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EF to the Rescue!

July 14th, 2008 at 01:36 pm

Drainage problem that created a foundation problem: $10,500

Having the money on hand to pay for this 'issue': PRICELESS

Just popping in (life has been crazier than ever) to say that I am SO THANKFUL we have an EF to pay for this. Five years ago this would have ruined us, now all we have to do is concentrate on building it back up.

On another note, I think diligently couponing is FINALLY paying off. I've built up a nice stash of coupons - not just to use for myself but to use for trades. Hopefully we'll start seeing some real savings soon. We do have a few little stockpiles going so I'm gonna just keep plugging along. It's kind of a fun 'hobby' for me. DH has rolled his eyes at my 15 boxes of pasta and 15 jars of sauce (pasta was all free, sauce was very cheap) but he likes when I get good deals on extra snacks and drinks we wouldn't normally have around, too. So all in all I think he's on board.

Oh, The Mistakes I've Made

June 10th, 2008 at 07:07 am

Oh, The Mistakes Iíve Made

Well, itís been a month of learning and mistakes. I finally got Microsoft Money loaded onto my laptop so Iím in the process of updating that. Then Iíll have a full picture of the damage. I have a feeling itís going to be ugly. My plan of attack is to assess the damage, regroup and move forward.

I really am trying to get into couponing because I KNOW I can save a lot of money. Iíve seen it firsthand, but finding the time to do it Ďproperlyí has been a real challenge and Iíve made some mistakes. Last Saturday I went to Rite Aid to pick up some of the rebate items for the week. Now Rite Aid is not convenient for me Ė in fact itís in the exact opposite direction of anywhere I need to go. I had to drive DH to the airport so it was Ďsort ofí on my way home. I had my list and my coupons Ė and both kids. When I got home I realized that only I only had 1 of the shampoos I meant to buy. I know I picked up both of them, but I think the other probably ended up sitting on the check out counter off to the side. Those counters are small and crowded and it probably got pushed out of the way. I was not charged for it, but I needed to buy 2 for the rebate. On the other hand, my coupon was for $4 off 2 and the cashier pushed that through (I guess thinking that she had rung up both them) so I still got it for free, but I would have had 2 for free after the rebate. Then, I didnít realize the rebate for the hairspray I bought (FAR plus I had a coupon) was only good at the beginning of the week. The tag was still on the shelf and I didnít check closely enough. Then I bought the wrong sunscreen for the rebate (still an ok deal at B1G1 and I needed it.) The only things I did right were the toothpaste and deodorant rebates. I thought I was all set with my list and coupons and I still managed to screw it up. I think the lesson here is to pay closer attention Ė AND try to shop without the kids. I thought I had myself organized enough to just run in and grab what I needed to get out of there quickly, but it cost me some $$. I know I could just return them but I do need the sunscreen and hairspray (and I did use a coupon with the hairspray) so Iím just gonna chalk it up to a life lesson. It doesnít end there. I went to Kroger to get a deal on Kelloggs items and I needed 6 products for the deal and managed to only have 5 so instead of $8 off , I only got $4. I was in a rush to pick up the kids and didnít realize it until I got home. Sigh.

One thing I did right was find coupons for Dr. Pepper $1/2. Walgreens had 2 liters on sale for 89 cents so I got 4 2 liters for $1.56. I have more coupons but I havenít had a chance to get to Walgreens again. Iím going to try to stock up at 39 cents/bottle but Iíll have to wait until DH is back so I can run around without the kids.

So, Iím trying. I just have to be a little more careful. Iíve reorganized my coupons so I think that will help, too. I find it hard to spend the time organizing my shopping trips AND find time to do the actual shopping. I know there have been weeks in the past that Iíve been all set to go get something from a particular store and I never make it there before the sale is over. It can be overwhelming sometimes.

You Have To Crawl Before You Can Walk

May 15th, 2008 at 06:50 am

Ok, Iím not even crawling yet. What do you call it when a baby canít get up on all fours yet, but lies on his stomach waving arms and legs wildly hoping to propel himself forward? Thatís where I am.

Iím *almost* caught up entering expenses into Money. Keeping on top of that always motivates me. I got the paperwork to transfer my other 401K into a rollover IRA. We closed on our refinance last night and as soon as it is available online Iím going to sign up for biweekly payments. Now I just need to open 529 accts for my boys. Slowly but surely Iím making progress.

In other news my baby will be 6 months on Saturday. How did that happen? I bought a sweet potato and Iím going to start him on solids this weekend. Maybe it will help him sleep through the night. I probably shouldnít get my hopes up.

Searching for Money

May 14th, 2008 at 06:00 am

I canít find my Microsoft Money disk anywhere. I want to load it on my laptop since that is what I use all the time now. DH is all geekified into World of Warcraft (insert HUGE eyeroll here) and Iím tired of fighting with him for the desktop.

I have searched high and low for that disk, and even opened all the other disks to make sure it didnít get stashed in the wrong cover. I havenít seen it in years but I havenít needed it and figured it was with all our other disks. What a PITA.

Do I make the $10 investment to put it on my laptop? I think I will since it will allow me to stay on top of things easier.

I have some cash stashed for the $20 challenge but I havenít counted it yet. I really need to make a trip to the credit union.

A few things that made me happy this past week: the grocery store had a great deal and I now have 12 boxes of cereal and 12 boxes of fruit snacks for very little OOP (I think around $8) and I still have a few $3 off register rewards. I used my $10 JCPenney coupon for nearly free underwear. My favorite hand soap was on sale for less than half price. Things are slowly getting back on track.

Now if I could just get my receipts entered into Money I could see how bad the damage is so I can make corrections. I bet the disk is with the $1 off Peter Pan coupon I lost and they are laughing at me.

Help! I Need a Band Aid!

May 8th, 2008 at 10:36 am

Or, a good swift kick in the butt. Itís been a crazy week and Iím exhausted. When I get overtired I get lazy and when I get lazy money tends to flow more freely. I know I get the same 24 hours in a day that everyone else does, but how do you balance everything?

I get up between 5:15-5:30am (an EVIL time of the day!) and start my day. Shower, get ready for work, pump, get bottles ready, get kids ready, bring kids to school, etc. No matter how much stuff I get done the night before, it always seems to be a marathon in the morning. Itís easier if DS2 would just sleep in until 6:15 or so, but heís been up with the roosters lately. Then I go to Ďworkí all day. Pick up the kids (if my day) and start my Ďrealí job. Laundry, pick up, quality time with kids, make dinner on the nights DH is not home, baths and on and on. And DS2 doesnít sleep through the night so Iím up several times with him. He doesnít care for the bottles (of pumped breastmilk) so most days he Ďreverse cyclesí and eats at night. I know it wonít last forever so Iím ok with it. But, Iím tired. Iím EXHAUSTED. Last night I went to bed after 11 and it seems like I got nothing done.

I had car troubles yesterday that (thankfully) was just a battery problem and easily remedied. But the coordination of schedules to get my car from work and fix it throws everything else off.

Anyway, all of this leads to me not having as much energy to stay on top of things. We ate out 2 days this week and I didnít have time to make lunch this morning as we barely got out the door on time. I just HAVE to get myself more organized! If I were more organized little things wouldnít throw everything off so much. But, when do I have time to get everything in order?

Tonight I have to make brownies for the boys to bring in to their teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week and have DS1 sit down and make a card. Iím behind on laundry (I may never win that battle!) And I know I have at least 1 bill to pay. Oh and I need to call the mortgage company to schedule the closing for our refi. DS1 needs a haircut sooo badly, but itís just going to have to wait for this weekend. He looks like I fished him out of the dumpster, but I donít think I can handle another chore/errand right now.

I need to stop the bleeding now before it really gets out of control. How do you do it? I canít seem to get myself together.


And I have some money to add to my challenge but I haven't counted it yet. Sigh.

Need Recipe Ideas!!

May 6th, 2008 at 09:41 am

Ok, after all the discussion on potlucks a few days ago I need an EASY breakfast recipe. I just found out we are having a breakfast potluck next Monday and someone else already called 'dibs' on donuts, juice, fruit tray and paper goods. So, I need something I can make the night before, can be heated up in a microwave (if reheating is necessary) and is EASY EASY EASY to make (I don't cook). I do have access to a refrigerator but since it's for breakfast that probably won't be necessary. All you frugal cooks out there, any ideas? Thanks!!

Cheap Drugs

May 1st, 2008 at 06:06 am

Nah, Iím not talking about a dime-bag.

I went to get some allergy medicine because the alternative was to just chop off my head. Since that didnít sound like the best solution, I went to the store to get something that would stop my nose faucet. A 20 pack of Claritin was on sale for $16.99. Right next to the Claritin was the store brand version (same active ingredient) on sale 10 for $3.35. I picked up both packages and examined them closely. Besides the name brand and the prettier packaging, I saw no difference. So of course I bought the generic version. It got me thinking Ė who in their right mind would pay more than twice the cost for the name brand? That is a HUGE difference in price. I walked out of there feeling so smart that I left without cough drops. Sigh.

Well, weíre almost done with week 3 of our new budget. Looks like this week the gas line is under control. Neither one of us has filled up our tanks so the big overspend last week will be offset by being underspent this week. Fortunately, it looks like a timing thing. The other good news is that DH will be off for the summer at the end of May and wonít have that horrendous commute for a couple of months. That will definitely help the bottom line.

I will bring my $20 challenge money to the credit union this weekend and then transfer it to my shiny new ING account. On to a new month!!

Week in Review

April 28th, 2008 at 08:06 am

We did really well with our budget except one line item. We were overbudget in gas by $77!!! I know part of it has to do with the timing of fillups but COME ON! I am really going to try to hold out filling up until this Friday to see if I can even things out a bit. I guess I'll have to watch this expense closely over the next few weeks to see if our budget number is realistic.

I'm Probably the Last One....

April 24th, 2008 at 07:09 pm

...to open an ING account. I thought for a free $25 (and potential referral $) it is a good place to keep a few bucks. I don't have a lot to keep there, but it'll do.


Soooo. I'll add the $25 to my challenge $$ and I got a $6 rebate check in the mail.

$26.57
31.00
$57.57 CHACHING!

Quack Quack!

April 24th, 2008 at 10:04 am

I finally feel like I'm getting my financial ducks in a row. We're supposed to close on our refinance next week and I just started the process of rolling over my 401Ks from my 2 previous jobs. I also realized that the whopping $1400 in my Roth IRA is sitting in some short term money account get a measly .11%. Glad I checked. So, I need to find somewhere to put that. I am not investment savvy so I guess I need to start educating myself.

Mortgage Shmortgage & Milk Money

April 23rd, 2008 at 12:32 pm

We did it, we locked in to refinance. We paid a couple of points to get the rate down. When we crunched the numbers, this made sense to us. Our mortgage payment is going up by $140/month. We knew this was going to happen. If we hadnít refinanced, the payment was going to go up by $240 and that would have difficult to absorb. After some research and getting some quotes, we went ahead and refinanced with our current lender. Besides getting the best deal that I could find it will be super easy b/c we qualified for no income/asset verification and the appraisal was waived. So, we are scheduled to close next Tuesday. The person will come to our house and all we have to do is sign, sign, sign. I also inquired about making biweekly payments and Iím going to go ahead and set that up when everything is in place.

Gas is about $3.45 here. At this rate I can barely afford to go back and forth to work and itís even worse for DH who has a long commute. I stopped at a Ďconvenience storeí for milk yesterday and was charged $5.45!!!!! Had we not been completely out I would have left it there. I was going to go to the grocery store but we really didnít need anything else and itís not really on my way home. There is a little hole in the wall place on my way home that Iíd never been to. So, instead of going out of my way I decided to stop at this Ďstoreí to just pick up a gallon of milk. Lesson learned, I will never go there again. Then again, with gas prices what they are I probably would have spent on gas what I was overcharged. HIGHWAY ROBBERY I do believe that over the weekend a gallon of 2% was $3.05. At Kroger it is generally $3.92 and Walmart near home is $3.66, Walmart near work is $3.77. Note to self: pick up a gallon of milk if near Costco whether we need it right then or not. We go through a lot of milk and it definitely wonít go to waste.

Reduce Reuse Recycle

April 22nd, 2008 at 11:29 am

Happy Earth Day!

Iím bummed because itís raining and I was going to take my 3.5 yo out to clean up trash in our neighborhood. We can do it tomorrow (itís not like the trash is going anywhere) but I wanted to do it today in honor of Earth Day. Iím sure theyíre talking about Earth Day at school and it would have been a nice Ďtie-iní to bring the concepts close to home. I think Iíll just stress that EVERY day is Earth Day so we should clean up the trash anyway Ė itís the socially responsible thing to do.

Recently Iíve been bringing a lot of leftovers to work for lunch. I tend to have 2 or 3 different plastic containers at any given time so I just keep a stack of paper plates in my desk drawer. At lunch I dump my food on to the plate and nuke it. Well, in my effort to Reduce Reuse Recycle Iím going to go to the Dollar Store after work and pick up a regular plate to use. I already just wash my plastic utensils and reuse those. I donít know why I didnít think to get a plate before. I donít just heat them in the plastic containers b/c I often have more than one serving and I donít want to reheat what Iím not going to eat that day. Also, thereís always a long line at the microwave so I try to be efficient and just have to heat one thing.

I do believe my efforts to lead a more frugal lifestyle will lead to a more Ďgreení lifestyle, as well. And that is never a bad thing.

Challenge: Found 51 cents around the house . Does my house produce coins? It seems like Iíve been finding a lot of change around lately. If so, I hope it starts spitting out dollar coins soon!

Smart or Deceitful?

April 20th, 2008 at 07:17 am

I take care of all the day to day household finances - the checkbook, savings, bills, etc. DH pretty much takes care of our measly LT savings. He generally has no interest in the checking account and is happy to let me handle all of it.

So I have a confession to make. I always tell DH there is less in savings than there really is. Yesterday I fudged the number by about $800. He is a spender and if he thought we had 'extra' money around, he would find a use for it. I like to have that cushion in addition to our regular emergency fund for expenses that, while are not emergencies, we need/want the money for. A little security blanket if you will. That way, if he does overspend on something it really won't hurt as much. But I'm not going to tell him this b/c he'll justify his purchases with 'well, we have a cushion to absorb this.' Anway, I kind of look at it like when you tell a person who is consistently late that something starts 15 min earlier than the 'real' time so that he/she is on time. Sometimes I feel a bit guilty, but most of the time I pat myself on the back for thinking ahead. It's not like I'm hoarding the money for myself. What do you think, is it wrong of me to do this?

Oh, and I found 15 cents in the laundry yesterday to add to my challange.
New total = $26.06