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Archive for May, 2006

Cell phone woes over

May 30th, 2006 at 05:10 pm

I didn't actually blog about this, but the post office misplaced a paid bill I sent off for almost two weeks! It finally cleared this morning as an ACH, and Cingular said that since the envelope was postmarked the 16th of May they would not count it as a late payment and there would be no interest charges added to the account.

Tomorrow I am going down to the CU and fill out the paperwork to make that an autopayment. It's the same every month so no surprises. I am just glad Cingular was rational about it. As soon as we knew there was a problem we talked to them and they were very nice about it, especially as we have never been late before.

It bugs me. Our CU has just finished updating its webtools so now we can pay any bill directly out of our account, but I like the convenience of autopay a little better than that.

Family Day

May 28th, 2006 at 11:28 pm

Today we drove up to Lynden and went to the McDonald's there. We stayed for a good couple of hours. The kids played in the tubes and I read my gardening book. Of course, they both had happy meals and I ate off the dollar menu. Then they both got the freebie kid cones for dessert. It was just over $12 (8.4% sales tax).

Then we stopped at MIL's house to spend a couple of hours there. We watched (and helped, sort of) them make a cobblestone pathway. They had the forms and then you pour the concrete into them and use a trowel to smooth it down. Then they had some green landscaping rocks, I'm not sure what it was, it looked a little like jade and a little like that soft, almost soaplike stone that I can't for the life of me remember what it was called. Apparently college geology classes don't stay in your mind forever.

Anyway, they pressed the shards of these green rocks into the poured forms so that they were even, kind of like mosaics, and then MIL put a little glitter over it all. It was a very pretty effect. What's more, it shouldn't be too difficult for me to recreate it. They, of course, bought 100 bags of concrete at once. But I figure, if I do a bag a week, it shouldn't be quite so overwhelming budget-wise. I've been wanting to put in a pathway for a long time, just couldn't see myself doing it, since DH is gone so much of the time. But this shouldn't be so hard.

Anyway, afterwards we went to my mother's house and I cooked them all dinner and then the kids are spending the night so I get some free time tonight. I've started on laundry as it is supposed to be sunny tomorrow and am working on the kitchen. The floor needs mopping, so I'll do that tomorrow.

Oh, I did spend $10 at Haggen to get a black caladium. I am just waiting on two other ones that are in the reds to show. They usually don't appear in our stores until early to mid-June. Then I will be done buying flowers for the year.

Payday Friday

May 27th, 2006 at 12:54 am

Today was payday.

Paid:
$1000 to mortgage
$300 to Chase Visa
$40 fee for soccer camp for Rose
$20.50 to Lowe's (used my gift card of $10 off a $25 purchase) to buy 2 caladiums and a canna
$9.98 for 2 gallons of organic milk

Have set aside:
$20 for long-term savings
$17.11 for freezer money account (this was the amount left over in the checkbook from the previous paycheck)
I will deposit those on Tuesday as I didn't make it into town in time to do that today.

Recycling

May 25th, 2006 at 05:23 pm

Yesterday when I had to drive down to the school during the day, I noticed a lot of aluminum cans on the side of the road. On the way back I saw a lot on the other side of the road. There were at least 30 beer and pop cans. The next time the weather is nice and the kids are in school, I think I'll take the one mile walk down and back with a plastic bag and collect those cans and add them to what I will take in to the recycling place.

If I had one of those sticks for picking up litter, I'd do that, too as it looks pretty awful and the adopt a highway people only come out once a month to clean the area. But I don't want to just stick my hand in something that might be ooky.

Maybe if I pick up cans once a week it'll eventually be a nice little (very little, I think it is at 35 cents a pound now) profit to go in savings. Plus the exercise never hurt anyone.

I Did It!

May 25th, 2006 at 05:17 pm

I met my first savings goal today. My electronic funds transfer added ten dollars to my savings account, bringing long-term savings up to $250.52. Tomorrow is payday so I will add in some more, probably just ten or fifteen, but I am excited that I am 25% of the way to $1000. This seemed so far away when I started the ten dollar a week thing, adding whatever else I could as I went. I will also add a bit to the freezer money account, maybe 20, tomorrow. I'll see after I do the bills and pay the mortgage.

Stupid Convenience Items

May 24th, 2006 at 11:30 pm

I stopped in at the little store/gas station a mile from my house today to pick up a head of garlic (25 cents) and noticed a little display on their counter next to the register. It had single, wrapped, flavored cigarettes for 72 cents each. I asked them if people actually bought those, and they do! I was stunned. Then the guy behind the counter said, what's really amazing is if you multiply that by the number in a pack it would cost nearly $16 for a pack. And people do this one at a time!

I haven't been this annoyed at the American consumer since the peanut butter pre-mixed with jelly in a jar.

Mortgage Search

May 24th, 2006 at 11:22 pm

Today I put the wheels in motion to refinance the house. We want to put the current mortgage of $37,500 and our credit card debt of around $32,000 all into a new mortgage on our house. We will change it from a 15 year fixed loan to a 30 year fixed loan. By doing this, it will free up $200 a month for us to start saving for a new car. Because I don't know how much longer we can limp along with the two we have. I'm hoping a year or two, so we can save up as much as possible. One of the vehicles will go as a trade in, probably the Blazer as I don't think anyone in there right minds would buy it if we did a FSBO. It just costs too much in gas right now. Hopefully, we could get $2000 as a trade in. Its in great shape inside and decent shape outside.

Then we could keep the car as our back-up car. Although we went for a long time with only having one car and we did okay with it. So maybe we will sell it, too. I'm just not sure at this point. We have to be able to refinance first, which I don't think should be a problem, as we have a great FICO and no one knows about the mortgage on my parent's house they took to pay my medical bills, as its in their name. According to all of our stuff, we should have an extra $1000 of disposable income. Obviously, we don't as we pay that each month on that mortgage, but it doesn't really matter. We still would be fine.

I hope this is a quick and painless process, as I've never really dealt with internet mortgages before. But the guy I talked to seemed pretty straight-forward. I should have a quote by no later than Tuesday. Possibly by Friday, but I won't count on that, and wouldn't be around to get that call anyhow.

Doing this would make things so much easier, so I hope it all pans out.

Frustrated

May 23rd, 2006 at 10:41 pm

I had the car in the shop again today. My so-called $145 part and $55 labor turned into a total of $374. And the check engine light is still coming on, only instead of coming on after the car has been driven for a minute it is coming on after about five minutes.

They said it would be ready at 1:30, it wasn't. They said it would be ready by 4:30. I had to borrow my mom's car to come home in time for the kids to get off the bus. At 4:30 I called the shop. It still wasn't done. They close at six. Was it going to be done today or not? Because I didn't want to drive all the way back to town only to be told it wasn't done.

The answer I got was they were 99% sure it would be done and fortunately it was. But I still don't think they even bothered to diagnose the check engine light.

I have had such a good relationship with this shop but I think I may go back to the dealership instead to have this done. I am so tired of throwing money at this car. Almost $600 this month and that doesn't include the price of gas.

I am going to redouble my efforts to get us out of debt and increase our savings. Especially because I had to charge this. I will have the money to pay it on Friday and we will pay it online immediately. It really made my stomach upset to pull out the old credit card for this.

If it hadn't been after five when we got back to town I would have taken the money from the long term savings and freezer account and then replaced it on Friday over putting it on the card. That was psychologically devastating to use that card after consciously not using it for a few months.

More Money to the Freezer Account

May 22nd, 2006 at 08:18 pm

I did put the rolled coin in my purse last night and an extra roll of quarters that I had accumulated in the 2 weeks I had been forgetting to take the coin in and deposit it. So the total deposit was $25.50, bringing the account up to $164.08. There must have been a smidge of interest dumped in at some point, also. I don't keep up on this account much because up until April, it didn't have much in it, is only a savings account, so the money is either there or not, seldom going in or out. Well, it is still seldom going out, but its going in with a bit more frequency now.

My son had his last rehearsal before the recital today, well except for dress rehearsal, so I ran to the CU during that time. My daughter didn't go to school today or I would have taken in the cans. I just didn't want to drag her around too much. Both because she isn't feeling well and because I still don't feel well, either.

Oh, well, I'll get them in one of these days. I loaned $5 to my neighbor for gas. I don't know if I'll ever see it again, but I did it anyway.

I also bought a big container of egg flower soup at the one MSG-free Chinese restaurant in the county. This is my major comfort food when sick. There is enough for six meals and it cost $5.24. This and Mrs. Grass should get me through this cold.

Didn't spend on anything else.

Humidity and Thunderstorms

May 21st, 2006 at 10:40 pm

Today was a humid 73, which is in a lot of ways worse than a dry 87, but no kind of day could have made me not be a little cranky today. Woke up with a sore throat. Not the kind that makes you want to scream every time you swallow, but the kind that is there all the time, kind of in the background, but it still hurts, just not the type of hurt you can't function with. What we call a "summer" cold, onset with weird weather swings. Even ibuprofen didn't dull it down, but fortunately ice cream and popsicles did help freeze it out. I hope it is better tomorrow.

We had two big thunderstorms tonight. One came through at 8 p.m. and dumped so much water on us that it was coming over the sides of the gutters as well as down the downspouts. I ended up taking photos with the digital camera because DH doesn't believe me when I say water goes between the house and the gutter as well as over the free-standing side of the gutter. He's never home when it happens! Digital camera has the ability to record small bits of live action, too. Now maybe I can get him to put up the new gutters I have been whining for for 2 years. He has a Home Depot gift card he got from work as some kind of thank you for something, so it won't even cost anything, the card will more than cover it. I think he just wants to buy a miter saw, but honestly, we don't need a miter saw. We can borrow one from his Dad. He isn't even a tool guy, but sometimes he wants what he wants. I suppose we all do. But the freak storms are fading the paint on the side of the house and so the gutters are a need.

The other storm came through at ten. This one went through in about ten minutes instead of a half hour like the first one. The thunder wasn't as loud, either. Didn't see lightning with either one.

Did spend some unnecessasary money today, but less than $20. I was feeling too lousy to cook so for lunch we drove up to Lynden. We got food from the dollar menu from McD's (with enough for dinner, too) and ice cream from DQ and I took a different route home than we drove there, so we had a lot of nice scenery to look at. We also went by a gas station that was at $3.16 a gallon so we filled up there, so that cost $45, but that is a planned gas expense that I would have paid out tomorrow anyway. That is 3 cents cheaper than the cheapest one in Bellingham. Going for the drive helped us all with the stir crazies, too.

In the afternoon we cleaned out my son's room and took out a bunch of toys he has grown out of which we will either garage sale or freecycle, depends on how much work I feel like doing. Today's attitude would say just chuck it on freecycle, but I sure wouldn't mind getting a little cash out of it. Or I suppose I could list it on almostfree, might actually get a bit better than garage sale prices for it then.

Some time in the evening my son's friend R came over for about an hour and a half, so they were happily occupied for a bit so I could catch up on my emails and keep my crankiness to myself.

Not much else happened tonight, other than watching a series finale of my favorite show, that really should have been 2 hours long instead of one. It deserved that, but I at least enjoyed the hour they did have. If this show were still on next year I'd have a heck of a time giving up cable next month.

Tomorrow my son has his last class before the recital and maybe if I go put the rolled coin in my purse right now, I'll actually take it to town with me and deposit it in the freezer money account. Here's hoping.

Payday and Savings

May 19th, 2006 at 06:15 pm

Today was payday and I didn't have as much time as I normally do since I started off the morning with that massage. She even gave me an extra 20 minutes over the hour (free) because we were having such a good conversation that she lost track of time and realized when the hour was up she hadn't gotten done all that she wanted. Gotta love that. She said I was in pretty bad shape and should probably come in again next week. I'll see how this plays out first.

I went to the CU that I keep my freezer money account in and made a $25 deposit, bringing that up to $138.58, must have earned some interest on that odd change. I had already paid back the money that I'd borrowed for gas the one week. I still managed to not only forget to grab the aluminum cans to cash in, but the rolled coin as well. I swear, I don't think straight in the mornings. I'll have to take them out to the car the night before I go in next.

Then I went to the CU that has my long-term savings and deposited the $10 that I had set aside previously and an additional $15, total deposit of $25. That account is up to $240.52, so all I need is $15 more and I can open an ING account. I have to leave $5 in the account to keep it open.

After that I went to the cheap gas station, since it is near the CU and topped off the tank. It was at $3.19 as compared to $3.29 everywhere else in the county. Gas costs more here than it does in Seattle. It's because of all the border traffic, we get a lot of Canadian shoppers, so they up the cost to sell to us. It annoys me, because the refinery is in our county so shipping costs are virtually nothing and yet they squeeze us. But that is a rant for another day.

Then went grocery shopping at Fred Meyer. They had beef ribs on sale for .98/lb and Alaska king crab for $6.99/lb, so I got some to freeze. I know I'm not supposed to be buying meat right now, but all we have left in the freezer is chicken, beef steaks, and some seafood. We do like a little more variety. Did not buy any produce but did get milk as they had the Organic Valley milk on for $4.29/gallon, which is over $1 off, so I got two.

I had been hoping to get to Costco today but ran out of time and had to get back for the bus. Of course, I'd been hoping to get there in that sort of I really don't want to go there but need to go there type way. But I always overspend there. I've done better the last few times I've gone and I only need 3 things when I do go, but still the temptations there can be overwhelming.

I'll think about going tomorrow. Rose is going to an all day birthday party/barbecue at one of her best friend's houses tomorrow so it would be a good day for just me and Tobias to go in. Rose always hates that she can't have the samples because she has so many food allergies it isn't worth it for her to try their samples. But they always look so good to her. I can take them or leave them, and usually leave them. My son, however, can make it into lunch time. He'll eat anything, my little bottomless pit. I don't know where he puts it, that kid has a racing metabolism.

Power bill came. Those extra hot steamy showers my son was having when he was so ill and couldn't breathe gave us a hit. But it was still lower than before we started conserving. The next one should be lower again. I'm thinking about getting a water heater timer and we will be getting a water heater blanket as soon as DH comes home this time. We want to keep that power bill down as low as we can.

I just hope the last few days of super heat from the sun that made us have several fans on full time isn't too expensive. At least the weather broke. We had a little rain today but mostly its been a humid, overcast 63 F. So not too much going on on the fan front. Still I shouldn't complain, at least we don't have to worry about A.C. around here. That can get really pricey.

Savings, Big Payments coming, and good neighbors

May 18th, 2006 at 09:18 pm

The automatic deposit was made into long-term savings today, bringing it up to $215. I haven't gotten around to placing the last $10 left over from the previous pay cycle in, but I have it ready to go for when I go to town tomorrow.

I will also be adding some to the freezer money but won't know for sure how much until I do the budget tomorrow. Probably $25, though. I also have $15.50 in rolled coin and I still haven't taken in the aluminum cans, so hopefully I won't be so scatter-brained again that I forget. I mean they are in a big hamper on my front porch. It's mesh, see-through and I have to walk right past it to get out of the house. You would think it would not be so difficult for me to remember.

Tomorrow will be a busy day, I have a lot to do. My morning will be peaceful, though. I have a therapuetic massage scheduled, and I had thought about cancelling it and not paying the $45 for it, my back is really messed up from turning over the compost pile and it has aggravated the old injury, so I guess I'll just have to suffer along and go in, LOL.

DH called and he will be working an extra week, so that is 21 days straight, 14 hour days, anything over 8 hours a day is overtime pay and all of Memorial Day will be overtime pay, also. We'll be able to have a little breathing room, but not much as our CC&R half year dues coming up in July and I really hope the old home owner's association goes belly-up. I could do without the dues. I already maintain the utility easement between my house and the neighbor's house that they are supposed to maintain.

Actually, the new neighbors said they will help with that once they get a lawnmower and even borrowed my lawn mower and did the mowing of it and mowed their lawn last weekend, and today they gave me a one gallon gas container, filled up and borrowed the mower again and did the easement again. I think I am going to like them. And it sure beats an empty house (twice) or a domestic violence situation, which we have seen since we moved here.

Also have coming due half year car insurance towards the end of June and house insurance due the end of July. So like I said, some breathing room, but not much.