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Archive for February, 2006

My February wrap-up

February 28th, 2006 at 08:09 pm

We only had 4 no car days and we ate out 2.5 times (the 0.5 is dh with the boys for lunch). One was paid for with a gift card.

We didn't get our clothesline up. That's something I really need to get dh to do.

I didn't start my garden.

I don't have the numbers for gasoline (dh puts it on his card and I have to wait for his cc statement to come in.

Here are the good and the bad: (category/budget/actual/difference)

Grocery 300 414.46 114.46
Elec & Gas 200 150.72 -49.28
Eating out 150 84.68 -65.32
Misc 300 1013.89 713.89
gift 50 100.44 50.44
medical expenses 25 95.22 70.22

The miscellaneous includes the new computer and printer, but does not reflect the rebates we will be getting from them ($250 total). The eating out was actually $22 less as that went on the gift card, but I count that as income and it's a separate category).

DH stocked up on our gift category this month because he found a going out of business sale. I expect there to be little or no expense in that next month. The Grocery category reflects a stock-up too (as well as the fact that apparently if we have milk we will go through it like water).

The medical expenses were high (for us) this month. It reflects the sick visit for my kids and their medicine. Also, some vitamins for us.

Our miscellaneous category is frequently out of control. It's the one area where we really need to work (well, that and groceries).

I will update gas totals when we get the cc bill.

The good news is that even if we were way over budget on gas, we were still under our income, so we still spent less than we made.

New idea to make money

February 28th, 2006 at 07:56 pm

or, rather, revisiting an old idea.

So, I'm working on revamping my website. I have a new webhost and am working on getting my registry info changed to get a new registrar.

Once that is done, I'm going to load some blog software on my site and start a naturalist blog (and use some of the google ads).

Okay, all that is stuff I've mentioned before.

My other idea is to use it to sell DH's nature photos. He has some amazing photos and by combining my blog to draw traffic (I have a set of friends who will be willing to link my blog) and cafepress, we can sell a line of products with no real outlay of cash. We will also do a set of limited edition prints for higher quality photos (which we will print when we get orders).

I hope to also develop some art skills (just line drawings) to add to my blog (one of dh's new toys is a printer/scanner/copier).

I want to also get my kids involved and maybe give them their own blog on my site.

Surprise on my cellphone bill

February 27th, 2006 at 10:03 pm

I think I mentioned it here, DH found out that through is work we can get a discount on my cellphone.

I just got my bill, the discount his almost $5 after taxes.


Now, if he can decide that he wants to join mine and do a family plan, we'll have that bill to a reasonable level.

I'm going to call this income because it is an expense we already had.


February 27th, 2006 at 09:49 pm

It looks like I'm starting a sinus infection. This is the first one since 2004, but that one was major, it took 6 months and 3 rounds of antibiotics to go away.

I'm rinsing my sinuses with a homemade saline solution (recommended by an allergy doctor) and (this is gross, so skip if you want) I'm getting lots of gunk to wash out, but the pressure is still there. Especially if I bend over.

I'm so far behind at work. DH agreed to be responsible for picking up the kids today so I could put in a fulltime day (I normally work 6 hours). I worked straight through lunch, but came home some early. I ended up working 8.5 hours today. And, I really didn't get that much more accomplished.

I told my bosses on Friday that I was drowning, so today they spoke to one of our other office workers and will have her help me with the easier stuff. I think that I should be able to funnel a lot of just paper pushing tasks to her (like making copies, sending invoices, cleaning up scanned documents).

I did finish the major project today. My boss wanted to only charge $1500 for our fees, but I reminded him that we rushed this through and I put a lot of work on hold for it (pissing off some of our current clients) so we decided to charge $2100 - which I still think is a little on the low side. We set up 2 new corporations and a new limited partnership for him - doing all the paperwork and filing with the secretary of state.

I have one more business project to do. This one has required 3 hours of conferences with the client. One thing I like about him, though, is that we gave him example documents and he put them together to fit what he wanted so all the attorney has to do is make sure he didn't contradict himself anywhere.

I'm so ready to get these done and get back to my regular tasks. Of course, Tuesday is foreclosure sale day and I have 15 foreclosures set, so I'll have to do bids, deeds, affidavits and bills for all of those. That will easily take all day. I'll see if the helper can help with those, I've got the bids mostly done and the documents are set up as mail merge documents (if I use a form, I set it up as a merge to make sure I get all the fields filled in and to save time).

Please God, let this sinus thing be a virus and resolve itself without needing a sick day (or at least wait until next week).

In other news - I bought a soda today - 65 cents frivolous spending.


February 26th, 2006 at 09:13 pm

I think I might have gotten rid of the kitten.

When we started walking to the restaurant tonight, it followed us. This was unacceptable, we were going to be walking on a very busy street, it would get hit.

So, I made it follow me home, put food in a box, put the kitten in the box and then closed it (just closed the flaps, not secured it). It was gone when we got home and hasn't been back since.

I put more food out for it, so we'll see. Maybe it has found a new home to hang out at.

Poor kitty, I hope I didn't traumatize it too much. I just didn't know what else to do. I couldn't put it in the house with my kitty and locking it up somewhere else seemed to be inviting poop and pee everywhere. But it would have been killed if it followed us.

Expensive day

February 26th, 2006 at 07:48 pm

First, we went out to eat. I went ahead and ordered a soda and it ended up being a can - so no free refill. I paid 99 friggin' cents for a can of soda. I thought 65 cents was too much.

Then we went to the movies (the cheap movies, but still ...). Luckily we resisted the movie popcorn and soda (one reason I had soda with lunch, we let the kids have it, that way if they asked at the theatre, we could say "you already had your soda").

We ended up spending $40 today. Geez, not so frugal family fun day.

On the good side, we walked to do all that. So it was a no gas day.


February 25th, 2006 at 08:45 pm

We had an adorable kitty follow us home tonight. He looks really young - 4-6 months at most. He's sooo skinny, but he looks healthy otherwise.

If he's still here Monday, I'll have to try to convince dh to let me take him to the vet - which will be $$.

MIL is in town. She took us out for supper tonight, we'll take her out for lunch tomorrow. We bought tamales for lunch today (I guess we'll call that a grocery bill?) and just generally hung out at home.

We did walk to the restaurant (a little exercise to work off the calories) and well, that's how we got the kitty.


February 24th, 2006 at 11:27 pm

I've used siteturn networks as my webhost and I am soooo frustrated with them. They always treat me very poorly. Getting them to do anything requires jumping through a million hoops and then you still aren't sure they've done it.

One for instance is that when I changed my email address, I let them know, they didn't note it anywhere. So, I had to call back when I couldn't get into my site (apparently they decided to stop taking discover card for a while). So they changed it, but they didn't change it on my registration and didn't tell me that there were further steps I needed to take.

So, their charges are out of line - $130/year for very basic stuff. Stuff you can get for $30/year at other sites.

So, I'm in the process of changing hosts. DH found a host he likes, so I'm working on getting that set up. Siteturn, however, are being jerks about releasing MY domain name. They agree that I own the name, but that's about as far as they will go.

I swear, if I didn't love the name, I'd just give it up and go on with my life. I'm so frustrated dealing with the hoops and being told I was done and the changes were being made only to find out later that nothing was done.

I really want to start a naturalist (not naturist) blog on my site. It fits with the name and I think it's something I will actually do if I have some accountability. Plus, I can then work on making some money from the internet.

So, if you are looking for a webhost, stay far, far, far away from siteturn.

Tough Day

February 24th, 2006 at 10:32 pm

I'm losing control of my workload. I finally told both my bosses that I am so buried I'm not sure where I am at all. I haven't missed any deadlines, but there are things that need to be done that I haven't done.

MIL is coming tomorrow so DH is in power mode. We apparently have to unpack every single box he's been ignoring for 2 months. And along with that, I have to clean up all of his messes and the kids' messes.

I have to admit, I love the way the house looks. I just wish that dh wouldn't be such an ass to get it that way.

We decided we aren't going to the estate sale tomorrow. I'd rather get a little extra sleep and relax before MIL gets here. Plus, we just don't have the cash right now. We'll move the futon in here where we have our two office chairs and the barstools. Then we'll set up the airbed (has a frame and a memory foam pad) in the front room for her to use. I really wanted to get that set up tonight, but dh says he isn't ready to do it.

DH and his deals

February 23rd, 2006 at 09:29 pm

Now this one is a little hard to complain about, but ... He found a coupon code for $40 off an office chair (we've been needing one for the boys' desk) and matched it with a sale where the chair was priced at $39.99. He had to buy something else because he was afraid they'd refuse to apply the coupon code if the transaction came out -$0.01. That's the part that I can complain about. He paid $13 for a file box. Yes, I wanted a file box (my filing "system" has consisted of putting everything in a box), but this seems awfully high to me.

He really wants to go to this estate auction Saturday. We do need some chairs, but we've really spent a lot more than we should have this month - and it's a short month! Plus, I'm not sure if we need cash or they'll take a check. I guess if it's cash then we can go knowing we won't spend over a certain limit.

Car work today

February 22nd, 2006 at 08:59 pm

I took my car to the muffler guy my mechanic recommended. He said there was a crack that was leaking and that it wasn't in a place he could weld, so he had to replace the part. $40 and 30 minutes. I was flabbergasted, I didn't know you could get any work done for $40.

I walked around under the car looking at it and asked him about my exhaust system. I've never had any work done (it's a 1998) and I live in a high salt area (close to the gulf). He said the muffler looks great and should last quite a while longer.

He guaranteed the exhaust system would pass inspection so that's what I have to do tomorrow. I have a highly developed sense of guilt, so I know if I go past the expiration date I will freak everytime I see a cop (I just got my brakelight fixed and the entire time it was out my heart would beat about 120bpm every time I saw a cop car which happens at least 2x/day).

When I got home, dh was home (he had meetings in the town on the opposited side of our town from his office, so he decided to work from home once those were done and save the gas (which just took a 25 cent leap in prices).

Since he was home and the library books were due back tomorrow, we decided to walk to the library. That means we walked 2-3 miles.

Necklaces I made

February 22nd, 2006 at 07:37 pm

I'm going to try to post pics here. We'll see if it works.

I've made 3 necklaces, 2 sets of earrings (only one is pictured) and a bracelet (not pictured).

These are what I'd like to sale. We'll see if I can get any interest locally.

New Computer for the kids

February 21st, 2006 at 09:08 pm

DH remembered his wallet today and went to buy the computer. I came with speakers, a new keyboard and an optical mouse.

DS1 is sooo excited. He continued his research for his report tonight. He said "one page isn't enough, I want to write more. Maybe I'll get a 150!". I had to tell him it didn't normally work that way and that he should check with his teacher before writing a report longer than she asked (he didn't get the idea that sometimes teachers don't want to wade through a tone of words and that sometimes it's harder to write a short report than a long report).

DS2 doesn't care at all. We'll probably put the old 'puter in their playroom until it dies completely. It's got some learning to read software on it, so it should help DS2 with his reading.

Amortization Schedules

February 20th, 2006 at 09:15 pm

There was a question about setting up amortization schedules. I use excel to do this. It's pretty easy once you get started.

You first need a bit of information. The first is your interest rate. The second is how is your interest calculated. Most mortgages are calculated as monthly interest (so the timing of your payment isn't important as long as you get it in before the late charge kicks in). Most cars and other loans are calculated as daily simple interest and the timing of your payment can make a big difference. You also need your current balance.

To figure your monthly or daily interest rate, divide your yearly rate by 12 or 365 (occasionally there will be a 360 DSI loan, but you'll catch that when it comes along). Don't forget to convert interest rates to decimals - 8% = 0.08.

So first, set up your columns. We'll do mortgage first, since it is simpler.

Column A - the month.
Column B - the current principal balance
Column C - =B*the monthly interest rate
Column D - the payment you are making
Column E - =B+C-D (this is your balance after making your payment)

Then it's a matter of cut and paste to get the rest. Column A you fill in, Column B - type "=E1". When you cut and paste it will go to "E2" etc. Note - I say E1, if you are on any row other than 1, use that row.

Okay for cars you need an extra column
Column A - the date you are making the payment
Column B - =A-the last date you made a payment (when you set this up, after the first row just put A2-A1, again changing the cell numbers if you need to).
Column C - current balance
Column D - =B*interest rate*C
Column E - the payment you are making
Column F - =C+D-E (your new balance).

This probably makes as much sense as mud, but open excel and see if you can figure it out. If not, maybe Jeffrey and/or Nate can walk me through posting a screen shot of an excel worksheet.

There are shorter ways to do this, but this provides a lot more information and is easy to work with.

Frugal Day

February 20th, 2006 at 07:38 pm

DH intended to buy our kids a new computer (theirs is older than they are and can't run their learning software). He went to the store, picked it out, took it to the register and then didn't have his wallet. So, no new computer. I really want them to have one we can turn off (if we turn this one off it may or may not boot back up) and save some power.

DS2 is not getting what he needs at school, so we're using the computer to help him learn to read, etc. DS1 is using the computer to research reports and email with his grandparents.

So I consider this a good buy. I'm not letting them use mine.

I made beans yesterday to add some heat to the house and tonight we had beans and cornbread for supper. I mashed the rest of the beans and I now have two full containers of refried beans in my freezer for this summer.

We did have to spend some money today - $10 for DS2 to take a field trip, and $3.35 at the grocery (butter and clearance salad mix).

Paying extra on mortgage

February 19th, 2006 at 09:16 pm

Okay, I just set up my amortization schedule for my house. I am currently paying about $15 extra. Paying $15 extra pays my house off 18 months early.

Doing the chart really shows me how much difference the extra really makes. It motivates me to send extra whenever I get the chance (after I pay off the other debt, right now anything extra we get is going to cc debt).

Productive Day

February 19th, 2006 at 06:38 pm

We didn't go anywhere today (although I need butter and don't know what I'll do for b'fast tomorrow without it).

Instead, we stayed home and cleaned some. MIL is coming to town on Saturday, so we want to have the house looking as settled as possible.

While I was cleaning, I decided to set up amortization schedules for the ccs, the car and the house. I got the ccs done. If we continue paying the little bit we are now, it will take 2 years to pay off the balance. If we step it up a notch, we can pay it off in 1 year. If we work at it and put all that we can scrape, it will be paid off in October. I showed DH the spreadsheet and he's agreed to work with me to get it done.

I started the car's schedule, but the statements we get don't give the interest rate. I tried to figure it using their figures, and ended up with 2 different rates (I had 2 different statements). So that's frustrating.

Then I went through the cc statements and updated our expenses this month (dh doesn't always give me his receipts). We are $5 over the grocery budget already and milk is low and butter is gone. Part of the reason we are over is that dh did a stock-up when he was travelling, so we have stuff that will last us a couple of months. I suspect part of it is higher prices, but I'm not sure where all my receipts are to check.

Looking at the current expenses, we are on track to have enough money left in the bank to send a good sized payment to the cc this month.

Next month will be a little harder, we'll need to be sure to set aside the money for taxes. But, I think dh is finished buying for a little while. I think. I could be wrong. I know he wants one more chair before his mom gets here, but we may just pull the futon out of the front room and move it into the family room for now.

I'm soooo cold

February 18th, 2006 at 09:53 pm

It's only 40s, which I know for many people sounds really warm for february, but for here, that's cold. Most of us don't even own heaters.

DS1 and I went to a bday party today. They had a bouncy tent set up and it was too cold for the kids to stay long. I felt so bad for the bday kid, only 2 kids from school were there. They invited the whole class (18 kids). Yes it was cold and it was at home rather than someplace "fun" but geez.

We took a stockpiled gift. DH loves to shop and that's one thing he's been stockpiling. So, when the party was at 3 and I realized it was 2:30, we were still good to go.

I feel somewhat bad for DS1 though, he put his pinata candy in his goody bag and I set it down and when it went back, someone else had picked it up. The parents were cool and gave him another goody bag and pulled out the bag of candy and gave him some more pieces (and then sent 2 extra goody bags with us for DS2 and just because).

Night out

February 17th, 2006 at 07:29 pm

We decided to have our valentine's day dinner tonight. I used my chili's card (a gift from a client) and we had a great time. I had a soda ( Smile ) and dh and I shared an awesome blossom. We got the kids their own kids' meal (often we have them share). I still have $28 on the card, next time we might splurge a little more (I'm thinking of waiting until spring break when it would just be DH and I eating).

I feel a little bad about the dinner out, I could have given up the soda and had the kids share and we'd have enough room for 2 more meals, but it was a holiday dinner, so ...

I took my moving boxes to a coworker today. She was very happy and bought me a soda. This gave us a chance to gossip about work. I think a good vent session is important to maintaining morale.

Reining in the DH

February 16th, 2006 at 07:46 pm

My husband's spending is getting out of control. He just can't resist a good deal. So far his good deals have cost us $300 this month (the porch swing and the dolphin tour certificates). Now he wants to buy bamboo rugs for our house, there's a coupon right now.

Now, he hasn't bought anything we wouldn't buy anyway but we had a plan - save and buy slowly.

Now, I'm not sure if we will even have the cash to go to the estate sale. Not to mention that his truck needs work (I think there's something wrong with the 4WD and the brakes decided not to work) so we have no way to haul anything back.

We need chairs for our house. We really have no place for people to sit. We have the futon and the dining room chairs, but until he gets his truck fixed, we can't carry furniture. I'm very frustrated by this.

If I remind him that we have plans to pay off the credit cards first and save up, then he feels deprived. He so needs to grow up.

Made another necklace

February 15th, 2006 at 10:30 pm

I wore the first set to work and my friend thought they were nice, but I was too chicken to ask if she would consider selling them in her shop.

I realized that they'd make great eye glass chains, so that may be another avenue to explore.

I made a necklace between last night and tonight. I think I'm getting quicker at it. I really like this one, the other one is okay, but this one is much nicer.

I'll find a market yet. If I get busy with growing greens and veggies, I could sell this at the farmers' market with my greens.

What is a good price for a wire necklace and earring set? I probably have less than 50 cents in materials (cheap beads, but they don't look so cheap), but 2-3 hours.

Oh well, I have time to think about it.

Finished the necklace

February 14th, 2006 at 09:50 pm

I finished my first necklace. I'm trying to plan what to wear tomorrow so I can show it off. I have the earrings and necklace set.

Now I've started on a new set that is a different pattern (more my own pattern). I'm about half way done. I'd say it takes about 3 hours to make a set. I don't know if that's as quick as I will get or not, but I figure it's 3 hours I'm sitting in front of the tv or computer anyway.

Happy Valentine's Day!!

February 14th, 2006 at 09:48 pm

I feel bad, I didn't even think about this being a "big" holiday. I sent valentines with the kids and that was it. I got to the school and all the kids were bringing goody bags for each child (we're talking toys, flashlights, candy, etc). Then I got to work and I had 4 things of candy on my desk, plus one of the women had brought a homemade breakfast.

I so did not stick to my diet today. I was doing really well. I had some pants that were fitting so well and I was really seeing progress so it was easier to resist the goodies that are always at work. But today I wore an old skirt, etc so I ate *2* pieces of cake, a muffin and some candy. Then I got home and ate more candy. I so suck.

I gave DH one of the things of candy. It looked like something he would really like and this way we didn't spend extra money. The stinker bought me candy, a hook for my robe (which unfortunately doesn't fit) and a puzzle.

He also ordered bookshelves for our front room which were delivered today. We have 2 of them up and they look pretty good. It's amazing how little space they take up - or more how large the room really is. The scale almost overwhelms me, it doesn't look that big, it looks long and skinny, but it isn't.

I made a pair of earrings!!

February 13th, 2006 at 08:46 pm

I dug out an old jewelry kit that I was never brave enough to try, found some other wire and beads (I didn't want to waste the good wire and beads) and in about 20 minutes I had a brand new pair of earrings.

Unfortunately, they're black and blend right into my hair - LOL. I guess I need to find a blond to give them to. Or sell them.

I'm going to make a matching necklace and take them to work with me to show my friend who sells at the monthly market days. I've already got the wire cut, I just need to bend it and add the beads. The necklace uses no findings at all. I had findings for the earrings.

Does anyone know if patterns are copyrighted? If so, how much do you need to change before it's no longer in violation? For instance, I used smaller beads, so I used 2 instead of one, would that be enough or do I need to find a whole new twist pattern?

$20 Challenge update

February 12th, 2006 at 08:03 pm

well, I didn't meet either of my goals this week. I'm so not good at calling people. I'm going to have to do better next week.

I went through the boxes and dug out all my beading stuff. I have findings, wire and beads. Now I just need to figure out what to make and do it.

Then I'll need to figure out a market.

Wonderful day

February 12th, 2006 at 07:09 pm

DH finally got motivated and got sooo much accomplished.

We got all the boxes moved out of the family room (well, there are 3-4 boxes left, but it's sooo much better). Then he set up the kids computer.

One really cool thing he did - our kitchen had these accent tiles which we didn't like at all (I'm sure they're fine, they just aren't "us"). When he was at Dollar Tree the other day he found tile stick-ons and put them on the tiles. It's like a whole new kitchen. Of course, we chose the paint color to match the tiles and now we could have gone with the color I preferred, but ...

Not so frugal family fun

February 11th, 2006 at 07:08 pm

It started out frugal. We were going to a free event. Then, the kids wanted to do things that cost money. So, $12 to play games and watch a live ocelot show (which was really cool). That was 2.5 hours. Not bad, definitely doable. We met another friend there and had fun.

Then while the kids were in a tent with butterflies I noticed dh wasn't around. Then I realized he was off at the silent auction tables.

He bid on 2 gift certificates for dolphin watches. And he won. Now, he got a good deal, normally it would cost $120 and he paid $95, and it is something we were planning to do with his mom someday, but ...

Oh well, if you just count the $12 it wasn't a bad day, right?

DH is getting in on the act

February 10th, 2006 at 08:09 pm

I've already posted about this elsewhere, but ...

Today, dh IM'ed me and asked me questions about my cellphone. Turns out, we are eligible for a discount from his work. It should work out to $5/month.

Then we discussed minutes, etc and he's just about decided to join my plan and just have a 2nd line and drop his phone. We've kept 2 different services for various reasons - because one will have service when the other doesn't, because he wants more bells and whistles than I do, etc. But he's finally deciding that saving $10/month is probably worth it.

I won't give up my cellphone. It's the only phone I have (I think he could give up his, but he's not so convinced) and it gives me so much freedom to come and go instead of waiting around for people to show or call. Another benefit is the free long distance (yes, I know landlines have competitive long distance plans).

Free Food!

February 9th, 2006 at 06:46 pm

It was our lunch meeting today. It was a good meeting, I feel like we got a lot accomplished. The food, well, they had said Olive Garden but today decided to order from the deli. I have a thing about sandwiches - I HATE smoked meats and have found that most places don't really say "smoked turkey" when it is - so turkey is out for me. I ended up with a steak sandwich, which was pretty good, but I was very full.

But that's not all the free food I got today. One of our clients stopped by and gave me a $50 gift card to Chili's. I was shocked and so happy.

Early Valentine's Gift

February 8th, 2006 at 09:01 pm

DH bought me roses for valentine's day.

2 Bengal Tiger roses, a Belinda's Dream and a Cherokee Rose.

Plants obviously.

I am so shocked. I had a bengal tiger, but we didn't get it planted (we did, but we potted it to move with us) and it dried out in the container. This is a beautiful rose. We had a belinda's dream in OKC, this is a great rose, pink and fragrant and resistant to black spot, etc. I don't know much about the Cherokee rose, but being from Oklahoma, we naturally have a soft spot for anything "cherokee".

We're now planning where we will plant these new roses. I can't wait. The Cherokee is a climber/rambler, so it needs a trellis or fence, but I don't trust the neighbors on one side not to spray and we don't have a fence line on the other side (our carport takes up the lot from the house to the alley).

This is the first time DH has ever bought me roses for valentine's day. So this is a major milestone.

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