Home > Archive: July, 2006

Archive for July, 2006


July 26th, 2006 at 02:44 am

For those of you who are sick of reading my posts on property taxes, I'm hoping this will be the last one for a while. I got the official stubs from the town today, and my taxes did, in fact, increase from about $8,100 to $10,160/year after the revaluation. I calculated $10,200 based on a sample calculation that the town sent out a while back, so it didn't completely knock me off my feet. What surprised me was that this new rate is for 2006 taxes, and I've already paid February and May 06 taxes at the old rate, so I actually need to shell out $2900 for the next two quarters, before dropping back to $2500+ next year.

So in addition to coming up with the extra money, I need to put aside about $1000/month to cover the new property taxes and house insurance, both of which I pay directly instead of through my mortgage. Ouch.

Onto better things, I made some progress preparing for my trip, including cancelling the mail and paper, and having my sister water the plants. I froze 3 lbs of peaches, 1 cup of raspberries and 2 cups of blueberries, so I'm looking forward to making a great fruit pie when I get home. I also need to take care of a pound or so of cherries, but that will have to wait til tomorrow.

I'm hoping this vacation will be thoroughly relaxing...I can use a few days of nothing!

Lots to do!

July 25th, 2006 at 02:36 am

This vacation is kind of sneaking up on me...I'm just realizing how much I need to do before I leave!

First off, some more good deals at Walgreens, including a bunch of back-to-school type stuff for $.10 each, envelopes for mailing out the coupon trains, and two more rebate items I didn't get last time. Total spent: $23.95, using a previously issued WAG giftcard, and I'll be getting $6 more in rebates back.

Also went to Shoprite to do dad's shopping, and got all of my non-perishable stuff. Not too big a list, pretty much just taking advantage of sales and coupons.

Finally, went to the Post Office to mail out the 2 orders. Should receive in the neighborhood of $8.50, and it cost me $3.20 to ship, so not bad.

Called the pool company again. Now they tell me that they don't have my warranty card, and can't give me another because they're all serial-# specific, but that they went on the company's website, and I should be ok just sending in the form with my receipt and the dealer number. I'll do it, and I'll document my frustration from the last month. And if the company doesn't pay out the $200 rebate, I'm going to tell my pool company that I want $200 taken off of my closing cost. I've had it. We really like them, but $200 is a lot of money, and I'm really getting mad!

Lots to do tomorrow and Wednesday. I need to stop the mail and paper, go to the post office and bank, order and RX, pickup dry cleaning, do laundry, and pack. I also need to arrange to have the plants watered. I'm sure there are other things, but I'm just so tired now, I can't even think of them!

Fruit Picking

July 23rd, 2006 at 12:28 pm

We went to a farm that had pick-your-own and got some (lots!) of peaches and raspberries. Also bought strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, and a pie (couldn't resist) while we were there. On the positive side, the fruit is fresh and fantastic, and the pyo was priced well relative to stores. ($1.19/lb for the peaches and $4.99/lb for the raspberries). On the other hand, we picked far more peaches then we can reasonably eat in the next few days, so I'll have to figure out whether to freeze or bake the rest. The other fruit was overpriced, but the freshness compensated. I'm chalking the whole day up to "Entertainment", so it shouldn't blow my grocery category out of the water. (BTW, JodiM, blackberries are also $4.99/lb when they're in season. Not sure how that compares to your area).

Today, we're going to a birthday party for my friend's two kids. I already have gifts for them, so no money out-of-pocket for that. The kids do want to see Monster House, so we'll do that tonight.

Otherwise, I'm just wrapping things up before I go to California on Thursday. I need to do a little itinerary planning, stop the mail and paper, stuff like that. I also have to call the pool company first thing tomorrow (Frown), and visit my dad tomorrow night.

No pool info

July 20th, 2006 at 08:54 pm

Of course the information from the pool company didn't come, so I had to call up (again!) and lay into them a bit. "Ann" assures me that she will take care of it today. She must be the only one in the place I haven't yet spoken with, because everyone else said the exact same thing! *Sigh*

I got the Northeaster coupon train today. Right on the heels of the caboose going out. It seems like it's chock full with good stuff (as always), but it's too close to dinnertime for me to give it the attention it deserves. I usually need to set aside an hour or two for this...

I also received a free sample of a razor in the mail. I don't sign up for too many free samples, and don't really keep track of them, so it's always a pleasant surprise when I get something!

Another quiet night tonight. I did a great job of planning the menu for the week, so I've cooked dinner every night! This hasn't happened in a long time, so I'm pretty excited about it...

Forgot to mention: I called Pillsbury a few days ago to check the expiration date on a product I have. They asked me if I wanted to be included on a panel to answer surveys and the like on their products. I said yes and just filled out the introductory info. Nothing offensive. They said I'll receive a welcome letter in a few days, after which time they'll send me occasional surveys. Compensation differs by survey. I"m not expecting much - heck, I'd be excited if I get some good coupons out of it. Just another reason why it pays to call those customer service centers...

Quick update

July 20th, 2006 at 03:37 am

I received an order from Two books @ $2 each, plus shipping reimbursement. It's been a while since my last sale and these things usually come in bunches, so maybe this is the start of something great!

Not much else new here. Just work and home today, same for tomorrow and Friday. I need to get down to my dad's before next Wednesday to do some grocery shopping for him. STILL waiting for the information from the pool place, despite calling on Monday (again) and having them assure me they'll get it out in the mail that day. If I don't get it by tomorrow, I'm going to have a fit, because the rebate expires on 7/31 and I'm going to California next Thursday, so it has to be wrapped up by then. I'm not normally a betting person, but $10 says I don't get it tomorrow...

Closed out my Sharebuilder accounts (mine and the kids). I also wrote a letter to HSBC to close that online savings account. At this point, I have two others that I still need to close (one soon and one when the 6 months is up), which will leave me with 3 checking accounts and 1 savings account, all of which I use. It feels good to get some of these things crossed off my list...


July 17th, 2006 at 09:44 pm

Great mail day...I got two $10 rebates for signing up for two gift card trials, and I got a $5 gas rebate back that I've been waiting on for weeks. I'm still waiting on two more $5 rebates, so I'm hopeful that they'll come to.

I also closed down one of the bank accounts that I opened for the bonus. I wasn't making use of it, and they sent me a letter that it was going to convert to an account with an $11 monthly fee because of inactivity. Forget that...

I also caught up with a few friends that I haven't spoken to in a few weeks. I still have a few more, but at least the list is narrowing.

Relatively quiet night tonight, then back to my to-do list tomorrow!

Weekend Wedding

July 16th, 2006 at 09:06 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. ('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!

A Day at the Beach

July 15th, 2006 at 01:34 am

Totally spur-of-the-moment, hubby and I decided to take the kids to the beach today. It was 85 and sunny, perfect weather. We had an absolutely great time. The kids were fantastic and we had a load of fun. No "buyers remorse" here, but it was a bit of an expensive day. I haven't added it up yet (I'm afraid) but between gas, lunch and dinner, boardwalk rides, and beach passes (good old NJ...charging $$ to get on their beach!), it'll probably run close to $100. Heck, it's 160 miles round trip, so gas alone will be $25. Spending quality time with the family: priceless.

I was disappointed with the mail today. We needed to buy a part for the pool, and it came with a rebate that expires 7/31. When the pool company installed it, they didn't leave me the warranty card, which I need to submit with the rebate. I called the pool company and got somebody totally clueless, who said she'd look into it and get it in the mail to me. After a few days, I called and got the owner, who knew exactly what I needed and said he'd get it in the mail to me. I haven't gotten it yet, so I need to call him back tomorrow. I hate frustrations like this. When I do my job, people don't need to tell me how to do it right, they don't need to remind me of deadlines. Why do I feel like my second (unpaid) job is babysitting grown men and women who don't have their act together? Totally frustrating!

But it's not going to ruin my great day...I'll update my progress tomorrow.

Random Musings

July 12th, 2006 at 12:34 pm

Hubby and I both get paid on the 15th, but I have the stubs already, so I'll be able to update my July numbers. I'm looking forward to seeing how I'll end up this month, because I have no idea, and knowing is better than not knowing...

I mailed out the coupon train, and got a $2.74 Aquafresh rebate in the mail.

I also received my 2nd mail order RX from Medco. I wrote about this a few months back. Both hubby and I take prescriptions that cost $25/month to fill at CVS. Going through Medco mail order, we pay $50 for a 3-month supply, saving $100/year on each prescription. Can't believe I didn't know about this sooner. When I was on their website, they also list all the RX that we've filled recently at CVS, and the savings if we switched to Medco. In most cases the prescriptions were one-shot deals, and so not eligible for mail order. But even my kids prescription vitamins, which are $9.95 at CVS are $5.83 at Medco. Worth looking into for sure.

I was pretty proud of myself on Monday. A children's clothing store near MIL's house was going out of business. They're clothes are inexpensive normally, and now they are just dirt cheap. I went in thinking I'd pick up some things for the kids. Found a few things they could use, but nothing that totally wowed me. I picked up those few things, but the checkout line was huge, so I said "forget it" and put everything back. I may go back again before they close at the end of the month, but I was proud of myself for not spending "just because it's on sale".

In fact, other than takeout last night ($12.50), I haven't had many unbudgeted expenses. That's key for me.

That's about it in mjrube land...

Walgreens Rebates

July 9th, 2006 at 08:25 pm

Wow, did I make out like a bandit at Walgreens, taking advantage of their monthly rebates and in-store specials. Here's what I got:

1) Kotex maxi pads - Spent $10.47-$2 coupons-$10 mir. So I "made" $1.53, in addition to getting the 3 packages.
2) CuraHeat 2 pack. $3.99 far.
3) Herbal Essence hair spray $3.99 far.
4) Sunsilk conditioner - $4.49 far.
5) Glade 2-in-1 candle - on clearance for $1.79-$2 coupon = free.
6) Maybelline lipstick - on clearance $1.59-$2 coupon = free. This last one reminds me of someone's post where they were questioning how long the makeup sits on the shelf. I'll contact Maybelline on Monday to see how I can tell; otherwise, I'll use it right away.
On top of all that, if I get the rebates in the form of a Walgreens gift card (as opposed to cash) I get a 10% bonus, for another $1.25. They were also missing a few things I was looking for, so I'll try to track them down over the next week.

Then I went to Eckerds and fared pretty well:
1) Schick quattro blade 4 pack: $10.99-$1 coupon-$6 mir = $3.99
2) Tom's toothpaste $4.29 (*2)-$2 coupon and $1 mir = $2.80 each.
3) Aquafresh - $1.99-$1 coupon-$1 mir = free.
4) Butler oral care products - $1.19-$1 coupon-$1 mir: I "made" $.81.
5) Revlon nailpolish: $2.99 far
6) Birthday cards B1G1 $1.29.

So a great shopping day for me...Used $6 worth of coupons from the trains, bringing my coupon train savings up to $39.24.

Aside from getting this rebate thing down, I actually noticed two tearpads with coupons. Yesterday at the supermarket I saw $1 off meat with purchase of 2 participating Kraft products, and today I saw $1 off Tom's toothpaste. I ripped off a few of each to include in the trains, but was just happy I even noticed them. Usually I'd pass them right by.

Hubby took the kids to his mom's for the day, so I was able to shop in peace (which is probally why I did so well!). I need to make a few phone calls and finish up with the coupon train before they get home.

We had a great weekend. My sister came Friday night and brought a ton of food with her. I'm enjoying the leftovers tonight. We had other friends over on Saturday, and I'll enjoy the leftovers from that tomorrow!

I'm looking forward to a pretty busy, but quiet week. Hubby has a dinner meeting tomorrow, and an overnight trip on Wednesday. I've got some organizational/housekeeping type things to do (as always!).

Identity Protector

July 7th, 2006 at 03:01 am

A few weeks ago, I cashed a $15 check to enroll in Citibank's credit protector 30-day free trial. They must have thought I was a good find, because they just sent me a $10 check to sign up for their identity theft 30-day free trial. I'm disciplined enough to cancel before the 30 days, so I'm thinking of doing it.

(By the way, re: the credit protector, they normally charge $.89/$100 balance. In the promo materials, they say they waive it for people that pay their balance in full, but when I received the materials, it wasn't anywhere in there. I'm going to call and cancel tomorrow, and see what exactly the deal is).

Other than that, a pretty uneventful day. Hubby's friend is visiting for the night, so we ordered takeout Greek food ($30). We have a pretty quiet weekend planned. Sister and nephew are coming for a sleepover tomorrow, and hubby's friend from HS will be here with his family Saturday. I'll need to check the freezer to see what I can cook. We may go raspberry, blackberry and peach picking on Sunday.

Hope everyone is well...

Back from vacation

July 4th, 2006 at 02:46 pm

First, a few musings about our vacation in the Outerbanks: 1) I've never seen thunderstorms like I did there. Every late afternoon, the skies would open up and absolutely POUR! Torrential! Luckily it didn't affect the day too much, as we were good about getting out to the beach mid-morning, pool in the afternoon, so the kids were ready for a break when the storms came. 2) What should have been an 8.5-9 hour trip took 12.5 hours on the way home. Every road we took had traffic or an accident, and we ran into major thunderstorms between Washington and Baltimore, then again in NJ. Got home at 10:15 on Sunday and we were all exhausted. But we did have a great time!

I updated my net worth when I got back and was up just under 2% for the month. I need to finalize the June numbers and see what July looks like.

A few good pieces of news when I got back: First, the $14000 transfer from the HELOC to the 0% card went through, leaving me with a HELOC balance of about $1700. I'll try to pay that off as quickly as possible, then tackle the 2 0% cards. Second, Citibank deposited the $200 bonus I was supposed to get for opening that account. I also got a few rebates in the mail that I was waiting for.

As for the challenge, I'm thinking about wrapping it up for the year, too. The Citi bonus was the last big thing outstanding, and I was planning on using the money for my trip to California at the end of this month, so I'll be draining all the money from the account.

Of course, I'll still take advantage of rebates, book sales, etc., but that money will be going toward the HELOC, instead of into a separate account. I need to take a break from the bank offers and free trials, which were a big part of the money I've made so far this year. I loved the challenge, though, and will be back in 2007!

My next step is to recap the first half of the year and see what's good, what's bad and what's ugly.