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Found a full time job

November 26th, 2008 at 09:07 pm

I had started looking for a full time job a few weeks ago and found one last week. I will start on Dec. 8. I am currently working part time so I had to give my boss my 2 weeks notice on Monday. I felt bad, I think I really took him by surprise but I explained that it had nothing to do with him and everything to do with my financial situation and my need for full time pay with benefits. He would have given me full time hours if I wanted but definitely not benefits. The position just does not merit it as far as he is concerned. His wife is going to take over my job duties (ie. everything around the office). I asked him if she knew that. I think I feel worse for her as he envisions her just taking over for me. She is used to not having to work, to going to the gym, going shopping with friends, going out to lunch with friends. I don't think she sees herself taking on 20+ hours a week at his office. I asked him what would happen in the summer when the kids were off of school and he didn't seem too sure. All I can say is, I am not getting in the middle of that discussion.

My new job will be for a company that sells on the internet. I will be doing all sorts of things around the office, financial and otherwise so I will be gaining skills. They said they are always busy and have tons to do so I will definitely be busy. Actually, I am looking forward to that. My current position has busy and slow times and the slow times get really boring. I am not looking forward to full time hours but I am looking forward to new experiences and learning new skills. On the plus side, it will also force me to get better about asking my DH and kids for help around the house. That will be good for all of us. Now we just have to find a good job for my DH. Wish me luck!

DH Returns to Planet Earth

November 4th, 2008 at 06:31 am

My DH seems to have returned to planet earth, at least for the moment. But I am still not convinced that it is him home planet. I think he just visits from time to time. We sat down last night with someone from the business he is looking into. As we both suspected, they told us with our current situation (cash poor and me with a small income) the only way we could really get it started would be to use home equity or our retirement savings. I nixed both of those ideas and fortunately DH agrees with me so no fighting over that one. I can see how much he really wants to be in business for himself and not be constantly kicked around by someone else but it just won't work for us right now. We discussed it and I am going to try to find a full time job or at least a higher paying part time job with benefits. That would take a huge bite out of our expenses, enough that 6 months from now it would be feasible to consider starting the business. But it would also mean him being much more frugal, not adding anything to his credit card and helping out around the house. So, we have a plan of sorts, at least for while he is back on planet earth. My frustration is that he has done this in the past, agreed to things but then a month or two go by and he gets bored, frustrated, tired etc. and the plan goes out the window. I am not trying to knock him, we all do that, my self included. Its just that if he really wants this to work, he has to stick with a financial plan and stop holding himself back. Wish me luck in keeping him grounded here on planet earth.

Totally changing topics here, I was very pleased with my son's frugal Halloween costume. He went out as Luke Skywalker from Star Wars. The Luke from the original movie, before he was a Jedi etc. He already had a toy light saber, just needed new batteries to make it light up. I found a website with home made Star Wars costumes and took my cues from them. He wore his old white karate top as a shirt. Khaki pants from school as the bottoms. We wrapped his legs with old pieces of extra quilt batting to mimic the leg wraps Luke wore. We found a black nylon web belt that he already had and made a clip for the light saber out of a binder clip, a peg board hook, a rubber band and black electrical tape. Don't ask me to describe it but it was inspired if I do say so myself. The funny part was, that was what made him love the whole costume - the fact that he could clip the light saber to his belt. He was thrilled and I was thrilled that it was FREE!!! I love it when I get inspired like that and it all works out. It reminds me even more of a motto I love "Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without." How often would one of those four really work for us, rather than just buying something new to fill a need we think we have? Very often, at least in my opinion.

Wondering What Planet DH Lives On? (Warning - RANT)

October 30th, 2008 at 09:23 am

Apparently it is one where things cost nothing and there are no expenses! I wish I could join him in his fantasy land but I am firmly rooted in reality land. We were going over some financial info for a business he is hoping to start. It would involve some financing of the initial start-up costs and they want to see your expenses, current income etc. I was providing numbers for all of the budget categories for him and he kept questioning every number I gave him, saying, no way, we cannot be paying that much for that. I have always been the one to handle the finances and pay the bills but it has never been hidden from him. All the bills are put in a basket, then filed when paid. My checkbook is always in my purse. He could look at any of it any time he wanted to. But, he doesn't really want to cause then he might have to move a bit closer to reality land. What really got my blood boiling was when he started arueing with my estimate of miscellaneous monthly expenses. I said we spend at least $600 on miscellaneous stuff. $300 of that is savings and college funds. Another $170 is karate fees for our two youngest. So really, only $130 for additional things like hair cuts, gifts, school trips, home office supplies, dry cleaning, etc. etc. etc. He started getting really upset and said I was way overestimating, just to prevent him from being able to start this business. He said was trying to inflate the numbers. Personally I was way underestimating but I could not convince him of this. I started naming miscellaneous expenses from just the past month (school pictures, 2 kids hair cuts, wedding gift, birthday party gift, 2 field trips, college application fees, SAT fees etc. etc. etc.) He kept saying "but we don't pay those every month" completely missing my point that DIFFERENT miscellaneous stuff comes up every month. I finally got him to stop arguing by tallying the monthly expenses like this for August, Sept. and Oct. They ranged between $800 - $1000. He went off to sulk quietly, mumbling about the need to cut expenses. Argh!!! This from the man who leaves the lights and TV on all night if I go to bed before him, runs the water while he brushes his teeth, takes 45 minute showers - I could go on! He claims he wants to cut back but since he is the primary offender, I have little faith that he will do more than talk about it. I love him and he does have many good qualities but a sense of reality about finances certainly isn't one of them.

Waving Bye - to DH's Job

October 23rd, 2008 at 11:10 am

My DH took a new job in February of this year after his employer decided to close down the entire business in December of 2007. I had high hopes when he started the job as they made all sorts of promises about accounts already in existance, support he would get etc. By the time he had been there 2- 3 months it was clear that all was not and would not be as promised but he stuck it out, looking for something else. We knew his days were numbered as his boss had told him he was putting him on probation for not meeting sales quotas (after taking away 1/2 of his accounts, making it pretty near impossible to meet the quotas) but I was hoping he would find something else before he actually got laid off. Nope! He has had some interviews and has another one scheduled but nothing definite yet! Darn! I was really hoping not to have to pay COBRA or incur any more debt. On the plus side, they are paying him through next week and paying him for unused vacation days so that will help a bit. Everyone keep your fingers crossed so that he finds something soon. I am also looking (have been) for an additional part time job to help things out so as frustrating as this is, I am not devastated by any means. Just more annoyed. It feels like every time we get one step ahead, someone comes up from behind and pushes us two steps back. They say that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger so I am going to be one really strong woman at the rate that I am going!

Haunted House

October 20th, 2008 at 06:29 am

Friday was the annual Haunted House at my youngest 2 kids school. The teachers decorate the second floor like a haunted house and do non-scary activities on the first floor for the younger kids. I took my two youngest and a friend and spent only $15.00. I felt it was a bargain as that included admission for all of us ($6.00), many attempts to dunk their teacher in the dunk tank ($7.00) and two hot dogs, 2 drinks and a cup cake ($2.00). All of the money raised goes to a local charity so I really did not mind The kids had a blast trying to dunk their teacher. It was cold (the high 50's) so I felt sorry for the teachers but at least they were smart and had borrowed wet suits from somewhere. I told my daughter's teacher to come in on Monday and pretend he was mad and was going to give a test to all who tried to dunk him. I hope he does it - I would love to see the looks on their faces.

I feel like a spent a lot on gas this weekned as I had to fill up twice. Once of Friday before I went to my mom's and a second time on Saturday evening. The trip to my Mom's is at least 90 miles round trip so between that, driving to school, field hockey on Saturday, a party on Saturday, my son's friend home etc. I used up a tank of gas. Hopefully I will not need to fill up during the week this week but I may if I need to go back to my Mom's this week. She is gradually doing better but I don't want her going down her basement. The steps are steep and slippery so I went on Friday to do her laundry for her as her washer and dryer are in the basement. At least when I did fill up with gas, I paid $2.83 yeah!

DH is still looking for a new job. He had a second interview last week with one company, got offered a job with another but it did not have much potential so he turned it down, and is looking at a third. I am just tired of the uncertainty, the helping him send out resumes etc. I also sent in my resume to a posting on Craig's list. It sounds like a great fit for me so hears hoping they contact me. It might mean me leaving my current position but ideally I could patch together 2 part time jobs.

Pumpkins, Pumkins everywhere...

October 16th, 2008 at 09:37 am

I volunteered to help my youngest daughter (9) carve pumpkins with her class. I like pumpkin carving and I like children. I must say, I do not like being the only parent to volunteer. Out of 27 students. We had a total of 160 children (3rd and 4th grades) each carving a pumpkin. We carved from 12:00 - 3:00. It would not have been so bad but we were short on adult volunteers and on pumpkin carving tools. We had plenty of spoons, scoops etc. but not nearly enough of those little saw like carving tools that make it easy for the kids to carve. So, we ended up having the adults do much of the actual decorative carving. The kids scooped out the guts, drew the faces and mostly had them carved by the adults. I felt bad cause many of them really wanted to do it themselves but we simply did not have enough time or tools. Anyway, everybody got done and they will look great. On Friday evening the school is hosting a pumpkin parade/haunted house/family fun night. They have done this the past 2 years and donate any extra money raised to a local charity. The teachers decorate the second floor of the school as a haunted house, have fun, non-scary activites on the first floor and sell baked goods etc. I must say they do a fantastic job on the haunted house considering that at 3:00 it is classrooms and by 6:30 it is haunted. It is a fun time for the kids and they love recognizing their teachers dressed up as witches, vampires etc. The first floor remains totally non-scary for any younger kids so they also have plenty to do. Tonight I am frosting cupcakes to look like pumpkins for the bake sale. The original recipe was for pumpkin cupcakes by my DD(9) and DS (11) both vetoed that so we are doing vanilla with the orange frosting and a piece of pretzel stuck on top for a stem. They were on the front of Family Circle magazine and seem perfect for this. I have not been too into Halloween this year just cause I have been so busy with so many things but this is getting me in the mood. I will probably get the kids to help me decorate the house this weekend and maybe even make a few new decorations for the front windows.

On the heat contest, we definitely have not even needed to turn the heat on this week. It has been in the 70's this week so it is very warm in the house. My son begged me to turn on the air conditioner last night - he claimed he was too hot to sleep. I told him to put on his ceiling fan and open the window. If we aren't using the heat, we certainly do not need the air conditioner. I loved our last energy bill $148.00. It may seem high to some but this is a low as it can go up to $300 or more during the heat of summer or the dead of winter. Three cheers for keeping the heat and air off!

$2.99 a gallon (and other bits and pieces)

October 13th, 2008 at 10:05 am

I was so excited yesterday to be able to buy regular unleaded gas for $2.99 a gallon yesterday. I think that is the first time in a very long time that I have paid under $3.00 a gallon. My local gas station is still around $3.15 but I was coming home from my mothers house and could not resist the price. (I was going to fill up when I got home anyway so I figured cheaper was even better).

It was an absolutely beautiful weekend weatherwise in my area. I spent Friday in the Baltimore Area with my daughter looking at Towson University. My husband has cousins in Baltimore so we spent the afternoon with them and had a delicious dinner "little Italy" in downtown Baltimore. You could not have asked for a nicer day for a campus tour.

Saturday I got a call from my mother who lives an hour away. She could not really walk and was in pain so I drove down and took her to the hospital. They think she agrivated her sciatic nerve by being in the car for over 3.5 hours on Friday (she took my sister to the airport and there was tons of traffic and delays). She was given pain pills, steriods to reduce inflammation and sent home. Since my sister who lives close and my brother who also lives close were both out of town for the weekend, I ended up spending most of the weekend with her, just to make sure she was resting and had what she needed. She is so stubborn that she had walked her dog the previous evening (before calling me) after dark so her neighbors would not see her hobbling around and worry. They say doctor's make the worst patients and she is living proof (she is a retired pediatrician).

Anyway, my brother and sister are now back in town and she is slowly on the mend. I will have to make a note to keep checking in on her even more often. I will also have to have a talk with my sister about not getting my mom to do things like driver her to the airport. I know my mom will say she wants to, but this just proves she should be taking it easier. My sister is 38, not 8 and can easily drive herself or arrange for a van/limo etc. I will tell her I am not mad at her now, this was unexpected, but if it happens again, I will blame both she and my mom since we now know she should not be driving/sitting still for that length of time. My mom kept saying getting old stinks. True, but it is better than the alternative.

More Month Than Money

October 7th, 2008 at 08:34 am

It feels way too early in the month to be saying that, but that is what my life feels like most months during the first half of the month. DH and I both get paid on the 15th and the 30th. I get around the same amount each time (depending upon the # of hours I have worked) but DH's gets an extra $1000 in the check on the 15th. This is his "commission" (long story - not true commission but closest to that). This goes to pay extra bills, car payment etc. due between the 15th and the 30th but there is always a bit extra left over so I feel like I have more money the second half of the month. Since the paycheck on the 30th is smaller, I always have less money to work with during the first half of the month. Usually it is not a big deal but I feel like we have been bleeding money lately and I have been trying really hard not to touch our savings. DD17's fender bender set us back $475 (and her also) and we are not done with that yet - still have to deal with repairs to the car she hit (probably around $600 total - $300 us and $300 her). My youngest DD9 is playing the flute in school and I had to get a flute repadded and fixed up to the tune (yes, a pun on purpose) of $135.00. DD17 is also applying to colleges and just took the SAT's so there were some fees associated with that. Fortunately she was able to get several applications fee free but the PA state schools don't wave the fees except for extreme cases of financial need.

I cannot wait til DH finds a different job that pays a bit more. We are doing okay but I would really like to be able to go back to doing a bit more than just okay. I guess I should be grateful but after 2 years of him being un/under employed, it is getting really tiresome. Fortunately he has interviewed with 3 different companies in the past week and at least 2 sound fairly interested and fairly promising. I can survive like we have been doing for a while longer but I want to know that he is in a job with long term potential for growth/increased earnings. Where he is right now just doesn't really offer that. They made it sound like it did when he took the job but in reality, it would be really hard for him. In sales, if the company you work for cannot/will not handle any increases sales volume, your hands are pretty much tied. Hard to believe but true. On the one hand he keeps getting told to increase sales, find new customers etc. but then they refuse to open up new accounts and tell him they cannot delivery things. He feels like he is constantly fighting just to do the bare minimum. I can fully understand why he wants out.

On a lighter note, we still have not turned on the heat yet, although I did get a number of complaints from my two youngest this morning. It was probably about 65 - 68 in the house. You would have thought it was 20 below to hear them complain. I may have to break down soon because my DD15 has a guinea pig and they cannot take real cold without getting sick. And once they get sick, that is usually it for them. I cannot be intentionally cruel to it so I will probably have to crank the heat on low soon overnight. Guess it depends upon what the weather is like this week. It was in the high 30's outside this morning.

My DS11 came down over the weekend dressed in pants for the first time this season. I had bought him new school pants (they have to wear khaki's with a uniform shirt) but I had not given a thought to the rest of his fall wardrobe. His pants were definitely a bit on the short side. He is short and was able to wear last years shorts all summer so I sort of forgot that he had grown. Yup - definitely enough that I have to find him several pairs of sweats. I will probably also have to wrestle him into a pair or so of jeans. He hates them but there are sometimes when they are just better than sweat pants. All the kids have off on Thursday for Yom Kippur so I get to spend part of the day shopping with him. I'm not sure which one of us will be dreading that more.

Calm During the Storm

September 30th, 2008 at 10:49 am

Somehow I cannot seem to find it in me to get all worked up about the current financial mess this country is in. I guess it is because I feel like we have been in our own personal financial mess for the past 2 years (DH underemployed and no real job stability) and yet we are still hanging in there, paying our bills and not incurring any more real debt. We are still 20+ years from retirement so I don't worry like crazy if our retirement accounts go up, go down etc. I figure things will have gone thru at least a couple more cycles between now and then. I get that this is more than just a down cycle, but I cannot control it and on some level I refuse to worry about things I cannot control. I can only control my own little financial world by maximizing how we use every dollar we do earn and minimizing debt. Even that is not always under control as expenses like my DD's fender bender pop-up. That's why I think it is so important to spend less than you earn, and do it consistently. I have not gotten a statement from our 401K showing the current down market. I make it a point not to log on and check on a daily or even weekly basis. Again, my attitude is why worry about what I cannot change. We are invested in a fund that I believe in so I also believe it will go back up when the market goes back up eventually. I guess my only great regret right now is that I don't have any real excess cash to buy at a bargain price. So, I may be stressed about other things but I am not stressing about what is going on in the financial markets. Call me crazy, but at least I am sleeping well at night.

Take that Wrinkles! (With thanks to CVS)

September 24th, 2008 at 09:58 am

My new favorite word is going to be "raincheck". I went to CVS on Sunday to take advantage of the current weeks deals. One was a Loreal anti-wrinkle serum on sale for $11.99 with $11.99 back in bonus bucks - basically free. Definitely worth trying for free. Of course, they were out. I usually would not think to ask but there was a sales girl right in the aisle so I asked her if there was any more in back. She checked, no luck. But she did offer me a rain check, even though the sale was only good for Sunday and Monday. So, I went back today with my raincheck. Sure enough, they had plenty, for the full price of $16.99 and no bucks back. I figured it would be a problem to get them to honor the raincheck but to my surprise (and delight) they just scanned it, rang it up as no cost ($11.99 - the $11.99 bonus bucks I would have gotten) and I walked out with it for FREE!!!! Yes, that's right, no money changed hands, no hassle, nothing. I almost felt like I was stealing something from them but I sure was happy. So, my new favorite word will be raincheck. And anytime I go to CVS and they are out I will ask for a ..... you guessed - RAINCHECK!

Busy, Busy, Busy

September 22nd, 2008 at 11:00 am

I feel like I am always playing catch up. I have the best of intentions but them I get so busy that I realize it has been weeks since I blogged, so, playing catch up again.

We went to a wedding last Friday night and had a very nice time. It was my neighbor's youngest daughter and she babysat a lot for us when our youngest two were little. It was nice to see her so happy and her new husband seems like such a nice guy. I nudged my husband during the reception and said "10 years from now, it could be one of ours". (Our oldest is 17, soon to be 18). I thought he was going to choke on his food!

The same night as the wedding, our oldest DD17 got into a slight fender bender with a guard rail. No one was hurt but she managed to mangle the front end of her car and some of the lights. It is still drivable but the lights need to be fixed and the panel replaced for safety. Fortunately we have a family friend who does body work on the side. I have seen the cars her has fixed up for himself and his kids and he does great work. So, he will be doing the repairs for us this next weekend. All in all it will cost about $800 for the parts and labor, and DD17 will be paying for half of that. My DH says I am being mean about this but I want her to learn a lesson and she definitely feels pain when the lesson is financial. Plus, with his current job, it is not like we have tons of extra cash sitting around. If I can swing the full $800, I will still make her pay the $400 and just add it to her college fund (without telling her - I still want it to be a lesson to her).

Speaking of jobs, DH had an interview this morning with a company, doing something that he has great experience in, selling moulding/millwork. They have been in business for years and sell other products but now they want someone to focus exclusively on the millwork sales. This this is his area of expertise, I am hoping it could be a win-win situation for us and for them. Keeping my fingers crossed here cause he hates his current job (with good reason).

September was an expensive month here - paid homeowners, umbrella policy, car insurance and had both cars inspected. I feel like I am bleeding money. Fortunately, most of this was budgeted for and only a small bit had to come out of savings.

I took the kids to a local park on Saturday for our townships annual celebration. It is a fun, frugal day. The township gets various businesses to donate so they offer free rides on moon bounce, giant slide, rock wall, pony rides and a free petting zoo. There is a band, a business expo and a craft sale. The kids scored free pens, tee shirts, books, magnets etc. at the business expo. Last year my son entered a drawing and won an I-pod! Anyway, we had fun and only spent $7.50 total for some water ice.

I received a check in the mail last week for $75.00 from an on-line focus group that I had been selected to participate in. I am not sure how I got the invite but I had decided, what the heck, not really believing that I would earn the $75.00. I had to log on 4 days in a row and answer about 10 - 15 questions each day. I could also read the other participants answers and comment. It took me no more than 15 minutes a day, so probably a total of 1 hour. I was convinced that they would find some technicallity to not pay, that it was a scam of some sort so I was very pleasantly surprised to get the check in the mail on Friday. Now, if I could only figure out how to qualify for more of these. I keep getting invitations for in person focus groups but they are always at inconvenient times and far from home. This was great since it was on-line.

Yesterday I hit CVS and RiteAid to take advantage or their weekly sales. I have decided to make a more concerted effort to maximize my savings on personal care products by taking advantage of their deals. I spent $18.01 at CVS and got 4 12 packs of soda, 1 large bottle of Nivea mens shower gel (for my DS11 who does not want to smell like his sisters) and got $7.99 back in bonus bucks. I wanted to get a Loreal wrinkle serum ($11.99 with $11.99 back in bonus bucks) but they were out. I asked and was told I could get a rain check for it. I am planning to go in later this week and purchase it, using some of the bonus bucks I already received. At RiteAid I got 2 bottles of the shampoo my girls use for $4.00 (2 for $6 but I had 2 $1 coupons). I will get $3.00 back from their rebate program so I paid $1.00 a bottle (normal retail is around $3.50 a bottle). All in all, I was pleased. I am going to try to keep a record of spends, bonus bucks and rebates to see how I stand on this by the end of the year.

New Suit for DH

September 9th, 2008 at 07:42 am

Why do men's suits have to be so expensive? We are going to a wedding this weekend and have another one coming up in November. I have been telling my DH for weeks to please try on his suit and sport coats. He gained more than a bit of weight in the past year and I was afraid he would need to get something new to wear to the weddings. He finally tried them on Sunday night and none fit. He could get into them but it looked really bad. So, off to the store yesterday to get a new suit. He could have gotten away with a sport coat for Fridays wedding but the one in November will be very dressy and he needs a suit for that. Plus, he is still looking for a new job so he really needs a nice suit for interviews. He has never been in a position to need to wear suits daily but he should still have a nice suit or two for weddings, funerals and interviews. Anyway, it was about $300, just for the suit. I warned him in advance not to get any shirts or ties. He has plenty of those and I really did not want to be spending even more. Argh! He needed it but that is $300 that I will be taking out of savings. I am glad we have it but September is really pricey around here. It is the month we have both cars due for inspection (have to schedule that still) our homeowners insurance is due, as well as our car insurance. I have the money to cover all of this in savings, it is just that with DH's job right now, I don't really know when we will be able to replace the savings. Hopefully, he will be able to get a better paying job soon and I'll be able to bank more into savings each month. In the meantime, he will look nice for the wedding.

I was lucky enough to find a black velvet, semi-dressy dress on sale at Ross for $19.99. I will wear that to the wedding (it is short sleeve and a light stretchy velvet like material) and maybe even to the November wedding. I already have shoes so I am good to go. DH mentioned something about shoes to me last night. If he tells me he doesn't have any, I may just polish his feet with shoe polish. (Just kidding!)

Weekend Review and Ramblings

September 8th, 2008 at 07:04 am

Saturday was Rain, Rain and more Rain. I ran some errands in the morning to take advantage of sales at 2 grocery stores. Both are not stores I normally shop, but I do peruse their flyers for their sales. The first had top round London Broil for $1.99 lb which is a very good price (at least in this area). I bought several pounds for the freezer and will probably hit them again later this week for a few more. I would rather buy it on sale and freeze it than pay full price. The second had bone-in chicken breast for $1.00 lb (also a great price in this area). I bought 3 packs, each about 3 lbs. I will de-bone it, freeze the meat as boneless breasts and use the remaining bones to make chicken stock. My normal grocery store has whole chickens on sale this week so I will probably buy a few and freeze them also. I love having a big freezer. It allows me to take advantage of sales on meat and then have a stock purchased at sale prices, rather than having to buy it full price. I often wonder if the sales clerks think I am nuts when all I am buying is several pounds of meat or if they realize I am taking advantage of the sale. Not that it really matters to me anyway, sometimes I just wonder.

Sunday the weather was absolutely beautiful. My youngest DD(9) had her first field hockey game of the season. She played her best friends team and they tied 1-1. I love the league she is in for field hockey. It is a small local rec league and they do not charge a fee to play. It is a great program. They try as much as possible to make it accessible for all income levels. They do a small bit of fund raising, ask for donations if you want when you sign up, and do go around with a donation basket at games. This bothers some people, but it doesn't bother me. If I have a dollar, I will donate at the game, if not, no big deal. All in all, it costs me way less to do this sport than any other. I usually donate $20 when I sign her up, then a dollar or so at each game. Since she only has 7 or 8 games a season, no big deal. Finally, they do ask each family to sell 4 raffle tickets of $5.00 each but we usually buy 2 and sell 2 so not a huge expense. When compared to other leagues like softball that charge close to $100 for registration and still ask you to fund raise/buy raffle tickets, I much prefer the low cost/low key field hockey league.

I also opt out of the snack option offered to team members. For $2.00 a game they can get a soda/water and hot dog/pretzel from the snack bar. I personally would rather bring a bottle of water from home and keep it cold in the car. If my daughter wants a snack, we will bring something, or occasionally buy something from the snack bar. I would just rather see what she wants each time than pre-order and end up having her waste food/eat food I don't really want her having anyway. It amazes me that usually I am the only one to choose this option. Most other moms act like a snack is an absolute necessity and wouldn't dream of not signing up for it. Seriously, if she ate dinner before a game, I wouldn't want her (nor would she want to) eating a hot dog when the game is over at 8:00 or drinking soda. Sure, she could have water and pretzel, but I could also just as easily (and more inexpensively) bring things from home. I guess it is more about peoples willingness to pre-plan rather than just paying for convenience. Personally, I will opt for the conveniece of having emergency savings, (no matter how small at the moment).

This makes me think of my friend/neighbor who always seems to be disorganized and in debt. She will tell me how she has to buy convenience foods some nights because she doesn't have time to cook. Honestly, she doesn't really want to spend any time planning so everything ends up being last minute and thus, the time crunch. For example, if her kids have a birthday party to go to, it is not unusual for her to be shopping for the present the day of the party. By that time, she is pressed for time and just wants to get something, never mind the cost. Plus, this often involves a separate, extra trip to the store, the same store that she told me she was already in earlier in the week. Yet, she is always complaining about gas prices. I just don't get it.

She just told me the other week that she has started reading more because she would rather wait at things like her kids sports practices than spend the gas money dropping them off and driving back less than a hour later. This makes perfect sense to me until you throw in the part where she buys the books that she is reading. Hello, library! Any gas savings is more than lost if she is buying new books to read!

Actually, what I do to most of this is just bite my tongue and change the subject or move on. She obviously does not want my advice so I try not to obnoxiously offer more than what she really wants. She is actually a very nice person and has some wonderful qualities so I don't want to lose the friendship, it just makes me crazy to see the inconsistencies that she herself cannot.

My Financial Boat (Warning - Rant!)

September 4th, 2008 at 09:20 am

Lately it feels like my financial boat has been in an endless storm. I keep waiting for the clouds to clear and the sun to come out yet the storm clouds don't seem to diminsh. I know that I will someday be in a period of clear weather and smooth sailing but right now I am feeling tired of rowing and rowing and getting nowhere. I feel like the waves keeps putting water into the boat and it is all we can do to bail it fast enough to keep afloat. Anyone have an extra bilge pump?

When I do get to feeling this way, it does help to realize that my boat is still afloat and does not have any major leaks. I guess sometimes in life, all you can do is keep on rowing. It is just that my arms are feeling tired of all this rowing (figuratively) and I just want to throw an old fashioned temper tantrum.

My DH hates his current job but knows that he has no choice but to keep working there til he gets another job or gets fired. I am personally voting for the "gets another job" choice. He has been looking but his industry (building/construction) is still in the midst of a huge econmic slow down. He is trying to find something in another industry but is constantly told "you are overqualified" (ie. we think we would have to pay you more than we want to pay) or "you need industry specific experience". Seriously, if you can sell and have 20 years of sales experience, shouldn't you be able to apply those same skills to another industry? It is very frustrating. When he took his current job he was promised a certain level of support but that has yet to materialize. The office staff seem good at only two things (1) screwing up orders and deliveries and (2) complaining about having to work to get orders and deliveries out. His supervisor on the other hand wants to know why he cannot get more customers. Its like, um, see complaints about the office staff maybe?

Okay, enough rant for now. Feeling much better and I did not even need to lay of the floor and kick and scream. Guess I just needed a rant rather than full blown tantrum. Just goes to show how mature I can be!

I Am Getting Too Old For This

September 2nd, 2008 at 06:03 am

This weekend (Sunday) we took the kids to Hershey Park for the day. We have been doing this for the past 4 years. My DH has a cousin that lives about as far as we do from there and his son is great friends with my oldest daughter so we try to meet up there once each summer. We also invite DH's niece so it is a nice time for the cousins to get together. In the past years we have been going on Labor Day. The only problem was my kids usually had school the next day so we always had to leave by about 6:00. I lobbied for Sunday this year so we could stay til the park closed. Well, we did just that and I am definitely getting too old for that. All day yesterday I felt like I was hung over. Without the benefit of any alchohol! I guess it was the combination of too much sun, not enough water to drink and too much walking. I woke up with a headache and by the time it went away (late afternoon) my stomach was bothering me! No fair!

Anyway, we did have a great time and even better, it was budgeted for so when the CC bill comes rolling in, I already have most of the money put away to cover it. I spent a bit more on food than planned so I will have to make that up out of the next paychecks but the tickets etc. were bought with my credit card and I already have the money set aside to pay for them. I have been trying to use my CC to make purchases only when I already have the money set aside. I just make a note in my checkbook, instead of writing a check number, I just note CC and the amount and subtract it. This way, I can still use the card to get reward points but I know that I already have the money set aside to pay when the bill comes in. My next step is to open up an ING or other on-line checking account to earn interest. This way, while the money is sitting in the account, I will at least be earning interest on it.

The Angel Food Cake That Wasn't

August 26th, 2008 at 05:56 am

Last Thursday was my 2nd DD's birthday. She had requested an angel food cake for her birthday cake. I got home from work, mixed it up and tried to preheat the oven. Five minutes later, I was wondering why the oven was still not up to temperature. I checked and it was still stone cold. I figured out that it was the ignitor in the bottom of the oven that had gone out (again), since the broiler would work but the whole oven would not heat up. And, you cannot broil an angel food cake (don't ask!). We ended up having Sonic ice cream treats for her birthday dessert. I didn't really mind since I had been thinking of treating the kids to Sonic but it was still annoying to have to waste the angel food cake that I had already mixed up. If my neighbors had been home, I might have asked to borrow their oven, but no luck. Fortunately, Mrs. Fix-it here (that's me) was able to order the part late that evening. It arrived early Saturday morning and the oven was repaired by lunchtime. As a bonus, I found my favorite wooden spoon and spatula. They had fallen behind the stove. I had to remove the oven drawer to get to the wiring for the ignitor and I found them on the floor at the back of the oven when I took out the drawer. I also found enough dog hair to build a small dog, assorted pieces of cereal and candy etc. but that is another story (and not a pretty one!).

The oven is now working just fine. My DS (11) was home yesterday so he and I baked chocolate chip cookies for his sisters. They all started back to school yesterday but for some reason at his school, (K - 12) only certain grades started on Monday and others today. So he lucked out with an extra day off. We did not tell his sisters that he helped make the cookies. I'll wait til they are all gone (the cookies that is) so they cannot claim that they tasted funny. On the other hand, if I tell them sooner, I might get more cookies for myself? Hmmmm...maybe I will tell them today.

On a financial note, my mom came over on Sunday for DD's birthday and gave me a check for $1000. She had to take a distribution from an account for some tax reasons and she was giving each of us (my 3 siblings and I) $1000. It could not have come at a better time. August 31 our real estate taxes are due. I have the money already set aside for that but then in September our homeowners, car insurance and 2 car isnpections are also due. It would have really depleted our accounts more than I felt comfortable. This will be just enough cushion to cover some of these expenses without the savings having to go too low. I am still looking for some additional part time work so that we will be able to actually continue to pay down our home equity loan (from when DH was unemployed) and save a bit each month. Yeah Mom!

Anyone Need a Hose Clamp?

August 21st, 2008 at 10:01 am

My second DD's birthday is today - she is 15. One of the things she wants for her birthday is a DVD set from Heroes, one of her favorite TV shows. I pre-ordered it from Amazon for 24.99 and it qualified for free shipping, but only if I ordered something else for .01. Otherwise, I would have to pay over $7.00 for the shipping. I didn't really want to have to shop around or go to the store when it does come out so I was almost ready to bite the bullet and pay the shipping when I got an idea. I know that some people order everyday household things from Amazon and say they get great deals on them. I figured if I could buy something I would use anyway, get it at a good price and then get free shipping, it would be worth it. I searched a bit but did not want to spend all day. Suddenly I saw a metal hose clamp for $.80 that qualified for free shipping. Do I need a hose clamp? Honestly, no. I have no idea what I would do with one. I have not used one, ever, so I am fairly safe saying I don't need one right now. But, in buying the hose clamp for $.80, I now qualified for free shipping for my entire order. Since I did not really have time to keep hunting for something I did need, and it would save me over $6.00 ($7.00 shipping - $.80) I went ahead and ordered the hose clamp. Maybe I can convince my daughter it is some kind of new earring (just kidding)! Anyway, I thought that it was rather smart of me to buy something extra but not end up spending way more than I had intended. I could easily have found a book, DVD etc. that I wanted but I did not want to spend on myself. By spending the money on the hose clamp, I actually came out ahead, as opposed to paying for the shipping. Now, anyone need a hose clamp?

Hello - Goodbye...

August 14th, 2008 at 08:45 am

I feel like that's all I get a chance to say to my money anymore. DH's paycheck gets direct deposited on the 15th and 30th of every month so I get the notice in the mail a day or two ahead. I write out all the checks for the bills (yes, I still ENJOY doing it the old fashioned way) and note any automatic debits (for college funds, Y membership etc.). This allows me to just drop anything in the mail on the 15th or 30th and get all payments in on time. Anyway, I feel like all I do is record the deposit and then keep on subtracting. Seriously, this cycle, after taking out all bills currently due and all auto debits, we have a grand total of 50 cents left over. It is not really as bad as all this since I still have to get paid but it feels like I just wave hello and goodbye anymore. Plus, I have to remind myself that some of it is ultimately going to us: $200 is going to the kids college funds ($50 each x 4 kids) some to retirement, and $100 to our emergency fund. Still, it would be nice for a change to be able to do more than just wave to it in passing.

Mrs. Fix-it Strikes Again!

August 11th, 2008 at 05:50 am

Wednesday evening I tried to put a new flapper on the toilet in the kids bathroom. It hasn't been seating properly for some reason and all of my children claim deafness to the sound of water running constantly in the toilet. I can be downstairs and hear the noise, track it upstairs to their bathroom and figure out what it is. The kids, meanwhile can be 4 feet away in their rooms and claim they never heard it. I bet if it was the sound of THEIR money rather than mom and dads' they would hear it. Anyway, when I went to install the new flapper, the tube that it attaches to broke off right in my hand. Not good. I got DH to shut off the water to that toilet and thus ended his contribution to the project. I figured I would try to fix it myself before calling in a plumber. The next day I went to Home Depot and before hitting the plumbing aisle, I hit their book rack and scanned the do-it-yourself books for plumbing. I found everything covered BUT how to install a new flush valve, which of course is what I needed to do. Anyway, the books did help me narrow it down to that and I headed over to the plumbing aisle where I purchased a brand new flush valve for under $6.00. I went home, installed it in under 1 hour and soon had a good as new toilet. Actually better, since it no longer ran constantly. I would have completed the job even faster but I had to hack thru the original plastic fastener on the bottom of the tank as it was so tight I could not untwist it to remove the old flush valve. That actually turned out to be the hardest part of the job. I told DH he owed me at least $100 for the job.

Friday we took the kids to Camelbeach Waterpark. It is in the Poconos, part of Camelback mountain ski area. It is a very nice water park, not too crowded, very clean. The only problem is that being in the mountains, the weather can turn from sunny to rainy in an instant. We met friends and had a great day. Last year we met the same friends and got rained out around 2:00. This year is started to rain about 1:00 but it was over by about 3 and the rides all re-opened so we were able to get the rest of the day in. Even better, the rain had chased a lot of people away so the lines were really short. All in all it was a very nice day.

Busy Day Yesterday

August 7th, 2008 at 07:52 am

Wednesday is one of my days off but more often than not I spend it doing more than I do on a work day. I went to my mom's yesterday morning to meet with her financial advisor about money she has in a trust that needs to be invested. I found him to be OK but I would not rate him higher than that. He seems honest and I was pleasantly surprised to find that he was not at all pushy or trying to talk her into any type of fancy funds that would increase his commision. She and my dad had always been stock investors (although she does have some money in mutual funds) and she wanted to put this money into more stocks. He gave her the balance sheets from about 20 top companies and we are supposed to go from there. I guess that is why I only rate his as OK. I don't want him to be pushy or do all the selecting for us, but getting an opinion on strategy and some of the companies out of him was like pulling teeth. My opinion is that he is going to be earning something for this, he should at least EARN it. Anyway, mom seems to like his approach and he came highly recommended her lawyer and a former broker she used so since it is her money, her opinion counts for more than mine.

In the afternoon, I took DD17 to have her senior portrait done. I cannot believe she will be a senior this year. The school has an arrangement with a local photographer who does beautiful work. I have seen things she has done and they are very nice. However, I cannot say that I think the prices are very nice. I have to check out her website but as with any photographer, it is definetly pricy. I was a bit disappointed and annoyed that she was not even the one doing the photos, one of her employees was. If I am going to have to pay big bucks to get her name, shouldn't she also have to EARN them. Seems to be the theme of my day, people charging $$$ but not, in my opinion, doing all they should to EARN it. I am not saying that she should not have assistants and employees, just if we are paying the truly big bucks (and yes, her prices are truly big bucks, at least to me) shouldn't she be the one taking the pictures?

Anyway, spent the rest of the day doing grocery shopping, laundry and taking the kids to the pool in the evening. Somehow my day off never seems like a day off!

Catching Up - Again!

August 5th, 2008 at 05:47 am

I keep promising myself to stay consistent with blogging but then find playing catch up again and again.

Friday I took my oldest DD to visit York College in York PA. It is a bit smaller than some of the schools she is looking at but affordable overall and she likes it. Her concensus "keep it on the list". The list of possibilities, that is. The only problem is her list doesn't seem to really get any shorter and people keep suggesting other schools to her. We have already visited 6 schools total and only one is "off the list". We have about 4 more to go before I tell her to start narrowing down her choices. You could drive yourself crazy finding the "perfect" school but I do not really think that exists.

I am going to my mother's house tomorrow to meet with her and a financial advisor about her investments and some in a trust. It should be interesting as I am not a fan of advisors who make their money on commissions. On the one hand, it is her money, not mine so I have to be polite. On the other hand, she is my mother and the money in the trust is for my siblings and I once she passes away so obviously I do have a vested interest in both maximizing the gains and minimizing the costs. It should be interesting.

DH and I are supposed to take the kids to a waterpark with family friends on Friday. I am hoping for good weather. We went to the same water part last August with the same friends and had a great time, right up until it started pouring rain for 2+ hours. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

DH and I both got paid on Aug. 1 but the majority of the money went to exciting things like paying the bills. I have $235 to last us til the next checks on 8/15. Since that includes gas, groceries, dog food etc. it should be tight but I am sure it will work out. It always does. We have money in ING and a mutual fund account but I hate to touch those for regular household expenses. The trip to the waterpark, however, will be coming out the the ING account since we have been planning for it and I have been putting money away towards that.

My oldest has an interview today for a job at a local day care, afternoons during the school year. She works right now for a kids party place but during the school year she really only gets hours on Sunday. She wants to keep that job but also earn more so I suggested a day care. She had worked retail last year and neither she, nor I, liked the hours. At a day care, she will still have her weekends free and they close at 6 so she would be done by 6:30. As I put it "still plenty of time for homework!".

I am counting the days til the kids go back to school. August 25th around here. I have been slowly accumulating back to school supplies by taking advantage of the sales at both Target and Staples. I am just waiting for someone to run a really good sale on 3-hole paper. In the past I have been able to stock up at as little as $0.17 a pack. Best I have seen this year was Target at $0.50 a pack. Not bad but not the great stock up deal I was looking for. Anybody else started back to school shopping yet?

How Did I Do That?

July 29th, 2008 at 06:42 am

How did I do what? How did I manage to schedule a college visit for a totally different day than I had in mind, write down the correct time on the date I had in mind and then totally miss the appointment (cause it was not on the day I thought I was scheduling it for)? Confused yet? I certainly was yesterday. I had gone on-line a few weeks ago to schedule a college visit with my daughter. The school in question had a website to let you know when they had tours available and you could sign up on-line. I have been doing Fridays because my daughter and I both have off those days. I was trying (and thought I had) signed up for an appointment on Friday Aug. 1 at 1:00. This is what I was trying to get and what I wrote in my date book. The college did send me a confirmation but (my fault here) I did not look at it closely. I still assumed that I had signed up for the date I wanted. I realized yesterday afternoon that I had somehow clicked on the wrong date and signed up for July 23. Note, that yesterday was July 28 so no way were we making the July 23 appointment. My time machine is broken and has no hopes of being fixed any time soon. I called the college to apologize for my mistake, explain and ask if there were still any openings for Friday Aug. 1. I explained that we would be in the area (about 2 hours away from my home) visiting other schools (in the morning) and we would really like to conserve time and gas and visit them that afternoon. I am not sure who was answering the phone in admissions yesterday but if I was his boss, he would have been fired. I was very snootily told that they had no openings at all. I asked if they were even having a group tour Friday and was told "All of our information is on our website". I told him that since it was their website that confused me in the first place, I was trying to schedule something thru a person. Again "All our our information is on our website". At that point I just said "Fine, I guess I will have to try the website again" and hung up. I know the mistake was my fault but I would have hoped for a more pleasant attitude and at least something along the lines of "I am really sorry, I wish I could help you..." but nothing like that. We are still going to try to visit, even if it means we just drive thru the campus and go back for a formal tour another day but it certainly gives me a sour feeling toward the school. And it is not even like it is Harvard or something, just one of our state system schools (although one of the better ones). I think someone needs to remind them (or at least that person) that the prospective students are customers and a bit of old fashioned customer service is in order!

I'm back!!!

July 28th, 2008 at 06:09 am

For better or worse, I am back. I had not realized how long it had been since I had made an entry. Wow - January. I am making a promise to myself to be more consistent since I think it really helps me keep my head on straight. Quick updates: DH is working for a national company selling exterior building products. The pay is about half of what he was making 2 years ago before getting laid off. On the plus side, it is a job and we have health insurance so I won't complain (at least for now). My oldest DD will be a senior in high school this year so we have been making some college visits this summer. Wow, does college ever cost alot (more on this another time). I am still working part time at the same job I have had for the past 4 years. I like my boss but basically I am bored and would love to make more money. I have been toying with finding another part time job, a different part time job or even a full time job. I think my comfort here (it is easy and very flexible) is getting in the way of me making a change. I need to get off my butt and motivate myself to do something different. My second DD (almost 15) has been pet sitting this summer. She has quite a nice little business going and has way more disposable income that dear old mom. What is wrong with this picture? My DS and youngest DD are still taking karate and will be joining a competitive karate team this fall. It is run by their current teacher (who I cannot say enough great things about). They will have to train for a full year and the following year they will compete in tournaments which will involve some travel and thus some $$$. My two mastiffs are still big, loving and drooly and their food just keeps getting more and more expensive. Yikes but I still feel that they are so worth it because they bring so much joy and entertainment to the whole family!
I don't know about anyone else, but I feel like every time I turn around something is costing me more. Somehow it all seems to work out (just now always the way I had predicted. I am working hard on keeping the debt down and staying positive. More later...

It Pays to Smell Good

January 31st, 2008 at 05:47 am

I went to the grocery store yesterday and while shopping, saw some deoderant on clearance for 99 cents. My DH goes thru it like crazy (I swear that he eats it - nothing else seems to explain how he uses it up so fast). Anyway, I had 2 coupons for $1.00 off that brand so I picked up 2 figuring - great, they will be free. The girl at the checkout had trouble getting the coupons to scan. I explained that it was probably cause the price was .99 but the coupon was for $1.00 off. She consulted her manager, entered the coupons manually and all was good. When I got home, I looked over my receipt and saw that not only had they take the .99 off for each one, somehow they doubled the coupon (this store normally doubles coupons up to and including .99). So, basically I got the two deoderants for free plus got paid $1.98 to buy them. I love it when stuff like that happens. It is small and won't really change anything but it just makes you smile.

Catching Up

January 24th, 2008 at 11:07 am

Wow! It has been over a month since I made an entry. DH's company closed down as of the end of December. They always close down over the holidays anyway so that means they shut their doors just in time for Christmas. What a lovely Christmas present. Fortunately, DH was already somewhat worried about their future and was already searching for a new job. He just got the news today - offer of a position with a large company selling building supplies but siding etc. This company is one of the largest national suppliers of siding and focuses on both large accounts (builders, home improvement stores etc.) as well as small accounts like home remodelers etc. What this means is that their business is not as heavily impacted by the slow down in new construction. It will be significantly less money for the first year or so til he builds up accounts but it is a job with a good future and lots of room for career growth. All in all I am happy about it, now it will just be my job to constantly remind him about the need to be frugal for the next year or so. Wish me luck!

Finding My Happy Medium

December 18th, 2007 at 06:19 am

Lately, especially with DH's job uncertainty, I have been ruminating on the idea of what is really a happy medium (middle ground) for me financially. I think I am also more focused on it at this time of year because of all of the commercialism/consumerism that is going on with the holidays. At times I feel like I can live happily in my own little world and be frugal but then other times I want to scream and yell and just go out and buy what I want NOW, NOW, NOW! Fortunately, I do not act upon those desires and the feelings are usually only momentary, but they are frustrating. I think I find such feelings particularly frustrating because I don't see them as reflecting the real me and I see them as being brought on by too much commercial influence. For example, we have a 8 year old TV, probably about 27 inches or so, no high def, no Tivo, no frills, just basic cable to get a decent picture (really bad reception otherwise). I was in Target last week, in the electronics section, to get batteries for my camera. I could not help noticing the nice crisp, clear, sharp picture on the new TVs. Ours is fine but certain channels get a sort of line effect - not sure how to describe it but it is noticeable. Then I look at the prices - $599, $799 etc. just for the basic "smaller" (all bigger than my current" set. Forget the commercials for in home theater systems with surround sound and universal remotes (to the tune of 4K - 5k for the whole system). I don't really want or need a new TV at the moment. It is just that exposing myself to all this makes me, at least for a few hours, think that I somehow want or need a new TV. Sure, it would be nice but I would rather have the $700 sitting in an emergency fund to pay for car repairs like I needed to a few weeks ago. I see people all around buying things like this, getting their kids video systems for gifts, new cell phones (which cost all year, not just a one time purchase), new computers etc. My kids see this too and while they understand my feelings on frugality and living within your means, it is hard for them to appreciate it right now. My oldest sees her friends going on two to three trips (Cancun, Bahamas etc.) a year and wants to know why we don't go at least once. The same friends will get their license soon and their mom is giving them her old car as she recently got a new one. I know and can appreciate that they have a huge mortgage, minimal savings and no college savings but my DD just sees the "stuff" and sometimes feels that I am just being cheap. Things like this make me struggle with my mental middle ground. How much is enough, what can we really "afford" and what does that really mean anyway, etc. The more I go around and around about it mentally, the more I come to the conclusion that the happy middle ground is the one that allows me to sleep at night. For me that means working on savings goals for retirement, college, paying off mortgage etc. For others, I guess they can sleep at night with huge balloon mortgage payments hanging over their heads - I personally cannot. And to me, money/things are just not worth losing sleep over. I would rather have less but be finacially secure in what I do have, than "have it all" but owe it all to the bank.

Uncertainty and a Cool Web Site

December 13th, 2007 at 05:52 am

The uncertainty part is whether or not my DH will have a job after next week. He and the other sales reps at his company had a meeting with the owner on Monday. They had not gotten their car allowances or the other reps their commission checks for November. The owner told them he had not paid because he was owed too much from customer and he was out of money! He is supposed to be meeting with his family this week (it is a family owned business) and deciding whether or not they will be closing their doors for good at the end of the year. Since they always shut down for the holidays, effectively that means closing up next week. The current word is that he wants to close down the main company and keep a smaller division open with a change of focus on their customer base. They make and supply moldings, millwork, doors windows etc. Their primary market had been builders but the business in this area of the country has all but dried up in the last year with the housing slump. Very few builders are still building new houses and those that are, are not paying their bills as they are not selling houses. If he does keep the smaller division open he would wants DH to stay on and help change the focus to sales of custom, high end, furniture quality materials to homeowners and other suppliers. It is a market that is still open and DH has a lot of contacts in this. The alternative is for DH to look for another job. He has already had an interview with another company but if he took that it would ultimately require us to more quite a distance! I refuse to make any decisions til I have all the details on either/both options. I should be going crazy about this but having been through it just last year, I know that no matter what happens, it will somehow work out and we will get through it.
The cool website I found is www.freerice.com (Sorry, I don't know how to put links in!) Anyway, the premise is they donate free rice to needy countries thru you clicking on the site. It is a vocabulary game and I love vocabulary so I have a feeling it will become addictive for me. I am also going to steer my DD16 (soon to be 17) to the site. Her vocabulary is deplorable (see, I told you I love vocabulary) and she can certainly use some practice before she takes the SATs.

A Rant About Priorities

December 7th, 2007 at 11:14 am

Wow, I usually have trouble posting a few times a week so twice in one day is a lot for me. I just could not help myself. This morning I read an article in our small local paper that really got me thinking about people's priorities. Each year before the holidays the paper has a charity drive to collect money to help local people who cannot afford gifts for their kids for Christmas. I have no problem at all with this and actually am planning to send in a small donation. While we are certainly not rich, we are able to afford the bills and then some so I am happy to help others in need. Anyway, each day they run a short story about one of the families who is in need of help. I guess the idea is to personalize the need, put a face, names etc. to their cause. I also do not have a problem with their doing this and I am sure it is voluntary on the part of the families who are profiled. Todays story involved a young couple with three kids under the age of 9. The husband had been injured at work and his disability check barely covered their rent. The were collecting cans and turning them in for the deposits just to have some money for food, heat etc. I applaud their efforts to do extra to try to help themselves. What caught my attention was the statement that they did not know how they were going to buy food, put oil in the tank for the heater and their cable had already been shut off. This stopped me dead. Food, shelter, heat - yes, all necessities! Cable - not! Why didn't they cancel their cable when he was first injured? Have a little talk with the kids about how they needed to save since Daddy wasn't working and do without cable. I wanted to ask if they still had cell phone service! I am not trying to knock this particular family. I hope that they find a way out of this situation and that the husband fully recovers. I just don't understand the attitude of entitlement that so many seem to have. When hard times hit, they act like cable, cell phones and so many other things are necessities, rather than luxuries. If we had really tight times around here and no hope of any turn around soon, the cable would go, the cell phones would go (despite DD16 probably trying to report us for child abuse for that) etc. Since when do people feel like saving the $60 or so cable runs monthly is not worth it? It would pay for a weeks food! I just do not understand how people set their priorities these days. In the same vein I think about my friend who almost had her house sold at sherrifs sale. I am sure that they somehow found a new mortgage lender but they are still eating out often, buying tons of stuff for their kids etc. If they could not afford the old mortgage and they were in forclosure, I am sure the new one is for even higher interest etc. So, shouldn't they be scaling back and trying to save more to put towards what is probably a higher payment? Again, it seems to be a matter of priorities and feelings that what used to be considered luxuries are now necessities. Okay, enough rant for now. If I don't stop myself, I could go on for hours! I just find such attitudes very frustrating!

Hit to the Emergency Fund and Survey Stuff

December 7th, 2007 at 06:42 am

We took my car in on Wednesday because the gas pedal had stuck twice on me when I was coming out of a parked position. I was able to stomp on it and "unstick" it but this was definitely something that required a look by a mechanic. Turns out that there was just a lot of gunk etc. since the car is 8+ years old and has close to 150,000 miles on it. That was not so bad but we had also noticed a bit of radiator fluid on the driveway that morning so we asked him to check that out as well. Turns out we needed a new radiator, hoses etc. The total for everthing was about $720. Not a bill I really need this time of year but I have decided to be thankful. I am thankful we took it in when we did cause he said something would have blown soon and I could have been stuck somewhere. Thankful that DH is employed this year and I have managed to rebuild a bit of an emergency fund. Not that I enjoy spending it, just that I am glad that it is there when we need it and that we have enough coming in to slowly rebuild it.
As far as survey stuff, I recently have been getting a bunch (okay only a few but it feels like a bunch) of surveys from MySurvey. I went what seemed like forever without getting any and now I have two $10 checks coming my way. I am putting them towards Christmas gifts I still need to buy. I also finally was able to sign up for Pinecone. I had heard about them several years ago but I know they are hard to sign up for. Well, I was finally able and eagerly await my first survey from them.
Oh, yes, and I did decide to buy 100 of the flying slingshot monkeys. It came to about $184 including shipping. I have the money in savings to pay for them but DH should be able to sell enough at the market at $5 each that I should have plenty set aside before the bill comes in. I told him I am in charge of them since he would just go crazy and overbuy if the first ones sell. He has already told many people he knows about them and they want them for their kids. I will update once we get them and start selling them.

Flying Slingshot Monkeys

December 4th, 2007 at 06:02 am

For anyone that has not seen this toy, simply do a search for flying slingshot monekys and you should find a multitude of sites selling them, many with videos showing how they work. They are basically small toy monkeys with stretchy hands/arms. You launch them into the air and they fly through the air like a slingshot and make a screaming sound as they do so. I have a goofy sense of humor and I am dying to get some of these as gag gifts for friends and family. I had seen these in catalogs for pricing in the range of 3 for $30.00 plus shipping. It did not occur to me to do a web search until yesterday. Imagine my delight to find them priced much more reasonably all over the web. My problem is now my DH who runs a side business/hobby selling things at flea markets. He would call it a business since he has good cash flow. I would call it a hobby since the cash goes right back out for more merchandise. He wants to order them wholesale and sell them for the holiday season. I found a decent price but am loathe to purchase without having the money already set aside. To me, it is just one more thing he will be spending money on and running up credit card bills. He has no problem with this - I have huge problems with this. However, I concede that he is right about the timing - before the holidays is the time to be selling them. They could be sold for about $5 and would make a great small gift for a child or a great gag gift for an adult (okay, one like me who has a weird sense of humor. I prefer to think of it as a playful sense of humor but then I am also known to hide rubber cockroaches in my kids rooms to "surprise" them.) Anyway, I am trying to decide to buy or not buy 100 flying slingshot monkeys. It would cost about $200 max including shipping and I could get him to sell them for $5 each. There would be no additional outlay as he is already going to the market anyway. So, to buy or not buy, that is the question.

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