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A new house isn't in my future but 'dunch' is

February 23rd, 2008 at 08:09 pm

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.

Extreme Home Makeover ... kind of

February 20th, 2008 at 08:12 am

Since Hazel the Housekeeper didn't come last week, I decided I couldn't live with the filth so in between the two jobs and the kid I've been doing some serious power cleaning. In the process, I started compiling a list of things that needed replacing or fixing.

Tops on the list were a couple of table lamps from the master bedroom. We've had these lamps since we bought our first house way back in the early '90s. Over the years, the lampshades got ripped, the paint became chipped and the bases became wobbly. Yet, we never got around to replacing them.

Then, yesterday, while running on the treadmill in the basement family room, I found myself staring at two lamps that are rarely used and look brand new. The basement family room has become Mini Me's toy emporium. We rarely hang out down there as a family and the overhead lights are the only ones that are ever turned on.

When I was done with the run, I hauled the two lamps upstairs and replaced the bedroom ones with them. Surprisingly, they really looked nice; and I was even more pleased last night when I got home from the office job and my husband had them turned on. It's amazing what some not-so-new light can do for a room. Best of all, I didn't have to spend a dime for my little makeover....

No Spend Day

February 19th, 2008 at 08:35 pm

I feel like I got absolutely nothing done today, but I also had a no spend day so I guess that's good. ...

What constitutes an emergency?

February 18th, 2008 at 07:40 pm

Another blogger here asked: "Do you consider your emergency fund to cover serious emergencies or 'life happens' type of things?"

Good question and the answer would be ... both.

We actually have two emergency funds. The first one is stashed away in hard-to-access places and contains about $18,000 (depending on what the stock market is doing). It is for true emergencies, which in my book is something like the loss of a job.

The second one is much smaller (but growing) and resides in a money market account that we can access easily. This account is for not-so-dire emergencies, such as the hot water heater breaking or plumbing backing up.

My husband and I often have debated dipping into the big emergency fund. He thinks the need for an oil change for his car constitutes an emergency, while I think you better be bleeding and near death or financial ruin before touching the emergency fund.

Fortunately for me, most of the emergency fund is in the form of my personal stocks and bonds, so my husband can't access it without my consent or a judge's authorization....

A quasi no-spend day

February 12th, 2008 at 03:21 pm

I've been home with a sick kid all day, so I put my husband in charge of dropping Beauty -- of Beauty and the Beast fame -- off at the doggie spa and picking her up. Thus, a no-spend day for me personally....

I did get some business-related work done today, but for the most part Mini Me and I spent the day lying in bed and watching Underdog and Peter Pan. We also got her Valentine's Day cards done. The poor kid has missed every Valentine's Day party for the last three years because of nasty colds, so I'm determined to get her healthy by Thursday so she can get back to school.

I do have to stop in at the "office" job later today, so now I'm just waiting for my husband to come home to do the big hand off of responsibility.

No spend day

February 6th, 2008 at 10:53 am

While my blog was going to the dogs, I forgot to mention that I had a no spend day yesterday. Of course, it helped that it never got above 10 degrees and the sun didn't shine so I didn't feel like leaving the house.

Today's a different story, though. I spent $68.70 on dry cleaning (paid with cash) and I splurged on lunch on the way back ($6 also paid for with cash). Later today, I have to do a drive-by visit to one of the "offices" I sometimes hang out at so I can cash in on their retirement benefits. The main "office" job (not the "home office" job, which is entirely different) is very formal and I have to dress "professionally" when I go there. It's kind of like going to someone's very formal dinner party -- without the food and drinks. The office I'm going to today is much less formal (think kegger in the back of the trailer park) and I can wear jeans, which I'm opting to do today. However, I had to get the rest of the outfit out of the dry cleaners (plus my husband's suits) -- thus the pricey day.

An interesting tidbit....

February 5th, 2008 at 08:00 am

At the end of my pricey day yesterday, I went to the free financial class that I signed up for. The most interesting thing that I learned there was that the average American family has $29,000 saved up for retirement. Based on that, I figure Iím ahead of the gameÖ.

Grocery savings

February 3rd, 2008 at 11:15 am

The grocery guy came. I got $86.23 in groceries for $65.25 and that includes delivery. Not bad.

I'm still not feeling great. The quesiness has subsided, but now I'm dizzy. Of course, that could be the remnants of the Advil PM that I took last night for my headache.

I promised Mini Me I'd take her to see the Hannah Montana movie today (even though she went to the concert), so we're headed off to lunch and a movie with my sister and brother-in-law. That ought to do wonders for my health....

Updated the numbers and barfing....

February 2nd, 2008 at 07:38 pm

I tallied my debt and savings for the month; and although my debt went down, so did my savings. It was all due to the stock market decline. Fortunately, it wasn't a whole bunch, but it was enough that I noticed.

I still have no idea what's in the various pension funds from our previous lives and I'm just as vague about the home equity. I need to get off my bum and look into that, but both will require a bunch of digging around and phone calls so it's not happening anytime soon -- especially considering that I feel like I'm coming down with botulism or ebola. My stomach has been upset all day and it's making grumbling sounds. I feel like I need to throw up. I think I have a fever. And I know it's just a matter of time before I start bleeding out of my eyeballs....

The big breakdown

February 2nd, 2008 at 05:57 pm

I decided to pay off one of my debts with the challenge money I got today. I then put the remaining $227.68 into savings.

I have a bunch of eBay money from January just sitting in PayPal right now that I don't know what to do with. eBay still hasn't taken out its fees even though it was supposed to happen at the end of January. I don't want to move that money until the fees are taken out. Assuming that's done sometime in the next week, I'm going to throw more of that money toward debt and savings.

I believe in following the one-third rule when extra money is "found." One-third goes to savings, one-third to debt and one-third to immediate needs. However, all my immediate needs are more than taken care of in my monthly spending plan and I'm trying to build up the new car fund faster so I'm fudging on that rule for now.

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....

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....

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......)

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!!!!

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.

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!

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. ...

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

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.

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!!!!

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...

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!

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....

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