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Archive for May, 2011

Blockbuster Sale

May 30th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

For today, a lot of Blockbuster stores are selling DVDs and Blu Rays for 99 cents/each.

I wouldn't be surprised if they had 1000 Blu Rays set out - they had a TON!

Dh snatched up 15. He didn't buy any he wouldn't keep, but plans to sell most of them. I think we could have easily erred on buying a lot more and selling them for profit.

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Seeing two movies this weekend was plenty time consuming, but of course the movie we have been waiting for was available today. Dh just happened to notice after we bought all the Blu Rays, so back in line again.

Anyway, will finally get to see "Waiting for Superman." One of my clients was in this documentary - is about public education. Have heard it was really excellent (albeit, sad).

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It's 66 degrees at current. Yesterday it rained. Today is cold and windy. It snowed at our cabin this weekend (lower elevation). Which means camp is getting MORE snow. 2 more weeks or so before camp opens??? IT is winter wonderland for now. Will be interesting!

Summer camp - 2-3 weeks before opening?:

Saturday Doings

May 29th, 2011 at 07:57 am



We hit the Farmers Market. The pickings were slim, but stocked up on cherries, strawberries, and some salad fixings.

For $5, I got the most gorgeous flower bouquet. I put it in this super huge vase my boss got me a few years back. I've never had enough flowers to fill it up. Was like a super size bouquet.

The picture does not do them justice. This is the kind of splurge I keep my allowance money for - and why it doesn't have to be very much. LOVE them!

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I cleaned out the cupboards last night. I figured it has probably been 4 years since I last went through. I got through half the pantry and maybe found one old/expired item. I Was impressed and praising dh.

Then I moved lower - there was some long forgotten food on the lower shelves. Most of the stuff I tossed was for one-time kind of things. Different recipe experiments and such. So, for the most part not bad.

I really did not find anything to toss in the fridge. I knew we had cleaned out the freezer about 18 months ago very thoroughly (before dh's surgery) so I didn't look TOO Closely at all the frozen fruits and veggies. BUT, there were some old frozen waffles in there (from who knows when? Maybe MIL bought them after his surgery).

I found a lot of chocolate chips. No idea why. I think we will be baking some cookies!

I found a couple of random non-food items. (A puzzle thing that the kids are playing with, for one).

All in all, threw away far less than expected. Phew!

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We went to the movies yesterday with our Living Social deal. Basically 50% of full price.

Dh told me that he had intended to go to the movies more with the kids in school. BUT, in the end he went zero times all year. Crappy movie year?

To be fair, we have a movie theater in our house, so he can get most the experience at home, anyway. He still likes to see the big/grand things in the theaters, though.

I like to go to the movies once in a blue moon. For the most part, I don't care for movies as a time suck, but enjoy the experience factor of a movie on the super BIG screen.

We saw Hangover II, which we knew would not be as hilarious as Hangover. (If nothing else, kind of knew what to expect). It was good for laughs.

We have more movie tickets so will see the new Kung Fu Panda movie tomorrow or next weekend. Our tickets expire soon, so needed to use them. There is always some kid movie, so still felt it was a good purchase. The date was nice for yesterday.

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Today?

Clean house. We've kind of been distracted by declutter projects. But, need to do some basic house cleaning for today. IT always goes fast when we all chip in, so expect a mostly leisurely day.

We decided to nail down vacation plans this weekend, since we are kind of all over the place in our plans. I kept thinking we had 8 weeks (summer) to figure out So Cal plans, but then realized my work is pretty busy two of those weeks. So, now we are down to 6 weeks and a full June calendar. July is pretty wide open, but the kids' birthdays add a wrench. So, if we go, will probably be for their birthday. Suddenly, not sure where we will squeeze it in. (All that said, we all have a week off in October, so is Plan B. Was kind of saving that for a bigger road trip).

I suppose we should have planned further ahead. We are weird personalities in that we plan most things well in advance, and here we are trying to wing vacation. We are a weird mix of just "relax/wing it," and "plan far ahead." Anyway, just winging it is not working for this summer. Time to make a plan.

This summer is a little unique in none of our parents are working, and have been waiting for the kids to be free from school to plan some activities. So it's all this stuff with our parents that is really filling up the calendar! Lesson learned - plan our own plans well ahead for next year.

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Weather sucks, which is good. It's conducive to staying in and cleaning house. Which is what we really need to do today.

I don't expect to spend any money, this weekend, outside the $15 or so we spent at Farmers Market yesterday.

Staying Home!

May 28th, 2011 at 07:06 am

Was talking to my friend yesterday about weekend plans. She seemed surprised we really had none.

I said, "We never go anywhere holiday weekends." Are you kidding me? Who wants to deal with all the crowds? Will enjoy the peace and quiet at home.

But, anyway, thank goodness for the quiet weekend.

June is shaping up to be pretty busy. Another big gas month.

Week 1 - 80th birthday celebration out of town

Week 2 - Track meet/visit relatives out of town
(Should be last track meet)

Three BBQs in a row (lots of free food!). HOA party Saturday by the pool, kinder party Monday, last day of school party Tuesday. Kids will be partied out. 2 of those events will have bounce houses, etc. Last day of school they do a lot of water play - just wear their swimsuits.

Week 3 - A mid-week trip to San Francisco, and a hike with my dad for Father's Day. May postpone hike to July.

Week 4 - Camping trip, and Volunteer Appreciation Dinner for public TV station

I share because you can categorize this under "I am too cheap/frugal and boring to every do anything fun or to live life." People still say that to me all the time. More in internet forums than in real life. But, still. Whatever. Rolleyes Most everything I mentioned will cost us $0. & GAS.

Along the same lines, budget is probably way over blown this month. That said, I was e-mailing a friend and sound like she was going through some hard times. Randomly she wanted to meet for lunch Friday. IT was not in my budget at all, and was about to say no. She often meets me at Taco Bell, which is fine. BUT, I Was more concerned about the gas. I was planning it down to about the mile so we didn't need to fill up again until June 1.

Anyway, I had a change of heart and just met her. Whatever. There is more to the story. I am the one to always be available and drop everything to meet her. So there was an element of that - not that I can say the same for some of my friends (in return). But, decided I would be a good friend.

I have some McDs gift certificates, so we might also get the kids together this weekend. So, though we mostly plan to stay in, we have some prepaid movie tickets (2 movie showings) and this McDs date to keep us occupied. Without spending more money. Decided to fill up dh's car since it has a smaller tank. If we end up needing to - will err on draining that car of gas, first.

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Weather is divine. Just mild 70 degree weather - the kind we are used to back home. About 10 degrees cooler than usual.

I don't foresee going swimming this weekend. Usually we really kick off pool season by now. Told the kids we need to take advantage and play tennis. While we can do it mid day without getting heat stroke. Wink

I don't remember many (any?) years we didn't flip on the A/C in May. But, looks like this year will be an easy no-AC May. Often we get a heat wave with three-figure temps. Instead, it's barely broke 70 degrees all month. Aaaaaaahhhhhh... Summer is delayed, but know we will be sweating soon enough! So, we will enjoy the mild weather!

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Speaking of weather, will head to the Farmers Market today. It's been open a few weeks, but we have been out of town every Saturday. Anyway, I just heard the pickings were pretty slim due to the bad weather (hail just a couple of weeks ago, for one).

Will see what we find. Bah to the weather. But yeah, I know, I have several relatives in the Missouri area, etc. I appreciate that we aren't in the midst of tornados and flooding - seems pretty precarious in many places. I do hope everyone is hanging in there.

Approved!

May 26th, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Chase took their sweet time, but I got approved.

Fraud department called Sunday to verify my identity. Was starting to wonder if they would even bother, since I applied for card through existing account online. Same address, same name, same phone #, same internet login.

I've applied for several cards/refis, etc., since ID theft. I have not found any one to ignore fraud alerts. If you ask me, was a waste of time and effort on Chase's part - in this instance. Wonder if accounts of "lenders ignoring fraud alerts" are way over-blown.

That said, I haven't applied at the likes of jewelry stores, home improvement stores, and the type credit cardsthat the ID thieves applied for and maxed out in mere minutes. Maybe these are the lenders not doing their due diligence.

Anyway, I logged on today and saw the card had been approved. Should arrive any day. I am on my way to $500 free dollars.

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Finally got a quote for magician for birthday party. $150. Probably about the most I'd consider paying. Of course, occured to me there may be room for haggle. Then again, July was already filling up. I haven't set a date yet - waiting for a call back. I just wasn't thinking WHEN I talked to him. Over the phone. Sometimes you get more haggle cues when you see the body language of a person, etc. I am NO expert, but can kind of pick up on that stuff. In person, anyway. Apparently not over the phone.

He did say July was already filling up, and we think he is AWESOME, and so I'll probably just leave be. If he was newer and more hungry would be another thing. He seems to be popular and not in need of more advertising. A lot of the time we have found people will give us a discount if we "tell all our friends" about them, etc. I don't get the feeling this guy needs that kind of word of mouth.

Anyway, the interesting thing is since he is also a school teacher, he was telling me he does way more shows in the summer. So we have more time to work with. Lucky kids!

How excited are the kids that this guy is going to do a private show for them??? Priceless! We saw him at a public event a while back. Just completely hilarious, and right up our alley.

I did wonder what I got myself into when he said "indoors was better," for the birds and rabbits and all that. Oy vey.

I panicked a bit at first. Big party for 2 kids - IN our house? & then what to do for other entertainment. Decided most older kids will be dropped off (I HOPE) and that food, presents, and a 1-hour show is probably ample. Stragglers can play video games or board games. Will probably just make cupcakes and order some cheap pizza. Magician aside, will be pretty simple. & even then - we just pay him and he shows up. My kind of party!

Interesting observation? Not ONE mass invite kinder party this past year. ??? I think almost everyone in BM's class 2 years ago did. & of course, all the parties are over the top. From since the kids were born - over the top. We never did much of anything until last year when we had the party outside of the house - completely taken care of - was a nice change of pace. I told the kids to plan for more modest parties if they plan to split up. It's up to them, but they seem keen on pooling resources for bigger/fancier parties. When I told them I could get the magician - it was decided. One party. EASY for us. (Their birthdays are a few days apart - and they have several joint friends).

So anyway, what's with the birthday party drought?? I can't help but wonder if people skip the parties altogether, rather than do something more simple? Or are just sticking to family and close friends? Oh well - no complaints here. LM only wanted to invite one or 2 kids from his class, anyway. Works out.

BM had no class parties either. His closer friends have July birthdays, so it may be a busy month. If no parties then, will really wonder.

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ETA: Magician does not budge on price. He gave me an opening to ask, but when I played along, he told me he could recommend cheaper magicians. LOL. Well, at least I tried. You just never know with these things.

No Lack of Things to Do

May 23rd, 2011 at 09:43 am

Talked to my dad and nailed down some dates for things we have been talking about. He invited us camping, to Mt. Shasta, and Yosemite. Busy retired man! We passed on everything but camping. My dad's aunt moved here many decades ago, from Kansas, and has a very large family here. Since she passed on a few years back, her family does an annual camping trip in her honor. Since the camping is pretty local, and always in July I said, "Thanks, but no thanks!" I went camping once in the area in college and it was 110 degrees. Not something I wanted to re-live. Wink

That said, we haven't used our tent for real camping since we bought it. So this year I said, sure. If it's 110 degrees, we pack up and drive home... At least we have that luxury. Big Grin

We've also talked about camping near the family cabin. Hear there are really nice camp sites in the wilderness over there. Since we don't have much cooking equipment, is kind of our limitation for now. We can eat at the cabin and sleep under the stars. Kind of our kind of camping. We aren't used to the "100% fend for yourself outside" camping.

Yosemite? Maybe we should wing it and tag along. Will see what kind of campsite/arrangement they end up with. We'd probably go our separate ways during the day, so that is why I resist. But, any free/cheap camp arrangements may make it worthwhile...

Family camp is coming up in a few weeks, though it is going to feel like winter camping with all the snow - it's crazy.

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We picked a mid-week day to hit the CA Academy of Sciences. I hear the place is just insane crazy on the weekends, so have been waiting for the kids to get out of school.

Decided to do a big hike with Grandpa on Father's Day weekend.

The kids got 2 free tickets to Six Flags - we still have to pick a day for that. We'd usually go May or September, but not so easy with school. Will try to go mid-week in the summer. I used to work at an amusement park - Wednesday is best if you don't want to wait in lines/crowds. I suppose the catch is these tickets have to be used in the summer anyway.

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Dh and I got some movie deals on living social, and they expire soon. Haven't worked out free babysitting for that. SO, decided to use them up this weekend. Will see Hangover 2 (pay daycare) and will take the kids to see the new Kung Fu Panda.

Today I bought tickets on Groupon, for Comedy Sportz. Expires around my birthday in December. We went once maybe a decade ago and it was hilarious. So, I thought that was a good deal. $9 instead of $20.

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Kids get out of school in a few weeks. Holy Cow! We have to figure out what to do for birthdays and get invites out.

I am a little overwhelmed thinking about that and vacation plans. Was thinking Grand Canyon type road trip, but not sure we can leave our cat. Last time we left her just for the weekend (Colorado) she developed a bladder infection from stress. *sigh* Not sure of ANY alternative. Will see how she does with camp - will be gone 3 nights. If she doesn't do well - no long family trips for a while. She was fine when we went to Hawaii because kids were home with Grandma. Meaning, it's not like we can never do anything fun. But doubt we can talk Grandmas into pet sitting, and so any lengthy family trips are out of the question for a while. Just crossing my fingers she can handle 3 nights alone. We wanted to do a long weekend in So Cal, too. It's up to kitty.

All that said, can maybe maybe sweet talk my parents into visiting kitty for one day, to help.

Growing up, we always had outdoor cats, so few made it to the old and feeble stage. My indoor kitty is a very different responsibility, as she ages.

Plus, kitty was abandoned when she was 2. We then adopted her. She has serious separation issues. Though in the past we could leave her a week and she'd be fine. She gets overly stressed though, I am sure. These days her body doesn't handle the stress so well. Wish I could communicate with her: "We will be back - we always do come home!" IF we left her anywhere else, she'd flip. It's bad enough to put her in the car for a move or a trip to the vet.

San Francisco Day

May 22nd, 2011 at 09:12 am

Since BM had several track meets in a row, we were kind of tracked out. That said, this last meet we figured we could get out very early and since it was right by SF, make a day of it. Dh wasn't into the idea, so I was either brave or crazy, and decided just to take the kids myself.

Thankfully, the trip was a success.

We decided to head to Fisherman's Wharf for the day. Though the area is obviously a tourist trap, I don't equate it as such. There is a lot to see and do for very little.

That said, I am used to transportation for one. Versus three or four. So the "many people" factor made things far more expensive, just as I find it does for vacations, etc. IT's just the one one-income limitation I noticed. I am used to traveling anywhere and not sweating this stuff. When I Was a broke college student I could afford endless travel and trips like this. But, I was just paying for me - not for four people.

So, the damage:

$32 public transport for 3
$18 lunch at Subway
$30 Dinner at Ghiradelli
$5 bridge toll
$2 Musee Mechanique (quarters) + kids brought own quarters
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$87 - Ouch.

Could have easily been a $25 day for just Moi! OF course, packing more food could transform the day into a very frugal adventure, in comparison. I always find that food is the BIGGIE since we are so used to eating very well for very little, at home.

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It's ironic, but we have been crossing off some long overdue "To Dos" with all these track meets. I had been meaning to take the kids to SF, forever. We always talk about driving up early some Sunday morning (I know a free parking spot - if you get there early enough). But - just have never made it.

As for today? Absolutely nothing planned. Is next weekend a 3-day weekend, too? Nothing planned.

Aaaaaahhhhhhhh... The pool will open, and I look forward to some R&R at home.

Jury Duty

May 20th, 2011 at 01:03 pm

I got jury duty. Sort of.

I didn't remember the last time I was called for jury duty. Apparently, it's been 7 years - I figured out.

Anyway, I read it over and the same rules apply. Sacramento county is actually pretty easy to get out of jury duty. I am the sole source of household income and my employer doesn't pay for jury duty. (He despises it - but to be fair - it does really disrupt his SMALL business). For other employees, I have heard him get really upset. They live in other counties and can't get out quite that easy.

So, I got a letter from my boss confirming he won't pay me, and sent off my excuse already.

Dh has been excused a couple of times as sole provider of unpaid childcare to his children.

I certainly wouldn't mind jury duty if I could afford the loss of income, and if it wouldn't freak out my boss. I think we are getting to the point where dh could handle it. (Daycare is no longer an insane expensive consideration. Likewise, how to find quality care just for jury duty??? These days we have more options and kids are at school all day any how).

That said, as I read the "acceptable excuses" I asked dh if he was working 5 hours a week if that would count. We were just talking about him looking for work, yesterday. So, maybe resetting the jury duty clock isn't a bad thing while dh eases into employment. I don't want to have to not check the box because dh makes a few hundred dollars a month. IT's not like we can live on that, much better than $0. Wink

They never really call me much. I am trying to recall if this is #3 or #4. I think I might have been called once to jury duty, but then they never actually pulled my number to show up at court. When I Was 19 or 20 I got called in, but the guy/accused confessed, and so they sent us home. Last time was same excuse as this time.

I actually find the rules kind of interesting. It always bugged me a bit that unemployment was so individual and unrelated to household income. Dh took unemployment last he was unemployed and looking for work. Why wouldn't he? But I can't say I would complain if he was ineligible due to the fact that we could easily live without his income. & thus becomes the issue with many welfare programs. Casting a wide enough net without casting too wide.

Jury duty struck me as kind of opposite. Sole income earner gets an easy out. But, what if I contributed 95% of the income? I suppose I could plead my case at court. But no automatic out, there. IT struck me as opposite because most people I know would be financiall devastated if they lost work for a few days (even with a working spouse).

To Heat or Not to Heat?

May 18th, 2011 at 07:30 am

I turned up the hot water last night - back to winter levels. It was getting chilly. Will turn it back down in a couple of days, ideally.

I'd probably survive, but knew the air would be cold this morning. (So, probably needed hotter water in the shower).

The house was about 67 degrees this morning. IT's comfortable (I don't even have slippers or socks on at the moment). BUT, I was worried another cool night and we'd have to flip on the heat.

No need to fear. Weather calls for 80 degrees tomorrow. Well, okay then.

It's been raining cats and dogs. So unusual for this time of year - this colder rain. I just feel like huddling under a blanket with some hot chocolate.

80 degrees tomorrow? Are you kidding me? Wishy washy weather!

Thankfully it looks like we won't have to turn the heat on in May. Usually we have the air running by now... Don't get me wrong - I am enjoying that we haven't had a 100-degree day yet. Big Grin But I think my body is just really confused - feels like winter.

Speaking of mortgage chips...

May 17th, 2011 at 08:42 am

Thanks to MyMoneyBlog - I just found an easy way to make $500.

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/chase-sapphire-preferred-card-new...

I haven't seen an offer this enticing... Ever???

Dh signed up for an AmEx last year and got a free kindle and a $100+ Amazon gift certificate.

I'd probably put this $500 cash to the mortgage. I was about $1,000 short of my goal, and this is an easy way to make up the difference. All I have to do is sign up for a credit card, and charge everything for 3 months. Our health insurance alone will get us 70% of the way there. (Spend $3k in 3 months).

There is a high annual fee. Will close the card the second the reward check clears. That's how we do it!

This may turn out to be a lucrative credit card reward year. I expected $600 in ROTH deposits with our Fidelity card. This may lower the Fidelity amount to $500-ish (if we don't use it for 3 months). Add $500 cash, and we will hit $1,000 in cash rewards this year. I'll apply since I think dh already has several Chase cards and I haven't applied for a cc just for a one-time promotion in at least 1 year - maybe 2 years. I haven't seen anything very enticing in a while.

Woohoo!

Nickel & Dimed

May 17th, 2011 at 07:32 am

I think it gets better in the higher grades. I got an e-mail recently from a 2nd grade room parent: "Do your own gifts!" IT was the teacher's birthday or something.

Don't get me wrong - both the kids have AMAZING teachers and I am sure they deserve to be spoiled a bit. I have mostly played along when it comes to the extravagant group gifts throughout the year. But, the Kinder e-mail was asking for a ton of stuff for some big year-end party (complete with entertainment and bouncy houses) and then asking $20 for a teacher gift. The thing was this person really wants to get her an airline ticket. I don't know why. We contributed for Christmas but only 1/3 or 1/2 of the families contributed. So, if I Really thought she'd get an airline ticket, and she really wanted one - then sure, whatever. But I don't see it happening. I wrote her back and declined (so she could plan ahead - I doubt anyone else will let her know ahead of time they don't plan to contribute).

I am gifted out. I think it's a bit much.

Lest I feel like I scrooge, dh told me he planned to get her a really nice Scholastic voucher anyway. Will be free for us, while very valuable and useful to her. Now I can honestly tell room parent that "We already got her a gift."

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I got a $13 insurance refund. I have $2 in my checking account. I probably need to buy another set of aerobics classes ($30) and may need some cash for San Francisco this weekend. With all the mortgage chips I have just been paying the mortgage after the first of the month. Though I use my 16th paycheck to pay it, it kind of works out to pay it after the 1st of the following month. Then I don't have to rush to deposit my paycheck on the first - a few utilities, and piano lessons are due right away.

So, anyway, I could probably really use that $13 for other things, but I will just add it as a mortgage chip. The insurance was already paid and I wasn't expecting a refund. It will work out.

That said, I may back down on the mortgage chips through summer. Seems to be more travel and stuff like this. More cash expenditures, etc. Summer will be over in a blink, and then back to aggressive mortgage chipping.

47 cents an hour - Daycare

May 16th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Let's try this again. (No website problems, but I just had no idea what I Was talking about. Big Grin )

There was a summer park program through our city that was dirt cheap. I don't remember what it was - maybe something like $15/week for a 20-hour per week program. Every week day, 4 hours, lunch included.

Last year the program was dropped. A neighbor was trying to get support to keep it. I had e-mailed a friend who is a local journalist, but she was knee deep in bigger budget whoas at the time. That said, neighbor was vocal and program was re-instated. BUT, at a park that we have to drive to versus one we could easily walk to. We decided to skip it.

This year started about the same, so neighbor e-mails a councilmember. Within a couple of days the program is back up and running - we can already register and everything. Talk about results. I saw the price was $75. I thought that was what they raised the price to - weekly. Which, BTW, is dirt cheap for the area.

But I had a feeling maybe they didn't raise the fees at all. Looks LOWER. I logged in to be sure, and it was $75 for EIGHT WEEKS. That work out to 47 cents an hour daycare.

Maybe you get what you pay for, but our neighbors have been raving about this program for years. (We have been reluctant to leave the kids outside in the intense summer heat. Indoors would probably be better. Really my only concern, but I guess they keep cool with water play, etc.).

Anyway, I signed both kids up. BM will likely go often, and LM doesn't seem that interested. But, for $75, we can support the program, and he is all signed up if he changes his mind. Would also be good drop-in daycare for mornings, for him.

I doubt dh would want to drive over there every single day, but maybe BM can go 3 times a week or something.

If dh were working, we'd have half the daycare covered, for PENNIES. Which is maybe why I feel a little more gung ho to support it this year. We may really NEED a program like this, for next year.

I highly doubt lunch is covered, but if it is, it will pay for itself. The way my kids eat?

Anyway, my neighbor said many in our neighborhood would gladly pay double to keep the program. In the end, looks like they lowered the price a bit. Look what happens when you ask questions!! Now we can just hope that enough people sign up.

I had noticed the program many moons ago because I thought it was a typo - the price.

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With the economy and all, I am trying to be cognizant of costs that I am currently paid in benefits. My boss pays for my continuing education, but seems to get more stingy over the years. I was surprised when another employee mentioned he paid for his own. ???

I actually REALLY enjoy driving and love signing up for classes in the Bay Area. So I can couple those all day seminars with visits with friends and families, etc.

That said, I can save my boss almost $1000 if I just sign up for webcast seminars this year. One of the last ones I went to in San Francisco was broadcast live. Why ask my boss to pay so much, and use all that gas money, when I can get the same thing at work or at home?

So, I asked him and he agreed. I am probably the office guniea pig. I expect to stay home on those days and take over dh's computer (since it seems the best suited for these things). The netbook may be fine, and I can go sit by the pool (LOL) but it's small and the speaker does suck on that one. Will see.

I will probably save more than enough in gas, eating out, bridge tolls, etc., to make up for the $150 I just charged for the kids' summer program. ($75 x 2).

Wala - it's all paid for.

No more quiet drives all alone, but I think I will survive. I can always do those on the weekends instead, once in a blue moon. Just ditch the family and go for a drive. Probably nicer than traveling that around a boring old seminar, anyway. Big Grin

I remember years past packing lunches and pumping milk in my car during breaks. Do you know how nice this option would have been with nursing babies?? Too late for me - hope the new moms enjoy!

Anyway, I am relieved to have a viable/high quality/easy/low cost continuing education program. In case my boss decides to cut me off or my next employer doesn't pay all my CPA expenses.

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To cap off my frugal finds, I found a mystery Togo's 2 miles down the street from my work (no one seems to know it was there???)

I noticed that my favorite sandwich was on special on Mondays. So, I went over there today. $5 for sanwich, drink and chips. Sandwich alone is almost $6. I could skip the extras and come out ahead. But figured a soda would be a nice treat for me, and chips for the kids later. One sandwich equals two meals for me.

I usually eat out once a week. Usually to meet up with friends or get a nice lunch date with dh. Monday is kind of ackward since we probably tend to do most our eating out on the weekends. I am usually more in the mood mid-week to break up the schedule a bit and do something different. BUT, today was feeling kind of lazy and thinking, "Meatball sandwich for $5!" Funny - Tuesday is chicken salad on special. My second favorite menu item. Will see how long this lasts.

Crazy Weather

May 16th, 2011 at 06:44 am

Boy, the weather has been crazy here.

Turned off the heat ages ago. May can often be pretty darn hot, but it's been COLD this week. That said, so far there has been no need for heat. Will see.

Yesterday I got an update from camp that there was a snow storm. They have been clearing out the absurd ten feet or so of snow that remains. So, the snow wasn't very helpful.

Camp is probably about 80 miles away? I didn't think much about it and was thinking about walking to the store to pick up a couple of things. In the end I asked dh to drive to the store for me. HE went out into the garage and then came back in for a jacket. He said, "It's raining sheets." We had no idea! The snow storm was a bit of a clue.

The gutters seem to be working beautifully. So much so we didn't even hear the drip drip dripping that usually comes with the rain. I did walk around the house and checked them out while it was pouring down rain. Had thought we'd have to wait until next winter!

BM's recital went very well. On the way there we witnesses an amazing thunder/lightnings show. The thunder was SO LOUD though it was never quite on top of us (thank goodness! Was quite a storm). It is rare we get such a treat.

On the way to dinner afterwards it hailed. I was just telling dh the other day that we probably don't get much wear and tear on our cars with mostly paved roads and no snow to deal with, etc. As hail pummeled the car, I thought, "There's another one we don't deal with much." But, it was teeny tiny hail and the kids enjoyed it. Nothing dangerous.

So, that was a lot of excitement.

Then the clouds parted and the skies cleared so our parents could drive home in nice weather.

Beach Hike & Weekend Doings

May 15th, 2011 at 08:01 am

We nixed the beach hike yesterday. Though we were aiming more north than we usually explore, we decided this was going to have to be a Bay Area trip. The drive is just too long to make a day of it without a stop. Which is why we usually aim south. We can usually stop for a rest on the way down and for dinner and/or a free night's rest on the way back. I changed my mind a few times, but the bad weather sealed the deal (Wasn't going to drive 4-6 hours just to get rained on!). Today is also a busy/scheduled day, so I Was exhausted just thinking about it.

We quickly changed courses and found a hike one hour from our home. Much better! I am bummed that we probably won't make it to the beach this spring (all the wildflowers), but will see. Spring is not over yet!

Our trip started out rocky. We ended up on a gravel road (VERY bumpy!) and that is when dh thought I Was crazy. Plus, we seemed so in the middle of nowhere. How could there be a beautiful waterfall in this middle of nowhere?

LM flipped out and demanded to go home shortly after we started the hike. Oy vey. To be fair, it was then we noticed his shoes were pretty worn. Will buy him new shoes today. I carried him maybe 1/4 mile and that seemed to appease him. It is possible that he is bipolar. It runs in the family a bit. He was like insane happy most of the rest of the day. Rolleyes I am not sure how this bodes for future hikes. We probably walked 6 miles, but it was a pretty easy stroll. Then again, he didn't seem to have any trouble with it. It was only the beginning where he freaked out. Will have to do more hikes and get him more acclimated to it.

Anyway, we had a picnic lunch by the waterfall, explored a bit, and made our way home. The scenery was just so serene and beautiful. We saw very few people all day. Is apparently a popular swimming hole in the summer. We will have to go back in summer and fall (the scenery looks gorgeous in the fall). We enjoyed the lush greenery which won't last very long. At some point dh said, "It feels like we are stepping into a painting." It was just so gorgeous.





While driving home, we noticed an odd looking "mountain range" in the distance. We couldn't quite figure out what the heck it was. It was just this mountainous looking peak in the middle of nowhere. After a little digging I found out what it was: Sutter Buttes - The Smallest Mountain Range in the World. Um yeah - that is what we saw! Was on our list of eventual hikes. Now I am enticed to check that out for our next local hike. To see this miniature mountain range in the middle of the expansive valley, is a sight to behold.

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In other news, BM has his first piano recital this weekend.

His progress is pretty quick. Though I took lessons for almost 2 decades (& would like to resume again in the future), I am thinking that 2 years of playing will probably give him a pretty solid musical foundation. Which is really my goal. I've tried to teach too many adults - it's pretty much impossible. I wanted to give my kids a basic music knowledge so they could learn any instrument they choose. I didn't want them to reach adulthood with regrets. & we have a piano that needs some playing.

BM has been doing amazing with the piano teacher. So much more focused than when I tried to teach him. She is very affordable, so I am pleased.

Tons of extended family are coming up for his first recital today. He is excited.

I have to laugh because if he was my only child, I Would be painted as the crazy soccer mom - I am sure of its. Activities, activities, activities. It's all him. HE is the marvel at track because he is SO into it. None of the other little kids are so committed and gung ho. I Was never quite able to get across to most people why I felt the need to send him to daycare when he was one (though dh did not work). His social calendar was absolutely EXHAUSTING to us. He *needed* it though, though the rest of us could do without. I am feeling that exhaustion set in again. IT would not be my choice to do track, piano lessons, etc., almost every day of the week. But he absolutely THRIVES with it. I just have to remember that he is 8 and soon enough he will be independent enough to handle a lot of this on his own. It may be several years, of course. But this *crazy schedule* is not forever. Dh and I are not cut out for this!! Thankfully, LM has no interest in any of this stuff. IT helps balance it out a bit. IF I had 2 kids like BM? Or more? Oy vey! Since LM is only 6, I am not particularly worried about him. I don't think he needs to be knee deep in extra-curricular activities. I don't think BM does, either, based on his age. But based on his personality, it is what it is.

Beach Weekend

May 13th, 2011 at 01:13 pm

So much to blog about, so little time.

I've got many thoughts swirling in my head due to events in recent weeks, but it's been BUSY. Not busy busy, but just life busy. *Away from the computer* busy, I guess.

Anyway, my Mother's day wish was a beach hike. Though my #1 choice would be Carmel, it is a 3-hour-drive:



We've lived in Sacramento for almost TEN YEARS at this point. It's time to realize we are northerners and that we have never really explored the north part of the state. I think any travel/adventure is usually dictated primarily by friends and family. Why not go to Carmel and get a visit with our parents? Why not go and catch up with an old friend?

But, we spent last weekend in San Jose (track meet - spent the rest of the day with my parents). Plus, our parents are coming up Sunday, so didn't want to do another big south drive.

I decided to look north - and narrowed it down to Point Reyes or Marin Headlands. Each is about a 2-hour drive. I don't think I have been to either. The truth is the landscape is probably about the same anyway. Beach, vistas, wildlife, wildflowers. Whale watching season too. (Will watch the whales from land this time!).



Point Reyes has an "earthquake trail" along the fault line, but Marin has an animal rehabilitation center that we can visit. So, depends what is more enticing to the rest of the family. Point Reyes would be a better step to exploring up north more.

We still haven't been hiking near as much as I'd like, but LM is warming up to it. Hopefully this will kick start more frequent hiking adventures with our family. (BM would have been happy to be an avid hiker when he was 3, so we have been patiently waiting for LM to be a little more strong and adventurous). He did well on a strenuous hike recently, so here's hoping...

The endless driving continues in the weeks to come. Next week BM has a track meet near San Francisco. I decided that we would probably just go and would have a good chunk of the day to explore San Francisco. (I'll probably take the kids to Fisherman's Wharf - will take the public transport into the city). Hoping I can meet up with some friends while we are there. My favorite part of the city is not as accessible, and the kids really want to take the subway. So, the wharf it probably is!

We have an 80th birthday party to go to the weekend after in another city up north. We had been invited to a relative's hotel (she's got 4 kids) to go swimming, etc. Since dinner is in the evening, probably makes sense to join them and make a day of it. Though at this point, driving doesn't phase us much! We were also considering a morning hike, if we could clean up at their hotel.

So, busy busy busy, indeed.

Gas may not be the cheapest, but we will drive the gas sipper, pack a LOT of food, avoid bridge tolls, and get gas close to home (grocery discounts here). We paid $4.30 for gas last weekend though we have been paying $3.90 at home. The price difference usually isn't like that (heck, we usually have more expensive gas?). We decided to fill up here and avoid those type surprises. If we see cheaper gas we can always top off the tank. I won't hold my breath. Wink I think our gas prices are comparable, but not when factoring our grocery gas discounts (which we've only had a couple of years). Thus, the shock!

The kids only have a few more weeks of school. I can NOT believe it! Boy, the school year just flew! Come August they will both be on the same schedule. We will enjoy it while it lasts (looks like maybe only one year?).

Lifestyle Creep + VG news

May 13th, 2011 at 06:35 am

I've said often that we have no plans to *permanently* increase our lifestyle. To that end we avoid payments and contracts (increased expenses that are hard to get out of). We prefer to focus on one-time splurges. For example, if I had a windfall, I may be open to a vacation or a toy, but not a more expensive car which would just be more expensive to maintain (more annual taxes and insurance). Buying up in home is absolutely out of the question!

But, apparently lifestyle creep shows itself in many ways. Recently, it was the cat litter box. I broke it a couple of weeks ago. A cat litter box should be cheap enough to replace, but we had a top-of-the-line model, and after much research decided to get a BIGGER top-of-the-line model. Final cost when all was said and done? $42. For a cat box!

Okay. So the story is that my dh is spoiled rotten and when I became pregnant and concerned with toxoplasmosis, his mommy couldn't bear the thought of him having to deal with the cat litter. So she bought us this litter box:



You just roll it over and the box is clean. Wala!

After checking some local stores and comparing online prices, I chose to pay more with amazon than some store I never heard of and had little in online reviews. I can't say I have ever made that decision before, but Amazon really won my loyalty, and I didn't have time to wait for a sale.

I decided to try the extra large model since my cat has been filling the litter box daily. It's been insane. Her health seems to be fine, but she is getting old. I clean the cat litter box 3-4 times more often than usual any more.

Funny thing is while I Waited for it to arrive I got out a cheap little box and I found it quite easy to maintain. I started to have second thoughts about bothering with the $42 cat box. Maybe I should just send it back?

But then, the cat began to drive me nuts. Since she has pretty much always had this COVER over the box, she seems to have no sense of boundary in an open box. There was a ring of pee all around the litter box. Rolleyes So as I clean clean clean all week, I was relieved when the box finally arrived.

The last box lasted 8 years. It was free. I can only hope this one lasts a little longer.

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

P.S. Did you hear? Vanguard lowered the minimum initial investment for their Target Date retirement funds. $1,000. Before, only STAR fund had a minimum $1k investment.

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/vanguard-lower-minimum-investment...

Bad timing for me. I put my kids' college money in the more conservative STAR fund since I did not have $3k per child. I believe it was last summer I had enough to transfer it into a Target Retirement fund (minimum $3k investment). OF course, maybe it works out because the market was rough before that time. Wink But I only have a short time-frame before the money gets more conservative - college investing is nothing like retirement investing for 40+ years. I've only got 10 years left to save, and will probably get pretty conservative in 5 years time.

Gourmet Lunch

May 10th, 2011 at 05:41 pm

We finally made it over to the culinary school for lunch today.

For reference, we live within a mile of two culinary schools. One did a fundraiser for the kids' school recently. It was a dinner - the school didn't pay a cent - so 100% funds raised went to the school. Seemed pretty win-win for everyone - the students were so excited to cook for a big crowd.

Well, that dinner was the BEST meal I EVER ate. But it took about 3 hours (so we paid a fortune for babysitting that night!)

Since then, heard about this other culinary school that is open for lunch 2 days a week.

Dh and I met there around 1:00. Almost cancelled our date because today ended up kind of crazy and no one over there was picking up the phone for reservations. I got back to work around 12:00 (out at clients) and dh told me he never got reservations. I called and got them on the first try. They told me we'd have to come after 1:00 - which was fine.

They obviously had a pretty hectic lunch today - I could tell from the sound of the lady who took my reservation.

We probably ended up getting there and getting seated closer to 1:10. There were a few people there, but in the end we got the dining room completely to ourselves for most our meal.

The food was okay. Nothing GREAT, we were in and out in about 45 minutes (3 courses). Plus amuse bouche and some post dinner type amuse bouche. Don't know what the proper term for that would be.

The cost? $10. + tax - so probably $11 in the end. Per person. Tips are voluntary and go to scholarship fund. We didn't tip because we had no cash and didn't realize (until after they swiped our card for the amount of dinner - half way across the building). For next time we know to be better prepared - will totally tip. Tell them ahead of time, or bring cash. Service was great anyway - and was for a good cause.

Dessert was the best course, but the risotto was pretty good to. I ordered halibut and also had an arugula salad with fried goat cheese. Dh had shrimp and ravioli.

I suppose 1:00 is the time to go. Works for us, and seems 12-1 was pretty crowded. They close the doors at 1:30.

I told dh that it wasn't PERFECT, but not bad for the time constraints.

We will definitely be back!

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It's amazing the deals we find when we keep our eyes and ears open!

Thoughts on Motherhood

May 8th, 2011 at 09:42 am

Happy Mother's Day!

Today is divine because we have absolutely no plans. (It's been a while!)

Though I think a do-nothing day is rather divine, we mostly celebrated yesterday (took my parents out to dinner), and plan to go on a beach hike next Saturday. Next weekend just worked better for the hike.

Going out to dinner was certainly nicer the night before the big day!

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Dh and I had an interesting discussion yesterday which I think clarifies our experience.

I don't remember how the topic came up, but I mentioned that several of the kids' friends had 7:00 bed times. (For reference, we are lucky if our kids sleep 9pm - 6am! & it's better now that they have school - they slept even less at night when they were little).

Anyway, I was telling dh that was probably why one of BM's friends had quit track (they practice until 8:00, and the mom had told me many times it was a bit late for them). I rattled off names of kids who sleep at 7:00 - because was skeptical that kids really go to bed that early.

Then he says - "Wait - all those parents work. Yikes! They really don't get to spend a lot of time with their kids during the week. Dinner and then bedtime?"

Seems like a simple observation, and probably something I have thought of before in past instances. But, it is an interesting point. I get such weird reactions often, to being a working mom. I try to be positive and think that people are pushing back to their own negative working experiences. Otherwise, it is really easy to take offense to the endless stupid comments.

But dh is right. It's more than just negative working experiences. Here I am thinking that people are just insane and condescending, but maybe their kids go to bed at 7pm too, and they just can't wrap their brain around working and spending quality time with their kids.

I think it's important to remember that in the future.

It relates to my whole experience as a working mom. I have no idea what everyone else is freaking out about, most of the time.

On the flip side, I think this story illustrates the point that you often have to be flexible and creative as a parent. Because if your kids go to bed at 7pm or 9pm, each sounds like a VERY different experience. If you think I Could simply will my kids to stay up late or go to bed early - HA! If they were "7pm bedtime" types, I'd probably push for an earlier work schedule, myself. It's always been a fine balance of molding them to our schedule while being cognizant of what kind of schedule they thrive on. I don't think either of us likes the fact that they are usually wide awake before 6am, but they sleep well and are well adjusted. & I need that 9pm-10pm hour to unwind, myself. (Though often I go to bed before the kids do!) Which is how we settled on 9pm. Any earlier and they wake up to dang early! So, is what works for us, for now.

When BM was a baby, he just slept most the time that I was at work. I never *got* what all the other moms found so unfortunate about my schedule. I never felt like I missed anything. No doubt he slept while I Was at work because he preferred nursing to the bottle. So it just kind of evolved. The whole experience to me was always, "So what's the big deal???"

One for Momcents + SNOW

May 6th, 2011 at 02:10 pm

I'll be dedicating blog posts today, I guess.

Apparently hell has frozen over, because a Kinder field trip was going to be cancelled if they didn't get more chaperones.

Um, since when???

Is this a sign of the times? People too broke to pay for a zoo ticket? (Parents have to pay). Or is it an opposite kind of sign? People are actually employed? Can't get time off work?

I've personally never had any desire to chaperone these things (nothing about being responsible for a bunch of 5-year-olds, appeals to me). BUT, if I wanted to, the opportunities have always seemed pretty scarce. At the kinder level. Some of the moms hog up the chaperone opportunities pretty well.

I was looking forward to a nice leisurely Friday (no kids) and a 3-day weekend, etc. Now I am taking a day off in the middle of the week, instead, to go to the zoo.

Dh is going too, if no one else steps up.

Part of the nice thing of a day off was saving gas. Then I remembered I had a blood donation appointment that evening - across town, of course. Tried to reschedule it, but couldn't. Settled for earlier in the day instead. At least can avoid the traffic.

Kinder chaperone
Giving blood

Not what I had in mind for vacation. Wink

Oh well - all for the greater good.

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I am not sure about camp this year:



Word is they don't have any historical record of this much snow so late in the season - not even last year.

Anyway, that's two years in a row of working dang hard to get camp ready, since last year was pretty intense with the snow too. Opens in 6 weeks? I expect there will be some snow when we get there.

Maybe we should take the kids up to the snow this month. The roads should be cleared, etc., and no snow plowing to do at the cabin, but looks like lots of snow to play in!!

Another one for Baselle

May 6th, 2011 at 01:01 pm

Love it!

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/housing-bubble-history-book-cover...

You have to click on the link to appreciate it.

Basically, shows a series of books by one author, about how you are missing the real estate boom! Books published 2005 - 2007 (well after the boom was OVER -here - though I admit books were maybe written a little before real estate began the falter - particularly the first one).

"Comparing old and new reviews for the books can also be a nice lesson in investor psychology."

Yes - I bet those reviews are fascinating. I should probably save this link and send it to anyone I know who gets overly bullish on real estate. I'll have to show this to my kids when they are getting ready to buy their first home. What an education in just these book reviews...

BUY BUY BUY

May 5th, 2011 at 03:14 pm

Got an e-mail from a mortgage broker friend.

I rolled my eyes at the Title: "Renters Beware"

It was basically warning, warning, "rental costs are about to explode!"

So, buy a house. Of course!

At face value, I don't have much issue with the article. It points our many reasons why we chose buying over renting ourselves.

But, the whole section on rent about to explode? Seriously? Where, how and why?

For reference, I keep reading article after article about how the only people buying homes in the region are cash-rich investors. Some large percentage of homes are being paid for in cash. By investors. Most who don't even live in this state (or even in this country).

Lack of rentals? You have got to be kidding me. There is absolutely no lack of rentals here...

April Savings

May 5th, 2011 at 07:07 am

I downloaded the April credit card expenses today. I can't wrap up the month until that is available.

It was weird because several items I expected to come through for April, didn't. Even our health insurance didn't clear by the 3rd. Strange! So I will pay the bill plus the health insurance. Phew! For the best, since it was a spendy month.

I might have time to share the expense side this week - I don't think I have since December or January.

But the savings side is quick and easy:

$1200 to short-term savings (one-time type expenses due within the year)

$415 to mid-term savings + $12 interest

$650 to ROTH + $450 (10% Bonus)

Didn't earn $50 credit card rewards (ROTH) this month, but will next month. Very close to next $50.

$3000 to medical savings (bonus)

Mortgage chips $178: $50/month payroll tax holiday + $100 bonus + $15 Amazon income + $13 insurance refund

It was a SLOW month for Amazon. Summer is always very slow for video game deals and sales.

April was a good month, and I am starting to get optimistic that we will actually hit our $30k cash goal this year! BUT, I won't hold my breath.

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

That reminds me. I got my Mother's Day gift. I strongly hinted that dh and the kids fix a hole in the wall (caused by a door knob). It's probably been there for years.

At some point dh bought a patch kit, but he lost it! Rolleyes

They poo pooed the idea since we probably won't be home this weekend. I said, "Do it Wednesday - I probably won't even notice - you can surprise me Sunday." The kids get out of school early and no activities, so is our "get things done" day.

They took my advice, but were excited to show me their work. They still have to sand it down and spray some texture over it.

I am happy as a clam.

BUT...

This means we are on top of all our home maintenance.

I can't help but feel that this means something else is around the corner. There always has to be something, right? Because Murphy has been rather brutal with us recently.

I suppose it's good to be realistic. I have said we bought a new house expecting very low maintenance the first decade. That decision has worked well for us and paid off. We've put very little work or effort into our home. BUT, now that we are 10 years in I Expect more appliance replacements, etc. It's not like the home builder put in top of the line appliances, for one.

Our initial strategy was to utilize the time to save up for future home maintenance. Instead, this ended up being an important strategy to stay home with our kids (no big expenses for many years). It's been interesting, because the last few years have been rather Murphy-filled, but the few years prior to that were kind of opposite - when we had almost half the income. I suppose it works out.

All I know is it is way too quiet and easy at the moment. Wink

Articles

May 3rd, 2011 at 05:39 pm

Duh.

I was maybe overly cautious to work the past weekend. The 5/15 deadlines are flying off my desk (I think I will be done tomorrow, by noon).

BUT, I am so glad I Worked on the weekend, because I had forgotten I needed to take several hours off this week for personal appointments. So, it all works out. I don't have to make up any time for sitting in the Doctor office a good chunk of Monday. Friday the Kindergarteners are putting on a show for the moms (& we get muffins). How cute.

Next week I will probably be wondering what I am going to do all summer (at work). Can't win - feast or famine. I suppose vacation takes up a lot of the down time. Woohoo!

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Some interesting articles this week:

Is Home Ownership Over Rated?

http://www.smartmoney.com/personal-finance/real-estate/is-ho...

Just some interesting points.

BTW, I primarily value home ownership for stability. Financially, I think it makes more sense in our case. But only time will tell. The friend I met for lunch today apparently moved 2 times since I last talked to her. Egads!! In California, landlords sell in good times and foreclose in bad times. All my renting friends seem to move on average once per year. I thought they moved a lot in good times, but foreclosing landlords are a whole other thing (& terribly common!). A couple of my friends have lucked out in one place for a few years, but then they just got overly upset when the landlords sold their homes. Oy vey - people get attached to their homes!

Apartment renting may be more stable, but in this day and age, who rents an apartment? Wink Not anyone I know...

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8 Ways to Buy More Happiness

http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/budgeting/8-ways-to-buy-m...

Of note:

"One problem with material possessions, again, is that buyers are too quick to adapt to them. A solution is to focus on many small items rather than one big one. The same can be said of experiences. Studies show that the frequency of pleasure is more closely related to happiness than the intensity. Buy the mini muffin. Golf nine holes. Take a day trip."

Amen!

I cringe how often I see those "Experiences trump possessions" studies cited as an excuse to go on an exotic vacation. Like that's the only way to find happiness.

I was having a conversation with dh about this the other day, actually. I think we prefer to buy things that give us many years of experiences (i.e. TVs for dh, or bikes/books, for me). Neither of us has ever much liked the idea of spending a lot of money for a fleeting experience like a vacation. Anyway, dh simply told me, "My memory isn't that good." LOL. We just don't get joy from big/expensive experiences. Nor big/expensive THINGS. We may focus too much on "OMG - that cost a TON." But that's how we are wired.

So anyway, I smiled to see it acknowledged that experiences are much the same way. They don't have to cost a ton or be over the top to be enjoyable. I knew that, but few seem to understand that. Give me time with my friends and family any day - priceless to both of us.

This is also why I had absolutely no interest in a no-spend challenge. I don't have a lot of big/expensive joys in my life, but as long as I Can afford the small ones, I am keeping them. They make me happy. Big Grin

I liked this one too:

"
Consumers who buy right away on credit rob themselves of a free source of enjoyment: anticipation. People are prone to a decision error called future anhedonia, or the belief that a pleasure delayed won't be as intense as one experienced in the present. The opposite, if anything, is true. Delayed pleasures are just as intense, and consumers accrue additional pleasure by looking forward to them. Think of it as "compound happiness" interest."

In our culture, saving up for a purchase is viewed on as depravity. I think we enjoy our purchases more because we anticipate. & while anticipating, we decide there's a lot we don't really need or want after all. Thus, we spend less money on stuff that is unimportant to us. Most the stuff we end up buying we enjoy for a long time. I've generally never enjoyed stuff near as much if I just bought it on a whim.

Anyway, it was a really interesting article overall.

Blood Donor

May 3rd, 2011 at 03:34 pm

Okay, let's try this again.

In 2009 I resumed blood donoring. Actually, I began blood donoring.

I had donated blood to myself, for surgery, in 1993, I believe. Through the Red Cross - that's how they did it.

They then called me endlessly, though I Was a minor (at first), and then too underweight to donate. I know: boohoo! No Freshman 15 for me - I was way too active.

IT wasn't until I settled at a desk job that I actually weighed enough to donate. I signed up to donate blood several times and no one ever called me back. You can't win! Rolleyes

So, in 2009 I finally was able to give back and donate blood. We had lived here about 8 years and so I Decided to find the local blood bank - it isn't Red Cross here. They like my blood type, so I feel very popular at the blood bank.

I had good intentions (regular donations), but then dh was diagnosed with his brain tumor. I held off in case he needed blood donations. Likely not, but better safe than sorry.

He was fine, but life got crazy. Not sure what my excuse was the summer after. Then I delved into my own health issues.

& so today I just got an e-mail about how they desparately needed my blood. Hmmm, why didn't you say so? I will give blood this week. I am hoping for Friday so it doesn't interfere with my workout regime. Other than that, I've got no excuses.

I share because last time I mentioned this, I got about 20 replies about how everyone was terrified of needles. So, if you are NOT terrified of blood, or needles, may I recommend that you give blood?

Heck, if you need the money, sell it! But, I am happy to give it away and help someone.

Hopefully I will up my frequency from "every other year." Twice a year would be a huge improvement.

I did show up at a blood drive, but it was packed and they told me they had too many people. I think scheduling an appointment is better. I'll get a free soda and some movie tix, probably.

I used to be a very active volunteer, but since having kids, I leave that to dh. Our lifestyle allows him time to volunteer (& he does volunteer, a ton!). Working full-time and raising kids is a full plate, for me. So I like something like this where I can give back with little time or effort.

Insurance Savings

May 1st, 2011 at 07:29 am

We never keep collision/comprehensive long on our cars. Mostly because we tend to drive really old/inexpensive cars.

When we picked up HBO for a few months to watch a new series ($5/month) I recalled that we still had comprehensive on dh's car. (It's worth $2k at most, is 10 years old, has a high deductible anyway, and we have the cash to replace it with a 1-year-old car we have our eye on for next vehicle).

I don't remember precisely when we dropped collision - but it was years ago. Comprehensive was far cheaper, and we seem to have high odds of flood/auto theft. Which mattered more when the car was worth twice as much as it is now and we had no intention of replacing it barring worst case scenario.

Dropping it saves about $60/year - or enough for one year of HBO. Woohoo!

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I think my newspaper just saved me $150. Paid for itself this year.

Read about State Farm's "Drive Safe and Save" program:

http://www.statefarm.com/insurance/auto_insurance/drive_save...

I skeptically looked it up not expecting it to apply to us, etc. In the past you had to drive less than 7500 miles per year to qualify for any low driving discount.

Looked it up, and low and behold, discount applies to less than 19k miles driven per year. More discount the less you drive.

We drive both our cars about 10k per year, on average. Looks like we will save 5% or 8% off of our premiums.

It took a click of the button to sign up.

I registered the van, which probably will yield the bigger savings. (We drive it far less when gas prices are high, and is the more expensive insurance since it is newer and has full coverage).

I couldn't register the gas sipper, so I e-mailed my agent to ask why not. I didn't see any reason why I shouldn't be able to. Discount applies to almost everything - not just collision/comprehensive.

He probably thinks I lost my job or something. Fishing for those pennies! I just talked to him about the comprehensive last week.

Will see. Very little effort to save $200-ish per year. Big Grin

I have no idea why I have not heard of this program! So I had to share. That said, it is only available in 4 states. Keep an eye out though - wonder if this will become more common.