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Archive for February, 2006

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

February 28th, 2006 at 07:02 am

I've finalized the February numbers. The good: groceries came in right on target (actually $506.58 vs. $500, with about $35 of that coming back to me as rebates from Eckerds/Walgreens). If I can hit my grocery target in March, I'm going to reduce it to $450 beginning in April. Gas came in under ($244.20 vs. $300). Hubby may have filled up yesterday. If so, it wouldn't be more than $30-35, so I'll still be under. This is a big accomplishment for me. All of my other regular bills were on target.

The bad: Dining out was way over ($192.90 vs. $100). No great meals, just a few visits to TGIFs and the Mexican place. We'll need to cut back on this. Also, my DirectTv bill is back to normal. Hard to believe that 6 months has passed since I called them and got the $10 discount, but it has.

The ugly: I am totally overextended this month due to 3 things: A $500 landscaping bill from last fall that I was just billed for (of course I took the money from Nov. when the work was done and used it for Christmas/birthdays, etc.). The deposit for our vacation was due this month. We get a house each year with my brother and his family. They take care of the details and tell us when they need the $$. Unfortunately it was this month instead of March. Finally, one of my other brothers is getting back on his feet after a stint in alcohol rehab. He had been staying at my dad's, and has just moved into his own place and started a job. I, along with dad and a few other siblings, have thrown him some $$ along the way until his first paycheck (Mar. 15th, though that will be prorated. First full check comes April 15). I never expected to get the money back, but still lent him a bit more than I'm comfortable with. I'll get the full amount back over the next few months (especially since I'm managing his checking account Smile) but I could really use it now.

So unfortunately, I'm not paying anything toward the HELOC, and I still have the looming tax bill, which will come from savings...I'll calculate my net worth tonight after the markets close (always makes me feel better seeing my 401(k) balance), and hope for a better financial March...

Weekend challenge updates

February 27th, 2006 at 06:57 am

Between the savings from the video rental and coupons I used while shopping for my dad, I have $33.09 to add to my challenge. I transferred the funds to my challenge account this morning Smile

New total: $263.92

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate), ebook ($1.97), $100 (Chase), $1.00 (Feb Walgreens), $2.38 (Feb Eckerd), $20 Exxon Card (Great Fun), $20 BBB card (Everyday Values), $5 (GG Rebate), $10 (Barber coupons)

Inspired by Ima Saver

February 26th, 2006 at 08:03 pm

I'm always amazed at the amount Ima manages to sock away each day, so I'm taking a page from her book: I'm going to start adding daily savings to my challenge total. I've always used coupons and the like, but I never actually kept the savings separate, until now.

Today was a good day to start...We rented Madagascar yesterday from a nearby library for $1 (instead of $4 at the rental place, plus $4 for the extra video that hubby would have picked up for us Smile). So that's $7 right there. I also went grocery shopping for my dad and used a bunch of coupons, so I'll tally them up and transfer that money to my challenge account as well. I'll update my totals tomorrow.

I also filled out 2 rebates today: $5 for Green Giant veggies and $10 in coupons for Barber foods. I hit Eckerd and Walgreens and picked up a bunch of their rebate items (with more coupons!), but I'll hold off mailing them out for another few weeks.

Finally, my brother gave me a bunch of books that he was finished with. Two hardcovers and the rest paperbacks. I'll list them on half.com...I'm not expecting much because they're pretty run of the mill, but anything's better than nothing.

Saturday Morning

February 25th, 2006 at 09:53 am

My husband thinks I'm nuts, but my favorite thing to do on Saturday morning is to get the Sunday ads (we get them on Sats.) and a hot cup of coffee and plan my shopping and meals for the week. This looks like a banner week for rebates/coupons: Rebate for $10 in coupons for Barber foods (Dad uses these), $5 rebate for Green Giant (he uses these two), Hot Pocket Subs free (thanks to deal in freebie section), Walgreens has a boatload of stuff for this month's rebate, and it seems like Eckerd has a few things in their rebate catalog that I could stock up on (plus I have coupons for a lot of it, too, making it even better). I'll do the shopping tomorrow and see how I make out.

I spent a bit of money yesterday. I took the day off, and DS and I went to lunch ($27). I paid $1.80 in library fines Frown and hit some clearance sales at Kohls (about $60 spent, including pjs and shirts for DS for next winter). We also ordered Chinese takeout ($21) because we needed a fast meal and I didn't plan ahead...

Today, I need to go to the fruit/veggie store. I think we'll rent Madagascar, too. I'm going to check to see if the library has it first...

Tomorrow will be grocery shopping for dad and running my own errands. Here's to a quiet weekend...

Affinity Bank

February 23rd, 2006 at 09:12 am

I know I have raved about this bank in the forums, but they really seem to be a top-notch outfit. They have a promotion for the kids, where they will pay 10% interest on balances up to $500 (Guaranteed, FDIC insured). Kids must be under 16 to open an account. I did this for my two last year, and it's been great.

Then they have a deal where you open a checking account with $100 and DD, and they'll give you a $75 bonus. I just checked and my bonus was deposited on 1/17, exactly one month after I opened the account.

Every time I've dealt with them, they've been professional and responsive. I've had to do everything online/over the phone (they're located in California), and have had no problem. I've dealt with a lot of banks taking advantage of these offers, and this is one of the best...OK, enough gushing.

New total: $230.83

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate), ebook ($1.97), $100 (Chase), $1.00 (Feb Walgreens), $2.38 (Feb Eckerd), $20 Exxon Card (Great Fun), $20 BBB card (Eeryday Values)

Free Trial gift cards

February 23rd, 2006 at 06:56 am

Thanks to an excellent email from Flash, I signed up for 2 30-day trials that will get me a $20 Exxon card and a $20 BBB card. Each cost $1. There were others that I could do, but I figured I would start with these and see how they go.

New total: $155.83

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate), ebook ($1.97), $100 (Chase), $1.00 (Feb Walgreens), $2.38 (Feb Eckerd), $20 Exxon Card (Great Fun), $20 BBB card (Eeryday Values)

Challenge Deposit

February 22nd, 2006 at 08:03 am

It's a small one, but I received the $4.10 from half.com. I also forgot to update my total for the $2 phone card, so I included that, too. I mailed out the February Walgreens and Eckerds rebates. I'll get $10.97 and $4.13 back from them, although only $1.00 and $2.38 will go into my challenge, because I wouldn't have bought the other stuff without the rebate.

New total: $157.83

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate), ebook ($1.97), $100 (Chase), $1.00 (Feb Walgreens), $2.38 (Feb Eckerd)

Challenge Progress

February 21st, 2006 at 03:09 pm

Finally! Today was a great mail day. I received two rebates: The $20 rebate for Norton Security, which will count toward my challenge, and a $29.99 rebate for Quicken (bought it with Turbo Tax), which won't count toward my challenge, because I wouldn't have bought it anyway, but it's still nice to get! Also, I finally received a $25 referral bonus from BOA (thanks JodiM). I gave up on this because it seems like forever since she signed up, but now I'm adding it to my challenge as well.

New total: $151.73

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate), ebook ($1.97), $4.10 (half.com), $100 (Chase)

I've pretty much given up on ebook...I've sent them two emails for information, tried calling their 800 number and their online help is always offline. I'll leave the outstanding items on my list in case they come through, but I'm not holding my breath. The rest of the stuff on my outstanding list is pretty much the "sit and wait" type.

I'm going to look into two new ideas for my challenge. The first is to find a replacement for ebook. I have two in mind (one is swapbook, I forget the other). Hopefully one of these will pan out. The second is to look into some of these trial memberships that offer gift cards as an incentive. I can use the cards for gifts and put the cash in my challenge account. I'll pursue these and see what else I can think of...

Eating out too much...

February 21st, 2006 at 08:02 am

I added up a few categories to see how I'm doing so far this month. I'm right on track with gas for the car ($214/$300). I think I'll come in under for groceries - a first($367/$500), with only one more trip this weekend. The downer for the month is eating out. I only budget $100/month, and although I haven't actually added it up, I know I'm way over (about $175 so far). Ouch. I'll also be over next month, as hubby and I go to an annual fundraiser for $200, in addition to any regular eating out we'll do. Hmmm.

I'm expecting a pretty quiet week. I'm taking Friday off, so it will be a 3-day week for me. Hubby has a few dinner meetings, which will give me some time alone after the kids go to sleep. One of my goals is to see other options for selling used books besides half.com and amazon. I want to look into Swapbooks and ecampus, so if anyone has any experience with either of these, please let me know. Thanks!

Quiet weekend

February 19th, 2006 at 08:45 am

I signed up for the $2 phone card from Shell (listed in the freebies forum) and got it already! Wow, that was fast. I'll be adding the $2 to my challenge.

I finally got whatever stomach thing the rest of the family had last week. It came at 11:00 Friday night and lasted just about 24 hours. All I could do Saturday was take a bath and sleep on the couch. We did manage to go to dinner at a friend's house (previously planned) because I was starting to feel a bit better. We bought dessert, but no money out of pocket.

Today we're planning on seeing Curious George, then going for pizza for dinner. We're all off tomorrow, and the kids are off from school Tuesday but hubby and I have to work, so they're going to grandmas tomorrow.

That's about it...it's been a really quiet weekend.

Credit Card Madness

February 16th, 2006 at 01:51 pm

The number of credit card offers I get in the mail each day is mindboggling! One came today with a new twist: They'll give me a 20" Sharp LCD Aquos TV immediately ($850 value). The catch: I'd have to transfer $5000 onto the card (no balance transfer fee), and maintain a $3500 balance for at least 18 months. The rate on the card is 9.99%. So that means I'd be paying at least $575 in interest over the life of the card. If the balance falls below $3500, they hit your card with a one-time fee of $700. I'd be curious to see who signs up for this card...

Not much news today. Had a good first day at work, and we're going out to TGIF's to celebrate.

My challenge explained...

February 16th, 2006 at 09:36 am

A wierd thing happened...I got an email with a comment on my $20 challenge, but I don't see the comment listed. Anyway, the person wondered how I was taking advantage of all of these bank bonuses, between direct deposit requirements and whether or not I'd be blacklisted for opening and closing so many.

I'm allowed up to 4 direct deposits by my employer. (I'm sure hubby's company allows multiple ones too, but I haven't needed to look into that). I have just now reached the point where I need to close out an account in order to make room for another. Many of the accounts I open are either savings accounts or checking accounts that don't require DDs, which is how I've been able to manage so many thus far. (I've also done 529 accounts and Sharebuilder, which don't require dds).

Also, I don't always close the accounts right away. Many posters on this site use an envelope system to help them with their expense tracking. I do a similar thing with my accounts. I have a checking account that I use to pay my property taxes, another for my auto insurance, and I'm going to use one of my new ones for my quarterly federal tax payments. Each month I deposit a set amount into each of these accounts, then pay the respective bills from there. I have a savings account dedicated to my $20 challenge, and another for regular savings. So although some accounts certainly do get closed when the waiting period is over, I'd say it's the exception rather than the rule.

Also, to answer another question about bank bonuses that I've seen, I have not yet had a problem with opening too many accounts. I try to keep it to no more than 4 in 3 months, because I've read that that's the magic number, and I've been fine. The biggest problem is that it's an organizational headache...

For those who are looking to increase their challenge totals, this can be a great plan. I made $710 in 2005 opening accounts for myself (and in some cases hubby and the kids) and my goal for 2006 is $900. Good luck!

A Day Off...

February 15th, 2006 at 09:40 am

I'm switching jobs at my company, and tomorrow is my first day. Because I have no work left to do at my old job, my boss is letting me "work from home" today. Kids are in school and the house is quiet!

A few updates - I did sign up for the second 0% credit card. Unfortunately, this included a balance transfer fee, but it will still be well worth it. I won't know how much of the HELOC I can transfer to it for a few weeks, but every bit will help.

I received a bill from my newspaper yesterday for $47.45, due upon receipt. I could've sworn that I already paid it. Sure enough, I looked at a past credit card statement and I paid it in December. I called the company and they saw the payment and told me to throw out the bill. Just goes to show you that you can't accept this stuff at face value.

I paid my mid-month bills and got our budget up to date. I also went through a ton of clothes that my kids have outgrown and separated into "throw out", "donate", and "give to my friend" piles. Of course, I still have the box of really cute outfits that I couldn't part with!

I still have 2 hours before picking up DS at school. My goal is to clean out the massive clutter in my den. If I can get that done, it will be a fantastic day...

Half.com and Bank Bonus

February 15th, 2006 at 09:32 am

I mailed the book for half.com. It cost me $.87 to mail, and I'll be getting $4.10 back. I also signed up for the Chase checking account today, which will get me a $100 bonus.

I need to get creative and think of more ideas for my challenge. The Chase bonus was my third one since Jan 1, and I want to take a break before taking advantage of the next one ($50 from Valley National - expires March 31). I'm not sending anything to ebook until (unless) I get paid for my outstanding orders, so that's on hold. I do have a few things to list on ebay, but I'm going to wait until they have one of their listing deals. In addition (or otherwise) I have a bunch of stuff that I could sell at a garage sale. The only problem is that I don't want to host one! Last year, my sister and her boyfriend had one and asked if we wanted to get rid of anything, but I didn't have my act together in time. Maybe I'll suggest they hold another Smile.

New total: $106.73

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate), ebook ($1.97), $4.10 (half.com), $100 (Chase)

Tuesday musings

February 14th, 2006 at 07:58 am

I have a bunch of errands to run today...I need to go to the grocery store to pick up some things, go to the post office, go to the bank, and return stuff to the library. Dinner is already in the crockpot Smile and I'm on my 3rd load of laundry. It's shaping up to be a great day.

We committed to rent a house in the OuterBanks with my brother and his family. Our families have been vacationing together for 7 years, and it's great because we both have kids the same age, and the adults all get along well. Last year we included another brother and sister, and while it was still fun, it was a bit too crazy. So we're back to just us this year. I need to send SIL the deposit today. Not great timing with the taxes due, but the bright side is that we won't be paying for it later.

We were approved for the 0% credit card, and were able to transfer $7500 of the HELOC balance. I have another 0% offer that I'm thinking of opening to transfer some of the rest. This month, we paid $125 in interest on the HELOC, so I really want to move as much as I can to the 0% cards instead.

That's about it for now...

Challenge Update

February 14th, 2006 at 07:52 am

I received the rebate from the board games I got for Christmas, and I got the tube of toothpaste from Tom's of Maine. So I'll add the $11.50 to my challenge for a new total of $107.60. Also, I sold a book at half.com for $2+shipping. I'll update that after I mail it out and see what shipping actually costs.

Tomorrow, I'm going to open an account at Chase. A new branch opened up and they're having "double bonus days" through this week. If you open an account with $100, you get a $100 bonus. The account needs to stay open 6 months.

New total: $107.60

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate), ebook ($1.97)

Mounds of snow...

February 13th, 2006 at 06:46 am

I looked back at my last entry and saw that we were expecting 6-12" of snow. Yeah, right. 20 inches was more like it! Fortunately, we have a snowblower (great investment made AFTER the blizzard of 1996!), but the snow was so wet and heavy (and so much) that it still took hubby a long time to do the driveway. The kids loved it, though...

Friday I did pick up the free stuff at Walgreens. Plan is to get the rebate back as a Walgreens gift card and pick up the 10% bonus. (Total=$10 + $1 bonus). The $1 bonus will go toward my challenge, the rest back in my account, as I wouldn't have bought the stuff w/o the rebate. The kids also went for haircuts - $35 total. I've got to check out the local coupons to find a cheaper place.

Saturday, I went to used book sales at two libraries. Given my recent uneasiness with ebookdrop, I decided to just write down all of the ISBNs and not buy anything. The libraries have sales each month, so I figure if I get paid for my outstanding orders between now and then, I'll run the numbers through their site and pick up the books. Otherwise, it was a couple of hours wasted. I'm really bummed about all this. The optimist in me says that it seems like a small outfit and they're really overwhelmed with all of the orders and are just slow in paying out. The pessimist says they're going out of business and won't make good on their outstanding orders. Which is right? Anyway, I'm waiting on a total of $36.62 from them, for which I paid $8.64 so other than a lot of aggravation, at least I won't be out much.

Spent about $130 on groceries, most of which were fresh fish, meat and veggies. I've been overbudget on groceries so far in Feb., but I don't think I need to hit BJs this month, so I can make up for it there.

Love the crockpot...used it once over the weekend and have two more recipes to try out this week. That's about it for now...

Used Book Sale

February 10th, 2006 at 07:53 am

One of the area libraries is having their monthly used book sale tomorrow. I went last month, but only had time to look at a handful of books. They have an entire room devoted to the sale, so I'll see what I can pick up for my challenge. A second library also has a sale going on tomorrow. Not sure I'll be able to make both, but I'll try.

Hubby's company has a good deal: Each year, they'll reimburse employees for buying different health-related products (e.g., treadmills, gym memberships, etc.). We've taken advantage of it a few times in the past. Anyway, we bought each other new bikes for Christmas, and it turns out that we'll be reimbursed $225! Also, they'll reimburse $75 for employees to get one massage/year. I need to dig up the bike receipt and submit both of those, and I need to remember to take advantage of this each year!

Finally, I've got a few errands to run today. I want to go to Walgreens and pick up a few FAR items, and the kids need haircuts. Then we're going home and hunkering down for the weekend. 6-12" of snow is expected, and I've got 2 crockpot meals planned!

Tax troubles :(

February 9th, 2006 at 07:57 am

I have been all-consumed by our taxes. I went through TurboTax again and don't think I missed anything, which means the net we owe between Federal, NY and NJ will be about $7k. Frown

We realized that we (desperately) need to adjust his W4 form to increase the amount that's taken out each month. Years ago, when we bought the house, had the 2 kids, and were making less, he put down 7 exemptions. Since then, we're both making much more, and have refinanced the mortgage twice and are now paying much less interest. (Still have the kids, though Smile). When I did the calculation on the W4 form, it not only said that we should reduce his exemptions to 0, but that we should have an additional $300/month taken out! Ouch! I know we just need to suck it up and do it, but it's going to be painful.

Hubby's bonus will also be much lower than expected, so we'll need to dip into savings to pay the tax bill. Blah!

Turning to the positive...twice yesterday, I ordered things with expired discount codes and in both cases, the rep I got was extremely nice and honored them anyway. One saved me $4.20, the other saved me $40. It really pays to ask the reps if they can honor them anyway.

Also, taking a cue from Flash, my kids only use Tom's of Maine strawberry toothpaste. I noticed that every tube ends up splitting (and the toothpaste leaks out) before it's used up. So I called the 1-800# today. They explained why, and are sending me a "Tube Rolling Key" and a free tube of toothpaste. Good deal!

I'm changing jobs next Thursday, so my coworkers are taking me to lunch today. We have a quiet weekend planned, so hopefully it will be low-spend...

Errand Day

February 7th, 2006 at 08:41 am

I picked up some prescriptions at CVS today. Ouch! The cost for regular RXs were raised from $10 to $25 for 2006, and one name brand is $50! And this is with insurance! Luckily, the flexible spending account will reimburse me, but it's still money. Only one of the prescriptions is reoccuring. I need to look into the savings if I do it mail order.

After lunch I need to hit the grocery store. I want to keep it under $20, because I had a pretty big order last Saturday. I also need to return some books to the library before I have to pay a fine on them. Edited to add - Spent $20.87 at the grocery store ($39.10-coupons and bonus club savings). Also had to pay a $4.50 fine for DD at the library for some really overdue books. I really need to get better about this...

The kids need haircuts, but I'm not sure when I can fit them in. That's about it for now...

Half.com deposit

February 7th, 2006 at 08:36 am

I got an email from half.com that they'll be depositing $15.75 into my account, and I have $.10 of recycling to add. I also picked up a book at the local library for $.10 that ebook will buy for $1.97. Nothing else new to add today...

New total: $96.10

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate), ebook ($1.97)

What a weekend...

February 5th, 2006 at 07:39 pm

It was a tough weekend financially...First, I did my taxes using Turbo Tax. Upside - it was a piece of cake, really easy and user friendly. Downside, the net result is that we're going to owe about $7000 total. Ouch! I pulled out last year's return and compared some of the big line items. The culprits - fewer donations (we donated a car for 2004 before the rules changed), slightly higher income, slightly lower mortgage interest and higher Alternative Minimum Tax. Blech. I still have to check out one thing that may help - we had losses from a mutual fund sale a few years back that we've been carrying forward. I thought we used the last of it in 2004, but I want to double check. Otherwise, we're stuck with this big painful bite. Thankfully, hubby gets his bonus in April. The only question now is how much of it will be covered.

Onto other things, we got our gas bill in the mail. Over $500 last month (and over $500 the month before too). I'm trying not to flip out too much because we're on the budget billing plan. So even though we're wayyy over now, our actual usage is pretty low come April. I just can't let it get too out of hand.

We also ate out unexpectedly yesterday. The kids were at grandma's for a sleepover, so we went to Church Saturday night and decided to go out afterward. The bill was about $60 (hubby paid $20 cash for drinks at the bar, but that's his problem! Smile). In light of the looming tax bill it probably wasn't the wisest thing to do, but we did have a great time.

So not a great financial weekend, but I'm ready to put it behind me. I'm the kind that likes to get all the bad news out of the way at once, rather than have it come in dribs and drabs...

Another Rebate

February 5th, 2006 at 07:25 am

Three more things for the challenge: 1) I went grocery shopping yesterday and returned $.45 worth of recyclables (wahoo!). 2) I had $8.50 worth of "keep the change" from BOA in January, where anytime I use my debit card the amount is rounded off to the next dollar and the change is moved to my savings account. 3) I bought my normal brand of champagne, and it had a $2 rebate that I'll mail out tomorrow. (I had to send it to my sister's house because you have to be a NY resident. I'll give her a heads up to look for it, and put up with her busting my chops over saving $2). Also, I received an email from Symantec saying they received my paperwork and are processing it. So far so good...

New total: $80.35

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $6.65 (half.com), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $9.10 (half.com), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook), $2 (Chandon rebate)

Getting ready for the taxes

February 3rd, 2006 at 07:13 am

So we decided to take a stab at the taxes ourselves. The kids are going to grandma's for a sleepover tomorrow, so I'm going to pick up the TurboTax software today after work, and gather all of my documents tonight. Then tomorrow I'll get to it. If it works out, great, if not, we'll suck it up and go to the accountant. It's not like we have anything so complicated, it's just such a tedious process. Hopefully, the software will make it go much more smoothly...As a plus, if I buy the software at OfficeMax, I can get a shredder free after rebate. I've been meaning to pick one up for a while, so might as well do it now.

I need to go grocery shopping later today. We have no more milk, bread, butter or eggs in the house! Yikes.

I also need to update my budget and see how things will look for February. No shortage of things to do...

Challenge update

February 3rd, 2006 at 07:09 am

I'm chugging along with my challenge. Bought the books from the bookstore ($10.61-$4.34 cost) yesterday. I have some more I can pick up on Monday. I also have some recycling to bring to the grocery store today, and Staples sent me an email saying that one of my rebate checks is really in the mail.

New total: $71.40

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $6.65 (half.com), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $9.10 (half.com), $5.08 (ebook), $10.61 (ebook)

Feels like a Friday...

February 2nd, 2006 at 10:55 am

I wish it was - I'm really beat today!

I confirmed yesterday that BOA would not let us transfer the HELOC balance onto their 0% credit card, so I didn't apply. I called Chase and tried to get them to waive the $75 balance transfer fee, but they wouldn't budge. Luckily, we received a Citibank 0% credit card offer in the mail yesterday with no balance transfer fee. So I applied today. We're preapproved, so I don't doubt we'll get it, I'm just waiting to see what the credit line will be. The response comes via snail mail, so I'm sure it will take a week or so, then it takes 3-4 weeks to make the transfer.

Went to the used bookstore at lunch. Didn't do great. Four books for a total of $10.69-$4.32(cost) for a net of $6.37. Ah, well, I guess that's why I said an average of $10/week. Some weeks are better, some are worse.

I feel like I'm pretty up-to-date on the daily challenges so far. I'll feel great when the 0% credit card is in place with the balance transferred, and I think my auto insurance is in as good shape as possible. (The one outstanding item for me is to take the defensive driving course with hubby. His company usually offers it at a substantial discount vs. AAA, so we'll wait awhile to see if they offer it. Otherwise, we'll go to AAA).

So far, so good...

Challenge Updates

February 1st, 2006 at 12:46 pm

Two updates to the challenge: I mailed the half.com book for $2.09, should get $9.10 back, for a net of $6.51. I subtracted the 2.09 below and will add in the $9.10 when I get it. Also, I stopped at the library to pick up the two books for ebook. Paid $1, will get $5.08 back.

New total: $75.74

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $6.65 (half.com), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2), $9.10 (half.com), $5.08 (ebook).

Daily Challenges

February 1st, 2006 at 09:42 am

I really like Jeffrey's daily challenges. The most recent one was to check into increasing auto insurance deductibles, which was on my list of stuff to do in 2006 anyway. With the prodding of the daily challenge, I went ahead and called.

To change both cars from $500-$1000 would save me $212/year. However, the rep told me to check with the lenders, because they may require no higher than $500 deductibles. One did and one didn't (yes, I have two car loans Frown), so I went ahead and made the change on the one, for an annual savings of $150/year. When I pay off the other, I'll change it as well. My plan is to set aside $500 (difference between current deductible and $1000) so it will be there in case we ever get in an accident.

I also called BOA regarding the 0% credit card they offered. After getting through the entire application, the rep informed me that you can't do a balance transfer from another BOA credit card. I asked her if the same held true from a BOA home equity loc, and she said she wasn't sure. So I cancelled the application, and will go to a branch and find out from someone there, face to face. If not, I have a 0% offer from Chase. The plus side is that the Chase offer is for 15 months, BOA is for 12. The downside is that there's no balance transfer fee from BOA, whereas Chase's is $75. Either way, it's still better than paying the interest to the HELOC each month. (And with the offer from BOA in hand, maybe I can get Chase to reduce or eliminate the fee).

Other financial news: While I was paying off my fine at the library yesterday, I noticed they had a few more books for sale. I only had time to write down a few, but found two that ebook will by for $2.54 ea. (Cost to me $.50 each). So I'll stop by there today on the way to pick up DS from school, and I'll write down the rest while I'm at it. I also should be able to go to the used bookstore by work tomorrow.

That's it for now...