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Archive for November, 2009

I Cyber Shopped

November 30th, 2009 at 03:43 pm

I did some online Christmas shopping today. I shopped at LL Bean, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. I received free shipping on all items either with a code or because I met the site's minimum order.

At Barnes and Noble I used a $20 gift card and a coupon code for an additional 15% off one item. I ended up with two books for about $7 out of my pocket. Smile

I will receive a $10 gift card to LL Bean next week in the mail because I spent more than $25. Not sure what I will buy. Maybe nothing.

It feels nice to have some shopping done!

The Last Few Days

November 29th, 2009 at 05:33 pm

The last few days went quickly and were enjoyable for the most part. My only Black Friday shopping consisted of picking up some lotion and soaps while we were at Whole Foods. This was around noon! So I was not one of the crack of dawn shoppers. Smile

My husband's family has decided to draw names for gifts. We have two names, each with a $25 limit. Last year we did a white elephant exchange and the two years before the limit was $15 each. It's a bit amusing to me, as several family members are unemployed, so you'd think this would be the year for a white elephant repeat, rather than an increase in the gift limit.

Our house has been decorated for Christmas. We had a couple strands of light that are no longer working. We have decided we don't need as many lights outside anyway! Saves us cash from buying more and some energy for less lights being used!

Yesterday's mail brought us a $50 gift card from Qwest for being loyal customers. I also received the $50 certificate last week from them as well. Nice!

Today, I'm pretty run down with a cold. Darn. I guess I caught something while traveling. Yes, I'm drinking lots of fluids.

Tomorrow...I'm shopping online! The less time in the stores the better.

Six Figures: We Did It

November 26th, 2009 at 02:58 am

It's official. Today, November 25, 2009 our retirement accounts have officially exceeded six figures!!

I hope the next $100K arrives faster than the first! My husband has contributed to his retirement since age 21. Obviously, he makes considerably more now than when he was younger. I contributed to my 401k when I did work outside the home. Now, we are fortunate to be able to max out our Roth IRA's each year and a little extra to my husband's TSP, which equals about 16% of our gross income.

Yipee!! Just another thing to be grateful for.

Our Debt A Year Ago

November 25th, 2009 at 01:10 am

Our debt consists of three loans, including our primary mortgage, a home equity loan and an auto loan. A year ago we were in more debt than we are now. Yipee!! At least we are going in the right direction. Are you?

Total Debt - Nov 2008: $174,624.40
Total Debt - Nov 2009: $158,031.25

Total debt paid in one year is $16,593.15!! Not bad.

The next year to year and half are going to be amazing for us financially. In fact, in 1 1/2 years we will be free of our home equity loan AND the van loan. Oh, and right now, we owe over $19K on the van. Obviously big plans are in the works!

Make a plan. Work the plan. And celebrate when the plan works!!

Tomorrow is Baking Day

November 24th, 2009 at 09:57 pm

Tomorrow before traveling we are having a baking day. I'm only making two things. A pumpkin pie and banana bread. I'm making lots of banana bread since I seem to have an abundance of frozen bananas. I will give to any family members that want some.

I'm trying to watch my food intake and exercise more, so banana bread is not on my list of things to eat. Especially in abundance! Giving it way: good for me and for the receiver (as long as they aren't watching the calories, too!).

Returned the Wii

November 23rd, 2009 at 08:59 pm

Can you believe it? You better not, because I did return it, but I purchased it again. Why? Target was offering a $20 gift card with a purchase of a Wii. I just couldn't pass that cash up. I then turned around and used the $20 to purchase a nunchuck (basically an extra controller, for you non-wii people) for free!!

I have plans to buy the additional items we need for the Wii on Right now each item is about $5 less than if I purchased them in the stores. I'm watching to see if the prices drop in the next couple days. The odds are they won't, but it is worth waiting a little bit.

Once we make our initial investment, I expect to rent or buy games used. The total value of the items we are purchasing is around $375. This summer the console was $50 more. I would have spent $425. Once all the items are purchased I will have spent $295! That is nearly a 30% savings from this summer. I will have the console, two remotes, two nunchucks, 3 games and two steering wheels. Not bad!

Spent Some Money

November 23rd, 2009 at 12:49 am

Well, yesterday I gave you a glimpse into our checking account. Since we did some spending there in now less. Darn.

Today, we spent close to $100 on groceries. We bought gas for our van. That was nearly $40 since we the tank was near empty. My husband and both girls went to Great Clips today for haircuts for $47, which includes tips. And there was a beer purchase amounting to about $15. (There is still beer left over, too.)

New Total: $148.34

Now we really need to watch our spending for the next week! At least we have plenty of food to eat. Smile

Calling All Oglers

November 21st, 2009 at 04:08 pm

I really don't have a much financial happening right now. How about a glimpse into our checking account?

Beginning Balance Today: $349.31

We get paid again on December 1st. We will have to buy weekly groceries this Sunday or Monday. We are traveling by car for Thanksgiving, so fuel will be needed. I already have the items to make the pumpkin pie. I also need to bring banana bread for which I also have all the items. We may give cash to my BIL who is hosting Thanksgiving. He usually goes all out. We could bring something, but it ends up being too much food! My husband and kids need haircuts this weekend, too.

I think today may be a no spend day. I'd like to get the Christmas lights up on the house since the weather will be cooperating. Please let all the lights work!! Dinner is planned and we have Netflix movies to watch. One daughter wants to go to the library. We also should get some cleaning done.

Oh, that balance above is just for regular expenses. Right now, I have another $400 set aside for Christmas and other gifts in a seperate account.

I Bought Myself a Gift

November 20th, 2009 at 08:37 pm

Today, I did a little pre-Christmas shopping browsing. I didn't buy any Christmas gifts, but wanted to look around to get ideas for certain family members. In the end, I bought myself a gift! Bon Jovi's new CD for about $12.

So much for shopping for others. SmileI think I can consider this a birthday gift. I did return a pair of pajamas my husband bought, since I will wear the yoga pants my sister gave me. In other words, the money ends up being a mute point.

Geez! Why am I even talking about it. Smile

Wii for Christmas - Input?

November 19th, 2009 at 06:29 pm

My family is getting a Wii for Christmas. I purchased the console when the price dropped to $199. But...I hear you need additional remotes. And, of course, games!

It comes with Wii Sports (I think). But, any thoughts/advice on which other game or games I should get?

I'm thinking maybe two, maybe just one, additional games initially. Those will give us plenty to play with over the holidays.

I've also heard you can buy games used, as well as rent them from the video store.

I'd love to hear what you think my initial investment should be. We will get the girls a few stocking stuffers, but the Wii is our gift this year.

Another $86.24 Paid!!

November 18th, 2009 at 01:05 pm

I made our regular home equity loan payment yesterday. It isn't really due until December 1st. I've been paying the payment a couple weeks ahead for cash flow purposes. Our next regular payment is in 2010!

Of our $118.01 payment, $86.24 went to principal. Our new balance is $5,171.95.

Year end goal is still to get this loan under $4,000. I think we'll make it.

So Close To Retirement Milestone

November 18th, 2009 at 01:58 am

The stock market rise this year has me tracking and checking our retirement account balances pretty frequently. Turns out we are VERY close to hitting a milestone. Our combined retirement accounts are about to hit 6 figures for the first time. We are less $1K away.

It feels great to have almost obtained this milestone. Unless the market drops quite a bit, we should actually hit the milestone by the end of the month.


More Debt Paid!!

November 17th, 2009 at 02:18 am

I made a principal payment towards our home equity loan this evening in the amount of $665.00. This brings our loan balance down to $5,258.19!!

I'm excited to be getting closer to another milestone. Under $5K will be very nice.

So far this year we have paid an additional $8,058.17 towards this loan.

Blessed with Gifts

November 16th, 2009 at 02:39 pm

My parents gave us each $100 for our birthdays. Yipee! I love cash gifts.

My sister gave us beer glasses and beer (for DH), a stainless steel water bottle and yoga pants(for me).

I feel very blessed! Basically, the cash will help offset our own birthday costs. I still don't know what DH has spent on my birthday, but I'm sure it's over $50, but less than $100.

I'm still waiting to look at our bank accounts. It's pure torture!

Joined the Gym

November 13th, 2009 at 07:45 pm

Oh my gosh what a crazy day! I went to a gym with two neighbors that aren't currently gym goers. We ALL signed up for memberships. I even signed my husband up, even though he has not visited!! What am I doing?

Actually, we are all really excited. In fact, we are going back up to actually work out!! Can you tell we like to be together and are excited?!

I paid an upfront membership fee of $79 for my husband and I to have a metro membership. This means we can visit other locations, including one with a running track, sauna and pool! I don't pay anything again until January 1st! I think our rate is $69/month. This seems a little high, but we are getting some extras with the ability to go to mulitple locations. I also can adjust my membership anytime to when you know who gets deployed. Nice of them to work with us. Smile

So excited!!

Payday Decisions

November 13th, 2009 at 02:45 pm

It's payday! I do always love me a payday. I know. Incorrect grammer. Anyway, there are decisions to be made and they are not directly related to payday.

I bought a pair of pants and a top from JC Penney a few days ago. We thought we were attending a baptism this weekend. Turns out the date has changed and we can't attend on the rescheduled date. I rarely dress up, so I need to decide whether to return the items or not. I paid $34.22 with tax for the two items. It is possible that something will come up in the next several weeks where dressy could be nice, but not necessary. So, I need to decide. Thoughts?

I'm going with two neighbor ladies to check out a gym this morning. Our membership expired this week, so I'm in the market for a new one. I will need to decide on that soon.

I have been told not to look at our bank accounts until my birthday. My husband has been shopping and doesn't want me know the amount spent or where he shopped. Ugh! Do you know how hard it is NOT to look at your bank account? It is hard!! It's even harder when it is payday and I should be paying bills. Help. I think I'm going to go crazy. Smile

We are traveling this weekend and expect to spend a few dollars. Oh...but we are celebrating our birthday's with extended family, so cash and gifts will be exchanged. Yipee!!

I hope your payday is more fun than mine. I'm sure it will be since you can actually look at your bank account!! Enjoy.


November 12th, 2009 at 04:44 pm

I made an easy repair yesterday. And it was inexpensive. $3.12 to be exact!!

When we closed our front door, I could see daylight coming in at the top and sides. Obviously, air from outside was coming in as well. Last winter we attempted to add some weather stripping. It didn't work. We rigged up an adjustable shower curtain rod between the door and the wall across from the door to push the door in closer to the weather stripping. It helped, but it didn't get all the areas sealed up.

The truth is the shower rod is tacky and annoying. It is probably an inconvenience and a hazard if there was a fire!!

This week I evaluated the door again. The original weather stripping is attached underneath wood. In order to remove the original weather stripping, nails and boards would need to be removed. If anything is damaged in the process...more money for wood and paint. Ugh!

I began my removing the foam weather stripping that I placed NEXT to the original weather stripping last year. I bought more foam weather stripping ($3.12 remember!) that was slightly wider by 1/4 inch and thicker by 1/8 inch. I put this new foam weather stripping UNDER the original weather stripping. As a result the new foam weather stripping simply pushes the original out farther so that it can make contact with the door and create a seal.

Guess what? No light is showing AND no air is blowing in. Yipee!!

Here are pictures:

What Do You Think of Layaway?

November 11th, 2009 at 05:45 pm

I have never done layaway. I have a friend who has used the service frequently over the years. When we were 16, she used layaway to pay for a leather jacket she wanted.

This is the same friend who recently choose to take out a 401K loan! And she is using layaway for holiday gifts this year. Her tweens are getting small tvs and dvd players for their rooms! Ugh.

It seems layaway is used instead of credit cards, right? So that one can pay over time to make a larger purchase. I don't think there are fees involved. Correct me if I am wrong.

Let's just say I'm not a big fan of layaway. I feel you should save your money over time to make large purchases, especially holiday gifts. Christmas arrives the same time every year!!

What do you think of layaway?

Your Questions Answered

November 10th, 2009 at 03:27 pm

Yes, Petunia. I am sorry I asked for questions! But I will answer all of your questions even though most of them are NOT related to finances. Smile

Monetarist or Keynesian? Yes, I had to look this one up. I would guess I lean to the monetarist theory. Less government intervention.

TP: Over or under? Over. Otherwise I can't find the end. Oh, and I probably tend to scrunch rather than fold. TMI!!

Toothpaste: Squeeze or Roll? Squeeze and then roll when needed! Doesn't everyone here roll to get the last remenants of paste out?

Chicken or Egg? Does anyone know the answer to this one? I don't. It's a question that haunts me. Lux, you are killing me here!!

If a tree falls in the forest....
Well, as a frugalist, you should chop the tree into logs and use it to heat your home for a couple days!

Nature or nuture? Nuture. I'm not going to explain. I tried to write several sentences to do so, but this topic is too deep for my blog. Or is it my brain?

The question forum is now closed and will NEVER reopen. Ever. If you have questions, post them on your own d** blog! Those are my final answers.

Thanks for participating!! Smile

Any Questions?

November 9th, 2009 at 09:49 pm

I feel my finances are kind of boring right now. We are just waiting to get paid so that we can pay more towards the home equity loan. This leaves me with little to write about.


Do YOU have any financial questions for me? It's okay, if you don't. Ask away if you do. I reserve the right not to answer, if necessary.

On a side note: I did get a $20 gift card in the mail to Barnes & Noble. I have no idea what I might find to buy...yet!

After the Home Equity Loan

November 8th, 2009 at 04:30 pm

The home equity loan should be paid off in February or March of 2010. I'm really looking forward to it, primarily because of our new plan!

We will start funding our girls college accounts again after a little more than a year off. The remaining extra funds will go to increase our emergency fund by $5000. I expect to complete that by the end of May 2010.

Once, the EF hits $15,000 I'm going to divide our extra funds towards paying off our van loan (did you know I had one?), adding smaller amounts to the emergency fund and saving for a truck!

I'll be giving you lots more information about these goals as they are happen. I know you like that kind of thing!

Deployment is getting closer. As a result there will be some extra government cash to help us realize those goals. Yipee for that. Of course, that's the ONLY positive thing about deployment. Emotionally it is a huge drag.

Help: Printer Decisions

November 7th, 2009 at 02:47 pm

Just over a week ago, I refilled the black ink for our printer at Walgreen's for $12.99. I was able to print for several documents. Now, the printer doesn't think it has a color cartridge. But it does. This cartridge may be low on ink, too.

So far I've been trouble shooting. I've rebooted. I've pulled the power cord out. I've removed and reinserted said cartridge. I've cleaned the connections. Nothing works. This printer only works if the color cartridge is in place. The black could be missing and it would still print.

I think my best bet is a new printer. Yes, I could go get the color refilled for $12.99 and try it. My gut says this would be wasted money. The cartridge isn't being 'seen' by the printer as it stands now.

I could buy a brand new cartridge for around $22. This might work. Or, it might not. If it didn't work, I might be able to sell on ebay for at least half the amount, making it equal to getting the original refilled.

If I buy a new printer, I will spend about $40. I already looked at which one I would buy. Ink would be included.

If I tried all options and still ended up with a new printer, my outlay would be $75. If I just skip all the guessing, I spend only $40. I might be able to sell the printer online with full disclosure of problem.

Thoughts anyone? Oh, and my daughter NEEDS to print for school this weekend.

Small Hang Up

November 6th, 2009 at 11:00 pm

In saving for our taxes and homeowner's insurance, I've come upon a snag. It's my error really.

I told the bank with our money market account to pull money from our regular savings account with our primary bank. Um...we don't have a savings account with our primary bank!! Opps.

I have to go through a few extra hoops. I now need the bank to confirm the account that I do want them to pull this escrow money from. They are going to give us those nifty small deposits that you have to verify. So, sometime next week everything should be up and running!

Kids Clothing

November 5th, 2009 at 04:59 pm

My daughter's have concerts (vocal and band) next week for school where they need to dress nice. My youngest has a dress, pants and a shirt that will work, but she needs shoes. My older daughter needs everything!

Last night, we went to the mall and hit JC Penney's. My older daughter found pants for $12.99 and a shirt for $14.99. With tax, I spent less than $30!! I'm thrilled that we were able to find items quickly and at great prices.

We attempted one shoe store last night, but did not come up with anything that would work. We will go again this weekend.

In addition to dress clothes and shoes, my daughter's need snow gloves and boots. They both WANT new snow pants, but they don't NEED them, so they are last on the list. I'd like to find the snow pants used, if possible.

I need new clothes, too!! For some reason, I'm always on the last of the list. Well, it's probably because I don't work outside the home. Smile

Some News

November 4th, 2009 at 05:07 pm

My daughter's rodents all passed away in October. The hamster died first. Then exactly two weeks later one mouse died. Our oldest mouse, who was getting thin and arthritic, died two days later.

Cause: unknown

They are all buried by one of the trees in our yard. They each had a private ceremony. A simple unmarked rock identifies each grave.

We all grieved in our own ways. Someone wanted to get a bird. Someone had tears. A couple of us felt relief from the costs and time involved in caring for them. They are missed. Even the cats seem lost!

Financially: no bedding, food, cleaning supplies to buy. The cages and accessories are up for sale on craigslist.

My Mail

November 3rd, 2009 at 10:41 pm

We received a card from Qwest our internet and phone provider. They want to rewards us for being long term customers with a $50 gift certificate! Nice. Too bad we have to call to claim it. Not nice.

Our water bill was in the mail, too. The amount was as expected, but I noticed that our bills have been estimated 3 out of the last 4. So I inquired. Turns out they need to replace some equipment that sends them our water reading. I have an appointment on Thursday for this.

The rest of the mail...various coupons. Bed Bath & Beyond, Petsmart and Target. I can't believe how many store coupons I have sitting on my desk right now. I generally make a pile, but I don't have a way to keep them organized like I do manufacturer coupons. Yesterday, DH and I used coupons to get our hair cut. His was $6.99 at Great Clips and mine was $9.99 at Cost Cutters. I like coupons for things we will use/buy anyway. I just have to be careful not to buy something just because I have a coupon, which I usually do pretty good about.

Calculating Escrow

November 2nd, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Remember, we deleted the escrow account with our mortgage? Here's the breakdown of how we will save for our own homeowners insurance and county taxes:

$1361.00 March Taxes
$1361.00 September Taxes
$658.47 Homeowner's Insurance (October)
$3380.47 Annual Total
$281.71 Monthly Savings

I have simply rounded the amount up to $285. I have set up a monthly draft to our money market account where I will save this money until needed. Obviously, if taxes or insurance go up significantly, I will be short. However, since this money will be sitting with our emergency fund there will always be extra money available if needed. I also plan to stay on top of any tax changes or increases in homeowners insurance and adjust the draft when necessary.

When doing this calculation, it is important to run down the balances each month to make sure there is enough money in the account when the first payment will be due. If it is short, then you need to start your account with at least that amount, or divide it over several months prior to the first payment. Run through the full year to make sure you won't have a month where you are short on funds for the payment.

Automated savings is the only way to go!! It is so easy. Record and go.

Two Months of 2009 Left

November 1st, 2009 at 03:26 pm

There are only two months left of 2009. Have you accomplished your goals for the year? If not, can you still wrap them up?

I looked at our goals that are on the side bar. We are most definitely on track to save 15% for retirement. It helps that that the goal was automated!!

The home equity loan began 2009 with a balance of $13,999. Our first goal was to pay off $7,000. We did that!! A few months into the year we thought we could get ambitious and pay the whole thing off. It is very clear that we will not get there with the cash we have or expect to have available. Right now, I think we can get the loan under $4,000. Which means we will have paid over $10,000 in debt off this year.

We did pay for our Disney World vacation in cash!! Yipee. So fun. And the ONLY way to go on vacation. Trust me.

We also paid for our daughter's braces in cash. On some level we knew she would need braces, but we didn't have this in our plan at the beginning of the year. She's only had them on for two months and there are no lingering bills just straighter teeth!

We made zero college contributions. This is a little disappointing because the market was low at the beginning of the year and has rebounded, so it would have been a good year to be investing. So be it. We will contribute in 2010...once we have that HEL paid off.

To wrap up. The final two months of 2009 will consist of saving for retirement and paying another $1925 in principal towards the home equity loan. In order to do that we have to make conscious spending decisions during the holidays.

What are your financial plans and goals for the last two months of 2009?