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FancyPants Planner

May 21st, 2017 at 10:36 am

I mentioned in my March budget report that I had spent $50 on a fancypants planner. It is from Plum Paper. I am enjoying this purchase immensely! I think I may buy one every year from now on. This is a look at how I have been using it.

I customized the cover:

I am using the monthly calendar to track the ins, outs, and daily balance of my checking account:

I am listing each credit card charge as I make it. I think I may start a running total on the side:

I do a mini-budget for each paycheck:

I have a dedicated page each month for listing each bill I must pay, and I highlight the amount when it has been paid:

I made a chart to track my progress on my Heloc repayment:

Home From Cruise

October 12th, 2016 at 05:00 pm

Well, I got home Sunday from the cruise. SB and I had a great time, and we caught some new Pokemon. Stick Out Tongue It was nice to have time to re-connect as a couple with no other distractions.

The service for my cousin was very nice. He taught math at both a high school and community college in San Diego. The service was on his college campus and was attended by hundreds of colleagues and students. His mother especially was comforted that he had been so well liked, loved, and respected by those who knew him. Still, it is sad to say goodbye to someone so young. My cousin was not married but left behind a partner of 10 years. I had never met the partner before; he is a very nice man and is just devastated.

Seeing family I had not seen in many years was nice. Of course, this sort of thing makes you contemplate your own mortality. It is sobering to realize how many years it has been since you have seen cousin so-and-so; how quickly your life goes by.

This trip was a bit pricey. A group of my family were staying in a Marriott Suites hotel, so I stayed there too. I usually opt for more economical lodging, but I wanted to be where my family was. SB paid for the cruise, but the additional 3 nights of lodging is all on me. That is only right since it was my family and my desire to attend the service.

So my little CurveBall Fund at WF will be taking a hit. Otherwise, I would have to carry credit card debt and that does not appeal. I am not certain I will have 5k earmarked for a new roof this spring. I could maybe put it off another year, but I don't really want to do that. I am still not even certain 5k will do it. I used an online estimator tool which said my roof should cost 4k - 6k. More than a month ago, a local roofing company said they would be coming by to measure and then email me an estimate. I am still waiting for that. I emailed them again today.

I have applied for a HELOC at Wells Fargo. We will see what they say. I'm not certain I will need to borrow, but it doesn't cost anything to have the HELOC open and ready to go.

Well, I am off to my second job. This is my third night, and I may or may not need one more to finish up. The week I work at my second job in the evenings is always a long week.

Bill Fixer Results; Cash Flow Bottleneck

July 18th, 2016 at 08:29 pm

Bill Fixers was able to reduce my internet bill by $13.96 per month. Not much, but something. I have to pay them half of it, so I am ahead $6.98 per month.

In other budget news, I cancelled my gym membership. A payment was due in July, and that is that. So, there is another $19.99 per month ahead.

I have added dvd service to my Netflix, and will probably keep that for a few months. Our list of movies we wanted to see which are disc only grew to the point it made sense to restart that service. I got the first month free, but afterwards will pay $12 per month.

So as you know, I recently switched to cash only for groceries, gas, and personal spending. Since I had previously used rewards cards for those things, in July I had to pay some of June's charges, plus pay as I go for July. (For budgeting purposes, I count spending when I make a charge, not when I pay it.) As it turns out, I am also parting with the cash for two electric bill payments in July*, which is further impeding my cash flow. It is a temporary bottleneck and will ease next month. However, July's savings account deposits are very anemic.

* My electric company bills me around the 5th or so, and I need to pay by the 20th or so. Usually, I use my Citi DoubleCash MasterCard to pay the electric company. The Citi billing cycle cuts off around the 6th of the month, so I typically charge the electric bill on the 10th. When I get paid on the 15th, I pay the charges which appear on Citi's statement from the 6th. In practice, I don't part with the cash for June's electric bill until July 15th. Which I have just done.

In the pursuit of credit card rewards, I have recently applied for and received the new Ally Visa. The sign-up offer is to spend $500 in the first 3 months and receive a $100 bonus. Since my electric bill is $252 per month, I decided to use it twice to pay my electric bill, thus I don't need to bother with it further. So, I used it this past July 10 to pay July's electric bill. And then the statement cycle closed, and I need to pay by August 12th. A bit inconvenient as that's 3 days before payday. So, I just paid it tonight. That $252 is coming out of my planned savings account transfer.

I will use the Ally card for August's electric bill and pay that in August too.

In September, I will go back to using Citi DoubleCash and won't need to pay that statement charge until October, thus picking up a bit of extra cash flow to throw into savings.

So there you have it. Other than that, just plugging along as usual here at Chez Petunia.

Bill Fixers

April 8th, 2016 at 07:30 pm

Have you Saving Advice peeps heard about this?


This is a new company which will negotiate your cable, phone, and internet bills for you. They charge you half of your first year's savings to do it. If they can't help, you don't pay.

I'm thinking of letting them have a go at my Comcast internet bill, which is too high.

Disgruntled With Ting

December 9th, 2015 at 03:40 pm

I am disgruntled with Ting at the moment.

My phone is older and has gotten to the point it has a fair number of quirks. For example, when I am texting someone it will stop, tell me it has "saved as draft" my text message, then it will begin calling the person I am texting. That's an annoying quirk.

So I have been wanting to get a newer phone, but I don't need all the bells and whistles and I don't want to pay for them. I have been considering my options.

On black Friday, I bought a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S3 from Ting for $147. When it arrived, I noticed the screen was a bit cloudy and it had a scratch. But over the next several days, I realized that the scratch is a crack. I will be honest, I am less than thrilled about them selling me a phone, refurbished or not, with a crack in the screen.

I charged the phone overnight, and the next morning it went dead less than an hour after I took it off the charger. It hadn't even been activated yet, so no phone calls or texts or data usage. I tried charging a second time to make sure it wasn't some sort of fluke, with the same results. So it came without a functional battery, and I will need to buy one. I'm liking the phone even less.

But here is the real kicker: it won't activate. I spent several hours total between two sessions with support trying to get it activated. I tried this and that and did everything they told me to do and...nothing.

I e-mailed customer support asking if I can return it and they have not answered. It has been several days so I assume they are not going to answer.

I had been without phone service as my old phone stopped working once I transferred my number to the new phone. Yesterday morning I transferred my number back to the old phone.

This morning I emailed the support guy and just said no to his latest request. I stated that I am unhappy with the condition of the phone, that I'm done trying to activate it, and that if they won't take it back I am just going to e-cycle it. He politely thanked me for letting him know.

So, I'm not certain what I am going to do next.

I guess the moral of this story is do not buy a refurbished phone from Ting. If it is not in acceptable condition, tough cookies.

Phone Woes

November 13th, 2014 at 09:44 am

J's phone has been acting up. Last night, it stopped working all together. Perhaps it will magically begin working again, who knows? I ordered him a new one. The phone was $149. I went ahead and bought him a car charger too for another $18 (was $20, but I Googled and found a 10% off accessories code). With shipping, it is setting me back $187.65.

I browsed both Ting and Republic Wireless plans. RW is still the better choice for him, even though the $19 per month plan we had is no longer available. Because I am ordering a new phone, I have to choose from the plans currently being offered. We went with the unlimited for $25 per month.

My ex-husband has retired from the sheriff's department. Because he is retired, his share of cost for medical insurance has changed. Our divorce decree stipulates that he is responsible for providing J's medical insurance. The cost for J has risen to approximately $800 per month. We looked into adding J to my plan, and I can add him for just under $400 per month. Of course, that is what ex wants to do. So, we have submitted the paperwork. I will have the cost deducted from my paycheck, and ex will reimburse me. I hope he will regularly reimburse me promptly, but history suggests otherwise.

I wish we could insert spreadsheets into our blogs. I had posted my amortization schedule for my car note into a "page", but the spaces are eliminated and all of the numbers run together. I figured out how to insert an image into a "page". It took three images to show the entire schedule, but at least it is legible. (You load the images to a draft of a blog entry, then just never publish it. You can paste the image number into your "page", and voila, Bob's your uncle).

I received $3.75 from HauserNet, and so made my first tiny extra principal payment to my car loan.

Introducing My New Car

November 5th, 2014 at 06:41 pm

Well, I bought the car. With sales tax and registration, it came to $16,493.71. I borrowed 16k from Wells Fargo and coughed up the 493.71. The balance of car fund is going towards car insurance.

Here it is:

J is so happy to have his own wheels. I am glad he gets to enjoy the rest of his senior year with his own car. He has named the Accord "Rose", since I bought the Focus in Roseville, and that event triggered the Accord coming into his possession.

I added a page showing the amortization of my car note as scheduled. I will edit and update it as payments are made. The first payment is not due until Dec 20th. I will make a full payment on Nov 20th anyway, which will give me a nice start. All extra bits of money will now go towards the car loan.

I keep checking every day to see if the loan appears when I log in to Wells Fargo's site. So far, it does not.

Where will the car payment money come from? I'm so glad you asked. The car payment is $248.65. I had been budgeting $170 for Car Fund which will now go towards the payment. Additionally, I have trimmed $50 each from budgeted E Fund and CurveBall Fund deposits.

I'm trying really hard to come in under budget on groceries, miscellaneous, and discretionary spending. After everything is paid for the month, if I have more than $500 in checking, I will sweep it to CurveBall.

Craig's List Score

August 4th, 2014 at 03:17 pm

My oven has been behaving badly for several months now. On Friday, I had MrsM180 pick up some take and bake pizza. Well, I had a heck of a time getting that dough to cook. BF was here, and he said I should look for a new stove on Craig's List. I pooh-pooh'd that idea. I mean, I don't want to deal with Craig's List people and looking at used stoves, not knowing what questions to ask, etc.

Sunday morning when I woke up and trotted out to the living room, BF was sitting on the couch with my laptop. He said "look at this", and I saw he had found a stove and microwave just listed that morning. They looked clean, and very similar to the models I have now. They were asking $100. (The microwave is the built-in kind that matches the stove).

I talked with the owner yesterday. He stated they both work perfectly, but that he and his wife had upgraded their appliances to stainless steel. He was working yesterday, but said we could come this morning (Monday) to see the appliances. BF said he would deal with it, and I handed him $100.

BF texted a bit after nine that he was on his way to my house with my new appliances. I hope the installation went well. I can hardly wait to get home and see! Smile

Money In, Money Out

January 5th, 2014 at 03:34 pm

Yesterday I received a check for $160.00 from my part-time job and have sent it off to E Fund.

For my new homeowner's policy and new auto policy, I charged a total of $1,068.90. Yesterday, I received a credit to my CC in the amount of $184.82 from the old auto policy. I have transferred 1068.90 - 184.82 = 884.08 from CurveBall to pay the credit card. I am still waiting for the old homeowner's policy to refund $912 to my escrow account. When that happens, I will request a refund of the overage, and that money will go back to CurveBall. I expect it will be at least a month before all the dust settles.

So many hoops, but worth it for the $300+ savings.

This is the downside to having an escrow account. However, I do find it convenient for the most part. Also, I enjoy the 2% interest it earns.

Money In, Money Out

November 22nd, 2013 at 09:19 am

Yesterday I received $160 from my part-time job, which has gone off to E Fund. Inching ever closer to 2 months of take home pay. Smile

My NFL rewards Visa statement closed yesterday. I had 10,550 rewards points available which I redeemed for a statement credit.

So, I had $1,408.15 sitting in checking with nothing due for the rest of the month. But, I have things going on. Namely, my new 6 month auto insurance premium (will be cancelling the old one with 3 months left, but still, that is 3 months out of pocket now), my new homeowner's insurance premium (will have to wait for refund from current company), the new vacuum cleaner I charged, the $75 gas cards charged at Staples (it will take up to 8 weeks to receive my $25 credit), and I am getting a 100k tune-up on the car today, which will be about $500. I don't have to cough up any of this money now, but it is only a matter of time.

Here is what I did:

$445.54 to NFL rewards Visa (balance less $105.50)
_280.44 to WF rewards Visa
__75.00 to American Express
___7.17 to CurveBall Fund

This left $600.00 in checking, so I am done.

Neither the WF nor AmEx statements have even closed yet, so the payments were VERY early.

Notice, I have ended up using my NFL rewards Visa sign-up bonus towards expenses instead of as a mortgage chip. I'm not thrilled about this, but keeping credit card debt out of my life is a higher priority.

Also, I have not sent much extra to CurveBall. But hopefully, I am making it possible to avoid dipping in next month.

I felt a bit of panic when CurveBall dipped down to $54 two months ago; it's offering more cushion now.


November 19th, 2013 at 09:20 pm

Yesterday I received $3 from PineCone and $3.50 from Hausernet, and have already applied those odd bits to my mortgage.

In recent expenditure news, I shelled out $165 plus tax for a new vacuum. It has 12 amps and seems to be doing a fine job. Also, I spent $50ish dollars to buy a mattress cover which protects the mattress from dust mites. My allergy doctor recommended it. After much mattress flipping and cover wriggling, MrsM180 and I successfully got the cover on my mattress.

Last week, I started allergy shots. I will be getting two a week for 10 weeks. After that, I will be getting one a week for some unspecified period of time, before I taper off further. I can't really tell a difference yet, but they said it would take awhile.

Tonight I made a trip to Staples to take advantage of that AmEx offer. I chose three $25 Shell gift cards, and expect a nice $25 statement credit. I was very tempted to get only two, and get a $25 Starbucks card as well. But, I didn't. I was strong.

An old, dear friend of mine from childhood e-mailed me yesterday. He attached some pics of the kids and I, taken 13 years ago when we were visiting him in Seattle. Oh, those sweet little faces, and arms still pudgy with baby fat. *sigh* Where did they go?

In Swagbucks news, I am really liking the new "first goals". It is much more achievable than the total goal. For me, anyway. I have hit it each day for the past 4 days. I'm going to try hard to hit it every day, for the winning streak bonus.

Mercury Casualty Company; Credit Declined

November 15th, 2013 at 08:31 am

Since my last post, I have received the written policy quote for my new homeowner's policy via e-mail. The company is Mercury Casualty Company. The quote is for $579, slightly higher than the $575 I reported earlier.

While she was at it, she went ahead ahead and quoted me auto from Mercury as well. The quote was for the same exact coverage I have now, and is $483.90 for 6 months. In August, I paid $532 to Allstate for 6 months. So I believe I will switch that to Mercury as well. Although, I do need to check if my Allstate policy uses straight-line or sum of the years digits when calculating refunds. If it uses SOTYD, it will cost more to cancel and start a new policy than it will to just let the current one run out, and switch at renewal.

I got paid yesterday, did my banking, did a wallet sweep and sent $4 off to my mortgage.

MrsM180 paid me $300 yesterday for November. I used the money to make an extra payment to my electric company. Because my electric usage has increased with 2 additional people in the house, I am expecting a large jump when my balanced-bill-pay plan is recalculated. Paying an extra $300 now means it will jump less. I plan to do this next month, too.

I used my Barclay's NFL rewards Visa to pay the additional $300, and that put my activity over $500. When I receive my first statement, I will have earned my $100 bonus. Now I just need to wait to be able to redeem my rewards, then I will close the account. Well, that and the small matter of paying them. Big Grin

Yesterday I applied for a Citi Dividends Visa which offered me the same deal, spend $500 in the first 3 months, receive a $100 bonus. This card features rotating 5% bonus categories each quarter, just like Chase Freedom. If I am approved, I just may keep that card permanently, to take advantage of the 5%.

Why would I not be approved? Well, I was recently declined by the SwagBucks Visa. I could not believe it! It seems I have opened too many new accounts of late, and may need to wait for some of my hard pulls to drop off. I can't recall the last time I was declined for credit! I am certain it has been more than 20 years.

I still have a few November bills to pay, but it is looking as though my checking account sweep this month will be fat. I will leave $600 instead of my usual $500, since my 11/29 paycheck will be for 10 days instead of 11. Even so, I expect to have about $300 to sweep. Smile It is nice to see my penny-pinching rewarded this way.

J is asking some girl to the winter formal today. He was so nervous this morning. He made a sign on poster board which reads "K, will you go to winter formal?", and he brought a rose and some chocolates. How sweet is that? How will the girl resist? I told MrsM180, I hope she says yes or he will be crushed. MrsM180 confided that the girl has hinted heavily she wants him to ask her, but he is nervous just the same. I've been working at my second job this week, so have been getting home late each night. I have missed the unfolding drama. Thank goodness MrsM180 keeps me in the loop.

American Express "My Offers"

November 14th, 2013 at 10:52 am

Who was it who posted about the American Express offer to spend $75 at Staples and get a $25 account credit? I owe you a big "thank you"! I did not know about that link, and it certainly is helpful. Smile

Today, I noticed I have an offer to spend $25 at Exxon and receive a $5 credit. There is a separate offer to spend $25 at BP and receive a $5 credit. I activated both offers. I know where my next two tanks of gas are coming from.

If you have an American Express card, check out that "my offers" link, pronto. Just log in to your account and look in the bottom right corner. Click on it, and view your offers. Activate any you would use and enjoy your savings.

Homeowner's Insurance

November 13th, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Well, I am still waiting for a State Farm agent to contact me "shortly". So this morning, I called my current homeowner's insurance agent. She is an Allstate agent, but my policy is with another company which they also write. I told the office I had a better quote but wanted to give them a chance to keep me. They quoted me $575 for the same coverage I have now ($912), just with yet another company. This is $120 lower than the State Farm quote! I said yes, the price works for me.

Meanwhile, my mortgage servicer disbursed $912 on 11/6 to pay the premium on my current policy. I am proceeding anyway. It just means more hoops. I will have to pay the new policy, then wait for my current policy to refund $912 to my impound account, then ask to be personally refunded the $575 . For $337, I feel it is worth the hassle.

I will instruct them to keep the $337 in my impound account as I know my property taxes are about to take a big jump. In addition to the infamous Prop 13 here in California, we also have Prop 8. Prop 8 says when property values fall, property tax assessments must fall too. But when values rise, they can jump up fast to where they would have been had values not fallen.

In the last few days, I have seen some listings and sales in my subdivision which make me feel very confident my property value has risen sharply in the last 6 months. While this is good news, it means my property tax bill is also going up.

My Son The Adult

November 11th, 2013 at 07:21 pm

Yesterday was J's birthday, he turned 18!

On Saturday, he had 3 friends over to spend the night. All four boys seemed to have a good time. On Sunday, his dad picked them all up and they went paint-balling. I had told ex-h I would pay for it, but he reported back that all 3 guests had brought their own money, and that he would pay for J. So, that was a pleasant surprise.

For his birthday, I bought him a smartphone from Republic Wireless, and will be paying the monthly bill. The phone cost $116.55 with tax. My first bill (paid upfront) was $20.34. This is for unlimited talk, text, and data. I will be dropping him from Ting, so there is a savings there to help offset the cost.

I feel so fortunate that both of my children have enjoyed good health and reached adulthood. I know there are many parents who sadly cannot say the same. My life has not gone quite as I had planned, but this is one thing that makes me feel the universe has smiled with favor upon me.

Mail Order Rx

October 22nd, 2013 at 04:33 pm

Today, my health insurance provider gave me a call to see if I would like to sign up to receive my prescriptions in the mail.

OK, this was low-hanging fruit. I should have done this YEARS ago. And I think I meant to, but just never did get around to making those phone calls.

I take 4 prescriptions. I make a trip to the pharmacy once per month to pick them up. My co-pay is $10 each, or $40 per month.

With the mail order service, I will receive 90 day supplies for $30 every three months. Yes, that's right, $30. One Rx is completely free of charge if I order it 90 days at a time. They even pay shipping.

Obviously, this must be saving my health insurance money too, or they wouldn't be calling me to ask if I want to switch.

In mortgage chip news, I received a $3 payment from Hausernet for April, which I have turned into a mortgage chip.

It's a Wrap on the Camera Estimates

August 28th, 2013 at 04:52 pm

I received my third and final estimate for the surveillance cameras, to the tune of $1,590.00. It is the best estimate of the three. The Better Business Bureau has no complaints on file for this company, they are local and seem to do a lot of work. So, I have scheduled the installation for next Friday.

My mom has generously informed me that she will be paying for the cameras. I will use my Visa, and she will reimburse me before the bill is due. This windfall is such a huge relief to me. My mom is so awesome! Smile

I have learned that while the circumstantial evidence against the neighbor regarding my dog being poisoned was insufficient to press criminal charges, it may be sufficient (along with the other harassment) for a civil restraining order. I am going to proceed with that too, but want the cameras in place first.

Last weekend, I went to BF's for about 24 hours. I went to his house (not his office apartment) for the first time in months. I could really see that he has been tackling some of the deferred maintenance issues and made progress on clearing out the personal items. There is a work crew coming next week to finish up the master bath remodel. BF says when they are finished, the house is going on the market. Fingers crossed that he follows through.

Surveillance Camera Estimates

August 23rd, 2013 at 08:38 am

So far, I have received 2 estimates for outdoor security camera systems and installation.

The first quote was completely over the phone. The quote is $1,418.00 not including a monitor (which I was told I could buy cheaper at Best Buy or Office Depot, about $89), sales tax, or shipping (they ship to the installer). That also includes the minimum installation charge, but since they haven't come to my house, cannot say for certain the installation won't be more.

The second quote was done at my house and is completely inclusive. The quote is $2,090.00.

I am still gathering quotes. Smile

I received a $320 check in the mail from my part-time job for both my July and August hours. Although I had planned to use this money for E Fund, I am sending it off to CurveBall instead. CurveBall has a big expense looming.

Definitely Should Not Fiddle

June 18th, 2013 at 01:33 pm

Over the past two days, I have continued to fiddle when I know perfectly well I should leave well enough alone. Well, guess what? My WellsTrade brokerage account has a new policy...after a "sell", it takes 3 days for the cash to settle. In the meantime, no "buy" can be executed with that money. At first, I was irritated to learn this (the hard way). But upon reflection, I think it is really for the best. This new policy will discourage me from making trades I do not need to make.

I don't know why I periodically put myself through this; I always end up going back to what I already had, or close to it.

Tomorrow the kids and I are off to a theme park. I bought the tickets at my credit union at a substantial discount, we will pack a picnic lunch, then I will spring for a meal out on the way home. Should be fun. Smile

Had to have the plumber out yesterday. The handle popped off in my shower, and it was then I learned the shower handle in the hall bath had popped off the week before! (No one thought to mention it to me). I Googled it and learned I needed new "cartridges". I hadn't even known showers had cartridges, but apparently yes, the handle mechanisms in the wall do. The DIY videos I found were insistent it is an easy job, but it didn't look easy to me without the proper tools, which I do not have. I didn't want to make a bigger mess, so I called the plumber. It cost me $89. He replaced both and re-caulked the hall shower for me while he was at it.

Starting Part-Time Job

May 13th, 2013 at 09:15 pm

Our family BBQ on Saturday was a great success. It has been a lot of years since so many in my original family came together on a holiday. Smile

I am starting my part-time job tomorrow evening. So, we will see how this goes.

My rock removal project is coming along nicely. I estimate I have my front planter about 75% de-rocked. It has inspired me to get cracking on my yards. I have been doing some weeding in the back, and today I ordered a mesh fabric cover for my pergola. It is made of 80% fabric (meaning 20% of the surface is holes), is hemmed, and has metal grommets every 24". So it will cover my pergola, which is attached to my house. It should make it a lot nicer to be out on the patio, and hopefully will help my kitchen stay cooler in the summer. It set me back $331.06.

I have received $1.75 via PayPal from HauserNet for January 2013. Currently, they owe me for May 2012 - December 2012. They said they are going to pay their agents for 2013 before they "catch up" on 2012. Frankly, I would rather be paid for May 2012.

My New Part-Time Job?

April 10th, 2013 at 08:21 pm

Apparently, I now have a part-time job. However, I am still not entirely certain. On Monday, the woman who called to ask me if I was interested called again to ask when I am meeting with "M" (person who has been issuing their financial statements) to discuss where he is leaving off. Mind you, I have never heard from M. I told her I have no meeting arranged with M. She replied in a confused tone "But, he hired you." I laughed and said "Oh, I did not know that." She laughed too. This sort of thing is very typical for this particular unorganized organization.

I am expecting to clear 4k on Monday from my bonus and over-time. I have it earmarked like this:

$1200 Roth
1700 CurveBall
400 E Fund
400 Vacation Fund
300 J's Annual Allowance

Now, if you take a peek to the left at my sidebar, you will notice CurveBall is sitting at just over $1200. However, I still need to pull out $600 for the vet bill charged to Visa, and $370 for the IRS. So while CurveBall is not anemic, it is also not so very flush. When the dust settles, it won't be a great deal larger than it is right now.

J's summer camp is coming up. The cost is $500. Last year, ex-h agreed to split it with me. However, I have not seen one red cent of his half. So, there is no point in pretending he will split it with me this year. He won't. If J goes, I will have to pay.

I think going away to summer camp is an important developmental experience for a teen or tween. But J has already been 3 times. So, he has had that experience.

He loves the camp. At his age, he is in a junior leadership role.

I have told J frankly that while I do have the money, I feel I may need the money for other things. I do discuss money and budgeting with J, and we talk about how you must cover your needs first, then you can think about things you just want with what is left over. We also talk about how some needs aren't a regular bill like the electric bill, but are things which come up from time to time, and so you need to plan ahead to cover them.

J was disappointed, but said "I understand, Mom". Then he mentioned his money (he has about $1400 in a mutual fund, about $300 in his savings account, plus his allowance is coming up). I said no, I didn't want him using his money for camp. Then he asked if he got a part-time job when school is over, did I think he would be able to earn enough in time to go to camp. I said maybe you could, see if you can find a job. So he plans to try.

Now, I think it would be great for him to have a part-time job. And I really am proud of his attitude. He is disappointed, but not sulky. He rarely asks for anything and he rarely complains. He really is a great kid.

I want to send him, but I am not sure I should part with the money. I could skip the Vacation Fund infusion. It takes me so long to save for a vacation that I am loathe to pass up this annual opportunity to give it a nice little boost.

He doesn't know I am still considering, as far as he knows, the matter is closed.

In other news, my trad IRA broke 130k today for the very first time.

RIP, Bree

March 30th, 2013 at 02:51 pm

After 4 days of antibiotics, Bree was not responding. The vet felt it was renal failure rather than just an infection, so we made the decision to euthanize her yesterday.


For her boarding, meds, more blood work, euthanization and cremation, I "paid" another $300 via Visa.

Tomorrow I am going to my mom's for Easter dinner. It will be Mom, nephew, DD, DS, BF, and myself. I am looking forward to a nice day with my family, and just enjoying a day off. This has been a rough week, I am emotionally drained and tired.

I have a client who's 34 year old daughter died in a car accident earlier this month. So, I am trying to keep the passing of an elderly dog in perspective. But we will miss her.

A Sick Puppy :(

March 26th, 2013 at 09:36 am

Yesterday I ended up leaving work just after lunch to take my sick Bree to the vet. Bree has been staying with my daughter. (Bree was originally adopted by ex-h as a pet for daughter.) Daughter said Bree was vomiting and lethargic. Bree wouldn't eat or drink, and even declined to eat gound beef! Daughter was very worried.

And I had been patting myself on the back for my spending this month. Isn't that the way it goes?

It turned out Bree has a kidney infection. The vet says she has a good shot at recovery.

I "paid" (via credit card) $299 yesterday, and will owe another $25 for each day she stays overnight. Later today they will advise me if they feel she can leave or if they recommend she stay another day. She is on an IV for dehydration.

While we were waiting for the results of Bree's bloodwork, daughter and I walked over to a nearby Starbucks, that was $11. Also, since DD was not in a particular hurry to go home and we hadn't hung out in a while, I treated us both to a movie, Oz The Great and Terrible, that was $21.

Odds And Ends

February 11th, 2013 at 08:51 pm

I received my money from Second Spin. After reimbursing WF Visa for my actual shipping costs, I had $38.85 to send off to E Fund.

The item I asked BF to list on eBay is up to $102.50. The auction closes Wednesday. The proceeds are earmarked for E Fund.

I received my state income tax refund of $1,039. I made a 1k 2012 traditional IRA contribution and sent $39 off to CurveBall.

On Feb 1st, I "paid" my car insurance premium (6 months) with WF Visa. The cost was $534.09. I will need to transfer that money from CurveBall, but will wait until later in the month.

In late March I am going to see a play in SF with a particular group of friends. We all worked together about a decade ago. We have seen about a half dozen really good plays together, and about the same number of really good concerts. When we are able to get together, it is always super fun. So my play ticket is $60, and then there will be bart, dinner, etc. I am watching my discretionary spending this month and next, in order to afford this hoorah.

I am happy to report thus far this month, all of my spending is within acceptable parameters.

Cancelled Extended Warranty

January 9th, 2013 at 06:38 pm

I went to Best Buy on my way home tonight and cancelled my extended warranty. There was no hassle at all whatsoever. J knows that there is no warranty. I feel good about the decision. Smile

BF got a job this week! It is part-time and just minimum wage while he is training. He is processing mortgage loans. BF hasn't had any job whatsoever in about 6 years. In the past, he has done a number of things. Most recently he worked for an HMO in their IT department. He did that for about a decade. I'm glad for him that he is making progress towards getting "unfrozen". (I just don't know what else to call it.)

J is making dinner for the two of us tonight. Grilled cheese sandwiches. Yum!

Made Mistake Buying Extended Warranty?

January 8th, 2013 at 07:22 pm

Well, my son's ipad quit working. I bought it in December 2011, and I did purchase a 2 year extended warranty.

I located my receipt and took it back to the store (Best Buy). They determined it was not fixable and exchanged it for a new one. Then I had to make a snap decision I was not expecting, did I want to buy another warranty? I opted to buy another 2 year warranty. Upon refection, I am thinking I made a mistake.

The price of the 16gb ipad was $499 when I originally bought it, but is down to $399 now. The 2 year warranty was $158.01. Well, that is almost 40% of the cost of just buying a new one! What do you think? Should I contact Best Buy and see if I can decline the extended warranty and have them reverse the charge?

In other news, I decided I didn't have enough of my portfolio allocated to total stock market, and so moved 5% from total international stock market. And that's it, I am done "tweaking" my mix. I have a pattern. I stay hands off for a year or more, then play with different tools (such as Future Advisor) and decide I need to make some changes. Then I am unhappy with the changes and gradually move back towards what I already had! It's dumb. Lesson learned.

CurveBall to the Rescue

January 2nd, 2013 at 07:41 pm

I didn't mention it before, but my central heat stopped working over the long weekend. It's been a bit chilly around here.

So this afteroon a repair guy came to take a look. He said my circuit panel is burnt out and needs to be replaced. He cannot say with certainty that is the only problem, as he cannot do much testing without the panel. So they are ordering the part and will call me to arrange a time for the work to be done. The estimate is $600.

Oh CurveBall, what would I do without you?

In other exciting news, I had $1200 odd dollars in cash in my traditional IRA due to dividends. So, I calculated where the money needed to go. It turned out I was under-weight in bonds and tips, so I bought 6 more shares of each.

I have recently added a page to my sidebar with my exact portfolio holdings. I will try to keep it current.

Looking Over December's Spending

December 29th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I worked on updating my budget spreadsheet this morning, tallying all transactions and entering them into their respective categories. Spending is OK, I am over on "Groceries" and "Everything Else" because of holiday gifts and edible treats, but of course my bonus was extra income and paid for the lion's share of the extra spending. I will wait for the month to be over to post my budget report.

My checking account balance is ending the month lower than usual, and I realize why that is. I have started using my WF Visa for most things, and transferring money to pay in full within a day or two. So, instead of paying November's charges in December, I have paid the bulk of December's charges in December. I like it! Smile My Chase Freedom bill next month will be $47.30. My AmEx bill next month will be $152.39. There won't be a WF Visa bill, the balance is $0.

The AmEx bill represents 2 tanks of gas and groceries at my "on occasion" grocery store (not my regular grocery store). So, it is looking as though I will not be applying for the Preferred Card ($75 annual fee, 6% cash back on groceries, 3% cash back on gas). Not being able to use it at my regular grocery store is a deal killer.

From Jan 1 - Mar 31, gasoline is one of the bonus categories for Chase Freedom. So, I won't be using AmEx much at all for 3 months.

It looks as though I will have enough reward points on WF Visa by mid January (when the statement closes) to redeem for a $25 credit to my mortgage. I know from past experience they will hold it until Feb 1 then apply it. So, it looks like my first mortgage chip on my new mortgage is about 6 weeks away.

Generous Xmas Bonus

December 9th, 2012 at 04:02 pm

We had our company Christmas dinner last night. Along with a nice meal and a fun time, I received a check for 2k. Smile

What will I do with these riches? The first 1.3k is going to Citi MC. Along with my budgeted $100 December payment, that is the end of my credit card debt! Yay!! I will give $150 to each of my kiddos, and the final $400 will go to savings.

Tomorrow is my mom's 80th birthday. One of my nieces came to visit for a few days, along with her husband and 2 small children. I went to my mom's Friday night to visit. My brother showed up yesterday morning, so back I went to mom's. We had a cake and sang happy bday. Tomorrow night on her actual birthday, I will pick mom up and take her to her favorite restaurant, The Elephant Bar.

My brother has a timeshare, and plans to go to Mexico next summer. My mother wants to go. This means she wants me to go. I don't know that I can swing it. But I want to go, I don't want to be her excuse for not going. My brother says we can rent a 2 bedroom condo for 2 weeks for $773. That is inexpensive, but of course there is still airfare, meals, and a rental car. I told mom I will see what I can do, but that I don't know. I have always wanted to see some Mayan or Aztec ruins in Mexico. I also have nothing against the beach. Smile

BF has been working with a realtor towards getting his mom's house sold. They plan to list in the spring.

Some On-Line Shopping

November 24th, 2012 at 10:05 am

I do very little on-line shopping. (Heck, by most standards, I do very little shopping period.) But today I saw an advertised deal on NoMoreRack and I had to bite.

Right now, I have only 1 set of sheets for my bed. I have been wanting to pick up a second set. NoMoreRack is selling 4 piece sets of 1600 thread count sheets for $29 today! Shipping and handling is an additional $2. There are 15 colors available. I've never owned 1600 thread count sheets, so I am looking forward to sleeping on them.

On Thanksgiving, I went to my mom's house with J (son), S (daughter), A (son-in-law) and BF. My nephew was there too. We had a very nice, low-key day. We had decided to do a small dinner and spend the afternoon playing cards instead of cooking and cleaning up.

Yesterday, 2 of J's friends came over to spend a few nights, and the boys are having a good time playing videogames and D&D. In between, they "cut up" and act silly. It is nice having them and I am glad they are enjoying themselves.

I think today I may put up my artificial tree. Or maybe not, maybe that's too ambitious. Wink

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