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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

Allstate Class Action Lawsuit

November 7th, 2012 at 09:48 am

I received a check in the mail yesterday for the Allstate Class Action lawsuit in the amount of $10.26. This amount is going straight to E Fund.

The house next door to me recently sold (unfortunately, not the dog poisoner) to an investor who intends to use the house as a rental. He has been doing work at the house, and yesterday came over and spoke to BF about replacing our shared fence. BF took his name and number and I called him back this morning. He wants to replace the fence while he has hired help on site. I said yes, I am all for it. He says he has most of the lumber we would need, can provide the labor, and has a concrete guy coming out today anyway who could also do the fence holes. He said he will call me back later today with an estimate, but he thinks we could do it for $400 - $500. So, I'm excited at the prospect of that. I share my back yard fence with 4 different neighbors, and this section is now the oldest.

My decoy mail volume is steadily increasing. I receive mail more days than not, usually 2 - 3 pieces at a time. Yesterday, I had 6 pieces.

Last night I bought J a video game he has been wanting. It is his birthday present, he turns 17 on Saturday. My baby. Where has the time gone? Hug your little ones while you can.

When I went to see the lung doctor, he did a throat swab and prescribed a cough suppressant (Benzonatate). He stated he suspects I have pertussis (whooping cough). Later I thought, but that is contagious. I have been coughing for months and I have not infected anyone. I go back in December for a breathing test, then a second time for the results. Meanwhile, the Rx is greatly reducing the coughing so that is great. The co-pay for a specialist is $40 per office visit.

I did some poking around on MID's website and I learned that Balanced Bill Pay amounts are adjusted every February. So, I will be paying $238 per month until then. I expect to have quite a large credit by then, so it should adjust down substantially at that time.

Would You Retire Out of The USA?

August 7th, 2012 at 04:33 pm

Would you consider it? If so, what countries would you consider, and why?

According to International Living, there are places where an income of $800 per month will provide a comfortable lifestyle. If the area is scenic and local infrastructure is in place, yes, I would consider it. Especially if my income is such that I could afford to travel back home to visit every few years.

So this is something to keep in mind as I plan future vacation travels. Two countries which I think I might want to investigate are Uruguay and Ecuador. A conversational Spanish class might be a good idea. Smile

Last week, I did 3 more secret shops. These required an initial cash outlay, but I will be reimbursed plus paid $5 each. All 3 were for the same fast food chain. There are more of these shops available, but I am done eating their food for now. The free (after reimbursement) meal is part of what makes the shops worthwhile.

My daughter has repaid $260 of the $500 I lent her. As you can see on my sidebar, Mini E Fund is looking a little more healthy these days.

Beezag is in some sort of transition. There are no new videos available. I received an e-mail about this and was asked to cash in my points. I had 7,226 pts, and was able to redeem 7,000 of them for $7.00. I hope that the other 226 follow me to their new site, but who knows what will happen? The e-mail was rather vague.

My son J started his Sophomore year today. Last Thursday at orientation, I shelled out $110 for his student ID card, his yearbook, and a new set of gym clothes. Today I sent him off with a $40 check for his lunch account, and $5 in case he needed to ride the city bus home, or buy a cold drink if he decided to walk to a friend's house. (Neither of these things would cost $5, but J will only spend what he needs to spend.) His best friend from last year is going to a different high school this year. Last year they would walk to the friend's house and I would pick J up after work. In return, I would pick up the friend in the mornings and drive him to school.

First Raise in 3 Years!! :)

July 31st, 2012 at 05:38 pm

And it was a welcome surprise, too. It is not a large raise, it equates to an additional $60 per month in take home pay. It is going into savings.

In other good news, I was able to buy my replacement car remote battery for $1.38. Thanks, Lucky Robin! That was a great tip. Smile

I have been thinking about my circumstances, and I have decided to make no mortgage chips whatsoever at this time. Instead, I will focus on increasing my cash accounts and my Roth. Now, paying my mortgage online makes it difficult to resist rounding up a bit. To avoid this temptation, I set up an automatic transfer for my mortgage payments. They will be paid on the 5th of each month, without a single extra cent.

So here is my budget for August and going forward:

Review of Ting's Service

July 24th, 2012 at 04:39 pm

Millions of adoring fans e-mailed me asking how I liked my Ting service. (OK, Ruthie asked today in a comment.) But she is right, I should give some feedback. I heard about Ting right here at Saving Advice, on someone's blog.

I switched to Ting on June 19th, just over 1 month ago. So far, the service is absolutely fine. No dropped calls, no problems getting service out of my area, and that includes Honolulu and Kona.

With Ting, you choose a package size for your minutes, your texts, and your data. You pay $6 per phone line per month.

I have 3 phones, and we chose 1000 minutes, 1000 texts, and no data.

My first bill was $29.95. It should have been more, but they only charged me for 1 line instead of 3. I called and asked, and I was told I would be charged the next month.

When I called, a real live person answered. I don't mean they eventually answered after I navigated a menu tree, either. I was stunned.

My second bill was $49.27. This included the missing $12 charge from the first month, two $1 charges for directory assistance (in Hawaii), and a credit for $9. We didn't use all of our minutes the first month, we used only 456 minutes. The next smaller package from the one I chose is 500 minutes. I suspect if I had gone over 500 minutes, I would not have received any credit. There are no rollover minutes.

I expect from now on, my bill will be right at $44 per month. Unless I keep getting those $9 credits, that is.

Anytime you wish, you can go to Ting's website and view your dashboard, which shows you clearly how many minutes, texts, and megabytes you have used, and how many days until your next bill.

You may change any of your packages whenever you like. The changes will not take effect until your next bill.

And they have finally added another flip phone. (So people won't have to troll for a used one in Ting's forums like I did.)

So yes, I am very pleased with my new cell phone service provider. I would recommend Ting to anyone trying to trim the cost of their cell bill. Smile

Escrow Refund On Its Way

July 17th, 2012 at 06:23 pm

I emailed Wells Fargo's customer service yesterday about my escrow account, asking for an analysis. I received a reply today that there is $854.09 too much in there and I will be receiving a check in a week or two. When that comes, I will go ahead and send it on to my Chase Freedom Visa. So it looks like no further balance transfer checks nor dips into CurveBall will be necessary. Yay! Now I have to tackle that Citi MC.

I did my secret shop this morning, and have another one scheduled tonight. The one tonight pays $10 plus reimburses me if I have to buy the product. (I may not need to, that is the point of this particular shop. They want to know if the store is selling popular items before the actual release date.)

My garage door has decided to stop opening. I suspect it needs a new spring. I have scheduled a repair person for Friday afternoon.

I have a situation in my hall bathroom. Someone installed the tub/shower combo incorrectly, and water was leaking into the wall. The gap has now been sealed, but I am suspicious about what may be lurking in the wall. I am going to have someone who knows what they are doing come and take a look. I hope there is no expensive repair required, but if there is, then there is. I don't think it is wise to put off a repair of that sort if it is warranted. I'm not sure how I will fund it, but first I need to find out if there is damage or not.

The battery in my car key remote has died. I have had my car 7 years now, so that is reasonable I suppose. I can lock the car just fine by, gasp, inserting the key and turning my wrist. However, I can't set the alarm. I'm not certain how much that will set me back.

So now you know everything. Stick Out Tongue

Another Weekend Whizzes By

July 15th, 2012 at 02:26 pm

On Friday, I did not leave work until 4pm, even though we closed at noon. I continue to fight an uphill battle trying to keep everything caught up.

Friday was payday, so I did a wallet sweep. I had $9 in bills plus coins to deposit, but the line was so long I just deposited the bills at the ATM and saved the coins for another time. This wallet sweep went to Mini E-Fund.

My paycheck was for only 10 days for the second time in a row! The next one will be for 12, but I still lose one day on the deal. My net pay went down exactly $20 as I expected, due to bumping up my Simple IRA contribution by $25.

Yesterday I drove up to camp to pick up J. The camp is located a bit more than 3 hours away. It was his third year and he had another fabulous time. By the time he shows me around and I chat with counselors, a few hours slip by. So picking him up is an all day event.

Today I sat down to pay bills and make transfers. It felt great to transfer $359 to CurveBall. Smile It did not feel so great to write a big check to Chase Freedom. I paid most of the balance, but wrote a balance transfer check from Citi MC for $433. They are no longer offering me 0%, but did offer me 1.99%. I could have looked for another 0% offer from someone else, but I don't want to have a balance here, there, and everywhere. I also have to pay a 3% balance transfer fee. Mathematically, it would have made more sense to skip the CurveBall transfer and just squeeze out another $433. However, my savings is already below my comfort zone, so I didn't do that.

When I get my August statement, I will be facing the same choice. Not all of my vacation charges had posted before the statement cut off and I do not pay charges which are not yet on the statement.

My car insurance is due 8/5. I will charge it just before it is due, then that charge will show up on September's statement. Car insurance money will be coming from CurveBall.

I also received my last AT & T wireless bill! I was expecting it to be for $114, early termination fee on J's contract. It was for $122, which was a $110 early termination fee plus $12 in "taxes". It will automatically bill my credit card at the end of the month, and that is it, all done.

My car registration was due this month to the tune of $138. I did not pull from CurveBall for this, it fits neatly inside "Everything Else". I just have to watch my Everything Else spending this month, since there isn't much left.

So lots of money out. What about money in?

When my new mortgage closed, I expected a new escrow account would fund and my old escrow account would be returned to me. Instead, the new escrow money went into the old escrow account. A few days after closing, they transferred my old escrow account into my new one. It now has way too much money. I expect they will refund about 1k.

No payment from daughter and son-in-law yet.

Ex-h will reimburse half of J's camp ($242.50) at some point.

I need to decide if I am going to pursue recovering half of the cost of my new fence ($630) from my neighbor or not. Even though by law she should share the cost, I know it will make her angry and she will likely try to cause more problems. I'm not sure it is worth it.

I signed up for a secret shop this morning. I don't do them often but this one is for a business just 2 blocks from my office. It is a fast food restaurant. I will have to spend my own money, but will be reimbursed plus paid $5. It is an easy shop.

I should spend the rest of my day doing chores around the house. We'll see if that happens or not.

June 2012 Budget Report

July 12th, 2012 at 06:34 pm

Well, it's not my best month, but here it is:

My comments:

Wages - Had a 10 day pay period.

Utilities - This includes the cost of J's and my new Ting cell phones. It also includes a month of Ting's service on top of a month of AT & T's service. With AT & T, you pay after you have received service. With Ting, you pay before. I am still expecting an early termination fee of $114, but I haven't been billed for that yet.

Groceries - Not as great as it seems, since we were gone for the last week. We purchased groceries on vacation too, but I threw that in with other vacation expenses.

Visa allowance - I picked up a few clothing items for J and for myself. I did not count these under vacation.

Everything Else - Wowza. This includes $485 for J's summer camp, $101 for the dentist, an oil change, and $3745 on vacation. This number includes the $800 cash I withdrew from Vacation Fund before we left.

The biggest single expense in there was a decision I made after arriving. One of the main things J and I really wanted to do was to go on a Lost tour. We are fans of the show, it was filmed mostly on Oahu, and you can take a tour of many of their shoot sites. Well, since we arrived in Oahu around noon on one day, planned to see Pearl Harbor the next, and were flying on to the big island at noon on the third day, there just wasn't going to be time. This was a huge mistake on my part, I should have had the agent book us one more day on Oahu and one day less on the big island to start with. But, I didn't. So on the day we arrived, I made the decision to change our accommodations and take the 8 hour Lost tour. Between the tour, changing air tickets, and paying for another night at the hotel at the regular rate (the package rate didn't apply), it was expensive. I regret the extra expense I caused myself by not planning better, but I don't regret that tour; it was fabulous. I think I would have really regretted going to Hawaii and not taking that tour.

The second biggest expense in there was scuba diving. My cousin's family was going, and J really wanted to do it too. I was a little hesitant for him to go, so I asked BF to go along and I treated him. That was only right as BF had not planned to scuba dive. I felt reassured to know BF would be J's diving partner and would be keeping a close eye on him. There are instructors diving too, of course, who also monitor everyone. So the scuba diving for two set me back $500.

Even though some of my vacation spending did not post until July, I have included it all in June. I thought it made sense to have it grouped together.

So, there you have it.

Home from Hawaii; Son Off to Camp

July 9th, 2012 at 09:55 pm

Well, I've been home for a few days. We had fun, but did more activities and less lounging about than I would have liked. I worked Thursday and Friday, took it easy Saturday, drove son to camp Sunday.

What can I say about the trip? We had a great time, and I spent too much money. My camera was in BF's jacket pocket, and he left his jacket in my cousin's dining room! So I did take pictures, just not with my camera. I have to wait for others to share with me. It is so frustrating!

We did a lot of snorkeling. We went ziplining and scuba diving. We went to Pearl Harbor. We did the 8 hour "Lost" tour. We went to a luau. And, I had a delicious mango margarita at a Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville.

Hawaii certainly is beautiful. Our condo rentals on the big island were very luxurious. Our hotel rooms in Honolulu were right on Waikiki beach. My son had the time of his life. We made a lot of wonderful family memories. I'm so glad my mom went. Smile

I have been waiting for one more vacation expense to post. We had a limo service bus pick us up from my cousin's house and take us to the airport. She paid. When we returned home, the same service met us at the airport and took us back to cousin's house. I was supposed to pay. However, they have never charged me. I suspect that they charged cousin's credit card again. I called the limo service today and they are looking into it. Once that posts, I will have my final tally.

My remaining vacation fund balance will not cover my Visa bill; not even close. I think I will be doing a balance transfer to Citi MC and limping along with credit card debt a while longer. I will divert my vacation savings deposit towards credit card debt until it is paid in full.

Today, BF listed a piece of property his mother owned with an agent. (Not the house, 40 some acres of timberland.) I hope it sells quickly, I want my 6k back!

My new mortgage did fund right on schedule.

Ting Phones Activated; New Budget

June 19th, 2012 at 06:46 pm

I activated the two phones I purchased new from Ting this evening. UPS says my package is arriving tomorrow. So assuming the seller didn't just send me a box of rocks, I should be able to activate that one tomorrow. My new monthly cell bill will be $41 plus taxes. Buh-bye, AT & T!

Here is my new monthly budget starting in July (except that in July I will pay off Citi MC and pay for Ting phones and breaking contract with AT & T, since no mortgage payment is due).

Isn't this a nice change? Look at that new monthly deposit to savings number! This is much, MUCH better. Smile

Other changes:

*smaller take home pay, since I will be bumping up my Simple IRA contributions by $50 per month. I estimate this will cost me $40 in take home pay.

*new lower mortgage payment

*new lower utilities budget, which I totally think I can do!

*gym membership is gone for now. I am walking the trail near my house and using Wii Fit instead.

*monthly Roth contribution is going up.

I am so tickled about these changes. I am looking forward to updating my sidebar under "Debts". That's how you know for certain that I am a nerd.

Successfully Purchased Used Ting Flip Phone

June 18th, 2012 at 05:12 pm

Well, I was able to purchase a flip phone for my mom used, from another Ting customer. He made a small profit at my expense, but I am still ahead, so I am OK with that. The phone shipped today and should be in my hot little hands in the next day or two.

I was a bit nervous about the transaction, because what if the other party stiffed me? But he forwarded his confirmation email from Ting from when he purchased the phone, so I knew that he had one a few weeks ago. That made me feel better. He emailed me Saturday that he had received the cashier's check I mailed him, and that he would ship the phone today. I checked with UPS and he did ship me a package this afternoon. So I guess my gamble has paid off.

Tonight I need to charge the phones I bought for J and myself, then make sure I have a good list of all my contact phone numbers. I don't know if I can simply transfer the data or not. But I don't have a whole lot of numbers in my phone, so if I have to key them in again, its no big deal.

I am anxious now to get my service switched over and start enjoying my new much lower cell bill.

Yesterday I bought myself a big floppy hat and some water shoes, as well as a couple of brightly colored shirts. I picked up a few things for J as well. I paid for them with gift cards I got for free as a credit card sign up bonus. I just love credit card rewards!

Tonight I plan to swing by Target and pick up some snorkeling gear. It will be cheaper to buy our own than to rent by the hour. Maybe I will try to sell it as we are leaving. I surely don't have much use for it at home.

I transferred $800 from vacation fund to checking, which I will withdraw over the next few days. I will try to spend no more than that, so that the rest of the money in Vacation Fund will be the start of our next vacation. But if I go over, then I do. Some of the activities are expensive. I try to choose wisely, but can't say no to everything. If I did that, we might as well just stay home.

I pulled $485 from CurveBall for J's camp. I had put it on my Visa and it was time to pay up. Ex-h says he will pay half but it will be over the next few months. Whatever.

My brother had 2 new grandbabies on the same day last week. The babies are cousins. One of my nieces had a c-section scheduled, her sister went into early labor the same day. The babies were born in the same hospital, too. We have some sweet pictures of them all swaddled and lying next to each other. Both babies are perfectly healthy. That makes an even dozen grandbabies for my brother! And 15 great nieces and nephews for me. Smile If I never have a grandchild of my own to spoil, I will spoil the greats instead.

Cell Phone Plans

May 10th, 2012 at 09:10 am

So I have about a month to go until the contract on my line and my mom's line is up. J's line has another year and 3 months to go.

This month, my bill was $148.77. This is an improvement (!) because I am no longer getting those $2 charges for data access (accidentally hitting the button, not actually accessing the web!). Currently, I have AT & T.

I have been pricing T Mobile this morning. I can get a 3 line plan with 1000 daytime minutes, unlimited nights & weekends, and unlimited text, including insurance, for $94.77 per month plus tax (I think). This would be a savings of $40ish dollars per month.

I would have to pay a $105 activation fee ($35 per line). To leave AT & T early will cost me an early termination fee on J's line of $150 less $4 per full month of service, which should equal $114.

If I wait, the early termination fee will eventually go away, but the activation fee will not. Meanwhile, I will still be spending an additional $40ish dollars per month.

I think it is worth paying 1 early termination fee. It is not worth paying 3, so I can't switch just yet.

How about the insurance? It costs $4.78 per month per phone. Maybe I should just get it on J's phone? That would trim another $9.56 per month.

Do you pay for cell phone insurance?

April 2012 Budget Report

April 30th, 2012 at 04:46 pm

I received my seasonal over-time and bonus this month, so that is where the extra money came from.

"Everything Else" this month included son's allowance and the dentist.

All in all, not my best spending month, but not too awful, either.

End of Tax Season

April 18th, 2012 at 06:44 pm

What a relief that another tax season has ended. This year was especially exhausting. Our receptionist/secretary needed time off which meant the other staff accountant and I had to take on her duties as well. We hired a temp, she was trained for 5 days, then worked solo for 7 days. She was doing a great job, but stopped showing up. She didn't resign, just stopped showing up. Her agency e-mailed us to say she had a family emergency and had to go out of town. However, we discovered that she left her key in her desk at the end of her last day, even though it would be hours before she would even learn of her family emergency. Hmmmm.

I racked up less overtime this year than last, due to my Bodega Bay overnight trip fiasco, and being sick for 3 weeks. My bonus was $100 larger than last year. Together, I cleared just a few dollars under 4k. I deposited them, then transferred $1400 to vacation fund, $1000 to CurveBall, and $600 to my Roth. I plan to send $400 extra to Citi MC and $170 to my son's mutual fund. (I promised him $300, but he asked for 2 video games. I told him they would come out of his $300.) That's $3570, the rest is sitting in checking.

My Simple IRA transfer is still in transit. I am expecting my matching plus my contributions from Jan - March to be deposited. The transfer is holding up my deposits. Together, that amounts to $1920 which needs to be added to my account. It will be so nice to not lose 5.75% right off the top anymore!

Yesterday in the mail I received a refund from my impound account in the amount of $119.05. I have already turned it into a mortgage chip. Beginning in June, my PITI payment will drop a few dollars. I do not plan to change my budgeted PITI.

Still waiting for my Card Pool check. The website says it takes 3 - 7 business days, and today was only the 3rd business day.

BF brought me a nice big garbage can to keep in the garage for my recyclables. I think that will be nicer than storing them in used grocery store plastic bags. I don't buy a lot of canned sodas, or bottled water, but I do buy some. (I don't like my son to drink a lot of soda, and I rarely drink soda. We have a Brita pitcher for home drinking water.) When my nephew lived here, he would always throw the empty containers away. I got tired of asking him not to, so I started taking them to work with me. I work downtown and park in an alley behind our office. We have a large homeless population downtown. I would simply set my empty containers next to a dumpster, and they wouldn't last 30 minutes. So it worked out both for me and for the person who found them first. However, I think now that I have a nice big plastic can to store them in, I will sell them every so often and use the money for....you guessed it, mortgage chips.

Dental Costs, Budget Progress, Big Picture Thinking

January 22nd, 2012 at 10:01 am

The dental appointment went very well! Since I have been a patient for a long time (decade or so), and since I was paying cash, they gave me a special rate. $75 for my cleaning and x-rays! That was slightly less expensive than paying $80 for insurance, then $36 at each bi-annual cleaning.

The dental copay for J was just $10. I'm going to mention to ex-h that J went to the dentist, but I'm not going to ask him to kick in half. I don't want him to feel nickeled and dimed, and I need him to come through without a fuss when larger expenses roll around. (We don't split everything. For example, I buy all of J's clothes. I receive child support, so we agreed that was fair. But we agreed that medical copays and extras such as summer camp would be split.)

My mammogram had no co-pay at all! Quite reasonable. Smile

I'm on track to come in at or under budget on every category for January. The only "overage" is on the mortgage, because I chipped $5. I don't mind that at all.

Now that I plan to refi and start all over on a 30 year mortgage, I think I need to face the reality that I likely will not have my mortgage paid in full by age 65. Hopefully though, I will have a nice chunk of equity at that point. So perhaps a better plan for me is to downsize. I may have enough equity to purchase a 2 bedroom condo outright.

My New Fence!!

December 27th, 2011 at 10:03 pm

My new fence was installed today. Yay! I wrote a check for $1410. Hopefully, at some point, I will be reimbursed $630 from the neighbor. Last week, I learned that my neighbor's "main objection" to paying her share is her dislike of my nephew. I am not certain what one thing has to do with the other. At any rate, her son stated he will try to talk her into it, and if possible (he is unemployed) he will pay it himself. I am not going to do anything for now, but when tax season is over, I will contact her again and state that if it is not paid, I will proceed with the legal remedies available to me.

What else? I received a crisp $100 bill in the mail inside a Christmas card from a client. This is the same client who sent me $100 last year. What a nice man! Smile I would love to tuck it into my Roth. However, since CurveBall is poor and since January's Visa bill will include a $479 charge for my new brakes, I am going to tuck it into CurveBall.

I decided to close my Betterment account and will tuck that money into CurveBall as well.

We had a lovely, low-key Christmas. I never did get around to putting up the tree or opening my Christmas decoration storage tubs. On Friday as I was leaving the office, I realized that we would be throwing away the poinsettias on Tuesday. Therefore, I took 5 of them home with me. I put 4 of them on the "shelf" (a wall which does not quite reach the ceiling) between my living room and kitchen, and the 5th one on the kitchen table as a centerpiece. That was it for decorations.

Christmas Eve night is when my ex-husband's family does their gift exchange. After ex-husband picked up J to take him to his grandparents' house, I wrapped his iPad2 (only present) and put it under the poinsettia on the table! I had a card with a Microsoft points card for my nephew and put that under it too.

Christmas morning my mom and ex-husband came over. J opened his present and BF and I made breakfast. After breakfast ex-husband left. We played cards, watched Phantom of the Opera, and put our dinner in the oven around 4. My mom had made a pork roast, sweet potatoes, and a peach pie the day before and brought them with her. I made a salad. When everything was warm, dinner was served.

Christmas Bonus, BF Update

December 12th, 2011 at 11:26 pm

We had our company Christmas party this past Saturday night. It was fun and my dinner was delicious. I received a Christmas bonus of $1750, same as last year. Smile For now, I used it to pay bills. On payday, I will send $1450 to CurveBall. I do have a fence to replace and my car insurance is due in February. BF borrowed $300 last week which he will repay soon and that will go to CurveBall as well. More on that below.

I bought J's iPad2 on Sunday. With a cover, 2 year warranty, and tax it came to $825. I used $500 of Best Buy giftcards bought with credit card reward points. Ex-h is contributing $150 so my out of pocket is $175. Also, for purchasing the cover I received a $50 Best Buy gift card which I used to buy Microsoft points for nephew for Christmas. (That's what he said he wanted). I will send my daughter a check for $150. And that is it, I am done Christmas shopping.

BF was here over the weekend but left this morning to go back to his house. He has a meeting tomorrow with a real estate agent at the house. He had his mother's jewelry appraised and is in the process of selling it. She had some collectible guns which he has taken to a gun store to sell on consignment. He has been gathering up items of value to sell on e-bay, some are already listed and receiving bids. He has been working on getting the corporation documents in order (family business, now defunct but still owns real estate). So he has been getting the ball rolling. He says it feels really good to finally be making some progress. He will be receiving a check next week which represents the last of his IRA money. Frown I lent him $300 to hold him over until he receives it. His checking account was overdrawn. He has also decided to sell his car. He has a car and a truck. He loves the car but needs the truck, so the car has to go for now. He has lost a great deal of money by procastinating dealing with all of this and living off of his savings. His reasoning was that he didn't have time for a job until he settled the estate, but he wasn't doing a thing about settling it. And so here we are. Fortunately for him, he should still come out of this with a significant chunk of cash and his share of the corporation. I told him when the house sells, he needs to take his share and set it aside, investing it sensibly. Then get a job rather than live on his little nest egg. He says he will. I hope that he does, but that is entirely up to him.

New Brakes

December 9th, 2011 at 08:56 am

My brakes were making a funny noise, so I dropped my car off this morning to be checked out. The verdict: I need new rear rotors and pads, and in the front just new pads. The estimate is $479.

BF has been getting a lot done each and every day, he texts me updates through the day. I am so pleased that he is moving ahead and making real progress with his huge "to do" list. Smile

Our company Christmas dinner is tomorrow night. It should be fun.

Taking Stock

November 9th, 2011 at 03:27 pm

Well, here I am yet again with more expenses than cash on hand (in checking) to cover them. So far this month, I have been sticking carefully to my budget. Poor consolation after last month!

At the moment, I have $593.06 in checking. I have paid my mortgage and deducted my gym membership for the month. Still to receive in this month are two $1,512.41 net paychecks and two $226 child support checks. Still to pay out this month are utilities, my $1,326 Chase Visa bill, and my Citi MC debt payment. I put some of my charges on Citi MC, which I had resolved not to do, but there they are. So I am looking at increasing my revolving debt. I will have to increase my minimum payment to Citi as well, as I still intend to keep my Dec 2012 payoff date.

At first blush, it looks as though I can cover everything. But wait, I can't draw checking down to nothing as I will pay December's mortgage payment with my second paycheck of November. I need to leave a cushion.

What to do? Well, I will transfer some money from vacation savings and pay it back with my approaching Christmas bonus. I hate relying on a bonus to cover my overspending. I would much rather have the whole thing to save/invest. But this is the pickle I put myself into.

I dug out a purse from my purse bin and transferred my stuff into it from my summer purse. Guess what I found? A $50 Visa gift card from last Christmas. I remember Ex-H gave it to me (from J) and I wasn't able to figure out how to use it. I called and got it set up, and will use it the next time I buy gas. That will help me in December when it is time to pay for November's charges. J is turning 16 tomorrow! I plan to tell Ex-H that I think we can stop giving each other gifts from J now. This will make life simpler for both of us.

Every day after school, J walks to a friend's house. I pick him up there after school. I also swing by in the mornings and give that friend a ride to school. I think tomorrow I will take a long lunch and pick up some bakery cookies or other treat and swing by the friend's house, so that the treat is waiting as a surprise when J gets there after school. I will speak to the friend's dad tonight about it.

J has been having some acne problems, so I ordered him some Proactive (my cousin suggested it). It was worth every cent, it is really working. But that is another recurring expense for me to cough up.

I have been Googling for Cyber Monday deals. I have found an HP notebook for $399 from Amazon. I think it might be a great substitute for an iPad. I would want a cover for the iPad (more money) as J would be carting it around. I think a notebook would make more sense as it snaps closed. It is still lighter and smaller than a laptop. I think I will take J to look before we decide, but I will buy online to get a better price.

If I am approved for the Chase Southwest card, I will use my bonus points for giftcards and buy the notebook. Ex-H plans to contribute $150 to J's present, so I could use his cash elsewhere since the giftcards would cover the entire cost. I might not be approved, though. Chase might be tired of giving rewards away to me. Big Grin

Speaking of, I hadn't received my 2,500 rewards points for opening a stamps.com account. I messaged a rep yesterday and today the points are in my account. I was able to cancel stamps.com without incident as well, so I feel the effort was worth $25.

October 2011 Budget Report

November 7th, 2011 at 10:59 am

It's very ugly. In addition to the items I mentioned in an earlier post (Blue Man Group tickets, Alcatraz excursion, replacing carpet padding, repairing & cleaning carpet, new winter clothes), I also had a big tune-up for my car (75k miles).

I am expecting a large Visa bill this month. I will not be able to pay in full unless I dig into savings, which I do not plan to do.

Spendy October

October 27th, 2011 at 03:52 pm

I have been doing two things lately: neglecting my blog and spending money. Is there a direct correlation? I think so. Wink

I bought both J (my son) and myself some new winter clothes. I spent about $250.

I spent $97 getting the carpet in J's room cleaned. It stunk to high heaven after my daughter and son-in-law left. After cleaning, it stunk less, but still was too stinky. I spent another $274 buying new padding, having it installed, and having one corner of the carpet repaired (I had a strip from last year when it was installed).

The Blue Man Group is coming to town. We wanted to see them last November when we went to Vegas, but the timing didn't work. I spent $192 buying tickets for J, BF, and myself to see them.

Last weekend, I went out to with some former co-workers to a nice dinner and drinks. We had a lovely time. Spent too much on the evening, though. They wanted to order Dom Perignon. I don't even like champagne, but they ordered a bottle and we split the tab. Yikes!

Tonight we (J, BF, my Mom, and myself) are driving "over the hill" to my cousin's house, she lives just a bit south of San Francisco. We will spend the night then go to Alcatraz in the morning. My cousin has a friend who is a docent at Alcatraz and we are getting a private tour. My cousin's daughter and her two teens are down visiting from Oregon, my cousin's son and his wife and daughter will be joining us too. We will be a motley crew. The tickets I bought were $102.50, my Mom will reimburse me for hers.

My cell phone was shut off on Oct 4th. On Oct 5th, I paid $345 to get it turned back on. Here is the scoop on that: My BF is about half moved in with me. He pays no rent. He buys groceries sometimes and he added my cell phone line, J's line, and my Mom's line on his account and has been paying the bill. When I had no phone service, I discovered that he hasn't paid in several months. We have very different approaches to money managment. I do not enjoy having my cell phone shut off. So I asked the phone company to put my 3 lines in my name. They won't until BF "releases the numbers" to me. He says he will do that. I reminded him yesterday and am still waiting. He frustrates me.

Kindle Fire? iPad2? Galaxy Tab? Other?

October 17th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Ex-h and I had been planning to buy an iPad2 for our son for Christmas (splitting the cost). But now that the Kindle Fire is out, at a price $300 less than the iPad2, we are giving that a look.

Any tablet owners out there with an opinion?

EDIT: My son does not have his own laptop. So he borrows mine or BF's or his Dad's (when he is there). He loves to play games, and would also surf. Possibly, he might even do some homework. (Yeah, it could happen.) For word processing, he would just use my laptop.

Money IN

September 28th, 2011 at 01:04 pm

Yesterday I received my "incentive" for particpating in the survey Vanguard emailed to me, a check for $25! Cha-ching!

I would like for it to be mortgage chip money, BUT, as I will spending money on my fence soon, I decided to add it to CurveBall instead.

There is not enough money in CurveBall for the fence (no surprise there since CurveBall is nearly bankrupt), so I think I will "borrow" the money from vacation savings when it is time to pay. Meanwhile, I am going to scrape every dollar into CurveBall that I possibly can. My October budget will reflect this.

My mortgage will still be there when my fence is paid for.

Ryan Is Correct

September 20th, 2011 at 11:25 am

Gravity certainly DOES take its toll on my bank accounts.

I have dipped into CurveBall to pay my Chase Visa balance in full this month. Frown I went back and forth on that, then finally decided that it would be silly to not pay in full. So CurveBall is poor now. Poor, poor CurveBall.

As of this moment, I have $635.73 in checking and will deposit $226.00 tomorrow. I have paid all of my bills for the month except Citi MC which has yet to arrive. I will pay them $124 towards my debt. That leaves me $737.73 for the rest of the month. I shouldn't need more than $100 of that for groceries, so that leaves $637.73 towards my early October bills. Tight, but doable.

So far this month, I am on track with spending. So that is my silver lining. Next month's Visa bill will not be so steep, and thanks to balanced bill pay, my electric bills won't be either.

In other news, my daughter and son-in-law will be moving out of my house and into their new place on Oct 1st. Smile

Looking Ahead to September

September 2nd, 2011 at 10:33 am

As I mentioned, my next electric bill has already arrived and it is $384.98. My entire utilities budget is $400, so there is no way I will stay under that.

I considered signing up for their balanced bill payment plan, but it won't help me this month because they have already billed. I could start it next month. I don't really see the benefit of doing that, I think I would rather just leave it as it is.

So I considered fiddling with my budget, but then I decided, nope, I'm not going to do that either. Instead, I'm going to try to come in under on other categories to compensate. It's a lofty goal, but I think if I really try hard, I can do it.

My son went to the eye doctor and he needs glasses. We have to pay $150, the insurance picked up the rest. My ex-husband has already paid, so I need to reimburse him $75. That's an "everything else" item.

My daughter's birthday is Sunday, so I plan to give her some cash. That is also an "everything else" item. EE is getting very tiny, and today is only Sept 2nd!!

So as you can see, I really have my work cut out for me. All right, September, let's dance.

August 2011 Budget Report

September 1st, 2011 at 11:17 am

Everything else this month includes my car insurance, flashcards I bought to help me study ($300 + shipping from Becker, found them on eBay for $169.50 including shipping), and son's back to school expenses.

I just squeaked by on groceries, but those utilities! Waaaaahhhh! (that is me squawling like a baby) That's not even the awful part. The awful part is my next electric bill was in my mailbox yesterday. It is even bigger than the last one.

Almost Out of August

August 30th, 2011 at 03:40 pm

Well here we are with one more day of August to go. I intend to have a no-spend day tomorrow.

So where are we? Well, my electric bill this month was enough to make me cry. $374. Really looking forward to fewer people in the house. I'm also really, really tired of walking into an empty room or empty garage and all of the lights are on. Groceries aren't too bad this month because everyone pitched in. They certainly weren't cheap, but I think I am on budget there.

When my car insurance was due, I put it on my Visa in order to hang on to the cash a little longer. (I never get any rewards points for my insurance. Humph.) Chase will cut off my billing cycle in a week or so and send me a big fat bill, so I will be parting with the cash soon enough.

Everything is paid for August and I have $1,201.51 in checking. That is less than I would like to have, especially considering my Visa bill will be bigger than usual. Tomorrow is payday, and it is a 12 day pay instead of 11. So that will help some.

I have finally received the rest of summer camp money from my ex-h, so my checking account has recovered from that particular shortage.

I have not one red cent in my wallet. I cleared it out at the bank today. Tomorrow I will withdraw another $60 cash. My Piddly Fund broke $400, and I "swept" the excess to my mortgage. I think $400 is enough in Piddly. Smile I intend to sweep all of my change into the mortgage from now on, the interest from Piddly too. Will that be an incentive for me to spend as little of my allowance as possible? I believe it will.

My EF is not budging as I am sweeping EF interest into CurveBall. I have been thinking about how much I want to keep in CurveBall. I am thinking once I have 2k in there, I will redirect that money towards IRAs if I have not hit 5k for the year. That happy dilemma is still in the future. At the moment, I am just hoping CurveBall doesn't go down in September. I hope I can swing everything in September without dipping into it. I may end up making my budgeted deposit only to pull some money right back out. We will see, though.

50,000 Bonus Rewards Points

August 20th, 2011 at 11:15 am

My Chase Sapphire statement closed yesterday, and I have an extra 50,000 bonus rewards points. I am not planning on cashing them in right now. Instead, I plan to use mine towards a plane ticket (extra 25% if you use your points this way) when we go on our trip to Hawaii next year.

Have I mentioned that a lot of family members have gotten on board? My Mom says she will go. My cousin to whom I am close (and with whom I went to China) and her husband want to go. Cousin's son and his wife and daughter want to go (their daughter 1 year younger than my son). Cousin's daughter and her husband and their 2 kids are considering.

I am a late life baby, so I am roughly the same age as the generation after me. My cousin's son is 1 year younger than me. Most of my nieces and nephews were born when I was in grade school.

Yesterday I received a $20 credit cards reward check which I have already transferred to my mortgage. This month I have chipped $21.85. I am already thinking I will not chip my expected $150 bonus for opening a checking account. I am thinking I will stash it in my Roth instead. I have in the back of my mind that if I hit retirement with more than my Roth goal of 150k, I will be willing to use it towards my mortgage. You know, if I have one at that point. I am still up in the air about what exactly I will do. I may sell my house, take my equity and move elsewhere. At least, I certainly hope I have some equity again at some point. Maybe I am being presumptuous. So anyway, overshooting my Roth goal will not be bad, but missing it will be bad. So if I overfund my Roth, I can always use the extra towards my mortgage later.

I spent some money last night which I shouldn't have. BF and son and I had been invited to dinner at my ex-nieces house. (She was married to my nephew at one time, they have a daughter together.) Something came up in the late afternoon with her son (she is remarried) and they had to cancel. So there we were, all dressed up and no place to go. On a whim, I suggested we go out to dinner. We went to Applebee's. Afterwards, we decided to go see Cowboys & Aliens (we really liked it). When that was over, we decided to see Rise of The Apes (loved it). So it was an expensive night. I paid for everything. BF and I have a policy that s/he who suggests an outing pays for it. We have been together almost 2 years now, so are past the point of "dating". The first few months he paid for almost everything, but then I said that it was silly that one person should always pay. For awhile, we would tussle from time to time over who was paying. At this point, we just go with the person who suggests also pays.

At Applebee's, I had pineapple glazed shrimp served on white rice with a spinach salad on the side. It was delicious and only 310 calories! Applebee's has quite a few low calorie entrees.

First Day of High School

August 10th, 2011 at 08:03 pm

My son started high school today. It was bittersweet. Smile He has a 0 period class, which means he starts at 7am! We have to be in the car leaving by 6:30 at the latest. This morning I dropped him off, went to get gas and have my car washed, and still arrived at work at 7:20! They aren't going to know what to think, lol.

I had to buy son's student ID card ($25) and gym clothes ($20) last week. Also a monthly pass for the city bus ($31). Over the weekend, I stocked up on filler paper, pens and pencils at the dollar store. This morning, I gave him a check for his lunch account ($40). After school today, we went to pick up some required items. He needed a flash drive, some dry erase markers, a protractor, and some index tabs ($18).

I haven't really bought him any school clothes, he is still wearing his summer clothes for now. I did get him a wallet ($10), he didn't have one.

EDIT: I also had to pay $25 to the photographer so that son's picture will be in the yearbook. All in all, a spendy few days!

I have been busy lately, trying to study at least some each day. Some days I get in a lot more than other days. Wink

Vacation Day :)

August 2nd, 2011 at 05:43 pm

Tomorrow I am taking a vacation day! It is my first one all year, so I am a bit excited! I will be taking my son and a friend of his to a local water park, where I will spend the day floating in the lazy river.

Instead of buying tickets at the door, I Googled coupon codes and was able to buy them online at $20.99 each instead of $29.99. We will pack a nice picnic lunch and skip the expensive, greasy park food.


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