<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: January, 2007
 

Archive for January, 2007

What do you negotiate? & expensive water

January 31st, 2007 at 10:09 am

I am formulating my submission for a money saving tip. I decided to focus on negotiating prices on goods and services. Mostly because it is not the kind of everyday tip I expect all the other CPAs to answer, looking for an edge (See my last post if I lost you. Wink ) & because it is pretty simple and you know people would in general be game over other tips like save money and only pay cash - no one wants to do that - LOL.

Anyway, so I was wondering what you all have negotiated the price on? Just to get more ideas than the obvious (though I know the obvious to me is not the obvious to everyone).

Yeah I could say come here and hang out and this is the best advice, but the whole point is to get mroe concrete tips. I want to win some publicity so I can THEN say come over here if you really wants lots of tips. Wink

Changine gears -

What is with these water and sewer bills? - my word! Just saw 2 blogs re: high costs. I was shocked when we moved to Sacramento. Back home water was metered (remember many years of drought and conservation too). In our condo I am not sure we were even billed - think it was included in association fee. But I rented a house before, metered water, trash and water was about $10/month each (3 people). IT wasn't even in my budget - didn't sweat it even on my minumum wage. The house we rented was fairly large (hell of a lot cheaper than an apartmnet).

Then we moved here, no metered water, our water/sewer/trash bill is all one - I would have to study it to see what was what I guess. But we have the smallest trash can possible (which we only really need to set out once a month or something). & yet our bill runs $100/month. Far more than our average elctricity and gas bill.

Oh well, they are moving to metered water which is good overall, but really annoys me all the same. Wouldn't be surprised if we were charged even more. But at least we could then control the costs. IT just annoys me on some levle because I lived alone in this house for a year - dh and I For 1 year with no kids. We certainly paid MORE than our fair share as bill is priced on size of house. & now that they meter it - well we do loads of diapers in the wash every day, etc., etc. 4 people in the house, etc. Can I get a rebate for the years we didn't use the water???

But overall yeah I really look forward to metering. Then we can work on cutting that bill. I think overall living in a newer neighborhood with modern plumbing and low-flow toilets, and more efficient appliances, overall I think our bills will be lower. The only thing I Am really concerned is the yard and watering - where I know we can REALLY cut back. With the stupid association there is only so much we can do in the front, but I do want to seriously look into desert landscaping in place of the back lawn, or astro turf, as a friend has. I Still kick myself for not thinking of it sooner. The lawn is overrated - our little square patch that needs SO much water in the 100-degree+ summers. I can do without. & metered water might be the kick in the butt that I need.

But I digress...

Okay - so what have you negotiated down? Top of my mind = cell phone bills, dental bills (pay cash/if no insurance), cc fees, cc interest rates, furniture, cars, mechanics, gardeners, items bought off Craigslist.

Call me Crazy - and need help

January 30th, 2007 at 07:23 pm

Well dh called me around 3 and said the mechanic called and nothing is wrong with his brakes. then 2 or 3 people told me the same thing happened to them and something was wrong. But they couldn't remember what. One of them said it was a "hole in a thingie or something." Yeah that really helps me. GREAT!

So overall I mostly feel crazy though - LOL.

They said they will check it again in the morning - when the car is not warmed up. We'll see - we decided he needed an oil change so we could pay them for their time I guess.

Frankly I rather be crazy than have a repair bill or brake problems. Wink

In other news just got this in my e-mail:

"As part of the Feed the Pig financial literacy effort, we are looking to find the best savings tip that young CPAs can offer to those in their age group. Give us your best savings solution. It can focus on ways to save, how to spend less than you earn, or how to get on the right fiscal track. Whatever you believe can help Americans on the road to financial literacy. The "Top Tips" that we receive will be judged and winning responses will be featured in a press release sent to national media. The names of those who submitted winning responses will be published on the AICPA's Young CPA Network's site.

Hmmmmm, I have LOTS of great advice to save money. But the BEST? will have to ponder...

I think the best advice I can offer is to not live up to your means/save raises. I will have to come up with a submission. Like the most money I ever saved was when I graduated college and lived like I was still a starving student though I got paid 3 times as much.

My problem is everything I can think of sounds so obvious. Well, if they pick me and feature me or anything I will definitely give a shout out to this website!

$200 Back

January 30th, 2007 at 02:09 pm

Well I am glad I significantly racheted down my state withholding, asked my boss.

Just finished up my taxes overall and getting $200 net back - woohoo. Originally estimated $200 due so I am happy as a clam.

I had a $20k ROTH conversion that I paid nothing in for, for state, and I still am getting $875 back. (overwithheld MUCH???) I owe about $675 for Federal - I paid Fed for the conversion, but the conversion pushed my income too high and I missed a lot of my medical deductions. So it brought my taxes up even more, etc. I don't mind owing a little so I didn't care. But $200 back, net, is sweet. Will probably file in the next couple of weeks, get my state refunds, and then when I get it, just pay the fed. In the bank it would earn me $4/month. Eh, rather get that tax bill out of my hair!!

Last year my taxable income was around $50k with my maternity leave. Some untaxed disability, some taxed, lots of unpaid time from work, etc.

This year was about 90k with the ROTH conversion and my first full year since my fat raise in 2005. That is pretty sweet.

Either way still well in the 15% tax bracket thinks to the insane cost of housing and health insurance over here, makes a nice tax break at least. Kids help too (though can I reiterate they cost 10 times as much as the tax break? LOL. Still don't get that logic - more kids for more tax breaks - blech - gotta be crazy. Wink )

This year I expect to pull in $80k with all of our various efforts to make money. The last few years have been in the $40k-$50k range for the most part so it should be pretty sweet. All the same, there is no way in heck I want to get used to that kind of money - I think that is dangerous. I am trying hard to save save save.

I reconsidered how much our net worth should increase this year, considering payment of car and payments on the mortgage. With that and our investments performing average, I expect around $30k increase. $10k savings, $5k investment returns, $8k profit sharing, $3k car paid off, $5k mortgage principal. I had missed that $8k before (car and mortgage principle), but you can't discount that - woohoo.

AAA - got my money's worth in 12 hours - more car crap

January 30th, 2007 at 12:30 pm

I just had to say I am feeling really frustrated today because we make it a point to keep up our cars and keep on top of things. BUT today we were stranded with no cars. NO CARS. What the hell? LOL.

Anyway, about 12 hours after AAA rescued my car last night, I am ready for work and hop in dh's car. Since he is going to replace my tire today. Back out the driveway and the breaks abosultely do not work. Anyway, having had break probs in the past, I know full and well the emergency break is my friend. I pumped the breaks and tried again, and thought, hmmmm, something is just not right here. So I go inside and tell dh I am apparently not going to work until the tire place opens. Ah, but it is open he says. Phew, Anyway, he was all annoyed with me though since I drove his car last night. What did *I* do to his car anyway??? LOL. HE goes out and tried the brakes and says they are fine - like he doesn't believe me. I told him to be my guest and drive around the block - with emergency break in hand please - gah. He didn't want to call for a tow. Such a doofus. Well yeah I pumped the breaks and they might feel semi-okay, but the guy is clueless. Seriously. It was then and there I figured it was probably fate or the powers that be that gave me a flat tire so that I would drive his car and realize immediately something is wrong. I think they felt just fine last night, but I don't drive the car every day, I don't know. & dh soesn't see what is wrong - oy vey.

As usual I feel lucky that I find out in the driveway rather than the freeway, which I have lost brakes ont he freeway twice - Not Fun!

So dh went off to get me a new used tire since I felt work was too far to drive on the donut, and apprently it is in great demand, don't want to wear it out - hehe. Would be quite a detour to avoid the freeway anyway.

I called AAA and they got there in about 15 minutes. I literally said, eh, just come pick it up anytime. They get there in 15 minutes. Versus my priority on the side of the freeway taking 1 hour. Figures.

It took the guy 3 hours to deliver the car 5 miles away- - ??? They haven't looked at it yet, just got it. Dh is still iffy but he will see when we get the bill - LOL.

I was feeling really good about the budget this month. Now I am just annoyed. I don't know. Dependswhat the damage is. The tires were no biggie, but new breaks or whatever - blech. Push our emergencies to the realm of $500 this month. Oh yeah we have plenty of cash, but I was just looking to saving a lot more this month. Oh well. I hope this is not a sign of 2007 to come.

Oh yeah, dh got a really sweet tire for $25. USed again. I asked him why $25 when the last one was $30? He said he didn't know - didn't notice. Maybe they felt bad for him since he was just there - LOL. It was a really nice tire, better than the last - even weirder that it was cheaper. Oh well.

Hey in other news I booked our dentist appointments back home (still have not found a decent/honest dentist around here) on a saturday in Feb. & BM gets his first checkup. We'll see how it goes...

I also got the broker's 1099 woohoo - gonna get some real idea of where we stand for 2006. Last I checked we were getting money back - maybe $100 net. Beats owing - woohoo. It had our huge tax loss which I expected, and the dividends were about $20 so overall I Am pleased - probably better off than I thought. Well I'll go crunch and let you all know. Wink

Bah - Another Flat

January 30th, 2007 at 07:16 am

Yesterday was not fun.

Maybe it was fate but I Was too busy to pick up BM and I worked until 6:30. Unusually late because my office is in such a bad area and I do not generally like to leave after dark.

So dh picked him up around 5 Thank God. Well, around 6:45 I was tooling along the freeway towards the fast lane and I start noticing a noise. Mostly in my subconscious for a minute and then I started thinking, "What is that?" I don't know if flat tires were more at the front of my mind since I just had one!!! But I thought, sounds like I got a flat. Luckily I had past generally the bad area between work and home, and was at an exit I could take to get to my house - just a mile or 2 away. I am not sure if I intended to pull over or go stop at the gas station first (probably) to fill the tire, but I crossed about 4 lanes of traffic to exit and that was about it - tire blew, could barely hobble it off the road.

How could I have the WORST luck to have 2 flat tires in the course of a couple of weeks. & yet I felt so incredibly lucky I had just enough time to get OFF the freeway. I Was talking to my mom later and she was like, if you have to, you can always drive a flat home. LOL. YEah try driving on a rim - was not going to happen.

Anyway, called AAA and they seemed all concerned I Was on the freeway - they would be there lightning speed. YEah whatever. LOL. I Was relieved to see it wasn't the used tire I just bought. Another perfectly beautiful good tire gone. Frustrated because with my recent flat I had checked all the tires, they all were great. In the end we found a giant bolt in the tire, must have run over it on the freeway or before I got on. I Was frustrated because I told dh that I should probably check my tires before I get in the car any more. & yet I was all alone in a bad area leaving at night with hardly any lights, like I could have even checked anyway. I was actually very concerned about a suspicious car hanging around, the last thought was to check tires. I am ALSO super duper frustrated because my last car attracted nails and bolts like a magnet (my cars before - same commute and all - NVER a flat). & this car coming up on a year had served me well. But one day in January, one day I wondered aloud to a co-worker that my van does not have this constant flat problem. & wham - now it does. I obviously did NOT knock on wood. Gah!!!!

Constant flat or no this is the first time I have had a blow out. & this is the 2nd time, in one month, and ever in my life, I have had a tire in shreds, not just a little nail hole. This van is cursed. Bah! I will seriously go back and read reviews on the original tires. Might be worth replacing the other 2 and getting better tires - not sure what the deal is. Or would any tire protect fromt hese bolts I keep running over? - lord knows from where.

Anyway, dh is my hero. I called AAA and chatted on the phone with dh for a while. HE offered to come exhange places with me since I had worked all day, had to pee, was hungry, etc. LOL. I Said no, didn't want the kids on the side of the freeway. But after about 1/2 hour and no tow truck in sight, I Said okay, please just come GET me!!!! LOL. OF course I Watch all that true crime stuff and always the girls alone on the side of the road getting raped and murdered. Either way I just wanted off the freeway.

So he came and rescued me.

I noticed his car needed gas so stopped on the way home.

I swear he got home like 1 minute after me, after my gas stop. Said the tow truck guy braved changing a driver-side tire with all the cars racing past - *shudders* - and he was off pretty quickly. Guess I could have waited 5 more minutes - figures.

Oh well, that is my swell dh. HE is going to go get me another used tire today too.









Spend Update

January 29th, 2007 at 02:04 pm

Jan. 30 - $25.00 Another Tire
Jan. 29 - $22.00 Gas
Week 4 total: $140.00
Week 3 total: $330.48
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**5 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Tire Pressure Guage
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird
Professional Pants (5)
Professional shirts (7)
Professional Blazer
Knee-his (for work)
Panty hose (ebay)

Items bought used in 2007:
Tires for Car (2)
Used books for kids (6)

Items free in 2007:
Old cell phones for kids to play with
Toddler's First Library Card!

-------------------------------------

Ah, no no-spend days this weekend because I asked dh grabbed to grab some salmon at the store for my salmon patty craving - saturday. YEsterday I Was in quite a mood and was REALLY craving sweets - sent dh for ice cream. So $30 between sat & sun - he stocked up on milk and yogurt as well, maybe other things.

I think beyond stressed I Was also exhausted. I love to take naps on the weekends and got a lovely 2-hour nap Sunday. Then I could not keep my eyes open past 8:00 and slept like an absolute log - hardly stirring all night. It was nice. No wonder I Was in such a funk - exhaustion I guess. BAby has been sleeping rather well too - we both took an hour or so on the floor one night and since then he will wake up, cry for 5 minutes, and go back to sleep. HE is a drooling fool so no doubt teething or something. But just those nasty molars left, might be a LONG few months, but at least he has not been up EVERY night.

Oh well, today is not the frugalest of days. BM has to be picked up from preschool by 5, over by my work (sort of) a good 20 minutes from home. I am working on cranking out my last set of W-2s. Phew!!!! But asked dh to pick up BM. There is not way I will be done at 4:45. So a lot of wasted gas today. THere will be a lot more days like this in the spring months. Offset by lots of overtime pay I guess...

I don't like to do things last minute but if I think about it, it is truly a miracle I am not further behind considering I Was IT specialist week 1 of January and dh was out of commission about a whole week, week 2. So I have had 2 weeks about to do a month's work. Hopefully I will be all caught up tomorrow and no more Sundays working. But I wouldn't count on it. Just stuff piling up that I didn't have time to do this month, and then the tax appointments start - I have one this week and one next week already. Oy vey.

I am still waiting on my 1099s and stuff but I Want to file for my refund already - LOL.

In the meantime I may be almost done with my client's W-2s, but I have a big pile of 1099s to work on too. Hopefully those will ALL be out of my hair Jan. 31. Almost there!!!! All this stuff makes January about the worst time of year for us. December is pretty bad, so is JAnuary. I am sure I will saying Feb & March are the WORST too when my days are filled with tax returns, and no time to do our regular accounting. & then April is really really really bad because we are so behind AND we have April 15th as well as April 30th quarterly payroll filings. So yeah, I will be saying every month is the worst until May. & then I will say I will have so much time to catch up. But then someone will quit or go on maternity leave or something. LOL. I just notice with time I get gradually more and more busy, even during "slow" months. I've tried to resist too much work and responsibility, but there is only so much you can do - I think with my longevity I am a little too heavily relied on. Feel like the place would fall apart without me lately. We need a new manager. That is what we really need. I think this comes at a good time though. Concerned about money, a little more willing to take on more and work more. I still have it pretty good overall. Lots of flexibility.

That reminds me, I keep trying to think of other ways to make money. I just remembered my boss offered a bonus for us to recruit people. I don't remember how much, a couple thousand perhaps. You will appreciate this though. What was SO crazy at my first CPA firm job was there was a huge shortage of staff from 2-5 years or so experience. The reason, well they paid crap and worked you to death, but you had to do CPA firm audits to get your license - for 2 years. Anyone who stayed longer was on partner track pretty much. OTherwise there would be NO Reason to stay really. At my first job I Was making about $30k/year and they offered us a $10k bonus to recruit someone in the 2-5 year range. $10k. You know how many people got that bonus? 0. Was impossible. Just impossible!!! Of course whenever I got together with my college friends we would spend the whole time trying to recruit each other, each with dollar signs in our eyes - LOL. No way no how.

Anyway, well, I will keep it in front of mind for once things settle down after April. I Will have to really think hard and see if I can find anyone. LOL. IT's pretty much an impossible task, but wouldn't hurt to try I guess. Today there is no 2-year audit rule so basically it is impossible to find anyone, experience or not. I think as long as I work here I won't get worked to death at least. So far it's been okay. But you know if one more person leaves, I don't know. I might even ask my boss if his reward applies to new-college grads. IF so I wouldn't mind getting involved in college recruitment. We got to spur some interest in our little firm. Something to think about when it is not so BUSY.

More of the same...

January 28th, 2007 at 06:10 am

http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/moneyhappy/22594

http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/moneymatters/20375

My 2 favorite gals. Nothing much new, more of the same.

I woke up early and felt motivated today. I have been planning for a LONG time to formulate an article for the Dollar Stretcher on being a 1-income family. & right now I feel motivated and will give it a start. Hasn't been a new one in that category for a couple of months so we'll see. Maybe will motivate me to write more articles.

I have 2 things to focus on. One is planning from the getgo, which can only help people already with kids so much. But I still think it is important - to plan ahead best you can. GOod advice for people thinking ahead I guess. But even more importantly, to be flexible. Be open to doing things a little different than the norm, if it will work out better for you. Not a greater example than having the father stay home with the kids- how how weird is that? I know quite a few people who have considered the option, that it would work for them, but were just too scared to take the plunge to do things different, falling to the pressure of family and society. I also know plenty of people who make 1-income living work by constantly thinking outside the box. IT is a big key in figuring it out for many.

Are you saving Too Much???

January 27th, 2007 at 08:20 pm

http://www.wilmingtonstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/200...

Interesting article in the paper today - brings up an interesting discussion.

Jist of it is that Online Retirement Calculators on the websites of some investment firms like Fidelity & Vanguard, overestimate how much you need to save so you invest more with them of course.

My first thought was, well, yeah, and they exaggerate how well their funds do all the time too - gotta be a wash, right?

Secondly, as stated in the article, with the push to get people in this country to save, the last thing we need is to tell people they are saving too much.

Thirdly, for the savers out there. We rather err on saving far too much. IT is really pretty impossible for us to figure out how much we need in retirement. Life happens. I think the closer we get the better idea we'll have. In the meantime, heck yes, we will aim in saving too much. Of course. I Can think of far worse things...

But overall an interesting point I guess.

The article also said Americans are not so bad off - they are saving and are prepared for retirement. Pffffft. On what world? LOL. I could argue that one until the cows come home, but whatever. My only real peeve with the article.

Overall, figured could spark some interesting discussion.

Static Cling - AAARRRGGGHHH

January 27th, 2007 at 08:12 pm

Aw, today overall has been productive. A little stressed because I had 2 clients left to do a W-2 & 1099 push on - big deadline Jan. 31 - Wednesday. Figured I'd knock out 1 today and save the big one for monday & Tuesday.

Then I spun my wheels all day - I would not even know where to begin, but client under-withheld taxes last quarter, made them up this quarter, but our software and theirs treated it differently - BLAH! I am probably one of the smartest in the office - that is the sad thing. But I just could not figure it out - the time crunch I Felt did not help - oy vey. All my reports and W-2s and all that tied, but the books are off and I Can not wrap my brain around why. On the plus side my manager is really weird and is a crazy workaholic. HE is all caught up but decided to work all weekend just because. Weird, but good for me - LOL. I'll probably go in the morning and hand it over and let him figure out - he has time. Go in tidy up, hand it over, do some 1099s. So I Can focus on the big one for 2 days. Wasn't intending to work SUnday but oh well. Told dh hopefully this will be the last Sunday for a while. I don't mind working a few hours on a saturday and a sunday - long as I have the afternoon off. Dh worked on his movie in the afternoon and I actually made some good progress on the house - phew. I also told dh I Was taking over laundry duty. He can do his, kids, and the diapers. But I have had enough. He refuses to use dryer sheets and a year of this has been okay - I always sneak them in when I do laundry. Maybe because I have been too busy and unable to sneak them in lately because all of my clothes are crazy static cling. I Wash my work clothes myself and that is about it. I am SO fed up - I was literally screaming at him about it last week because my hair brush and comb and all my sweater had static cling, my hair keeps standing on end. I have this spray stuff but it is aerosal and smells SO awful and I have had to spray it in my hair everyday just to get it to calm down.

Anyway, the last straw is my lazy clothes are all sticking to me and last night with the lights off I kept seeing sparks in my son's bed - between his blankets and jammies - oy vey. The static electricity is insanity.

The towels are also feeling really rough and crappy without the dryer sheets so today I did 2 loads of towels and dish towels - put them in hot water and 2 dryer sheets each load. THey still feel like crap. I am fed up. LOL. I Am probably going to have to do another load of perfectly good static-y clothes. Blah. I told dh I would put a laundry basket out - all my clothes and all the towels - I will do it myself. I have just had it up to here - I am so frustrated!!!

How in the heck do you get static cling out of a hairbrush? IT just won't GET OUT!!!!!!

Well I have a simple solution - dryer sheets - LOL. But dh won't allow me that luxury. He is really driving me insane over here. Poor kids stuck with static clothes I guess.

Spend Update

January 27th, 2007 at 08:13 am

Jan. 26 - $38.00 Gas
Jan. 25 - $00.00
Jan. 24 - $68.00 burger/groceries/books
Jan. 23 - $ 3.76 pizza
Jan. 22 - $00.00
Week 3 total: $330.48
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**5 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Knee-his (for work)
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird

Items bought used in 2007:
Tire for Car
Used books for kids (6)

Items free in 2007:
Old cell phones for kids to play with

-------------------------------------

Phew, now this is a "normal" week - nice to settle down after craziness of last couple of weeks - what a low spend week...

Got gas last night - around $2.34/gallon - cheapest I have seen in ages - phew. Ah, gotta love Cali - did I ever mention EVERYTHING costs more here? Wink

Well it has its perks, that's why people are just crazy enought to live here - hehe.

No Spend Day

January 26th, 2007 at 09:54 am

Jan. 25 - $00.00
Jan. 24 - $68.00 burger/groceries/books
Jan. 23 - $ 3.76 pizza
Jan. 22 - $00.00
Week 3 total: $330.48
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**5 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Knee-his (for work)
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird

Items bought used in 2007:
Tire for Car
Used books for kids (6)

Items free in 2007:
Old cell phones for kids to play with

-------------------------------------

With all the craziness this month it looks like we will make our overall "budget" of $1200 on the credit card. If nothing else comes up anyway - we are so right on with all the expected expenses. & we had a GREAT month. This is AMAZING.

I budget my credit card 2 ways - 1 - if it is $1200 I should have the cash easy for it. (This is worst case - assuming a big utility month and less money overall - which it is this month). Second, we budget our categories. Our actual budget leaves more than $1200 on the credit card, but on an annsual basis we should have the money - since I do the budget annually. Maybe a little short one month, over the next. Anyway, this month we have spurlged and had a lot of unexpected stuff, but a lot of items on our budget remained untouched, so we might actually hit the $1200 mark. Will be darn close. If it was any other month and not one with a $100 gas heat bill, we might have had extra money for the e-fund. Or more smartly for the slush fund for the future months over $1200. IT is going to be pretty brakeven though. But I think this is a first, if not only since I have been here, but maybe in years.

I have been overall feeling really behind lately and last night I Was thinking about all we are doing and how miles ahead we are from like a year ago. I have to hang on to that positive thought. The better interest rate alone is putting us ahead. The commitment to savings, the slashes to our budget, the re-institution of our allowances, etc., etc. Each in itself may be small, but all together is huge. Woohoo.

In other news the baby slept absolutely AWFUL last night. BUT I had a plan and it was well executed and even worked. Since he seemed content to have "mommy" or "dad" just in his room, my plan was 2 part. (yes he has just started yelling out "mommy" and "dada" - pulls your heart strings when you are trying to get him to go back to sleep on his own). So dh had had about 2-3 hours sleep the night before, me 5. HE clearly got the night off. So I Went to bed around 8 or 9. Baby woke up 12:30, at that point I had had enough sleep to function for today - phew. Stage 1 of plan well executed. I go in his room and laid on the floor and it WORKED. (I have tried in the past - but no). HE was driving me NUTS because he would be snoring but if I so much as moved an inch his head shot up - LOL. So he has been lately. IF I was super exhausted I could have just slept there - not comfortable, bad on the back, but I had my pillow and blanket - I could have. But was feeling well rested to just laid there. The only part I Was not prepared for was to hear twinkle twinkle little star about 50 times. I Was starting to go a little insane - LOL. The music soothes him though. I finally escaped when he conked out for good. I went downstairs to wait it out and make sure he was really out. It was 2:00 - 1.5 hours I had laid there listening to that damm aquarium - LOL. I turned on the t.v. and turned up the monitor really loud so I could be sure to hear him - losing his voice from all the yelling and screaming for the last few nights. Then BM got up and started making all sort of racket. Dh and him were talking - I am just freaking out - I thought I was in the free and clear. But no - BM wet his bed. So anyway, the same EXACT Thing happ-ened the night before. Both times LM was OUT like a log. & I told dh at least BM got up right then because any sooner or later would have just been the worst. We were already awake and it did not disturb LM, so PHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I know he is only 3 but he usually stays dry so we just let him sleep in his underwear. At this point he would absolutely refuse a diaper anyway. I think it has something to do with LM disturbing his sleep - I don't know. We decided no more milk at bed time for him - he should be old enough to handle it - should probably be weaning him from night time milk anyway.

Anyway, I fell asleep around 3:00 and got up around 7 well rested today. LAst night wasn't so bad. I see some floor sleeping in my future, so be it. LOL.

I don't have any real time for me or to do anything around the house except after 9pm or more likely at 5am when I usually get up and have time to do my own thing. This part will suck, but as long as I can get some sleep, I guess I will survive.

$57 for challenge

January 26th, 2007 at 09:28 am

$20 challenge:

$685 - Balance 1/15

$31.71 - added to mortgage
$24.94 - Interest on c.d.

------------------
$741.65 - Balance 1/26
------------------

On top of that I just got the new Cookie Lee catalog and I already made $70 or so on 1 order. Woohoo. Not adding to the challenge because this is nothing new. BUT I am strongly considering adding the profit to the e-fund. I usually spend it on jewelry. Who knows if I have the will - hehe. The new catalog is GREAT. Problem is when I like it no one else does and that is always bad because I want to buy much more than I can sell. But selling over $150 on 1st day out is probably promising - hehe. Oh well, I pretty much can vow not to buy more until I dig out my jewelry from storage anyway. I can not find ANYTHING in our house, much less jewlery - we threw it all in boxes when our house was up briefly in July. Time to look through some boxes... The more I wear, the more I sell, the more I buy. Most effectively I should probably set a % to save and % used to buy more. Hmmmm... I'll think on that - would work best.

The mortgage - ah. I had a brilliant idea. This month I got a $35 auto reimbursement from work (pretty rare overall) and I also left $50/month cushion in my raise. NO doubt it will get spent - LOL. So I decided something simple I could do to the fill the void of not paying anything extra on the mortgage, was I could round up and pay $1350 instead of $1318. The difference is $31.71 to be exact. When the car is paid off I Was going to save $200/month as well. The payment is $215. I will add the $15, or maybe make it an even $20 once the loan is paid. That alone shaves 2 years off the mortgage. & that is the best I can do until our retirement is FULLY funded. Only then will I get more aggressive. At least in the meantime I can make progress...

Also made about $25 on my c.d. at 5.4% that used to get 0.2% or something. Woohoo.

In other news looks like out grocery bill (including a lot of non-food items)will be in the $400-$430 range this month. OMG that is so amazing, it usually runs $500-$600. All our effort is paying off over time, we have stocked up on a lot (thus the more $600 bills) but going forward this is just incredible. It included a lot of extras at that - woohoo. Big thing of diapers (LM is too sensitive for clothe at night). Pizza for fiends over, etc. Just about $400. Oh well, will try not to get too excited - another week left - anything can happen...

Make Your Own Luck

January 25th, 2007 at 11:57 am

http://www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=27664

Not much time today so leaving another imspirational post. A comment on my last post reminded me of this article. I found the whole thing quite fascinating.

I know too many people who say "I can't" so they are always miserable. & the ones who say "I can" have done some amazing things. This article digs deeper about how something as simple as your attitude can change your life.

I think the subject of luck has come up time and time again in the forums as well. I guess it is timely with some of the jealousy issues as well. It kind of goes hand in hand if you are always worried about everyone else and that is your measure, how will you ever truly be happy? Start worrying less about everyone else and more about yourself. The results in your life can be huge. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else and go make your own luck!

Got a Dream?

January 24th, 2007 at 07:27 am

Just reading an interesting article. Overall not enough time today to hang out - I am running late. Frown But I will leave you with this:

http://www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=31759

Spend Update - Pizza!

January 23rd, 2007 at 02:43 pm

Jan. 23 - $ 3.76
Jan. 22 - $00.00
Week 3 total: $330.48
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**4 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Knee-his (for work)
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird

Items bought used in 2007:
Tire for Car

-------------------------------------

Decided to go to BK For lunch today - usually go out once a week - $1 or $2. But I remembered I had a deposit to mail off and the post office is over there too - but closer to the Pizza Hut. Work was so crazy I left so late and was starving I decided to splurge on pizza. I am not sure if it was the smartest after last night. Was up with the Little Monkey until 2am or so - then couldn't slip - it is amazing my eyes are still open.

I was going to try preschool storytime tonight at the library but who knows - missed last 2 weeks due to illness. Make it a 3rd perhaps - we'll see.

I am super grumpy today. Little Monkey had a hell of a time with teething and we did not sleep for MONTHS. Since about October 1 (yes I remember the day) he has been sleeping just PERFECT. So work is all crazy and he decides not to sleep any more. We went through this last tax season, it was impossible to work overtime. I Am praying this is temporary. Oh well, we will work it out. I just have to start going ot bed at 8 and dh and I are opposite so we can do opposite shifts. Problem is no matter who takes what shift a screaming baby will still wake each of us all night long. So I am pretty grumpy today. I felt like last night he wanted to be up because he hadn't seen me (at work all day and then the game - wasn't home at bedtime). But the more I have to work the less he sleeps, the more I have to work to make up lost time because I will either sleep in so I am at least productive, or bring work home because I wan't productive. SO I just started freaking out trying to get to bed last night. I can not take this - I do not know what to do.

Hopefully just 1 bad night and we can nove on. But he has had a few nights like this lately - and I can pin it all on me being busy. So the vicous cycle goes. Like the last thing I Wanbt when I am busy is to take 10 hours to get 6 hours of sleep.

Oh well, I told dh I was going to bed at 8 tonight. I might wake up at 2am but at least I can get a few hours uninterrupted sleep (I hope). I can't keep my eyes open anyway so who knows - maybe I will go to bed at 7 - hehe.

Not much else going on. Tired, busy, swamped.

Financially, I think I settled on GMAC for a new MMA. I am super picky and very pleased with VB (just shopping around because the rate is on the lower side). I was just about to give up because subpar service to me is not worth another 1/2 percent interest. But GMAC looks pretty promising. I am trying to avert my eyes from all the scathing reviews and just jump in. Overall heard more good than bad... & the good where it matters... WIll probably open it with my paycheck on the 1st, keep our allowance in VB for now and the e-fund and ST savings in GMAC - or a mix in both. Just wanted to complicate my already complicated system. Oh well, then I have 2 MMAs to move money back and forth as rates change.

I think this month is going pretty good. Pretty breakeven BUT with so much unexpected, so much sickness, the flat tire, extra daycare, everything, to have a breakeven month is super awesome. (Not to mention $1500 or so I added to my savings this month alone). Right now I have about $50 cash leftover for january (unless I forgot something) but I am not sure where our credit card will land. It looks okay with $250 left for gas groceries through the 1st or 2nd. But then I remembered diaper service payment $50 due and I am sure something else will come up!

Spend Update/Basketball Game

January 22nd, 2007 at 11:30 pm

Jan. 22 - $00.00
Week 3 total: $330.48
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**4 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Knee-his (for work)
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird

Items bought used in 2007:
Tire for Car

-------------------------------------

Oooooh, today was fun. Was not too productive at work - blah - running around all day. But tonight we went to the Kings basketball game courtesy of my boss. It was a blast - went with my mom. Actually it cracked me up because my parents are so straight and narrow. But when we went in my mom has actually a pretty fancy car and as we waited in line she looked over to the emptier area up front and was asking why we can't park there. I am like, I Don't think so, but she is edging that way and the guy waves us in. LOL. So we drive in, says "preferred parking." I am like hello -we can not park here. Then we see "super preferred" parking - and this is where she decides to park. She is cracking me up. I told her if I drove my minivan it probably wouldn't fly but since her car is all pimped out I guess she passes - LOL. I Was sure her car would be towed but actually nothing happened. I'll have to remember that in the future. Nah, I Wouldn't be able to enjoy myself - I am too straight and narrow - LOL. Unfortunately super preferred parking didn't seem to help much on the way out - LOL. Oh well.

The game was fun. The team isn't as exciting overall as it was 5 years ago - the last game I Went to. In fact we were down about 20 points 3rd quarter, not the greatest. But they pulled it out the last quarter and won by ONE POINT at the last minute. What a GAME!!!!!

So we had fun. Though my brain is a little over-extended. You know I usually fast forward through all the tv commercials, I don't shop much. I don't think overall I am exposed to much advertising. More subtle advertising I guess than anything else. OMG I think my brain was about to explode there - just too much. It was like Times Square times 10. My word.

Oh well, it was fun.

My mom brought $30 for dh's birthday - brings his balance to $170 for his PS3. Spoiled boy - hehe. She also bought me $9.50 nachos and soda at the game. Guess I am spoiled too. Mommies are nice!

Spend Update

January 22nd, 2007 at 07:35 am

Jan. 21 - $ 25.09 Groceries
Jan. 20 - $ 82.00 dinner & movies & pie
Jan. 19 - $ 19.39 Knee-his/present for dh
Jan. 18 - $ 52.00 Lunch/library fine/Groceries
Jan. 17 - $ 00.00
Jan. 16 - $ 37.00 Gas
Jan. 15 - $115.00 Replace Tire & Groceries
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**3 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Knee-his (for work)
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird

Items bought used in 2007:
Tire for Car

-------------------------------------

Dh bought groceries yesterday. About 1/2 was a giant thing of disposable diapers. HE has been telling me all about he has been planning his meals with what is on hand. HE was thinking of making homemade salsa and realized he had everything but the peppers. So he picked up peppers. HE also noticed he had extra this and that which would be perfect for a couple of other dinners. I am proud of him - see if this really helps our bill this month. He also picked up baby wash for Little monkey. He keeps rubbing food in his hair driving us insane. We joke about shaving his head - but then maybe will be even harder to clean - LOL. So we keep using dish soap - finally got some baby wash just to keep downstairs. he HATES his daily (multi-daily sometimes) head wash in the sink with a passion, yet he doesn't learn.

MIL dropped the kids off yesterday around noon. I Was working upstairs and dh went outside and I heard her exclaim, "What did they do all day? They didn't clean the house and dh didn't get a haircut!" LOL. I didn't realize that was the deal. Well I Worked for 2 days and took a break to go to our date night. Dh played video games for about 10 hours while I worked. I relaxed a little too. But geez louise. At least she gets why I am not cleaning the house. she is the one who raised a son who does not do housework. Don't even go there with me. I am just grateful for all that he does because it is a lot. & I hire people for a lot he doesn't do. & I don't mind cleaning the house - I just don't do it every damn day - not a priority - LOL.

I think it is extra funny because her house is not very clean - in fact it is disgusting. But the part she can not get past is the clutter. You can eat off the floor, but thee is clutter - so we are filthy. Whatever.

Oh yeah I got on this rant because she was going off if we bathe little monkey because his hair is so dirty. wHatever. One weekend with him and you can't see why his hair is dirty? Actually he is squeaky clean but his hair is dirty - doesn't make him filthy. Geez. Of course she is into bathing every day and I am not. So it goes. So I only bathe him every 2-3 days - call CPS - his hair is DIRTY!!! LOL. & i have been washing his darn hair 1-2 times a day - what else can I do?

As the weather warms we'll consider the buzz - hehe.

Writing a Script

January 21st, 2007 at 11:42 am

I am so wound up with work I almost totally forgot. I might be writing a movie script!!!!!

Dh had our date night and had a long talk. He is wrapping up this last movie, a friend of his wrote and produced. He has another friend who writes scripts. HE has been trying to get them to write a script for him. Dh has many wonderful ideas (very creative) & they seem to like his ideas, think he has something to work with. BUT of course they are too busy with their own stuff and their own writing to write a script for him.

So I might just be crazy and said why don't *I* write it? I love writing but I Am lost on inspiration. Actually I am more of a technical/essay writer. I am not sure if screenplay would be my speed at all!!! But I wouldn't know unless I try! Dh has plenty of inspiration and ideas, just not the patience to write it all down and get mired in the details. So I don't know if this is crazy or will even work, but I think we'll give it a try.

I told dh there was no way I could even consider it during tax season, but we can get started in May. I also felt better because digging deeper he said both his friends had encouraged him for a rough draft or a start. I think they will be better at the nuances and the final tweaking, but I Can at least help him get a start. But we decided to maybe get some books on screenwriting and try to formulate a plan for May. We decided we would probably need to stick to a schedule, which will be hard, but the only way it will ever get accomplished. Set aside some time. He actually told me too he had already downloaded some free screenplay software which helps you organize ideas, develop characters, etc., so I guess I will start playing with it.

Oh well, wish me luck. We have joked about this in the past and frankly he is all into wild out there stuff I am not sure I can really get behind. I know his one idea is about zombies (lovely) and the other one about a guy with a detached head or something - LOL. I forget - something to do with a head. But oh well. I rather write about cute little kittens and cotton candy - LOL. Or finance. Wink But I will try to dig into dh's head and see what I Can come up with. I think this is the only way his movies will ever make it to the next step - he has got to come up with some kind of script!

All in all it is kind of exciting - because he has the crew now to help him get a movie made if he had the will to push it to the next level. I remember thinking him making a movie was just some distant fantasy that would never be realized. But it is really exciting seeing it come closer to fruition. Of course now it all depends on me huh. We'll see if we can pull it together. Sounds pretty overwhelming I guess... A whole movie script, huh? I'll try.

Cell Phone

January 20th, 2007 at 11:53 am

I heard I could get a verizon discount both through Cookie Lee & through my Professional Society.

so I checked out both.

Our plan is so old and cheap that the discounts will not apply - bummer.

But I discussed it with dh. For another $10/month (this is with discount) we could get 700 peak minutes vs. 300. BUT we would lose out grandfathered off-peak after 8pm (Would switch to 9pm).

We decided since our primary reason for cell phones was emergency and free long distance on nights and weekends, that it would not make any sense to switch. Our budget is too tight for the unnecessary extra $10/month regardless of the peak/off-peak time.

I did tell dh that I just realized our contracts expire soon and maybe we should shop around again. He was not very game. I think we realized that Verizon is the best for us (last time we shopped around in 2005) and that no new plan will ever compare to our old one because it is just so old. It serves its purpose fine. & if we use it for its purpose it more than suffices!

Also to drop the land line and get sufficient minutes, it would cost more in the end. Just doesn't make any sense.

Oh well, I tried.

Woohoo!

January 20th, 2007 at 10:32 am

MIL was coming up to watch kids today and just called and said they were having sewage issues at their cabin (ick) and so wanted to pick up the kids and drive up (it is 1 hour from us - 3 hours from them), and keep them overnight!!!! Woohoo. (Though we are thinking good luck finding a plumber after this freeze and all!).

The little one might get to see snow for the first time and we might miss it but oh well. I REFUSED to let them take Big Monkey to the snow without me - made them wait until after tax season - May 2004 - still lots of snow luckily - LOL. Now I am like - whatever. Sad how we do that to the younger ones. IT isn't as pressing to me any more to be there. We were pondering with the freeze there must have been snow up there, but maybe not without much rain and storms overall. But they probably won't have to drive far to find it - if nothing else the cold must have kept any prior snow from melting...

This is the beauty of where we live - 1 hour drive from wilderness, from snow-capped mountains, or an hour the other way for a good beach. Or 1 hour from the BIG city. 'Tis the life!

I still plan to work a good chunk today and a bit tomorrow before the kids come home. But that's fine. Frankly we usually don't know what to do with ourselves with all the peace and quiet and no responsibility - hehe. I will still find hours and hours to enjoy with dh and relax a little!

In other woohoo news - dh's movie is set to premier locally in March!!!!! Dh also was invited to a volunteer dinner in February (volunteers at the public television station - used to run cameras - now they are more strict and he just does teleprompting primarily). I found out recently Big Monkey's daycare will do night sitting on occassion (Week nights, they donate the money to a family in Africa). So we will have to save pennies for that. You don't know how nice it will be to drop off the kids somewhere safe, not family, and not have to owe the favor back - LOL. We haven't talked price yet, I am sure it is reasonable, we may have to take out of our allowances though - the only way I Really see swinging it. We'll see I guess. We have our family for the weekends (they live 2 hours away), so works out I guess.

But yes, movie premiere. I think 2 things. 1 - dh does not expect a lot from this movie. BUT 2 - he thinks they learned a lot and there is a lot of potenital there. Already planning to shoot the 2nd one later this year. I just pray we can work it out this year without paying a lot of childcare. It is something to consider. If he can put his all into a movie and make something of it, it may be worth it, we'd have the money. I just don't know if this is something worthy to sink money in for now - probably better sent to savings at the least. THe last movie he helped substantially without paying a dime for childcare. Hopefully this year we can work it out. The following year will be less of an issue with only 1 kid in preschool (which I already pay now) and 1 in kindergarten not needing care a few hours every day. We'll see I guess.

On the flip side he just went to a red carpet premiere for a movie that sold and he said it was aWFUL. & the rumor was they got paid $400k for the NEXT movie. So they are trying to sell theirs and get funding for the next one. We'll see I guess. Send good vibes for their movie! The premiere is just the first step. THey are going to work on selling it or getting it in some festivals I guess (with the end goal to sell it!!!). After seeing the kind of crap that sold well he is feeling more optimisitic I guess!

I am not holding my breath on this particular movie, but I Am pleased with the opportunities that are presenting themselves as a result of the work he has done and the contacts he has made. One day I hope this hobby pays money. That would be about the best thing I can imagine. When childcare is no longer an issue it looks it will. For now has been restricted him for a bit. But everyone is getting paid gigs and keeping him in mind - so that is good!!!! Even if he doesn't make it big if one of his contacts does - it could be big for him. Frankly I just want a little retirement money is all though - doesn't have to be much!

Spend Update

January 20th, 2007 at 10:06 am

Jan. 19 - $ 19.39 Knee-his/present for dh
Jan. 18 - $ 52.00 Lunch/library fine/Groceries
Jan. 17 - $ 00.00
Jan. 16 - $ 37.00 Gas
Jan. 15 - $115.00 Replace Tire & Groceries
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**3 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape (for ebay selling)
Bubble envelope (for ebay selling)
Shipping Labels (for ebay selling)
Knee-his (for work)
Pin-wheel
Toy Bird

Items bought used in 2007:
Tire for Car

-------------------------------------

Yesterday could have been an easy no-spend day. But I was feeling bad about dh's birthday. Yeah sure we are doing dinner and a movie tonight. But I was annoyed at my non-creativity and wanted to get him a little something. So Big Monkey and I stopped by the store on the way home last night.

We picked out some jelly beans ($1.99 for the generic brand vs. $3.00+ for jelly belly), a little toy bird for $0.99, and a pinwheel for 17 cents). So we had a few small tokens I am sure he appreciated. I told Big Monkey how when dh and I first moved in we had we didn't have grass or trees or anything in the yard but dirt. So we put this large pinwheel in the middle of the yard, enjoyed just watching it spin in the wind (the wind can get pretty crazy). So I thought the pinwheel, though a much smaller version, was a little nostalgic, and maybe we could put it in the yard and let the Little Monkeys enjoy too. For 17 cents, what the heck - hehe.

I also bought a year supply about of knee-his for $10. Noticed while we were there and figured about time. Probably something I Could have waited for a bigger sale. But I threw out about 5-10 pairs with holes these last months - LOL. Probably time. Finally while I Was there I noticed a digital tire pressure gage - on sale from $20 to $5. Not sure how accurate it really is but picked it up. I have a really nice guage but with 2 cars it would be nice to have 2. I'll have to compare the 2 and see how the digital one really works. We'll see. Gave that one to dh too - LOL. He really could use it in his car. so goes $10 well needed to be spent and $10 just to feel like we got something for dh. I was not as creative as his 30 pictures and 30 treats and all, but oh well. I was also tempted to buy him a pie. I might. I notice I tend to spoil him - I really do. I guess that is a good thing. Like really finner and movies isn't plenty. But the pies are like $7 or $8 - MArie Callendars - for a DIVINE pie. I might just pick one up on the way home. (I wouldn't have a clue how to make a pie, nor the time, so convenience wins - hehe).

This week I Am probably working 7 days. Everyone sounds so sad like this is the worst thing ever (just clients and friends I talk to). Don't worry about me - I get to play with other people's money all day - I like it - LOL. Actually the truth is I have had a really hard time getting more than 8-hour days in during the week. WIthout feeling like I am neglecting my family, and myself too. I have been tending to work a few hours on saturday then (maybe 6-7) and then 2-3 hours from home Sunday. It is not a biggie - takes little time from my family sunday. Or saturday really. I rather have more time suring the week. So everyone feels really sorry for me and I am happy.

Priorities - Feeling Motivational

January 19th, 2007 at 01:01 pm

Frugality is about setting priorities, not deprivation. Well, at least it is to me.

I just posted a little bit about the philosophy of Suze Orman & Laura Rowley and I guess that is really what it comes down too. I Think you have to have a strong sense of self to be successful financially. Maybe you don't HAVE to, but it sure helps.

I think the best thing my parents ever taught me, which reaches into every aspect of my life, is just to be myself and not worry about other people. I think to many that is the biggest first step in figuring out how to budget and live within your means. Not falling for all the marketing out there, buying things to look cool and please your friends, keeping up with the joneses. & trying to find satisfaction with yourlife outside of material things - I guess that is a big one too. I think a big way my parents taught me this was they were never afraid to be different. & they also never gave into a fad. I remember I thought I Was going to die if I did not get a Cabbage PAtch Doll. My parents never caved. I thought they were horrible because we shopped at Kmart. But my parents gave me a good life and even spoiled me on occassion. But the most important thing I think is they wouldn't give in when I had an impulse and wanted something because of outside influences. I hope I Can be strong enough to say no to my kids the same way because I feel it has served me very well in life.

& once you know what you really want for yourself, set a path and goals to get there. You have to look carefully, and be patient. Because if you can't have it all now, maybe you can down the road - years/decades down the road if you are patient. OR maybe there is something you can never have, you have to seriously list what you want out of your life and how you are going to get there. IF you have too many goals, some will have to be sacrificed. But the upside is only those most important to you will be what you work toward, and what you spend money on. IT is easy to say no to the things that don't matter once you really look hard and see what really matters and doesn't.

Dh and I Were discussing it the other night - we realize we don't put a lot of weight on 2 things - fleeting pleasures (vacations and experiences) or small material things - we are more likely to save for bigger things. To many it really creates the illusion that we are extremely wealthy. Looking at face value at our posessions.

What we have and value:

**A nice house (housing may be expensive but renting is far more expensive and would never get us ahead. Our utilities are dirt cheap and maintenance is low as long as the house is newer. By the time it starts needing more repairs we'll have the cash).

**Reliable Cars - as long as they are reliable and don't have a lot of upkeep they will do.

**Fancy Electronic Toys (computers, games, theatre room. We shop for quality and value, and don't turn our noses up at used. We'll think outside the box for a deal. Dh's theatre room has a nice projector - where it matters - and everything else is not fancy. A big screen t.v. would cost more but we have a 10-foot screen. HE has free HDTV through his computer - projects it in there. HEll of a lot cheaper and nicer than an HDTV thank you). We don't spend much on replacing things or repairs - we shop carefully to avoid these.

**Comfort (electricity will not be set lower than 68 - thanks - LOL).

**Convenience

**Cash in the bank

**Preparing for retirement

**working less and spending more time with the kids

**making less and enjoying our job

**Having a pet

**A weekend away or a nice camping trip

**Not relying on 2 incomes

**Decent HEalth Insurance (believe me I pay well for this! To avoid big insane bills, best we can anyway.)

**Not having debt

What we do NOT value:

**New/Fancy Cars
**A house we can not afford to upkeep
**Electronics - what everyone else has, brand names, etc.
**Home decorating/new furniture
**Being too good to buy used
**Eating out a lot
**Going out a lot
**beauty products & treatments
**fads
**most consumer goods
**fancy vacations
**brand names
**appearances


& so it goes. By not spending a lot of money (or maybe none) on the things we don't value, we have that much more money for things we value.

We put our all into getting a house so that we could stay out in California and not drown in rents and be the ones saying we will never afford a home. & we made it.

I know our theatre room drops jaws. The sound and the picture is FANCY. Never mind the surround sound and DVD player are ancient as dh bought them in college and never replaced. That we got the theatre seating dirt cheap at a going out of business sale. That the decor consists entirely of painted walls and a screen we framed with felt. The room is not going to be featured in a magazine or considered fancy in the least, but the movie screen will blow you away and that is what is important. When the lights are off who cares - LOL.

By simply buying newer and fancier cars there is no way we would have money for a house or a theatre room. So we sacrificed where it didn't matter as much to us. IF we both bought $20k cars, there would go 90% of the down payment on our house. A couple of thousand dollars for a fancy projector is nothing when you don't spend your money on any of the latest electronic gadgets, don't have a car payment, when you just don't buy other stuff.

Oh yeah the reason we were talking about it too is we seem to go in cycles. We will go years with living very tight as we aim for a goal, and then we might let loose and go crazy for a year. The crazy year would be 2005. We were just saying though, you know we could have gone crazy and blew through all our money on nights out and vacations and stuff that would carry no further value to us today. Instead we have a nice new washer/dryer, a laptop which has been heaven on earth for me - I can work while watching the kids or without locking myself away in another room - sometimes I have mindless work to do in the evenings - I do it while I hang out with the family - couldn't without the laptop. We have preschool which is good for everyone in the house, and a gardener which saves SO many headaches. SO we went crazy - we don't regret any of our purchases. Dh has his theatre room, we have 2 decent cars that should last a LONG time. We were saying "so what?" if we have to cut back for a few years as we re-evaluate and put extra money into retirement and as we build back up our cash. At least we didn't blow our money on stuff that we didn't value, that is gone. So we can enjoy what we have for years to come. IT was just interesting as we looked at it that way.

We may NEVER have the money to go on a fancy vacation, to buy NEW furniture, or to eat out more. Some parts of my budget are still as tight as they were as a kid in college making minimum wage. Oh well. There is luckily plenty there for all that we value.

We could value retirement even more and sacrifice some of the fun and fancy things - no doubt. But I think we found a nice balance. I Think too since I love my job I am not in a huge hurry to retire - makes all the difference!

& that is what truly matters.

I am sure everyone's values and non-values will read a little different, and that is fine by me - I don't expect everyone to value what we value. Any mix is fine as long as it is attainable and makes you happy! I think it just gets extra hard with the "keeping up with the joneses" mentality because then way too many "things" flood your "value" list - so many that most of us will never realistically afford. & so goes the debt cycle.

I actually have a rather substantial list (well we both do) of material things we think we might like - and they do tend to be big. But since they don't fit in our overall plans for now they are just on the back burner for now. But I Won't cry about it. We have plenty and I know more things won't make us happier. Why I Am happy to set many things aside... They are at the back of our minds maybe one day when the mortgage is paid and our retirement is set, things we would consider. Then we would value experiences and fancy vacations more. But for now they don't fit with our financial picture and our goals and I think we will live just fine without.









Making the Most out of the Money you Have

January 19th, 2007 at 12:03 pm

Good article today from Laura Rowley:

http://finance.yahoo.com/expert/article/moneyhappy/21840


I love Suze ORman & Laura Rowley. My little obsessions before finding savingadvice.com and getting all obsessed over here - LOL.

They are both very similar in they get past the basics of finance and into more interestingly the psychology of our savings and spending habits. Very interesting. I love watching Suze because no doubt she is like a psychic. Just tell a little blurb about your problem and she can read deeper into the underlying problems - can usually hit the nail on the head pretty fast too.

Plus there isn't really nothing going to make me more warm and fuzzy and see how well we are doing financially compared to most the callers. IT is definitely a selfish thing too. Well that and I have learned A LOT. When I First tuned into her show she was telling people to get credit cards. I Said - huh? BEing raised with the motto "debt is bad so avoid it all costs" it has been hard for me to wrap my brain around. I worked a deal with my parents and lent $5k for them with 3% interest last year. Ever since I watched Suze I have rethought that decision. I could have had 0% credit card, because I have the discipline and the money in the bank to pay it off. Woulda coulda shoulda. Suze started me on my path of rethinking paying all the debt first. It hasn't necessarily served us well to be so anti-debt. It has, but I now see that not only you should avoid it, but better yet use it to your advantage. & so I am learning.

But I really enjoy Laura Rowley's columns too, just into the deeper digging of how money affects us beyond the wealth it brings us, etc. I started reading her columns thinking more "amen sister" as we have very similar philosophies on money. But she always has some interesting light to shed about personal finance too.


New IRS charitable donation rules

January 19th, 2007 at 11:02 am

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/money/abox/article_1548...

YEs, we have been telling all of our clients to take pictures of everything they donate. Not to submit to the IRS, but to keep with your records, to prove in audit what you donated. IT is the best bet, a good rule going forward, to take picture of everything. I have a pile of nice stuff for Goodwill that I haven't dropped off yet because I want to take a good picture of it (Want my write-off!).

The article did not mention though that small cash donations will require receips starting Jan. 1 (primarily affecting church collection plate donations). So FYI on that one too:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/custom/religion/chi-07010...

Thai Chicken Recipe

January 18th, 2007 at 12:46 pm

This one is not from Taste of Home. MIL's recipe, not sure where she got it. But a family fave!!

'Twas our dinner last night.



More Recipes

January 17th, 2007 at 01:26 pm





We tried the chicken and the mc n cheese - both were pretty darn GOOD. Lots of hits and few misses of late!

The mac n cheese was SO SO SO good. Dh and I Were discussing it. We usually don't go much for healthy food. As long as it is homecooked we find overall it is much healthier than we eat otherwise. (Though we have been trying to make a concerted effort to eat less meat - like every other night instead of every day - and less red meat). Plus we are wary of all the fake stuff used in "non-fat" things - fake fat, fake sugar, studies time and time again show that stuff is BAD for you. So we were discussing the mac n cheese and how tasty it was because it came from our "light" cookbook. Well since it used a big chunk of processed velveeta cheese I Can't really vouch on how healthy this meal was. LOL. I Was a little dissapointed. I would rather find a good home-cooked version without all the process cheese. Well no wonder it was so good! IT's probably a step above eating it from the box though, eh?

A lot of the times we ignore all the fat-free ingredients in our recipes - use the full-fat versions. We've all been losing weight too by just eating WELL! (vs. JUNK and fast food!).

Spend Update

January 17th, 2007 at 01:12 pm

Jan. 17 - $ 00.00 ????
Jan. 16 - $ 37.00 Gas
Jan. 15 - $115.00 Replace Tire & Groceries
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**2 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape
Bubble envelope
Shipping Labels

Items bought used in 2007:
Tire for Car

-------------------------------------

Cars are gassed and groceries replenished, family is healthy and well. Maybe we will come up on some no-spend days, eh???

I am actually having a pretty luxurious weekend! Dinner out and movies Friday, better yet without kids!!!! Going to our favorite Indian Restaurant - Gaylords. We used to go to this wonderful cheapie place and they went out of business last year. Frown I would have taken back all the coupons if I had known - we ate there 2 for 1 every so often, plus good lunch buffet. But we also are in love with this big Fancy restaurant in the Bay Area - Gaylords by Fisherman's Wharf. The budget rarely allows such fine dining, but the head chef apparently moved to the Sacramento area and opened one up here (there is a Gaylords in Australia and Japan too I believe - quite a chain). Anyway, but WE in lowly old Sacramento get the HEAD CHEF. Oh, it is DIVINE. I think the last time we went was June. I remember we went then. We have to go a little more often and keep them in business I think!

It is the same old story- everyone sick of Bay Area prices spreading out. Sacramento is feeling more like home every day to us. Though we really do need more Indian restaurants here please. We used to be able to walk to a little affordable Indian place from our condo back home. Miss that indeed.

Well, Monday we are going to the Kings game (basketball). I am not a big sports fan, but a game is always fun. A friend took me once back in the year we moved. Taking my mom and she is so EXCITED. My boss gave me tickets - we have pretty good seats. have actually tried and tried to get playoff tickets every year to no avail. So it's been a while.

So I actually have a pretty luxurious weekend planned. I have been to 1 Kings game and I Told dh since the game is free and all, I had to get NACHOS. HE was teasing me like - about how he hears everyone goes for the nachos. Well yeah, what's the point otherwise? LOL!!!

ETA: Phew - the ICE is officially gone today. Woohoo!!!!! Hopefully it stays away.
You don't how happy I was to see running in water in the gutters today instead of ICE!

Freezing Rain

January 16th, 2007 at 01:25 pm

When I pulled into work yesterday and had to park on ice and slip around in my high heels I decided I better start checking the weather. I had no idea we were still having a freeze. LOL.

So I looked last night - more ice.

Then I look today to see what I Could expect tomorrow.

Well tonight there will be FREEZING RAIN. Huh????? LOL.

I actually had quite a few friends who moved up to Oregon and they were talking about freezing rain a while back - if not for that probably would have never even heard of it.

http://www.weatherquestions.com/What_causes_freezing_rain.htm

You do not know how close we came to cashing out our house and moving to ORegon last year. After a week of this I am done - I don't care how rich we would be - we are never leaving California. I Would absolutely die.

Enough with the ice already!!!!!

Today is extra brutal because I had 2 client meetings (very unusual - I usually only see clients in spring). I ransacked my wardrobe trying to figure out what to wear. I finally decided a light sweater under a spring dress, with my jacket that won't button. Maybe a little silly with the sweater peeking out but I don't care. I also brought a knitted blanket to cover my lap the rest of the day while I Work at my desk. So far so good.

So I went out to clients and ran some errands and I am totally out of gas. The running from the car to the buildings is not a biggie, but standing outside and pumping gas in a spring dress is absolutely insane. But that is what I Will do tonight - hehe. I might go home and get a big jacket and some warm clothes first - if I Can make it home. I Was trying to think back why my car was out of gas - felt like it shouldn't be sitting in the garage with a flat for days. Then I remembered I Was driving dfh and kids all over tarnation last week while he was ill. That would explain it!

My favorite is that freezing rain is "tonight" but I Can't see what time anywhere. I assume it would be fine around 6pm or when I leave work. Oy vey. If it was going to be earlier than middle of the night you think they would shut down the roads - people here haven't a clue how to drive in this weather. Well I keep checking the weather and radio I guess... GOing on day 5 of FREEZING. Brrrr....

Oh I know it could be way worse but this is HUGE out here... It is crazy!! Everyone is in a tizzy...

Casserole Recipe

January 15th, 2007 at 05:19 pm

This one is overdue.

I have to find another recipe dh made last week - a pretty good crockpot recipe - potatoes, meat, veggies... Topped with fried onions - divine!!!

& today we are trying a mac n cheese slow cooker recipe & some breaded chicken - if it turns out yummy I will post!

I think all 3 are from Taste of Home. Here is the casserole dh made last week before illness set in the house.





Awesome Day/Spend Update

January 15th, 2007 at 01:09 pm

Jan. 15 - $30.00 Replace Tire
Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**2 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape
Bubble envelope
Shipping Labels

Items bought used in 2007:
Tire for Car

-------------------------------------

Well, I almost fainted at the sight but dh changed the tire. Okay, it turned out to be so easy too - LOL. I laugh that he talked me out of it (complicated) but then he decided to do it. IT was easy. & Big Monkey had SO MUCH fun helping him.

HE took it in today and the thing was shot - a big gash. I have NO IDEA when and where it happened - weird. I was feeling bad it just sat for days and figured that would ruin the tire. Guess it was already ruined so no matter. So dh picked up a used tire to replace it. $30 for a tire, they replaced it, and put the spare back, etc. Not bad!

I know I had a warning not to buy used tires but we always do (like I said my last car attracted flat tires like no problems - lots of nails for whatever reason). I hesitate at saying we never had a problem because I don't want to jinx myself at all - the last thing I need is that - but from what I understood these are not retread tires or messed with, they are simply used from the junkyard. & I have bought a lot of nice car stuff from the junkyard believe me. As usual - used has a negative conotation, but if you shop right it doesn't have to be really used. I like to aim for barely used, if used at all. Just titled "Used." & serves us just fine. We have a trusted mechanic who watches out for us and gives us the seal of approval for the cheapo place, so be it. I throw that out though so if people get the idea from me, to buy used tires, to be careful out there. If you end up with a bad tire it is extremely dangerous. But that is why a trusted mechanic is so beneficial to keeping car costs down - I've said it once and I'll say it 1000 times. I know people who won't buy a used car that is 2 years old because of "oh the repairs." but we have driven plenty of $1k cars that were great and needed little in repairs. Just have to know what you are doing - or know and trust someone who knows cars...

So anyway - I had my first item to add to my used category - trying to track what we buy used vs. new.

In other news I saw the reference to paycheckcity.com and I use it for work a lot. I did not remember, or know even, you could put in your exmptions and calculate your check. So I did. I almost fell over because my check showed a $450/month increase (for my $300/month raise). After playing with it I realized my paycheck was calculating my state withholding at 0 exemptions. 0!!!!!! When I take 16 for Fed. Anyway, I knew it was way over-withholding, but with tax rates so LOW I figure I Would leave it another year. Just a hedge against getting to used to lower taxes. BUT it is ridiculous. I Am losing $150/month with my new raise. So I finally decided I Want the money now. Shot a quick e-mail to my boss since we get paid tomorrow - see how much he can fix it.

I just found me $150/month. OR at least $100. I told him just to make sure it wasn't withholding more than Federal. I am not sure if he will get it perfect - obviously the software is not right on (though it was for fed - weird). So I Am just jumping with joy. Was trying to save $350 month going forward ($315 raise plus $35 I had been trying before raise) and when the car is paid off will be $550. & if I Can squeeze out another $100-$150/month on my state withholding I feel so FREE. I told dh I would just leave it for now as a "cushion." I was not even sure I Could really commit to the $300/month - seems there is always something. But I was going to try darn hard. But the added cushion just makes this next year look so EASY. I am so stoked.

So it is official, last year I was putting away little - maybe $300/month on a good month for the big bills. Today I am putting away $1350 every month for long-term (e-fund) and short-term savings (the 1-time big bills) and so that is 25% of my check I am no longer touching for day-today expenses.

That is insane.

What have we given up? Some eating out? Some toys? Not much! (& the raise helps too...)

I feel very well with the financial universe today!

PS - my boss said he will withhold whatever I want to I am taking the extra $100/month out - woohoo. I got a nice big fat cushion - I am so happy today.






<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>