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Archive for July, 2007

Still can't seem to get ahead.

July 30th, 2007 at 01:58 pm

Are we ever going to get anywhere?

Lee got paid today. He kept out $100 cash (which will be gone before I know it). I have either scheduled or will schedule the following bills:

Mortgage $1070
Car pmt. $410
Car ins. $145
AMEX $250
Power co. $160
BP $140
Health ins. $422 automatically deducted
Discover $95

I also have a medical bill to pay, the newspaper subscription renewal, a few back-to-school things to buy, not to mention groceries, gas, etcetera.

He is all hyped about a notebook computer but I have already told him that even if he does get a percentage check - which he's not sure about because the woman who does them is out for part of the week - we can't afford one this month. We'll need that money for expenses and I refuse to put a computer on the credit card (or, if I do, I need to have the money in the bank to cover that charge right away).

For crying out loud. It doesn't seem like the regular bills used to get on top of us so much, even before we had his withholding adjusted. I think maybe I used to pay some of the bills with the previous month's paycheck (ie, car payment is due on the 4th, so I'd pay it with the paycheck received on the 15th of the previous month) but we've not had the money for that for the last few months.

I decided to do a $1000 balance transfer from my Wachovia card (12%) to Discover, which has a promotional rate of 2.99% through December, then 11.99. It probably won't save me a whole lot, but every little bit helps.

I swear I am tempted to withdraw a couple thousand dollars from a retirement account and throw it at a bill, but I know that is probably not a good idea. Besides, I need to save that option for our city property tax bill due in December, since we haven't been able to save a damn dime for that yet!

The dog days.

July 25th, 2007 at 07:38 am

Nothing really new to report....I'm in a bit of a funk which is mostly related to the monotony of our days. It happens every year at this time....I'm completely sick of summer. Mercifully, it hasn't been as hot as usually gets. I even turned the a/c off and had the windows open for two days earlier this week, which is unheard of in July in Georgia.

As far as money goes, well, for the first time in about three months we're approaching payday and there's actually money in the checking account. Only a couple hundred bucks, but certainly enough to get us through to Monday. I've been spending a little bit, not too much: I took Will to a water park called Sun Valley Beack on Monday with some friends; it cost $34 for the two of us but it was worth every penny. He had such a good time swimming and playing all day. I'm planning to go back week after next with Michael, since he was in camp that day.

Yesterday we went to lunch at Moe's ($9) and to an indoor playground ($18). Weekend before last all of us went to a matinee of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" ($27).

Planned for the rest of the time before school starts are matinees of "Ratatouille" and "Silver Surfer"; a trip to the science museum to see a lizards and snakes exhibit; a trip to the Lego store at Discover Mills; a little bit of back-to-school clothes shopping at Old Navy and Target (Will needs shorts and Michael needs shirts; both are set for shoes); a pediatrician's appointment next week, and three days next week at a friend's house at Lake Hartwell.

I got a $25 REI gift card from MyPoints so the other day I went to REI and bought myself a new prAna yoga top; I spent about $19 of my own money. I also got a $20 check from another survey company, mysurvey.com, I think, and am expecting a $28 deposit from NFOInteractive this week.

I'm also trying to get motivated to start listing on eBay again; I went through my inventory bins and pulled out a few things to put up. I have already listed a Chico's shirt and a pair of Dansko mary janes. In past experience, this is the earliest I can start listing fallish stuff and have it do well, so I'm really kind of waiting until August to put more stuff up.

I told Lee we had to hold off on the notebook computer until we got a big percentage check. Don't know if that's going to happen this month or at the end of next month. One of his McClients is behind on several months of McBills, so once they pony up, we should be able to pay cash for a notebook computer.

Billpay/savings recap, plus advice needed re: notebook computer

July 15th, 2007 at 10:32 am

After a couple of lean, lean weeks, I am trying to be smarter with our money. Payday was Friday, and I have paid the following:
Working Assets wireless & long distance, BellSouth, Discover, Arrow pest control, Gas South, and our home equity loan.

I also renewed our Sierra Club membership and made an additional donation ($59), got my hair cut ($47), made a deposit into our ING account ($75) and paid on my Wachovia credit card to cover recent purchases ($335).

I also paid Will back $10 I had to borrow from his bank (how pathetic am I?) I still owe Michael $20, which I will pay back next time I get cash.

Still to pay before the end of the month is our life insurance ($335), newspaper subscription renewal ($113 for six months) and a medical bill ($100) for my annual in May, which went toward our deductible.

Also, I'm planning to go to the chiropractor tomorrow ($40) as well as Trader Joe's.

After all those paid bills, though, I've got $2157.82. My impulse is to slap a bunch of it on a credit card, but I'm resisting that urge lest I wind up with no money in my checking account and having to use the credit card for everyday expenses.

Now, here is an expense that I'd love some advice on. My DH has asked if he could buy a notebook computer, because he travels occasionally for work and sometimes works at home. He is not a gadget guy in the least, so I know that if he's asking for a computer, he really needs it and probably has for some time.

He doesn't need anything fancy; he won't be watching movies, playing games or downloading music or any graphics-heavy stuff like that. He needs to be able to connect to the internet to do legal research, needs to be able to check his email, and needs Microsoft Word.

There is a tax-free weekend coming up, I think the first weekend of August, so we'd love to buy one then. Or if there's some other place online that has fantastic deals on computers, we'd consider that. However, my DH says that he'd really like to look at it before buying, because he's used his partner's notebook before and he hates her style of keyboard, so we'll probably be buying it at a store like Office Depot.

I assume that if we go with an HP or Dell we'll be fine as far as quality goes, but beyond that, I don't know what we need.

Does anyone have any advice about buying one? What does it need in order to connect to the internet at home, at the office, or somewhere like a wireless hot spot?

I am completely ignorant on this matter, so what I really need is "Notebook Computers for Dummies".

A waste of money.

July 13th, 2007 at 11:30 am

Yesterday my parents and my nieces came to town and took me and the boys to the Georgia Aquarium in the afternoon.

I'd been once before, not long after it opened and I have to say, I wasn't impressed.

I thought it wasn't set up well, it was extremely crowded, the viewing areas too small, and ridiculously overpriced.

My opinion hasn't changed.

Dad paid for the tickets ($18 each for the boys, $24 for me), parking ($10, we tried parking at a cheaper lot but they were all full so we parked in the aquarium's deck), and lunch ($29 for me & the boys, all of which was pretty mediocre).

It was as crowded as it was the first time I went, and here's what I just do not get: all the people who didn't really seem interested in actually LOOKING at the exhibits - instead, they just positioned themselves where they could take a picture of it will their cell phones, then, without actually looking at what they photographed but instead looking at the phone, they walk away.

What the heck is wrong with people?

Anyway. I was grateful to dad for footing the bill for the afternoon, because the boys really enjoyed it and that's what matters. If I could just go when it's not jam-packed with people, I'd enjoy it more, I know.

However, I'll take the Chattanooga Aquarium any day over the Georgia Aquarium.

Everyone came over for dinner last night and we had burgers, dogs and chicken on the grill. I made some homemade baked beans which were exceptional, I have to say. I had half a bag of pinto beans languishing in the pantry, so I cooked those yesterday morning. Then I chopped a green bell pepper, a clove of garlic and an onion in the food processor (so as not to hear any complaints about large pieces of vegetables from kids) and browned it in a skillet. I mixed it with the cooked beans, then I mixed up a cup of chicken broth, roughly a half cup of ketchup, about a third of a can of cane syrup (leftover from a batch of gingerbread a few months ago), some molasses, and a generous amount of salt and pepper, poured it over the beans, then baked for about 45 minutes at 350. I usually don't make my beans very sweet, but I was trying to cater to my nieces, who wouldn't touch them. They apparently have extremely limited diets, ie, hotdogs, chee-tos, and cokes (that would be because my brother and his wife are major hillbillies, but his family is another story). Anyway, everyone else, including my kids, loved the beans.

Today was payday. When the paycheck hits the account, then I can get caught up AGAIN on bills and see where we are financially.

One thing we are doing this weekend: we are going as a family to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix at a matinee tomorrow. We are all shameless Harry Potter fans in our family (much bigger fans of the books than the movies, but we enjoy the movies all the same), and we're all very much looking forward to the movie tomorrow.

Doggone it.

July 7th, 2007 at 01:47 pm

I got a message on my answering machine from Dish Network that there was "a problem with my payment." I called them back and it turns out it was returned because I put in a wrong number somewhere when I made my online payment. I've been paying them online for a few months now and I don't remember having to input my bank account and routing number every time, but I had to this month, and obviously I got something wrong. And it cost me $10. I asked the customer service guy to switch me back to a paper bill.

Money is tight AGAIN. I'm trying not to stress out about it, because payday is either Friday or Monday (with any luck, it'll be Friday). I have very few bills due after the 15th, so I'll (hopefully) be able to do the catching up I've wanted to do. Right now all that's due is Bellsouth ($40), Working Assets Wireless ($41) and our life insurance ($335). I'll also try to pay a few bills that I typically pay after the 1st of the month, so that I don't find myself in a bind again.

I had forgotten that I had car insurance due, and I had to put the payment on my credit card, which made me want to hurl. I have never done that before. But if I'd paid it from our bank account, that would have left ZERO for groceries or anything for the week. I have one of my handy sticky notes right here, listing the things I charged on Visa to be paid off as soon as we get paid again.

It also occurred to me that I need to start socking away money for the city property tax bill in December, which'll be $2000 and some-odd dollars.

I need to buy lottery tickets or something. ;-)

My parents will be here next week with my nieces to take us to the aquarium, and I'm going to need to feed them on Thursday night. I've just been through the pantry and freezer and I think I have most everything I need - we'll grill burgers and hot dogs (both of which I stocked up on within the last two weeks), homemade baked beans (I have a bag of pinto beans to use up) a big salad (I'll need to pick up a few things, but we have a garden full of tomatoes), and a peach cobbler. The grocery and market are loaded with awesome, sweet, juicy peaches, and I have all the other stuff I'd need for cobbler.

Happy 4th, and props to the USPS....

July 4th, 2007 at 10:55 am

As previously blogged, I spaced out and put 39 cent stamps on several bills that I mailed out last week, one of which was a past due bill to Cingular/AT&T.

Well, to my great relief, all but one of the checks has cleared the bank. The postal service delivered them anyway - I don't know if they charged the recipient for the two cents postage due, but I don't care. They made it. The only one still outstanding is the water bill, which I'm not worried about. They'll send me another bill if it doesn't make it in a week or two.

In other good news, I got a check for $59.17 from the consignment store for items sold in June. Unfortunately, I've got to put that in the checking account for money to live off for the next ten days.

In yet more good news, my dad called and said he's bringing my nieces up to Atlanta to take them to the zoo and aquarium and wanted to know if we would like to come along to the aquarium as well. I'd been planning to take the boys anyway and it's a bonus that I don't have to pay for the tickets. I'm sure that's saving me at least sixty bucks.

On the non-saving end, the carpet cleaning didn't work so well. I did the landing at the top of the stairs and after much effort, got it marginally cleaner. This carpet cleaner doesn't have a hand-held thing, just a long nozzle, and I thought the stairs would be impossible to do with the long nozzle, so I just gave up. Yeah, I know. But it really wasn't worth the effort. I'll wait until the boys are back in school and then call Stanley Steemer.

Tonight we are getting together with a bunch of friends at another house, potluck style with burgers, dogs & beer. I went to Family Dollar yesterday and bought several packages of glow stick bracelets to hand out to all the kids. At 9:00, we'll walk down to the end of the street to watch the city's fireworks display.

This morning I went to a hot yoga class and the teacher read us two great quotes during savasana:

"The only sure bulwark of continuing liberty is a government strong enough to protect the interests of the people, and a people strong enough and well enough informed to maintain its sovereign control over the government." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." - Viktor Frankl

Good and Bad

July 2nd, 2007 at 09:03 am

THE GOOD:

Yesterday I went to the thrift store. I bought a few things for me (a few tank tops, a pair of shorts, an awesome Gap skirt which I have on) but I found a few good things for resale: a girls Lilly Pulitzer dress (to be saved for next spring), a girls Hanna Andersson dress (to be listed at the end of this month), a beautiful Chico's tunic tank shirt, an embellished Chico's tee, and a St. John gray wool vest.

I also went to Old Navy to get the boys some desperately needed clothes. I had a $25 gift card from MyPoints and a 10% off coupon from filling out a post-shopping trip survey, so I bought a pile of stuff for them (shorts, t-shirts, swimsuit) and spent less than $25 of my own money. With my receipt, I also got another survey form, which I'm going to fill out for another 10% off the next time I go there.

This morning I had a dermatologists appointment and she took off a couple of spots with her nitrogen blow torch. She said they were probably fine, but asked if I'd feel better if she took them off, and I said yes, so she did. One on each leg and one on my right forearm. I expected to have a co-pay, but I didn't.

After my appointment I went to Kroger. They had Tide liquid laundry detergent for $4.99 a jug, and I had a 35 cent coupon (which they doubled), so I bought two jugs. I also had a $2 off $8 meat department coupon, so I bought a package of "manager's special" butterfly pork shops, which I put in the freezer, a pork loin which I'm probably going to roast today, even though DH & the boys won't be home until Wednesday, a box of Angus chuck patties (on sale), some boxes of frozen turkey sausage (10 for $10), and a few other things. I also bought a big jug of white vinegar, because my friend Beth loaned me her Rainbow vacuum/carpet cleaner. She says all she uses is vinegar in the soap chamber of the cleaner. I think I have figured out how to work the thing; now I have to haul it upstairs and hook it to the sink. I really need to do the stairs, the upstairs landing, and our bedroom. If it gets the carpet clean, I will have saved us about $150, which is what I usually spend to have Stanley Steemer come out once a year.

I also called our bank and closed our pitiful cash investment account, the one which paid next to no interest and cost $6 a month.

While I was on the phone, I asked the guy how much it cost to stop payment on a check, and this is THE BAD: it costs $30. UGH. I am worrying about that darned check to AT&T.

I wish it would hurry up and get returned to me by the post office already!