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Archive for May, 2008

Bathroom Makeover

May 30th, 2008 at 05:15 pm

I painted our daughter's bathroom this past Tuesday. It was about the only room in the house we had not painted since moving in over a year ago.

All the funds came from the garage sale we had about a month ago. It was their motivation to declutter their stuff...so they could get a bathroom makeover.

The makeover included paint, shower curtain, bath mats, toilet cover and new towels. I think our total was less than $100 for the whole thing. I bought everything at Bed Bath & Beyond and used coupons for every item. The paint was from Lowe's. I had a $5 coupon and the paint qualified for a $5 rebate this past weekend as well.

It looks much more like a girls bathroom than before and they are thrilled with the results.

It feels great to have sold many things we no longer needed and to have a new bathroom at the same time. It really was just a matter of priority for me, as well as the girls. Which did we want more, stuff we don't use or a redone bathroom?

Is $400 Fair For a Used...

May 28th, 2008 at 10:53 pm

piano? It's a upright console made of oak. Not sure on the age...maybe at least 12 years.

I have yet to go see it. I'm sure I will soon. It's listed on craigslist. I called piano movers today and one said $120 plus $10 for each step. I have 5 steps and she has 3...so $200 to move it to our home.

I will then have to pay to have it tuned before lessons would start for my 8 year old. Did I tell you that DH might want to take some lessons, too?

So...$600 for a used piano...is that a steal or what? I better go see it soon, before it slips away.

Not Yet

May 27th, 2008 at 03:12 pm

If you read my last post, you know that we were going van shopping on Friday. In the end we didn't make a purchase. The Honda dealership had zero used Odyssey's. The Toyota dealership had one, but was high on miles.

The three Sienna's we looked at were pretty good deals, but in the end, we just weren't able to committ.

At this point, we most likely won't be looking again for another month because of DH's travel schedule. This gives me more time to save up some more cash towards taxes, registration and a down payment! So there is some good news.

We're Going Car Shopping...

May 22nd, 2008 at 06:27 pm

tomorrow! We are actually looking for a van. My DH has the day off for the Memorial weekend. I have one vehicle picked out that is used that has everything I want. It's an older body style Honda Odyssey. That's the part that my husband doesn't like.

I've been so tempted to buy a new...like a 2008 Toyota Sienna, that I'm actually pleased to find an older vehicle with low miles and options I'm interested in.

I've been amazed at how much I'm swinging from one type of vehicle to the next. That includes being willing to borrow over $7,000 more! Crazy.

We'll see what we end up with...if anything. I really don't want to jump too quickly...especially if we start leaning towards new. In fact, we've never bought a brand new vehicle. Well, we leased one...but I wouldn't do that again.

Oh, don't worry, I haven't forgotten about the home equity payoff. It's still in the plans. Once I know what we are doing on this vehicle...it will be attacked swiftly!!

Middle School Costs

May 21st, 2008 at 01:45 pm

My daughter will be in 6th grade at a middle school next year. I'm already paying!! We have registration in April. They collect many fees at that time.

I paid fees for books & materials, a planner, gym uniform, and a yearbook. A total of $101! On top of that, I bought her a one-piece Speedo swimsuit. They have a wonderful pool there that they will use multiple times next year. The one piece part is required for girls.

Today the 5th graders are going for a visit. They also get to try out the pool. It's a wonderful school and I'm very excited for her. I just hope that the costs don't get too out of hand.

It sure would be nice if schools could give you a list of expected expenses, such as for field trips, pictures, fund raisers, dances, ect. Who knows what else there might be!!

I know all schools are different, but can anyone think of expenses that are different in high school/middle school compared to elementary?

Rewards & Retirement

May 20th, 2008 at 02:27 pm

Our bank, provides rewards on our debit card transactions. I just cashed points for cash...$50 cash!! Just for spending like we usually do.

New $20 Challenge Balance: $868.31

We've been contributing monthly to our retirement accounts. We plan to max out our Roth's this year at $5K each. My husband is contributing 4% to his TSP...the government's version of a 401K.

I track the balances on a irregular basis...especially since the market hasn't been so great. Today I checked and things are beginning to move up...we've hit a new high of over $88K invested! Such a nice feeling to be approaching the $100K mark. It would be nice to have that number by the end of the year. I think it is possible if the market starts to rebound, if just a little.

Free Entertainment

May 20th, 2008 at 02:34 am

We just came back from my DD's 5th grade band concert. This was her first year playing the flute. All those kids did just wonderful. My DD was part of a flute trio, because she was doing so well. Nice to just hear flutes, since they can be hard to hear at times!

We had a dessert potluck after, with parents donating dessert or drinks. It was a fun way to celebrate a successful year of band.

My daughter will continue to play band into 6th grade. She's even crying tonight that she will miss band!! She's worried she will forget to practice over the summer. It will be a good excuse to get her some new music and have some band friends over to play together.

I've been renting to own the flute, which is a great deal when you don't know if your child will continue in band for more than a year. If she didn't like it after two months, then we could have returned the flute and owed nothing more than the months we had already paid for.

Now that she's made it through one year, I should see if I can pay it off early for less. I feel pretty confident that she will continue.

My Dad's 60th Birthday

May 19th, 2008 at 01:08 am

...is just around the corner. He seems like the hardest person to shop for. Is it because I don't know him well enough? Or maybe he just doesn't seem to have a lot of wants and needs. It seems like I feel this way every year.

We will be traveling to his town for a couple days next weekend. I think he is looking forward to having my family visit. It has been awhile since we've been in their next of the woods.

It seems harder, too, that his birthday is followed so closely by Father's Day! Yikes...two gifts to buy in a row.

Last year we bought him golf shirts, the wicking kind. He really liked those. He had bought himself new golf clubs, so it seem to fit with what he was doing at the time.

I hope I can think of something soon...

My leftovers are going...

May 16th, 2008 at 04:37 pm

on craigslist. I have quite a few nice things left over from the garage sale last week. I had success with the desk, so I am going to list as much as possible today.

The advantage of craigslist over ebay, is that it takes much less time to list the items. I don't have to calculate shipping or find a box. And, I set the final price instead of waiting for the highest bidder.

I had such good response by listing all my garage sale items that I think there is a large amount of traffic on craigslist.

So, I think I'll make a goal. To sell at least $50 worth of items on craigslist. The listings are 45 days, so I will give them that much time. If they don't sell there, I'll set them up on ebay.



Sold!

May 15th, 2008 at 05:47 pm

I sold a desk today. It had been on my garage sale and had only one looker. I had it priced for $10. Since it didn't sell at the garage sale, I listed on craigslist for $15!

A college student came and picked it up today and paid the $15. Such a slick easy way to sell things, without fees, too!

Now if my couch would just sell!

New $20 Challenge Balance: $818.31

My 8 year old wants to...

May 15th, 2008 at 01:45 am

take piano lessons. Unfortunately, we don't have a piano. I could get one from my sister...she lives three hours away. But my sister was looking forward to having it.

I'll have to look into renting or finding a give away piano. I don't even know what the least expensive type costs.

She took dance lessons this year and has decided she doesn't want to continue. I had no idea she had an interest in piano! I could have been saving for this.

Interesting how children's interests change! How does one plan for that. Of course, if it turns out we can't afford it then it won't be an option and she'll have to find something else.

I'm off to look at craigslist!

Pilot Light

May 13th, 2008 at 02:44 pm

to my gas fireplace has now been turned to OFF! I hope to see a little savings next month on the gas portion of my bill.

I have a gas stove, so I think I may look at microwaving more items. I think I use the stove too often for simple items that could be microwaved. Need to get out and grill, too!

I've also noticed that I stay home more because of gas prices. It's nice that the bus picks my girls up for school, too.

I Should Blog About This...

May 12th, 2008 at 05:05 pm

So, awhile back I declared that we would use all extra funds to pay down our home equity loan. I have yet to send in any extra funds. I have over $3k that I could send in. Why the hesitation?

I'm not sure. I do know that we have spent the better part of a year waiting for my husband's raise and promotion, which he did get. The plan had been to get a new to us, Honda or Toyota van. We have spent a year looking at ads, watching prices, wishing and wanting and waiting.

Now the cash is there for a down payment. The cash flow is there for a monthly payment. There is even $800-900 extra per month...even with a car payment.

Is the decision really either or? Can we buy a newer van and work on the home equity? Would we feel too squeezed to do both at the same time. Would it be better to focus on one rather than the other? I'm really indecisive.

Haven't really let my husband know that I'm hesitating. He's pretty busy and stressed with work. So for now, the plan hasn't changed. We don't even have time to go new car shopping...not even for at least another 6 weeks!

The van and car we have just feel like they are both on their last legs. If we trade in the one with the best value, we would still need to put in money on the other one. The lowest value one gets the better gas mileage and my husband drives it to work.

We could probably pay off the home equity in about 6 or 7 months...just in time for tax time next year and cold weather van shopping.

I'm feeling impatient, hesitant and stuck all at the same time. I want it all and I want it now. I don't want to wait, I don't want to have MORE debt added to the home equity debt.

I just had to blog about this...I don't know if there is an easy answer.

Additional Note: We have an EF, the $3K is extra.

Garage Sale Results

May 11th, 2008 at 01:19 am

I had a garage sale with two neighbors on Thursday and Friday. We had great weather and lots of buyers!! Our total take for all was $798.50. My portion was $270.50!! That is my best garage sale return EVER.

I had so much fun! It is a lot of work, but I enjoy seeing and talking to the people. I love to see what people buy. I like the negotiation. I love it all.

I even joked with my girlfriends that I would love to be paid to set up other people's garage sales. Do you think anyone would pay for that service?

We saved our signs and will consider having another sale in the fall. One neighbor still has a house full of things to sell off. I plan to use ebay and craigslist over the summer to sell a few remaining items.

I will add this to my $20 Challenge.

New Balance: $803.31

Oh, and a before sale picture! I wish I took an after...it is amazing how much we cleared out.

Time to BBQ

May 8th, 2008 at 02:39 am

I figured out a way to save a little cash while making dinner!!

I need to cook out on the grill as often as possible. We have a propane tank that is at least half full. We probably bought the fuel about 2 years ago. I wonder how much we paid?

I use a gas stove...crazy I know...so if I cook outside on the grill I will reduce my gas bill temporarily.

It's also time to turn off the pilot light on the family room fireplace. If it does get cold again...I'll just use a blanket!

Only bad part about my bbq could be the cost of meat! I guess one can grill veggies. Can you make pizza on a grill? How about pasta? Would I need to buy a special pot?

Sheduled for May 9

May 7th, 2008 at 01:37 am

I checked irs.gov and it looks like we are on schedule to receive our stimulus money of $1800 on Friday. Most it will go back in to savings to reimburse us for the major car repair we had a couple weeks ago.

By Friday, I should have some cash from the garage sale and Ebay to start sending in extra payments to the home equity loan. Can't wait to see how much damage I can do to it in the next week.

My husband has been traveling so much we are spending a bit less on the home front. He spent less than his allotted travel money, so that means a little extra in our pocket, too.

I may not be blogging for a few days because of the garage sale...just hope that I'm bringing in lots of cash!

Running

May 6th, 2008 at 02:32 pm

I've started running! Usually, when I'm at the gym I lift weights and use the elliptical machine. For some reason, I've had the desire to run. So, I started with a mile at the indoor track.

Today, I ran two miles straight outside in about 20 minutes. There were even hills to run! Those were challenging. I just kept looking up the hill to the horizon. I knew at the top would be relief...either downhill or flat land.

I never quit. It was tempting at times, but I feel better knowing I didn't have to stop. I want to run a 5K in about a month. That's 3.1 miles. So, obviously, I will have to keep running to work up to the 3.1 miles.

It's interesting how investing, debt payoff or other money goals have similarities to running. Some goals are short term...getting to the top of the hill. Some are long term...running a longer distance.

Who knows where this new hobby will take me. Maybe someday I'll be a marathon runner! I do know that our savings and investing goals will bring us great dividends and most likely millionaire status.

Reach for your goal and keep looking to the horizon!!

How much for this?

May 4th, 2008 at 03:42 pm

I put a couch up for sale on craigslist on a few days ago. I have only received one inquiry as to the brand. It is a custom made couch, built in the early 90's.

How much do you think I should sell it for? It is actually a love seat measuring 79" across...so almost the size of a couch! I will be including a moss green Land's End slip cover. Both items are free of rips and stains.

Here's the picture:

Cost of Garage Sales

May 3rd, 2008 at 07:49 pm

I'm holding a garage sale late next week. I shopped today for poster board and price stickers. I spent $8.36 on these supplies. Now it may turn out that I will be able to return a piece of poster board or a package of price stickers.

I also put a 3 day advertisement in our local paper for $28.00!! That is for 6 lines of print. It seems a little pricey, too. Maybe I should own a newspaper...Smile

Now, I will be splitting these costs with my neighbor with whom I am having the garage sale. I'm sure I could have done it much more frugal, by making a sign out of cardboard or using masking tape for prices.

I hope that my advertisement, neon yellow signs and clearly marked prices bring us large profits. We both have many nice things to sell.

Day Tiptoeing Through the...

May 2nd, 2008 at 11:53 pm

tulips! I went on a mini day vacation with my neighbor today while our kids were in school. A nearby town is having their annual tulip festival. I'm a big flower lover, so it was wonderful to get outside and take in the fantastic sites.

I spent $20 on a tour, admission to a historical windmill/dutch town and food. It was a little more than I really wanted to spend, but we did have a great time!

Here's a picture:




Have a great weekend everyone!

I'm licensed...

May 1st, 2008 at 09:41 pm

to drive in my new home state. I moved a year and half ago. Ssshh! Don't tell anyone.

I paid $23 for a 5 year license. I think they have two year licenses, but I'm pretty sure I'll be here for a little longer than that. It is quite a drive to the location, so I figure by getting the 5 year license I save myself time by not having to renew my license again and gas by not having to drive such a distance.

My neighbor went with me to get the license. It was nice of her to support me and stay on my case about getting it. I bought her a juice drink later. My coffee was free, because of a frequent buyer card I have. My mom usually buys when she's in town.

I also picked up a little candy for May Day baskets. We used cups we already had. Popped one bag of popcorn to divide among the cups. Added the candy...with some leftover for us.

Oh, I need to add our April interest to the challenge. It was down this month, of course, despite my balance being slightly higher. We received $11.95.

New Balance = $532.81