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Archive for October, 2007

The problem with upgrading

October 31st, 2007 at 11:16 pm

My mom decided she wanted a big screen hi-def LCD TV. Of course, my DH agreed. We got the TV. Of course, we then had to get a hi-def DVD player, cause what's the point of having the TV if you can't get all the benefits? While DH was looking at players, he found one "better" for $100 more than he was going to spend originally. With the new player, of course, you need a $90 "monster cable" (if I sound like I don't know what I'm talking about, I don't. I could care less if we had our old 24" tv that we got 10 years ago). Now my mom has decided to upgrade the Dish Network package, to the tune of $20/month (even though we had already agreed that we didn't need to!).

I won't be surprised if I come home to a new living room set to sit on while we watch our great new TV!!

And just one rant...

October 30th, 2007 at 02:59 am

then I'm done for the night. We purchased a Netflix membership for my then-17 year old nephew for Christmas last year, as he was always running to and from the video store. It went really well for 6 months or so. We were paying the monthly fee for him, and he got a few movies every month delivered to his door. Apparently, back in June, he lost both DVDs that he had out and NEVER TOLD US. I just found out this week. I was, needless to say, pissed that I have been paying $14 per month for NOTHING. DH reported both DVDs as lost and I cancelled the account. I know 17 can be a very self-centered age, but c'mon. When someone is paying a monthly fee for a service for you, and you are no longer using that service (and, what's more, lost the merchandise), the least you can do is tell them so they can stop payments. I have been trying, more or less unsucessfully, to get some money sense into this boy since he got his first job last year. And yet, it's money-in and money-out every payday. Nothing saved. All of it going towards gas and fast food, video games and stupid things. Ugh. I hope I can get this message across to my kids when they become teenagers (although I hope it will be easier for them growing up and seeing this behavior their entire lives - I guess it's hard to undo what is learned by experience - but I sure as hell am going to keep trying.)
End of rant. I'm going to bed.

Observation on home repairs

October 30th, 2007 at 02:53 am

Wondering if anyone has had similar experiences...my parents recently contacted several contractors for new flooring in our kitchen. Of the ones that even bothered to call us back, we got estimates (after waiting a week or so after they came out). They decided to try Lowe's, who came out and gave an estimate promptly. They were $1500 cheaper. My parents booked the job with them. They called the next day to personally thank them for their business. I can't attest to the work yet as it hasn't been done, but my parents were so impressed with the customer service so far that they've been telling everyone about it. They have had plenty of work done over the years with private contractors, plumbers, etc. and usually have a tough time even getting someone to return a phone call (I know it's not like this everywhere, but people around here apparently have so much work that they don't have to bother trying to get more). I have seen it over and over again with bad customer service. So, for now, I'm really impressed with the chain store. I'll have to post more when the work is done.
One addition: if anyone has the good fortune of having Mennonite craftsman and builders near them (as we do in Upstate NY), they are IMO the best in terms of quick responses, quality work, and good prices. In addition, many of the builders and electricians we have had the pleasure to work with (and there were many, as they built my parents barn after it burned down many years ago) will work ALL DAY with minimal breaks to get the job done. The work ethic is completely admirable.

Job update

October 30th, 2007 at 02:45 am

I've been mulling over a job prospect for a few days now. It sounds like a job I might enjoy, but it's full time and a 45 minute commute. I wrote to the person who supervises the position today (she used to work in our office) and she seemed genuinely happy to hear me inquire about the position. I did ask about the possibility of working a shorter schedule, but she doesn't think there is a way to do that. In addition, the job is posted at a lower grade than I currently work at, meaning it would be a pay cut (although slight). So the pros:
- getting out of a job that I am unhappy at
- being more challenged at work
- maintaining a well-paying state job
- almost double my salary
- Full time!!! I've got two young boys at home with serious thoughts (and some action) toward a third soon!!
- Increased need for day care. I would need to add one to two days of day care per week (depending on how much my mom might want to watch the kids) for ds2 and 3-4 days for ds1 - about $100-150 more per week
- increased commuting costs and time - about an hour per day spent on the road

I think I am going to have to stay put. I just can't fathom going to work FT with that type of commute if I don't have to. Isn't it ironic that money is the one factor that really is contributing the least to this decision??

How to costume four people for $7.50

October 28th, 2007 at 02:34 am

Well, not exactly $7.50. I did have to raid my kids' costume trunk and used some things we had bought previously (although none for Halloween).
Ds2: Woody costume (from Toy Story) that we bought ds1 last year for dress-up - bought used off E-bay. Pair of jeans, brown boots = Woody the Cowboy
Me: Western style shirt off clearance at Wal-Mart ($7.50), brown boots, red hankerchief borrowed from my dad, cowboy hat borrowed from kids' dress-up trunk, cow print vest borrowed from my brother = Jesse the Yodeling Cowgirl (also from Toy Story)
Ds1: overalls, long-sleeved shirt, another borrowed handkerchief, engineer hat from costume trunk (dollar store gift from SIL) = train engineer
DH (what a good sport): three cardboard boxes, blue and red construction paper (our supply - we've had it for years and never used it), 6 paper plates for wheels, one computer print-out of Thomas's face = Thomas the Tank Engine

Total cost: $7.50 (three costumes were free)

We wore them to a Halloween party tonight. I was surprised at how few homemade costumes there were - maybe 10 out of 50 or 60 (and don't get me started on how many store bought treats there were! I personally brought apples, graham crackers, and caramel dip. I loved seeing kids reach for the apples in the midst of all that junk). I just don't get into the commercialism of Halloween. Personally, I could do without the holiday. The costumes intimidate my kids and they don't need the candy. Oh well. I don't take them trick-or-treating - we have this annual party put on by my cousins, but that's about all we do for Halloween. We are going to carve pumpkins Tuesday, and we'll have two or three trick-or-treaters Wednesday, but that will be all. Then, we can look forward to Thanksgiving - now there's a holiday I can get excited about!

Did I waste my time?/job opportunity

October 26th, 2007 at 12:52 am

Due to an abundance of tomatoes in the garden (where were they all in August?), I decided to spend yesterday canning. I put up 6 pints of salsa, 4 quarts of tomatoes, and 5 half-pints of jalapeno jelly. It took entirely too long. After I got all done, I had to wonder if it was worth it. I mean, what was the value of all that food? Maybe $30? I earn over $20 an hour at my job. It took me several hours to do all of that, so I would have been better off to work that time and buy the food. Granted, I like the end product and do enjoy the process, but it certainly is not a money-saving endeavour as I thought it would be. Sigh. I'll feel better about this when I'm eating garden fresh salsa in January.
I saw a job posting today for a different state job that really, really interested me. The problem? Well, there are several. It's full-time. And a 45 minute commute (right now I have a 15 minute commute). I'm thinking of asking if the position could be PT - maybe 30-32 hours per week - as I know the person who previously held it only worked half time. I don't know if that's even feasible with a Civil Service position. The way I see it, though, it would be a win-win. I could get a new job and resolve this terrible job anxiety/lethargy I'm suffering from, and the state could get a person to fill the position at three-quarters of the salary of someone else. I have no doubt I could do the job - I'm so efficient now at my job that I'm constantly looking for things to fill my time. I am so yearning for a change.
Oh yeah, the last complicating factor - DH and I have started trying for that third child. If it happens the way it usually does (read: quickly!)...I should have good news in about a week and a half Wink I'm not sure I would feel right about going for a new job (even if it's in the same agency) when I know I will have to take maternity leave or might not even go back to work after. Ugh. I guess I can apply for the position and see where it goes. It's entirely possible that I couldn't even get the position and am killing myself for nothing here.

Wow - two years

October 23rd, 2007 at 01:04 am

I just noticed that I am only days away from my two year blogiversary (is that a word?). That's absolutely hard to believe. When I started visiting here (thanks Princess!) DH had just lost his job and decided to return to school full-time. We lived off my PT salary for a year and a half until he graduated. Now he has a FT job and our net worth (which until recently was negative) is over $24k. Here's to the power of investing often and wisely - we have put roughly $26k into a portfolio worth about $40k - and we just started less than five years ago. We made a few bad investments along the way, but we've recovered. Here's to living below (sometimes WAY below) your means, emergency funds, maxing out your Roths, and living la vida frugal!

Oh! I remembered...

October 19th, 2007 at 03:01 am

I was emptying my son's folder from his pre-k teacher and came across order forms for PORTRAITS. Now, maybe I'm the only mom in America who does not get professional pictures taken of my children...and maybe I'll be the only mom in his class who doesn't order them...but really? Pre-k? I even gave it a fleeting thought, thinking I could send a nice 5x7 to his grandmother, but then I looked at the packages. Prices ranged from $10-$45. None came without at least a dozen wallets, plus that many more "mini-wallets". You can order a 5x7 or 8x10 separately, but ONLY if you order a package. No thanks. Maybe when they are older and can swap pics with their friends. Maybe I'm biased because my dad took our portraits at home with his camera and developed the film in the bathroom with the window blacked out (I don't think we ever set foot in a studio until middle school, and then again after high school). Maybe it's just that I prefer "natural" shots of my kids to posed ones. Maybe it's the pile of school pictures I have received over the years that I don't know what to do with. Maybe I'm just overreacting! I just don't want to get started on this track to continue it for 13 years through multiple kids! I have ample pics of my kids, but the only time they have been in a portrait studio was when my SIL convinced me to get DS1's picture taken with my niece. At some point, I would like a nice, professional family portrait. It's just that I don't feel the need to mark every season, or even every year, with one. We take a family Christmas card picture ourselves every year, and we get tons of compliments on it. It's actually pretty fun to determine the setting, colors, etc. ourselves rather than have a cookie cutter background. But that's just me.


October 19th, 2007 at 02:39 am

I had a great idea for a blog post earlier today while I was getting dinner ready. Now that I'm sitting here...completely gone. Figures.

I spent some cash these last few days, but nothing major. Yesterday, due to the unseasonally warm weather here in central NY, DH and I took the boys apple picking (in shorts!) - $9.60 spent for two bags of apples (Crispins and Spys for eating, Cortland and Jonamac for cooking and baking), $3.00 spent for doughnuts, which always taste better in the fall at an apple orchard (nearly as good as the doughnuts at the fall festival, but I digress). Today, I stopped at a pumpkin farm and got two pumpkins ($4), a cookie ($1), and three mums for my...uh, mum ($9). I love the fall, except for the fact that it inevitably leads to winter.
This weekend is my SIL's annual Oktoberfest bash. I think this is the 6th or 7th year and we are among the elite few who have never missed a bash. In fact (don't judge), our first son was conceived at the Oktoberfest bash of 2002. With any luck, our third one might be as well Wink But I digress...anyway, tomorrow I have to make salsa, apple pie, and bierocks (AKA beer rocks, rolls filled with sausage and onion) for the party. On Saturday, I'm going to throw together a Reuben dip for the crockpot. I've never made it, but it sounds yummy. And if you're going to an Irish family's Oktoberfest party, Reuben anything will be a hit. Tomorrow will be spent in the kitchen, after a run to the store. And Saturday will be spent in various states of inebriation, being my (hopefully) last hurrah before nine months of sobriety!

would love to have a job...

October 14th, 2007 at 01:06 am

...that allows me to coach others on saving money. Finance advisors are a dime a dozen. What I'm talking about is not selling insurance or investing, but teaching people how to live below their means, how to save money, how to reach goals. You know, the stuff we do here everyday Smile A few years back (actually, it was when we lived in Syracuse, so it was probably 6 or 7 years ago), I sent in a resume to Consumer Credit Counseling. I even made an appt. to meet with them about how to get started in such a field (yeah, I know it wouldn't involve all the above, but it would be a way to help others out of debt, even if it's just calling to negotiate with creditors). I met with a few counselors who told me that they pretty much backed into the job, and had no advice for how to get into the field. No suggested classes, courses, degrees...so I gave it up. Didn't know how to do it. But now that DH has a job with bennies, I'm no longer tied to my job. And my thoughts are whirling.

The master plan is to have another two children (might have more to update on that front in 3-4 weeks Wink) and have me stay home for a few years. However, I can take that time to prepare for a career in a different field, say credit counseling! "Budget analyst" (ok, I made up that title). Money saver! (yeah, that one too). My point is that I am going to have some time to somehow create or craft a job out of what I love doing. I'm just plum tired of working at jobs that I don't enjoy, even if they are well-paying. Anyone got any ideas, cause I have no idea where to go with this!

(P.S. Want to hear something crazy about DH's new job? I'm making more half-time than he is full-time. Me: $21k. Him: $16k. So I will probably keep working as long as I can. Hopefully, this job is just a step toward getting a FT teaching position for him, which would pay a handsome $40-45k+). Fortunately, we've been living on so little for so long, that even $16k/yr. seems great!

Drat! Under contract again.

October 13th, 2007 at 01:54 pm

I convinced DH to get a Tracphone about 6 months ago, since he rarely uses his phone. After an inital $15 investment for the phone, and $120 for 1 year of service plus 300 minutes, I figured we were all set for a year. Well, he is down to 10 minutes, thanks to a flurry of calls during his grandfather's illness and passing. He decided he wanted to go back to a regular phone. I think it was a case of phone envy, as I just got a really cool mp3 player/2 megapixel camera phone (but, in justification, I use mine all the time!). Anyway, he spent literally all day researching online and found a decent deal. He ended up getting a $29.99 mo/plan with Sprint with a free phone. He ordered a car charger too, but was able to get 20% off with a coupon code. I'm a little bummed at being under contract again, but I'll get over it. I could have gotten a 15% discount through my job off the monthly rate, but that would have only saved us $107 over the course of a two year contract. Instead, we took the free phone (we couldn't take both discounts) which saved us $250 since he wanted a nice phone.

Nearly normal again

October 11th, 2007 at 01:35 am

Life is slowly getting back to normal. We've returned from Binghamton following DH's grandfather's funeral. He's starting his new job on Monday. My teeth are still bothering my from having my wisdom teeth out two weeks ago, but it's tolerable. I am so glad to be getting back to normal, mundane life.

a job!

October 4th, 2007 at 08:34 pm

DH went on an interview today, was offered the job, and accepted!!!!!!!!!!! (those of you who follow this blog at all will understand why I had to use to many exclamation points!). It's a Teacher's Assistant position in our local district (no commute Smile). Granted, with a Master's degree, he's a bit overqualified, but at least it's an "in" for a better job in the future. It seems all the teacher's with "ins" were getting hired over him, either because they were already TAs or their parents were teachers at the school or because they were already established teachers elsewhere. But if he doesn't get a better position, we'll still be okay. We don't need a lot of money, only benefits!

And now that we have benefits, I'll be able to leave my job in, say, nine or ten months Wink


October 4th, 2007 at 01:26 am

My husband's grandfather passed away peacefully this morning after a relatively long period without food or water. He was surrounded by family for the last week - all of his children and most of his grandchildren were there for various amounts of time. DH will be heading out of town tomorrow and I will follow Friday for the services. We are having my parents bring my kids to the calling hours - ds1 is now 4 years old and has asked questions about death, cemeteries, and the like. We have explained to him what happened and he's unphased. I think he will handle it fine, plus I know it will be nice for my MIL to see him, even under the circumstances. Ds2 is only 2 and we had planned not to bring him, but my parents are watching him and do not have anywhere to leave him, so he will come. One adult can always wait outside with him if it turns out to be inappropriate. Neither will come to the funeral. Everyone seems to be coping rather well, given the length of time we had to prepare. He was 89.
The wasps are gone from our room - the brightest spot in this week! One less thing to worry about. And, my dad did it on his own. I will admit, I certainly had doubts...but he did it. I will have to think of a nice way to say thanks.
Lastly, my mouth is on the mend after having my wisdom teeth removed. I have been out of work for a week now, but tomorrow is the day I plan to return. I'm functioning at about 75% of my old self, but I am still relying on the pain medication, esp. at night. I never imagined it would take this long to heal, but given my age (29!) and the difficulty of the extractions, the oral surgeon said this is normal. My mom has been a lifesaver, watching the kids for me for the better part of a week while DH was out of town. My parents are talking of going out of town in a week or two, so I think I will get them a hotel stay or nice dinner, once I know where they are heading.
Moneywise, still not much to report. It's not been a priority lately. Net worth is over $22k - our retirement alone is nearly $35k (I need to update my sidebar!). No major bills due and still two paychecks to deposit, so things are going fine.