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Archive for July, 2007

It's Legitimate!

July 30th, 2007 at 07:11 pm

I am a very happy camper. I just received my first $50 check from that survey company I've been talking about. And it's written on a BoA account, too. Yay!

I just cashed out with them again two days ago. They do take the full six weeks to get it to you, but it comes. Oh, and they are open to people in Canada, Australia, and the U.K., as well as the states.

Now, as for the folks that I have sent invites to who haven't seemed to have received them: It appears that AOL and Yahoo consider it to be spam and don't let them through, so if you have a different email addy, leave me a message here. I will use your linked account to send a message back to you that you can then use to send me an alternative email address.

If you don't have AOL or Yahoo and still aren't getting the invites then chances are its getting caught in your spam filter as well or your junk mail or bulk mail folders.

So, if you still haven't received the referral link I'll try again.

Oh, and the $50 goes into the EF just as soon as I cash it tomorrow.

Oddz and Endz and New Car Talk

July 29th, 2007 at 06:39 pm

Today I added $4 in ones and $1.20 in change to my change jar. I don't have enough coins to roll any one type just yet, but I do have $24 in ones now, so I will deposit that on Monday along with my two checks and send them off to ING to the EF. That will give me a deposit of $72.22, which will bring my balance in ING to $853.27. Just $146.73 to go to hit $1000.

Starting in September we will be contributing the $10 per week I've been doing all along to the EF, $100 every 4 weeks, and all survey money to the EF.

We will be starting a new car fund and contributing $500 a month.

And we will be paying an extra $1000 towards debt. That should still leave enough of the raise left to raise our food budget by $100, pay for the kids activities and get the current vehicles into shape by the time we are ready to buy our new vehicle. And we will be raising our 401K contribution by 1%.

There is a large rumor that Toyota will be releasing a Hybrid Sienna mini-van in 2008 and that is what we have wanted all along since they started introducing hybrids. It may not be until 2009, and who knows, Ford may beat them to it at the rate it is chugging along pushing out hybrids.

But that is what we are aiming for and I'd like to have somewhere between $5000 and $10,000 saved up for a downpayment just so our payments are reasonable. Any bonus money that comes along will go to the new car fund.

The only way I will consider buying a new car is buying a hybrid. Otherwise we would go used. And there just isn't a huge used hybrid market. And there are no mini-vans yet.

We have talked Prius as well, but that is only good for the four of us. If we ever want to take the kids places with their friends, its impossible with our current vehicles. T has to be in a car seat until age 8 by Washington state law and it is impossible to have two adults, two car seats and two ten/eleven year olds in either of our vehicles.

Now, why start in September instead of August? Well, August won't have a full paycycle at the new raise. We'll only have an extra $1000 this first paycycle and I'll be using it to fund some accounts. I used to have a budget that took so much for each item and saved it up until that item was due, but its been a long time since I actually followed that kind of budget.

Well, I want to again. So each month I will set aside money for medical, auto and house insurances, property tax, auto repair, house repair, and propane. There may be more, I'm not sure at the moment. Maybe an activities and vacation fund as well.

I'll divide the bi-yearly amounts up into monthly amounts and deposit those into a savings account for common expenses, and will have a spreadsheet to track what goes in which category. So that is where that first $1000 will go, seed money for some of these categories. It will get this plan up and rolling again and hopefully allow us to stay on top of the budget instead of swimming with our heads barely above water.

The only thing left for me to do now is to make the new budget spreadsheet and the new maintenance fund spreadsheet. That's easy enough.



That ING Thing

July 28th, 2007 at 03:02 pm

I sent $20 off to ING today to add to the EF. That was from the last two Thursday's weekly $10 auto deposit into my CU savings. That brings the amount in the EF to $781.05. That leaves me $218.95 left to go to hit the $1000 mark.

While I was there I peaked at the interest generated for the month and it was at $3.34. It won't be as high next month since the vacation money is no longer in there earning interest, but it is still nice to see. I have checks to deposit still, the refund from Comcast and the reimbursement from my mother. I will do that on Monday and send them to ING as well.

The post office did not deliver the mail today like they were supposed to, so I won't know until Monday if the GTM check has come or not.

Home from Victoria

July 27th, 2007 at 10:16 pm

It's good to be back and in my own bed after a week away. My vacation was pretty good. The rest of the family had a better time than I did. I got sick so bad that I thought I had pneumonia and ended up staying in bed for 2 days straight, except to go to London Drug and pick out cold medicine. They happened to be selling the Harry Potter book, and of course it had the British cover art, so that was neat.

So I was dizzy and just totally coughing down in my lungs and we almost went to a walk in clinic, despite the cost of it, but after two days in bed I woke up feeling better (still pretty bad though). So I didn't go to Craig Darroch or the Titanic exhibit or the Undersea Garden, but everyone else did.

I did however go on the carriage ride through Beacon Hill Park, which is similar to Central Park in New York, only safer. We really liked that and it was $90 well spent because we learned a lot about the city and the park and of course Tobias got a kick out of the horse because it kept passing gas. He's at that age.

Despite that it was a lovely ride and we saw people parasurfing. They had special surf boards attatched to their feet and parachutes on and the wind would pick up the parachutes and they would fly into the air. It was amazing. We also saw the world's tallest totem pole at 156 feet. I have a picture of my kids in front of it and the scale is just mind-blowing. I'll try to post it. I haven't done pictures before on here but DH is home to help me figure it out.

I did get to see Hatley castle, but I was not impressed. It was way overblown. By the time I was marginally well enough to do Centre of the Universe the kids were down with it so we didn't go.

I spent a lot of time in bed sleeping and a lot of time in bed reading Harry, which I finished Tuesday night. I spent time in the hot tub to help break up my congestion and it helped a lot. And the kids were out with DH for long stretches of time, which was really nice. So even though my vacation did not turn out quite the way I planned, and even though I still have a cough, ears that crack when I swallow and a bit of gunky stuff, I had a lot of me time, a lot of rest and a pretty good read.

I was actually disappointed in a few things in the book, but for the most part after the first 200 pages it went fast and was exciting. One thing I had predicted came true, so I was happy to be right about it. But that's all I will say about it because I know so many people don't want to know anything at all until they are done reading it and I know how careful I was to avoid any spoilers until I finished it.

I came back with a $20 bill and a couple dollars in change, so not bad. I'll put the Canadian money in a jar until we go to the zoo next. We're really close to the one in Langley and it is so much nicer a zoo then the one in Seattle is.

I'm looking forward to having my mail all delivered tomorrow. I hope that $50 check came. It's been six weeks so it better have. I just hit 1000 points again with them so I need to cash out again, too. I did a few surveys while I was sick in bed.

I guess that about covers everything. Oh, I probably have money to move to ING. I should do that, too.

DH Got the Promotion!!!!

July 26th, 2007 at 05:49 pm

DH just faxed back the signed job offer for the new job. We are really excited, especially after months of run-around and getting our hopes up, only to find them dismally crushed.

This last time I said I wouldn't believe it until he had the offer in his hands. Well, he's had it, so I believe it. The raise won't go into effect until his second paycheck back up. So it won't be until September that we see what a true four week paycycle is like. But it should be $2000 more every 4 weeks, net. His day rate will be $525. I can't imagine it. And all that with only a two year certificate of completion from a technical college in Engineering Technology/Architecture and a two year A.S.T. college degree, (that's associate in specialized technology).

It will be great to be able to start making huge strides in debt repayment and finally get the Blazer repaired and do the one or two things to the car that need doing as well. Plus, DH will be able to start his next correspondence school session on his way to his B.S. Of course, I've teased him for years about having a degree in B.S., but this will be one from a college, not one for talking his way around something! LOL

We plan to build up the EF and a car fund now. We're thinking towards a Prius or if not a hybrid, something like a Matrix with good gas mileage. In a perfect world there would be a hybrid mini-van, because that is what we really want. Oh, well.

This is our last night in Victoria. I'll write more about it when I get home, I think. Just wanted to share the good news.

Yesterday was Expensive

July 22nd, 2007 at 06:15 pm

We went to Butchart Gardens yesterday and boy was it ever expensive. In the long-run I think it was worth it, but man! All money is in Canadian dollars.

$ 56.00 Entry fee for 2 adults, 2 children
$ 49.77 Lunch
$ 15.74 Dessert
$ 58.16 Souveniers
$ 23.73 CD of music group playing at the gardens
$ 7.50 3 hot chocolates
--------
$210.90

We had lunch at the Blue Poppy Restaurant. It was not as expensive as the other on grounds restaurant and it had food the kids would actually eat.

DH and I had the best fish and chips I have ever tasted. Rose had a pasta dish with those swirly shaped noodles and marinara sauce and foccacia bread and Tobias had a cheese quesadilla (freshly made tortilla) and fries and some of the foccacia bread. Everyone tasted everyone else's food and it was all good.

Then we decided to have dessert. Tobias had a very chocolately cookie, DH had mango cheesecake and Rose and I had chocolate mousse. The mousse was very good, and extremely rich. If it hadn't had whipped cream to cut the richness I never would have made it to the bottom. Very yummy. A little expensive for the amount, though.

The fireworks were pretty good but it would have been better if there had been some wind. The smoke was very thick and just stayed there so after awhile you couldn't see all of the fireworks.

Oh, and it rained. It poured. Imagine sitting on a wet blanket on saturated grass and no sign of the rain stopping. That was us. I woke up with a nasty cold this morning. Throat on fire and enough phlegm being produced for the population of a small island. Fever, too. Lovely. Just once I would like to be well for my entire vacation. Ah, well. It was a good day overall, but I don't think we'll go back there again in future. We've been twice now and though this is the first time we've seen the fireworks, we don't need to do it again.

You can't leave on fireworks day and get readmitted so there was a lot of boredom after we'd seen everything. Plus, I didn't want to pay dinner prices to eat a second meal there.

For dinner we ordered pizza from a place that delivers 24 hours after we got back to the condo. It was okay, but I wouldn't order it again. I wish we hadn't gotten so much. We ordered 2 large pizzas, cheesy bread and tzatziki with pita bread. Never order when you are that hungry should be my motto. It came to $43.63.

So:
$210.90
+ 43.63
--------
$254.53 Total spent 7/21
$400.04 Total spent 7/20
--------
$654.57 Total Vacation Spending

I'm glad I brought an extra $300 with me. I'm almost to the amount I had originally budgeted. Nothing else will be nearly as expensive as Butchart and we have a lot of coupons.

I did get some Blue Poppy seeds. I have been wanting to grow blue poppies for a long time but have never found the seeds before and I wasn't about to pay the $15 per plant from a mail order company, when mail order plants don't always survive. And even if they say 100% guaraneteed I have found it difficult to get either a refund or a new plant from mail order companies. I will have to declare them at the border but I bought less than $10 worth so no big deal.

Vacation Spending So Far

July 21st, 2007 at 12:49 am

We made it safely to Victoria and for 10 days worth of internet access it costs $15.95 Canadian. Not bad. It's $4.95 if you do it day by day, so even though we'll only have it for 7 days, it is much cheaper this way.

So expenses so far in Canadian Dollars:

$ 78.03 Ferry Crossing
$ 23.99 Breakfast
$ 1.29 extra milk
$ 56.07 Lunch (on the Ferry, ouch!)
$ 23.54 Dinner
$ 1.39 extra burger
$199.78 Food from Costco for the week
$ 15.95 Internet Fee
--------
$400.04

I ended up bringing $1000.00 in Canadian money instead of $700. Part of the extra came out of the grocery budget. From tomorrow on we will be eating two meals at the condo and only one meal out, so daily expenses should drop quite a bit after today.

Tomorrow we are going to Butchart Gardens and the fireworks show. They have coupons in the lobby for dollars off or percentages off tickets for various attractions. I can't remember if Butchart is one of them or not, but several of the other places we planned to go this week do have them.

Well, I better get to sleep. It is almost 1 a.m.

Off on Vacation and Survey Info

July 20th, 2007 at 04:28 am

Okay, I'm about to set off on my vacation. Victoria is pretty wired so hopefully I'll be able to do a couple posts while I'm up there.

For those who asked for the survey link, I put some more comments on the previous post here. A couple of you asked for links that I had sent links to last month. Go read my comments on the last entry and if you still haven't gotten the link let me now and I'll try to send them again, but it may be a few days depending on internet availability where I am.

Survey Tracking

July 18th, 2007 at 11:09 pm

I'm not sure what is up with GMT today but they are shooting out surveys like nobody's business. I am now up to 912 points, which means I am 88 points from cashing out for another $50 check. All I need is a 50 and a 40 point survey and I'm there. Last time I cashed out was June 14th, which means I'll have earned this $50 in 5 weeks time. Not bad at all. Still waiting on that first check to come. It has 13 days left in the expected arrival time.

As soon as I know it is completely legitimate I'll post it here. If anyone else wants to sign up now before I get that check besides the three people who already have, leave me a message here and I'll send you a referral email through your email linked to the SA site.

Everything I've read about them has been positive so I really, really hope they are legit, because this is quite the money maker if it is.

Eye Opening Article

July 18th, 2007 at 02:25 pm

I read this article today:

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/BrokenChinaADysfunctionalNation.aspx

If you think business practices in the states are corrupt and stupid and that our economic system is broken, this article about China might have you thanking your lucky stars that at least we are decades away from the sort of thing going on there.

It's a long article, but very good and well worth the read.

Survey Stuff

July 18th, 2007 at 01:44 pm

I spent the morning doing surveys. From GTM I did a 30, a 40, a 50, a 75, and a 100 point survey today and I qualified for all of them, that's a rarity. I cashed out last from them on June 14th and I'm already over 700 points, just 300 to go to cash out again. Still have 2 weeks left in the 2 to 6 weeks for the last check to arrive.

I also did a 150 point survey from Lightspeed.

Still no invitations from Pinecone. I've done 2 screeners from ACOP but it has been months since I've gotten a real one from them.

Y2C sent a qualifier finally last week but of course, I didn't qualify on that one. It was a $5 one, too, so I was annoyed.

NFO MySurvey has been exceedingly slow. I've done one 10 point survey from them in the past 2 weeks. I've found them to be quite hit or miss recently. Either a bunch come in one week or it dribs and drabs the whole month through.

I am anxious to receive the check from GTM since it is for $50 and it is the first time I cashed out with them. Everything I have read says they are legitimate, but I want to know by my own first hand experience. They are the most enjoyable survey company I'm signed up with. And the most frequent to send out surveys.

Tomorrow is the last day I'll receive any mail before vacation. On the bright side, the 6 weeks will be up by the time we get home from the trip, so it should be here by then, if it doesn't come before.

401K Update

July 17th, 2007 at 10:42 pm

I got our 401K statement in the mail today. Our new ending balance is $47,795.31. The year to date increase is $5,481.11.

$42,312.20 Beginning Balance
+ 1,176.71 Employee Contribution
+ 949.41 Employer Contribution
+ 3,135.07 Market Gain
+ 319.53 Other Transactions
- 99.61 Fees
-----------
$47,795.31 Ending Balance


We have $2204.69 left to go to hit $50,000. I am hoping to hit that before December of this year.