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Archive for March, 2014

Spending Spending Spending

March 30th, 2014 at 01:50 pm

Not really spending *a lot* of money, but just getting a lot of stuff taken care of. I don't know what it is, but have been on a good bargain streak this year.

Of course, I wouldn't say my new stereo was a bargain, but it is SWEET. Dh was trying to talk me into one but I chose a different brand. & now that it is installed, he is totally jealous. I like it much better than the stereo in his car. The bluetooth seems to be working better, and is easier to use.

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**I also got new prescription glasses. Guess how much? $11! Seriously. I really was not expecting much. But at the end of the day I really like them.

I ordered my first online glasses 3-4 years ago. The pair I had before that cost like 10 times as much as those, but were fairly high quality and I had worn them for almost a decade.

So, last time, I skeptically tried out Zenni Optical. I really wasn't expecting much but maybe paid in the $40 range for some really nice glasses. They were getting a little worn after 3-4 years, but other than that, no complaints. I could use a new prescription, anyway. So, I just ordered the $11 pair.

I was really skeptical about the quality when I ordered them, so I am really pleasantly surprised. The $11 included the most expensive anti-scratch coating and yadda yadda. Not exactly *cheap* glasses.

I also picked up some new sunglasses - maybe in the $30 range for those.

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**I saw $2/each shirts on clearance at Target. Kid shirts. I did not pick any of those up because the kids refuse to wear long sleeves. Bummer!

{I am into thrift shopping, but it seems pointless with our Target clearances. Our Target is very convenient}.

**We had already planned to replace our rice cooker, and I just happened to spot one on sale for $19.99. I am very pleased with that find.

**Last month I seriously upgraded my wardrobe with some coupons and sales and gift cards. $50-ish for a major wardrobe revamp. That was before most the rest of this shopping. But, it looks like I went out and spent $1,000 or something. On that and all of the above. It's crazy. Dh was teasing me a bit. About how much money I have been spending. (He knew it wasn't that much; just teasing me about the appearances of it all).

We were going over the finances today. I know we had been making a lot of purchases, but it didn't seem to be doing much to our bottom line. Today confirmed that.

I do want to get a smoothie maker still. I broke ours when dh was sick with the flu. (IT was on it's last legs anyway - just didn't expect to use it in the middle of winter - was going to replace it in the spring). I don't expect to spend much more than like $30, but I just haven't found one yet. So, hopefully any day I will pick one out and get it ordered. (I'd love to just get a really nice blender, versus having a smoothie "uni tasker" but I don't think I will find one single appliance that will make us all happy).

BM needs a new bike. He has needed one for a while. We have just been lazy on that. I will peruse Craigslist, but we have seemed to have better luck with "new" on the bikes.

Dh is out right now picking up a Craigslist desk for LM. For his room. We really hardly ever buy furniture. BM has a "used only for storage" hand-me-down desk in his room. So, I hadn't thought that far ahead. But LM mentioned he would like a desk in his room for homework. Fair enough. Dh is scouting out a $19 desk/chair combo that looked pretty nice.

I don't know that we have had much luck with Craigslist lately, but there were like a million desks for sale on Craigslist. Even so, dh was not sure he really wanted to deal with the hassle. This "perfect desk" just happened to pop up. Which never seems to happen. So, will see... {I felt kind of funny about it because I wrote them back the second it popped up. Seemed kind of desperate. But I guess they aren't going to raise the price just because we wanted to rush right over. Wink }.

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Work is crazy crazy crazy. That said, it's probably the most mellow tax season I *ever* remember. Looking forward to the 15th, and getting my weekends back, but not feeling particularly stressed out.

I had time today to update Quicken and sort out all our recent big purchases. So, I will do a "big picture" update if I have time. Mortgage snowflakes, credit card rewards, big milestones I am looking forward to, yadda yadda.

Edited to add: The desk was a win! It was *perfect* for our needs. (It is much bigger and nicer in person than in the picture - but not "too big".) LM loves it.

Expensive, Spendy Week

March 25th, 2014 at 12:27 pm

**I accidentally paid the property taxes with a closed bank account, several weeks ago. I did get an e-mail that the payment bounced, BUT, I never heard diddly squat, otherwise.

I asked dh to go take care of it today. I gathered from online that we had to bring a cashier's check with the "returned check fee" added to it, but lord knows with all the government red tape. (We just got passports last year and the websites and the people on the phone and in person all told us 100 different things. OMG). The saving grace is it wasn't due for another few weeks. Which is why I strongly encouraged dh to take care of it this week, before the tax office gets busy.

As I expected, we needed a new payment coupon reflecting the payment + fee. But, they were able to provide that for him if he just waited in another "line". So, phew! (& there was no LINE!)

$53 rejected payment fee, $5 for the cashier's check at our credit union, and $1 for metered parking.

I will NEVER do that again. Gah! But, happy to have it resolved and for life to move forward.

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**I still haven't funded my 2013 ROTH IRA, but I think I will just do it next payday. Next week. Until then, I have just been hoarding up the cash for that.

All else has kind of been on hold.

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**This week the kids have their dentist appointments (which always seem to be $$$$$). Lord knows this might be "it". The eldest is almost 11 and braces are right around the corner. When his current dentist/ortho recommends it we will get some other quotes and likely choose an orthodontist closer to home.

The eldest also has an "Extra permanent tooth" situation. The baby tooth is loose so they will probably pull it. Will see what they think of the progress of past few months (it's possible he will need surgery to get the permanent tooth out; but probably still too soon to decide much).

None of this stuff is particularly surprising. If anything, neither of them have as bad a situation as I did. I have been saving for their orthodontics since before they were born. Wink Accordingly, I am probably way over-stressed about it. Uneccesarily...

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**It's not all taxes and dentists and ROTHs.

I should get my big tax season overtime check on April 15th.

Since I will have saved up enough cash for the property taxes and the ROTH, and then some, by April 1, we decided to jump the gun a bit and do a couple of big purchases. I don't think we generally purchase much of anything with my April check. BUT, last year was a crazy expensive Murphy year. & so I think we are just getting impatient with our splurges. I suppose we aren't spending it anyway. Just feel more comfortable moving forward knowing that we can bulk up our savings account before we actually have to pay for any of these purchases.

To be clear, we can pay cash for these very easily, without the OT.

What do I Want to splurge on? An upgraded stereo for my vehicle. Dh used some focus group money to upgrade the other car stereo about a year ago. & we've gotten spoiled. I don't know if I would care that much, except I can't get my new cell phone (the one I have had since November), to work with my car stereo. It's driving me a little batty. Especially since I get to enjoy bluetooth in the other car. So, I have been telling myself we will fix that come April.

In the end, dh has an appointment to get that installed on Friday. Woohoo!!

What is crazy is that my vehicle actually has the original stock stereo. I think our MO is generally to buy very inexpensive (older) cars and the first thing we generally do is upgrade the stereos. But, in this case, it was a fairly new vehicle and it actually had a CD player. !! Which has since been broken. I'll get the bluetooth for the phone. Yesterday dh found an extra thumb drive for me to put a lot of my MP3s on. That will get hooked up to the stereo too. It will be pretty sweet. (I think it comes with a CD player too, but I don't know, they all blur together).

We also bought a laptop last week. We've been doing without, but wanted to pick up something before the next school year. As the kids have been fighting over their computer more. They are less happy with the netbook for their needs, and the charger doesn't work half the time. We went with something very practical. & if the kids can handle it and take care of it, then we might consider a fancier touch screen latpop in the future. I am amazed how much prices have come down over the years. We haven't bought a laptop in a decade. IT was probably a little bigger than I wanted it to be, and it didn't have the fancy graphics card for gaming. But, we decided it was very practical, has everything we need, and is a huge step up from our broken netbook. VERY happy with it so far. IT was $475 with tax. We picked it up on sale. Dh says it's on par with his fairly new desktop. The processor and memory and everything. Which blows my mind!

We were trying to figure out where to put it, when we decided just to leave it on our dining room table. The one we use *once a year* for Thanksgiving. The rule is the kids can't move the laptop. For their purposes, it might as well be a desktop. Saved us from having to repurpose or buy another table.

I really really liked the small netbook for travel and so on, but do admit that this is far more practical for work. I don't use it that much for work, but it will be nice for when I need it. I just remember the big old monstrosity of a laptop I had to carry around for my last job, and that does help give me perspective. Big Grin

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Once we see how April shakes out, we will have to sit down and start prioritizing things. Those were the, "I can't take it any more!" purchases.

We've got some home maintenance and travel stuff to sort through.

I think we have literally just been waiting for the storm to settle. IT hasn't gone, but it's gotten much tamer. 2014 so far is the year of, "everything has to be complicated and annoying". Like paying the property taxes with the wrong account. I feel like everything I have touched has gone down like that this year. IT's driving me a little batty. BUT, it is a huge improvement from "A surprise $1,000 bill every single month". That was 2013.

Oops!

March 20th, 2014 at 08:54 pm

Ugh! I had literally 4 or 5 saved un-posted posts because I just can't get my into my blogging groove. So I was just deleting them all when I apparently deleted my last post about Sicily Yoder. I am sorry about that - it was not intentional. Frown


This & That

March 6th, 2014 at 06:23 am

**ROTHs passed the six figure mark last week. Woohoo!

**Earned $50 credit card reward in February- redeemed to ROTH today. That is my first 2014 ROTH contribution, because otherwise hoarding up every dime I can to finish funding 2013. (I couldn't earmark this contribution for 2013).

**American Express miscalculated my credit card rewards AGAIN. I am looking at other rewards cards. A lesser reward card that actually pays the rewards could be a much better deal...

**I paid the mortgage this week. Snowflakes accumulated were:

$350 insurance rebate
25 credit card reward (last month's credit card reward - got gyped on this one too)
20 carpool gas savings
15 Internet discount (for one year)
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$410 Total

Phew! BM had an expensive filling and cat needed a vet visit, so my resolve was wavering on that one big snowflake. Glad it didn't melt! (Vet visit got pushed off to this week, which helped).

Thanks to some big snowflakes the first few months of the year, I think we are on track to knock $5,000 off the mortgage this year. & that's if I divert all snowflakes over to investments in April, as planned.

**I am not sure what it is, but this has been the easiest tax season ever.

Time is just a FLYING.

I think the mild weather helps too.

I can't believe it will be daylight savings next weekend? I am usually starting to get a little burned out by then, and the daylight savings gives me my second wind. (So nice to come home and take the kids to the park or go for a walk or whatever). This year though, not sure I will care too much. Maybe because it's been so warm and sunny in general. Which I don't know why it matters if I am holed up inside 6 days a week, but it seems to help.

**Maybe the sprinkling of activities has helped too. Dh and I went to a GREAT concert the other night with a few friends. & had a bit of a pre-party at our house. I totally blew off work for that.

I will probably be in the "buckle down/no fun" mode for the next 6 weeks or so. But I am well rested and up for it. (Heck, only 5 more weeks??? Just checked a calendar. Seriously, how can that be?)