<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Category: Uncategorized
 

Viewing the 'Uncategorized' Category

Quick Update

September 15th, 2016 at 06:52 am

September has definitely not been my month. It's just been one bad thing after another. I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Regardless of everything else, it's been very high stress because Drama Llama(11) is having a really rough time. There is definitely an element of mental health issues and I suspect these are just the first steps down a very long road.

For now, every thing about our "fairly easy" child is very difficult. I've never had to micromanage his homework before. (I mean, like we never help him at all or pay any attention to that because he is very responsible). He's never had problem sleeping in his own bed before. We've never had any problems leaving him for a date or whatever. Honestly, it's very deja vu to the baby years. Just tons of work and really no idea what we are doing. But figuring it as we go along. Very "one day at a time".

Given family history, none of this is a surprise. I just have no frame of reference of getting help so young, because in the past was so taboo and/or most in my family are too stubborn to get any help. (e.g. My mom got help in her 40s). I think some of it is that he isn't a stubborn type (thank goodness!) and some of it is we've always talked very openly about these things with our kids. We wouldn't want them to hold in feelings of wanting to harm themselves. He is very open to any help that we can get him.

For now, just surviving.

Triple Dip & This & That

September 29th, 2013 at 06:36 am

**Dh got his *triple drip* credit card and the points are already showing up for us. Wahoo! Citi - because Citi really really wants him.

I charged $1,000 to our health insurer a few days ago (which included maybe $100 for next month) and I just logged in to check the charge. The statement had closed and the points were there. Dh has to call and redeem for a check to our mortgage company. I read you can just deposit these checks to your bank - and our primary checking account is also with our mortgage holder. Nothing to lose with just trying to deposit it.

**Closed some old credit union accounts - got all our money moved around.

**Dh finally returned his old (broken) phone to Sprint. I figured he might get something. He got $10.

Reminds me, no 4G yet. Dh called to complain again (our credits ran out) and they acted like he had to call back next month. I just sent him the bill that showed that we paid full price for *last* month. So he knows when he calls back to ask for at least 2 months of credit. {I think they saw the other $10 credit and that might have confused them}. The short story is they have been telling us for 18 months that we will get 4G "any second." In the meantime, we barely get even like 1/10 their advertised speeds. It's horrid. They gave us "40% off" the last 4 months and basically said they will do that until we get 4G. But that we would have to check back after 4 months. I have been snowflaking those credits to the mortgage, and will continue to do so when the credits materialize again.

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

We acheived a low-spend month on the discretionary spending this month. I can't believe it's already the 29th!! It's been very "tax season" like. Working working working, earning, earning, earning - certainly no time to spend any money.

I was just peeking and we spent $136 on gas this month, and $500 on groceries. & we are done for this month. $500 is right on budget, but included a huge food stock up for our road trip (next month). So, I am pleased with that. Going under this month (stocking up ahead) buys us a little more wiggle room for next month. & November will be another easy month to scale back. Short month, and I will be working tons. We usually budget $300 for gas, but that is usually a worse case month and the only place we really have any room for misc. spending. Still, we probably usually spend around $200. Obviously the carpool is working out well and helping. We are probably driving more than last year (for school) but not a lot.

That said, everything else has completely gone to heck. Still is. It never ends this year. So I can't really boast a true "low-spend" month. Just relieved we were cheap enough to buy us some wiggle room.

We also splurged this week on a night out. It was our 13 year wedding anniversary, and we had a great night out!! A new restaurant in our neighborhood was *divine* and overall pretty reasonable, but we ended up spending way more on daycare than planned. So, a $70 night out. Which I don't think either of us would have particularly planned. But, we got saved by the bell. Grandma sent us a $70 check for our anniversary. Very nice!! Big Grin So I am definitely glad we splurged. That date always seem to be charmed for us.

We'd have probably just gone out to lunch, but we had a free hour of childcare, and if we didn't use the place we would lose our registration. Which I was fine with, but dh really wanted to go out and figured it wouldn't hurt to keep our registration there. (Though we mostly have not used the drop-in place for 2 years). We both weren't thinking - only one of the kids had a free hour - and dh had also told them they could eat there (which cost more). So, ugh. Turned into an expensive night!

Oh, but the kids need all sorts of dental work. The extra tooth that LM has and we were told is "no problem" for the last 5 or so years? *This week* an extra permanent tooth showed up on his x-rays. Oy vey!! (I don't know how rare or common that is - but they never told us that was a possibility - seems rare talking to others who had extra baby teeth. They just so confidently told us all along not to worry about it). BM also has some problems. Lots of tooth pulling, and just crossing my fingers that is all. *sigh*

Anyway, so how is that for mixed money news? It's all good and bad and seems to even out in the middle.

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

I didn't finish or publish this post yesterday so have more to add:

**I got a Free $10 coupon from Kohls ($10 minimum purchase) after griping I haven't gotten one in *forever.* Yay!!

**Will not be able to redeem any rewards to ROTH this month because have not been using that card at all. Our credit union is giving us 2% back for another month (& rather support the credit union and use a visa).

But, earned $40 in the CU visa (gets redeemed in January) We usually barely use the card and the rewards don't usually amount to a ton - so the "once a year redemption" is usually not a big deal. At least they ran this promotion at the end of the year...

I was able to redeem $25 on our American Express (added it to next mortgage payment).

**If I add $165-ish to our next mortgage payment, we will dip below $190k. The mortgage has been of extreme low priority because this year has been so crazy expensive (home repairs mostly). BUT, I think I can scrounge up $165 for that psychological milestone.

More Purging

September 23rd, 2013 at 09:03 pm

**They switched our recycle pickup back to "every other week". Trash pickup is every week. We barely ever have anything in our trash can, and every other week is fine for the recycles. But, everyone keeps going on and on and on about hor horrible this schedule is and they have to throw away so much recyleables. OR that there is not enough room for their trash and recycle any more.

We have four in our household (plus a pet) and we paid for the smallest bins. You got me! IT just makes me wonder what on earth people are buying and how wasteful they are being. ??? {Of course everyone is dirt broke, but have not embraced the idea of less consumption}.

**I noticed a kids' toy in the purge pile and asked dh if I had missed it last time. (Everything else is to be sold, or was already donated). He told me that he just had pulled it from one of the kids' rooms. I looked up the most recent charity pickup bag I had, and it was for today, so I set it out. It was a fairly large toy. Dh also mentioned he had a box of books, and this charity takes books. So, phew! (He had taken them probably more than once on "used book sales" rounds - just the crap that no one wants). I wouldn't be surprised if they toss some of these books, but will let them make that decision. Some of them should be useful for the charity.

I actually found another couple of out-dated toys and added them to the pile. So it was a nice and unexpected purge.

**I found a few activity books and forgotten reading books in one of the kids' rooms. I am sure there are infinitely more laying around. I put them all in a pile for our road trip. We will have to go through and narrow them down.

I have also printed out some activities. For example, a US Map with an image of every state license plate. Seems to be up-to-date, so will be interesting and educational for the kids to keep an eye out for license plates. I printed out some plexers (because they love those) and am going to make my own silly "I Spy" list - I found some funny ideas and just wanted to make my own. It probably won't be very fancy looking, but it will entertain.

Lord knows dh has the electronics covered. Will have podcasts and books on tape and video games and yadda yadda, also. I think we will be good.

As to not be a complete fuddy duddy, I ordered a couple of treats for the kids. Amazon. I will admit probably could have done without, but I was looking up "frugal" travel ideas and got sucked in on some purchases. Probably not the kind of frugal I was expecting. But, whatever. One thing I bought was window markers, which the kids didn't seem that excited about - maybe that will entertain ME. I need something to. I can't drive the whole way. (I usually like to mostly drive, but I think this will be a bit much - for like 10 days of driving). Another interesting suggestion I saw was pipe cleaners. Not messy at all, but the kids can make things with them. I LOVED that idea. & while on Amazon I saw a $7 game that looked perfect. Not that we don't have enough games, but something new and different to mix it up a bit.

**I am just trying to spend an hour or two every weekend working on the planning stages for this trip. Then it doesn't feel overwhelming or like a lot of work, but I feel like we probably got everything fairly well organized. Dh was going to pick up snacks and food for the car. I am in charge of water and drinks. (Since he doesn't do soda or juice - figured I'd better pick that stuff up if I want the rest of us to be happy).

Today I picked up the kids after work, so I took them to Walgreens to pick up some gallon water hugs (could use the man power). I have two jugs from when the water pipe broke in our house and we bought 3 more today. I am thinking more for emergency purposes. Honestly, we should probably always keep a jug in the car.

**Oh, and while decluttering a bit, dh threw some boxes in the van. We have a recycle dumpster at work, which comes in handy at times. The house is looking much nicer. I really only de-cluttered cabinets and so on - but the thing is so much stuff has been laying around the house waiting to be purged. & now it is all gone! Aaaaaahhhhhh...

**Dh tried a tip he heard a while back - tried to renew my vehicle registration at AAA, to receive new registration immediately. I did not want to renew before our trip, because didn't want anything important in the mail while we are gone. So he told me he could just get it for me. He could not execute this transaction since they only took cash or checks. He will go back next week. It is "on the way" for him on Mondays.

This will be my 12th check to write this year. Oy vey!!! I am trying to go checkless, and am mostly succeeding. It's all the unusual stuff that gets me.

Some Interesting Articles

September 19th, 2013 at 06:27 am

I came across a few random interesting articles the last couple of days.

How the Traditional “Rules” of Frugal Living Often Vastly Undervalue Time

http://www.thesimpledollar.com/how-the-traditional-rules-of-...

This article I did not like at all, but was worth sharing. To me, this is the *perception* of frugality. I have always found it ironic that being frugal buys us infinitely more time. So, my real experience is generally very opposite of the perception.

The main example in this article is car buying. & mentions that buying a clunker means buying a $2,000 car every 30,000 miles. & then goes on what a PITA it is to buy a car. Seriously!?!

Reality: I've owned some clunkers and we have only bought used cars, but we on average keep our cars far longer than any non-frugal type. I did pay $1,000 once for a car I drove for 7 years. You could argue I got lucky, but we paid just under $8,000 for dh's car (almost new), are 12 years in, and will easily keep for 20 years. If it is not totaled, we will keep it for 20 years.

I've watched everyone I know who snidely told me, "I buy new so it lasts longer" replace their cars once or twice in that time. Plus, they can never actually afford to keep their cars in good repair. So, in the end, not only are we buying less cars, but they seem to be more reliable and in better working order. I think almost everyone I know had no A/C in their car during a brutal summer with a very small kid or baby. Honestly, I would be concerned about the physical safety of that situation. But, you know, I am the cheap one! Rolleyes

So, yeah, I just happened to randomly come across this article and had to comment.

I know a lot of frugal people, and even a lot of *extreme frugal* types, and none of them are buying a car every 30,000 miles. That is just dumb. This is maybe what you do when you have no other choice. If you are frugal, you are saving your pennies to buy a better car next time. {The vast majority of frugal types that I know buy one car - used or new - every 15 or 20 years. We bough old clunkers when we were 16, and then saved up to buy replacement cars that lasted much longer. The "clunker" concept is for when just starting out. It is not a long-term car plan. Likewise, the point is to buy a reliable car that just maybe isn't very pretty. Not sure we have ever owned a true clunker. Just some older and less pretty cars - very reliable though!}.

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

Subsidizing Spouses

http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/16/subsidizing-spo...

I just came across this economics blogger and found her articles very interesting.

"Our public policies contradict one another, stigmatizing unmarried parents who lack paid employment as lazy bums (and enforcing stiff paid work requirements) but subsidizing married persons who specialize in family care, especially if they are married to high earners."

Read her articles and the comments, and just a lot to think about. I am glad I stumbled across this writer.

I think this is also another case of perception versus reality - when it comes to the part of the article that I quoted. Lord knows many people have never had anything nice to say about the idea of either someone like my mom or my husband staying home with the kids. But, at the end of the day, there are significant benefits to this type arrangement. & we are well aware of the benefits that we are reaping. Lord knows perceptions never seem to have anything to do with the reality, in this case.

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

Why So Many People Fail at Becoming Debt Free

http://www.frugalrules.com/people-fail-becoming-debt-free/

Anyone concerned about becoming debt-free should read this article.

" Lack of Vision

This is likely one of the most important parts of a successful journey to living debt free. Whereas a good understanding of your debt will motivate you through fear, a good vision of your life without debt will motivate you through excitement."


Maybe some of the rest of this article are more obvious things to ponder. But, this last point is really key.

& this kind of goes back to the first article. It's kind of hard to have the vision if you equate being debt-free with pain and sacrifice. I think you've got to be really focused on the up-side. Otherwise, why would you even bother??

Fiscal Doings

October 8th, 2012 at 07:04 am

**I redeemed a $50 credit card reward to my ROTH.

**I received a $7.80 settlement from ATT. I expected it to be more. But I am pleased with the extra money.

I found the $7.80 here, probably about 4-5 months ago:

http://www.mymoneyblog.com/database-for-searching-class-acti...

I will have to go through it again - see if there is anything new.

**Today I will get my 10/1 paycheck. I will pay off the Chase reward card, fund the ROTH, and savings is a wash - I have about $3k for savings, but need $3k for vacation, dental, and medical bills.

**I did really well with the time change and fast pace of vacation. BUT, it all hit my like a ton of bricks yesterday. I pretty much slept *all day.* I feel asleep for 3-4 hours mid-day and all I kept dreaming was how tired and thirsty I was. Yeesh. Guess I was a little dehydrated. Slept another 9 hours last night, so feel back on schedule.

**There was some 100-degree heat while we were on vacation, but I suppose the nights were at least cool enough to offset that. It was actually comfortable when we got home. I worried when my folks came up to deliver a spare key and told me the house was only 78 degrees. I thought later that maybe someone had left the A/C on - that is just what it is automatically set to. So I fretted about that a bit, and was surprised that the A/C was *off* when we came home. Phew.

Anyway, we were running the AC heavy and hard right until we left (extremely unusual for this time of year) and so I am relieved to see more normal temps in the forecast. October is usually an easy no-heat/-no-air month. So, will hope for that. If we were home last week, we night have used some October A/C.

**I also just read that gas was at a record high. I *think* our cars are mostly gassed up and we don't have a big driving trip for two more weekends. Guess I won't be driving home for lunch much this month.

Color career Test

February 26th, 2011 at 06:58 am

Um, this was freaky!

career color Test

http://www.careerpath.com/career-tests/color-test/

From picking my favorite and least favorite colors, it told me this:

Best Occupational Category
You're an ORGANIZER

Keywords
Self-Control, Practical, Self-Contained, Orderly, Systematic, Precise, and Accurate

These conservative appearing, plotting-types enjoy organizing, data systems, accounting, detail, and accuracy. They often enjoy mathematics and data management activities such as accounting and investment management. Persistence and patience allows them to do detailed paperwork, operate office machines, write business reports, and make charts and graphs.

ORGANIZER CAREERS
Suggested careers are Administrator, Secretary, Printer, Paralegal, Building Inspector, Bank Cashier, Private Secretary, Statistician, Operations Manager, Financial Analyst, Bookkeeper, Medical Records Technician, Developer of Business or Computer Systems, Clerical Worker, Proofreader, Accountant, Administrative Assistant, Banker, Certified Public Accountant, Credit Manager, Store Salesperson, Actuary, Dental Assistant, Business Education Teacher, Food Service Manager, IRS Agent, Budget Analyst, and Underwriter.

ORGANIZER WORKPLACES
Your very careful, conscientious, conservative nature gives others the confidence to trust you with handling money and material possessions. Structured organizations that have well-ordered chains of command work best for you.

Suggested Organizer workplaces are large corporations, business offices, financial lending institutions, banks, insurance companies, accounting firms, and quality control and inspection departments.

Summer Murphy

August 13th, 2009 at 05:26 pm

**Murphy REALLY likes to visit us in the summer. Last year is looking preferable though - maybe $1500 all told.

WE are already up to $3k in car repairs (maybe a bit more) when dh calls me today to report his AC is not working in his car. SERIOUSLY? I know it could be something cheap to fix, and in fact he called me later to tell me he turned it off for a while and back on, and it worked for a bit. But still!!

The van is going to the shop Monday, it's s'posed to be 100 degrees - and that's our only vehicle??? I told dh it might work out - the car was so hot the other day I am not sure I could have driven it but the A/C cooled down the steering wheel rapidly. So I figure if we have to store it in the garage all day and he comes to pick me up after work, we may survive. The difficult part is driving a car on a hot, windless day, that's been sitting in the sun all day. Not much shade here. Could invest in a visor shade thing though...

I can look at the bright side - at least we are at the tail end of summer. Though September can be brutal hot. I think we will probably just take it in though, once the van is all fixed up. That's what our cash is for. But if we want to nurse our wounds a bit and put it off, sounds like it may be workable.

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

As a frugal antecdote/side story, I remember I was on a local message board a few years back where I learned that the masses believe old cars cost more money (repairs) than new cars. They all said quite a few nasty things about old cars, and I always defended my old car. Anyway, so everyone had a 5-year or newer car pretty much, and I Remember one summer absolutely NO ONE on the entire message board had air conditioning except ME!!!!! My little $800, 12-year-old Saturn with 150k+ miles, yes. Never had an A/C problem with that car or any older car I owned the decade prior.

I just always thought that was pretty ironic. It was the summer of no AC.

So when dh tells me this - I say of course the AC doesn't work - now we have a newer car! Wait - the car is 8 years old. When did that happen? HEll, at 100k or so miles, it is one of the newest vehicles we have ever owned. I just don't get the feeling that they "make them like they used to" in many regards. I know more modern ACs have stricter environmental standards too.

Aw, hoping for us, it is just something simple like low on freon or something. I can hope? Reminds me, dh needs new tires too. We keep forgetting to look them over, but they have hit 50k miles of use - I am quite sure we should replace them before summer is out.

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

I haven't been very bloggy. Expenses aside, just been very content. We made a lot of progress this year, and so can breathe a little.

WE had many years where money wasn't an object, and I just want to get back to it. IDeally, I think finances should be in the background. I don't want to obsess about it all the time. & my obbsession level has decreased dramatically this year. Phew.

For me, it's a bit of a balancing act. I don't want to obsess over my finances - just want to have long-term goals and keep an eye on things. BUT I love the subject, obviously, and so don't mind obsessing about the topic of finances.

Anyway, I Feel like worrying, stressing, focusing too much on finances has been my mode for a couple of years. & I would like to tone it down a bit. I have, and it's been NICE!

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

Today the kids' accounts both hit the magic $3k mark. BM literally has $3k in his account - and a few cents to spare.

If the market starts off up tomorrow, I will execute trades for both of them to get into some more aggressive funds. I was just going to stick them in the Total Stock Market Index and go from there. I guess I should research a few funds before I trade. Hmmmmmm. A Target fund is also an interesting idea (since too little money to spread around much at this point). But was thinking of just going for the market index, and getting back into Star (balanced fund) next year with next year's birthday gift money, to get some more balance. Will be a while before I can spread out into more funds, but I think it's a nice start.

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

I've been contemplating cash though I probably shouldn't. Not like I have much. We may get to stay above $20k, but depends what Murphy throws at us. A chunk of that is in my ROTH, as is.

But I have been considering a cutoff of when to cross over from cold hard cash to maybe some bond funds, etc. Either $30k or $40k, is what I Am thinking now. Depends. I read an article the other day about how great it is to invest in bonds vs. cash, and I wasn't very much convinced. Author bragged of returns no better than my own cash/CD returns of the last 3 years. But certainly took on more risk in bonds. So not sold there. Talked about mid-term bonds as well, which I Was also not sold on (prices fall when interest rates rise -and interest rates are so LOW). Though maybe we should just start dollar-cost-averaging into bond funds when we get to that point. Anyway, author was talking about some Vanguard funds, and I looked and the average maturity on these funds were more like 2 years. I assumed "mid-term" was a longer time frame. So yeah - I am starting to get more convinced.

Bonds just overall, scare me. I don't completely understand them. So I am wary. I am not in any individual bond funds at current, though I have some balanced funds (which have bonds and bond funds, etc.). But the bonds I had in 2000 definitely saved my portfolio in 2001-2002. I have just been wary to buy in with such low interest rates.

Well, I've got some time to study up on bond funds - that is for sure. For cash I might no need for over 5 years - I think I would be foolish not to invest a "little" more aggressively.

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

I can't decide if work is slow or crazy. I think it's in the middle. The slow or crazy just depends on the day. But I feel stressed by approaching deadlines.

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

This weekend isn't shaping up to be too cheap.

Dh drove LM to the Bay Area today - grandma wanted him for a few days. Gas $$$$

Dh has friends coming over this weekend who want to go out to dinner. We were invited to a BBQ and we offered to bring a lot of food. Plus it is a bit of a drive.

So it's shaping up to be a little busy and a little more pricey than the $0 we wanted to spend. That's life I guess!!!!

Here is to a really lazy, no spend, rest of August. After Sunday!

Picnic Sunday

May 5th, 2008 at 07:48 am

I got the fam out to a hike yesterday. IT was another new one (as most of them are; we haven't been up to much hiking since moving out here).

I had heard great things about this lake - it is some kind of government park and they keep cows and horses and goats there (the animals we saw). The lake is home to the biggest geese I have ever seen. Biggest and Loudest. Egads!

They also had a nice playground.

Yesterday was s'posed to be 80 degrees and was a bit on the warm side for this place. Not a ton of shade. Though unlike last weekend, there was at least a small breeze.

Anyway, so we checked it out and liked it much. We ate a picnic lunch (which the kids LOVE - LOVE picnics).

We then set off on a hike that started along the creek that bordered the park.

I forgot that I had read to bring a change of shoes. The geese poop was pretty bad, but the trail is apparently a very popular house trail. So the kids just had to announce the horse poop they saw every couple of feet. LOL.

We saw some kind of white crane, some brilliant bluebirds, and I spotted a lizard. Also, lots of butterflies. Some fish in the creek. We also saw some yellow-billed magpies. I think they are magnificent and had not realized until recently that this is one of their only habitats. I think they only live one other place in the world. Anyway, they have been hit hard by West Nile. I have not even seen one in a couple of years. It was nice to see they haven't gone entirely extinct, though I guess there is great danger of that with the West Nile virus.

Anyway, so the walk along the shady creek path wasn't so bad but we looped back around all the corrals on the unshaded side of the park. Poor animals?

Dh mentioned it wasn't such a nice hike without the shade. I said well, next time we could just turn around and go back the way we came. Doh. IT was actually kind of nice. The kids love creeks of course. Though I made a mental note that maybe we should avoid popular horse trails in the future. The last hike we did was a horse trail, but not a well used one, so it wasn't so bad. LOL.

I am kind of disappointed we have moved so rapidly to summer weather here though. YEsterday was okay but I wouldn't go there on a day that was any hotter.

There are plenty of amazing hikes we have in mind 1-2 hours away. With gas prices though I don't know how much we will be able to do. But I expect in the summer to try some coastal hikes and maybe stuff closer to San Francisco (NICE summer weather - stays rather cool by the shore. Will be divine to get away from the 100-degree-heat here).

Yesterday I also worked on cleaning house, and by the time we got home from the park I was absolutely exhausted. No need to go the gym - I got plenty work out yesterday. Full body workout.

Of course the kids wanted to go back to the track AGAIN. They ran 3 laps Saturday night. Dh and I were too exhausted. We said how about a night off from the track. YEesh.

LM also had an unfortunate incident with his imaginary friend. LOL. BM has always been good at telling jokes and getting a rise out of people. But LM has not been into that so much. So yesterday he told me he had gotten into a fight with his little friend. Which was an interesting turn of events, since life is usually so rosy for them. So I asked him a few questions about it. I brought it up at dinner to dh, wondering if he had heard. Then BM asks LM, "did you do something to wormy first?" Kind of like, let's be honest here. (Yes his best friend is wormy the worm. Don't ask. LOL). So LM gets a mischevious look in his face and exclaims, well, yeah, "I ATE him!" & he starts laughing this evil laugh. Dh and I were kind of appalled actually. I mean seriously, this is his best friend, he talks about him 24/7. But if he wanted to get a rise out of us - OMG - that worked. Just SO out of left field. BM also looked horrified - he kept saying, "You are joking, right?" LM was rather vague. But later he told me Wormy was out on a date, so I think Wormy is okay. Phew.

Kids!




Meatball Subs

May 4th, 2008 at 07:21 am

Spinach Meatball Subs
http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Spinach-Meatball-Subs

This is what we had for dinner last night - lots of leftovers as well.

It's been a red meat week. We don't necessarily always eat so much red meat. That is one thing we have been cutting back on, with time. I assume meat was on sale or something.

Anyway, this recipe has converted us more to homemade meatballs. We realize they aren't that difficult, and boy they are sure tastier than the frozen variety.

Kids LOVE this recipe and a great way to get them (& me) to eat green stuff.

For lunch we had leftovers and PBJ, per usual. You see the trend that we don't really do much for breakfast, and rely on leftovers and frugal standbys for lunch. So a bulk of our cash goes to dinners. & we live on leftovers.

IT was funny when I read that pfadvice article about how so many people are "too good" for leftovers. I had never even realized this. What's wrong with leftovers? There are so many meals that taste better the longer they sit and blend. So anyway, I had just never heard that concept. If it weren't for leftovers I wonder how would we survive. Sure makes life easier since removes the need to cook for EVERY single meal. Sure, a lot of things taste better fresher, but somehow we survive. Wink

I guess when you don't even know you are deprived, it doesn't matter much...

For today I was thinking of breaking out the cereal. we actually do eat name brand cereal but we don't necessarily eat it every day. I actually LOVE the nature valley granola bar cereal. IT is divine. I sometimes pop it into a small tupperware container for a breakfast supplement or a snack at work. But mostly we eat this kind of stuff in moderation so we can enjoy it. (We couldn't afford it if we all ate a heaping bowl every single day). On the weekends I tend to break this stuff out for the kids or we make monkey bread or pancakes; stuff like that. I think today will be a good cereal day though. Feeling lazy for cooking...

No - Freefall not slowing down

April 23rd, 2008 at 08:13 am

BA asked me if it was slowing down - the foreclosures here.

Then I saw this article.

The answer is clearly - no. Still crazy here.

http://www.sacbee.com/103/story/882978.html

Looks like a pretty bad year or 2 left for subprime resets.

& then I recently blogged that an "original" neighbor who bought his house in the $250k range in 2001, just lost his home. Which is the beginning of an ugly trend. All the homes that sold for $600k in our immediate neighborhood have foreclosed. But now the people that got in the ground level here? That's the next wave? The prime borrowers who used their homes as ATMs. I have hardly talked to anyone in our age range who is not in this boat.

As for us, we are still fine. My older co-workers and relatives skirt around the issue. I can tell they all assume we are in WAY over our heads. My spouse doesn't work, we have a nice house, and we're young. We obviously are in way over our heads. Wink It's probably a pretty safe conclusion for the area. They will just never understand how dirt cheap our house was to us. The alternative was a $500k mortgage for a complete piece of crap, back home. Not sweating the $200k mortgage. Though I wouldn't be surprised if the value of our home dips below what we paid at some point. We paid almost $300k, but have paid $90 off our mortgage. A little over 20% down, and then just steadily paying down our 30-year mortgage since. Plus paid cash for some improvements when we first moved in. We've never borrowed a dime against our house, so this is the difference apparently between us and everyone else. Putting money down in the first place also makes all the difference.

I know you oldies already know all this, but had to throw in for newer readers. Who may wonder where we fit in, in all this.

I keep reading how the growing trend is to walk away from homes here. Well duh! Put 0% down and the your mortgage payment goes up astronomically. What do you really have to lose? I can't honestly hold these people morally responsible for their mortgages. The banks completely screwed them over, what do they owe them?

I have cringed whenever I have seen advice to put little down on a home, and I guess this is really the true side affect. People just walk away. In the end that doesn't really help anyone. But I don't see the morality in making someone who makes $50k a year pay a $4k/month house payment for a house worth half what they paid. It's just craziness. Of course they are walking away. I would have to say they would be insane to stick it out. Wouldn't make any sense.

Of course, you could argue why they bought these homes in the first place then. Like you couldn't see this coming.

Well, you got me there.

So yeah, it's ugly here.

Kids are 7 cents richer...

April 21st, 2008 at 07:33 am

Oh yeah, I totally forgot. A good blog post.

YEsterday when we got out of the car, at Walgreens, LM found a penny. He was QUITE proud of this find and proudly carried it through the store and on the ride home until he could put it in his piggy bank. He is only 2 but he knew where to put it. Wink Of course if he asked to spend it I am not sure it would have gone far - hehe.

Anyway, BM of course was jealous. But BM ALWAYS finds change on the ground and puts it in his piggy bank. No doubt why LM was so excited to do such a big boy thing.

Anyway, we then stopped by MErvyns because I wanted to pick up those sports sandals, and the customer service was pretty horrid. Dh was quite snippy with the kids as we waited in line (I think they were fine) but I decided to take them for a walk. BM had been so jealous at Walgreens I told him to keep a sharp eye out at the checkout counter, for change on the ground. So we decided to walk around all the cash registers looking for coins (yes it was a LONG wait). We didn't see any, but as we were walking back to find dh, BM suddenly dived onto the ground and under a clothing display. I started to bark at him to get off the freaking floor, when he came back up with a penny. NO IDEA how he spotted it, it looked way under a low platform. LOL. So I was actually quite impressed.

Of course I told them to keep their eyes open if they wanted to find more change, but I think this lesson was lost on them.

We were sitting at eating at the buffet when LM dropped his fork on the floor. He looked down and suddenly noticed a nickel sitting on his chair. So he holds up a nickel. Dh was off getting some buffet food. But I just had to laugh. I told the kids they were certainly having a lucky day. LM kept saying he found a penny and I kept trying to explain it was like 5 pennies, but was lost on him. Might as well have been a quarter though - he was SO excited by this find.

Dh came back and eventually we remembered to tell him about the find on LM's chair. He winked at me and whispered he put it there. I said, what, did you find it or something? HE said yeah, it was on the floor behind the chair.

So yeah, he wasn't keeping his eyes open like we had practiced, but was still a treat for him.

I actually am not a fan of saving change and generally don't find much change. BUT I have no qualms about picking up change when I see it. Yes, even a penny. IT doesn't take any effort to bend down and pick up a penny. & I usually just hand it to the kids anyway - who just get SO excited by these small money finds.

But yeah, my eyes have certainly been opened as I think there is rarely a day that BM doesn't find a coin on the ground. (Often in the garage and no doubt from dh's pocket. LOL).

But I thought finding 7 cents was quite impressive. Wink LM is 6 cents richer and that's quite a boost to his net worth.

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

Anyway, yeah, dh has been feeling fine but work up yesterday with no voice. This made him very snippy. It's actually rather strange.

I have been feeling the allergies a bit more and woke up today with a sore throat and some congestion. I am not pleased. I have to assume it is allergies, but I just don't know. I could not possibly be sick again and this week is insane at work. If I have to take a sick day I will no doubt work all weekend. I woke up early and am sitting up, so we'll see. Feeling better as I sit up. Will just try to make it through the day - too much to do. I never have any qualms about taking sick days at work, but this is getting on the verge of ridiculous. So I am just hoping it is allergies and I can work through it. I also won't be surprised if I completely lose my voice. Ugh!

I had wanted to clean the house yesterday and didn't get very far. IT may help the germ factory to clean a bit. If only I could feel well enough long enough to get anything done around the house. A viscous cycle...

Checked My Withholding

April 17th, 2008 at 07:49 am

I double checked my withholding yesterday since I got my bonus.

I think we are claiming 12 allowances, I haven't changed it in a while. (Will probably have to start paring it down as we pay down our mortgage and get our medical costs a little more in control).

Anyway, I owed $1200 for last year - IRS. We did a ROTH conversion, and my attempts to see where I went wrong have failed. I can not find the papers where I figured our estimated taxes. However, I think I just pulled the ROTH numbers out of my head at the time and under-estimated them. Duh. It's all I could figure. As when I did my tax return the ROTHS were more than I remembered.

But yes, we took advantage and converted all our IRAs into ROTHS over the last 2 years, while we were in insanely low tax brackets.

Anyway, so with my bonus (which I rely on for much of my Federal withholding - or likewise, withhold a lot less the rest of the year because of the pesky bonus taxes).

I figured I am withholding $125 Fed every paycheck and the bonus withholding was $500.

It puts my total Federal income tax withholding at $3500 for the entire year.

If we don't have any medical expenses and have a lean charitable giving year, and if we have $1k in interest income, then this is rather breakeven for us. $3500 will be my taxes for the year. & this is a pretty aggressive guess. I am sure we will have plenty of deductions.

I withhold $50 every paycheck for state. Our state tax will be around $1k. So that is pretty breakeven too.

So I am happy where we are at. If we set up a HSA or if we have any medical expenses beyond our certain dental checkups, then our taxes will be slightly lower. But it's all pretty much in the realm of breakeven.

& that makes me pretty pleased that I don't have to rachet down my allowances.

I think that next time I get a big raise I will rachet down my allowances by 1. It's probably due and coming in the next couple of years (that I should up my withholding a tad). We have just been lowering and lowering our withholding the last few years as taxes have been very favorable to us. But I knew some day we'd have to go back in the other direction. Wink I think we have started reach a tipping point, as my wages increase too.

I can't think beyond this year because I wouldn't be surprised if the entire tax code is turned on its head next presidency. We enjoy some pretty insanely low taxes thanks to the Bush tax cuts. But I also know this can't last forever. I just don't take our current situation for granted. I don't expect it to last very long. Nor should it last very long. Though it has been an immeasurable help during our one-income years. I still can't help but feel I will have to pay this back tenfold down the road - all the breaks we have gotten the last few years. One look at the national debt keeps me thinking that.

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

In other news, we got approved for Family Camp on our second choice of dates. So we are going to Yosemite in mid-June. Yay!!! We are going with both of our parents so it should be fun. I paid for my dad to go. The least I could do after he took me to Japan. Wink Well, my mom doesn't do camping so she won't come along. Which is probably for the best, we'll have more fun. Big Grin I love my mom, but she doesn't travel well.

I think we will stay at camp 3 days and enjoy the leisure. But will probably trek into Yosemite proper one day and try out a easy hike for LM. We are staying 3 nights.

We have to figure out how far the drive is. Dh swears he's done it in a day and it's only 2 hours. (No way - I know it's farther). I thought it was more like 5 hours. I am starting to think it is in between. Maybe 3 hours?

I think, well, why don't we go up there more often then? It is something we want to do. It will be good to see how the kids do, and to introduce them to camping. I look forward to not having to cook or pitch a tent though. Everything is provided. Camping for lazy city people. Wink

We even got electricity in our tent which I don't know if it is necessary. I got it more in mind for dh and all his toys. BUT he actually said he wasn't planning on bringing any. Blow me over with a feather. (Thought he'd bring his PSP and DS2, and all that crap - if nothing else - to entertain the kids). So I am pleased that he can put all that aside for out nature trek.

(I just looked it up. 3.5 hour drive. 180 miles. Lots of windy roads so I will go with the 3.5 hour estimate).

Funny how dh and I were both way off - LOL. But it is a pretty manageable drive. Yes, we might just survive without all of our electronics. Wink

I really look forward to showing the kids the night sky in Yosemite. My second career choice would have been astronomer. So I have been excited to go spend a night away from the city lights. Rare treat for me... The most amazing thing about camping for me, is the shooting stars and the chance to glimpse the milky way. The kids will love it!

Sushi Buffet

April 16th, 2008 at 03:16 pm

Boy, am I STUFFED.

Dh and I decided to do lunch date today. With LM pretty much out of diapers (Cash freed up) and the kids in care 2 days a week anyway, dh and I decided to do 2 lunch dates a month. Taking full advantage...

We went to Round table Buffet 2 weeks ago and it was $10 for the 2 of us (maybe $9).

Today we decided to try a new Japanese buffet.

I wasn't expecting much. Sure, I love Japanese food, but I can also be particular.

But anyway, this place was BAD news. It was SO good.

Then again, our bill was only $14 after coupon. (One lunch buffet full price, the 2nd half off).

It really wasn't bad for the insane amount of food.

Buffets, though I admit we don't frequent them much, tend to overcharge the kids, or not charge them at all. I was shocked when a local buffet place didn't charge for BM one time. He can eat as well as any adult. But this place actually had a clear child's menu. 80 cents per year of age. IT actually sounds pretty fair. BM would be almost full price, but LM would only be a couple of dollars. So we decided to take the kids sometime. They would love it.

The place was very big and had inari sushi (which I came to like in Japan, but don't really see much). They also had some chinese food, and just a HUGE selection. Lots of sushi as well. Good sushi.

We had a little hole in the wall JApanese restaurant, growing up, where I learned to love gyozas. But I have to tell you we have never found food on that par ever. So this wasn't quite the same, as it never is. BUT the gyozas and the sauces were pretty close. So I am happy. Dh could eat all the sushi he wanted. I could eat all the inari and gyoza I wanted. So yeah, bad news. It's been a while since we enjoyed eating out so much.

Well, work here is crazy for the next few weeks until my vacation. The 15th is over yes. But I have payroll tax returns, property tax returns, and first quarter financial statements out my ears. I am REALLY looking forward to my vacation - for sure.

Things will calm down in June... We'll be all caught up and have nothing to do but regular quarterly work for a while. Phew.

I really don't have that many people on tax extension. That is the awesome thing. I don't think my entire summer will be filled with catch up work, like last year. But, we'll see. I hesitate to feel relaxed. IT's always bad news. Wink

Well I am certainly not relaxed now. Payroll deadline is the 30th. Personal property returns are due around then too. Not a lot of work, I just have SO MANY. I just have a lot to do before our vacation in May...

Hoarding and Nice Treats...

April 8th, 2008 at 05:23 pm

Oh yeah, I went off on my sick rant and forgot what I was going to post. Doh.

I was watching Oprah like a couple of weeks back. IT was a repeat but O.M.G.!!

It was about a couple who had pretty much filled every room in their 3000 square foot house from top to bottom with STUFF. IT was the most insane thing I had ever seen. So they helped this family clean up their house. IT was just mind boggling. & you know, talked about the psychological reasons and how to change, etc, etc.

http://www2.oprah.com/foodhome/home/repair/slide/20071115/re...

So yeah, I found a link.

Anyway, I keep thinking everything is relative, and here is a perfect example. Suddenly my house is looking pretty empty and airy. Big Grin I mean, I just have been concerned about not bringing in more than we ship out. But yeah, we really don't have that much stuff. Looking at this house I can REALLY appreciate the simplicity we have in our own home. Most of our rooms just have a couple of big pieces of furniture, and our closets are not near utilized to capacity. We keep the garage clear for our cars. & that sounds quite simplistic in comparison.

(Oh yeah - their 3 or 4 car garage was also filled to the brim).

We probably have more space than we need but that never has given us license to fill it up. We bought this house with kids in mind and 2 rooms sat empty for years. We filled the extra living space with hand-me-downs. I wasn't going to go spend thousands on furniture just because we had twice the space very suddenly. We knew we would grow into it. That was the point. Just much more simpler and economical than moving up later. For us, in our stuation anyway.

Anyway, we aren't the neatest and sometimes things stack up on our 2 dining tables.

But yeah, I don't see that bothering me ever again. IT's about where all the junk piles. & it really looks quite like nothing to me now. After seeing that.

I do admit I have a pile of boxes under our piano - was thinking for ebay and stuff - but Craigslist has been better for most of the stuff we have been selling. I guess we should go through our boxes - recycle most of them. Wonder if that is a fire hazard. SHould we not store piles of cardboard boxes under/around our most expensive posession? PRobably not. It's the only other clutter that comes to mind.

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

Anyway, work has been quite nice. Some payroll company dropped us all of a nice box of treats. & then an investment brokerage is treating us to lunch on Monday. How nice!

Hehe, something like a treat so we don't have to go out to lunch or something. On the 14th. Lord knows if we are knee deep in deadlines lunch won't be on our minds. (Or a quick bite at the desk will do). But yeah, I don't expect Monday to be that hectic, and pizza will certainly be nice. Free lunch always is! I feel absolutely spoiled. (YEah food is definitely the way to MY heart! So I am definitely enjoying.)







Update

April 8th, 2008 at 02:43 pm

Well in my last couple of posts I explained much of our current goals and all that, and how we are going about things. But the nice thing is it has mostly settled into the background. I guess one reason I have been less bloggy. But I think the whole "money settling into the background" thing is good. Historically that is how we do things. Don't see the point in obsessing over it.

But I guess I could blog more about the little daily things that we do frugally, etc.

Anyway, you may also think I have been MIA because that pesky 4/15 deadline is looming overhead.

Truthfully, I haven't been at work in 3 days. We have been SICK. Ugh. I know, poor BM. HE got the stomach bug that has been going around. I got it Sunday night. We had actually had a LOT of plans over the weekend; all ruined.

But lucky for us it was just a 24 hour thing.

Yes, BM has had everything under the sun this year but unlike past years, he bounces back SO FAST. IT has had little in the way of intereference with his days at school and the like. That is the part that is different.

Meanwhile, all weekend, all I could think was, I give up. I don't know how much more I can take of this. Does it get any better? BEtween the 4 of us someone ALWAYS seems to be sick. Whenever we make plans they are sure to be ruined by sickness. I think that is the only thing I miss about childless life right now. Being able to plan for fun things. & not being sick ALL the time. Gah.

BM started preschool about 2 years ago and the first year he was pretty sick. They told me it was the first year; first year is the worst. They were right. But I thought things would be much better now. They are in a sense. On the other hand, LM has not had anything this year. He never gets sick. But he always has the perpetual runny nose and congestion. HE seems more sickly as a whole. But he doesn't get any of the crap BM gets. Dh is usually never sick and now he gets everything (I hear because he is home and closer to the germs). & then yeah, I actually experienced a year or 2 of relative immunity, but now it's getting me.

& then BM gets everything under the sun, but he won't sit still while he is sick, and he bounces back within the day. Even his last bout of croupe, where we rushed him to emergency. He was like good as new the next day. Nothing gets him down. That's a relief for me I guess. It's hard when your babies are sick. I guess him immune system has great strength after all that.

They say if you get all this out pre-k, it gets easier when they go to school. I Can only hope they have that advantage when they hit public school. That they aren't out sick every other week... I am skeptical lately if it will make much difference. I Don't even know where they pick up half of what they pick up. The only go to school 2 days a week and half the time none of the kids there have what they get. So, huh? Playground? Grocery carts? Where do they get all these germs? I roll my eyes at the moms with their anti-bacterial wipes (the ones that go crazy with them). But maybe I should take note. Maybe I Should get anti-bacterial crazy.

So anyway, yeah, life with sick kids. I am over it...

Work... Work isn't so bad though. Dh is video taping a wedding for a relative Saturday so I don't even know if I will work this weekend. We'll see... A short bit Saturday though, but watching the kids most of the day. I guess if I have to I will work Sunday. Just not sure if it will be necessary. I don't like procrastinating and I do not like doing things last minute. All my clients are done or on extension. My boss and manager aren't so lucky (just too mcuh workload) so I am helping them out. But beyond that, not feeling too much stress.

But April 30th is a big deadline for our regular work, so I will probably have plenty of opportunity to earn some overtime through April. Still working Saturdays probably. No party here until May 1 anyway. BUT I Can not believe it is already April 8th. That tax season just FLEW by. Wow! I look forward to putting aside the frantic once-a-year work and working on the more calm, regular stuff. At least it won't be so stressful after the 15th. It's all just easier stuff. So I do look forward to that!





Professional

April 3rd, 2008 at 01:06 pm

I just had to share while I Was thinking about it.

I was preparing a lengthy tax return for my boss. A "rich" client that my boss always gives me to do all the grunt work on. So when he gave it to me I Was reading all the piles of correspondence for the year, trying to get a feel of what was new for 2007.

Anyway, they moved to another state, and purchases a home before selling their old home. They talked to their 2 investment brokers (with whom they each have lots of money - maybe millions. I'd assume around a million dollars with each one). They wanted to structure the stock sales in the best way possible (tax-wise) for the cash purchase of their home.

OR course, investment guy #1 says, get a mortgage for the tax write-off. Of course you don't want to sell any stocks!

Investment guy #2 was evern better. Same spiel, but why not pay for half of it with a mortgage, and half with a margin loan against their investment account.

Oy vey.

So they send this off to my boss and asks his opinion. HE says, are you crazy? You want to pay $40k/year interest in order to save $20k in taxes? (Something like that). HE says, sell the dang stocks, and pay cash.

IT probably took much restraint to not say, why are you paying these people? They obviously don't have their best interest in mind. But I think for us it is a fine line. We don't give investment advice, and stay away from that whole thing with a 10-foot pole.

Anyway, on the radio this morning there was a similar conversation. How so many "professionals" were advising people to do the ARMs and 0 downs, and all that. People think if a professional tell them to do something, it's okay. & this is where much of this mess stems from. Likewise, most of the professionals giving this advice, took it themselves, and got in a lot of hot water. (Story after story of laid off mortgage brokers with way too much house, in the paper). OF course, the few that didn't follow their own advice, but dished it, well they made a lot of money off the whole thing.

& clearly, the investment advisor doesn't want you to take any of your money out and "invest" elsewhere.

I guess you have to consider who is giving your advice. What is their expertise really? & more importantly, what's in it for them?

Eeks!

I had a client last year who wanted to invest in trust deeds and I Actually talked them out of that. IT was a friend and she was scaring the crap out of me. I even consulted with my boss on that one, and we were okay to tell her, no way! Well, I mentioned all the risks anyway, and talked some sense into her. So they decided to invest in real estate and pulled out $200k out of their home. Then they decided in the meanwhile they didn't want to, so just put it in stocks. (Someone advised them to do so - an investment broker of course!!). Anyway, they panicked and paid the money back eventually (after taking some serious losses). Now they just have a monster mortgage payment that they can't afford.

I mentioned gingerly that they may want to refi, since rates have come down, but they are so burned they don't want to go there again. Really gullible though. I just cringe to see what they do next. They expected if they just paid it back, that their payment would go down, I guess.

It's just such a mess. But they had "professional" advice for most of their actions. All I Can hope is they learned something.

Busy Busy Busy

April 3rd, 2008 at 07:51 am

Yeah, work is a little busy, but it isn't horrid.

But I hadn't been very posty, and I doubt I will be this week.

LM is going to see grandma Friday so dh and I could have some time. We were going to take a date night Saturday (arrange babysitting for BM).

But we decided to go to a Cirque show. Dh thought it was Cirque du Soleil. The price was cheap, and I pondered that. (Plus since when was dh into Cirque du Soleil???? LOL). But he was all excited to take BM.

I was shocked because he has been very grumpy about needing more alone time with me. So we make all these arrangements, and it turns into date night with BM? If it makes him happy.

Anyway, he handed me an article about it, so I looked closer and saw it wasn't Cirque de Soleil. It was Cirque Dreams - though the same kind of thing. But much more affordable.

I refuse to take the kids to BArnum & Bailey's (they way they treat their animals) and so I said, sure, whatever. It is very circus-y and I know BM will LOVE it. So he can't say we never took him to the circus!

I have to work most of Saturday and the show is in the evening. We may try to squeeze in a date in between, but I don't know. A hectic day.

Then we are going to the Bay Area for a festival Sunday. It will be all day. After which I have to pick up LM, to bring him home. Just a lot of running around...

There is nothing relaxing about this weekend. But it should be fun!

So yeah, just a long week...

Oh, I did go to the gym yesterday. I went once after being sick in February and was having trouble working out (low lung capacity still). So I gave up for a while. Then it's just been SO busy. But LM loves the daycare over there, so I took him last night for a treat. (I know, he was at school all day and nothing he rather do than go hang out in another daycare - he just loves everyone else's toys so much more than our own. LOL).

But anyway, I had a good workout and was in much better shape than I would have guessed. I would love to go to aerobics again, but I was scared to go without being in a little better shape. I think Saturday is too crazy to go to aerobics class, but maybe I will start it up again after April 15th...

The drive is a bit far, but the class is only $2.50 when I show up. I still have $15 credit anyway... Though there is a $7 aerobics class down the street. I have to break out the calculator and figure the gas savings. May be worth it in the long run. I think this is what has burned me out on the other class. I can swing Saturdays, but the traffic is pretty tedious on the weeknights... Though I notice it is WAY worse in the winter months. This is why I have barely been since October. I started the class last May and the traffic situation wasn't nearly so bad the first few months. So I will give it a whirl for the summer...

Car Problems...

March 27th, 2008 at 01:02 pm

Oh well, the saga of dh's little "old" car...

I took it in because it was making a sound with the wheels, but only when the air conditioner was on. Huh? I know. I even had my dad look at it, but he was of little help.

So, we take it in to the shop again.

Day 1 I didn't hear a thing and was too busy to care. When I got to work on day 2 there was a somber message on my voice mail to call the shop.

Dear god, I Was sure it was a $3k repair or something. So Somber!

No, I think he just felt bad that he did not hear my noise. They didn't write down that I had said "only when the a/c is on!!!" Doh.

So we talked and he said he really thought it was just low on freon.

OF course that could be a sign of a leak or something worse.

But he said he would turn on the a/c and listen for the noise.

So by 4pm, still no word. Still busy, but figured I should call and just arrange to pick up the car. If it was nothing obvious, I am sure it's fine. If something that needs repair, it will get more obvious.

But he beat me to it, called me around 4.

It was.....

The hub cap! LOL. The hub cap coming lose and clanking around I guess. (OF course I have to admit this was coinciding with some new engine sounds I hadn't heard, so it was more than just the hubcap.

Figures.

Of course, as we were discussing engine noises, he does tell me that the transmission mount needs replacing/fixing or whatever. YEs, dh's car rattles and hums much. Anything to quiet it down...

This is where the mechanic annoys me. He was recommended by a relative who worked there for a time and we have been loyal to him since we moved here. But the first few times I dropped off my car for a repair, he would call us in to pick up the car and would say, "Oh yeah, you need this and that done to it in the near future."

I think, well, I rather have just done it while he had the car! I guess though this is NOT the standard consumer mindset. No one can afford more than one repair at a time or something? IF I am going to go a day or 2 carless though, I rather just get all the work it needs, at once.

So I thought we had worked all that out, and he put a note in my file or something. But he starts with the, "you should get that fixed one of these days..."

So I Said, just fix it now. I mean, what is he going to bill me for anyway? Some freon and however long it took them to find the hubcap noise?

Plus, it was only $250 with all the time they spent looking for the noise.

Thank goodness it was just the hubcap!

All Your Worth

December 6th, 2007 at 09:13 am

I made more progress on this book.

I liked the chapter on "wants" though I think it could have been more useful. Yes, it is important to spend money on wants. & on wants that you really want, not what other people want or what you think you should want. I think that is one thing that bugs me sometimes in the blogs/forums. Lots of crticisms of other people's "wants." If you are in the budget, who cares. If you are following the 50/30/20 plan, want whatever you want in that 30%. IT shouldn't be up to criticism. Everyone has very different wants.

I would have probably took it a step forward, in the book, and talked more about priorities. Make a list of what you think you want and then prioritize. When you realize you can afford a few things at the very top, the rest of the list seems to matter less.

I'm not personally on a mission to ALWAYS save more and more and more. I just want to be in balance. So I think this book is good in that regard. I am on a savings binge because we are out of balance. But if squeeze my wants too much, I'll just fall on my face or be miserable. No one wants that.

That's what strikes me as so wrong with Dave Ramsey. I really as a whole think he is a great motivator and very helpful to many. But I cringe when I listen to his show, people on rice and beans and working 3 jobs for a few years as they pay down their debts. Once they make that GREAT accomplishment you think they would relax and enjoy, even if for just a bit. Instead they all go on paying down their mortgage like a fiend. I think the overall concept is great; much how we live. But I think a lot of the wants are taken out of the equation. I often wonder how long until these people crash and burn. Seems to me if you pay off a mountain of debt and you can pay your bills and save, you should be able to enjoy a little.

Of course I could cut all the joy out of my life and pay off our mortgage in a decade. I just have no desire whatsoever to do that. I like to enjoy life too. Is the world going to end because I pay my mortgage at 50 instead of 40? No, but if I pay it off ay 40 I might just not enjoy a whole decade of my life at all. We'd tell the "kids, you know what, forget raising you, we have a mortgage to pay insanely early..." That just sucks. I Didn't have kids just to leave them in daycare and pay the mortgage before 40. IT just doesn't make any financial sense anyway when you look at the big picture. All that money is far better off going to retirement and compounding.

Balance!

Anyway, I think in the want section was the section on credit cards and paying cash. All I Can say, is different strokes for different folks. Gets very Ramsey-esque. I can assure you that I have never paid a dime to the credit card companies and that I don't stress out with a pencil and calculator every day or week as I use my card. Quicken tallies it for me and I always know exactly where I stand. Credit cards are VERY convenient. We've never gotten into trouble with them in the least. IT is very possible to use credit cards for a sound financial plan. So I disagree strongly with this section. I agree they CAN BE trouble, but having used cards for 16 years (& only getting more rewards with time) I don't have much to complain about. One look at those interest rates gurantees that I Would never spend a dime more than I had in cash. {To me it is the same as not overdrawing a checking account. IT really can be that simple}.

That's my credit card rant. If you can't handle the cards, then by all means, switch to cash. But it doesn't mean they don't have their place in wealth building.

Oh yeah, there was a long list of stuff not to waste your money on too. Stuff I learned from my parents (I mentioned before very blessed in that regard). Stuff you should have, like disability insurance & life insurance & wills (blessed blessed blessed).

The next chapter was all about debt and getting out. I completely skipped it. Never been there; so nothing to learn.

That was as far as I got. I peeked at the next chapter and it was also very Ramsey-esque. I wonder what came first. OR where this paradigm comes from.

*$1k emergency fund
*pay debts
*6 month emergency fund
*retirement
*mortgage

Sounds a little familiar?

Well I'll read more on that this weekend perhaps. They said 5% of your take-home should go to mortgage prepayments. I just don't think I am going to follow that advice either. Wink & to be clear, I am all for prepaying the mortgage, in a way that makes sense, and flows with the big picture. Which is probably mostly what bugs me about standard financial advice. It might work for "most people", but loses all the nuances of what is also different about every person financially. I think I disagree with about every piece of advice out there to an extent, and am better off for it.

Which is why it is good to come to a place like this and think about things and learn from others. Realize there is more than one way to do things.

So yeah, the book started good, then it got all Dave Ramsey. Which is fine since my only real gripe with Dave is lack of balance. & this book adds balance to the mix.

Well I will read the chapter more in detail to see what it says. I'm almost through the bulk of the book. See what I think on the savings chapter... It's probably the chapter that inerests me the most.

Lookie Here

December 4th, 2007 at 07:35 am

I started reading All Your Worth and my post about it is not showing up. So go read my last entry. Big Grin

A New Way to Waste Time...

July 13th, 2007 at 09:28 am



Hey, this is me! LOL.

The simpsonsmovie website had an avatar thing. I tried this in the Southpark format before but could not find a way to save and use. I figured this would have the same issue (it is) until I remembered the good old "Print scrn" button which I use to show my spreadhseets. Wala.

Weird month

April 17th, 2007 at 01:11 pm

I just asked dh if he was going to the grocery store today. He must be!!!

Looking at the credit card bill, the month is 1/2 over and only $150 is charged to groceries. We usually budget $500 and have been landing closer to $450. Of course all it takes is a monster trip to get us up to $250 by mid-month or something, but he acted like he had no need to go.

Gas is insane and we just drove home for the weekend, and yet only $108 gas spent for the month thus far, of our $300 budget. We both have full tanks.

Weird.

To our credit we have been driving the Escort a lot more - we even got all crammed into it for the long drive because gas was so scary. Yes, I have probably said before, in theory the minivan was to make these drives more comfortable. But the insane gas prices of late mean we rather cram like sardines in the little compact car. They don't make them much smaller than the Escort. But the gas prices finally reached a point hubby stopped nagging me when I drive his car instead - I just find it pretty ridiculous to commute in the van - him to cart the kinds in the compact. But you know, it's the way it is. His car is his baby, he likes small cars. So we are stupid like that - LOL. But he is giving in to reality once in a while, and the savings is paying off I guess!

Anyway, I am just in awe because I made a $150 Target run over the weekend and we are like $150 under budget for mid-month. I don't want to get too excited, anything can happen. But wow. Wondering if dh had a great grocery shopping month or if he is going to buy a ton at the end of the month. We'll see.

But yes, it was quite divine. I didn't even finish my shopping. But I have this neverending list of stuff to replace, we just have so much OLD stuff, like the hand-me-downs I got at 17 when I first moved out, etc. Still using them 13 years later? We cleaned out the kitchen a couple of years back and got nice stuff. Went through the pillows and bed sheets and such after that. This month I have been hitting my allowance hard, but well needed. I have a backpack from college which is basically falling apart. Time to replace. Just replaced my wallet - no idea how OLD it is - falling apart though. Stuff like that.
IT does seem to never end though. Oh yes the cute diaper bag I had is ripped to shreds. IT was a cheapie - so I picked up a cute bag at Target too. I still need to go back and find a peoper backpack and replace my purse that is falling apart. Was thinking of perusing MArshalls - they have cute purses.

The kids had a windfall too. I got the big one a couple of more summer outfits, some sandals for summer, new swin trunks in his bigger size, etc. I usually hit the thrift shop for $3-$5/pop - a really good used Kids' clothing store, usually lots of stuff with tags. But you know, Target has brand new stuff for $3-$5 a pop as well. I figured what the heck. Oh yes and a couple of summer night clothes too. & underwear - long overdue. Kid has been growing like a weed. I think he is pretty set. Luckily with the sandles the wide width isn't as necessary. Told dh maybe we would just get him regular sizes until fall, buy some wide-width shoes. So hard to find.

Anyway, I also bought a makeup bag and a new nail clipper set (to replace my ancient hand-me-downs). I got all this stuff strewn around the house, new tags and all, haven't had time to enjoy. Will work on it in the following weeks though. I think I will be on a spring cleaning kick. Got piles in the living room to try to sell and donate. God forbid dh take the reins on some of those - yeesh. But will glad I should have time to go through soon. Out with the old, and in with some new. Hopefully just not too much new!


Tax Answers

April 13th, 2007 at 06:57 am

Wow - you must be all on the ball - not many questions - hehe.

But I got 2 easy ones to answer:

"Okay, how about this? I made approximately $400 last year from independent work. I kept absolutely no record of expenses because I thought that I didn't have to file if the amount was under $600 (how wrong I was). Problem is this, if I leave this amount out, I can file 1040EZ, but put it in and well, schelude C and stuff... I was thinking of filing 1040EZ and umm... submit change next year. Total income is less than $12,000. Think the IRS will audit me?"

No the IRS will probably not audit you - if you did not receive a 1099. I hesitate to say it, but such a piddly amount to worry about really. Technically it should be reported in 2006 though. Frankly though if I had a client in your situation I wouldn't even push it. Just know there is a possibility if you were audited (& it was even found) you could have interest and penalties. Why I would ignore it? because time and cost benefit becomes a consideration. If you do report it in 2007 and you are audited down the road that will be something good for you. They may adjust your 2006 return to show an underpayment and 2007 to show an overpayment (or you may have to amend it yourself), but it would mostly be a wash then, and with such small amounts I hate to say it in such a public forum, but uh yeah, I wouldn't sweat it. Wink I am VERY anti-tax-evasion but sometimes there are just more considerations like is it worth the effort to pay that extra few dollars taxes 100% correct. Not always so.

"pretty cheap jewelry Says:
April 12th, 2007 at 09:14 am

I am my grandma's power of attorney (she's 97 and alzheimer's-type dementia, can't even sign her name).

I did her taxes via paper and snail mail.

My question is would you recommend switching to efile, such as taxact.com? I am hoping this is the last year I have to do them. However, I said that last year too."

Yes, I just recently (this month) did a little review on Tax Cut where I did my parents tax return. E-file is great when you are doing someone else's taxes. Plus if her return is simple enough, IRS offers free-file. Details here:

http://www.pfadvice.com/2007/03/14/irs-free-file-the-key-is-...

But yes, definitely go for it.

Spend Update - weekly totals

January 15th, 2007 at 07:02 am

Week 2 total: $278.05
Week 1 total: $374.24

**2 no spend days**

Items bought new in 2007:
Nintendo DS accessories (2) (dh)
Underwear(dh)
Packing Tape
Bubble envelope
Shipping Labels

Items bought used in 2007:
Nada

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

Cash Update/No-Spend/Yes-Spend

October 12th, 2006 at 02:52 pm

$48.73 cash for 2006
- 2.00 Water Bottles (2)
------
$46.73 remains
------

I'll still do the challenege the remainder of the week, but pretty much I am out.

I posted in a thread how I had to spend money on water - did not expect 80 degrees in OCtober - gah. But oh well, what I learned is next time I go on an exhuasting field trip with preschoolers, I will bring my own water. Even in winter it is enough to kill you - you will probably get thirsty. LOL. Actually it was pretty fun - cute cute kids!!!

I left the 2nd booster seat in my car today so the kids could not go to library preschool time. I felt SO bad. : ( They went last week and were so ecited today. Oh well. Imagine they walked to the park instead... Beautiful day! It has been good for the electric bill - no a/c or heat in the near future.

I also did not put the food away last night and wasted 1-2 meals as dh says. To my credit I never put away the food and dh always does. So when he asked me why I didn't put it away, I Said, "huh?" LOL. He's been out every night editing a movie. I guess I will have to make it part of my routine, just to check. If it's not part of my routine I most likely won't notice. IT bugs me too dh lets it sit out until bedtime, I should just start putting it away right after dinner. I do sometimes so I guess he figured I would notice. I think he will double check from now on too.

I have been so breaindead lately anyway.

Went to target and was bad. Got the things from list, saved a lot of money. got a gew things that were on sale plus used coupons. Yay!! BAd thing was I had 4 coupons and lady messed them up and cost me 25 cents. Oh well. She had to scan them 100 times like I was the only one who has ever used coupons. LOL. I decided next time I will check the receipt before I walk away. She accidentally scanned a 75 cent one twice and missed a $1 one, but oh well. at least she didn't miss my $2 coupon.

I also spent $2 on christmas gift for niece - the cutest tiara and wand.

HAd some magnetic notepads for $1/each which I love for grocery lists so I stocked up. I had some lists laying around (free) that I intended to glue magnets to, but this is the next best thing. Especially since I haven't got around to it - give me a few more months. ; )

Spent $1 on thanksgiving decorations. Not necessary but at that price - too cute. Will be cute touch to Thanksgiving dinner.

The downside was I wanted to get this cute shirt for my 3-year-old. I wrestled with the idea yesterday. I decided yes. Then I thought about it and decided no. Not necessary. THen I thought if it was only $5 or so what difference does it make. I thought I could buy a larger size, spend $5, he could wear it 2 halloweens, and baby could wear it 2-3 halloweens. Plus they don't have much clothes.

So I went to peak and they were only $5. But they were so dang cute, they were mixed in with the baby ones. I Decided they needed matching outfits. Total impulse.

If I hadn't of planned to go to Target this week I probably could have resisted. Oh well. Put it in the money I did not need to spend category. & dh pointed out that they each have way too many shirts. He has a point. Oh well. They'll be cute. I honestly wouldn't have bought them if they weren't so cheap though. Sales can be bad really!!!!!!!

Even though I fell off the wagon I will continue with my no-spend challenge just to get mroe insight into my spending habits. & even so, just because you stumble doesn't mean you should give up. Right??

The insight I have gained so far is I am spending so little on things I find myself justifying more. LOL.

& next time I see a cute shirt I Will resist saying, "where did you get that????" I will admire its cuteness and just assume it is out of my price range. Right?





Grocery Fight!

October 8th, 2006 at 08:07 am

Yeah, well was having a discussion with my hubby and we were arguing over groceries. *sigh*

HE does all the shopping, and I think really since I am a control freak, he does not want to relinquish control over the groceries - so he is fighting over it tooth and nail. Well, that is my psychological insight anyway. I don't want to take control I just want to save some money - aaaaarrrrggggghhhh...

Actually it all started when I was looking up some of those books on the book thread as I was putting some on my christmas wishlist. I was kind of bored with the selection and telling dh if you read one frugal book you've read them all. I was raised frugally and have garnered little from these types of books in the past. I guess I am interested in more investment books at this point. Though I then proceed to tell dh that one area I think we can improve on is our grocery shopping. When I look at our budget we pay little for may things, we have our luxuries, and then groceries pop out of me - that we should be able to trim them down. Then dh tells me I am insane and there is NO way we can save any more money. I think he is insane! So my reply is, what, if I lost my job we could not survive on $200 a month? Of course we could. Then he says he doesn't want to eat Top Ramn every night. Well the people I know saving money don't eat Top Ramen every night - gah. I don't know why he is so resistent to even giving a try!

Oh yeah, and then he says I used to get mad when he stocked up on stuff for sale. I have no idea what he was talking about until he mentions I did not want him to buy a leapster game on sale - OMG! I am talking "necessities" here - I remember that argument because we did not have the money for it and he was determined to buy it regardless. He said he was going to buy it anyway and I wouldn't let him buy it on sale. Pffffttt. The whole point was I didn't want him to buy it at all. Gah. I assured him I would not complain if he stockes up on grocery items while they are on sale - gheesh. I am not talking about toys and games here which we do not need!!!

Well, we spend around $500/month. I just lump all the grocery bills under grocery category, but this month I am sorting everything in quicken by food items. I have the categories dairy, fruits/veggies, meat, soda, cat, diapers, non-food, etc. So over a couple of months I would like to see how much we are actually spending of FOOD. & trying to look for sales on non-food items elsewhere, etc. We have been clipping a lot of coupons. We have noticed since we buy generic most of the time, generic is usually cheaper than the coupons help in the end anyway - tend to be for name brands. But of course I am encouraging dh to stock up when generic stuff is on sale, etc. & there are always a few great coupons regardless...

I have also been clipping coupon for walgreens and rite-aid - they have really good deals on some items - which I could pick up on my way home from work, etc. I don't necessarily want to spend all of our time driving to different stores - there is a cost/benefit here as well. But a stop on the way home I can deal with. But it will be interesting to see how all the coupon clipping pans out this month. Also, we are trying to plan our meals around the sales more.

I was reading the grocery threads for more ideas and saw some intersting ones. There is a Big Lots by my work that I have never been in. I guess I should start perusing it for grocery deals. & other deals as well, eh?

I was telling my dh about double/triple coupons and did not really understand then - he said it was all BS. I realize now because looking at that thread, there are no stores in our area that do that. Oh well, that would have been easiest, eh?

The tip that strikes me as odd as that gas stations have sales prices on some items. Too weird. I will have to check it out. Who knew?

We always figure we would get a Costco membership eventually when the kids are older. I just don't think now is the time. But maybe we are missing out.

I know there are a few disocunt stores around so I am not sure why dh is so set on Raleys, Bel Airl, Safeway, etc. He is pretty familiar with those stores and knows which ones have the best deals on certian items, etc. HE plans his shopping around that. Maybe he just doesn't want out of his comfort zone. & we would have to drive far (10 miles? & gas sucks lately) to these other stores - there are none near us. Raleys has yes been more high end in the past but lately they have been cheapest by far - they are revamping their strategy to be a low cost leader. & we have a new Bel Air down the street which is empty most the time so we both love to go their to beat the crowds.

Besides that we don't buy much in the way of processed foods, try to limit meat, etc. So we kind of have had the basic tenets of saving grocery money down for a while. We do good home cooking almost every day.

Oh well, it will be interesting to see what we can do in the next few months. Anyone has any good tips in general or Northern CA though - let me know. I hear a lot about Trader Joes but that is another one that is a good 20 mintue drive to get to.


& Now For Something Completely Different...

September 26th, 2006 at 02:49 pm

***Three-year-old buys pink convertible on Internet***

Tue Sep 26, 7:31 AM ET

LONDON (Reuters) - Jack Neal briefly became the proud owner of a pink convertible car after he managed to buy it for 9,000 pounds ($17,000) on the Internet despite being only three years old.

Jack's mother told the BBC she had left her password for the eBay auction site in her computer and her son used the "buy it now" option to complete the purchase.

"Jack's a whizz on the PC and just pressed all the right buttons," Rachel Neal said.

The seller of the second-hand car, a dealer from Worcestershire, central England, was amused by the bid and agreed not to force the sale through.

"Luckily he saw the funny side and said he would re-advertise," Neal said.

=====================================

Just saw this and had a laugh.