Friday, December 30, 2011

Ready for the weekend

It's been a fairly productive day, lingering headache not withstanding. I woke up yesterday at 4am with it, it seemed to just pound every time I woke up last night. I'm glad I have today off. Today has been kind of a dull ache.  Usually when I get these lingering headaches it's related to my messed up neck and the only way to finally get rid of it is to take a muscle relaxer. I just didn't want to take one last night, as then I knew I'd be a slug all day today and I wanted to get some stuff done.  I will probably have to take it tonight :-(

I got the grocery shopping done.  Spent $180.  I wish I could get it lower, but at least it's at what I budgeted for and this amount did include stocking up on a couple of things.  I also spent $33 on some more Christmas clearance items.  A tree bag to store our tree in, a box to store ornaments in, a lighted bow tree topper and some bows.  I think am now done with Christmas clearance shopping......unless I come across a great deal on holiday dinnerware set, but I haven't seen any in stores so don't think I'll be finding that.

Then Dd and I got tree undecorated and stored and all the other decorations in the house put away and organized.  Pulling the tree apart and getting folded up for storage left quite a few little "twigs", so then I went ahead and vacuumed the whole living room and dining room and the couch off, while I had the vacuum out.  Dd organized all the bags, boxes, bows and wrapping paper.

I was going to make a hashbrown casserole for dinner - I had actually bought all the ingredients last shopping trip, but then never made it. Well...I forgot that I had used up the sour cream to make some dip last weekend, so I had no sour cream.  I was tempted to go get take out, but instead I looked at my menu for the week and substituted some Beef Tips w/Noodles. 

It will just be a quiet weekend here, no partying for us boring folks!  I'm not sure if Ds and his girlfriend are doing anything tomorrow night or not. Tonight he is visiting an old friend he just got in touch with after a few years of silence. Ds made the first move and the old friend called him back and said "what can I say? I was an asshole".  They talked awhile and then made plans to get together.  The friend (he is a couple years older than my son) lives over an hours drive away and has a new little baby with his girlfriend, so sounds like alot has been going on in his life.  Ds was excited to get to see him again, they were best friends for quite a few years.

Dinner's almost ready and after I will go ahead and take that muscle relaxer and read until I get sleepy (usually takes about an hour) and then I will be out for the night.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Clothing budget

I'm ready for tomorrow to be here so I can get paid and start my new month of expense tracking. I kind of dropped the ball right before Christmas, which I had a feeling would happen - too busy and too many receipts to track and figure out.

I got to thinking of things I might "need" in the coming months.  The only things I could come up with are a new pair of jeans for work (one of my pairs are getting pretty frayed at the hem) and another pair of shoes for work - that's it.  I got several new tops/sweaters and some pj's for Christmas and already have lots of clothes, so that is all I should  have to purchase in 2012. It will be interesting to see if I can keep myself to that.  I'm not a big spender on clothes at all, but 2 items does seem a bit drastic!  I will probably keep an eye out for jeans at Ross, as they are cheap at $10-20.  The shoes I want run about $30.

Dh will probably need one pair of jeans and one pair of shoes too.  He just wears jeans and t-shirts (he has 40 t-shirts, I'll bet!) everyday with a sweatshirt on cold days and he got 2 new sweatshirts for Christmas.  He usually needs a new pair of tennis shoes about twice a year, as his feet need good support.  Ds already got his dress work clothes that will last him this year and his girlfriend got him a jacket, jeans and a pair of sneakers for Christmas.  If he needs more he can buy them himself now with his own money.  Dd is the fashionista, but other than school clothes shopping in summer, she buys her own clothes throughout the year with allowance/Xmas or Birthday $.  She may need a dance dress, but she's always been good about picking out something very reasonably priced with sales and department store coupons   Both of her last 2 dresses were so cute and one ended up costing $35 and one $25. I couldn't imagine paying $200-$300 for a dance dress, like some do. 

So, that's one of my goals for 2012 - very minimal clothes spending.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Need blogging technical advice please

Maybe one of my blogger readers can help with this question.  When I compose a new post and save it to draft it seems to get stuck with that date and time?  For example, I made my 2012 goals post last night and saved it to draft. This morning I tweaked it a bit, re-saved it, and then published it. It now shows up with yesterday's date and time.  Anyway around this little glitch?  I want it to show the date/time I published it, not when I originally started writing it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Goals for 2012

I hate New Year's "resolutions".  I never keep 'em.  But I do need some goals to work towards.  Here's what I've come up with so far:

Immediate goals (i.e. this week):
Take down all Christmas decorations and get them back in storage - NEATLY! I'm getting my bedroom walk-in closet somewhat more decluttered and organized and need to keep up with that. About half of my xmas decorations are stored in the closet.  I think I might look for some of those under bed plastic storage units to move the decorations to. I have quite a bit of room underneath my side of the bed.

Take bagged up clothes and old floor lamp not used to Goodwill

Keep working on getting through the boxes of old papers and misc junk.

Short-term goals (i.e. January):
Make dh an eye dr appt.
Keep up with current paperwork filing away or tossing.
Keep my desk clean (so far so good from my cleaning a couple of weeks ago)

Long-term goals for the year:
Bring EF to at least $2000
Set aside $30 a month for next year's Christmas gifts - or use money to start buying gifts and stocking stuffers ahead of time
Start getting a big stockpile of food and household and personal care supplies from sales
Stop wasting and throwing out extra food
Start contributing to my company's 401k plan again
Eat healthier foods (and hopefully reduce the exhaustion I feel daily)
Less fast food/take out dinners for Dh

Comments on the above:
I think I've got Dh on board with starting to stockpile.  I haven't done much of it because I just don't have enough storage space in the house.  It's not the "good deals" he cares about, but the thought of being prepared for a big emergency appeals to him.  He's even agreed to give me some shelf space in the garage.  Our neighbor has a huge shop and I guess he has really started stocking up on emergency food and supplies and I think that helped convince Dh.  So, I can satisfy my need to get good deals and he can feel like he is getting prepared :-)

We waste so much food.  No one (but me) will eat leftovers and I don't know how I will ever get them to.  Dh just plain refuses (he said he grew up with his Mom's crappy cooking and there was no way he was going to eat it a 2nd night in a row!). I have a bunch of plastic containers and I just need to start using them.  I can always have leftovers for lunch or dinners for me when I do get Dh take out, since I rarely eat from fast food places like McDonalds and Wendy's.

I had to stop contributing to my 401k plan when Dh had to quit work and my company stopped their bonus program (all around beginning of 2009).  I was really hoping that I'd get that raise now so I could at least start putting in a little bit each paycheck, but now I am just going to have to hope for getting a raise in June.  At least when I had to stop contributing my account my company started an annual profit sharing contribution of 3.4% of our salary into our 401k, so at least something is going in there each year.  If I can start contributing again, my company will also match 1/2, up to 3%.

The main reason I hate making dinner is because by that time of day I have almost no energy left. I really need to find something to help with that.  Doctor tests show no problems but I'm sure my diet has a lot to do with it - too much sugar, I'm assuming - and I need to drink more water.  So, I need to start doing some research on a better diet plan so that by 3pm I am not drained of energy.  I have a lot of energy for about the first 6 hours I am awake - the rest of the day is just downhill from there until I go to bed around 9:30.  I just started taking a multi-vitamin last week (for better energy support per the bottle), so maybe that will help too.  I am allergic to caffeine, so that is not an option for me to help stay awake, as it seems most people I know do.  I can handle a small cup of coffee but more than that and my heart is beating like crazy.  Most of the time I just have decaf.   I am just terrible about eating healthy foods. I hate most vegetables and don't eat enough fruits either.  Ugh! Diet and exercise I've never been good at, though until a few years ago I've never had to worry about dieting for weight - I'm petite and was 105 pounds since I was a teenager until I had a car accident 5 years ago. I've put on 15 pounds and seem stuck at that weight now. My whole life I have never had a lot of energy, but I got less active after my car accident and it has been worse since then.

So, that's my start of goals for 2012.  Hopefully I can start seeing some progress!

Back to real life

I'm having a hard time getting back in the groove of "real life"!  We had a very nice Christmas this year.  We open our gifts on Christmas eve, so I made a turkey dinner for early afternoon and we invited our neighbor over to eat with us. He's a single guy, about our age, with no family around.  It was a nice meal and good conversation.  Later in the evening, we opened our gifts to each other.  Dh passed out the gifts (we open one at a time) and even took pictures while we were opening.  Everyone seemed happy with their gifts and we had a nice relaxing evening.  Ds's girlfriend came over late and we exchanged our gifts with her. She's just a little bundle of Christmas spirit, so always fun to have her around :-) Christmas day we went over to my Mom's for dinner.  We have a small family, so it was just us, my mom, grandma and uncle.  My mom gave me a Nook Color! Woohoo! I am loving it so much already.  Ds helped me figure out how to borrow books from our library to dowload to the Nook - very cool!  I had enough MyPoints for a $10 card, so I ordered a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card.  I'm hoping I get some more gift cards to B&N for my birthday next month.  It's so tempting to buy books now, but now that I'm hooked up with the library, I think I'll manage to resist the temptation and as long as I can get an occasional gift card to B&N, I should be good.

Dd and I hit up all the stores yesterday to check out Christmas clearance sales.  One store was down to 75% off already, so we got some gift bags.  At Joann's I got a container of 40 Wilton cookie cutters for half off at $10, and at Kohls I bought a holiday door mat for $4. I'm kind of waiting for Target and Walmart to go down to 75% off and see if I can get some more silver and blue ornaments.  I'm also looking for a blue/silver tree skirt.  I found one online at Sears that is now half off at $17, but I'm going to hold off a few days and see if it comes down some more in price.  I also used my Macy's gift card I got from Dh and bought a nice sweater.

I only have 3 days of work this week and then another 4 day weekend.  My boss told me to just work from home these next 3 days, as she won't be in the office all week (along with about half our staff) so it's very nice I don't have to make the hour drive each way that I would have had to do today and Thursday.

Next up - goals for 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Enjoying the season

I'm just sitting here with my cup of coffee and 2 Christmas sugar cookies - hey, I only make these once a year so might as well enjoy them for breakfast ;-)  They are from my mom's recipe that I can remember always having as long as I have memories back.  They are so yummy!  Though I was a little bummed I ended up making these by myself yesterday as Dd took off to exchange gifts with her 2 best friends.  In digging through the "dark hole" of one of my cupboards for the once yearly used cookie cutters I found a Christmas cookie jar I forgot I bought on clearance after last Christmas!

It's been so nice having the last couple of days off.  I got my final stocking stuffer gifts purchased on Wednesday and all my gifts wrapped up.  Yesterday I went and did my grocery shopping for the next week, including the remaining stuff I needed for the turkey dinner I am making for tomorrow (we open our gifts tomorrow and then stockings on Christmas morning) and Christmas day will be a ham dinner at my mom's. I have neglected my expense tracking the past 3 days so I really need to get caught up on that, but I am feeling really good that I still will have about $400 left over from this month when I get paid on the 30th.  I plan to transfer that "leftover" direct to savings and then I will have over $1500 in my EF.

Usually I take off the week between Christmas and New Year's, but my boss took it off this year as she has family in town.  It's only 3 days of work anyway as we have Monday and next Friday off.  And my boss told me since she wasn't going to be in the office (along w/half the staff) she didn't care if I just worked from home those 3 days, so yay - I don't have to make the hour commute each way for the 2 days I would've had to drive up to the office.  Plus, I'll save on gas.

Today's plan is just to clean the house real good.  I worked some more on decluttering my walk in closet yesterday.  I have a small chest of drawers in there with a drawer filled with photos, one with school supplies and 2 with old, old craft stuff.  I threw out most all the craft stuff (on top of the chest was a big shoe box of old dried out craft paints that had been sitting there for years) and kept a drawer empty so dh can store some of his photos. 

Well, I'd better hop to it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My cell phone plan

Last February I was able to drop my contract cell phone plan and get on a pay as you go plan. I choose T-Mobile. I rarely use a cell phone, I basically have it for emergencies and occasional quick phone calls or texts. I purchased a cheap basic phone at Walmart (I think it was $30) and bought a $100 airtime card with 1000 minutes. From what I read online and what my cousin told me, this was the cheapest way to go, especially going into the next year. The $100 card gave me "gold" status where I got 15% more minutes on my next card uprchase and whatever unused minutes I had could be rolled forward into the next year, as long as I purchased another card before a year was up. From what I garnered, before my year comes up, I could just buy a $10 card, my unused minutes will roll forward now into the next year. I guess we'll see. I am hoping that is the case and that I do not have to purchase another $100 card. I still have over 400 minutes left, which based on my average usage, should get me though most of next year....and if I can spend $10 to add 100 more minutes and this all lasts another year - I will have only spent $10 to use my cell phone in 2012. But, hey, even if I have to buy another $100 card - that's still only working out to $8.33 per month to have a cell phone - pretty cheap. Of course, this wouldn't work for those who use their phone a lot, but for me, it's working out great and saving me quite a bit of money! I have a reminder on my outlook calendar to purchase the new card by the end of January, so I will know soon after, when my 1 year is up, if this method works or not.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Night Chit-Chat

Thought I'd join in on the "Sunday Night Chit-Chat" with Carla and Mysti!

Dinner was a Bertolli frozen meal - Chicken Marsala.  Dh's new favorite meal.  It's just the two of us tonight as both kids are gone for the evening.

I just finished reading "A Stolen Life" by Jaycee Dugard.  Very disturbing in some parts but amazing the resiliency of human nature to survive and go on.  Not sure what I will watch on TV tonight.  When Dh gets back inside from working out in the garage he'll probably flip channels until he finds something.

Listening to...
Hmmm....well our parakeet is back to constant banging on his cage - so that is what I am hearing all the time!  I moved him from his normal place last week to put up my little Christmas Village decorations, so I guess he's not too happy with me.

Looking forward to this week...
Only having to work Monday and Tuesday and then having a week off until the Tuesday after Christmas!  Either Wednesday or Thursday Dd and I will make some Christmas cookies.

Sunday Stuff

It's been such a random day for me - so my post will be too, I guess.

Slept in until about 9am, which doesn't happen very often.  Lazed around on the computer until everyone got up (which was another hour or more) and then lazed around a bit more.  Dd took off about 11:30 for a birthday party that has so many activities planned (sweet 16) that it is an 8 hour party!  Then Dh, Ds and myself sat around and watched a good movie (Inside Man with Denzel Washington) for a couple of hours. 

Finally we all got moving and the guys went out into the garage to work on stuff and I worked on getting some of the old paperwork and crap out of 2 of the 3 boxes in my closet.  Some of those papers were more than 10 years old. Ridiculous.  But, I got a bunch of it thrown away, another in a bag for shredding and combined the 2 boxes into one.  Still have 2 boxes in the closet, but at least it's a start. I also bagged up a bunch of old clothes I had been piling on top of the boxes for Goodwill, so now that is ready to go. Now my walk in closet can actually be walked in again.  Lots more to do and pare down but I am slowly getting there.  My clothes that are hung up have been reduced by probably half over the last year.

Dh got busy last week, after I bought him a few plastic storage bins.  He emptied out all his coats in our entryway closet.  He has SO MANY coats that he has gotten over the years - coats he had made up for his company, coats other companies had given him etc.  They were all so stuffed into that closet we never even used it for our everyday coats as you couldn't get a thing in there.  Plus there were a bunch of coats Ds had collected too, in his bedroom closet. Dh was only able to part with 2 of the coats for Goodwill (he has trouble getting rid of things that he thinks have memories) but now the entry closet only has a few coats in it and I was able to move my every day winter coat from my bedroom closet hook. I'm not sure where he's actually going to put the plastic bins (they are stacked up in our family room right now) but he says he'll make room out in the garage (it's heated).

I also transferred a $1000 of my bonus into savings, so I now have $1122 started as an emergency fund. That feels so great.  I just hope Murphy stays awhile for at least a little while longer and lets me enjoy seeing that balance in there every time I log into my bank account.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Day!

I got to work this morning to see an email from my mom saying that the recliner I was planning to buy (as Dh and my Xmas present) was on sale today and tomorrow morning only for 50% off!! It's been on sale for 10% off (regular price $500) the past 2 weeks and this afternoon I got it for $250! It was the last one they had, too. Dancing the happy dance :-)  Dh loves it and it's so comfortable.  About a year ago I saw a coffee table I wanted there that was about $200, so I was hoping they still had it and I would get it with the $200 saved on the recliner, but they no longer have it, darn.

Work was a half day and then we had a holiday lunch and party and got our bonus checks  $1500 net (so really over $2100 total).  Dd and I went thru the drive through at Taco Time this evening (the trip to purchase the recliner pretty much took away my dinner making time) and the girl tells us that the car in front of us paid for our order!  So we paid for the order on the car behind us :-)  Would love to know if it kept going forward or not.  I've heard of people doing that, but it's never happened to me before. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thank You's

What's your opinion on this? Last year, after our annual extended family (step siblings and a cousin and their families, I all see about once a year) holiday get together, my mom kept asking if my kids sent thank you notes to the aunts and uncles (my step siblings).  My son got a little annoyed about being told to send thank you notes and I tend to agree with him.  He (and my daughter) both said thank you when they opened the gift and then said thank you again and a hug to each person, when it was time to leave the party.  I really didn't feel it necessary for them to either send an email or handwritten note thanking them.  Sure, it wouldn't hurt anything, but on the other hand their kids don't send me a thank you note for my gift to them and I don't expect them to, since I was there to get a thank you in person.

I have a feeling this is going to come up again this year with my mom (though I'm sure she isn't telling my step siblings to have their kids send me a thank you).  I think if it does I will just tell her that I really don't think it's necessary since my kids thanked them twice already, in person.

Good grades

Good news from Ds last night.  His fall quarter grades were posted and he got two 4.0's and a 3.9!  I am so proud of him.  The 4.0 grades were computer networking classes and the 3.9 was a Business Communications class (where the class average was 72%).  He only has 4 classes left to take for his Associates Degree. He will take 3 winter quarter and then one spring quarter. Since he now has his job, he didn't want to try to do 4 classes in one quarter.

His job is going well, though he doesn't like all the driving around everyday.  Sometimes he has to go to several offices in a day.  But I keep reminding him he's on the clock while driving and getting reimbursed his mileage.  The guy who was hired to do the area north of Ds's area did end up quitting, I guess.  They have been having the guy who works the area north of that area handle the extra work, but sounds like next week they asked Ds to work it and said if he needs to put in over 40 hours that's ok for overtime.  I am surprised they haven't hired someone for that area - you'd think there'd be people lined up for the job!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On a roll!

I must have inspired myself with my post about my desk area because I got to work and cleaned it up today! I'd say the mess is 99% gone visibly, though I did not got through the huge pile of paperwork related to my side job (just stuff that needs to be filed). I cleaned out half of one of the upper cabinets (it had papers that just needed to be shredded or thrown away and several big printer cartridges that need to either go to Staples for recycling or just thrown away) and just basically hid the paperwork up there for now. I'll have to get to it sometime, but the way the desk was looking was stressing me out and making me not want to go through it all and just keep ignoring it. Dd and I went to Staples this afternoon and I turned them in for $2 credit each.

I threw out half a years worth of coupon inserts that were too old to use. My little garbage can is full of papers that just didn't need to be kept any longer. I had my son get online with his bank account and sign up for paperless statements, so I didn't have to deal with that anymore. I got online with our power company and signed up for paperless (I was on paperless, but this month they changed their online billing program and we had to sign up again). I tried to do it with the health insurance, but while they have paperless EOB's, they don't have paperless billing.

I put my RiteAid UP rewards and Walgreens Register rewards and a PetSmart $5 off under a push pin on my desk wall, so they don't get buried under papers and then I forget to use them by their expiration date. I still have a small pile of coupons to go through that have either come in the mail or I printed from online. And I wiped the desktop and what I could down with Clorox wipes. Whew - that all sure felt great to get accomplished!!

2012 Goal

I'm not really a New Year's resolution type person. I've tried that in the past and I never keep them. But I do have a goal I want to work toward and that is trying to get AND stay more organized. I am just not an organized person. I file in "piles" and while I know what all my piles are and what is in them (for the most part) it just doesn't look organized and makes me feel anxious. Weird part is at work, I have a pretty clean and organized desk. I do have a couple of piles, but nothing bad and it doesn't look messy (my boss is worse than me!), so why can't I do this at home?

Dd, on the other hand, is the queen of organizing! She obviously didn't get that from me - LOL. Her closet is organized, her school binders are organized, her life plans are organized. I want to grow up and be like her!

I've made some good progress over the past couple of years in most areas of my home. Eliminated a lot of clutter and things have their place and I can find them easily, though at times I tend to stray back to clutter, but I have stuck with it. I just can't seem to get my work area at home organized. I got a new desk last year with lots of cabinet and drawer space and it looked so pretty when I set it up. Now it's a big pile of MESS! I just keep adding to it and feel more overwhelmed to tackle it.

I guess I need to come up with a plan in order to reach this goal. I think I thought if I was able to get other areas in my home decluttered the work space would follow....but it hasn't. I HATE papers, but there are so much of them. Especially coupons and ads and then add in all the paperwork from my side job. One half of my desk is personal papers piled up and the other side is work paperwork (with my monitor in the middle). I just want to dump it all into a box, haha! But then I know I'll ignore what's in the box. Ugh. When I try to make small baby steps to organize it all, more stuff just gets added and I never seem to get anywhere. I guess I need to do more than baby steps..

Here's what my desk looked like when I first set it up. Plus, now I have one more overhead cabinet. As you might guess the overheads are now crammed with papers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

End of pay period

Well, today is the end of my first half of December pay period and I did very well tracking my expenses. I am over $40 on takeout, but under $32 on groceries. I am over $5 on gas, but $40 of that I will be reimbursed for as business mileage. I didn't budget anything for pet expenses (need to add that to my monthly budget) but spent $24 on 8 month supply of flea drops for the cat. I also added $50 to a budget category for home maintenance/repairs type stuff. I spent $84 - home maintenance, curtains for Dd's bedroom and more xmas lights for outside and the tree I bought last year on clearance (it's white, so I needed white cabled lights). I'll have to see after a few months if $50 is a reasonable estimate, as I've never paid attention to how much is spent on this since it's not a "regular" expense (like buying groceries each week), it just comes up as needed.

I'm going to end up about $120 over on my Xmas present budget, but it was kind of a guess and of course we ended up spending a bit more on the kids than planned, but I'm not unhappy with $120 over. I have the money and nothing was charged on credit cards and I did stay within my budget on all the other family members gifts.

All in all I think I did pretty well estimating so far and am pleased with myself :-)

Monday, December 12, 2011

A no Take Out food weekend

I used willpower this weekend and did not get take out! Friday night I was good and made dinner. I was soooo tempted Saturday, because by the time it was getting close to make dinner I was tired from the day's shopping and what not, but I made myself fix up dinner.Sunday night wasn't as bad and I made a meatloaf, but thank goodness Dh wasn't suggesting take out either night or I would've caved.

But then I caved and got take out last night :-( I was tired from working all day and right when I left work I started getting a headache that finally went away around 5:30 - this morning. Ugh. I only spent $12 though, mostly for Dh, as Ds was still at work and Dd and I just split a quesadilla, as neither of us was very hungry.

Tonight will just be soup and sandwiches and tomorrow I have a pork roast to put in the crockpot, so I know I'll be good then next two dinners :-)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Working on the expense tracking

My November expense tracking was too messy of a spreadsheet, so I didn't take the time to go back through it and tally up by category, though I know I was about $200 over on groceries, $50 on misc household stuff/repairs, and $85 over on take out meals. The meal did include a $36 dinner out to a Mexican restaurant for the 4 of us. I didn't budget for it and we do try to go out like that about once every 2 months.

This month I have revised the spreadsheet to keep a running total of each category. This is a big improvement and let's me quickly know if I'm going over or getting near my budget. I did up my grocery budget some for this month, knowing I have obviously been underestimating. But, I think I'm still going to go over! I budgeted $375 for this pay period (1-15th) and have already spent $209 and still have groceries to buy for the next week. I budgeted $35 for take out and have already spent $62. I do have a menu plan through next Friday, which does not include take out, so hopefully I can keep dh from wanting take out before payday next Thursday or me from being too tired to cook. I would have actually been under on my gas (auto) estimate by $40, but I had to take a business trip yesterday that was almost 300 miles round trip. I'm out the money now, but will be reimbursed for it at the end of the month. I'm on track for my xmas spending too, so that makes me happy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Disappointing Day

Well, guess I'll be keeping the already cinched tight financial belt on the same notch for 2012. I had my "performance" review today. And while I scored "exemplary" on everything and my boss just couldn't say enough good things about my work, I am not getting a raise because they are only giving raises to those employees who have not had one in more than 2 years. It was quite a letdown to think I was going to have a review along with a salary increase today. I wasn't expecting anything large, but a small cost of living increase would have been nice. I guess I will have to consider my xmas bonus my "raise" for the year.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dh and shopping

It's always scary taking Dh (ie "the spender") to a store! Fortunately for me he really does not like to go to stores and deal with the crowds, stand in line and the walking involved is quite draining on his muscles. But, he's been feeling a little "trapped" as of late - just being home all day, everyday. He mentioned last week that he'd like to get Dd an Emergency Kit for her little truck. When Dd and I were shopping yesterday she saw some of those kits and stopped to look and said she'd really like one - and then she mentioned it again later during the day. I told Dh when I got home, so he decided he wanted to go together to buy it.

So, what started out as a quick trip to Walmart last night for one $33 Emergency Road Kit turned into a $117 trip! He picked out quite a few things for her truck, including a nice set of Mag flashlights (he thought the one in the kit was too plastic and cheap) and then he decided to get Ds one of the flashlight kits, too and also a steering wheel cover.

Between what I already had got her and these items she has quite a few gifts already and I've only spent $100 on her (thanks to my spiffy new spreadsheet that tracks totals!) and I've spent $85 on Ds so far. So, I should easily be able to stay at my $150 (maybe $200) budget for each of them.

And Dh got a little trip out of the house and a little retail therapy. He also got to feel like he has picked out a lot of their Christmas gifts, which he usually hasn't contributed one idea to in most of the past years.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Busy Saturday

Lots of receipts sitting in front of me from today's shopping trip, but the total isn't as bad as I thought it might be. $125.11 got me the following:

4 xmas gifts
huge 16lb bag of cat food (this will last months) - along with wanting to adopt a kitty at Petsmart:-) (we used willpower to walk away!)
Misc. grocery items (pop, toilet paper, coffee, bagels, chips)
$4.03 lunch at McD's for me and Dd.
Thermal curtains for Dd's bedroom window - (she is at the cold end of the house, so maybe this will help keep some of the heat in her room)
Dh's prescription ($15 copay)
Free John Frieda haircolor (with coupon, I just paid tax)

I also got back a $10 Target gift card for future use and a $5 Petsmart coupon to use on future purchase of Purina.

My order of flea treatment for our cat arrived already. I always purchase "kit" of the Frontline flea treatment. $24 (including shipping) for 8 doses compared to PetSmart's 3 dose pack for $58! It's easy to use, just measure out an eyedropper from the vial and put on back of cat's neck.

I've realized one thing from my tracking spending - I need to add about $50 a month for misc home repairs/maintenance type stuff to my budget, as something always comes up. I've also revised my spreadsheet to not only total what I've spent each day but also give me a running total on each category - then I won't have to spend time at the end of the month trying to add them all up. Much easier!

Dd got some her her xmas shopping done - she is pretty creative with her gifts for her 3 best friends. She is having personalized necklaces made for 2 of them by a local lady who makes jewelry. We stopped at a cute little crafter's boutique and she got a cute little handmade sign for one of them. The 3rd friend is getting a "movie night" basket of 2 movies, candy, and hot chocolate that she is putting together. She also found a very adorable hand-knitted hat that she bought for herself.

Now we are going to spend the rest of the day decorating the inside of the house and putting our tree up.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's up to me

What to do with the Christmas bonus's?  Well, put it into my savings, of course!  I am so excited to be able to quickly get my EF to over $1000.  I don't think I'll put the whole $1800 in, but at least $1000 and probably closer to $1300 (as I'd already kind of budgeted to receive and spend most of the $500).  I've been wanting some new wood - or faux wood - blinds (we have some old vinyl blinds that I am tired of and one of them is broken) for our living room but just haven't had the extra money.  I have 3 windows and I think, before, when I priced out the cheapest ones I could find they were $50-$60 each.

One thing I am not doing is telling Dh about these bonus's.  I know - it goes against what a marriage should be about, but he has absolutely ZERO money management skills. He spent his life growing up with parents who lived on debt (still do and his  mom is almost 80) and never had any money saved, whatsoever.  He has no concept of setting aside money for a rainy day (one of the reasons his business failed so quickly when the economy tanked) and if I were to tell him about getting the bonus, he would have it spent before I even get it.  I am a saver and he is a spender and part of the reason we never have any money is because I have always felt like I should tell him what we have and then of course he finds something to spend it on.  He can come up with any "rationalizing" necessary to spend it,  and then add in his depression due to his medical condition and it's way too easy for him to spend.  Well, I've finally realized that the ONLY way we are ever going to get some money saved up for emergencies and then (hopefully) just general savings, is if I do it on MY own - and if that has to be behind his back, then so be it.  At this point, I'm the one responsible for our future.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

And another bonus :-)

Well, maybe the economy is taking a little turn upwards, finally.  I just got a very nice surprise email from the owner of the company I do my side job for - he told me to add $300 to my billing for November as a Christmas bonus!  $300 more that can go into savings - how nice is that?!  It will be so nice going into the New Year with some cushion to fall back on and also to not spend all what I usually have in December for Christmas gifts and then be broke again.  I'm thinking 2012 is looking to be a better year than the past 3 years have been for us.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A new month

Payday is today and I will get my 2 checks from my side jobs tomorrow.  I spent part of the morning paying my bills online, including getting the last of dh's medical paid off (from his little surgery in September - I paid half last month and the balance of $412 this month).  I transferred $100 to savings, so now have $122.08 in reserve.  Not a lot, but better than the $1.76 I'd had in there for months and months.

Work has been crazy busy this week, with training classes most of Monday and Tuesday to learn our new computer system - so it's not leaving me much time to get normal work done.  So, I haven't had time to figure out where all my money went for November.  At first I wasn't going to track it for December, with Christmas and all the spending and chaos, but I decided since I'm on a good roll with entering my expenditures in my spreadsheet every day, I didn't want to lose my momentum (it doesn't take much for me to get off track).  Plus, I added a page to my spreadsheet where I am going to track Christmas present spending - complete with a "remaining balance" total showing how much is left to spend out of my initial budget of $600.  I did include in my budgeting for December a $500 bonus from work - but it's still marked as "potential", since it's not a certainty - I'm just hoping, since that's what they did last year.  If not, it will bring my budget down a lot and not give me very much wiggle room, but at least I'll still have the $122 in reserve if absolutely needed.  I probably won't know until close to mid December if I am getting this bonus.  Last year we got it around the 10th of December.  I can't imagine the owners giving themselves and the managers such big bonus's last month and not giving the rest of us a small Christmas bonus, but who knows? They might consider the fact that they are finally doing our performance reviews next week our "bonus". Haha.

Update** I just found out that we are all getting a $1500 bonus!!! Woohooooo!! (and that's net, after taxes are taken out).  I do payroll, but usually my boss tries to keep it from me and send the bonus info directly to our payroll company, so that I am surprised, too, but she just sent me an email that said "you get to know the surprise early".

Sunday, November 27, 2011

3 more days

until I get paid and I am happy to report I will have $128 left over.  While I've obviously spent way more than what I budgeted at the beginning of the month, at least for the first time in several months I have made it without being down to nothing left and stressing about it.  A small step in the right direction.  On Wednesday I will add up what I have been writing down in a spreadsheet all month to see where it all went.  Hopefully that will give me some insight on where all my money is going.  I think food and eating take out is a lot more than I think it is, especially since we don't do much else to spend money on.  My plan it to take this $128 left over and move it into savings to try and start building my emergency fund. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Something to be Thankful For

About this time last year I found my half-sister online via internet searches and ultimately Facebook.  I really didn't know much about her.  She was 2 1/2 years younger than myself and her mother's marriage to our dad lasted about as long as my mother's marriage to him.  I got to meet her, I think, 3 times in my life.  The first time when I was 11 (both times while visiting our grandparents during the summer), then the following summer and then again at our grandmother's funeral, when I was 18.  After the 2nd time I met her, her mother had remarried and moved to Central Canada, where her new husband was from.  My half sister has 2 older sisters, one being my age and one 2 years older.  The one my age and I got to be friends and we kept in touch via letters until we were about 17.  I kept in touch with my father somewhat throughout my early adult years and only knew that my half sister had married in her early 20's and I thought he had said she moved to Eastern Canada.  But I never felt the urge to get in touch with her, maybe because the relationship with my father was always strained due to his alcoholism, with me eventually terminating our relationship almost 20 years ago.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago and I kept thinking about her, wondering what she was like and what her life was like.  I tried to do an online search though google, but I didn't know her married last name.  Nothing came of my search, but it was still in the back of my mind for that year.  After I had been on Facebook for about 6 months, I began to wonder if I could find her online that way, especially since so many women include their maiden name in their listed name.  One name match came up on my search that was from Eastern Canada.  I sent her a message asking if her father was the same and she replied back no, sorry.  I then tried searching her sister's names on Facebook and just missed finding her middle sister (the one I used to correspond with) because she was listed by her full first name, not the shortened version we always had used.  Then for some reason I decided to try googling both her sister's names. I found her middle sister on a website where she had listed her job resume and it included a picture! I was pretty sure it was her. I read her schooling background on the resume and it listed her hometown high school name.  Suddenly, the small town name clicked with me as the address I used to write her letters to.  She had an address and phone number listed but I was still too scared to get a hold of her to ask about my half sister.  I tried searching on Facebook again, this time with the town name and found this middle sister, who as luck would have it, listed her 2 sisters as "Family".  Suddenly, I had my half-sisters last name! I sent her a Facebook message, verifying we had the same father, and that I was looking to re-connect with her.  She replied back that it was her and that she had been looking for me too!  Turns out she didn't live in Eastern Canada, but was still in the same small town in Central Canada where she grew up.

For this past year we have stayed it regular contact via email, chat and telephone.  We are quite a bit alike in a lot of ways and both enjoy many of the same things.  In fact, she named one of her daughter's the same name I named mine! We are hoping to get a chance to meet in person next spring by each driving halfway to meet up.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Funny As

My son spent a couple of months down in Australia last year, staying with a family, enjoying the sights and culture....he came home with a lilt in his voice and some funny words and sayings ;-).  One of them is "funny as" and his girlfriend is always laughing and saying "funny as WHAT??!!"

So, my "funny as" story involves my grocery shopping trip at Walmart on Saturday morning. I had 3 items I wanted to price match and I had my ads with me.  Usually I do my price match items last, but one of my items was Pepsi and the cashier came around the checkstand to scan the boxes, so I told her I had the Pepsi and 2 other items to price match. She grabbed the ad out of my hand before I could show her what page(s) my items were on.  Then tries to tell me she can't price match the turkey.  I said it's the same exact brand in the Alberton's ad and I am spending more than $50.  So she flips on her light to call for a manager.  Then I have her give me back the ad so I can show her the Safeway store coupon for the Crescent rolls, for which I also had manufacturer coupons and she tells me I can't use both coupons.  Again, I said why not? I would be able to at Safeway, it's just their store price on the store coupon and I've always used both at Walmart before.  The manager comes over and says I'm correct about both items.  The checker seems annoyed that she had to figure out how to price match 3 items.

Fast forward to this evening.  I had to go back to Walmart to pick up some items for my daughter and I get in front of me, waiting in line, is the same checker I had on Saturday....and she has Albertson's and Safeway ads in her cart so she can price match!!  I just started laughing to myself.  I so wanted to comment to her "I hope your price matching goes easier than mine did".  Funny as!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday this and that

I can't seem to get motivated today.  I worked from home today and got my grocery list completed last night.  Dd and I took off a little before 3pm but she wanted to stop at the Starbucks in Target first to get two of the buy one get one free Starbucks holiday drinks (with one of her birthday gift cards).  By the time we dillydallied around Target I was loosing my energy for grocery shopping.  Then Dh called and reminded me the car Ds has been driving tabs expire today.  So we went back home, got the paperwork and then went to the DOL to get the tabs ($70 - I have in my budget-just forgot it was due today).  The licensing office is just a mile or so away and no big line so that was quick, but by then it was after 4pm and I didn't want to deal with Walmart lines and extra people that late in the afternoon and then still have to make dinner after I got home, so we will go in the morning.

Dinner was using up stuff in the freezer and pantry, so that was good.  Tyson honey bbq chicken wings, rice-a-roni and applesauce. I had 2 free lunches at work this week, always a good thing :-)

I got 3 very small checks totaling $20.32 that I wasn't expecting so I put them in my savings account.  One was a check for $16.28 from a class action lawsuit against EbayMotors that I didn't know I was part of, but hey, I will take the money!

Dd just took off to go watch a play at one of the high schools in our district - she will get credit with one of her classes.  She needs to do a couple of "community" type events as part of getting this class to count as dual high school/college credit.

Ds got his very first paycheck today.  But for this week he only got like 20 hours.  The issue with the other guy hired at the same time doesn't really seem to be the issue this week - there just wasn't that much to do and one day Ds did take the drive (he got paid for it) up to the north end area to work at an office to help out because the other guy is working slower, I guess.  He got some good feedback on his work so far from his supervisor today. 

Not sure what my weekend plans are other than getting the grocery and Thanksgiving food shopping done.  Right now I'm not feeling like doing much of anything....come to think of it I was super tired last night - fell asleep on my bed (dh was napping on the couch) from 6:30 - 8pm., then got up to watch some shows and went to bed at 10pm.  I don't feel sick, but not sure why I'm just not having much energy.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be better and I'll get something accomplished!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Some potential good news

Just got an email from one of our company owners - stating that they are going to do performance reviews for all the employees by the end of this year...and apologizing that regular reviews have been spotty at best the past several years.  While I absolutely love where I work, the performance review "system" has been pretty much my only dislike.  Our employee manual states there will be one done each year. 

Well, let's see....I have been employed with this company for over 6 years now.  My first year anniversary review time came along and my boss (different person than I have now for a boss) sent me the forms for my portion of the self evaluation.  I filled them right out and about 6 months later I finally got my review and salary increase......this boss knew he was leaving so he got my increase in just before he left, but still 6 months after my anniversary date.  Then I got my current boss (who I LOVE as a boss) and a couple of months after my 3 year anniversary I had to ask her about a review and she sent me the forms for my part.....nothing happened, I think I had to ask her again, and near the end of that year she just told me she put in my raise, but I never got the review! (a nice raise it was, too).  It's been spotty like that the whole time. I got another raise the first of 2009 and then nothing for 2 years...(economy went to hell, and they dropped our bonus program, so I didn't push it) but I am not going to go more than 2 years, without at least asking for a raise!  I got one last January, so have just been wondering to myself if I should ask this coming January or go another year......

Since I do the payroll I have access to everyone's salary and when they last got a raise. I took a look and saw that most people have gone 2 years now without a raise, so I probably should wait.  But on the other hand the 3 owners just a few weeks ago took $50,000 bonus's each and gave the department manager's $10,000 bonus's.  That's what prompted me to see if anyone has been getting raises and realizing it's been 2 years for most folks.  That was a day when I really didn't want to be privy to what the head guys make and get for bonus's....while I don't begrudge them their salaries and bonus's at all, I sure felt they needed to also take a look at their employees and lack of increased salaries for quite some time.  If they can afford those bonus's they sure can afford some cost of living raises.  So, I was relieved today to find out they have done that.  And hopefully I'll be looking at another raise come January!

'Tis the Season

It's getting to be that time for Christmas present shopping.  While I love Christmas, the decorations, the music, the tv specials, the food (especially the cookies!), etc., the spending money part is not one of my favorite things.  I'm too cheap and then I feel a little guilty that I didn't spend enough.  The past few years the number of people we have to purchase for has reduced (long story, but for our own mental health we had to cut ties with Dh's family) so it has been easier on the budget and my guilt.  I just have the 4 of us to buy for, my mom, grandma, uncle, Ds's girlfriend and 3 nieces.  I have several step siblings, but for quite a few years now we have just done a fun gift exchange game at our family holiday get-together party, so only one $20 gift to buy, instead of one gift for each person.

I try to stick to about $150 for each of my kids and $100 on Dh (and he the same for me). Some years Dh and I decide to buy something for the both of us -a piece of furniture or something (this year I am thinking a new recliner -as ours is seeing it's last days).  Dh likes those years better because then he doesn't have to shop for me, LOL.  For my mom, grandma and uncle we usually do $30-40 each and for my nieces I usually only do about $15 each and probably $40 on Ds's girlfriend. (those are the one's I always feel guilty on...I guess because my step siblings are all quite more well off than we are (even though the gift exchange game or drawing names was their ideas).

I'm terrible when I go to make the purchases - I keep thinking I might find a better deal elsewhere and then I keep putting it off until it's getting almost too late! I always want to find the very best deal and I drive myself crazy. It has been easier the past 5 years or so with so many online stores now and ways to compare prices.  I have done quite a bit of online shopping the past few years, which saves my sanity because I detest being in crowded stores. I can only stand about an hour of actual in-store Christmas shopping at a time before I am no longer enjoying any aspect of it.

I remember when we were first married and our first Christmas I felt the need to keep up with all the gifts Dh's mom gave out and the money she spent (which she could NOT afford - several thousand dollars a year on credit cards).  Dh had just got laid off his job and I only worked part time while going to school.  So, I put the gifts on a credit cards....come the next Christmas I still owed some on those cards! I said never again....if all's we can afford is a $5 gift for everyone then that is what they get....and some years that's all they got.  In over 20 years I have never charged Christmas presents again. Some years I just had to make some of the gifts.

The past several years I have managed to stay pretty close to about $600-$700 per year, nothing extravagant.  For a few years, before my dad passed away, he and my mom were "gifting" each of us kids a check for $500 each Christmas and one year was $1000.  That sure was nice! and basically covered most of what I had just spent for gifts.  But, I totally understand my mom feeling the need to watch over her money carefully, now that she's on her own, and she already does so much for me and my family.  Last year my employer gave us a $500 Christmas bonus (after taxes taken out) so I am hoping this will happen again this year.

Do you have a holiday budget and how do you stick to it?

Monday, November 14, 2011

And there she goes.........

Kind of a bittersweet morning….Dd took off all on her own to drive herself to school this morning for the first time.  While part of me was jumping for joy not to have to make the daily trip to her school and back each morning (4 miles each way takes 25-30 minutes – it’s a zoo getting in and out of that school) another part of me just watched my little girl grow up and start to live her own life….and what a life I’m sure she will have!  She is SO smart and SO beautiful and so focused and goal oriented.  You can’t meet her and not know she is destined to succeed.  3.9 GPA with AP classes and plans to enter the program next year where she will be attending community college at the same time as high school, with the goal of graduating high school with an AA degree at the same time.  She wants a part time job and is starting to look, now that she is 16.  I’m not rushing her on the job thing…school takes a lot of her time, as well as tennis from March through beginning of June each year.  They grow up so fast!

Stocking stuffer deal

With Dd's birthday party yesterday afternoon I really only had time to get one deal.  I had $9 in RiteAid rewards, so I hopped in the car and did a quick trip the 1 mile to RiteAid.  17 stocking stuffers for Dd!!  Wet 'n Wild cosmetics were on sale 40% off.  I picked 17 items of the .99 price - various eye liner colors and various nail polish colors, which all rang up at the sale price of .59 each.

Total: $10.03 (plus tax)
- $9 UP rewards applied
= $1.03 out of my pocket and then another $3 UP reward printed out for spending $10 on Wet n Wild cosmetics.

 I like those kind of stocking stuffer deals :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fall electricity bill

Woohoo! Just got my electricity bill and it's $60 lower than I budgeted for.  I budgeted $250.  I checked our usage this month compared to this month last year and it's a little higher, so no change, apparently from having our house caulked better for the painting we had done, so that is disappointing.  It's more just a matter of I'm trying to budget expenses a little higher than I have in the past, because I always seem to budget too low (especially for electricity/heat).  So, I guess while not a true savings, it still feels like I've saved $60 :-).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Keeping the spending to a minimum

So far I've managed 5 days of very little spending:
Monday $11.00
Tuesday $0
Wednesday $12.42
Thursday $20.32

I won't get by that easy on the weekend as I have to grocery shop.  I have my list made up, along with menu plan for the week.  It doesn't seem like a very long list but more than likely I'll end up buying way more than is on it....sigh....I added it up and I should be able to get out of there for $100 or so, including the ice cream and fixin's for Dd's party.  Part of my problem is I take Dd with me grocery shopping - mostly for her company, but it's also nice to have someone to lift the heavy stuff, like cases of water or soda (my back is messed up from an accident about 5 years ago) and she always finds things to buy that weren't on my list or she says "dad says he needs X"...I don't know why he tells her what he is out of and not me! It's weird LOL!  Next thing you know it's another $20 or $30 bucks over what I planned.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wednesday ramblings

It's been a pretty slow week around here, not much going on at all.  It's kind of the calm before the storm at work.  We are winding down representing the one big manufacturer and getting ready to soon start representing the new manufacturer - and then I'm sure work life will go into crazy mode for a couple of months while we learn a new system, etc.

Ds worked 3 hours on Monday, but got almost a full 8 hours yesterday and took off again at 6:30 this morning to start at 7am.  It will be interesting to see what pans out as far as his hours and workload.  He and another guy were hired at the same time.  Ds was given the "south end" area and the other guy the "north end" area.  We live in the South End.  The other guy lives right in the middle but apparently wanted or thought he was getting the south area.  I guess he was going to quit as he didn't want to drive the 24 miles each way (at the most) to work his area.  So, for today they tell Ds that this other guy is going to work with him.  Which I'm sure, if this continues would cut Ds's hours.  There is no way Ds will do the north end for $12 bucks an hour and a 45 mile drive each way (in awful traffic).  Even with the south end area he potentially has a 24 mile commute if he has to go to the farthest office in his area.  Guess we'll have to see how it works out.  Otherwise he is really liking the work and looking forward to getting his first paycheck a week from this Friday.

Dh is frustrating me with his medications and diet.  Seems to be having more muscle pain (probably due to the cholesterol meds) and asked me to send a message to his doctor about it, but then of course he doesn't want to follow the doctor's advice!  He does this constantly and is just wasting the doctor's time (and my time!)  He's still eating quite a bit calorie wise, just really trying to cut down on things that have a lot of cholesterol...but he is ALWAYS starving and driving us all crazy.  And I'm tired of having to feel like I'm his mother.

I had a no spend day yesterday, so that was good.  Just trying to hang on to the rest of my money as hard as possible!  I did check my bank account online this morning and got the refund from the appliance store posted, so was happy about that.  I have a few more things to buy for Dd's birthday party this weekend, along with a couple more small gifts (some roses and another small gift yet to be determined). I already got her a nice tennis bag and a necklace and the party she is having is part of her "birthday present" budget, since we don't usually do parties. But hey, Sweet 16 - gotta splurge a little :-)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday coupon/deal shopping

My Sunday coupon/deal shopping didn't start out too well.  I stopped at Walmart to pick up the Sunday paper and it is now $2 instead of $1.  I only bought one, instead of my usual 2 and then later find out that it only had the Red Plum insert and no Smart Source (which had a $1 off coupon I wanted). GRRRR!  So, I really don't think $2 each paper a week is worth it anymore.  I think I might have to look more into buying coupons online. I've done it a few times, but $2 for a newspaper each week, for many coupons I don't need or use seems to defeat the purpose.  I'll still get my mom's coupons from her paper and I guess just purchase the specific coupons I want online, when I come across a deal I want to take advantage of.  I could probably still get the paper for a $1 at the Dollar Tree, but it's about a 6 mile drive - usually in crappy traffic - so kind of dumb to spend $1.60 in gas to save a dollar on a newspaper and use up a half hour of my day.

I was surprised to find the things I wanted at RiteAid still on the shelf!  I got 2 tubes of Colgate toothpaste (the larger size) and some Stayfree pads for $9.83 (including tax) and I got back $9 in UP Rewards.  I was really happy to get the Colgate deal - free after UP Reward, plus I had (2) .50 off coupons.  I had just taken out the last tube out of my "stash" drawer.  They are also having a deal on free Keri Lotion, so I think I will use some of my UP rewards towards that and then get back $6 more in UP Rewards....gotta try to keep the rewards rolling into more rewards.  That's my goal.

Proud Mom

I love my son :-)  He really is a good kid.  He's smart and getting 4.0 is his classes.  Other than a couple of speeding tickets his first year of driving (he was being dumb, then) he has never caused problems. He doesn't smoke, drink or party.  He's had the same girlfriend for 2 1/2 years (though they have been friends since 6th grade).  We tease them that they are boring....they pretty much either hang out with us or her family or they go to a movie or dinner.  But, thank god for boring! 

He got 28 hours in his first week on the new job, plus will get paid for about 32 miles of driving between offices.  Other than his district boss or the regional boss telling him what needs to be done at what offices, he's pretty much on  his own to get the work done.  He went in yesterday at 7:30 and got 5 hours in, setting up computers at one office and installing some more RAM in a couple of computers at another office.  The only part he doesn't really like is waiting for the boss to give him the next project - he said he feels like he keeps bugging her asking for work.  I told him not to feel that way - she is probably just busy doing HER job all day and probably kind of forgets about him, so to just always keep in touch with her via phone or email everyday.

I gave him the Penney's coupon and when his GF came over I told her about it, because I knew she'd remember to use it - she got the coupon too :-).  He spent some of his own money, along with what I was giving him and got 2 nice Dockers pants and 2 short sleeved polo shirts.  They were smart and split the purchase into 2 transactions so they could use both of the $10 off coupons.  Made me a proud mom - my couponing has sunk into them too :-)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

I thought Halloween was over

I've already scared myself trying to look at my spreadsheet and see what I'm spending over budget.  Remember several posts ago, when I thought I was going to have about $750 extra?  Of course I knew there would be some things come up during the month that I under budgeted on and didn't budget for at all.....but so far I've already used up $364 of that....and there's still 3 1/2 weeks left of this month! Yikes.  But, I guess that's good I at least know about it (though I buried my head and haven't actually figured out WHAT it went to yet) so I can try to be really careful for the balance of the month.  It's not putting me in a very good mood, though :-(

Friday, November 4, 2011

Starting Friday off on a good note

I called the appliance parts store this morning and spoke with a manager, who checked into it and said that the $16.23 price on their website is way too low.  He said they will credit my debit card for a price adjustment to honor the price and thanked me for pointing out their website error so they can fix it :-)  Now that is what customer service should be!

Got a pork roast and veggies in the crockpot this morning, so I can smell all the goodness all day long as I am working from home (I work from home 2 days a week).  After lunch I'll get a loaf of bread going in the bread machine.  My mouth is watering just thinking of how good it will smell ~

I came across a new JC Penney coupon for $10 off $25, so Ds can use it when he goes pants shopping.  Every little bit helps around here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One of those expected unexpected emergencies

Our washing machine broke this morning. Dh (who does most all our laundry) called me at work and said he thought it was the pump gone bad and gave me the part# off of it.  There is an appliance parts store near my work so I looked the part up online and found it - emailed the picture of the part back to Dh to make sure it was what he needed.  I thought the website said it was $16.92.  When I get to the store to pick it up, it's $62. I don't know why I didn't say something. I just doubted myself that maybe I looked wrong because I was in a hurry.  I checked again online when I got home and sure enough it was $16.92.  So, not sure if they just have an error on their website or they charged me wrong, so I am going to call them back tomorrow just to double check.  I looked at other online parts stores and it ranged from $16 to $32.

Good news is dh fixed it and we are back to washing laundry :-)

Ds and his new job

Though he's only on day 4 so far, he is enjoying it and comes home excited and happy.  Today is his first day working on his own, already! He gets to set up some computers at one of their offices about 20 minutes from our home, so not a bad drive for him and he gets to pick his hours, so he was out the door at 7:15.  I asked him last night, if there is always someone at the offices that early?  and he whips out his brand new master key to all the offices!  He is a total whiz with computers so I'm sure he'll not have any problems at all.

He bought 2 long sleeved polo shirts at Kohl's that were $17 each, so not bad.  They didn't have any dress pants in his skinny butt size so he and GF are going to Penney's as soon as they can to look there.  With Christmas coming up I'll probably get him a couple of short sleeved polo's to add to his wardrobe.

He also put $100 bucks back in his wallet and I'm proud of him for that. His hard drive went bad on his laptop and he needs that everyday for school so he decided to get one of the more expensive SSD hard drives (don't ask, I have no idea what it means) at almost $200.  He got it installed but them started finding out that these new SSD drives are still kind of buggy and not exactly what he needs, so he took it back to Best Buy and exchanged it for a basic hard drive comparable to what was originally in his laptop and it was almost $100 cheaper.  Good boy!

Dd turns 16 very soon and is already chomping at the bit to get a part time job.  Seems so many of the businesses now require the employees to be 18 (I recall Ds having that problem while looking for a job in high school) but knowing her, I'm sure she'll find something.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hump Day almost over

Well, I can already see that I totally under budget/estimate what I have been spending per month on groceries (this includes food, cleaning supplies, and toiletries). So far I've already spent $227.51! Granted a small bit of that was stocking up on some things, but geez!

Today's expenses included a $20 copay for my chiropractor visit and $15 prescription copay for dh's meds.  Dinner was cooked at home tonight - a Bertolli frozen meal dh loves (but pricey at $9.68).  I worked from home today, so no gas used driving an hour each way to work.  Ds was informed he needs collared polo type shirts for his new job attire (and he needs more pants) so I guess he and GF were stopping at Kohl's on their way to school this afternoon.  Hopefully, he picks reasonably priced pieces, since I had said I would help him out by buying a few things.  His GF isn't the most frugal of shoppers.  I looked at Kohl's online and looks like most of their men's polo shirts are $11.99, so let's hope that's what he was able to get.

Dd was asked to come back over to the junior high (right next door to the high school) and give a talk this afternoon to their newly formed Photography Club.  She was like "why didn't they have that club when I was in Jr. High!?".  She was photographer for the Varsity Football team in her 9th grade year, as well as many photographs for the yearbook.  She has taken outdoor professional type photos of several of her friends and did a really nice job of them.

I picked her up after that meeting and we stopped at the library. Picked up 3 movies I had reserved (#2 and #3 of the Twilight movies and another about a dog, called Hachi) and stocked up on books to read.  So, I think I am off to soak in the tub and do some reading.........

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday this and that

I'm doing really good at writing down in an excel spreadsheet what I am spending every day.  I've had a couple of purchases not budgeted but am ok with them. One was $15 for some cookie dough from the neighbor boys.  Their mom is single with 3 boys, working 2 part time jobs and going to college full time.  This was to help fund their school band activites.  The other purchase was a stock up on laundry detergent.  Usually I pay $10.99 for the box (or higher) and Safeway had it at $8.99 per box, if you bought 2, so we should be good on detergent for a few months.  I also called today and changed our pest control visit (ants) from monthly to quarterly.  With winter around the corner I hope we don't need it done monthly for awhile.  That will save $43 a month and the next treatment won't be until January now. 

Ds started his new job yesterday and it looks like he is mostly training (of course) this week. He's gotten 7 hours in each of the past 2 days and will probably get at least 5 or so tomorrow.  His boss has just been letting him know each day what they are doing for the next day.  He's enjoying it so far and excited to be working.  He'll even get a company cell phone that he can also use for personal calls/texts if he wants. He does have to wear nicer clothes, like dress slacks or khaki's so I am going to pick him up a couple of pair this weekend.  He only has one black pair that still fits him.  I'll get him those and when he starts getting paychecks he can buy more or buy some more shirts if he wants, with his own money.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Today was just an easy relaxing Sunday.  Took the dog to Petsmart to get his nails trimmed, picked up a couple of newspapers at Walmart for the coupons, and got the party supplies at Party City.  No line at all this morning.  Got some laundry done and even got a nice nap in.  Dinner was a "Cheesy Chicken and Rice casserole", using "heart healthy" cream of chicken soup and low fat cheddar cheese, to help lower the cholesterol and calories.

Feel bad for Ds's girlfriend. She is a server at a restaurant and worked a double shift yesterday -worked the morning shift until 2pm and then went back at 5 and worked another 3 hours or so.  She lost her $200 in tips she earned!  She has no idea what happened, if she left it at work and the person who left after she helped close took it or she dropped it outside from her purse. The money is not to be found.  Poor girl -she worked hard for that.

Ds starts his new job tomorrow! I am anxious to hear how it goes :-)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shopping day

It's been a busy day.  Grocery shopping this morning. I spent $172, more than the $150 I budgeted, but that is why I am tracking it now. $8.80 of that included a book of stamps. I saved $10 with coupons and price matching.  Dd and I treated ourselves to Starbucks before the shopping.  Then when we got home and I gave Dh his $40 spending money (newly added to the budget to try and help with things he wants) and he turned around and told me to go buy myself something with it!  What a dork - after all his complaining he never has his own spending money.

I had been mulling the idea of going to Penney's today to find a new top or two for work - using the $12 in gift card money I had, and figured if I spent $18 more, I'd also get $10 in JCP cash for another purchase.  With his $40, my $12 in gift cards I spent another $21 to get to over a $60 total purchase.  I got 5 tops!  Then I gave Dd the $20 in JCP cash I got from the purchase and she put it towards a new purse and paid the balance with her allowance money.

We stopped at the Dollar Store to look at party supplies for her upcoming 16th birthday party.  Picked up 2 table covers, napkins, cups and plates for $5 total. Then we went to Party City - big mistake! The place was packed for Halloween.  We found some cute Sweet 16 items, but will go back another time when the line to pay isn't practically out the door.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Target Pantene Deal

I just picked up this Pantene Gift set at Target for $9.99.  Inside is a coupon for either a free magazine subscription to Allure or, if you do not want the subscription you can get a $12 refund.  So, after tax and my stamp to mail the rebate I will actually make $1.18 on this purchase :-)  I use Pantene shampoo and conditioner and Dd was happy to get the Detangler for her curly hair.