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Archive for September, 2005

It's all perspective...

September 30th, 2005 at 08:16 pm

If someone asked me what I thought of our financial life on a scale of 1-10, I'd say it's a 7-8. I feel like we strike a good balance between living for today and saving for tomorrow, but we could be doing better. My problem is that the 7-8 is an average...when I'm blowing the grocery budget I feel like I'm more of a 5 or 6, and some days, like today, I feel like a 10.

After the markets close on the last day of each month, I review our net worth, not including home equity. I get the current balances for all of our assets, including mutual funds, college savings, 401(k)s, etc., and subtract all of our debt, including mortgage, car loans, and heloc. Not only is it a positive number, it grew substantially last month, thanks to a combination of our 401(k) contributions, decent investment returns, and debt reduction from our monthly payments and the extra $$ we threw at our heloc.

I guess my point is that the other 29 days of the month, I lose perspective. The day-to-day stuff is right in my face all the time, so it's easy to think and (sometimes) get discouraged about it. My 401(k) contributions come straight out of my paycheck, I don't follow my investments on an everyday basis, etc. so even though great things are happening there, it's not on my radar screen. I need to remember this during the 3rd week of October when I've had the heat on for two weeks in a row and I'm already over my grocery budget, and remind myself that in the grand scheme of things, I'm doing ok and just need to keep at it.

Boy, that put me in a good frame of mind. On to October! Hubby came home from his trip today and met us at the park. He also treated us to Chinese for dinner, as I was busy packing for our trip. This seemed like a really long week. I'm totally beat and need to get a good night sleep.

After I finished the last couple of bills today, I was able to transfer about $325 more to the HELOC, making the total for the month $995. Not quite as much as I had hoped, though I won't beat myself up over it. I'm looking forward to a quiet week...

Had to buy gas!

September 29th, 2005 at 06:39 pm

I didn't make it to the end of the month! I probably could have squeaked by, but I hate driving around with less than 1/4 tank. So $42 later, I ended up at about $340 for the month. Sadly, this is still pretty good for me. We'll see how next month goes.

I'm limping to the end of the month, but looking forward to a good October. It should get off to a good start. We're leaving Saturday for the Jersey Shore and are going for one week (Oct 1-8). We're renting a house, and it should be a pretty quiet week - beach, park, bike riding, fishing. No (expensive) boardwalks, mini golf, etc. We're also bringing a lot of food from home, so that should keep the food bill down. And once we're there, we're there, so other than filling our tank for the trip, we shouldn't use a lot of gas. And if we're not home, that means one week without heat, ac, water, much electricity, etc. I'll keep a careful tally and update when I get back.

Other than that, not much new. Hubby gets home from his trip tomorrow, then it's laundry and packing for our trip...

I've rebounded

September 28th, 2005 at 07:47 pm

I rarely post twice in a day, but I hate to leave on the sour note of my earlier post. I'm still bummed about the electric bill, but I also made good progress tonight. I literally filed months of paperwork. My desk area was sooo cluttered and overwhelmed, that it makes things seem worse than they are. Now I'm all organized and feel so much better. While I was going through everything, I also found a few papers that I was supposed to fill out (oops), and some other things I had been looking for.

While surfing tonight, I signed up for California's 529 plan for my kids. They are running a promotion where they are giving away a $50 Office Max gift card, if you open an account with $100. You can qualify for 2 bonuses, so I opened up one account for each of the kids. I don't really see a downside, other than the massive amount of paperwork I get for all these deals (hence the filing kick).

So that's it. I'm off to bed and feeling much better about things...

Sad and confused...

September 28th, 2005 at 07:58 am

I just got the online bill for my electric company, and the total is now $158 in the company's favor!!! The cycle ran from August 25 through September 26. I know the AC was on pretty much non-stop from the 25th until Labor Day weekend, but since then I've made a huge effort to keep it off (except for some hot overnights). I thought for SURE there would be a credit in my favor this month. This coming month has got to be better. There's absolutely no need for the AC now (in fact, I'm lucky I don't have to put on my heat yet!), and the pool will be closed on Friday, so the filter won't be running. Best I can tell, those are our two big uses of electricity in the summer. I think I have two more bills before they rebalance my account. If so, I may be able to salvage it. If not, it will end up the same ($131/month) if not slightly higher for the next year. What a huge bummer.

My goal today is to finalize the September budget. I need to print out my pay stub and see what bills I have left. Also, birthday party season has hit with a vengeance now that school's back in session. We had one last Saturday, yesterday, and two more so far in October. I better get online and get some more Toys R Us cards...

Crazy week

September 27th, 2005 at 07:15 pm

Things have been nuts! Tuesdays are usually my running around day, but today was exceptionally busy. I had to go to ToysRUs to pick up some birthday presents. I did pretty well...I had a $10 off $50 coupon, plus discounted gift cards, so I only spent $11.63 out-of-pocket. Then I went to Kohls to return some school clothes for the kids and pick up some others, for a net credit of about $15 Smile. Finally (I had to save this for last), I couldn't last until Oct. 1 with the groceries so I went to BJs. I needed milk and half-and-half, and because I don't like to go there too often, stocked up on some other things. Spent about $50. At least I start fresh October 1.

Then today, as soon as I picked up the kids, we had a birthday party from 4-6, and I had a church meeting from 7-9. I feel like I'm just now able to take a deep breath and relax.

The rest of the week should be more of the same, especially with work being so crazy. But it's all good, so i won't complain. I'm hoping tomorrow I'll have time to finalizing the September budget and see where I stand. Other than that, nothing much new...

A REAL no-spend day!

September 24th, 2005 at 06:58 pm

Nothing, nada, not one stinkin' dime! No parkway tolls, no quick run to the grocery store, nothing! And I'm thrilled to say that I almost spent $5 on a sandwhich out with a friend but decided to have lunch at home instead. This just about never happens. Wahoo.

The other thing I did today that almost never happens: I ventured into my freezer and took an inventory of everything that was in there. I had to throw out a few things, but for the most part was pleased with all the stuff I found in there. Next week (Oct 1-8) we rented a beach house down by the Jersey Shore. The kids are off from school Oct 4-6 for Jewish holidays and a teacher in-service, so we're letting them play hooky (1st grade and preschool, mind you) on Thursday and Friday. We've stayed at the house before and it's beautiful, and also steeply discounted because it's so late in the season. I'm hoping to get off pretty cheap. I'm going to try to bring most of the groceries from what I have on hand (and from the freezer Smile), so I'll only need to buy milk, half-n-half, bread, etc. down there. So I should be able to keep within my $75 grocery target. Second, it will cost me less in gas to get down there then it would if both DH and I were commuting for the week, so I should be able to stay within target there. Basically the whole week will consist of hanging out on the beach (not in the water BRR), the park, bike riding, roller blading, and RELAXING!!

Tomorrow will be a clean-the-house, putter around type of day until the clam bake tomorrow night (which is free, except for the babysitting, which I'm splitting with a friend). Should be a good day all around.

$36.60 for gas

September 23rd, 2005 at 09:59 am

Which makes my total for September $298.93 (target $300). Not bad. I'm assuming that hubby won't need to fill up the car before he leaves for his business trip tomorrow.

I forgot to mention that another goal for tomorrow is to finish making pesto with the rest of the basil from the garden. I made and froze a lot of it a few weeks ago, but there's still a lot left. So I'll make pesto with most of it, and freeze the remaining basil leaves for use over the winter. I'm not sure how the rest of the herbs look (I think they may have been scorched during the really hot weather a few weeks back), but I'll salvage and freeze whatever I can.

Another update - I'm still doing pretty well on the no a/c front. I stopped tracking the number of days, and we have put it on overnight a few times, but it's pretty much off other than that. The electric meter reading should happen in a week or so, so I'm anxious to see the result. And I've been reading more stories about the expected increases in heating prices this winter. I'd like to get dd a blanket for her bed, to go between the flannel sheets and comforter. (Toasty). Everyone else has it, and I'm hoping it will allow me to keep the temp down a bit overnight. By starting now I can comparison shop and figure out where the best deal is. I have discounted gift cards for target and jc penneys, so that's a start, and I can pick some up for Kmart and Kohls, if the deals look better there.

I need to make a list of stuff to get done while hubby's away. I try to get a lot of my filing, paperwork, organization stuff done then. I need to break out my Christmas card and gift list, to see what's what, and I need to get my calendar straight through the rest of the year. It's amazing how the squares fill up once the kids are in school...

Another Crazy day...

September 22nd, 2005 at 02:35 pm

Phew, I'm beat. Work is still crazy - but I still manage to get to this site once or twice a day. lol!

Two big news items today: I mailed a book I sold on half.com. The bummer is that I (once again) was not prepared with padded envelopes at home, so I had to buy one at the post office. I only ended up netting $1.65 after paying for the envelope, postage, and delivery confirmation, although the full $4.91 will go into my funmoney account when I get it. Second, as you may have seen in the forums, I got my first $50 Sharebuilder bonus today, exactly one month after my first transaction. I'm happy to see it because I also opened two accounts for my kids, and I'm never really sure how legitimate these things are until the bonuses are actually in my hands. So this is good news for me.

The next few days should be relatively quiet, money wise. Today, aside from the Post Office, I bought lunch for $6.50 (Chinese takeout, couldn't resist) and my usual parking and tolls. I'll probably fill up the car on my way home from work. I could stretch it out another day or two, but I'm afraid in the wake of this storm, gas will shoot up, be less available, who knows what, so I'd rather be prepared and do it today.

Tomorrow, we're getting together at the park after school to celebrate my friend's 40th birthday. We're chipping in for a cake and a gift card, but there are 3 of us (I think), so it should be about 10-15 each. Saturday, we've got a birthday party (need to get a gift using my discounted Toys R Us gift card so no out of pocket), then after the party DD has a soccer game. Then, hubby is leaving on a business trip through next Friday. Finally, on Sunday, we have nothing during the day, then I'm going to a clam bake with some friends while my niece babysits again. The clambake will be free, and my niece will be watching my friend's two kids as well, so she's going to split the babysitting charge with me.

Aside from picking up a gallon of milk and two loaves of bread tonight on my way home, my big goal is to not go shopping until next Saturday morning! That will leave my grocery total for September at $437.39, which is way higher than the $350 I was targeting (and it doesn't include the "Entertainment" money from when our friends came to dinner last weekend!). I think I can do it. I have food in the house for tomorrow night, then with hubby away on business, it's much easier for me to use up whatever's in the fridge/freezer/pantry. And the sales run Sunday to Saturday at Shoprite, so even if there's an "I have to have it" sale, I can still pick up the stuff on Saturday. Grocery shopping continues to be a problem for me. Intellectually I feel like I should be able to keep it to $75/week and I'm closer to $110. I've got to devote some energy to this...

As for my other September goal, keeping gas under $300, I should come in right around there. So far, I've spent $262.33. I need to fill up tonight, which will probably be in the $35 range. The only variable is whether or not hubby needs to fill up. Assuming he doesn't, then I'll definitely be ok because, again, with him travelling, he won't be using the cars next week, so I can use whichever one has gas. We'll see what happens if gas hits $5/gallon. Yipes.

Not much new...

September 21st, 2005 at 05:33 pm

Things were status quo today. Work is crazy - I've been absolutely swamped. I spent money on lunch at work ($3.00 - but no breakfast!), my usual Garden State Parkway tolls, and splurged for a car wash ($8). That was it. Hubby had to go out with some colleagues for dinner, so I was on my own with the kids, and just picked at some leftovers. It's so easy to do that, but I feel like I should be eating more "real meals", especially with him travelling more and having more "working dinners". At least this is good for the budget!

I need to update my September budget. I get so antsy I can't wait until the 30th to see where I stand. By now most of my bills have been paid and I have a good idea of what's left, so I should be able to get a feel for what's what.

DD just got out of bed. What is it with kids that they don't appreciate sleep? If someone told me I needed to go to bed every night from 8:00 through 7:15 the next morning, with no concern of laundry, dishes, etc., I'd jump at it. Youth is wasted on the young...

Haven't posted for a few days...

September 20th, 2005 at 06:23 am

I agree with whomever posted, that there are so many people writing journals that I had to scroll way down to find my last one. I think that's great - I always catch up with what everyone's doing and most people seem to be doing pretty well!

What's been going on with me the last few days? I had a good weekend. Dinner for our friends turned out to be a bit on the expensive side (but delicious). I'm having trouble categorizing the funds. I think they should go against our grocery budget, because they were groceries we bought at the store. Hubby thinks it should count against our "entertainment" fund, because we only incurred the expense because we were entertaining. The bottom line, I guess, is that either way the funds are gone. I'm going to go with hubby on this one and call it entertainment, partially because our grocery category is going pretty well this month and I don't want to blow it...

Sunday I went to my dad's. He's having some trouble with one of my brothers (44 years old, no personal accountability, expects everyone else to bail him out of trouble, then when dad does, acts like the total ingrate he is). My dad is not usually a sympathetic figure, but I think we're all feeling for him over the last few weeks. It was a good visit nonetheless, and he treated for takeout!

Monday was my birthday (35 yipes!). I worked, then we took out subs for dinner, and had ice cream cake (my favorite). There are two slices leftover, but I'll give them to the kids after dinner tonight. Hubby came through with two great gifts - Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 4 (my favorite show!) and a gift certificate for a much needed massage. I got money from dad and mil. I deposited both checks into my fun money account until I decide what I want to do with them. It was good to build that back up a little, after I pretty much emptied it this summer to go to the Jersey Shore.

Today's my day off from the office. My son has swimming lessons at 11, and we have back-to-school night tonight. The great thing (though potentially expensive) is that my 18 year old niece now goes to college 20 minutes from us and is a built-in babysitter for my kids. They love her, and she could use the $$. Great for me, but the downside is that the only other sitters we have ever used are my older sisters and my mil, neither of whom accept payment. So if I get in the habit of using my niece, the $$ could add up. I'll have to work this into the budget, though, because with hubby travelling more, she'll come in really handy.

That's it for now. I need to catch up in the forums later...

Tough battle with Onstar

September 16th, 2005 at 09:22 am

but I wonSmile. I currently pay $17.97/month for the service ($215.64/year). I called up the regular 1-800 onstar number, told the woman that I got the service for a year when I bought the car and renewed it last year, but hadn't used it at all. Given that I have AAA and a cell phone, and the fact that I haven't used it, I was thinking about cancelling, but didn't really want to, and could they offer me any discounts to make the $18/month bite a little less painful. She told me the best she could give me was a prepaid year for $199 + tax ($210.94). At first I jumped at it, but then I figured out it only saved me $5 for the year! You've got to be kidding me! So I asked her to give me a number for customer service that I could call.

They transferred me to their sales department (better than the cust service reps). After reminding me of all of the great features onstar has to offer (blah, blah, blah), I finally got their "cancel save" offer of a prepaid 12 months for 169+tax=$179.10. It's only a savings of $36.54 for the year, but I'll take it, especially since DH really wants it! Plus now it's prepaid so I don't have to look at the monthly charge on my credit card bill. Given my recent success knocking down my DirectTv bill by $75 ($10/6 months and $5/3 months), I'm now encouraged to call all of my service providers that I'm no longer contractually obligated to and see what they can do for me. (Not sure who else that is, because I'm still under contract to Verizon Wireless, but I'll go through the budget and find out).

I think the key to my experience for both Onstar and DirectTv is to not stop at the first person you speak with, and get to sales people if possible, because they have more of a vested interest in keeping you as a customer.

I also looked into the wireless phone jack. I found one at Circuit City with decent reviews for $60. I still have $25 in discounted gift cards, so it will only be $35 out of pocket. Significantly better than the $175 or so for Verizon to come back. I'll pick it up today or tomorrow and see how it works out.

I also need to head to ShopRite today - I never made it there earlier in the week. Also, we're having another couple for dinner tomorrow night, so after I figure out what I'm going to serve, I need to pick the things up.

Thanks for the advice...

September 15th, 2005 at 03:06 pm

It was comforting (yet sad) that I got so many comments about my crummy builder experience. I'm sorry that all of you experienced these problems as well. I love the idea about the wireless phone jack...I'm definitely going to look into it. If not, running the line ourselves may work (although neither hubby nor I are too handy).

Today was payday, and looking over the rest of the month, I think I'll be pretty well on target. Most importantly, I should definitely be able to pay the $1000 toward the HELOC ($1100 if I'm really lucky!). I also want to start taking another looksee at the different categories in the budget to see what else I can do to knock them down. I'm starting with OnStar first. We got this for one year free when we bought our older car, and I was all set to get rid of it when the year was up. But hubby saw the renewal notice and really wanted to get it. (He cited the safety thing, I said that's why we have AAA and cell phones, he said if we fell in a ditch on a remote area of the Garden State Parkway (where AAA isn't allowed and cell phones don't work) I'd appreciate having it. I was willing to take my chances!)

Anyway, it costs $17/ month for this peace of mind. I was on their website and saw that they partnered with Verizon wireless, so you could share your minutes between your cell phone and your onstar phone. It looked like it would be a bit cheaper than the monthly Onstar fee, but I currently get a 17% discount through my employer for Verizon wireless, so I need to do the math to see if it's worth it. If not, I may just call up and ask for a discount, as a customer in good standing no longer under contract (it worked for Direct TV!). Anyway, it's worth a shot.

That's it. I'm swamped at work and busy at home, but I can't complain...

Bad builder

September 14th, 2005 at 09:20 am

After years of wanting to take the plunge, hubby and I had the space above our garage finished off into a playroom and bathroom. (This was before I started blogging, otherwise you would be intimately familiar with the ups and downs of this project). It was nearly impossible to find a builder to take the "small job". (It seems as if tens of thousands of dollars is only big to hubby and me!). Anyway, we went with a guy who happens to live down the road, and who got good reviews from another neighbor for whom he did some substantial work. Her only ding was that he wasn't great about coming back at the very end for those piddling little problems that always seem to crop up.

When they were setting up the room, we asked for a phone line to be installed. When we recently tried out the jack (a year later) it didn't work. We had the Verizon guy come, and he said that the line doesn't go anywhere. He tried looking in our garage and basement and couldn't find the line anywhere. So it cost me $91 to have him come out and tell me this, and now I'm left with two options. One call the builder and have him fix it, or two, call Verizon back and have them reinstall the jack, at what he estimated would cost about $175. I'm doubtful that the builder will take care of it. First of all, it's been over a year since it's been installed, second, he hasn't taken care of one other (more minor) issue that's needed to be fixed since December. I'm also not thrilled about spending another $175 to have Verizon fix it. And in either case, they'll be ripping up my brand new carpet and drilling holes in my new walls to fix it.

We can get by without having a phone up there, but we need the phone line for the DVR (TIVO), which we just got for that room. I'm not sure if it needs to be constantly hooked up to the phone line, or only hooked up when it's downloading whatever information it needs. If it's an intermittent thing, we can look into getting a 50-foot phone line and just connecting it to a jack in a different room. Obviously, this isn't a good solution if it needs to be hooked up all the time. How frustrating, especially when we're still paying off the HELOC associated with this "improvement".

Other than this major headache, things have been quiet. I broke down yesterday and turned on the AC. The house was 80 and humid. It went on around 8:00 last night and off this morning when I left for work. I'm not sure what the forecast is, but I'll try to keep it off. I also need to go to ShopRite at some point this week. I read that they're doing triple coupons this week in order to match a competitor, and I have a bunch of coupons to use that will get me things free, nearly free, or at a really good price. Hopefully I'll get there tonight.

$20 from Verizon Wireless

September 12th, 2005 at 09:43 am

Back on August 4th I mentioned a deal from Verizon Wireless, where if you allow them to debit your bank account when paying your bill, they'll credit your account $20. I made the change (they were previously charging my credit card). Sure enough, the 8/14 bill came and was debited on September 1. I called the customer service rep and she said I would see the credit on my 9/14 bill. Wahoo. I'll wait until that bill is paid then switch back to using my cc, which I prefer. As an aside, I also read today that verizon wireless will credit you $25 if you refer a new customer to them. Doesn't help me, as everyone I know already has verizon wireless, but if someone out there knows someone that needs to be referred, call up first and find out what you need to do to get the $$.

I spent $3 today for breakfast/lunch at work. Other than that, I'm hoping for a no-spend day. I need to pick up the kids from school at 3, have a little play time, then an early dinner at about 4:30. DD has soccer practice tonight from 5:30-7, then showers/baths and bed. She didn't have homework the first week of school. Hopefully that will continue today, otherwise we have to cut into the play time! So I should be able to get by without spending anything.

Tomorrow will be another story. DS has a swimming lesson (already paid for), he desperately needs a haircut ($12), and I have to return a video to the library, including a $.50 fine (first one in months!). Then the big hit - the Verizon guy is coming to fix one of my phone jacks. Ouch. I'm estimating about $150. That's about it for today...

No AC - Day 9

September 11th, 2005 at 06:11 pm

I love this weather! We have had almost two weeks of absolutely perfect days! I've been able to keep the AC off, and will be able to do so for the next three days, as hubby is on a business trip. I could take 365 days of weather like this...

Not much going on this weekend, money or otherwise. I went grocery shopping yesterday, to the fruit store, BJs and Shoprite and spent about $140 total. Pretty high, considering I spent about the same earlier in the month, and so am quickly eating up (no pun intended) my $350 budget. I should be pretty set for the rest of the milk, except for milk and fruit. Today I made a beef stew. I had one serving for dinner tonight and froze enough for me and hubby to have 3 dinners. I also made pesto with the basil in the garden. This freezes great! I made 12 4-oz jars, as well as 3 more servings. Finally, the kids and I made brownies for their lunch boxes this week.

So that's that. Other than waiting for my sharebuilder bonus, I'm all caught up with my deals, bonuses, etc.

Quiet weekend

September 9th, 2005 at 07:32 am

Not much going on, moneywise. Hubby filled up the gas-guzzling SUV yesterday, to the tune of about $60. (I'll update my totals when I get the exact number). We have soccer practice tonight from 5-6, then the kids usually watch a movie from the library. Tomorrow, I have a haircut, and the cleaning lady is coming (both desperately needed!), so that will be some cash out of hand, then a soccer game at 1:30. Finally Sunday is a quiet, stay at home day (except for church). Hubby is leaving for a business trip Sunday at 2, through Wednesday, so it should be a pretty quiet time for me. I need to fit in grocery shopping at some point this weekend, but I don't need much.

I checked out that cell phone website, but mine is not listed. I usually get the "free after rebate" phones that Verizon always seems to be giving away, so I guess there's not much demand. Oh, well, I'll look into donating it, instead. AC is off again today (Day 8) and the forecast is for another cool, low humidity weekend!

Feeling good...

September 8th, 2005 at 09:51 am

Man, I love the fall. I feel so refreshed! I have been in a GREAT mood lately, though for no particular reason. I won't question it...

I got the second deposit from ebookdrop.com yesterday, so I'm all caught up with them. I need to transfer the money from my Paypal account to my fun money account. It will be great to build this back up, because I really depleted it with our trip to the Jersey Shore in August.

Second, I read somewhere about two websites for old cell phones. The first, www.cellforcash.com will pay you $$ for your used cell phones. (Amount varies based on model, some aren't listed). If you can't sell it there, they link to another site, www.wirelessfoundation.org, where I presume you can donate it. (haven't visited that site yet). Regardless, I have at least two, maybe 3 or 4, old cell phones at home, so I'm going to check it out. Either way, I'm hoping they're out of my house by the weekend!

Ran the AC Tuesday evening while we slept. (My fault...I didn't open the windows in the house to get the temp down, and it was a bit hot, so hubby turned it on). It went off first thing yesterday and hasn't been back on since, so I'm counting 2 more NACNH days. (7 total).

So far, I'm doing ok with my gas and food totals for September:
Gas: $51.00 (goal

First day of school

September 6th, 2005 at 09:04 am

DD started 1st grade today. Can't believe it. DS starts his pre-K next Monday. Yesterday was pretty much a no-spend day...just Dairy Queen, but hubby treated from his allowance. Today, DS and I went to Kohls to return some clothes that didn't fit. Most of it was an even exchange, but I did pick up a few more clothes and a badly needed toaster oven. I didn't have any discounted gift cards, but I did have a 15% off coupon, so the net spent was about $50.

I also went to the bank and made 3 deposits - money from my dad to reimburse me for his groceries, $50 from dad for my birthday later this month, and $672.21 from Citibank Drivers Edge rewards, which will be transferred to the HELOC today. (yay). The rest of this day will be no-spend...DD has a half-day, then we're meeting some friends at the partk.

I received my 1st Paypal deposit from ebookdrop.com, to the tune of about $43. Glad that's on the up and up, although it took a few weeks. Media mail is soooo slow. Another deposit for about $52 should be coming in another week or so.

The weekend has been so beautiful, we didn't use the AC at all. We were away on Fri & Sat, and we haven't turned it on since, making this the 5th "NACNH" (no air cond no heat) day. I'm shooting for at least 20 this month and 20 next month. That will really help the gas and electric bills, and will get our budget billing back on track. We're having leftovers from the BBQ tonight, so I feel pretty good about that, too. THat's it for now...

JCPenney/Eckerd

September 4th, 2005 at 09:25 pm

I normally don't stop at Eckerd (or Walmart or CVS) because I find I always end up buying more than I really need, and if I wait for a sale at the supermarket, I can usually pick up things for the same price. But that may change. On Friday, our friend asked us to stop by a drug store and pick up some Zantac for him. The Eckerd was the most convenient, so I ran in. As I was checking out, I noticed a sign on the credit card scanner that stated that JCPenney gift cards are accepted for payment. This surprised me, so I asked the clerk and he confirmed it. (They don't sell JCP cards there, but they will accept them for payment). I have the ability to purchase JCP gift cards at 20% off through Main Street Savings, so this seems like it may present a good opportunity for me, especially if I combine items that are on rebate, have coupons, etc. I'll be looking into that going forward.

Other savings news from the weekend: I got my gas bill, after an actual meter reading last Tuesday. I'm on budget billing, and had been in a deficit position of about $500 through July. My balance month is in November, so I'm really hoping the deficit goes away by then, given that I'm not using a lot of heat now, and am going to try my darndest to leave it off as long as possible. Anyway, the deficit on the August bill is now down to $300 and change. There's still hope!

But the weekend wasn't all frugal. We all decided to go out to dinner on Friday night. My preference is to eat in...we're pretty decent cooks and I like the ability to sit around without feeling rushed, having to drive, etc. But I'm also not usually the spoil sport in the crowd, so I went along. It ended up being about $120 for the 4 of us, which seemed worse because it was unexpected. I think I'll be able to make up for this in my allowance, as I've only been taking $20 or so instead of the $60 I budget. At least we had a good time.

Then today, I had a BBQ at my house. My brother/sil were dropping their daughter off at college 15 minutes from my house. They came over after that, along with two of my sisters. I bought a bunch of food thinking that I was going to be feeding all of these people, but one of my sisters brought over a HUGE antipasto and we were so full we barely touched my food. Much of it I could freeze, so no waste. But I'm going to my other sister's tomorrow for a BBQ (so won't be eating home) and I still have 2 dozen clams, 2 pounds of shrimp, 1 pound of potato salad, and 14 ears of corn leftover. I read somewhere on this site that you can freeze corn. I've never done it, but it's so fresh and good this time of year it's worth a try, and I'm thinking of making a chowder out of the clams. But I can't freeze the shrimp (already been frozen) or the potato salad. I guess they'll be lunch tomorrow/Tuesday.

So that's the scoop. Tomorrow will be sleeping late (hooray), getting ready for school, and hitting the BBQ. I need to stop at the grocery store tomorrow to pick up a few things I forgot today (made a list in a hurry), so I'll post totals for both tomorrow...

Had a good day...

September 1st, 2005 at 07:59 pm

Today was a good day...I'm not sure if that's because I'm off tomorrow Smile for a 4-day weekend.

I topped off the cars with gas tonight, paying $2.99 (regular) and $3.19 (premium), and spent a total of $51.00. But at least I have completely full tanks, and hope not to fill up again for at least a week, if we can stretch it. Hubby will be doing a lot of travelling this month, going away for the equivalent of 2 weeks. Considering he drives about 200 miles/week for work, that should save me at least $50 in gas right there. One of my September goals is to keep gas for the car under $300. This is tough for me to do in a normal month, given all of the driving we do; it will be even tougher with the higher prices. But between his travelling, and some "trip management", I think I can, I think I can.

Other spending today was planned. $60 hubby allowance, $20 my allowance, $50 child care, $.74 stamps (every bit counts!) and my usual $1.40 tolls. One unplanned item that I obviously didn't learn from in August: Breakfast/Lunch at work totalling about $8.00. Way higher than normal.

Tomorrow we're off to a friend's house for the weekend. They live only about 15 minutes from my dad, so in an effort to consolidate trips (and keep gas cost down Smile), we're going to hit the library and the dry cleaner, then my dad's to do grocery shopping for him, then our friends' house. We'll be there through Sunday afternoon, when my brother and sister and their families are coming over in the afternoon. Another BBQ to go to on Monday. Nothing major money-wise.

September Goals:
Gas