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Booked My Next Trip

June 26th, 2021 at 11:33 pm

This morning, I booked 2 round-trip flights for Mom and me to fly to southern Illinois.  Afterwards, I booked an airbnb.   Why southern Illinois?  My daughter and son-in-law moved there about 1.5 years ago.  Last month, my son and daughter-in-law did the same.  They are all four living in the same small town.  The place I booked is a vacation home on a lake, complete with a hot tub.  We should have a really fun week, just hanging out and being together.  And playing cards, of course. Wink

It's going to be a fun trip.  I am looking forward to seeing my son of course, but I am REALLY looking forward to seeing my daughter.  I haven't seen her since we parted in Florida in March 2020.  (Whereas I have seen my son several times since then).

I have been setting money aside for this trip and have it covered, even though my current cash balance is a bit lean.  This month, I had to pay my 6 month insurance premium ($947.26), put a new starter and brakes in my car ($701.30), bought myself some new clothes ($177.72), plus spent money for birthday gifts and a motel room (see below).  So even though I have been saving diligently, I am ending the month with less cash than I started with.

I have a grand-niece and a grand-nephew who are first cousins and were born on the same day.  SB and I went to Willits for their birthday parties a few weekends ago; they both turned 9.  I paid for the motel room and birthday gifts, as it is my family.  It was a very fun weekend.  I got to spend some one on one time with two nieces, my brother, my sister-in-law, the birthday girl grand-niece, and my newest grand-niece who was born this past February. 

Money Going Out

April 2nd, 2021 at 01:52 am

So nine days ago, our little Bella got hit by a car on our property.  Not run over, but hit. (She ignored SB's commands and ran to the car, SB ran after her yelling for the car to stop).  The car did stop, but still she collided with it.  She had a trip to the 24 hour emergency vet and surgery where they sedated her to give her an xray and scan.  She had no internal injuries or broken bones, thank goodness.  They dressed her wounds, gave her pain pills, and discharged her.   She was very sore the first few days, but has been walking, jumping, etc. as normal for several days now.  So that set me back $761.27.

My medical bills for my hospital stay are all in I think, and my share is just a few dollars under 1k.  I have been having more tests though, so expect more bills to pay.

My phone has been acting up for a few months.  It freezes, it shuts down, in short it has become unreliable.  So I am in the market for a new phone sooner rather than later.  I am also planning to switch from Ting back to Verizon prepaid.  Even though I am on Ting's Verizon service, my calls drop more than they don't.  It will be more expensive, but it is not acceptable to be unable to rely on cell service even in town.  (I don't even count from home.  No matter what, cell service at home will remain unreliable.)

And the most fun money going out, we booked our next cruise.  We sail in May 2022.  We chose an Alaskan cruisetour, which includes staying in the Princess Lodge in Denali.

SB and I both received our first dose of the Pfizer vaccine today. So far, we both feel fine.

Road Trip to Manhattan, Nevada

July 5th, 2020 at 06:08 pm

I took a vacation day on Thursday, and Mom and I went on a short road trip to Manhattan, NV. My family lived there briefly in the winter of 1969-1970 and Mom has been wanting to reminisce.

I left home early Thursday morning (with Bella), headed to Mom's, then we were on to Tonopah, NV. We stayed at a wonderful old hotel called the Mizpah Hotel. I highly recommend it, should you ever find yourself in the area. Our junior suite was spacious, luxurious, full of beautiful antiques, and cost $129 per night. We could not go into the restaurant because I had Bella, but they have a wonderful lounge in the lobby where pets are welcome, and you can order and be served from the menu. The menu was small but the food was excellent; Mom said they serve the best fish & chips she has ever had. I ordered a burger and garlic fries, and they were both delicious.

Friday morning we were on to Manhattan. The population was 22 (including the 4 of us) when we lived there, but has since ballooned to 124. The retired postmistress still lived in town, and my mom was able to visit with her for awhile. She wasn't much younger than my mom and remembered people Mom had known. That was fun for her. Next, we headed to Fallon where the daughter of a long-time friend (now deceased) of my mother lives. Mom hadn't seen this daughter in about 30 years. We stayed in her home for about 3 hours and had a nice, fun visit. Next, we headed to Fernley, NV. We had learned a few days before that coincidentally, my brother and his wife were planning to be there for a few days! We met for dinner and had a nice time.

Saturday morning we were on the road early. I had planned to take Mom home from there before heading home myself. However, Bella seemed to be tiring of the trip so I changed my route and took her home first (leaving her with SB), making a round trip to Mom's to take her home. I got home about 6pm, tired from all of that driving.

Today I am just kind of taking it easy. I may or may not get my June budget report and 5th wheel payment #14 posted today.

Home From Cruise

March 27th, 2020 at 01:43 am

Well, that was an eventful vacation. As you know, we were booked on the Caribbean Princess. We flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Tuesday, 3/10/20. My daughter drove from Illinois and met us at our motel. We were having dinner in the attached restaurant about 9pm when I received emails from Princess that our cruise had been cancelled. The email also said we would receive a 100% refund plus a 100% credit towards a future Princess voyage. (I have already received credits to my credit card). Following a short discussion, I called VacationsToGo and was able to book a 7 day cruise on the Holland America Veendam leaving Fort Lauderdale the next day. It had a different itinerary of course. The ship is a much smaller ship than we are used to, but it was perfectly nice. Because of all of the cancellations (I assume), the fare was surprisingly low.
Before boarding the Veendam, every passenger had their temperature taken and anyone out of the normal range was not allowed to board.
We visited Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas, Ocho Rios in Jamaica, and Cozumel in Mexico. We were scheduled to visit Grand Cayman but were not allowed to stop there. We returned to Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday 3/18/20. Since we had originally booked a 10 day cruise, we had a few extra days to play with.
We decided to return to the same motel (it was affordable, surprisingly nice, with a great shuttle service). On Thursday, we visited the Everglades and took a fan boat into the swamp to view wildlife. For me, that was the highlight of the trip. I called to see if we could change our flights from Saturday 3/21/20 to Friday 3/20/20, and if so what it would cost. Well, they switched our flights with no fee whatsoever plus a $52 voucher per person.
As always, it was no fun to say good-bye to my daughter after having enjoyed her company non-stop for 10 days. We had a wonderful time together, though.
As it happened, we landed in Saramento a few hours before the shelter-in-place order in our state went into effect.
So what is going on with my job? It turns out that my department has been deemed essential so we are working. Some people are choosing to work from home which isn't really a good option for me as our internet is unreliable (to put it mildly). I have chosen to self-isolate and am taking sick time. (My supervisor is fully aware that I am not actually sick, nor is anyone in my family). We are having a lot of rain, hail, and snow, so I am not even going outside much.

Going With a Partial; Almost Time for Cruise

March 7th, 2020 at 05:16 pm

On Thursday my new dentist confirmed that a partial would work for me. So, that is the route I am going. I realize it will be an adjustment to get used to wearing it, but lots of people do it and I can do it too. The cost for a partial is about $1600 before insurance pays their portion. Currently, there is a balance of $2232.79 in my dental sinking fund. I will wait until all is done and paid for, then throw the remaining balance at debt.

Yesterday was payday and I was able to send $248.29 off to the 5th wheel loan, bringing the balance down to $34,351.95. It feels great to make a little progress.

We fly to Florida Tuesday morning and sail on Wednesday. We are not canceling our trip due to the current panic, which I personally feel is blown way out of proportion.

The cruise line sent an email stating that we can cancel for a 100% credit towards another sailing if we wish. We don't. Also, they are crediting us $200 per cabin as a thank you for not canceling.

Our ship is the Caribbean Princess. So I guess if you hear that the Caribbean Princess has been detained someplace, you'll know what is going on with me.

Budget Report May 2018

June 10th, 2018 at 04:40 pm

I did (mostly) receive the past due rent. The money orders for March were dated March 1 and totalled $1215. So apparently, the tenant purchased the money orders, put them someplace, then thought he had mailed them. All of the info regarding what MoneyGram had told him was obviously fabricated. When I received them, I texted him to let him know I had received them then asked where he had found them. No response. No explanation as to why they were $35 short.

Yesterday I received June rent in full, but no additional $35.

Regarding paying for the cruise, I did lower my 457 plan contribution from 15% to 3%. I also changed my withholding from single 0 to single 1. The net result to my paycheck is an additional $214.02 per. All of this will go towards the cruise.

At the end of May, I had $630.80 saved. I have already purchased my daughter and son-in-law's airfare, and I have already paid $800 towards the cruise. So I still need to pay $4,370, which means I need to save $3,739.20 more.

My Mom and nephew came up here the Friday before Mother's Day and stayed (at the bed and breakfast in town) until Sunday afternoon. We had such a good time.

My birth mother is coming for a visit towards the end of July. She has a camper van so will stay right on the property with us. I will take some time off while she is here. I'm really looking forward to that.

My former father-in-law died about a month ago. I went down to the viewing (not the service) and did get to speak a bit with my former mother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece, and nephew. The financial situation former m-i-l finds herself now in is not good. Various family members and friends helped contribute towards the modest yet tasteful final expenses. (F-i-l and m-i-l did have some money set aside for this, but it was not enough) I helped a little, as he was my children's grandfather. Despite the circumstances, it was nice to see all of them.

Last Match; Cruise is Booked

April 23rd, 2018 at 08:23 pm

Last week, my final employee match was made to my Simple IRA, in the amount of $1070.00. I plan to roll it into my Roth IRA and pay the tax. It will be nice to have a bit of new money in there.

I booked our cruise on Saturday and paid an $800 deposit. Princess was having a special promotion, which is still going on I think, no gratuities. I hope that doesn't mean the crew forego their share of the gratuity, but rather that Princess pays it. That saves me $675, my mom $270 and SB $135.

The balance is due Oct 24, my late brother's birthday.

Paying For The Cruise

April 15th, 2018 at 07:33 pm

So I've been thinking about how exactly I am going to pay for that planned family cruise. I loathe the debt I am already carrying and am uninterested in carrying more.

After a great deal of consideration, I have decided to cut my 457 plan contributions from 15% to 3%. I will bank the extra take home pay and should have enough by January to pay in full. I need 7k to cover 5 fares, port taxes, gratuities, and air fare for 2. I have $1,356.25 in my travel/vacation fund right now, with 9 more $150 deposits budgeted for this year. That's $2700, I need another $4,300. I calculate I will take home an additional $2,808 this year from reducing 457 contributions. That still leaves $1500. I do have those 2 extra paycheck months. I think I can do it.

I think my retirement plans can withstand the hit. I am on track to surpass my minimum nest egg goal. This trip is very important to me. I will fill out the paperwork tomorrow and expect to see the extra take home pay beginning in May.

In Colorado Springs

June 30th, 2017 at 04:56 pm

We are in Colorado Springs!

Mom, nephew, SB and I hit the road Saturday morning. We hit Las Vegas in the early evening and checked into our clean-but-no-frills motel a few miles from The Strip. At $120 per room, it was the most reasonable deal we could find in Vegas on a Saturday night. We had dinner at a Claim Jumper restaurant and took in some sights on The Strip.

Sunday we visited Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, Zion National Park, and then stopped for the night in a little place called Carmel Junction just outside of Zion. The motel was much nicer and thus was a bit pricey at $189 per room. (I know it is all relative, but that is more than I usually like to pay). They had a little restaurant which was a bit overpriced but the food was quite good, including their own fresh baked bread. Also, they had a beautiful pool and hot tub area, with beautiful views.

Monday morning we visited the north rim of the Grand Canyon, which is less visited than the south rim, and we did see why. It is beautiful, but definitely less grand. Here's a pic:

Afterwards, we set off for Mesa Verde National Park. Monday evening, we stopped for the night in Towaoc, Colorado at an Ute Indian casino. It is very new and cushy, and we stayed for $89 per room! We had a nice relaxing evening enjoying the amenities. I gambled for maybe 15 minutes. I started with a $20 (all I am willing to spend on gambling), chose a machine, and fed in my $20. I played it for 10 minutes or so, cashing out $19.75. I chose another machine, played it 3 times, and cashed out $76.55. I was done at that point. SB stayed in the casino, but I went back to the room and changed for the pool and hot tub. Later, SB came back to our room $48 richer. So the casino paid for our room for the night. Thanks, casino!

Tuesday morning we got up and drove to Mesa Verde. We visited the park, saw the cliff dwellings, and then hit the road. We made it to Alamosa and decided that was far enough. We got rooms in a Fairfield Inn paying about $150 each. There was not much to see and we were all tired so we grabbed dinner at a Wendy's and called it a night.

Wednesday morning we had breakfast at the hotel then hit the road for another 3 hours and finally arrived in Colorado Springs. And here we are! We will be here for a week, hanging out with Mr and Mrs M180 and taking in the local sights.

We ended up renting a house on VRBO for $1500 for the week. Since we need 2 rooms per night, this works out so much better. We have a whole house to enjoy, complete with laundry room. We visited a supermarket and have fixings for meals here. It is a lovely house very tastefully appointed, and we can see Garden of the Gods from our living room window!

Interestingly, the owners of the house have said they are "just a few minutes away" in their cabin, and we can call if we need anything. I think what they are doing is offering both places for rent on VRBO and moving back and forth to accomodate their renters. Maybe they are using the income for living expenses, or to pay off their mortgage, or to pad their nest egg. How creative! Colorado Springs is home to a University of Colorado campus, an Air Force Academy, an Air Force base, an Army base, and a National Guard base. Plus, it has a great deal of natural beauty. I'll bet there are a lot of people wanting to come and visit for a week or so.

I am so happy to be here for a week with my daughter and other loved ones. Life is so good. Smile

Home From Fun Overnight Trip; Upcoming Plans

April 3rd, 2017 at 12:46 am

I had a fun overnight trip yesterday with some long-time girlfriends. One of whom was visiting from Tulsa, OK and flew back home today.

There were 5 of us, and we drove up to Grass Valley to stay at an old hotel. It's sort of infamous, having housed several US Presidents and other notable guests such as Mark Twain. And it is supposedly haunted, which adds to the ambiance. We had a great, giggly time. We made a run to the Sacramento airport late this morning and I returned home about 2 hours ago. Here are a few pics from our hotel room. I wish I had thought to snap a shot of the elevator, which was the old fashioned scrolly ironwork kind.

That last shot was from the balcony, which we enjoyed. We had two rooms, the other was similarly appointed.

Next weekend, SB and I are going to Bodega Bay with another couple. We have rented a house for the weekend.

The following weekend, J and his girlfriend are getting married in her grandparents' back yard.

The weekend after that, I am flying to Spokane, WA with my mother for a 4 day visit with my first cousin and his wife. My mother and father raised him for a good chunk of his childhood.

A road trip has been planned for the last week of June and first week of July. SB, my mother, my nephew, and myself will hit the road in a rented mini-van (which I was able to rent through for just under $350 per week including taxes). All of the plans are not finalized, but we will be in Colorado Springs for almost 1 week spending time with MrsM180 and hubby.

And there you have it.

A Second Roofer Has Returned My Call!!

November 4th, 2016 at 11:38 pm

At this point, I have put calls in to several more roofers. One just called back! I spoke with him at length, and he has promised to come by Monday, then email me a bid.

I am leaving Sunday for a week in Tahoe. I plan to read, color in my new adult coloring book with my new colored pencils and fine-tipped markers, cross-stitch, and just generally chilaxe. My kids are staying home; couldn't talk any of them into it.

Home From Cruise

October 13th, 2016 at 12:00 am

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.

Leaving Today

October 1st, 2016 at 04:45 pm

SB and I are leaving for our cruise today. We will drive to Bakersfield, spend the night, then drive to Long Beach in the morning. Our ship sails tomorrow afternoon.

When we return on Thursday, we are heading to San Diego and will stay until Sunday morning, then drive home.

The son of my first cousin passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday morning. He lived in San Diego and that is where his funeral will be a week from today.

He was getting ready for work and collapsed, never regaining consciousness. The coroner determined he died of a heart attack. He had just turned 40 in August. He exercised regularly and ate healthy; he was not the least bit overweight. He did not smoke or take any recreational drugs. He did not have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or any symptoms whatsoever.

I am looking forward to the cruise and to seeing extended family. But my heart just breaks for my cousin and her husband.

Traveling Fun

September 14th, 2016 at 12:41 am

Last weekend my family enjoyed a nice 3 day trip to Lake Tahoe (I took a vacation day). A client generously gave me the use of his vacation property as a "thank you". There were 7 of us: my daughter, my son-in-law, my son, my mother, my nephew, my SnugglyBumps, and myself. We had such a nice time, we are kicking around the idea of renting it for a week in November.

SB has a half-brother who was a dealer at Harrah's in Tahoe the last time SB spoke with him (about 15 years ago). One evening we all (except J, who is 20) went to the casinos and SB set off for Harrah's to see if the half-brother is still working there. It turned out, he is. AND, their father (whom SB had lost touch with more than 20 years ago) is living with him. In Tahoe.

On Sunday before we left, we went to the brother's house. SB saw his father, met his niece and grand-nephew for the first time. They were all very nice, and the father was very happy to see SB. The family resemblance is strong. I was so glad SB had the chance to re-connect with these relatives. I hope he sees more of them.

SB has booked us a cruise during the first week of October. If you count the days we embark and disembark, it is a 5 day cruise. Really just 3 full days and 4 nights. It will be just the two of us, so hopefully a bit romantic. I am taking 5 vacation days that week.

I am going to take a week off in either November or December, whether we go to Tahoe or not. Probably November.

There is talk of using my brother's time share at Christmas.

We have been taking day trips to San catch pokemon. Lol, it sounds so silly, but it really has been a great deal of fun. I am up to 102 unique pokemon now. And I do not even know how many miles I have walked, just to catch them.

Ally Cash Back Credit Card Bonus

August 17th, 2016 at 12:11 am

Well, I have earned $105.04 in credit card rewards from Ally. Choices to redeem are a deposit to my Ally account (with a 10% bonus) or a statement credit. I chose the statement credit, then afterwards received a message that I will receive the credit in 1 to 2 billing cycles. I should have taken the deposit, but I haven't had any money in Ally in a long time and I am not able to log on without calling them first, so I thought the statement credit would be simpler. I should have endured calling them and collected my extra $10.51.

So, I have to pay them $252 for my electric bill, then wait a month or two, and then...what? Pay my electric bill again I suppose, or maybe a medical bill.

SB and I have been kicking around the idea of taking a short cruise in the early fall. There are some 4 day cruises (they don't count the day you disembark, so 4 nights and 3 full days) which can be had for $334 per person, including port taxes. That would be a nice, although too short, break from everything. SB would be paying, so he has the final say.

I want to go Pokemon hunting in San Francisco, perhaps this coming weekend. I hear Golden Gate Park and Fisherman's Wharf offer prime Pokemon collection opportunities. I have just been having a ball with this Pokemon Go; it's amusing and a great incentive to get out and walk.

Glamping in Santa Rosa

April 19th, 2016 at 04:58 pm

This past weekend, SB and I went "glamping" with some friends. "Glamping" is "glamorous camping". I definitely like glamping. Smile

This was our tent:

The bed was so comfy!

The door on the left lead to our bathroom; the door on the right lead outside. Our friends were in the tent in the very next spot.

And this was the view from our tent's balcony:

We enjoyed our morning coffee and continental breakfast on the balcony. We spied ostriches, wildebeests, and various birds over breakfast. See how we are up in the treetops? Birds were landing in branches just inches from where we sat. That made for great viewing.

The location was Safari Park West in Santa Rosa, Ca. While there, we also enjoyed a safari. It was a fun place which I heartily recommend, should you ever have the opportunity.

It was a relaxing weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We arrived home last night, and this Tuesday morning I am back at work.

Cruise is Booked; Car Fund Update

September 19th, 2014 at 04:00 pm

Well, we booked our cruise yesterday. We don't leave for nearly 4 months. That's OK, because the anticipation is part of the fun. Smile

Recent car fund activity includes my budgeted transfer for September ($170), payment from part-time job for August ($200), Capital One Quicksilver credit card rewards ($14.56), and interest ($.44). Car Fund's new blance is $1,124.87.

Just Couldn't Stand It

August 27th, 2014 at 11:38 pm

I just couldn't stand it, I had to make a mortgage chip! I decided to pay an extra $35.28, just to make the balance a nice round number. Yes, I need to be saving cash. But, it made me happy, so I did it!

Things have been going very well with BF and I. I enjoy his company so very much. I know getting his mom's house ready to sell has been so hard for him, but he is powering through. Of course, when you gut the kitchen all the way down to the studs in the walls, it often takes longer than expected to get everything done. But, the house is almost there. I will take pics this weekend and post them.

My mother is considering booking a cruise for 4. This particular trip sails from LA and visits Cabo, Puerta Vallarta, and Mazatlan. It is a 7 day trip. My mother wants to do this trip with J, yours truly, nephew, and herself. The price is quite reasonable at $499 + port tax of $95, per person. I know I said no more vacations until after my next car is paid for, but I'm not going to turn down a trip someone else is offering to me. I will have some costs of course. I told her I would pay for the gratuity and to park my car for a week. I will also probably pay for our gas down and back. I may pay for J to do a fun excursion or two, depending on what is offered.

Chippy Business and Vacation

June 12th, 2014 at 11:18 pm

In chippy news, I have recently received:

1. $160 from my part-time job.
2. $8.67 from Bill Me Later*
3. $1.00 found on the sidewalk.

I have sent all of that off to my mortgage, bringing the balance down to $173,000.43.

*I opened a "Bill Me Later" account through PayPal at some point. A couple of months ago, I bought a dress via Bill Me Later. I paid the bill in full, but never received the dress. Eventually, the store cancelled my order as the dress was out of stock. They promptly refunded me in full to my PayPal account. PayPal immediately sent my money off to Bill Me Later, resulting in a credit balance. I decided I didn't want to have the account if that is how it automatically works. So, I bought a few CDs on Second Spin, then asked Bill Me Later to close my account and send me a refund of my remaining credit balance.

I am off on a road trip on Saturday. Yay! I love a good road trip. The itinerary includes Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore, Little Bighorn, Arches, Great Basin, and Bryce Canyon. If we run out of time, we will skip one or both of the Utah parks.

Fun Mini Vacation Weekend

June 12th, 2013 at 03:23 am

J and I returned from another mini vacation weekend. This time the vacation site was a beautiful vacation home at Donner Lake. We were invited by BF's boss; the home belongs to some associate of hers. All told, there were 14 of us and we were not crowded at all. Activities included fishing, kayaking, bike riding, etc. The home is currently listed for sale, and the asking price is a seven digit number, so that gives you some indication of the conditions we were forced to tolerate. Smile

After work today, I put in 2 hours at my part-time job. I put in 2 hours last Friday afternoon as well, for a grand total of 4 so far in June. Since starting, I have been asked to take on one additional task. As a result, I expect to regularly work 6 - 8 hours per month rather than 4 -6. As it happens, this place is close to my regular work place. It seems it will work better for everyone if I put in several short "shifts" rather than one long one.

And hoorah, I have been paid for my May hours. The proceeds have already been sent off to E Fund.

It has been 8 days since my daughter and son-in-law moved in temporarily. Thus far, it has been nothing but a pleasure to have them here. I can really see that they are both quite a bit more considerate than the last time they were here.

I am planning to treat the four of us (daughter, son-in-law, son, and myself) to a fun outing in the next week or two. I suggested the water park, but said I would let the three of them decide. I will take a vacation day and we will go mid-week. When I return from the cruise I am taking with mom, J will already be off at summer camp; daughter (S) and son-in-law (A) will be heading back to Colorado Springs.

And that brings me to next summer's vacation plans. Mom, J and I have decided to do a road trip to Colorado Springs. Along the way, we will visit Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone. Mom has never been to either place! My cousin L is also interested in going. It has been about a decade since I was on a long road trip; it should be lots of fun.

My move to Barclays online savings bank from TIAA-Cref is now complete; the process was completed smoothly, no glitches at all. I expect the bulk of E Fund will be "available" tomorrow.

Cruise is Booked

April 26th, 2013 at 03:12 pm

Mom and I have booked our cruise. It is a 10 day Princess Cruise, sailing from San Francisco. That makes it so convenient, no flights. We will drive to my cousin's house, then have her drive us to the ship and take my car home. (She lives just a few small cities south of San Francisco). This is the same cruise my family of four took in 2005. Mom is paying, but I plan to choose one really nice excursion and pay for that.

I charged the trip to my WF rewards Visa, and Mom will give me a check. The statement just cut off without the cruise charge, and I have $22.78 in rewards. So May will be the first month since January that I have not had a $25 mortgage chip applied courtesy of my WF rewards card. In June, I expect I will have $50 applied, thanks to the cruise. Those rewards do add up nicely. Smile

Two years ago I shared on this blog

Text is and Link is my plain front yard and the large hideously ugly planter which really has potential. I talked about my plans and my budget to make it look nice and add some curb appeal. Well, those plans have come to nothing in two years. Those darn rocks!

This past Monday as I got into my car at work, I looked to my left. In our parking area, there is a gap in the cement pad. Inspiration struck! Wouldn't it be nice to have that gap filled in, so that no one would accidentally run their tires off the pavement? And wouldn't rocks fill in that gap nicely? On Tuesday, I got the OK from my boss (he owns the property) and I have since been diligently working to fill in the gap. I own two buckets, so fill them with rocks from my front planter and place them in my trunk each evening. In the morning, when I arrive at work I empty them into the gap. So far this week, I have emptied 8 buckets full (on Thursday I had to run to a client's place of business which is close to my house, so I used the opportunity to fill up my buckets again) into the gap.

One of my co-workers commented that she could use some rocks in her yard, and would it be ok if she took some? I said no, but she was welcome to come to my house and help herself. So we will see if anything comes of that.

BF had suggested a while back that I make pavers using the rocks. I thought that was a great idea, until I looked into the cost. It is more expensive to make your own pavers than to just buy them. Frown

And in worst neighbor ever news, I had a visit from the police last Saturday. When my nephew had the altercation with my neighbor, a condition of his probation is that he may not come within 100 yards of the neighbor. The police came to my door looking for nephew. The officer said neighbor had reported he heard nephew at my house. I replied no, nephew has not been here in more than a year, but my high school aged son had a friend from school spending the night, so perhaps that is who the neighbor heard. The officer was satisfied and left. I found this so creepy. Is the neighbor listening at our windows? You know, it really wouldn't surprise me. The lots in my subdivision are small and the houses are close together. So now I am thinking about what I could do along the fence line to provide more privacy.

Alaska trip?

January 17th, 2013 at 04:16 am

My mom has always wanted to visit Alaska. Recently, she brought this up (again!) and so I made suggestions (again!) as to who she might ask to be her travel companion. She said she wants me to go with her. I replied that I can only save for one trip at a time. She said if I will go, she will pay for both of us.

She wants a trip which includes both a cruise and a train ride. I said that if I visit Alaska again, I want to see Denali.

We got online to price some trips. It seems we can book a 12 day trip in June leaving from Seattle which includes all of our desired features. It will cost right at 5k total. I explained that tips and excursions are extra.

I have a niece (my mom's granddaughter) who lives in Seattle, so that would be a nice opportunity to see her as well.

My mom has a history of wanting something, but when it comes right down to paying for that something, she will change her mind. She has always been frugal and just has a hard time paying for anything which is not a necessity. My mom is not wealthy, but she is comfortable. She has reached her 80th birthday. I would like to see her spend and enjoy her money. I hope she does take a trip to Alaska, whether she takes me along or not.

So, we will see. I think I will give her a month or so to contemplate parting with 5k, then ask her if she still wants to book a trip. If she does, then heck yes I will go. You betcha.

An Afternoon of Cards

January 2nd, 2013 at 03:12 am

Today I spent the afternoon at my mom's house, visiting and playing cards.

I brought up the Mexico trip my brother had proposed. I just told mom that I spent more in Hawaii than planned and that I just paid off my credit card in December I said I simply won't have enough saved by June to afford a trip to Mexico. Mom was OK with it, and we agreed we will plan to go in June 2014. So, I am relieved and happy about that.

We also talked about possibly going to Lake Tahoe for a week or so this summer instead. My cousin L (went to Hawaii and China with her) owns a rustic little house in the old part of Lake Tahoe. (Well, her husband and son do. It is a family vacation home from her husband's family.) I have enjoyed several long weekends in that house, and my cousin L will let us rent it for $25 a day. However, 2 winters ago a pipe burst, the downstairs flooded, and extensive repair work needed to be done. I am not certain, but I think it is not finished and so we could not rent it. However, we could check around. I am sure we could find something reasonable. That would be a nice and affordable vacation.

I get three weeks of paid vacation per year. It is use it or lose it. This past year I used 7 vacation days and just lost the other 8. I realy, really want to stop doing that.

Home from Hawaii; Son Off to Camp

July 10th, 2012 at 04:55 am

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.

Successfully Purchased Used Ting Flip Phone

June 19th, 2012 at 12:12 am

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.

Today Is The Day

February 14th, 2012 at 04:10 am

Its my birthday, but more importantly, it is the day I can officially begin my refinance. All last week, the rate for a 30 year fixed was 3.875. This morning, 4.0. Isnt't that always the way? :P I did not ask for a lock today.

I have not heard from my mortgage consultant further. So I haven't actually signed anything at all yet. I am sure I am not the only person around here salivating to refinance.

Today in the mail I received my first check from Hauser! It is for $10.00. It is for the period Jan to Oct 2011. I was expecting $21.00 for Jan to Nov 2011. If you exclude November (which was a high volume month), then $10.00 is correct. I really want to chip it, even though my refi makes it seem pointless.

Friday morning J decided he wants to be on the school swim team. The deadline to turn in the paperwork and get a physical is tomorrow. Don't you just love when your kids pull that sort of thing? When I filled out the paperwork, I ran across one sheet which needed to be signed by me in the presence of a school official, who also needed to sign. Well, great. So today I took a long lunch and drove over to the high school to take care of that. It was pouring down rain and I got soaked. Tomorrow immediately after school, J's dad will take him to the dr. for his physical. And tomorrow night J will attend practice and turn everything in. As it happens, practice is 4 nights a week and is held not at the high school J attends, but at the one a few blocks away. Yay! That means J can get himself back and forth from practice with no trouble at all.

On Saturday, I spent the day with my mom, my cousin, and J. My cousin bought some nice travel books for each of us; one on Oahu and one on Hawaii (Big Island). We pored over them, discussing what we would like to see. Wasn't that thoughtful and organized of her? She is sooo like that. (I have LOTS of cousins, but this is the one with whom I have a close relationship.) Her name begins with an L. From now on, I will refer to her as cousin L.

Work is crazy. I don't know what else to say about that.

Reward Points Big Boo-Boo

February 6th, 2012 at 06:09 pm

I made a big mistake at Christmas time when I redeemed rewards points. I had 50,000 pts on Chase Sapphire and was expecting, at any moment, 50,000 pts on Chase Southwest. I was saving the Sapphire pts to use on airfare to Hawaii, as that yields a 25% bonus. Half of the Sapphire pts belonged to BF as it was his purchase which earned them. But the Southwest pts were mine, all mine, and I planned to use them for Best Buy gift cards to buy J's iPad2 (his Christmas gift).

Well, Christmas was approaching and my Southwest pts kept not showing up. I was beginning to worry they would not arrive in time. So I thought, I'll just use the Sapphire pts, then the Southwest pts will go towards airfare. So that is just what I did. And it might have worked beautifully. But guess what? Southwest doesn't fly to Hawaii. Did I bother to check before using the Sapphire pts? No, I did not.

My next thought was to cash them in for gas cards. They do have Shell gas cards, but only $25 cards. $25 cards cost 3,000 pts each. $50 gift cards cost 5,000 pts each. I'm not too excited about losing 500 pts on each $25 gas card. If I cashed in all of the pts, I would receive 16 $25 cards, or $400 worth of gasoline.

So, today I cashed Southwest pts in for Wal-Mart gift cards. I bought 10 @ $50 each for 50,000 pts. Once I receive the gift cards, I will close the credit card account. I will sell the Wal-Mart cards on Plastic Jungle and take a loss on the face value (3.4%). The transaction should net $483. That is $241.50 each for BF and I.

I suppose it isn't too awful since we ended up buying a travel package including airfare. I had priced tickets, and they are running $850 each including taxes. Our whole package is right at $1800 per person, for air, 9 nights lodging, and rental cars while on the big island. (Our 2 days on Oahu, we will not have a rental car. We do have shuttle service to and from the airport included in that price.)

Previously I said $1850 each person, but that was based on the first resort we booked. (My cousin has narrowed it down to two resorts. One was almost booked solid, the other was not. She booked the one which was almost full, and we had a time window during which we could switch if we wanted with no penalty. We did decide to switch to the Mauna Lani Point resort, which is the link I posted in my last entry.) There was a small price difference and our total went down. We are actually staying in condos, and will have a kitchen with a stove, fridge, pots and pans, dishes, and utensils. This will be nice as we will not need to eat out for every meal. We will do a grocery shopping trip shortly after arrival. We will eat some meals in and also will pack lunches to take with us on outings. And I want to try the local farmer's market. I wonder how freshly picked bananas taste? I'm going to find out! Smile

Hawaii Trip Booked!! :)

February 3rd, 2012 at 09:36 pm

My cousin went to see her travel agent this morning. Our trip is booked! We will spend 2 nights on Oahu and 7 nights on the big island. For round trip air, hotel, two rental cars (there will be 8 of us), and travel insurance, it comes to $1850 per person. Of course, we will need more for food and activities.

I'm very excited!

Update: here is where we are staying for 7 of our 9 nights
I don't expect to suffer much. Smile

Text is and Link is

50,000 Bonus Rewards Points

August 20th, 2011 at 06:15 pm

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.

Re-Thinking Egypt

April 24th, 2011 at 06:19 pm

Recently I uncovered some very negative reviews of the tour company I was thinking of using for our Egypt trip next summer. They gave me pause. I had chosen this particular company because of the reasonable price and a recommendation from a friend of a friend.

I have spoken with my son about it, and he now says he would rather go to Hawaii anyway. My next step is to talk it over with my cousin (she is out of state attending a wedding this weekend). I have been pricing air, hotel, and car rental packages. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this trip would cost quite a bit less than the planned Egypt trip.

Anyone been to Hawaii? Have any tips to share? Things to see?

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