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Archive for January, 2006

Zero Percent Credit Card

January 31st, 2006 at 07:08 pm

I'm pretty excited. Over the last few days I've received 3 offers for various 0% credit cards. I spoke with hubby about transferring the balance on our home equity line to one of these cards. The balance is currently $23,319, and our rate is 6.74% (and the Fed just raised rates!). Even with the tax deduction, it still works out to about 5%, so switching to a 0% card would be great. We pay in the neighborhood of about $135/month on the interest...I'd love to get rid of that while we pay it off.

Other than that I had a quiet day. I returned overdue library books to the tune of $4.20 (painful!). There was also a bookfair at DD's school, so we bought a few books there. Dinner was in the crockpot at 10 this morning (I love that).

That's it for now...

January Challenge Recap

January 31st, 2006 at 07:04 pm

I received two deposits from ebook, for $26.67 and $25.49. I need to email them re: the $3.81 deposit, as that was mailed out along with the others. At least I got the two bigger deposits!

When I started the challenge, I laid out 5 ways to meet my goal. The end of the month seems like a good time to see if I need to tweak anything.

1) Bank bonuses - My goal for the year was $900. So far, I've applied for Affinity Bank ($75), Citibank ($200), and will do Chase in February ($100), for a total of $375. That's a great start, though I'm sure that I won't be able to keep that pace up going forward.

2) Ebook - Wow I really underestimated this. I was hoping for $30/month. So far, I've gotten $71.12, and again, while I probably won't keep this pace, the $30/month is still totally do-able.

3) Rebates - Again, I underestimated. I planned $120/year ($10/month). So far, I've sent in $98 worth of rebates. It's amazing how many are out there.

4) Recycling - Totally off on this one. I wanted $100/year, but will be lucky to get $35. I'm not too upset given how the other categories are doing.

5) Other - I've had a few half.com sales, and also some referrals for different things that will bring in a few bucks here and there.

So far so good...On to February!

New total: $79.33

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $6.65 (half.com), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2)

Finally, a rebate!

January 30th, 2006 at 02:52 pm

Waiting for my rebates is like watching grass grow, but I finally got one today. It was for the wireless router, but unfortunately was only for $15, not the $20 I thought. But I'll take it! So I can cross an item off of my outstanding list.

New total: $27.17

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $25.49 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $26.67 (ebook), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $6.65 (half.com), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2)

Half.com sale

January 30th, 2006 at 07:27 am

Had a sale on half.com. I'll update the totals after I mail it out.

Also, in reviewing my last few entries, I'm going to put on hold the bank bonus offer from NVE. Given that I recently opened Affinity for $75, am in the process of opening Citibank ($200) and plan on opening the Chase ($100) in February, I thought that was more than enough. I saved the advertisement, though, so in the future if I decide to do it, I can see if it's still valid.

I'm still waiting for my rebates to come in the mail, and for my ebookdrop deposits. I feel like I'm watching a pot of water boil...

January Recap

January 30th, 2006 at 07:22 am

So I made it through the first month of 2006 (which technically doesn't end until tomorrow, but I've accounted for all my income and outgo). Here's how I did:

I was right on the mark with groceries and gas for the car. This is a big deal for me, because I'm usually way over on both of these. The gas is even better than it looks, because I have a $57 credit coming back to me next month thanks to my Shell MC. I was also on track with most of my other categories, which don't usually change.

I was way under on car maintenance ($42 vs $150), clothing ($70 vs. $150) and gifts ($50 vs. $250). That's great, but the downside is that I came up with the estimates thinking that I would be using an envelope system, so the good months would offset the bad months. However, I couldn't get that to fly, so I'll have to see the impact of that as we go through the year.

I was on the wrong side of a few categories as well. "Extracurricular Activities" for the kids was way high- $238 instead of $100 budgeted. I'm not worried about it, as most of it is for their Spring activities, and I won't be incurring $100/month for the next few months. Dining out was slightly high ($123 vs. $100) and hubby's life insurance is up to $69/month from $55.

The biggest bummer for me is that I was only able to put $500 toward the HELOC instead of the $1000 I had hoped for. $350 of the difference was due to an unbudgeted repair. The other $150 went to my brother, who is going through a tough time and needed some help. I'm not expecting to repeat either of these next month, so hopefully I can get back to the $1000. Still, $500 is better than nothing.

Had a quiet weekend otherwise. Nothing really new, and no great financial happenings...

Another Bank offer

January 27th, 2006 at 08:04 am

Citibank is offering new banking customers who already have a Citibank credit card this offer: Sign up for a Citibank checking account and receive a $100 bonus, credited within 120 days. Link your Citibank credit card to this new checking account and make a transfer from the checking account to the credit card, and receive another $100 within 90 days.

I signed up for the EZ Checking, which is free with Direct Deposit. There is no minimum initial deposit, no minimum monthly balance, and no fees (because of the direct deposit). You only need to make one transfer, of any dollar amount, to be eligible for the bonus.

Seems like a great deal to me...this is definitely one of the higher bonuses out there! I'm not sure when it expires. You can call (866) 810-9040 if you're interested. Mention offer code MVR3.

New total: $12.17

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $25.49 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $26.67 (ebook), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $20 (Wireless Router Rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $6.65 (half.com), $100 (Citi bonus 1), $100 (Citi bonus 2)

Mailed a book

January 26th, 2006 at 10:13 am

Stopped at the post office today to mail the book I sold on half.com. It cost me $2.07 to mail the book, and I'll get back $6.65, for a net profit of $4.58.

Also, while reading the local paper, I saw an advertisement from a local bank. Open a free checking account (min $10 to open) with direct deposit and get a $25 bonus. No monthly fees, no minimum balance. I think I'll sign up tomorrow, and use this account to hold the money for my property taxes.

New total: $12.17

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $25.49 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $26.67 (ebook), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $20 (Wireless Router Rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 (Pepsi rebate), $6.65 (half.com)

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!

Starting my challenge in the blog...

January 25th, 2006 at 07:43 am

I'm going to start tracking my 2006 challenge as part of my blog. For those of you who haven't been following the challenge, my goal is to turn my initial $20 into $2000 to fund a November vacation to wine country. I'm planning on using 5 ideas to fund this challenge:
1) Bank bonus offers ($900/year)
2) Selling books ($360/year)
3) Sending in rebates ($120/year)
4) Recycling (Orig. $100/year, now $35)
5) Taking advantage of other ideas from here and other sites ($520)

I received a $10 credit from Direct TV for moving to auto-debit of my bill from my checking account. So:

New total: $14.24

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $25.49 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $26.67 (ebook), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $20 (Wireless Router Rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 Pepsi rebate.

Flexible Spending Headaches

January 25th, 2006 at 07:33 am

So I called my company to see if we could change our 2006 Dependent Care amount for our flexible spending account. Seems like mine is an unusual circumstance (of course). If I quit altogether, that would definitely be a "qualified change in status". Likewise, if I didn't have a job and got one, that would be a qualified change. But moving from one job to another, and changing hours in the process, which therefore changes my need for dependent care, "does not appear" to be a qualified change. Fortunately I'm working with someone who seems conscientious, and is escalating it to her management. We'll see what happens.

Other than that, I took care of some financial housekeeping. I entered the Staples rebate, faxed some receipts for my flexible spending, and got caught up on some other stuff. I wasn't able to finish January's review last night, but should get to it tonight...

Staples Rebates

January 24th, 2006 at 12:09 pm

Stopped at Staples today to pick up some markers and pens that are free after rebate. (I won't count this toward my challenge, because I wouldn't have bought them otherwise, but the're always nice to have extras around the house). I love Staples EasyRebates...everything is done online! I also sold a book at half.com. It's usually feast or famine with them, so I'm hoping that another 3 or 4 books will sell over the next few days!

Not a great couple of days for spending...I had fast food for lunch yesterday and today (no excuse) and the kids want Burger King for dinner. That's so tempting because they have CCD until 5, so it beats cooking, and hubby is going out for dinner. We also needed to have our watches serviced, cash only Frown

I think I'm at a point where I can pretty much finish up the January budget, so that's my goal for tonight...

Book Sold on Half.com

January 24th, 2006 at 12:00 am

Sold a book for $5 at half.com. I'll update the totals when I ship it out. This just goes to show you the stark difference between half.com and ebook. When I initially checked this book out at ebook, they were going to offer $1.75 for it. Instead of acting immediately, it sat around for a week and when I went back to ebook, it was no longer in demand. So I went ahead and put it on half.com for $5. (Had no idea if it would get that much, but there were only a few copies of them for sale). It sold within 2 days! If that happened everytime it'd be great, alas I usually have books sitting on half.com for months...

Taxes

January 23rd, 2006 at 01:40 pm

I got my W4 forms in the mail today. Although I don't have all of my mutual fund statements, I felt like I had enough info to get a feel for what the tax picture would look like. Boy did I ever! First cut has us owing in the neighborhood of about $6000! We always owe (last year was about $3000, which was bad enough). We never readjusted our withholding after we refinanced our mortgage (and are paying significantly less in interest). Last year we owed a small penalty (~$30) and still didn't bother changing the withholding! I usually get about $1800 back from NYS, but that's still a huge chunk to pay. Thank goodness for hubby's bonus in April, though we hate the fact that we always need to use it to pay taxes.

I talked to hubby about going to an accountant this year. We've done it a few times in the past, but I hate to pay someone $400 to tell me I owe $4000! But with the AMT, and with the fact that we live in NJ and work in NY, it's getting complicated enough that I'd feel better with professional help. And he should be able to tell us what to set our withholding at once and for all. I hate this time of year...

Groceries

January 23rd, 2006 at 05:33 am

I went grocery shopping yesterday. Ended up spending $92.xx, which was great considering that I spontaneously bought a 8.5 lb pork loin on sale for $.99/lb! Can't beat that price. I'm going to cut it into 1 lb pieces and freeze. I have a couple of crock pot recipes I want to try, and can always cut them into pork chops. Great deal. So that brings my grocery total to $458/$500 for the month. Next week will be a bit tricky. I usually go shopping on Sunday, which is Jan. 29. I've been averaging about $90/week, but will need to stay way below it in order to make my goal for the month. I think if I stick to the basics (milk, bread, eggs, etc.), I'll be in good shape. Also, that will give me a good head start on February's bill!

I had the massage yesterday, which was lovely...I wish I could get one per week! Usually I get gift certificates for Mother's Day, birthday, anniversary, etc., so they're few and far between...Today I need to put in all of the CVS receipts and a doctor bill to be reimbursed from my FSA.

That's it on a rainy, Monday morning...

Grocery Store trip

January 22nd, 2006 at 12:00 am

Went to the grocery store today, and turned in a whopping $.30 worth of recyclables. (Hey, it's better than nothing!). I also bought the soda and chips necessary for the $10 Pepsi rebate. The store was running a great sale - buy the 4 12-packs of soda for $10, get the 3 bags of chips/pretzels for free. That worked out well for me, because I wouldn't normally have bought the chips, and I did need soda. (We're not big soda drinkers, but I like to have some on hand and I'm completely out from the holidays). So, the new totals are...

New total: $4.24 (thanks to $.30 recycling)

Outstanding items: $3.81 (ebook), $25.49 (ebook), $75 (Affinity Bank), $10 (Del Monte Rebate), $10 (Colgate Rebate), $26.67 (ebook), $20 (Norton Security rebate), $20 (Wireless Router Rebate), $8 (Games Make Great Gifts Rebate), $5 (Amazon Rebate - not sure if I'm getting this because I didn't submit the packing slip), $10.57 (ebook), $10 (Kimberly Clark Rebate), $4.58 (ebook), $10 (2nd Kimberly Clark Rebate), $10 Pepsi rebate.