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Archive for January, 2008

WAG / Thanks Be Free!

January 31st, 2008 at 10:09 am

Be Free mentioned in her entry a $5 Walgreens coupon she received. I deleted mine from my inbox because I didn't think I'd be getting to the store today. Inspired by her, I decided to print it out and head to WAG to get my free after rebate items.

I bought Softsoap body wash, Fructis shampoo, Speed Stick 24/7 deoderant, 4 boxes of Kleenex, and 1 Ensure Plus for my dad.

Total cost: 24.04
Minus $5 coup: -5.00
Minus $1 Fructis coup: -1.00
Minus $4 WAG Kleenex coup: -4.00
Minus $.50 Kleenex coupon: -0.50
Dad reimburse Ensure: -9.00
Rebates (w/ 10% bonus): -13.71

So I make $9.17 on the deal!

Wow, January's over already

January 31st, 2008 at 06:36 am

I'm back from a business trip of a few days. I did great financially, because everything (hotel, meals, etc) will be paid by my company. I did breakdown at the airport bookstore and bought a few magazines to read during my 2 hour delay (on top of the two hours I arrived early)! I actually thought ahead and brought some books with me, but I read them on the trip down.

It's the end of the month, which means that today is the day I calculate my net worth. I have a feeling it's going to look pretty ugly, given the recent slide in the stock market. Our 401(k)s are the biggest chunks of money we have, and the market is down 8% already this year. Good thing I'm not planning on retiring for quite a while!

DH's had a bit of uncertainty on the job front. The company is not well run, and layoffs, relocations, job changes have become the norm. He's ok for now, but it's been very unsettling for us to be in this position. Job security has never been an issue for either of us (thankfully).

He's been working with a headhunter and looking outside the company for a few months now, but it's tough to figure out how aggressive to be. For example, he has his ideal jobs that he wants to pursue. Then there are others that would be ok. There are still others that he wouldn't normally consider, except in desparate situations. How do you know when to stop looking in one tier and start looking in the next one down?

In the meantime, we're taking a closer look at the spending. Nothing drastic (yet), but trying to position ourselves so that if something does happen, we'll be better prepared.

Always a challenge...

Grocery delivery

January 26th, 2008 at 09:15 am

I just ordered my groceries from Peapod. What a great service! They sent out two coupons for free delivery (normally $6.95), and I have the total $ amount direct debited from my checking account which saves me another $1. I could have saved $2 if I could be a bit more flexible with the delivery time and date (which I can't). It's great being able to do the shopping from your home computer, no kids in tow, no rash decisions, etc.

It's shaping up to be a quiet weekend for me. Hubby is taking the kids to MIL's tomorrow, so I'll have the day at home to straighten up, organize, etc. Then I'm off on a business trip Monday for a few days.

Finance-wise, it's been a pretty quiet week. I ate at work a few times, but other than that have stayed on the wagon.

Tax time :(

January 20th, 2008 at 07:02 pm

I just can't get my taxes right. After owing an absolute bundle last year (and the year before that, and the year before that), I paid some modest estimated taxes in the first half of last year, then changed my withholding to take more $ out of my paycheck for federal taxes. I didn't do any big time calculation, but based on the amounts, I felt confident that I'd at least be in the ballpark.

I logged onto Turbotax tonight to get an idea of how they would shake out. I'm still waiting on a few mutual fund tax forms (which will only make it worse), and it looks like I'll owe about $1500 Federal this year. I can't figure out the state amounts yet, because I need to have the federal information firmed up first.

What a bummer! One thing that I will do this year that I never seem to do in the past is file my NY taxes first (always get a refund), then use that money to help pay my federal bill.

In other news, brother and SIL called tonight. They booked the house we always get in the Outerbanks for this summer, so I'll have to send her our share sometime over the next month or so.

Phantom Entry

January 18th, 2008 at 02:00 pm

OK, I had an entry and lost it.

I had a good day today. I returned two things for $120 and $25, went to the bank and dry cleaners, and took advantage of clearance sales at the Children's Place. Also went to Modells to get new sneakers for the kids and a birthday present for a party on Monday.

My thought for the day is the cost of extracurricular activities. Two kids in various sports throughout the winter and spring, and for some reason all the bills are due now! $205 total for softball and baseball, $70 for volleyball, $25 for a soccer tournament this weekend, and $150 for a preseason baseball clinic. Yipes...

Flexible spending receipts

January 17th, 2008 at 12:32 pm

I'm getting ready to donate an old car. It was FIL's, and we got it when he passed away. I used it for a while, but started having trouble with it, and it wasn't worth dumping any money into it. It's a 1992, and the book value would be next to nothing, so selling it privately wouldn't be worth it (not to mention a big hassle).

I need to submit our medical receipts to get reimbursed from our Flexible Spending Account for 2007. I have until March 31, but I want the money Smile. We have about $400 left. My printer at home broke, and for some reason I can't access the account at work, so I need to have hubby print everything out. I want to clear that out before I start submitting 2008 receipts.

Speaking of which, I went to the eye doctor recently. It was the first time I've been there in 2 years. I felt like my eyesight was deteriorating, but the doctor said the prescription was very close to what it was before. I bought a new pair of glasses (2 years for my current pair is a record!). We have vision insurance through work ($36/year for the whole family), so the whole thing ended up costing me $150 out of pocket. I was pretty pleased with that.

I'm starting to get my year-end tax statements. This is my least favorite time of year, because I always owe a bundle, but last year, I had additional money taken out of my paycheck, which will hopefully cover it. We shall see...

Impulse Overload

January 13th, 2008 at 11:38 am

Wow, I gave into every impulse yesterday! I was picking up my dry cleaning, and had an overwhelming hankering for Chinese food for lunch (it's right next door). $5.67 spent. Ended up being just ok. Later in the day, had a hankering for the new Milky Way hot cocoa at Dunking Donuts. I've been holding off, trying to be good, and gave in. Picked one up for me and one for hubby. $3.60. Again, just ok. Then, a friend of mine asked me to go for dinner and drinks with her. $32.50, but totally worth it. So over $40 spent yesterday on impulse!

Today, in addition to watching football, I'm using up some stuff in my fridge. I had 9 carrots and a bunch of celery, so I diced them, used some to make a sauce, and froze the rest. I also caught up on some laundry and cleaned the house.

Also, on the plus side, we had a busy Friday night (DS had a birthday party, DD had soccer practice). Hubby suggested we order a pizza for dinner, but instead, I made pasta with shrimp and alfredo sauce (had the cream and parmesan cheese open in the fridge; needed to get rid of it, and I had shrimp in the freezer). I felt pretty good about that.

This should be a fairly ordinary week. Busy, as usual, but ordinary.

Random Musings

January 10th, 2008 at 12:46 pm

I have to start taking notes throughout the day so I remember everything when I sit down to blog. Here are my musings from the past few days:

Finally ate lunch at work. I didn't have time to eat breakfast at home, and forgot to pack my lunch, so I was absolutely starving. Ended up getting lunch at work. Bad news: Had sushi, which is expensive. Good news: Paid the $10.67 in cash. Moral of the story: pack my lunch the night before and leave a packet of oatmeal at work.

Got rid of Onstar. It came free for the first year we bought our GM car. After the first year, DH insisted on keeping it, even though we both have cell phones, AAA, etc. Cost about $14/month ever since. They switched from analog to digital last year, and we needed to have the dealer install a part. Things were so crazy last time we went to the dealer that we forgot to have him do it. Our subscription was automatically cancelled 12/31. Sin of omission, here, because I'm not going to say anything to hubby.

I need to cancel Netflix. I've had a DVD outstanding for 6 months (no lie). Can't find it anywhere in the house. DH looked online and the penalty is a $20 charge, so I'm going to eat it and cancel my membership. I'm tacking this on my list of 2007 financial issues, though, since it's really a holdover from that!

I also need to call my water company. We're signed up for budget billing and pay $27/month. (Water's cheap in NJ). I have accrued a credit of about $47, because they've charged us more than we've used. When I went to look at the statement, it doesn't show usage, just the budget billing amount. Bizarre. Also can't check accounts online, so I need to call up. One of my targets for the year with all of my utilities is to reduce usage by 10% (totally arbitrary number). I'm not sure how reasonable it will be for the water bill, because it's so low to begin with, but electric and gas for sure.

I don't have big plans for the weekend. DH is going out with some guys Saturday night, and we're staying home on Sunday. I'm going to take advantage of the time to take down all of the Christmas stuff and put everything away. Lofty goals, for sure...

Resisted temptation

January 8th, 2008 at 04:42 pm

Forgot to have breakfast at home this morning, just had coffee. Brought my lunch to work, but was still hungry on the way home. I couldn't stop thinking of all of the stuff I could stop and get in the train station - candy bar, slice of pizza, hot pretzel. But I resisted temptation, and hopped right on my train. Didn't stop for a paper either.

I started keeping track of my groceries on the computer. Super tedious, so I'm not sure how long I'll be able to keep it up, but I'll try.

I managed to cross a bunch of things off my list today. Set up an appointment with the eye doctor for Saturday. I haven't been in 2 years, and I can tell that my sight has gotten worse. I'll definitely need a new pair of glasses. Thankfully we have vision insurance, which covers some of the costs.

Speaking of insurance, I finally called them regarding the extension. I need to jump through hoops and fill out all sort of documentation in order for the speech therapist to be considered in-network. Otherwise, I can use her out-of-network. I need to see the forms to see what I'm up against, but I'll definitely fill them out.

Mail Order Rx Shout Out

January 7th, 2008 at 08:03 pm

I did my first grocery shopping of the new year, and stopped at CVS to take advantage of some of their ECB deals. One of the things I'd like to do in 2008 is to track my grocery spending a little more closely. I'd like to start a grocery book. I tried this last year but it was a bit tedious. Very informative, though, so I'm going to take another stab at it. Curious to see what I learn.

I've been pretty good about cash out so far this year. I spent about $11 for a birthday gift, and I had to spend $44 on a subway pass for work. Not much else. I'm also proud of myself for bypassing Wendy's yesterday while I was running errands for dad, and having lunch at his house instead. Still no money spent at work, either. Not bad.

In addition to the fight I need to have (still) with the insurance company, I need to call my mail order rx company. My doctor was supposed to give me a 90-day rx with one refill, and they're saying she forgot to indicate refill, so I need a new prescription, so I need to straighten that out. On the plus side, they gave me a generic instead of a name brand, which cut my cost from $100 for a 90-day supply to $77.34, which will save me over $90 this year. (It was costing me $150 for 3 months at CVS, so mail order really pays. If you can use it, it's worth checking into).

DS has an art class tomorrow after school, then I'd like to putter around home and get some stuff done. We had company all through the holidays and I'm having trouble getting the house back in order...

Gas cc

January 5th, 2008 at 05:33 am

Didn't have a chance to speak with the insurance company yet. It's been a busy few days.

Stopped for gas yesterday ($48.25), but I put it on my Shell MC, which gives me 5% on Shell purchases and 1% everywhere else, and I have enough credits that it will be covered. In retrospect, I probably should never have gotten this card, because there are others out there that will give you 5% on gas no matter where you go. But when it came out a few years ago, those other cards weren't available, and the bonuses were tripled for the first three months, which made it really attractive. Perhaps later in the year when I get some other things settled, I'll look at this as well.

Today we have basketball practice for DD and DS, then DD has a birthday party. In lieu of gifts, the mother asked that we donate a book to the elementary school library. Seems like a great idea. Then we have friends over during the rest of the day...

Insurance woes

January 3rd, 2008 at 12:36 pm

I've done well financially so far this year (I know, it's only been three days)! The only money I've spent is $.50 each day for the newspaper. (I don't make this a habit, but with football playoffs coming, you can't beat the NY Post). I've eaten breakfast at home and brought lunch to work so no money spent there.

DS's speech therapist is here this afternoon. We finally won the battle with the insurance company to reimburse us for our costs. Unfortunately, she charges $100 per session, of which $84 is "reasonable and customary". I have a $20 deductible per visit, so they give me back $64 per session. Not bad, considering I thought I'd get nothing for a long while.

I need to resume my battle with them, however. The therapist is out of network, but they gave me an exception to treat her as in-network because nobody else was available in our area. The exception ran out on December 13th, but we still need her. We're trying to get them to extend the date, and they're balking big time. I guess they need to make it difficult to keep them afloat financially, but man is it frustrating! So I'll call and see if I can make any headway with them.

Hubby's uncle passed away, so we need to go to the wake tonight and funeral tomorrow. We'll have to pay the babysitter tonight, and we bought flowers for the wake. (I'd prefer a charitable donation in his memory, but I lost out).

We've also got friends coming over tomorrow and Saturday for dinner, so I'll need to go shopping for that. This year, I'm categorizing that as "entertainment" rather than "groceries" so I have a better idea of what I'm really spending.

That's it for now. Have a great day!

The cost of eating at work

January 1st, 2008 at 07:40 pm

I just finished getting the things together for the kids' lunchboxes. (Gotta love January 1st. Normally I do this at 7 in the morning as I'm trying to get out the door to work, but not this year!). Anyway, I pulled out my packet of oatmeal for breakfast tomorrow, and packed some healthy things to bring to work for lunch.

I spent over $350 last year eating in the cafeteria. (It's conveniently broken out on our pay stubs). Unbelievable. It didn't seem like that much each time I spent $1 or $2, but it really added up. Curious to see if I can keep this up throughout the year.

I also walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes and spent no money, so I'd say I had a pretty good day...