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Archive for April, 2011

Busy Saturday

April 30th, 2011 at 07:03 am

How did my quiet weekend get so busy?

**Paid all the bills today. When I focused on other chores I completely neglected any fiscal chores. No biggie - and it only took about 15 minutes to pay all the bills for May, etc.

Made good progress on several financial goals this month. Over half-way on all savings goals, etc. (Getting extra income this month, helped there!)

The cash infusion means I can top off all my savings accounts. I think some have fees for inactivity - and I haven't kept on top of all that. I have a couple of accounts with $300-ish that I will just round up to $500. I will put a whole $5k back in my Ally account (my mini-emergency fund). Then, the balance in my Alliant account is pretty much long-term savings. It will simplify things. I had paid some property taxes out of Ally at some point, or something, and there was no rhyme or reason to the balances. I didn't want to put more money back in there since the interest rate was low, but now this will simplify things a tad. Being able to just look at my accounts and know that one is strictly for emergency - the rest isn't emergency funds.

(I usually just track total dollars - not separating money. If interest rates change dramatically I may prefer to chase higher interest rates. For now, this will do - all my accounts are paying about the same).

**Work is a little crazy. As much as I was looking forward to getting my weekends back, I don't find it a big deal in the least to work a few hours on a Saturday. I usually go to aerobics, work for 3 hours, and get home by noon. Aerobics just relaxes me and makes me very productive. SO, I hope to clear some stuff off my desk.

I remembered regretting taking a 3-day weekend IMMEDIATELY after April, last year, because I felt so swamped. So, this year, I chose the second weekend in May. I am starting to regret that too. Someone gave me a big project yesterday I spent all day on - like I am not WAY crazy behind on everything else. During April clients are more forgiving, but in May everyone wants everything yesterday.

**Soccer sign ups are this weekend. We can sign up another weekend, but looking at our calendar I decided I better get that all taken care of today. Doesn't start for MONTHS, so I am kind of annoyed to commit to that today. BUT, BM wants to do soccer again.

And so my Saturday turned from lazy to crazy.

All in all, a Sunday home with no plans is something that I haven't had in MANY weeks. So, I will survive. Wink

I'll probably fill out all the paperwork (soccer) while I am at work, and send dh and the kids off to deal with that when I get home. So *crazy* might end at noon, for me.

These Saturday mornings hardly feel like *work* - it will be peaceful and I can get so much done without the interruptions. Will make next week easier. Heck, maybe I can leave early Friday if I get ahead of the curve. I just want to get out from behind!

Random Updates

April 28th, 2011 at 01:59 pm

**My honey bunny is home!

He went to the cabin for a few days to work on some scripts.

I haven't paid any attention all week, but logged in today to see what kind of money he was spending. He didn't spend a dime. Not that I can see. But for some groceries before he left.

The phone was dead when they got up there, so I didn't talk to him for days. WEIRD. In this day and age? Not being able to get ahold of someone? He did want to disconnect for a few days (no cable or internet), but not to the point no one could reach him.

Haven't seen him yet, but glad to know he made it home safe!

He's still got to pick up the kids, so one more BIG drive this month.

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Anyway, looks like grocery spending was $350 for the month, and gas was $350. To-Date. ($250 gas in reality - but we both need a refill, very soon. $100 to fill both tanks up).

I suppose if dh wants to go grocery shopping, he probably should. Overall, was better than I expected. Especially since he apparently lived on ramen all week.

I had wanted to go out to eat tonight, but decided I wasn't in the mood. My salmon dinner is pretty much all I ate the last 3 days. Still tons of leftovers in the fridge. So I think we really should hit the leftovers tonight. We have manicotti, enchiladas, and some rice/meat dinner. We will eat well. I can't let that food go to waste. Kids will help us finish it up.

I've said before - I am not the eater in my house. I live with 3 super-high-metabolismed boys. It is just amazing to me how LITTLE I can live on, in comparison. $30 of groceries lasted me a good 4 days, with food to spare. & that was a super expensive treat! (Salmon) I am worried about these leftovers, but they will probably be devoured in seconds, once the little ones return.

I am relieved to know we can probably fit in another big drive month. Now that tax season is over I want to get out there and enjoy some mini-vacations.

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The kids are on a full schedule with their energetic grandparents (MIL, and my dad). I am sure MIL ran them ragged with her crazy schedule (she always tries to jam pack a ton of activities when they visit).

They got to meet my SIL's new puppy, so had a blast playing with her. Also, swimming, playing with cousins, etc., etc.

Grandpa took them to the zoo today and is taking them on a hike tomorrow. Dh will meet them half way for lunch, to pick them up.

We had to drive them, but since we didn't have to feed them all week, I think we come out ahead. What a cheap spring break! I am sure they had a BLAST!

Re-Clutter

April 27th, 2011 at 01:32 pm

I didn't mention all the STUFF I hauled up from San Jose this weekend.

My parents are re-modeling their home. (Pretty much re-painting and re-carpeting the whole house).

We had gone over to pick up the treadmill, as expected.

But then my mom offered me several items I wasn't expecting at all. She gave me these 2 framed pictures that I have always admired (& joked that I would steal some day). She also offered me several other items which I declined. I also noticed she had taken down a quilt I always admired, and asked what she did with it. She gave that to me too!

I suppose it is easier to give some of this stuff away when you know you can visit it any time. Wink

In addition, I Was offered my old disco ball. Don't remember where it came from. Probably left at my parents' house because they had a good room for it. I am thinking of giving it to BM and putting it up in his room. But due to his rambuctious nature, maybe that should wait several years. (He'd find a way to get into trouble with a big ball hanging from the ceiling!).

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All in all, it isn't so bad. This morning I cleaned the quilt in the wash and hung up the two pictures. I moved another picture from downstairs to upstairs, to make way for the new pictures.

I think the quilt will go nice over the back of our living room couch.

I've still got plenty of white space on the walls, so we have a long way to "clutter," I suppose. It really wasn't a re-cluttering, but I didn't expect to bring home all that stuff, all the same.

I also got a pile of soap and corn dogs - that were no longer needed by my folks.
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Saturday I cleaned out dh's car (it was an awful mess). Vacuumed, but no scrubbing. IT could probably use some scrubbing.

This morning I got around to vacuuming the van out. Dh can put the seat back in when he returns home.

Tonight I have in mind to file papers away.

& so will end my little time off to myself. Tomorrow dh is coming home and he has a big date night planned. Probably movies and dinner. Our budget may only allow for movies (already paid for - some groupon or living social deal). Will see where we are at with the money this month. We probably both need gas, and if he wants to do a big grocery run... I think the groceries can wait though - since kids won't be back until dinner Friday. All I ate is salmon all week - haven't even touched the leftovers yet! I think we can survive with what is in the house and get groceries on the 1st, or later. Will see...

Anyway, no huge progress on chores. But, absolutely nothing planned all weekend, so hoping for a decent amount of spring cleaning.

Progress & Broke People & QUIET

April 26th, 2011 at 07:29 pm

I have a client who is WAY too nice. Called me today to ask about a check he wrote in 2003. Why??? Because an old employee had stopped by with an uncashed paycheck - wanting to replace it.

From 2003!

I advised against it, but whatever. As usual, he is too nice. He will probably cut her a check!

Anyway, it was so completely mind boggling that I have to share. This really takes the cake!

That said, I have said before and will say again. For all of my clients there are certain employees who often don't cash their paychecks. Always the most broke employees. BROKE! & they don't cash their paychecks!

How do I know they are broke? The 401k loans, all the advances, and garnishments, are all a pretty good clue. No one else forgets to cash their paychecks. Wink

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I'll be lazy, but I won't get much done this week. My few days alone are more than half over it seems.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store and bought some fresh salmon. It was funny because I almost changed my plans rather than go to the store at 5:00. Then I had a distant memory surface of how our grocery store is so awesome there is no line in the evenings. Other times? Maybe. But dinner rush they do well. So I walked in, grabbed a few things, and walked out. Wait time? -zero- Glad I didn't re-arrange my whole night to work around the grocery store craziness. Phew!

I got fresh salmon and rice a roni. Decided I Wasn't in the mood to make rice, too.

Did my slow cooker salmon recipe - in the oven (due to time constraints). It wasn't as moist, but it was close enough. Had some more for lunch, and it was about perfect. I am hoping the rest keeps for dinner tomorrow.

Anyway, groceries and cooking didn't take too long. But then there was dishes and all that. Decided that was all I was up for yesterday. I am a morning person so I crash and burn pretty quickly after 5:00. Started to realize I wouldn't get much done this week.

But, that said, was a very nice evening. I LOVE my house and hadn't just settle down to enjoy the peace and quiet for a while. Opened the blinds, enjoyed the backyard, turned on some music, and cooked a great meal. Grabbed some balsamic vinaigrette for my salad, too. YUM. Couldn't ask for a nicer evening.

I grabbed some Thai noodle thing for tonight - will see how it is.

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Was going to go to aerobics - but didn't feel so hot. Decided to skip it. I made myself sit down at the computer and do my computer chores. I usually stay pretty on top of the good old inbox, but with my surgery in January there was about 2 weeks of e-mail I barely glanced at. IT spiraled out of control from there.

I spent a good hour deleting e-mails and organizing e-mails I wanted to keep.

Just something I long put off, so that feels GOOD! Went from maybe 300 e-mails in my inbox to about 20. Woohoo! I know I can keep top of it, surgeries/illness and tragedies aside.

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I also caught up on some of my correspondence and e-mailed my friend demanding we get together. Hadn't talked to her for AGES, and her daughter is going through a brain tumor thing. She asked for my phone number maybe a year ago but never called. So I took the initiative to get this ball rolling. Felt more motivated after sitting down with brain cancer husband client and realizing how much she just needed that "understanding" shoulder to cry on. I initially felt both their cases were extremely different, but realize they are very similar. Maybe we will start our own unofficial brain tumor support group. I think eventually I should introduce them, too.

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Anyway, I am not much of a movie person. You know my dh is a MOVIE person. I really don't mind TV, because with the DVR I can flip through HOURS of TV watching in mere minutes. I don't find it to be much of a time suck. Not the way I watch it. (Usually just before bed when I am too tired to do anything else!). Movies on the other hand? Big time investment with rarely any reward. Life with dh has made me too much of a movie critic - which means I enjoy very few movies. Used to be I never watched any movies, so I thought they were all pretty cool. Funny how I am totally opposite any more. BAck to never watching movies, though.

BUT, I was thinking a netflix movie would be nice (a co-worker had recommended something). I had time for a chick flick or something. It was my "doh" moment since usually I just ask dh to take care of that me. I don't think I touched the Blu Ray player until we had it several years. I can work one of our 3 netflix set ups, but I didn't know how to add movies to the queue.

Hallelujah, I typed netflix.com into the computer and figured it out pretty easily. In fact, I thought my dh said they were hard to add, which is why I was hesitant. But clearly there was nothing hard about it. Must have been thinking about something else.

I also saw he had some internet link to netflix wii, which reminded me that was how we pick movies on the TV itself, but that I probably wouldn't have a CLUE how to figure that out.

Anyway, watched some stupid movie and was a nice end to a peaceful night.

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Anyway, the few days off have been nice, but will be nothing spectacular. (I am still working, too).

When the kids were younger, nothing sounded more diving but PEACE and QUIET and FREEDOM, but the second they were gone I couldn't stand the silence. I missed all the noise, etc. So basically, I had many opportunities to myself, but could never enjoy.

The first time I was really able to enjoy was in 2009 when they went to Florida for a week. I suppose the kids were 4 & 6. IT was the first time since having kids I could really enjoy the peace and quiet.

This week it was like welcoming an old friend. Can't say I will miss the fam at all. I know they will be back. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Always how it has been for me (except with super young 'uns!).

Even with work and everything else, I feel like I have put so much of my life on hold for kids. I don't want to be one of those people who put their ALL in their kids and have nothing once they are grown. I know I am not, but it's hard not to feel like you are doing that, as a parent. Everything with kids is just so intense and all consuming. It's nice to realize that I have something to look forward to in the future. Peace and quiet. Maybe it won't be so bad when we get to that empty nest stage.

It's true what they say - I can't believe I will have an EIGHT year old soon. All I can think is that is half way to driving age. How the heck did that happen?

Easter

April 23rd, 2011 at 08:19 pm

Kind of funny, but dh's most favorite holiday is definitely Easter.

If you knew him, you would never guess.

He of course spent about $50 on Easter stuff. Rolleyes

Besides my initial "WHAT!?!" reaction, I don't have much more to add. He is pretty easy to please and doesn't spend much money. If that is his pleasure. I just wish I would remember - it surprises me every year. Obviously I should be used to it by now!

That's probably more than we spend for them all year, or birthday, or Christmas, so I have to let it go. Let them be spoiled.

I think he enjoys having a holiday where no one else spoils them. His mom hogs up Christmas/Birthday pretty good. Easter is mostly his turn to go all out.

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Anyway, today was long and exhausting. Track meet ALL DAY, packing kids for next week, chores, etc.

Tomorrow should be pretty nice. Look forward to seeing the family and all that. We will eat well.

In the evening, dh and I will have a date to watch Game of Thrones.

For most of the week I get the house to myself. Not sure if I will laze around and do nothing, kick start my spring workouts (get back in the swing after winter and busy season), or do some spring cleaning. I'd like to do spring cleaning, but won't be surprised if I collapse and do absolutely nothing. Just depends on my mood.

I'll have to fend for myself. Was thinking burritos (lots of leftovers) and salmon (since no one else really cares for salmon). I will probably turn fresh salmon into 2 dinners, so that will probably carry me through.

Lots of Driving

April 22nd, 2011 at 08:32 am

I think I am done working overtime for the year. Phew! Tones of deadline stuff, but I forgot how easy and mindless all this stuff is compared to taxes! Whipped through a pile of work this week, and that was moving at an "I am over tax season" slow/tired pace.

Which is good because really no time to work this weekend, anyway. Figured I'd come in Sat. afternoon tomorrow and a couple hours Sunday morning if need be. Glad I don't have to do that!

Anyway, re-adjusting to the change of pace at work. 40 hours a week always feels like a vacation to me after tax season.

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I found another good lunch deal. It's funny because I found a Togo's that is a little out of the way. I've worked here TEN years, but found this Togo's when I first started working here. Some of my co-workers had already been here 20+ years, and always asked, "Where did you find Togo's???"

So the other day we were driving down the main street by my work and dh points out a Togo's - "How long has that been there?" he asks. It looks OLD. Like it's been there for decades - a really old sign.

So all along I've been driving way out of the way when there is one right down the street? I told dh I felt stupid, but obviously no one in my office knew it existed!

Last time we were there I saw my favorite sandwich is on special on Mondays for $2.99. For now, anyway. I keep forgetting, but will have to remember one of these days. One small sandwich = two meals for me. I usually keep half for later.

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I am not sure how the next week or so will shake out. I think April has been low-spend, overall, but I am still flying pretty blind with not being able to download my transactions into Quicken (Fidlity credit card), and too busy to manually enter things. I added up the gas/groceries the other day just to see where we were at. Which is mostly the part I am flying blind on. We always write down the misc. stuff since our buget is so limited for anything extra.

Anyway, the gas will not be good this month.

Tomorrow - drive 120 miles rount trip for a track meet. Taking the gas sipper, of course.

Sunday - drive 250 miles RT for Easter. Have to drive van because picking up treadmill. Ugh!

Monday - Dh is driving 130 miles RT for his little retreat. He said if his friend drove he'd give him gas money. I told him if his friend drove that would be nice because he was providing free shelter. !!! They are staying at the family cabin to work on some projects (without distraction).

Dh will probably drive 120 miles, at the least, to pick up the kids later in the week. I just remembered that part. Yeah, I really hope his friend drives!

That said - since we are getting a really nice/new treadmill, for free, it's not so bad. Any gas budget overage I will probably just pull from savings and consider it the cost of the treadmill.

Also, food costs may be on the low side with the kids (bottomless pits) gone for a week!

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It's a bummer because all of the activities I had planned in May/June are pretty drive-intensive. May have to re-evaluate and find more to do closer to home. There were several hikes we wanted to do, etc. I also wanted to go to Monterey and San Francisco. Usually no big deal, but these gas prices are getting ouchy!

Hoping for Good News

April 18th, 2011 at 06:53 am

**Crossing my fingers for my usual overtime bonus. I don't take it for granted, and this year is not a year to take it for granted (boss decreased compensation by 10% last year).

**If I do get a bonus, I will also be able to figure my tax refund for 2011. Or if I will owe. We still have a pile of medical bills for this year, and so I expect another odd "large refund" year.

So, it will be nice to revise my mortgage pre-pay and ROTH goals having an idea of the refund amount.

I take most my withholding from my bonus - which is another thing. No bonus? - may owe a lot of taxes! I should have a better idea today, either way.

**My main goal is 10% to retirement. Secondary goal is to fund medical deductible ($3,000) for the year 2012. I don't expect to receive enough to do both 100%, so that's it! Will put away what I can for next year.

I may pull a couple of hundred dollars for some recent spending.

**Spending on the horizon???

Having replenished cash savings after a VERY spendy April (property taxes, medical bills, etc.), and having saved $300-ish on home repairs (was much cheaper than I expected), we will probably move forward on buying a nice screen door for the front door.

I am still cringing at the price, but it will serve a dual purpose. IT will add a small amount of security to our home (drives me NUTS that dh will answer the door to anyone - he thinks I am paranoid. Female versus male perspective, obviously). I would love a locked screen door between him and the outside.

I'd also love a better and more secure way to get fresh air moving downstairs. I suppose it could be an energy saving measure.

This is not technically from my bonus, at all. Would be one month's home/car savings. We've just been trying to spread out these known home improvement projects, and we have nothing else on the horizon (knock on wood) - so it's time! I suppose the point is if I don't get a bonus, we might decide not to spend the money. This is why we make these decisions in April, when the cash gets a bit of a boost.

P.S. Game of Thrones was AWESOME!

Hot Dates

April 14th, 2011 at 01:43 pm

Had a really nice lunch date with dh today.

That's it for a while because kids are off school for 2 weeks!

That said, sounds like we might get some time to ourselves since kids are staying with the Grandmas a few days after Easter.

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I have another skype date with my friend tonight.

I've tried to connect with her on skype a couple of times but she hasn't responded (said she didn't get the e-mails).

She lives in San Francisco. Last we met up we marveled how she hadn't seen my youngest son since he was an infant!

So, thought crosses my mind yesterday. Gosh, I need to skype her. I know she is really busy so ask if we can do a short skype session some time.

She e-mails me back and says yes, tonight, but why not a long skpye session. Big Grin

I feel like a dork. For one, I should have taken the initiative and demanded we skype sometime soon. Yeesh! It's been over a year since I saw she was on skype?

Secondly, I easily solved the problem of her not meeting my son. If we skype early enough she can see and talk to him. If not, maybe another time.

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I mention because skype can be such a frugal tool.

My dh has been skyping with his friend who lives about an hour away. They are working together on some projects, and started regular skyping to collaborate, last time gas prices spiked. The habit has just stuck.

I think that's why I Was thinking about it in terms of my friend. Distance doesn't seem to matter so much any more, does it?

Now that my sister is settled in her new house, we need to get a regular skype schedule set up, too. Since she was in limbo her webcam was packed away in boxes or something - for a LONG time. Time to bug her to get out the webcam.

2 More Hectic Weeks

April 13th, 2011 at 01:32 pm

It's ironic, because this week is going kind of slow for me. The franticness has gone down a notch. But none of my clients (or friends) want to bother me because they think I am so busy.

Anyway, as of yesterday, I am DONE! All the April 15th (er, 18th) stuff taken care of. I have a record low number of clients on extension. No idea why. But, it's pretty nice.

I am trying to get through the piles on my desk, then see what else has been pushed aside. It will be busy here for a while with April 30th and early May deadlines. None of which I have mad ANY progress on. So I am not exactly relaxing! Then there is all the "catching up on our regular work" which keeps us busy well into summer.

Anyway, BM has track meets the next two weekends and we are going to the Bay Area for Easter, so I don't see a "down day" in my future for a while. I will probably need to work this weekend, and won't have any time to work the following weekend. Easter will be fun, but I prefer more down/quiet time.

Next week I will choose my 3-day weekend for May. I usually take a Friday off in there, to celebrate the end of tax season. 3-day weekends feel like a full week of vacation after this craziness. & I will have two 3-day weekends in May!

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I told dh that this was officially the easiest tax season ever. With both kids in school, I hoped he'd agree. He did, but said last year was pretty easy too. I guess we didn't expect much of him after surgery. No wonder this year seems so easy. Big Grin

I think my own surgery significantly shortened the usual "4 months no break" that tax season becomes. For me, it's been about 3 months no break. So I am not as exhausted as usual. Plus, I get the strong feeling my co-workers were easy on my since I had surgery.

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As such, I don't have any pent up splurges in mind. Usually we have a nice dinner out or something to celebrate the end of tax season. I told dh I would be easy this year. I want a REALLY nice bottle of champagne because I have conquered quite a few ongoing/neverending issues at work in recent weeks. I mentioned in a recent blog. Plus, hopefully we are done with all this medical stuff. I told dh I had no desire to eat out, but that I just wanted a nice glass of champagne. We can toast the hope that things will settle down a little bit.

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All that said, the family is leaving me for 4-5 days. The kids have 2 weeks off of school, and dh is doing a "retreat" to work on his scripts. I think he feels this is his last hoorah to get some projects off the ground, or give up and get a "Real job." We have long talked about him going back to school and/or work come fall.

Anyway, so I will probably put in some BIG days at work and have an inordinate amount of peace and quiet at home. Next 2 weeks may not be so hectic after all.

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Well, we got some interesting news on the medical front.

Dh is due for another MRI. So, he calls, and learns his Doctor retired LAST WEEK.

Since he should no longer need surgery, it shouldn't be too big of a deal. I am trying to be positive that it will be good to get another point of view or opinion, and switch to a local doctor to monitor things.

I also feel extremely blessed we were able to have this surgeon do dh's surgery. A year later, and maybe he couldn't have. !!! & it had taken years to diagnose him - so I do feel blessed we got the chance to have one of the best surgeons. That we didn't have to travel more than 90 miles or so to have one of the best surgeons around. Phew!!!

Anyway, I am not sure when his MRI will be (probably not scheduled yet), but crossing my fingers for NO NEWS. He's still a very valid candidate for cyber knife (a radiation procedure). We just have been dragging our feet on that. His last surgeon really recommended it, but we wanted some time and space before we went down that road again. The side effects can be really similar to surgery, and we kind of felt it was best to heal and see how things go. Rather than add more swelling/problems, etc. immediately after a seemingly succesful surgery.

So, will see what any new surgeon's opinion on the subject is. & hopefully we like the guy we are referred to. We may have to shop around a bit.

It's bad enough our *forever* dentist retired and we have to carefully find a new dentist too. Rolleyes What's up with that? People retiring all over the place... A dentist is just a dentist, but I have had a lot of trouble finding one that wasn't extremely scammy. Just thinking about it stresses me out. & now I have to add brain surgeon to the "awesome retired people to replace" list. Ugh!

Free Treadmill

April 10th, 2011 at 09:40 am

I'd eventually like to buy a nice treadmill and elliptical machine, and drop my gym membership. That's all I really use. That said, $15/month versus two nice pieces of equipment (don't want to buy crap) + two rambuctious children means this was not anywhere in my near term time horizon. Our gym is a steal.

In addition, my parents did buy a REALLY nice treadmill. I had my eye on it but figured it would be a while before they let it go.

The time came quickly. No one uses it but BM, so they offered it to me. They've maybe had it 2-3 years. (I initially thought they would tire of it in 5+ years).

I'll take it!

Will probably pick it up Easter weekend. Trading the kids for a treadmill (they are staying with the Grandmas a few days). IT won't be 100% free since we will have to drive the gas guzzler to pick it up. But all in all, a steal!

I have no idea where to put it. We have 3 TV-less rooms where it would fit. I may even have room in my bedroom (has a TV). But, I would be most likely to use it early in the a.m. while dh is asleep - so rules out the bedroom.

I think we will just put it in the main living area and see how it goes. Kind of an ugly space taker, but it seems to be the most useful spot. Will see how it goes. Second choice is a bedroom upstairs. I can close the door and not disturb anyone. It might end up in there in the end - just not TV watching while treadmilling. Anywhere downstairs may be too loud for the people sleeping upstairs - it's all open and the sound carries up. Will see...

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I am still back on forth on the screen door for our front door. I suppose I don't have to custom order it, but the big doors run $300-$500. A regular door could be had for $100-ish. I just find that really annoying! Add $200 just because it is a foor taller???

But as I am crossing off expensive things from my "saved for the future" list, it is becoming more tempting. I think we will just shop around and see what we can find. I don't think I will feel it is worth $400 or $500. IT will have to be the *perfect* door. So yeah, will look more seriously than we have in the past, but my expectations are low.

I need to find where to get a deal on these type doors. The prices I have seen are at the big box stores.

Credit Report & Garage Sale

April 9th, 2011 at 01:07 pm

Checked Credit Karma since I got an e-mail reminder that I hadn't looked at it in a while.

What is interesting is that absolutely nothing has ever fallen off of my credit card report. I thought that was odd, initially, but then heard that good credit stays on your report for 10 years.

Imagine my surprise to see my "number of accounts" went down. Um, that is something that has never happened before!

I believe we refinanced our first home purchase towards the beginning of 2001. Since we paid off the first loan in the refinance, it stayed on our credit report 10 years after that time. Thus, it was the first loan/credit we ever closed. It makes sense that would fall off the report at this point in time.

Several things will start to fall off in the next year's time. We refinanced our home one more time and sold it all within a year - so that is two more home loans and a line of credit that will fall off our report within a year.

I'll have to pull up my credit report and see if that first mortgage is really gone! I am just assuming that's it. Credit Karma kind of gives you a sum up of your score (estimate/FAKO score), but tells you how many accounts you have open, accounts closed, credit utilization, etc. I find it to be a nice free alternative to keep an eye out for anything suspicious.

Anyway, I suppose this all means I am getting *old.* Old enough to have lines of credit/loans/credit cards closed for 10 whole years.

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Neighbors had a yard sale today. Nothing very exciting. I stopped by to see. Last time I scored some really high quality paint for LM's room - $1. Hoping I would stumble onto something like that again. Something useful or needed.

The quality of everything was pretty low - beat up and banged up. Nothing I needed or was looking for at all. So, eh.

That said, LM bought an ashtray (don't ask). BM bought a toy. They got away with 25 cents for being neighborhood kids. Then when we went back with their quarters, a skateboard was sitting out. I swear the kids were better hagglers when they were younger. I had whispered to BM to offer half price for a toy and he was shy and pretty much didn't say anything. Just smiled at the guy and paid whatever he asked. LOL. In the end after they got their money he gave them both their finds for a quarter. Anyway, so I nudged BM and told him to offer $5 for the skateboard. I didn't think he would do it, but now we were talking real money. So, he did. They asked $10, he said $5, they said okay.

Now he is in skateboard heaven. IT looked pretty nice. Clearly it needed new wheels and/or bearings (which is why I lowballed it). Or maybe just some lube. Dh looked at it and thought it was brand new and never ridden. Was a good buy! Dh also made the point that we should leave it as is until BM gets better/older/more practiced. Good point - then we can fix it up so it moves faster.

Craziness

April 8th, 2011 at 09:58 pm

Life is crazy. Tax season isn't really the all of it. Maybe the most of it. I try to keep things simple and not so hectic, so it all does seem pretty hectic at the moment. That said, I intend to work all weekend. Not because I have that much to do, but it's my last shot for overtime. That, and too many personal appointments. So I'll need to work both days. I am exhausted just thinking about the weekend. And work my To Do List looks impossible, I guess. IRS deadlines? I think I will pretty much be done by Monday, like usual (one week ahead). But the state has a 4/15 deadline for use tax, April 30th is payroll deadlines, May 7th or something like that is property tax deadlines, and I am behind on all my regular work. It will be busy for a while. I don't have that many tax clients, so that is why I am pretty much done. I actually expect to get caught up on other things next week. Phew!!!

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I can't help but feel my horoscope would read something along the lines of "many loose ends will be tied up this week."

**April 15th deadline - pretty much conquered.

**Gutters fixed. Total damage? $30. For a thorough gutter cleaning, some patches, and some fixing. I know - we owe our neighbor a nice dinner or something. He didn't want to charge anything and dh made him take $30. That was a project LONG put off - talk about loose ends tied up.

I hope he cashes the check. This is a case where cash would have been nice. I hate it when people don't cash checks!

**IRS audit - done. Got the letter that it was final and no change. For a client - but was a big stressful ordeal. Woohoo!

**I have 2 partnerships who have been quibbling with an exiting partner. Both have brought me much stress and back and forth the past year. Those 2 issues seem to be mostly resolved, as of this week. That calls for some champagne!!!

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As far as government shutdown? Living in California, I am ashamedly used to it.

This was actually a huge reason Ms. Preschool up and left the state. She had a lot of state subsidized children in her care, so basically didn't get paid many months out of the year - many years.

I am still bitter about that, obviously. Frown That she just up and left - we loved her to death!

Government not getting their act together and paying their bills? Yeah yeah, what else is new? It's sad that has become the norm on some level. I agree with the other comments said this week in the blogs. Imagine, spending within one's means! A very novel concept...

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I told dh that getting our gutters taken care of so well, so quickly, and so cheaply was karma.

I have to laugh when people presume I am money grubbing whatever because I am an accountant. Accountant isn't the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to making differences in people's lives. But, the truth is it is pretty rewarding. I think people just tend to really appreciate having someone to trust with that stuff, and not having to deal with it. Because though I love it all, most people can't stand numbers, finances, and taxes.

Anyway, I am told on a regular basis that I am highly appreciated. Which is where the rewarding part comes in. Probably extra so this time of the year since people hate dealing with their taxes so much.

I suppose I feel the same way about home maintenance. I know nothing about it. I don't want to know anything about it. & having someone I can trust, who isn't going to screw me over, and help me with that? I told dh I was feeling what it was like to be on the other side. *Home maintenance* is my equivalent to *evil taxes* I guess. Big Grin

So yes - definitely owe neighbor a nice dinner or some other token of appreciation!


Home Maintenance Update

April 7th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Oy vey.

Dh called me to tell me that neighbor handyman patched one leak in our gutter and may cost $20-ish. (Big whoop, huh???)

But, this made me pretty grumpy. We have multiple leaks and issues all around the house. Apparently a ton of dirt had piled up in there so he was cleaning it out and patching it up.

I said, "Well, what about leak a, b, and c? & maybe he should go around and look for other problem areas."

I know the average person is just cheap, but I'd rather clean out the gutters than have further issues. Seems to me some preventitive maintenance is in order.

I was just so annoyed when I got off the phone with him.

Guess he talked to him more about it and he looked everything over. Not sure if he would have otherwise, but after I griped at him a bit... Found pretty much three major problem areas that will be simple to fix. He didn't want to even charge us, but dh insisted (& will round up, of course). He will finish it tomorrow, so will see what the final damage is.

This leaves some minor leaks that dh hadn't noticed that I had. Kind of funny because he noticed ones that I hadn't. So, next time it rains we will just do a once over and make notes of all the patches we need. I don't know how thoroughly he checked everything in the end, but I suppose we will have all the leaky areas double checked eventually.

In the end, was really nice because to just call him over to look everything over is no biggie (he can walk). Not like calling some professional who has to drive many miles and run back and forth.

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This repair/maintenance ended up being so minor that I am thinking of buying that screen door I have been wanting forever on our front door. I know just the man to help us install it, too. Big Grin

Will think about it...

Home Maintenance

April 6th, 2011 at 08:58 pm

The only pressing item on our home maintenance To Do List is "fix gutter." I think it's been there 2 years. Doesn't help that I asked dh to take care of it and he just hasn't. Rolleyes

Knowing this, I have took back ownership of the task, but haven't gotten anywhere myself. It is really hard to find a good, reliable handyman. I am also pretty skeptical about other people's recommendations, which doesn't help. I find most people to be gullible and naive when it comes to most anything that cost money. I tend to better picking people out of the air than with recommendations. Have been recommended quite the scam artists over the years.

That said, I didn't really see any other choice. Was going to ask around with neighbors and on Facebook, and go from there.

Then, hallelujah...

A neighbor had asked for a handyman recommendation. A few days later I got an e-mail from a handyman replying. I read the e-mail and he sounded good on paper, but it wasn't until I got to the end of the e-mail that I saw it was our neighbor. Doh!

He's going to come look at the gutter tomorrow, but assured me it was probably a pretty simple fix, and that we shouldn't need to wash out the gutters. (We never had because there were no big trees around, and I had started to think maybe we should have done more maintenance).

Anyway, all of it is music to my ears.

I can't believe I potentially get to cross that off my list with little impact to the budget. Will see what he says when he actually looks at them!

Our strategy has paid off very well. Buy a new home with high quality materials, and don't do any work on it. We've been here about 10 years and the strategy has worked. We painted the exterior last year (original paint job did not last well - new stucco apparently does that). Dh replaced some toilet parts for $10-ish dollars this year. That's pretty much all that comes to mind besides slowly painting the interior over the years.

But, obviously all our appliances are aging, and we are going to need to find a reliable handyman type one of these days.

All that said, I've learned the hard way and made it a rule to not hire friends for things. So, I have slightly mixed feelings about the whole thing. But, I don't feel I have much other choice at this point. He's a contractor and business is slow. Why I never thought to ask him about this stuff before. But, guess he is hungry for more work.

Crossing my fingers!

Mortgage Update

April 5th, 2011 at 07:24 am

I am copying Petunia's idea.

Of course, I was rushed and it isn't so pretty, and now I realize I highlighted the wrong payment.

But, here goes:



At this rate, we continue to find an extra $100/month. & we usually get around $1500 for Christmas, so we may just use that for the last $1k.

We wanted to pay off some of the closing costs we borrowed from our last refi, and psychologically hit the $199k mark since we expected this year to be pretty good financially.

So far we have knocked off $17/year in interest. If we pay off the extra $3k we plan to, we will save about $150/year in interest.

That said, once we reach our goal, I don't foresee continuing to put so much to the mortgage. Will wait until dh finds a job, and then we will put a TON more to the mortgage. IT's just one of those things I don't want to tie a lot of resources into while we still have 300 payments left. When we can start to significantly and rapidly knock it down is another story. This is why I don't mind putting a chunk of a second income to it - because we can knock off years very quickly in that case. In the interim, we have more pressing financial goals where I don't want to tie up all that money for eternity.

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Today I redeemed $100 in credit card rewards. $100 will be deposited into my ROTH in the next few days.

I am mailing off my property taxes today and watching my cash balance dwindle down to $22k. Frown It will hopefully be back to $25k at the end of the month.

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I was thinking about those studies that show people's pain centers (in their brains) are not activated when they use a card instead of cash.

That might be true for the average person. I am just wired differently. I think I get more pleasure from saving than spending, personally.

Anyway, with how horrific April is with the property taxes, medical bills, and all the other bills due, and even being prepared and having saved up for it all, I think I am going to cringe every time I make a purchase this month. Credit or cash doesn't matter - will be painful! (I've never carried a balance so credit is same as cash to me! I just don't treat it any differently and can attest it is just as painful).

Spend Spend Spend

April 2nd, 2011 at 08:49 am

"Today, there are three kinds of people: the have's, the have-not's, and the have-not-paid-for-what-they-have's." - Earl Wilson

That was just at the top SA - LOVE it! Haven't seen that one before...

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A new month, and money in the budget to spend... Whee!!!

**Dh saw a deal for a $50 GC to a restaurant, 1/2 off, so he bought that yesterday. Will just take the kids and have a feast some day this month. Was a Living Social deal.

**He also saw season passes at Six Flags for $50 apiece. That said, thankfully he looked up the rides, etc. Decided the kids couldn't really do much. I am surprised - I thought BM was pretty much tall enough for any ride. But I won't argue with him. Big Grin The kids get free tickets through some reading program, anyway, so we will go once this year. Will save season passes for the future.

If we bought them, would just come from our vacation budget. Tends to be more of a staycation-y budget.

We may get season passes to another amusement park in the area, this year.

**LM wanted to sign up for a class and the price goes up Monday, so I signed up today. I am not thrilled because I don't think the class is worth the money (or hassle). BUT, dh made the point that he never asks to do anything, and so might as well let him.

**Bought tickets for the Holi Festival tomorrow. I had read somewhere "5 and under" free. But I happened to notice official website said "Under 5 Free."

Ugh!

So, was $48 instead of $32.

Glad I caught that. Or maybe I shouldn't be - I am sure they would let it slide if I showed up with no cash and confused by the conflicting info on the internet. But, I don't mind paying for it if that is what it is. I double checked a couple of times before I paid. He is almost 6, so whatever - will just pay.

Last time went I think I only had to pay $10-$12 for myself. So, needless to say, the cost has gone up significantly. But I know it will be well worth it!

**I was looking forward to picking up some sushi today. Our local grocery chain has fresh sushi for $5-ish. We grabbed some for dinner a couple of weeks ago and it was SO good. I was thinking that would be a nice change from my weekend fast food runs. So, I am salivating just thinking about it.

When I was checking that the location down the street from my office had sushi, I saw they have these party planners (sushi, but all other kinds too) for very reasonable prices. We always grab the take and bake pizzas from there since they are so GOOD, and cheap. Will have to remember to grab a sushi platter next time we entertain.

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Scanned my paycheck last night, but appears it won't clear until Monday. (Usually next business day - I guess Saturdays don't count. Bummer).

I also can't download my March credit card transactions until Monday (stupid new credit card - rewards are good, but this aspect is a REAL pain). I do expect another $100 deposit to my ROTH (rewards), so that is the plus side.

So, my hands are tied until then. Monday I can pay the mortgage and the property taxes. & see if I need to pull any money from savings for all the big bills due in April.

Got HBO

April 1st, 2011 at 03:42 pm

No Joke!

So, dh has absolutely no patience when it comes to his beloved TV series, etc. Anyway, so lord knows why I have encouraged him!

We were just talking yesterday about the new Game of Thrones series - Premieres in a couple of weeks on HBO.

The plan was to have his dad record it for us on DVD. So dh asked if we should get the first episode for Easter. Um, heck yeah??? Since we will see his folks that day.

I did say we could just go down and watch it there - too bad it was Sunday night. But the math is that it may be $20 gas to drive there and back. At which point I said, "Heck, HBO is probably cheaper." Not that we need to make any special trips to borrow DVDs or anything. But, still. Kind of puts it in perspective.

I guessed HBO would be $10. Dh thought it would be $15 (per month). I said, "For 3 months? Maybe we should just pay for the dang thing."

So, he called today. $5/month for ONE YEAR promotion - we can drop any time.

Never hurts to ask!

Basically, $15, and we can watch Game of Thrones on our DVR. Woohoo! We'd pay more to go see a movie, probably. But, that's 3 months of entertainment. We will probably turn it off once the series is over. We've gotten pretty used to watching HBO series on Blu Ray (blockbuster). It's kind of nice to just sit down and watch a whole series - what we have gotten used to.

I think this is a nice splurge! Big Grin But I don't foresee getting hooked on HBO.

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As far as April?

Bills, bills, bills...

$1200 medical bill due
$2000 property taxes
$ 500 dental bill (kids' checkup last month)
$ 500 life insurance (annual bill due).

Lovely!!

I am well prepared and don't have to even touch my paycheck. It's just never fun to see that much cash drain out of the account at once. Blech.

Thank goodness I expect a bonus check this month. Crossing my fingers I can replenish the medical savings fund - for 2011. If I am lucky, that check and my paycheck for April will be a wash with all those bills, so that my net worth does not decrease at all. I didn't plan it that way - all the bills due when I get an extra paycheck - it is just how it works out. I was kind of relieved the medical bill was not due until the end of this month, likewise. So my medical savings shouldn't go down to $0. Phew!

That said, I don't take anything for granted in this economy. Will just cross my fingers next pay day - hoping for that overtime check!