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Archive for August, 2006

Brrrr!!

August 29th, 2006 at 04:47 pm

Wow, we're in the middle of a damp, cold stretch. Feels like fall in northern NJ!

I was super-proud of myself on Sunday. Spent the entire day cooking and baking, including homemade bread, blackberry ice cream, blackberry and peach clafouti (thanks Contrary, for the suggestion!), blackberry sauce, steaks for Sunday night dinner, and bolognese sauce for Monday night. It's been a long time since I did that much in the kitchen and it was great!

I've been positively swamped at work, so I haven't had time to get my 8/31 stub and finalize the August numbers. If I thought they were better, it'd be easier to get motivated to do this!

Got my electric bill today. The actual usage was really high due to the a/c being on during last month's heat wave. Fortunately, we still have a credit of about $85 on our budget billing...I'm hoping that we can end the year with a credit and drive next year's rate down...

Quiet rest of the week...work, work, work!

Blackberries and Peaches

August 25th, 2006 at 08:33 pm

We went fruit picking again today, this time for peaches (again) and blackberries. Man, am I envious of JodiM for having bushes in her backyard! I was online earlier and found recipes for a blackberry cobbler, blackberry ice cream, and roaster peaches with blackberry sauce, all of which will be made on Sunday. YUMMY! These pick-your-own farms are great. The kids had so much fun, plus they had a hay pyramid and petting zoo.

Tomorrow we're off to an Oktoberfest. It's an outdoor thing, free to go. We'll need to pay for food and beer. We went last year and it was entirely reasonable. Then Sunday is a stay at home day. I'm going to cook, bake, and relax - not necessarily in that order.

I need to printout my paystub for 8/31 and see how I ended up the month. (I already know it was tough, I just need to see what the damage is)...

I'm thinking about auto insurance again. Once the kids are back in school, I'll be able to change my commute to work (again!) and take the train, instead of driving. That should save me something, because hubby and I are both listed as commuting >30 miles each way. I won't be, and it turns out he's not now - that's a mistake. So we should see a cut for that. Also, I got the dates for the insurance reduction program. There are dates in October and November we could go to, and hopefully see the savings when our policy re-ups in December. Anything to get that number down...

Poland Spring Ripoff

August 24th, 2006 at 01:20 pm

Let me preface this by acknowledging that bottled water in general is a ripoff. That said, hubby likes Poland Spring bottled water, in the clear plastic gallon. (I can push hubby only so far with the whole frugal thing before he balks).

The regular Poland Spring gallon (in the milk-type container) is $1.39/gallon. When they came out with the clear plastic gallon, the price was raised to $1.59/gallon. Last week in the store, I saw they discontinued the clear gallon jugs in favor of 3-liter (~53 oz) clear plastic jugs that are easier to handle, but they're CHARGING THE SAME PRICE! They're giving you 17% less water!

So inspired by everyone on this site, I called Poland Spring and told them that I preferred the old design, and can't believe they're charging the same price. They thanked me profusely for my comments and said they'd pass it along to the marketing department. They did take my name and address, so maybe I'll get a coupon or two in the future, but I'm not holding my breath.

I did make some progress with Hubby, though, because when I showed him the bottle and told him it was the same price, he agreed to switch to Dannon water...

As an aside, does anyone use Brita filters? My SIL likes them, but the refills seem pretty expensive, too, and I'm not sure it would be any less than bottled water...

I'm tired

August 21st, 2006 at 07:40 pm

Let's see...I find my brain is mush after 10pm, so I'm having difficulty collecting my thoughts.

I have 3 rebates that I need to fill out: $10 for the Pepsi 12 packs, $10 for the Eggo Waffles (should have done this a week ago, but I threw out two of the boxes without getting the UPC codes, so now I need to get them from my MIL, and a Bali Bra rebate (b2g1 free). Also have one of those grocery rebates from Everyday Values to send in. I keep sending them even though I cancelled months ago and they keep sending me the checks.

I also need to mail a few school-related things. Milk money is due soon, as well as emergency forms and the like.

Called my dental insurance charge and confirmed the $93.75 charge. I forgot that our insurance coverage was lowered a bit this year. We now have a $50 deductible, and they cover 75% of cavities instead of 80%. So now that I now it's a legitimate charge, I'm just thankful that we have the insurance...

I'm looking forward to a quiet week. My niece is moving in on Sunday, so I need to do some preparation for her. We've got a play date tomorrow and an all-around quiet week...

How do you "Ignore" someone?

August 17th, 2006 at 07:54 am

I read a comment in Ima's blog that someone was set up to ignore entries from another blogger. Can anyone explain to me how to do that? Thanks.

Dental Woes

August 16th, 2006 at 07:07 pm

Hubby went to the dentist for his checkup a while back and had a cavity that needed filling. We got a bill in the mail for $93.75, which is our share. I need to call our dental insurance to confirm it because it seems a bit high to me. His checkup was fully covered, so I'm assuming this is the $25 annual deductible plus 20% of the total but the math didn't work out.

But here's the kicker. While he was getting the filling done, the dentist saw that he had a cracked tooth and suggested hubby make an appointment to have it taken care of. Hubby knew the tooth was cracked, but never did anything about it because it never bothered him. He decided to make the appointment and get it taken care of.

Turns out the dentist put the equivalent of a crown on his tooth. As someone with a small fortune of work in my mouth (I told my dentist I wanted to go to his kid's college graduation because I feel like I foot the bill!), I have no objection to what his dentist did; that's how they take care of cracked teeth. However, hubby didn't realize until after the fact that the cost of a crown is $1000! (Again, that's in line with what my dentist charges so I'm not shocked at the number). Our insurance will only cover half, meaning that we have to pay $500!

So on the one hand, I feel like the dentist was just doing his job, and if the work needed to be done it needed to be done, so we just need to suck it up. On the other hand, spending $500 to fix a tooth that wasn't even bothering him in the first place is disappointing, to say the least. I feel like I was duped, but it's our own fault. Adding salt to my wound is the fact that we only have about $125 left in our medical FSA for the year, so that doesn't even fully cover it, and it's just a bad month (aren't they all?) with everything else going on.

Let the buyer beware...even (especially?) with doctors...

Catch Up Day

August 15th, 2006 at 06:22 am

I'm working from home today, so in addition to work-work, I can get some other things done. I need to go to the bank to deposit some checks (never made it yesterday) and to town hall to pay the tax bill. I also need to get the car's oil changed. It's pouring rain, so I think when I get back from that I'll stay in for the rest of the day! I have a few loads of laundry to do, and the dishwasher to run. I also need to continue to declutter. My niece will be moving in a week from Sunday, and I need to clean out the room she'll be staying in.

I told hubby that as social coordinator for the family, I am keeping Sundays to ourselves this fall. I'm just beat from all the running around we do. So Sundays will consist of Church, football, and cooking. My plan is to break out the bread machine (which I haven't used in YEARS) and the ice cream maker and spend the day cooking and baking for the week (snacks for the kids' lunchboxes, soup, a hearty meal or two that can be reheated, stuff like that). I really enjoy cooking, so I'm hoping it works out. I'm so excited that I'm planning the meals already!

So that's the scoop. I need to post a message in the forum to check on the status of the Northeaster and Caboose. As far as I know, it's moving along, but I haven't seen a post lately, so I just want to make sure. I have a BUNCH of pet food and baby coupons that I need to unload...

Some spending/no spending

August 13th, 2006 at 06:20 am

I had a pretty good weekend, spending-wise. I ended up not going grocery shopping last week. I was planning on going yesterday, but didn't have the time, and wasn't in desperate need of anything. So I missed out on a few good sales, but nothing I can't live without. I'll do this week's shopping today instead.

We did go back to school shopping yesterday. Kohls had its usual Saturday sales, plus a 15% coupon and some gift cards. I did spend above the amount of the gift cards, but it was budgeted because they both needed clothes. So all in all, not too bad.

I need to go to the bank tomorrow to drop off some rebate checks. I'm hoping for a quiet week...I'm planning on working from home on Tuesday, and we're going to my brother's house for dinner Thursday. Other than that, a quiet week...

Guerilla Savings!

August 10th, 2006 at 06:39 pm

In advance of paying the bills on the 15th, I looked at our credit card statements. Oh boy...we went COMPLETELY off the wagon this summer, particularly with vacations. We made different plans with different people all over the summer and all of the spending is hitting this month. I'm trying to remain upbeat about it...it's the kick in the pants that I need to get back to serious saving again. Now I need to look at the details to see exactly how I'm going to deal with this damage.

For starters, it should be a cash-free weekend for me. We're going to the town pool with friends tomorrow (no charge - they have guest passes). Saturday we're going to dinner at a friend's house, and we only need to bring a bottle of wine, which we have. Sunday, we're staying home all day. I have food in the freezer, and fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden. One day at a time...

We're going to have a houseguest for a month or two. My niece is going to a college nearby, but is on the waiting list for a dorm room. She should be in no later then 10/15, so she asked if we could put her up. Of course, we'd love to have her. She'll be in school and at work much of the time, and she's often a help to me with the kids, so I'm hoping it works out well.

Back in the saddle

August 9th, 2006 at 12:08 pm

OK, I'm back from the Jersey shore. Weather was great, kids had a ton of fun. Now it's time to get serious. First piece of good news: I got the $200 pool rebate. Quickest turnaround I've ever seen! This will need to go into the checking account to offset the cost of the thing. I also received the $3.xx Lysol rebate and a $16.47 half.com payment, both of which I'm putting into my savings account. (I'm officially done with the $20 challenge through the end of the year, but I'm still going to save stuff like this separately).

I'm also starting to get organized (tall order). I renewed the registration for my car, due by the end of the month. (Learned THAT lesson!) $76.50 to the state of NJ...don't know why it's so much, but they have you over a barrel. I also have two $10 rebates from all those free trials from a few months back. Not sure if they'll pay out, but it's definitely worth the $.37 stamp. Finally, need to mail in the $10 Kelloggs Eggo rebate.

Speaking of Kelloggs, I'm not sure if I blogged about two great deals from my last shopping trip. I bought 10 boxes of Eggo Waffles for $20. I got a $10 coupon for my next order at checkout, and will get a $10 check through the mail in rebate making them effectively free. I also bought 4 boxes of Barber Chicken (2-ct). They were $2/box, and I had $5 in coupons, making them $.75/box, or $.38/chicken. Can't beat that for dinner! I like them because they're fast and easy when I forget to defrost something else...

I need to look over this week's circular and do my shopping tomorrow. I also need to order some discount gift cards for back-to-school shopping. (I've been putting this off because it requires me to go through my daughter's closet, which is a huge chore!). That's about it for today!

To the beach!

August 6th, 2006 at 06:47 am

Every summer, we go to the Jersey shore with mil. She pays for the hotel and food, we pay for boardwalk, rides, and things like that. We'll be back Wednesday. That will be it for summer vacations, and I'll prepare for the back-to-school madness. I've let the focus on finances lapse over the summer, and need to get back to it for September...

Stolen Social Security #

August 2nd, 2006 at 07:17 pm

I came home today to a message on my answering machine from Discover Cards. Seems as if someone applied for an account using my SS#. However, my birthday was slightly off, and the address to which they wanted the card sent was different from the address on my credit report, so it was flagged to their fraud department. I called them back and told them I didn't apply for the card, so they cancelled the application. I also called Experian and put a 90-day fraud alert on my ss#, where they'll call me before authorizing any credit. (They notify the other 2 agencies as well). I called Citibank, with whom I currently have credit cards, and they said that they can't really do anything proactively, but it would be a good idea to change my password from my mother's maiden name (which is easily gotten) to something else. So I need to do that, as well as log on regularly to my credit cards online to make sure there is no unusual activity. I'm trying to take comfort in the good news that the Discover application was filled out on 7/24, and they caught this, so maybe no other damage was done. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Other than that, I'm swamped at work, which is preventing me from getting much done at home. Still plugging away, though. I'm off to check credit card activity...

Where to start

August 1st, 2006 at 08:55 pm

Vacation was great. We were in San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma. The weather was great, and I can't think of anything more relaxing than sitting at a winery overlooking the vines with a glass of wine in hand. Doesn't get much better than that!

I must be rubbing off on hubby. He went to pick up the car from the offsite parking lot we use. The person in front of him showed her AAA card, so hubby did the same and saved 10% off the total. Way to go!

I received a $20 Eckerd rebate and a $5 gas rebate from June. I managed to get the pool rebate out on time (long story). I'm hoping the company honors it without the warranty card (I included a note). I need to go through my to-do list and see what's on it.

The weather is unbearable...can't wait until it breaks. Unlike Kashi, I hate August! Way too hot and humid. Great if you're at the beach, not so great if you're commuting to work in pantyhose! Blech. September is my favorite time of year...

Fantastic sales at the ShopRite this year. My favorite one: Buy 10 Kelloggs products get a $10 checkout coupon for your next visit. This is a no-brainer. Eggo waffles are on sale for $1.67 each, and I have a bunch of coupons for them, thanks to the train, and my kids eat them all the time. Wahoo. I'll look through the rest of the flyer and go shopping on Thursday.

So that's it for now...