Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where did May go?

This month of May just seemed to swallow me up.  I'm not exactly sure why but I've felt so distracted the past few weeks and haven't been able to concentrate long enough to even seem to put together a short post.  Life this month has revolved around the start of my son's racing season.  That's probably the root of my unfocused mind - I make it through one weekend of racing, just relieved that he's still in one piece, only to have the next weekend peeking it's way into my thoughts and worries. On a great note, he finally did win a race! Woohooo!! It was a great confidence booster for him.

My "entertainment" expenses category is back in full force with costs of attending the races. I pay for myself and daughter - son, dad and a pit crew member come out of son's racing budget money.  But at $60 a race for the both of us, it's taking a chunk out of my budget.  Usually I just (in my mind) offset it with the reduction in electricity bills during these months. Instead of $300+ a month, I'm paying less than $100 a month electricity with the warm weather.  The rest of the year our entertainment spending is pretty much non-existent.

I just checked earlier to see what my totals were for the month. I was really scared to look at the groceries and fast food, but it really wasn't that bad. Pretty much in line with what I've been spending since I started tracking the first of the year. I had felt like I was really spending a lot at the grocery stores and especially fast food.  It was a bit higher for fast food, but overall food costs were pretty normal.

We still haven't spent the $1500 I had set aside for our landscape project (and my EF/savings is still sitting at just a hair under $3000).  Dh's friend, who was going to do most of the work, seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. Dh decided to use $450 of that money to buy some needed parts for Ds's race car.  I told him I didn't care if he changed the use for the money, but to remember that $450 won't be in the budget for the landscaping if he does decide down the road to still do it.  He always has selective memory when it comes to things like that!

Dd's tennis camp starting first of July will be $350 and my wonderful Mom has offered to pay $200 of it.  Today Dd registered for her 3 college classes for next fall. She luckily got into the classes and times she wanted.  We will just have to pay the fee of $113 and for books.  She will also be taking one class, her foreign language, at the high school.  She's very excited about it and really doesn't care one whit about missing "the high school experience" for the next 2 years. She'll still get to play on the tennis team (voted in as co-captain for next year) and that's all she really cares about. She has planned on doing this college credit program while still in high school for years.  Her best friend (who also plans to go to college) always acted like she was making a dumb decision to miss out on high school, but Dd told her getting 2 years of college out of the way for free will be a big savings to our family (we don't have the money her doctor dad and teacher mom make) and she'll graduate college 2 years earlier too.  Apparently her best friend thought about it, because she changed her mind about it all a few months ago and they got into the same classes.

I reconnected with an old high school friend through facebook a couple of weeks ago.  Always interesting to see where everyone ended up.  We had a nice long chat on the phone one evening.  Am I the only one who hates talking on the phone? Once I get started talking I'm ok, but I really just hate it. I hate when the phone rings and I hate calling people!  I wonder why that is. Probably why I also hardly ever use a cell phone. I've had jobs where I had to talk on the phone a lot and it didn't bother me for that, but personally, I'd just rather not, LOL.

Tonight's project - get to the store for some hair dye - the grays have really grown out and I'm past due about a week!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Back in the coupon groove

I got myself back into using coupons this weekend and it sure feels good!  I found some good deals on things we use, with store sales and coupons and rebates.  Here's the highlights:

Banana Boat and Hawaiian Tropic suncreens. Got both for $7.83, after coupons, and received a $5 Target gift card, so net of $2.83 cost for both.

MD Bath tissue - 12 pack double rolls 2/$9 (store coupon - Dh is particular what he uses on his tushie, so I have to buy this brand)

Snack Pack 4-pack puddings .64 each (mfg. coupons). Purchased 6

Best Foods Mayo $2.50 each (store coupon). Purchased 2 (limit)

Land O'Frost lunch meat $3.50 each (store sale). Purchased 4, now stocked up in the freezer

Jello 6-pack $1.84 (mfg coupon)

Clorox Ultra Bleach 96 oz. Got 2 bottles for $2.76 (with mfg coupons), used my previous Rite Aid UP Reward of $2.00 towards total and will also receive a $3 Rite Aid mail in rebate back..  Yay for Free bleach!

Jif Peanut Butter 40 oz - $5 each - we go through peanut butter quickly so I bought 3.

At my regular grocery shopping trip on Friday I also used $11.90 in coupons.  Woo!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday this and that

This week just went by so fast.  I am finally getting myself back into the coupon groove. It's been awhile. I'm still not finding much of use for me at Walgreens and RiteAid but I did manage to use $11.35 in coupons grocery shopping today and also price matched Jif Peanut Butter with another store's ad. The 40 oz peanut butter is on sale for $5 each today, and Walmart's regular price was like $6.47. I stocked up on 3 of them. The store with the $5 ad's regular price on the Jif was $8.49.  No wonder I don't shop there regularly!

I washed the bath mats in my bathroom this morning and they literally fell apart. I have had them awhile and washed them quite a few times but wasn't expecting to have to buy new ones today. Oh well. Time for a change of color anyway. I got a really light, almost ice blue color and then swapped the hamper in my bedroom (blue) with the hamper in the bathroom. A little makeover is nice once in awhile anyway.

We finally got rid of one of the old oak entertainment centers that have been in our family room (kind of an unused room, really, other than my desk is in one corner). It was a pretty good sized one and amazing how just getting rid of that (sold on Craigslist for a whopping $20) makes the room look so much better and uncluttered. We have another smaller one we want to get rid of, too, but they are hard to sell. They don't fit the new flat big tv's, so of course no one wants them anymore.

My computer is barely hanging on to life. It keeps shutting down on me every couple of days and I am just praying it lasts the next 2 weeks or so, because apparently that's how long it will be before my new one comes from Dell (ordered by my employer). If it totally dies, I think I can temporarily use my daughter's laptop to remote into work and still be able to work from home. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Good news and more good news

The bad and unpleasant things from this week are turning out to not be so bad!  I had to take Dd to her consult appointment about getting her wisdom teeth out.  I was expecting my share of it to be at least $800, as I know I spent at least that out of pocket or more 3 years ago, when my son had his out.  Well - my dental insurance plan must have improved because Dd is only going to be $366 out of pocket. Boy, was I relieved and happy to hear that.  We are having it done in August, so I have a few months to put aside for it and shouldn't need to tap into my savings.

My computer has been having problems the past week. Started out with some ads popping up, that Ds thought he fixed but earlier this week it happened again. I downloaded the Norton software free from Comcast and now seem to have worse problems. My computer has crashed twice, getting the dreaded "blue screen" with a screen-full of words about dumping but before I can try to read it all it just shuts down. Ahhh!  I was emailing with my boss this morning that I was having problems, and since I'm working from home today, if it crashes again, I'd let her know. (it's a 6 year old computer - I'd say I've gotten it's life out of it) I said a new computer will probably be my Mother's Day gift. She replied back that she will have the company buy one for me since I do most of my work from home! I'm so excited to hear this and was totally not expecting it.  One more thing I don't have to pull out of my savings for.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Graduation gift

I have a relative graduating with honors from a prestigious university.  I received the graduation announcement yesterday (it's out of state) so of course will not be going, but feel I should send a gift. Monetary would be best, I'm sure.  But, I feel any amount I could send (even an amount that is really more than my usual gift giving budget) will seem paltry.  The graduate will have no student loans and upon graduating is stepping into a high paying job with a starting salary more than I'll ever make!  It's not like they are a struggling student, now with student loans to pay and an entry level paying job to get out there and find.  I hate trying to figure these types of things out!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Is it Friday yet?

It was a pretty uneventful weekend.  Sunday I got my butt in gear and did some housecleaning - vacuuming, dusting, general straightening up.  Watched a couple of movies - The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo (of course I always like the books better than the movies!) and Moneyball.  Our ant friends decided to come back for a visit again - visiting Ds's bedroom this time.  At least it got him to really clean up his room - LOL. He vacuumed (I couldn't find his floor when I vacuumed, so I skipped his room), emptied his garbage and his room looks great! We haven't seen any ants since we had the pest control come last month and they are due again to spray probably the end of this week, but I'll have to see if they can get out here sooner.  Ds doesn't really want to sleep with ants crawling around him so he spent the night at his girlfriend's last night.  Our new neighbor (the new renter 2 houses down) said she has terrible ants and Dh told her we have someone come spray regularly, so I suppose if the homes nearby don't get rid of them they just make their way to our place too, which probably explains why they just won't go away these past couple of years.

Our lawn is looking great.  At least something Dh can do and it gives him a sense of accomplishment. The dandelions are just a few now and (sshhh! don't tell him!) I just walk through it every few days picking the ones that pop up when he's not looking and he thinks they are gone :-)  Now we need to come up with a plan to keep it green come July when it dries out and goes brown. Dh has never been one to drag a hose around to set up a sprinkler.  Our front lawn is small but the back is 1/4 acre or more of lawn.

I seem to be in a "lull" lately.  Work all week and then it seems it's Monday again already. Maybe I need a vacation from work! I don't think I've really taken a full week off since I went to Hawaii last June. Just long weekends here and there since then. Can't afford a vacation and honestly, most times I need to go to work in the office just for a break from Dh.  At times, it does get wearing having to care for someone, so a full week at home doesn't sound all that appealing either.

I also got a virus on my computer and Ds was able to get rid of it.  I didn't even realize I had some sort of monitor with Comcast and they sent me an email on Friday notifiying me that my computer may be infected with a "bot" and a link on how to fix. I hadn't opened the email because I thought it was just one of their emails telling about one of their services, LOL.  So, that is awesome to know I would have help through them to fix, if I didn't have my own in-home IT person ;)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Kids and jobs

My son is still looking for full time employment in the IT field, but got some good news this week with the part time seasonal job he's had the last 6 months, that was supposed to end this week. They want him to keep him on part time through the summer, adding in a district north of us as part of his service territory.  This will at least give him some hours each week, and allow him to at least keep earning some money while he's looking for that elusive full time job.  They are also allowing him to start his time when he leaves home, rather than when he arrives at the office, since some of the offices he might have to drive to are up to 45 miles away (and he's still getting paid mileage).  It's not fun to drive around here with all the traffic but for the most part he can choose when he wants to go to the office(s) he's dispatched to for computer repair. He actually did his work last evening at an office 45 miles away, so was able to stay out of all the daytime/rush hour traffic. I'm happy the company was so pleased with his work, that they kept him on (while laying off the seasonal person who had this north district).

I think Dd will start seeing what part time jobs she can start applying for now that tennis is over.  She just does not want to do fast food (and I really don't blame her. I did it for 2 months as a teenager and HATED it), but unfortunately most of the other types of jobs (mainly retail) requires you to be 18.  But she really wants to have some spending money so I think she'll probably get to the point where she will take any job she can find, LOL. I don't want to push her to get a job and I know she really wants to do a tennis camp this summer, which is Mon-Fri for 2 hrs a day.  I'd rather she enjoy that than work - she'll have the rest of her life to work and since she is going to college I'm not too worried about her future and early work experience.  Knowing her and her determination, though, I'm sure she'll find a way make it all work.