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Archive for October, 2009

...I'm moving on, I'm movin on, I'm moving on...

October 28th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

I got the apartment and signed the lease yesterday. I set up my utilities yesterday too. I decided to get a phone line for now but will re-evaluate after christmas and see if my cell phone is working ok.

I did get cable but got a pretty good deal for a year and lots of extra channels. I will probably do what i did this past year and dvr lots of movies to watch sometime in the future when the movie channels go away.

I am pulling some money from savings to go shopping and buy some furniture and needed items for the apartment. I have been saving money for so long for a house and furniture that I think this is ok. Not a lot of furniture but a love seat that is also a pull out bed, another love seat, a chair that changes into a single bed, a couple of book shelves, dishes, glasses, silverware, etc. and most importantly a bed frame!! Yeah!!

I know what I want and even the prices. I will not go overboard but will enjoy the fruits of my labors and am excited to get some new things for my new to me home.

...where the road goes is someplace far and unknown...

October 28th, 2009 at 10:38 am

I wanted to add something about emergency preparedness (EP) to one of my previous blogs but since I did not write it down it was missed.

I often wonder, when people have to evacuate an area, do they know where they should go and how much gas it would take to get there? I know that in my current car (getting 25 mpg) I would need about two gallons to get to my moms house, which is my evacuation point if something happened in the valley. Where is your evacuation point, how many miles away is it located, and how much gas would it take to get you there safely?

During the storm several weeks ago a good portion of the area I in which I was staying lost power. Usually I would not worry about anything except…I let my gas tank get WAY below a quarter of a tank. My little gas tank computer told me I had about 50 miles to go with a 22 mile commute to work.

In the past I would never have let my tank get that low. With the advent of the high cost of gas the past few years I have let the purchasing go about 8-10 days between fill ups. It has become a bad habit to let it get to about 30 miles of gas left before I fill up. This can be dangerous to do for many reasons, but let’s discuss this from the EP side.

As I mentioned before, the power was out in my local area when I left for work that morning. I noticed the gas level and realized that if I got stuck in traffic I could have a severe problem and began to realize that my previous strategy of filling up every Sunday regardless of the level of my tank would have come in handy, had I continued to follow it!

Then a second item hit me.

I used to work for a large petroleum company that ran many stations. When the power went out we often could not process credit cards for purchases, even when the power came back on. I realized that if I had not fallen out of my habit of getting gas on Sundays and keeping about $30 cash (in various denominations) in the glove box for gas emergencies then I would be fine and not have to worry as I would still be able to purchase gas with the cash.

I drove for a bout 5 miles when I found an area where the power was on and I was able to fill up my tank, great news! The bad news was that I was soaking wet by the time I finished filling up my tank and arrived to work wet and looking, shall we say, less than professional. If I had stuck to my usual planning neither the worry nor being wet would have occurred.

I remember there were reports of gas shortages as people tried to evacuate the New Orleans area before Hurricane Katrina and in the Houston area before Hurricane Rita. Not having enough gas can mean a lot of abandoned cars along the road, impeding an evacuation.

I have returned to my habits of getting gas on Sunday (or when the tank gets less than half full) to ensure that I could get to where I need to be without any problems.

How low do you let your tank get before filling up?

"I called the phone company singin’: Hey baby, put a phone in for me”

October 26th, 2009 at 11:40 am

Good news: the apartment people called and I get the apartment! Yeah! But I can’t move into the other one as that one was rented the day before I got there. Darn! The next solution to find:

How do you choose which telephone/cable/internet packages to go with???

I have to pay around $35 a month for sewer/water/garbage to the complex on top of my rent. The property manager said for a unit my size he has never seen it go over $37 a month for those three. I budgeted $40.

The manager said natural gas and electricity should be around $100 a month. Gas item is only the water heater and should run about $25 or less a month. Everything else is electric. So, if I continue to keep things around 68 degrees and use layers and the occasional electric lap blanket and dry most of my washables (excluding sheets and towels as I hate scratchy sheets and towels) by air dry and hanging I should be able to keep both under $100. My goal is $75 for the two. The apartment is 700 square feet, surrounded on all but the front wall with other apartments so I don’t think it will be hard. Unfortunately for the winter I am in the back of a building so I get no direct sunlight into the apartment but for summer this should be good as it will keep the apartment cooler, I think?

I am trying to determine if I need to have a land line or if my cell will get enough reception in the apartment to not need it. I’d like to save money and only get cable and internet if I could but I am not sure of the signal strength in the apartment. Talking to the office staff, three of them live at the complex and have only cells phones and have no problems so that is a comfort. I think I am going to try to be cell phone only at this apartment as well for the time being. It will save me some money.

I am looking at bundling the cable/internet/land line into one product. Do I have to have a landline to get internet services? Can I get internet through the cable wires and still have it be wireless through out the house? I won’t have a TV or cable in my bedroom but I would like to be able to use my laptop or netbook in my bedroom and watch a movie if I want online.

How can you tell which is a better service: 1.5 mbs or 12 mbs? Is it worth paying $30 more for the second service over the other? How about $5 or $10 to increase it up to 6?

Is there anyone out there will to give me questions to ask as I begin to look for these packages? I have never had cable/phone/internet at any place I lived that I had to set up other than dial up internet about 15 years ago and have always been cell phone only.

What should I be looking for speed wise to be able to down load and watch movies and TV shows from places like Netflix?

Ugh…I knew this was going to be a learning curve but really do they have to make it soooo confusing? The people I spoke with were really confusing me yesterday when I called to compare some different plans and get information.

...ease on down, ease on down the road...

October 23rd, 2009 at 11:22 am

So I found an apartment to rent. It looked nice online and the community looked good. I wandered through the complex yesterday and spoke to a couple who live there and they like it a lot. Very safe and quiet and people seem respectful.

So I went and looked at the 2 one bedrooms they had available. I decided on one but today I am calling to see if I could have the other instead. It has an extra window and neighbors only on one side, not two, and it was right across from the “gym (had three pieces of equipment and some weights) so I would never have an excuse for not at least taking a walk on the tread mill.

I filled out an application and paid the deposit to hold it so once they process it I will find out if I am approved. It is 677 square feet for $700 a month. It has a small patio accessible through the bedroom or the living room. The carpets, appliances and counters were all replaced within the last year. The carpets were freshly steam cleaned right before our walk through. It is across a small courtyard from the pool area but all the people I spoke with who also live there say there is little noise and the pool is not used that much. It will be great for when my nieces and nephews come to visit me!

It is within walking distance of my office! A short 20 minute walk and I would be at work. That is kind of exciting to me.

...Let's go to the movies....Lets go see the stahahrs.....

October 22nd, 2009 at 03:14 pm

I am taking a class at a local college that allows me to put my student loans into deferment. I make payments but do not accrue any interest. My goal is to have accrued less than $4,000 in interest over the life of the loan when I finally pay it all off.

The course is actually a move class. Yep, you heard right, a class all on movies and has been a lot of fun. The first course was westerns, and while I still don’t care for them I learned to appreciate them and the art that they are. This second course is on musicals and we watch movies like The Wizard of Oz and Meet me in St. Louis to the Disney Beauty and The Beast and it has truly been a fun course.

For a couple looking for a cheap date night twice a week it would be perfect. See a couple of movies and have a nice evening. The total course was $60 for the 8 weeks so that makes each evening about $3.75 per person. I am usually home by 8:30 so it is not a late night but is still a fun outing. I have even brought a few friends to the movies because about 80% of the class leaves after the ten minute lecture so there is plenty of room. I have even brought in movie theater popcorn for the whole class. It has been quite a kick!

They announced next semester’s topics: Fantasy (which I will struggle with because I don’t really like this genre) and Romantic Comedies. I think it will be a fun semester next spring too. The fall looks like it will be foreign films and then maybe black and white.

I think I am really enjoying these classes because I never got to study the fun stuff in college. I was so focused on getting through school that I only really took courses that were geared toward my major.

I have a friend who will be joining me for the fantasy class. She loves the movies they talked about showing and would love to see them on the big screen instead of her little TV. We never get a chance to just hang out so this should be fun.

Just something to consider if you are looking for some weekly cheap fun or dates.

Movie Quiz:
Anyone name the musical my blog title song comes from?

...just kicking along, singing my song...

October 21st, 2009 at 03:46 pm

So….I made an additional deposit of $420 to the house down payment account. I should be able to put another $75 on Monday.

Work is going OK although I am a bit bored at present. I was able to order a new chair and being the state we have to order from a specific company. $760 for a chair is ridiculous but having one that fits me, goes up and down etc is almost priceless.

This week and next are the longest weeks of my life. I have to work 5 days a week and it feels weird to after all the furlough days. I sometimes think that going to full pay, full days is going to be really hard to do after this furlough stuff goes away. But bring on the full pay!

Nothing else really happening right now financially and I still have almost $300 until payday a week from Friday so that is good.

I keep meaning to write a series of posts about how to take a year, frugally and with some careful thought, and prepare your home and supplies for an emergency. I know this industry really well and that storm we had last week (which they likened as a small hurricane) caused many people to scramble for supplies and materials for the loss of power we experienced. (Ironically me as well as I was house sitting and could not find her supply of candles and matches or flashlights. I used the one flash light from my car emergency kit and bought candles the next day to put into my house sitting kit.)

Would you guys be interested in a series of articles around this topic?

...completing my five items...

October 19th, 2009 at 09:06 am

Of the things I wanted to accomplish Sunday:

1 Met A for coffee and we talked for three hours. I have not seen her for a month so it was so good to hear about her trip to Portland and rehash the FSOT exam I took several weeks ago.

I reset the closet item and reconfigured furniture in my one room. It looks a little different but it will work for now.

I washed several loads of laundry but need to do two more and the sheets/pillow cases off the bed. But I feel good about what I did do.

I went and looked at three houses and almost made an offer on one but the seller has accepted an offer already. It has been on the market two days.

Could not balance check book because I left it on my desk at work. First time I have ever done that! I will work on it later this week.

I did get gas and the mail.

...my sunday five...ok actually six...

October 17th, 2009 at 09:43 pm

Tomorrow I will:

1. Meet A for coffee.
2. reset closet thingy with basket usually blocking the attic.
3. wash laundry, dry, fold an dput away.
4. look at 2 houses
5. balance check book for the rest of the month.
6. get mail and fill up gas tank.

Today was a quiet day. I slept in and read late in the morning. I went to my nephews soccer game and then we got jamba juice. It was 80 and HUMID today. Awful for October. i hung out with my nephew and nieces while my sister had a couple hours to herself to grocery shop and unwind. I told her she could NOT return for a minimum of 2.5 hours and gave her money to pick up pizza.

We enjoyed dinner and a movie (Aliens vs. Monsters was pretty good) before i headed home. I returned home later then I wanted but it was a nice day and good to spend time with the kids. Tomorrow is pretty low key too. But the next two weeks are long non-furlough weeks and i wanted a pretty quiet day. So it is going to be a looooong month.

...what to do with the living situation...

October 15th, 2009 at 11:05 am

I made it home last night after being gone house sitting since August 1 (except for a week in there some place when I was at the house). It has proven to me that I really do not want to live where I live and with the housemates I live with.

For the past two months no stress, no problems, no tension in my upper back and neck. It has been wonderful. I woke up Sunday with so much tension I could barely turn my head. My upper back and neck have been bothering me ever since. It all happened when I realized I only had a couple days left at the house sit and would have to return to the house.

I really need to find a house or move out to some little apartment. If I move out into an apartment that means I will have very little to save for a down payment. So… there is much to consider in the next couple of months.

I am turning in several applications for part time seasonal employment that if I could snag one of these jobs, would help with the saving of some additional money if I decided to move out.

Update 10/14/2009

October 14th, 2009 at 02:02 pm

I updated my ticker to show an additional $900 to my down payment account. I should have another $500 or so to add. I was hoping to add in closer to $800 on the second deposit this month but the weight I have gained in the past year has really started to show in my clothes and while I am working to lose it, I need some work clothes!

Someone posted a comment about my goal of working for the foreign service someday and asking where I would want to go. With the FS you have to have world wide availability. You serve at the pleasure of the department and while you bid and work toward a particular post, they really have the final say as the where you serve.

I would be happy anyplace. I speak Spanish and have studied French, Russian and Mandarin in the past ten years. I also studied a bit of Dutch when living in Holland and a semester of Korean in college for a job I had. I would go where ever they want!

The price of gas was $2.85 when I went to fill it last night. The house where i have been house sitting for the past month is about 40 minutes to work on a good day. I have seen my gas bill more than double in the past six weeks. I have no more house sits until the week before Thanksgiving.

The last house sit couple asked me if I would be interested in sitting for a month next year. Of Course I would.