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OUCH!! Gas

April 11th, 2006 at 09:15 pm

$2.679 for regular. Just yesterday it was $2.599. I didn't get it yesterday because I thought I didn't have time. That will teach me.

Almost $30 for less than 11 gallons. I'm glad I don't drive much. My car is only getting about 22mpg because it's all city driving. The fastest I get is 45mph and that's for all of about 4 blocks (IF the traffic in front of me actually drives).

This on top of finding out that our electricity retroactively increased by 3 cents/kwh (retroactive to November).

So what will DH come home with today?

April 10th, 2006 at 03:32 pm

He's buying supplies to finish the science project - paint and posterboard. He's also supposed to buy bananas.

That's his list - should be less than $10 right? We'll see what's in the bags.

AAAAHHHH Scholastic Books

April 9th, 2006 at 06:21 pm

So we got an order form for my kindy kid. I generally just throw these away, but this time I actually looked through it.

I found a whole set of books we've been considering for about $1.50/book. These are a minimum of $3/book in the bookstores. You can't even find these used for less than $2.00/book (plus shipping).

Then, they had a book from a current series for less than half price. Another 8 books of a series we'd started for $2.50/book (these are about $4.50 in stores) and a book for $1.00.

Total? $62.80. For 36 books. I've heard that you can find these at garage sales, but I don't know if people here just don't buy books or what, but I've not found these at garage sales. Plus, when I do find a kid's book at a garage sale, it's usually torn.

This is sooo not in budget right now. It wouldn't be so bad if they didn't give the books to the kids at school, if I could get them at home so they'd be a surprise and I could give them as a gift, well, that wouldn't be soooo bad.

Frugal garden containers

April 8th, 2006 at 10:45 pm

Crown Tire planters:



(image copyrighted and used by permission)

Crown tire planters are nothing new. People have been doing them since the 50s. They are harder now with radial tires, but still possible.

To start:
1) cut one wall of the tire into zigzags

2) (this is one that having another person will help) turn the tire inside out

3) paint.

If the tire is still on the rim, this can be easier and creates a stand.

Line the tire with weed control fabric and then fill with soil and plant.

I had several of these in OKC. The one above is from my front yard.

DH and the master gardeners created ours. The first one took some time, but after that, they managed to do them in 15 minutes or so.

Profit sharing plan at work

April 7th, 2006 at 09:19 pm

So, they will pay 3% of my salary into the profit sharing plan whether I contribute at all. I have to fully vest to take all their contributions with me, but that doesn't seem so bad.

So now, I have to decide what I want to contribute. It isn't entirely clear to me if my contribution will be pre or post tax. I have forms for both. I think, maybe, that's in case I want to put more away than I can tax free. I think. But I'm thinking that won't be an issue for me.

Frugal Garden Art

April 6th, 2006 at 09:03 pm



This image is copyrighted but is used by permission.

Gazing globes are a big thing in gardens and have been for a few years. Once, they were only metallic and reflective, but now you find them in handblown glass and all kinds of other nice colors. The only problem with them is that they break so easily. Mow your lawn and hit a rock and there goes your globe.

So what can you use that is round, comes in all colors and patterns and won't break? A bowling ball. The above picture was actually taken in the garden of the President of the University of Oklahoma.



This was my house in Oklahoma City. The blue ball is a bowling ball. I had 5 balls or so, but that's the only picture I can find. People loved my "gazing globes".

I paid 99cents for them from thrift stores. You can often get them for free from bowling alleys (or so I've been told, I've never found one that would give them away).

If you have one and you don't like the color, you can epoxy pennies or glass tiles to them.

Digital Cameras

April 5th, 2006 at 10:04 pm

I've spent the last year and almost half thinking I lost our digital camera in the move (our old one). I hadn't seen it, I mentioned it to DH once and he said he didn't know where it was, so I've been upset about it.

Yeah, turns out he didn't know where it was *right then*. He knew about where it was, he'd had it and put it away.

So, tonight he pulled it out for me, we replaced the batteries and he walked me through downloading pics from my camera.

I guess that sparked a little fire in him and he spent 30 minutes filling picture frames with pics he printed for christmas.

I'm a little upset. I was sure I had taken a bunch of pics, but I can't find any of them. BUT, now I have the camera and 32 megs total of memory. I'm ready to become a snapping fool. Of course, the camera is "only" a 2.1 megapixel (it's from 2000).

Walking to the Grocery Store

April 3rd, 2006 at 09:22 pm

This is supposed to save us money. If you walk 1) you use less gas and 2) you can't buy as much because you have to carry what you buy.

Our first mistake was getting a cart rather than a hand basket.

We needed milk, so dh bought 3 half gallons (we buy organic milk). Then he picked up a half gallon of organic orange juice. Then we bought cans of enchilada sauce and coconut milk. Eggs. Hot dog and hamburger buns. Then there was a special on pork (which we love). Then dh realized he needed eggs for popovers. $43 and about 30lbs later, we were done. Sooo much fun to walk home carrying 15+lbs of food. I have a great bag from Mexico - almost indestructible, but the handles really suck. They are too small to fit over my arm and up on my shoulder, so I have to carry all the weight with my hand. And the bag is too long to carry with my arm straight, so I have to keep it bent. My elbow is killing me.

DH uses a backpack and he had the milk and OJ. I think I need to get a backpack for these types of trips.

One Year Anniversary

April 3rd, 2006 at 08:43 pm

Tomorrow I've been at my job for one year.

I've learned a lot in that year. I had never written a will, a power of attorney, a medical power of attorney (didn't even know they were separate documents) and a directive to Physicians. Last week I put togther an outline for my boss to give a presentation on those things.

I also had never formed a business and didn't have the first idea what they'd need. Now, I've set up limited partnerships, LLCs, and corporations.

Along with all that knowledge, now I qualify for the profit sharing plan. Maybe some of you can help me figure this out:

"III. Employer Contribution Election

To help you make an informed decision on the level of your own salary reduction contributions, if any, your employer must declare the type of contribution it will make within a reasonable period of time prior to the plan year beginning January 1, 2006. Your employer elects to contribute to a SAFE HARBOR 401(k) contribution for 2006 of the type selected below:
... (3) A Nonelective Contribution equal to:

(X) (i) 3% (not less than 3% of your compensation)"

I think I'm missing a form, it goes on to refer to the SPD. I'll ask about that tomorrow. But does that sound like they contribute at least 3% no matter what I contribute? I need to see the SPD to figure out the vesting schedule and my minimum amount to get the full 3%.

I definitely want to participate. They have a deal with one of the local developers and they buy discounted real estate from him. Those notes are currently charged 11-13% interest (with 13% being the highest). We do our own foreclosures if anyone defaults (not a very high default rate, surprisingly) so the only expenses there end up being less than $100 for filing and service fees.

Minimum income required?

April 1st, 2006 at 09:50 pm

On another board people were saying that it's very hard to have a nice life on $50k or less.

The median household income in the US (median means that exactly half make less and half make more) is $44k. So over half the households in the US are not living a nice life?

I just can't wrap my mind around that. We just now make $50k. This is the first time in our lives that we've had this much income. Yes, some years have sucked (the year that neither of us had jobs for 3 months and then moved 750 miles comes to mind). But for the most part, we've always had a good life.

We have more CC debt than I'd like. Most of it is from that year mentioned above, but we did have some before. So, technically we weren't living fully in our means. But, we've always had a positive net worth. If we had had to, we could have paid off all of our debt.

I told those people they were full of it. Half the people in the US are not living bad lives. Some people may be feeling that they don't have enough "stuff" but they have all their needs met.

I think it takes a lot of hubris to say that you HAVE to have more income than over half the nation to have a good life.

Home Haircut Day

March 29th, 2006 at 06:59 pm

My boys were looking really ragged, so it was time to cut their hair.


We have really gotten our money's worth out of our clippers and scissors. Right now, we pretty much just use the clippers with a length guide and then trim the edges with scissors. I've actually practiced cutting with scissors, but the boys were too full of energy for that today.

Free plant(s)

March 28th, 2006 at 09:38 pm

DH worked again on Sunday. He came home with 2 gorgeous cut orchid stems. One pink, one white. They are marvelous.

Then, he went back out and came in with a beautiful blue and white pot planted with a pothos. This poor plant seriously needs to be planted in a bigger pot OR I'm thinking of dividing it and making 2 (or more) plants out of it. I have the gorgeous pot it's in and another gorgeous large square pot that I've been dying to plant since I got it (1.5 years ago).



(pic from http://www.plantmann.com/pages/pdeviliv.html)

Pothos is supposed to be extremely good at filtering impurities from the air. And it grows quickly.

The only issue will be keeping my cat from digging in it. The best tip for that is barrier methods. Plastic plates or aluminum foil work very well. They aren't the most attractive, but it does keep the cat from using it as a cat box.

DH had to work today

March 25th, 2006 at 05:17 pm

and he'll have to work tomorrow.

It's part of his job and he's salaried, so there's no extra pay for this.

BUT, he brought home tshirts for us, caps for the kids and 7 coupons for free blizzards (small) from dairy queen. I think we may have to use some next week. There's one that can be on our way home (I just have to take a different route).

The tshirts have a nice design, but they put it on the back. I HATE that. If there's a pretty design, I want to be able to see it and see people's reactions to it. If it's on my back, I can't see either.

Still 1.5 weeks in the month?

March 22nd, 2006 at 09:16 pm

DH went to the grocery store today for turkey and milk. He hasn't given me the receipt, which means he probably bought more than that, so I'm sure we're over our grocery budget.

I know the gas is over the budget. 2 10-12 hour round trips will do that. We were under last month, though, so I hope it will balance out.

We got our AmEx card. It came with an offer for a free balance transfer with a lower rate than our low rate (I don't remember the rate right now). We have to pay it off in 6 months (which is the plan). It will save us about $40 in interest. The best thing it will do is give us a goal and keep us on track.

On one of my boards we started a new thread - 100 ways to save $1. I figured out how much it costs to run my dryer (given our high cost of electricity) and realized each load is almost $1. OUCH! That means we REALLY have to get that clothesline up. We've never had to do one from scratch, though, so I know that's what's holding dh up. Our posthole diggers broke - so I'll have to figure out someone we can borrow them from. Maybe the people across the alley who took our dryer and our wheelbarrow would have a set?

Working from home

March 21st, 2006 at 08:19 pm

I'm doing something I swore I'd never do.

I'm bringing home work. I've had a lot of work this month. It's reflected in my billings, but that doesn't give me an excuse to slide.

I've had to go back to work with the kids twice this month and 3 times I've brought work from home.

I hate this. But, I'm on the computer at home anyway. It isn't that much more effort. But it's still a pain.

In many ways I wonder if I'm setting myself up to need to do it more often. If I accomplish more, will they give me more? Right now I'm working with the assumption that this is just an extremely busy time and it will get better. But, I will reevaluate that assumption as time goes on.

The one good thing about working at home? I can actually start something and finish it without interruptions. I feel like I'm constantly running at work but having to switch gears in a millisecond so that our clients don't feel the pressure.

Lawn mowing today

March 21st, 2006 at 05:59 pm

I have this mower:



I had it when we had the half acre lot and I have to say, this smaller lot? Much better. Also, this grass? (buffalo grass) Is soooo much better than bermudagrass.

It didn't take long. The biggest problem is that our ash tree is shedding little branches (DON'T TOP YOUR TREES, they'll shed branches constantly) and those little sticks get caught between the cutting edge and the blade. ARGGHH!!!

The cool thing about a reel mower? You can mow the lawn without picking up your water houses. If it doesn't get between the blade and cutting edge, it won't get cut. Of course, that's a bad thing too - if the weeds get too tall, the mower will push them over and they won't get into the cutting space.

I played the wimp. "I'm too tired to go to the grocery store, isn't there something we can eat here?" Don't tell DH, but I'm not really that tired. We did have stuff to eat, the only issue is DS2's lunch tomorrow, we're out of turkey, but he can take peanut butter.

Showmanship as marketing

March 20th, 2006 at 08:12 pm

We went to Whole Foods this weekend, the flagship store in Austin.

This is an amazing store. Organic and natural foods of every possible kind. Just beyond cool.

But the coolest thing is the staging they do. Their fish cooler? Wow! They had the fish posed like they were swimming and jumping in the ice - some were sideways, but diagonally, some were head out, some were tail out. Of course, some fish is frozen somewhat curved rather than flat, and they worked with it. All the fish department employees were dressed in full length waders.

The bread department has all their bread available as samples. And their bread is all artisan quality.

They have an olive bar. I didn't know there were so many kinds of olives.

Now, food isn't really my thing. But it is DH's. So I'm just thrilled we got out of there with spending only $71. DH did, though, take a few pictures.

Travelling again

March 19th, 2006 at 06:40 pm

We drove to Waco to pick up our boys. It was a more expensive trip than it had to be - dh decided we HAD to stay overnight, so there was the hotel bill.

Then, we went to Costco. They had a coupon on a 4 man tent. He really wants to start taking the kids camping and our tent is a very small 2 man tent. I was going to buy myself a skirt (there was a coupon) but I decided I didn't like it, there were a lot of raw edges and loose strings.

But we also stopped at Whole Foods. It's March 19 and we have $20 left in the grocery budget for the month. We shouldn't need much but I know he's going to go beyond the budget.

The good thing is that we didn't eat out much. He promised me Taco Bueno for Saturday but we didn't make it all the way into Waco and then couldn't find one that is supposed to exist in Georgetown. So, another 6 months without Bueno (yes, he's in the doghouse). So at that point I just didn't care. Eat? Whatever, I'll just be hungry. So we used a coupon and had a milkshake at Ben & Jerry's. Then we went on to Costco and had supper there.

Today we had b'fast at the hotel and then just bought snacks at whole foods for lunch.

Treating co-workers

March 16th, 2006 at 08:52 pm

I think during lunch tomorrow I'm going to run to the grocery store and buy a treat. I'm not sure what, but clearly I'm not going to bake. Something green I think.

I think I can keep it to less than $5, so it shouldn't be too much of a splurge and I think it will help with the politics.

I think working fulltime this week has helped too. I'll do it again in June when the kids are gone for "Camp Grandma". That time, though, I'll do it for extra money. Comp time is great and needed, but I don't need as much as I'd earn in a month (7 days).


Treat Night

March 16th, 2006 at 08:28 pm

This is our last free night before the kids come home, so we used our Chili's gift card and went out. We got burgers and fries. I've been wanting a burger for 2 weeks and for whatever reason, it's not worked out.

I still have $9.30 on my gift card, so it's not bad. We tipped really well tonight - probably because it was a gift card. I think it was about 30% of the before tax amount. We ended up with free chips and salsa (I don't know what that was about, he just walked out with them, looked around and then said "want some chips?") and a free drink (another thing I didn't understand but if you're offering free, I'll take it), so probably if you took those things off, our tip wasn't that great.

But, now I'm paying for that burger. Gassy tummy. I think it was the onions. Or maybe it was that I haven't had a burger in so long and even though I only at half my burger, that's more meat than I've eaten in a meal in a LOOOOONNNNNG time.

Bad diet day

March 14th, 2006 at 08:54 pm

One of the women at work (our "girl" office help) brought a cake to work today. Holy crap, that was the best cake I have ever tasted! So NOW I really have to take something. I'm thinking something special on St Pat's day.

On the bright side, though, when I weighed this weekend I found out I'd lost 13 lbs since the beginning of the year. Not bad considering I have cheated on my diet, a lot! I'm about 5-10 lbs from goal (my true goal is 5 lbs lower than my "realistic" goal).

Tomorrow will be a library day. I just have to decide if I want to go during lunch hour or try to convince dh to walk with me. It was cold (well, not really, low 70s) and kept acting like it was going to rain (it never did).

I'm getting a raise

March 13th, 2006 at 04:47 pm

It isn't much at all - something like $0.38/hr, but I'll take it.

I also had a talk with them about working extra time. They offered to pay me an hourly rate for that, but I asked for comp time for now. I need both time and money, but I need time more than money right now. It seems like I have to make so many decisions simply based upon whether I have time off or not.

So, now, for every 3 days I work full time, I get one free day off - YAY!!!

Okay, so this weekend I was the spender

March 12th, 2006 at 09:28 pm

First I bought a book. I NEVER buy books, but the library doesn't have this one and it's from 2004 so I'm fairly sure they won't get it.

THEN, we went to costco and I bought 2 new blouses. I needed some long-sleeved blouses for work (even more so as summer comes, I swear during summer they keep the office at 65) so it wasn't a stupid expense, so much as one that probably could have waited.

Then, we went to an outlet mall. We are wanting some of those polycarbonate glasses (or I want them, DH doesn't so much). Our glasses are from 1996 and we're down to 3 or 4. We live on tile, so if a glass is dropped, it will shatter. DH, on the other hand, doesn't really like the polycarbonate cups, sooo we are searching for ones he will like.

While there, he drug me into the coldwater creek outlet. I love coldwater creek, so I didn't have to be drug too hard. They had a rack of skirts for $10, so I ended up with 2. They will match the new blouses I bought and some of my other clothes, so they are good additions to my wardrobe.

Frugal crafting

March 10th, 2006 at 09:26 pm

I had to have my light at work worked on. It flat wasn't working.

I came in today and found my trash can full of electrical wire. I ignored it at first, but then I was throwing some stuff away and noticed it was pretty copper wire under the plastic coating. So I snagged it. It's a lot. I just stripped a section and OMS it is pretty. And it bends perfectly.

I was planning on buying so copper wire and now I don't have to! Yay!

C

Birthday party

March 10th, 2006 at 08:28 pm

Birthday party for the kids tonight. It was fun. We walked out with a couple of little toys - no candy! and a free meal for all of us. Plus the boys got to play lots of games and I got to visit with other moms.

Can't beat that.

We dove into our gift box and pulled out the perfect gift for this little boy. I really appreciate that I have a husband who likes to shop (even when I complain about the fact that he can't go anywhere without spending money) and finds these great deals. It was a gift that probably looks like it cost $20-40 and probably cost about $10.

Peeling paint

March 9th, 2006 at 09:43 pm

Well, not peeling exactly, just not holding onto the wall so if something touches it or scrapes it, it pulls off.

We just moved in. We painted in December. We didn't buy the cheapest paint.

I'm so frustrated. My walls look several years old and I've been exceptionally careful.

I guess I need to take photos of the spots, grab my receipts and go back to home depot and find out what remedies I have.

We spent way too much on paint to be having to touch it up less than 4 months later.

Short day tomorrow

March 9th, 2006 at 09:35 pm

My kids get out of school at 10:30 tomorrow. I hate short days.

DH is going to be nice and take the kids to school so I can go into work early, since I'll have to leave at 10:15.

I'm going to make a copy of some notes, email a few sample wills to myself and then come home and try to knock out the wills I have. I think I have 6 wills that need to be done, and a few of them are from 2-3 weeks ago. It's just been so crazy at work.

Next week is spring break and my kids are going to go to grandma's house. So, I'll up my hours to full time (I really have to talk to them about doing comp time) and I just hope that will be enough to get me on top of everything.

My inbox truly overflows. I did go through it today and pulled out some things that are fairly simple - things that will take 5-10 minutes tops and made a quick note on them. I hope our office helper can pick up some of them and run with it.

But so much of my time today was spent organizing files for two contested probate hearings tomorrow. And then we had a client come in for a power of attorney and my boss wanted me to do it today.

THEN, (it just piles up) I got a note that there needs to be nothing on my floor when I leave tomorrow because the carpet is going to be cleaned at the same time one of the other workers brought a box over and said "hey, I think this is some stuff you can use, it's the forms files from your predecessor". I agree, it's good stuff, but without floor space, where am I supposed to put it? And, can't you see I'm pulling my hair out trying to get stuff done? Can't it wait until next week? Apparently not. I grabbed a sharpie, labeled it and then took it to the file room. I told the file lady that I'd get it next week but I needed it stored for now.

Ideally, I'd like for all those forms to be scanned and logged and be available to everyone.

Shopping AGAIN

March 8th, 2006 at 09:22 pm

Okay, so he did okay. We needed fire ant bait (organic) because just getting the mail is turning into an obstacle course. So he bought that. We also needed toothpaste, I'm one step away from getting the pliers (which is fine for me, but the kids can't really handle it).

Then, because our first aid kit seems to have disappeared, he bought band aids. If we find the first aid kit, fine, bandaids seem to last forever (I know for a fact I have bandaids that are almost 12 years old and still stick).

And then he bought sunflower seeds. We have a lot of birds. Part of me thinks this is wonderful, but part of me thinks "I already can't sleep at night because they are sooo loud". I'll enjoy the seed though, it's soo much fun watching birds at a feeder, and maybe this will help keep our lizards safe.

He spent a little less than $30 today, so it wasn't that bad. But I'm seeing our spending get awfully high already and we're only a week into the month.

So far, the grocery and "other" category total $225 for the month. OUCH! AND that doesn't include the $300 or so for dh's new tires.

This too shall pass, this too shall pass.

Eeeekkkk!!! A snake!

March 8th, 2006 at 07:08 pm

I got up last night for no real reason and found a snake in my house.

Now, it wasn't a big snake. Really, it was smaller than a lot of earthworms. At first glance it might have been a worm but it moved like a snake (that S slide). I finally managed to catch it with a piece of paper and a tupperware container.

At that point I KNEW it wasn't a worm. I could see eyes. Worms don't have eyes.

So, yeah, that messed with my sleep. I'm in bed thinking "that was a baby, I wonder if mama is nearby".

Playdate for the kids!!

March 5th, 2006 at 06:46 pm

My neighbor's grandkids are visiting for spring break, so my kids had a playdate over there this evening. She fed them popsicles and those kool-aid jammer thingies. So much sugar.

So, then they wanted to go to the park. It's only about 4 blocks away, so we walked with the boys and one of her grandkids. Let them run off the sugar.

I played some with the kids, swinging and helping them with the monkey bars. So, I got a little more exercise.

Plus, when we go to the park, I do some "volunteer work" and pull the bermudagrass out of the wood chips. I figure they'll come along and spray it, rather than pull it, so I'm saving them money and helping to save the environment.


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