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I have a key to my new house!!!!

November 27th, 2005 at 06:16 am

I don't get to move in for almost 2 weeks, but I have a key.

The closing costs ended up being about $1,000 less than we expected (I'm still not sure why, I've gone over all the figures and can't figure out where the extra money must have been (of course, DH has all the original paperwork somewhere, so I don't have that).

I'm so happy, we have a house and we still have money left in the bank.

AND, the best part? Our payment is about $15 less per month than our current rent. And the house is soooo much nicer. The payment includes taxes and insurance (I can't believe they make you pay extra for a non-escrow account). We don't have renter's insurance now (just couldn't justify the expense when everything we own is either irreplaceable - like dh's grandmother's dining set - or wouldn't be covered, or was pretty cheap anyway). House insurance is an interesting scam. Because they determined it would take $140k to rebuild our house (hmmm, it cost just about 60% of that, but whatever) they MUST insure our contents at $80k. We so do not have $80k of belongings. Even if we replaced everything new, it wouldn't come close to $80k.

But, I have a house, I have a house, I have a house. A great house. It has saltillo tile through most of the house, one bedroom has vinyl tile (which will be replaced once we save up the money) and the kitchen and bathrooms have ceramic tile. I expect we'll eventually replace those with saltillo as well - saltillo is extremely thick and the transition between the two is bothersome.

The master bath is peachy-pink. The tile, the toilet, the sink and the tub. I think we can live with it for a while, but we'll replace the toilet and the sink first. Then we'll replace the tile on the walls. The tub will just stay, we'll put a shower curtain there and it won't really show.

The other bathroom was green. The tub is still green, but everything else has been replaced and is soooo pretty.

The kitchen needs work. The cabinets are white with funky yellow doors. We'll start with just painting them and eventually redo them.

I think I've got DH to agree to stay here for a while. I love it here. It's warm and we're close to the beach and we both have good jobs. Plus, the moving and changing jobs is so stressful he isn't looking forward to it. He says the guy doing his job in San Antonio is set to retire in about 5-10 years, so he'll try to get that job then.

I fully plan to pay extra on our principle. I figure this first year, I'll just pay what we've been paying - or maybe round it up to the nearest 100. I need to get my spreadsheet set up so I can tell how much I need to pay to really accelerate our loan.

Yay!!! I have a house!!!

Oh my aching head

October 23rd, 2005 at 09:54 pm

For some reason I have a headache that won't quit. I suspect it has to do with the lack of caffiene yesterday and today.

Yesterday we went to the Island for Sand Castle Days and met a friend there. We get there and there's no parking, so we drove around and found a public parking area about 5 blocks away. I mentioned that I hadn't had a Dr Pepper in over a week and I really wanted one. So, we passed a circle K and DH suggests we go in and get a drink. I grab a cup and head to get my DP, not paying attention to him. In that time he suggests to the boys we get a frozen coke. I sort of heard it, but I'm going to get my DP, that's why we stopped (in my mind). I start filling my cup with ice (and the stupid ice machine will not stop spitting out ice so I end up with a lot more ice than I wanted) and then dh starts griping. "Weren't you listening to me? We're getting a frozen coke." "I don't want a frozen coke, I want a f'ing DP" (not really my words, but my attitude) so he gets an attitude about what the boys want, etc. Then he gets the martyr voice and says "sorry guys, we'll get whatever mom wants". Yeah, as if that's a good idea. So now I'm the horrible person who won't let them have what they want. Jerk! I suggest two, but of course, not, that'd be wasting a dollar and we can't do that. So I end up giving in and getting them a frozen coke and no dp for me. He has the nerve to say "they would have gotten what you wanted". Can I slap him now? He knew what I wanted, period. He then says "you like icees, why didn't you want one?" Hello! I'm trying to watch my calorie intake and I didn't want to spend my calories on a stupid icee. So, I ended up taking about 2 sips and letting the kids have the rest. No caffiene for me.

We did have a great time. The sandcastles were free to see. Then we played in the ocean some - well, a lot. I played on the beach with my friend and her 2yo. Which was pretty fun. We dug a pool and found a bamboo stick with barnacles on it, so we put it in the pool and watched them open and send out their tendrils. And then watched the 2yo splash in "her pool".

After about 3 hours (we're all just a tiny bit pink today) we decided we were pretty darn hungry so we headed back across the bridge to our favorite sea food place. All you can eat fried (fresh) fish for $7. So, $27.17 for the four of us (that's with tip, and 2 kids meals since the kids aren't so much into the fish).

Today, I woke up with a major headache which hasn't gone away yet. I've taken ibuprofen and am drinking some tea. But, it's not helping much.

We were supposed to go to walmart to get the supplies for this stupid "UN day" at school. We have to make flag, costume and food for each child plus a poster for the older child. And the flag has to be a fabric flag (felt it is). I figure all the supplies are going to be $50. Pisses me off. All this stuff, right before halloween and it's all spendy. Marvelous. My kids will probably be the least well done of all, but that's just the way it will be. If they want better, they have to give more than 3 weeks notice and they have to plan it for a better time than right before halloween. Though, really, with the whole house hunt thing, no time would have worked for me.

Movie Day

October 22nd, 2005 at 03:40 am

Mixed day today.

I took the kids to school and then came home and worked in the yard for 25 minutes. My legs are sore and I don't see any appreciable change. What a pain.

Then I came in and watched a video for a survey site. It ended up being 45 minutes with no way to pause it and it wasn't for much of a reward. But, it was mostly interesting and I was pretty zapped from that much physical labor (uprooting johnsongrass) so, it was mostly okay.

Then I had just enough time for a quick shower and then off to pick up the kids.

A stop on the way home for them to get one more immunization (the oldest is now done for 10 years) and a TB test their school requires. For some reason we didn't get charged for that. I figure they'll work it out and then if there is a charge, we'll get a bill.

Then we ate lunch and messed around and then to the movies. We watched Valiant. It's cute. Just gross enough for boys, but not so gross I couldn't handle it. That was $3 for tickets and I caved to peer pressure and bought them them the little movie meal - $3.75 each and it came with a very small soda, about 2 cups of popcorn and a candy thing. Quite a rip and they'd just eaten lunch. But it was only $10.50 for the outing, so it could have been worse.

Then we went to the park to let the boys play more. I really enjoyed getting to know this mother and her son. I think we could really be friends.

Then we went to look at one more house. The realtor called and was so excited "I think I found the perfect house for you". It was so not the perfect house. It needs work, it's on the high end of our budget and it just doesn't fit what we like. The kitchen is closed in (and we've been very clear about wanting a kitchen that was open to the rest of the house). It had popcorn ceilings. It had a painted brick wall. It backed up to a noisy, busy street. It was a neighborhood with very few kids. In short, it was what it actually is - a rental house. It's the house you rent while you look for your perfect house. It isn't the house you live in and love. The only thing it had was that when it comes time to resell, it should resell fairly easily, it's in the country club area. Yeah, that's so not enough. I may worry about paying top dollar for a neighborhood and getting my money back, but not so much that I am willing to live in a house that doesn't fit me just so I don't have to worry about the end.

Didn't eat out

October 21st, 2005 at 06:15 am

We almost ate out. But we were saved from ourselves, the restaurant was closed. So we came home and dug in the freezer and pulled out enough to have a decent meal.

I've so ready to give up on the house hunt. We got a counteroffer this evening (the written one) and when I read through it, I realized that it had expired today at noon. Now there are 2 other people bidding on this property, so it looks like this one will fall through too.

I'm beginning to think it just isn't the right time right now.

We got our credit scores ran and they're pretty good. I'm a little pissed because I've not applied for any new credit and it came across as having been lowered because of too many inquiries. The only thing I've done is get insurance quotes and we got 4 rate quotes for mortgages. So, if you shop around, you get penalized. Loverly. At least it was high enough that it didn't matter, we still got a good quote.

Tomorrow we are going to the dollar movie with my ds's friend and his mom. It'll be 3 dollars for us to get in and I might spring for a kids' pack for $2.50. We'll see. It's money we shouldn't necessarily spend, but ...

I have tomorrow off so I can get some laundry done, etc. I'll have almost 2 whole hours without the kiddoes. Maybe I can even get some lawn work taken care of.

We're supposed to drive to the island saturday with DSs' other friend. This is the first time I've really started feeling like I can make friends as a couple. DH gets along with both of the DH's, I get along with the moms and the kids get along together. What could be better?

Holy crap it's been a while since I posted

October 20th, 2005 at 04:26 am

So, we're still looking for a house. This is such a pain. I don't know if we should listen to our realtor anymore. I think by following his advice on what to offer, we might have offended the sellers. Of course, we never offered less than their tax appraised value.

But, the houses we like need some work. And they have them priced the same as the houses in the area that were perfect (that sold before we could make an offer). I'm sorry, when the house needs $5-6k worth of work, they shouldn't expect top dollar. Period.

We've eaten out way too much lately. We finally sat down and said "this is too much" and decided to make a list of foods we like to eat and that are easy to cook at home so that when we can't decide what to eat we have a list to look at. And we keep our freezer stocked, with cooked meat, etc, so most meals will take less than 30 minutes to get on the table.

We've started making a circle of friends, so we have 2 outings planned for this weekend. Tomorrow and Friday are short days for the kids, so I have Friday off (DH is taking tomorrow off) so the kids and I have a date with one of the other boys and his mom. We're not sure what we'll do, maybe drive to the island for the sand castle days or go to a cheap movie.

Saturday we are getting together with another mom and her kids. We ARE going to the island with her. I really don't think I should go to the island with the first mom because that seems mean to the second mom, I made plans with her first so she shouldn't get kids who are less excited by the outing.

It's probably cheaper to go to the movie, even if we buy snacks. Gas being what it is and the island being 2-4 gallons of gas away ...

We're watching this hurricane. I hope anyone in Florida is prepared. I can't believe it intensified so quickly. Wow! Imagine if that comes on into the gulf. Eesh!

Chiming in with the sick

September 28th, 2005 at 04:46 am

And then I held a baby today. What was I thinking?

Geez.

I've been sickish since Wednesday. So has everyone in my office. Either my boss's cold was particularly bad our there is something going on in our office. We're all exhausted and distracted. Not good. I was so tired today, I ended up walking to get a soda. I was all but falling asleep at my desk. I was so determined not to do it until next month, but ...

I saw some adorable kittens today and wanted so badly to take one home. But DH has said "no more cats until that one dies". She's only 10, so that'll be 10 years or so (knock on wood). Maybe I can wear him down over time.

We're still house hunting. We saw one today that was a possible. It needs new floors and the kitchen and bathrooms need major updating. I'd also like to get rid of a couple of walls which make the living areas feel small (there's a living room to the front as you walk in the door, then to the left is the kitchen and left from there - so 2 left turns - is the dining room. It would be so nice to get rid of those walls and have an open floor plan. But we wouldn't be able to afford that.

We're supposed to have 5-10 scheduled for Sunday. I will have to take major notes and DH will have to take a lot of pics so we can remember each one. I'm hoping we'll find the right house this time. I hope to keep all the monthly mortgage payments (including taxes and insurance) to right at what we spend now.

Feeling "blah"

September 24th, 2005 at 05:37 am

I'm running a low grade fever for the 2nd day. Not good. My allergies are acting up and I'm so hoping this is not turning into a sinus infection. So far the only symptom is fever and slightly stuffy - no pain, no discharge. I'm using my flonase though.

I haven't spent any money the last 2 days. I filled up on gas Wednesday and today it is up 30 cents from that. No telling what it will be tomorrow after the hurricane hits.

The house we made an offer on is definitely off the market. DH and I went through a list and picked out 10 we want our realtor to schedule a walk-through. We'll see if there's anything we like out there. We found some pretty good deals, so if the house is in any kind of shape, it would be worth making an offer.

I came home to a house full of ants. We suspect they might be fire ants. They jump on you and bite like fire if you walk by. When I say full, it isn't really full, but there are hundreds of them. We can't figure out what they are going to. They seem to be coming up through the floor in our bedroom (aren't we lucky?). So we treated with cinnamon for tonight (it upsets their sense of smell and being able to follow the trail they lay down) and tomorrow we'll look for a non-toxic treatment.

We have 3 different kinds of ants in our house now. Big ones in the kitchen (they are so not aggressive, they act like cockroaches, only out at night). I suspect they might be carpenter ants, but I'm not sure. Little black ants in the cat's room (built in patio). They eat her food and are coming up through cracks in the floor. They are mostly not agressive. They've not bitten me. And now these little red ants.

We have a cat and small kids, we can't use toxic treatments and I won't use pesticides. Especially when I'm sick. It's so frustrating. Tomorrow will be spent pulling out pieces of furniture and vaccuuming and hoping we find what they are after. And the kids have been told, again, no eating or drinking (other than water) outside of the dining room. Interestingly enough, the ants aren't in the dining room where there are crumbs. Go figure.

Okay, still house hunting

September 22nd, 2005 at 02:02 am

It appears that the seller of the house we liked lost her job. So they've pulled the house off the market for now. Our agent is still going to submit our offer with the option of them leasing from us until mid December. Maybe that will work.

Meanwhile, I've got him looking at the other houses on our list. He said that one house has been on the market for almost 2 years, so that may be a no go, we'll have to see what it looks like.

I'm watching this hurricane carefully. Right now, we're out of the cone and the governor did not suggest we evacuate. Sometimes I wonder if he even knows we exist way down here. If the computer models are correct, we are one of the safest areas of Texas, we'll have flooding and some wind, but nothing like the rest of Texas (except the far west).

I worry about the people who were evacuated from New Orleans to Houston. This means another evacuation. This time it appears that the evacuation is being handled well, but still. It must be so frustrating, they're just now beginning to find their family members and get families together again and now we're separating them again.

I suspect that I will miss my cousin's wedding next week. If the hurricane hits with as a category 4 or higher, DH will be sent to work incident command. It will mean lots of extra money (which will help with househunting) but I hate that it will mean other people's misery.

Made an offer

September 21st, 2005 at 05:02 am

So we made an offer on one of the houses. Not full price, we'll see if they're motivated and what they'll deal. We'll probably need to put $5-10k into the house to get it fixed up. It's in good shape but there are some cosmetic things I want to deal with (the bathroom is pink - the sink, the tub and the toilet, plus all the tile). I'd love to bring my clawfoot tub down here, but it's 13 hours away and DH really wants to wait until he knows we'll be settled some place. This is the tub from his childhood home, so I understand not wanting to just leave it, but having it in a storage building isn't the best idea (of course, it sat outside for 3 years, sooo...).

If our offer is accepted our house payment should be the same or less than our rent payment. What a great deal (that's including taxes and insurance).

We went out to eat tonight. I've got to get this under control but I really, really wanted that cheeseburger and dr pepper. It wouldn't have been so bad except we treated the boys by buying a smoothie and a milkshake. I guess we'll have to break out the blender and make smoothies at home.

I'm working hard to resist the urge to hit the vending machine at work. I went yesterday and that machine pisses me off so much. If it is out of your soda, there is no light to let you know. You find out when you put your money in and then it won't give it back. You have to buy something.

We'll be tightening the belts a little bit more the next few weeks. We had to write checks for earnest money and option on the house. And we need to pay car insurance, AAA. Rent and school tuition are also going to be due soon. This will be easy to cover with DH's paycheck and I have money in other accounts. I need to close out those accounts and get the funds here so I can use them for renovations/closing costs.

I'm about ready to fire our realtor

September 19th, 2005 at 05:01 am

My realtor is pissing me off. He told me "I'm about to run out of homes in your price range". So we come home and look at the MLS and there are 2 dozen homes that are within our guidelines. I think what he meant was "I want you to increase your price range and it isn't worth my time to show you homes under $80k". One home is even in our neighborhood and looks nice from the outside (his further explanation was that the homes that were left were in bad neighborhoods).

We did see one house that looks nice. It wouldn't need a lot of work - the cabinets need replaced/repainted, they're bright yellow. But it is priced low enough we could actually do that. The floors look great, minimal carpet. The walls are painted really nicely and fit within our tastes.

Of course, then we went out to eat. Geez, I've got to get this under control. Another $20 for eating out. We're so over budget for eating out, it's not even funny. DH doesn't get it, he says we have the money (and we do) so why not enjoy it. Ummm, because we want to buy a house and might need to make two house payments for a couple of months, plus we need to have money for downpayment and closing costs. I just get tired of saying we need to not eat out and being told I'm too controlling.

We had fun after we ate though. We went back to the house we liked the best and walked the neighborhood. There is a park about 5 blocks away and the school is right next to the park. So, I can walk them to school in the morning, walk home, drive to work (which is not that far away and I can probably even bike one day/week) then after work drive home and walk to get them and walk them home, and play at the play ground before we go home. The hours of the school are just longer enough than their current school.

We let the kids play on the playground for a while. They had a great time and I even got up and played with them some. I'm wondering if swinging is a good workout. It seems like it could work abs, arms and legs, but I'm not sure.

Anyway. I sent the list of MLS numbers to our realtor to have him look into them. One is even his own listing so he'd get the full 6% of it. If none of them workout, this other home would be a decent choice.

Went to the birthday party

September 18th, 2005 at 04:05 am

It was at the bowling alley and I forgot to make sure DS had socks. DH wasn't answering his phone, but luckily a mother had had to run home for a minute so her DH called and she brought socks. If that had failed, I would have ran home to get DS socks, it's only 5 minutes away. DS had a great time and I'm glad we went. Only 9 other kids showed up, 3 of whom were siblings of the bday boy. They invited 16 kids and only 8 showed up.

I got hit up for $1.00 for the game room but I knew it was coming so I planned for it. DS bowled a great game - 93 and he barely used the bumpers at all. Before long he'll be ready for the bumpers to come down. I guess we need to take him more often. Maybe we can set it up with his friend, we get along with his parents.

Got the cable bill today. DH made a change last month and they charged us for a partial month. Umm, we didn't receive a credit for the partial month we had paid on the other service. This is why I hate paying in advance, you always get charged extra on the end that you aren't supposed to be charged. This is all in DH's name so I can't call to fix it and he won't call. He says "It's just $8 and they won't give it back anyway". Men!

We also got his cc bill. There were a lot of charges I knew about but hadn't known the total. So I updated spending for August and part of September. Okay. August was an expensive month. Not the most expensive but still. And september isn't shaping up any better. But maybe we're mostly done with the travel. I hope so. It's killing our budget. I need to start budgeting for it, but I want to get the debt paid off first. For now it's lumped into the misc. category and that category is waaaay over budget.

More house hunting

September 17th, 2005 at 05:15 am

Okay, there are some weird houses on the market and they all want top dollar. Umm, no, it's not happening. I'm not paying $120k for a house that is 1) hard to get to, 2) on septic, 3) has a bedroom that can only be accessed by going through another bedroom and then through a bathroom (so if someone is in the bathroom, tough, or if they forget to unlock the door, oh well, you're not getting out).

Then we had a school party. Okay, so they decided to assign groups of food by letter of your name. This would be fine if it was rotated around some, but those of us who had names from G-L had to bring a main dish. Enough to feed our family plus 8 other people. We have only been in this school for one semester and now this semester. So maybe, just maybe, there will be more dinners. But we didn't see any last semester. This is not spreading the cost around. Luckily, we had a bunch of hotdogs from the party that didn't happen. DH cut them up and mixed them with barbecue sauce and some spices. I think they went over well. We didn't bring much home.

Tomorrow is supposed to be a bday party for a kid in DS1's class. I haven't RSVP'ed (we just got the invitations Wednesday). I'm debating this. DS says he doesn't really play with this child and I feel bad to go and cost the mother a minimum of $5.50 (she's having this the same place we had his bday party so I know the cost). BUT, as DH says, this may be the catalyst for getting them to play together and I would hate it if my kid's party wasn't well attended. I just feel like she only invited him because he's in the class and she invited everyone. Hmmm. I'll probably call in the morning and go. We bought a bunch of gifts some time ago (DH loves to bargain hunt and always hits the sales at Target and gets great gifts for 75-90% off) so the gift is fairly easy to do.

I stood in my closet today and took forever to find something to wear. I haven't bought new clothes in a long while. And it seems that most of my shirts have grease stains on them. It's so frustrating. DH says "go buy something new". But I can't do that because I do have clothes, they're just starting to show some wear. I think I can figure them out, it just takes some effort. I need to get some go-jo, I'm told that works well for grease and chocolate stains (yeah, ben & jerry's stains like you wouldn't believe).

House hunting

September 16th, 2005 at 05:37 am

So the realtor called the minute I walked in the door (actually it wasn't fully open yet). We set up an appt to look at 2 houses. I think we need to stress the lower end of our budget, he's going to push us to go for more than we really want.

One house was okay, lots and lots of closets. Decent kitchen. BUT, it had gawd-awful ceramic tile and kitchen counters and was on the high side of our range (actually it is listed for a couple thousand over our top price but he thinks they will be flexible).

The second house was bizarre. We couldn't find the doorbell. Okay, no biggie, the owner's at work and said to just go on in. We walk in and immediately to your right is a door with a deadbolt and a doorbell. To the left is the door to the garage. Down the hall is french doors to the kitchen (on the right) and on the left a long narrow room with a door to the covered patio. So we go through the door with the deadbolt and now we're in the main house. Master bedroom to the right, kitchen and living area to the left with a hall leading to the other rooms. So we look around and figure out that the house apparently had a breezeway connecting the garage and the house which they built in. Okay. But the brick is the ugliest yellow-ish color (or to me and DH anyway, no offense if it's your favorite color). I've never seen such a bizarre house. We would consider it (the price is right) but the brick is so ugly that it would be a lot of work to work on converting it into a place we would like.

We didn't spend any money today. Yay us! I made the bank deposit and it was a lot (birthdays). My new monthly pay will be about $124 extra (extra half hour/day) so that's exciting. I can't wait to see what dh's payraise and benefit change will do for his check.

Hot weather

September 15th, 2005 at 04:35 am

I swear, everytime the temps drop below 95 they jump back up to almost 100. It's hot, hot, hot. But, at least this means we won't have to heat so much this winter (last winter we only turned the heater on once here).

We met with the realtor today. I think maybe it will work out. He's got a good idea of what we want. DH seems to like him okay and they seem very open to our not liking carpet at all. I told them that if they get someone who wants to sell their house but has crappy carpet, to let us know before they replace the carpet. If the house "feels" right, I'd buy it and just tear it out and no one has to waste the money and materials on new carpet. I'm so afraid we'll find the "perfect" house but it will have brand new carpet and I'll feel obligated to keep it because it is new. And I hate carpet soooo much.

It was a last minute meeting and took a while so we didn't feel like cooking at home (I'm sure the heat didn't help) so we thought we'd go to our favorite diner (which is very inexpensive), but of course they had just closed. So instead we went to chinese buffet. $28!!! OUCH!!!

DH found out he got a 4% raise. We'll see that on the next check. His health insurance premiums also went down and we dropped me from the dental coverage (I just don't use it and it is so difficult to use, we have to travel 2 hours to a covered dentist). I figure that with all the changes we'll get something like $150 extra in the monthly check, possibly more. Plus, with me upping my hours, I should clear something like $75-100/month.

The mail brought a travel reimbursement check. Just in time for me to take it to the bank with my paycheck tomorrow (which will be my first full paycheck since I started my longer hours). Between bday money and travel reimbursement, this month has been a great money month.

Wahhh, the house has a sale pending already

September 14th, 2005 at 01:21 am

Geez that was fast. The realtor didn't return my call, so I don't know what to do. I guess I'll just tell DH to find one.

I had to buy gas today. The good news is that my mileage was slightly up, the bad news is that it's still just at 21.5. The other good news is that it has been 26 days since I filled up (I think) but the bad news is that it was over $22, and that wasn't even for a full tank. That was 8.5 gallons on a 12 (I think) gallon tank.

DH stopped for groceries. Since my no-spend day was already "ruined" I ended up down at the vending machine for a dr pepper. I know that you can get sodas cheaper at the grocery store (it's .65 for a 12oz can at the machine) but I also know that I will spend less if I go to a machine and have to walk a couple of blocks to get it. Of course, I also found out that while *I* had a no spend day y'day, DH went gift shopping at a couple of sales and spent some money. It's money well spent since everything was on deep clearance and they're perfect gifts, but ...

OH well, tomorrow's another day.

House maybe? (I forgot to put this in my first entry)

September 13th, 2005 at 03:45 am

There is a cute house just down the street that is in our price range (I'd like them to come down about $5k, but ...). We need to schedule an appointment to look at it and see what we think, but it's close to the boys' friends, close to the public school they'll probably attend next year and it looks really nice. Plus, it's close to our current house so we won't have to rent a moving truck (can't you see us moving by carrying boxes down the street, lol).

So, my job tomorrow is schedule an appt with a realtor and get that whole process started. We're preapproved for a large enough mortgage to handle this house and have money left over.

We also went for a nice walk tonight (which is how we found out the price of the house). I earned my ice cream tonight, but chose not to eat it, opting for popcorn instead.

Count me in the no-spend group

September 13th, 2005 at 03:40 am

Plus we got money in the mail. Money for DH and I for our bdays (last month) and for DS's bday. His was cash so he ran and stuck it in his bottle. Ours was a check so it's put up with the other checks for when I get paid on Thursday (I try to only go to the bank 2x/month).

I'm having issues with the boys' school. Apparently they never got the birth certs last year (I don't know why, I had them with me) and now I can't find them anywhere. I will request new ones from OK, but it will take a couple of weeks. They insist they need them tomorrow or the kids are kicked out. And then what? It's not like I can keep them out of school (I don't homeschool and won't, I don't have the personality), I'll be arrested. They also want their SS cards and DH says "absolutely not". I don't know why they need them, I've never heard that requirement before. I find it pretty interesting because last I checked you didn't need a SS card for a child, most people only do it because that's the only way to claim them on your taxes. DH has really dug in his heels on this one and I don't know what we're going to do. I can't work unless they are in this school (the public school doesn't have an all day kindy) and even if I quit and we moved them to public school, the require the SS card too. DH causes me more stress than anything else in my life.

Birthday!

September 12th, 2005 at 04:04 am

So today was DS1's bday. 7 years old. That doesn't seem possible somehow. I'm not sure where the time went.

We had planned to go to the beach or the zoo today, but he decided he'd rather stay home and play with his new toys and go out to eat tonight. About 4:00 his friend's mom called and invited us all over to swim at their condo at 6:00. So I did a quick leg shave and we went out to eat. It would have been better to have everything ready and go eat and then straight to swimming since we had to drive right past their condo to come home, but they keep places down here COLD inside and my cute board shorts would not have worked for me in the restaurant and my other swim bottoms don't work under clothes (cute little sash which camoflauges my troublesome belly).

And then when we got there they went and bought pizza. I felt so bad, but my little hoover child was still able to eat a slice of pizza and I ate 2 breadsticks. Papa John's makes the best garlic butter dipping sauce. It is sooo bad for you, but sooo good.

We were there for almost 2 hours and I think we swam for a little over an hour. I spent quite a bit of time moving in the water, so I got some exercise to work off my apple pie ala mode from eating out (buffet so I didn't pay extra).

With tip we paid $20.65 to eat out. Bringing our total to almost $42 for the weekend. That's not good. I try to only eat out one day/week but Friday ended up being exhausting and neither dh nor I could even think about cooking. We teased ds1 about using his bday money for the meal - he got $165 total. Geez. I never got that kind of money as a kid.

I've been tweaking with my financial spreadsheet again. This time it was adding a category of total expenses for the entire time I've been tracking and total income. For the last 4 months we have $5000 more in than out (this does not include money that is paid to cc's - pretty much all that has come in instead of going out has been sent to cc). This is for 3.5 months. It includes bday money (ours and kids). I still need to add some expenses - probably about $500 in gas, hotel, etc. I need to get DH's cc statement to get a current figure. But I'm impressed. That tells me that given a few months we can save up enough for a good downpayment. Now we just need to find the right house.

BzzAgent

September 11th, 2005 at 03:57 am

Wow, thanks to whoever it was who mentioned BzzAgent. So far I've gotten *9* pocketpaks of listerine breathstrips (I won't use these, though, they have artificial sweeteners in them and I don't "do" AS). And today, just in time for DS's bday I got 4 packages of 4 AA batteries, a tshirt and 2 drawstring backpack bags. I finally feel comfortable recommending them to others.

Today's bday party was a tad bit expensive - about $75 total (not completely sure as all the kids hit us up for quarters for the game room, I should have planned for what to do while waiting for the stragglers, I know that a party starting at 1:00 will actually start at 1:30). We did bumper bowling and had 9 kids show up. DS got some great stuff, $20 cash, a new outfit and some cool toys. And he's got 3 cards and a gift to open tomorrow (his actual bday) from DH's family (my mom already gave him his present). To add to the cost, we had planned to have the party in the park and had already bought sodas and snacks (which we couldn't use at the bowling alley). We'll use them eventually, but it's not really in our eating plan to have them around, but I didn't add them to the total.

Now the kids are finally asleep. Too hyped up on sugar and soda. The soda was part of the package, as was a neat bowling pin painted with the date, his age and his name. DH got some great pics, too.

For DS's first time bowling he did great! He came in 2nd both games and never stepped over the line. He even picked up a spare. Of course, not having to worry about gutter balls helped.

Life may be settling down

September 10th, 2005 at 04:17 am

So we went to Dallas last weekend. The hotel was comped because we'd had a bad experience before. This one was much better.

We were visiting family, so most of our meals were covered. Sunday we went to Ikea and ate there. That was all we bought, but my 5yo decided he HAD to have a spatula/turner. Stopped at a Ben & Jerry's dipshop and had ice cream. Got overcharged, so I had to go back for a refund. Then we went to my aunt's. She and my mom had just gotten back from a close-out sale at oneida and my uncle insisted they go back to get some new silverware for my aunt. DH and I went with them (I wanted to spend SOME time with my mother, after all, we drove 9 hours to get there). Finally bought the 5yo his spatula - for less than $5, a nice one that should last until he is old enough to move out.

I haven't finished gathering the receipts, but I think with gas, the hotel for the first night (we stopped in Austin on the way up there) and food we spent about $250. Which hurts, but it could have been worse. My mom gave us $50 for gas money (I had no idea how much it was, she walked up and put it in my pocket and I didn't want to pull it out to see what it was).

This week hasn't been too bad. I broke down and went to the vending machine for dr pepper twice this week - $1.30 total. I didn't do it once in all of August, but now it's twice in one week. I suck. I need to get my bottles washed so I can take my iced tea to work.

This weekend is the 7yos bday (he will be 7). We had planned a small party in the park, my 2 boys, the kids down the street and 2 kids from school (so 6 total). But it rained and it rained and it rained. And there's a 50% of rain tomorrow. The park is flooded, standing water. So that's out. I instituted backup plan, called the local bowling alley and set up a bday party there. It will be about $60 ($5.25/child, 10 child minimum + tax). AND we had to scramble to invite 4 more kids. I know 3 are coming, not sure about the 4th. I guess we didn't HAVE to invite 4 more, but we were paying for it anyway, so ...

DH stopped and found some cool air dart thingies for $1 each, so he bought 10 of those for party favors and cupcakes from Sam's (yes, I can cook, but it's too hot to heat the house with the inefficient oven). I figure we might pay for another game of bowling for each child (that's $2.75) but other than that, our expenses are done. I hate inviting people at the last minute because I know now they're looking for a gift. I wish I could say "no gifts" but that would be hard for DS to understand. I want him to offer to donate to the hurricane victims, but he's not getting that. He threw a fit that DH might go to Baton Rouge to help with things (his job offered him the chance to go for double time pay).

Life is in flux right now. We have no idea if DH will go to Baton Rouge. We're moving forward with the plan to buy a house, but no idea from there. I don't want to spend more than $90k and dh asks "what the difference between 90k and 100k?". He pisses me off with stuff like that - it's always "it's just $20/month". Which isn't fair of me since I spend $0.65 for a $0.25 can of soda.

End of August

September 1st, 2005 at 05:08 am

Well, DH still hasn't gotten me his receipts, so I don't yet have the totals but it looks like we only went over budget in 2 categories - eating out and "miscellaneous". I think I need to break out misc more and get a better idea of the expenses for it. I'm not sure how much over it is as DH took back a big ticket item that didn't work the way it was advertised and got our money back. We'll still be over, but I think it will be much closer to the mark.

I got a notice from my kids' school that they need tb skin tests. They knew that I was taking them to the doc for their back to school physical and shots and didn't say anything to me. The doc had the medical records and knew what it was about and didn't say anything to me. So now they want me to fork over another $50 for the office visit? Umm, yeah, they'll just have to wait until October when we were planning to go back for another shot. Of course, since it is a residence training program, I could honestly say that October is the earliest appointment I can get (I don't know that that will happen, but it sometimes takes a couple of months to get an appt for non emergency things).

This reminds me that I need to put in for the last $56 for reimbursement. If I had done it today, I would have saved $2.50, being postmarked after 8/31 is going to cost me $2.50. That sucks. But dh appears to have moved the receipt I need. I was hoping to get the one from the kids' co-pays and one from my co-pay and do that, but by the time we got done at the docs it was after 5:00 and they asked if they could just mail it and I was so tired from the ordeal I said fine. Now I wish I had waited. Hindsight.

I got my first paycheck with the increased hours. It's actually enough for them to take out fed taxes. Woo-hoo. I was getting a tad worried about our tax bill next year. My mom tells me to adjust my dependents but we have no idea what number we should use. I used the number on the w-4 worksheet. When we get our taxes done, I'll contact the bookkeeper and tell her a specific amount of money to withhold. But I'm too lazy to try to figure it out now.

I was talking to my boss today about my desire to buy a house and he advised me to hold off a few months to see what gas prices do. His reasoning is that so many people in our area live on the edge and when they start getting squeezed by gas prices they won't be able to afford their house payment and will have to sell and I should be able to get a great deal. That's good for me, but I worry about those people, if they can't afford a house payment, how will they be able to afford rent?

Only Tuesday?

August 31st, 2005 at 05:32 am

Okay, so tomorrow is payday so I find out how much more my check is. But then I need to turn around and send it all to rent. And we need to pay tuition. DH will get paid on the 1st, but his check won't be here until the 5th or 6th. There's money in the bank to cover what needs to be covered, but it's frustruating that I have to go to the bank 3x/month to deposit checks.

I stopped a bought a soda on my way in to work this morning. I should have gotten gas too, but I was silly and didn't. I'm only down a quarter of a tank, but I didn't think about gas prices going up. Of course it's probably only about 3-4 gallons anyway, so I would probably have only saved $1.00 (which would have paid for my soda).

Then at lunchtime I realized I had left my snacks at home (I don't take a lunch break, but eat snacks at my desk) so I bought some tater tots when the ladies offered to get me something from the fast food joint they were going to. I like to buy things every so often when they offer, anyway though, because I don't want to appear too standoffish. I already have problems in that I only work parttime. So that was $2.00. So I spent $2.96 today.

DH said he spent some, but he left the receipts in his car. We'll see what that adds up to when he gets them to me tomorrow (or whenever he does). I'll have to have those receipts before I can do our monthly spending, but so far it looks pretty good. Of course, there was a trip to the OK line that I haven't seen the gas receipts for. He was supposed to get reimbursed for a good portion of it since he was driving to a business event, his boss said it would be fine to use his car and put in for reimbursement (rather than using the state's car) but neglected to tell him he had to get prior approval from a specific department. So that sucks, I'll bet it was close to $300 in mileage (based on 40 cents/mile). Stupid boss. I hate jobs that don't provide a detailed manuel for everything, so that you only find out when you do it wrong and you suffer. I suspect they do it on purpose. He works for the state, so you'd think they'd try to take care of their employees, especially since they pay them about half the going salary for their field. But, oh'twell.

Sore legs

August 30th, 2005 at 04:08 am

We went bike-riding. We've kept our weight under control but DH has started buying ben and jerry's ice cream and it was creeping up (still well within the healthy weight). So I made a rule that we wouldn't have ice cream unless we had exercised first (yes, I know that it would take way more than 25 minutes of bike riding to make up for a serving of ice cream, but it has cut the consumption a lot). So, now I'm enjoying my new york super fudge chunk. Yummy!

My boss asked me what day I started working 1/2 hour more so he could tell the bookkeeper, so I expect my paycheck will go up by about $20 or so this pay period. It isn't much, but it's something.

DH is looking into selling his photos online. One site he was looking at is shutterstock.com. They pay 20 cents every time your photo is downloaded. We have literally thousands of photos and fully 10% would be usable for marketing purposes (including some gorgeous ones of the tulsa skyline). So, it's something to consider. He's also looking into printing some of his nicer horticultural photos and making them into posters for his office and to see if they could sell. It's an idea.

Grocery shopping today. This brings the total to just under $220, which is $80 less than budgeted. Most of our items are organic (ben and jerry's excluded) and we are a family of 4. So, I think that's not bad.

And thank you for the stars. They're so pretty!

BEACH!!

August 29th, 2005 at 05:04 am

So we did go the beach today. Not the most frugal trip since it is 40 minutes away (I'm not sure of the miles, but 40 miles would be a good approximation). So that's about 2.5 gallons of gas round trip. Then, of course, we have to eat out. But we eat all you can eat seafood and to get this fresh of fish it is actually cheaper to eat out (we can buy the same fish they do, but they get a much better price). But, DH wanted to eat at the more expensive place and then let both kids order a meal, and the waitress was good, so we tipped well, so it was $27.60 to eat out (at the other place, with tip, it's $18).

We're over our eating out budget this month, by $60. Some of that is dh's business trip, we'll be reimbursed for that, but it will take a little while. Actually, we've been reimbursed for the first trip, but the 2nd trip is still on hold. There was also some traveling in that total and celebratory dinners (my bday, first day with the kids back, first day of school) but over is over. And I know that DH will want to eat out this week (well, he'll have to, he's travelling for work again) since his bday is this week. Maybe we can keep it under $40 (maybe we can use a restaurant.com cert) and keep our budget less than $150 over. So frustrating. I figured the amount with eating out 1x/week at our average cost rounded up to the next $50 (just in case). I hope we can get back on track for september, but I'm not that hopeful. I may have to tinker with the budget or have a "Come to Jesus" meeting with DH. We aren't going into debt by going over, but we aren't paying as much on debt as we could (that extra $100 could make a sizable dent).

This is why I keep track of everything I spend. I'm still working out my budget and making sure it fits our life and is realistic. The next step will be to post the amount we spend somewhere where dh can see it, but he thinks it's silly. He can't seem to get why I care. We're young and we have enough money to enjoy ourselves and "we work hard", etc. He just doesn't get it. It's so frustrating.

Okay day

August 28th, 2005 at 07:09 am

It was a nice lazy day. The kids and DH wanted to go out to eat, but I convinced them to wait until tomorrow. We'll probably go to the beach and if we do, we'll stop and have seafood (yummy, all you can eat).

DH got the phone he ordered from ebay and it was not as advertised. A piece of it is about to break off, so he's trying to get the seller to refund some money. If he won't work it out, DH will go through ebay and paypal resolution. I think he might be able to fix it with some epoxy type glue, but he would never have paid that much if he had known the true condition. Also, it was advertised as a t-mobile phone, but it's an AT&T phone. It's unlocked so DH can make it work, but it's more work than he had planned. So, not a good ebay experience.

Finally Friday

August 27th, 2005 at 05:49 am

It's finally friday. I keep a spreadsheet at work of all my files and created a tickler with it. Friday is my day to catch up all my tickler dates. Yeah, that didn't go so well. I got an emergency call that a payoff was needed. I don't like to do payoffs because I don't actually process the payments so I'm having to use the record keeping of someone else. I also needed to contact the clients to find out if they had any other expenses I didn't know about. I called the title company and told them monday. They just called me this week, after I called and called for a month to find out if they were going to request a payoff.

DH got his travel reimbursement check in today. This is for his first business trip in August. He has another trip he needs to submit and will have one next week too.

In February we went to Dallas and stayed in a hotel and had a bad experience. The final capper was that there was a dirty glass under the bed which had been used as a spit cup for someone who dips tobacco. I was looking to see if there was anything of ours under there and actually touched that nasty tobacco. I wanted to crawl out of my skin. But, we complained and they sent us a certificate for 2 free nights. So now when I drive to Dallas to meet my mom, I won't have to pay for the hotel room. I sure hope this experience is better.

I spent $20 to buy school shirts for my kids. I think I got sizes that will grow with them, but still fit them now. I hope so anyway. That was the extent of my spending. Dh told me he spent some money to get some software so that we can list his photos for sale online. He takes the most amazing nature photos. This would be great, we're doing pretty well, but I'd like to have his camera work for us. Besides, he loves photography so much that he wants so many things. Right now it's been too expensive to let him get whatever he wants, but with a little bit of income, maybe he can get his kit worked out.

Free Credit Report

August 26th, 2005 at 02:18 am

So I ran my credit report through equifax today.

It's fairly clean. They have my name all screwy and suddenly I know where all the funky junk mail comes from. Including one that is addressed Lastname FI Lastname. They also have my bday off by 3 days.

I don't know if I should correct that or not. They have my correct name, it's just listed as "formerly".

I also found out I have an open diamond shamrock card. I'm not sure I ever used it, I signed up for it in college to get the freebie they were offering and forgot about it. They've never even sent me a new card (I guess the first one expired). I'll have to close it, no phone # on the credit report, of course.

I also have a collections account on it that is marked as paid. I have no idea what that is about, I suspect it was an insurance issue (hospital collections for the hospital I had my ultrasound, but nothing else, at). It's marked as paid, so I don't know if I should fight it or not.

The rest shows good and clear. My discover card shows 2 30day late pays years ago (when DH was paying the bills). I can't argue those, so I'll just have to wait until they fall off, it shouldn't be long now.

We went to look at that house. It's VA, not HUD. It's okay, the rooms are smallish. The big problem is that there is mold in every wall. EVERY wall. That's just too much. It's too bad because this is a good neighborhood and the resell value is high. But that would be too much work. The walls would have to be stripped of all sheetrock and special mold killers inserted. The good thing is that would give you a chance to insert soundproofing in the interior walls, the bad thing is that that has to indicate a leak somewhere. I suspect it needs a new roof.

We went ahead and looked at a two story in our neighborhood. It has a great floor plan, but it's too hot here for a two story. And it needs a lot of work as well. Probably $40k minimum. New roof, the exterior walls have animal holes in them, the flooring has been stripped (which isn't a big deal to me, that just saves a step when it comes time to rehab the house (since I will pull out any carpet in any home we buy).

I'm disappointed. I want to buy a house, but I don't want to spend an arm and a leg to do it. I want my payment with taxes and insurance to be less than $1k/month. I'm just not sure how that will happen unless I buy in one of the really bad neighborhoods (the ones where you can't walk outside day or night).

Good day at work

August 25th, 2005 at 03:39 am

I got the stuff done I needed to get done and a little more even. At 1:30 I was thinking how great the day was going, so much stuff done. Then, of course, I opened my mouth and my computer decided that that was pretty much all I was going to accomplish for the day. So frustrating. I was there another hour and spent my time fighting with my computer.

I didn't spend any money today. The receptionist asked me to let her know when I was going to the vending machine so I could get her a coke and it felt good to say I wasn't doing that anymore. My goal for August was to not visit the vending machine and so far I've kept to my goal.

I also decided to implement a past goal again. The goal was to have a vegetarian meal once/week. So tonight I cooked (rare) and made black beans and yellow rice. The beans were canned and the rice was from a package, but it was still less than $2 for the meal. It fed the four of us and left some rice for a snack for DS1 tomorrow (he loves yellow rice). I need to figure out some other veggie meals, though, we've done this meal as our main veggie meal and I think DH will get sick of it if we have it every week. When it gets cooler we can have pinto beans and cornbread (I don't put meat in my pinto beans, that's gross) and then I'll mash the pinto beans to have bean burritoes. But it won't really be cool enough to cook beans until November (crockpot beans never turn out right, plus to make the smashed beans, I like to let the liquid cook off so everything is concentrated).

We took a short walk tonight to look at a HUD home in the neighborhood. Its backyard backs up to my kids' bestfriends backyard. They would love that. We'll have to look at the inside though, the rooms look small and I'm not sure there isn't mold growing on a bedroom wall. We do live in South Texas so you expect mold and as long as it isn't the dangerous black mold, it might still be worth it. They want $50k (or that's the opening bid? how do hud homes work?) which is a great price for this neighborhood. A similar house (in better shape, I hope) just sold for over $100k.

We'd have to hire a general contractor to knock out the wall between the kitchen and dining room because the kitchen is too small to be functional. We'd also have to pull up the ugly teal carpet, I'd prefer hardwood floors, but could deal with parquet or fake wood.

So we have to consider how much it would cost to rehab the house and figure out the whole home remodel loan business. Not to mention how to bid on a HUD home. This would be a good investment, though, provided we can get it and remodel it for less than $90k.

Hair cuts all around

August 23rd, 2005 at 05:16 am

DH got out the clippers and scissors and cut both boys hair and then gave me a trim. I estimate we saved $20 ($5 for each kid and $10 for me). I need to learn to cut his hair, but I am so not good at it. It's okay for the boys to be a bit raggedy (and that's him, "Mr Steadyhands" cutting it) but not for a professional male. My hair is long and only needs occasional trims to get rid of the split ends.

Of course, that's after an expensive day. We needed to take the kids for their back to school physicals and get them each their MMR shot. $25 copay each. Plus I had to sit there for 2+ hours. I was so tired and frustrated. I didn't realize it was going to take so long, so I didn't bring them a book or anything back into the office. Then my 5yo didn't want to cooperate with the hearing test so we'll have to get it done again, sigh. Oh well, they need to go back in 6-8 weeks for their last Hep A shots, so we'll try it again there.

I figured after the trauma of getting a shot and waiting forever, I could give them a treat. I was already planning a slushie from Sonic for a first day back to school treat, so I decided to get them a kids' meal (very, very, very rare for us). Then because I was sooo exhausted and wanted a treat, I got myself a coney meal. Which was silly. I would have been just as happy with the coney and just stealing the kids' tater tots and drinking tea at home. At least I didn't "sonic size" it though. It was still $12.

So, expensive day for us. But the shot is cheaper than having to deal with the disease the vaccine was for. Plus, the doc was able to put my mind at ease about a funky spot on DS1's tummy. It's just his xyphoid process. Duh! I felt like a right idiot that I hadn't figured that out, I had pretty intensive anatomy classes in my biology classes.

But, now I know the kids are healthy and this is an expense we won't have again for a while (well, 6-8 weeks).

Ugh, "emergency" clothes for school

August 22nd, 2005 at 05:01 am

I hate that I have to send extra clothes for them to have at school. For my 5yo, it's fairly easy, I'll just send stuff that he's about to outgrow and that has already been through the older brother (the shirt I'm sending we've been using since 2001). But for the 7yo? What do I send, it all either still fits well or fits the 5yo. And none of it is even beginning to show wear.

I guess I'll hit a thrift store to see if I can find some cheap shorts. Then trade them out. I ended up sending a nice pair of denim shorts, but it irks me to do it. That means that they'll be sitting at the school all year waiting to be worn and never getting worn and he'll outgrow them before he gets to wear them (unless I find some nice, cheap shorts at the thrift store). In November or so, I'll have to go through this with pants.

I guess I'll give my mom a mission - find cheap shorts for 7yo when she's garage selling (she shops like a fiend, and it works out best to give her mini-missions).

I'm going to talk to my boss about extending my hours tomorrow. The extra money will help, we can pay off some debt faster. This will cut into my errand running time, but maybe they've extended the pickup time as well as the school day. I'm thinking they should give us 5 minutes extra to get there, but I could be wrong.


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