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Archive for January, 2008

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

Look what I did!

January 16th, 2008 at 06:59 pm

If you look to the left, you'll see I updated the debt and savings totals. It's still bleak as far as the debt is concerned, but I'm happy to report that the debt did go down and the savings did go up over the last 9 months.

Neither went anywhere fast enough for me, but I'll take what I can get at this point.

Gone, baby, gone

January 16th, 2008 at 06:29 pm

I just submitted my final request for health care flex pay money for this fiscal year (July-July). We blew right though the money this year because of my daughter's high-priced medical treatments that insurance won't cover (DAMN THEM!).

When my husband switched jobs, we had no idea that we were going to need to put more toward the flexible spending account for health care because my daughter's "issue" hadn't been clearly defined at the time. Now, though, we're just going to suck it up and pay those after-tax dollars.

I actually never accounted for the flex pay money in our spending plan even though I did account for the medical expenses. I just made the spending plan work without the flex pay money and then when it came in I would bank that money in the furniture fund. So technically our spending plan won't be taking a hit now that we have no flex pay money coming in. However, my back will since I was saving up to buy a new mattress with that money.

Oh, well. Come July, we'll be back to drawing on more pre-tax dollars to pay for medical costs and I can go back to saving for a new bed. ...

Don't touch that dial!

January 15th, 2008 at 12:20 pm

The temperature is dropping fast here, which reminds me that the only other person in this house tall enough to reach the thermostat admits that he has cranked the heat up when I've been gone. (Actually he only admitted to doing this once, but I get the feeling it's been done other times as well.)

I did point out to the person in question that he could take the space heater out of my office and use it when I wasn't working at home, but he hasn't taken me up on my offer.

Maybe I should get one of those lock boxes to put over the thermostat and keep the key hidden. Ummmm.... now there's an idea....

Money Monday

January 14th, 2008 at 04:24 pm

I had some more eBay money come in today, plus a royalty check, so I'm adding $60.61 to my challenge money. My total's now up to $263.02.

Raking in the dough....

January 13th, 2008 at 02:15 pm

I decided to skip all the activities I mentioned previously, and instead went to return some library books and stopped by the post office to mail another eBay item. After postage, I added $3.59 to my challenge money, which brings the total up to $202.41.

Paid in Full

January 13th, 2008 at 10:29 am

The final eBay buyer came through with a payment this morning. You guys are good luck!

I posted some more items today and I have some auctions ending later today as well.

eBay's going to be deducting its share of the profits in the next day or two, so once that's done and I get stuff shipped I'll update the challenge money.

I had plans to go to a movie today since I have a free pass and my daughter will be gone this afternoon, but my husband now says he's got too much work to go with me. I still may go alone or stay home and work myself or go get a manicure since I have money set aside for that or go for a run or take a nice long nap. The possibilities are endless...

I spent the morning clipping coupons and fiddling around in my office. The groceries have yet to be delivered this morning so I'm not sure what my weekly savings will be there. However, I didn't need much this week since we're still eating from the freezer. Based on my meal planning, it looks like I might be able to eat from the freezer next week as well.

This week's menu includes:

* Mac and cheese
* Fettucine with brown butter sauce
* Stir fry with pork
* Barley and pinto beans with tortillas
* Pan-seared mahi mahi with creamed brussel sprouts
* Leftovers
* One dinner out (tonight) with the Big Kahuna Sister

One down and one to go

January 12th, 2008 at 08:04 pm

Someone's ears must have been burning. One of my missing eBay buyers just paid me via PayPal. Now if the other person would just fork over his share....

Almost forgot ... the Time factor

January 12th, 2008 at 07:37 pm

When I renewed my two newspaper subscriptions a couple months ago, it came with a card for a year's worth of Time magazine for free if I checked a box. I would not normally pay to subscribe to any magazine since I can read them for free at the library or in any waiting room where I may find myself. However, this one was free, so I figured it was a good deal.

I had completey forgotten about it until the first magazine showed up today, which also reminded me that I need to call to change my newspaper subscription. I live in a rare city that has two daily newspapers, which I have faithfully subscribed to for years. But now my husband's work has provided an online subscription for him to both so we've decided to get rid of one of the hard copy papers. I'm keeping the other for the coupons and for loyalty issues that I won't go into here.

The thought briefly crossed my mind that they'll cancel my magazine subscription now, but in reality I know the agency that manages the two newspapers does not have its act together enough to pull something this complicated off (I'm lucky if they can hit my front porch with the newspaper on a good day....). So I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing that Time magazine in my mailbox for the next 51 weeks.

This coupled with the Fitness magazine that I also get for free (due to some reason that now escapes me) and Bon Apetit (which my mother gives me each year in hopes that I'll feed her something besides bread and water) should keep me in reading material for a while.

Should I be worried?

January 12th, 2008 at 07:06 pm

Ummm... It's been 72 hours since my first eBay auctions ended. I emailed all the buyers invoices within an hour of the auctions ending. All but two have either paid or said they're sending money orders. But what about those other two?

Should I be worried? Should I send them gentle reminders? Or should I cut them some slack and give them a week to get in touch before I nag?

Any words of wisdom DisneySteve?

Adding to the challenge

January 12th, 2008 at 04:38 pm

I just came home to a freelance check today that put me over the minimum amount of income I had planned for the month. After I put money away for taxes on that check, I'm adding $137.74 to the challenge today. My challenge total is now up to $198.82.

A few of my favorite things

January 11th, 2008 at 05:09 pm

Because I'm trying to avoid a.) working, b.) doing laundry, c.) cooking dinner, or d.) all of the above, I decided to do some housecleaning on my blog, so I added a few of my favorite websites over there on the left (your other left if you happen to be Mini Me....)

Most of the sites are finance-related and I do try to check them daily just to keep me focused on my goal of paying off my debt.

My four favorites are Daily Walks, which is just nice to look at; Debt Kid, created by a nice hard-working kid who is trying to right his wrongs (just like me -- although I'm no longer a kid);
Debtors Anonymous, which keeps me on the straight and narrow; and Merle Sneed, whose sense of humor I can relate to (humor is all important when you have as much debt as I do).

I hope to get around to updating the savings and debt numbers over there next.

More bucks for the challenge

January 11th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

I made another $41.31 (after shipping and fees) on eBay. That brings the challenge total up to $61.08.

I'm still waiting to hear from two other buyers from my auctions that closed yesterday. A third buyer is sending me a money order.

I also have 10 more items up for sale that will close over the weekend, plus a basement full of stuff to post still.

I was thinking about how dangerous this would all be if I were tempted to bid on items myself, but I'm not in the least bit interested in even "window shopping" for stuff on eBay so my compulsive shopping tendencies aren't kicking in. Good thing....

I'm officially an eBay seller now....

January 10th, 2008 at 01:59 pm

Today my first eBay auctions closed. Although I sold everything I posted, only one bidder has paid up so far (it's only been a couple hours since they closed so I'll give everyone a while before I start panicking....)

However, the one person who did pay up, promptly deposited his money into my PayPal account and I promptly mailed the item. Minus the shipping cost, I made $12.36 to add to my challenge money, which now is up to $19.77.

Me and my big mouth

January 10th, 2008 at 10:36 am

Just back from the dentist where I was pleasantly surprised to find a nice, laid-back dentist and a compentent staff.

As I mentioned while whining yesterday, I had to switch dentists when my husband switched jobs. My old dentist was great, so it was hard to leave him.

Four months ago, I picked a new dentist from the provider list. He was within walking distance of my house. His office was high tech. And his staff seemed competent. Then, HE WALKED INTO THE EXAM ROOM!!!!

He looked like a poster boy for cosmetic dentistry. I had to keep my sunglasses on because his teeth were so huge, white and shiny.

Looks aside, he seemed OK until he started examining my teeth, and wanted to overhaul each and every one. As a devout flosser, brusher and dentistgoer for my entire life, I knew my teeth did not need anything more than polishing. There was one tooth my old dentist always kept an eye on since I've had some work done on it, but overall my mouth was and is in good shape.

Dr. Cosmetic Dentistry wanted me to spend about $10,000 out of pocket to fix things that didn't need fixing. The only thing good to come out of the visit was that I went home with a bunch of pens, notepads, golf tees (I don't even golf), magnets, etc., with his name plastered all over them. Of course, I ultimately would have paid for these "Welcome" gifts if I had gone back to him, but instead I ran the other way as fast as I could.

Now, four months later, I was due for another polishing (yes, I see the dentist every four months -- not six...). I picked another dentist in the same complex and was prepared to fend off more freebies and recommendations for unncessary dental treatments.

Instead, I found Mr. Rogers in a dental smock waiting for me. He said my teeth look great overall -- but wants to watch my one problem tooth. He didn't hoist any free junk on me and said he would keep my out-of-pocket expense down by documenting my previous perio visit (some fancy dental surgeon who worked on my problem tooth) in his records and on the insurance form each time he submitted a cleaning bill.

I thought this was very nice of him. Even nicer was that I didn't owe anything today.

Whine, whine, whine

January 9th, 2008 at 07:17 pm

I'm tired and miserable tonight. I've had a stuffed up head all day and I had to start my day off by driving down south for a work-related training session during rush hour and in the bitter cold. (There's a reason I mostly work at home in my nice WARM office where the commute consists of nothing more than stumbling out of bed and down the hall.)

The training session was incredibly long and incredibly boring. It was led by various managers throughout the organization -- including my manager -- so I couldn't sneak out. Instead, I sat there thinking how I really need to get one more regular, big client for my business and bale on the "office" job.

This has been on my mind a lot lately.
Physically, the job is wearing on me (it takes a lot out of a person when they have to climb up and down a metal pole all night. Don't believe me? You try it for an evening....). So I've begun to look around for another client.

Meanwhile, back to whining...

I was planning on another no-spend day today, but as I was driving back from the South Pole I realized if I didn't fill the car up with gas I would have to endure an afternoon ride home with Mini Me that consisted of her badgering me about how we were going to run out of gas. I was just not up to the challenge today, so $46 later I had bought myself some peace and quiet -- for all of about 20 minutes.

I'm trying to finish up a client's project tonight, but am having serious problems keeping my eyes open (they hate it when you fall asleep on the job....).

Tomorrow promises to be another "fun" day -- beginning with a trip to a new dentist. When my husband switched jobs, we switched insurance, which means finding new dentists for everyone. The first quack I saw started talking about replacing every tooth in my mouth so that he could make a buck. I ran as fast I could from that guy. I'm now going to someone else in his building (anyone want to bet what this guy will try to get away with????)

In defense of the stepson....

January 9th, 2008 at 12:27 pm

I've been rippin' on my husband since last night about his dumb comment regarding saving -- and yes, it was just plain DUMB!

But now I have to say that my stepson is actually a very intelligent, good guy who I know ultimately will figure out that saving is best. He has not had the best role models (myself included) and he's often been put in a hard place financially because of the stupid things his parental units have done. (Thus the big bucks he owes his mother...)

As for my husband, well, he's a good guy too who has just taken a very looooong time to figure out the financial side of life.

And now, a word from DAD!!!

January 9th, 2008 at 05:38 am

In case you missed it, my husband responded to my post about his son being "too young" to save. Here it is.

And my response to dear ol' Dad is: YOU'RE STILL NEVER TOO YOUNG TO MAKE SAVING A PRIORITY!!!!

Dads say the darndest things....

January 8th, 2008 at 07:04 pm

The other day I wrote about my adult stepson, who already has a very well-paying job just a year out of college. Today he got another well-paying job that is in the career field that he's interested in (as opposed to the other one, which is not).

I mentioned to my husband that I hoped he was saving some of his money and my husband said: "He doesn't need to be saving money. He's only 23."

I could not believe my ears. I'm still aghast by this thinking.

This is why we have more than $55,000 in student loans for his education -- because his father (and mother) were young when they had him and failed to save a dime toward his education (or toward anything else for that matter).

I know my stepson owes his mother a boatload of money and probably has a few credit cards he's paying off as well, but I see no reason why he can't be saving something toward his future -- even if he is just 23....

Not to gloat, but thank God my husband isn't raising Mini Me alone. She may only be 7 but I already have a bank account set up for her that her consignment money goes into (we re-sell her clothes). She's also got a college fund going and I make her put half her allowance into her piggy bank each month.

$30 tape....

January 8th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Today I went to see a physical therapist about a little problem I've been having with my knee. The copay for the visit was $30. I left with two rolls of tape for my knee and instructions to call him if I have anymore problems.

Ummm...and we wonder what is wrong with healthcare in America...

(Note to self: next time skip the copay and use duct tape from my garage to fix the bum knee!)

Why, oh why????

January 7th, 2008 at 01:15 pm

Why do clothing makers insist on putting tags on the sides of shirts right above your pant line?

Inevitably I spend each day scratching at my side because of the label or I cut it off and end up splitting open the seam.

I have thought about buying only shirts that have the label info printed directly on the shirts, but this limits me to primarily workout gear, which would be fine if I were a P.E. teacher....

You've created a monster, DisneySteve....

January 6th, 2008 at 07:02 pm

Inspired by DisneySteve's return to eBay, I decided earlier this week to post some of my stained glass supplies to see if I could make a few bucks for the challenge.

I am now addicted to selling stuff on eBay. Forget about shopping. I just want to SELL, SELL, SELL!!!!

I originally posted 13 items at very low prices and was surprised to see most of them get bids. Their auctions end in three days, so today I decided to post seven more things. However, I decided to branch out and post things that we were going to just send to Goodwill or give away to Mini Me's school. They're perfectly good things, but we had no use for them anymore so I've now got 20 items posted on eBay.

I think my husband is worried that I might start selling all of his belongings -- weather he wants me to or not. So I'm going to wait a few days before posting any more -- and then I'll limit it to more stained glass stuff.

I think I also might do some reading up on eBay selling as well. Right now, I'm just fumbling my way through the whole process, but I'm sure there's a better strategy I should be taking in order to make the most on my items. Perhaps DisneySteve will share some insights there as well since he is to blame for my latest addiction. ...

My grocery store "run"

January 6th, 2008 at 11:32 am

The grocery man just dropped off my purchases. I bought $63.46 in food. Using coupons and in-store promotions, I brought that down to $44.03. With the delivery fee and taxes, my total came for $55.41 to feed the three humans and two dogs for the next 7 days.

Dinners will consist of:

1. Broiled Alaskan king salmon, rice and fresh asparagus

2. Stir fry shrimp and rice

3. Tortellini with tomato mushroom sauce

4. Macaroni and cheese

5. Fettucine with sage brown butter

6. Pork chops with apples and rosemary, stuffing and lima beans

7. Leftovers

I'm getting hungry just thinking of it...

A few more bucks for the challenge

January 6th, 2008 at 07:05 am

I sold a book on Amazon this morning. After shipping, that leaves me $6.16 to add to the challenge so I'm up to $7.41 now. I almost have enough for two gallons of gas for that new car...

Grocery shopping at home

January 5th, 2008 at 06:38 pm

I decided to go grocery shopping in my own household store this weekend. I went through the freezer and basement mini-mart, and created a list of meals that should last us through the next two weeks.

I do need some things from the actual store to supplement the grocery list, but nothing that should cost more than $40 each week (that's for a family of three humans and two dogs). Part of that $40 will go toward sale items that I want to stock up on -- things like shampoo and aspirin.

Tomorrow is grocery shopping day -- although I don't leave the house to do it ever. I find it's best for me to pay the $10 fee and have the stuff delivered instead of risking my compulsive nature kicking into high gear at the grocery store.

I swear I must be coming down with something....

January 5th, 2008 at 04:58 pm

I had my second no-spend day in a row. I'm not sure what has gotten into me. I even left the 'hood today and ventured as far as the "office" job.

A no-spend hat trick

January 4th, 2008 at 07:41 pm

I just informed my husband that I spent no money today. He then informed me that he spent no money either. Than Mini Me informed both of us that she didn't spend any money either.

This may be a family first!

Wait ... I just found money for the challenge

January 4th, 2008 at 04:36 pm

While emptying the dryer just now, $1.25 fell out of someone's pants. As the one and only laundress in this household, the money automatically becomes mine, so I'm putting it toward the challenge. I'm on my way.....

Another no spend day ... what's happening to me????

January 4th, 2008 at 04:28 pm

Aside from driving my daughter around the corner to a play date, I did not leave the house or post anything on eBay (or buy anything online), so I did not spend any money. I must be coming down with the flu or something to be saving so much money....

Dear Ralph.....

January 4th, 2008 at 11:26 am

Ralph asked me why I didn't pay off my massive debt with my massive savings, so I thought I would share my response with all of you in case any of you are wondering the same thing.

The reasons are many.

1. I'm old and want to make sure I have some savings to fall back on so I don't end up eating Alpo later in life.

2. Much of that savings is tied up in 401Ks, investments, etc., and the tax hit would not be worth it.

3. I'm still old and I won't be able to build my retirement back up should I dip into it.

4. My thinking is that until I retire the massive savings is only to be used in the case of a true emergency (i.e. I or my husband are not able to work and the insurance company doesn't dish out the disability pay fast enough; or disgruntled underlings take my husband hostage and I have to provide a ransom to get him back -- or to get them to keep him).

My self-created debt isn't an emergency. It's a mistake, but I am paying it off using my own hard-earned money.

People who know my husband and I -- but not about my debt -- always ask why I work. By all appearances, I should be one of those women who lunch/play tennis/get daily blowouts/etc. But I work because I am a compulsive debtor in recovery who is trying to make my wrongs right. Working allows me -- not my husband -- to deal with my problems. (My husband, by the way, has been encouraging me not to work as well, but understands why I keep at it.)

I have often thought what I would do if I suddenly got a $167,313.77 windfall. Would I automatically pay off all my debt? Well, DUH, YES!!! I'm not that much of an idiot after all. But I know that a windfall is not going to make my debting problem go away. It's always going to be there. All I can do is work my 12-step program one day at a time, not debt in any way shape or form, stay away from my triggers (i.e. credit cards), live within my means and still have a life while doing all this.

So that, dear Ralph, is my answer. Anything else????

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