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Archive for October, 2008

A ho hum Sunday.

October 12th, 2008 at 04:27 pm

Not much financial going on.

It's the first real cold and dreary weekend of fall here. I finally relented and turned the heat back on. Also, I had to get some laundry done this weekend so I ended up using the dryer for the first time since last May.

I did sell a couple CDs on eBay so I'm adding $6.23 to the challenge. My new total is $12,899.45.

Otherwise a very quiet weekend here...

Letting go of a dream

October 8th, 2008 at 05:09 pm

I've decided to definitely NOT buy a Vespa next spring as planned. With private school looming in the not-too-distant future and the economy tanking, I can think of other ways to spend the few thousand dollars that the Vespa would cost.

That decision coupled with the very likely closing of my daughter's current school and our need to relocate her and ourselves has me feeling down in the dumps. Plus, there's the whole economy mess, my debt and the general disarray of the world.

Yeah, I'm really in a great mood today...

On another note, I made $33.33 selling more junk on eBay. See the new Challenge total over there on the left if you're interested.

Real estate "window shopping"

October 5th, 2008 at 06:35 pm

We spent the weekend "window shopping" for a new house. We don't necessarily want or need a new house, but as part of the eventual move of my daughter to a private school we will most likely be relocating as well.

Right now, all the schools we're considering are not in this city because this city simply is lacking when it comes to providing educational opportunities for non-traditional learners.

The schools that do cater to non-traditional learners are all in the city where my husband works; so assuming The Midge goes to one of those schools, we will eventually move in order to save commuting costs for both my husband and myself (aka The Midge's personal chauffer...)

Ideally, we'd like to either downsize our mortgage or simply do an even swap. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this is very doable. I was afraid all the houses in the other city would be way over our price range. But we did find a few that could work.

Of course, we will be giving up a lot of space, but I'm actually OK with that. I don't particularly like having a huge yard and house, and the thought of unloading at least half my belongings is oddly cathartic.

For now, my husband and I have decided to just keep visiting schools and occasionally checking the MLS so we can keep an eye on home prices. Then, by February we'll hopefully know where The Midge will be going next year and we can move forward with the house hunting.

On another note, I'm adding $29.26 to the challenge, so my new total is $12,859.89.

Of today's addition, I'm putting $6.76 toward the Vespa fund, so the new total there is $292.51.

Rethinking the Vespa

October 3rd, 2008 at 11:11 am

Yes, I'm having doubts about buying the Vespa next spring. Not because I don't want it anymore, but because I'm thinking that money will be better spent elsewhere.

We are thinking of speeding up my daughter's move to private school because the combination of her learning differences and the public school situation here is not getting any better.

Also, even if we don't move her to private school next year, I'm thinking I would like to either pay cash for our next car or make a very large down payment.

For now, though, I'm just going to keep saving away for the Vespa helmet and rearview mirrors....

On that note, I'm adding $90.96 to the challenge. Of that, $7.38 is going toward the Vespa fund. Here are the new totals:

Challenge: $12,830.63
Vespa: $285.75

Persistence pays off

October 1st, 2008 at 07:17 pm

Today I went to United's website to purchase a ticket home for the adult stepson. The ticket was a gift for my husband, who is graduating with yet another degree in December and who asked that we fly the adult stepson home for the graduation ceremony/party.

I was able to find an airfare for $279, and I wanted to apply a $100 travel voucher toward the cost of the ticket and then pay for the rest of the ticket out of pocket.

I got to the screen where you pay when I realized there was nowhere to enter a voucher number, so I called United's customer service number and was told I would have to call the reservation line to book the flight if I was using a paper voucher (which I was).

Before I go any further, let me explain how I got the paper voucher. Last October while The Midge was traveling back from California with my sister, United decided at the last minute to cancel their flight because it was way undersold. Instead, they stuck them on a later flight. However, they didn't cancel the flight until The Midge had arrived at the airport. Then they made her sit at the airport for 10 hours and she didn't make it home until 11 p.m. -- not good for a 7 year old who had to be up the next day to go to school.

My sister threw a fit, which caused an earthquake in southern California. The skies opened up and the gods bestowed on my daughter a $100 travel voucher for the "inconvenience." A travel voucher that was fully transferable.

So back to today ...

I call the reservation line and I'm told I will be charged an extra $25 if I have a real live agent book the flight, so I go through United's automated phone system instead. Everything's going along swimmingly up until the point where I have to pay for the ticket -- and, again, no way to enter a voucher number... .

At this point, I repeat a dozen times "Agent please!" and I'm eventually connected to a real live human, to whom I explain that I'm trying to buy a ticket with a voucher so my adult stepson can come home. (Home as in he lives in one state and I live in another state where home is... .)

I'm then told that in order to get the quoted fare I will need to go to the nearest airport within 24 hours with the voucher and The Midge and the adult stepson -- who lives in ANOTHER STATE!!!!

HELLO!!!!! KIND OF HARD TO GET US ALL TOGETHER AT THE SAME AIRPORT WITHIN 24 HOURS UNLESS SOMEONE'S GOING TO BESTOW A FREE TICKET OR TWO HERE!!!!

After I explain all this to the agent on the phone again, she puts me on hold to "check with her supervisor" (also known as checking with her brain).

A while later, she comes back and says I can have the adult stepson fax or e-mail a copy of his government-issued identification to me and then I can mail it along with the voucher -- and a copy of a government-issued ID for The Midge -- to some address in Michigan within 24 hours.

"Uh, what if The Midge's government-issued ID is sitting in a safety deposit box that I can't access until tomorrow at the earliest," I ask, totally forgetting that her passport is actually sitting downstairs in my husband's office.

"If we don't have a copy of both government-issued IDs and the original voucher postmarked within 24 hours, we won't honor the voucher," I'm told.

"So, explain this to me: we got this voucher because of your lousy service, but we can't use it because of your lousy service," I ask.

"Yes, sorry," is the response from the United agent, readily admitting that her employer provides lousy service.

In the end, I did end up buying the ticket with the voucher, government-issued ID for both "children," and cold-hard cash -- but only after spending an hour dealing with United and promising them my left arm, all future earnings and any future grandchildren the above-mentioned children may spawn. ...

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Oh, and as long as I'm here, I'm adding $37.50 to the Challenge from a small job I did for a client of the booming business. That brings my new total to $12,731.67.

Tootles...