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Archive for January, 2008

Dinner anyone?

January 30th, 2008 at 08:34 pm

I've been enjoying 10 days off from my "office" job, but that's all about to change as I head back to the stage Saturday, and will be gone just about every night next week and part of the week after that. This doesn't bode well for the spending plan since I tend to blow off cooking when I'm working both jobs (or all four if you consider caring for the family and volunteering two additional jobs).

So this afternoon, I made enough homemade pasta sauce for dinner and two more meals. The recipe requires simmering the sauce on the stove for hours on end, but it's definitely worth the effort and beats anything that comes out of a jar.

I also plan on pulling out the crock pot and seeing if Broken Arrow will share some of his recipes with me so I can get stuff going in the mornings next week. (I've still got 6 pounds of ground beef in the freezer, BA, so send me a recipe for crock pot meatloaf -- no pressure though....)

I'm also going to put my husband to work on nights I'm not going to be eating with the fam. He's actually a baker, so he knows his way around the kitchen. But he tends not to cook when it's just him and Mini Me. However, if I can get him to make some real meals on nights I'm gone then we can eat leftovers the next day and it'll take the pressure off me.

Our anniversary is coming up in the next two weeks as well, so one of the few nights I'm free we're going to treat each other to an over-priced but delicious dinner out. Mini Me's been uninvited since she's taken to wearing her winter gloves at the dinner table and whining about how cold the house is. Plus her first-grade humor has deteriorated to farting jokes and burping so no need to embarrass anyone outside the family....

A no spender

January 30th, 2008 at 05:40 pm

Despite my intentions to pay for some photos today, I ended up putting that errand off until tomorrow and instead didn't spend anything today.

I like the idea of having one no-spend day a week, but I'm not sure if it's possible. However, I'm going to try.

A picture's worth not a whole lot....

January 30th, 2008 at 08:07 am

A month ago I took Mini Me to a photo studio to have her portrait taken. Last week, the photographer left a message saying the management would like to use some of the portraits in the studio's marketing material. In return, we would get two free pictures -- worth all of $32.

Since I hadn't ordered any photos yet, I figured it was a ploy to get me to actually buy some photos. I'll admit that Mini Me is the most gorgeous child I've ever met (of course, I'm biased). However, the timing of the whole thing is just too suspect.

Nonetheless, I was planning on buying some photos at the end of the month anyways, so the time has come to go sign the photo release and fork over some more cash for the additional pictures. The two free photos will go to the grandmas and my out-of-pocket expense adds up to $75 -- not too bad for a sucker....

Saving money by not showering...

January 29th, 2008 at 07:07 pm

at home that is....

Usually I run outside, but I'm tired of dodging ice patches so today I decided to run on the treadmill. I could have run on the treadmill in my basement, but the ceiling in the basement is low so when I run down there I always feel like I'm going to bump my head.

Faced with the option of a skull fracture or keeping all my gray matter intact, I headed off to the neighborhood rec center to run instead. Since I knew I was going to work up a good sweat, I skipped the usual AM shower routine, and just hauled all my clothes and toiletries to the gym to shower after my run.

While standing under the hot running water, it occurred to me that I should take half my showers at the gym each week since I should conceivably be there that often to work out. The problem is that I'm not always consistent about going to the gym. I used to go 4 days a week at least, but lately I haven't been so diligent (lately as in the last two years). However, now that I have the whole money-saving shower idea to egg me on, I might just haul my fat bum to the gym on a more regular basis....

One of those days.....

January 28th, 2008 at 09:51 pm

After spending the morning volunteering, I came home to a house without power. The county is doing major construction on the road down the street and someone cut an underground cable -- or so the utility company said. As a result, the neighborhood was left in the "dark" from 11:48 a.m. until about 5:30 p.m.

As I've mentioned before, the booming side business is run out of my home office, so a power outage does not bode well for my productivity. Not only was I unable to do any work all afternoon, I couldn't clean the carpets, make the pasta sauce that has to simmer for 3 hours or do any more loads of laundry.

After visiting with my neighbor for a while, I came home and laid down. Two hours later I woke up to a dark and cold house. By the time my daughter got off the school bus, it was clear we were not eating anything homemade from my kitchen so after conferring with my husband we decided to go out to eat. We had plans to dine out tomorrow as part of a fund-raiser for Mini Me's school, so we just switched it to tonight and the school will have to do without our money.

Of course, just as we were walking out the door to go to dinner, the power came back on. However, by this point, we all were tired and hungry -- and I was cranky from lack of productivity today -- so we opted to continue on to the restaurant.

When we got home, I was able to complete one project -- a pro bono job that I do monthly. But somehow in the power outage my printer got screwed up, so I can't officially finish it until I can get that figured out -- probably in the morning.

Meanwhile, I was surprised at how fast the clothes dried on the outside line today. I was able to get two loads of laundry washed, air dried and put away. I put one load in the drier because it had stuff I needed to dry faster, but I think ultimately it would have been speedier to hang everything outside.

Also, I did get a free drink at Starbucks this morning because they messed up my order. Unfortunately for me, two venti teas is more than my bladder can handle, so I ended up giving the extra one to the saintly lady who sits with Mini Me during math time and tries to make sense of what's going on in that brillant little mind of hers.

I now think I've crossed the line into babbling, so that's it for me tonight folks....

More for the challenge

January 28th, 2008 at 06:07 pm

I finally had the missing eBay buyer pay up on an item -- 3 weeks after the auction closed -- so I'm adding $5.30 to the challenge. The new total is $386.83.

Airing my not-so-dirty laundry

January 28th, 2008 at 08:16 am

My husband took advantage of the nice weather yesterday to put up a clothes line that can extend across my entire back porch. I had mentioned that we could help the environment and save money by air drying more things, so he jumped right on it. (Probably spurred on by the $271.48 utility bill we got last week....)

Although it's windy today, the sun is out and it's still supposed to hit 50 degrees so I thought I would try hanging some jeans and tops outside to dry before the subzero temperatures return.

When I was growing up, we air-dried everything and this morning when I was outside hanging up the first load of wet laundry I had fond memories of my mother doing the same thing when I was a little girl back in the Stone Age. Of course, my little girl didn't seem to notice what I was doing because she was too busy trying to get in a game on the computer before the school bus came....

More money for the challenge

January 27th, 2008 at 04:07 pm

I sold one of Mini Me's dresses on eBay today. After shipping, I made $8.01 on the deal, which brings my challenge total up to $381.53.

My husband and I have re-thought our tropical getaway and have decided to push it back to late May since Spring Break is now out due to having to pay taxes on the booming side business.

The good thing about pushing it back is that we'll be saving $1,000 on the package since it will be in between high and low season where we're going. Also, we won't be pulling Mini Me out of school. The original plan was to have her miss 3 days of school so we could extend our trip a few days past the end of break.

Assuming a certain client forks over some dough soon to the booming side business, I should have all the cash in hand for this trip by the end of March.

A good thing that came out of this endeavor is that I've decided to start putting 25% of the booming side business' income into the tax savings account just to play it safe. If nothing else, I'll have more money next spring to pay down the debt and take another trip.

Went to a free flick

January 27th, 2008 at 02:48 pm

In need of a few laughs after our dismal discovery last night, my husband and I took advantage of Mini Me being gone for the day and went to see Juno.

We had two free movie passes plus a gift card for the concession stand so we didn't have to pay for anything.

The movie itself is very funny and did put us in a better mood.

At least I saved some money today....

January 27th, 2008 at 10:13 am

The grocery guy just came. After coupons and sale prices, I got $128.31 in groceries for $88.57.

The person who did my shopping at the store did substitute breaded tilapia for non-breaded tilapia, which throws off my menu a bit this week. But it's still doable.

I can always tell if someone who cooks from scratch is doing the shopping. Those who know how to cook from scratch always substitute things that really can be used to make the same dish. Those who don't cook from scratch just throw whatever into the order. (For those who don't have their groceries delivered, you have the option of accepting substitutions if the store is out of what your ordered. They are supposed to get you the same item, but just in a different brand. However, this doesn't always happen, as witnessed today......)

Bad news

January 27th, 2008 at 07:55 am

It doesn't look good for the vacation in the tropics. My husband did a rough estimate of the taxes and my business situation; and instead of frou frou drinks poolside, I'll have to settle for plain water while continuing to slave away at the ol' salt mine.

Ugh....

Biting my nails....

January 26th, 2008 at 07:35 pm

I'm a little nervous about having to pay taxes this year. My booming side business was booming more than I had planned for in 2007 and my income was much higher than I thought it would be. Now I'm worried that I didn't put enough toward taxes.

If that's the case, the trip to the tropics that I was planning may have to be called off, which promises to put me in a big funk.

I'll know for sure in three weeks when I see the rock 'n' roll accountant, but in the meantime my husband is going to do some calculating and see how it works out without all the deductions and such.

I'm really feeling the need for a frou frou drink delivered poolside while my big hunk husband rubs suntan lotion all over me, so the numbers better be in my favor...

There's hope for the adult kid ....

January 24th, 2008 at 07:41 pm

Since I was rippin' on his dad earlier this month, I thought I should share that the 23-year-old son got a $19,000 bonus today at work.

After taxes, it'll end up being about $12,000. He reports that he plans on paying off his credit cards, buying a new computer and putting the rest into savings.

I guess his dad's errant financial thinking didn't rub off on him afterall. Thank God!!!!

You have reached a number that has been disconnected....

January 24th, 2008 at 02:58 pm

The problem with working at home most of the time is that people know you're at home and expect you to drop everything for them.

For example, the house phone has been ringing off the hook today. Because today is the one and only day that I have this week where I'm not running off here or there for whatever reason, I'm trying to plow through a bunch of work projects. But every 10 minutes my mother-in-law or my sister or some unknown person who keeps hanging up without leaving a message has called. I've only answered one of the calls. If I answered all the calls, I would never get work done. And without work, I don't get paid (thus the financial bent here....)

When I used to work in the corporate world, I had an assistant who would run interference for me. If someone came in unannounced, he'd go down to the lobby and deal with them. If my phone rang, he would answer it and either make the problem go away or say I was "in a meeting" until I had time to deal with the person.

The closest thing I have here to an assistant are the two dogs -- neither of whom can talk, but both of whom are really good at chasing away uninvited visitors....

More toward the challenge

January 24th, 2008 at 11:17 am

Sold and shipped something else on eBay this morning for a profit of $13.65. That bring my challenge total up to $373.52.

Scored some free stuff

January 24th, 2008 at 10:14 am

I signed up for a series of three seminars on women and finance for February. The only cost involved was $14.95 for the book, which has to be paid on the first night.

A friend set the whole program up as part of her job and was supposed to be there to make sure everything runs smoothly. However, she has a scheduling conflict and said if I would cover for her on the first night she would give me her copy of the book for free. She's going to set the room up and introduce the person leading the seminar. All I have to do is sit through it and collect surveys at the end.

Since I'm going to be there anyways, I have no problem helping her out -- plus I saved $14.95 on the book. Now let's hope the presentation doesn't put me to sleep....

Having a crappy few days

January 23rd, 2008 at 06:42 pm

The cold, miserable weather we're having is making me cold and miserable as well.

It doesn't help that I'm being asked to do something at my "office" that I have issues with. I plan on quitting the "office" job in May, but this is making me want to quit NOW.

I'm also irritated that one of my business clients owes me a couple thousand dollars and I haven't seen any money in a while from them.

Then there's the issue of the kid in my daughter's class who slipped three hateful letters in her backpack. My daughter can't read yet, but I can and I was so surprised by what I saw that I immediately sent off an email to the teacher asking her to discuss the issue with the kid in question. You have to wonder about a first grader who wishes someone dead.

The only good news I've had lately is that the insurance company approved three more OT visits for my daughter. We've been paying out of pocket for 6 months, but the OT decided to submit a request for more covered visits just to see what would happen since it's a new year. Surprisingly she got a letter back saying we were good for at least the next three visits, so that's $225 less we have to pay. Good thing since we maxed out the flexible spending money last week and won't be seeing any more money from it until this summer.

Sold more stuff for the challenge

January 23rd, 2008 at 05:43 pm

I made another $18.05 on eBay -- after shipping. That brings my challenge total up to $359.87.

I was dismayed that one of my items sold and the buyer immediately sent me a message saying she didn't mean to bid on it and would I just relist it. Well, yeah, but are you going to pay the relist fee, lady???

A clarification on the challenge

January 22nd, 2008 at 08:31 pm

Helpmefriend was questioning how I was coming up with my challenge money.

Aside from the fact that there's no written-in-stone rules for the challenge except for those you set yourself, I usually don't sell on eBay so it's not money I would normally be making.

Unlike some participants, I don't count things like coupon savings, walking stairs, etc., in my challenge money. Instead, as I explained when I first joined the challenge, I am only counting income above and beyond my base income that is stated on my spending plan. That base income is $8316.00 a month. Anything beyond that goes into the challenge.

The additional income usually comes from extra projects that I take on in my work, but I've also started to sell my stained glass supplies on eBay to supplement that income and to clear out the basement mini mart to make room for a new freezer. I also get occasional royalties and survey checks that I'm putting toward the challenge.

I can't see adding money for things like no spend days and exercising when those activities aren't bringing in any extra cold, hard cash -- just saving money I already have (or don't have in some cases) -- so thus my rules for the challenge.

More eBay sales for the challenge

January 22nd, 2008 at 02:39 pm

I sold a couple more things via eBay today, so I'm adding $21.78 (after shipping) to the challenge. My new total is $341.82.

A little 'family' time

January 21st, 2008 at 07:12 pm

Thanks to the space heater I bought a while back, my office is the warmest room in the house, so the whole family has started gathering here.

Mini Me is playing a game. My husband is working on his laptop. The dogs are huddled at my feet. And I'm supposedly working.

Because Mini Me loves soup, I made homemade minestrone for dinner. It was delicious, but my husband has an aversion to any type of soup and only ate about three bites. His mother could possibly be the world's worst cook and I think he has bad memories of soup from his childhood. On nights I make soup, though, he just has to suck it up and endure because I'm not a short-order cook and soup is one of the best ways I know to get Mini Me to eat her veggies.

As a result of my husband not eating dinner, I was left with four Tupperware containers of soup that are perfect for Mini Me's lunches and even breakfast. She has been known to eat dinner for breakfast, which is OK since we've been known to have breakfast for dinner.

I did stop at Whole Foods after the postal drop/Taco Bell run and picked up dog food (yes, the dogs eat organic), some of my favorite tea, and a roasted chicken to make enchiladas with tomorrow. Mini Me has issues with meat, but will eat chicken nuggets so I told her she's just going to have to eat the chicken enchiladas tomorrow as well. (I have the feeling we'll be cutting up some tofu for the little midget tomorrow in addition to chicken enchiladas.....)

More for the challenge

January 21st, 2008 at 02:16 pm

Despite their being no mail today, I did go to the postal drop place and ship some eBay stuff off, so I'm adding $21.69 to the challenge. The new total is $320.04.

What to do??? What to do???

January 21st, 2008 at 08:57 am

It's Monday morning. It's a holiday, which means no school for Mini Me and no mail -- thus no checks -- for me. And the projected high is only in the teens today....

So, on that note, I'm trying to get motivated to come up with some fun plans for the duration.

I thought about a movie since I have two free movie tickets and a $25 gift card to the theater, but the only kid-appropirate flicks playing are Alvin and the Chipmunks and Veggie Tales -- neither of which I'm sitting through. National Treasure: Book of Secrets was briefly considered, but it's too iffy with Mini Me's age. (If anyone's seen it and thinks it's OK for a 7 year old, let me know....)


I had originally thought of having this kid who we shall call "Nellie" over for a playdate. (Nellie as in Little House on the Prairie Nellie.) However, Nellie's a whiner and I don't feel like putting up with it today.


Then again, Mini Me might just be happy going to the postal drop to mail some eBay stash with me, then swinging through Taco Bell's drive-thru, and then coming home to play in the basement Toys 'r Us before going to her 4 p.m. karate class.

Ummm ... that sounds like the best plan to me....


Where's the beef? At my house....

January 20th, 2008 at 06:09 pm

The grocer pulled up with the weekly delivery just as I was leaving to go to that office-like setting I sometimes hang out in. I didn't have time to do much more than glance at the contents of the order, but I was surprised to see 6 pounds of ground beef in one of the bags -- especially since I didn't order it.

The store didn't charge me for the beef, so my guess is it fell out of someone else's order in the truck and the driver thought it came out of mine. I didn't have time to call the store and tell them to come get it -- and I know from experience they just tell you to keep the stuff and they don't charge you since it's their mistake. But now I need to come up with more freezer space and some dinners involving ground beef.

To ultimately solve the ongoing freezer dilemma, I have started pricing stand-alone freezers. Before I purchase one, though, I need to clear out some space in the mini mart downstairs (thus the fire sale on dusty stained glass supplies currently going on via eBay....). I'm leaning toward an upright freezer for the ease of finding things in it and because they take up less space than the chest variety. Of course, then I'd have a hard time storing any intact bodies in it, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Back to the grocery store, I did get some good deals this weekend. Before coupons and frequent shopper discounts, the total was $120.49. After coupons and other discounts, it came to $72.77 (which included corned beef and half a ham -- in addition to the ground beef -- and a bunch of toilet paper that was more than half off). Tack on another $9.95 for delivery (aka My Sanity Saver) and taxes, and the grand total was $84.29 to feed and provide proper hygiene supplies to a family of three humans and two dogs.

I can't believe I'm resorting to this....

January 19th, 2008 at 07:59 am

I think someone here posted a link to A Year of Crockpotting. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge crockpot fan. However, to take some of the pressure off in the domestication department, I've decided to use it once a week through the winter months.

My first endeavor is going to be the corned beef recipe. Mini Me doesn't eat meat, but she does eat potatoes and carrots and I can cut up some tofu to go with it. I haven't bought corned beef ever in my adult life -- let alone cooked it. So this should be interesting. Here's hoping I don't end up with a dry chunk of flesh that resembles something the dog has gnawed on....

More for the challenge

January 18th, 2008 at 07:17 pm

I just sold a book on Amazon so I'm adding another $8.02 to the challenge. I'm up to $298.35.

I'm game

January 18th, 2008 at 03:39 pm

Thanks to the folks over at We Need To Be Debt Free, Iím now involved in a game of tag. I was incorrect to assume it had anything to do with a ďKick Me!Ē sign or someone spray painting my big butt.

Instead, here are the rules:

1. Link to the personís blog who tagged you.
2. Post these rules on your blog.
3. List seven random and/or weird facts about yourself.
4. Tag seven random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
5. Let each person know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

Iíve accomplished one and two, so now onto threeÖ.
1. Iím really good at picking things up with my toes.
2. Iím very sensitive to smells, tastes, sounds and textures. One whiff of cigarette smoke can ruin my whole day.
3. I hate business meetings of any kind. Sitting on my bum listening to a coworker go blah, blah, blah is worse than a root canal in my book.
4. Iím an expert eavesdropper. Whether youíre talking on your cell phone at the grocery store or to the person sitting across from you while eating dinner, if Iím nearby chances are Iím listening.
5. My favorite drink is a venti black iced tea from Starbucks (aka Tazo lightly sweetened black tea). I save money by buying it bottled at my local Whole Foods.
6. Iím married to a nice guy who is incredibly patient and loving even when I am not.
7. I donít like chain letters/e-mails/games of online tag and am usually the first to break them, which surprisingly Iím not going to do here.

I always hate to infringe on others unless invited to, so feel free to ignore this game if your blog is mentioned here:

Debt Kid

MerleSneed

Whereís Mommyís Prozac

Imasaver

Broken Arrow

Six Figure Debt

Pennywise Meanderings

An addition to the challenge....

January 18th, 2008 at 11:56 am

I got a couple more payments from eBay sales to the tune of $10.11 (after shipping and packing supplies), so my grand total is now $290.33.

Also, I've been "tagged." I'm not sure what that means -- do I now have some sign that says "Kick Me!" on my back? Am I contagious? Did someone spray paint my ever-expanding ass while I wasn't looking?

I need to go figure this out before I respond, but once I do I'll get back to you all.

Pitching the paper

January 17th, 2008 at 08:32 am

After years of being a faithful subscriber to my city's two newspapers, I called today to cancel one of the subscriptions since my husband has an online subscription to both through his work. While talking to the customer service person at the agency that manages the two papers in town, I was also trolling around online and noticed I could get one paper Thursday through Sunday only, which is really all I need it for since I mainly want it for the coupons.

If I get one of the papers seven days a week, I'd be paying $145 a year, but if I get it Thursday through Sunday I only have to pay $38.99 -- in theory.

I say "in theory" because the customer service person told me it was $58.99 a year in my case because I was an "existing" customer. She did point out if I weren't a customer for 30 days I would qualify for the lower rate.

Well, DUH!!! Cancel my paper right now, please!!! In a month, I'll go online to subscribe again for the $38.99 a month deal. In the meantime, I plan on hitting the nearest convenience store on Sunday mornings for my coupons -- nothing like a Big Gulp or Slurpee at 7 a.m. to start a Sunday off right!

More for the challenge

January 16th, 2008 at 07:32 pm

While I was off writing about my debt and savings, someone paid for another eBay item and I made $17.20 to add to the challenge.

My new total is $280.22


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