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Archive for January, 2007

New Credit Score

January 31st, 2007 at 05:11 pm

I checked my credit report last night and my credit score has gone up 23 points to 786. That's not the highest its ever been which was 803, but its the highest its been in a good long while, so I'm pretty happy with it.

I want to keep it pretty high, as we are still hoping to buy a new to us car at the end of this year and I want to stay in the excellent range.

Auction Update

January 31st, 2007 at 05:06 pm

Our auction on ebay is now up to $154! And it doesn't close until midnight Sunday. Three people are bidding and four people are watching. Pretty good first time experience, I think. Just $48 to go until we hit the amount I was hoping to bring in with these upgrades.

Lightspeed was Fast!

January 30th, 2007 at 10:23 pm

Well, as promised, Lightspeed had the money in my paypal account by the end of the next business day. I transferred it to my CU so it should show up on Friday. That is $18 received so far this month for my vacation fund.

Pending:
$5 from Your2Cents
$3 from ReadRevenue

I'm about 2 days out from cashing out at Dayslook. It'll be my first time cashing out with them so hopefully everything goes fine. It's a $5 cash out. I'm also 2 days out from cashing out at ReadRevenue again, although I don't think I will cash out until I find out what is going on with their system. I'll just keep building it up for awhile.

Do They Think My Time's Not Important?

January 30th, 2007 at 02:47 pm

I would guess yes. Doctor's office finally called back at 2:40 and do you think I actually got to talk to the doctor? Noooooooo. They just rescheduled my appointment for Thursday morning. So I waited around 4 hours for them to reschedule the appointment. Now why couldn't they have done that in the first place and not messed up my entire day?

Well, on the bright side of things, that makes it a no spend day after all. But I'm still aggravated.

Our First Auction

January 30th, 2007 at 02:05 pm

Boy, I'm just a busy little posting beaver today, aren't I?

DH held off on putting his 2 Alaska Airlines first class upgrades on ebay until last night. I thought he was going to do it sooner, but this way the auction can run for a week, end on Sunday and be mailed out quickly the next day.

It's doing pretty well. It's already up to $102.50 with six days to go. We're hoping to get $200 for it, but being guarranteed slightly over $100 already is pretty darn good. DH has seen them go for as high as $250 for a pair.

Whatever we end up with is going to go straight into building the Emergency Fund back up.

Habits: When Bad Ones Become Good Ones

January 30th, 2007 at 01:19 pm

I've been thinking about little habits I have that save me money even though that was not the intention, it just turns out to be the benefit.

For example, my car has a delay on the lights. I can set it anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes, and that is how long they will stay on after the car is turned off before they switch themselves off.

For years now I have had it set on the 3 minute delay because that is approximately how long it takes me to get everyone and all their stuff out of the car and up to the front porch and get the door unlocked and get inside. So I don't have to leave the porch light burning all day long if we leave in the morning, knowing we won't be back until after dark.

Now in the beginning this was just a bad habit of mine to forget to turn on the porch light, but now I consider it a good habit that saves a bit on the electric bill.

Anyone else have this sort of habit that unintentionally saved them some money?

Best Laid Plans

January 30th, 2007 at 11:51 am

Well, my whole plan for the day has been shot. The doctor's office called and cancelled my appointment for some reason or other and said that the doctor will call me "sometime" today to do a phone appointment. Couldn't give me a time, of course, so basically I either have to wait around all day for the phone to ring or say screw it and go do what else I had planned to do. And with Murphy's Law being what it is, I'll be outside waiting for the school bus when he finally calls. Frustrating and annoying.

Plans for Today

January 30th, 2007 at 10:32 am

1. Go to the doctor.
2. Possibly go to the pharmacy depending on what news I get at the doctor.
3. Stop by Michael's and get their monthly calendar as I am interested in taking a jewelry making class. If I like it I may consider trying to make some stuff for profit.
4. Go to Costco. I decided to bite the bullet and keep the Costco membership, but I am going to have to get a new card because my lost one is just not turning up.
5. Deposit my $8 check from ACOP into my vacation fund at the credit union.
6. Pick up organic milk and some organic lunch meat for school lunches.

So it will definitely be a spend day, no way around that today.

Survey Earnings

January 29th, 2007 at 06:40 pm

I did a 300 point and a 200 point survey today at Lightspeed that put me over the top on my points, so I was able to cash out for a $10 check, sent to paypal, supposedly by the end of tomorrow's business day. We'll see. The last time I had enough points to cash out there they sent a check in the mail.

I am still waiting on ReadRevenue, which is driving me crazy. At least when TinklyCash went on the fritz, they told us why. Sigh. If I hadn't had such a good exerpience with ReadRevenue, I would have given up on them after this. If I haven't gotten my money by 2/13, which will make it a month, then I will no longer use it anymore.

Dinner Plans

January 29th, 2007 at 03:15 pm

I'm torn about dinner tonight. I know I could just make something simple like spaghetti and meatballs, something that I don't have to babysit if I put the meatballs in the micro. But I am still so tired and even that sounds like a huge production.

I have to go buy milk anyway so I'm trying to talk myself down from getting a pizza while I'm out. It's only $6 for a large pepperoni, but then again, its $6 that really does not need to be spent. The problem with being sick is that my resistance to spending money goes way down. There is just so much ease, or at least there is a perceived ease to getting take out.

If I didn't need milk, I wouldn't even drive down to the store as it requires more effort than I really feel like putting out there. Oh, I'm alert enough, its not like it would be dangerous for me to drive the 1.2 miles to get there, but I'm just really lethargic. Haven't done my treadmill since last Wednesday.

I do have a doctor's appointment for tomorrow. I'm kind of glad I couldn't get in today, so I could get some more sleep while the kids were at school.

Beautiful Wedding on a Small Budget is Possible

January 29th, 2007 at 01:25 am

Someone else wrote a big rant about the cost of weddings and I was going to leave this as a reply but as it got so long, I decided to just make it my own blog entry.

I had a beautiful, gorgeous church wedding with about 60 people. My mother and father's gift to me for the wedding was my $500 dress. The dress was exquisite and I couldn't have been any happier in Vera Wang. My in-laws gift to us was the cost of the church rental, with the accompanying wedding planner whether we wanted her or not, and the kitchen clean up crew for approximately $500. I did spend $119 on a veil. I could have made a perfectly good veil for $20, but I fell in love with this one and paid for it in cash. I borrowed the hoop skirt slip thing that holds the dress out poofy from my SIL. My shoes were $10 white ballet shoes.

What did I spend (pre-paid by the way) on: I spent $750 on photographs. I'd seen what an amateur photographer had done to my SIL's wedding and I felt this was an appropriate splurge. We had a long enough engagement that the photo package was paid for long before the wedding took place. To this day, nearly 12 years later, I do not regret that.

I paid $100 for silk flowers and florist's tape. My wedding colors were burgandy and teal, which would have been hard to find in real flowers and cost about $400 to have prepared. I checked out every video tape and book in the library on how to arrange wedding flowers that they had and I learned how to do it. I put together two massive bouquets for either side of the altar, that stood on 2 $10 rented pedestals. I also made a large swag that went over the fireplace in the reception hall in the church basement and two of the ushers were charged with bringing the vases and pedestals down to the reception after the wedding was over to make them do double duty.

I did my own bouquet and that of my two attendants, did the mothers' corsages and all of the boutinierres for the men, buying a package of pins with a pearl like head for pinning them with for $2. I used about $30 worth of white ribbon (not from the bridal section, where it was much more expensive) and $5 worth of burgandy ribbon leftover from Christmas, to add finishing touches to the flowers and to make pew bows for the first ten pews, every other row (which I also learned from a library video.

We rented two candlelabras from the rental place for $10 each that held 24 candles each, each box of 12 candles cost $2, so $8 for candles. We are still using those white candles nearly 12 years later during power failures. I bought a unity candle at Micheal's for $12. The preacher we paid $50 and the pianist was $20 to play Moonlight Sonata during the lighting of the unity candle and to play the actual Here Comes the Bride Music. We used a CD with Pachabel's cannon in D for the processional, and we played a song that was special to us, also on CD. Both CD's we already owned.

We actually paid for the rental of the groomsmens tuxedos and had a coupon, 3 for the price of 2. So DH got his and the 2 others for $100. We also bought the fabric for the bridesmaids' dresses, a lovely teal satin, and my mother sewed them. They were simple and forgiving yet elegant, as my SIL was quite pregnant and my other attendant was also a bit larger. They were designed to be dresses that could be worn again, as perhaps to a banquet or another wedding as a guest. The material, pattern, and thread cost $70 and the girls bought their own shoes together. The flower girl dress was her Christmas dress, and it was burgandy and she wore her regular white patent leather shoes.

We got our wedding cake from the local grocery store. Instead of buying a wedding cake we got a 25th wedding anniversary design. It was completely white and very elegant, 3 tiers and one sheet cake, simple white cake with white frosting and frosting as the filling. The store set it up for us, and the cake cost $100. Comparable wedding cakes in the same design book cost $300. We had bought a cake topper for $15 at a craft store and put it on ourselves after the store people left.

We mostly used the church's dishes for the reception, though we did use my grandmother's punch bowl and the cake serving set I had been given at my bridal shower, as well as two champagne glasses also given at the shower. We used a $2 bottle of sparkling cider for our wedding toast. We had coffee, tea, punch, nuts and mints. The wedding had been at 2 so that people would eat lunch before the came and the reception was done by 5 as we had a reservation to make for our honeymoon, so people didn't need to eat a meal there anyway. We spent around $30 and most of that was the price of the can of coffee and the nuts. No fancy dinner, no big dancing extravaganza.

Decorations downstairs included 6 packages of streamers and 2 packages of balloons in the wedding colors, 2 teal paper tablecloths for $30, engraved wedding napkins $25 for 100 when we bought our wedding invitations at the same mail order catalog for $100. Aside from the punch bowl of my grandmother's we used a five branched silver candelabra with candles from upstairs that my husband and I and my SIL and BIL had given as a gift to my in-laws for their 25th wedding anniversary. SIL had used it at her wedding, too.

So the grand total for my wedding was $1646 out of pocket, $2646 if you count the gifts of the church and the dress form our parents. Oh, and add in the price of the book How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget, $4 used at the used book store. $2650. A beautiful wedding with not one thing I would have changed, all for less than $3000, and everything prepaid with cash.

Everyone told me what a beautiful wedding it was, how they were sure it must have cost a fortune. I just smiled at my DH and we kept our secret.

Yesterday and Today

January 28th, 2007 at 09:04 pm

Yesterday was game day and as usual, Rose's team got trounced. It just is hard to get any rebounds when 4 out 5 players on the opposing team are a head taller than the tallest player on your team.

I emailed the head coach last night and I told him that next year they need to divide the teams up more evenly between ages and grades and experience and lack of experience and height because when you have one team from your school that is beating everyone by 30 points or more and the other one has barely managed to win 1 game all season, there is a huge inequality and it makes the losing team very dispirited every week. I don't know if he will do anything about it, but I'll be a big pain about it at the start of next season to at least be heard on the issue.

Rose got fouled on badly and got pushed into another player who's elbow went right into her temple. She was hurting too bad to even take her free throws and she's good at those, almost always makes them in practice. Another girl got slammed in the face and her tooth cut through her lip and was bleeding. She couldn't take her free throws either but also had to have a sub. Same person fouled them both. She got pulled two fouls later, thank goodness.

We packed our own snacks yesterday so no money was spent at the vending machines. The kids left the game with my parents and I came home to rest. Which I did do some, but then I got to writing and 26 pages later it was 3 a.m. That's really good for my health. But when stuff starts writing itself, I tend to go with it, because you never know when the muse is going to leave.

I made a promise to myself that I was going to write 365 pages this year, whether it was good or not, the habit needs to be gotten back into. And blogging doesn't count! And neither do outlines. That doesn't mean I have to write a page a day, I just need to hit my page count by year's end.

I went back and read the stuff over this afternoon and corrected all the typos and grammatical errors that weren't intentional, and I was really pleased with it, as sometimes middle of the night writing turns out to be less coherent than other times. In any case, its going in the "write" direction. Sorry, couldn't resist the pun.

Today I went in and picked up my kids and got gas. I used $30 of my gas money. It was down to $2.55 a gallon. I didn't go to Costco where it might have been cheaper because I can't find my Costco card and I didn't really want to go all the way across town, either. My card expires at the end of this month anyway and I'm not sure I will renew it. It's a hard decision, especially since they raised the fee.

Mom got me some eggs from the organic egg farm when she went out to get some for herself, so I have four dozen fresh eggs in my fridge. She cleaned them out between us. So that cost $6.

I got really fed up with a rude person today, and kind of let them have it in my own understated way. I always try to be polite, even when what I really want to do is be less than polite, to put it politely. Some folks are clueless and no matter what you do or say, they shall remain clueless. But such is life when you are dealing with people who don't have an ounce of common sense or consideration for others.

I'm going to try to see the doctor tomorrow if I can drag myself out of bed. Or more accurately not fall back into bed once I get the kids off to school. Or at least make an appointment for Tuesday if necessary. I am tired of being tired and not well.

I did a survey this morning and have a $5 check coming from Your2Cents. I also took a prequalifying survey for ACOP but I don't know if I'll get it as they asked about what type of TV service we have and we don't, so that's probably a no. I didn't make the one with the product trial I wanted as it was supposed to have started the 24th. Oh, well, these things are hit and miss. I've gotten two offers this month from Vindale but I just don't know if I want to do those anymore.

I'm still waiting on ReadRevenue to pay out from the 1/13 cash out. I'm not sure what is wrong but I heard from another one of the PTR places that they were having problems connecting with paypal due to an earthquake and dislocated cables, and since both are Asian Island based that's probably what the deal is. So it will most likely get straightened out eventually.

Payday & Ramblings of a Fever-Stricken Mommy

January 27th, 2007 at 01:46 am

Today, well technically yesterday, was payday. It was such a relief to finally have money again. I really hate paycheck to paycheck and I swear some day I will be free of that leash. It may take 10 years but I will be free of it!

I am so exhausted all the time right now. I wish I knew what was wrong with my system. Is it possible to get mono more than once in your life? Because I had that in 8th grade and that is the closest thing to how I feel right now. All I want to do is sleep. After the kids went to school today I went back to sleep and did not get up again until it was time to go out and meet the school bus. This was on top of a full night's sleep.

The kids wanted to go out and play and since it was sunny and reasonably warm out at 47 degrees I let them go until 5, which is when it gets on towards dark. So while they were gone I managed to pull myself together long enough to check online to see what the amount of the direct deposit was and to write out some bills.

$42.92--Homeowner's Insurance
$41.73--Phone
$70.94--Cell Phone
$93.74--Citi MC
$93.00--Puget Sound Energy
$35.00--MB Youth Baseball--T-ball (Tobias)
$45.00--MB Youth Softball--Fastpitch (Rose)
$100.00-Cash out for gas
$312.00-MBNA MC

I still have to pay the house mortgage ($400), the 1/2 year dues for the homeowner's association ($125), set aside money for 1/2 the water bill due at Feb's end ($56), 1/2 for garbage ($25), put aside $50 for propane (still haven't been billed yet) and $100 for property tax savings out of this check.

Mortgage and Homeowner's dues are due on the 1st. I would have paid the mortgage today but we didn't make it into town before the CU closed. The drive-thru is open until 7 but they won't take mortgage payments, so I just could get the cash out for gas. And there is no one in the office on Fridays to accept the dues, either. So I will do those most likely on Monday.

Oh, I went to two grocery stores and spent $37.16 at one and $86.44 at the other one. I did make one wasteful food purchase. They had Marie Calendar TV dinners on sale 4/$10 so I bought four spaghetti dinners. To me, that is the ultimate in wasteful food spending because it is the absolute easiest, cheapest meal to make from scratch. But I am sick and I wanted my comfort sghetti, so I did it.

Usually when I buy something from Marie Calendar it is just something I don't normally make myself or if I do, it involves a tremendous amount of effort, like pot pies or beef stew. And if I hadn't been limited by the amount of freezer space I knew I had left, I might have bought more. I guess I need to add don't go food shopping sick to the list of don't go food shopping hungry or with the children. I did all three tonight. My bad.

My oh-so-wonderful mother is going to take the kids home with her after Rose's basketball games to spend the night. I love my Mommy. She took one look at me tonight and offered. I am very glad because I am just not operating on all 8 cylinders. Actually I'm not sure I'm operating on all of 1 cylinder at the moment. Took my temperature: 100.5. Oh, joy. I hope this isn't the start of walking pnuemonia, come to think of it. That I don't want to deal with. At all.

Overwhelmed

January 25th, 2007 at 07:29 pm

Right now I am feeling very overwhelmed by finances. Just am. Not sure why. Well, maybe it is that I have been spending down savings when what I really want to do is be building it up. But bills must be paid when they come due and you know, I really wish they would come at a more convenient time. Like 3 years from now or something. Big Grin

I guess I am tired of scraping. I know this year is going to get better. Eventually. But it was supposed to be better now. DH isn't the least bit bitter over what his work pulled, but I am. I'm trying not to be because it is far from useful to feel that way. It's just that when you think you've finally come to the light at the end of the tunnel and then you find out its just an emergency flare and you're only halfway out.

I know I'll feel much better when I can start contributing more than $10 a week to savings again. I'm just letting all the negativity overwhelm me. And that's just no good. I am grateful I had a savings to spend down during this long stretch of no paycheck.

Tomorrow is payday and I know getting everything taken care of will improve my feelings. At least I hope so. I usually have a very positive upbeat outlook and I don't like being Judy Attitudy (bad attitude), I like being Sunny Bunny (good attitude). Sorry, kidspeak at my house. Rudy Attitudy isn't around yet (he's got bad manners and an attitude).

I am also exhausted. My sleeping pattern is way off.

Half

January 25th, 2007 at 06:01 pm

Well, I bit the bullet and listed some books on half.com today. 13 books. And I have a big box of other books still to list. I don't have high hopes for anything except maybe the home school books that we never wrote in. Still, one has to try.

I will be going through my movies, too. I have some VHS ones that I'm not interested in keeping, and some DVDs, also. I think we even may have some old video games and I know we have a bunch of preschool computer games the kids have outgrown.

DH is going to list his first class upgrades on E-bay tonight. They tend to go at $200 per pair. You can only list those once a month, so he is listing a pair this month and then one next month. So hopefully we'll bring in close to $400 for each sale. He only gets four paper upgrades a year, the rest our electronic and cannot be transferable. I wish they had more paper ones like they used to, but having any to sell at all I am grateful for.

Everything helps. We really need to go through a lot of our stuff and see what we can sell. I'd like to get rid of our clutter and get some money from the process.

I also have some things I am going to put on our local Craig's list now that we have one. But I will wait until March when it is more spring-like. Some outdoor toddler equipment like a castle slide, a car that you sit in and push with your feet, a climb through tunnel and an aluminum swingset now that we have the big wooden play structure. We also have a table that turns into an easle and some v-tech toddler toys and an Intellitable. Things I just don't want to mail or give away. I suppose I can list the v-tech stuff now, though.

Interesting Article

January 24th, 2007 at 12:22 am

I just finished reading an article comparing our nation's spending to people who spend without a thought to the future. It was very insightful.

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/JubaksJournal/StateOfTheNationBroke.aspx

I'm not sure how to post it as an actual link. I'm supposed to be able to, but it doesn't. I suppose there is a trick to it, but oh, well. Copy and paste. It's worth the read.

Meatloaf without bread or crackers

January 23rd, 2007 at 07:52 pm

As promised, my gluten-free meatloaf, which also happens to be low-carb or high protein for those who eat that way.

1.5 lbs harmburger
1 bunch of green onions, chopped, both green and white parts
3 heaping tbsp garlic, minced
4 large eggs
1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

Mix green onion, garlic and hamburger (torn into chunks). Mix in eggs and cheeses. Mix with hands for best consistency. Oil an oven safe dish lightly (helps with clean up later on). Put meatloaf in oven safe dish. Cook at 375 for an hour. Let stand about 10 min to allow the grease that rises to the top to reabsorb. If you blot it up the meatloaf will end up dry. This can also be made in a muffin tin for individual sized meatloaves, but will dry out quicker so check on it after 45 min. It can also be fried into patties but is kind of fall aparty that way.

Garlic is very essential to the flavor of this recipe, if left out it will be quite bland.

Salmon Patties

January 23rd, 2007 at 12:28 am

I so did not want to make a big production over dinner tonight. I had a huge case of the lazies. So I made salmon patties. I don't use bread crumbs or crackers like many people do, I use parmesan. Everything was on hand in the pantry or fridge So here's my recipe.

3 6 ounce cans of pink salmon
3 scallions, chopped, both white and green parts
2 jumbo eggs
3 tsp minced garlic (from the jar)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (not from the green can, freshly grated)

Mix it all up, form it into patties, fry in olive oil over medium heat (turning once) until done. Simple, easy, took all of 5 minutes, if that, to prepare and not much more than that to cook. Add a can of green beans and you have a meal. Well, we have a meal, we eat big at lunch, light at dinner. But I suppose you could add a roll and a fruit if you wanted or some other sides.

No Money Out

January 22nd, 2007 at 08:17 pm

Today was a no spend day, my first in quite a while. I probably won't actually spend anything else until Friday, which is payday, and its been a long one coming, I tell you.

I've got about $30 left and I owe my change jar money and my savings a lot of money. I haven't had a chance to put my travel money into the bank yet.

People are bugging me about what I want for my birthday in February and there is only one thing and it is $80 and I'm trying to convince them to go in on it together so I don't end up with a bunch of junk I don't need or want, but get what I really want. But noooooo, they want to get me something unique, not something with someone else. Mothers and MILs.

First Earning of the New Year

January 22nd, 2007 at 05:50 pm

I recieved an $8 check today from ACOP for the online family food diary I kept for them. I am still waiting to hear if I qualify for a product trial or not. It only pays $5, but the use of the product is at least a $5 value.

I sent ReadRevenue an email Friday as the $3 payout has still not shown up. It isn't there today, either. I wonder what's up with them, they are ususally so prompt and I have never had a problem with them before. I cashed out on 1/13, so its long past time when it should have been here. If it doesn't show up by tomorrow, I will send them another email.

The Pantry Tango

January 21st, 2007 at 10:42 pm

I have been really sick of the fact that all of my casserole dishes, glass baking pans, glass bowls, divided plates with lids, bamboo steamer, and microwave safe dishes barely fit into the cupboard that I have designated for them and quite often will jump off the shelf if you open the door too fast.

And I've been grumping about all the canned goods that are on the floor level shelves that I have to get down on my hands and knees to see what I have in there.

And I've been irritated that all of the juice is way up high on the top shelves. Well, I decided to finally do something about it.

I put the canned goods in the cupboard where the dishes used to be, put baking items where the juice used to be, put the dishes where the baking items were, and moved the juice to the floor level shelves, where the kids can get them out easily. I don't know why I didn't do this before.

Now I can easily see how much and what I have to work with and it is right at mid-level, so no reaching and no hunkering down. I may make some more adjustments, but at least now I know I won't be running out of tuna, salmon, green beans, corn, or tomato sauce anytime soon. And I can easily see what I am low on.

No more buying stuff that I think we are out of and not buying stuff that I think we have too much of and being wrong. That should save some on the grocery bill and make this week's menu planning a breeze. Which I oughta do tonight, but probably won't do until morning.

Disneyland Plans

January 21st, 2007 at 06:30 pm

I am going to a very small convention this spring of women who have the same disease as I do, that will also include 4 days at Disneyland, which I think I have mentioned in here a bit ago.

I just spent a couple of hours going through all of the menu options at all of the restaurants in the park. I have to be very careful what I eat to keep my condition under control, maintaining a strict balance between low glycemic vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein. The ratio is about 50% low glycemic vegetables, 40% healthy proteins, and 10 percent carbohydrates (preferrably complex ones). This is not the same as a low-carb diet, it is what is known as a controlled carb diet, which is far away from the high protein/low carb thing.

Well, the menu changes over the last two years have really made an enormous change at Disneyland and this is actually going to be easy. Plus, going there with other women with the same condition who all have to eat the same way as I do, makes yielding to temptation a huge peer pressure no-no.

On top of that, I will be avoiding everything with white sugar and white flour in it. I don't think I can avoid the chemicals and food additives, I'm hoping I can avoid trans fats, but I can do the best I can with what I got. And what I got is going to be way easier now.

I am going to make up a list of my preferred eating places with the choices I want, and all of their prices, so I can make up an appropriate budget for food expenses. I already know how much the hotel fee is going to be with tax, and because I will have a roommate both at the convention and the hotel by Disney, that will be cut in half.

It's going to be weird going there without my husband, but I'll still have a blast, with just a teensy twinge of guilt that I will squash down like a bug. Some of these women are like sisters to me, the good kind of sister, not the evil one. LOL They supported me through all of the surgeries and all of the trials I have had and just being with them is one of the most nurturing things I can do for myself. And the fact that half the time will be spent at Disneyland is just extra cheese on the skinny crust pizza. What? You were thinking icing on the cake? LOL I can't do that too often anymore.

I tried to lobby for us all just going to Disney for a whole week, but sigh, they want to have the learning stuff, too. And I do, too, but...its Disneyland! I'm just a big kid when it comes to that place.

At least the entire trip is being paid for in cash. I haven't gone the last two years so I don't feel guilty about going this year, especially since its in California. I know I should probably spend the money on debt, but like we were talking about in another blog, sometimes Mom has to do something for Mom. DH gets correspondence school, something he wants, and I get this. And $2000 still goes to debt.

And airfare is free with DH's miles. First Class even. As long as we don't have to pay for it, I am too spoiled to fly coach. But I am too frugal to actually buy a First Class ticket.

Looking at the Numbers

January 20th, 2007 at 04:14 pm

Well, I added up the numbers today. The real numbers, not just what I think they are from memory. Having that one card at such a high interest rate for so long really hurt us. I am glad it is under that now, down to 6.9%, but wow did it mess us up while it was high.

Credit card totals:

$19,458.14 Bank of America Visa
18,666.97 BoA/MBNA Master Card
+ 5,940.00 Citi Master Card
-------------
$44,065.11 Total Credit Card Debt

I thought it was a lot lower than that, but nope, its not.

$44,065.11 Total CC debt
35,251.24 House Mortgage
-----------
$79,316.35
147,354.13 Medical Debt (Mortgage on parent's house at 5.75%
-----------
226,670.48 Total Debt

Scary number isn't it? But we started 2005 with $250,000 worth of debt, so we have made progress. And we will be knocking off $2000 more when we get our tax return.

And our 401K is at $42,314.20 and we have a meager amount in savings, so even though our net worth is totally in the red, we are doing okay in the retirement department. Thank goodness.

Facing the numbers was really helpful to me. It has shifted my mindset over one more degree. We really have to crack down on the things that waste money. Like eating out, which we still do too much of even though we have cut way back. This is our Latte Factor (even though I don't drink coffee and DH barely does and when he does he makes it himself, and its espresso).

On Monday I am going to the library and finding a good Mexican cookbook and a good Chinese food cookbook. And I am going to figure out how to make our favorite eating out foods at home.

401K Update

January 20th, 2007 at 03:25 pm

Our 401K statement came in the mail today. Our new balance is $42,312.20.
This is an increase of $858.20 for the month of December. Not as much as usual but still decent, considering what the stock market did last month.

On Year to Date for 2006
_________________________
$32,951.79 Beginning Balance
2,434.08 Employee Contribution
1,936.06 Employer Contribution
3,638.37 Market Gains
1,527.49 Other transactions
-173.59 Fees
-----------
$42,314.20

**********************

$9,362.41 Total increase in 401K for 2006

Not bad for only contributing 3% of our income. I wonder what would happen with 4%? Well, maybe we can up it later in the year and find out.

Downs and Ups

January 20th, 2007 at 01:18 am

Well, the financial down of DH's work backing out of his promised raise has been replaced with some fairly good up news. Maybe. Do you all remember back when I was talking about DH applying for another job with the same company, that he was their top choice until a last minute resume came in and knocked him out of the running?

Well, that guy was fired because despite his fancy master's degree, he couldn't actually do the work. His idea of doing the work was "Show me what you got and I'll okay it." He was the one who was supposed to do the actual work and couldn't get it through his head that he wasn't being paid to sit on his tush and okay things. He was being paid to do the work himself.

So they've started training DH for the position. Chances are he'll start in the next four to six months. If they follow through on what they said this time. And this promotion would come with a big raise, way bigger than anything he could ever get at his current job. We're talking $1000 a month more, net, not gross, and that is just the starting wage of that job. The wage it tops out at is, get this, $600 a day for a ten hour day. Yes, a day. Oh, and you get that whether you work the full ten hours or not, if you work more than 5, or $300 if you work less than 5. Even if you only work one hour that day and then fly out. Of course, that's if you have a master's degree or 10 years of experience.

So he's not near that, but he is going to start a new set of correspondence classes to finish his B.A. and then go on to get his Master's. We have to come up with the initial downpayment, which we'll use his safety bonus for, but work will reimburse him at the end of each course, 100% for A's and 90% for B's, up to $4000 a year. DH has always gotten A's except 1 B from everything he has done so far, so I don't doubt he will do well enough to get fully reimbursed.

Yes, the company pulled a nasty with the other thing, but they've really stepped up to the plate now. It sounds more like they didn't want to give him a raise now because they figure he's going to be getting a big one with the promotion, even though his direct bosses wanted him to have one. If they follow through on this, it'll solve a lot of problems. With an extra $1000 a month, we could be out of credit card debt in less than 4 years and have our mortgage paid off in 6. I do not want to get my hopes up again, but yeah, its something pretty great, possibly.

So cross your fingers for us and say prayers if you do that sort of thing, cause I sure would love to know there is a real end to this debt tunnel.

Hope: When you get to the end of your rope and find a tire swing.

Crockpot Soup

January 19th, 2007 at 07:30 pm

Last night I threw two chicken legs in the crockpot with half an onion, chopped, 5 tbsp of minced garlic, 6 stalks of celery with leaves, 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper and 1 tbsp of freshly ground kosher sea salt and filled it to the top with water. I set it on high for 4 hours and then on low for 12 hours, then it set to warm.

Then I drained it through a collander, set aside the chicken, dumped the veggies, put the broth back into the crockpot, added a large diced carrot, 2 stalks of diced celery and 1/3 of a bag of egg noodles I found in the cupboard. Set the timer for an hour, than picked the chicken off the bones and shredded it and put it back in the soup. Voila, chicken noodle soup with very little effort and no constant watching that the pot doesn't boil over.

Of course, salt may need to be added to taste on the finished product. My kids didn't think it needed it, but I did, so I just added it to my bowl.

Very cheaply made and I have 2 meals worth of leftovers. Yummy.

Disappointment

January 18th, 2007 at 05:47 pm

I was expecting this. I'm not happy about it, but just from the way things were going, I figured this would happen. The company went back on its word and won't be giving DH a raise. Since he didn't get it in writing they claim they have no record of it. Stingy company, they made record profits last year. It's annoying me.

But I figured it was where things were going. I just had a sense of it.

I am just going to have to redouble my efforts. I have considered maybe getting a part time job, but I really don't want to. Maybe it is time I seriously looked into mystery shopping. Definitely time to start listing stuff on Half.com and ebay. And I'll definitely go and cancel Curves. Sigh. That's okay, it is good to have the decision made. My contract is long over.

DH's boss did say if they could get written proof of how much this job pays at other companies, than the company would at least consider it. Somehow I doubt that, too.

Plasma

January 18th, 2007 at 05:41 pm

Well, I checked out the requirements to donate plasma and I can be on blood pressure medication and still donate blood as long as my blood pressure is no higher than 160/90. Since with the meds it runs at 120/80 or thereabouts I am fine. And I can be taking HRT, too, that's not a problem. And the anti-D that I take on occassion for sleep (low dose for sleep, quadruple the dose if taking as an anti-D) is also allowed.

Now I just need to finish up this course of anti-biotics that I am on, wait 72 hours and I can donate. I will call them next week to see about setting stuff up. They require a medical screening and physical exam before they okay you. Since I have never been to a country that's disallowed, never been promiscuous or used drugs, and have never had an STD or transfusion, I should be good to go.

I hope so. Even if I can't max out at $200 a month, even half that would be helpful. And DH should qualify as well and he could donate when he is at home, so that would bring in a little extra.

Financial Plans

January 18th, 2007 at 02:45 pm

I finished re-reading The Automatic Millionaire last night and tonight while Rose is at basketball and Tobias is doing his Headsprout lesson for reading practice, I will start working through the workbook.

Once I do that, I will probably buy the Finish Rich Workbook, too, but I may not be quite ready for that. I think that one is more into teaching about buying stocks and bonds and IRA set ups and all that while the workbook that I bought is about getting out of debt.

Chase (a card I have now with no balance) has offered me a 4.9 percent interest rate for the life of the loan which I am thinking about taking. I have one card that is at 6.9 percent until March of 2008 and another card that is at 15.9 percent which is a fixed rate air miles card. The 6.9 card loses its rate in March and goes up to 17 percent.

So I think I will use Chase to transfer the balance on the card that is going to go up to 17% and then focus on aggressively paying down the air miles card. The balance on the 17% card is almost $19,000 and the limit on the Chase card is $16,700. We will be taking $2000 of our tax return to pay on that card and with the two payments I have to make between now and then, the balance should be under $16,700, so that card will be empty and then we will cancel it.

I have been wanting to cancel it as it was an MBNA but got bought out by BOA and now I have three cards owned by BOA, which I don't like to have so many from one company. Once it is cancelled I will have one BOA VISA air miles card, one MBNA/BOA Master Card, one Chase VISA card and one Citi Master Card. The Citi card is the one at 6.9% and still has $2000 worth of credit line I can access at that same precentage, so if I need to I will transfer around a bit so I can stay with only 3 cards with a balance on them.

So for now, that is my plan.

Savings

January 18th, 2007 at 02:29 pm

Today is the day of the automatic deposit of $10 to savings. I am still on a holding pattern as far as sending money to ING goes. I am waiting until 1/26 to send any money off, just to make sure I make it through this long stretch of no pay. I think I do have enough to make it through now, but I had to take quite a bit out of ING to make it this month.

I am glad I had it available, I just really want to get back to building it up again. But bills obviously had to come first.


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