<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Layout:
Home > Archive: January, 2011
 

Archive for January, 2011

More Snow

January 31st, 2011 at 08:26 pm

Reading everyone else's posts, you can practically track this storm from Illinois east. Looks like we're all going to get hit with more snow, and this time ice, and sleet, and wintry mix. Lovely. Watching the news, I still have no idea what's going to hit and when. I'm planning on going into work tomorrow (I take a train, which is significantly better than driving). We'll have to see about Wednesday. Perhaps a work at home day is in order.

But enough about the weather. Turning to my finances, I made my first gift card sale today. Through a work-sponsored program, I can occasionally get gift cards at really good discounts. I usually try for cards that I'll use (Lowes, Home Depot, etc.). But in this case I was able to score a $50 Omaha Steaks card for $25. I've ordered from them in the past, and I like their food, but it's ridiculously expensive. So, I checked out the giftcardrescue .com site that Retire@50 mentioned in her post. They'll buy it for $37.50. I have to send it 1st class mail with tracking, but even if that's $2.50, I'll still clear $10, which will go to my $20 Challenge and HELOC. Good deal.

I will try to get to the post office tomorrow if possible, to mail the 2 half .com cds. Someone also claimed a book from my paperbackswap ,com account, so I'll mail that as well. Slowly, slowly decluttering this house, and making a few bucks along the way.

I found a penny today. I was on line at Staples, and as the lady in front of me was checking out, she dropped it. She heard it drop, looked down on the floor, then continued with her transaction and walked out of the store. I was amazed. This isn't the first time I've seen this happen and I always wonder, "what would their threshold be?" Would they have stooped down for a nickel, or a quarter, or a dollar bill? So I picked it up. Smile $.03 for the year and counting...

Back in the Saddle

January 30th, 2011 at 08:39 pm

Not 100% yet, but feeling much better today...

I had a pretty good financial day. I went to Rite Aid for dad. I got contact solution cleaner free after rebate (and a $1 money maker because there was a $1 coupon taped to each box). Also saw a free after rebate for a 6-pack of Snapple. DD loves this stuff, but I'll only buy it when it's on sale, so I picked it up for her. I have a few extra forms, so if anyone wants one, let me know and I'll send it along.

Went grocery shopping for myself as well and spent $101. I've been doing ok keeping my weekly shopping to around $100. At first I thought I might have to go back later in the week for some more meat and veggies, but I think I can scrounge enough around the house to get by.

And I sold two more CDs on half .com. They're not flying off of my shelves the way they did when I first posted them, but if I can get rid of a couple each week, I'd be happy.

I just saw the weather and we're getting MORE snow Tues/Wed and again on Saturday. I can't remember a winter like this in a long while. I'm well stocked though, and would gladly take another work at home day if it's really bad.

Under the Weather

January 29th, 2011 at 10:17 am

After my crazy, hectic week I am completely worn down. I came home from work yesterday unable to swallow. Fortunately a hot bath, glass of wine, and bowl of ice cream (in that order) helped immensely. Didn't have a great night sleep but am feeling a little better now.

I had DD's basketball game this morning, DS's this afternoon, and a fundraiser at school this evening. (I'd blow the last one off except that I'm signed up to work it). Tomorrow DD has a soccer game, then I'm headed down to dad's for a few hours. I'm trying to fit in some laundry and housework as well.

So no rest for the weary, but I am taking it as easy as I can. Hopefully Monday will be better.

Nothing going on on the financial front. I closed out January's books and have to put together the February budget to see how it shakes out. I also should start pulling together our tax info. I got my electronic W-2, and I've been seeing emails or receiving most of my other tax stuff. I'm just procrastinating because I know we're going to owe...

$158.22 to HELOC

January 27th, 2011 at 08:05 am

I put $158.22 toward my HELOC principle in January. I'm pretty excited about this, as I haven't made a payment toward this debt in years. The money came mostly from my 2011 $20 challenge, including the half .com and secondspin .com sales and some shopping rewards. Now the challenge is to find $150 every month! I've got a few more shopping rebates and half .com sales that should come in February, so that's a start.

Picked up the Pace

January 26th, 2011 at 07:24 pm

After two days of getting absolutely nothing done, I picked up the pace and made some good progress today. I got a copy of my 1/31 paycheck, and set up all of the month end transfers. We'll end the month within budget, although dollars did shift among categories. Bring on February!

I also made it to the bank, post office, and dry cleaner before the snow made the roads really bad. I didn't get DS his haircut because the place closed early. So now all that awaits me through the end of the week is the mound of laundry and housework. That'll have to wait until tomorrow Wink.

Crazy busy week

January 25th, 2011 at 07:48 pm

I'm swamped all over this week - work, home, kids, etc. And it's only Tuesday! I have to spend some time tomorrow balancing the checkbook and getting caught up. I also have to get to the post office and mail a few packages. Finally, need to take DS for a haircut.

I did make it to the grocery store on Sunday. I was hoping to keep it to $100 and came in at $100.46 after bonus club and coupons. Woohoo. That's it through the end of the month if possible, which will require some creative menu planning to use up what I have in the house.

Not much else to report on the financial front, but I wanted to make sure I checked in...

$20 Challenge Deposits

January 22nd, 2011 at 05:06 am

I received the transfer from half .com sooner than expected. $98.62 into my account, for 17 books/cds/dvds that I sold earlier this month. Of that, I need to pay myself back $31.39 in shipping charges, leaving $67.23 to go to my $20 Challenge, and be transferred to the HELOC. I updated my sidebar with the new totals.

I also received a check for $11.92 from a shopping rewards program that I belong to. This credit, and several others pending, are from Christmas gifts I purchased, where I got a % back for shopping the sites through their link. I don't do a ton of online shopping, but when I do, I usually check that site out first. The check took a long time to come (I ordered on 12/10), but when it arrives it's like found money. So that, too, is going to the Challenge and the HELOC.

I'd be pretty excited if I could find an extra $100+ each month. Hopefully, I can keep this pace up...

Got my wish

January 21st, 2011 at 10:14 am

3 inches of snow. Got a call at 5:45 that school opening was delayed 2 hours. DS did stay home sick, so I am working from home today as well. Great way to spend a Friday!

I went to the post office and mailed all but one book, which is an odd shape. Hmmm, I'll have to figure that one out. Went to the bank to deposit checks, the CVS, which was STILL out of Tom's toothpaste, the dry cleaner (love that he knows me well enough to give me the 10% discount without the coupon) and got the belated Christmas gift. All done.

When I came home from the bank I transferred $14.50 from my account to the HELOC principle. I appreciated Laura's entry about throwing small amounts at things. I've transferred as little as a couple of bucks at a time this month. I know if I wait to make one big transfer at the end of the month, the money will magically disappear. So I've gotten into the habit of transferring as it comes in. While it's tough to feel like it's meaningful change this way, I know one day I'm going to look at the balance and think, "wow, I've really knocked this down". Slow and steady wins the race...

I avoided the grocery store today. The only thing we really need is ice cream, and we're going to dinner at a friend's house tonight, so we'll have dessert there. I'm inclined to just get ice cream tomorrow, and use what I have and try to hold off doing real shopping until Monday or so. I'm limiting myself to $100 to spend through the rest of the month, so the longer I can go, the better.

Hoping for snow

January 20th, 2011 at 07:26 pm

Just enough to cause a 2-hr delayed opening for school. That way, I can justify working from home instead of going into the office, and the kids will be off to school. (Actually, DS is a bit under the weather, so there's a chance he may stay home anyway).

I have so many errands to run! I need to go to the post office and dry cleaner. I also need to pick up a very belated Christmas gift for someone we're going to see tomorrow night. Along with laundry and cleaning the house, it'll take up quite a bit of time.

I received an email from secondspin. com. They're giving me $37 for my second order. It was supposed to be more, but one of the cds was missing a disc (completely my bad - I knew it, but forgot to put the disc back in the case) and the other disc was scratched. Still, I'll take the $37. Also looked at my half. com account and I should be getting a chunk of change from all of the books/dvds I sold earlier this month.

On the flip side, I'm still waiting for a big credit from Direct TV. We changed to FIOS, and I'm due a credit of $133. They said that they wait until 30 days after the equipment is received before cutting the check, and that it's controlled by computer, so they can't expedite it. Just a cheap excuse for them to keep my money longer. I also need to follow up on a $17 credit from Cablevision.

There's never any shortage of things to do...

Banner Mail Day!

January 18th, 2011 at 02:08 pm

Great mail day today. Got a $50 Staples rebate card for a cordless phone I bought for the holidays. Got a $25 check from the company's reward program. (Got a $50 Foot Locker gift certificate for $25. Received the check for the $25 difference today). Also received the check from Secondspin .com for $11.50 for the DVDs I sold earlier this month.

So $61.50 will go toward the HELOC, 11.50 will be added to the $20 challenge total, and the $25 will go back into the checking account to my "clothing" category. If only every day could be like this...

Rite Aid / CVS Deals

January 17th, 2011 at 01:37 pm

Spent some time today taking advantage of deals at Rite Aid and CVS. I think Rite Aid is my new favorite store! They started a program similar to CVS ECBs, and they still do their monthly rebates. In addition, they've been running these "Buy $100/Get $20" promotions. Unfortunately, they count your totals after coupons and discounts, but still a good deal.

I like the CVS program also, especially since the Extra Care Bucks started printing out immediately. My problem with both of these stores is when they run out of the sale merchandise. Toms Toothpaste is the only kind my kids like, and there are deals for it all over this week. They were out of stock at the first CVS and Rite Aid I went to. At least I was able to pick up a tube at the second Rite Aid I was at.

I need to pull together the CDs and book I sold over the weekend so they can go out in the mail tomorrow. I also have to work up the energy to do a load or two of laundry. Hats/gloves in particular. It's going to snow/sleet AGAIN!! Ugh!

The Price of Being Unprepared

January 15th, 2011 at 08:59 pm

We got together tonight with a family in town whom we haven't seen in ages. I spoke with them on Thursday and suggested we get together, but it wasn't final until this morning. My original plan was to make (cheap) chili, but it was too late for the crock pot, and I was going to be in and out at sports all day, and so couldn't leave the stove on. Ended up deciding to order out for pizza/italian, and it cost $70 for 8 people. (I do have a ton of leftovers for tomorrow, but still). That doesn't include an additional $25 or so for chips, dip, soda, etc.

This is covered in the budget under "Entertainment", so I'm not going to sweat it, but it is a LOT more than I think we should be spending for an informal get together with friends To be prepared: Should have planned on the visitors earlier and gone with the crock pot option. *sigh*

Aside from that, 3 more sales at half .com, which will go out on Tuesday. Also got a $25 gift card at Drugstore .com for $10 through the perks club at work. Keep racking it up!

Paypal is driving me nuts!

January 14th, 2011 at 01:48 pm

Grrr! I haven't logged onto Paypal in ages. When I try to sign on, it asks me 2 security questions to verify my identity. In one case, they give me the last 4 digits of my checking account number, and ask me to verify the entire account. In the second case, they give me the last 4 digits of my cc, and ask me to verify the entire account. Problem is, that credit card was lost/account closed long ago, and I no longer have the card on me. (I could probably go digging through old files, which looks like what I'll need to do, but I'm trying to avoid it).

Anyway, I've tried every "contact us" option on the site and they either 1) make me answer the security questions before I can get any farther (!) or 2) give me the automated chat agent, who can only ask me basic questions. Can't get a phone number or email address either. SO Frustrated!

In other news, I received a $3 Rite Aid rebate from December. I'll deposit that and transfer it to the HELOC. Other than that, tonight is all about balancing my checkbook and paying the mid-month bills...

Hectic Day

January 13th, 2011 at 07:54 pm

Today was the polar opposite of yesterday. Hectic from the minute I got up until now. It was a low-spend day, except for the (planned) fast food for dinner, and $7.50 for something I needed to get for DS's classroom.

I heard back from Second Spin regarding my first sale. I submitted $14.50 worth of dvds, but they didn't accept 2 because they were heavily scratched, so I'm coming away with $11.50. I'll take it. I also sold another cd on half. com, so I'll need to drop that in the mail tomorrow. And finally, someone ordered a book from my paperbackswap .com account, so that'll go out tomorrow too. Love all of this decluttering!

I'm off to bed now. I've got to get a good night's sleep!

Maxed Out

January 12th, 2011 at 07:32 pm

I had one of those rare nights without a ton of stuff to do, so I rented the documentary Maxed Out. It's all about the predatory practices of credit card companies and the crushing debt that people have found themselves in. Wow! I found it really interesting. I went in with the mindset of "let the buyer beware" and people need to take responsibility for their own choices and all of that. Clearly in some of the cases they highlighted, the people were in no position to understand the impact of what they were doing, and were sold a bill of goods. And the debt collection guys (and girls) could not have come across as bigger sleazebags. Amazing that people do this for a living. I'd have to come home and shower after work!

I've been wanting to watch it for awhile. I ended getting it for free. I received a $5 credit for Amazon on demand thanks to some DVDs I ordered from there as Christmas. It cost $2.99 for a 48-hour rental, so I still have enough for another movie.

It was a really quiet day. Snow day for the kids, so we were inside, I got some laundry done, made a great dinner, and just hung out and puttered. My favorite kind of day...

Bank Fees

January 11th, 2011 at 03:45 pm

I was inspired by Laura's post about her bank fees. My main checking account is at Bank of America and last month, a $14 monthly maintenance fee was charged to my account. I didn't take the time to pursue it, until today. I called the customer service rep and inquired about it. She changed my account from Regular Checking to MyAccess checking and as long as I have a direct deposit (which I do), there won't be a fee. She also credited me the $14.00, which I promptly transferred to my HELOC principal, bringing the balance UNDER $45K!!! Thanks Laura! I probably would've forgotten about it if not for your post.

I also moved $300 into the emergency fund. I received a $300 reimbursement from my dental insurance for the kids' checkup last fall. Because the bill has long since been paid, I figured I'd move the money into the emergency fund. I have $75 from the FSA coming back from last year as well which will also go to it. The goal is to get it to $5k by the end of the month. (I'll take whatever I need from my 1/31 check to get it there).

So I have about $400 left from my 2010 FSA. I can apply 2011 charges to it through 3/15. That'll inspire me to make appointments with all of my doctors (which I'm so bad about), then DH can get his contacts and I'll get prescription sunglasses to use the rest of it up.

I ran all of my errands today and am set for the snow. Just got a call that school is cancelled for tomorrow, and I'm working from home. I went to the A&P ($92.50 in groceries for $54.30, after bonus card and coupons). Also made it to the bank, post office, and Staples (had to fax something for dad). It feels good to be all set...

Found a penny / Errands

January 11th, 2011 at 10:55 am

Found my first change of 2011 - $.01 on the streets of New York City! I'll keep track of the money I find this year. I can only hope to be as successful at Baselle at this - she's a change magnet! I never seem to find any!

I went ahead and sold the cds to secondspin .com. 9 cds for a total of $47.25. I won't count it until I get paid, and will get them out in the mail today. Also sold 2 cds on half .com, along with a number of dvds.

Went to 2 different CVSs yesterday to take advantage of their ECB deals and they were sold out of so much. I hate that. At the second one, I managed to get some of what I want, still at a good deal, so that's better than nothing. I need to stop at the A&P today for a few things. It's going to be mobbed! We're supposed to get 8+ inches of snow tonight into tomorrow morning, which sends everyone into a panic. I for one am excited about the snow. I'll work from home, the kids will be off from school, so we'll have a no-spend pajama day. Woohoo!

I keep checking to see if my 1/15 pay stub is posted but it's not up yet. Curious to see what changes will take place with my take home pay, given changes in taxes and the like. Quiet day all around...

Extra newspapers

January 9th, 2011 at 07:04 pm

The coupons in the Sunday paper were so good, I actually went back to the 7-11 and bought 6 more. I only intended to get 3 @ $1.50 each, but they package them as "2/$2 - Double the Coupons!" so I picked up 6. Will more than get my money's worth. They have the $5 off Maalox (moneymaker at CVS, plus DH uses the stuff regularly), Ensure coupons (dad drinks 3/day and it is expensive!) and some others that I'll definitely make use of. I was dying to ask the guy what they do with their unsold papers at the end of the night, hoping I could convince him to save the inserts for me, but I didn't have the nerve. (I'm not a regular customer, and there were others in line behind me). I'll have to work up to it.

In book and dvd news...I listed close to 80 CDs on half .com and secondspin .com. I can sell 9 for $47.50. I'll put through the transaction tomorrow. I also sold 2 more dvds on half .com, so continuing to make progress there. Next step is to list a bunch of the kids' books. They don't typically do as well, but I'll get them up there anyway just in case.

Big plans for the week include getting to the post office, returning a dvd to FYE, and taking advantage of some deals at CVS and the grocery stores. I also have to take down the Christmas decorations. A little each night will be the approach there...

My First Half.com Deposit

January 8th, 2011 at 06:17 am

Woohoo! I received my first half.com deposit for a whopping $6.21! Of that $1.56 was for shipping costs, leaving me with a profit of $4.65. I included it in my $20 Challenge, and moved it immediately to pay down my HELOC. I'm tracking both on my sidebar. I'm so thrilled...that HELOC has been sitting out there untouched for years, and I'm tired of looking at it. My goal for the year is to throw anything I make through the challenge towards it.

Off to do my first load of laundry for the day!

Glad the week is over!

January 7th, 2011 at 08:09 pm

This was a tough week! Hard to get back into the swing of work, school and activities for the kids after the holiday break. Plus I was getting the house in order after Christmas week guests, and going to the post office daily to mail my dvds. Very hectic.

To top the week off, I had to issue a refund for one of the DVDs I sold. Apparently it didn't arrive in the envelope. I had absolutely no problem refunding the money, but I could have done without the lecture about my poor packaging skills. I read the email thinking, "I bet someone lives with you and has to listen to this every day!". One thing I can't stand is people who take themselves too seriously.

I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend. A few sports for the kids but that's it. I have tons of laundry to do, sprucing up the house, and finding more stuff to declutter and sell. The tree and decorations need to come down as well.

All in all, I'm in great spirits as I finish the first week of the year. Tracked all of my spending, stayed within budget, and made a few extra bucks to boot. 51 more weeks to go...

Gift Card Offers

January 6th, 2011 at 05:43 pm

No entry yesterday. I had a bad day at work, ended up staying late, and ordering pizza for dinner. (Cooking the chicken I had out was SO unappealing, and my DH let me choose the pizza topping to make me feel better)! Anyway, I had no interest in getting on the computer at all.

Today was much better, though. I sold another dvd on half. com, and won two gift card offers through my work's corporate perks program. The first was $25 off a $50 Foot Locker gift card, and the second was $25 off a $50 Walmart online order. I'm in the running for 2 more tonigh - a $50/$100 Home Depot and a $50/$100 Amazon. They're tough to win, but I'll try.

One bummer - a half .com member wrote me and said she received an empty envelope that she thinks had one of my DVDs and was looking for a refund. She's going to confirm my address, and if it's mine I'll give the refund. Bummer, but I don't want my rating to take a hit.

I didn't make it to the post office (again) today. But it's on the agenda for first thing tomorrow, before we get buried in the snow. I have 2 half .com dvds, a paperbackswap .com book, and dvds for secondspin .com. I also need to check into SEPs for DH. Busy, busy...

Staying organized

January 4th, 2011 at 05:43 pm

I returned the modem to Cablevision (we switched to Verizon Triple Pay). They'll credit my account for the $100 equipment fee, which will leave me with a $17 credit. Unfortunately, that will take up to a month to receive. I'm also waiting on a $133 credit from Direct TV - same deal - up to 30 days.

I also went to the post office to mail 2 more DVDs, and sold 2 more which will go out tomorrow. This decluttering thing is working well for me. I'll have to find stuff to list on Ebay when the books and dvds dry up.

Bonus - Got a $3 coupon from Petsmart for my dog's birthday this month. Totally unexpected, so that's pretty cool. (Doesn't come close to covering the cost of this dog - he lives better than I do, but he's worth every cent!)

I'm slowly working through my financial to-do list. On the docket for tomorrow, along with another trip to the post office: Return a dvd to FYE that we ended up not giving as a gift, make sure my old long distance is cancelled as a result of the move to Verizon, and pickup RX from CVS and submit to FSA. It feels so great to be making progress...

Half . com and gift cards

January 3rd, 2011 at 05:46 pm

I sold another dvd on half .com today. That makes a total of 6 dvds for $24.25. I also had the sale at secondspin .com for another $14.50. Pretty good way to start the 2011 $20 challenge!

I got a $25 Lowes gift card for $15 in the mail today. My company offers a shopping program to employees (% of at various merchants). Each day they offer "outrageous offers", which are like black Friday deals every day. They're usually really good (like the $25 gift card for $15), but they're hard to get (e.g., open only to the first x hundred that claim them). In addition to this one, I got a $50 Best Buy credit for $25. My plan is to go for these deals throughout the year and use those credits / gift cards for birthday and Christmas gifts.

Other than that, I've been battling with our flexible spending provider at work. No matter how I fill out my claim form, there's always some problem. It's killing me. I have $411 left from my 2010 allocation, and I have until March 15th to use it up. Looks like new Rx sunglasses for me and contacts for hubby, along with visits to all of my medical professionals! Fortunately, I scaled way back this year, to only $600 for the year. I heard that next year, which will be a biggie (DS will need braces), they're lowering the total from $5,000/family to only $2,500. Bummer.

I also have to battle with Cablevision. We switched to FIOS, and haven't sent the modem back yet, and they tried to charge me a $100 equipment fee. Ouch. That will be going in the mail tomorrow! I'm NOT paying that...

So that's it. Just keeping things tracked and organized, and making slow and steady progress.

2 more sales on half .com

January 2nd, 2011 at 06:27 am

I sold 2 more dvds on half.com, one for $2 and one for $3.75, so I'll package them up and get them out tomorrow. I also listed a bunch of books on half, which I didn't have a chance to do a few days ago. I still have a load of kids' books to add, so that will be my goal over the next week.

Took advantage of a great deal at Rite Aid. They had a program during the holidays, get $20 if you spend $100. They also have a wellness card, and I had a 10% coupon from that. I do all of the grocery shopping for my elderly father, and so I go to Rite Aid for a lot of his toiletries. Anyway, I spent $89.29 and ended up paying $57.54. He pays that bill, but the amount (actually $59.32 for some reason) is being applied to their next $20/$100 promotion. So I'm in good shape to get that as well.

I'm shooting to clean, do laundry, and declutter today. It's my dog's first birthday, so we'll be celebrating that too! Have a great day everyone!