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Archive for March, 2013

5-Minute Update

March 28th, 2013 at 08:40 pm

Literally, I'm on the clock.

My brother and SIL are visiting from NC this weekend and are due to arrive any minute. But it's been a week since my last post, so I wanted to make sure I wrote something down. So here's the last week in a nutshell:

1) Had a ridiculously good time with DS at the gamer convention in Boston last weekend. I've never seen a more eclectic group of people in one place...young kids, teenagers, college kids, and grown men and women totally into gaming. Also, more than a few odd birds, in fabulous costumes. I'm not much of a people watcher, but it was great! Also enjoyed spending time with my sister.

2) Put $5 into the Yahtzee challenge for last week, bringing my total to $83, and will have more to add this week, but not until Sunday.

3) On the snowflake front, I received the Second Spin payment of $12.75, and I received a $6.99 rebate from Staples.

4) March was as tough a month financially as I thought. I'm not sure how much I'll have to throw to the HELOC. One more month like this, and things will be back on track in May.

5) I haven't heard from the Accountants yet (mine or my dad's). I know it's there busy time but I'm still impatient.

I think that gets me all caught up (you can see that there's not much exciting here financially). I will have a pretty sizable grocery bill tomorrow, as we eat and drink like kings when we're with DB and SIL, but it'll be worth it. Other than the food, I don't expect any expenses related to their visit.

Have a great weekend and a Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

Taylor Ham

March 21st, 2013 at 07:49 pm

There are a few things that I take for granted living in the New York metropolitan area: 1) Great pizza with an always perfect crust and no really crazy toppings; 2) Perfect bagels, fresh off the conveyor belt at Rockland Bakery; and 3) Taylor Ham in the grocery stores.

I don't even particularly like Taylor Ham, but I never realized how tough it was to get in other parts of the country. My sister moved to Massachusettes several years back. Every time we visit she asks us to bring boxes of taylor ham, because she can't get it up there.

DS and I are going to Boston this weekend and are staying with her, so I picked up 29 boxes at the store today, which she'll use or freeze. It's a small price to pay relative to what a hotel would cost, but I did feel pretty silly with 29 boxes on the conveyor belt.

Are there any local delicacies from your hometown that you can't get in other parts of the country?

Other than the expenditure for the taylor ham, not much else financial going on. This weekend will be pricey, including some eating out in Boston, and gas for the car. DS has really been looking forward to this trip though, and it will be a great opportunity for some 1-on-1 time for me and him, so it will be well worth every dime.

And I know one meal we won't be eating out: Breakfast. I'm thinking taylor ham and eggs at my sister's, LOL!

Hard Times

March 18th, 2013 at 05:35 pm

I just saw a documentary on HBO called Hard Times. It followed a group of people out on Long Island, all of whom are unemployed. The execution was just ok, but the message was sobering. So many middle-aged, college educated people who did all of the "right things" and find themselves in this position. The documentary touched on age discrimination (I believe it), the fact that the longer you're unemployed the harder it is to get a job (I believe that too), and the tangential effects of unemployment: mortgage crisis, depression, other medical issues, reliance on social services, relationship issues. Absolutely tragic. It was an eye opener.

It was also inspiring. I'm as energized as ever to get the HELOC paid off, followed by the mortgage, and be debt free.

I added $12 to the 52-week Yahtzee challenge, bringing me to $90.

DVD Arbitrage

March 15th, 2013 at 03:44 pm

Buy low, sell high. That's the way it works!

I ordered my first March snowflake yesterday: a $12.75 order at Secondspin .com. I'm a member of Swapadvd .com (sister company to Paperbackswap .com). I ordered Big Bang Season 1 on Blu-ray. When I opened the package it was brand new, wrapper still on, and I got it for free. I turned around and sold it for $8.75.

I was at the local library renting a DVD for DD. They were selling DVDs for $.25. I bought 40-Year-Old Virgin. I figured if I could sell it for more, great, if not, I like that movie and I'm only out a quarter. It sold for $1.50. I added 2 more DVDs that I already had for a total of $12.75!

Over the years, I've had snowflake success 2 ways: opening bank accounts for bonuses, and selling books/DVDs. Both have worked really well for me.

I got paid today. I need to balance the checkbook and pay some bills this weekend. We're also having friends over tomorrow, but they're bringing the corned beef and cabbage. All fun and no work (except for cleaning the house)!

Happy Blogversary to me!

March 13th, 2013 at 05:28 pm

What is it about March that makes people start their blogs? Taxes maybe? I just looked back at my first entry 8 long years ago. Like many, I started by lurking on the site. I wrote back then that I had checked out many other sites, and felt most comfortable here.

Truer words were never spoken. Over the years I've ebbed and flowed with my posts, but always keep up with everyone else's progress. I've made great friends, some of whom have even transitioned over to my "real" life - facebook and in one case, a real-life meet up! Such a great community...

On to the meat and potatoes...

Still waiting to hear back from the Accountant. Not suprised he's taking so long, I'm just anxious.

52-Week Yahtzee Challenge: $8 last week, bringing my total to $78.

Haven't been on Swagbux for 2 weeks because I've just been buried at work. Perhaps I'll try to go for a few surveys tonight. If not, I'll get back to it over the weekend for sure.

I'm a bit behind in getting stuff done. I have some bills to write, checkbook to balance, phone calls to make. Just stuff. I need to write it down and knock it out.

Thanks for a great 8 years...

Glad the week is over

March 9th, 2013 at 05:37 am

It was a loooong week at work. Tons of meetings with no "real" work getting done. Unfortunately, it means I need to do some this weekend, but at least I'll be in the comfort of my home!

Today we have a basketball game and an indoor soccer game, with an entire house to clean (really clean) in between. Tomorrow we have nothing on the agenda, except the above mentioned work, so I should be caught up by the end of the weekend.

On the financial front, March is shaping up to be a tough month, as expected. We got the taxes off to the accountant last week, and are waiting for the results. In the meantime, groceries and gas are the two areas that I need to try to really hold down so I can end the month where I expect.

I had an amazing bout of willpower last night, that I hope will last. Hubby was supposed to have a business trip when the kids are on spring break, but it was cancelled. He suggested going to our favorite place in Florida for the week, and found round-trip flights for $258/pp (great price).

I was SOOO tempted to jump right on it, especially given the snow and all around crummy weather we've had. But when I really thought about it, that would be close to $1200 airfare, another $1300 for the house rental, $400 or so for the car rental, $200 for car service to the airport (limited and expensive parking for your own car), $300 to board the dog, plus dining out and other expenses when we got down there. Our "hey these are really cheap fares" vacation was turning into a $4,000+ vacation.

I suggested to hubby that we forego. Given the big uncertainty with the tax situation, and the HELOC I'm trying to pay down, I couldn't justify it. I think he was ok with that, but the topic may come up again. I'll have to steel myself for it Smile

Thankful for the kindness of strangers

March 4th, 2013 at 03:43 pm

Today was a Monday in every sense of the word! In attempting to make my train, I tripped and fell on the sidewalk. Unbeknownst to me, my pocketbook opened and my two checkbooks fell out. I had no idea until I was arriving home this evening. An elderly gentleman out for a walk found my checkbooks and called my house. I picked them up on my way home, safe and sound.

I feel SO fortunate that they were found and returned, without the hassle of having to close and switch accounts. I'm also lucky it wasn't snowy or rainy, in which case they would have been ruined.

And the meeting I was rushing to catch the train for was cancelled. :|

Last night we FINALLY pulled together our taxes, and hubby mailed them off to the Accountant today. The results will be dreadful - we're going to owe many thousands of dollars. (That'll teach us to not increase the estimated tax we pay throughout the year when we see things are going well). The accountant gave us a heads up a few months ago, so we've been setting aside money, but it will still be painful to write the check. I'm just glad that the task is done so we can move on.

I also put $9 into the Yahtzee challenge last week, bring my total to $70.

DS has a basketball game tonight, then dinner, then RELAXING for me! Much needed after this day.

Giving DS-12 a money lesson

March 3rd, 2013 at 07:02 am

Had the opportunity yesterday to give DS (12) a money lesson. He's aware of the Amazon gift cards I receive through Swagbux. I snagged another one yesterday, and mentioned that I will now have $60 in the account. Here's our conversation:

Mom: "Hey, I snagged another $5 Amazon GC on Swagbux today. I'm up to $60."
Son: "Cool. I was looking at a new XBOX game, and if you pre-order it on Amazon, you get an extra (blah, blah). The game is $60, which is the same price as GameStop and Best Buy. Can I order it?" (At least he comparison shops)!
Mom: "Do you have the money for it?" (He gets money from grandma and others for Christmas and birthdays).
Son: "Yeah, but you have the gift cards. That way, I don't need to use my money."
Mom: "Dude, gift cards are just like money. If I don't use my gift cards on this game, I can use them for something else down the road. It's exactly the same thing as cash, it's just that I can only use them at Amazon."
Son: "But you got them for free."
Mom: "They weren't "free". I had to spend my time to get them, just like at work I have to spend time to get paid. If you want the game, you need to give me the money for it."
Son: "I'll think about it".

Yes, you think a lot harder about it when it's cash out of your own pocket. In the end, I'm guessing he'll go ahead and fork over the money for it, but I'd say it's a 7.5 on a scale of 1-10, instead of a 12 if I were paying. If he goes ahead, I'll use the gift cards to pay and add the cash to my gift envelope, to give me flexibility to spend it elsewhere in the future.

Does anyone have good suggestions for making the connection to kids that gift cards = cash (almost)?