Sunday, December 30, 2012

The week's happenings

It's been a pretty relaxing and enjoyable week off.  DD and I got out of the house fairly early the morning after Christmas to see what we could find on Christmas clearance. We were in need of bows, bags and tags. Two of my "wants" was a Christmas throw blanket for the sofa and a set of Christmas dishes (I've been wanting this for a few years). We found some bows and bags at one store that already had everything marked down to 75% off. Got our good friends annual snow globe gift for next year at Kohl's 70% off (plus I had a $10 off any purchase coupon) and some wrapping paper at Target for 50% off. I found a cute blanket at Walmart for $2.48 and found a dishes set at RiteAid that was 50% off and I had a $5 UP Reward to use so it ended up costing me $5 for the 12 piece set.It's a 4 place setting and I thought about buying 2 sets, but didn't really want the extra mugs, so if I need more than a 4 place setting down the road I think I'll just pick up some white plates at the dollar store to alternate the place settings.

I received some nice gifts. 2 sweaters, a new kitchen and steak knives set in a butcher block, Starbucks gift card, pj's, some super soft wash cloths, a candle DD made in a tea cup with a saucer (picked up at Goodwill).DD got me the best gift - a nice black North Face jacket. I've been wanting one for quite some time, but of course way out of what I've ever been willing to spend. She actually found it second hand! There is a local community facebook page where people in our town list things for sale and she spotted it listed for $75. Turns out she goes to school with the girl and since it had been listed for quite awhile she offered her $50. DD has the frugal gene :-)

Apparently my mom has been working on a surprise birthday present for my birthday next month. DD has known what it is and then my mom asked me to go with her "someplace" on Thursday to look at "something". I figured it had to do with the birthday gift but had no idea what it could be. But, I figured whatever it was it must be on sale now, haha!. We ended up at Sears and walked into the appliance department. My gift is a new refrigerator!! Boy, was I surprised. I picked out one with french doors on top and freezer on bottom. It will be delivered on Wednesday. I can't wait. Our refrigerator is about 23 years old and sure to die any time now. I got a stainless steel one and it will match our oven we had to purchase a few years ago.

Friday DD and I went and walked around the campus's of a couple of local private universities. One was about half hour drive with about 2500 students - beautiful old campus and they've kept the integrity of the brick architecture with the newer buildings. The other was just a 15 minute drive with about 3500 students. A good school too, but we just didn't get the same "feel" as the first one. I doubt she will go to either one, as she seems to really want to attend (and live) at one of the state universities that is about 2 hours away. We will go take a guided tour of that campus in the spring. All my stepbrothers went to this university. Whatever her choice ends up being, it was just good for her to see them and get a feel for what they are like. She still has over a year to decide. Then we stopped at the sporting goods store and she bought a new tennis racquet with her giftcard and Christmas money.

I was a bit sick during the night Friday and yesterday I slept a good long nap in the afternoon. I'm feeling better now, just some stomach bug, I guess. No big plans on New Year's Eve, as usual. We will stay up late waiting for updates on DS's race down under that night. He's had very bad luck so far - they keep having engine problems so he hasn't even been able to finish a race. The last race he was 3rd quick out of all the cars and then the engine went bad. Very disappointing to say the least. They can't get the motor fixed in time for the next race, but luckily he will be able to drive a different car that is available. We're keeping our fingers crossed the next night goes well and he actually gets to race without problems.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Last minute shopping

Of course I still have shopping to do! It's always that way. A last minute thing I think of for a gift and it seems like I'm always getting the final stocking stuffers at the last minute. I'll be heading out soon to the mall to try and avoid the crowds. One of DD's items on her wish list was a gift card to a sporting goods store (to put towards an expensive new tennis racquet she wants). I thought I would probably be able to find it when I was out yesterday morning at one of the nearby stores I visited - seems they have every store gift card but that store. By then it was 11 am and the roads and stores were getting very crowded and taking the trip to the mall was not something I wanted to attempt. The 6 mile drive would literally have taken me close to a half hour each way, plus trying to even find a parking spot.

I did get her a couple of free stocking stuffers yesterday! I had $10 in RiteAid UP Rewards to use up, so along with a couple of other things to get to the $10 total I picked up 2 comsetic kits (one nail polish and one eye shadow) for $2.99 ea - buy one get one 50% off and if you buy 2 you get back a $5 UP Reward. Who doesn't like free? and she loves make-up. I had very little to pay out of pocket since I had the $10 coupon and then I got back a $5 one to use later. Her stocking includes 2 other free items - a compact/mirror I got free months ago at RiteAid and a $10 Starbucks gift card I got free with MyPoints.

I *think* the only things left I have to buy is the gift card and some scratch off lottery tickets and candy to add to the stockings. But, most likely I'll remember something tomorrow morning and have to make one last run shopping.........

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Trying to get a post out

I've been in a bit of a distraction the past week or so and haven't felt like posting. We got DS off on his big trip last week, which kept me busy the day before and the day of his departure. We had a family Christmas party to attend over the weekend, started puppy obedience classes, and I've also been extremely busy (or maybe it just seems that way because I can't focus well right now) at work. This past week we've been dealing with an issue with DS's girlfriend that isn't taking a very good turn and it just has me very stressed out. It's not allowning me to focus very well on anything else that really needs to get done - work, finishing Christmas shopping, managing my money, etc.

Not going into extreme details but it's a very scary and sad realization that his GF has no problem putting herself first and no apparent qualms about trying to cause a rif between DS and us. Her immaturity and attention seeking behavior has reached an all time high - most likely spurred on by the fact that her boyfriend just left her for 2 months. We personally asked her not to do something that we felt was a distraction to his focus while he is away and she went and did what she wanted, as usual. We have let DS know it happened and are not happy with her, which caused her to react even worse. Ugh! This is not what I need to deal with right now at all. I'm not sleeping well, getting headaches, which of course just add to making it hard to focus on tasks that need to be done. I have a ton of stuff at work that needs to get done by the end of this week, since I will be off on vacation until January 2nd.

If I don't get back to posting until after Christmas, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Is that a light I see?

I think I might finally be starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel named "crappy economy". Yesterday was my company's Christmas lunch and year end meeting. While they didn't go extra on the Christmas bonus, as I had hoped (got $1500 net after taxes, which is still awesome) they did offer some potential good news for next year and the following year. They are going to start re-implementing our sales incentive bonus program. We haven't had this since the end of 2008.  At that point we were all making an extra 20% of our salary each month. For me, that was an extra $930, so you can imagine how nice that was for the 2 years it happened. All employees get this, whether you are a salesperson or a receptionist.

Starting in January - if we make the sales goal they have set we will all get an extra 10% of our salary as a bonus - paid out mid-year and the end of next year. WoooHoooo!!!! That is potentially an extra $6600 to me next year.  The owners and management seem confident that we will not have any trouble making the sales goal, so that is very happy, encouraging news.  They also said that if that goal is met, it will put the company in a great position, to put back into place our 20% bonus program starting in 2014.  So, all I have to say is "go get 'em salespeople" :-)

As I did last year, I told DH the Christmas bonus was $500. I debated all the way home on whether to tell him about the whole $1500 or not. Just with telling him it was $500 I could see his brain start to spin on what things he could spend it on before he said "I suppose you already have it budgeted for stuff....". I just laughed and said yes, of course.  The extra $1000 is going straight into savings for those emergencies that, without fail, pop up. Setting aside that extra $1000 last year, without telling him, so he could spend it, was one of the smartest things I have done. It gave me the extra money I needed to help pay for all his doctor bills and prescriptions. It gave me some peace of mind, knowing it was there, if I needed it, and it kept me from being more stressed out about all the medical bills than I already was. So in the end, that is what made my decision to not tell him and just put away the extra $1000.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Working on a Target coupon deal

I'm trying to figure out a Target deal that I hope will work out as planned. I just printed an offer from Target's facebook page for $10 off a $50 purchase. I also have a catalina Target coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase of frozen foods and a $5 off Target coupon for 2 bags of Purina cat or dog food.  If I can get $25 in frozen food items (great for my new freezer stock up!) and $25 in the pet food (though 2 bags of cat food might be more than $25) here's my plan:

I'm pretty sure if I hand them the $10 off $50 coupon to ring through first it will take off the $10, since I have spent $50. I don't want to hand over the other coupons first, as that will then show my total below $50 and the $10 off coupon might not work. Then I can hand over the 2 $5 off coupons and any other coupons I have for the frozen foods (still looking for coupons).  $50, less $10, less $5, less $5 will be $30 and then for using my Target red debit card I will get another $1.50 (5% ) off that. I should be able to get $50 worth of product for $28.50 less any other manufacturer coupons I can come up with to use. A pretty good deal, in my book.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Rebuilding credit post bankruptcy

Rebuilding credit after a bankruptcy seems to be a necessary evil. While on the one hand I have really come to like our "no credit card lifestyle" we have led for the past several years on the other hand there are some benefits to a higher credit score.  Auto insurances look at your score to assess what kind of risk you might be. There are even some employers who will look at your credit score/history to assess what type of employee you might be.

While I don't feel a strong desire to have credit cards in my wallet and no desire to pay any interest on making credit card payments, on some levels I do want to rebuild my credit score. The first reason is just plain basic. A good credit score means you are doing it right. I like to feel like I am doing things the right way. A good credit score makes me feel like I am a responsible person. A second reason is that maybe at some point down the road we will want to buy a new home. I hope we get to buy a new home someday in the future. This isn't where I envision living the rest of my days - neither this house nor this overly congested traffic filled area. We'll need to rebuild our credit score to someday qualify for a new home loan (and by "new" I don't mean a brand new home - just "new" to us), Even if we don't ever move, there is very likely a time when we'd like to refinance to a lower interest rate (like now! wish I could!) or combine the home equity loan with our regular mortgage.

I recently got approved for a Target credit card with a $300 limit. I used it, got the bill, and paid it off. I have used it again and will do the same next month. I had also read that a good tool for rebuilding credit was a gas credit card, so I applied for a Shell card and was approved on that, too. I charged $90 in gas my first statement and paid that off yesterday (9 days before the due date). Last week I applied for a Kohl's card and was instantly approved. I charged a little over $50 for some xmas gifts and a comforter for myself. Once I get the statement I'll pay that off in full. 22% or so interest is not in the monthly budget. I don't EVER want to be making monthly payments on credit cards again! I don't see myself using that card too often though. I just don't buy myself much in the way of clothes and such. Mostly I shop there for gifts and DD might do a little school clothes shopping there every summer.

I feel these cards, with their low credit limits, are a good start to rebuilding my credit over the next few years. I'm "good" now - nothing else I want to apply for. I used to have a JC Penney card - had it since I was 18. Rarely used it and didn't owe anything on it when we filed bankruptcy, yet they cancelled me. I'd had a Macy's card that long too yet they did not cancel me. I used to shop at JCP for most all my clothes, bedding, gifts, etc (though I rarely charged my purchases) but don't feel the need to reapply for their store credit card. I really don't care for the changes to their stores they've made, anyway.  I have no desire to apply for a bank credit card that I can use anywhere - that would just be a bit too tempting. DH has no willpower and I have a hard time saying no when he gets into one of his instant gratification moods. Not having any credit cards available these past few years has been great for curbing his whims to buy something right now (usually a race car part) and he now is good about saving and waiting for what he wants, but I know that with a credit card he'd fall into the old way instantly. I shop and get prescriptions at Target on a regular basis, I get gas every week and when I do occasionally shop at a clothing/home decor type store I usually go to Kohl's because it is only a mile away and I don't have to trek through the traffic to the mall. I feel satisfied now that I'm on a better path to rebuilding my credit, rather than just going along with no credit cards.  Hopefully it will help with insurance rates and at some point down the road if we get a chance, either refinance or sell our home and downsize a bit to a more desirable area we will be able to get a home loan at a decent rate.