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Archive for April, 2009

A little extra cash

April 30th, 2009 at 09:41 am

My DH travels quite a bit and recieves per diem for food. Lately, he hasn't been using the full allotted per diem, as a result we've built up a little extra in funds that will be coming our way.

I expect a deposit some time next week of about $205. Okay, not so little.

We'll use it towards the expenses of our Disney World vacation in July. Right now, I'm focusing on purchasing clothing. We need light breathable fabrics, swimwear and supportive shoes. I went to Disney in my Teva's last time and it worked out perfect!

It's Official....

April 29th, 2009 at 09:46 am

Our mortgage is now with Bank of America. No, we didn't refinance. But our mortgage is held with Countrywide Financial who was bought by BoA awhile bank.

Two days ago I received our welcome letter in the mail. Wow! I'm so excited.

Not really. I could care less who holds my mortgage as long as they provide me the customer service I need in an accurate and timely manner. Our payment is automatic, so all should continue normally.

Here's fingers crossed that they don't mess anything up!!

Is a Two Year CD for Me?

April 28th, 2009 at 09:27 am

I received an email from my bank, USAA. They are an online for military members and their families. The bank is offering a 2 year CD at 3.25%. Sounds great, huh?

But, is it for me? I'm sure a could put a portion of our emergency fund in there, but not all. I don't like the idea of the money being tied up and unavailable in the event of an emergency.

We might have the opportunity to take advantage of a 10% savings rate in the next year or so. This is available to deployed military. So, do I tie up the funds leaving them unavailable for this opportunity?

Will rates go up higher in that two year time frame? Is two years too long?

We have just over $10K...how much should I tie up at that rate, if I do take the deal?

Anyone with any thoughts? Right now the money is only earning 1.9% in an online money market account.

A little slow around here

April 27th, 2009 at 12:29 pm

The blogs, I mean. It just doesn't seem that too many of us are around. It's probably the wonderful weather we are starting to have because of spring.

I've started working on a project that I started in the fall. I'm refinishing a small dresser. The fall work consisted of stripping the stain off. Recently, I added wood putty to some areas, sanded and primed.

Today, I started painting the drawers a nice black!! I hope to complete this project by the end of the week. I'll post some pictures then.

I've had to buy two cans of stripper, a stripping brush, wood putty, sandpaper and the black paint. I had the primer and brushes! It's not exactly a inexpensive project, but it feels like it when done over time.

Is a Picture is Worth a.....

April 25th, 2009 at 10:40 am

hassle with your child? Oh, boy! My youngest was a little more than irritated today getting ready for dance pictures this morning. It worked out in the end, but she sure didn't like the fuss I made with her hair or her costume.

It doesn't help that she doesn't like her costume either. She's in a hip hop class and will dance to 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun.' The Miley Cyrus version. So the costume is layers...like from the 80's!! Think Cindy Lauper and Madonna. She has two tops, two skirts, and leggings on top of tights. Ugh...it looks hot and uncomfortable!!

So, this year I opted for the least dollars out of pocket. I chose a 5x7 with 4 wallets. One pose. Eleven dollars for each daughter. Last year I spent a dollar more and received a 5x7 of the whole class and a 4x6 of my child. I decided it didn't really make a difference to have the whole class and bigger in size at that!! I'd rather have the the larger pic of my child and a few extras for grandparents. I think they will appreciate that.

Turns out both girls may be done with dance and tumbling. They don't seem interested in continuing this next year. Fine with me, more free time, less money...unless they find something else they want to do!

Wow!!

April 24th, 2009 at 01:02 pm

It's a warm one here. I guess we got the California heat wave. I had the windows open last night for the first time in a long time. It was wonderful!

Now, the house is at 78 degress. I decided to close the windows since the temperatures are going to be above 85. Open windows would mean only more hot air coming into the house. I pulled the shades and blinds closed and turned on the house fans. It's not too bad!

I'm really avoiding turning on the A/C. It is tempting to remove the humidity. However, I know that it will be much cooler tomorrow, so I will resist.

No heat, no a/c...just plain air! Works for me.

Plastic Changes

April 22nd, 2009 at 08:25 am

Did you know today is Earth Day?

Have you noticed how much plastic there is in the world? Have you seen it lying on the roadside? I have and it disturbs me!

Plastic takes years...many many years to break down. Paper, cardboard and even metal break down faster than plastic! It's the disposable platic that bothers me the most. Use it one time and toss it in the trash where it goes away. Goes away to where? Where is away?

For a couple of months, I have been attempting to eliminate the amount of plastic I buy. My family is on board, but they don't like me to talk about it too much.

Here's what has changed:

1)Elminated most plastic garbage bags that come home. We still bring home 6-7 a month.

2)Buy honey in a glass jar.

3)Stopped buying pizza dough mix in a plastic pouch. I make my own...I use the dough setting on a bread maker.

4)Stopped buying plastic straws.

5)Switched to waxed paper bags for girls sandwhiches.

6)Refused the sandwich bag at Subway.

7)Stopped using lid and straw on take away drinks.

8) I only buy bar soap, particulary the bars not wrapped in any plastic.

I know there are a few more, but I can't think of them right now. I do have more work to do. I'd love to eliminate the bread bags, but I'm still working on my bread making techniques.

If you want to feel inspired to eliminate plastic or excess waste check out The Fake Plastic Fish blog here.

Do something nice for the earth today! If you want to share about it here, feel free.

Rental Car For Less

April 21st, 2009 at 06:42 am

Yep, I'm still working the details for Disney World. It isn't necessary to rent a vehicle when one goes to Disney, but it is our preferrence since we like to do a few things outside of the World.

Last week I booked our 8 day rental car with Alamo at a rate, including taxes of $258.88. It was the best I could find at the time. I used a Walmart discount code that gave 20% off.

Today, I went looking again. I decided to peruse military discounts. I ended up at the Armed Forces Vacation site, which linked me up with a code at Budget. My rate now is $196.20!! So, much better!

Just the few minutes that it took to look saved me $62.68!! ~~Happy Dancing~~

I will still keep my eyes peeled for discounts. Sometimes there are last minute deals.

We Gave Away $0.23

April 20th, 2009 at 06:42 am

Just for fun Sunday while we were out running errands, the girls and I dropped three pennies and two dimes on the ground! Different places.

We know one penny was picked up because it was dropped near our van and was gone when we came back. We also saw a woman pick up a dime we dropped near the entrance to another store. She picked it up as we were coming out.

It was fun to think we made someone's day!
And, of course, a small lesson in giving. Oldest daughter was a bit inclined to keep her dime. I let her decide. In the end she dropped it!

Why $0.23? It's what I had in my purse.

Groceries for $1

April 18th, 2009 at 05:22 pm

My youngest has been sick with a nasty upper respiratory virus. She's coughing non stop. I had her into the doctor on Thursday and then after a sleepless night I called to get the prescription cough medicine.

Our grocery store had a coupon for a $20 gift card with a new or transferred prescription, so I had it filled there. I paid $3 copay for the generic drug. I bought the following with the gift card and $1.05 out of my own pocket.

1 pint blackberries
2 pkgs of mushrooms
3 pkgs of shredded cheese
1 pkg of pepperoni
1 box of pasta
1 lb ground beef
2.5 lbs of chicken breast
3 pkgs of frozen vegetables

Except for the blackberries, these items were all on my grocery list! Of course, if DD had not been sick to warrant the prescription I would not have happened on this deal. At least something good came of it, but I wish she wasn't sick at all.

Ebay Challenge Totals

April 17th, 2009 at 07:31 am

My net for the ebay sales this last week was $22.22! Fun number.

Here are the ebay challenge numbers for the all of 2009 thus far:

April Total = $22.22
March Total = $83.13
February Total = $66.50
January Total = $4.95

My goal had been to average $100 a month. Obviously, that is so NOT happenning. If you could see my home, you would know that there is not a lot of excess here.

Really.

We are having a garage sale in May, so maybe that will increase my average.

Every little bit helps and I am grateful for it all.

Big Announcement!

April 16th, 2009 at 06:22 am

As I have stated previously, the goal for this month was to get the home equity loan under $7,000.

We did it!!

I made our regular payment of $118.01, with $75.27 going to the principal balance.

Our new balance is $6,999.00!!

Did you notice how I got the balance to a nice round number? I really had to work on my algebra skills to figure out what principal balance I needed to be at before making this month's regular payment, so that it would turn into this nice round number. It looks like my math was correct.

Again...call me a nerd!!

Often I make the extra principal payments prior to the regular payment, but I realized I was then paying interest on the larger balance, rather than the lower balance that results from making extra payments! Silly me. Smile

Side note: Balance updates on our home equity loan will be minimal while we use our extra cash to pay for our Disney World vacation this July.

More Disney Funds

April 15th, 2009 at 02:12 pm

I received a $20 check in the mail today from My Survey. It arrived pretty quickly too. I requested it on April 1st!!

I will add this to the Disney Vacation fund. Well, technically I'm paying myself back for the deposit I made on the room. I had to pay one night's deposit upfront. The rest will be due upon check out.



Made a Little on Ebay

April 15th, 2009 at 07:49 am

I sold some of the girls outgrown clothes on ebay. Gross sales totaled $26.14. Not bad, and still better than a garage sale.

I will put this towards our Disney World vacation!!

I Couldn't Wait to Tell...

April 14th, 2009 at 01:49 pm

I scheduled another extra principal payment to our home equity loan. It's a funny amount, but after our regular payment, it should be a nice round number.

Additional payment is $668.43

Loan Balance is $7,074.27.

We're getting closer!

Remember my original goal for 2009? I wanted to get this loan under $7,000 by the end of the year. Did you know it is only April? Wow! Even I'm amazed.

Only another $74.28 to go. This will be the principal portion of our regular payment that I will make in a couple of days. Of course, I'll tell you all about it when it happens!

Getting Closer to $7K

April 14th, 2009 at 07:03 am

Last night I made an principal payment toward our home equity loan in the amount of $100. This is the money my parents sent us for our anniversary.

The new balance is now: $7,742.70

Trust me...I will get this down under $7K just days from now. Payday is tomorrow!

A Check in the Mail

April 13th, 2009 at 07:09 pm

Yep, a Pinecone survey check. Gotta love $3! I do miss the $5 checks they used to have.

I will deposit this into my savings account. I already have a plan to get the home equity loan under $7K by the end of the month so this money isn't needed. I will save it towards Disney expenses. Once the Disney trip is over, I will send all extra money I have saved to the home equity loan!

Vacation Under Budget

April 13th, 2009 at 07:03 am

Our mini one-night vacation with the kids was under budget!! Gotta love that.

We spent $450.59 on the trip. Expenses included hotel, 2 lunches, a sit down dinner, snacks, and two forms of entertainment. There were also two clothing purchases.

The budget was $500, so we saved $49.41. I will probably use this money towards paying school registration for one of my daughter's.

We could have saved another $50+ if we had skipped one of the activities. It really wasn't worth the money. And you know what? My gut told me this prior to going! I need to remember to listen to this. Oh well, it was paid with cash and not on credit with interest! Yes!

13 Years in the Making

April 12th, 2009 at 07:17 am

My DH and I are celebrating our 13th anniversary today! We feel very bleesed to have been able to enjoy each others' love and companionship for this long.

Here's for many more to come!!

My parents sent us $100 as a gift. They send us the same gift every year. This year it is going to the home equity loan payoff. I've got to get that balance down under $7000.

Yes, we are celebrating...we are on a mini vacation right now that we already set cash aside for. Those kinds of trips are the best kind!

Upped the TSP

April 10th, 2009 at 04:50 pm

TSP...Thrift Savings Plan. The military's retirement.

We max out our Roth's and have been sending in 4% to his TSP. In light of the good news from a couple of days ago, I increased his TSP contribution to 7% of his basic pay. In the course of a year that is another $2073 invested for retirement!

The really nice thing....

it won't affect our net check!

Today I'm Delirious

April 9th, 2009 at 08:26 am

Wow! Yesterday was quite the day. In addition to the wonderful state tax withholding news, we have made the decision to go to Disney World this summer for vacation. Yippee!!

I know! This wasn't planned. Well, we've been planning to make a plan for vacation. We have been undecided about where to go. Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Texas, Arizona were all possibilities. Until yesterday Disney World wasn't something we were considering. We've been there. We've done that. Of course, now it's been almost 4 years since we went.

Somewhere between my ecstatic high about tax withholding and a batch of cookies, I went looking for deals. Unfortunately, there are so many deals for military families in Disney World. Or should I say...fortunately!! It means we are going to Disney World. Yipee!

Want to hear the deals? DH can get free admission to enter the DW parks for FIVE days! He can purchase tickets for the three of us for $99 each...to be in the parks for FIVE days! That's $297 for all four of us to be the parks for FIVE days. That is unheard of. We can add on park hopper ticket for another $25 each for the three of us (additional $75). And if we want to go to the water parks...just tack on another $75!

Military members and three family members can get in FREE for one day to Sea World or Busch Gardens. FREE. We didn't do this last time we went. It would be fun to go this time, too! Oh, I'd pick Sea World over Busch Gardens, but that is me!

We'll be visiting on my daughter's 9th birthday. She can get in FREE one day to the park, but since we have great tickets, we can elect to get $$$$ equal to a ticket for spending in the park. FREE money.

There is more. I know, I'm making you delirious reading this, huh? Hold on though...it's GOOD! Military members can get upt to 40% off nights at the Disney Resorts. Wow! We went to Disney's Port Orleans Riverside last time and LOVED it! I'd stay there again. It was very nice. So, that is a huge savings. We are looking at 7 nights for about $900. If we paid full price it would be nearly $1500!

I was also perusing airline tickets.
The lowest price I found for four people with taxes was $815!! Isn't that amazing? Of course, today it is a different price. A higher price of $955. I will keep trying to get that lower price. I think it may have something to do with the day of the week!

I couldn't buy the tickets last night anyway. I do need to make sure DH can take the time off!! Right now, I'm waiting for him to call me any time now. Honey...please call. PLEASE!!

Okay...I've got to lay down. I'm delirious with excitement. Yipee!!

Ecstatic Doesn't Describe It...

April 8th, 2009 at 07:30 am

OMG!! OMG!! I think I may have had an impact on the federal government. I know for sure I impacted our paycheck. Wow!

Short story: We moved to Iowa over 2.5 years ago. Being the nerd, I noticed that too much tax was being withheld for state taxes(currently $77/mo too much). I had DH check with his finance office for corrections. They said they couldn't change it. Of course, too much withholding comes back in the end as a refund...so I just let it go. Every so often, I run numbers and check the state withholding tables only to confirm that I have been right all along. They are withholding to much based on the tables.

Last week, I emailed the defense finance office about it. I let DH know I sent the email. I had to include his rank and ssn. I told them according to Iowa withholding tables they were illegally withholding too much!

Today, I go to check DH's pay that will be deposited this week. Normally, the numbers are always the same...I only do this because I'm a nerd! The amount is almost $40 more. I notice there is a note in the comments section. They have updated state income tax withholding tables for 30 states! Thirty states! OMG!

Apparently 17 of those states will get a one time payment of the amount over withheld. I don't think that is us...but I'm beyond thrilled that this has finally changed. I can't believe how many people that probably impacts!

OMG!! Oh, and do you know what I'm going to do now? I'm going to increase my husbands retirement contributions (TSP) by at least 1%....maybe even 2%. In the end it will put our net check to about the same amount AND it will reduce our taxable income.

I can't believe how excited I am! Victory for nerds. Victory for soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen everywhere!

Happy dancing!! Come on...dance with me!!

Bids Now Being Accepted

April 8th, 2009 at 07:03 am

I got nine items listed on ebay last night. The crazy thing was one of them had a bid in less than 10 minutes! Someone must have been looking for that item just then.

I now have two items with bids...and watchers on a few of the others.

I will update you next week with my final numbers.

Anyone else ebaying this week?

Are we ebaying?!!

April 7th, 2009 at 10:46 am

Oh yeah...that's what is going on here!

I'm up to my ankles in ebay listings. Pictures come first! At least for me they do. It takes a few takes sometimes.

The cats. This one thinks she's cute. Yes. She is!

Now that I have pictures, I'm going to begin each individual listing in Turbo Lister. That is a free software program you can download from ebay. For me it is quicker than doing each listing online. I also like uploading all my listings at the same time...so that they end at the same time. I like things NEAT and TIDY!!

With Turbo Lister, I don't even need to upload the listings today. I could wait for another day if I so chose. I'd better get back to it.

Cutting Back

April 6th, 2009 at 09:29 am

We're cutting back on our wine spending. Yes, my husband is fighting me on this one a bit. It's not about the money, it's this weight I've put on. I really need to cut back on some calories.

Each glass is 100 calories, so every bit helps. But, in secret, I love that we are saving some money by skipping the wine. It's been two weeks in a row now!

Sunday is our anniversary, so I expect I might break down and buy a bottle. After that one, I hope we can keep our wine spending down.

Weeding Out

April 5th, 2009 at 08:45 am

I just realized that I've done some recent clearing out. It must be the spring weather that just brings it out in me!!

As I was waiting for the youngest daughter's bus to arrive on Thursday, I opened the coat closet and pulled out scarves and hats that didn't get worn this last season as well as mittens with holes in them. I also found a pair of waterproof pants that haven't been worn in years. I put everything else back in...but neater than I found it.

On Friday, I read in the newspaper that a counseling office was collecting old prescripions, medicines and so forth. These items were to be incinerated so that people would avoid sending them down the drain or toilet. This saves the fish and other wildlife. As soon, as I read about it I was in my cabinet, pulling things out. I dropped those off yesterday. They made it so easy...I didn't have to get out of my car!!

As I got dressed the other morning, I saw my swimsuit...which is unfortunately too small and has a weird stain. I pulled it along with a pair of workout pants. As I sat to tie my shoes, I also pulled open a drawer in my nightstand and found three more things to get rid of.

It was all unplanned and took only a few moments of my time to make a little pile. Each of those piles, except the meds, ended up in the garage sale pile forming in the basement.

Today, as it tries to snow, I will be pulling some of those items from the garage sale pile and listing them on ebay. I will start the sales next week sometime.

I encourage all of you to open a drawer, bag, or closet and find something or a couple somethings you no longer need. Set aside an area to collect those items. Maybe it's the trunk of your car, if you don't have space in your home. Then start driving to a local thrift store each week to drop off. If you want to save the driving, call to make a pick up appointment with a charity. The date will motivate you to have at least a bag or two ready on the scheduled date.

Good luck! And I'd love to hear how it goes, too.

Spending Always Happens....

April 3rd, 2009 at 05:43 pm

at the beginning of the month.

All the bills are paid until next pay period. The water bill was $6.25 under budget! I always love that!

Just tonight, I bought socks for DD2. I also took both girls to get their hair cut. Tomorrow I need to find a pair of jeans for DD2. The last two pairs seem to have simultaneously developed holes in the knees. How often does that happen?

I also received school registration papers today. I'll need to write a couple of checks to our public school system by the end of the month in preparation for the next school year. Joy.

Make it a great weekend!



Apology to my Husband

April 3rd, 2009 at 07:22 am

Thanks honey, for reading my blog. I appreciate your support in this and all other endeavors.

I do need to apologize for referring to you as a child. You are not a child. You are a loving, caring man who supports all of us financially. You love and respect me and our beautiful girls. You make jokes that we all love. We miss you greatly when you travel for work. We wish you were home more often...really!!

Thanks for working with me last night on our financial plans. It feels great to have had a non heated conversation about it. Even though I'm the nerd and LOVE the details of our finances, it feels wonderful to make decisions together on how we spend or save our money. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!!

It's Back....

April 2nd, 2009 at 07:18 am

Do you want to hear more about my communicating about money with my DH? Sure you do!

It reared it's ugly head last night, when I brought up the piano lessons that he and my youngest daughter want to take. I was reading the information about make up lessons and that each individual teacher set their own policies. This is something he needs to make sure he's clear on since, he will likely miss quite a few lessons because of his travels.

He's says...I thought you said we couldn't afford lessons! What? Really!? When did I ever say those words...ever? No, I did not. I'd love for them to take lessons. My youngest daughter would probably be taking them already, but he wants to go with her. Since he is the adult in this situation, I waiting for him to handle it. We have the money...sure a little less to the home equity loan, but we CAN afford it.

I proceed to tell him that a few days ago when I was overwhelmed was NOT the same as putting the brakes on all the spending. Which is apparently what he decided I had said. Did he ever say this to me? Did he ever ask questions or communicate in any way? No...only listening and interpreting what he THOUGHT I said.

In hind sight, I should have been a little more proactive in getting him to communicate with me. But I was the one breaking down, crying....letting all the overwhelming feelings out. I wasn't exactly in the best state to do so. I'm sure I scared him. Yes, I scared him into silence. The complete opposite of what I was looking for.

We make more money than we ever have, our income is doubled and it seems that the decisions are much much harder. You would think after almost 13 years of marriage we would have some of this down. I guess we are still growing in this department.

I told him about sending in the $145 to the home equity loan yesterday. He says, is that all?

Read with sarcasm: Yes, dear, that is all. On my own I decided with the money I normally send in to the home equity loan some needed to be set aside for our mini vacation taking place BEFORE the next pay day. Sorry, you weren't available last time I checked to discuss it!!!

Thanks for letting me vent. You know that I don't usually have these issues. He and I did talk right before bed last night that we should talk through some our upcoming spending plans...so that we are on the same page!

Finally, we are making progress...I think.

Second Mortgage Damage

April 1st, 2009 at 01:43 pm

It's okay. It's the good damage. I sent in an extra principal payment to the home equity loan today in the amount of $145. Our new balance is $7,842.70.

This will be a slow month on the payoff as things currently stand. I do expect to make another, more significant payment on the 15th of April.

My mission is to get the balance below $7,000 by the end of this month. Just another $842.71 to go!!

I'm hoping for ebay to be my friend this month! Or at least, receive some survey money. I have interest in our money market account, I could pull from there, if I get crazy desperate!! Hmmm...it does sound like something I would do. Smile