Home > Archive: November, 2005

Archive for November, 2005

More thoughts on insurance...

November 30th, 2005 at 06:09 pm

Thanks for the comments on my auto insurance. I've checked around, and the cheapest I've found so far for the defensive driving courses is $50 per person. This would reduce most of the savings I'd get for year 1 (though I'd still save years 2 and 3), but it's still worth it. Who knows, it may even make me a better driver! Gail also posted a reply re: alumni discounts. Liberty Mutual has affiliations with a lot of different groups. If you're a member of one, you can get a 10% discount on your premium. I noticed while shopping at Progressive, they have a HUGE list of groups that they discount for. So if you haven't already checked this out, it may be worth looking into.

I went to to check out term life insurance rates. I was pleased to see that I'm still paying a pretty cheap rate. (There was one company that was $2/month cheaper, but it wasn't as highly rated). I also got my electric bill today and it looks like my monthly budgeted billing amount won't go up next year, though I need to confirm...

Sometimes it pays to be disorganized...I went to fill out the rebate forms for a few of the Christmas gifts I bought, and realized that I couldn't get the UPC codes because I already wrapped them all! Oh well, I'll need to wait until after Christmas to fill these out. It totals up to $13. Not bad.

I think I'm going to apply for the Shell Mastercard. They're running a promotion where you get triple rebates for the first 60 days. That means a 15% rebate on Shell gas, and a 3% rebate on all other purchases for 2 months. After that, it goes to 5%/1%. I'm thinking this could be worthwhile for me because 1) I average over $300/month for gas and 2) Shell stations are convenient to where I live, and relatively inexpensive. At $300/month, I can save $240/year, if I filled up exclusively at Shell. They apply the rebates directly as a credit on your statement, which means there's no wait time, no forms to fill out, etc. So I'll do that today and see how it goes.

That's about it. Kids have a dentist appointment today...should be completely covered as "preventative care", meaning no money out of pocket.

Thoughts on auto insurance

November 30th, 2005 at 04:11 am

My auto insurance is with Liberty Mutual and I've been really happy, but I still feel compelled to shop around each year to make sure I'm getting the best rate. (They're usually the cheapest, and it would have to be a significant difference to get me to switch). I checked with Allstate, Progressive and Geico. My current policy with Liberty Mutual is $3334/year. Progressive was around $4000, the cheapest policy with Allstate was $3600, and Geico came in at $3114, a savings of $220. Normally, I'd consider a jump for that kind of savings, but given that I've been with LM for so long, I won't be charged for my first accident or ticket in the future. Geico didn't have such a deal for 5 years, and I figured the $220 I'd save each year would end up costing a lot more if I ended up with the accident/ticket. But I decided to call Liberty Mutual anyway and see if they could match Geico's price. Unfortunately, I'm taking advantage of pretty much every possible discount, so there wasn't much he could do. I removed the towing and rental car options, for a savings of about $75/year. (We already have AAA for towing, and we have an old third car on the policy to use if we were in an accident). He also told me that if hubby and I took a defensive driving course, it would save us $120/year, renewable for 3 years. I'm definitely looking into it, though I doubt hubby will be too excited about it. I think I'll push the issue anyway, because saving $360 for a few hours in a class is definitely worth it in my book. Between the $120 for the class and the $75 for dropping the rental cars, I'll have saved about 6% on my auto insurance. Not too bad...

In addition to the whole car insurance thing, I had a really productive day. I finally did 6 loads of laundry, and pretty much caught up. (I also finally took DD and DS for haircuts badly needed it wasn't funny!). After CCD, I took the kids to TGI Fridays, because hubby ended up going out to dinner with colleagues tonight instead of last night. I wrapped all of the presents I have in the house, and ordered three other things online. I need to double check my list, but I think all I have left to buy are a couple of DVDs. I sold another book on (it's that whole feast or famine thing), but this was only for $1.95. (I'll still take it!).

I have a few things on tap for tomorrow. First, I need to fill out a few rebate forms. One of the game companies (Parker Bros?) has rebates out for a bunch of their board games. I love playing games with the kids, so I picked up a few for Christmas at Target last Friday (for about $7.50 each) and they each have $2 or $3 rebates. Good deal. Also, one of the gifts I ordered tonight from Amazon (which was already $3.50 cheaper than the catalog I saw it in) had a $5 Amazon rebate attached to it. So I need to get those out the door. The kids have checkups with the dentist tomorrow after school, and I just blanked out as to what else was on my list, but it will come to me. I guess it's time to head to bed...

Thoughts on no-spend days

November 28th, 2005 at 03:21 pm

I've been struggling with the idea of "no-spend" days for a while now. I forgot who posted the idea that no-spend days are senseless if you pile up all your purchases into one day, and then are no-spend the next. What's the difference? I think it was Diva Jen that said she strives for "no unnecessary spend" days. I'm going to try to take that approach, but am still not sure how many I should shoot for each month. I mean, shouldn't every day be a "no unnecessary spend" day? I'll need to think a bit more on this. On to other things...

I sold a book yesterday on for $10. I don't get it. It's a Dr. Seuss-type book. I usually list my books for a couple of bucks in an effort to make them more marketable. But when I did a search on for this title, most were coming up at $10 or more. So I listed it at $10 (the list price on the book was only $10.50). It must be a classic or something to fetch that price, but having read it, I didn't think it was so great...Who knows, I'm just happy for the $10.

We had a good time with our friends this weekend. I made stuffed shells and meatballs for dinner. The great thing about this is that it's relatively inexpensive and I was able to make a lot, not knowing exactly how much we'd eat, then freeze the rest, so there's no waste. I have 3 more servings in the freezer now. This week is going to be pretty quiet. Hubby has dinner out 2 nights this week, and we have our parent-teacher conference on Thursday. Other than that, I'm going to try to pick up a few more things I need for Christmas, and get some of the wrapping for the kids' presents done. I need to work this weekend, then hubby is travelling next week, so I need to finish making the big push now while I have the time...

Doing great!

November 27th, 2005 at 01:57 pm

OK...I finished writing out the Christmas cards, except for a few stragglers that hubby needs me to do. The kids' pictures are in and they're sealed. I'm going to stamp them tonight and get them out in the mail tomorrow. I was going to wait until December 1, but then I figured, "why wait"? I have a big enough problem with reason to do that if I don't have to!

The inside decorating is also done. We put up the (fake) tree on Friday. It's great that the kids are so into it...they're 7 and 5 and are really getting into the holiday season. DD also helped me wrap almost all of the presents we've gotten from others. Maybe tonight I'll try to finish wrapping my kids' presents from Santa. We haven't started decorating outside, because we need to clear the leaves out of the bushes first. I'm hoping we'll take care of this next weekend. So I'm really in a position to enjoy December, stress free. I even broke out my Harry Connick Christmas's one of my favorites.

Other than the holiday stuff, I'm pretty much waiting for the 30th to see where things shake out for the month. I needed to transfer money from my "fun money" account to cover part of our California trip, but that was expected. Next month, I'll need to do the same to cover the stuff from the trip that I charged and will need to pay then.

I survived the stores!

November 25th, 2005 at 02:39 pm

I made out pretty well this morning...I was up at 5:15 and at Toys R Us at 6:10 (they opened at 6). It was crowded, but not too bad, and everyone was in good spirits. I found all I was looking for in pretty short order (amazing) and only waited on line for about 10 minutes. I was out the door by 6:50. My next stop was Target. Same deal...crowded but no line at the register (doubly amazing)! I found all that I was looking for there, plus a few extras. No stress, though, because the few extras are Christmas gifts for my kids from my MIL (she doesn't shop too much, so I pick the things out and she reimburses me). Then I went to Eckerd to get a DVD player for $18 (amazing). They opened at 7, and by the time I got there at 7:50, they were sold out of the 4(!) they had in stock. Frustrating, but it wasn't out of my way, so I didn't sweat it. Then on to Circuit City. Now this is where Black Friday gets me. They opened at 7, I got there at 8:05. The parking lot was really crowded, and the line for the register had to be 150 people long (no lie). I started to pick up the things I wanted and then realized how ridiculous it was -- it would have taken an hour and a half to get through that line, and I needed to be at work by 9:30. I decided that none of the deals were worth that kind of time and walked out. Fortunately, there was a Chef Central store right next door, so I went in there and got two other things on my list, so it wasn't a total waste. On the way to work I picked up a Hess truck from MIL to my son, went to the post office for stamps, and made it to work at 9:20. All in all a pretty productive day, and it's not even 10:00!

Looking over my to-do list from a few days ago, I see that I managed to get everything done except the laundry. So that's on the list for this tonight, along with putting up the Christmas tree. Friends are coming tomorrow afternoon and sleeping over, with other friends joining us on Sunday, which means I need to clean the house and hit the grocery store. If I spend $40 more dollars by next Saturday (which I definitely will), I'll qualify for my 2nd 10% off coupon, to be used by the end of the year. I'll need to do serious planning for this to maximize my 20% off. We are having hubby's family for Christmas dinner (15 people), friends over one day (8 adults) and my sisters and their families over another day (7 adults). While everyone brings something for these events, I'll need to carefully plan the menu and lump my purchases into one trip so I can get the 20% off all of it, particularly the meat.

Other than enjoying the tree, music and company this weekend, I want to finish my Christmas cards so they're ready to go on the 1st. I'm well set. Ho Ho Ho...

Black Friday

November 25th, 2005 at 02:29 am

After completely stuffing myself at dinner today, I got home and started sorting through the store ads to check out the black Friday deals. While the sales don't seem THAT amazing to me (maybe because I've been planning, buying on sale, and shopping for a while?) there are a few I can take advantage of to knock off some more of my list. I have stuff picked out at Circuit City, Eckerd, Chef Central, Toys R Us and Target. I'm going to go on line after I'm done here and see if I can buy online for the same price as the Early Bird deals. If so, that beats the heck out of getting up at 5am...especially when I have to be at work at 9:30!

I also made out great yesterday getting some gifts. I went to an engraving place to pick up some ornaments for our exchange. They had AMAZING sales on Lenox...Little lenox ornaments with a cutout for us to put the kids' pictures for $5 each. I picked up 6 of them (5 for our exchange, and one extra, just in case). Then, they had Lenox tea light holders in the shape of snowflakes for $10 each. I picked up 2 for hubby's secretaries (old and new), and I'm going back tomorrow to pick up two more for DD's CCD teachers. Finally, I picked up a Lenox cheeseboard...very cute in the shape of a snowman, and his stomach is a marble circle for putting the cheese on. The knife is in the shape of a broom. Very cute, and perfect for friends of ours who do a ton of entertaining and are impossible to buy for. They have 2 left, and I'm thinking of picking another one up tomorrow for my sister, who also entertains quite a bit. (I'd love one for myself, but won't get it...perhaps hubby saw how excited I was about it and will put it under the tree for me. If not, that's ok - I don't really need it, and I can always borrow the one I'm giving to my sister Smile)

Tomorrow should be really slow at work. I only work 9:30-2 on Friday, so it shouldn't be that bad...Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.

So far so good

November 23rd, 2005 at 03:55 pm

I accomplished most of what I wanted to yesterday. Most importantly, I booked DD's birthday party, and wrote out the invitations. I still need to get addresses for 3 of them, which I hope to do today, so they should go out in the mail on Friday. Also, I wrote out 15 Christmas cards. I just need to add the kids' picture and stamp them, then they can go in the pile for a December 1 mailing. I went to the bank, did 2.5 loads of laundry, bought the gifts I wanted, and called the doctors. All in all, a good productive day.

Hubby took the day off today, and will be picking the kids up from school. That will give me some time to run a few errands after work:
1. Go to the liquor store (didn't do that yesterday).
2. Buy ornaments for friends (instead of exchanging gifts, we exchange ornaments with 5 other couples. Much cheaper and just as meaningful). The first 2 couples are coming over this weekend, so I really need to get this done.
3. Call dentist to reschedule the kids' appointment.
4. 2 more loads of laundry.
5. Straighten up the house and begin putting up some of the indoor decorations.

DD never got her haircut yesterday, and it won't get done today. Maybe this weekend? That's the great thing about long, straight hair...when it's in a ponytail or hairband, it really doesn't matter if it's a little long!

What a lucky break I had yesterday. I needed to schedule my eye doctor appointment, and wasn't sure when it would get done, because mine and hubby's schedules are so nuts over the next few weeks. It turns out they had a cancellation last night and I was able to get in. We have a great vision plan through hubby's company, so it cost me $10 copay for the exam, and $93 for the glasses (normally $180 frames, plus transition lenses). I'll be reimbursed through my FSA for the entire amount, and we should still have enough leftover for hubby to get his new glasses in a few weeks.

We're spending Thanksgiving at DH's cousin's house, about 15 minutes away. All we have to bring is the wine. I'm working on Friday, which is kind of a drag, but so many other people are off that it will be a quiet day anyway. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Easing into the holiday season

November 22nd, 2005 at 01:24 am

and I'm in a good place. It will be a busy 6-7 weeks, but they'll be great. I have a good grip on what I need to do to get through the holidays, and now it's just a matter of taking each day at a time and getting done what needs to be done. One of the local radio stations started playing 24 hours of Christmas music from November 15, which is a bit early for my taste, but I'm starting to get into it.

Today I spent money on my usual tolls and parking, $.85 for breakfast, Taco Bell for lunch Frown, and sneakers for the kids, which I was able to pay with gift cards, so no cash out of pocket. Tomorrow is my at home day, and I need to get a lot done:
1. 3 or 4 loads of laundry.
2. Book the place for DD's birthday party.
3. Deposit a check at the bank.
4. Go to Target to buy 1 BD and 1 Christmas gift.
5. Call 3 doctors to set up appointments
6. Go to liquor store to buy wine for T'giving dinner
7. Take DD for a haircut

If I can get all or most of that done, I'll be in great shape. I also need to straighten up the house a bit more, and take down the remaining Halloween/Thanksgiving decorations. Our plan is to start our indoor decorating later this week (Wed/Fri), then do the outdoor decorating after the leaves have all fallen (probably the weekend of 12/3). At some point, I need to write out my Christmas cards, but I need to have a strategy for that. I send out about 50, so if I could do 10 or so a night, I'll make my goal of getting them all mailed on 12/1.

So I'm in a good place. We'll see what the rest of the week brings.

No-work weekend

November 21st, 2005 at 03:48 am

Wow, I usually don't go five days without posting...

It turns out that I didn't have to work this Saturday - it's been postponed 2 weeks. The timing was great, because I really needed the weekend to has been so crazy lately I haven't had time to think! Friday night I picked up the kids' Christmas pictures from JCPenneys (cute), then we had dinner home and relaxed. On Saturday, I was up early, the cleaning lady came, I went to BJs, we had DD's last soccer game, then I went to dad's to do his shopping and for dinner. Phew. Today, I got to sleep late, then we just hung out all day. It was gorgeous! We did some yardwork, I cooked a great dinner, and we relaxed. Now I'm geared up for the week.

Tomorrow, I need to buy sneakers for both of the kids, and DD desperately needs a haircut. I also have to do some minor grocery shopping. I hope that's it...

I received my $100 Office Max gift cards for opening up a California 529 plan. Happy to see them. Also happy to hear StressLess received her $25 gas card from PNC. I opened my account right after she did, so I'm hoping to get that this week.

Chugging along

November 17th, 2005 at 03:20 am

I could probably copy and paste yesterday's entry in here...nothing much new today. I had some spending today: $1.40/tolls (how repetitive is this?!), $14.xx for much needed groceries, and $30 to my niece for babysitting (meeting took longer than I thought). Gas, too. At least prices are coming down...I also bought a Christmas gift for hubby at, but I already had my discounted gift cards in hand, so no money out of pocket.

Christmas planning is going really well...I'm planning on writing out my Christmas cards this weekend during down time at work, I can pick up the kids' pictures anytime, so I'll be ready to mail them out Dec. 1st. As for gifts, I've either bought the gifts or have $$ set aside for almost everyone. The only exception is DS. His birthday was last week, so that used up a lot of my good ideas. I need to come up with a few more. (DD's bday is in December, but she always has a list a mile long, so thinking of things for her is never an issue!). Most of what I have left I can do online, with just a few stores to visit...hoping to get it done within the next week or two.

My sister will be working in the city tomorrow, so we may meet for lunch. Always a good time, though a tad pricey. Aside from my usual tolls and parking, that should be my only spending. That's it for now...

Halfway through the month...

November 16th, 2005 at 03:27 am

I think things are going ok. It doesn't seem like I'm spending a ton, but the money is coming out of my checking account. I think the Keep the Change program is one big culprit. I've been using my debit card whenever possible in order to take full advantage of the 100% match. Usually I'd charge the stuff and pay off the credit card the following month. So the good news is that I'm saving my change, getting the match, and paying everything now so hopefully it won't be as big a hit next month. The bad news is that I'm kind of getting socked twice this month, because I have the things in October that I charged and are showing up now, and I have the stuff I'm using my debit card for, which I'm also paying now. Ouch...

Work has been crazy, and will continue to be so for the next two weeks or so. I need to work this Saturday, which is rare, and will end up putting an extra $150 or so in my next check (always welcome). Today was a typical spend day...$1.40 tolls/$20 parking as usual, $3.75 lunch (Frown) and $7.00 ice cream (took the kids to Dairy Queen). Also bought a book of stamps ($7.20). Like most days...not terrible, but not great either.

Tomorrow should be a little more of the same. I need to go to work (just tolls, no parking). Tomorrow night, I need to go to a meeting for volunteers at Church, so my niece is coming to babysit. That will probably cost me $20 or so...

Back from my trip...

November 15th, 2005 at 02:24 am

...and it was great! Too quick, but great. It's so nice to have some time with just hubby, and know that the kids are fine at grandma's. We ate great meals, drank great wine, the weather was beautiful. Can't ask for more. (well, maybe another day...).

Today was a pretty cheap day ($.75 spent for breakfast at work, +$1.40 in tolls). That's been it so far. My goal when I'm done here tonight is to do another burst of online Christmas shopping. I have discount gift cards in hand for Amazon, Circuit City, Best Buy, and Target, along with a list of stuff to get for people. So I'm going to go on those sites and cross-check prices to come up with the best combinations. That should allow me to knock a few more off my list. I'm really happy to say that I don't have a lot left. Slow and steady...

Two good pieces of money news today: I received the $100 from DirectTv for my Tivo. I paid $100 at Circuit City about 8 weeks ago, and got the full amount back in a rebate today. The great thing is that I already paid for it, so this seems like found money (which will help offset the cost of my trip). Cool. Also, I'm on my 3rd month of my DirectTv $15 discount that I asked for. Starting next month it drops to $10 for another 3 months. Not bad just for asking.

I need to work in the city tomorrow, which is a bummer. I'm usually home on Tuesdays, which allows me to get a lot of stuff done, but work will be really crazy through the end of the month, so into the city I go. At some point, I need to get to the store to pick up milk and bread, hopefully not much more. I haven't tallied gas and groceries recently, but I'm sure I'm running pretty well under budget. Later in the week I'll reconcile.

It's also time for me to get a few auto insurance quotes. Of course, I love Liberty Mutual and think it absolutely rocks, and every year I go through this effort and find that they're the lowest by far, but I still feel like I need to go through the motion just in case. Hopefully later in the week I'll get to that...

CA here I come

November 10th, 2005 at 03:39 am

Flight leaves at 11:45 tomorrow! Today has been fairly hectic getting ready for the trip. I worked, picked DS and DD up from school, made dinner, did 3 loads of laundry, watered plants, fed the fish, blah blah blah. I spent about $4 for lunch at work, and about $7 for birthday cards (I really hate cards). That's it. Now, I'm just taking a few minutes out before I resume packing. I was hoping to get to bed early tonight, but that doesn' t look like it's happening.

I'll report back about my trip on Monday. Have a great weekend...


November 9th, 2005 at 12:58 am

I'm tired...I can barely remember what I did today, and it's only 8:00! I went to Toys R Us to replace a gift for DS that didn't work, so no money out-of-pocket there (amazing!). Then, I went to CVS to pick up a prescription (and thank you cards, and discounted Halloween candy, as if we needed more!). The total was about $23, $10 of which will be reimbursed through our FSA. Then I went to vote. It was about 11:00 and there was no line. I wonder if it's just low turnout, or if it was just a good time to go? Who knows, either way I was in and out right away. DD had CCD after school, then I treated the kids to McDonalds for dinner. $11.02 for the three of us. I used my debit card in order to get the Keep the Change match, but I still felt weird doing it. I can't believe that fast food drive throughs accept credit and debit cards. Anyway, this keep the change thing has been working ok. I'm probably up to about $11-12 so far. It's great for the first 3 months, because BOA matches 100% of the change. After that, they only match 5%, but at least I'm still saving my change. I also kind of like the fact that BOA deposits their match once a year. I think it would be great if, all of a sudden next year, I get a deposit for $50 or so. I think that's better than an extra $4 each month.

I'm going to try to get to bed early tonight. I have two more loads of laundry to do before my trip out to CA Thursday morning, so I'll get one started tonight. Not sure what's on tap for tomorrow. I could go to the grocery store to pick up a few things on sale, but I may bag it, because I don't absolutely need anything and would love to go a week without shopping. Other than my tolls for work, it could be a no-spend day...

Great Benefits

November 8th, 2005 at 02:42 am

My company provides some really good benefits. They match 100% 401(k) contributions up to 6%, and they pay for the first $100 of our public transportation commuting expenses (a pretty big deal when you need to commute to gets expensive). Anyway, they just sent around a memo today that, beginning Jan. 1, we can begin deducting our parking expenses PRETAX! up to $205/month. This is huge for me. Because of my schedule, I drive about 45-60 minutes, then take the PATH (subway) into the city. My PATH expenses run $3/day, so I'm always under the $100 limit. But parking costs me $20/day! So I will pretty easily hit $200/month. To have this come out pretax will save me $60-70/month. Great deal...Made my day.

I had a good rest of the day. After work, I picked up the kids, hung out at the park after school for a few minutes, then took the kids to JCPenney for their Christmas pix. Turned out SOOO much better than I expected. Every year we take them somewhere, and it's usually either really crowded, or if we go to a small place, really expensive. They ran the best shop ever! They only had 1 appointment scheduled per time slot, the girl taking the pictures was amazing, and we were in and out of there in 20 minutes. For some reason they didn't charge me the sitting fee (perhaps because I ordered so many pictures?), and I had discounted gift cards for the entire amount. It went so well that I took the kids to dinner afterward.

When we got home, we did homework and watched a new Spongebob DVD that DS got for his birthday. I love Spongebob...I know it's a kid's show, but I absolutely love it! I'm home tomorrow...don't know exactly what I have going on. DS's swimming lessons are over. DD needs a haircut, but I'm not sure we'll get there after school because she has CCD. Maybe a no spend day? Let's hope so...

By the way, DD's teacher has a pretty good program going on. The kids track their reading each day. If the read 10-15 minutes per day, 4 days per week, for an entire month, Pizza Hut will give them a coupon for a free personal pan pizza (it's called their Book-It program, and it runs each month, October-March). Seems like a great deal to if any of you are near a pizza hut, check it out...

Today's spending:
Tolls - $1.40
Parking - $20
Breakfast - $1.25
Groceries - $9.19
Dinner out - $26.03

Made it through the weekend

November 6th, 2005 at 03:35 pm

and had a great time. DS's party Friday afternoon went well. It was a "make your own chocolate" place (exactly what we needed a few days after Halloween!) and the kids seemed to have a good time. But the kids were pretty wiped by the time we were done, so instead of going out for dinner, we ended up ordering pizza. On Saturday I shopped for DS's birthday presents, then DD had her soccer game. Last night we grilled shrimp and steak for our anniversary dinner and hung out with the kids. We had a great time...DD made us two pipe-cleaner people attached to a pipe cleaner heart. It was absolutely precious, and is now hanging on a wall in our house. A great reminder that the best gifts really do cost nothing!

Today, hubby is off to church (the rest of us are a bit under the weather from all of the running around). Then, we're going to MIL's for dinner. Hubby is leaving for his business trip tomorrow, and I'm off to California on Thursday, so I'm hoping for a quiet few days in the interim.

I'm excited about the annual toy drive at school. We have a bunch of old toys that are in great shape and that the kids have outgrown. I tried to get them into the idea of giving them away, but they pulled the old "but we still play with that!" routine, so I got them to agree to a few things. When they go to bed this week, I'm going to do the rest! We're scheduled to have their Christmas pictures taken tomorrow (don't know yet what they're going to wear!). DD still needs her haircut. Hopefully that's it.

Spending this weekend: Groceries ~$60 total


November 4th, 2005 at 06:32 pm

WooHoo...Love Fridays!

So far today, spent $9.65 at Dunkin Donuts for a dozen donuts for DS's class snack for his birthday, and a sandwhich and coffee for me Smile, and $1.40 in tolls on the good ole' Garden State Parkway. I bought $75 in discounted Toys R Us gift cards in preparation for Christmas/birthdays (and to take advantage of a promotion they have going on, where if you spend $75, they'll give you a $10 gift card for your next visit). So I'll get my list together and get over there.

I'm picking MIL up at 2:30 so she can come to DS's birthday party today. We need to stop and get the cake and 2 bottles of soda. I also need to pick up a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, and margarine, because I never stopped at the store this week. Then, after the party, we'll go out to dinner.

On the Christmas front, I'm doing pretty well. I have either bought, or have the gift cards/cash set aside to buy presents for most on my list. We still need to figure out what to get MIL, as well as friends of ours who are always tough to buy for. I haven't started shopping for DS yet (I'm still focused on his birthday), but DD is almost done and I only have 1 or 2 more things for hubby that aren't included in what I've set aside. Not bad, and for some reason, I'm not at all stressed. I set up an appointment at JCPenney's for Monday to have the kids' Christmas pictures taken, and I already have discounted JCP gift cards to pay for that. I'm in a good place...

Plugging Along

November 3rd, 2005 at 08:37 pm

Things are going well so far. After Tuesday's brutal $$ day, thanks to the car maintenance, Wednesday was a lot better. In fact, I spent my usual $1.40 for tolls, and $12 (from my allowance) for drinks after the PTO meeting. I tried to sign DD and DS up for swimming lessons, but all of the classes that fit my schedule were filled. Could it be fate? It will save me a few hundred dollars...

Today's expenses should be minimal and budgeted. I spent my $1.40 for tolls and $20 for parking (I hate when I work in the city!). My old boss is taking me to lunch. (That makes 2 days in a row that I will not spend money to eat at work - a miracle!). I should run to the grocery store to pick up a few items, but that will definitely be under $20.

When I get home from work tonight, I need to put together the goody bags for DS's party. Tomorrow, I'm bringing snack into his class, and I need to pick up the cake and drinks for the party. Then, MIL is taking us out to dinner. That's it for now...

Hello November...

November 2nd, 2005 at 04:00 am

...and goodbye October. Reading everyone's journals, it seems like I'm not alone in messing up a bit in October. But today starts a new month...

Unfortunately, we needed to do maintenance on one of our cars. It has 34,000 miles, so we brought it in for an oil change (cheap) and 30,000 mile service (expensive). The total was about $650, but I know from past experience that if I put off the maintenance, I wind up with bigger problems later...Ouch. We'll be able to cover it, but it will mean something else that loses out.

We have a few big things in November. Our anniversary is Saturday (11 years!). I'm piggybacking on hubby's business trip, so we're going to wine country (CA) for 4 days and 3 nights. I'm using frequent flyer miles, his airfare is paid, we have gift certificates for most of the cost of the hotel, so basically our out-of-pocket will consist of 1/2 the rental car (we're going with friends), a bit of the hotel, meals, and wine. Fortunately, I've enough saved in my fun money account to pick up most of this, plus I'll use whatever $$ we get from our parents. Whatever that doesn't cover, we'll consider it our gift to ourselves.

Then, DS's birthday (5) is Sunday. His party is Friday, and I have about half the $$ set aside for that already. I'll be using a combination of Toys R Us coupons and discounted gift cards (already in hand - no out-of-pocket) for his gifts.

We have three other birthday presents I need to get throughout the month, but I already have discounted gift certificates to use when I buy the gifts. We just committed to go to hubby's cousin's for Thanksgiving, so that should save me $$ and effort, and we have friends coming over Thanksgiving weekend, but I'm going to plan the menu early and try to do something frugal (but yummy) - possibly some kind of pasta, homemade bread, something like that. I refuse to spend a lot on this dinner!

So that's November. Hubby will be travelling both immediately before and immediately after our trip to CA, so he'll be gone for a week and a half. That should help keep groceries and gas down (where did I hear that before? Oh, I know - October!)

November 1 spending:
Dollar store (stuff for goody bags) - $23
Car maintenance - $650
Gas - $25 (approx - hubby filled up. I'll provide updated totals later)
DS Haircut - $15

On tap for tomorrow: work, DD haircut?, light grocery shopping?, PTO meeting (I know I'm forgetting something...)