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Archive for February, 2008

Too many dinners out

February 25th, 2008 at 10:02 am

We went out last Monday to celebrate Valentines Day / Anniversary. We went to an upscale Greek place. Everything was fine, but not worth the money. (For people who know me, when I say something is "fine" it means it's not really that great, but I don't want to be rude). Anyway, the food did taste good and the wine was great, but we left feeling a little let down.

Then on Thursday we ordered pizza for dinner. Doubly wasteful here because I defrosted something that hubby wasn't really into, so that went to waste and we paid for the pizza. Ouch.

Finally on Saturday we went out to dinner again (Christmas gift, along with a Broadway show). We went for more of a Bennigans-style restaurant and we left feeling great. We each had appetizers, entrees, and drinks, and walked out for $70 including tip.

Needless to say I need to get back to the discipline of NOT eating out so much!

I've been making good use of Paperback swap dot com. I just mailed a few more books and ordered a few I'm interested in. I need to update my inventory on half.com, because that's about to expire. Just need to find the time to go through them all.

Is anyone else amazed that it's already the end of February? The year is flying by, as usual...

Long Weekend

February 16th, 2008 at 12:46 pm

Aaaah, I needed this!

We're off on Monday and I'm working from home on Tuesday, so I'm set up for a nice long weekend at home.

I picked my nephew up Friday night. He's staying until Sunday, which basically means that my kids will be fully occupied until then. Tonight we're all going to a friend's house for dinner, and the kids will be going to grandma's for a sleepover on Monday.

We're going out to dinner Monday night. (Cheaper than going on Valentine's Day), and we picked up pizza for the kids last night. I'm making an appetizer for tonight, using stuff I already had in the house, so I'm all set there.

I returned books to the library (before they were due, thank you very much). No fines yet during 2008. I also went to the Post Office to mail books for Paperbackswap.com.

So that about wraps up my spending. I'm planning my menu for next week, looking to use up a bunch of stuff in my freezer, but I'll need to go to the fruit/veggie store, probably tomorrow.

Staples Easy Rebates

February 12th, 2008 at 01:37 pm

Have you guys tried these? Our printer broke, so I bought a new Dell Printer/Copier/Fax/Scanner for $150 minus a $50 rebate. I also bought an electric pencil sharpener for $20 minus a $10 rebate (ok, a bit of an impulse buy, but with two grade schoolers, I need sharp pencils and I can never get them sharp enough by hand!).

Anyway, a rebate copy of the receipt and the rebate submission form automatically print from the register. You go online, enter a few numbers, and boom, within a few weeks you get a check. I've done this several times over the years and it's always a pleasant experience. (You don't hear the phrase "pleasant experience" and "rebate" in the same sentence too frequently)!

I also deposited a few checks that I had, from my dad and DH's mom to reimburse us for stuff we bought them. The 15th of the month is big for us because that's when I get my first check, I pay most of the bills and get a good handle on where we sit financially. Our first installment of the vacation payment is due ($950) and we're trying to put $1000 toward the HELOC for the renovation we recently did. It'll be tough to get both. We'll see how it shakes out.

It only takes a phone call

February 9th, 2008 at 08:02 am

I always pay my ccs off in full each month. Last month, I thought I set up a scheduled payment for one of the cards, but I either forgot, or it didn't go through right. Whatever, the payment wasn't made by the due date. I made it the morning after. When I got my bill this month, they hit me with finance charges of $39.54. (No late fee, surprisingly). Anyway, I called up customer service and explained the situation. She told me she would give me a "one-time courtesy credit" and remove the charges on next month's statement. I was all set to pay them, but it's great that I didn't have to. All it took was a phone call.

There have been two other times when a call like this has done wonders. The first was calling Direct Tv a few months back (see previous post), the second was with this same cc, when they charged me the annual fee. (Does anybody pay an annual fee for a cc anymore?). They reversed that charge as well.

I'll keep my eyes open for other opportunities to save money with a phone call. If anyone has any others, I'd love to hear them!

Musings

February 7th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

Rereading the frugal books that I got from the library has reminded me of my dilemma: I'm quickly reaching the point where I've taken advantage of the obvious, easy financial changes, and the only things left are things I really (really, really) don't want to do. I guess what I give up going forward depends on how desparate I get!

The other thing I realized is that the advice is basically the same from book to book. Granted, I've read a lot of these types of books over the last few years, but there's not usually much new in them. I find it much more valuable to read through the blogs for a great website or find from one of the fellow bloggers.

I finally wrapped up my 2007 Flexible Spending Account. A check for $507.42 was deposited today (Yay!). I can now turn my attention to 2008 FSA. I already have about $200 in charges this year, so I'll try to get them in next week.

I also submitted the last set of claims for DS's speech therapist that are covered in network. We only had authorization to use her in network through December, and they wouldn't extend, so I now need to use her as an out-of network. The difference is about $15 extra out-of-pocket for me per visit. Still some coverage is better than nothing.

Are you feeling it?

February 3rd, 2008 at 08:13 am

DH and I were talking about finances yesterday, and the recession that's about to hit (if it hasn't already). I realized that the place where I'm really feeling it is with my electric and gas bills.

I know food has gone up, but it doesn't seem like I've taken such a hit there. I know gas has gone up, but my driving has gone down, so if anything, that's been a wash for me. But my electric and gas bills are through the roof!

I'm on a budget billing plan for both. Both electric and gas are now up over $200/month each. I haven't yet, but it's worth going through the exercise of comparing usage this year over last. My guess is that maybe usage has gone up a little, but not enough to justify the huge hike in payments.

So my goal for the week is to do that comparison, and reread the frugal books to come up with some ideas on how to keep those bills down. Changes won't go into effect until they reset my monthly payment in 6 months, but hopefully I can work toward a credit at that point. Ouch.

A guy at work was running a super bowl pool. I paid $20 for a box, and based on the score at the end of each quarter, you can win money (or not). One thing I like is that your numbers change with each quarter, so if you're stuck with numbers unlikely to hit (5s are always bad), at least you're only stuck for a quarter. I know this is right up there with the Lottery in terms of wasting money, but we're not fans of the Giants or Patriots, so it will certainly make watching the game more interesting.

I took a few frugal books out of the library. One is Jean Chatzky's Pay it Down on $10/day. Good advice, but most I've already taken advantage of. The other is about raising a family on less than 2 incomes. (I forget the exact name), but basically it's about how where you can cut to allow one half of the couple to cut back to part-time. I've read it before, and it's a good read. I want to reread it now to see if there's anything I missed the first time around.