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Amazon Frustrations

December 2nd, 2006 at 11:25 am

OK OK, it's my own fault. Thinking I was on top of things, I ordered a bunch of Christmas stuff from them on 11/19. I still haven't received it, so I logged on to see what was up. Turns out, one of the video games I bought for my nephew (which, by the way, I would need to return anyway because he's not getting the hardware for Christmas), won't be released until 12/22. Because I chose free shipping, they wait until all products are available, meaning I won't get my order until at least 12/30!

So I wrote customer service an email (no phone # available), asking if I can either remove the video game from my order and have them send the rest, or pay shipping to have the rest of the items sent to me. Otherwise, I told them that I'd have to buy everything locally and return the whole order when I receive it.

UGH!!!

On to other things, we're going to dinner at a friend's house tonight. We exchange gifts with this couple, so I need to run out to B&N later today to pick up a cookbook for them. I have a gift card, so there should be minimum out of pocket expenses.

Hubby's leaving on a business trip tomorrow afternoon, so I'm going to take advantage of the few days alone to finish up the November budget, and start to review where I'll end up for the year. I'll also get my Christmas cards written up and sent out...

Finally, I need to look into how my coupon trains are running. They're doing ok, but I think some improvements could be made to make them more useful to the members, so that's a goal for the month as well.

Phone Cards

November 13th, 2006 at 06:55 pm

My goal through the end of the year is to use up various calling cards I've acquired. I just received $30 calling cards from IDT as a result of a class action settlement, and probably have another 30 minutes or so on other cards. My plan is to use them as needed during the day, so I don't eat up my cell phone minutes. There's definitely an opportunity for savings here...I never think when I call someone - I just pick up the phone.

I also received a letter in the mail about a class action suit against Verizon Wireles. I need to read the details, but at first glance it looks like a $15 credit on my cell phone bill when it settles. Every little bit helps.

I took a quick glance at the Leisure Plus program that StressLess mentioned. I agree with her that I'm not sure that it's worth it...You can save a max of $180 on gas cards, but there's a $90 yearly fee, so you really only save $90, and I don't think there are many other aspects of the program I'd take advantage of. Still...$90 is $90. I'll have to consider this further.

Not much further along on the Christmas front. I do need to order some discounted gift cards to use at Amazon and Circuit City, so I'll be doing that this week.

Weekend Wedding

July 16th, 2006 at 02:06 pm

We went to a wedding yesterday. It was 2 1/2 hours away, so we stayed over at the hotel, which made for a pretty expensive night, between the hotel, the gas, and the gift. And the wedding wasn't even that great. They had the ceremony outdoors, but had no tents set up. (Hello...it's the middle of July, thunderstorms happen all the time. I'm all for containing costs, but splurge for the tents!). Needless to say, it started raining about 5 minutes before the ceremony, and stopped 5 minutes after the ceremony. (A sign from above? I'm not sure). Luckily most people had umbrellas, and there was some cover. The reception was just ok, food and music wise. I'm glad it's over!

As an aside, can anyone comment as to how they decide on a wedding gift? We almost always give money, because that's what most young people need and want, but how to you determine the amount? Do you always give the same? Do you base it on the cost of the place? I left this up to hubby because it was his friend, but I'm curious how other people decide...

Went grocery shopping today and did pretty well. I spent more than my weekly goal, but got some pretty good buys thanks to loss leaders, and should be well set for a while.

I'm hoping for a quiet week this week. I have a haircut and color on Tuesday. I had to cancel my appointment from 2 weeks ago because of work and my grays are REALLY showing. I'm reading Flash's and Diva Jen's experiences with the home hair color closely, but I'm a big chicken when it comes to this. I always worry that my hair will end up green! It would be great to save the $105 bill every 7 weeks, though, so I may need to get over myself!

Free Sample

April 20th, 2006 at 07:01 pm

Proctor and Gamble comes through! I received a free sample of Tide liquid with Febreze (it says one use, but I'm sure I can split it for two), and 2 Bounce dryer sheets with Febreze. It made me think of the post in the forum where people commented on how many freebies they actually receive. I don't keep track (too tedious) so maybe I forget alot of them, but it seems like they all make their way to my house eventually.

Not doing a great job curbing the dining out bug. The kids wanted to go to TGIF's and I relented. I'm trying to avoid buyer's remorse because I love going there with them, but not when I'm trying to cut back.

On the way home I filled up the car (SUV) with gas. $2.75/gallon for regular for a total of $53.00! Ouch. Certainly trips like this one could have been avoided, but for the most part, our trips are required (commuting and the like). I'm getting good mileage (no pun intended) from the Shell credit card, so that helps. Also, hubby has travelled a bit more than usual this month, so he hasn't been driving that much. I also have a few work at home/vacation days lined up over the next month. I'm hoping the grand total at the end of the month won't be too much over budget. (Retire@50, if you're still looking to swap cards, I'm definitely into it!).

The weekend should be quiet. We have nothing planned for tomorrow. Softball game Saturday morning followed by a sleepover at grandma's for the kids, while we go to a friend's house for dinner. (No out of pocket; we just need to bring a bottle of wine). Then Sunday, DD has a birthday party but we already have the gift so again, no money out of pocket. Love days like that...

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.

Made some more progress today...

May 17th, 2005 at 08:10 pm

Got a few more things crossed off my list. Did 4 loads of laundry, went to the library, the dry cleaner, and took my son for a haircut. I also managed to plant some more, though I still have more to do, and the kids went to the dentist. Whew. I'm wiped! I'll try to get the rest of the flowers done tomorrow.

I also got an email from Main Street Savings that the gift cards I ordered were shipped on 5/16. I'm just waiting until I have them in hand and verify the balances before I order more. We have a slew of birthday parties over the next month, so the Toys R Us cards will be particularly handy, and I have friends who want me to order Target and JC Penney cards for them, as I don't usually shop at those stores. I'll keep you all posted, because it seems like a pretty good way to get 20% off. Most of them don't expire (at least not for awhile) so I may buy a few each month in anticipation of the holidays to spread out my Christmas spending.

Other than MainStreetSavings, which I had been looking at for awhile, I'm not doing much frugal-wise for the rest of the month. I already ran through most of my budget categories and picked off the easy fruit. I have a hectic couple of weeks coming up, between parties, hubby travelling, school stuff, etc., and I'm letting the dust settle from some of the other changes I made (particularly with the escrow/house insurance stuff), so my plan is to start again in June.

Lunch with my sister...

May 5th, 2005 at 11:24 am

always costs a fortune! We both work in lower Manhattan, where everything is expensive! She usually works at home on Thursdays, when I'm in the office late and can take lunch, so we wind up missing each other. But for some reason, she's been in a lot on Thursdays lately. I can't pass up lunch with her, because she's a lot of fun, and I don't see her nearly as much as I'd like to, but at the same time, it costs me $30-40 each time! She's worth it, though.

So what I thought was a no-spend day actually cost me $43. (Glad I didn't stop for that Starbucks this morning!). It's still early in the month, so I can make it up somewhere. The rest of the day will definitely be no-spend. Tomorrow, I'm heading to the flower place that I didn't get around to on Tuesday, but I think most of the stuff I'll buy will be for my MIL, and she'll reimburse me. On Saturday, hubby is going to a communion with DS, while I take DD to her Tball game (unless it rains, then we'll all be going). I'm hoping that the communion only costs me $25, but it's hubby's family, so he decides. The good news is that we're not going to a wedding on Saturday (a few states away), also on hubby's side, and we only need to give $50 for that (I budgeted $100). So I think I'm making out here somewhere...

Other than that, things are quiet. I need to increase hubby's 401(k), using 1/2 of the raise he got in April. But first, I need to make sure that the money is going to the right category of investments. His company pays for a financial planning company to work with us in this area, so I just need to call them, then make the switch. The raise was effective in April, so I already went 1 month without increasing it, I really want to try to get the change in before the deadline for May. Also, with the whole thumb thing last weekend, I never got around to listing the books on half.com. I need to get to that this week. That's all for now...

Hotel mix-up

April 18th, 2005 at 06:51 am

Why do I have a happy face icon next to the title of "hotel mix-up"? Because it was in my favor!!! Hubby's birthday was last Thursday, and I bought tickets to see the Yankees in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon. MIL watched the kids, so we were looking forward to a great, relaxing trip. Anyway, we booked the Hyatt Regency 2 months ago. It was the only hotel not already sold out when we booked, and ended up costing $300 for the night. So we get down there at 2:15 for a 4:30 game (check-in was supposed to be 4:00 but we had requested early check-in). The clerk informed us that due to circumstances beyond her control, the hotel was overbooked and they needed to relocate us to a Holiday Inn at the BWI airport (about 20 minutes away).

Now this is a sign that I'm growing up, becuase the old me would have absolutely pitched a fit on this poor woman. But the new, calm, serene me (probably because I didn't have my kids with me lol) just listened to her explain that they were going to put us up for free, and pay our parking at the Hyatt (we had already dropped off our car) and give us cab vouchers to get to and from the other hotel, and give us a voucher good for 1 free night at any Hyatt worldwide, for our inconvenience. Well, all right!!! The inconvenience was minimal, and instead of spending $300, I spent nothing and have a voucher for a free night! Love when that happens! Drove back Sunday morning and, other than breakfast, had a spend-free day. WooHoo.

I think I'm up to the "gifts" category on my budget. I've made one big change to get my spending down here, and that's to buy gift cards on ebay for everything. For Birthday presents, I tend to get Discovery Store cards, as I can regularly get them for 30% off face value. So instead of spending $20 I spend $14, which is much more reasonable for all the school birthday parties we go to. For baby showers/bridal showers I get Toys R Us/Babies R Us/Linens N things, or wherever they may be registered. Combined with some coupons I can usually do ok. The 2 areas I'm still having trouble with are "cash events". In my husband's family especially, people tend to give cash for a lot of events (weddings, graduations, communions, etc.). I haven't thought of a way around this. Where I'd be happy buying a $17 gift instead of a $20 gift, I'd feel weird giving a check for $17. Kwim? The second problem area are unplanned gifts, like housewarmings, sympathy gifts, etc. They usually come up last minute so the gift card thing doesn't work. I need to work on this.

Have a great day...