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Archive for March, 2012

I Really Can't Do Math

March 31st, 2012 at 07:57 pm

What I was figuring would be $9 of interest after I paid off the MC turned out to be $32.04. Obviously I was very tired. But I've paid it today regardless, so it's fully paid off now.

The payment I made last night of $1490 isn't showing up as pending, but I did that really late at night so it should show as pending by tomorrow. It also isn't shown as being taken out of the checking account yet, so I'm sure it's just slow because of the weekend.

I have paid all the bills from now until the 20th of April, except the car payment and DH's life insurance. There is techinically enough in the checking account to pay that, but it would leave us with $50 for the week. Since it is spring break, and Mom thought that would be the best time to remodel our bathroom, we are having to be out of the house quite a bit this coming week. The workers are very loud and smelly (dust, mold, cigarette smell clinging to their clothes) so they are stirring up allergy issues. So we will wait until next payday to pay the car payment. It's not due until the 19th. Most of the money for it will still come from this payday, though.

As for DH's life insurance, it comes out on autopay in a day or two, but they change the rate every six months, it goes up a dollar and a bit or something. DH doesn't know what he did with the paper that came with the new amount, so I am waiting until it is deducted before I record the exact amount in the checkbook.

We will be renewing our Pacific Science Center Membership this week as we are going there one day this week. We also will be going again when the King Tut exhibit is there. We may also go down one day and do the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. Depends on how things go.

Yesterday was early release for the kids from school and so we went out to the house and finished packing. The only thing left to pack is the tools, the drywall installation stuff, and the cleaning supplies. On Wednesday DH and FIL will go out there and put up that final wall on the back of the shower.

Then we need to rent a small U-haul to move the last boxes and the stuff in the shed, like the table saw and the broken dresser beyond repair that needs to go to the dump, but can't fit in the van.

DH still needs to set up an appointment with ADT to come out and replace the alarm box that is cracked and set up an estimate on replacing the broken window pane. I need to vacuum but I can't do that until the boxes are out and then we need to hire someone to clean it. My mother insists she wants to do that, but I really don't think she will. I know I don't. I want to hire a service that cleans houses or apartments after renters leave so that it is really clean, not something like Merry Maids that leaves the illusion of clean, but doesn't really deep clean anything. Then we need to get someone in to do the rugs as well. All that before we can put the dumb thing on the market. This is what we get for procrastinating so long, but then again, my health wasn't up to it before now.

I Did It

March 31st, 2012 at 02:21 am

I wrote the check out today to pay off the Master Card. They haven't showed the payment online yet, even though they are supposed to by five if you pay it in person at the bank by 2 p.m. and we paid it at 11:30. It'll show tomorrow, though. I see that they've already added the interest in for those few days that weren't calculated yet. So the payment has hit the system. It's just not showing. Once it shows tomorrow I will then send in a quick electronic payment for the interest. It's about $9 or so. I didn't do the math.

One of the things that DH's father has done for him and his sister since he was a kid was have $10 automatically transferred to DH's savings account every week from FIL's paycheck. Well, almost 3 years ago, we told FIL we really didn't think he needed to be doing that. DH had gotten a very large raise and we were doing okay without and we thought they needed it more than we did.

Well, we told FIL we wanted to close the account but FIL said he thought it would be a good place for him to keep depositing to, but that he could use that money to go on vacation with after it had been saved up. It would be a place he couldn't get to it without DH physically going and getting it, so he wouldn't be tempted to spend it. Well, they got that big inheritance in February (the one where we got a much smaller portion) from DH's grandma, so they decided they didn't need the money in the account that they'd been saving. So today we got to have that money. It was $1490. I took that $1490 and made a payment to the BoA VISA today.

That brings the BoA VISA to $6160.90. Then on April 20th we will be able to put an additional $1500 on it, which brings it down to $4660.90. And we are transferring money out of the EF at ING to pay an additional $3500 on it, which will bring it down to $1160.90. Of course there will be interest in there, and there will also be a plane ticket charged, plus all the autopays, which will be approximately $1200, so that will put us at $2360.90. The $800 payment I have been making to the Master Card I will be able to make the following week, which will bring it down to $1560.90 by the end of April. Which means I'll have it paid off on May 19th! Less than 2 full months away and BoA will no longer own my soul. (Eh, except for the car payment). I really am excited about that, even if it does mean having the EF at only $1000 for a couple months.

Do you guys remember when I started how insurmountable this all seemed? It's been almost six years of hard and steady work, but we're doing it. It really can be done. Pretty soon I will be able to say NO MORE CREDIT CARD DEBT!

Ran the Numbers

March 30th, 2012 at 08:21 am

I ran the numbers tonight, and if I were to take out all but $1000 of the emergency fund we could come pretty close to having the BoA VISA paid off by the end of April. This would be on top of paying off the BoA Master Card tomorrow.

I think that we should do it. A part of me is very wary of having only $1000 in the EF. But...we'd have all the BoA cards paid off in full by the end of May then. Unless I scrimp really, really hard and then I might be able to do it by the first of May.

Then by the end of May we'd be able to save $2000 a month and I'd have the EF back again by the end of June. I like having an EF, but it almost seems silly at this point when it is only earning .8% and my credit card is at 11.4% Paying it all off means having our debt to income ratio fall beneath 45%, which is a magic number for some loans. Right now it's at 49%. Plus we'll also have made 2 payments on our car payment which will lower it even more.

If I do this it means come July we start saving for a house, and when we have enough, to get the really good loans, and we might get into a house before we know it.

Tomorrow we go out to the old house to pack up the very last of the stuff and do some cleaning. Then we can set up a time with the rug lady so she can spend the day steam cleaning the rugs. We might need to rent a small truck to get the last of the stuff moved, and things like the table saw. We'll leave the lawnmower there until the house sells so we can keep the lawn mowed.

I really want to put this thing on the market. DH and his father are going to put up the last wall in the bathroom that needed replacing on Wednesday and that's the last really big thing to do. We will sell it as is/where is. If you only sell as is there is room to negotiate for the buyer. If you sell as is/where is, it means that the sellers are not willing to put one more dime into it and you take it or leave it the way it is. We like as is/where is, because we won't get slapped with the buyers wanting us to put on a new roof or paint it or fix anything. We really mean we don't want to do anything more than we do.

I don't even care that much about how much it sells for so long as I end up with $20,000 over the remaining cost of the mortgage and any realtor fees. The last tax assessment valued it at $92,000 and I think our creditu union values it at $112,000, but we will put it on the market for $75,000 knowing that they can then get a bigger mortgage to do the repairs with if needed. And we'll even negotiate price. What we won't negotiate is us fixing things. We don't wanna.

Good Credit Card Offers?

March 29th, 2012 at 07:00 pm

It seems like all I'm seeing these days in the mail is offers for spending so much and getting so much cash back. What I don't seem to be seeing is the offer I really want, 0% interest for a year or six months. After tomorrow, we'll be down to between $6000 and $7000 in credit card debt at 11.4% interest. It's our BoA airmiles card so it also has a yearly fee of $75. Not too bad, considering how much DH flies, and he can get 3 to 4 free round trip coach tickets per year and several first class upgrades. But it will be the card with the balance on it.

What I really want is to just use that card for airfare, hotel, and other travel related expenses for his job, which will then be paid off in full each month so interest won't matter, and a new card with no interest that we can transfer the balance onto and pay off over the next six months. So are there any good card offers out there for the 0%? I really don't want Chase, as we have a history with them being (as my children say) jack donkeys, but any other bank (except BoA as they won't let you balance transfer between cards) would be fine.

Our last FICO score check had us at 780 and I imagine since we paid off $15,000 since we last checked it has gone up since then, so we would probably qualify for whatever is out there.

I'd appreciate anyone steering us in the right direction.

Today's Spending

March 28th, 2012 at 07:35 pm

I added .74 to the coin jar today.

I spent .50 on parking meters.

I spent $37.50 today, $30 for three types of the Boar's Head deli meats that we will divide up and freeze for DS's lunches for the next month and $7.50 for a bagel sandwich, small chips, and pickle spear for DS's lunch today as we were completely out of everything that he isn't allergic to and I was really, really behind on everything this morning and I had to pick DH up at the airport.

I went to the dentist at 11:30 to have some chips repaired and my portion was $68, so paid that, too.

I Guess Someone's Ears Were Burning

March 27th, 2012 at 07:48 pm

Well, I guess my rant paid off, because DH just called me to tell me that they called him 5 minutes ago and he has been fully excused (not even rescheduled) from jury duty! So no EF crippling time off from work, no debt repayment stall out, no worrying about the financial side of things, thank goodness! That takes about half the stress out of my system. Now if they would just contact me about mine, so I can know and plan, I would lose another 40%, and just be left with the normal 10% or so that is part and parcel with being a parent.

But the best part is I will have that Master Card paid off by the end of March! I can make the payment on Friday. Well, there will probably be some interest calculated, but it'll be piddly and I can pay that off as soon as it hits. And then it's just a matter of destroying the VISA, smushing it down into nothing and being free of the dang noose of credit card debt once and for all. It is so close I can taste it.

It feels good to have my hope back again. I am generally an optimistic person, but debt has so burdened me for so long that sometimes I get very gloomy about it when things go wrong.

Now we can go ahead and schedule ADT to come out to the old house and put in a new control box. The old one works, but it is badly cracked which will not look good for resale. I'd also like to put four more windows on the system. And maybe the window people can come out and give us an estimate as well (one pane of glass on a double-paned window needs to be replaced as it is broken). We won't be able to fix it until the end of April/beginning of May, though, but we can at least schedule it for when DH will be home.

The insurance company is requesting a new certificate of security now as well, to keep our homeowner's insurance so low, so this is a good time to try to get it done. If it's not one thing, it's another. But at least I'm facing it again with a better attitude.

Bits and Pieces--Lots of Venting

March 27th, 2012 at 05:52 pm

So we still don't know whether DH has been excused from jury duty or not. Which is ridiculous considering he is supposed to report on the 4th. He asked to be excused due to financial hardship, which it will be as we are still pretty much living paycheck to paycheck while we try to dig out of debt. It's really bugging me how unorganized they are. If he has been excused all will be well and he can go back to Alaska on schedule. If he has not been, he will miss a week of work, have to change his flights and pay a fee to do so, possibly have to pay the difference if flights cost more the day he needs to fly, etc. If he hasn't been we are going to have to make some tough financial decisions.

I just found out that the Bank of America VISA due date is going to be the 21st and we get paid on the 20th, so I can go ahead and do the payment to pay off the Master Card. But now I'm not sure if I should until I know whether or not he is going to have to serve jury duty, because that extra $2000 will come in handy if he loses a week of pay. I was so looking forward to having that credit card be completely gone this month.

The other option is to pay it anyway, and then take the hit to the emergency fund. But I don't want to do that. I feel like a baby about it. My mind keeps going, "It's not Faaaaaiiiirrrrr!" and stomping its foot. We worked so hard to get that emergency fund to where it is at and to just see it wiped out is so frustrating.

I wish they would just hurry up and send a letter or make the phone call letting me know whether he has been excused or not. Living in limbo is my least favorite thing to do, and the court system has made me do it more than they should ever make anyone do it.

I still haven't heard about my own summons, either. Supposedly I am to report on April 30th, which is what they told me when I was excused for six months because of my surgery last time. But every other time I've been rescheduled, when the new summons comes, it's never for the date they tell me for, it is for different dates, generally two to three weeks later. So I can't plan anything for the month of May or June because I don't know what they are going to end up doing. They really need to be on the ball and give proper notice so that people can arrange their lives, not leave us hanging for so long. It's ridiculous and highly unprofessional. My tax dollars at work, thank you, gubbmint.

I'm trying not to be frustrated, but it's like they are putting themselves in our way of finally getting out of debt. Like they will be single-handedly responsible for destroying any further major forward progress we could make right now. And I know when I go in to serve I am going to have the worst attitude in the world about it because of all this rigamarole. Plus, you know, be slightly spaced out, because I am still on painkillers and muscle relaxants for my hip, back and knee. So I will be not the most attentive person. Just what you want in a juror.

It also looks like some of my problems that I had the last surgery for are coming back, so I will have to be thinking about a second surgery there to make a final repair. The doctor warned me that might happen, but there has to be about a year between surgeries for complete healing, before doing the second surgery. *sighs* Which will be July. But I haven't called yet to try to schedule anything because one, I want to be out of credit card debt first, and two, I don't know what my life is going to be like until I find out about this stupid jury duty thing! And also, three, I don't have time to be bedridden again for several weeks recovering. *big sigh*

In the small arena of making a little step forward, I added $8.11 to the coin jar. Although I'm starting to wonder, what's the point of scraping so hard to build an emergency fund if something like all this can just wipe it right out? Which is counterproductive, because it's better to wipe out the emergency fund, than to wipe out the finances altogether, right? Just so incredibly discouraged.



Didn't Eat Out This Weekend

March 26th, 2012 at 02:33 am

I had even planned to do Chinese on Saturday, but I really didn't want to leave the house, even so I didn't have to cook. I made pizza instead. I put herbs in the dough this time instead of in the sauce, and toppings were ground beef, pepperoni, and onions. I used mozzarella for the main cheese, and then a sprinkling of cheddar for a flavor boost. It was really good.

Then for dinner on Saturday I made boneless, skinless chicken thighs on the electric grill. I put barbecue sauce on mine. We had fried potatoes and green beans to go with.

Today for lunch we had chili (me and DS) and soup (DD) with grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, then for dinner we had potroast, green beans, and corn. I remembered to put the potroast in the crockpot at the correct time for a change so we actually ate at 5 instead of at 7. I prefer to eat at 5 (or at least 6) since DD likes to go to bed at 7 as she gets up really early in the morning for high school.

It was really nice to have home-cooked meals again. While the kids were so sick (and me) we were getting an awful lot of take out. It was expensive, but also bloating, and just not as good or healthy to eat.

I bought a couple of gallon size Rubbermaid pitchers today to keep my filtered water in the fridge in. The regular water containers I haven't been able to find in a while and these will work well until I find them, and then I can use the pitchers for other things. They are the right size to fit with my Mr. Coffee ice tea maker, the old pitcher having gotten placed into storage who knows where when we moved. They will also work for lemonade or storing soup. I like using it for big pots of soup because then you just pour it into the bowls as needed and no need to dirty up the big ladel all the time.

I am trying to figure out what to make for dinner tomorrow. It needs to be relatively easy come dinner time. I am thinking about maybe assembling a lasagna earlier in the day so I can put it in the oven right before I go to pick up the youngest from school and then it will be ready at a good time.

We lost one of the chicks. It happens. Usually one or two don't survive. Mom went and got three new ones, one like the one who died and 2 white Leghorns. (Leghorns are excellent layers. One of our grown ones is a Leghorn and she is very dependable.) Hopefully they'll get along and all survive.

And...Newborns!

March 24th, 2012 at 12:43 am

Added to the flock today, chicks and ducks. Aren't they precious? I hope some of the ducks are female.



More Good Survey News and a Refund

March 23rd, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I qualified for the product testing thing, as the item arrived in the mail today. I'm glad. I can't remember if that was $8 or $10. I'm thinking it was $10. I took another 25 point screener for a possible 400 (or $4) survey. This is the type that I generally do qualify for so hopefully I will get it, too. I am rolling along quite nicely with this company. I don't think I would do so well with them if I didn't have children in the right age categories. But luckily I do.

Oh, I got my Allstate good driver's refund today. Or rather, I opened the envelope that has been sitting on my nightstand for a week! It was a check for $20.30 so that will go into the Safety Net portion of the EF, which means I just might hit that goal of $4500 by the end of March and be caught up to where I wanted to be!

Finished Updating

March 23rd, 2012 at 09:32 pm

I have finished updating all of my spreadsheets now, and so all of March has been entered. Even though today and next Friday both take place in March, all of it will go towards April bills since I have finished paying everything for March 2 weeks ago.

I was setting up the April budget and I realized that with two paychecks from March going to April and there being 3 paychecks in April, I'm actually dealing with an extra paycheck for all of April's bills. I think this happens twice a year, but I wasn't expecting it to be so soon.

Anyway, the great news there is that the extra paycheck is enough to pay off the BoA Master Card in total. We might have to do it in two payments, depending on the due date of the BoA VISA, but if the VISA isn't due until April 20th, we will be able to pay off the MC next payday. I just won't know until they put up the new statement online for the VISA. It's been running the 21st of most months, but I can't just take the shot until I see the statement. It should be up in a day or two as the MC statement just went up and it's got a due date of the 17nth.

If the due date is the 21st, then that means I won't have to take a VISA payment out of the paycheck cycle at all. Which means on the 20th I could make a payment out of the 20th's paycheck, and take the $1500 that doesn't have to come out of this cycle and put it on there, too. That whole $1500 will go to principal, as opposed to the usual payment which covers interest, airfare for DH to work, hotel for DH, miscllaneous travel expenses, food expenses while travelling to and from work, the cell phone, the health club, and eventually the tae kwon do payment when that gets transferred. Which comes to about $1125 for interest and new charges. So only about $375 goes to principal on that payment. When I no longer have to make the MC payment of $800 a month, that means that I'll be putting almost $2000 on that card and almost half of it will count to bring down the debt.

I am thinking when the BoA VISA is beneath $5000 having DH apply for a card with no interest for a year and then we can get it paid off even faster. Actually we still have a Citi card. It might have a deal going on. I'll have to have him look it up and see.

Being free of credit card debt is so close now. I just want to be done!

EF and Savings Goals

March 23rd, 2012 at 05:46 pm

And I arrived at payday with $78.76 left in my checking account and $3.69 cash in my purse. The money from my purse went into the coin jar. I am going to transfer the $78.76 to my EF, along with the $100 transfer I make every 4 weeks.

$4212.14 Beginning EF
___78.76 Leftovers
+_100.00 Regular transfer
--------------
$4390.90 Total EF

So I hit my goal of $4250, though that was my original February goal that went out the window when all the medical bills for physical therapy went in. My original March goal is to have the EF at $4500. Right now I am $109.10 away from hitting that goal. I have $21 ones in the coin jar, so really if I want to still hit that goal I need to come up with $88.10 by the end of the month. Since there is another payday on the 30th, I think with a little pinch here and there in the budget, I can do that.

I just have to remember we have to renew our Pacific Science Center annual pass and that we have to reserve our tickets for the King Tut exhibit. I am hoping to go down on spring break and maybe see The Hunger Games on IMAX.

I will not be taking a monthly allowance this month, since I bought a new copy of Office already. I did fill allowance envelopes though, $100 to DH (monthly), $12 to DD (weekly) and $7 (weekly) to DS. I'll talk to DH about whether or not he wants to use his allowance towards the science center pass. We had mentioned it last month but nothing was set in stone and he's saving for a Nook.

DS is saving for a good quality laptop. With what he's saved so far, and all his birthday money he has $159 in his bank account. He wants to get one in the $700 price range. We told him we would pay for the service contract. We might throw in $100 or so at the end. He'd like it by the time he starts 7nth grade, but understands it might be closer to Christmas unless he works really hard.

My mother is going to teach him how mow lawns this week and then she will pay him to mow her lawn. It is also possible he might be able to get paid to mow some of the neighbor's lawns. I'd certainly give him extra to mow the lawn out at the old house. We'll have to start doing that towards the end of April.

He also collects aluminum cans from the neighbors and takes them in to the recycling center once he has 50 pounds (you get a higher price after 50 pounds), so he gets money for that, too.

And he brings in the mail and the paper for our next door neighbors when they go on vacation, which they do a lot in the summer, and they give him a $10 every time. He's really a good little hustler when he wants to be.

DD has finally decided to start saving her money. I've been a bit worried about her because all she ever wants to do is burn through it and I want her to get in the saving habit, but she's saved it for the last three weeks and she has her eye on a 3DS she'd like to buy. If she saves all of her allowance between now and her birthday and uses her birthday money, she should be able to buy it mid-August. We'll see. She likes to have a social life, too, although I pay for games and dances and send her a little food money if she is going to an all day event.

I am still updating my spreadsheets, but will hopefully finish that tonight and then be able to set up April's Budget from my template and start entering in the bills that come due first of the month that will be paid for out of this paycheck.

More Surveys, Etc.

March 21st, 2012 at 09:53 pm

Yesterday I did another 25 point screener survey and then qualified so got to take the 300 point survey which is worth $3. (Each point is a penny, you can cash out when you have 1000 points or $10 in your account). It was an okay survey. I had to watch a vid and then give my opinions on it. I worked on a scarf I'm knitting while I watched it. This puts my account over $11 for the month of March, but since it takes points two weeks to hit the account, I won't be able to cash out until April 3rd. I hope I qualified for the one where they are sending me something. If it hasn't arrived by March 25 I'll know I didn't.

I need to cash out my first GC at Swagbucks but for some reason I am being lazy about it. I'm kind of lethargic this week, trying to recover from a virus and I went off caffeine cold turkey yesterday as it is messing me up. It is exhausting as my body tries to straighten itself out and all I want to do is sleep.

DD is down with the virus DS had last week. She is a lot easier to be around when she is sick as she just lays in bed and is undemanding.

DS has tae kwon do tonight and I am hoping I can talk my mom into taking him. Those benches are really hard on my back. But if not I may just sit out in the car the whole time. It's far more comfortable than those hard bench seats.

I got DS's next set of testing papers at class on Monday. Testing is on 4/12 so I will need to have the $35 fee in about a week before that. He will be testing for his purple belt. He's two months behind where he should be because he's been so ill he has missed so many classes.

I need to remember to take my finished library books with me tonight. The library is nearby and I'd like to get them turned in as they are due soon. I could just renew them online if I don't make it by the due date, but I'd rather have them out from underfoot.

Bits and Bobs

March 19th, 2012 at 05:13 pm

Again, not too much going on right now. I added $10.16 to the coin jar today. I had given DD a $20 as she went to an all day thing yesterday and I knew she would need to eat twice. She brought back the change so it went into the coin jar.

I paid $100 on DH's 3 months same as cash for his glasses. That leaves $100 left on that to pay next month. I set it up online so that I can send it directly.

I paid a medical bill of $105.62.

I will be entering my info into all the spreadsheets I got behind on when my laptop died today. EF tracking, HSA tracking, Holding Tank Tracking, finishing entering the last week of Feb's expenses, create the March budget spreadsheet of the budget template and entering in everything that has been paid so far, which is everything. Also create an April budget from the template. I hate being so far behing, but I did not want to work with Open Office's Exel-alike program. They can say it's compatible all they want to, but things get lost.

Spent some time looking at "dream" houses this weekend. Calculated that they would also involve hiring a groundskeeper and a maid. And a person to clean the docks and the boat. Decided those particular dream houses can stay just that. LOL Though I really would like my own moorage and swimming area on the lake one day. *sighs* Or a condo there. The condos seem affordable for us when we no longer have kids at home. It'd be the HOA fees that would probably be the kicker.

I just don't want to buy a big house anymore. I mean, I want room, but DD goes to college in two and a half more years. DS goes in six and a half. And having a big house with lots of bedrooms encourages children to move back home after college. And I really don't want that. I want my kids to stand on their own two feet. And I really don't want to have a bunch of guest rooms that encourage people to drop in on us for weeks at a time, or some such after the kids are grown.

It seems silly to have a big house for ten years and then sell again and get a condo on the lake. But I know we can't stay here that long. Well, we can, but we'd go insane well before the sell-by date if we do.

Wedding Anniversary

March 19th, 2012 at 05:37 am

Today was my seventeenth wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe so many years have gone by. DH and I don't really do anniversary presents. If he happens to be home we might go out for dinner and I think we got each other gifts on year 10 and will likely do so on year 20, etc., but we really tend to err on the frugal side. We always figure being married to each other is gift enough!

Little Things

March 17th, 2012 at 05:38 pm

Not really too much to report this week. DS has been sick with a nasty stomach bug and missed three days of school this week. I don't think this child has ever had such a sick year before. I really wish that parents would keep their kids home when they are sick. I am really getting sick of my child constantly being contaminated because other parents don't have a back up system in place if they are unable to stay home from work with their child. Plus these kids are 12, 13, 14. They legally and safely should be able to stay home alone if necessary. It's irresponsible to send them and I'm tired of my kid paying the price for other parents. He's always been so healthy and the last 12 to 15 months it's been one thing after another, poor guy. Sorry, that turned into a bit of a rant.

I cleaned out my purse and added $11.14 to the coin jar. I took $19 for allowances and divided them into the kid's envelopes. I also added the last $15 of DS's birthday money into his envelope. I really need to take him to the credit union as he's got quite a wad of birthday cash and saved allowances.

I've got the replacement all set up now except for installing Office, which I will do today and then I can enter in all the information into Excel for the past 3 weeks. I've kept track on paper, but it is not the same, especially since I've managed to lose and find the paper three times. I am definitely going to keep contributing to the laptop fund. It is well worth it.

I also need to update the HSA tracking spreadsheet and the EF tracking spreadsheet and the Holding Tank spreadsheet.

I am close to being ready to cash out my first $5 gift card for Amazon at Swagbucks. If I leave the SBTV player going to the side of the screen for the next couple hour or two, I should hit it, but I don't know if I want to make that kind of effort in one go, so it might take all weekend. I still haven't signed up for that other one that Laura (Keeping it Frugal) has where you watch the videos. I need to try to remember to do that.

I did another survey last night for GTM. They aren't as good as they used to be. Survey values have dropped from 50 to 35 and screeners are only worth 1 point or a drawing entry instead of 5 points for every screener. I think once I hit my 1000 points I may be done with them. They used to be so good and I could easily make money with them, but that was three years ago. Now that I'm getting back into it again, wasting my times with small payoffs is annoying.

I may have qualified for a market study at another company. If so it'll be worth $8. I hope I get that one. I won't know for a week and a half if I did. I wish they would tell you if you do. If you end up qualifying they send you the product. If you don't, you never hear about it again. But I made it all the way through the first screener and the second screener, so I think chances are good.

I have to go to the store today because DH finished off the ketchup (left the bottle in the fridge, but it was empty) and I didn't discover this until yesterday when I had already been to the grocery store. But I have to take Footloose and Puss in Boots back to the DVDExpress booth anyway, so I can pick up some ketchup then and some crackers and some more soup. They have a sale on right now of 2 cans for $1 and since soup is about all DS can eat until this virus finishes running it's course (no fruit, no veg, no dairy), I want to take advantage of the sale.

I'm also hoping to find some unflavored pedialyte since it doesn't have dyes or fruit juice or artificial sweetners. Even though he is drinking lots of water, he's really at risk of dehydration. I did put him on Imodium on the doctor's rec. It seems to be helping.

Computer Issues

March 15th, 2012 at 03:01 pm

Well, I finally heard back from Best Buy. I guess it took the 2 full weeks to realize the laptop was beyond repair, which seriously, it wasn't. All it needed was a new screen. It worked just find if you hooked it up to a monitor. To me, that's like totalling a car because you need to replace the windshield. *sighs*

Anyway, they said I could get a new one of comparable value for free or credit towards an upgrade. I'm sure there won't be one of comparable value. And is that comparable value in today's dollars or in the dollars of the year I bought it? I liked my old laptop. It had the best keyboard in the world for typing quickly, plus a ten-key pad so I could easily enter stuff into spreadsheets.

And will the remainder of my service contract transfer to the new one or be refunded? And what about the one time license for my Office software that was only to be installed on one computer? And what about the fact that I'd just renewed my Kaspersky anti-virus program? Are they going to replace all of that or am I just going to be out of luck on those counts. I might have to make a fuss.

I wonder if I get the broken one back then? Because if I do, we can hook it up to a spare monitor and use it as a backup computer that has Office on it. The kids would like that since they are working out of Open Office and Office 2007 respectively. They probably won't let me keep it, though.

I guess it's a good thing I kept putting money in the laptop fund as I will likely need to buy a new service contract. Won't go without it after how much value I got out of it with these last several repairs.

Random Money Out

March 15th, 2012 at 12:28 am

I don't normally give people money. I have a thing about the people on the corners with their "Please Help" or "Will Work for Food" signs wearing brand new looking Nike shoes and name brand jeans. Totally possible that they bought them at a thrift store, but when I am wearing my three year old no name jeans and off label shoes, I'm very unreceptive.

Still, this girl approached me in the parking lot today and she was semi-hysterical. I mean, either she was a top notch actress or she was genuinely upset. Her story was that she'd just left the local community college (was nearby, check) and she'd run out of gas on the Guide (scariest road in town to break down on, it's five lanes across and busy (also nearby, check), none of the nearby gas stations will loan out gas cans because they never come back (I've heard that before), and she didn't have any money on her and her roommate was in classes until late. The Home Depot was nearby but they didn't loan cans and one cost $10 (about what we paid the last time we bought a gas can). And she had only managed to collect a handful of change and most of it was Canadian (also, likely, lot of Canadian shoppers come here).

Meanwhile, the entire time she was talking I was checking her over. Worn jeans, plain t-shirt, not a fancy name-brand coat, and Payless Shoe Source type shoes. Her eyes were clear, showing no sign of drug use, and she had a well-used backpack on her shoulder with the community college logo. If she was scamming, she was incredible at it and deserved the $20 I gave her. She started crying that I gave her enough to not only buy the can, but some gas, too. I just told her it was okay and that I would hope someone would do the same for me or my daughter if we were ever in a similar situation (though we have AAA just so we don't get in that situation, but I didn't say that!).

She smiled at me and calmed down a little and said she just couldn't believe anyone would do that. Then she said she hoped one day she might be in a situation where she could do the same thing for someone else. Made me feel good even if it was a scam. Though I watched her walk over to The Home Depot and then I had to swing around to drive past it on my way out of the shopping center and saw her go into the store, so I feel relatively confident I did the right thing in giving her the money and I hope she has a chance at some point to pay it forward.

EF Update

March 13th, 2012 at 11:41 pm

$4142.64 Beginning EF
+__89.50 Deposit to Safety Net
------------
$4214.14 Total EF

The Safety Net is now up to $868.63. I need $131.87 to hit my goal of $1000 in the Safety Net. I need $35.86 to hit my next EF goal of $4250. I know I will hit the EF one by the end of March. I haven't made the $100 transfer to ING for this month yet, so that's an easy one to hit. And the Safety Net is just coin jar money so I hit it when I hit it.

Small Errands, Lots of Change

March 13th, 2012 at 09:09 pm

I've run a bunch of small errands this morning and in keeping with my method of never spending ones or change, ended up with $9.10 to add to the coin jar.

I filled up the gas tank at $4.06 a gallon, paying a total of $67.56 for 16.6 gallons. Ouch. It is cheaper over at Costco, at $3.99 a gallon, but it was not worth driving across town and waiting in the line there for a half an hour to get slightly cheaper gas.

I also picked up baking powder and cocoa for making DS's birthday cake which I will do right after I pick up his sister from school and make a deposit of all that coin jar money, finally, at the CU. And I got some OTC cold medicine. I am still fighting this dang cough and I'm tired of the constant tickle so cough syrup it is.

Did a survey this morning. I now have $8.15 in my account, but can't cash out until it hits $10. And of course it takes them two weeks to credit anything to the account before you can cash it out, which is ridiculous, but what are you going to do?

Mortgage Under $18K

March 13th, 2012 at 05:35 pm

So the most recent mortgage payment finally posted to the account and the remaining total is $17961.21. $292.20 went to principal and $83.66 went to interest, so we are approaching about 80% of the payment to principal and 20% to interest. It's a nice feeling. Although an even nicer feeling would be to be done with the place completely.

Next time DH comes home (he left last night) our primary goal is to get the last few boxes of stuff packed up and out of there and then have a professional service come out and clean it from top to bottom.

After that we need to get one window pane replaced, replace several interior doors, finish the drywall in the bathroom, and get an estimate on painting at least two bedrooms, the bonus room, one bathroom, and the hallway. Originally we were thinking of replacing the carpet because of some wrecked spots, but we realize there is enough carpet in the closets to make repairs with and then we can just redo the flooring in the carpet. Much cheaper in the long run.

We also need to update the security system. It functions, but the box you enter the code into is cracked. It also needs another motion detector in a different room and three windows wired into the system. We'll probably do that in April though because those upgrades will be an additional $500 or so.

Long Weekend

March 12th, 2012 at 09:44 pm

We had a blast this weekend. We have spent around $300 between DS's birthday party at the bowling alley, a special meal out at the fancy steakhouse, and his presents. He hasn't had a birthday party since the 2nd grade and he's in 6th now, so I think we did pretty well. Everything was budgeted for as I had been setting money aside for a while.

His actual birthday is on Tuesday but his dad leaves tonight for work so we did things early. I will make a cake for the actual day, though.

I am so sore, though. It's been a year since I've been bowling and my poor body was complaining the next morning. But I broke 100 which I haven't done in...two decades? Usually I am in the 70's and my first game was 73, but my second was 101. I am just so excited that I was able to do this. This is the first non-swimming real exercise activity I've been able to do since completing physical therapy.

Let's see, what else? I made another credit card payment, this one $500. DH had made a few small charges onto this card, plus the health club membership is on there. DH switched it to the other one starting next month, and we have one more switch to make before nothing will be autocharged to that one. It's almost gone and will be soon if I can get DH to stop making these random charges on it.

DH cleaned out his wallet and I cleaned out my purse and we ended up with $14.22 for the coin jar. I really need to go make a deposit now.

Bits and Pieces

March 10th, 2012 at 01:56 am

I did not make it to the CU I keep the safety net in this week. I meant to, but things just kept getting in the way. There have been various purchases made and I have kept saving all the ones and coins. I picked up hotdogs for Mom at Costco and she paid me back in cash, $11 for a $10.66 purchase. I put the whole eleven into the coin jar.

So including that $11, this week I ended up adding a grand total of $28.28 to the coin jar. I will have quite a deposit to make on Monday if I ever get over there. The safety net is getting pretty close the the $1000 mark.

So since The Market closed in Fairhaven, it took with it the only commercially sold source of Boar's Head deli meats, the ones without fillers or additives that my son can handle. We found out today that The Bagelry, a bagel shop in town that also makes sandwiches on it's bagels, uses Boar's Head meat, and if we put in an order the night before they will sell us just the sliced meat, as long as we buy a pound at a time. And it is at the same price as the grocery store we used to buy it at.

This is such a relief. We have really been struggling on what he will eat, because he has a very short list of what he will tolerate cold and of course there are no microwaves available to students at the middle school level.

Of course I will have to divide up all the meat and freeze most of it, as it has a three day holding time without the additives and preservatives. I'll have to be a bit more organized and remember to thaw as necessary. It's such a small thing, but it really will make my life that much easier.

I am really glad that we hit our deductible last month as yet another prescription has gone up. Thankfully out of pocket cost for it is now $40 instead of $100ish. What is up with the cost of prescriptions lately? This one was name brand but all the other ones were generics and I know it can't cost as much as they are raising it.

Did government benefits get raised this year? Seems like whenever they are prescription costs go up. *is annoying* My mother actually refused to go to the doctor when she thought she might have walking pneumonia because she wouldn't be able to afford the antibiotics. I told her I'd pay for it if necessary! I may grouse, but for that I'd put debt repayment to a lesser amount. Makes me worry about the old people in her position who don't have family members who could step in.

Oh, the payment hit the credit card so the new balance of it is $6,557.86. The interest had hit, too, but the interest hits should be a lot smaller now.

Got a thing in the mail from the insurance company. They want to go after the makers of a surgical mesh that went wrong in numerous patients, attaching improperly to organs and/or growing through them. I am one of those patients and my insurance company shelled out an awful lot of money for me to get it fixed.

So they want my info and I'm like, that's an awful lot of work for me to track down that I'd rather not be doing. The doctor who did the initial surgery retired years ago. I don't even remember what year I had the initial surgery in, unless it was done when I had my hysterectomy when I was 33. I vaguely remember trying to schedule that so they could do it at the same time, but can't remember if they did or not. It's been 9 years and I've had so many surgeries it all just blurs together.

I'm not really sure there is a record anywhere anymore, which is why I didn't pursue the class action lawsuit in the first place. (I guess I can check with my OB/GYN and ask him if that was done at the same time, then I'd at least have a date, and they might have the name of retired doctor to see where the records got to). Or maybe the hospital would know. Ugh. See? Work. Guess I will be on the phone a lot on Monday. Oh, joy.

I was hoping my laptop would be back from being repaired. All they have to do is replace the screen, so I don't know what it taking them so long. I am so sick of working on this cobbled together mess with this larger than life keyboard. *sighs* Plus the lack of mobility is also annoying. I can cope. I just don't want to have to. We get spoiled by our luxuries, don't we?

Lots of Bills Paid

March 9th, 2012 at 10:59 pm

It is really nice to know that no more bills are due until April 1st. I have paid everything. It is such a good feeling to know that there is nothing to stress about until then. I had one medical bill come in today for $105.62 and I was able to sit down and write it out on the spot. It feels good to do that. The budget is sure running smoothly right now.

We are having a small, very small, birthday party for my son tomorrow. He turns 12 on the 13th, but his father leaves for work on Monday so we are doing it early. We are taking him and his best/sort of girl friend bowling. My daughter will be taking one friend as well. It is very low key, although it's during cosmic bowling so it'll be glow in the dark. Best/sort of girl friend's mother will be there, too. (I say sort of girl friend because at 12, they are too young to do anything like date, but they are sure sweet on each other to my discerning eye).

We won't be bringing in a cake because DS's friend is allergic to dairy/gluten and he is allergic to a couple of the ingredients in the gluten free/dairy free cake mixes and I am not a "good enough" mother to try to attempt an allergen free enough cake that will meet both their requirements, though I did find one online. Maybe next year. He'll have a homemade cake on his birthday and that will be that. They seem okay with it. They just want to hang out and bowl. I think it will be fun all around.

Big Payment Made

March 8th, 2012 at 02:24 am

We deposited the inheritance cashier's check yesterday and today our income tax return was deposited (still wasn't even showing as having been processed on the IRS website, your gubbmint dollars at work!) after two weeks. So today we made the big payment to the BoA VISA of $15,500. I rounded up because writing out fifteen thousand four hundred forty-six and no/100s on a check takes up more space than there is line. I'll post the balance on the account when it clears. I was really excited to write the check out. Usually when the numbers are so big I make DH write out the check but today I was positively gleeful.

Seriously? I Mean, Come On

March 5th, 2012 at 10:24 pm

So DH just got called for jury duty for April 2nd. And I have to report for it on April 30th, after deferring it 3 times due to injury, surgery, and physical therapy. I mean, do they seriously think that calling two people from one family in one month would not seriously devastate the finances of said family? For DH to go that two weeks without pay would take us until December to recover from. It would wipe out our small emergency fund, make us unable to pay Mom for a couple months, and put us behind on our debt repayment (not with the credit card payment, just our schedule for getting out of debt). Plus we would have to make a minimum payment, instead of the planned one.

He can probably get out of it being as he works in Alaska, has no paid time off, no vacation time, no sick leave, and is the sole support of the family. He is not even in this state long enough at any one time to serve a full two week term.

I don't think I am going to attempt to get out of it, even though I know it will cause me pain to go, simply because then they can't call me again for 3 years. I have been summoned at least 16 times since I turned 18, so I know they won't just stop if I get excused. They'll just wait six months and try again. I still can't sit up for more than two hours without major muscle spasms and cramping starting in my back, hip, and thigh. Sometimes they are so painful I gasp out loud which would be lovely to do during the middle of a trial.

I am working on strengthening my core and legs, but it will probably be another six months before I am able to do as much sitting as jury duty will call for. I won't be able to get up and stretch or walk around as needed. But I won't be able to take pain killer or muscle relaxant either because they addle my head and you need to be clear-minded to serve.

And heaven help me if I have to sit next to a smoker, cat owner, or a perfume addict. I'll sneeze and cough the entire time because cat hair and those scents just cling and I am violently allergic.

If they could put me in a plastic bubble with a recliner and the ability to move as needed, I'd do just fine. I hate these limitations. I really think it could be interesting to serve, but I don't want to be set back physically. I have worked so hard to get to this level of mobility and I don't want to lose it.

Pantry Quest Day 10

March 4th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

I skipped reporting in on a couple of days. We had tacos on one of them and take out on the other. Take out kind of defeats the purpose, but meals out don't come out of the same money as the grocery budget. Still, I was hoping to avoid it. Sometimes we give in though, and I'm not going to beat myself up about it.

Today I am making a pot roast from the freezer in the crockpot. We will have the last of the Florida corn and some leftover cole slaw and green beans. Maybe mashed potatoes and gravy, too, if I can convince someone else to peel them. My left hand hurts too much for that today (arthritis).

I am thinking about making chicken saltimbocca tomorrow. I saw the recipe on SBTV and it is very simple. I would substitute boneless skinless chicken thighs for the breast meat because that is what I have, but basically it's the chicken and you put a sage leaf on it and then wrap it in prosciutto, dredge it lightly in flour and fry it in a bit of e.v. olive oil. Then you take a bit of white wine (3/4 cup) and chicken broth (1/2 cup) to deglaze the pan and reduce it by 3/4 and pour it over the chicken. I would just use chicken broth as DS is allergic to grapes and thus wine.

I have some dried sage leaves and can take some prosciutto out of the freezer to thaw. The recipe calls for fresh sage, but now is not the time of year to harvest sage leaves from the plant. It could damage it in such cold weather. And if I don't have the prosciutto, but I think I do, I can use regular bacon or even turkey bacon instead without changing it too much.

Coin Jar Update

March 4th, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I added $10.47 to the coin jar. I have enough money to make a deposit to the safety net portion of the EF. I have $31 in ones and I'll make a deposit if I hit $30. I have to count up the coins as well, as I might have enough to roll something.

Rolling Eyes

March 4th, 2012 at 08:05 am

So all that moaning my mother has been doing about the bathroom ceiling supposedly being messed up by us and the fact that there were four people taking steamy showers in there and just going on and on about how it was all our fault, even though she's the one constantly turning the fan off before the steam is gone? Turns out it wasn't caused by that at all. Turns out there is a leak in the roof and it has been coming in from above the ceiling, coming through the ceiling and not in any way, shape, or form is it our fault, according to the contractors. She did not apologize at all, but at least now we are not the ones who will have to pay to have it fixed. I'm pretty sure that there is a leak under the floor from the pipes under the bathtub as well that is ruining the linoleum and it is not, as she claims, caused by us getting water on the floor and not wiping it up (which we all do wipe up because she is so rabid about it). *sighs* Mom, I love you, but maybe things go wrong because your house is old.

DH and the kids and I spent the day out at the in-laws. We also picked up our check. It is a Cashier's Check so we don't have to wait for it to clear, it'll be available immeadiately so on Monday we will deposit it and then drive directly to BoA and make a payment. I can't wait to watch that balance drop like a rock.

Inheritance Amount

March 3rd, 2012 at 03:15 am

Well, we won't be able to cash it until Monday, as we didn't make it out to MIL's house tonight, but MIL told us the amount and it is $7,456.58. I had remembered realtor fees but forgot to calculate in lawyer's fees when I estimated between $7500 to $8500, so it's right around where I thought it would be, just the low end.

We'll go out for a visit tomorrow and pick it up while we are out there. I am excited to finally know how much we will lower our debt by. Once we pay it that credit card will have $14,077.83 left on it. And when we get out tax return back we will be sending $8000 and have $6077.83 left. So much major progress to be made this month. I am excited.


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