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Archive for October, 2009

Escrow Check in the Mail

October 31st, 2009 at 07:15 am

Remember how we canceled the escrow account on our mortgage? Of course you do! The remaining funds, $404.34, were returned to us. I found the check in the mail yesterday. We had received a statement the day before from the mortgage company that indicated it wouldn't be sent for another 3 weeks! I was a little surprised that it arrived earlier. No complaints here. It is our money after all!!

My Global Test Market rewards check finally arrived yesterday, too. It was for $50!! Nice.

All that money is safely sitting in our account...waiting to be designated. Right now, I'm in a hoarding money mode. I've been feeling a bit uneasy about money. I'm not expecting a job layoff, of course, but want to bump up our slush fund so we don't feel so pinched each payday. Once I feel a little more in control, I'll be hitting that home equity loan a little more.

Candy Confession

October 30th, 2009 at 07:38 am

I'm a planner. I plan ahead. Ocassionally, too far ahead. Two weeks ago I bought a large bag of candy for our trick or treaters. I told the family: have a couple pieces and save the rest.

A day later, my husband realizes he can't resist the candy, so buys another bag for us to eat. A big bag. Fine. I guess I could eat a few pieces of chocolate. Who am I to argue!

He mixes the new bag of candy with the first bag! What? Why do that? Here's the confession: over the course of a week we eat both bags of candy. Both bags. Large bags of chocolate candy. Now that can't be healthy. I'm sure that was nearly $20 worth of candy.

I bought another large bag on Sunday. Yes, I had a couple pieces again! But that bag is ready for the beggars tonight.

Yes. Tonight. October 30th. Our town among others in this state trick or treat the night before Halloween. Oh! And you have to tell a joke at the door.

Joke: What do witches put in their hair?
Scare spray!

Have a great Halloween! I hope I can stay out of my daughter's candy. Well wish me luck anyway.

Getting Collection Calls

October 29th, 2009 at 08:50 am

Yep...but not for us!

One is for a woman who lived in this house prior to us. The debt seems to be in her maiden name. The company only leaves messages. If I do answer the phone, then I hear the same recorded message.

The second collection call is for my brother in law!! He lives in another state. I denied knowing him...which my husband said was okay. I don't know his situation exactly. But collectors are relentless and I don't want to get involved. That time it was a live person and she said she would remove our phone number. Good!

My BIL actually has always worked for his older brother (another BIL). He doesn't have his GED and does handyman type work for rental properties. I just found out the older BIL had to file bankruptcy. As a result not as much income/work for the brother in law we are getting collection calls for. Ugh! I'm so sorry things are not going well for either of them. It is just very sad.

As a precaution, I'm going to pull our credit reports today. I don't expect to find anything. If I find something...I'm sure you'll be one of the first to know. Smile

No Extra

October 28th, 2009 at 11:54 am

Payday is Friday. Unfortunately, I don't think I have extra for our home equity loan!

Turns out our gym membership is about to expire on November 14th. We paid in full for a 3 year membership...well, three years ago! We need at least two more years. So, the extra cash needs to be held until I figure out the gym membership costs.

Darn.

Ebay Challenge Update

October 26th, 2009 at 09:13 am

I sold 7 of the 8 items I listed last Sunday on ebay for $35.96. The total isn't great, but it is better than a garage sale! I also sold two more Halloween costumes Sunday morning that were listed on craigslist for $10.

Here are my new Ebay Challenge totals:

Oct Total = $87.96 (so far!)
Sept Total = $110.00
June Total = $55.25
May Total = $197.75
April Total = $22.22
March Total = $83.13
February Total = $66.50
January Total = $4.95

Yipee!!

Pictures: Living Room

October 25th, 2009 at 07:33 am

Without further delay, here are the pictures of our new couch and ottoman in our front living room. I'm standing by our front door. I wish I had a wide angle lens to show the room off better!







Guess who likes the ottoman. The kids and the cats!!

I'm going to need some artwork for above the couch. That wall is too big to be bare.

And if you were interested in this couch I found out it is made by United Furniture Industries. The tag said Simmons, but upon further inspection UFI is the true manufacturer. You can look at their website here to find a retailer near you.

The couch arrived!!

October 24th, 2009 at 10:26 am

A month ago we bought a couch and an ottoman. They were special order. Today they arrived!!

It's been a long month without a couch in our living room. I found myself just laying on the floor in there!!

It looks so much better and fills in the space nicely. Now...I just need some pictures for above the couch. It's always something. Smile

Yes...I will post a picture soon.

Ebay Update

October 23rd, 2009 at 11:00 am

I did sell one item as a Buy It Now, earlier this week. Right now I have 4 items with bids out of 7 listings! The listings end on Sunday, so I will give you a final update early next week.

I have already thought of a few more items I could list! Not sure when I'll get them up though. Do you have unused items around your house you could sell? Go check a drawer or a closet and see what you find!

Escrow Deleted

October 22nd, 2009 at 02:43 pm

I took care of it yesterday. I emailed Bank of America and confirmed that we did indeed like to delete our escrow account. They emailed back within a couple of hours that it was complete and a check with our escrow balance is on its way!!

As of November 1st, we will only send Bank of America our mortgage payment consisting of interest and principal. That will be strange!!

The escrow check will be for $404.34 which is just under the amount they would needed as a buffer or low balance amount. I may find something to do with that money. Maybe the home equity loan?

I will begin setting aside $281 per month to account for taxes and insurance right away. The first payment I need to make is not until March 2010!

I feel very confident this will work well for us. I plan to set up email reminders for the taxes since I will only be billed once a year for those.

H1N1 Experience

October 21st, 2009 at 05:07 pm

My daughter has been home since Friday with what started out as a sore throat and no fever. I kept her out of school as a precaution.

Over the weekend her temperature was never over 100. She began coughing and was low on energy. She had a stuffy nose. She was still able to play games and make believe on the floor with her sister. She did not sleep extra.

Sunday night we thought she would be ready for school on Monday. Monday she looked run down and felt that way. So she stayed home and has been home everyday since because in the afternoon she will spike a fever over 100 degrees. As a result have to keep her home for another 24 hours.

Yesterday, we visited the doctor who said this is most likely the H1N1 influenza. I was shocked. I just thought she had a cold!!

Luckily tonight she is not running a fever at all. She will go back to school tomorrow. In fact, she has been catching up on homework all day. Unfortunately, the cough still remains for now.

We hardly ever get the flu and rarely have vaccinated for it. I'm glad that my daughter's experience has been mild. I have heard it has been the same with other children in our area. She now will have immunity for the H1N1 this season.

I have read some articles online that are cautioning us about getting two influenza vaccines in one season. It has never been done before. The older people in our society have some immunity to this H1N1 strain because they were exposed to it in the past, not because they received a vaccine. It is just something to think about, especially if you are healthy and have not generally come down with the flu in the past.

I wish everyone good health!!

Quite the Savings!

October 21st, 2009 at 07:55 am

My family started taking probiotics this summer. I first bought them at the local health food store. A package of 30 capsules was about $18. That is $0.60 per capsule. We all shared a couple packs with in a matter of weeks.

I decided if we wanted to continue to take them they needed to be less expensive. I found the brand we liked at Amazon.com! The packages were 90 capsules for $18.60! That is $0.21 per capsule. A savings of $0.39 per capsule.

I signed up for Amazon's Subscribe and Save plan which locks in the price for all future orders AND provides free shipping. I now get three packages of 90 capsules every 90 days. Originally, I signed up for four, but my husband keeps forgetting to take his...so I adjusted the order amount. I can change it later if needed.

To reduce the amount I pay every 90 days I use my swagbuck earnings towards Amazon gift cards. I earn them in $5 increments. Since the last order I earned $20 in gift cards!! I also had $2.60 left from another order.

Here's the breakdown of our current probiotic shipment:

3 90 capsule probiotic packages = $51.36
(price dropped to $17.12 per pkg)
Amazon gift certificates applied = $22.60
Total out of pocket = $28.76
Price per capsule = $0.11

The savings over local store for the three of us is $0.49 per capsule. Or $132.30 every 3 months. Or $529.20 per year!! Geez.

I'm going to keep earning swagbucks just to help keep the cost savings down. Works for me!

Would you do it?

October 20th, 2009 at 10:01 am

I recently inquired with our mortgage lender about handling our own escrow. Their answer: Yes!

The primary loan is for less than 80% of the homes value, so I'm not sure why I didn't think of this before!

So...should I do it?

I do our own escrow for things like auto insurance, registrations and life insurance, so I know how to save ahead. It works really well.

I would not need to escrow the same amount as the mortgage company because I have our own emergency fund to dip into should something increase drastically. Right now they need a cushion of 16.6% of my total escrow to cover increases. I would also be able to earn interest on this money!!

Any disadvantages that anyone can think of? Let me hear what you think.

Cough, cough

October 19th, 2009 at 02:51 pm

My youngest daughter has been home since Friday with a cold virus. The fever is mild, but just won't go away. There is coughing, too. No aching, so I don't think its the flu. She's been up and around everyday, but feels low on energy. So...tomorrow we are going to the doctor.

I'm hoping for an antibiotic. I don't usually like them, but this thing is holding on too long. I guess I'm impatient! What me?

The good news: I have one bid on an ebay items and some watchers on a couple others. I priced low and with exact shipping, so my items are attactive for bids!!

I'm also glad the stock market had an UP day. Here's to more of those to come.

8 Sales? Fingers Crossed

October 18th, 2009 at 06:53 pm

I finally listed some items on ebay. Eight items to be exact. Now I have my fingers crossed for 8 sales!

I've been away from ebay for awhile. I think my craigslist success brought back my motivation. That and the upcoming holidays!

While I'm here I will update my Ebay Challenge Sales:

Oct Total = $42 (so far!)
Sept Total = $110.00
June Total = $55.25
May Total = $197.75
April Total = $22.22
March Total = $83.13
February Total = $66.50
January Total = $4.95

Made a Sale

October 17th, 2009 at 07:46 am

A woman picked up a couple Barbie cars this morning for $5. That was a craigslist posting from last week. Nice to start the weekend with a sale.

My youngest daughter has decided to use a costume we already have or her dance costume from last year for Halloween. That means I don't need to buy anything!! Love it. (The older daughter is done with the trick or treating.)

I think I'm going to get some items up on ebay this weekend. Craigslist works, but it is slower.

Proud of My Sister

October 16th, 2009 at 08:09 am

My sister and her husband have debt. There is a loan for windows, a couple credit cards and student loans. My sister is a teacher and will get her Master's Degree this semester. Yipee!

There was a time where they felt out of control. They made less money. They didn't have an emergency fund. That time is no more!

They now have $2K in their emergency fund and have a plan to pay off all the debt. In about 2 years. I'm so proud of them.

My sister mentioned that she liked an online snowball calculator I sent her awhile back. I don't exactly use it myself, but it looked like a good one. It's called PowerPay. Here is the link if you are interested. You do have to sign up, but it is free!

Keep up the good work, sis!

Under $6,000

October 15th, 2009 at 06:29 am

Finally, we are under the $6K mark on our home equity loan! I made our regular payment and sent in additional funds.

Total Principal Payment: $339.17
New Balance: $5,923.19

It feels good. Last time we hit a big milestone like this was May of this year when we went under $7,000. I'm sad it has taken this long, but I know all the reasons why. You probably do, too!!

Here's to continued progress!

$10 AND 10K

October 14th, 2009 at 01:32 pm

Good news!

I received $10 in the mail today from mysurvey.com. I'm popping that money in the second checking account. It needs a little cushion.

The DOW ended up over 10,000 for the first time in over a year. Experts don't seem to think it will stick in the long term. It was fun to watch. I was working in the mutual fund industry back in 1999 when it reached 10,000 for the first time ever. Pretty cool!

Tomorrow is payday...so I'll have a few financial updates!

Making A List

October 13th, 2009 at 02:07 pm

I made two lists today. One was things I needed to do today. Turns out I did everything!! The second list is things I need to pay on payday. These aren't usual bills. Here's the list:

Auto Registration
Out of State Gym Membership*
Maintenance agreement for flute
Extra money towards mortgage escrow
Extra payment to home equity loan

Yipee! Did you see that last one?

*we are have a 24 Hour Fitness membership which costs us $52/year each! We do occasionally work out when we visit relatives, but when we move again we hope to be all set up!

2 Sales In 2 Hours

October 12th, 2009 at 08:52 am

Well, those craigslist postings are beginning to work!!

I sold all of the girls Polly Pockets for $10 around 9:15 this morning. I left for the gym right after.

Another woman was scheduled to arrive at 1pm, but showed up in the driveway as I pulled in from the gym. I sold her a pair of ballet shoes for $7!

Quick and easy. That's how it should work. I hope I get a couple more sales today.

More Listed...Want Sales

October 11th, 2009 at 12:31 pm

I just spent over an hour listing a few more items on craigslist. It is kind of tedius. The pictures took awhile to upload. I finally changed the settings on the camera!!

I didn't sell anything since the halloween costume last week. A woman said she would buy one this weekend, but I didn't hear from her. Yet.

I have some nice things to sell...just not enough for a garage sale. And it seems to be too cold for those now!

Weatherized for Cold

October 10th, 2009 at 08:55 am

Um...it's snowing here today. Well, it's not sticking to the roads and the green grass is still visible. But the flakes are still flying.

Yesterday, we ran to Home Depot and purchased a blanket for our hot water heater. Our basement, where it's located, isn't heated. We also bought some insulation for the basement. There was 6 foot section where the frames meets the foundation that didn't have ANY insulation. We didn't notice it until this summer and we lived here nearly 3 years!!

I also bought some caulk and sealed up a few areas on the outside of the house. I did this last year, but found a few more areas that need sealing. I will also use some clear caulk inside to seal where our windows meet the window frame. There are a few gaps.

We also picked up some more energy saving bulbs and a new outdoor light fixture. Our total cost at Home Depot was about $75. I think the light fixture and bulbs were the most expensive! Best thing is we completed most of those projects yesterday when it was warmer. Yipee!

P.S. I made to the gym on a Saturday. That is a miracle!

Long Weekend

October 9th, 2009 at 10:10 am

DH is off work for the next four days due to the Columbus Day holiday. The kids still have school, so I get extra time with my honey.

These longer weekends often result in extra spending. I think we may skip a sit down lunch and hit fast food instead. We want to window shop a bit.

We also need to do a little winter weatherizing. Caulk and a little insulation shouldn't set us back too much.

I think the local orchard needs a visit from us for their yummy cider and a couple pumpkins.

Happy Fall!

The News From Here

October 8th, 2009 at 03:15 pm

I received a $3 Pinecone Research check today! I always love cash in the mail. Smile

I bought groceries to the tune of $146! Yikes. Yes, a little high, but it does include wine, kleenex, toilet paper, soap and hair products. I expect the food to last through payday on the 15th!

I had two no spend days on Monday and Tuesday. I didn't realize it until I was entering transactions in the checkbook today. It is good to have those!

Our weather is getting very cold. We are expecting our first hard freeze Saturday night. I actually turned the heat on last Saturday. It was 63 degress in here! Luckily it isn't running all the time yet!!

I have more items to list on craigslist. I just need to get my act together and take pictures!

I've been getting exercise in everyday since Sunday. I feel pretty good. I just wish I didn't buy those M & M's at the grocery store today! Ugh.

That's the news from here!

Good News Bad News

October 7th, 2009 at 07:33 am

The good news is our monthly billing for our electric and gas is going down by $5/month. They dropped it by $17 a month ago and now another $5! Of course, they are overbilling us...right now we have nearly a $300 credit.

The bad news is about a friend. A friend I've known for over 20 years. She and her husband are taking out a 401k loan. No! Say it isn't so. But it is.

She asked me very briefly on Monday what I thought about it. I don't know any numbers...except they have a lot of credit card debts and they are getting hard to manage. I guess I have one number: they are pulling from their line of credit every month to the tune of $500-$700 per month. I guess they pay this back each month.

About 3-4 years ago they took out a home equity loan to pay off all their bills. She was thrilled at the time since they would all be paid off in 5 years. She feels the same way about the 401K loan. It will all be paid off in 5 years. True, but at what cost. At what risk? And what lesson is learned when you move debt around?

I did a little reading after talking to her. Loans from a 401K loan are paid back with after tax dollars...and then when you pull the money out in retirement you are taxed again! Yep, double taxation. Ugh.

I was honest in my conversation that it would be important to get spending under control...so they don't end up at this same spot 3 years from now. She completely agreed and mentioned a credit card cutting party. She might even put them in a jar as a reminder. I hope so. I so very hope so!

Paid In Full

October 6th, 2009 at 06:30 am

Ready to happy dance again, today? I am!!

Since the travel money is now in our account I moved the remaining $791 back to our emergency fund. Those braces are paid in full. Smile

Since you probably weren't keeping track, I'll let you know that it took us 39 days to return that money to our account. Honestly, those 39 days were a little stressful. In the end...completely worth it.

We saved $185 by paying in full. We also don't have a monthly obligation to the orthodontist!! I feel so free.

Thanks Sale Fairy!

October 5th, 2009 at 04:51 pm

I listed 4 Halloween costumes on craigslist on Saturday. I'm only asking $5 each, since they are used and only bought at Target and Walmart.

I sold the first one tonight!! That's another $5 in our pocket. Thanks sale fairy. It would be nice to have a few more of those sell this week.

Pending

October 5th, 2009 at 06:33 am

Yipee! We have be notified that my husband's travel voucher is being paid today.

Guess what that means?

I will be able to finish paying back the emergency fund for those braces tomorrow!!

I can't decide to happy dance today, tomorrow or both. Okay...BOTH!

Less Stress For Free

October 4th, 2009 at 11:50 am

I've noticed that I really need to exercise daily to help my stress levels. It makes a HUGE difference.

I usually try to get to the gym on the days the girls are in school. I'm hit and miss on the weekends. I didn't do anything yesterday because my husband was working. He is working again today and i really needed a workout. So what to do?

We made our own workout here at home. We had six stations which we hit for a minute each. Every minute we changed stations for 30 minutes. Our stations included: sit ups, push ups, trampoline, jumping jacks, stairs and a hand weight station. We worked up a sweat and I feel much better! Some stations needed revision as we went along...because I can't do push ups for a minute!! I did try, but as a result I can barely type this. Smile

I'm thrilled to have exercised and involved the kids. Even better it was free!

My Saturday

October 3rd, 2009 at 02:46 pm

Borrowed books at the library.

Six hour sale at the local grocery store. Stocked up on quite a few things. Only spent $32.

Found 10 things to sell. Listed them on craigslist. With pictures. Hoping for some quick sales.

Crockpot smells of something good to eat for dinner. Will throw together a salad. Easy!

Funny. No mail for us today. No bills, no junk. No complaints here!


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