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$20 Challenge

July 28th, 2008 at 05:14 pm

I was inspired by Lux Living Frugalis! Now that I'm back on the site more, I picked out a few of my favorite authors, and started looking at old entries. I came across Lux's first foray into the $20 challenge, when she started with all of $.34. She was so excited! I decided that I could probably find a nickel or a dime to get started too, so why not?

I actually participated in the challenge a while back and did quite well by selling books. Unfortunately, most of the books I have now are not worth anything, so that probably won't be a good avenue. As I declutter my house, I'm going to see what I can get rid of on ebay, etc.

I also revamped my categories, so I can better find old entries that I'm interested in. One of the things I did a while back was to go through every line item on my budget and brainstorm what else I could do to lower it. It's been a long time, so it may be worth it to revisit them and see what I've slacked off on.

The eye of the disorganization hurricane!

December 31st, 2006 at 05:26 pm

What a great day. We cleaned out the closet that is at the center of all of our disorganizational woes. (btw, after catching up on some other blogs, is December 31st the official day to clean out closets, or what?!)

It's the kind of closet where, if we could just get it cleaned out, it would make room for stuff from other rooms, which would make room for other stuff, which would eventually get us to the point where the whole house is organized. That's the plan at least.

So we made progress. The closet is cleaned out, and I was able to start organizing some kitchen cabinets by moving things from there into the now cleaned out closet. Slow and steady wins the race.

So while I started the "organization" resolution early, of course I'm holding off the "healthy eating/lose weight" resolution until 12:01...Not quite THAT bad, but I'm sure not skimping on anything, including the gnocchi we had for dinner (in a light cream sauce)...wahoo...

Looking forward to a fantastic 2007...hope everyone has an enjoyable evening, and a happy, healthy year!

Status Quo

December 11th, 2006 at 01:57 pm

Not much happening here...

We went into NYC on Sunday. It was totally congested (100 times worse than normal, which is pretty bad), but fortunately travel in and out was smooth.

Went to the American Girl store, so DD could spend some of her birthday money. The marketing people at that company are geniuses. If you're familiar with American Girls, you'll know what I mean. If you're not, consider yourself lucky...

Made some more progress on Christmas shopping. I only have a handful of things left. I can't wait to compare this year vs. last year's gift total, because I think it should be alot better.

Speaking of comparing, I'm starting to analyze where I ended the year and set goals for next year. Hopefully they'll be ready to post before 12/31!

Watched a Charlie Brown Christmas

November 27th, 2006 at 07:27 pm

I had a pretty productive day! I mailed invitations for a Christmas open house. It's 3 weeks away, and I'll plan the menu once I figure out how many are coming. I also wrote out thank you cards from DS's birthday party, and will mail them out tomorrow when I get more stamps.

Got the first of many Christmas gifts delivered to the house. (I LOVE internet shopping!). Now I have to find a place to hide them, as the kids pretty much have full run of the place and have already discovered my first two places. The trunk of the car is looking pretty appealing...

Received a $10 rebate and a $3 check to apply toward my cell phone bill. Also, I got information in the mail about a class action suit against Verizon Wireless. If I sign up for a 2-year extension (which I would do anyway), I get a $30 credit on my bill. So that's cool.

One of our Christmas traditions is to watch a Christmas show/cartoon each night. Tonight it was A Charlie Brown Christmas. It's such a classic...I get so moved when Linus does his speech...best holiday show by far!

Happy Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2006 at 07:23 am

It's so easy to lose sight of all we have to be thankful for, when we're mired in the day-to-day. Thanks everyone, for reading my blog and commenting, and have a great holiday!

I'm working from home today and off on Friday. I'm going into school for DD's Thanksgiving party, then to the library, and to get the kids haircuts. Thursday will be at hubby's cousin's house, then my dad's on Friday.

This weekend, we'll start decorating for Christmas! (As an aside, one of the local radio stations started playing 24 hour Christmas music 2 weeks ago! I like the music as much as anyone, but on November 15? Come on...)

I've done a great job making progress on my Christmas shopping. Ordered a bunch of stuff from American Girl (free shipping), and from Amazon (using discounted gift cards). I still have more things to get, but at least I know what I'm getting, so I'm ahead of the game and not at all stressed. I need to dig out my Christmas cards and get started on them, and send out Thank You cards from DS's birthday party.

I updated my October budget, and need to get caught up with November so I can see what kind of progress I've made in 2006. No doubt it will be some good, some bad. I did just receive my auto insurance renewal, and it was around $3,075. I have to look up last year's policy, because I could have sworn it was closer to $3,200. That would make my day!

So that's it for now. Have a great holiday everyone!

You think you know a person...

November 16th, 2006 at 08:41 pm

It's funny to read the lists and see how close my impressions of everyone were...Here's mine:

1. I'm a follower, not a leader. Hence my decision to wait until all of you posted your list before I posted mine.
2. I use ... alot.
3. Jane Eyre is my favorite book. The first time I read it (in high school), I stayed up until 4am to finish it.
4. Ferris Bueller is my favorite movie ever. I know the entire thing by heart!
5. I'm the youngest of ten, hubby's an only child. (Opposites attract).
6. I'm 100% Irish and hubby's 100% Italian. (Opposites attract).
7. My brother (5 years older than I am) hated me growing up. We fought like cats and dogs. Now we vacation together every year.
8. I used to run varsity track and cross country in high school (before I discovered beer!)
9. I have a really varied taste in music. My favorites are Tom Petty, Jimmy Buffett, and Bob Seger.
10. Both of my kids have the same name as my previous bosses at work, though I didn't really plan it that way.
11. When I'm not dressed up for work, I'm home in sweatpants, a T-shirt, and my hair in a ponytail.
12. The only makeup I own is lipstick, and I never wear it.
13. My middle name is Rita. I have no idea why.
14. I curse more than I should.
15. My big talent in 4th grade was gargling songs with water.
16. My nickname in college was Chuckie, because I looked like the character from the horror movie, with red hair and freckles!
17. My parents were 44 and 46 when I was born.
18. I'm totally organized at work and totally disorganized at home.
19. My oldest sister had twin boys on my 1st birthday.
20. I hate greeting cards and wrapping paper. Two of the biggest wastes of money ever (imho).
21. I never saw the Godfather, or Star Wars.
22. I love all puzzles. Sudoko, Kakuro, and crosswords are my favorite.
23. I'm great at math and english, horrible at science, history, and languages.
24. Hubby's a chemist. I have absolutely no idea what he does.
25. I have no artistic talent whatsoever.
26. We're big Dallas Cowboy fans. Went to Dallas on our honeymoon on the way to Hawaii to see the Cowboys play the Giants on Monday Night Football.
27. Went back on our 1st anniversary, and were next to another couple who were there on their honeymoon.
28. I think New Years Eve is the most overrated holiday ever. I've only had one stellar one in 36 years!
29. I love sports and hate shopping. I tell hubby that's why I'm such a catch!
30. I'm pretty cynical.
31. Love Connection with Chuck Wollery was my favorite show in college.
32. I love to cook gourmet meals and eat them with a glass of wine (or two)!
33. I love watching David Letterman and I met Jay Leno 20 years ago (before he was big).
33. I think I'm pretty fun.

I've really gotten a kick out of reading everyone's lists!

Plumbing Progress

November 8th, 2006 at 03:56 pm

The contractor came today to fix my kitchen sink, which broke last Tuesday night. I've never been so happy to do dishes! Having to cart them from the kitchen to the bathroom and back has NOT been fun!

The kids are off tomorrow and Friday. I'm working tomorrow, so the kids are going to grandma's. On Friday we're taking the day off to go to lunch and the planetarium with my sister and nephew. The kids LOVE the planetarium, so it should be a great day...

I overestimated my dependent care for the year, so I'm going to lose some $ in my flexible spending account. The amount was already set when I switched departments (and hours) at work. Because I was going from one p/t job to another, I couldn't switch the amounts mid-year. Depending on how much I use the aftercare at school through the end of the year, it could be as much as $500. I'm trying not to stress too much, because $250 of my contributions are paid by hubby's company, and the tax break I'm getting on what I have used more than makes up for it, but still...

On the flip side, I'm excited about my health care FSA for next year. I increased the amount based on this year's usage. Now that otc medicines are eligible for reimbursements, I can double dip by submitting them to my FSA (and thus paying for them pre-tax). Pretty cool...

So that's about it here...we're in a lull, thank goodness!

Anniversary Weekend...

November 4th, 2006 at 03:00 pm

My anniversary is tomorrow - 12 years! To celebrate, kids are sleeping over at grandmas and we're going to a PTO fundraising dinner. Tomorrow, we're bringing the kids home and hanging around the house all day.

It's been COLD here - high in the mid-40s today, same tomorrow. I'm hoping hubby will light a fire tomorrow. First one of the fall. The chimney guy cleaned it out on Tuesday so it's ready to go!

DS's birthday is Monday (6!). We'll go to Grandma's for dinner so we can celebrate together. I still need to go shopping for his gifts. I know what to get, just need to get to the store.

Speaking of gifts, it's time I turn my attention to Christmas. I had the kids' pictures taken on Thursday and got them back today. (Talk about fast service - what a pleasant experience this was)! I think I have Christmas cards that I bought after Christmas last year, so I can begin writing them out at my leisure so they're ready to go Dec. 1.

I'm getting to be a Scrooge about Christmas cards. Aside from a few people that I'd really like to touch base with, why bother sending a card to someone just because I've done it every other year? There are so many people on the list that I only communicate with through Christmas cards (and vice versa), and I don't know that I'm really brightening their day by sending a message of good cheer. I'll have to ponder that one (more likely, see how many cards I have leftover lol!).

I also need to take a look at my gift list. DD's is easy, because she wants everything under the sun. DS is harder, because he's a pretty content kid, and I usually use up all of my ideas for him for his birthday. I'll need to think about hubby, too. I'm pretty good about writing ideas down during the year, just need to check back and see what I have.

As for the others, again, I'm going to cut down where I can. It just gets crazy. On the flip side, I always "adopt" a few kids through a program at work, and I feel awesome about that, because these kids would have nothing if not for the volunteers who take them. The kids are old enough to get involved with that, too this year.

Sorry for the long, rambling message. Haven't had a chance to post frequently, so I figured I'd have a brain dump and get it all out now...

Super Halloween!

October 31st, 2006 at 03:12 pm

We had SO much fun today! I was in school for DD's Halloween party, and the parade. We got home, and ventured out at 3:30 to go trick-or-treating. We were back at 5:10, which was absolutely perfect timing. The kids (5 & 7) were BEAT. The weather was perfect, too. Near 70, which is something else for the end of October...I put them right into the bath (after having a piece of candy, of course). We're about ready to eat, then an early bed, if they're not too sugared up!

That will leave me time tonight to finish the October numbers and see where things stand. Looking forward to a quiet night.

Catching Up

October 30th, 2006 at 11:20 am

I'm in a good place with October ending. I'm off today and tomorrow, so I'm able to get some things done. (Nothing great, just the typical stuff I normally have no time for).

I'm looking forward to Halloween tomorrow. The kids are so excited. They have a parade at school, followed by some trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

I need to tally up all of my October spending and check the budget. I'm anxious to see how much my gas bill went down now that I'm taking the train to work. Also, the gas company is coming tomorrow morning to install a special meter that they can read from the street. That'll allow me to actually get an actual reading each month...hoping this will go down too.

It's going to be an expensive week coming up. Our anniversary is Saturday, and DS's birthday is next Monday. I also scheduled the kids' Christmas pictures for Thursday afternoon. It's getting to be that time of the year again...

Swamped

October 24th, 2006 at 07:52 pm

Wow, it's been a week since I last posted. Where does the time go? I'm on this site everyday catching up on the blogs, but I haven't had the time to sit down and write one myself!

Things are hectic but fine. October was a good month financially. I got a small bonus at work (unexpected) and MIL gives us some money each September, so we have that in the account as well. It came in handy. We paid off the small remaining balance on our HELOC ($1700+), so now we have about $20k on 0% ccs from the addition we put on the house. The 0% on one card expires in March, and the other next September, so we'll be working to pay those off in time.

We also took some of the extra money and boosted up our emergency fund. We near-depleted it last April when we paid our huge tax bill, so although it still isn't as high as I'd like, I'm at least comfortable with it.

The remaining money is going to sit in the checking account through the end of the year. In addition to the bathroom remodel, we have both kids' birthdays (and parties, presents, etc.), and Christmas. So rather than feel pinched, we'll leave the buffer in there and get through the end of the year...

The bathroom remodel is going slowly. Our contractor took a look at it and said he would do it. We haven't had time to pick out fixtures/tile, and he hasn't sent us the estimate yet. On the one hand, I'm ok with the pace (the slower it goes, the longer before we begin paying!). On the other hand, he said it would take at least a month to do it all, and I'd prefer not to be under construction through the holidays. We'll make due, though.

So that's about it...hubby's been travelling, the kids are busy with school and activities, and I'm busy at work.

(Forgot to mention, I had a RAOK done to me today. I left my monthly train ticket on the train today. Luckily I had my name and # on the back of the ticket, so the woman who found it called me. She gave it to the conductor, and he was going to put it in the lost & found at the station for me. So I'm hoping to get it back tomorrow. I have a single ticket to get me in tomorrow, but if I have to replace it through the end of the month it'll cost me about $60!)

Keep the Change

October 17th, 2006 at 03:28 pm

So I signed up for Bank of America's "Keep the Change" program last year. Every time I use my debit card, they round the amount up to the nearest dollar and transfer the change to my savings account. Transfers are made daily. In addition, they match what they transfer. For the first 3 months, they were matching $ for $, thereafter, they match at 5%. Once a year they transfer the matching amounts to the savings account. I just received $27+ in matching funds!

OK, so it's not going to pay off my mortgage or anything, but considering it cost me absolutely nothing, I think it's a good deal. Also, I used the debit card aggressively the first 3 months, but only sporadically thereafter. I kind of like it, though, and think I'll use it more. (Which is the whole point of the program).

No big financial news. I sent out a $3 Musselman's applesauce rebate, but that's been about it. Status quo is the way to go...

Drowning in Paperwork

October 16th, 2006 at 03:50 pm

I made some serious headway into the mounds of paperwork in my house. I signed up for some health benefits under hubby's open enrollment. I need to do the ones we get from my company tomorrow. Also wrote out checks for picture days and a scholastic book order. Gathered up my Box Tops for Education and Campbell's Labels for Education.

(Shameless begging: for any blog readers who don't have young kids or whose kids' schools don't do box tops, I'd appreciate it if you could send them my way. You can find them on Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Ziploc, Kleenex, and a whole host of products. Each box top gets $.10 back for the school, to help fund things that are inevitably cut in the budget. So if you have them and don't need them, send them my way!)

Shameless plug over. October's been a good month. Bills are paid, and I got a small bonus thrown my way at work, which will help with some of the work on the bathroom. I realize (pleasantly) that I haven't really thought about Christmas yet. We're decorated for Halloween, and I've picked up / picked out a few things for Christmas, but not much more than that. Usually by this time of year, Christmas pix of the kids are done, shopping's done, etc. (Though I do need to get the pictures scheduled, just because those places get nuts once November hits!)

So that's about it here. Just plugging along through the end of the week...