Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No expense review this month and other thoughts

My monthly review of my expenses is really messed up this month.  First there was the several days I had to use cash - which of course I didn't write down anything and now I can't remember what exactly I spent the withdrawn cash on.  Then, just to be safe I changed my login and password for my online banking. I went to log into Mint.com and there weren't any updated transactions for 2 weeks and I realized it was because I had changed my log in.  When I tried to change it on Mint I did something wrong and ended up having to delete my whole bank and set it up again....well, that made me lose ALL my transaction history on Mint! Now I only have back until May.

At first I was all excited to see my grocery total for the month down so low and then I remembered one of the grocery trips was paid with that cash. I don't remember how much.  I guess I'll just forget about trying to analyze July and start over with it all. 

I did find another area where I can save just a bit each year: Emergency roadside assistance plan. I have had AAA for the past couple of years. The first year I got the basic plan for around $50. We were traveling quite a bit that summer for racing and it more than paid for itself in hotel discounts. I think we stayed in a hotel about 10 nights total.  I didn't renew it last summer but then we decided to take one racing trip out of state and were driving our (new to us) tow vehicle with 200,000 miles on it for our first long trip, so we decided we'd better have AAA and get the premium plan, with the 100 mile towing in case we were out in the middle of nowhere and broke down (we didn't, of course). That was $89.  I just discovered that there are other companies out there who cheaper offer roadside assistance plans and I also discovered that my car (a Chevy) should be covered by their roadside plan for the first 5 years or 100,000 miles. I will need to call and verify this as I am not the original owner of the car. It's a 2011 we bought it used with less than 5,000 miles on it.  I also discovered that our auto insurance with Progressive offers roadside assistance for about an extra $4 a month!  As soon as my AAA has expired (end of August) I will add this to my auto insurance for our other vehicles, saving about $40 a year.

I'll be able to switch Dh's cell phone plan over to a pay as you go plan in 1 month...not exactly sure how much I'll save each month. Sometimes he uses it more than other times. But I'm guessing it will be about a $30 per month savings. Yippeee!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My project

If I haven't mentioned it in a post before, I'm saying it now: I HATE cleaning house! Always have, and I'm sure I always will. I'm fine with the light cleaning and keeping things picked up and looking clean and in place, but I'm terrible about the deep down, under the surface cleaning.

My kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms are vinyl flooring...23 year old vinyl flooring. We need new floors so bad (but building up an emergency fund comes first). The vinyl is a bit "textured" so dirt is down in every little crevice. I have a nice Shark steam mop, which has helped get some of it up, but it's just dirty and dingy looking and nothing seemed to get it clean.  Did I mention I hate cleaning house?

This morning I grabbed a bottle of ammonia (straight ammonia) and a scrub brush and started working on the floor of the bathroom the kids share. OH MY! What a total difference a little down on the floor scrubbing by hand makes! It was almost like looking at a new floor.  Not much ventilation in this little bathroom and I was soon fumed out...but so happy with the results of the little bit I was able to accomplish.

Then I decided to open the back door for ventilation and start on the kitchen floor (and added a little water to the ammonia to help cut down the smell a bit, but it makes for more scrubbing to get as clean).  It is literally going to take me forever to get it all done.  I worked for about an hour and maybe got a 10th of it clean. Then I stopped as I knew if I kept going I'd whack out my back and/or neck and not be able to move tonight.  So, I'm just going to have to work on it a little at a time.  I did another small area this afternoon.  Here is a side by side comparison of a clean area next to a dirty area (the dirty part was even after I had just steam mopped it earlier this morning).
Kind of hard to see with the lighting and flash, but definitely a huge difference.  It really just has to be done, as I'm not getting a new floor anytime soon.  My plan is to go over it all with the ammonia and scrub brush, then go over it with the steam mop and then put something on it to give it a shine again. It's pretty dull looking.  Not sure to buy for that yet, but I'll have to do some looking at the store and see what they have.

So, there you go - you get to see how totally disgusting and dirty my kitchen floor (and bathroom) has been...for a very long time now.  I suck.  But I am happy that I finally found something that will take up the built in grime and dirt in all those little crevices.

A new dinner recipe

We are getting tired of eating the same dinners week after week.  I found a recipe in a magazine for a beef enchilada bake I wanted to try and I gave Dd (the main complainer) the task last week of finding a new recipe she'd like to have me try, before we went grocery shopping Saturday morning. Well, she didn't, so I made up my week's menu with the standard fare and the enchilada recipe.  As we were shopping yesterday morning I reminded her she didn't find a recipe and she said "oh, I did! I just forgot to print it out". She then got on her smart phone and looked at the recipe she had "pinned" on Pinterest and we purchased the ingredients necessary for  "Cheddar Baked Chicken".

She also decided SHE would make dinner - double score for me - something new and I didn't have to make it!  She didn't like cutting and touching the "slimy" chicken, but it sure was a quick and very easy recipe to make.

Here is the finished dish


It was pretty tasty! (and best of all we kept away from spending money on fast food take out). Tonight we'll see how my enchilada bake tastes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Heading into the weekend

I'm so glad it's Friday.  I didn't sleep well last night (Dh had a rough night) and am ready for a nap I wish I could take. The Cymbalta meds don't seem to be helping him at all, in fact, he seems worse. He's tired ALL the time and sleeps a lot more. He'll get up for an hour or so and then go back to bed for 2 or 3 hours and then nap again after dinner. He has no energy at all now. At least before, even though he was in pain, he was able to putter around and do some things. We go back next Friday for a follow-up appointment where I doubt he will be staying on this med, unless this is just a side effect that will wear off after getting used to it.

Ds was supposed to get a call for a phone interview a couple of hours ago for a job he applied for. He waited almost a half hour and then had to leave.  He said if they called while he was driving, he'd pull over. I haven't heard from him if they ever called or not. Frustrating, as I know he was really looking forward to this interview and he didn't want to have to do the interview while he was on the road.  His other phone interview yesterday went well and now he's waiting to hear how he did on the skills and personality tests they sent him.  Other good news is that his 2nd quarter hours from his layed off job were finally reported and he finally got his unemployment benefits deposited!  Only $150 a week, but it will sure help him until he finds a new job.  There were quite a few new job postings this week for entry level jobs in his field and he applied for all of them. 

It's going to be a quiet weekend.  Ds will be gone all weekend and once Dd gets home this afternoon from her last day of tennis camp she is going with a friend and her family to a major league baseball game. Should be fun for her (and free! haha). Guess I'll be reading or watching tv tonight. Maybe there's a movie on Dh and I can find to watch together.

UPDATE: I texted Ds and he said they did call for the interview and he thought it went really well. The interview lasted about 20 minutes and they said they'd let him know next week if they will schedule him for an in-person interview.  He always interviews really well, especially on the phone - he always sounds so confident and personable.  I just keep praying he'll find something soon!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Job potential

Ok! Ds finally has a couple of phone interviews lined up for a couple of potential jobs.  One is on Thursday and one Friday.   Neither is too close to home, but that's the way of it in this metropolitan area. One job is about 40 miles north (but he can take the train and company pays for it) and he has an "in" as it's where a friend of our family works.  The other job is 35 miles south (a bit closer and a much better drive) and sounds like he would love working there. A small software company that sounds like "fun" is their middle name.  I'm so excited for him I can hardly stand to wait and see how they go. I am so hoping one of them will lead to a job!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Free cookies

It's going to be a cookie stock up week for me at Rite Aid.  A couple of weeks ago I pulled several $1 off any Nabisco cookies or crackers coupons off a tearpad.  Well, this week Rite Aid has Nabisco cookies at 2/$6 plus get back a $2 UP reward.  I also was able to print out one Rite Aid Video Values coupon to stack for $1/2.

First transaction yesterday:
2 cookies - $6.00
- $1/2 Rite Aid q
-(2) $1 off mfg q
=$3.00 out of pocket and got back $2 UP Reward for next purchase (plus I got a $4 UP Reward for some Revlon nail polish purchase)

Today's transaction:
2 cookies - $6.00
- $6 UP Rewards used
= Free cookies and got back $2 UP Rewards

Tomorrow's transaction:
2 cookies - $6.00
- (2) $1 mfg q's
- $2 UP reward used
= $2.00 out of pocket plus get back $2 UP reward

Limit is 3 $2 UP Rewards, but a total of $5 out of pocket and $6 back in UP Rewards for 6 packages of cookies is great :-)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Perking the place up!

I've been working on small things I can do around the home to spruce it up a bit and just bring some new life into it.

First up is the new cushions for the old rocking chair. Everyone is in agreement that the red looks great. I got this for $28 shipped from Amazon (including $10 in amazon gift cards), which was a great deal compared to all the other prices I found for the same exact thing.

Then I got this plant to replace some ugly fake greenery that was just laying on top of dirt so old my youngest was probably a baby! This is in my dining room. Now....if I can just keep it alive!
And here is the new pot I found for $9 at Ross last night.  I spotted a tall tree like plant for $12, when I was buying the plant above, I'll be putting in it soon.  The rocking chair used to be in this spot but we moved the rocker when we got rid of the very old and dirty chair (now sitting in our shop - the dog still uses it to lay on when he's hanging out in the shop - he's spoiled!)
And lastly - my flowers outside are blooming like crazy! I think I put too many in! I can't even see one of the kinds I put in - they got swallowed up by the petunias. I have 2 more like this.
I'm really thinking of painting our bedroom in a couple of weeks, when I have the week off work.  Dd loves to paint so she will help.  I haven't painted it in probably 12 years. It's a very light pink color but I think I'd just like a creamy white to go with the dark cherrywood furniture I now have. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Our Bankruptcy ordeal - Part 2

Spending that $12,000 was the last thing I wanted to do! I had settled on the accident claim one week before we were served on the repossession.  If I had known that was coming so soon and what effect it would have on our bankruptcy I would have not settled until it was all over.  I was just so tired of that issue dragging on for 4 years and we really needed the money, of course.  We certainly didn't want to spend it all within a month or so - it was crazy. Our attorney basically said you can't have any money in your bank accounts when you file - you need to spend it.  I paid all our bills a month in advance, we went to eye doctors, got new glasses and contacts, got the pets into the vet, did some small house repairs.  We would have rather put it towards our home equity  loan, but that would've increased our equity/asset level by that amount. We were afraid to spend it on a major house repair(s) thinking it would increase the value of our home and we didn't know at that time where we sat on whether we still had any equity or not. We spent some extra on Christmas presents for ourselves (needed stuff, like clothes, etc) and I wrote it down as gifts for extended family members.  We took a little here and there out in cash withdrawals (which I saved) and I just listed that I'm not sure what it got spent on. Not ethical, but spending it like we were just seemed SO STUPID and not financially responsible.  At least having a month's bills paid ahead of time helped out when all was said and done and I really didn't have to make payments for a month - so it was like we got some of the money back after we filed.  That money was supposed to be because I still continued to have to go the the chiropractor regulary - with a copay and who knows if I'll always have insurance to cover it? I didn't want to just blow the money.

Of course, by this time, we had gone over what her initial fee covered, so now we were paying her hourly - at something like $200 per hour (how convenient for her!).  I think we paid $2200 in total when it was all said and done.  All this time we still had no idea if we were going to be able to keep all our assets (the housing market plunge making our house being so far underwater helped the situation, in the end) - namely our vehicles. Dh was freaking out he might lose his pick up (he's obsessed with his vehicles) or our race car stuff.  We didn't find out until a few days before she actually filed that we fit under the threshold amounts for assets allowed based on our family size (it's not like we have a lot, really - it just felt like we were under a microscope analyzing every little thing) and would most likely keep everything. Looking back, I don't see why the attorney just couldn't have just run the numbers, like she did that day at the end (it only took her a few minutes), and tell us that! It would have made it all so much less stressful all those months we were waiting.

Finally, at the end of July she called us in for our final instructions before she would file it.  She was leaving for 6 weeks to go out of the country, at the end of September she said, so she wanted to include us in her filing the first week in August - to ensure that our 341 hearing would be before she left..  The day in August finally arrived and we had to show up with printed out letters from our banks stating what our balance was on that date. What a pain and embarrassment to go in and have to explain why I needed these letters from 2 banks we had accounts with. I couldn't just print out my online statement. It had to be on bank letterhead.

My mind is fuzzy regarding this appointment, but for some reason, she had to cancel our filing. I forgot one little piece of info or something like that, so meeting was canceled by her right then and there and rescheduled. It was something like she needed a printout of our mortgage balance, that day, which hadn't changed from what I gave her the week before.  I said I'd be home in 15 minutes and would fax it to her. Nope! By then, I literally hated this attorney! I had gotten these bank letters for nothing. We were now re- scheduled to go in and sign the filing papers the next week.  I had to go to the banks again and request them to write the letters.  Finally we get into our appointment with her at her office to sign and then she files electronically with the court.  There was construction going on on her street. Right while we were sitting signing the papers her power goes out. A dump truck had ripped out the power line going into her building! She now had no way to file! She made phone calls and talked to the construction crew boss. They didn't know how long it would take to fix.  We left not knowing if we'd get filed that day or not. If not, we were going to have to do the bank letters a 3rd time.  She called us a few hours later saying she went and bought an air card for her laptop and got all her clients for that day filed! Finally!

It was basically all over except for the 341 hearing at the courthouse that got scheduled for the 3rd week in September. Everything I had read about on these were that for the most part it went easy and quickly. We were still balls of nerves, though, of course. We had to meet her at the courthouse an hour before for some last minute instructions on what to expect how to act/what to say and not say.  It was an open court - all the hearings done one after the other, waiting for our case to be called up. I couldn't believe all the people there just for bankrupcty hearings! There was a list on a board with all the names - for 2 or 3 courtrooms. Filled.  I judged by that many people and the time available, it shouldn't be more than 10 minutes per person/couple.  We felt like such low life's sitting there in the courtroom with all the others in the same situation.

We got to hear quite a few before we were called up.  A few were also custody type hearings.  No one from our creditors showed up (as is normal). We were asked a few basic questions by the judge, she approved it and it was done. We were literally up there for only a few minutes. It was such a huge relief to walk out of there!

So, now we live a much quieter, simpler life. Our phone hardly ever rings and if it does it's certainly not creditors!  We have to save our money for whatever we want to buy and it's all less stressful that way. The only thing we have left "unresolved" from this was reaffirming our mortgage and home equity loans. The way our attorney explained it is those loans were included in our debt discharge, but as long as we make our payments on time each month, there is nothing either bank can do to take our home.  We have never been late on a house or home equity loan payment in our life, so that wasn't a concern. If we wanted to reaffirm it would cost $400 per loan for her to file the paperwork. She really wasn't very helpful in advising us what to do on this, other than to give us the options either way. (Of course, she'd surely like the $800)

This has been one of my nagging decisions. To reaffirm or not.  With the economy and house values we are still seriously underwater - like $50,000 or more.  We can make our payments, but if something were to happen down the road where I can't (such as a job loss for me - or dh having some huge medical bill) I don't want to be reaffirmed to 2 loans I can't pay and something I have no equity in.

I just went online and did a little more research into this and it appears my decision to not reaffirm is the right decision, according to several bankruptcy attorney's advice.  With not reaffirming we could walk away from this home, at any time, and not be liable to the banks after foreclosure. If we reaffirm and had to foreclose down the road, with a deficiency in what the bank could sell it for, we'd be liable for the difference.  I'm just too scared and realistic to think that now our lives are going to go perfect and we'll never experience financial troubles again.  Like I said, a job loss for me - the income earner - would devastate us and that's always a possibility. Nothing is guaranteed. On the flip side - with not reafirrming we do not get the on time mortage payments reflected in our credit report, to help rebuild our credit. If we had equity I wanted to protect I would strongly consider reaffirming our mortgage loans.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Some good news

Just got an email from my boss that she hasn't forgotten the mid year review mentioned last December....remember when I got a glowing review but no raise??  It was commented at that time they might revisit raises for those who didn't get them in June (there was 5 of us).  June came and went and though I could surely use a boost in pay, I had decided I'm just going to keep my mouth shut this time (well, at least until the end of this year - then it would have been 2 years since my last raise).  I HATE having to ask for a raise (though I have done it, before). I feel like it's the employers (especially for a company of our size) responsibility to recognize performance and give out raises.

I am so relieved now! I should know by the end of the month, I'm sure.  The company is doing pretty well, considering the economy and now has almost 1 million dollars in reserve funds.  I think they can afford to give me a $200-$300 a month salary increase.  I can surely use it, especially with the cost of dh's prescriptions going up in August.  It will also help offset the money I get from my side job - if I were to lose that job down the road, it wouldn't feel like such a big hit to the budget.  I think I'll sleep better tonight :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday stuff

Dd and I got out of the house by 9am this morning to head down to the town farmer's market, for the first time.  What fun! It was already pretty crowded by the time we got there but lots of booth's to check out from fresh fruits and veggies to hand crafted items.  We bought a couple of pints of raspberries and 2 bouquets of sweet pea flowers, one to take to my grandma we visited afterwards.  They smelled so good!  As we strolled around there was also a street musician playing the violin (which I love listening to) so we also dropped a dollar in his case. 

I just love doing that kind of thing - it relaxes me (even though there were quite a few people there) to just walk around at a leisurely pace and take it all in. I don't get much opportunities to relax anymore. Then on the way to my grandma's my son called and said dh was sick and we needed to come home. He went to the pain specialist yesterday (they had a cancellation, so got him in a week early) and the doctor seems to think he might have fibromyalgia and put him on Cymbalta and another med to help sleep at night. He also said to reduce one of this other meds (neurontin) down a notch and also gradually get off the narcotic drug (our main reason for going to this specialist - to see if there is something besides habit forming narcotics he can be on for pain). 

Well, I gave him his first Cymbalta pill at 8am this morning and cut down his Neurontin - and within a couple of hours he was having diarrhea and feeling sick to his stomach. So, now I'm not sure if it's the Cymbalta causing it or the reduction in Neurontin.  He has forgot a couple of times to take his bedtime dose and felt really sick the next day, so maybe we just need to reduce it slower. I'm thinking that for this first week, as he tries Cymbalta to see if it works and if there are any bad side effects,  he should just stay on his other meds as before - then we know which is causing the problems.  I feel so bad for him.  I'd really like him to be able to give this Cymbalta a try - I've heard so many good things about it for pain sufferers.

After we got home and I gave him the other half of his neurontin he decided to go back to bed and said he'd be ok if we went to visit my grandma. She's just a few minutes away so we took her the pretty flowers and had a little visit.  At least I got to enjoy a little bit of fun time this morning.  Need to try and do that kind of stuff more often.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our bankrupcty ordeal

Next month it will be 2 years since we filed for bankruptcy.  I have to say it was one of the hardest, lowest points in my life.  For us, it was a very long drawn out process, which didn't make it any easier.  I'm not sure if it was just our situation, a lawyer who was taking on too many clients and/or dragging it out on purpose to get more money, or just the fact that we filed in the period of record bankruptcy filings. A combination of all of the above, most likely.

We first knew we were going to be in trouble in the spring/summer of 2008.  What should have been Dh's busy time was not. Dh was just not working enough hours anymore (the start of the recession for us) to keep up with all his business loan payments. We defaulted on one equipment loan and it was repossessed the summer of 2008.  We were waiting to be served papers, but nothing seemed to be happening. That fall we had a consultation with a bankruptcy attorney. Dh's work had picked up some and without the loan payment on the repossessed item, we were making it at that time.  The attorney said not to do anything with regards to starting the bankruptcy process until we were actually served papers by this finance company.  Also, at that time, with Dh still working and keeping his business going, it looked like we would qualify for a Chapter 13 type, where we would make payments over 5 years to repay a percentage of our debts and keep our assets.

Winter of 2009 came and Dh's work slowed to very little (as it always had) but he hadn't worked enough the prior 6 months to build up a reserve to make his equipment payments through the winter. Dh told his equipment finance company he wasn't going to be able to make payments for at least several months. He told them to come and take the equipment, there was nothing more he could do.  We still had received nothing from the company (a different company) that repossessed the piece of equipment the prior summer.  Dh sat all winter and so did his equipment and this finance company did nothing to come and get it.  They called a few times and each time Dh told them to just come and get it. By that time he had lost all hope.

Spring came and the recession hit our local construction industry like a tornado. The big construction company he did most of his sub work for layed off 90 of their 100 construction workers. Most all of their equipment was sitting, not working. They certainly weren't going to hire a sub, nor was anyone else. There was no work for Dh and he couldn't resume his equipment payments, as he had hoped to do.  Summer started and he found a little work here and there.  By mid summer the finance company finally came and repossessed the last piece of equipment. He closed his business down. Several more months went by and still we had not been served by the company from the repossession a year earlier, nor anything from the recent repossession.  Though we were getting collection phone calls.

At this point we also could not pay his business credit cards or his line of credit loan with his bank, so the phone was ringing off the hook all day with collection calls. Those drove me nuts the most, but dh handled most of them - 6 days a week from 8am to 9pm.  Sometimes, when I'd be up early on Saturday mornings (I couldn't sleep much) and everyone else was still sleeping, I'd just turn the ringer off on the phone so I could get a hour or so of quiet time.  Finally in November of 2009 the first finance company served us papers. 5 minutes later I got on the phone to call the attorney we had met with the year before. I had to leave a message on voice mail. No return call. I left 2 more messages. I could not get a hold of him. We were starting to panic because we didn't know how being served "worked" and it said we had 2 weeks to respond. Finally, I called a different attorney and we started working with her. The holidays made it take even longer.  But I had all my "homework" into her right on January 2, before her mid-January (2010) deadline.  Part of the homework consisted of literally listing EVERY thing we owned and it's value, down to a pair of socks, basically. We were told it would cost $1300 and would be approximately a 4 month process, so we should be filed in April.  She also told us, since dh wasn't working anymore, that we'd be better off to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 didn't really apply to our situation anymore.  The problem with Chapter 7, though, was the possibility of losing some of our assets.  When you don't have much to begin with, it's disheartening to think you might even lose that. We were imagining being left with a crappy, falling apart house, with negative equity (still have that!) and one of our 10 year old vehicles.  At that time we didn't own a vehicle newer than 6 years old. We had 3 - an old 24 year old car that our son drove, an 11 year old pick up and my car of 6 years old. Plus we had some race car stuff.  We owned all, no loans on them. Also, just personal stuff in our home - nothing expensive or worth much, but the attorney just wasn't very helpful in calming any of our fears - I think she added to them, really.

From there she just dragged it out and out for weeks. We were supposed to file in April, then May...then June. Every time I would call she'd say "ok, I think you are going be filed with this group on such and such date" and then it never happened. We were going crazy by then.  I don't even remember now what all her excuses were, I was so stressed. One of her last "excuses" was since I had received a lump sum ($12,000) in December from my auto accident 4 years earlier and we needed to now wait 6 months after that date, so the court wouldn't use that money in determining our assets. And then she tried to blame the delay on us, saying she had just found out about it in May and we didn't disclose it to her in the beginning. I blew up! It was mentioned in our initial meeting and of course it was in our homework. She's the one who advised us what to do with the money! And then she drug it out longer by making me go back and detail what we spent the $12k on (per her instructions the December before, we were to spend it all - we couldn't have it in savings) By July it had gone on so long we ended up having to re-do much of our "homework". I had to get 3 more new realtor comps for our house Do you know how crappy it feels to have to call them up and "pretend" (this is what our attorney advised us to do) we want to list our house so we can get an estimated value?  and then to have to do it all again, a second time?  We had to get estimates and printouts supporting the value of all our other personal assets on anything worth over $500 - again.

Part 2 - coming next.......

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And another $10 not spent today

I was about to order a box a checks yesterday, since I am completely out.  A box lasts about forever now that check writing is few and far between.  I always remember checks ordered through the bank to be so expensive, so I was going to order from some online place. Walmart had some cheap checks for less than $10 with shipping. I was about to hit "order" and for some reason I didn't.

Well, guess what? My checking account comes with free check re-orders! Huh! I had no idea of what my account "benefits" are.  Turns out I can also have a free small safe deposit box.  That might be something to also take advantage of.  I was just online changing my user ID and password (recommended with the recent debit card info theft) and noticed the option to "order checks". When I clicked on it there was mention that some checking accounts come with free checks. I determined what type of checking I had and discovered free checks.  Love not spending money when I don't have to!

Long Thursday ramble

$10 I don't have to spend to drive to work today. Boss (she's the best) emailed that morning traffic getting into the city was horrendous and to work from home, if I want.  Heck ya! So, I quickly changed from my jeans into shorts :-)  And since I started  early at 6:45 (my usual start time on days I have to take an hour out of my morning to drive to the office and then back in the afternoon) I'll be done nice and early this afternoon, too. Win Win.

I mailed in the vehicle registration for our pick up on June 29th. Saves $5 from having to go do it at the licensing office, plus time and gas.  I did this with the last 2 vehicles and got the tabs back within about 5 days. Well, nothing on this one yet! My check hasn't cleared either.  I checked online to see where to call (there is nothing on the paperwork) and it says they mail them within 7 working days. So counting back, taking out the weekends and holiday - they should have been mailed by Tuesday or Wednesday.  If nothing shows up today, I guess I have to call my local office to research. I'm so glad I made a copy of the renewal form AND the emissions inspections report!  The tabs on the truck are for July, but technically they expired on the 7th. I though I'd have them back by then.  Good thing Dh rarely drives it.

At Dd's last dental appointment she had to have 2 small fillings done. They had been watching them for quite awhile. (not sure why cavaties if they do those sealants??) So, $50 deductible plus 20% = $82 bill to pay. Dang.  And then Ds just went to the dentist Tuesday (he missed his 7am appointment, but called them back by 8:30 to apologize and reschedule and they had an opening later that same day) and now he has a small filling to get done today. So, it will be another $50 deductible.  Dang again.  Can't complain too much though, I can't remember last time either of them needed more work than a cleaning.  Guess those are the types of things I now have an EF $ for.

Over the past several months I've been trying to just do little, low cost things to spruce up the house or replace old worn out things. My latest was the rocking chair cushions. They came UPS and Dh opened up the box and said "Red? We aren't "red" people!" I just ignored him and put the cushions on.  Later he walked through the room and said "hey, that looks really nice - I like the red!" Too funny.  Other items I've bought are valance curtains for the kitchen window, new bath towels and bath mats, dd's closet makeover.  We also moved Dh's desk out of the dining room into the family room (free). Now I'm trying to decide what's next.  I can't figure out what should be next. Everything else I'd like to do seems like a big costly project - and Dh is terrible to get to agree to those. I think I'll go buy a plant. I have this nice planter on a decorative table in the dining room, but there hasn't been a real live plant in there in years. Just some fake greenery.  Dd and I are planning on going to our town's Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. I wonder if they have plants for sale there. Lived here over 20 years and never been down to the farmer's market!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Staying home

Dh has been wanting to take a road trip - to take in some racing and possibly also visit his older brother that lives in the destination state.  Dh hasn't seen this brother in probably 15 years (he kind of disassociated himself from the family - something we ended up doing, eventually, too) and hasn't talked to him in several years.  Just Dh and son were going to go. I have no desire to spend 10 hours in a car (each way) to go see a race and I could care less about seeing this brother.  He and his wife were 2 of the worst parents I have ever seen and I really have no use for him.  I'm not sure what Dh's motivation is to suddenly want to see this brother.  Possibly just getting older (dh is 48 and his brother is around 55) and feeling more mellow about life - I don't know.  Like I told Dh- he is the one with all the years of history, growing up with this brother, not me, so if he feels the need to reconnect, that is up to him and not my decision.

Anyhow, he himmed and hawed (is that how it's spelled?!) all evening on whether they should take off early this morning and make the little trip. It would have cost $130 in gas, $60 for tickets to the race, and some food.  They were thinking of just spending the night in the car (the back seat folds down) and then if the meeting with brother had happened, possibly spend a night there or in a hotel for one night.

But, when I woke Dh up at 5am to get ready to go he said he had decided not to go.  He said he didn't feel right spending that much money on himself and Ds, without it being something we could all enjoy.  He said he also realized it wasn't really smart to spend a few hundred dollars when there are so many other things we need.  This is like a big revelation for Dh! He has never really had that kind of mindset before.  It's a great step in the right direction for our finances, but Dd and I were really looking forward to just us girls at home for a couple of days, though :-)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This and That

Got my replacement debit card yesterday.  The only part of the cash days I liked was I ended up with a $20 bill I snuck into my $20 bill envelope and had some extra change to drop in my change vase :-) Other than that I hated it.  I do not have the patience to write down every purchase and with cash there was no way to track what I spent that on. At least with using my debit card I can see it right on my bank account online or even better, categorized at mint.com.

Got a phone call at 7:10 this morning wondering where Ds was - he was supposed to be at his dentist appointment. Forgot to remind him last night, but he's had several reminders for the past week about it. And he went to spend the night at Gf's house and sleeping in, so not answering his cell phone. Oh well - guess if they charge us for it, he'll be paying it.  It's hard transitioning them from a kid you do everything for to an adult who needs to be responsible for his own life.

Supposedly Dh will be making dinner tonight, every Tuesday from now on.  I said "you mean Dd will be making dinner?!". We'll see - I'm sure it will just be soup, but works for me. As long as I don't have to decide what it is or make it, I don't care!

The weather has been hot and the extra air conditioner purchased recently has really helped make the house more comfortable.  Definitely worth the $300 spent.  Dd is turning into a tan little tennis girl, being outside playing tennis everyday.

It's only Tuesday and I'm ready for Friday already.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

The week in review

I'd say we made the right decision in telling Ds he needed to stay home this week and get some things accomplished, rather than going camping with his girlfriend.  Below are the things he would NOT have gotten done if he had gone:

Went and picked up the $400 owed to him for website work

Worked a few hours at his part time job

Got to apply for some more jobs

Got more info regarding his unemployment benefits and wait time (still not good news yet) - since he's only worked 6 months total he has to wait until his employer files the 2nd quarter report of his hours until he can get his claim going with enough hours total. The corp office is out of state and they have until July 31st to do this, so not looking like his benefits will start until August, but he should be getting back benefits for all these weeks.

Today he is trading some vinyl sticker work for work that needs to be done on the a/c unit of his tow rig.  The a/c hasn't worked for a couple of months - no real issue with our mild temps but this week is hot and a trip to the race track is happening tomorrow. A good friend, who knows of the a/c issue, stopped by with a friend of his who knows how to do a/c repair. He took a look at it to see what was wrong. It's nothing real major and he told Ds what items to pick up to repair and will fix it later this afternoon for him. In exchange for his labor he asked Ds to make him some vinyl stickers, which Ds spent about an hour or so and is almost done with them.  We will all appreciate having a/c for the hour drive tomorrow.

I've decided to just stick with the same health insurance plan (now with no $15 generic drug co-pay) as I have so much already into his deductible and from all I can decipher I will only have to pay 50% of the contracted rate, so it should be about $100 more a month but that is still cheaper than paying $300 more a month for the plan with prescription coverage.

Dd is loving her tennis camp she started this week, at 3 hours per day. She just texted me that their Friday "match play" is done with and she won a trophy to keep for the week :-)  She is getting fit and tan, too.

And for some reason, I am having this "want" to get a peacock! Haha! I was looking on craigslist for some trees to buy/plant and came across an ad for a peacock....I know nothing about them but they are so neat. A house on my way to work has one and he just wanders wherever, sometimes he's just walking along the side of the road in front of their property.  I know I'd regret it and I won't get one - but I still want one :-)

Cash only

Well, I guess I am trying the "cash lifestyle" for a few days. I don't like it already, LOL.  I canceled my card yesterday morning, while I was at work.  On the way home I made my usual Thursday stop for Dh's burger and fries from the little mom and pop burger joint. I started to hand her my debit card and went "oh crap - I just canceled it this morning! Can you take a check?" She was like - "oh don't worry about it - you come here so often - just pay it next time." I did remember I had $7 (the total was $8 and change) so I gave her that and told her I'd pay the rest next week. I felt so stupid!

I figured I'd just write a check for my grocery shopping this weekend, but then when I wrote my mom a check last night for my car payment it was my last check - my very last check! I dug through my desk drawer and found some checks that have my correct routing and bank account number, they just have a different bank name (from before they got bought out). They would probably still work, I'm sure. I know I used them for awhile before I got the checks with the correct bank name on them. I think I'll just go to the bank today and get out the cash I need for the weekend. 

Cash only would really not work to well for me. I am too used to my debit card. I use it for everything and rarely have cash on me.  Honestly, it would drive me nuts to have to pull into the gas station each time and actually have to go in there and give them cash and either not fill up quite all the way (cuz you can never guess exactly how much) or have to give them more and then make another trip back inside to get the change.  I have no patience for that :-)

I just want my debit card back!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Debit card update

I called the bank first and their explanation was some "glitch" or something caused this company to charge .01 to accounts.  She said the credit for a penny is the correction, so they must have fixed it. She really couldn't explain how this company got my info in the first place, since I have never ordered from them before. I canceled the card and they are sending me a new debit card. I went ahead and am paying a $5 fee for 2 day rush delivery, even though I guess I could go get a temporary ATM card from my branch, this just seemed quicker and easier and worth the $5.  The bank customer service rep wasn't real helpful in recommending what I should do. She almost acted like since the .01 credit was pending also, it really wasn't that big of deal.  I decided to cancel it anyway, just to be safe.

I then decided to call the company.  It's just a lady who has a small online mail order business with a shopping cart on her website.  It apparently happened to more than just me. She said her bank explained it that credit card thieves are using her account - somehow - to test cards to see if they work and if it goes through then they use or sell the card info. 

Sure makes you wonder how someone even got this info! It happened within days of me receiving and activating my replacement debit card (mine expired this month).  This new card came in my mail (a locked box) and the envelope was not opened prior that I noticed.  I suppose it's possible this pending charge happened with my old card exp. date and 3 digit vin# and that info got hacked somehow, but it didn't show up until a few days after I activated my new card (last Friday). 

I'm sure glad I check my online banking daily! And after talking to the business owner I am even more glad I went ahead and canceled the card. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Oh oh!

I'm a little nervous! I just went online to my checking account, (like I do almost every day) and see a strange charge for .01 and then a credit for the same amount.  The charge references a "Enchanting Sweet Peas".  The penny credit just says "ATM credit".  What???? I have never ordered anything from this company and have never heard of them. I looked them up online and looks like a mail order seed company.

Since it's a holiday I doubt I'm going to get any answers today.  I don't even know who to contact first - my bank or this company?  My debit card expires this month and Chase just sent my replacement card. I activated it (less than a week ago) and I also went online to a few companies I pay my bills online with and have my debit card registered....utilities, Sprint, and Ebay/Paypal.  There is a $1.00 pending showing from Ebay, but I assumed that was for them to test out my new card and a credit will also show up.  But this other one has me scared someone has my debit card info!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A good day

Enjoying a nice, easy day today.  I only had to work half a day (and from home, at that), so I was able to get the crockpot going, a couple loads of laundry done, the dishwasher ran.  After work was done I made a quick trip to the bank to make a deposit and to the store for a few things to go with my crockpot dinner of pork roast and veggies.  Later, I have a hair cut appointment that is long over due.

The sun is shining and it's just a relaxing day. I'm about ready to start the bread machine for a loaf of bread and then maybe a little nap before my hair cut.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sunday night update

We talked some more to Ds when he got back from his errand today.  He really did seem to "get it" and seemed responsive to what we were saying. Even his sister was upset at him.  He had listed her old cell phone on Craigslist to sell for her and when he got a buyer she had just told him to keep the money ($60) - told him he could use it for a couple of his racing pit passes and she wanted to help him out.  So she wasn't too happy that he was going off for vacation for a week.  Like I told him- Sis could have used that money to get her nails done or gone tanning (like Gf) but she gave it to him instead.  I explained that in no way do I think his Gf needs to give him any money for anything, but she needs to realize he has no money right now to do the things she wants to do.  And she doesn't even realize SHE doesn't have the money either - not if she just borrowed $15k for school.

We also talked to him about a few years down the road - when she ends up with $50k in student loans to pay off (if she gets her masters). Who is going to pay that off on a teacher's salary? He will, if they get married.  Personally, I think the only real reason a teacher should get a masters is if they plan to go into administration, at a much higher salary.  She has said she just wants to be a teacher, not an administrative position. So, I'm not sure I understand the point of spending all the money on a master's degree.  It's her life and her decision, but like we explained to Ds...it will affect his future too, if they get married in a few years. I gave him the example of a friends daughter who has now taught for 2 years and just finished her masters.  She had to take a loan for the masters and will have to start paying it off in a few months. She just moved out from living with her boyfriend and now needs to find her own place.  On her teachers salary, without even a car payment, she cannot even afford to live in her own place, without a roommate, because of the amount of monthly loan she has to start paying.

He's been quite relaxed today and very helpful. We bought a window air conditioning unit to finally put in the biggest, hottest room of our house. $300 well spent that will benefit us for years.  We don't get a lot of hot weather, but we do get quite a few days of 80 + temps and usually a week that at times gets near 100 and of course it's miserable.  He did most of the installation of it.  He got right on it when I told him we had to get his hours figured out for filing unemployment.  Since he started working first of November he worked 850 hours, so he now has more than the 680 required and he should be able to get his claim back dated to the end of May, when he last worked.  I told him to call first thing in the morning, before I leave for work, so we'll see if he gets up and gets it done.

I think this week off from Gf will be good for him. He can recharge a bit and get focused on his future.  He says she is not pressuring him to spend money on her. I think she is and he doesn't even realize it.  She may not be directly asking for these things and trips, but she's definitely letting him know she wants to go do and buy all these things.  Of course he's going to feel like he should.

It's time for some tough love

It's time to nudge one of my little cubs to start feeding themselves.  I'm not ready to push him out of the den yet, but he sure needs to step up and start taking on some grown up responsibilities.  He's done with school.  At this point he doesn't want to go on to a 4 year university to get his Bachelor's degree.  He is content to use his AA in Computer/IT  to start working. I have no problem with that and I'm sure eventually it will work into a decent job for him.  But jobs are hard to find and he'll soon be 21 years old.  Time to grow up.

He hasn't had any work from his part time seasonal job since the end of May (as expected). He did work on Friday for one of the franchise owners, directly, and he has some work for him, at least over the next week or so.  (and he got this little extra work by taking the initiative to call this franchise owner and ask him if he needed any help, so that is good)  He is looking and applying for IT jobs but hasn't even had any nibbles or interviews.  I really didn't think it would be quite this bad in terms of finding a full time IT job.  He interviews extremely well and I figured he'd get a few interviews and find something he'd like with decent pay.  Now, in hindsight, he probably should've taken that job offered at $38k a year a couple of months ago.

I think at this point he just needs to take any full time job he can find (IT or not) and just keep on looking/applying for the jobs he wants to get into.  He needs to start supporting himself somewhat.  To me that doesn't mean he has to pay rent (though at some point, if he was working full time, making good money and just wanted to live at home, I would charge rent) but it does mean he pays for his own auto insurance, his own vehicle - buy his own or buy the one of ours he drives (I'd sell it to him very cheap), pay for his own health insurance (if not employer paid), and buy his own clothes, toiletries, etc.

Add in GF to this equation and we have some issues.  She goes camping with her family several weeks out of the summers. 2 weeks to an out of state place and one week at an in-state campground. I don't think she went to the 2 week trip last year (she was working) but she and Ds have gone for the one week in-state camping trip every year.  Today Gf''s family is leaving for the 2 week trip out of state.  She is taking off work and going for one week.  This is the same girl who is taking out $15k in student loans for next school year. She could/should be working her butt off this summer, she makes really good money as a restaurant server.  She could have even added a 2nd part time job to earn more money. But she has hardly worked and spent most of her money on tanning, getting her nails done, $50 hair cuts, etc.

Ds made NO mention of going on this trip with them. In fact, Friday he told me he had to work on Monday for the franchise owner. He also has pushed me off every day last week that I wanted to sit down and figure out exactly if he has enough hours put in to apply for unemployment starting July 1st (I'm pretty sure he does). We need to do this today or tomorrow!  He also tentatively was to meet up early this week with a guy that owes him $400 for a website Ds did for him.

He and Gf come home late last night and he tells Dh he's going to go camping with them for the week.  Um NO, we don't think you are!  Dh pretty much laid down the law (I was already in bed) - we will support him to go to school, we will support him while he tries to find a job, we will support him if he wants to pursue his dream of being a professional race car driver (but he would need to focus 100% on that and he's not), but we are not going to support him so he can take off for a week on vacation.  We've had this discussion before with him - last being when Gf wanted to go on a spring break trip (with my car!!).  I'm sure he's spent the last week listening to her pout that she wants him to come with them.

I will sacrifice and make-do for any of the above scenarios, but I'm not paying his expenses if he can go on vacation.  I DOUBT he will find a job next week, but by being gone and out of state he ABSOLUTELY will not find a job, that's for sure.

He's a great kid. Friendly, helpful and will work hard when he has to.  But, he's been living in this world where he thinks it's all just handed to him and he doesn't have to go out and work for it.  He's going to wake up in a few years and find himself working, with nothing saved, married and a wife with $50,000 in student loans to pay off on a teacher's salary. 

Me? I think I've supported him for almost 21 years and it's time to cut the strings a bit.  If I were financially well off and stable I might feel differently, but I'm not and it's time he shared some of the responsibility of supporting himself.

I just now had a talk with him this morning as he got up to go take care of an errand.  His "idea" of going on this camping trip was because it would be his and Gf's 3 year "anniversary" of being together and that would be something they'd do together (that didn't cost him anything, since the camping is with her family) and now that he's not going he has to spend money to celebrate their anniversary! I'm like - you don't have to spend money to celebrate that you've been together 3 years! Good grief. But Gf makes him feel like he does.  I'm glad she'll be gone this week.  It will give me some time to talk to him more during the week about these things.  He needs to learn that it's ok to just hang out together and tell each other "I love you" when they both need to be watching every dime they have.