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Archive for August, 2005

End of August

August 31st, 2005 at 10:08 pm

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 30th, 2005 at 10:32 pm

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 29th, 2005 at 09:08 pm

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 28th, 2005 at 10:04 pm

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 12:09 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 26th, 2005 at 10:49 pm

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 25th, 2005 at 07:18 pm

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 24th, 2005 at 08:39 pm

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.

First long day

August 23rd, 2005 at 07:41 pm

It's only 30 minutes extra, but it felt much longer. I had to come home and take a nap when DH got home. So I missed exercise. We've made a deal that we won't eat ice cream unless we've "earned" it. So I haven't had ice cream for a while.

DH says he bought a cell phone from ebay for $34. @@ I think we have something like 6 cell phones right now. We each have one (no landline) and he has a work phone then we have extra phones. One doesn't work though, so I guess it evens out. He swears he didn't expect to get the phone, but I don't know why he was bidding in the first place.

He's ready to send $1,200 to credit cards and is upset that it isn't more. Yes, it will be more when I get paid, but I want to make sure that we have enough money in our account to cover the bills even if I don't get paid (I have never not been paid, but I still like to make sure that I could get by if the paycheck was late for any reason).

I don't feel like I got anything done at work today. I need to do 3 letters and 3 business filings first thing tomorrow morning. This on top of my other duties (and both attorneys will have 3 dozen emergencies pop-up). I also need to draft a will ASAP. So my whole morning will be slam-packed with emergencies. Then I've got to figure out a payoff statement for a closing. That will be fun. I've also got about 5 phone calls to make. Lucky, lucky me.

Hair cuts all around

August 22nd, 2005 at 10:16 pm

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 21st, 2005 at 10:01 pm

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.

School shopping

August 21st, 2005 at 07:32 pm

The kids are in private school (the only way to get full day kindy) so I don't have to supply school supplies. They have plenty of clothes and each got a new outfit this summer. So they're good for that. I thought, "why not get them a lunch box? That way they can carry their lunch to school easily." (The school doesn't really do hot lunches). OUCH! Lunch boxes are not cheap. We went to Target, got the lunch boxes, a cup for snacks, dental floss and laundry detergent and it was $28.96. But now we're good for laundry detergent for the next year.

Then, because I haven't eaten out in a week and we were right there, we decided to go get pizza. That was $19.88 for the buffet. The kids each played one game in the game room (we had game play cards, so that was fine).

Now they're in bed, the lunches are mostly made and we're ready to start school tomorrow. I should probably go ahead and take the snacks out to the car so I won't have to try to remember.

Family Home

August 20th, 2005 at 05:50 pm

I'm so excited, my family will all be home in about 20 minutes or so. The boys have been visiting grandparents and the DH has been on a business trip. I'm so happy they're coming home!

DH tells me they spent about $35 bucks camping and eating. Then there will be the gas prices from driving from the OK/TX state line down here to darn near mexico.

I haven't spent any money today. I just went out and pulled weeds, and used the manual weed whacker to knock down the darn johnsongrass. I swear that stuff springs up overnight and before you know it it's 4 feet tall. But, I'm committed to no energy usage for my weed whacker activities, so ... I now have 2 nice little blisters. I weed whacked last night at 2:00am, figuring that was the coolest part of the day and that no one would try to attack a woman swinging a sharp piece of metal around. And if someone did come into my backyard and attack me, I could take care of them pretty easily.

Parent orientation at school

August 19th, 2005 at 06:42 pm

Went to the parent orientation at school last night. Found out I need to buy my 5yo a cup for snack time. A specific type of cup which of course I don't have. They also can't carry backpacks (which he has used to carry his lunch) so he'll definitely need a lunchbox now.

But, I also found out that the school had extended the classroom time from last year. He will now be picked up at 2:45 rather than 2:15. That's an extra half hour. I get off work at 2:00 and it's a 10 minute drive, at most. My office also runs "fast" so 2:00 is more like 1:55. That means I will have 40 minutes to waste day-in, day-out. Now I'm trying to decide if I want to talk to my boss about extending my hours by 30 mins/day. That will put me working 6hrs/day. I have the work for it. I mentioned it today but said I needed to think about it and drive the roads to the school. I ended up working late and left at 2:30 (2:25) and was at their school by 2:35. So, I can do it and have a little bit of time to spare.

It wouldn't increase my take-home pay by that much, but it would be enough to put them in kung-fu classes. So, it's something to think about and talk to dh about.

I haven't spent any money today. DH has reported yet, but I'm sure he's spent about $15, not to mention the gas I know he was planning to buy today.

Gas - OUCH

August 18th, 2005 at 07:08 pm

I did my monthly fill up on my car and OUCH. Almost $20. I used to be less than $10. I'm glad I don't drive much (when we lived in OKC, I had to fill up about once/week).

And then, since Circle K is having a special on their sodas, I had to go buy one. It was 96 cents, then I poured some off into a water bottle so I have soda for tomorrow. I wasn't prepared or I would have had 2 water bottles (which is what I did last time).

I've been messing with the budget some. I felt so bad about our spending in July because it was sooo much more than we made. Then I looked it over and realized that the reason it was so high was because we had dipped into savings to pay off a credit card. Once I took out the credit card payment that was over the minimum required, the budget came waaay down. Then it was just over because of a planned expense we had saved for (and that wouldn't have been so bad except DH had to register his truck and car in TX and that was a lot more than I had expected).

So, now my spending/budget reconciliation doesn't include cc payments over the minimum (we have a balance on one card because we just transferred a high interest debt to a zero interest card). I will show that when I do my monthly networth statement (debt going down and savings going up or staying the same).

Doctor's appt

August 17th, 2005 at 04:59 pm

Thanks to health insurance it was "only" $25. My least favorite appt of all, the dreaded "well-woman visit".

The good news, everything looks okay, my blood pressure is still good, my pulse rate is the lowest it's ever been and my weight isn't as bad as I thought it would be (I'm still about 10lbs heavier than I want to be, but well within the healthy weight).

That's the only money I've spent today. I'm home for the day. I've got henna in my hair to cover the gray and condition it. I've eaten my supper of leftovers (one more thing finished before it went bad, yay me!). Now I just need to motivate to clean, clean, clean. Maybe I'll just do the minimum and clean tomorrow. Yeah, that sounds good.