Sold and shipped a couple of my daughter's outfits. My "share" was $8.88, which I'm putting toward the Challenge, so the new total is $11,789.04.
I had to take some money out of the Vespa fund -- not for a Vespa tire, but for something else that I hadn't budgeted for -- so my adjusted total there is $231.24.
I had to get my eyes examined and order a year's supply of contacts today, so I spent $310, which I'll be reimbursed for from my flexible spending account. I also need to order new glasses for those times that I can't wear my contacts. I'll be doing that later this week after I recover from writing the check for the contact lenses....
On a good note, I took advantage of this deal and got four boxes of Kashi for $1.
Viewing the 'Savings' Category
Sold and shipped a couple of my daughter's outfits. My "share" was $8.88, which I'm putting toward the Challenge, so the new total is $11,789.04.
My husband has been working on our front yard landscaping and decided we needed some big rocks to accent the plants. Rather than buy them, he dragged us to the mountains today and loaded up my trunk with free rocks.
Tomorrow, he's going to make a small retaining wall with some of them.
In other news, I sold the Twilight book I finished reading last week (which I received for free) and made $5.43, which I'm adding to the challenge. My new total is $11,769.42
Ugh... I just mailed off a huge stack of paperwork to get my daughter evaluated for learning "differences" at the local children's hospital. Of course insurance won't cover it, so we're paying $900 out of pocket to have a bunch of testing done before we decide where to place her for school next year.
There is a possibility that her current public school will be closing next year or that a number of new students will transfer in because another school in the district may be closing. Either way, this doesn't bode well for her because she needs to be in a very small classroom setting and/or have one-on-one assistance throughout most of the day.
Because of this, we are thinking of putting her in a private school that will better suit her needs. The tests her current school already conducted to assess her needs weren't thorough enough, so that's why we're having to pay out-of-pocket for more testing before we decide on a school.
Our flexible spending account for health care will cover the tests, but that means less money available for things like dental care, eyeglasses, real medical "issues," etc.
OK, enough ranting.
I did manage to haul the Midge to karate and back yesterday without splurging on that certain Asian cuisine that I've been asked not to mention anymore -- lest it lead to mass cravings here. (As predicted, we ate Ramen noodles instead....)
Despite the craving for the above-mentioned Asian food, I've been particularly pleased with myself because I've been pretty much staying home during the day and working -- and not splurging on things like Starbucks, trips to Target and lunch out. For instance, today I warmed up a leftover Greek burger that we made from scratch Friday when the Asian food craving first hit (I know ... Greek/Asian -- not the same thing...)
And, for dinner tonight, I'm making French dip sandwiches using the Crock Pot for my husband and I to eat after we get done with back-to-school/squeeze-your-adult-body-in-a-chair-meant-for-the-Midge night.
I'm guessing there will be more than enough left over for me to eat tomorrow for lunch as well.
Sold and shipped some more eBay stuff, and Pinecone sent me a check so I'm adding $22.60 to the challenge (but only $19.60 to the Vespa fund since I have other plans for that Pinecone check).
The new totals are:
Vespa fund: $139.65
The Midge heads back to school tomorrow. I'll be sad to see her go, but might be able to get more work for the booming business done with her gone most of the day.
I'm limiting my volunteering this year to Thursday afternoons, so hopefully that will save me time and money (in the form of gas).
I also discovered a store three doors down from the Midge's karate place sells my favorite tea, which I usually buy at Whole Foods every couple weeks. The price is comparable, but I'll be saving even more money on gas by eliminating the drive to Whole Foods.
Finally got around to updating the debt and savings totals over there on the left. The debt is slooooowly going down, but then again so is the savings. The savings dropped a huge amount because I did take some money out to pay off my one-and-only credit card a while back, but also the stock market isn't helping me any these days (not to mention the $1,000-plus vet visit we had this month....)
Today our DVD player broke along with my alarm clock.
Because we don't have cable and we get virtually no TV reception without it, I borrow DVDs from the library for The Midge so a DVD player is nice to have.(Not a need, though, since The Midge could be doing other things with her time.....)
Fortunately, I was able to salvage an old beat-up DVD player (read "on it's last legs too") from our basement. It was a remanant from our cable days when we had both TVs hooked up to everything under the sun. Now the giant TV in the basement isn't even used, so for the time being the basement DVD player will work perfectly upstairs.
I did go to Best Buy's site and priced new ones. I have a $20 gift card so I'm thinking I might budget for a cheapo replacement in the next few months -- plus I can buy it online and get MyPoint credits.
Awhile after the DVD episode, The Midge knocked a glass of water over on my nightstand and it fried my alarm clock. Because I'm blind without my glasses or contacts (seriously not kidding), I had a special alarm clock with super large numbers. I could replace it, but for the time being I'm going to try going without for the time being as well.
My husband has an alarm clock on his side of the bed, so if I really need to see the time I can put my glasses on and climb over him to see it. As far as the alarm goes, I can set my phone alarm to go off if I need to wake up at a particular time.
On another note, someone posted on here earlier about not buying things they didn't really need just because they were "good deals." I read it right before I headed to Walgreens to stock up on Kellogg's cereal and cash in on the $10 rebate Kellogg's is offering. After reading the post, I decided I didn't really need anymore cereal since we have 12 boxes down in the basement, so I stayed home instead.
My husband and I have decided to invest in a Vespa for me to use for putting around in the 'hood. Although it's a rare day that I don't drive, it's rare that I drive more than a few miles away. (I would walk, but the Midget wouldn't put up with it for long....)
So to pay for the scooter, I've decided to save all my eBay money and put it toward the purchase, which we hope to make next April or May. (I'll probably also put money from the booming business toward the Vespa, which will cost about $7,000).
I'm also keeping track of all my trips and indicating whether they were potential Vespa trips or "car" trips. And I'm going to log my gas mileage. (I'm pretty sure this will all show that a Vespa will ultimately safe us big bucks.)
Off to post some stuff on eBay now....
I've been hoarding a movie gift certificate since my birthday in March. Today I'm going to use it to take the Midge to see Wall E. She's been walking around for the last few months doing the robot's voice, so I figure it's time to take her to the actual movie.
I hit Walgreens yesterday for some detergent and also picked up two kinds of candy to sneak into the theater. (I used a gift card I got from Walgreens' rebates on my purchases so I actually paid nothing out of pocket for the candy or detergent.)
After we buy the movie tickets, we should still have money left on the gift card for popcorn and drinks as well so with any luck today's outing should cost me very little -- if anything.
Yesterday turned out to be a no-spend day even though I did leave the house to go into the "office" job.
I'm hoping I have another one today.
Think I can do it?
I've been off nursing a nasty flu that I've had for the last two and a half weeks and trying to wrap up work at the "office" job, which is officially over on May 21. Thus, I haven't had much time to focus on financial matters.
One thing I did manage to accomplish, though, was setting up a Roth IRA with Fidelity. This was all part of paying off my one-and-only personal credit card using some of my savings. I arranged to have the Roth funded with automatic deposits from checking each month, so it should be easy on my part from here on out.
I'm off to lay down down and hopefully build up enough energy to plow through some jobs for the booming side business later today....
Another freelance check came in the mail today. After putting $262.50 into my tax fund, I'm putting the remaining $787.50 into the challenge. That brings the total to $9,725.30.
I also got the rest of my payout from my savings to put toward paying off my credit card debt so I've adjusted the savings and debt figures over there on the left.
I got the first of my two savings payouts to put toward my debt, so I've updated my totals over there on the left. On one hand, it hurts to see my savings take a nosedive, but I won't miss those monthly payments to Chase.
I am thinking the unthinkable.... I am thinking of dipping into my vast savings to pay down my debt. Specifically, I am thinking of paying off my United Mileage Plus card, which has a balance of $23,867.86.
Why this sudden change of heart? Well, basically, I'm tired of Chase trying to set me up to fail.
Yes, I'm have decided that Chase -- the bank behind the card -- would love to see me not be able to make my monthly payment on time and in full. Thus bringing more money to its coffers in the form of late fees and increased finance charges.
You see, yesterday I got a letter from Chase saying they were raising my interest rate. I called and politely asked "WTF?" and they transferred me around to four different people -- disconnecting me altogether at one point. I finally got Jamie, who I have to say was one of the nicest, most helpful credit card employees that I have ever spoken to.
I nicely walked him through my situation (nicely always being the key when asking credit card companies to play fair). He then walked me through Chase's situation. I then nicely pointed out to him that Chase was setting me -- and others in the same position -- up to fail and dig a deeper hole for themselves. He said he fully understood my situation/point and even admitted he's in the same boat himself. He then walked me through my options. And, without outright telling me what to do, suggested highly what I could do to get Chase to lower my interest rate even more instead of raising it.
As we were chatting, he took some info from me and said he was going to submit a request for a lower rate for me. He said it's unusual for Chase to accept the request on the first try, especially considering my current state (which I won't bore you with the details). I said I appreciated him at least trying. He said if it didn't go through to make sure I call back monthly to see if I could eventually get it approved. I said I would. He then said he'd have an answer for me in the next 48 hours.
Then I obsessed about it overnight and I decided if Chase doesn't agree to at least leave my interest rate alone then I'm going to take the plunge and dip into my retirement funds to pay off the card, and be rid of Chase and credit cards forever. (Yes, Chase is my one and only personal credit card debt.)
I have already figured out that I can save the money I was putting toward the card and in 5 years have the total amount I withdraw from my retirement fund paid off. I will have to investigate my investment options, though, since I'm pretty sure my husband and I have priced ourselves out of the Roth IRA market. But, that's a minor inconvenience for something that will ease my mind greatly.
I am still digesting it all while I wait for Jamie to call me back. Even if Chase does agree to leave my interest rate alone, I'm kind of leaning toward just cutting my ties with them altogether.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking do I really need this financial news when I just gave notice at the office job to focus on building up the booming side business even more?
I DON'T THINK SO!
Now, tell me what you would do and explain your reasoning? Also, tell me what you know about the Roth IRAs income limits. (And, be nice! I'm not in a very good mood here. I'm having a bad hair day. ...)
The good thing about being sick was that I didn't go anywhere to spend money -- not even to the tailor shop to pick up my husband's tuxedo pants for tomorrow night....
After a very fitful nap (#*&% phone and email ping), I got up to make some chicken noodle Cup o' Soup. While the water was boiling for the soup, I stumbled out to the garage to get a Pepsi from the trunk of my car (still from the original 12 pack -- that's how little I drink). I was pleasantly surprised to find it nicely chilled already. No need for ice or anything. Maybe I should unplug the fridge each winter and instead just drive around with all my food in the trunk of the car!
(I think I have a fever and am becoming delirious now....)
My mother-in-law sent me $50 for my birthday, so I'm putting that toward the challenge -- and some clothes. The new total is $4,285.84.
I took Mini Me to see Horton Hears a Who since today is the first day of spring break. I had $9 left on an old gift card, so only had to pay 50 cents to get into the movie. However, we did get popocorn and drinks, which were the equivalent of the entire fiscal budget for a small island nation. I really should remember to sneak my own drinks and snacks into the theater next time we go. ...
On the way home, we stopped at Bed, Bath & Beyond to get a new shower curtain and towels for my husband's bathroom. He's been asking me to redecorate it for a while, so I've been hording the Laundry Fairy "droppings" to put toward it. We did get a good deal on towels that were 40 percent off.
(Yes, I have moved the spring cleaning into the bathrooms and let me tell you there is nothing worse than cleaning under a sink that hasn't seen the light of day in 10 years. If you should hear of an ebola outbreak in the U.S., you can assume it originated under my husband's sink.....)
Aside from a $75 payment for my daughter's OT payment today, I spent no money. In fact, as I came home after my swim and volunteer gig, I thought a Pepsi would be good. Instead of going through the drive-thru, I dipped into the Pepsi stash in the trunk of the car.
On another topic, for two months we have not gotten a paper statement from my husband's Visa. Fortunately, I paid them anyways, but one of the payments was late because I couldn't remember the payment date and didn't have any old statements on hand. They've now charged us a late fee of $39 even though they acknowledge that they've been trying to send us paperless statements online and they haven't been going through and they understand this might be the cause of the late payment. Since they've acknowledged it could be their fault, I think we'll be having a little chat with them about refunding that late payment....
I didn't spend any money today. In fact, I saved $5 by complaining to the grocery store about a messed up delivery order and they agreed to refund half the delivery fee.
After going into the "office" job today to see what was going on, I'm now rethinking the whole quitting thing. Right now I am telling myself to give notice May 1 and be officially gone before the end of May instead of sticking it out through June.
I think I'm going to experiment the next two months by immediately pulling my paycheck from that job out of my checking account when I get paid and pretending I'm already down one income. This will help me figure out where I need to tighten the belt.
At least once a year, I'm forced to dress up in something either than jeans and a t-shirt, and be my husband's Trophy Wife at a black-tie event related to his work.
In the past, I've gone shopping for gowns in January, which is when you'll usually find such things on sale. I've always lucked out and have never spent more than $100 on gowns that were originally much more than that.
Last year, I actually lucked out and came down with dysentery or some other cleaver excuse not to go (the exact nature of which currently escapes me). And, this year, I figured I would be off the hook since my husband switched jobs last summer.
Boy was I wrong. I now have two prom-like-events-for-the-geriatric-crowd coming up in the next month that require "formal" attire -- both of which involve me having to sit at a table with the same people, so wearing the same dress to both events won't work....
Aside from the fact that I didn't bother with my usual January gown shopping outing this year or last year, I've also put on a few pounds so I now either need to shed some weight fast, suck it up and invest in a new dress, or just suck it in and hope that nothing "pops."
The things we do for love.....
I anticipate that today will be a no-spend day. I have to put in an appearance at the office job this afternoon, so that will keep me out of the stores for about 4 hours. I ran this morning (found a penny in the road, by the way), took a shower, worked on the booming side business and ate lunch at home already (leftover chicken picatta and pasta from last night -- yummy). I have some tea and water ready to go with me in the car, so no need to hit any drive thrus on the way in. And dinner will be homemade tacos, which are quick and easy so I won't be tempted to take the family out to eat dinner because I'm too tired to cook. Then, more work on the booming side business tonight, so no time to dilly dally around any stores then either.
Given my impulsive/compulsive ways, it's important for me to keep track of the no-spend days, just like I keep track of every penny I spend. I will literally be sitting here minding my own business, slaving away to keep a roof over my head and the mood will hit me for a Coke or a cheesteak sandwich and off I'll go to buy one. That's how impulsive I am....
Which brings me to a dilemma I've been having lately. I only have pop when I'm out and do not keep it in my house. However, recently I thought I should buy a six-pack of something so I don't find myself making an impulsive trip down the street to get one (Thus avoiding the urge to pick up a cheesteak as well while I'm out and about.) Then I thought, maybe not because if it's in the house I'll drink more of it. Plus -- and this is a big plus -- I don't want Mini Me seeing me drinking it all the time -- or seeing it in the house -- because she rarely gets pop and I don't want to go down that road of having it readily available for her to ask for.
AGHGHHGHG!!!! The trials of motherhood....
After a month of stealing the neighbors' newspapers (kidding....), I renewed our subscriptions last week at the much lower rate and while doing so signed up to get two Sunday papers for the coupons. Today was the first day they came and after spending way too much time clipping and filing coupons, I've decided not to clip them from now on until I actually go to use them.
I've been storing them in baseball-card holders inside a notebook, but now I'm going to dig out an expandable file and just mark the date on the entire bundle of coupons each week and then take it from there.
My grocery savings this week were pretty much a wash because the Grocery Game folks said I would find two coupons in the paper today that weren't there so I ended up paying full price for the items -- plus I bought Tide on sale, which is like buying any other detergent at full price
I'm not sure if it's the time change or the slight cold I've got, but I ended up getting a whole lot o' nothing accomplished today. I did book the beach vacation early this morning, but from there the day went downhill as far as productivity. I got very little work done on the booming side business -- mainly because I was redoing something that someone else worked on before me and it was a mess that took forever to fix (GRRRR....) Of course, it probably didn't help that the whole family laid down for a nap after a late lunch and the nap turned into a two-hour snooze fest for my husband and I while the kid and dogs bounced on the bed every few minutes while watching Monsters Inc. for the 50th time this weekend. (Please don't send me any nastygrams for sleeping while my child and dogs were running amok. We were all in the same room, sober and watching/listening to a G-rated movie -- not exactly "quality time" for Mini Me, but I'm sure she'll get over it....)
This cold is just annoying enough to make me want to lie low for a few days, but I have a bunch of commitments this week so I don't think that's going to happen.
I promised I would put in a few appearances at the "office" this week. In my line of work, it's usually a bad thing to go in if you're sick but I'm not so blatantly sick that I should stay home (then there's the whole no play/no pay deal I agreed to, so financially it's at least to my advantage to "suit up" and show up for at least a couple minutes every now and then).
Mini Me's also got a "gallery opening" that I have to attend this week. Yes, at the tender age of 7, she is having her first art exhibit.... I don't know how it happened since her kindergarten teacher once questioned her artistic ability (to which I reminded the wench of Jackson Pollock and others who looked at the world through a different lens). But no matter now, because the little Picasso's artwork was chosen for a display at a local gallery -- a real gallery as opposed to the gallery on my refrigerator.
To give you some idea of what we're talking about, here's a self-portrait that she did, which I thought was so good that I got it framed and it's now hanging in the area between the kitchen and living room.
Back when I was actively debting and running amok with the bucks, I "borrowed" from my various savings accounts for God-only-knows-what. For the most part, I didn't keep track of that money, but on my last bender I did. Now, thanks to the challenge, I'm paying myself back for the first time ever. I owe about $800 to myself from that last little mishap, so now that I've got other stuff covered I'm slowly chipping away at that "debt."
My challenge money is anything above the basic income I have detailed in my spending plan each month. When the challenge money comes in, I automatically put 25 percent into my tax savings account since the bulk of it is from my booming side business and I'm basically trying to cover my butt. The rest I divvy up between savings and extra debt payments. Since I've been making extra payments toward student loans and the credit cards lately, I've decided it's time to show my bank account a little love. For example, after I put $12.50 toward taxes from today's challenge money addition, I then added the remaining $37.50 into the trash account (trash as in trash pick-up).
I'm really loving the challenge. It's making me account for my money and as a result I'm being more responsible with it....
I didn't go anywhere today until we went off to Mini Me's school for parent-teacher conferences. My mother came along to watch the little Einstein while we chatted up the teacher. Then she took us all out for sushi afterward. She also brought us 3 pints of ice cream and about 100 homemade chocolate chip cookies, so we're set in the sugar department for a while. I think I'll be doing a few extra miles on the jog and swim this weekend....
A few weeks ago when we in the middle of a huge snowstorm, my neighbor and I discussed how we could afford a snowblower. We decided we should chip in with another neighbor to buy a used snowblower.
The first neighbor is a mechanical genius and is always fixing things around the neighborhood and loves his "toys." The other neighbor is a widower who travels a lot and has a bad back, plus he has alots of extra space in his garage to store the snowblower. All I bring to the equation is myself, a husband and a kid. My husband and I will help "man" the snowblower when the first neighbor isn't around. And, one day when we're all too old and decrepit to run the snowblower, we will teach Mini Me how to use it.
The two neighbors have been looking for a used snowblower ever since I had my discussion with the first guy and I've been setting aside money in our household fund for the anticipated purchase. Yesterday, they found the "dream snowblower" on sale at our local hardware store for $240 and came knocking on my door to tell me all about it. We all chipped in $80 and got a mammoth snowblower that can clear a small parking lot! I am not kidding -- even my husband was impressed when he saw it.
Now, of course, we're betting it won't snow again ever; but it's nice to know that if it ever does, we're prepared....
With Mini Me sick all day, I went nowhere besides putting a brief appearance in at the office job and spent nothing once again. Of course, now I feel like I'm coming down with the crud as well, so this may be a no spend week.....
So my husband found a way around our little disagreement about what should become of the $50 parking money. Yesterday he called to ask for the ATM pin. I asked why he needed it since we rarely use it to withdraw money, but just to deposit money. He said he was in a rush to get to a meeting and had to pay for parking because the place didn't take credit cards.
While digging around in the black hole that is my purse for the number, I asked why he had his car downtown in the first place since he usually parks it at the train station for free and then makes use of his organization's free car service if he needs to go someplace while working. He mumbled some excuse and said he had to go.
When he got home, he said he got $20 out since he forgot his expense account money. I asked what he did with the change since I know he gets a discount for parking and he's not paying $20 for daily parking. He claimed he's "hanging onto it" for further parking needs. I claimed he was full of you-know-what and told him I'll be watching him like a hawk as far as the "parking" expenses go. Then I claimed the REI dividend for myself so we're about even now....
My husband recently gave up his parking spot and started riding public transportation to work as much as possible. After purchasing an Eco pass for the train and bus, we're still saving $50 in parking fees. However, some of that money may end up going toward parking anyways on days he needs his car and has to drive.
In his mind, he should be getting that $50 in cash to do whatever he wants with if he doesn't spend it on parking since he says he's the one making the sacrifice. (Oh, cry me a river. It's so tough to sit on the train and IM people and read the paper....)
In my mind, that $50 should sit in our checking account and he should use his debit card to pay for parking when he can't take public transportation. We'll then have a receipt for tax purposes; plus if any of that $50 is left at the end of the month, it will just remain in the checking account as a cushion for months when money is tight.
We're not fighting over this. However, one of us IS pouting, so I thought I'd put it out there to see what all of you think.
Mini Me is home sick so I went no place and spent nothing today. In fact, aside from a mad dash to the mailbox, I can't say that sunlight ever touched me.
I did get a workout on the treadmill this afternoon. As I've said before, I hate running on the treadmill, but there is one good thing about it -- an excuse to watch TV.
We don't have cable and don't really get television reception where we live. But we do have free access to DVDs from the library. I rarely even watch those, though, because I can usually find a bunch of other ways to fill my time. However, I've been curious about the show Lost, so I got the first season from the library and have been watching it whenever I find myself on the treadmill. It's great for making one want to jump out of their skin every now and then.
People tend to find it surprising that we don't have cable and/or watch TV on a regular basis. Initially, when we got rid of it, it was very much a money-saving decision. Now it's more a lifestyle choice.
Kim was right! Dieting and budgeting are a lot alike. I'm sitting here counting out nuts so I don't go over in the calorie department like I'm counting pennies....
Speaking of calories, yesterday was a total bust on that front thanks to an impromptu Chinese dinner out. (NOTE TO SELF: Must STOP impromptu dinners out!) But today is looking better.
I have been working out like a mad woman when I'm not working on making money. I used to work out religiously 6 days a week, but haven't been as good about it the last two years due to some health issues and plain ol' laziness. The last week has been a good reminder of how much I enjoy it.
On to other things...
Today would have been a no spend day if not for Mini Me having an evaluation with the eye doctor. That set us back $101, which is in addition to the $97 a week we pay out of pocket for actual vision therapy. Personally, I'm ready for a little "check book therapy," so I'll be glad to see vision therapy come to an end sometime in the next three months.
The plan is to temporarily put the bulk of the vision therapy money toward the new car fund. I say "temporarily" because Mini Me is one costly kid. She's got some serious learning differences that we're still working on getting diagnosed, so we're always paying for something related to that. Right now it's vision therapy and OT. This summer it'll be a private tutor, who thankfully isn't as expensive as the vision therapist. God only knows what it'll be in the fall.
Today while killing time until lunch, my husband and I decided to look at model homes. This little outing reinforced my belief that we're not moving until they back the hearse up to the front door and wheel us away to the morgue.
At 3,000 square feet (including the finished basement), our house is the perfect size for our family of 3 humans and two dogs. Best of all, it's perfect for when we're old and decrepit, and the kid has abandoned us. It's a ranch that is set up so one can live on the main floor if need be (i.e. two laundry rooms -- one upstairs and one down).
Also, the rooms are all really big (better to maneuver in the wheelchairs and walkers when the time comes for that); and while we have great neighbors, we can't reach out and touch their homes -- or even see their homes in most cases.
This is huge with me. I just can't justify buying a home for a half million dollars only to find that the neighbors can see into the whole house.
So, we're staying put until death comes knocking....
As for lunch, we budget for one meal out a week so we usually make it Saturday lunch. My husband has this thing about lunches out on Saturdays. He thinks they're "decadent." Personally, I just know lunch is cheaper than dinner and Saturday is as good a day as any to eat out. We usually eat a little later lunch (Mini Me refers to it as "dunch") and then we skip dinner, so in our own sick, twisted way we're saving money.
(And before you get on me about dining out with all that debt over there on the left, remember my goal is to still live my life while paying my debt off so this is one luxury I'm not giving up.)
Speaking of debt, I made an extra $400 payment to one of the credit cards today with the challenge money I got in the mail. I also put $96 into my tax savings account. And I put the rest into our travel account.
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