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Letting go of a dream

October 9th, 2008 at 12:09 am

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.

Persistence pays off

October 2nd, 2008 at 02:17 am

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!!!!


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. ...


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.


Saved money on lunch but now I'm paying for it...

September 24th, 2008 at 06:40 pm

I made the mistake of opening an email that I got from Rubios this morning. Ever since then, I've been cravings a fish taco.

Although I have plenty of money left in my personal expense account for the month, I didn't want to waste gas by driving all the way to Rubios.

However, the craving kept gnawing at me, so I knew I had to do something quick to get over it.

My solution was to eat leftover mac and cheese from last night. As a result I now have massive heartburn.

Not a good thing... .

I might need to drive to the store for some Rolaids if I can't find some here soon.

A necessary evil

August 26th, 2008 at 07:46 pm

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.

Dragged myself to the post office and...

August 21st, 2008 at 05:58 pm

Mailed the eBay stuff, so I'm adding $190.59 to the Challenge, which brings my total to $11,404.99.

Of that money, $158.14 is going to the Vespa fund, so I'm now up to $297.79 and think I might be able to buy a tire now.

I'm still feverish and generally yucky all over, but I'm struggling to get some work done for the booming business today so I can go back to bed.

The only reason I left the house today is because the lunch lady sent my daughter home from school with a stamp saying she only had one lunch left on her account. Since I just wrote a check for lunches Monday and she's only eaten one lunch at school since she went back Tuesday, I figured she either bought lunch for her whole class or there was a huge mistake.

Rather than try to deal with it over the phone, I drove The Midge to school this morning and paid a visit to the lunch lady, who explained she just hadn't entered the check I wrote Monday into my daughter's account. Kind of ticked me off since I was on the verge of passing out and a school cafeteria was last on my list of places I wanted to be....

If only I didn't feel so bad...

August 20th, 2008 at 08:35 pm

I would run the rest of my eBay stuff to the post office, but I'm coming down with a cold, the flu or ebola (not sure which, but it's not pretty....)

Since today is the first full day of school for my daughter, I decided it would be my work-at-home-all-day-without-passing-GO-and-spending-$200 day (i.e. I didn't have plans to go anywhere or spend money). However, tomorrow I was planning on volunteering at the school so I figured I would mail my eBay stuff on the way, but then I woke up feeling bad and decided I should probably stay home again.

So basically I'm sitting on almost $180 in challenge money that I can't claim until I mail the eBay stuff.


Hey, but on a good note, I pulled our credit reports today and despite my attempts to muck them up with all that debt over there on the left I somehow managed not to.

And, of course, I didn't drive or spend money today (and with any luck won't be for the duration of the day since I'm now going to lay down with a bottle of Nyquil...)

Show me the money!

August 15th, 2008 at 04:41 pm

I'm slightly annoyed. Over the last two weeks, I've had numerous eBay auctions close and I've either not heard from the winners or they've said the money order is in the mail and I still have nothing to show for it a week later.

I try to be nice about it. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. But, my patience is running out.

Pay up people!

Oh, and as long as we're on the subject, a few clients of the booming side business are running behind on checks too.

What do I look like? Free-Work-Is-Us???? I don't think so. ...

There goes the furniture fund....

August 2nd, 2008 at 04:35 pm

My little Bichon is riddled with kidney stones and has to have surgery Monday morning or risk going into kidney failure. To pay for the $1,400 surgery, I'm using the contingency to the contingency fund and furniture fund (no new mattress for me this year...).

Oh, how I miss Hazel....

June 12th, 2008 at 02:55 pm

Some of you may recall that back when I was working the "office" job and building up the booming side business I had the good fortune of employing Hazel the Housekeeper for biweekly visits.

Now that I'm only working on the booming business -- and I'm technically "home" all day -- I feel like I should be able to clean my own house again. So today is the first day that I will attempt to pick up where Hazel left off. I am enlisting the help of the Midget to help with at least cleaning her room, but I'm back to "doing it myself" for the most part.

Did I mention that I hate cleaning the house?

OK, maybe not the whole house, but I do hate cleaning the bathrooms. And the windows. And the floors.

But, I don't mind saving the money I would have paid Hazel to clean my house for me. $180 a month buys a lot of lattes....

I'm going to keep telling myself this as I go to scrub the toilets now.

Frugal computing and commuting

May 20th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

As of today, the "office" job will be officially over (dancing a little jig here....).

Summer vacation starts Friday for Mini, though, so there won't be much sitting around at home working on the booming business for me (so much for those no drive days....)

This poses a little problem since I do have work that I need to get done and my laptop blew up last year. (I usually work on a desktop.)

Thankfully, I was able to resurrect an old laptop from the junk heap known as my office closet, and I'm sloooowwwwwly getting it up and running.

Slooooowwwwwly as in watching water boil slooooowwwwwly....

Part of the problem is that it wasn't mean to run anything above Windows 2000 and it's now running Vista.

I don't know enough about computers to know what -- if anything -- I can do to speed it up (or if it's worth it cost wise). But I do know summer will be over by the time this thing gets done processing one request.....

Price at the gas pump finally hit me.....

May 12th, 2008 at 09:17 pm

Because I only fill my car up every two weeks, I rarely notice the increase in gas prices. However, yesterday I filled it up and it took $60 in gas where just two months ago I remember it taking $40 in gas.

Thankfully, I rarely drive that far and quitting the "office" job means even less driving. Plus, my husband is taking the bus and train to work on a regular basis, so that's helping as well.

I just can't imagine paying that much for gas every week, which would be the case if I were working full time somewhere other than my home office....


April 23rd, 2008 at 06:50 pm

I'm having one of those weeks....

The other day -- the day I called in sick with vertigo -- my husband's car broke down in the middle of a major intersection near our house. He had Mini Me in the car with him so I ran over and got her and then we went to the nearby garage to wait for the tow truck to show up with my husband's car. A while later, in drives my husband. Apparently the car decided to start again -- but it would only run if my husband kept his finger on the ignition switch.

The mechanic looked at it and said the ignition switch or some do-hickey had to be replaced -- for $600 (thank you, car repair fund....).

Also that night, I realized our rice cooker, which I had dropped a few days ago, was broken. It still will cook the rice, but the plastic is cracked, there are all these wires sticking out of it and one of the legs is broken so I have to stick a plate under one side if I want it to be level. (Did I mention it bounced a few times when I dropped it?) So that'll need replacing sometime soon.

Then, yesterday, I realized why I had vertigo -- it's because my husband has shared his nasty cold with me and my ears, head, sinuses, chest, whole body are a mess now. But, like an idiot, I went to work at the "office" job anyway (since the full cold hadn't hit yet and I was at the moment feeling OK). Work itself wouldn't have been so bad if some crazy lady hadn't gone ballistic in the middle of the "office" right before I was scheduled to leave.

Said Crazy Lady has done this numerous times over the last few weeks, but never to this extent. My response is to let the person in charge deal with her, because I'm sorry but I'm not making enough money to deal with crazy people.

So, while I was calling the person in charge (who just happens to be a control freak), Crazy Lady got right in a coworker's face in a very confrontational, threatening manner. Coworker told her to back off or she was calling the cops. Crazy Lady didn't, so Coworker did and in the course of all this Control-Freak-Person-in-Charge shows up.

I then went about my business (figuring one more crazy lady/control freak wasn't going to help matters), but while standing there counting down the minutes until I was off Control-Freak-Person-in-Charge came over and whispered to me "I really think the person in charge should deal with this and I hope nobody calls the police."

I point out that Coworker is still on the phone with the police, who appear to be on their way. And then Control-Freak-Person-in-Charge whispered to me: "That's not the procedure...."

At this point, I almost went crazy-lady ballistic as well, but instead I ever so nicely told her to shove the procedure up her you-know-what and that if anyone feels threatened it is fully within their rights to call the police if they so please. Then I walked off to count my blessings that I'll soon be rid of the "office" job.

I thought that would be the end of it, but after four policemen hauled Crazy Lady out, Control-Freak-Person-in-Charge came over to me and said "I'm not second guessing anyone." To which I replied that she was doing just that the second she whispered her little procedure comment to me and shame on her for putting someone's safety before procedure.

She said she didn't know what to say to me and I said "What about 'sorry'?" She then looked at me all befundled and wandered off to dwell on how to control the rotation of the Earth on its axis.

I'm still waiting for an apology. I figure I won't get one. But I do figure I'll be hearing from Control-Freak-Person-in-Charge and the real freaks in charge at the "office" job about this little incident sometime between now and the end of my tenure there.

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that should have been said to any of us worker bees by Control-Freak-Person-in-Charge was: "Is everyone OK?"

That's my story and I'm sticking to it and I dare one of those "office" bosses to question me on this one!

(And this is why I am the best CEO of ME!!!!)

Another challenge addition and car trouble

April 22nd, 2008 at 03:19 am

I got $3 for doing a survey, so I'm putting that toward the challenge. The new total is $8,929.33.

My husband's car died on the way home tonight. He thinks it's something to do with the electrical system and is an "easy" fix (i.e. cheap). I hope he's right because shopping for a car right now sounds about as appealing as getting a root canal.....