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Archive for August, 2010

Desk Day

August 31st, 2010 at 07:15 am

Today is going to be a desk decluttering day. I have to stay home this morning while I wait for someone to come by and repair my gas stove. It is definitely not heating right. While I wait, I will go through the desk and clean it up. Once I'm done with the desk, I only have the garage and the basement to do! Only. Ha.

I also have to make a run to the grocery store, the food offerings at the house are getting pretty sparse, especially when the oven doesn't heat properly. Smile

As a result of the above, I can officially say today is a spending day. Joy.

Decluttering

August 30th, 2010 at 09:11 am

I'm going room by room and pulling out the clutter. I'm organizing a bit as I go. I have pulled quite a few things. This is all in preparation for a garage sale later in September. Well, it is for my sanity, too!!Why keep outgrown shoes and a swimsuit that wasn't worn since last summer?

This keeps me out of the stores, also! I think my allowance from this past payday is gone. We still have food and gas for the van.

I do see purchases in our future. Leotards for dance and tumbling along with a new pair of jazz shoes. Hmm...maybe someone will be selling an old pair? I also know the fundraisers will start coming home soon. I noticed older daughter will need a jacket soon, too. With all the new we have to buy, it just means more old to get rid of, preferably by selling.

The Dow: An Answer

August 28th, 2010 at 06:12 am

Yesterday, I asked if you knew what the Dow is. Ready to hear the answer?

In a nutshell: an economic indicator

The Dow, also referred to as the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), is an index or collection of 30 blue chip US stocks. It is an indicator that is over 100 years old. At one time it was a true average. The final price of each stock on a trading day tallied up and divided by 30. However, stock splits have occured making the divisor slightly different in order to provide continuity.

On the next trading day the same thing occurs and it is compared to the average from the day before. The average price is either up or down from the day before. This is often reported on the news.

Just think, though, only 30 stocks are represented! That is a very narrow view of the stock market. Sure, it includes some big companies (blue chips) that are considered leaders in their industry. However, it is not the whole picture.

There other indexes that are more broad that included stock performance of many more companies. There is the S&P 500 (500 companies are represented), the Wilshire 5000, the Russell 2000, and many more.

Many people buy index mutual funds that simply mirror or hold the same stocks that are included in one of the many indexes. It's a no brainer, on some level. If the index goes up, your index fund will go up also. There is not a fund manager to make decisions on what stocks to hold in the fund, because they have already been picked by the index.

Last I checked, Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world suggested index funds for the average investor. I actually own a fair amount of an S&P 500 fund.

There is more I could tell about the Dow, but I'll leave it at that for now. If you have any questions or want to add additional details in the comments feel free.

So, did you have any idea that is what the Dow is? Care to tell me what you thought it was?

Do You Know What the Dow Is?

August 27th, 2010 at 05:54 am

I ask the question because I explained it to my sister recently and she was quite surprised at my answer. And surprised because she never really knew what it was. It makes me wonder how many people know.

So, tell me do you know? Can you explain it?

I will post the answer and clarify any misunderstandings that come up.

6 Days to Go

August 26th, 2010 at 07:58 am

until payday! I did make yesterday a no spend day. Yipee!! I have about $60 left to make it through these next six days. I have enough food from what I can tell. I might need to fill in with a few things.

The air conditioning is staying off again today. It is so nice to have nearly zero humidity. I can stand heat, but not humidity.

I'm going to add a disclosure when I write these type of emails, because it never fails that when I say I only have $X left, someone says I need to plan better. Maybe I do. However, what isn't said is that we have zero credit card debt, all bills are current, we only owe money on our van loan and mortgage. We have saved 15% of our gross income for retirement, made college contributions and paid additional principal on our van loan. We have even set money aside for short term needs, such as the next auto insurance premium. When I say I only have $X left before a pay day it refers to our budgeted spending money. If I need something that exceeds that I do have cash available, I am not on my last dime!! To say otherwise is insulting.

No Air Conditioning

August 25th, 2010 at 09:11 am

I was able to turn off the air conditioning last night and open the windows. Very refreshing. I think I will be able to leave it off at least through tomorrow. I like knowing I'm saving a little on my electric bill.

I'm expecting a no spend day, too!

Increased Homeowner's Insurance

August 24th, 2010 at 09:26 am

Lovely. Our homeowner's insurance premium is increasing again. Ugh!

Last Year: $658.47
This Year: $823.09
Increase: $164.62

This means I need to increase my escrow savings by at least $14 per month. The year previous to the last our homowners insurance was around $500. It is increasing at a faster rate.

It would have been even higher last year, but I increased our deductible to $1000. It will remain there. I'm not willing to go to a higher deductible.

It is what it is, right?

A Sale!

August 23rd, 2010 at 05:41 pm

Wow! I wasn't expecting it. I made a sale on half.com. I listed the book in January. Profit is minimal at $3.04, but I'll take it.

I'm not sure that I will get to it in August, but I can feel the need to start listing on ebay and craigslist after labor day. And I'm pretty sure we'll have a garage sale in September. Fun, fun!!

I also completed a Pinecone survey and should receive a payment tomorrow. They are so quick with the paypal payments.

Points Add Up To Dollars

August 21st, 2010 at 07:46 am

A look at some of our point accumulations reveal the following:

Debit card points: $75 worth that can redeemed for cash or a gift card at various stores.

My Points: Approximately 150 point shy of a $50 gift card to Target!! I also already have enough for $50 to Home Depot or Lowe's. I need even less of my point for a $50 gift card to Old Navy. I shop at Target much more often...so I need to figure out which card makes sense for me.

I mentioned a few days ago that I earned $5 at Amazon through the swagbucks program. I have yet to spend that. I will likely use towards Christmas gifts!

I like free money. If you like free money and would like to join MyPoints, please post your email with your first intial and last name (it can be a fake name if you want) Smile. You will receive an invite to my points. I receive 25 points if you join! I will delete your email asap.

Life Related to Money

August 20th, 2010 at 06:59 pm

Interesting day today:

Slipped into a convenience store between the girls meet the teacher events to use the restroom. Bought $6 worth of junk on the way out.

Volunteered to buy clorox wipes for the elementary teacher, as well as snacks for the class in September. Cost yet unknown.

Invited to the neighbors for leftover birthday cake. Gave their daughter a fabric pouch I made out of fabric I already had and the zipper I purchased yesterday. Borrowed a music stand from them, saving myself nearly $20. They gave me two ears of sweet corn and confirmation of garage sale participation this fall.

Spent so much time at the neighbors, I felt the need to run for fast food for dinner and spent about $16. Regret it. I had other things to eat, even if it was not the dinner I had originally planned (baked chicken).

Earlier in the day, I had my daughter try on shoes that were delivered in the mail (because the store didn't have her size). Turns out they did fit, but didn't 'feel right' to her. So they need to be returned to our local store and we need to be on the lookout for another pair. Oh, and the jazz shoes from last year are too small, too. Another purchase to pursue.

As I said, an interesting day as it relates to money. A little spending. A little saving.

Swagbucks: I'm Back On

August 19th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Well, I got back on the swagbucks bandwagon. I earned another $5 Amazon gift card. I will try to accumulate as many as I can before the Christmas shopping season begins. It does take me awhile because I don't sign up for too many offers where I have to give out my personal information.

If you want to explore swagbucks and earn gift certificates and prizes, click on my sidebar for more information.

Oh...and I spent more money today.

Zipper and a candy bar for DD: $2.53
Gym shorts: $8.47

Just realized those purchases were an even $11!!

Purchases: A List

August 18th, 2010 at 07:45 am

Here's what I have bought in the last few days. I do not recommend following these 'deals'.

Eye Doctor: $63
Glasses DD #2: $89
Glasses DD #1: $226
2 Pairs of Sneakers: $88
Uniform Shirt: $5
Pizza for sleepover: $17
Donuts for sleepover: $8
Redbox movie rental: $1

It'a big total. Feel free to add it up it you want.

Can I just say that teenagers get pretty picky about the glasses they wear, thus I was stuck with the pricier glasses. I do have the cash, otherwise, there would have been a different outcome. And I know...I didn't need to buy takeout for a sleepover, but it sure is easier! Next sleepover will be tacos or pasta at home and cereal for breakfast. Smile

The Van Loan Balance Drops AGAIN!

August 17th, 2010 at 06:16 am

We made our regular van payment with $448 going to principal. This brings our new balance below $13K!

New Balance: $12,593

Our regular payment is $496, but as we have paid down the principal balance on the loan, I've noticed that Honda is lowering our payment due. For instance, next month our payment will be $493.82. I guess that is good...I just need to add a few dollars extra to the principal payment.

Other news related to the van: I've requested cancellation of the GAP insurance we purchased. I'm hoping for at least $200 back. I believe it will get sent directly to our loan, so I need to keep an eye on that account. I'm not exactly proud of buying a vehicle that we had to buy GAP insurance on, but we are paying this loan down pretty quickly. It would have been more financially devastating to have owed money on a vehicle that we could no longer drive. And I must say...I love my van. Smile

Prepping for Back To School

August 16th, 2010 at 05:57 am

It's our final week of summer. It's time to double check the shoes and clothes and fit in a good time here and there.

This week the girls have eye appointments. Read that as: new glasses and a pair of contacts for one. We are in the market for new sneakers and a couple of shirts. It's still summer, so no long sleeves or jeans needed yet. Those few things will add up, but I have cash to spend.

The last few outings aren't yet planned, but they need to be close to free. I have spent a fair amount this summer keeping us entertained. Again with cash!

What do your school preparations look like?

Sidebar Edition: Van Principal Payments

August 14th, 2010 at 09:23 am

I have added a new page to my sidebar which will list the extra principal payments we make on our van loan. Here's what it looks like so far:

07072010 $265
07152010 $560
07222010 $700
08012010 $1200
08132010 $615

YTD Total = $3340

Not bad in just over 5 weeks time!!

Weekend Spending

August 14th, 2010 at 07:35 am

My parents are coming to town. We are visiting a pool with water slides and a lazy river as well as attending the state fair. Yep...some spending is involved. I already prepaid for the fair tickets, minus parking. I will need to put out about $18 for the pool admission.

It's our last big fling before school starts. It is nice that we can pay in cash...otherwise these would not be on my plan.

Yesterday, I did find a free activity. I did spend $0.75 for parking. Smile We visited a local test garden for a major magazine company. Boy, was it beautiful. It rained while we were there, which actually made for some gorgeous pictures. My daughter couldn't stop snapping photos. I think I may have some new art for my kitchen!!

August Progress on Goals!!

August 13th, 2010 at 05:51 am

It's payday! I've saved $215 towards our emergency goal and made a principal payment on our van loan in the amount of $615.

EF Balance: $2,736.98

Van Balance: $13,041.00

Our regular payment on the van loan will likely hit on Monday, which will put us under $13K!! The goals are moving along nicely. Smile

I Want to Refinance

August 12th, 2010 at 06:55 am

I'm very interested in refinancing our mortgage. My sister mentioned rates that were below 4%, so I went looking online yesterday. I noticed ING Orange mortgages were 4% and under and closing costs for our home would be about $2K.

With one of the scenarios, we could recoup the closing costs in less than 9 months. If applied the savings in interest to principal we would begin paying the loan off faster. It is so tempting.

Right now we are paying 6%. I would have refinanced a year ago or more, but I kept thinking we would move. The closing costs would have been considerably more, too. Well, we could still move....so I don't know what to do.

Ugh...military life makes things complicated! In fact, can I refinance while DH is deployed? I have a power of attorney, but will that make things more complicated?

Well...just venting! I'm undecided. Any thoughts, even though I didn't give lots of details?

Checking Mistake

August 11th, 2010 at 07:31 am

Yes, I made a mistake in our check register. Luckily it is in our favor!! I recorded that my husband took a $100 withdrawal twice, when it was really only once. For three weeks, I've had more money in the account than I realized.

It works out well because I need to get new sneakers for my daughters before school starts. I think we can get two pairs for about $100.

I still have the $9 I started the beginning of the week with!! If I buy anything today, it will be those shoes.

Wire The Money

August 10th, 2010 at 06:14 am

I'm going to tell a story about my sister in law. I don't know all their details, but some of this information may help someone else.

My sister in law and her husband filed bankruptcy on their business about four years ago. They did keep their house and cars. In the last year, Citimortgage would not accept payments from my SIL and returned the money. She has spent hours trying to figure out the problem and getting them to take her money. Obviously, if they don't take your payments you start to become delinquent according to the mortgage company.

Again, I don't have all the details. Apparently, they have a mortgage with a balloon payment. It seems this may have come due and been part of the problem. However, it was never communicated to SIL that the balloon was due. Even in her phone calls it wasn't communicated.

At some point, Citimortgage does apologize and admits they did not send notification the balloon payment. They now have until late September to pay the balloon. For SIL this will require refinancing their mortgage. Of course, it is hard to refinance when the current mortgage company shows your account as delinquent by months!!

Again more phone calls to Citimortgage to determine how she can get current if they won't accept payments. She speaks to a lawyer. She threatens to get her lawyer involved because she feels that if Citimortgage forecloses, they lose their equity of $50K and that technically Citimortgage is stealing from her.

She has the money to pay the mortgage and has all along. They just wouldn't accept payment. Finally, a customer service rep says she can wire the full amount and bring the account current. Of course, only after my SIL threatens to sue!!

My sister in law does wire the money. Citimortgage accpets and puts the account current. They now have until late September to make the balloon payment by refinancing, which SIL says is in the works.

Umm...why did it take so many hours of phone calls to get out of Citimortgage that a simple wire transfer of money would solve the problem? I hope this information might help someone in a similar situation.

A Week Of Very Little Spending

August 9th, 2010 at 03:00 pm

I need to spend very little this week. I want to stay within my allowance limit. At this point, I only have $9 left! I did buy groceries today for about $31. My tank of gas is full. We don't have plans where we need to go anywhere or have to spend money.

I might take us swimming one day this week, since it will be so very hot. Luckily, we can get in for $8. Smile
Or if necessary, hit the free art museum.

I'll let you know how it works out at the end of the week.

Real Estate Taxes

August 8th, 2010 at 07:02 pm

Our real estate taxes are increasing by $98 per year. This amounts to an increase of just over $8 per month. I already had a little cushion built in, but I will need to begin allocating another $5 per month to meet this new amount.

I currently save $285 per month to include homeowner's insurance. I will increase this payment to $290. This basically our own escrow account since it is not handled by the mortgage company. I love that I can do it on my own!!

Next payment for real estate taxes is due on September 1. I will pay them online. Smile

Theme Park Expenses

August 8th, 2010 at 07:07 am

This is what we spent yesterday at the theme park.

Admission: $78
Food/Drink: $10.50
Tube Rental:$6
Parking: $5
Total : $99.50

Just under $100.

We were able to get into the theme park with a military discount, saving me $22 off the regular admission price. Fortunately, that is about all I spent on other items!

I haven't entirely decided if it was worth it. We only rode one ride which we waited 30 minutes for. The rest of the time was spent in the water park section, where we primarily used the pool and lazy river. The girls did go down a few of the smaller water slides.

It was so busy. It took about two hours to hook up with my in laws. We were in contact by phone, but it took a little while to get all in the same place. This type of thing frustrates me. I think we had the most fun in the lazy river when we went as a large group. Or most of us anyway!

My family only spent about 5 hours in the park total. We left early to pick up pizzas to eat at our house. I bought 5 large pizzas for $42.50. In laws gave me $40, so very inexpensive on my end. I did provide watermelon, carrots, lemonade, tea, brownies and lemon bars. Those items likely only cost me about $15. And I have lots of leftovers!! Smile

I think we all would have had more fun, if they had just come to our house rather than the theme park because we did have a great time together here at our house. Such is life, right?

Washing Soda

August 7th, 2010 at 05:52 am

I've mentioned in previous blogs that I made our own laundry detergent. I have now made dishwashing detergent as well. I'm actually very pleased with the results. Here's a link to the recipe I used. It does require citric acid. I bought mine from Amazon in a 4oz container for around $5. It will only make two batches, so the cost savings are zero at that price. I hope to buy more in bulk when I run out and bring the cost savings down.

Yesterday, I went to clean the dirt and grime off my painted white cabinets and decided to use the washing soda diluted in a bucket of water. Wow! That stuff saved me quite a bit of scrubbing on those greasy areas. I used my microfiber cloth, as usual, but this concoction was awesome! It really broke down the grime fast.

Washing soda is only around $2.99 per box and can be used for many household cleaning chores. I really like that it comes in a cardboard box. No plastic. Have you tried washing soda? What do you use it for?

Washing soda...not the same thing as baking soda, but Arm and Hammer does sell it.

I'm Just Going To Keep Spending

August 6th, 2010 at 07:53 am

It is just that time of year. Last minute summer vacation activities. Visitors. School Shopping. It all leads to spending. I'm just going to go with it. Let it happen. Enjoy the fun. No worries.

There is a time for spending and a time for savings. Right now. A time for spending. Cash spending!

Spent $15

August 5th, 2010 at 04:46 pm

I took my two daughters and two neighbor girls swimming today for a total of $19.50. That included snacks. They pitched in $5, so only $14.50 out of my pocket.

The girls had a great time and it was a help to their mom who just had her gall bladder removed. I also baked banana bread for something to eat in the morning.

It is tempting to spend tomorrow as our state is having a tax free holiday on clothing. If I get the cleaning done for Saturday's visitors then we might venture out and get the few items we need for back to school. Otherwise, it is sometimes just easier to skip it since so many people will be out shopping!!

Company is Coming

August 4th, 2010 at 06:12 am

Several of my in laws are coming to town to visit the local theme park. About 12 in all. The girls and I are going to go with them to the theme park and then have them to our house for dinner.

The theme park admission will cost me about $78. I'm sure there will be a drink or a snack purchased. Oh, I think I have to pay for parking, too. Ugh. It should be great weather though.

When they come for dinner, I think we will all pitch in for pizza. I'll make a salad and have fruit on the side. I'll likely just buy drinks I would normally buy.

This wasn't exactly in my budget for this time of year, but I can make it work. Besides it is family. And they hardly ever visit! It will be worth it to spend time with them.

Rented

August 3rd, 2010 at 12:17 pm

I rented my youngest daughter's flute today. For the next 32 months (yikes!) I will pay $36.80 towards the flute. At that point it will be ours!! Yep. Rent to own. I'm not a big fan, at all, but it seems to work well for kids in band.

If she quits early, I can return the flute and owe no more money. If she plays, for a year and I want to purchase the flute I can get a 20% discount on the remaining balance by paying in full. I hope it works out for her and I can take advantage of paying off early.

Five dollars of the fee is a repair and maintenence plan. You can take it any number of times for any issue and not pay anything out of pocket. With out the plan one would pay nearly $75 each time it is repaired or maintenenced. It seems like a good deal when you consider how hard young kids can be on instruments.

Small Deposit in Emergency Fund

August 2nd, 2010 at 10:57 am

I just remembered to check our money market account for the interest we earned in July. Only $4.62. Last month we received around $10 or $11, but we have moved much of our cash out of this account so that we can earn 10% in the SDP. The interest is compounded quarterly on that account so I won't see that accrued interest until the end of Septemeber.

Emergency Fund Goal Balance: $2,521.98

The goal is coming along and is still on track. Remember we will sell a car for $2500 in the next couple of months that will get deposited towards this goal. Yipee!!

Zero to the Ebay Challenge...Again!

August 1st, 2010 at 08:06 am

Obviously, summer is not a good time for me to invest my time in selling on ebay. For two straight months now, I have not earned a single penny towards this goal. I will have to try to make up for it once my girls get back to school, which is late August. This likely means August will be a bust also. However, maybe I'll surprise myself and get something sold.

2010 Ebay Challenge Totals
January: $201.89
February: $46.40
March: $55.50
April: $4.74
May: $265.99
June: $0
July: $0

Monthly average: $82.07