<< Back to all Blogs
Login or Create your own free blog
Home > Page: 2

Viewing the 'Uncategorized' Category

Do I or don't I?

November 10th, 2013 at 05:12 am

I found a house.

It is 6 years old, corner lot, zero lot line, single story, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage alley-way house in one of the communities I wanted to live in. I want a zero lot line house because I really don't want to worry about yard work.

There is a small front and side yard (in front of house is 3 feet wide by length of house, about 20 feet, it is a very small yard!) HOA fees are $32 a month (pays community lighting and watering of two parks in area).

PITI payment would be about 23% gross, 30% net. I have a friend and colleague (different area of the department I work in) who wants to move out of the house she has been sharing and wants to downsize to one room. Offered $400 a month and part of utilities which would be amazing. I would take her because she is in her mid 50's, going back to school to complete her BA, and goes away every third weekend to visit her adult kids about an hour away.

I can afford the house without a room mate, her rent would just be more I would use to pay off the house.

I am trying to figure out the Calpers loan process because colleagues have said it saved them money in the end. Of course, it is a weekend, the house just came on the market and this model (single story) in the community sells very quickly.

I just don't know what to do. I have wanted to be in my own home for several years, and here is my preferred house design, two miles from my office!

It would be a conventional loan as the FHA loans now have that PMI that is permanent. Have a percentage to put down, not as much as I wanted but with a room mate I would make up the difference.

Thoughts? Things to consider? Tax ramifications of buying a house? What can I write off in the first year (e.g. 2013 taxes)?

Comments welcome.

(and does anyone know what is going on with the "" things on the web page?? it is driving me nuts for the past couple of weeks.)

Worth every penny?

October 29th, 2013 at 05:29 am

Saw a funny news report on the today show this morning: there are some things worth every penny and not worth the guilt including a really great mattress, sheets with a high thread count, strong tires and plushy toilet paper.

What are things you buy worth every penny?

Preparedness: Hotel Grab and Go Bag

August 10th, 2013 at 06:24 pm

I am an emergency manager/planner and I travel frequently for work and pleasure. I decided with the events that occur everywhere these days that I needed a grab and go bag (G&GB) that would contain everything I would need if I needed to evacuate, and enough to be self-sufficient if I needed, down to checking into another hotel.

The G&GB needed to be more than just my purse as my purse contains more then I need to evacuate safely. It needed to be light weight and small but enough to carry what I needed to start again. It needed to be something I could carry easily and not slow me down from evacuating safely.

Before a trip in 2004 I purchased a light weight cinch sack. It packs flat, weighs nothing, was cheap (under $3 on sale), and could hold everything I thought of for my grab and go bag (G&GB) from a hotel.

When I arrive at the hotel I get two room keys. One stays with me, one goes in a baggie in the G&GB. In that same baggie is a phone list of the numbers of my family in a small 10 page phone book. In an emergency if I don't have my cell phone I may not remember any numbers if I need to contact my family.

In my suit case I travel with a light weight flashlight and a second set of spare glasses, these go in the bag, too.

I always pack a pair of light weight slip on shoes and one pair of socks in my suitcase just for the G&GB. Shoes go on my feet as I am evacuating and socks are already packed in the bag to be put on later.

I pick up a bottle of water when I arrive in the new city and take a couple granola bars from my travel stash, those go in the bag.

My cell phone is fully charged every night. I keep a spare cord for charging my phone in a baggie in the G&GB. I also pack a baggie with a couple of band aids, larger bandages, anti-biotic cream and a couple of pain relievers in their original container.

In winter, the bag has a scarf and a pair of gloves. In summer it has a t-shirt. It always has a pair of underwear. It also always has a large garbage bag that I could use as a rain shelter if needed.

The last thing I put in the bag before I go to bed is my wallet/passport. This would make it possible for me to check into another hotel room.

This bag is packed and placed at the foot of the door. If the fire alarm ever goes off I would grab my phone, slip on the shoes, grab the bag, check the door handle to make sure it is not hot, crouch down as I open to make sure there is no smoke and go to the stairs. I always know how many hotel room doors I am from stairway exits in both directions.

Every morning when I leave for the day I take out my wallet and passport and place the bag in the closet.

I leave the bag and items in my suitcase when I am not traveling so I always remember to pack it.

I think being a little prepared in a strange, unknown city means that I sleep a little better and won’t have to think just react if an emergency happens. It also means that the first responders and emergency services workers have one less person to have to provide emergency support services.

Travel/Hotel Grab and Go Bag Packing list

Light weight, closable, bag or pack that is not hard or to heavy to carry.
Phone/contact list of family members
Pair of socks and shoes
T-shirt, underwear, gloves or scarf depending on season
Spare glasses and contacts
Small first aid baggie
Baggie/cord for phone
Several spare baggies
Flashlight with full batteries
Large garbage bag

Arrival at hotel:
Spare room keys in baggie
Water bottle and granola bars

I put this kit together for less than $20 but it is worth more in peace of mind than ten times that amount.

Copyright Kristina M ©

Please use information for personal emergency preparedness preparation. For professional use please contact me for permission.

Dreaming of a Retriement (Savings) Plan

July 29th, 2013 at 04:31 am

I have been dreaming of maxing out retirement benefits at my full time job for about 6 months now.

For me that means $3174.60 a month or $38,215.20 a year toward retirement.

How you ask?

Well my union/state contract mandates 11% away each month toward retirement: $678.33 a month.

I can max out my 401K fund for $1458 a month, $17,500 a year.

The state has a second retirement savings vehicle state employees can use, the 457, that I can put away up to $1458 a month. For me the 457 would be $1100 a month to ensure that I had enough monthly to live on or $13,200 a year.

My take home would be $2260.81 a month broken down into the following sending categories:

Rent (estimate depends lease at that time) 790.00
Water/sewer/garbage estimate 65.00
Spending money: 200.00
Electric: 40
Gas for house: 30
Cell bill (2): 160
IRA: 10
Groceries: 290
Household: 10
Gas for car (Prius): 125
Car payment (0%): 326
Internet: 85 (estimate. Getting rid of cable means I’d like to watch a few favorite shows each week so need high speed/lots of download size. Must use current company because I use a microcell tower in my apartment to get cell phone coverage as I do not have a land line. The tower only works on AT&T internet. The use of the cell tower boosts the cell coverage to 5 bars and costs nothing extra to run.)
Netflix: 15
Audible.com: 15
Student Loan: 270. (Interest rate locked in at 1.25%. I am not in any hurry to pay this off because 5 more years of limited payments and the balance is forgiven through the federal loan forgiveness program)
Mom (assistance): 150
Emergency savings: 50

I would need to save a few things ahead of time to prepare for the year of living like this:
Car insurance for a year: 1400
Renters Insurance for a year: 350
Contact/Glasses: 720
Clothing: 1000 (estimate)
Personal HSA Savings: 200
Gym yearly membership: 100
All that totals $3770.00

Plus, I have my emergency fund.

And I earn between $150-700 dollars a month in the house and pet sitting business. Usually I have that money accrue in a savings account for the entire year but if I could use that during any month I needed after I save the business expenses I need for the following year, about $800.

I wonder if I have the strength to live this close to the bone for 12 months.

I know I could adjust my retirement savings at any time to get more money if I needed it.

What do you guys think?

Planning a relaxing vacation

June 24th, 2013 at 03:14 am

I would like to take a short road trip this summer to test out my new car and enjoy a get away. I have three weeks off this summer sometime which will be a much needed and desired break.

I want to drive up to Ashland, see a few plays at the Shakespeare festival maybe drive west to the Oregon coast and drive south on Highway 1. I have not been to Ashland since 1990 and I think it would be fun to just explore that area. I remember it being gorgeous and loving the plays.

There are some good hiking trails, the mountains, areas for a nice drive and picnic lunch, fun walking around town.

So now I am comparing hotels and debating staying in the hostel. I have traveled all around the US and Europe using hostels and I feel comfortable in them.

Once I get home I have a couple drop in/house sitting jobs scheduled which will be about $600 and a couple of short weekends planned house sitting which will yield $60-80 a weekend.

I also have a marketing meeting scheduled with the guy I have "hired" to create a website for the pet/house sitting business, logo, business cards. I've made about $1200 in the past couple of months which means $700 for next years business expenses, $100 for the marketing person (he is using the ideas and work he generates for me for his portfolio) and $400 for savings.

I hope to double the income from this side business to $7500 by this time next year and get to $10,000 by the following year.

Swagbucks Points

June 18th, 2013 at 04:56 am

This past week has been crazy busy at work and I have not had enough time to do the third installment of the car purchase saga and lessons learned that might help other buyers.

But I have been doing the Swag bucks thing for a while now and I wonder, with 5100+ points, is it time to cash them in for something? I need to scan the rewards area and see what is there, but what do you do with your Swag bucks points?

Do you have a favorite reward you choose?

Part 2: Buying a new car...

June 12th, 2013 at 03:53 am

So when I arrived at the dealership the first time (after beginning negotiations via email) to test drive my two choices, the first question the sales guy asked while standing with four other sales guys was what color did I want? This is asked with the intention of making the car buying an emotional experience for the buyer. It is important for the dealer to make this happen so that the buyer will pay even more for the car they choose and makes it difficult for the buyer to negotiate because they have already expressed a color choice. I answered that it didnt matter for me, I would take whatever deal I could get at the time. No chance of this becoming an emotional decision for me.

The second question he asked was what did I want my monthly payment to be? Too many car buyers answer this question and set themselves up for failure. When answering this question the only answer should be: my payment is decided upon the final price negotiated minus the down payment I have, divided by the number of months I select times the interest rate the bank gives me.

It is an important answer because giving a statement of I want to be under $400 means the sales guy is already calculating how to get you into a vehicle more expensive than you should pay and have you pay for a longer term. Longer term mean more paid in finance charges and all this is money in the bank for the finance company.

I gave my answer and all of the other sales guys who had been silent during this questioning walked away, one of them saying she knows what she is doing, you can have her.

A few weeks later, after more negotiations with the internet sales guy I came in to pick up the car (in my color of choice and with the option I wanted!). As we finalized the deal he asked about my trade in. I asked what they could give me for my car.

Now, on one day when I went to test drive cars I hit upon a nice sales guy in the internet deals office and he said he was leaving, only had a couple more days. We chatted a bit and I asked him then what to do with my car to get the best trade in offer. He said to take it to CarMax and they will match the offer as that was their policy.

When I returned to pick up my new car, the internet sales guy I had been working with had my car appraised and said it is in really bad condition but I can give you $250. I just handed him the CarMax paperwork and he got very upset. He said "I dont think my head guy will go for this." I asked him to bring his head guy over. When he left to talk to him I followed. When they said they couldnt match it I asked "why not? All you have to do is drive it to them and they give you a check AND it is your own policy to match it." The head guy asked how I knew that and I moved his stapler off his desk and showed him the special little sticker and that something about honoring CarMax offers. He agreed to take it. Knowing the policy of your dealership is very important!

The final piece of the deal came when they brought me the paperwork to sign. Now, the sales guy doesnt have to go through the paperwork with you and often they just hand you the things to sign and point where to initial or sign, while the finance guy has to go through the paperwork with you. My sales guy handed me only three things to sign and I asked to see everything. As I was reading through it making sure all the information was correct I found an error in the interest rate. What should have been0 % for three years was listed as 3.99% for three years. I pointed it out and he said, oops, sorry that is the default. I just said, umhmm and asked for the paperwork to be printed. He tried to have me cross it out and initial next to it with a 0% notation and I said nope, please give me a new copy.

My last entry will be the financing/warranty/maintenance discussion and a very interesting experience with the general manager that just happened by happenstance.

Part 1: Buying a New Car

June 11th, 2013 at 06:46 am

I researched for over a year before I purchased a car. I test drove multiple brands to narrow it down to cars I liked. I keep my cars for years, until they die, so I wanted a car that was safe, reliable and has excellent gas mileage.

I was planning to keep my car for several more years when it started to have problems every couple of months. Spending money so often and the advice of the mechanic that I find something new/newer I buckled down at the beginning of this year to decide what I was going to do.

Yes, I could have purchased used, leased, bought less expensive, etc. but I wanted new, drive my cars forever and have no problem with purchasing new.

I knew what the bonuses were at the two dealers I was considering, what their goals were supposed to be, what the hold backs were for the first quarter of 2013.

I negotiated via the web with seven dealers to see who would give me the best deal. After getting a good quote I called the two largest dealers on the west coast who sell the most of the car I wanted, and asked them for their opinions on the price. Both said they could not beat it, even if they tried.

The deal was easy to make. I had my car appraisal done at CarMax and the dealer matches the offer (don't tell you they don't as it is a guarantee purchase from CarMax for the price they quote regardless of who brings the car in to them).

We finalized the deal, did the initial paperwork and then I sat, for TWO hours while others who came in, test drove and financed and left. That was frustrating.

So I was gathering my stuff up to leave when the GM came by and asked how my experience was. I told him I was leaving, waiting to long, going to buy elsewhere for being jerked around, etc. He asked what he could do to make the sale. I quoted an amount to come off. He said We are already not making money. I said BS (literally said it) and quoted the hold backs, the bonus they were going to make on the sale, (silly sales people blabbing to much when taking a test drive), and the extra holdback possible because they had already made the quota.

He looked at me for a full minute, made an offer under my request, I said no and he gave in.

I am very happy with the price, the interest rate (zero) the terms etc. And I am loving the car.

I approached the purchase as a business decision. It was not one made with emotions but purely a business decision and it was a good one for me.

Part two: Two questions you should never answer,
how to catch the dealership putting the wrong information on the paperwork, how to research a car purchase beyond the official reviews, and when is the best time to purchase.

It's been years...

June 10th, 2013 at 03:56 am

And so much has happened...

I have continued reading people's blogs and lurking about but I just couldn't get myself the excitement to continue writing my blog. But now I am feeling interested again.

When last I wrote I was waiting to hear if my car was going to be totaled or not. It wasn't and I got a few more years out of it until it reached 12 years and little things started happening that needed repairs...every other month or so. When the mechanic said "I can keep it running but it might be time to look for another newer car and save the money" I took his advice and the money I had saved for a new car and purchased a 2013 Toyota Prius. I love knowing it gets incredible gas mileage but most importantly the peace of mind I get when driving is worth more than anything! I purchased in March, on Easter, got a great deal, and when they kept me waiting for two and a half hours for the finance office I got a better deal when I started to walk out of the dealership. The GM stopped me, asked what was wrong, asked how he could rectify it, and gave me another amount off.

In fairness it was the last day of the month, they were getting the bonuses from HQ for selling Prius' for the first quarter and they got additional money for beating their sales goals so I don't feel bad saying I would only purchase for another $750 off. It was the cheapest sale in a few months but they still made almost two thousand from HQ. I hope to not have to deal with car salesmen for another dozen years!

I am still paying off some credit card debt and also my student loans.

I have an interview schedule for my dream job in September in Washington. I am excited and will start studying once this large project at work ends on June 28. That is one reason why I haven't had the energy or time to post. It has been a two years project and I have "gifted" many hours to my employer in overtime to make sure it is successful. But I am also burned out and exhausted.

I am taking almost three weeks off in July. And I need the break! I may take a road trip (and really test the car out) but it depends upon a couple of clients who may need some house/pet sitting during that same time. Making some extra money while taking a few weeks off work sounds good, too!

The house and pet sitting business is still doing well. I am designing a new website, logo and marketing package with the help of a friend. He has a degree in marketing and after a few years doing something else wants to get back into the field. Having a few projects he can showcase would be helpful in his portfolio, so we negotiated a very fair price for his services and over the next few months I hope it makes the business even more profitable.

It is good to be back and join the group.

Savings activity this weekend: NSD today. All laundry except one load was dried on the drying rack. Four loads dried on the rack in just a few hours yesterday even though it is shaded on my patio. Sacramento's 107 degrees certainly helped me save money!

I started the spring cleaning of the apartment and the living room looks good. I washed the seat slip covers of one of the couches and they dried outside today. There are a few more to day over the next few weekends.

...Darlin I think your car is totaled...

April 13th, 2011 at 02:42 am

That was what I heard late this morning.

So today started as any other Tuesday. I went to my standing Tuesday project meeting, picked up my mail and headed home for lunch. I planned to eat lunch and then go into the office. A pretty standard Tuesday for me.

SoI am driving on Highway XY east bound toward my office when all of a sudden I see three cars swerve from the left lane and then the next car hits something in the road. It sends it careening into my lane and I drove over it. It was a bike, a special bike for creating energy for a special presentation for earth day at a local college. It had fallen off an SUV which was taking it to the college.

I pulled to the side and ran to check on the driver of the SUV. He was shaken up, and in shock about it and feeling guilty at the damage (four cars) that was sustained. But I told him accidents happen and thats what insurance is for, right? One of the other drivers went off on him, like he did it on purpose? He dropped a $5k bike in the road for fun and giggles?

My car is now sitting at the repair shop. I have a rental (bright red!) and I will hear the final estimate Friday morning. My repair guy said that it will probably be listed as totaled by the insurance if it is over a certain dollar amount. My tires and rims are shredded, the undercarriage is really torn up, there is damage to the bumper, the side of the car on the drivers side, the tow thingy is gone (had to use a flat bed truck to tow it), and there could be more damage that I just cant see or that her does not know about yet. But no leaking that he could see and it starts which is surprising.

Please say a prayer that the car is not totaled. I cannot afford a car payment right now!

I am ok. A little sore as I braced myself with my arms as I hit and ran over the bike. My back is tensing up a bit and I did not go to class but I will tomorrow. I cant move very comfortably but I know I am not injured, just tense muscles. I will soak in the tub later and right now I have a heating pad on the sore spots.

I hope everyone elses day is going better!

A couple small updates...

April 5th, 2011 at 03:02 am

Saturday was a no spend day.

Sunday I went to Ikea and used part of the returned gift card for two pillows and a mirror. I hope the mirror works because I want a couple more! For 14 dollars, it is an inexpensive way to decorate a dark living room. Having the mirrors reflect some light will be helpful in lightening up this apartment. Who knew they were so inexpensive at Ikea? Unfortunately, my friend who bought a lamp has to return it as it does not work. We have had some crappy luck with Ikea and have decided, other than the mirrors, to not shop there any more. I like a lot of their furniture but the colors never match anything else and it feels like you have to get everything from their lines to make a room work. Does anyone else feel this way? I don't like that as I have some beautiful furniture from family (very old and beautiful) and nothing at Ikea even fits the color scheme. So...two more mirrors, two more pillows, all on the gift card, then I think I am done.

Sunday was also grocery shopping day. I spent $54 and some change when I had $55 to spend. Perfect! And I got everything on my list except a battery for my flash light. It takes a very large one I have yet to find. But I have $10 set aside for it when I find it as that is my emergency preparedness money this month.

Monday also no spend day. Well...I drove to a meeting and had to pay for parking but I get reimbursed for that so to me it is a no spend day. Have to go to meetings for work, can't say no to that! So...Tues-Thursday should be no spend days, too. I usually don't spend money Mon-Thursday because from work I go to the PE classes then home.

Oh, I may need to get gas sometime this week so one of them may be a spend day after all. Darn! But Maybe I can make it to when we are heading out of town Friday morning.

...Little update for the beginning of April...

April 3rd, 2011 at 01:29 am

I updated my side bar with the debt pay off amounts I did yesterday.

CVS had a great sale on Olay products this week, buy one get one free. I really like one of their products but at $20 a pop I make it last two months. I bought one several weeks ago when I had coupons, CVS money, it was on sale, etc. and paid $12. Yesterday I bought 1 for $20 and got the second free so I am good for about 6 months of so. They also had the granola/finer bars I like B1G1F but they had none of the flavors like so I got a rain check for 8 boxes total. That would see me through several months.

I paid all the bills for the month yesterday while eating lunch. I also got the cash for the week.

A friend of mine is coming to visit Thursday-Monday and to surprise our third friend for her birthday. We wanted to celebrate it while she is in town so we are taking her to SF for the weekend. I made reservations at a hostel to stay Friday and Saturday nights. We will hike a bit Friday and have dinner in Sausalito then go into the city on Saturday and fool around for a while. It will be nice to be together again for a few days. We will return Sunday.

Finally lost a pound this week! I have been the exact same weight for the past three weeks and it was getting irritating. I track and weigh everything I eat and work out pretty hard four days a week but a small plateau was apparently in the works for me.

I am doing nothing today. Am not leaving the house, am spending some time shredding old papers from those boxes my mom brought down. Years worth of bank statements dating back to 1992 were shredded last night and I have other stuff to shred today. Three large garbage bags full! The shredder gets to hot from running and I have to let it cool for 30 minutes or so. So I get to work on that for 15 minutes then move on to cleaning for Vs visit on Thursday.

I am going to Ikea tomorrow to look at under the bed storage options. I am afraid of the apartment getting flooded (always a fear of mine and it has happened once in the 18 months I lived here. It would have been worse if I had not been home.) so I want some plastic bins for under the bed and I have the credit for returning the rusting silverware so that is what it may get used for. I also need a couple of pillows for the guest bed as I have none.

End of March Update

March 29th, 2011 at 02:10 am

So spending for March has gone pretty well.

I made a major decision this month to pull money out of my emergency fund and pay off most of the credit card debt. I just dont want it hanging over my head any longer and it will be faster to recoup the money into my emergency fund than it would be to pay off the debt. I would still have about $7k in savings and that is a little less than three months emergency money. I am working up to having 1 year in the bank of all expenses then I will begin saving for a down payment again.

I will be paying off the Eldo card, the Chase card, the Amex that has about $500 and about $3500 of the PNC card. All together I am paying off $7876 in debt and will have the rest of it paid off by February 2012 at the latest.

I am so glad to be paying off the debt. It has been weighing on my mind for the past few years and I just decided that I want it gone.

I am still saving for the vacation in November or December. We have finally decided on Singapore and Bali for about 11 days. I am excited for the trip but really excited because I will get to see my friend Mina in Singapore who I have not seen in 6 years. So exciting! I have not traveled for the past few years and I am looking forward to the trip.

Our union vote regarding the proposed contract between the state and our union is out in the mail. We should find out the first week of April if it has passed or not. This contract means 3% more paid by me to my retirement and a personal furlough day each month meaning I am giving up 4.6% each month. They also upped the maximum pay at the top step by 3%. There are a few other provisions of course but that is the bulk of the changes. I am glad that I will get money back into my paycheck with Aprils time period.

I have money left in my grocery spending for March and if I need nothing at the store in the next couple of days I will use part of it for emergency food build up and part for picking up a couple of items at CVS that are on sale.

Emergency Kit Preparations, blog one

March 24th, 2011 at 09:43 pm

This is the first in a series of blog posts as I prepare my tiny apartment and myself for a disaster.

The recent events in Japan have made it clear to me that my reserve food stores are very, very low. I could last a couple of days but not for long if an event prevented me from shopping.

I went to the dollar store this week armed with $15 to see what my money could provide me. I bought:
8 cans of Campbells soup
2 cans of Del Monte crushed pineapple
2 50 foot Reynolds aluminum foil (great for cooking on BBQ if needed.)

I spent a total of $12 plus tax for the foil.

I plan to take $10 per week from the grocery budget to the dollar type store and see what I can find for my emergency food supplies. Yes, I am a name brand snob. These are products I know and use all the time, some of the off label brands are brands of which I have never heard. So I will start trying one a week to see it I like it, I can add it to the emergency kit the next time. I am also trying to make three nutritious meals and a snack a day.

Now I have come up with a creative solution to the storage of these products, I think. If I move the couch in my living room for ward two feet I can place totes there for storage. Two totes on top of each other reach the height of the couch back and I can place four totes total behind the couch. I plan to put a board (stained to look like a table) on top of the totes and place a couple nick knacks there. Well, at least it is an idea for storage, lets see if it will work.

I live in 700 square feet of space with only one closet (in the bedroom) which is currently holding items I am moving from my small storage locker. I am slowly going through the storage stuff and I plan to get rid of the locker by the end of June, at the latest. The locker is 5x5 so really it is just a closet and I have had a deal of $10 a month because my mom had a locker there, too. Of the 13 boxes I have sorted so far I have kept only 4 (repacked) boxes. Most of the stuff I kept are items from my grandmothers estate. If I have not used the stuff in the locker in 5 years, then I know most of it will be donated, recycled or tossed. I believe there are 4 boxes of books that I will take to the book store for credit as soon as they are brought down.

The $2 plus change I did not use for this challenge: the two dollar bills will go to my emergency fund of $1 bills and the change went to my change challenge. I counted the change over the weekend and I have almost $80 in change. In May, I will take the change to the branch of my bank that has the free coin star machine and make a deposit into my emergency fund. I usually save about $330 a year in coins so this is less than normal.

I made a list over the weekend of items I need as part of my emergency kit that I currently do not have so I will begin looking at the dollar type stores and sales to slowly grow my kit.

...little bit of saving, little bit of spending.

March 19th, 2011 at 08:56 pm

I have wanted a popcorn popper and a new toaster for the past year or so. I was given a toaster for Christmas when I moved into the apartment but it stopped staying down when depressed about six months in. I stand at the counter and hold the switch down to toast bread and I am tired of it. The original cost of the toaster (because the giver told me) was $5 from target. I ran there Friday after work hoping I could find the same one or similar for the same cost. I found a similar one for $6.25 and bought that. This morning I discovered that the bread I buy (high fiber bread from orowheat) does not fit. The holes are to small to fit a regular piece of bread so I am taking it back today and buying the next cheapest which I believe was $10.

I also have wanted a popcorn popper for years. I dont like the microwave popcorn with all the additives. And when I have been making it on the stove top with a little oil I keep burning it and am frustrated so I want a popper. I like just plain popcorn with a little butter and salt or other flavoring depending upon a craving. SoI went looking for one and found it for $20. I will try it out today for a snack. I love popcorn as a snack in the weekends, and even when I am at work. So I am very happy to have found the only popper in the store.

I did grocery shopping while I was at target instead of heading to Winco after class Monday night. Winco is about 12 miles from my house so I shop there when I am in the area. I didnt have plans to go to that area until Monday for class so just picked up some stuff at Target instead. I actually found some great deals on things on my list (I always shop with a list and only buy those items) so I stocked up on a couple favorite granola bar type things and a couple other items. I was a little over on the spending money I had for groceries so I put a little on my AMEX card. I transferred money to pay it off today and will make the payment on Tuesday. I save money each month (about $20) for things I need for the apartment (cleaning supplies, sponges, swiffer pads for cleaning the floors, small appliances like my toaster) so there was plenty of money to cover the cost or the purchase in my household account.

The weather here is very windy and very rainy today and will be for the next 10 or so days. There are some concerns about flooding in the area. Tomorrow is supposed to be the worst day wind wise. I need to go to CVS which is just a about a mile from my apartment so I will walk over and pick up a couple things that are on sale. And I have a coupon for 20% off the whole order so I am very happy. It also gets me a little exercise today when I am not feeling like going to the gym or doing anything else today.

No Spend days, emergency planning

March 13th, 2011 at 05:00 am

In the past I sometimes struggled not to spend money every day: parking, gas, food, whatever.

Since I moved out 18 months ago from the house I shared with two horrible housemates I have changed so much, and have so much less stress in my life. I bring my lunch to work about 95% of the time. If I don't I go home for lunch as I live less than two miles away. No spending there.

I have class at the college for two fitness courses four nights a week so I pack a dinner most days as well to eat before going to work out for 90 minutes. No spending there as there is no time!

Most Fridays I come home from work exhausted from a long work/class week and don't go out with friends much. Sometimes I do, but if I do I meet them for a drink, (usually at a place with free appetizers) and leave when they begin talking about ordering dinner. I just choose not to spend money on food when I have full cabinets, can cook well, eat healthier, lower sodium, higher nutrient food at home.

Saturdays is homework/house cleaning/running errands day. So planned spending is the only spending on that day.

I do my grocery shopping on Sunday. I pay cash for everything that is not a fixed expense (my weekly allowance/gas/groceries) so I always go off a list. I shop at the grocery store, target, the grocery outlet occassionally.

On a whole other topic related to our wallets:

I work in emergency management and used to teach disaster preparedness courses. This earthquake and resulting tsunami has reminded me that my emergency kit is not up to snuff since I moved. Not even close. I don't even have water anymore! This weekend I am going to be shopping for the few emergency supplies that I absolutely need. I sorted out what I do have today when cleaning out the closet and know what I need.

Reader poll:

How many of you have at least 3 days of easily prepared food and water for your families?

How many people know that with careful planning you could build an emergency kit for your families without spending extra money to do so? (another blog post coming.)

Do you know what you need for your family?

Do you know what you would grab if you had 15 minutes to evacuate? A list prepared of the items to take and where they are located that is easy to get to?

Saved $40 a month!!

March 11th, 2011 at 05:49 am

I have been contemplating cancelling my cable service for several months as most of the shows I watch I can see online.

I called today to cancel and AT&T offered me such a good deal, for the tv service and the internet, that I decided to keep it for a while longer. I did discover that with the new package a couple of channels I watch are not allowed but they are found online, and so are their shows, so it works for me.

The internet service is faster and cheaper by $5 a month. The total cost is now half of what it was prior to me calling. Why did I not do this months ago? I may still cancel over the summer and save the $39 a month, but we will see how this goes for now.


Also, our union has reached a tentative deal with the state. The union board is voting on it tomorrow. If they approve, members vote. If members approve then it is done once the assembly approves it. The union says it would be affectie April 1. That means my paycheck will increase ever so slightly. Every penny helps since they have been taking almost $1000 a paycheck for two years with three furloughs a month.

In July my step increase comes through. I can get rid of one CC by November and the other by this time next year. No more debt!! (Well student loans will be around for a long time.) Good timing as I need to start saving for a newer car/down payment. I hope my car lasts for another 4 years. That would be the best scenario.

I forgot how much I love the dollar store!

March 8th, 2011 at 05:20 am

I needed/wanted a couple of things for my apartment. One was something to hold all the plastic tupper ware type bowls and lids that have been floating around my apartment since I moved in. I have been watching the dollar aisle at target but not seen anything that would be large enough to warrant spending a dollar. And I go there only once a month, if that, so I was probably missing something.

So Sunday I made my grocery list and decided to stop by the dollar store to see it they had what I was looking for. And they did! I got two collapsible cloth boxes for a dollar and they fit perfectly! I also found the dish soap I like for a dollar (usually around 350 per at taret) so I bought four. Those will last quite a while. I also found cocoa mix, nestle, and a couple other things all for under 10.00! I forgot how great it can be to shop there! Must remember in the future!

Then I went grocecry shopping for just a couple of items I needed for the week, and for the freezer. I am so stoked about the dollar finds!

Wow it has been a while...

March 6th, 2011 at 05:42 am

It has been over a year since I updated this blog. life got the best of me and I began working a lot, working out to lose some weight (down 55 pounds!), doing some consulting work, and using another website for health stuff that this one got pushed to the back burner. I hope to try and update it once a week as I work toward a goal of saving 2500 for a trip with a friend in November.

And I hope to get some more consulting work this year, too.

All the best to all of you!

Mileage Counts

April 2nd, 2010 at 04:08 am

Previously I had 98 and 56 miles.

Then I was sent on a business trip and had to drive 800 miles total in a week (last week.) but I am happy to say that I did not drive on any Friday or Saturday this month! Good old furlough came in handy. I don't spend money on Fridays unless it is absolutely necessary so....I feel good about that.

Deducting my commute is pointless because my commute is less then 3 miles every day.

Anyway, my mileage counts are 1219 for the month. about 800 more than usual. I want to try it this month but I have a week long trip for business I will be driving to because there is no airport to fly into that is cheaper. San Lis Obispo is beautiful but....hard to travel to. I need to be there for a week each of the next three months. Ugh.

I know my normal mileage was cut by about 40% and I am happy about that!

I also figured out that if we go back to our regular paychecks (and my 5% raise comes through) I could be cc debt free by March 2011. GOAL!

And if i stayed putting that same amont to my student loans I would be debt free in 3 years. BUT I cannot live like this for another three years so I am making my goal to pay off CC debt by March 2011 and student loans with in 6 years. That will still cut 24 years off their approximate payment schedule and cuts the interest by 88%. (my loan interest rate is 2.75% for the entire amount!)

March Car Less update and plants question

March 15th, 2010 at 10:34 pm

Carless challenge for March:

March 1-7 = 98 miles (but no driving on Friday/Saturday!)

March 8-14 = 56 miles (no driving Friday/Saturday/Sunday! Didn’t even leave my house!)

I also hope to begin walking to work now that it is not dark when I leave the office. I can only do it Tues/Thurs as I have class that I leave to go to right after work Mon/Wed until the end of May when I hope to begin walking to work every day. Friday has been my car less day since the state furloughs began 13 months ago. I also spend no money out of pocket that day. (although I use the washing machine (and sometimes the heat and dryer) that day and clean the apartment...)

I have $26 dollars from last weeks gas bill. I only have a ¼ of a tank but I am going to fill it tonight with that $26. I hope to put this weeks $35 in my vacation fund.

I have an interview for my dream job in June. I could have selected Washington DC or Chicago and chose Chicago so that I could also have a bit of a vacation and visit a friend who lives about 90 minutes outside in Michigan. Another friend from this area is going with me and the three of us plan to do very little but hang out together. In Chicago we are going to do the city architectural tour and have a nice dinner together.


I’d like to get some plants for my apartment and patio. Do any of you know what can grow in a north facing apartment with no direct sunlight beside fern? I am betting the chance to have flowering plants will be small as there is no direct sun. It is bright on my patio because the sun reflects from the pool area but no sun directly in the apartment.

End of the first month of 2010!

January 30th, 2010 at 07:07 am

Well the Bell's Palsy is slowly going away. I can almost close my eye completly and most of my taste buds are back. A few other things have improved as well. The doctor believes it should all be cleared up in the next couple of weeks.

It has been an expensive thing to fight though. I did 6 acupncture treatments and they are not cheap. I did not have enough in my "personal hsa" so it went on my credit card. I have no regrets about doing the treatments as I could feel a difference from the first session (tinglinh where there was no feeling otherwise) but I have upped my savings amounts for the monthly deposits into the personal HSA.

On other news I passed the personal naratives I needed to pass for the dream job! I received word Wednesday morning. So the next step is a day long series of personal interviews/exams. I will begin studying and preparing for this process this weekend. I can schedule this day sometime in Febrary but the exam process won't happen for several months. I am very curiuos how many people passed to the third part of the process but I am just focusing on what I need to do.

In other news I have slowed down the debt payments I was making in order to save extra money into my emergency fund. With the problems California is having with GAS and the budget issues I think having a little more in there is necessary.

There are threats that state employees are going to be paid Federal minimum wage beginning July 1 if there is not a budget. Federal minimum wage equals about $1200 a month and my expenses run about $1700 a month if it is bare bones and about $2000 if not. So...it is just a waiting game now.

At some point after the budget is passed we would get the back pay but we are warned to expect a larger amount taken out for txes than usual because it is paid in one lump sum.

Diagnosis: Bells Palsy

January 16th, 2010 at 01:51 am

I have been busy with work and house sitting and not had a lot of time to blog. Bt yesterday I eneded up in the Emergency Room.

The problem began yesterday when I could not keep a contact in my right eye wth out it drying up. I thought it was a bad box and opened another one. Finally got one to stay and went to work.

At about 3 pm I realized that contact was not staying wet with rewetting drops and took the contact out. It was then that I realized my eye was not closing all the way when I blinked. Then I noticed my right side of my face was a bit numb and weak and could not move very well kind of like being paralyzed.

One trip to the doctors who then sent me to the emergency room then to another emergency room when the first had a 14 hour wait and 42 patients in the lobby I found out I have Bells Palsy. It is caused by an inflamed set of nerves that connect to the face. It usually happens after a patient is getting over a virus within 2 to 4 weeks. I was sick at Christmas so I fit the time table. It feels a little bit like how a stroke patient would feel. The doctor was hopeful it will not progress to much because I came in less than 12 hours after the symptoms began.

It has caused me to not be able to blink my eye fully and I have to wear a patch over my eye for the next 10 days, have numbing and tingling, can’t really speak very well and I will be re-evaluated soon. If you have ever had Novocain at the dentist then you know a little about how this feels but it is not quite that potent and does not wear off. I am on steroids for about a week and I also had an acupuncture session this am. Some of the tingling is less and the eyes feels a little better but I can’t be sure yet.
It is a little scary to think I could face this for a long time as some times it lasts3-6 months and can be permanent in about 10% of cases.

If anyone has faced this, please drop me a note and let me know if there was anything that really worked for you.

I am hopeful the recovery will happen soon.

two more no spend days

December 11th, 2009 at 09:16 pm

Spending Log:
Dec 9: no spend day
Dec 10: no spend day

Today I need to do a litte grocery shopping, return a mattress to Ikea and get the right one, get gas, etc. so i till not be a no spend day.

Good and bad news: dinner with two girl friends was cancelled so no seeing them until after christmas but no spending done either and my fun money lives for another cople of days.

this weekend I have a party to celebrate dutch christmas and my nieces 23 birthday. I need to get her a gift and I am afraid I will have to hit the mals to get it. She was married a month ago so I think that I will pick up something off her registry at bed, bath and beyond or target or crate and barrel. something girly but sill good for their new life. Talk about easy gifts for the next few gift giving opportunities. I am excited about that!

It will be a quiet rainy weekend but I am glad for the rain. It is still cld here but not as much as it was earlier this week.

December 8, 09

December 9th, 2009 at 04:32 am

No spending Dec 7
No Spending Dec 8

I am freezing! The heat is on in the apartment but this apartment has bad insulation near the windows and very old windows. I can feel the cold seeping in. I am heading to bed in a few minutes after I put the chicken in the slow cooker to cook overnight.

It is just so weird for this city to be this cold.

Started my new weekly balance for this week today. I still have planty of groceries, gas and no plans to spend money until Friday when I might go catch a matinee. I need to start christmas shopping too. So far this month I am under budget by almost 7 dollars. Pretty good since I have been over budget for the past few months. I'll take it and hope that more savings will happen this month.

Sunday Dec. 6 2009

December 7th, 2009 at 05:31 am

Spending log:
groceries 38.68 (still have 6.32 in budget)
movies 10.00
lunch 12.92
gas 27.00

All spending from my budget. I had a coupon for the gas station for 2.00 off a ten gallon fill up so i paid 25 and got 27. It was just over three quarters of a tank and it should last for at least a week but if it doesn't i have a new gas amount available on the 8th.

I saw the movie the blind spot. Loved it! Well worth the afternoon at the movies and since I was gone and someplace warm I could turn the heat off at the apartment. It is freezing here and mom has gotten some snow. Roads will be clear but icy for her tomorrow. We are supposed to get between 2 and 4 inches of rain but I have not seen more than a couple drops on my windshield all day.

Grocery shopping after the movie. It was all planned for on my grocery shopping list although I probably didn't have to buy the ice cream sandwiches!

Work this week is four days and a furlough friday. I have a dr. appointment for what I believe to be a pinched nerve in my back that I have been struggling with for 7 weeks. It needs to go away!

Even with the spending today I am within my budgeted amounts for the week Dec 1-7. I have new amounts for the week the 8th - 14 that I will put in my purse tonght. This is the first time i have been under budget in about 5 months.

Saturday December 5th

December 6th, 2009 at 03:56 am

Spending log:
$21 of spending money. Had dinner out.

Quiet day. I watched some tele as I sorted through a box of stuff I just tossed into a box when I moved. Thank goodness I only did that with two small boxes! One box down, one to go.

Tomorrow I think I might go see a movie. I need to go grocery shopping before the week begins. I also need to do that return at ikea to get the right stuff for the chair.

I discovered that the bed is high enough with the new frame that the clearance will actually allow me to put the boxes i packed under there. The clearance is a little more than 11 inches so I will find a coupld under the bed storage boxes for items that do not fit in the smaller packing boxes and it should be good.

Oh, I passed the written exam i needed to for my dream job and wrote the personal narratives i needed to but i don't think they are strong enough to make it to the next part but i hope they might be!

December Budget and plans for 2010

December 5th, 2009 at 06:19 am

Spending log:
12/2 nothing
12/3 nothing
12/4 nothing furlough Friday. I stayed home in my apartment, watched some TV and some recorded items, laundry, cleaning, and putting away another box of the 10 or so I still have. I need some under the bed storage bins that I will pick up tomorrow when I return the wrong mattress at Ikea.

December Budget:
Rent 703
Spending/Fun 185
November Estimated electricity 75
November Natural gas 21.33 (less than I expected by about half!)
November Cable/internet 132.92
November Water/sewer/garbage estimate 40
Cell phones 125
IRA 50
Rental unit 10
Groceries 200
Donation to Care 15
Auto gas 125
Auto insurance savings 125
Auto repairs savings 100
Dentist bill 30 (1 of 2)
Netflix 15.21
Audible.com 14.95
Contacts savings 40
Chase 135
FIA 117
Amex 375
National 205
Car 150
Savings 1: 50
Savings 2: 50
Christmas 325

I have figured out what my grocery/fun/gas bills are for the weeks 1-7, 8-14, 15-21, 22-28 and 29-31 and enveloped them. The full weeks equal $115.16 for the grocery/fun/gas spending and the extra three days is 49.35 for the grocery/fun/gas expenses. (Daily money is groceries $5.96, fun $6.45, gas $4.03.)

I have yet to spend any money this month from my grocery/fun/gas budget. I will need to get gas tomorrow and might do some grocery shopping from the list of items I need for this next week and the meal planning I have done.

I am buying a treadmill from a colleague. She used it when she was recovering from knee surgery and has only put about 150 miles on it because as a runner she hated walking/running inside. It is in great condition and she said $150 and her husband will deliver it. It will have to go in my dining room area but I am excited about the possibility.

I have worked out my budget for 2010. If I stay on course with paying off debt instead of saving for a house I will have all but $2500 or so left and this is with the furlough days was have and the lost 15%. If the furloughs end in July 2010 and my raise takes effect that same month I could be completely credit card free by the end of November 2010. That is a nice feeling.

12/1 spending log

December 2nd, 2009 at 05:40 am

I wrote a long post about my expense plans for this next month and lost it so I am just ging to report spending for today:

12/1 took mom to lunch for $19.00

money, money, money, money.....money!

November 23rd, 2009 at 09:55 pm

The one thing that has surprised me about moving: I have saved some money.

I know I have spent a lot of money buying items for the apartment and it seems like everytime I go into a store I walk out with something but all that spending was planned for years (really, years).

What has surprised me is that the stress that was in my life is gone. Well, almost gone. My former land lord is dragging her feet about final payments, that I owe for “lost” silverware (interesting story see below.) but overall there is lots less stress I feel. That has translated into me not spending money. I have been eating at home, enjoying my peace and quiet and just loving the apartment. I have not bought fast food (which was a staple for a while when things were so bad, where I could buy almost every meal out Mon-Fri.)and buying groceries for the house that I someone have $500 left over this month. Yes, I know that there is still a week to go but with only a couple of items needed at the store, it will be nice to end the month with money in the bank. I have not bought fast food since i moved on the third.

As for the lost silverware story…in my lease there is a clause that says the flatware she uses belonged to her mother and has sentimental value. She tells us that when a house mate moves in and out a count is done and all the house mates put money toward the flatware purchase. She told me my third of the flatware bill is around $300. I questioned that and asked for the inventories that “were completed upon my move in, when MC left and when BC moved in and when I left but especially when MC left because I have no record of having to pay her money for a purchase.” She has no inventories from previous times. NONE. She just ways that this is what is owed by me for my time in the house. Um, excuse me?

I then asked my former housemate MC what she had to pay because I have no records of having to pay anything when MC left. MC sad that she didn’t have to pay anything. LL never did the count and told her she owed anything. So…LL is saying I owe $300…and I say no, if you can’t prove what I owe, why do I need to pay this amount? She said I am calling her a liar. Yep. Sure am.

Oh, did I mention that MC fond two spoons and a couple other pieces in her stuff when she moved (over a year ago) that she JUST returned to LL? No mention of this from LL, no change in what I owe to her. MC also mentioned other items that she did not have to do: shampoo the carpets, extreme cleaning, etc, etc.

If LL refuses to give me back my $450 security deposit because of this I am going to file papers and take her to small claims court. She can’t stick me with the bill just because I am leaving and she is pissed that things are not going her way. She was pissed I gave 30 days notice then moved out on the 3rd. I paid for the month and the utilities. What does it matter when I moved out? With the wedding, dad’s visit, moms heart stuff and work stuff it was the time line that worked for me. There is no way I could have moved the week of Thanksgiving, this week. I had a long scheduled stay-cation that worked with the coupon I had from the moving company. And LL tried to say that I never shampooed the carpets or returned two items that got “shuffled” into my kitchen items. I returned them last week and spent chatting 20 minutes with the neighbor who liked me. I asked him to witness the drop off of the key to the mail shoot and the drop off of the items. LL said I owed her XX dollars for the stuff. I said I dropped it off , oh and did I mention that R says hello, we had a lovely chat when he escorted me onto the patio and stood there as I dropped all of it off. Ha! HA! I am SOOOOO GLAD I am gone!

I really hope that I get the chance to take her to court. She brags about how she has taken former housemates to court and always won. Let’s see her win this time, especially with the comments and email from MC.

And being able to control the heat/ac is nice too! I use lap blankets and wear layers in the winter. I hope my bill is less than $40 for the month each month! I am waiting for my first bill to come for electric and hot water.

<< Newer EntriesOlder Entries >>