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Archive for June, 2008

Starting to feel JINXED!! (& Groceries...)

June 30th, 2008 at 06:08 pm

On the plus side, I got my car back at noon - really nothing wrong with it.

Mechanic called me at 11:45 to say the EGR valve(?) had been stuck, but seems fine now. Plus is usually covered for warranty an extraordinarily long time.

Charged $100, but that's okay. I was holding my breath to more car repairs on both cars. Now they both have a clean bill of health for $100. So not bad. Feeling very relieved. (Likewise, my co-worker just said the Ford dealership quoted her $160 just to diagnose her "check engine" light. What a rip! So though I thought $100 was a bit much, I guess I shouldn't complain. (Family friend mechanic though not as awesome as the one we had back home. But trustworthy at least).

I called dh and asked if he wanted to meet me for lunch and get the car, but he had just heated up spaghetti. I was trying to talk him into it, when I remembered that the fancy Indian place was rather near the car shop (downtown). I didn't have to ask twice. HE said, "I'll be right there to pick you up!"

We decided to go to lunch first and then I could drop him off at the mechanic and let him deal with the time to pick it up.

So we parked a couple of blocks down and realized lunch downtown maybe wasn't the smartest idea. Nowhere to park! We found an empty spot and paid $1.25 in the meter.

We walk to the place and the door is LOCKED. Frown Of course there was a sign, under new management and starting TODAY, closed Mondays. Boy, we felt great about that (not).

So then I just feel jinxed! we were trying to go over there when dh's car died. LOL. I get the feeling that for some reason we are NOT supposed to eat there. Hehe.

But I am super bummed that we didn't make it one last time under old management. Before we had the old chef from the San Francisco location (where we got hooked). Sounds like he had moved on. Frown

So yes, we are crazy and we will try again. Big Grin

I just don't know when.

Anyway, we walked over to a MExican restaurant and had a so-so meal for $16. What a let down. $16 less for our gourmet Indian meal next month.

We should have cut our losses and left. I had lunch at work and dh had his spaghetti at home. Oh well! It was nice to have a quiet lunch - but we wasted most of our July lunch budget (we usually aim for 2-for-1 coupons and spend $10 on our date lunches.

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I didn't think much about it (since the paper sUnday showed what seemed like a million out of control fires still burning) but when I got out of work today I suddenly realized the sky was BLUE! We had been holed up indoors for almost a week, so I am thrilled.

I don't think the fire situation is grand (not sure) but the wind has blown the smoke elsewhere, for now.

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As promised, our grocery bill. Dh spent $55 picking up some stuff. Got stuff for spaghetti, taco salad, refried bean enchiladas, and some chicken dinner.

We got the husked corn for our spaghetti dinner as well. LOVING the stuff. Our luxury for now.

We needed some bread and cat food, and stocked up on chicken.

I am trying to put a finger on why our grocery bill seems rather unchanged. I think our particular store is slow to change prices.

So I just had to share for opinions. I think for one, prices are usually higher here. So that we are used to. But on the other hand, they don't seem to be rising much.

I don't know how much is regional, store, or if dh is just getting better at meal planning (maybe all of the above).

I did notice we mostly had a lot on hand already for most of the meals we made this week. Which means are regular bills seem to be getting lower, but there is still the occasional monster bill when we stock up on things.



Anything strike you as a good deal? Anything strike you as insanely expensive? Just curious on regional perspectives...

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One more thing. Dh is driving me nuts because he drained all of our wallet cash to buy some more games. They are up on ebay and will be sold by Thursday. So this is okay. But he still has 2 unsold Wiis.

I told him I needed ALL the profits back (he owes $400 to the checking account) plus the proceeds from his projector to pay some one-time bills (like private swimming lessons for BM, etc.).

I am thinking once I get all that back and I will just pull $500 cash from savings and give it to him to wheel and deal. He is driving me nuts. Just messing up my system. Plus I have like 20 cents in my wallet now. I don't use cash, but I like to at least carry a $20.

Anyway, he worried about interest. I told him the 3% interest on $500 amounts to $15 annually. HE can pay me a $1/month fee (profits) and I will be fine.

I of course want the $500 back eventually, as well. But will give him some seed money.

I think we may clear $400 this month, though a lot of that is in credit at the "used" store and a lot of that is just in more crap. LOL. But I told dh if he could make $400/month and max out his IRA, it will be a long time before I bug him to get a job.

I think he wants to do more than buy and sell stuff - it does take a lot of time. But in the interim, every little bit helps.

(I do remember July being a slow sell time last year on Craigslist. So we are sort of feeling it. But he sold that Wii last week in a FLASH - so there is hope). For now still holding out for $100 profit/each.

De-Cluttering Much??

June 28th, 2008 at 04:13 pm

I just added it all up and we have $800 of stuff listed on craigslist. Not that I expect $800. I always start high and am amazed how many people take full price. But I expect less for most of the stuff listed.

But I have been trying to sell some old crib bedding and stuff with no luck. Ebay would probably be better except the crib bumper is just so bulky. But I am starting to rethink it.

So I am hoping this stuff has better luck. We'll see...

& anyway, this is not pure profit. Dh spent $200 on a Wii/accessories he is trying to unload (for $300).

He has another one to list after this one. We took a listing break with vacation.

With my MLM stuff, and the second Wii to sell I guess we might clear $1k profit. We have a few other little things.

Feels like a small start to a BIG process. Big Grin

I have a pile of a few ebay things, and I am sure I will find more. I also have a pile going for goodwill. We don't bother selling anything unless we can easily clear $20. Maybe a few larger things if we can get $10+.

Anyway, I have up 5 listings, and dh has 3. We'll see how it goes.

I am thinking to next weekend, and we need to prepare for the kids' birthday parties. & we have lots of July plans. So we are hitting it hard this weekend while we have some time.

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I dropped my camera twice last week - once in the dirt. The zoom is giving me problems today. We bought it around 2002 or 2003, and I don't even remember how much we paid.

I mentioned it offhand to dh, and he said maybe it was time for a new one.

I was like, "No way!" and then I asked how much it would be (having no idea). HE said we could get twice the mega pixels for $100.

I think ours is 4 megapixel (don't quote me on that one though) and it was totally awesome at the time.

You could sell me on $100 for a new one with a major upgrade. Surprised dh hadn't asked sooner. LOL.

But yeah, I Was just going to say we can sell the old one too, but not for very much since it has issues, now that I think about it.

Anyway, I am completely shocked with how cheap a lot of these things have gotten over time. When I think of all of our electronic gadgets, I don't think much as far as price, since we tend to buy a little behind and keep things forever.

But as far as the camera, $100 for a major upgrade seems pretty reasonable. We can even keep the old one for the kids. Could be a good compromise since I know BM would love a real camera but we haven't wanted to shell out the bucks quite yet. He's a little rowdy. Wink I mean look what I did just being a clumsy mess on our trip. Frown We didn't exactly have any problems with the camera and would have kept a few more years really... I guess we'll keep an eye on it.

FOOD

June 28th, 2008 at 07:17 am

I think I should start scanning my grocery receipts and see what you all think.

We seriously have noticed NO change in our grocery bills, doing nothing different. We might hit $350 this month (a new low actually) and that includes a splurge on sushi the other night (quite unusual).

I do admit we have been eating out a bit more. (All the deals/coupons). Then again, I have been eating out a lot less (for lunch).

Well, I just get the feeling it is largely regional. & little things like our milk price has not gone up since we are charged the same for 2 gallons at a time, as one gallon, now. So since I can't exactly put my finger on it, I am curious how our food prices compare to what you see... (Now I wish I had kept a price book all along. I wrote it off as WAY too time consuming, but now curiosity wishes I had wasted all that time - hehe).

Well, dh made some greek chicken and potato dinner in the crockpot. Also, some spicy hummus. The hummus was okay. (We need to add more spice next time). & the crock pot dish, well, it was pretty good.

YUM!

Reminds me we are getting a new Indian restaurant. I was told it was in the style of our favorite greek restaurant here (more of a cafe I guess). So we are keeping our fingers crossed that it is GOOD!

We have another one, but we aren't a big fan of it. We only went once...

Oh, and dh may sign up for some Indian cooking classes. Forgot about that too. I give you, the Asian cultures know how to cook veggies. I may eat them a little more if dh can master Indian cooking. Wink

Beyond that, we are going to try "monkey munch" today. Oh, it is terrible for you - lots of butter and sugar and chocolate. I saw it on "Jon & Kate Plus 8" last night and of course the recipe was online (just googled it). So, since we are stuck indoors (smoky air) we will have to just make some monkey munch instead...

Since I am stuck indoors I may de-clutter a bit as well. I had all sorts of outdoor plans, so bah!

If you see my weather thing to the left, yeah, that's smoke... Not clouds, but smoke.

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The man and the kids are now addicted to garage sales. LM really wanted to go so dh took him this morning. Every time he comes back with a toy, of course.

I think we will hit a $2k credit card bill for the 3rd month in a row. Woohoo. I say, woohoo, because we earn an extra $30 in cash rewards as a result.

April was my professional dues (reimbursed by employer anyway) and our camping deposit which got us there. (We usually budget around $1300 credit card which includes pretty much ALL our bills - whatever we can card, of course we card - for rewards). May our Disneyland trip got us there in a flash. I expected to get there this month with medical bills or the rest of our camping expenses. But camping remainder was due May and the medical bill never arrived (put off another month...). So, I thought about it and realized I had more professional dues, due soon. I'll just pay them today and hope it clears the card before the month closes.

We also paid $130 to get dh's car fixed yesterday. New battery and new wires and cables and all that. Rather reasonable in the end. We'll drop off my car Monday and that will certainly ensure we hit the $2k. Think we are there already. This month we bought shoes, camping supplies, and dh's receiver. So, it was just spendy.

& no, I don't expect anywhere near $2k bills next month or going forward. Though I may get a $1k medical bill one of these days. They sure take their sweet time, which is fine with me.

I am hitting Craigslist today. I signed BM up for swim lessons and dh is talking about these cooking classes. It all adds up. I have enough baby stuff to sell and cover it though, so cracking at it. I am afraid that my car repairs will probably need to come either short-term or mid-term savings. Bummer. But trying not to touch savings for anything else.

BM also got his school teacher assignment yesterday. Along with a request for $25 for supplies, and $60 for field trips. They just have you prepay everything for simplicity. I don't think it's so bad. There is an option to pay the $60 in 5 installments. I kind of giggled when I saw that. You have to understand we live in a rather upscale community and so, yeah, struck me as strange. Though I guess on some level, it isn't surprising.

I must admit since I never deal in cash, that this is really throwing me off. Suddenly I have to come up with $200 cash between that and LM's private swim lessons. (Awesome deal, I just got that squared away, after months. His lessons are in July). So, hmmmm, yes, stuff to sell. Sell sell sell, deposit the cash, and pay the cash bills. I don't have any cash otherwise, and am loathe to touch savings. Though that really is what some of it is there for. Just a last resort for me.

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A friend just told me she couldn't afford the $1k to fix the A/C on her truck, so she would just live without. (I swear everyone I know has had A/C problems of late. I am thinking this is a perk to an older car - no A/C problems. These are all newer cars - and problems galore).

But then started talking about a new $20k truck she wanted. On and on and on.

Ugh, this stuff just drives me nuts. It's not worth the $1k to fix, so will shell out $20k instead.

& then they wonder how we can afford our lifestyle on half the income, while all the while wondering why we drive OLD cars. I've had one too many people tell me old cars are a financial drain. Yeah, the $130 I just spent to fix dh's car with 90k miles (paid off when we bought it in 2001) is killing us. NOT! Wink

In fact, our newer minivan is so awful, I am sorely tempted to trade it in for an old Toyota. We'll see what the repair bill is this round. The minivan has awful repair bills, which I did not expect in a newer vehicle. So I guess it all depends on the car. But I will take a $1k bill over a $20k bill any day. I know, it's the debt mentality. Get a $300 payment or something and that is better than shelling out $1k. That is the thinking.

I know they will think I have lost my mind when I trade in the van for an older car. Wink But probably what we will end up doing, to get our gas bill and repairs bill down.





Financial Update

June 27th, 2008 at 01:08 pm

I am not sure if I will enjoy doing a net worth update as of 6/30. I am afraid I won't have much to show. But I guess we shall see...

I guess we have a general idea of what our vacation plans will be for next year. Though who knows, anything can happen. My dad told me he was hoping to spend next year visiting family, though I guess I may tag along on some of those. We have talked of flying to Denver for a weekend so the kids could meet my Grandma. Maybe pop in on my sister in NC for a weekend (the airfare is generally cheap, but I don't know these days). My parents would probably foot the bill if I tag along though. Would just be me for NC. But yes, the kids for Denver.

Now that the kids are of booster seat size, air travel is back on the table. We have just had the most horrid experience trying to rent decent car seats on vacation. We traveled with both kids when they were just 1, and at that point vowed never again. I don't know how it went in Florida for dh and the kids last October. But, ugh. He was a brave soul to try that again. LOL.

So anyway, there is discussion of family stuff, and I have no idea what dh's parents have in mind. But we are thinking 4-5 days at Family Camp/Yosemite again, next year. & we have also talked about getting season passes to the amusement park by our home town. I guess it's somewhat nostalgic for us (we spent so much time there as kids/teens) and is in fact where dh and I met, as we both worked there many years. So, they have added a water park and parking is included in the season passes. For today they sell 4 season passes for $260. I am SOLD. We spend so much time in the area that we can make a few half day trips and avoid the large expenses like food. The place is a 5-minute drive from my parent's house, so we can even drop off all the valuables there and go enjoy our time without locker rentals and such. The water park is a REALLY nice touch. Plus if we are willing to pay $320 instead (or just $60 more), we get season passes to another great park in the area. Probably well worth it.

I think that about eats up our $1200 vacation budget, but I think is perfect. We leave plenty of wiggle room in the budget for "daycaytions" as is, which is generally more our speed.

Which reminds me, with all the fires, the air quality here is really horrid around here for now. I am afraid we will be locked indoors all weekend. Kind of a bummer because the weather has been rather pleasant. !! It's just TAUNTING me. This is the mildest June we I can recollect since moving here about 6 years ago. We've barely turned on our air. We left it on around 86 degrees for the cat when we were camping, but I don't think the air turned on at all. Our house has settle at a nice 80 degrees. No air conditioning needed.

But yes, dreading July/August. It's going to be a shock. Likewise, I hope this does not mean horrid hot weather prolongs into September. That is what I am afraid of.

We have been experimenting with changing our water sprinkler set up and have cut the watering time about in half (if not more). I think it is only working because of the mild weather. We may have to go back to watering every day come July. But our gardener set it to go off twice a day, year round. HE tweaks it each season, but I am pretty certain it always goes off at least once every day. So now that we are switched to metered water, we are experimenting with it.

I know, it's terrible. We should have done this before. We are from drought country, so the water habits of people here appall me. We conserve much water inside the house. But never having had a lawn before, we just did what the gardener said. I think we can get by with much less water most of the year. & anyway, we can cut it way back in the backyard. The front yard is another story. We get very mixed messages. Don't use any chemicals (They flow to the lake) but we'll fine you if your yard isn't sparkling green, even in the 110-degree summers. YEah, whatevah! We do what we can in the front, I think we might just let the backyard go. I'd love to rip it out and just put in tanbark and a play structure. Maybe some astro turf like a friend of mine did. This watering thing is ridiculous. All for some ideal that is completely unattainable in the climate. The rest of the year is fine, so no one resorts to desert landscaping. But I am sorely tempted. I know it's probably not "allowed" in the front yard, but we have changes in mind for our backyard. Also considering a garden and some fruit trees, etc.

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Financially speaking...

**Paid off balance transfer #2. Woohoo.

I am keeping this card open until my free FICO score checks dry up. I think I only have one more month. So will just close the card.

LEaves one transfer open. IT's earning 5.7% and will through the end of the year. Big Grin

**Paid the July bills (all but one or 2) and wrote the last check to preschool, for BM. Plus they were on vacation - unpaid - for a week. & so on and so on.

HAllelujah!

IT will be more exciting next month when I pay $280 (instead of $630, for 2). IT's a "short" month. I will celebrate even more then.

Anyway, beyond that, I had enough cash to pay all the bills for June, which was good, because it was a pretty spendy month.

I expect July to be rather spendy with birthdays and such, but then again, I look forward to plumping up the kids' savings with the gifts they will no doubt receive.

**I was kind of waiting to see how the month panned out because it has been so "unusual" in a sense to see if I had any leftover for a donation.

I think I will earmark $100 of my MLM supply/going out of business sale - for the food bank. If I make more I will probably put the rest in our savings.

I told dh he could buy and sell more Wiis if he's like, to buy a Wii. I caved. Was just feeling nice I guess.

I guess I shouldn't get too excited. Dh's car is in the shop today and mine will probably go Monday. I should probably get those bills before I get too generous.

I also need to keep in mind that BM will need some school supplies and uniforms as well. I think Grandma has a lot of that covered (phew) but we'll see. I wanted to earmark $200/month to our car/house savings, now that he is out of pricey preschool. But I may need to earmark the first month for supplies. We'll see...

**I can't remember if I posted this, but with my stimulus check, my short-term savings is out of the red (pulled into the red by my 4/15 tax bill. Funny how that worked out). AND my mid-term saving fund surpassed $3k. My mid-term goal is $5k for the year and I am rather confident on that. I just wish I had more to add. Going forward, $5k annually is probably plenty. I just wish $10k cash would fall out of the sky and make up for the last few years where we have saved very little. Just a lot more catching up to do...

But yeah, dh bought his receiver and we bought a lot of camping supplies this month, etc. We went on a rather luxurious date (for us) and it was just kind of spendy. We were no doubt helped greatly by all the gas reimbursements dh's parents kept raining on him. I think $200 between all of them. Funny enough, they have BM and we are meeting them mid way to pick him up on Sunday. So yeah, I wouldn't count on more gas cash, but who knows. They must think we get TERRIBLE gas mileage. (His mom have him $60 to drive 120 miles - LOL. & his dad slipped him $40 for driving 220 miles. I guess with his "super car" (40 mpg) we are coming out way ahead. My dad slipped me $80 for Yosemite (to be fair we paid for his entire vacation otherwise) which was actually about right. IF it had been dh's parents they would have slipped us $200 for gas or something - LOL.

I had worried that we could not justify so much driving to see family. Now I am thinking we need to do it more... Wink

Camping - Part 2

June 26th, 2008 at 07:02 am

In real life I have gotten many questions about this camp. So wanted to share more.

http://www.friendsofsanjosefamilycamp.org/

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"There are over 60 wood frame and canvas covered tent-cabins scattered among the pines and oaks throughout camp. Each cabin contains cots with mattresses (no bedding), benches, a table and bookshelf and can comfortably sleep up to six campers. All cabins have decks for outdoor relaxation. Electrical outlets are available at an extra cost in some cabins.

Fully equipped restrooms are just a short walk from any cabin. All restrooms have hot showers, toilets, washbasins and changing areas for infants. There are electrical outlets in all restrooms.

The Dining Hall complex is in the heart of the camp. Here you will find the dining room, kitchen, store, recreation room, camp office, and the medical aid station. A broad, shaded patio overlooking the Tuolumne River provides the perfect spot for reading, socializing, napping, or playing ping-pong. The Dinning Hall deck is the setting for many of the summer's social activities.

Upstream from the Dining Hall a small dam which creates a swimming area in the river. Lifeguards are on duty during all scheduled swimming hours and there is a roped-off, shallow area for small children and beginning swimmers. For sun lovers there are beach and lawn areas for recreation or lounging.

Across the river from the Dining Hall complex is Miners Island and Fort Tuolumne. Both are favorites with the younger campers. Miners Island is an island where young campers can play and where the kiddie campfire is held. At the Fort Tuolumne playground (not a licensed daycare) you�ll find supervised childcare and special activities for the young campers.

In other areas of the camp you will find a volleyball court, baseball diamond, basketball court, fish cleaning station, amphitheater and of course, the river. The river provides shaded beaches, cool dark trout pools, exciting raft rides, and the relaxing sound of its water tumbling over the rocks as it flows through camp. "
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I really enjoyed the pace we found there.

We spent our time

swimming
wading in the river
hiking
watching wildlife
watching the stars at night
napping
reading
playing cards
Campfire/roasting marshmallows
BBQ Picnic in the meadow
Dropped BM off at the playground, periodically
Scavenger Hunt
"Mission Impossible" Game one night (BM's favorite part!!)
Carnival & Cake Walk (100 people - FUN!)
Ping Pong

They also had stuff like arts and crafts, archery, mini-olympics, and a lot of games we didn't compete in, mostly because the kids were too young. But I think we found a pretty good mix of relaxing and keeping it slow, while enjoying a few of the activities with the kids.

Every day they had pretty jam packed with activities, from 9am - 10pm. They also had a few organized hikes and the teens had a sleepover in the rec room, etc. Oh yes, and movie night.

It was nice to drop off the kids with our parents, periodically, as well. Just nice to have an extra set of hands and eyes. Grandma, for one, took great glee helping the kids get food in the cafeteria, which put a load off of us. So made the whole thing rather pleasant... I think dh expected his parents to take the kids more. I was pleased with the help. The kids also had a blast running between our tents and exploring the area around the tent.

Sacramento does have a family camp, but it would have cost us about the same (just more expensive, even for residents) and it was in Tahoe. We were kind of like, eh, Tahoe, we can go there any time. Our family has a cabin near there, and it is a mere 2 hour drive. (Which reminds me, they have owned the cabin 50 years and their insurer they have had for the last 50 years just dropped them due to fire danger. Don't even get me started...)

I did realize throughout the weekend that the place we stayed was really much like Tahoe anyway. Of course, we REALLY enjoyed the proximity to Yosemite. We have discussed trying both camps next year though and seeing which we preferred. Of course this could spur an addiction to family camp. There are so many in the state to try.

Beyond all that, I think we are motivated to both make it to Yosemite a little more often (more than once a decade) and to go camping a little more often (just over night/weekend trips). We have great camping areas within 1/2 hour and camping on the beach is only a couple of hours away. We realized we can easily/cheaply pull off more small camping trips. Heck, the summer is young. When I thought of camping before I was just overwhelmed by the thought of trying to cook and all that. But one night, I think we can swing once in a while.

Likewise, the kids are getting to an age where we could do weekends in the cabin a little more. Even better... IT's a rather simple one hour drive from here. I don't necessarily enjoy the drive all the way to Tahoe or Yosemite - a little treacherous.... But I realized we should take advantage a little more. IT is technically owned by dh's grandma but it is ours to use whenever. We just haven't really had the urge to use it with wee little ones in tow. It will be nice if we can organize more family things there. & even bring a tent for the kids. The 3-bedroom place was perfect for the last generation, but ours is getting a little LARGE.

Camping was Awesome!

June 25th, 2008 at 03:44 pm

Just got back and had a few pics to share, below.

We went to San Jose Family Camp, which is owned and run by the city of San Jose. We don't live there, but are from there and I guess if you are willing to pay a premium you can generally go to any family camp. I HIGHLY recommend if you have kids, and a local family camp. We just had a blast!!!!

We went with my dh's parents and my dad (my mom is just not a travel or camping type).

We had 2 tent cabins right next to each other.

What PRIME real estate!! We were a 20 mile drive from the west entrance into Yosemite. I don't think we could have stayed anywhere else so close for half the cost, so we were very pleased in that regard as well.

So MANY activities for the kids (moreso BM than LM unfortunately, but will be right up his alley next year).

The food was hit and miss, but there was PLENTY.

We paid around $600 for the 5 of us (paid for my dad) and that was about it. We needed about one tank of gas and we treated everyone to ice cream in Yosemite. Otherwise all the meals were provided. I think I spent $2 on sodas. It was a very "frugal" vacation in that regards. We were penalized because we were non-residents, so did pay more. But without my dad we would have paid less than $500, for the 3 nights. So not bad. Included, food, tent, activities, everything.

Oh yes, entrance fee to Yosemite was $20, but someone else paid. We all took one vehicle. & the shuttle there was awesome (free). So $20 to get in 7 people was NOT bad. The ice cream was very reasonable - came to $12 or something for the 7 of us as well.

Anyway, for now, I leave you with pictures... I have about 10 loads of laundry to do (dirt dirt dirt) and I return to work tomorrow.

P.S. We did get our stimulus and do I added $1800 to my savings on the left columns. $1k of it washed out the taxes I owed 4/15 and $800 went directly to our mid-term savings. May pull some out for car repairs.

Taking dh's car to the shop Friday - we could not fix ourselves since the battery (& connecting wires, etc.) were so corroded - will get some help.

Wouldn't you know, just as we packed up and started driving out to Yosemite, my car had a "check engine" light pop up. It was some other light we looked up and it said in the handbook "probably does not need towing - is a simple thing that needs fixing. Service soon." (in so many words, anyway). When we got to camp (made it - phew!) the electronic door locks stopped working AGAIN so that was all we could figure. So we have car issues to straighten out this week and next... Should have the van checked as well to make sure it is nothing more than the locks. Just glad we made it back without a tow. Wink Both our vehicles are in limbo for today...

Anyway, the pics as promised...

Here was most of the view from our camp. Just in love with the place...



Looking down on swimming hole with water fall. This was a 20-minute trek from camp (complete with rattle snakes!!). But might as well have been Hawaii - was gorgeous.



BTW - I was the only adult to brave the cold water. Yes, it is melted snow. No, it really isn't any colder than the Pacific Ocean (more north by us anyway). So I didn't find it to be so bad. IT was hot so the water was refreshing. The rest of my group were wusses.

& Yosemite. There are no words...

I had gone once as a teen (maybe 15 years ago?)

Just WOW!

I had LM duty, and wasn't exactly feeling up to a big hike, so we took an easy "hike" to the lower falls. Was gorgeous, regardless.



& Half Dome:



All this, 4 hours from our driveway...

BM and grandpa, and dh did the Vernal Falls hike, which is the lower part of the Half Dome trek. (3 hours but BM is a major hiker - he tired out about the last 15 minutes so that one was exactly his speed).

I didn't get any pictures of the Vernal Falls (they hiked to the top of the waterfall) since I had LM and the camera. But having grandpa is like having a professional photographer wherever you go. I will no doubt have some breathtaking shots to share once I get copies of his pictures. As such, I Really didn't take many pictures this trip.

We figure we will make this an annual tradition for our family. In fact, I have said many times we aren't big vacation people. Though these last few years have been rather odd in that regard for us (vacation vacation vacation - with retiring parents who like to travel). But for now we have no plans for next year and I would just love to do a half week there again. (I don't think I am tough enough to camp much longer than 3 or 4 nights - hehe. Glad to be home and have a real shower...) But we should sign up for next year as early as possible, and hit early June when the waterfalls are still strong and the weather isn't so hot.

I think if we never vacationed anywhere else, I would be content.

But, for now it's back to reality...







Shopping & Bobos

June 22nd, 2008 at 07:49 am

Stocked up on some snacks for camping. Dh got granola bars at Target (sale).

I found Raley's a much better/cheaper place to buy water toys. I stopped by Walgreens on the way, but less selection and more expensive. Well, okay then.

Stopped at Raley's for trail mix and crackers. I hadn't walked into that store in years. For one, since I don't do the shopping. Wink But we have a very nice Bel Air right down the street now, so rules out the need to go to Raley's, like ever. So it was weird going in.

I found out that our neighbors are really snobby about the self checkout lines at these stores, BTW. LOL. They have got the be kidding.

"Self checkout lines are so ghetto."

Whatevah. I guess I value my time more.

I waited in line (longer than I've ever seen there - the customer service used to be 1000% - never wait in a line). Because I had quite a few items and was just lazy. The self checkout always gives me problems. But I usually only run in for a couple of items, which is my perspective I guess. I usually LOVE to just run in and out with no human contact.

I know Bel Air has the reputation for upscale groceries, but it's a pretty big misnomer. The store is NICE and the customer service can't be beat, but they went through and shifted a big part of their inventory to "low price leaders" a few backs. I mean come on, who would shop their otherwise? We don't live in Bel Air. LOL.

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

I picked up a book at the library to peruse on my vacation. If I have time...

Bobos in Paradise. David Brooks

A slightly older book, but the title caught my attention. I just love the word "bobo." Thinking to the Peter Sellers movie - "The Bobo." Or my favorite monkey, the bonobo.

Anyway, but it looks quite interesting, beyond the title. (Bobo = Bourgeois Bohemians).

-----
"It used to be pretty easy to distinguish between the bourgeois world of capitalism and the bohemian counterculture. The bourgeois worked for corporations, wore gray, and went to church. The bohemians were artists and intellectuals. Bohemians championed the values of the liberated 1960s; the bourgeois were the enterprising yuppies of the 1980s. But now the bohemian and the bourgeois are all mixed up, as David Brooks explains in this brilliant description of upscale culture in America. It is hard to tell an espresso-sipping professor from a cappuccino-gulping banker. Laugh and sob as you read about the information age economy's new dominant class. Marvel at their attitudes toward morality, sex, work, and lifestyle, and at how the members of this new elite have combined the values of the countercultural sixties with those of the achieving eighties. These are the people who set the tone for society today, for you. They are bourgeois bohemians: Bobos. Are you a Bobo? Do you believe that spending $15,000 on a media center is vulgar, but that spending $15,000 on a slate shower stall is a sign that you are at one with the Zenlike rhythms of nature? Does your newly renovated kitchen look like an aircraft hangar with plumbing? Did you select your new refrigerator on the grounds that mere freezing isn't cold enough? Would you spend a little more for socially conscious toothpaste -- the kind that doesn't actually kill germs, it just asks them to leave? Do you work for one of those hip, visionary software companies where everybody comes to work in hiking boots and glacier glasses, as if a 400-foot wall of ice were about to come sliding through the parking lot? Do you think your educational credentials are just as good as those of the shimmering couples on the New York Times weddings page? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are probably a member of today's new upper class. Even if you didn't, you'd still better pay attention, because these Bobos define our age. Their hybrid culture is the atmosphere we breathe. Their status codes govern social life, and their moral codes govern ethics and influence our politics. Bobos in Paradise is a witty and serious look at the cultural consequences of the information age and a penetrating description of how we live now."
--------

Anyway, this really caught my attention. I can't say I know many people in the upper class, but am entrenched in the upper middle class culture of silicon valley.

I started reading the first chapter and the author really seemed to be talking much of the upper middle class as well (kind of blurring the 2, though I personally see a LARGE difference between the 2). The upper middle class are a dime a dozen where I am from. If my spouse worked we'd be upper middle class in a second. For now I feel we kind of are on the verge.

But when I think upper class, I think of maybe one or 2 clients (income $500k - $1 mil). I think of my BIL who reigns from one of the richest families in San Francisco. & they are in a completely different realm. $200k income doesn't buy much here, but you can't argue $1 million income can buy a pretty significant lifestyle. & I really know few in that boat.

Anyway, most of my friends from high school (on the intellectual side) have spent their 20s gathering degrees and traveling the world. I am surprised how firmly they wear this as a badge of honor. & how looked down I often feel upon my own traditional route, marriage, children, accountant.

(In reality my parents weren't going to support me in my 20s or buy me a useless degree, so I had little choice but to be a lot more practical. LOL).

It REALLY cracks me up though because I have friends who work at BIG corporations and make BIG bucks as engineers and such. & yet I get the sense they kind of turn up their nose at me for selling out to the Corporations.

Oh please, I make $50k a year for a small mom and pop outfit helping small mom and pop businesses. (I actually personally have NO interest in big business). & we moved two hours away for a MUCH simpler lifestyle). & yet I get the sense my friends who work for Intel and Google thing I am a corporate sell out. I am always confused how someone with twice the income can look down upon me being such a money grubber. LOL.

{I do make more money now, but this is exactly where we were at when we moved here, and when I started to notice this divide. I still make less than my big Corporate friends, obviously.}

So when I saw this book description I thought - "Bingo!" I had to read that. I didn't get far into the book before the author started expounding on EXACTLY what I have been thinking. A lot of the big corporations have done a great job appealing to the intellectual/artistic types. & yes, it's cool to villify the lawyers and accountants of the world. The new upper class is filled with engineers and artists. & they look down upon the old paradigm.

So anyway, I think this book looks fascinating and may shed some light on my old experiences. Wish I had seen it sooner...

I'll try to take less offense next time I am called a greedy accountant. Wink My friends will go on about the greedy accountants. But look at me and say, "Well, we didn't mean you." At least I am getting a little more insight where this whole thing comes from. Hard to take it personally when you understand this whole paradigm shift in class.

I just find this stuff interesting, regardless.

So Close...

June 21st, 2008 at 08:12 pm

I mentioned earlier dh listed his old projector on Craigslist.

I'd frankly take $100. Original estimate was $500 in 2005 (not too much less than original price). But being that it is 3 years later and dh is more attached to his baby than he would admit at the time yeah, I'll take anything.

Anyway, Some guy offered $250 but was driving in a solid 1.5 hours.

Dh said if he could pick it up today, it was his.

I was estatic!!

Guy found projector closer to home, so backed out at the last minute.

Bummer. Would have been perfect to pay for our new receiver.

But anyway, he had an interest of 2 or 3 people thus far, at the $300 listing. About 2 or 3 more than usual.

I am optimistic we will sell it soon. Woohoo.

Today wasn't very exciting. Preparing for camping and cleaning the house a bit.

I think dh and I have ran like 10 separate errands in the van. It is just never ending today.

I went to get a hair cut. The heat made we want a MAJOR chop. Wouldn't you know it I got there when it was closing. (Huh???). I would have gone sooner but dh needed the car all day. I remember in the past them being open later on Saturdays.

I thought to try another place on the way home, after I got ice cream. Doh. I just wasn't motivated to make ANOTHER trip out. Dh just got back from Target. We needed granola bars.

Anyway, he mentioned the Super Cuts (my arch enemy) by Wal Mart (in the worst shopping center ever - horrible parking lot). I said, eh, I don't need a hair cut that bad. LOL.

I usually go to Great Clips. I know, but I just had a horrible experience (or 2 or 3 or 4) at Super Cuts. So I just refuse to go. The Great Clips by my house, on the other hand, is awesome. I have gotten so many awesome cuts there, and pretty much no bad ones (knock on wood). Probably can be attributed to this particular franchisee. Does a good job. So, anyway. I would have been willing to stop about anywhere else, but for the ice cream. Will have to wait...

I will have to pack lots of hair scrunchies and the like. Oh I so looked forward to camping in the heat with a lighter head of hair.

If it's cold at night I guess I will appreciate my long locks. Big Grin I'll look on the bright side.

Hail to the Second Car

June 21st, 2008 at 06:55 am

Particularly since mass transit is so sub par in California, we LOVE our cars.

Anyway, I told dh once we could live with only one car and I might as well told him aliens invaded. LOL.

Life is decidedly easier and more luxurious with the second car.

Well, anyway, I had to hail the second car because it saved our date night last night.

Yesterday it was something like 100 degrees. We were going on our date night. It was going to be very expensive actually. Indian food at our favorite (albeit quite upscale) restaurant. Would be $50. Sketch comedy show for $20. Childcare - about $50.

Yes, this is why we don't go out so much. PArticularly for so long.

It was an experiment and I was worried about LM. The place tehcnically has a 13:1 ratio or something with the crowds, and I still think it is a bit much for LM. We love the place for weekdays and last minute things, but was wary about a Friday night.

BUT it's the best babysitting option we got. I know he'll be fine, just still on the young side all the same. I look forward to the worry factor notching down with time. (BM? Didn't worry about him a bit, for example).

So we dropped off the kids and I can't say I had ever seen the place so empty. IT was 6:00 though - people tend to go out later.

So we pop back in dh's car (of course - the van is sidelined for bad gas mileage).

& the thing won't start. At all.

LOL.

Dh and I just look at each other. "You have got to be kidding me."

He's like, "should I go get the kids?" Keenly aware we are paying $12.50/hour.

I look at the clock and I say we should ask for a jump, go home, and get the van.

You know, people are weird about jumps these days. We noticed this because we were stranded in the middle of nowhere once and people looked at us like we were asking them to perfom sex acts when we asked for a jump. & that was like almost a decade ago. (I seriously think people thought a "jump" was a sex act. I kid you not).

So dh says no, he is going to call AAA. I know the memories are coming back and he won't ask anyone for a jump for nothing. LOL. Plus he probably had a point, we could be there all day before we found someone brave enough to help us.

So we called AAA and this place is in a weird commercial area. IT is a REALLY weird location. So luckily dh is smart and sees a mexican restaurant across the way. We go to see what else is around, and are happy to get out of the heat.

We find an Indian pizza place. Seriously. Go figure.

We argued what to order and the cashier was a little strange (deal on a 2-topping pizza but she wouldn't let us have the topping we wanted, so we went a little round and round. LOL).

Ordered 2 mini pizzas and the tow truck guy got there with lightning speed. (Last time on the side of the FREEWAY I waited an entire hour). No doubt hurrying because of the heat, but can't figure we were high priority in front of a bunch of air conditioned establishments. Wink

So the pizza was ready right then and we took it to go. Rushed home a couple of miles and ate our food and watched some "Last Comic Standing" on the TIVO.

Dh got Tandoori chicken pizza which was okay. No upscale food, but we got a taste of Indian. We now have leftovers for the weekend. Dinner cost $15 instead of $50.

We luckily were able to make it to the comedy show we had already paid for. Phew. It was pretty good actually. The comedy troupe is from here and dh knows the main guy/director. They tried a lot of new material I guess. Since this is their home. So it was an interesting experience for that. Anyway the show was: http://coexistcomedy.com/

The whole thing is they have a Hindu, Buddhist, Athesit, Chistian and Muslim. & it's kind of like poking fun at themselves as well as a very "Why can't we just all get along?" kind of thing.

But I had to say I was pleasantly surprised. BEfore it started dh said we had seen some of them perform before, another sketch comedy. I didn't remember in the least, but I eventually remembered we had gone because I remembered the opening act (this quirky little band that was hilarious). I said, well, they were entirely forgettable, so I Was starting to think I shouldn't expect much. Their opening act outshined them last time. LOL.

So yeah, it was pretty funny.

Oh, I was going to say, wouldn't you know we had hindus, buddhists, atheists (Expected), AND muslims in our 20-person audience. It was just really interesting. No Christians so they said the Christian guy ripped on the Christians a little more than usual. Lucky us. LOL.

It was just funny.

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

Anyway, in other news, dh bought a $200 receiver yesterday. For our surround sound.

I am happy as a clam. HE had been bugging me for a $500 or so HD TIVO and we completely averted that by switching and renting a DVR. Not a big fan of renting equipment, but for now it averts a big purchase. We have no other choice since our TIVO is not compatible with satellite and everything else costs WAY more. We'll rent the DVR.

BUT he has been saving up his allowance money for a fancy $500 receiver.

So he was out yesterday and was looking for rice cookers. My mom gave me hers but it only worked once. BRand new, she didn't like the size (HUGE) and gave it to us. We used once, and then it broke. Seriously.

So back to the drawing board. We decided we'd prefer smaller anyway.

Dh said he went a few places like Target, Walmart, Bed Bath Beyond and they really didn't have much.

He remembered Fry's (the electronic store, mind you) had cookware. We got our crock pot there at a steal. He said they seriously had 20 rice cookers there. I would have never even known to look for cookware there. Seriously? LOL. So he picked one up for $20.

But while he was there he had to of course check receiver prices. New upgrades coming up and prices are coming down. He was planning to save his pennies all year for one. So he finds one in an open box for something like $189. He called me and I think he felt bad about it. I said, "Can you return it if it doesn't work?" He says, "yes." I say, "just buy the flipping thing."

I think he was feeling some guilt, but this is something he had been planning to buy for months if not years, and all of a sudden it is $300 off. Just buy the stinking thing!

So yeah, it works fine and was not missing anything. What a STEAL!

He said he perused online and the best he saw was $260 refurbished.

It was silver and he would have preferred black. He said, I'd pay a $10 premium for black, but oh well. Not $80." !!

So I am happy as a clam. For $200 spent, suddenly dh does not want to buy $1k in equipment. Phew!!!!!!

Anyway, he told me he would offer his old receiver to family/friends first. If not we could maybe get $50 for it. (At least offer our dads who gave us a lot of free equipment last weekend).

& he has some really fancy new receiver for the theater room. They are rolling out the new upgraded models for $500 but dh said there was nothing on the new models he wanted. So it goes. That's how we buy our electronics. He had been waiting for prices to come down. LAst year would have been $500 for the same thing.

I told dh, not so fast though. I asked him how old his old receiver was. Bought in 2000...

Okay, well, we have one for our stereo that I bought as a teen. I am like, "Are you sure you don't want to upgrade that one? Could be 20 years old."

Dh said- "That thing? Your receiver is WAY better than this piece of crap. They don't make them like that any more."

Thus, we are getting rid of the 8-year-old one and keeping the 20-year-old one.

This is why we don't spend that much for all the electronics we have. We tend to keep most of the stuff forever. As this new one is better for the sound and has better HD stuff (way over my head, but from what I gather) I would hope it lasts a LONG while as well...

---------

Oh anyway, on the car. IT's a 2001 Ford with about 90k miles. We have never replaced much but the tires. I had a 1982 Toyota for many years with a million miles, and little things always needed replacing. So I don't *get* this car in the least. We take it in frequently for a look over, and I am always amazed that we have like never replaced anything but the tires.

So if the battery is old, so be it. I guess they just make them so they last forever these days. That is still foreign to me since we drove old cars so long.

We think the contacts on the battery are just corroded, and my dad is visiting tomorrow so he will help us diagnose and fix. It figured the car died at 6pm on a Friday, when our repair shop is closed for the weekend. But my dad will save the day. Phew!!! Hoping it is just the battery - that will be easy enough to fix.

we were going to drive the compact to Yosemite, and had decided against it. Well, now I think we have no choice. LOL. Van it is... We'll worry about the Ford when we get back.

& yeah, if we have to jump the car with the van, then so be it. To get it to the mechanic - I think we have it covered.

Hail to the second car, life goes on...






Dates/Food

June 19th, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Tomorrow I have TWO dates. Woohoo!

I am meeting a friend for lunch.

Dh and I have been trying to schedule a date for a very small comedy tour. Final weekend this weekend. We keep forgetting things (like we were planning last Friday but didn't put 2 and 2 together he was going to be out of town - doh).

So today we went for a walk in the evening and on the way home I remembered. I said - "Isn't tomorrow our date night?" Dh said, "Indian food and everything???" He is so excited. Going to our favorite fancy restaurant (don't remember the last time) and then to the play. Almost forgot... We'll see if I remember.

Ugh. Just so busy busy busy. But that is one thing we just need to do, or else before you know it June is over, and no date!

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

Dh has been busy selling Wiis. His profit thus far (gas considered) is around $200. Unfortunately, it's not all cash. A lot of it is just more stuff.

But he's a happy camper.

For this month I am using it to pay the satellite and whatnot. Mostly will be double billed this month as we change things over. Canceling the cable tomorrow, and hoping for a pro-rated bill.

But satellite charged 2 months up front.

ATT charged $50 for the modem.

So I figure we'll cover all this.

I know it will straighten out in the next couple of months - no satellite or cable bill next month. But it is driving me nuts. My budget and set up is "just so" and I don't like it when things rock the boat. I have plenty of cash, but I just don't want to mess with the SYSTEM! Likewise, dh took $400 cash from checking to buy and sell crap. He was all ready to put back $500 yesterday, but he went and bought another Wii. So he is driving me nuts too.

With the stimulus check I may just give him seed money. Problem with that is if I am not a nazi over the money, it tends to disappear. Wink For now he knows I need that $400 back to pay the bills 6/30. I think it's good for him to have a deadline and a dollar amount over his head. Or else before I know it our house is going to be filled with more video game systems and games, in trade. It's already started...

On the flip side, dh is happy as a lamb, and less pressure on me.

For now it's putting pressure off of me, and helping the weird June budget a bit. For the long term we need a real system. x% of profits go to retirement or something. He wants more electronic crap (his big sacrifice of late). I want more retirement savings (my big sacrifice of late). Whenever we talk we are on the same page, but yesterday he told me he was tempted to keep one Wii. So I have to keep a sharp eye on that boy.

I admit he enjoys the freedom of making his own money, and I don't fault him for that. (I admit I am a bit of a control freak too). But since 100% of my income goes to the household, I do have issue with extras going to benefit just him. But this is always a bone of contention with us. I don't want a lot of "stuff" so I can live without, and he struggles more with it.

We'll find a compromise. I think it will mean more in future months when things settle down and the big one is out of preschool. For now I have vacation bills, medical bills, birthdays and camping coming up. Our date will be a bit of a splurge. For now it's just going to the household and us. But August - November is a pretty slow spend time of year for us, so if he can sell some more during that time I really do hope to plump the savings more.

We've also been talking about donating a little more to charity. So, we'll see.

Dh did wedding videos to buy his fancy video camera way back when and has done a lot of editing work to pay for his editing system. It seems fitting he would buy and sell Wiis in order to buy a Wii. This is why I usually have little complaint about his electronic haven. What percentage of our working income pays for this stuff? Not much. IT comes from the gravy. BUT sometimes I do admit I wish he had the same passion for our retirement fund. LOL. He's a saver, but since we have had kids, it's the electronics that motivate him way more. I guess in a sense he is retired. So what does he care?

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

Ugh. Changing over my e-mail is turning into a week-long project.

I got most of it done, but told dh he could call and cancel the cable tomorrow.

My old e-mail does not work on the "send" anymore anyway. very frustrating.

I think I seriously need to keep a log of where I keep e-mails. For future changes. I am sure I forgot much. I feel like I changed it with 50 businesses/organizations.

Anyway, to top it off, I saw today yahoo rolled out "ymail." I didn't see it until late in the day, but I was able to come up with a much more acceptable "professional" e-mail close to my name. So though I had already e-mailed all my family and friends, I change it again on them. Yup.

I'll have to go back to all the financial institutions eventually too.

Just tired of it all for now. Whatevah!

My work mentioned the other day changing our e-mails to fight the spam - just so out of control. I don't think I could take it. I need one stable e-mail address!

Though the idea of a spamless ymail sounds pretty divine about now. I guess I could get used to it for a while.

-----------

I actually cooked dinner tonight. Sloppy joes and corn on the cob with onion/butter rub. YUMMY! Corn is just not something we usually have, but I have been bugging dh. HE said the corn (husked) was about $4 for the 4 of us. I told him we need corn once a week from now on. I am not a big veggie person, but corn on the cob is just the best. When I like veggies, I must partake in them more. Maybe once every other week...

I think our grocery bill will seriously be under $300 this month. Don't ask me how...

It's $150 to date. We're all eating out tomorrow. Going to a party Sunday to eat. We're going camping for a few days. I doubt we will even hit $300, since will probably only hit the store once or twice more before July.

I feel less bad for buying so much food at that Tastefully Simple party. It hasn't arrived yet, but will probably lower the july grocery bill a bit since I did get so much food.

It's just bizarro.

Our gas bill, on the other hand, will be insane. Dh drove 80 miles today, round trip, to pick up a Wii. We're driving to Yosemite in a few days. San Jose? Twice.

But dh's parents already gave him $100 for gas and since we paid for my dad's entire camping trip, he decided to ride up with us and pay our gas. We will have to take the van, but will probably be nice to have it.

So it's been a good month overall, financially. Though everything is topsy turvy. Funny how it all works out...

I told dh if he could keep up that kind of grocery bill every month, he could spend the difference on whatever his heart desires. LOL. I said he deserved a gold star.

I think it is just the kind of thing where sometimes we really stock up on stuff on sale, and other months means less to buy. But I think this month will be a record low for us.

We haven't been eating out either, so it's just weird.

I do admit LM has had little appetite lately. Since he can usually eat like a grown man, could be much of it.

Then again, BM tried to eat us out of house and home today (1.5 ears of corn, 2 servings of sloppy joes, and a sandwhich and some fruit and pickles. Dinner. EGADS!) He was sick Tuesday so we just figured he was catching up.

Then again, I think last Thursday they told me he had 6 servings of lunch at preschool. Seriously.

Since the food is included, we should get our money's worth at camp. Between him and my dad. & dh really. Yeesh. My stomach is small so buffets are wasted on me. But the boys in the family will get their money's worth...

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

Dh made some kind of meat-stuffed zucchini last night. IT wasn't horrid. I could force down half of one.

His mom makes this lasagna that I believe is zucchini, in place of pasta. I can't stand the stuff, though most people like it. So I was very skeptical. But I tried it and it wasn't so bad.

I think Saturday we are having a greek dinner (new recipes form our Best of Home magazine).

I feel quite spoiled on the food front. Well except for that zucchini. LOL.

We had chicken soup and dumplings the other day.

But yes, Indian Food, Greek, and BBQ. Oh, what a divine weekend...

& how could I forget? Japanese buffet for lunch. Got my coupon. Hadn't been in a while...

---------

My stimulus is to be mailed by tomorrow.

I am betting on Monday. In the mail box Monday...

We'll see.

Timing is good because I am paying off a $4k balance transfer 6/30. That stimulus check will replace half of it, so I shouldn't take such an interest hit.

I still have my big momma transfer with the awesome CD rate until December or so... So I should get that interest boost through the end of the year. Of course it would be nice to keep it, but now that we feel more on track financially, it will be less needed to going forward. Phew.

The balance transfers were a tad outside of my comfort zone. But at this point I could say that was the easiest money I have made in the last couple of years. Big Grin I am glad I reached outside my comfort zone...

Didn't even really ding my FICO like I expected. All I learned is there is no apparent rhyme or reason to FICO. It has bounced around between 700 and 770 the whole time I had the transfers. I haven't found a pattern. Last month I had the highest balance and worst utilization and my score was 730. The month before it was 701 and I have no idea why. But 6 months in between it was mostly up to 750-760. Eh. So you know, obviously something really dinged my score that one month. I have no idea what. I was dreading the following month with my $1500 vacation expenses on our regular card, in addition to all the rest and usual, and then my score went up 30 points that month.

So, yeah, I have always said that if you have a good score you don't have to freak out about every little thing. I will now go as far as to say I wouldn't even worry about a balance transfer. (or many transfers).

Logically my score should jump up with these balance transfers paid off. I am just not holding my breath. IT doesn't really matter anyway...

But yeah - I expect to replace the $4k by the end of the year (money saved).

The $10k (big momma) will be a while to replace in savings, but in the next year or 2 I expect to have that much in the bank without the transfers. Maybe interest rates will improve a bit. They have been pretty in the toilet for the last decade though... But certain years have been better. For the long run I want to grow much of our savings with interest.

Switching E-mails/Big Feet

June 18th, 2008 at 07:27 am

I am in e-mail hell.

Our internet is not working so well (our new DSL) and we have a tech coming out today to take a look. My dh is pretty tech savvy, but this is over his head.

A shame, because it is the cheapest service we have found. I guess if you have any internet suggestions, let me know. But we like it FAST. (Not resorting to dial up - hehe).

If it cost more than $10 it cost more than our old setup though. *sigh* I think this is $25 monthly. $20 or $25.

For now we are trying ATT.

Anyway, so I told dh I would just switch all my a-mails to my yahoo account. If I need a more firm address I at least I have my work e-mail. Dh will be out of luck.

Anyway, I am very overwhelmed with this change.

Dh has this habit of never deleting old e-mails. So all his "real" e-mails for the last few years sit in hi in-box.

It drives me nuts because I check my e-mail in the same place.

I now realize this is genius. I need to weed through my PILES of junk mail to refresh my memory who all has my old e-mail so I can notify them of the change.

UGH!

I was trying to remember why I only remember doing this once.

Oh yes, I had an aol account for the first 10 years I had e-mail. Eventually I switched over to our cable e-mail accounts because I was sick of junk mail.

I welcome the change, but will be sorry to gunk up my yahoo with potential junk too.

I have a gmail account with a faux name for communities where I prefer to remain anonymous. So for here, nothing will change.

But anyway, yes, I remember on my maternity leave with BM, that I switched my e-mail over. I remember writing down a list of like 20 entities to make sure I changed my e-mail with.

Today, I wouldn't even know where to begin. The last 5 years we have come such an e-mail society.

I wouldn't be surprised if I am on 100 mailing lists of sorts.

Also, I am noticing that if you change your e-mail they want to confirm with your old e-mail account. Oy vey.

I will try to knock out as much as possible this week. I really want to cancel our old cable and e-mail. Seems like they should give you a grace period to check e-mail and work this stuff out. Maybe they do... I don't know.

But I am overwhelmed with this project. Particularly since I would prefer to move everything over to our new internet account eventually.

!!

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I have been terrible on the exercise front.

I thought maybe I would try to go to aerobics last night, but the freeway is closed again and as I guessed it was a traffic nightmare.

I started heading that way, and quickly gave up.

I hadn't brought my gym stuff though - I should have known.

I took LM for a walk instead. Will try the gym tonight.

I got my new shoes from zappos.com. 3rd pair I tried. I have been new shoe shopping for MONTHS.

You don't know how much I wish now I had bought a 2nd pair of my old shoes. They just don't make them any more. At almost 3 years, they are giving up the ghost.

Anyway, these shoes fit, but it's about all the good I can say about them. *sigh* I am giving them a try, and if they by some miracle become extremely comfortable, I night buy another pair or 2 for the future. Wink Certainly I will if I ever find such a PERFECT pair of shoes again, as my last ones.

Yeah, it took months just to find a pair of shoes that FIT. My experience with zappos.com was much better last time (more helpful reviews on the site). BUT I would literally order shoes at 7pm and they would arrive the next morning (no shipping charges). They also make it easy to return at no charge. I have 2 to return and one pair that actually fit and for now I am breaking them in... So zappos itself is great. But their review system doesn't seem to be as helpful as it was in the past.

I see part of the problem. Someone gave these shoes 5 stars in every category though in their review they state that the shoes are "just okay."

There should be a law. LOL. Don't give things 5 stars if they are just okay. Yeesh.

But mostly I am fed up that 19 of 20 reviewers would say shoes are true to size, when they aren't.

I mean seriously, are my feet growing or something??? I have been a solid 9-9.5. But I ended up with 10s. I don't usually have to get wides in tennies, but I guess now I do. I seriously feel like the shoes are getting smaller. Wink I guess it could be me...

Anyway, when I found zappos, it was the first time I could order a shoe and it was perfect on the first try. I guess I had a fair amount of luck my last couple of purchases... So this round is rather frustrating.

I even hit a few stores in an effort to save money.

YEah, so much for that! Never again... Shoes online - only online. Thank goodness for zappos.com They do make it easy.

Tuesday Update

June 17th, 2008 at 01:37 pm

I am really enjoying the weather. !!

I know, July/August will be hell.

But in the few years we have lived here, often May and June have been rather unbearable.

I checked yesterday's weather out of curiosity.

It was 90 during the day & 50 overnight (Fahrenheit).

90 isn't the most fun during the day, but there's also just been a nice 24/7 cooler breeze.

Anyway, we haven't bothered to turn on the A/C until dinner time (start to feel hot while cooking). IT's on very briefly.

We have been flipping on the A/C upstairs, just before bed. Just on long enough to cool the upstairs from 85 or so, to 80. I keep going to bed feeling rather warm, and waking up rather chilly (with the cat sleeping on all my covers - figures). It's been a "chilly" 78 when I wake up - meaning, it feels a little cooler than that. Quite a difference from a stuffy 80 degrees.

It's been just cool enough to make the house bearable most of the day, without any air.

We could probably make do without the A/C if we just opened the windows in the evening...

Likewise, we're going to be gone for a few days camping, so I don't expect much of an electric bill for June. The month is half over and only one more week to pay for electricity...

Yay!

That is the one thing I just have had the hardest time since we moved. We come from "70 year round" weather. There is just no comparison. *sigh*

But this year is on the milder side of our experience here. So I am really much happier this year.

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

With our cable all up in the air, I haven't been able to update anything in Quicken for quite a few days. (Something got disconnected when the satellite guy was here - I don't keep the data on my laptop) and dh was gone for a day, and well, he just got it all hooked back up again yesterday.

So this morning I updated all my balances and kept an eye on everything.

I don't like getting so behind. I generally check my credit card balances every couple of days, before I start forgetting what older charges were...

There weren't many charges the last few days, and nothing I had to think too hard about, so phew...

What I was surprised by was our grocery bills for the month though. We have only spent $70 in June thus far.

I said last month it seemed a little high considering how much we had eaten out, and all that.

I figured this month might be a "normal" month and we would see what was really going on.

Well, never mind on that. Nothing normal about only spending $70 for the first 2 weeks of the month. Wink

I admit dh was going to shop today, but we will be gone a few days camping (all food already prepaid).

So, um, yeah, I think it will be a low grocery month.

All I can figure was we overbought last month... Food to spare. But that is mostly dh's department, so I don't really know.

I hope dh spent $100 today though, so I can get my 25 cent gas coupon on the next van fill up. I could probably drive it quite a few more weeks without a fill up (or I Should say, I could probably not drive it much) but we are considering driving it up top Yosemite.

We'll see...

Dh has mastered the $50 grocery bill. Which is fine. Every time we fill up one of our cars we at least have a 10 cent coupon. But hitting $100 once a month is perfect for the van. I assumed he must have hit $100 today - since we have like no June groceries!!

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Work work work

I am just in vacation mode at work.

Today feels like the first time in FOREVER that I could just relax at work and take a breather.

Imagine that?

On the flip side, I did a lot of grunt work yesterday and today cleaned out my office a bit.

I just found piles of old stuff that fell by the way side in the craziness of 2007. 2007 was just some super crazy year.

So this kind of bums me out. Though I am feeling a little more relaxed and caught up, I feel overwhelmed by my long-term To Do List.

Then again, if it has waited this long...

So I am in this weird spot where things are good, but I have a TON to do. STILL catching up from 2007 tax season from hell...

You know, the funny thing is, as I started to catch up, I started to wonder, just what would I do all summer?

The thought right now just makes me giggle.

I have enough chargeable work to fill up the summer. I have a new employee to help train (lots of time). & I have a couple of years of side projects left by the wayside.

I don't think I will lack for much to do.

Anyway, July is a deadline month, I have vacation coming up, and I have some nasty August projects.

I honestly feel like I could work some overtime.

I may attempt some week day overtime. But I am enjoying my weekends WAY too much.

I do get paid overtime so I should probably take some early mornings and take advantage. I'll think on it...

Problem is whenever I do that, I get antsy on Friday and leave early. LOL. I am just not so motivated to push the 40-hour envelope.

It's also no fun to be the only one here before 8 and after 5. At least during tax season I have lots of company. Wink

But yeah, haven't updated on work much. IT's just been pretty busy, but I Feel like I turned a corner this week. I have a few client things to work on rest of June, but all the big & important stuff is done. Woohoo!

House SOLD!!

June 16th, 2008 at 06:08 pm

Tales from Foreclosure-ville...

Our immediate neighbor's house foreclosed a couple of months ago (will have to peruse my blog for the exact date).

Anyway, was notable because was the first "personal" foreclosure. Certainly the BEST neighbor ever, and were sad, and shocked, to see him disappear into the night.

Likewise, was also an original neighbor whose house foreclosed for way more than the current value. Was notable as a large percent of foreclosures seem to be people who used their homes as ATMs as opposed to the few who bought too high. This is the first one of note in our immediate neighborhood. (EVERY single home that was bought for more than $600k is now bank owned. So those are expected).

Anyway, this morning I noticed a car in front of the house, and looked closer noting the "for sale" sign was gone (hmmmm, I think it had been gone for a while though I just didn't notice). The key lock box was gone from the front door.

On my return home from work there was a new neighbor putting fertilizer on the dead yard.

Well, that is a nice start.

Didn't see them move in, but was 2 cars tonight. I assume they are in process.

Dying to know the sales price.

As I perused the web in hopes the sale was old and on record (no luck) I noticed quite a few of the same model homes still for sale. Some of the other ones have been listed for YEARS. I noticed three that were asking upwards of $375k. For the smallest model. Don't ask me the size, but 3 bedrooms and the small ones of the neighborhood.

This one was asking $280k or so. It will be interesting to see what it sold for.

Since we owe $209k for a house twice the size, I am not shaking in my boots yet.

We're also still just glad we didn't have to pay $500k+ for a starter home (back home). so the value of our house really means little to us. The payment is quite reasonable. That is what matters!!

But it is still nice to know we have some decent equity, all the same...

(I am just recapping for new readers - I am aware I am a broken record. Wink )

So, anyway, I am very happy with our brush with Foreclosureville. There are a few houses sitting around, but so far that is the only one on our street and I am glad the bank had the sense to price it well and turn it around FAST.

Yay!!!!!!!

Some neighbors mowed the lawns a couple of times, but otherwise it wasn't much problem.

I worry that there will be more. I did a search on something like realtytrac.com (not sure exactly where). I put in my zip code and there were just THOUSANDS of homes - REO. I zoomed in on our little community and it was something like 10% home bank owned and 10% pre-foreclosure.

Seriously.

The good thing is our immediate neighborhood is holding out well.

Then again, even in our community, looking at the map, I saw a couple of streets with whole ROWS of homes in foreclosure. Egads.

I think some of our immediate neighborhood is faring on the better side because we were the BOTTOM phase. Meaning we were one of the first few to move in, in 2001. I forget a lot of the houses around here weren't even finished until much closer to the peak in home prices. Those neighborhoods are going down in flames.

Ouch!

So we are lucky a large percentage of our neighbors bought before house prices went too crazy.

It remains to be seen how many didn't borrow more or take on more than they could handle.

I have the feeling there will be much more to come.

Looking at that map, I am thankful our street is hanging on though. I don't want to live on a street with a bunch of foreclosures in a row. I won't rule out the possibility though. Unfortunately.

ETA: Our neighbor foreclosed about 60 days ago. Found the original entry in my blog.

Not bad.

Relaxing Weekend

June 16th, 2008 at 07:49 am

Still feeling relaxed...

I think we have been a little distracted with having a "baby" in the house. We saw a couple of BM's younger friends swimming like fish this weekend. Another one knows how to ride a bike (well he is a couple of months older).

BM is getting pretty confident in the water though, and swim lessons will be icing on the cake.

I told dh he should work on his bike riding with him.

To be fair, my parents gave up on me. It took me like 5 years to learn how to ride a bike. LOL. It's funny. I usually pick up things pretty fast, but biking was not my thing. So in my head I am thinking you are like 10 when you learn to ride a bike. Wink

These are single children. It's all I could figure. I wonder how we got so terribly behind (or are we?).

Well I think it would be quite an accomplishment if BM could swim and ride a bike by end of summer. Things to work on.

I thought once you got potty training out of the way, things would be simple. There is still much to learn. LOL.

Anyway, speaking of potty training, things are going swimmingly with BM. We take a VERY relaxed approach with potty training. People keep asking what we are doing, or MIL, why aren't we doing more. Everyone's got their charts and stickers.

We don't really push it. There isn't much to our "method." It is the "when you are ready" method.

So anyway, BM was trained 24/7 before the time he was 3.

& surprisingly, LM is rapidly approaching that same end. He was a lot more slow and timid on the potty, so I didn't expect much. But peer pressure is kicking in I guess.

Warning - TMI:

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

Anyway, I bring it up, because both our kids were #1 on the potty well before 3 - got it down. But they both refused to #2 on the potty. This is the problem with our method. LM takes it a step farther because he refuses to #2 with anyone around. It means he has worn underwear for a long time because he only #2s at night in his diapers. Phew. BUT he refused to #2 the entire time we were in Disneyland because he was sharing a bed with BM. Egads. (Our conclusion...)

Anyway, he couldn't have had better timing, but yesterday he asked to go #2 on the potty. We had told him for a LONG time we would take him out for ice cream when he did. Dh exclaimed this was the best Father's Day present ever (gross, but you know, means the end of diapers is very near - he really only uses them for #2). So anyway, it was nap time, and we had all just unwound from our busy day, and so we all threw on our clothes and got dressed back up to go get ICE CREAM. As promised!

We had offered him fancy ice cream and I had even found a $2 Baskin Robins gift certificate over the weekend. BUT he just wanted to go to thrifty for their 99 cent ice cream (which is DIVINE). Good choice.

So, woohoo!

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

Anyway, yes, so dh got the best gift ever. LOL.

Well, Saturday night when the fam got home the kids played outside with sidewalk chalk and ran in the sprinklers. It is becoming a nightly ritual really - let them run around outside. I don't think our yard was great for smaller kids, but I am pleased how it is evolving into a great play place for them. I Can actually sit at the kitchen table with a laptop and relax and keep an eye on them. But the shade in the evening is great (it usually bugs me you can't go outside without melting during the day, but I realize soon enough they will be in school and all that anyway. I guess the shade in the evening is what matters).

The weather has been DIVINE. This is not the June Sacramento weather I am used to. Warm, but nice cool breezes. Unusually cool for June, I think. LOVING it. I was just telling dh if this was how summer was, I could deal.

I took the kids to Fairytale Town yesterday in the a.m., to get out of dh's hair. The freeway is closed again for major repair (a few more weeks off and on) so we had to take a bit of a detour and wasted gas. It's usually such a quick drive. But oh well!!

We were going to see this puppet show there, but the show was rather late. Decided to head home instead.

The weather was PERFECT. Wearing shorts, nice breeze, not cold, not hot. Was just right.

We came home and got dressed for the pool and headed to a community BBQ. ("Free" Food!!!).

I worried it wasn't quite enough to swim, and then sweltered on the walk over there. With a newer neighborhood we just have NO shade. It was HOT on the walk.

They had a bounce house and the kids just had a blast. Ate and got in the pool. Not sure I ever saw it so CROWDED. (We usually go in the mornings and there is no one there). But yeah, just packed, but it was still fun.

I told dh I could see hanging out there and really enjoying if there was ANY shade. We just need more shade. Life would be good with shade.

Who builds a luxury community in SACRAMENTO with no shade? LOL. It will decades before the trees mature to create REAL shade.

Came home, went to ice cream.

Oh yes, and I made dinner. Tried a new recipe called "Spicy Bronzed Chicken" and it was DIVINE. Was about 10 spices mixed up. Dip the chicken in butter (yes, BUTTER) and sprinkle with spice. I rounded it out with pasta roni (because we had some and I am terrible at planning ahead).

Not Bad.

I also did 4 loads of laundry. The first one came out with all this "gunk" and I was at a loss to what it was. Oh, hindsight 20/20. I threw it in the dryer - I didn't see much. Well, when I pulled it out I found the culprit. A DIAPER!!!!!!!!!! We were lucky it did little damage. Dh decided MIL had thrown it in with the dirty clothes (like underwear). Ugh.

I tried to do most of dh's work yesterday, and I have to say, I came out exhausted. Admittedly, he was behind on laundry. LOL. HE has been so distracted by our cable situation (spent all day working on our new internet - having issues). & so the dishes and laundry were way behind. I didn't even attempt dishes. HE has today to catch up a bit.

But I told him I did his work all day and was exhausted. Sometimes a day like that is good to extra appreciate all he does.

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

I spent a good chuck of the weekend clearing the house of crap. BUT the house looks like HELL!!!!!!!!

LOL.

It just looks awful.

I got some clutter to clear now.

We have been ordering a lot of stuff for our camping trip and such, so just lots of boxes and stuff everywhere. I have so been enjoying the time to do deep cleaning, the surface stuff has gotten wildly out of control.

For that, I still feel overwhelmed.

I feel like we will never catch up! But we'll keep at it. A little at a time...

--------

My Craigslist sales are up to $30 today. (Sold some prints).

I was trying to sell them with some crib bedding/decor. I think it is adorable, but it is pretty unique. I know if I find that right buyer I can get a good price for it. But I might have to just give it away. Frown

Too bulky to ship ebay. Though it might be a better venue... *sigh*

I'll just leave it up on Craigslist for a month or something. There's got to be someone out there with my taste in baby room decor. LOL. I will probably steadily decrease the price too. I am the point where I just need to get rid of stuff. !!!!! Though this was something we paid much for and is really nice. So it sucks to give it up for nothing. Bah.

I imagine this is how many people feel much of the time. Most of our baby stuff we bought used and sold for what we paid for it. So, I think this is why this is so extra disheartening. My NICE stuff is useless???? LOL. Yeah, that's why we usually don't buy baby stuff we can't turn around fast.

If dh gets to selling all the strollers we may clear $100 this week. We paid $20 or so for each of them, used, so I think we can clear $20 each too. Will help make up for the crib stuff not selling...

We've already turned around a few strollers because we bought a few to try them out until we settled on what we kept. Just kept buying/selling. Once they are used they keep their resale value pretty well.



Relaxed & Overwhelmed

June 14th, 2008 at 02:25 pm

I am still feeling a little overwhelmed.

Dh took the kids to San Jose to surprise his mom. She is now officially RETIRED. His dad will work a few more years to secure his pension.

So they went up to surprise her and take her to dinner last night.

So I am feeling very relaxed.

I am getting better at nights alone. I lived her a good year pretty much alone and really, before marriage and kids, I was quite happy to be alone.

BUT I find since having kids, the whole thing about being alone is very WEIRD.

I just remember like a year ago they went to San Jose without me (a very rare deal) and I looked very forward to my quiet night. Instead, I was so lonely I almost drove down late at night to join them. !!!

So even now I still find myself about the same. Looking forward to my time alone, and certainly planning to enjoy, and then it not being near as enjoyable as I imagined.

Today was a little better.

Last night I just vegged out. Got a really good night sleep too. But felt lonely.

I woke up and was feeling rather lazy so watched a movie. I then turned the TV off and got into gear.

I've had a few days alone, even an entire week, and I have found myself entirely unproductive. Just exhausted I guess. I generally collapse in a heap of laziness.

Today I was feeling much more motivated.

In my quest to clean the house, I decided to hit the theater room. Dh has a lot of crap in there, that I wouldn't know where to start, and that he would be angry if I went through. So I didn't know how useful this task would be, but the room has been bugging me.

I went through and found a lot of empty boxes and trash and stuff. So I cleaned up, vacuumed, and dusted in there. Not a lot to the room, and still cluttered with all his crap, but look SO MUCH better.

In the family room I also deep cleaned. Not a lot to it in here. Dh peeves me because he piles so much stuff on top of the entertainment center. So I went through and re-arranged some things. Left a few things and toys up there, but it looks much nicer.

I went through all the drawers in the kitchen and made a half-hearted attempt to clean out some old crap. I need a solid DAY to do a good job. But it was a start.

Found some interesting stuff...

So ended up with a large bag to donate and a large bag of trash (not to mention 2-3 bags of recycled paper. Yikes).

I feel overwhelmed, because this was the kind of work that felt good, and really needed to be done. BUT there is little to show for it. It looks slightly better, but not "worked for 3 hours straight" better. Bah.

Likewise, I am thinking about all the work I want to do in the kids rooms and everywhere else in the house. Just feeling overwhelmed.

Most of this stuff has taken a huge backseat with the kids. With small kids I struggled to get much of anything done around the house. So I know logically, when I get a little more caught up, it won't be so bad. In the meantime, just feel very overwhelmed with my "To Do" list.

Paint/Fix Kids' Rooms
Camping trip coming up
Kids' Birthday Parties
Swim Lessons

On & on & on...

June & July will be a bit crazy.

Part of me just wants to relax and enjoy the summer, but I also know I usually don't get this much time, and I have much else to do.

Anyway, even with all this running through my head, I feel quite RELAXED. A day with no kids or husband was quite relaxing. So that is the good. In the end I feel this strange mixture of relaxation along with my feeling overwhelmed. Since when could I just veg out all night and have a couple of hours peace to enjoy a movie. (Or to clean house - which was why I took advantage).

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Well, it is HOT here. It was about 82 last night when I got home, and I was quite proud I didn't need the A/C.

Of course, I went to bed and it felt rather hot, so I flipped it on. Wouldn't you know, it was 87 up there??? Hottest day of the year thus far. No idea how hot it was outside, but 87 was pretty sweltering inside.

IT took a good while to cool off the upstairs to 80. I turned it off and worried I would wake up sweating, but it cooled down enough overnight. Woke up and it was below 80. Phew.

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Tomorrow is Father's Day. I thought it was next weekend for some weekend (assumed). So an entirely unprepared.

For my dad, we paid for his camping trip. We are going with both our parents.

I don't know what dh has in mind for his dad.

I bought dh a T-Shirt. One of his stupid shows had a "T Shirt of the Month" club. Something like $250 for 13 shirts. For one, 13 shirts is like more than one would ever need (I'd be fairly certain more than the number he owns tight now. His wardrobe is very small). So though he could use some shirts and was tempting, it was a bit pricey. He just thought the idea was cool anyway.

So I decided I would buy him the first one, maybe pick out a couple more (you can pick and choose if you prefer - no discount for the bulk anyway - so why bother).

Anyway, but the shirt hasn't arrived yet. I thought I had another week! Bummer.

The kids made him the most adorable cards at preschool though.

I was thinking tomorrow taking the kids to the park or out so dh can sleep in and enjoy the peace and quiet. I had asked him if he wanted us to disappear for the day, but I think it is less of a luxury now that he gets 2 free days a week with the kids in school. He was kind of like, he'll get Monday off, so why bother. He'll be fine.

But I will probably take them out in the morning for a bit. He likes to sleep in and the kids can be rather loud. Wink

I also think I will cook dinner.

Something I haven't done for a LONG while. I rather enjoy cooking, but since I have 1000 other things to do, and dh does it so well, it's just something I never really do any more.

I also haven't been perusing our new cooking mags so much. But one arrived yesterday so I perused it in the peace and quiet vegging state I was in:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/simple-delicious-magazine/archive...

Oh my! Where to begin.

Spicy Hummus
Beer Cheese Bread
Blueberry Poppy seed Cake
Salami Pasta Salad
Corn on the Cob butters
Berry gealtin mold (beautiful - perfect for party)
peanutbutter cup s'mores
ice cream cakes/pies galore

The kids' birthday party is coming up and we made some ice cream cakes from this mag last year. So easy and what a HIT! We got the idea after being turned off by the high price of ice cream cake. But it is always 110 degrees on the kids' birthday. & making them ourselves ended up pretty easy and cheap.

So anyway, those were a hit, and we have some new ones to try this year.

They had one where it looked like watermelon (ice cream was layered with green, and red ice cream with chocolate chips. So CUTE and easy.

Cutest berry gelatin dessert thing. (Simple but looks like you slaved over kind of thing).

So I am getting LOTS of ideas for the party.

Lots of simple appetizers, as usual I guess.

Anyway, they had a great looking spicy chicken recipe as well. So I may be brave and cook dinner tomorrow night, for dh. The chicken looks awesome. I guess I will peruse the website to find a pasta dish to go with it. Didn't really see much in this issue. But some pasta and chicken sounds great. We'll let dh have a break from the cooking tomorrow.

But yeah, we heavily relied on these magazines - subscribe to 2 - to transfer to home cooking from more of a fast food household. The first thing we did to revamp our budget when I became pregnant with our first at the same time dh was laid off. More home cooking. Saved tons of $$$$$$$$$.

So I mention them as much as we can. For now we have a huge arsenal of tried and true recipes, but love trying new things too. It is never boring at our dinner table. Wink

Our other mag (a gift actually) is "Light & Simple" which has all the healthy meals. This other one is clearly not the "healthy" mag. Probably why I likey so much.

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Aside from gas for that long drive, I don't expect to spend much this weekend. The fam no doubt had a few free meals with the fam yesterday and today. Tomorrow we have a BBQ to go to (just walking there).

Dh is volunteering tonight and I may take the kids downtown, so a wee bit of driving around here too. But otherwise don't foresee forking over any cash. Phew.

ETA: Dh is home and his dad gave him $40 for gas.

Well, okay then! That makes $100 gas money they gave him for 2 trips.

We are spoiled.

Changes & Cash

June 13th, 2008 at 09:37 pm

I haven't felt very bloggy and I don't know why.

Eh.

I see the good in it. I spend way too much time online sometimes...

We are adjusting to Dish. It is going to be a huge adjustments. Our old little TIVO only held 30 hours or so, so I actually spend a fair amount of time watching live TV in the evenings and weekends. TIVO is just for our favorites that we record every week. & a pile of kids shows for the kids, etc.

After work I played with the new setup for a while, trying to figure it all out. I am realizing that this is a VERY different set up. It is not "live TV" friendly AT ALL. I guess the whole point is to record whatever you think you may want to watch and ditch the live TV altogether. Which doesn't sounds so bad. It's just very different. Not exactly where we were at on our old setup. I still have no concept what 330 hours of TV is (how much the thing can hold). It will take a while to figure out this whole thing and strike a balance for us all.

It is so funny that just last week or so I told dh I was going to cut out some of my shows and cut back the TV a bit.

It was a little prophetic. The changeover gives me an excuse not to set up ALL my shows, etc. I think I will cut a few out.

Rather than spend a lot of time figuring out the new system, it might be easier to kind of ignore it.

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Dh's mom sent him a Father's Day Card which arrived today.

The his family buys up cards at garage sales. (Then again, I don't even do cards. All I see is WASTE and I avoid cards and wrapping paper and all that stuff, as much as possible anyway).

Anyway, this sounds like a wonderful, frugal thing to do. At least I can't despise the card since it was bought used.

But last time his aunt or grandma sent us a card filled with cash (Mother's Day?) it arrived wide open. Cash intact, but the envelope was wide open.

Anyway, so today I pull the card out of the mail box, wide open, and I think, "Hmmmmmm, Father's Day..." I look at it and notice the card is opening towards the opening at the top. "Ugh," I think. If there was cash in there, it's long gone.

Wouldn't you know it, there was $40 cash in there?

I am not sure how much was in there, but by some miracle the cash stayed inside.

I told dh to call his mom and tell her to stop buying such cheap envelopes. LOL. Or to at least tape them or something. YEesh.

When I saw it I decided it would be nice money for a big date night this month. Going to dh's favorite restaurant. I asked dh if he agreed, and he is VERY game (excited for the night out). Will probably cover most of dinner... Woohoho!

Free Stuff

June 13th, 2008 at 01:42 pm

My dad offered dh a bunch of external hard drives, (old ones he doesn't need/want) and dh is THRILLED. He has been wanting to upgarde his computer. This may hold him off a bit longer. They will be quite an upgrade for us.

We also are having DSL issues. Dh feels really bad, but forgot we switched out most of our upstair phone lines for ethernet. (Don't ask me what that means - I just relay what he says. Wink ).

Anyway, he has just been freaking out about it since the DSL stuff arrived and he realized he couldn't install it.

I venture it is not that hard to run a phone line (as we paid someone to run a bunch of ethernet cables there in the past). I just don't see what the biggy is.

He's annoyed it will cost more money. & he is talking to switching to a service that is $15/month more, to fix the problem.

I'd rather pay the cost up front to run telephone wires. I am honestly surprised he doesn't have a clue how to. I know my dad could help. We can go buy a 100-foot phone wire, or something, in the interim, and get it set up (run it from our bedroom to the den) and then take care of making it look pretty later. NExt time one of our dads are in town... I just don't see the biggie.

I know the phone companies run wires pretty cheap anyway. I really doubt it would cost that much. Wires are already run between the rooms - just different kinds.

Anyway, he is all stressed out, but his dad said he has a bunch of wireless stuff laying around.

For now we have some of our computers networked by wires, and the rest on wireless. (Don't ask me... Mostly into the wires until we got a laptop and we switched some of them to wireless, with the laptop).

So anyway, he thinks he will get everything he needs from his dad, for free, to set it up wireless-ly.

So yay!

When I Was a kid I knew my way around a computer pretty well. I Was always self-sufficient and just figured all this stuff out for myself. Not very handy or mechancial, but there really shouldn't be much to it.

These days I am completely LOST. Dh takes care of that stuff, and I wouldn't have a clue what to do without him. !!! With time all of this stuff has gotten increasingly complicated.

Netowrks and wireless and DSL, oh my. Way over my head...

He is in charge of everything computer, music (CDs and MP3s and all that) and everything cable/TV related.

I guess we make a good team. I take care of the money.

IT works. Though it would probably be good if I had a clue what he has going on in the house and if he had a clue about our finances. Wink We both just know the bare minimum. IT exists and the other person has it handled...

How long Does it Take to Install Satellite Dish?

June 12th, 2008 at 01:31 pm

So far, 5 hours +.

The guy got there at 8am on the dot (From our 8-4 timeframe, I'd say we lucked out).

I just called dh and he said the guy was STILL there and it wasn't working. Likewise, the had the order wrong and it also took 5 hours to change the order, so the guy could give him the second DVR.

Egads.

Not a good first impression of Dish.

Well, they were the cheapest. But also impressed dh the most on the phone.

Not so much in person...

LM was very dissapointed. He thought "Mr. Dish" would be a talking dish. I told him well, he would install something that looked like a "dish" on the house. He asked if that dish would talk.

I guess he got his heart on meeting a live Dish!

LOL.




Financial Abundance

June 12th, 2008 at 07:23 am

Financial Abundance is very relative.

I don't feel financially abundant because I haven't crossed all my "i"s or dotted all my "t"s. Too many expenses in the near horizon.

Likewise, we've had much more financial abundance, in the past. So I feel broke compared to where we were before kids. VERY broke.

As we approach $20k cash in the bank, 10% to retirement, and $5500 monthly take home, we are getting back to more of the higher level we attained in our early 20s.

It's probably a unique situation at 30 to feel like I am catching up to the abundance I had at 25. & it is certainly not a bad thing to be there again, so young.

Well, close enough I can taste it.

Plus a spouse who is more employable by the day (daycare is going down in price by the minute anyway, and we are no longer the sleepless zombie parents of newborns, so have more to work with). I guess it feel extra abundant to get there on one income. We were there so young because we had 2 incomes.

Anyway, we expect $1800 from the government this month (stimulus).

I expect $2k for the kids on their birthday, probably a bit more.

I know that money is not ours, but it is certainly $2k less *I* have to worry about, as far as their future.

Likewise, I know I will feel $4k richer in just a couple of months, with both of those.

We are also cleaning out the house and back on track with ebay and Craigslist listings.

Money to date: $20.

Slow going, but going. We expect hundreds in the next month or so.

Dh committed to selling his old projector AGAIN. (At this point I am happy with $100. Cash is cash. PArt of the deal when he bought a new one in 2005 was he would sell the old one in the realm of $500. Right now he is asking $300 or something, but he has asked $300 before. I am pushing him to list it at $200 and am peeved. He's listed it a couple of time too high, and at this point I'll take anything).

We'll probably have a TIVO to sell for an easy $100+. We'll see how our new system works first. (New internet and satellite, TODAY).

The expensive part of this completely unforeseen circumstance (mom & pop cable company bought out by Comcast) is that the 2 services will overlap for a time. Need a few days to change over our e-mail and see if we are happy with the system(s). Dh also informed me we need to shell out $50 for a modem. (No doubt financed by sale of TIVO - not compatible with satellite or something - don't ask me). I canceled my June payment to mom&pop/comcast. It was due next week and set up in my online bill pay. Once we are certain (hopefully by Monday) this is the change we want dh will call our old company and ask for a pro-rated June bill. I thought I had paid June, so glad we hadn't, and we have more traction to negotiate. I don't want to pay 2 "cable" companies for June.

Likewise, they already started dropping some of our channels, so we are eager to change, and complain about our bill.

I expect to make $200 with my final MLM sales and an ebay listing to clear out my inventory.

We have 3 strollers to sell (Easy $20 each) and stuff like that.

So it feels like a financially abundant time.

Oh yes, and the fact that my last LARGE payment to preschool was cashed last week. I think that is most of it. What a LOAD off.

I am still stressed about our mid-term savings. Looking at the house, thinking the house needs some paint and the fence needs to be replaced. Dh's car is not getting any younger. But other than a strong need/urge to bulk up that part of our savings, life is good. Better than it has been the year before, or the year before that, etc.

With a child out of preschool I have a good $3k/year to commit to that today, that I didn't yesterday. Makes a big difference.

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On the flip side, the doom and gloom in the news is getting to me. I don't know why more today than yesterday, but it really is.

I think I was feeling like things are going pretty good for us.

So I have been feeling rather generous.

In good times, we are quite content to volunteer as hobbies. I like to volunteer at the library and with wildlife rehab. Dh volunteers at the public TV station. We pat ourselves on the back for doing good for others.

I still think it's all good stuff, and they probably hurt more for volunteers in rough times. So I *get* that. IT all helps.

But yet, in times like this it just doesn't seem like enough. The animal shelters are completely over run and the food banks are drowning. So I think we will commit to give a little more to these organizations in the upcoming months. I am eyeing the profits on our Craigslist/ebay sales, and will see what we can do.

IT's very unlike me. We grew up not giving CASH to ORGANIZATIONS. My parents would give you the shirts off their backs, but I don't think they have hardly given to charity. Their frugalness precludes giving away hard-earned cash. They aren't even much for volunteer work either. Which always surprised me most personal finance books recommend giving 10% income away. My parents would flip at that idea. They have generated plenty of good karma without giving away cash. So that is where I come from. I see you don't need to rain cash on other people to do well. (Though my parents would be more likely to give cash to friends or relatives who needed it, then a faceless organization, which is the other part of it).

They are just very giving people, so I have always been able to reconcile this in my head. You don't need to give cash to organizations to be a giving person.

Likewise, it is a bit of a struggle for me to put my financial health behind giving a little more. I feel like I am very close to a goal and I would probably be better off to get there first. That's my parent's voices in my head.

We usually give most of our money at Christmas. What little we do.

But I am feeling strongly like we should really make an effort to give a little more before the giving season.

I may regret it down the road, but for now I feel like I should share some financial abundance.

I admit it is a nice feeling.

& yeah, I think the food banks will top our lists for a while. We usually donate to animal shelters (still top the list in these times - yikes), Red Cross, and a few other things that are near and dear to me, but not so needy as the food and shelter seems to be for animals and humans around here lately... So I think we will shift our giving a bit. We'll still contribute to those near and dear come Christmas. But adding the food banks and extra donations to the animal shelters. Just feels like the right thing to do.

In this economy, I might as well be a millionaire. We feel one in a million talking to a lot of our friends lately.

& I attribute much of it to our anti-debt philosophy. So far we are weathering the storm well enough.

Maybe it is harder to feel generous when everyone has way more bling than you.

I admit it feels very different of late. Our abundance becomes more and more apparent as more and more houses go into foreclosure around us. & more and more people trade in their SUVs for bicycles. So it just feels very different.

We're used to living on a very low income compared to those around us. Also. Which is why it's easy to lose sight of our own abundances. I know a casual peruser of my blog won't realize that we live on an income that qualifies us for aid, locally. It's not a lot for living in California. Though it gets really relative real fast. If you bought a home, paid for, in the 70s, and you have a pension, you can live pretty lean ($
$20k/year?). If you had to buy a house at the peak, well $100k income won't get you very far.

IT gets so relative though, for now I KNOW we have an abundance of food and shelter. That's all that matters. IF I am not worried how to feed my family, I have something to give to a family that is worried. It should really be that simple. I just haven't seen so many hungry people before... I can't say I have seen any in my adult life. Not in my own backyard.

Which I hesitate to say. I live in the city - I have seen PLENTY of hungry people. But I guess seeing so many acquaintances worrying about how to buy their basic bills, is REALLY freaking me out. What I mean when I say I have never seen so many hungry people in my own backyard. Yikes.

The Good/The Bad

June 10th, 2008 at 06:31 pm

I haven't been very posty. Which is good. Have been busy busy getting things done around the house.

I was going to say, the good was we didn't turn on the AC today.

IT was hot, but very windy. (Kind of weird).

May turn the A/C on before bed for a bit.

BUT this isn't really great news. It stayed cooled today because we had major wind. But we also had a large brush fire pretty close to our house. Ugh.

& many many fires in the region.

The fire season is just going to be awful this year. The wind does not help.

Fire is not something I usually worry about (much more worried about floods). Driving home today and seeing the charred fields around our development, and the wind, made me think we should worry more.

Weekend Update...

June 9th, 2008 at 06:39 am

Well, yesterday was pretty worthless. I didn't do much. Big Grin

Exhausted from Saturday I guess.

I went to a MLM sales party. I went because it was my friend. & it was food. I didn't even take my checkbook. I thought if she was short of some sales goal I might spend $20.

LOL.

Oh boy. The whole thing bugged me on some level. On many levels. But I was a sucker. I spent $70. !!!!!!!!!

To be fair, about $20 of it was Father's Day gifts. Some of it I had in mind for the kids' birthday party.

I don't really have any inkling if the stuff was worth it. It's rather vague how much you get for the prices (no doubt intentional). So we'll see.

I generally as a rule don't do sales parties. BEcause they bug me. & it's usually crap I would never buy anyway. I mean seriously, I probably get invited to one every weekend. I have blogged much before that in the mommy crowd you start to feel like people only look at you as a $$$$$$$. So many just trying to make a side income and just want to sell crap to you. I'd rather have friends that invited me to a non-sales party once in a while. Yikes!

So I guess my new rule is no more food sales parties. Even if it is a really good friend who sees me more than as $$$$$$$$$$. I didn't exhibit near the self control I would have liked. The whole time I was grumbling to myself, "what am I doing?"

Without common sense I could have easily spent hundreds.

Most of it was rather, eh. Just add water and you have gourmet food? It's all natural. (It reminded me of fast food in the sense you just add water and go. Add this and go. Blech). IT wasn't terribly appealing because my dh is my personal chef. So a lot of their products were to replace cooking and fresh fruits and veggies, etc. Wasn't seeing the health benefit, or the convenience factor since I have my chef. So a large chunk wasn't appealing at all.

But they get me on the drinks, breads, dips, etc. Oh - the sauces were DIVINE. Since we don't really BBQ I found it easy to pass though.

Anyway, I learned that going to a sales party because the product didn't sound so bad, was a TERRIBLE idea.

When I get the stuff I will carefully consider if it is worth it. The price per serving and other comparable options. But since it is MLM I have the feeling it is all pretty much a rip off. I have plenty of time to find replacement products though, or homemade recipes. Thank you internet! I doubt I would ever reorder any of the stuff.

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Well, yesterday I did gather up how much of my old MLM stuff I want to auction off. I came up with about $700 retail. Dh was appalled. I assured him I had paid little for all of it. We get 50% profit and in general I applied my profits to personal purchases (which we got at 50% off). I couldn't really justify the expense otherwise. So I really and truly had little cash flow going out in this particular MLM. I figure I will probably get $100 easy on ebay - if I just do one lot to be rid of it. Dh was arguing I should break it up into smaller lots. HE maybe has a point, but I just don't care. I want to be RID of the stuff. All at once, preferred. If I am lucky I will get upwards of $100.

With the cable change we will probably sell our TIVO as well. We have a transferable lifetime subscription so we may be able to sell for $150.

Dh went on a garage sale kick this weekend. & bought a couple of things off Craigslist. He thinks he can make $100 off his finds this weekend.

We'll see. He really wants a Wii. He bought one this weekend to sell. He has been seeing a lot in the $200 range (steals). So figured if he buys and sells enough (just a couple at that price) he can raise $200 to buy his own.

Oh boy. I honestly just really wish he had that commitment to our retirement fund. & I think we need to have a talk about it.

For now he is getting a Wii. I am just sitting back and seeing how much effort it takes.

We were to buy a GPS this year, so I think I will encourage him to fund it this way - with ebay sales and such.

From there I think we need to have a talk. I think at least a percentage of his sales should go to retirement. Even is just 10% or something.

Then again, this is probably the biggest thing we quibble about. So if he can make the money he can buy whatever his heart desires. I'd be kind of glad not to worry about how to figure out how to fit in his big purchases in our little budget. Wink

I think he has enough common sense we can strike some deal, that a portion must go to savings. Or that when he doesn't want to buy something, I appreciate the extra income, anyway. Hint hint. We just need to sit down and talk. For now I guess I am sitting back and seeing if he makes as much as he thinks he will.

Truth be told there is a business to be had there. HE loves buying and selling old game systems and games, etc. So this might be an interesting side line for him.

Problem is it makes it way easier to justify buying more stuff, when he makes money off of it. It just feeds his hobby more.

The downside is that there will be considerable tax ramifications here. & complicated record keeping. He needs to start logging his miles to pick up the stuff, etc. Because lord know if we are reporting that income, we need to offset the revenues with all this gas/driving.

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Anyway, he took the kids garage sale-ing yesterday and was going to allow the kids to buy some stuff from their piggy bank cash.

They spent $1 and found $1 on the floor later. Their piggy banks remain intact. Wink

I would love to follow that lesson through and take the kids to the store and have a lesson on finances. Tell them, you could buy this for $20 here. Or for $1 at a garage sale. What do you think we should do?

These lessons should start young.

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On our cable switch (forced since out cable company got bought out) I think we have settled on a package that is $15 more for month. We justified it was okay because with one out of preschool I am saving $300 of that per month, and I have $15 left over. The timing is really perfect.

BUT I had decided to put that $15 to the mortgage, and was bummed on that.

I am paying $13/month for my ID theft monitoring right now. It has been almost a year (maybe 9 months) since my ID theft and it is all cleaned up. I am thinking of dropping that and applying it to my mortgage.

I still haven't decided if I should get a credit freeze or not. *sigh* I kind of would like to freeze it if I can't monitor it daily. & I am still a bit paranoid. But for now, it seems to be under control. The $13/month was priceless in the beginning as we cleared things up. But further out, it is turning out to be less needed. Phew!!!!!!!!!

I am pleased I found a way to afford the cable and the mortgage payment bump, with no change to our monthly budget. Woohoo!





Making Progress...

June 8th, 2008 at 08:43 am

I cleaned 3 rooms of the house yesterday. Deep clean.

It's not nearly as impressive. I took the 3 smallest/least cluttered rooms in the house, and just cleaned them top to bottom.

LM had some stains on his carpet and some gunk on the wall. Stuff like that. The window sills attract way too much dirt, so wiped them down. Vacuumed. Went through seeing if there was anything to toss.

Not really, but did take down his window valence and wall decor. Prepping to redo his room, ideally in July or August.

I had already tossed aside th crib bedding, which matched, to sell. So will list all that together.

BM's room was much easier. He had grabbed a leaf off our tree though and stored it in there. It had made kind of a mess and I ordered him to toss it. I felt lucky not to find any living organisms in there (except for a spider which meant I didn't clean his window sill. Ugh!!) LOL. He had a habit of bringing worms home in his pocket and stuff like that. & a ladybug he kept under his bed at one point. So I Was relieved not to find anything up there - I wouldn't rule it out. He seems to be better but had a talk about leaves.

We had been thinking of buying a new toy box for LM, but realized BM's bed has lots of room for storage. So I pulled his toy box out and put it in LM's room yesterday. Stuff like that.

I even dusted the blinds. !!!!!!

I hit the living room as well. Admittedly the smallest/emptiest room in the house. While I had the feather duster out I went over the piano. I rather ignored it since I usually keep up on it. It is black and covers with dust easily. I usually stay pretty on top of it. So my efforts were to clean what rarely gets cleaned, more than the usual. The living room had some windows/blinds, a couch I went over with the vacuum, and a side table. I tossed its table cover in the wash (has probably been years).

Oh, washed out the cat litter box real well. We keep the box in the living room since it is the farthest room from regular human contact. LOL.

& wala, I deep cleaned 3 rooms.

I half heartedly cleaned the guest bath and deep cleaned the toilet since I needed a few more really disgusting rags to round out that laundry load. LOL.

The dining/kitchen/family room is a little more overwhelming since there is so much clutter to go through. I need to sit down with dh and really decide to toss some things. I may work on today, cleaning it up a bit. The kitchen is a mess right now and needs a light clean up if nothing else.

Dh has his theater room and his office which are rather off limits. Though he has more stuff, like the kids rooms, there is little to clean.

My office is at the nook on the top of the stairs. I probably need to go through it and give my desk a good dusting too. Though not it's own room it is its own space. IT's big enough to warrant a deep clean.

Which also really just leaves our bedroom. I could probably hit that next weekend, with the deep clean (may take advantage since dh and the kids may be gone for a bit).

There is the kids' bathroom (which we use for the shower too) but it is rather kept up.

I could probably spend one solid weekend on the kitchen and one in the family room.

I would like to send off the kids for a weekend and go through the garage too. Admittedly, summer will not be the time for that task.

So yeah, I admit I started rather EASY to get into a swing. With gas prices, might as well stay home and catch up on stuff around the house.

Besides all that, I got the invites for the kids birthday parties out. Phew.

Dh picked up some stuff for me at Target (invites and such) and went to the bank for me. I felt extra productive with all that help.

Of course, the weather here has been quite lovely. Now that I think about it, we should have really gotten out and enjoyed this weekend. Summers when we don't want to step outside may be better for cleaning days.

We haven't turned on the A/C here this month, and really not much since we got back from Disney. Phew. Knock on wood and all that too. But with the exception of the heat wave while we were gone, summer is off to a mild start. Our electric bill for May was rather low too.

Anyway, besides all that, I forgot to mention we listed 3 big things on Craigslist. Which is also nice with the one room at a time deep clean. We can space out the de-cluttering a bit.

We generally sell the big things/donate the small things.

I completely forgot aerobics class yesterday. Doh. I certainly got a workout, but still. Felt like a dork for forgetting...

I also bought a new pair of workout shoes from zappos. They just e-mailed me to tell me my shoes shipped already and the sent them rush delivery at no charge, "just because."

Cool!

I would have loved to buy my old shoes again - some Reebok walking shoes that are just DIVINE. I saw from my order history they are 2.5 years old!! A little worn, time for a change. & I only paid like $45 for those suckers. But they don't sell them anymore. Bummer!! I went for Nikes. I used to be a Nike girl because I would pick them up at the outlets. So I spent a little more than usual, but kept it under $60. If they last 2 years too, well worth it...

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

As of today we are looking at AT&T internet and Dish satellite for TV. Oh boy. Dh is going crazy.

Oh yeah, and I inadvertently talked him into the more expensive package. Stupid me.

We'll see what we end up with...

I think we are getting a significant upgrade in our TV setup, with little upgrade in price. Overall, I think we are both pleased with what we have decided on. We'll see how we feel once it is in place. Hopefully switching over this week.

Driving Log

June 8th, 2008 at 07:39 am

I added a page on the left to try to track our driving a little better.

http://monkeymama.savingadvice.com/driving-log.html

As with a cash budget, we need to look at our driving habits and see where the drains are.

I mentioned in my last post that my commute really costs little, but that one of our biggest luxuries is really the ability to drive anywhere/anytime.

Of course, as it comes with a higher price, it is something we need to evaluate.

We highly value being able to see visit family.

We highly value traveling around and doing hikes, etc. (So much we would give up our vacation budget to keep the freedom to travel more on a regular basis, within the state).

So we place very high value on being able to pick up and go on longer car rides.

& commuting is not a very expensive endeavor - a fill up twice a month would cover my commute and probably even both of the kids' school commutes.

So everything else is the drain that we want to close so we can enjoy our two extremes.

For now, just trying to keep track and see where we are at.

Dh has been a little Craigslist crazy, but assured me he was considering gas prices in his cost analysis.

I also had to add when I was a kid we never went on vacations, so they aren't terribly important to me (know kids will survive without and appreciate them more with age). The reason being is my parent's entire vacation budget (little as is) generally went to drives to the mid-west every year or 2 to visit family.

Needless to say, I am extremely jealous how close the kids are to their grandparents and cousins. I find that whole thing to be priceless.

They've been staying less with Grandma lately because we have been less inclined to drive, and I assume she has been too (has not asked as much). But she did slip us $60 when we picked up the kids sunday, for gas, so maybe we will get some help there too in ensuring we don't slow down our visits with gas prices. We assumed they had been feeling the pinch too, but I guess it was her way of saying she wants to see the kids more during the summer.

Our gas tolerance is probably rather high. We moved 2 hours away to significantly cut our cost of living. So upping our gas budget to stay in touch is a-okay with us. The alternative is pay $500k+ for a house to live closer. Ugh. So anyway, keeping our living costs so low in comparison, we knew moving here we would have a high gas budget to keep in close touch with family. Particularly since we had kids. I think they are so lucky to have the opportunity to be so close to their extended family.



Cable/Gas/Gloom/Shopping

June 7th, 2008 at 06:50 am

Well, it is official, Comcast bought up our mom & pop cable company.

We will grieve on that for a while.

They are offering a deal of the same price as we have been paying, for their most premium package, for one year. Considering it as a means to test them out. Also will the most seamless, probably. Dh said the premium package doubles to about $150/month in a year. I worried aloud about this and dh said, "Are you crazy? I would NEVER pay $150/month for cable. Especially if I was working too. When would I have time to enjoy?"

But, for now they also have a cable/internet/phone package that is mirrors what we already have in both price and channels. So for now I don't expect a budget change. We'll probably enjoy the premium stuff and switch to the big package deal in a year.

Phew!!

I unfortunately expect their prices to rise instead of drop (our cable prices have dropped in the 6 years we have lived here and gone with mom/pop).

We also don't expect near the customer service. Frown

I guess it reminds me though, that his TV obsession has exploded with many hours home alone. He has a point, and this is one area where he usually has little common sense. So I am glad he is displaying major common sense in this regard.

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Gas. I had a wonderful long gas post and I couldn't post it. Was it perhaps a sign? I figured it would spark controversy. But trying to summarize:

I was looking at gas articles when I saw gas had topped $4.50 on Wednesday, and came across the West Coast average gas price for the last 15 years or so, every June 4.

Anyway, the last time we REALLY felt the gas pinch was 2003. It was then that gas had doubled just about from the year before. I remember in particular because I was on maternity leave and glad I had nowhere to drive.

I remember my 2005 maternity leave being the same story.

As I looked at the data in this article, gas was largely $1/gallon until 2003 when it topped $2.

This was also when we went down to one-income so we REALLY felt the pinch.

Looking at the numbers, gas has spiked 40% about every other year since that point. This year has not even reached 40% yet. But of course as the numbers rise, smaller percentages are felt more strongly. Of course.

Anyway, in 2005 I couldn't justify driving home at lunch any more. That had always been my luxury. So 2005 with another 40% increase, we dropped that luxury.

I remember dh and I feeling the pinch and everyone we know buying SUVs.

Anyway, so in 2006 I set my gas budget at $300. I was quite certain gas would go up a solid 40% again.

So anyway, reminded me someone seemed all amazed I made my gas budget in April. Which just bugs me. Where is the rocket science here? Gas has been spiraling out of control for years. I try to plan accordingly.

Believe me, we are trying to drive less. We are parking the van. We are considering staying in instead of all the road trips we wanted to do this summer.

But believe me, you don't have to be rich to see gas prices rising and to prepare accordingly. I think people have taken my blase-ness about gas prices as an attitude of one rich.

Ah, I wish. It's an attitude of one prepared. I am not surprised in the least. My budget gas allowed for it.

I am considering that I will probably have to "up" my gas budget for 2009. Maybe to $350 from $300, to be well covered. BUT this year's $300 is well more than plenty to cover a commute that costs about $80 monthly with current gas prices. The rest is gravy and driving is one of our main luxuries.

I guess mostly my point is I set my gas budget very high in 2006. & I haven't changed it since. It will suffice this year.

I am at a loss why so many people on this board are so confuzzled by gas prices. Usually I identify more with this board, but I guess I feel odd woman out. I can't believe I am the only one who saw this coming a mile away???

& don't get my wrong. I totally understand that people are just reaching a tipping point. I am just surprised so many frugal people on a board like this are reaching their tipping points so fast. To me all I see is a long established pattern being continued. Thus where as mostly I see a lot of panic in the masses, I wonder what's new.

I admit though, even with all this said, we are feeling gas pinch. As I said the last time we felt so pinched was when it topped $2. IT changed our lifestyle dramatically. & I sense as gas tops $4 our lifestyle will change quite a bit. It is a bummer that one of our biggest luxuries is our cars. We just love the freedom to drive any time/ any where. But as prices rise, it is a luxury that is harder to justify.

It's also more maddening than usual to live in an area with such subpar mas transit (both expensive and not terribly useful). I would gladly commute to work or take the train to visit family, to have more weekend gas budget. BUT there just isn't much out there. The train, for one, costs like 5 times what it does to fill up the gas tank for a round trip. So much for that...

Anyway, last time gas prices jumped like this was the worst time for us financially. I guess this time around we are in a better spot, and more prepared. That is the jist of my feelings. It does make all the difference.

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But man, how about the news yesterday? Doom and gloom. I was depressed just looking at the news.

I read 1 in 4 homeowners in US has zedro or negative equity.

Seriously? Egads!!!!!

GAs prices up.

Dow down.

Unemployment, highest jump since the 70s?

Oh boy, you get the feeling the country is just about to implode.

-----------

Which also reminds me. I made an offhand comment about the economy to a client yesterday, and she laughed. "The economy?" she said. They had the highest revenue day, ever, last week. This is our most successful client. Mostly doctors. But this one specializes in cosmetic procedures. So, yeah, the rich are still getting their laser treatments and botox. That is for sure.

This bodes very well for my job. Wink

We have 2 young doctors in this area and believe me, they make bank. Where as most of our doctors net around $100k-$500k, after expenses but before taxes,they net millions. I have never seen 2 people who have so much more money than they even know what to do with it. IT's insane, and their businesses are booming. That is my glimpse into the economy. As we get further in the year, we'll see how much the economy is affecting the rest of our clients. I expect expenses up with gas prices, but revenues rather the same since the insurance companies rule. We'll see...

---------

Well, I have been busily shopping.

Bought 2 camping chairs, and 3 sleeping bags (thank you amazon.com).

Today I need to buy some new shoes - will order from zappos.com. My workout shoes are dead/old/useless. I have waited too long to replace (as usual - a terrible habit I have).

---------

Dh has been applying for a few side income jobs. He hadn't exactly told me but perusing our shared e-mail I saw lots of correspondence re: video jobs. Many of them paid. Which is actually quite odd because usually there isn't much out there with paid offers. I can't help but wonder if he just saw the ads and responded, not necessarily thinking of looking for paid work but spotting the ads all the same.

I will keep my fingers crossed. !!

He has applied for many jobs, and not gotten anywhere, the last 7 years or so. I mean hell, McDonalds won't hire him. I have NO IDEA what is up with that. We ventured he was over-qualified and kind of gave up. I have posted in the past that we both scooped up jobs like that in the fistfuls when we were in college. But an old guy with a degree? You don't just get those jobs I guess. (Old meaning mid 20s with a degree). I told dh to drop his education on his resume. Seriously. For a McDs job? Whatevah.

Anyway, these jobs were second video camera on wedding videos, for good money. He is certainly well qualified. & also some independent film productions with paid positions. His experience may warrant pay.

We shall see.

At this point I would love to hoarde some cash for work around the house. I think he is motivated to buy toys. Wink We'll find some middle ground. I don't mind that if it motivates him to bring cash. But we have to be realistic too - a large chunk has to go to household and savings.

In the interim we have some catching up to do. In the more long-term, a little extra cash can go a long way to funding retirement.

Anyway, for the first time since having kids dh has some actual TIME to devote to work. & it hasn't been that long that the kids have been sleeping well too. The playing field has completely changed, and you don't know how happy I am to see dh making an attempt at some cash. On one hand I think, "It's about time!" On the other hand I know that times have not been so great the last few years - the kids have kept us insanely busy. Even I find a large amount of time that wasn't there before. & I imagine this is rather new to dh as well.

Likewise, it is nice to see dh applying for way better paying, and yet more realistically achievable, jobs.

A mere $100/month could make a huge difference in our finances/savings.

Well, we'll see!!!

------

Oh yeah, beyond all that I noticed a small flood in our backyard yesterday. IT looks like something completely chewed through the flower bed irrigation tubing. I looked at it rather dumbfounded. You wonder if the gardener had been careless, and whacked it with a saw or something, until you see it is completely gnawed through. We had some mouse problems last year. I have no idea what else would gnaw through it. I have to investigate the front yard today. I am confident dh will be able to patch it together with a trip to the hardware store. & I am mostly relieved it seems to be only that one spot. But you got me at a loss there.

Ugh!

We also had no idea one of our trees is fruit bearing. ???? My best guess is purple plum (from web searching). We've had the tree a few years and never noticed fruit until yesterday (& lots of it!). It doesn't appear to be edible to humans. Bummer. I remember when we were house hunting seeing a large yard covered in purple bird droppings from some sort of dark purple fruit. These aren't quite so dark, but it does have me worried. !!!!!!!! Especially if you knew the number the birds have done in the past with their white droppings. I think the only real money we have put to our house to date is bird proofing. Seriously. Thank goodness, before our house and yard was to be covered in purple poop. Wink

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

This weekend:

1 - Clean up the house

2 - Put some stuff up on ebay/craigslist. I have been WAY lazy on both fronts. I probably have an easy couple of hundred dollars to be had if I list some things this weekend. Maybe more.

I feel behind...







Quarters & Cable

June 5th, 2008 at 07:51 pm

We went by McDonalds after preschool to scope it out for the kids' birthday.

Anyway, at one point we walked to the bathroom and as we passed the register, a patron dropped a quarter. I had barely heard the ping of it drop when BM dived for it. I Started to say I hope he was going to give it back (probably) when the guy waved his hand and said, "Keep it." BM couldn't have been happier. HE asked me as we entered the bathroom how much it was worth. HE was quite pleased at his 25 cent find.

The kids are on a roll. I think they found a dollar between the 2 of them, last month. Which is a large percentage of return on their $8 or so piggy banks.

OF course, later, as we were wrapping up at the play land, BM insisted he had to go #2 IMMEDIATELY and dashed for the bathroom. I have been letting him go in his own stall as long as I can see his feet. So LM & I went into the next stall. It had been a good half hour or so, but there was that shiny quarter sitting on the toilet paper dispenser.

I asked BM if he was missing something.

He eventually caught on, but I had LM and pretty much told him, "Finders Keepers." He needs to learn to watch his money a little better. I asked LM if he would be so nice to give it back to BM (his choice), and of course he said no. !!

We were in there a while and as we walked out of the building, LM handed the quarter back over very nicely. I think BM and & had both forgotten about it.

That was my proud mommy moment of the day. Big Grin

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

I did ask the McDonalds about their parties and they weren't very helpful. The "manager" on duty wasn't very helpful and said he thought it was $80. Not getting anywhere, I asked the point at hand. If they minded if we brought in cake on our own and skipped their party. I think he said something like, "It's a free country." & looked at me insanely why I would ask. I said, well, I want to make sure you don't have a policy about no outside food. The guy says, "I eat Taco Bell here all the time."

Well, okay then!

LOL.

I'll take that as a green light.

The funny thing is I didn't even choose this route out of frugalness. I chose it for simplicity and it really seemed like the most fun (admittedly at the best deal). The simpleness is just showing up with cupcakes, maybe balloons, and ordering HAppy MEals for the kids. The best part is no time limits. We can stay all day if we fancy.

We've settled on 2 parties. The kid party on Sunday between their birthdays. The big family party Saturday. That one will be an all day affair with lots of food, but mostly hanging out.

Our parents always slip us cash for groceries on these events, and the kids will be spoiled with clothes and toys. We usually come out WAY ahead, so my budget is about $0. !!

We'll ask for no gifts at the kid party. No one ever listens, but we'll try. I just want it to be a really casual affair.

I am sick of crappy party favors, but I still feel weird about skipping them altogether. Maybe we should just do balloons... Kids love balloons!

-------

Beyond all that, some guy from Comcast came by trying to sell a package and told my dh that our current local cable company is closing shop in a month.

He gave dh his card and dh is pretty convinced the guy is full of crap. maybe. IT does sound rather odd. But I think one would have to be pretty brazen to leave their card if they were just brazenly lying. My gut tells me it's probably true.

For now our cable/internet package is $70/month. Which may or may not be a great deal, but so far we see it as the best/cheapest (some preliminary searches). Whatever the setup is requires no box rentals or anything like that. All that stuff is over my head, but dh is peeved. He has spent the evening looking at other options and hates them all.

Oh boy. I guess we could face a major price increase to keep dh happy. Or maybe just to keep what I have. I just don't know. Overall we felt we were getting a pretty good deal with the small guys. We were paying $80 until they lowered our bill out of the blue by 15%.

When was the last time Comcast or Dish did that?

Dh and I in general avoid business with the BIG guys. So it will be a shame if we have to join the big corporate giants of cable/satellite. We certainly do not look forward to it. We've been REALLY pleased with our small guys. Their customer service is impeccable and though they have had their issues, we'd take them any day.

We will both be rather bummed if this rings true.

I almost hope the guy was just a shyster. BUT he messed with the wrong guy if he was. Believe me. If he is full of hot air he will rue the day he tried to pull one over dh.

Hell, Comcast will rue the day.

You just don't mess with that man's TV set up. !!!

Do you think they would really do that? Would a salesperson be that desperate?

Well dh is going to call our company tomorrow. They were closed at 5 so he couldn't get through to a person to see if there was any truth to this rumor. We shall see!








$75 Gas Fill Up

June 5th, 2008 at 06:48 am

Oh my!!!!!

Well, to be fair, I had run it fairly long on empty (was almost 18 gallons as opposed to the usual 16 gallon full up).

But dh filled it up for me and came home and told me, "I don't know if it's full. It stopped at $75." I had to digest that for a bit. It seemed when I bought the van 2 years ago, fill ups were $45.

$75? Huh????????????

I at least assured him it was full. I had only driven it 20 miles on empty and that was a record fill-up. But probably coincidentally the same amount they cap off at.

When he told me it was for 18 gallons, that made a little more sense. But still. WOW!

That was with our wonderful grocery discount. The grocery chains have been great on staying ahead of the gas curve, but times seem to be changing. I passed a Valero that was a good few cents cheaper the other day. I would have filled up there if I had been in the correct lane to turn in. It's close enough to my work that I may frequent that one a bit more. In the past the grocery stores have won hands down. Just have to keep an eye on things. It changes with the wind. No comfort zone. Which is probably much of the shock here. I think the grocery stores absorbed the price spikes for a while, in an effort to gain loyal customers. I was actually quite shocked to see a cheaper Valero because I had gotten accustomed to the grocery gas being so much cheaper.

In the meantime we have a secret weapon. We primarily need one car and the other one last cost $35 to fill up. It will go the same distance on $35 that mine does on $75. Needless to say I am taking to driving dh's car MUCH more these days. IT is ridiculous to commute in the van and ridiculous to go on long trips with it. It's pretty much rendered useless, though fine for around town trips with the kids. It may come in handy for field trips and such. I don't know.

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

Which leads me to our car conundrum. I admit I didn't do my research. I glanced at the 22/25mpg EPA estimates and didn't think much about it when we bought it in 2006.

My cars have always gotten 30mpg+.

Shortly after we bought I did start to regret it. I hadn't grasped what a difference the whole 10mpg made. Likewise, I am not sure I have ever gotten 22 or 25 mpg in the van. It's much worse.

Dh is so sick of me driving his car, he told me a while back and I could just sell the van for a convertible. "Whatever!" he exclaims.

I have seen it many times mentioned that it doesn't make sense to trade in a gas guzzler that is already paid. ???? Why not? For us we got a pretty decent deal on the van and it has thus depreciated little. I would have no qualms selling it for a good $10k (looks doable. We paid closer to $12k, 3 years ago). & buying a much more reasonably priced car. My last car I paid in the realm of $1k and drove 3 years without a problem. The only reason we dropped it is we always considered it an interim car until we could afford a newer minivan. So I know I could get a pretty sweet car in the $5k range. Or $10k. Or $1k. I don't know what I would do.

I've had the "newer" minivan for 2 years and I have not much good to say about it. It is very luxurious and comfortable. That's about all it has going for it.

On an annual basis it has far more repairs than any old beater I have ever owned. The insurance is expensive. Etc., etc. So as I reached that point where I could buy more luxury, I quickly wonder why I bothered. All the reasons I loved extremely used cars are suddenly very magnified.

Dh is on board with me. We could slash our gas bills significantly and buy a less expensive car to boot. I am not sure why the general advice is to stick it out. Certainly makes no sense in our situation. Maybe it makes sense if you have a large car note. But even if you bought a new car and you ate that depreciation, I still don't agree it is your best bet to stick it out. I guess that assumes though you only buy new cars.

Having no car note and being open to a very used car means innumerable options and freedoms. Phew.

The conundrum for me is that the little compact Japanese cars are VERY tempting. I admit I am love with the mpg in dh's car but probably don't want to commit to a car that small. It personally makes me uncomfortable. But he will drive nothing bigger than a Civic. I learned to drive in a "boat" of sorts. Which is why I am stuck with the big car though it makes little sense.

We try to think how often we really need the van and what if we just rented in those instances instead. Lord knows we could live without it, easily.

We go round and round on it.

The thing is when I look at some of the more mid-size cars that would have the same advantages (more room, etc.), the gas mileage really isn't that much better.

So if I am not willing to commit to a small commuter, then there really is no point to make the jump.

In the meantime I think we will take to driving the subcompact and leaving the van for when a second vehicle is necessary. We are certainly changing our mindset. We will pretend much more that we only have once car. We've kind of gone halfway whereas on the days dh doesn't go anywhere I tend to take his car. But I think we are expanding it to on the days that we both go somewhere, the longer driver gets the subcompact.

I also don't think we can afford to drive the van on long trips anymore. The drive to LA went really well in the subcompact, so I am fine with that. We had always wanted a van and made the jump when LM was born. The whole big bulky car seat thing was not working in dh's car, whereas before that I had little issue with the car. Now that the kids are outgrowing the big bulky carseats, well, the subcompact isn't so bad.

But then you get back to square one. If the van is too expensive to drive, why keep it?

Should we just admit that we no longer see the point in having a roomy vehicle? Probably...

I think we will re-evaluate in the winter, when gas prices settle down. Dh thinks that will be a better time to sell it. He may have a point.

I am sure I can do much more research on a roomier mid-size with good gas mileage. I am sure there is much out there. Something like an older Camry may be more our speed.

---------

But, um yeah, I was quite vocal that I thought it was premature to panic about gas prices a few months ago. Even last month. For us, prices have gone up 50 cents in about 3 weeks. & I have to say I am feeling the pinch now. Egads! I don't expect it to affect our budget much. But it will affect our driving habits, that is for sure. & I admit I could be naive in thinking it won't affect our budget much...

News Bulletin: MLMs Suck

June 4th, 2008 at 01:28 pm

Ebay here I come...

I figured out my MLM today.

To start, I joined a MLM back in 2004.

IT was young enough that sales are easy, the profit margin is 50%, and the product sells with 0 effort.

From my experience in it I am not so down on MLMs. They certainly have their pitfalls (MANY) but they can also be somewhat profitable if you do it right.

For me, I did a show and so had to shell out little money to get in. You have to buy just so much product to get in, but the show covered that - my friends bought me in.

I did a few shows, but it was not my thing. The person above me let me borrow her inventory though.

Once you get into inventory, that's a whole other ballpark. But I never carried any. The shows would make good money, though just not my thing. I could sell a decent amount with no inventory, and no effort anyway.

I would never buy the stuff full price, and they welcome "personal shoppers" who really just sign up for the discount.

So it goes.

In the meantime I guess they changed some of the rules on quotas. They quotas are the same (can reach them in my sleep) BUT they changed to anniversary date based fiscal years, from annual years.

No one knows this.

I particularly didn't have a clue.

So they dropped me.

They say they warned me in an e-mail. No doubt lost in my sea of junk mail.

From my conversation today, with them, I turned pretty sour on them rather fast.

"Well, you could always sign up again" {with a big order at only 25% off, and lot's of fees}"

Um, yeah, I think I will pass. (Are they kidding???)

Way to go treating your customers.

I will probably never buy their product again. Way too overpriced at retail.

No more free jewelry for me. But I really rarely even wear it anyway.

I am kind of looking forward to the de-cluttering. I could get a decent amount on ebay with my NWT jewelry, slightly used jewelry, sales supplies, etc., etc., etc. I can toss a lot of their crap in the trash too. PAperwork and such. Woohoo!!!!!!!!

I know it is no real news bulletin that MLMs suck. But I am dissapointed this one went the way of suck.

In the past, the 12/31 quota deadline has been a serious issue. So serious that they allowed a January grace period, for the FIRST time this year.

But believe me, the top dogs do not want to lose their commissions due to this bull crap. The person above me had no clue the rules changed and the person above her is a pretty top dog. She usually calls me, personally, in December to make sure I buy enough to stay current.

No calls; no warnings. I have the feeling they will raise a stink and I may get invited back in at some point.

I will happily decline if that day comes.

Whatevah!

Yeah, mostly just had to vent.

I think my person may take pity on me and give me the profit on this last sale I had. I thought I had made an easy $100 or so until I tried to place my order. Bah!

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

I am probably a sucker for punishment but I was invited to a MLM party over the weekend. (A FOOD one).

I must say, I can not resist FOOD!!!

Likewise, since it is Saturday afternoon and requires no schedule juggling, I will give it a whirl. I won't be surprised if it is cancelled at the last minute (not enough people). In fact, I will be prepared for it.

I don't expect to buy anything. Don't worry. Wink

I usually loathe these stupid parties, but the product is good (though overpriced), and it is a really good friend. *sigh*





Attempts at Side Incomes...

June 4th, 2008 at 07:22 am

Well I don't have much bad to say about the MLM I belong to, as far as my approach to it anyway. It is a very simple side income stream.

BUT I had a friend who wanted to sign up and was gathering orders in an attempt. She changed her mind (which is very fine with me - my recruit number to date is 0 and I have little desire for one. Though I would get some sort of commission. I also have no interest at "working" at this. I am merely signed up for the discount. I stay on for the easy money).

Anyway, she sent me her orders yesterday. I popped online to see if stuff was still available.

& I got the lovely message that my account had been DEACTIVATED.

What the heck?

I called my person and she hadn't a clue. I told her if they had sent me any e-mail warning or anything like that, it was probably lost in my sea of junk mail. I did peak through my deleted e-mails for the week (I was just on there last week) and didn't see anything, though a few missed personal e-mails. Makes me wonder how much I miss!)

Anyway, we chatted and she told me there was no reason she knew of why I would be deactivated.

She told me to call the corporate office.

I don't even know what my ID# is - I have it stored online.

I am just SO peeved.

So, let's put it this way, my days of MLM may be over. I am not really sure it is worth to effort to figure this out. Honestly. But what a way to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

I'll call, but if they give me any hassle, I am out. Fine, you don't want my business? Whatevah!

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

I am extra bummed because that was an easy $100 profit that just fell into my lap. *sigh* I may be able to have my person buy the stuff for me, as a last hoorah, and I may be able to pocket the profit. But then I guess my days may be over.

Honestly I spend way too much on jewelry anyway. I was going to quit in 2005 but I kept making my quotas even once I stopped trying, so it's been like, whatever, I'll stay. I hoarde way too much jewelry though. If I am cut out I have a pile of wares to sell on ebay. Big Grin That's the plus! (Of course, not allowed to sell my wares on ebay while a consultant. But this changes things).

Along the same lines, dh is going crazy over buying used games. He said he found a pile of 12 games on sale for $40. He jumped on it - he said he could sell them on ebay for hundreds.

I am actually pleased. I have been waiting for dh to pick up a side income stream for a LONG time. I get tired of being the one working full-time and making all the side income too.

Anyway, he has MUCH more time now (with the kids in school a solid 2 days a week). So I will give him that. I am glad he is making himself useful. It looks like there could be a decent income stream in this direction.

Of course, on the flip side, this also has a lot of tax ramifications. So it's not pure profit. & this would take significant more work to track than other income sources. But it's still worthwhile.

With the free time he is also putting feelers out for film projects. They are largely unpaid, but the networking/contacts are invaluable.

I admit he is really busy on family projects - weddings and reunions to edit.

& don't even ask the status of our own home videos. It's like the shoemaker's son who has no shoes. Wink



Challenge Moolah

June 4th, 2008 at 06:39 am

2008 $20 challenge:

$2,346.00 - 5/1

$ 100.00 - ROTH Contributions - June
84.00 - May Interest
------------------
$2,530.00 - Balance 6/1
------------------

This was my last big interest month, for a while anyway, as I pay back a $4k Balance Transfer this month.

Then again, it's not such a big deal. I should have a few thousand in the short-term fund around October - December. I also should received $2k from IRS (straight to savings) in a couple of weeks.

I also am saving much more come July.

So I figure that balance transfer will be easy to make up, soon enough. For the long run that was kind of the plan. Take the balance transfers while my cash was low. Eventually save up the cash to earn the same interest on my own.

Then again I still have a $10k balance transfer earning 5.7%. That will be a little harder to replace (the interest rate more than anything).

But, getting there...

Deep Fryer?

June 3rd, 2008 at 02:35 pm

Does anyone have a deep fryer?

Not very bloggy today, but remembered I saw a cute little countertop deep fryer in the $50 range.

Was curious if anyone had one and what they thought.

I think this will be PERFECT for my Christmas wish list.

My MIL goes crazy over Christmas and it usually turns into big drama (God forbid I don't want anything for Christmas, but then when I Come up with something it's too expensive - though what they usually spend - or it's not practical - and on and on and on and on).

Kitchen things are usually safe.

Though then again it is MIL. She is OBSESSED with weight. She will probably HATE this idea.

Well, I'll try. Wink

So yeah, now that I think about it, I already know the answer to a deep fryer. Maybe I should ask for a similarly priced kitchen item and trade it in for the fryer. Wink

I was thinking for frying french fries and gyozas. I am sure I could find much to fry.


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