spent about $5 on the tour for tips and ice cream. I think my future SIL had a really nice time, so that was what is important Smile
Party #3 was yesterday - 20+ people over for my son's third birthday. Most of DH's family came from Binghamton, which was really nice. Again, a beastly hot day. We had the AC on all day so people could escape from the heat. We took the crew to our pond where DH and my brother had built a platform and rope swing, as well as a floating raft. It was the first time some of those city folk had done anything like this - a ton of fun. We had way more food than we needed and are still eating it three meals later. And the best part - no huge obnoxious toys that my son won't play with. He got some clothes, pajamas, a lot of books (which he loves), and a few versatile toys that he will really enjoy. Not to mention a little cash that I plan to use to purchase a savings bond for him.
Whew. I'm glad it's all over though.

Party #1

July 15th, 2006 at 02:09 am

A success! I think all had a good time. There were 7 kids total with parents. We met at the playground and played. Then we had pizza, played some more, had cupcakes and ice cream, played some more, opened presents, and played. It was a great place to have it - I didn't have to plan anything at all to keep the kids busy. I did splurge and bought ice cream for everyone at the stand across the street - $23 for 14 ice creams. There was no way to bring any with us in this heat (90 degress plus). Stupid me forgot the lighter, so my poor little boy had to pretend to blow the candles out (doesn't anyone smoke anymore?? not that I'm complaining!). He took it rather well.
Pizza: $20 for 17
Ice cream: $23 for 14
Drinks: $.88 for a can of lemonade, also brought water and 2 bottles of soda for $2
Paper goods: Used from stockpile, cost was neglible
Candles: $.68
Balloons: $1.49
$48.05! I can live with that. It was a very good time.
Party #2 tomorrow: Bachelorette party. No expenses for that except dinner at a casual restaurant.

and the money keeps rolling out...

July 14th, 2006 at 03:16 am

Time to write the antithesis of my upbeat post a few days ago about how we were finding sources of income to make up our shortfalls...now out shortfalls have crept back up on us to set us back again. But not for long...we'll lick these debts yet.
Dh just informed me tonight that he got a speeding ticket. Bummer. It happened right as he went from a 55 MPH zone to a 45 MPH zone - but he was still doing 60. He's going to write a letter to try to plead it down, but even if he gets it dropped to some other type of violation, it will still be probably $100 with the NYS surcharges.
And we just charged nearly $3000 on the credit card- DH's summer tuition. This should be paid of in early August when we get the commission checks. Sigh. I hate having money spent before I even receive it.
And I spent $97 (saved $36) at the grocery store today to get ready for the party-weekend. Tomorrow we have ds's friend party at the park, Sat. I have organized the bachelorette party for my future SIL (starting with a brunch at my house and snacks throughout the day), and Sunday we have EVERYONE (parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts) coming to the house for ds's family party. I spent a lot of money getting ready for this weekend. But I should be set for a while now...I hope.
I have one more week until next payday ($526). I still have $350 in the checking account and over $1000 in the savings (not counting EF), so life is still good, right? Smile

Money making ventures:
I left home this morning without my blackberries, so I was not able to try to sell them at work - but my mom did take a few quarts to our neighbor, so I'm glad they went to good use. I'll pick more tomorrow.
I posted my Reader's Digest collection (issues from 1917 to present) on craigslist, along with some records DH wanted to get rid of. No bites yet...I have been waiting for E-bay to have a commission sale, but I haven't seen one in about two months now. We have all this stuff taking up space!
No other ideas thus far...hmmm...

God of wealth coin

July 13th, 2006 at 01:44 am

Here is a pic of where the coin has been visiting...now it's off to NJ...
Ok, I am having trouble posting this pic - any advice? The process seems to have changed since the last time I did it. I remember posting a link, but now I browse to find the image, click "update entry" and nothing happens...? I must be missing something.
...I just reread the instructions for uploading - it says I will be given a tag, but I am not getting one??