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Class Trips, To-Dos and $11

October 20th, 2009 at 07:08 am

I'm inspired by everyone cranking through their "to-do" lists, so I'm going to try posting my top 5 to-dos on my blog to keep me accountable. So here they are:

1) Complete the paperwork to be reimbursed for my kids' dentist visits.

2) Deposit check at the bank and set up transfer to money market emergency fund.

3) Go to post office and mail paperback swap book.

4) Pickup grocery gift cards for school fundraiser.

5) Register for 2010 health benefits at work (it's open enrollment time!).

Let's see how I do...

OK, on to my class trip rant. I'm all for kids going on field trips to enrich whatever learning goes on in school. But it's costing me a fortune! Last week, 2 permission slips came home in the backpack for DD. The first is for them to see a Broadway show ($102), the other was for a teambuilding field trip ($34). She had one earlier in the year for Ellis Island ($32). DS already had a field trip for ($28). This was all unbudgeted (though you'd think after 6 years in the school, I'd realize that I get hit for stuff like this every year and plan for it. Lesson learned for next year!). Anyway, is it all really necessary, or can they sit in school and do reading, writing, and arithmetic?

$20 challenge update: I received notification from second spin .com that they accepted my order and deposited $11 in my paypal account. Not bad for getting rid of 4 dvds that we never would have watched again. The turnaround time was pretty quick - less than 2 weeks from order to payment. I'd definitely recommend them. They also take cds and video games. So that brings my $20 challenge up to a whopping $24.25! Woohoo!

A good thing comes to an end...

May 4th, 2007 at 01:26 pm

A few years back, I opened up savings accounts for my kids at Affinity Bank in California. They had a special program where the first $500 earned 10%. I received a letter in the mail today stating that they've changed the program requirements and, in order to keep that rate, the custodian of the account (me) needs to have a "Gold Checking Account". Minimum balance is $500 and there's an $8 fee per quarter if you don't meet it.

I suppose if I lived in California and needed a regular checking account, this might be a good deal, but given that I'm in NJ, it's not that hot. So I'm going to write them a letter asking them to close the accounts and forward me the money. Bummer. At least it was good while it lasted.

I see that I haven't posted for a while. The Communion is Sunday, so I've spent most of my spare time taking care of the last minute details associated with that. Hoping to be more in the swing of things in the middle of next week.

In the meantime, we did pay off the HELOC with Hubby's bonus ($6300+), so that's cool. Still waiting for my NYS tax return to come in. I asked for it to be sent electronically. I'm assuming that since I waited to the last minute with everyone else, they're running a bit behind.

Spring Sports

March 26th, 2007 at 09:34 am

Ah, it's that time of year. Softball and Tball are starting up. Unfortunately, it meant a bit of an investment, as the kids both needed new cleats, a new bat, a glove for DS, etc. Fortunately I had a 10% coupon for Modells which made it a little more bearable.

The bigger expense yesterday was a new mattress. We've had ours for 12 years and it's shot. I think we got a decent deal (though it's so hard to tell from those ads!). We did get 0% financing for 12 months, and I'm good about paying them off in time.

I'm back in the saddle with my "diet" and exercise. I walked on the treadmill for 40 minutes Saturday and Sunday, and will be on again this afternoon. I had my oatmeal for breakfast and fruit and nuts for lunch so, so far so good. I know I'm being totally shallow here, but on Friday, 2 people at work asked me if I lost weight. I had definitely fallen into the "I don't feel like doing this anymore" trap, so when they asked the question, it perked me right back up and now I'm motivated again.

School starts tomorrow

September 6th, 2006 at 07:06 pm

Kindergarten and 2nd Grade. Yipes...Did they grow up when I wasn't looking? I had to work late today, so I couldn't relax and ease into things as well as I'd like, but the kids did pick out their clothes and get their backpacks, and I'm filling out all of the necessary forms (and writing the necessary checks)!

I'm taking tomorrow off, but I do need to the grocery store and Walgreens. School is only 1/2 day, so I'll use the rest of the time to get caught up on some chores...

Kindergarten Registration

January 26th, 2006 at 08:11 am

I registered DS for kindergarten. Hooray. As excited as I am for him to go, I'm more excited that I only have 3 more preschool bills to pay! The process was painless, though I do need to drop a form at his doctor's office, and another at his preschool, to be filled out.

I took a vacation day today to get this done and run some other errands. I need to mail the half.com book at the post office, we're meeting some other moms for lunch, I need to return some (late) videos to the library, stuff like that.

I started going through my old postings to categorize them. I got through Mar-May 2005. It's interesting to read back on them. I now have a running list of stuff I meant to do and never got around to, that I should get back on my list! I think the categories are great. That way, as I think about different parts of my budget, I can go to other blogs and see their categories right away for helpful hints.

Hubby is away overnight, so I'll try to get some straightening up done tonight. Have a great day!

Addicted to Spider Solitaire

May 23rd, 2005 at 08:06 pm

I had great hopes of being super-productive during hubby's business trip, and it's just not happening! Instead, I get the kids to bed, grab a glass of wine, and hop on the computer to alternate between this site and spider solitaire! Yikes!

Today was a good day, although I spent some unbudgeted money. First, I needed to take dd to the eye doctor for a checkup. The nurse at her pediatrician's office said her eyesight was 20/30 at her 5-year checkup and 20/40 at her 6 year checkup, so they recommended that we get it checked out by a specialist. I took her today, and she's fine - 20/20 - which makes more sense to us because we've never seen an indication that she's struggling with her vision. So while we're thrilled with the results, it was a $15 copay, and they don't think it will be covered by insurance. I need to call Oxford tomorrow and see if the fact that it was a referral from her pediatrician makes a difference. Otherwise, I have no idea what the bill will be.

On the way home, we stopped at ShopRite. I only needed a few things, but taking the kids with me always adds to the bill. Ice cream was on sale, and they suckered me into getting all the fixins for ice cream sundaes (sprinkles, chocolate sauce, etc.) that I never would have bought if I were on my own. Oh well...The total still came in under $50 ($49.71!), so that's still ok.

Tomorrow is my stay-at-home day. I may bring the car in for an oil change if I can, but that should be the only expense. DD has Tball tomorrow night, but we sure won't be going out for ice cream afterwards - they can have it at home!!! I'm curious to see as the month winds down where we stand. We got the escrow refund check, and our NYS tax refund, but owe money to the landscapers. I'm hoping that I'll have about $1700 leftover, because that will bring the HELOC below $30k, and psychologically, that would be cool.

We'll see how it goes...

Relaxing Sunday

May 22nd, 2005 at 06:40 am

After a really rough start to the weekend, I rebounded and expect to have a great Sunday.

On Friday, I picked up my daughter from Kindergarten, and she was all upset because every kid in her class has those Lance Armstrong-type bracelets except for her. The school has banned them from being worn, because they were taking so much of the kids' attention. But in Kindergarten, they have "Centers time" where they basically play for 1/2 hour, and are allowed to bring in toys from home. Apparently a bunch of kids bring these bracelets in. I wasn't really prepared for the whole "It doesn't matter what other people have as long as your happy" talk. Can you believe it starts this early? Anyway, she was totally out of sorts all day/night on Friday, so it was just a bad way to kick off the weekend Frown

Saturday was much better. I went to Toys R Us to pick up gifts for Saturday's party and this Wednesday's party (using my Main Street Savings 20% off gift cards Smile The party was a lot of fun, and hubby/MIL took my daughter to TBall. The only money we spent all day was at the fruit/veggie store! All of my planting is done, except for a few leftover flowers that I need to find a place for. It looks cold/damp today, so I'll shoot to do this early in the week.

Hubby is leaving on a business trip this afternoon through Wednesday night, so I'm going to try to get a little more organized, throw some stuff out, file, etc. The house is pretty clean, and I only have 2 loads of laundry that I'll do today, so I can devote my time to other stuff that I normally don't have a chance to do. Except for church, we have a no-spend day going today.

I think I've lost a few brain cells

May 9th, 2005 at 06:16 am

I find if I don't write in this journal every day, I have a hard time thinking back to what happened a few days ago. Pretty sad.

Friday was great. I took a v-day from work and went to the "Mother's Day Tea" in my daughter's kindergarten class. Very sweet. The kids read a poem and sang two songs, and we all wrote journals with our kids, talking about what we like best about each other and what we like to do together. It was a fun time. Then I zipped to the flower store and picked up the flowers for MIL for Mother's Day, flats of flowers and veggies for her, and flowers and veggies for us (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant). I didn't go overboard like usual - just got stuff that I needed. I still need to pick up herbs, but am all set other than that. Now if only the weather would cooperate. It's supposed to get up to 70 this week, so I'll try to get it done by Friday.

Saturday, Hubby went to the Communion with MIL, and I was home with the two kids. (Daughter had a Tball game, and son was coughing quite a bit overnight, so we thought we'd keep him home instead of infecting all the kids at the party). Luckily it seems like a fluky thing - he's been better since then. I took the kids out to Fridays for lunch after the game. I had a coupon for a free appetizer (my meal) and the rest was paid with a gift card, so no cash out of pocket. Hubby got home late from the party, and we ended up ordering a pizza for dinner Frown

Sunday, I was able to sleep late (9:45) and got coffee in bed and french toast for breakfast! After lollygagging around for the morning, we headed down to MIL's for dinner. She cooked and hubby did some stuff around the house so it was no great shakes, but pretty relaxing.

This week is going to be crazy! I need to go into work tomorrow (usually my at-home day), so I'm going to be pressed to fit in grocery shopping, laundry, etc. that I usually do on Tuesdays. Hubby has a dentist appointment tomorrow night, daughter has a tball game on Thursday and Saturday, as well as birthday parties on Friday and Saturday. For some reason, we are inundated with parties this month. Between daughter and son, we have 5 birthday parties for kids in their classes (and no EBAY Discovery Store gift cards, which means I'm going to need to be really creative to keep the cost down). I also need to pick up a bday present for hubby's cousin, whom we exchange gifts with. Wow, this is shaping up to be an expensive week Frown Luckily, both hubby and I both get paid on Friday, so I'll be able to take a first look at where exactly we stand for the month.

Hope everyone had a good Mother's Day...

Still sick!!!

April 11th, 2005 at 10:15 am

I don't know what my kids gave to me, but it is throwing me for a loop! Went into work today (only because I took off last week when DS was sick and didn't want to overdo it), but I should have stayed in bed. I don't get sick too often, but man when I do, look out!

Today was going to be my grocery shopping day, but that just isn't happening! I need to stop by the dry cleaner to pick up one jacket that's been ready for weeks ($4.50), and I spent $.74 on hot soup for lunch. That's it for today!!! I was also going to take care of my house insurance switch, and change a few appointments, but I sound like I've chain-smoked 1000 cigarettes! I have absolutely no voice left! I guess it can wait until later in the week.

Looking over the budget, I'm up to the childcare/preschool portion of the spreadsheet. This one really hurts. My son goes to a great preschool that we really love (dd went there too). He has one more year to go before Kindergarten. The cost? A whopping $635/month, for 3 full days (9:00-3:00). Pick your jaw up off the floor, you read it right...and it's going up to $655/month next year. Unbelievably, this isn't even the most expensive place around! There are less expensive places that we didn't like as much, plus, most of those places don't have the full-day option, which I need while I'm at work. Neither DH nor I want to move him, so we're going to suck it up and pay it for 10 more months until we're free!!! (and the $655 will be funneled right into their 529 accounts). In the meantime, we use the FSA account at my husband's job to get it taken out pretax, and his company kicks in 5% of the cost as a perk. I also pay DH's aunt $50/week to watch DS all day on Thursdays. That's a steal!

For my DD, I need to send her to after-school care on Thursdays when I work late. It costs $85/month for the one day a week, from 3:00-6:00. The nice thing is that if there's a half day, they take her at 1:00 for no extra charge, and if I need to send her on a different day of the week (or in the morning before school) I can just pay a daily drop-off fee. So it really gives me the flexibility I need. This is also eligible for the FSA, but frankly, my son's preschool sucks up all that money ($5000/year pretax) pretty quickly!

As for other kid-related extracurriculars, I'm one of those people who believe less is more. I sign DD up for a lot of the town-sponsored activities, which tend to be inexpensive, and include her friends from school. DS is too young for the town stuff now, so he's not currently enrolled in anything! Other than swimming lessons, which I think is a safety thing as much as a fun thing, I don't sign them up for anything else. This is in sharp contrast to other friends of ours, whose kids' schedules are so unbelievably packed that they don't have time for anything! One friend had her daughter (1st grade) in CCD (religion class) every week, Girl Scouts one day per month, Gymnastics on Wednesday, a competitive swim team (practices 2-3 days/week + meets on the weekend) and tball/soccer through the town. No wonder she's always on the go! I'm more for spontaneous play dates and parks in the nice weather. (Is that just frugal me justifying it? I don't think so, I think kids today need a bit more down time than they get).

Wow, I better get off my high horse now. I usually try not to judge other people (at least not out loud rofl) I guess this cold is making me feel worse than I thought! Have a great day...

A new month...

April 1st, 2005 at 09:17 am

April will be a tough month for us. We owe federal taxes, and are getting NY state money back. But of course, I didn't file that first, so I'll be out all of the money for federal and won't get back the NY for a month or so. (It's that cost of disorganization I was talking about a few posts ago). Anyway, the net result is that we're out about $1100. We kind of expected it, because it's the same every year, but it still hurts to send in the check. We've also bought a few things for the house that we had been putting off and finally decided to bite the bullet and buy. I hate starting the month off behind the 8-ball!

The kids are going to the doctor today ($30 total copay, plus any medications that are prescribed). We just started doing a healthcare FSA this year, so for some reason, I'm not as disturbed about this, because we'll get reimbursed (even though it already came out of our paycheck). I'm sure that we'll need to pay parking for the concert tonight, and we planned on having takeout, but that should come out of our allowance.

Update on my quest to reduce the electric bill: We're on budget billing, and we're running about $125 under, through the first four months. I'm hoping that even with increased use over the summer, we'll still be able to knock it down to $120 for next year.

The next line items on the budget are phone/cell phone. I just changed my LD plan to some ridiculously low rate (2.7c out of state, 4.5c regional in state). This should knock about $10/month. I need to get better about using my cell phone for more of these calls. We usually have enough minutes leftover at the end of the month that I could do some of the long distance calls using that.

Have a great weekend!

2 sick kids

March 31st, 2005 at 04:34 am

So my kids are sick. The first got a fever on Easter night and it lasted 2 days, and she still has a cough. My son got a fever 2 days later, and seems to be getting over it now, though he still has a cough. Depending on how he does today, a trip to the doctor may be in order.

It's been a pretty good week so far spending-wise. Other than lunch at work on Wednesday and Tylenol for the kids yesterday, I didn't have a lot of out-of-pocket. This weekend will be different, though. Tomorrow we have tickets to a concert. I'm hoping to have dinner home beforehand, but hubby may want to go out. (Free babysitting thanks to my sister). Then on Saturday, hubby wants to go to the Auto Show in NY. We've gone before and it's really neat to see all the concept cars. It helps more that we're not in the market for a new car, because then we can just look without being tempted. Finally on Sunday, we have a 3yo birthday party to go to. (I'm getting the $20 present from the Discovery Store using the gift card I got on Ebay for $13.58. Yea!)

Regarding my budget, the next two line items are water and internet. Can't think of much to do for these. Water costs about $25/month. I can definitely cut back on the amount of laundry and dishes I do. I'll have to be creative about other ways. Surprisingly, it doesn't seem to go up more than a couple of dollars in the summer, when we water the lawn. As for internet, I still use dial-up (stop laughing!). I get AOL for $17.95/month. I know that DSL/Cable would be a heck of a lot faster, but it's a lot more expensive, and this seems fine to me. I guess you don't miss what you never had!

Have a super day!