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Updates

November 19th, 2010 at 06:03 am

I don't remember November ever being like this. It's like the stars aligned at crazy. It's usually my slowest, most relaxing time of the year. Will have to pass that up for this year!

Just a lot going on - work, home and everywhere.

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I am pleasantly surprised by our HOA. If nothing else, they do seem to have their finances in order.

Our first HOA (condo) was fine. No complaints. However, the fees were $250/month when we lived there (included cable, some utilities, and some nice facilities like clubhouse, pool, racquet ball courts, and stuff like that). The fact that it was an uber high cost of living area probably didn't help. Last I saw, the fees had risen to $400/month. Ouch! Glad we sold the place 8 years ago.

Our current HOA? Maybe a little more particular, but not much bite. (I'm to the point where I would complain more about them letting homeowners off easy - which I never thought I would complain about. But the economy has left little in the way of *pride of ownership*).

We just got notice that our dues would go down this year, by $5/month. (They are lower than they started at 9 years ago).

We bought in the community new, and they sent us a note this week that though they had completely paid off the clubhouse this year, they were not going to reduce our dues in light of foreclosures and lack of payment from many owners.

Honestly, I think it's a miracle they had the foresight to stay solvent. They also have an almost 7-figure repair reserves (which means I see more due decreases in our future. They are playing it WAY safe, but I have no complaints about that in the interim). In the end, our dues have stayed rather steady, even decreasing slightly, even while the economy has all gone to hell.

& I never thought I'd see the day I'd praise a HOA. Wink

So hey - good financial news!

The dues are around $72/month, but not apples to apples with our condo, by ANY means. For one, our HOA doesn't own our walls and roof!

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The kids finished their first trimester. Had conferences yesterday.

BM? He has the same awesome teacher as last year and is in academic heaven. I didn't expect to gleam much from the meeting.

LM? I was curious because though he seems to be doing great, and is mostly pretty "go with the flow" he has his difficult/stubborn side.

So, I was relieved that they both had glowing reports from their teachers. WE always get lots of compliments from the teachers, but I can't help but feel it's the school and the teachers who should get the compliments. (I know we raise our kids to be respectful, and that we emphasize doing well in school, but they can be a bit of handful if not properly challenged, etc. I can't take all the credit for them being VERY happy in their school environment). This is PUBLIC school, so I know it is a huge blessing.

I am also completely amazed by the technology factor and how they utilize technology to keep our kids challenged. I am still reeling from this whole lexile reading thing (which I wish they had when I was a child!), but now they are doing similar things in math. BM will have a completely custom/computer generated math curriculum come January. (Is that cool or what?)

Anyway, pleased with the kids' reviews, we treated them out to dinner. Their choice was Sizzler. Yum! We have a really nice one with a pretty big buffet. So, we ate well. (I think the kids chose it for the dessert factor - make your own sundaes).

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Got my dishes:



I think they are just beautiful! (The red is more of a deep maroon - love love love).

Out of 48 pieces, we had one broken bowl. So, maybe best I couldn't cancel my online order. Out of 3 boxes due to arrive, I think I can fish out one intact bowl.

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I've been flying blind on my finances. (My Quicken data in limbo!)

It doesn't help that with the Target card, transitioning out the Chase, and that not everyone takes AmEx - we have been regularly using 3 cards, plus some straggling expenses on the Chase. Make it 5, since dh insisted on using his own Chase. I finally talked him out of that - because moving from one cards to 4+ is driving me a LITTLE crazy - but will be a couple of charges there. (He is concerned if we need a backup Visa since the AmEx is so limited. I told him I would carry his card in my wallet - in case we ever needed it. He couldn't possibly carry 3 cards. Rolleyes )

So anyway, yesterday I had a few moments to sit down with dh and assess the Quicken situation.

I didn't lose ANY data! (Happy Dance). Over the weekend I need to search for any remnants of my excel sheets. Those, I probably won't be so lucky with (since he didn't back those up!)

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The Fidelity AmEx is interesting because they show transactions before they authorize. They have all sorts of disclaimers how not to call about those transactions because they have not posted.

Anyway, a weird charge for $2-ish had posted, which I have to ask dh about. It could possibly be for the online backup site.

But, in the "not cleared" area was charges to BMW, a cell phone company, and other companies I never heard of. I Was googling them all to clarify.

Um, seriously? We have had the card 5 minutes.

The thing is I don't think I can call to make a fraud claim because they haven't posted. Rolleyes I will read all the fine print on that later and maybe call them anyway (after I check with dh).

I am less happy with AmEx by the minute. Maybe time to shop some Visa reward cards. (Not that this has to be an AmEx thing, but who on earth could have our credit card info? we just got the cards)!

To be continued...

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Turkey Day - we provide the turkey and the place, but not much else. Maybe a few sides, etc. Dh is going to do some shopping today.

Xmas - Not much to do. I got LM that art stuff, and my parents are giving BM a hugely expensive gift (something nerdy - robotics thing). Dh will fill in the rest with his Scholastic vouchers - he is volunteering 24 hours or something (so means about $500 in books - though will donate most to the school). BM's teacher told us last time we donated 8 hours, he got 300 books from that. IT's a non-cash way to make a HUGE difference. His goal is to add 500 to his class library the next Scholastic sale. !!

Anyway, Dh's family is big into Xmas and he may buy some things, but I am not sure I will bother buying anything else for anyone. Maybe a work gift exchange and stuff like that. I prefer simplicity and a non-material Christmas, myself.

We don't necessarily buy big gifts for the kids every year. I didn't buy the art stuff for Christmas, but since we found something big for BM to open on Xmas Day, (even thought not from us), it seemed appropriate to hold the art stuff to Christmas, too.

The kids will get a zillion gifts from the in-laws, which is why we don't bother much with it. They don't seem to notice or care. As far as they are concerned, "Grandma" is in charge of Christmas gifts. My parents don't even usually buy them anything, and they are too small to think that is weird. Books and games from Scholastic are perfect for stockings and a couple of gifts under the tree.

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I've been writing down all our misc. purchases, and after adding everything from the credit cards today, that dh didn't tell me about. I think we have about $11 left for the rest of the month. In fact, may need it today for co-pays.

It's a work in process!

Money spent?

Medical $10
Gifts $20
Parking $10
Eating Out $70
Babysitting $15
Clothing $50
Music Downloads $5
Misc. $9
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$189

Today, I am going to sit down with dh and tell him how we have no more money for the rest of the month. (I can pull co-pays from medical savings, but rather not. The savings is for more substantial expenses!)

So, if we cut our gas and grocery spending through the end of the month - will buy us wiggle room. I need to immerse him in my own world so I don't have to do this every month. (& I have to take our spending limits more seriously, myself). We both have room for improvement.

7 Responses to “Updates”

  1. ThriftoRama Says:

    Hmmm. Tell me more about the Scholastic volunteer thing. I'd be interested in doing that!

  2. MonkeyMama Says:

    If you have a Scholastic Warehouse where you live, keep an eye our for sales. Show up and offer to volunteer (here, they always seem desperate for volunteers!) They have big warehouse sales a few times a year - always in December.

    The one here pays volunteers in vouchers at $10 per hour. (& all the books are on deep discount as evidenced by getting 300 books for $80).

    For us, we just happen to live less than a mile from the Warehouse, AND the volunteer co-ordinator is a parent in BM's class. So, she gives first dibs for the parents in the class. (You don't have to donate the vouchers, but is encouraged to donate some to the school or teachers). As far as dh, I think he is her most reliable volunteer, so at this point he gets first dibs, regardless!

    People drive hundreds of miles for the sales, so not sure the odds you live close enough to one! I volunteered once and the local librarians and teachers were buying HUNDREDS of books at once. It is a little insane.

  3. Homebody Says:

    Wow I can see driving to Sac for such a sale, especially in conjunction with Ikea and my mother's relatives about an hour away (in America's hell hole town).

    DH and I were watching Fairy Jobmother last night and she was talking about communicating about money. Ummm.... DH and I are really bad about it. I need to start meeting with him too.

    Oh I just looked it up, exclusive for homeschoolers, teachers, etc. Never mind. It sounded cool though.

  4. MonkeyMama Says:

    Homebody - I will let you know when the sale is. They don't care who buys the books. Wink My dh went one time many years ago (since it is heavily advertised) and asked, "How often do you open this up to the public?" They said, never. LOL. Anyone who knows about the sale can shop. You just have to log in online to get some sort of card or something. You can sign up while there. So, I would just show up and ask them what you need to buy books.

    The sale is week of Dec. 13 (maybe weekend before and/or after, too). Remind me as the date approaches and I will get you further details.

  5. jolie Says:

    The Scholastic volunteer concept sounds like a great idea. Pity I'm out in the boonies a million miles from the warhouse LOL

  6. frugaltexan75 Says:

    It sounds like your little monkeys are doing quite well in school. Smile As much as you enjoy receiving good reports about them, I bet the teachers get as much enjoyment in giving them! Big Grin

  7. Looking Forward Says:

    Your new dishes are lovely! I have been thinking we need some new ones soon. I bought my set before I was married and I think we're down to five bowls now.

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