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Archive for April, 2012

Spending This Past Week

April 28th, 2012 at 02:38 pm

Time for a lazy weekend at home!!

Survived the deadlines. Next week should be markedly more relaxed.

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I haven't given up sharing expenses (I *always* track them). It's just it has been a little spendy. It is much easier to post zero, zero, zero. Easier than to figure out what we have been spending.

I don't remember what we ate all week. We got some corn on the cob and pistachios on sale though. YUM! I remember eating those...

April 28:

$50 Donation to Grandma's favorite charity (in lieu of flowers)
??? School Fundraiser today - will drop $20-$40 on food. GOOD FOOD, and we talked my folks into coming up. My dad will be in heaven. We get great home-made food from around the world. Dh made $50 this past week on Craigslist sales, and so we will just use that money. It is not coming out of budget.

April 27:
$57 Target (Groceries - needed cat food and granola bars, and not sure what else dh bought).

April 26:
-0-

April 25:
$2 soda
$5 flowers for Admin (Admin Appreciation Day)
$10 lunch out (we treated Admin, others would not let me pay my fair share.) Every time I eat out with everyone we just quibble over who paid *too much* and then leave a giant tip. I guess I am blessed to not have much experience in the other direction. I put in $15 and someone tried to make me take $10 back. I said, "I'll take $5 back, but I am not going to only pay $5 for lunch!" It's the same way with our friends.

April 24:
$4 snacks

April 23:
$34 Gas for gas sipper
$4 lunch

April 22:
$9 Gas (just enough to get home)
$11 BK Lunch (kids and I)
$2.50 donuts (kids and I)
$5 Dinner
**Kids and I had a beach day**
Tired after a long drive/weekend, we used up a Subway gift card someone had given me. Spent $5 on a $15 dinner. IF not for the gift card, I think we would have just eaten at home.

Last Week Spending

April 28th, 2012 at 02:18 pm

Since I last posted - just a boring/usual week of gas and groceries.

Saturday we went to a birthday party for lunch, and the in-laws ordered in Thai food for dinner. Hence, a small grocery run this week - but we ate VERY well.

April 21:
$35 Gas

April 20:
-0-

April 19:
$60 Groceries

April 18:
$32 gourmet lunch for two
Dinner: leftovers

April 17:
-0-
Dinner: Crockpot Golombki (stuffed cabbage)

April 16:
-0-
Dinner: leftovers

April 15:
Groceries: $9.62
Dinner: Sweet & Spicy Salmon, garlic butter rice

Awesome Weekend

April 23rd, 2012 at 02:33 pm

**I did get my $250 Amazon redeemed. Woohoo!

I should have just bought my Quicken with these rewards, but I was not 100% sure they would come through this month. The points were there Saturday and I redeemed them last night.

I will pay off the credit card next paycheck, and close it shortly thereafter.

**We are still working on spending on Chase. Up to $2300 of $3000. I figure we will be done around 5/31.

**Mid-May I will try the Citi double dip. Or I may wait until we get dh's MRI bill. He has an MRI scheduled in May, but we often don't get billed for many months. I figure that bill will help immensely on our next reward. If the Citi double dip does not work, AmEx Gold is next on the list.

**I still need to apply for my $150 reward. No other offers have popped up in the mean time, so I will probably apply this week.

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**Reminds me, we had a couple of free options for lodging in Denver, but this weekend we confirmed the nicer option (studio suite with MIL's vacation points). Phew!! More driving for us. We could have stayed free with Grandma, but she has been a little confused, and I Wasn't 100% sure if she would get it set up correctly. I was worrying about showing up with no place to stay. She tells me the bed is terrible (they have rooms for guests at her retirement home), but I didn't really give a flip if it was free. BUT since this is free too, I think it will work out better.

Our airfare and car rental will probably be covered with rewards, so this is working out much better than expected.

**I just checked the weather because we went to the beach yesterday. It was supposed to be a record 80 degrees (it was 90 on Saturday!!), but it was foggy and cold. We tried to wait it out a bit but gave up around 1:00 when it felt like it was just getting colder and foggier. I just checked and it was a whopping 59 yesterday. Rolleyes Well, we tried. I was just stoked we'd be at the beach on such a nice day. But I felt better to see that the sun never came out. At least we didn't just miss it with our impatience. Wink

Anyway, we had fun anyway and we found a jellyfish on the beach. How cool is that??? {I had no idea jelly fish were around - that is good to know. Yikes!!}

**We had a very vacation-y weekend with our folks. Went down for a birthday party, spent the day in the in-laws' pool (aaaahhhhhh) and hit the beach Sunday.

This & That

April 21st, 2012 at 02:06 pm

**Got a $80 refund from old mortgage holder, and so added it to the May mortgage payment. A nice mortgage chip!

**Weather is crazy - we ended up turning on the A/C yesterday. HOT!! The thing is it has been freezing cold and we probably ran the heat far more than a normal April. So to turn around and turn on the A/C in April = Rolleyes

To be fair, only turned it on a few minutes so the upstairs was bearable for bed, but is a few minutes more than should be used in April. I don't know if this means we can take the blankets off the bed and turn down the hot water. Probably too soon... Feels like summer though.

**I'll have to get to the spending later, but there hasn't been anything but gas and groceries and some gifts. Details later...

**First weekend off in ages. I will definitely enjoy! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

No Spend

April 18th, 2012 at 01:52 pm

Yesterday was no-spend.

I saw a charge at the grocery store and wondered what on earth dh bought. Then I remembered he sold some games on amazon. The charge was postage. I am skipping it since it was money spent to make money.

Interestingly, the focus groups and online sales (primary source of other income) have been SO DRY lately. But DRY while the credit card rewards abound. So I guess I am okay with that!

Anyway, dh finally sold that stroller for $30 (he was tenacious in listing it several times - the spring brought a buyer). I would have given up ages ago and just given it away, myself. {It wasn't even our stroller - it was MIL's - she gives us her stuff to sell and keep the money}. HE also sold a few games on amazon. Since I just transferred so much money to savings, I told him to keep the $30. (HE might use to invest in game systems to sell). When the amazon money hits the bank I might add it to the mortgage. Would be the first mortgage chip of the year, I believe. We haven't gotten chips like this in a while...

FINALLY got reservations at the cooking school for $10 gourmet lunch. I was trying to get reservations to meet a friend, but dh was very jealous. SO, I am meeting him today. Will be $20 spent. Next week I will try again for future reservations with friend. Decided to push off to next month since dh is my backup plan if she can't make it. (&I don't want to be stuck paying $20 again next week). The times are limited, is the only thing. I am exhausted trying to work around everyone's schedule. It usually works okay - friends that I do meet for lunch fairly often. Narrow down the times to a couple of hours in one week though, and then it becomes impossible. The thing is I would go more often if I could make it a $10 lunch versus $20. Lunch dates with dh are nice, but twice as expensive as lunch dates with girlfriends. Plus, girl time is nice!

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Daily Spending:

April 18:
$32 gourmet lunch for two
Dinner: leftovers

April 17:
-0-
Dinner: Crockpot Golombki (stuffed cabbage)

April 16:
-0-
Dinner: leftovers

April 15:
Groceries: $9.62
Dinner: Sweet & Spicy Salmon, garlic butter rice

Citi + NSD

April 17th, 2012 at 12:43 am

I believe today was a NSD for the entire household.

Guess what? Dh got another Citi offer! Surprise surprise. Rolleyes {It's like offer #100 this year}. IT's same as last one - nothing new. ??? But since it is a $500 reward, I have it next on the peripheral. It will be our first double dip. We just got sidetracked by the Chase Sapphire - still got some spending to do on that one. But the offer I got today expires in 2 months. So if nothing better comes along, might try it in late May.

A New Week

April 15th, 2012 at 08:16 pm

I got my salmon!

It was $8.99 per pound (good price) and I got 1.11 pounds for $9.89. So it ended up being 100% free (with $10-off coupon).

I also bought eggs and bananas (breakfast staples for moi).

& I was checking the online coupons and found a coupon for 88-cents per frozen pizza - Celeste brand. These are *really* good. I will keep them at work. Anyway, so I got five pizzas for $4.40.

April 15:
Groceries: $9.62
Dinner: Sweet & Spicy Salmon, garlic butter rice

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We try to slowly increase our culinary capabilities by just adding new skills - slowly over time. This week I am working on sweet potatoes. We seem to eat them all the time (out, etc.), but I have never bought one or baked or cooked a sweet potato.

SO, "frugal foodie/rob" had an interesting recipe recently, and I asked dh to pick up some sweet potatoes. He picked up a whole bag. I dug around online and found a very simple recipe for baked potato wedges (took me a while to weed through the "pile on tons of sugar recipes" - which are good,but now what I am interested in for our regular diet!). I also found a recipe for sweet potato hash. Says "good with salmon" but I didn't want to cook all day. Wink But maybe will make some time this week.

I also looked for a new rice side dish and found garlic butter rice. I will link/share these recipes once I try them.

The kids and I are going to enjoy the gorgeous weather today, and then I will be cooking this afternoon.

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This next week is going to be a BIG crunch week at work. Got tons of other deadlines (post tax day) coming up and dh has plans in San Jose next weekend. Unfortunately they have plans early Saturday and late Sunday, so it is an *all weekend* thing. I can't go unless I make huge progress at work this week. If I can swing it, the kids and I will go to the beach on Sunday. That makes me *very* motivated!

That said, if I am stuck with a quiet weekend at home, that won't be so bad either. I will survive. (I shouldn't have to work that much next weekend!)

Rest of Spending for Week

April 15th, 2012 at 08:02 pm

Wrapping up the spending for the week:

Dh made dinner last night, but the kids and I had a hankering for pizza. So we ordered pizza in - and had a little of both. Yum! We picked up the Colombo garlic bread at the store - take and bake - it is divine.

Friday night we got our Denver travel arrangements set. I was initially planning to buy tickets at about $450. They went up a little bit with procrastination and went up significantly the past 2-3 days while we sorted out logistics. Ugh! Final price $570. Figured I'd just buy them before they get worse. {Interestingly, about what we paid last time - per Quicken}. Now I know not to dilly dally when I see $225 per ticket... Though I can't help the complication of the logistics. In fact, *now* MIL says she is busy the first 2 days, "But can't your folks just take them?" Um no? That is why we asked YOU? I won't sweat it because dh's sister, cousin, Grandma or aunt can help cover. I never would ask my parents to watch the kids for a few days, unless I was desperate. They are just not up to it. But they may be able to help in some regard - I just don't want the kids dumped on them for 24-48 hours. Of course they would love to see them for a bit. Anyway, will see! {In comparison, MIL usually sends us off on trips specifically so she can watch the kids - because we don't need enough babysitting for her liking - Wink }.

April 14:
Round Table Pizza $15 ($5-off coupon)
Garlic Bread & Soda $5 (grocery store)
Dinner: Pizza & Garlic Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes

April 13:
$570 Airfare Denver (x2)
$10 B-Day gift for child
$67 Fuel for minivan
$117 Groceries
Dinner: Baked Spaghetti

April 12:
$4 snacks
Dinner: Stuffed Baked Potatoes


April 11:
$18 Gas for gas sipper (for reward)
Dinner: Leftovers

April 10:
-0-
Dinner: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

April 9:
$4 lunch (favorite sandwich on special - lasts 2 days)
$8 Post-Easter sale (candy, egg decorating supplies)
$29 Dinner (had a $10-off coupon, from mail)
$33 Target (groceries, Easter stock up, champagne)
Dinner: Out

April 8:
-0-
Dinner: Leftovers

Complicated Day + Grocery Spending

April 14th, 2012 at 01:11 pm

I pretty much ran the van tank to "empty" and figured I wouldn't drive it again until next week. But Dh had a lot of driving to do yesterday, so I figured I would just fill it up and drive it to work. So I get to the gas station ($3.84/gallon!) and the gas station is totally taped off. Rolleyes

I just drove to work (a few miles) and figure I'd look up another station, or hope it was open later. (I seem to recall this happening before). So, at work I looked up the nearest gas station (I have a coupon) and apparently there are none others in this city. It took me forever to find a list of locations, as is. Later the subject came up with co-worker and she told me there was one by her home (either not on the list, or I missed it), BUT that they get 50 cents off per gallon. What the heck??? We only get 25-cents off per gallon when we shop at our grocery store. Anyway, the math doesn't make sense to shop 20-ish miles away, BUT I will keep an eye out on other grocery stores closer to home. Maybe there is one close to home that offers better gas rewards.

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BM had a birthday party to attend, happened to be right down the street from my office. Dh also called me to inform me the gas station was open when he went grocery shopping. SO, he dropped BM off at the party, after he ran all his errands, and stopped by my office to switch vehicles. He drove home and filled up the van with gas.

I picked up BM after the party, and he got to help me at work for a couple of hours. So, saved lots of gas $$ today. I was considering getting 1-2 gallons at the Chevron by my office ($4.13/gallon) and just filling up next week. But I am glad the gas station closure was *very* temporary.

Anyway, I am glad life isn't usually so complicated! Just felt like a lot of jugging today.

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Spending is below... Dh did a grocery run. LookingForward was asking about what we buy, as far as groceries. I personally find it hard to relay our shopping habits to others, maybe because that is dh's duty (I am not much involved). But, I do know from talking to other people around here that we keep our grocery bills very low. That said, it seems everyone shops for very different things. So I just know what works for us - I don't have any feeling that what works for us would work for anyone else. Unless they wanted to adapt an identical diet and live in the same neighborhood. Wink But our primary strategy is just to shop around the sales (not much into the coupon thing). Whatever is on sale, we are cooking that week...

**Dh got a deal on ice cream drumsticks. On sale $3/each, and he had a $1-off coupon.

**Picked up some bread, but I usually primarily buy that at the bread store (which is dirt cheap)

**WE usually buy generic cereal at Target, but it was on sale for $2/box, so dh stocked up. All generic.

**Other sales: Apple juice, apple sauce, canned chilis, cat food, chicken broth, pickles, instant mashed potatoes, yogurt, ground beef, sausage, potatoes, onions, squash, canned soup, and string cheese.

**Full price purchases: Pasta, cream, cottage cheese, milk, celery, lettuce, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and mozarella cheese.

Sunday I will run to the store for salmon, eggs and bananas. (Dh doesn't eat eggs or bananas, and I Forgot to add them to the list - will run out of both this weekend).

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This is not a completely fair representation of our eating. I am kind of laughing at the one-sidedness of this shopping trip.

So I pulled out last week's receipt, for full disclosure:

chili sauce, beef gravy, brownie mix, Hot Pockets, muffin mix, ramen, peppers, horse radish, wheat thins, beans, eggs, spinach, peanuts, barley, tomatoes, *foil*, sour cream, yogurt, OJ, Beef Stew meat, hamburger, bananas, lettuce, apples, several varieties of onions, onion dip, bacon, cream cheese.

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April 13:
$10 B-Day gift for child
$65? Fuel for minivan
$117 Groceries
Dinner: Baked Spaghetti

April 12:
$4 snacks
Dinner: Stuffed Baked Potatoes


April 11:
$18 Gas for gas sipper (for reward)
Dinner: Leftovers

April 10:
-0-
Dinner: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

April 9:
$4 lunch (favorite sandwich on special - lasts 2 days)
$8 Post-Easter sale (candy, egg decorating supplies)
$29 Dinner (had a $10-off coupon, from mail)
$33 Target (groceries, Easter stock up, champagne)
Dinner: Out

April 8:
-0-
Dinner: Leftovers

Free Salmon

April 13th, 2012 at 01:51 am

It's funny, because I was thinking it had been a while since we got a $10-off coupon at our grocery store, and the last time I bought fresh salmon I used said coupon.

So, dh was just telling me he was shopping tomorrow. I looked up the ads online, and it was "Spend $75, get $10 off your next purchase."

Woohoo! Salmon it is, and it will be FREE!

I had already decided earlier in the week that I Was going to make a nice salmon dinner on Sunday. So, weird that it just happened to be a coupon weekend.

I am not 100% sure how often they run these promotions since we seem to miss them at times. We really need to plan all our shopping around the weekends - these deals are always Fri, Sat, Sun. I'd hate to think we would ever miss a $10-off deal (we regularly spend $100, every week or so - meaning if they did these every single week they would be easy to take advantage of).

Saved $3.50 per month - check

April 12th, 2012 at 01:57 pm

As predicted, just spent a few dollars filling up dh's gas tank before drive to pick up kids. Yesterday. Credit card reward earned!

Dh/Internet company has still not figured out the whole login thing, BUT I clicked the wrong link on a whim (Was in the e-mail) and was able to log in. Dh pointed out I clicked on the "business customer" link. Well, maybe that is the problem! All I know if I can see bills, pay them, and that they take AmEx. Score! We will start saving $3.50/month with statement credit and 3% reward from AmEx.

Today I told the kids I would run by Walgreens and check the super-clearance Easter stuff (they were enticed by some of the decoration kits I saw but didn't get). I told them they were probably gone, but might be 80% off at this point, so I will look. I will probably grab a snack for the long work week, if I stop there. Dh says he needs to do a grocery run the next couple of days. He has been on a Friday schedule lately because there have been so many "Spend $100, get $10 off" promotions. Which sometimes we miss the ads. So it's just a good habit to shop Fridays and be pleasantly surprised. I don't think they are running the special this week, but would be nice because I wanted to pick up some fresh salmon Sunday. That is the splurge of the week that I am looking forward to. {I think last time I bought salmon, it was almost free with the $10 coupon}.

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April 11:
$15? Gas for gas sipper (for reward)
Dinner: Leftovers

April 10:
-0-
Dinner: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

April 9:
$4 lunch (favorite sandwich on special - lasts 2 days)
$8 Post-Easter sale (candy, egg decorating supplies)
$29 Dinner (had a $10-off coupon, from mail)
$33 Target (groceries, Easter stock up, champagne)
Dinner: Out

April 8:
-0-
Dinner: Leftovers

No Spend Day

April 11th, 2012 at 01:51 pm

No spending yesterday - see below.

I was missing my $8 Walgreens charge and finally found it on the Citi card (it posted today). Funny thing is I don't remember using it. Anyway, so we are $4 short of our $2000 spending goal. Rolleyes Dh said he would just fill up his car today - I think it only needs a few gallons. So that should do it! {Dh is driving 100-ish miles, round trip, to pick up the kids today - so will gas up first - just to get the Citi card retired}.

It's just every penny over $4 could be working towards *another* reward!

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On the Chase Sapphire, spending to $3000 limit as follows:

$400 professional dues (I didn't include below because employer will reimburse - not out of pocket for me).
$500 airfare?**
$800 Health Insurance for May
$1300 gas/groceries (rest of April + May)

We have 3 months, but I'd like to get reward as soon as possible. By end of May? I will pre-pay June health insurance if the airfare thing falls through.

Another potential charge is increased life insurance, if it goes through. My long-term insurance is due this month, but I don't think I can charge it. I will call to make sure. That could be another $500.

**On the airfare, the prices went up a bit and we were back to "trip planning hell." I personally just have no patience for things that are overly complicated! I finally found decent dates/airfare in early June. We finally found a date MIL could watch the kids. I would have bought the air tickets yesterday, but we couldn't get ahold of my Grandma (which in turn had us all worried). Hopefully we can sort that out today. She's kind of crochety so I worry after all this she will tell us not to come, or something like that. I'd like to buy the airfare today...

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Speaking of overly complicated? *Still* trying to get our internet bill set up online.

As is, dh was on the phone with them all day yesterday. HE still can not log in (I have never had so much trouble getting an online account for *any* service or bill). But he proudly told me he got us set up for online billing. We made this extra effort to finally get this set up, since they will charge $2/less per month, "indefinitely." (Until they change their mind? Big Grin )

All I can say is: Rolleyes Wait, so our bills are going to an imaginary online account that I can not access? Way to go dh! {He seems to have much more optimism that we will ever get this sorted out. I am just aggravated!}.

If we do get this set up, and if we can pay with AmEx, we will also be saving about $1.50/month, with our rewards. So, this is a potential $3.50/month savings. Will be well worth it in the long run.


**Is it ironic that our internet company seems in the *dark ages* with this online account thing???**

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April 10:
-0-
Dinner: Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes

April 9:
$4 lunch (favorite sandwich on special - lasts 2 days)
$8 Post-Easter sale (candy, egg decorating supplies)
$29 Dinner (had a $10-off coupon, from mail)
$33 Target (groceries, Easter stock up, champagne)
Dinner: Out

April 8:
-0-
Dinner: Leftovers

Spendy Day

April 10th, 2012 at 01:16 pm

Easter Day was "spendy" in a sense, though we didn't spend any money. Dh took his cousin and the kids to San Jose. They would have been fine in the gas sipper, but cousin has some medical problems and I suggested the van for his comfort. I've been trying to just fill it up every 15 days, but it will definitely be sooner now. Plus, dh will have to go back to pick up the kids later in the week (at least will meet half way for that exchange).

I am sure they feasted well on Sunday though. & MIL feeding the kids a few days saves me a fortune! Big Grin So maybe it evens out...

I skipped Easter. Had a bit of a tummy bug last week (Wasn't up to all the food), and just wasn't in much of an Easter mood the week before April 15th! Though I ended up mostly sleeping and not doing much, but I suppose I can say I am well rested for the final tax push.

Maybe because of the April date, but I am not much into Easter. BUT, I just happened to be boiling eggs for the week and asked the kids if they wanted to color eggs. I don't remember the last time (if ever) we did that. I found some of those plastic shrinky dink egg wraps (laying around from years past) and the kids had a *blast* with those, so I decided to hit Walgreens yesterday a.m. to grab some future egg decorating supplies. I also stocked up for some candy to keep at work. Not that I eat it every day, but it's nice to have some sugar when needed.

Dh and I had a nice dinner date. After which we went by Target to stock up on soda for work. While there, dh grabbed some groceries, and I grabbed some more candy and egg stuff. All Easter stuff I got yesterday was 50% off. {Around here, if I wait any longer, there is nothing good left - I was surprised I found as much as I did at Target since the day was almost over}. Oh, and I grabbed a bottle of champagne, to toast the nearing end of tax season.

I don't know what dh's plans are for today, but I am not planning to spend a penny. Tonight we have a nice date of champagne and "Game of Thrones." Dh got the first two episodes from his dad.

As far as this week, doing a *big* push at work. As always, I don't have that many tax clients and not overly feeling the 4/15 pinch, but it is my last week to earn OT for the year and I want to take advantage and beef up my OT as much as possible. {In addition, I have several 4/30 and May deadlines - what is stressing me out a little more at the moment. But the more I get done this week, the less likely I will have to work any more weekends after the 15th. Woohoo!} Of course, all that working means I don't really see spending any more money this week.

April 9:
$4 lunch (favorite sandwich on special - lasts 2 days)
$8 Post-Easter sale (candy, egg decorating supplies)
$29 Dinner (had a $10-off coupon, from mail)
$33 Target (groceries, Easter stock up, champagne)
Dinner: Out

April 8:
-0-
Dinner: Leftovers

Credit Card Reward Update 2012

April 10th, 2012 at 01:05 pm

I've only redeemed $150 so far this year ($50/month average on our regular American Express - the money goes into my ROTH).

But we've got a few things in the works to pass the $1,000 mark, so I figure I would tally them up:

$250 reward Citi (should receive reward in a couple of weeks)
$500 reward Chase (just started - will take some time)
$150 reward card for me (if nothing better comes along)
$150 redeemed American Express
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$1050 TOTAL Expected, 2012

Of course, the year is young, so who knows what else the year will bring.

On the $250, will just redeem for Amazon gift cards.

On the $500, I would like to use it to pay for our Denver airfare. We are right now looking at a June trip. Will probably fund the trip from OT or savings, and put it back to savings once we get the rewards.

The $150 reward I am looking at is a "statement credit," so it could pay for $150 of health insurance. Would be the easiest way to handle it.

As I mentioned, the other $150 is in my ROTH.

& in addition to that, we still get 1% cash back on our regular visa, and 5% off Target card purchases. The AmEx retirement card is 3% back on all purchases. {I've got a couple of utility/auto pay bills going to our regular Visa and AmEx that I haven't bothered to change at all with all these one-time cards. So will still earn rewards on those, though directing most charges to the one-time reward cards}.

No Impact Man

April 10th, 2012 at 05:29 am

Oh, today was spendy, indeed. But it was a long day and I will catch up on the spending details later. (Short version: stocked up on post Easter sales, and since the kids are gone for a few says, dh and I had a nice dinner date).

I got a credit card offer today. Make one purchase and get a $150 statement credit. Offer was from prior mortgage holder. I am only considering such a small offer because I have no other ones at current. I will hold onto it for a few weeks and see if anything better comes along. In the past I wouldn't think twice about it, but in the past these offers only came up once in a blue moon. If I get twelve $150 offers this year, do I really want to do twelve of them??? But I suppose I can do one. This offer will push us past "$1,000 in rewards" for 2012.

Check out "No Impact Man" on Netflix. I thought it was really well done. A documentary about a family that attempted to live a "no environmental impact" lifestyle for one year. If the movie was just about the guy, it might have fallen flat, but his wife really made the movie. She was skeptical and not thrilled with the whole thing, but very honest and open minded. She was really open to try anything. I *loved* her. Anyway, lots of themes that run through SA. Just thinking outside the box a bit, trying different things, and realizing that one can actually be a lot happier with more simplicity in their lives. (Versus the extreme backlash they got from other people for their experiment - WOW - considering how positive they found it to be for their own lives).

Darn Cheap Gas!

April 7th, 2012 at 02:53 pm

Not *cheap* gas, by any means, but cheaper than expected!

I thought we could retire the Citi card, AND we got our new Chase rewards cards yesterday. Woohoo! Talk about timing!

But I am checking if the gas charge showed up, and it was only $67. What the heck? That means about $3.95 per gallon. Not bad!

I think I am exactly $10 short on the $2000 spending goal (for reward). Will have to ponder on that. I suppose either of us can stop for just $10 of gas, at some point.

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We had leftovers last night, but dh made some fresh hummus. YUM!

I've been mostly buying lunch on Saturdays (figure if I have to work and getting paid all this OT, might as well splurge). So I figure $5 for lunch today.

I also had to upgrade my Quicken, which expires this month. Amazon was cheap, and dh had a $10 credit. So it only cost me $25. I've said before, I save so much money using Quicken, it's not even funny. $25 every 3 years or so is a GREAT investment. Pretty much no mistakes ever (no overdrafts or anything like that - it is hard to mess up with an electronic check register. In the past I am sure I had more math errors). Also, there is an element of tracking expenses and knowing where we are at. Trust me, I know where *every* penny goes. But with Quicken it is not time consuming to track.

Anyway, I spent about 1/2 hour updating Quicken this morning. It only took that long because I have Quicken set up for the kids, too. So, 3 files to update. I usually don't really care much for the new versions, but I kind of like the way this one is set up. I think it is a bit of an improvement. (But, they didn't change anything major so no re-learning anything). Phew! I am pleased with how easy it was. {& also thank you to our super fast internet. It took seconds to download the software}.

I predict $0 spending tomorrow and no more spending today. Will see what comes up.

April 7:
$4 lunch
$25 Quicken Upgrade
Dinner: Mexican Salad

April 6:
-0-
Dinner: Leftovers, hummus

April 5:
$67 Gas for Minivan
Dinner: Beef & Barley Soup

April 4:
$127 for groceries
Dinner: Spinach Bique

April 3:
$60 Dentist
$42 Gas for "gas sipper"
Dinner: Shrimp Jambalaya

April 2:
$4 Togo's sandwich (lunch 2 days)
Dinner: Burritos

April 1:
$13 Groceries
$10 Sushi

Cars are Gassed, Pantry is Full

April 6th, 2012 at 01:56 pm

April 6:
-0-

April 5:
$70?? Gas for Minivan
Dinner: Beef & Barley Soup

April 4:
$127 for groceries
Dinner: Spinach Bique

April 3:
$60 Dentist
$42 Gas for "gas sipper"
Dinner: Shrimp Jambalaya

April 2:
$4 Togo's sandwich (lunch 2 days)
Dinner: Burritos

April 1:
$13 Groceries
$10 Sushi

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

It turns out dh got groceries the other day, and I didn't even notice. He told me he gassed up the van while they were out at the library, yesterday. There is no evidence of this purchase online at Citi. This is really annoying me!

We tend to focus on paying for memberships/things up front so we don't have a lot of day-to-day spending. The kids have the week off, but have *plenty* to keep them occupied, without spending additional money. They've been picking up movies and games at Blockbuster (Free with our monthly service), going to the library, using our memberships (parks/museums), etc.

Anyway, the cars are gassed, and the pantry is full, so don't see any more spending in our near future. BM needs to get a gift for a birthday party, but we may already have something around the house. Will see.

I checked the balance on the Citi card, and it is about $75 short of goal. So, one more grocery run will do it. Probably next week. The card closes around the 20th, so maybe we can redeem our $250 reward at that point. Anyway, then I will be more on top of the household spending - I can actually see it immediately with all of our other cards.

P.S. Dh made a divine beef and barley soup for dinner last night. Yum! I suppose I should be adding our dinners to show where our grocery spending has gone.

Daily Expenses

April 5th, 2012 at 02:30 pm

Dh did not get gas yesterday, and we don't plan to spend any money today. OF course, I will update this if plans change.

April 5:
-0-

April 4:
-0-

April 3:
$60 Dentist
$42 Gas for "gas sipper"

April 2:
$4 Togo's sandwich (lunch 2 days)

April 1:
$13 Groceries
$10 Sushi

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The mortgage payment hit, and it was beautiful!! $1000+ principal paid. This means we will pay more principal than interest for the year. Woohoo! {Just resuming the "old" payments for the rest of the year, which were not very high to begin with}.

This & That

April 4th, 2012 at 07:30 pm

**Dentist Update:

We moved here 10 years ago, and I tried out a couple of very highly recommended dentists. Ugh! They told me I needed thousands of dollars of work that I didn't need. I am just too smart to fall for that. Rolleyes

We stuck with our dentist 100 miles away - was definitely WORTH IT!

But dentist retired, and it's time for a new dentist. It's been time for 6 months. I have just been *dreading* it.

What we decided was what we needed most of all was a conservative dentist, after talking to a dentist friend of ours (who practices even further away than our last dentist). OF course, everyone I know is happy to recommend us to scammy dentists (what do they care - just run it all up on the credit card) and primarily cosmetic dentists (which I have no interest in paying for). I just want *clean* teeth, and someone who doesn't recommend unnecessary work. & it's not *just* about the money. I don't want unnecessary drilling done to my teeth!! Is it just me??

I finally lucked out with a dentist I found online. Raving reviews about how "conservative" and honest he was. Plus, he didn't look old enough to be retiring in a couple of years. Phew!!! So I sent dh out to try him out. Took him forever to get in, but he went in yesterday. When he got back home from the appointment, I grabbed the receipt. It said $60. I said, "um, no x-rays?" Dh tells me had x-rays and the works. What the heck??? So I apparently found, "honest, conservative, and dirt cheap." I have an appointment set up in about 6 weeks...

That's what I get for dragging my feet - been paying way too much for a dentist for many many years.

The kids' dentist is on the more expensive side, but I think very worthwhile. I suppose this will help even it out. {By some miracle we found a really good pediatric dentist practice, which is needed because they do a lot of orthodontia prevention and work with orthodontists. Might not be necessary for most, but definitely necessary for us - trying to save money down the road. The kids inherited my mess of a mouth, which my folks spent a fortune on. Of course, I don't think they need a pediatric dentist forever. Is helpful for now}.

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

I think this is the theme around here lately - better deals locally. We moved here because the cost of living is cheaper. WE were primarily concerned about the cost of housing, but really everything is cheaper. It's hard to get across to people how expensive *everything* is in a high-cost area. People have high rents and mortgages, so services cost more. People can't afford to work for pennies, so the high price of wages and services just drives up the cost of *everything.*

BUT, when we moved here there was a HUGE housing boom, and money was apparently no object. So the prices of everything went sky high. Then housing got insane expensive, and more of the same. But since then, everything has kind of contracted back to where we started. I mentioned I was dumbfounded by the low price of furniture, over the weekend. I think there was an element of "economy" and also a large element of "shopping local." At normal "local prices." Something we haven't seen most of the time we have lived here.

This dentist is obviously dirt cheap. BUT, I can also assure your our last dentist was paying a bajillion dollars in rent, simply due to location. This guy easily doesn't have near that kind of overhead. So I will enjoy the savings.

The other interesting thing I have been noticing is that the *best* out there just don't charge what they are worth. If you read my blog, you might think I am mostly concerned with price, because we keep getting rock bottom deals on services. BUT, I was actually more focused on the quality of service we were getting, and honesty and integrity. Sad to say, these people just do not charge enough. Though I admit most people around here probably couldn't afford fair prices anyway. Maybe they are just charging what they can generally get out of people. Not much, these days.

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

Oh, I got paid and nothing was really due, so I decided to just pay the new mortgage early, after all. Will see how long it takes to post. There was nowhere to indicate "extra principal" online, so I just sent a message with my intent.

I put a little extra to the mortgage in anticipation of overtime check on the 15th. BUT, it was a small enough amount and a worthy enough goal that I think I would do it anyway. Maybe not this month, otherwise. But, I was antsy. I just want extra payments to be easy and smooth. Will see!

Daily Expense Challenge

April 4th, 2012 at 06:58 pm

April 4:
?? Gas for minivan

April 3:
$60 Dentist
?? Gas for "gas sipper"

April 2:
$4 Togo's sanwich*

April 1:
$13 Groceries
$10 Sushi***

*My favorite sandwich is on special Mondays, so I generally buy one - it lasts for lunch for two days.

***We went out while hungry and so stopped for about $10 of sushi to bring home for lunch. While there, got some needed groceries. $10 sushi very avoidable, but it is what it is.

I think dh filled up his car yesterday, and the van today, but I don't have the totals yet.

On our credit cards I can see "pending transactions" for everything ASAP, but the gas never shows the true total until it goes through, AND we are using one-time reward credit cards that aren't as nice. Just to say unless dh gives me a detailed account of all his comings and goings, I might not see some charges for several days. The only indication I have on the gas is his car had a full tank this morning, and I left the van at home with an empty tank. Wink

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


So what is the point of the challenge? To just list what you are spending? To share and be mindful?

What does it say about me that I want to compile a big spreadsheet of everyone's spending? Ha! It says I am an accountant? {Don't worry, it's tax season, so I won't}.

Anyway, I have some commentary on the subject, and then I will just stick to the expense listing, after this post.

I hope April is better than March. Not sure what it was about March, but everything needed replacing, or this and that. March is historically a pretty darn low-spend month. So it was annoying!

April? I won't be spending much of anything the next 2 weeks, most likely. Work, work and more work. WE tend to be pretty low-spend this time of year, but I won't even have time to shop if I wanted to, these next two weeks! {Primarily since Easter is Sunday, so I don't see any free time in my near future}.

BUT, the second half of the month might be spendy. Because I am hoping for a big check on the 15th, and have some things to take care of. So basically, I expect these next two weeks to be pretty boring on the spending front. & maybe I Will be making huge purchases the end of the month...

April is Here!

April 2nd, 2012 at 02:28 pm

Two more weeks of crazy!

Or three or four? Five or six?

IT will be *busy* here for a while, but I am crossing my fingers to finish all things *tax* this week. Because I have a hundred other things to catch up on after that. Ugh! Deadlines deadlines deadlines. I usually get paid overtime around the 15th, and then say "screw working weekends," for the rest of April. But not sure I will have that luxury this year - a little short staffed. Depends when I get these dang taxes out of the way. Though I will have seriously less motivation to work Saturdays after the 15th, that is for sure. (If I do work extra, the boss will pay me the OT *next* April - so all would not be lost).

We went furniture shopping on a whim, yesterday. I saw an ad that looked "too good to be true." & I had been thinking about it a bit, though deciding we would probably wait one more year to replace our family room furniture.

Anyway, I figured dh and I would never agree, and we wouldn't just buy anything on a whim. Which was true! But I really really liked one of the sectionals, and it was dirt cheap compared to last we shopped. We went by a few random furniture stores afterwards to see what else was out there, and we were shocked by low prices. Must be a factor of the economy, and based on what is popular at the moment. The large/modular sectional I want is suddenly very popular and affordable. Likewise, though we did not agree on one piece yesterday, we seemed mostly on the same page. Phew! I think we can do this!

It's probably best not to decide until I get my OT check. Next weekend is Easter (work and Easter plans all weekend), but I tracked down a few highly recommended/affordable furniture stores, that we will probably check out the weekend after.

While at it, we are keeping an eye out for a bed for LM.

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

Which reminds me, we visited a furniture store that had cash discounts yesterday. So we were thinking about the cash logistics if we did decide to buy. I had been listening to Dave Ramsey rant about how buying with cash *feels more painful* the other day. Anyway, I understand it is that way for most people. Truly I do, and that is fair enough. BUT, I just don't understand that concept at all. When looking at that furniture I thought, "Yeah, whether I run to the ATM or swipe a card, it feels the *exact same* to me!" IT hurts me just as much either way. Which is probably why it is taking me 12 years to buy my *dream furniture* as opposed to the hand-me-down stuff I have happily accepted over the years on our cash-only lifestyle.

Of course, the only other thing I could think was, "I hope I don't get mugged." I am no accustomed to carrying more than $20 - there is a huge security aspect to swiping the card. I was wondering if it would even be worth the cash discount. To risk being mugged of $1,000. & to have no digital record of the transaction? I was relieved when they said a check would be same as cash. {You never know with some of these places).