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Archive for October, 2006

Bye Bye First Credit Union

October 30th, 2006 at 02:02 pm

It's kind of a sad day but I just closed out my first bank account and credit card. I opened the checking account when I Was probably 15 or so and got my first credit card when I Was 16.

I finally got around to trying out a local credit union, mostly because I like to mail my deposits and the US mail has become increasingly slow. Plus there are many reasons to have a local bank. Since we tend to pay cash for cars from private parties, etc., one of these days we may need to get a cashiers check, and I am also going to open a safety deposit box. Etc., etc. We have had issues a couple of times people not taking checks that were not from local banks. So overall it was a good move, about time really - we have lived here 5 years!!! But I just wanted to try out our new bank for a while. Well, they are super awesome, their online bill pay trumps my old one by a mile, and now when I pop my checks in the mail they arrive the very next day. Plus if I Was so inclined there is a branch right down the street from my house, if I Was ever in a huge hurry to make a deposit. I have yet to step inside, but I actually lived about 30 miles from my old credit union before and I don't think I ever stepped inside that one either in the 10 years I lived in the area.

Oh yeah, so I got my new rewards card and a $15 annual fee bill for my old credit card in this last week or so. I decided it was time to close it out - haven't used it in years.

Oh well, it is just a little bittersweet to cut up the first credit card I ever owned. Mostly because it all kind of symbolizes how well my parents taught me about credit and banking, making me start young. I am grateful that I do not rue the day I got my first credit card. Wink

Oh yeah, I also went by the Dollar Tree at lunch and spent $16 on stocking stuffers and gifts. I had a little too much fun. The good thing is I didn't grab a basket and I reached a limit to how much I Ciould carry. That was when I knew it was time to go.

I think just dh's family left with the whole christmas thing. & my one son actually. Getting there...

Going on a Cruise...

October 30th, 2006 at 06:43 am

I must say I was a little dissapointed when my dh coming up with a fabulous trip for my birthday, came up with a trip down south which we can do anytime. We were gonna splurge a little and I am sure it was gonna be a great trip, but for a second when he was telling me his idea I thought he was getting at going on a CRUISE!!! This was before the whole cracking down on our finances thing and keeping in mind I surprised him with a trip to Vegas for his 30th.

& then when he freaked out and said we couldn't go, I was more than a little annoyed. But whatever. I figured maybe in January we could go somewhere for free on his mom's timeshare - monterey or something. So we put it off a few weeks - we put it off as we wait for his vasectomy date and also in case he found a weekend job, etc. IT was more than just we couldn't really afford it. We could have made it a cheaper trip.

BUT his mom was over this weekend telling us how great her new timeshare thingy is. For one, the old one she was getting annoyed with and told us she wanted to give it to us. Just like when she tried to pass of dh's $20k life-insurance - crazy premiums and all - I said NO THANKS!!!!! LOL. So instead they put MORE money into timeshares after just telling us they wanted out of their old one a year or 2 back???? Whatever. I know some day we will inherit those beauties and I will HATE them, but for now they are pretty sweet. WE always get a weekend away free 2-3 times a year. So this weekend she just said that her mom was going ona cruise and she was looking into joining her. & she found it it is FREE through her timeshare thing. Then she said she had to use up her many many points and would WE like to go on a cruise? I jumped on it - yes yes yes!!!!! So I will have to probably wait a few months, but maybe in the summer we can swing it. I am well aware it is not FREE - that there will be many charges associated with it. But the initial $1k charge or so - yeah - is gone. I am going. Yay!!!!!

I am so excited I get such a super cool birthday present after all. I have never been on a cruise. This one leaves out of LA and goes to Catalina Island, San Diego, and somewhere in Mexico. Forget where. I don't even care - LOL. Woohoo.

The best part is I earn an extra week of vacation this year. This particular cruise runs M-Th which kind of sucks, but with mye xtra week of vacation, oh well. Will work out okay.

Last year we were a little spoiled with our travels and I look forward to more spoiling next year after all. Wink

Bird Poop & Weekend Update

October 29th, 2006 at 04:47 pm

We got a quote for $150 and they will clean up the area, just not the rest of the house - whatever that means. Not sure why the rest of the house owuld need it. So they aren't as thorough as the other guy, but sounds like they will take care of it. Price sounds good to me. Other place never called back so we'll move forward with it. I Am just releived it is not a few hundred dollars. We'll see how it goes.

Ah yes, I don't even think I mentioned that we had more Merrill Lynch issues. Ah. I decided to set up dh's new Vanguard account today online to speed up the process, but I Could not print the forms, ACK!!!! Printer was not working, dh was out. Hopefully we'll get it squared away tomorrow, want the forms out in the mail tomorrow - get our money AWAY from ML ASAP. I need to move it first now and then do the ROTH conversion because ML still hasn't done it. We sent in our forms like 60 days ago. 60 days to get it done, has to be done this YEAR. Gah! Hopefully Vanguard is easier to deal with. I am just sending all the forms at once with a letter I need the conversion done ASAP!!! I give up on ML. I hope never to deal with them again. Don't even ask - Friday was bad and dh has to be so difficult about the whole thing.

I just activated my new rewards credit card and they asked when I wanted my due date. I am like, um, well, I would like the cycle to close on the 30th. Okay they say, so your due date is the 13th. Are you kidding me? My other credit card is due on the 29th. Oh, whatever. my other credit card doesn't give me 3% back either. BUT I think it is interesting how they market it as "choose your due date." Just indicative of what a paycheck to paychck society wants - they have to pick that due date well. I don't care, I am just annoyed it is only 13 days. LOL. What is the average time? I thought 20 day grace period is normal. But then wonder why I have 29 days with state farm. Interesting, is this some hige perk most cards don't offer??? What is this 13 day thing??? I will find out more soon enough I guess. I just hope I heard her wrong, but it doesn't really matter in the end. 29 days sure beats 13 days when it comes to slow mail and stuff out of your control.

Dh finished clearing out storage today - YAY!!!! Next month our bills will go down $56 for storage and about $20 for HBO. IT feels great. We also have Blockbuster Online which we LOVE (saw that netflix vs. Blockbuster thread) BUT they just informed dh that they will no longer in-store coupons with it. THat sucks. He said he may be willing to cancel it now. Save 20/month. Yay!!!

This week I am planning to square away dh's IRA, best I can, and close my old VISA and credit union account - get my $25 out.

The following week I am hoping we get our estate papers signed and open a safe deposit box.

Getting there... Getting somewhere anyway...

Oh yeah - today the house is 69 degrees. Feels a lot warmer THAN THAT, but I Am not sure how long we can last with no heat or ac. Bummer... We usually set it around 68 for winter. Almost time to turn it on... Well, we lasted about 60 days with no heat or ac. Unless another heat wave kicks in. IT has been rather warm...

The Problem with Bird Poop

October 27th, 2006 at 09:10 am

I don't think we'll save much this year. This month's extra to estate lawyer. & next month to clean up bird poop. *sigh*

The pigeons love our house and we paid upwards of $1k a few years back to pigeon-proof the house. The guy was awesome though, he put spikes up all around and CLEANED UP the mess that was accumulating. We seriously had a hill of bird poop accumulating in the backyard - disgusting.

All was fine but the pigeons were starting to move in again. We had our house on the market earlier this year, we thought with prices falling was a good time to make a lateral move, since it has been too expensive otherwise, but quickly gave up after looking at houses for another $100 to $200k, sellers not budging on price, houses that weren't even NEARLY as nice as we already have. We decided to wait it out in the meantime. But during that whole thing I had called the Bird Guy, thought it would be could for a cleanup, and never heard back.

Forgot about it, because the bird situation wasn't too bad back then, but just looked out the window last night and saw a mountain of poop accumulating on our roof. I Also noticed the driveway was looking pretty icky. Gah!!!! So I Called today and the guy answers. Unfortunately he is in Arizona now. Boo. HE recommended Clark PEst Control. All I know is Clark charges you an arm and a leg for regular pest service, so I am wary. But I Can't find anything else so I Called. They said they don't even do cleanup. Oh well, what are you gonna do - *sigh*. They are going to come reinforce the area that the pigeons are hanging out and I guess we are going to clean up the mountain of bird poop. Honestly I don't mind doing it. I just am not sure if we will do a good job. Plus the other guy came out and cleaned ALL of our gutters, and scrubbed with the right chemicals, etc. I will have to do some internet research. Look up good bird poop removal techniques. At least this time is just localized to ONE area. Though I am not so sure fixing that one area will eradicate them. There are a few that like to sleep in our front windows but with the homeowners rules we can't put big spikes up front. Will talk to Clark about less noticable ones I guess... OR maybe simply sealing off the one area that have gotten back into it will eradicate the mess. I hope. There were a bunch of spikes AND it was sealed off but they wormed their way in. Pigeons are evil.

Oh well, Clark is coming out for the quote today. I hope it isn't too bad...

I know I know - need to start a bird poop emergency fund. LOL.

ETA: After doing a little research I don't think doing it ourselves is a good idea. I called another company for a quote after a lot of looking. IT is more of a hazardous waste issue - ick...

In other news my kids are making me work extra too. I noticed my older son figured out all the cabinet and drawer locks a couple of days back. Frankly I Am surprised it took this long. I have friends whose 1-year-olds were into everything. SO I Consider myself lucky. All the same, some items probably need to be moved, like steak knives and scissors. Actually that is how I noticed because he decided he needed the scissors and just went and got them himself. Ugh. Then last night after bath I put the kids in my older son's bedroom, closed the door, and ran out for a minute to pick up towels. Immediately the door opened and I start yelling, "DO NOT open your door" to my older son. I Am yelling/explaining that he can not open the door and for the millionth time that this is not for him, it is for his brother - he is too little to go out unattended, etc. After my tirade my older son yells - "It was the baby." LOL. I peaked in his room and yes my older son is playing quietly in the far corner where I left him. Indeed it is true that the baby, immediately after I left the room, got up and walked out the door.

Trouble I Tell you...

Damn lever doorknobs.

Overall it's okay - I Would not leave him alone in that room for more than a minute anyway, there is a big bed he likes to climb onto and he is too little to be careful not to fall off, but now my 1-minute upstairs holding corral needs some improvisation. Time to get the gate back out I guess. The second the 3-year-old graduates from all the gates, it is time to bring them back out!!!

But I must say I Am proud he opened the door all by himself. A milestone...








Won again at Bunco!

October 25th, 2006 at 11:10 pm

But no cash - Frown

Bummer!

LOL. But I did win a prize. A cute halloween mug and some pencils and bubbles - probably will give to the kids. I'll keep the mug for myself - super cute!!

So I did keep my winning streak. Though bummed I have no cash to add to my stash. Wink Dh was joking and asking how much it was all worth - that I should hawk it. LOL. All 50 cents worth, eh?

So this week speeds ahead very crazily. If I am good I will stay offline and get a lot of work done. Work is a little crazy. Saturday and Sunday are filled with halloween festivities. The kids are wearing hand-me-downs and I haven't checked that they fit. *sigh* I should probably try them on tomorrow so in case one of both boys are too big - would not be surprised - I have time for a backup plan. Wish me luck - LOL. People keep asking me what grade my 3-year-old is in so that is probably a bad sign that he may have outgrown his costume from last year - ack!!!

Here is to a calm November... Please?

Cash Stash Update

October 25th, 2006 at 01:58 pm

Cash Stash:

$35.33 cash for 2006
- 1.08 BK Lunch
-12.00 Bunco
------
$22.25 remains
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But if history holds true I should win money tonight - LOL.

Actually I haven't spent much cash in about a week. Not since Friday anyway.

& $11 for bunco tonight. The one night a month I get to escape. Wink
The sad thing is that it is a Halloween theme tonight and I just realized my good old standby - cat ears and tail - are MIA. Probably in storage. Most of the storage is sitting in my living room in boxes, but I wouldn't have a clue where they would be and I have about 1/2 hour to drop off my son from preschool and get ready and turn around. Hmmmm, I may be a party pooper and no costume. Wish I had more time.

I did make super cool eyeball cookies, I wanted to post a pic later.

Oh yeah, I drove the van to san jose and back over the weekend, and then last night occured to me maybe I should get gas. Tank wasn't even empty! I pumped out about 23 miles per gallon - my word - a new record on this gas guzzling van. My husband told me when he got the oil changed they pushed the air filter change to increase gas mileage. I told him it was BS because we had asked our mechanic before. Not on this car, but one that has another 20k miles and has never had an air filter change. So I was annoyed dh fell for this and not sure why he would in the first place because I know they are always pushing this air filter thing. Anyway, that was a while ago and of course my gas mileage around town remains the same. But I am impressed with this whole freeway driving thing. Of course we rarely drive it to San Jose because dh gets all grumpy out gas mileage and so we pack into his Escort, which I Admit gets pretty awesome gas mileage, and 1/2 the time I wonder why I bought a minivan just to commute. Seriously, we drove 400 miles down to Deisneyland scrunched up in the Escort. Oh well, I Didn't mind so much because we didn't have the baby so I could lean back my seat a tad - just enough not to squish the baby carseat anyway which was still very much in the way baby or not. The Escort does get 35 miles + per gallon, what can I say. Yeah, it should be the commuter car in the family and dh with the kids all day should probably drive the van, but he doesn't do big cars is what it really comes down to. That and he doesn't want me to drive his baby.

So anyway, back to the topic, is there something to this air filter thing or is this just the first time I really drove the van on a long freeway drive? Hmmm...



Updated Stats

October 25th, 2006 at 10:11 am

All the bills for the month are done and paid so I updated the stats. I love looking at my progress. The kick in the butt I need.

I am estimating what the costs on card will be but we have so far had a pretty spectacular month. So I estimaed my boost in savings. $30 interest, $100 from extra income this month (ebay & cookie lee), +$150.

$150 is probably more than my target savings each month, we are so breakeven on our budget, I Am trying to save minimum $50/month. The extra money made all the difference. BUT I am very pleased to report that I actually saved $1000+ this month. (knock on wood since just a few more days - don't want my car to explode). I just did not put it over to the emergency fund because I need it for the estate lawyer. I am so pleased to have the cash to pay her now and not dip into anything else.

I am pleased as punch because though we had a $250 credit on our credit card this month which helped, I had $150 expense on there for my cookie lee sales. IT was our last month paying $56 on the storage. Plus we did about $150 worth of christmas shopping (most of it), bought some clothes for the kids, and spent $40 on birthday gifts. It was a pretty excessive month overall and our credit card bill will be around $1100. $1100?????? In my old budget I just targeted around $1650 - that was my goal. IT was usually closer to $2k. I can not believe what a good month we had, we were not deprived in the least. Includes our anniversary dinner and everything.

Anyway, I need about $700/month to set aside for property taxes and insurance which I never do. But somehow I have it all covered through Dec. 31, so if November is as good I may have $700, at least, for the emergency fund next month. Only thing big is Thanksgiving. but even that family really helps out with food (we host) and I think we will have another banner month. Yay!!!

It was kind of disheartening when I joined the site and thought I Could maybe set aside $50/month. I knew I needed to do something- it was better than nothing. But to see that I have saved $500 in the last 60 days is pretty awesome.

Hubby is dragging his feet on the job thing. IT seems like we are back to square one on that issue, a little extra money could really help. But I don't foresee him really pulling it together. Oh well, at least he is helping me to maximize my income and our savings, it is something. What else can I do...

We are doing so well I Decided to resume extra mortgage payments in january if I get a raise. I started right before my last maternity leave and we just never had the money after that. Then I felt like we needed to save more. We probably do, but I am not happy until I Am paying that sucker down faster... But only if I have d ecent raise to boost our savings and then be able to add to the mortgage. I'll find out in january. Depends what our health insurance premiums go up to too - *sigh*

I just had to say to I had a real estate agent acuqaintance tell me that it was stupid to pay down a mortgage because you pay so little. LOL. She has 2 homes she owns with ARMs. Personally I think *that* is stupid. But anywho. Um yeah, our very first mortgage we had a 15-year loan for 1 year and we paid off $10k over the course of 2 years. Our current mortgage we have had for 5 years and have paid off $11,000. That is $21,000 in 7 years. YEah, we have paid nothing off our house - *rolleyes* Okay maybe $21k is nothing to some people, but it is a lot to me. Oh sure if it wasn't for the kid thing and 1-income thing we would have kept the 15-year loan. Instead I like that our minimum mortgage payment is decent, with a 30-year fixed, and we will add another $500/month when my hubby is working substantially again. On 1-income I am looking to pay $5k off of it next year, just normal payments + 1.5 extra payments, or an extra $150/month. Nothing spectacular. Oh well, I am one of those weirdos who looks forward to not having debts, vs. accruing more. I was also a weirdo who wouldn't buy a house without 20% cash down, so hey. Just call me weird. Wink







Made $78 on EBAY

October 24th, 2006 at 07:49 am

My baby carrier just sold for $78!!!! cool.

Basically with shipping and handling the buyer is paying $90 for something that cost $92 brand new.

I am still not sure how much in fees will be eaten up by ebay and paypal - I don't really care. Just glad to gross so much for it!

Yeah now I REMEMBER why I had to pay $92 for the dang thing. LOL.

I am so happy my first ebay auctionw as so successful. But I don't really see any more in my near future.