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Work from home today

February 20th, 2015 at 09:48 pm

I worked from home today because I had to call a plumber for the hot water heater and garbage disposal.

The call is under the home warranty given to me for three years with the purchase of the house. The hot water heater does not stay hot and looses quite a bit of heat. Within 6 minutes it is luke warm. The garbage disposal kicks up rust and the safety cover is a replacement and not protective. Both of them will be replaced next week. I only pay $50 total for both. Warranty hires the plumber and they process everything including the city permit. Of course I get copies of everything.

I spoke with the home inspector who'd said it would go within a year. He was surprised it lasted less than a week. He had not noticed the issue with the disposal but it also is not covered under his inspection stuff as it is not required by appraisal or bank issues.

The loan I have requires a home warranty for at least three years and I worked that into the request from the sellers so I am covered for three years. I am not worried I know things will go and I will always call the warranty company first if it is something I cannot figure out on my own. Fifty dollars a call is not bad and I can fit as many issues under one call as I want as long as they are related: appliances, plumbing, electrical or something else. The warranty was the platinum one because the loan required certain things to be covered and only this one covered what they wanted plus about 30 more things.

I tracked down the manuals for the sprinkler system and the thermostat this week so tomorrow I will reprogram both. City is not requiring watering on specific days yet but the county says odd numbered houses are Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. I will stick to those days and only 2 days a week for only very limited times. With the lack of water and snow this year they will eventually say no watering.

I am attending a rainy barrel installation course next weekend. For $20 I get the lesson, lunch, and two 65 gallon rain barrels! (A colleague is going but doesn't want blue barrels and is giving me hers.) I checked, you can paint the outside so I will with the house paint I have in the garage to match the house.

I wish I'd had them installed two weekends ago - they would be full already. It was a monster storm and according to research 1 inch of rain off a 1000 sq ft house is enough to fill two 65 gallon barrels. My house is 1500 sq ft so I could have easily filled three or perhaps four with that rain storm. I plan to fill with rain water but also water from the shower that has to run to warm up in the am. Saving as much as possible for the yard without using extra water.

In at the New House

February 15th, 2015 at 08:39 pm

I moved into the new house on Thursday. It was an all day affair with the movers. I had a coupon from a home owners website that offered 10% off with the moving company I chose (they will pay 10% of the cost to the company) which was one of the thank you gifts from my mortgage company. They started the move at 845 am and finished with everything in the house at 615 pm. Was a very long day.

Then the driver didn't want to accept the coupon even though I had a confirmation from the owner that they accept it. He hemmed and hawed and I finally picked up the phone and called the owner emergency line. He called right back and suddenly didn't remember saying yes. I had the email confirmation and sent it to him to "jog his memory" about the conversation. I finally said accept the coupon or instruct your drivers to repack and reload all my stuff back to the house-then the move never took place. They accepted the coupon. All it means is they call the home buying company, give them my 15 digit code and immediately get the10% paid to them. It does nothing for them but saved me $80.

I have spent the past few days unpacking and moving things around the way I want them. I bought a desk/table yesterday that I love. It is a small table built in 1860s used at a library. It has three drawers a large working area and plenty of space. It will hold all my work times and my printer and still give me space to work. Love it! Offered half price and asked for free delivery and they agreed. :-)

Today I received an email from Home Depot that the items I had "put in my shopping cart" three weeks ago were on sale. They were the same ones I purchased at Lowes on Feb 1. I looked at the prices, saw they were $100 cheaper for the washer and dyer each, and called Lowes for a price adjustment and they gave me their current prices which was $1.20 cheaper than Home Depot. :-) So I got back a little of over $225 on my credit card.

Then I asked them about a 10% off coupon from my home buyers welcome gift that I forgot to use. After some discussions back and forth the appliance manager agreed to do it if I brought in the coupon tomorrow. That will be another $270 back as well. In total I will have received $3790 worth of refrigerator/washer/dryer for about $1900 after all is said and finished. Not bad I think. And I got the refrigerator I really wanted for $1300 on sale instead of $2300. I never would have paid $2300 it just happened to be on sale on their website and a local store had the same model.

I will not be buying anything for e house for a while.

Taxes were sent to my accountant and I have an appointment in a couple weeks to review with her and push the button on submission to IRS and state. I know there is a bunch coming back.

To Do List for new house

February 1st, 2015 at 03:20 pm

List of items for new house:
Re-key house DONE
Garage door opener installed DONE
Select garage code DONE
Air filter
Lights in hallway changed
Bulbs in hallway changed
Figure our switches in master
Bulbs in bathrooms changed
Dining room light fixture changed
Refrigerator DONE
Washing machine DONE
Dryer DONE
Washing machine pan DONE
Leak in water system
Program sprinkler system to match city schedule
Security system
Measure floors
Cleaning carpets DONE
Movers scheduled/moved DONE
Cleaning house DONE
Rebuild garage shelving
Hot water heater 2/25/2015
Replace ceiling fans
Roof issue 6 cracked tiles
Replace door to garage
Replace master bath shower thing
Buy tv mounts and Mount tvs
Sell ceramic animals from back yard
Transfer utilities: gas, electric, sewer, garbage, water DONE
Move master bath door
Table in entry way
New electrical outlet covers with night lights integrated
Scrape stars off ceiling DONE
Remove bathroom border and fake crown molding
Paint laundry room
Paint guest bath
Guest bath towel holders
Flooring throughout house
Lock for outside power cabinet
Laundry room drying rack possible?
Cancel renters insurance. DONE AND DEPOSITED REFUND
Move ATT services DONE
Dryer wool balls need 4 more
Chimney cleaning
Hallway light coverings
Pantry redesign
Window coverings
A add French doors off living room haha, years from now
Change sliding doors to French doors
Re do "brick patio" off living room
Laundry room light fixture
Porch light fixture front and back
Buy lawn mower
Fence and gate replacement
Find and buy desk for office DONE
Replace garbage disposal 2/25/2015

EDITED / UPDATED FEBRUARY 15, 2015, FEBRUARY 20, 2015

T-minus 45 minutes to go!

January 20th, 2015 at 03:23 pm

Oh my, in just about 45 minutes I am signing for a house. My first ever. I haven’t gotten excited about this yet because I am overwhelmed (a little) with the amount of things I have to do before I move into the house.

The list is a mile long and tonight I may type it up so that I can have it easy access someplace. It will keep me accountable on what I have to do and what money I spend.

My family is going to dinner at Red Robin to celebrate. I told this this is the last of my spending for a while let’s go someplace nice, haha! Then I remembered I have a gift card for there so…dinner is covered.

After dinner I am going to look at a console table someone posted on a local FB page. It was originally $400+ and they are selling it for $75. It look nice, only a year or so old and they would move it for me Saturday to the new house. It will sit in the window area of the living room with a lamp on it. I use timers in my current apartment for lights to make it look like I am home because I am so often house sitting.

My agent sent me a note that I was smart to stand my ground with them completing items off the pest report because more things were found once they took off the decorative finial. Nothing major, but it was another $700 to repair that the sellers were responsible for, not me! And I spoke with the company today who completed the work, there is a guarantee on the work and he said no other problems were found. And he sent me the before and after pictures for my records and the list of completed work. Nice guy.

I can’t believe how fast it has come together.

One step closer

January 13th, 2015 at 07:51 pm

We are one step closer on the home purchase front. They agreed today to do the pest work and give me credit for three other small things. I was not going to buy the house without them doing the pest report, not even taking the credits at closing, as they could have discovered something more for which I would have been on the hook.

They also agreed to the home warranty as the heater is 18 years old (ac is two years old). They also bought an enhanced warranty as opposed to the basic one. When I asked my agent said that is the one they wanted me to have. The enhanced covers much more than the the other one that is usually purchased. Either then
Y are very kind or they know more things are going to break. I am going with kind. My agent also throws in $100 as a gift to each buyer toward the warranty so that helps them a little, too.

Now I wait for the work to be completed in the next few days and then the loan will fund. I should be closing sometime in 14 days or so. Then the fun really begins with the packing, cleaning, cleaning the floors etc so I can move in.

I am using a professional company to clean the house before move in and cleaning the carpeting. I may still get painting done before I move on, not sure yet.

My mom has graciously offered to "babysit" my house when work needs to be done in the next few weeks. She said since I don't have kids and she has babysat all my nieces and nephews this could be the way she can help me.

So much to think about.

Wow so much going on and 2015 budgets

January 6th, 2015 at 05:56 pm

So when last I wrote I had made an offer on a house. They accepted.

I had the inspection on the 23rd and it showed very few problems. The major 4 were: 3 cracked tiles on the roof and flashing loose, no screen door off kitchen, the fire door between garage and house was made insecure when they put in a peephole and a gate is very loose.

I am waiting for the roof inspector to give an estimate on replacing those 3 tiles but then I am going to ask for all of those and the items from the past report (a few pieces of dry rot) to be repaired. I already know they will do all on the pest report.

I have been trying to plan a budget around the mortgage payment, expected income from my FT job and known expenses. I called the gas and electric companies for an estimate of what the current bill averages have been for the past year. I know sewer/water/garbage rates every month. I have estimates made for the next year worth of expenses. Any estimates that come in under will be swept into a house account for those months when things are higher or for repairs or things I want for the house.

We are getting a raise in July of 3%. 1% automatically goes into retirement as mandated by the union contract but the other 2% will go into my 401k and 457. I don't need it so easy way to save more for retirement.

I need to buy a refrigerator, washer, dryer and am looking at replacing the water heater before I move in. I'd love to replace all the flooring but that just can't happen before I move in - it lowers my reserves beyond what I am comfortable.

I plan to rent one of the extra rooms for either $450 plus half the utilities or $600 even (which should be just about the same). I am hoping to put new carpet the extra room I want to rent out and with fresh paint it would look very nice. Since it is a smaller room I might be able to do it with just a remnant.

I called a friend who is a contractor and asked if he has any crew members who want to pick up some extra cash and paint the inside of the house. He said yes there are. Once I have the keys we will go and buy paint and all they need to paint the inside of the house for me before I move in. It should take 2 days or less. I am thinking white for most of the house, a dark blue accent in the kitchen walls as very little shows but would make the kitchen pop, and gray in the living room-dining room.

I have received my first housesitting payment of 2015. It was for drop in care on 12/31 and the morning of 1/1. I am waiting for another payment more from this client for this past weekend, another clients payment for three days the last week of the year. I am currently on a house sit that will pay enough for the dryer I need to buy for the house.
I have several other drop in care appointments this month. So I will more than meet my goal of $700 earned this month - 11 months to go!

I have been pulling together all my tax papers for the business. I pay all my memberships, insurances, business license, po box etc. in December so it makes it easy to put into my tax papers once I print out all the receipts. I do my paperwork monthly for mileage and income so all I need to do is finish Decembers mileage report, hit print on the reports and the year is done. Once I get my w2 from my employer I can send it all to the accountant.

Offer on a house today

December 21st, 2014 at 06:58 pm

I made an offer on a house today. I saw it yesterday and liked it a lot. It is about 1600 sf. It is a little larger than I planned but it has a nice lay out.

It is three beds-two baths-two car garage. You enter into a formal living/dining room type situation and directly behind that is the kitchen. There is a small room off the kitchen with a fireplace that some homeowners have made into a dining room but I want to make it a small family-tv room. There is an eat in kitchen area small but workable.

The master bed room actually has a sitting area as part of the room. I will set up my treadmill and tv area there. Also it can hold my desk and filing cabinet.

One room is nice sized and I think I will be renting it out. The other room is a good size but it has French doors that open off the little family room area. I think it would be difficult to rent it out but may try to find someone. I would also be open to one renter renting both of those rooms a bed room and an office.

In this area you can charge more for access to park in the garage and I am considering that but not sure yet. There is a laundry room pass through to the garage.

The yard is nice sized but not huge. There is a small grassy area but it is not huge. There are two areas of patios. right off the kitchen and master bedroom. There is a nice area for a spice-herb garden right off the kitchen.

I like that the master bedroom has such a nice sized sitting area. I can hang out in the room working or watching tv and not impacting a renter or being impacted by a renter.

I need to buy a refrigerator, washer and dryer and I think a microwave. I can't remember if there is one. We asked for them to leave the gas stove.

I would love to rip out the carpet and put in wood flooring and tile instead of linoleum in the kitchen and baths and laundry room. I will tackle small projects as I have the money saved and will not add any extra debt.

All it really needs is to have the (newer) carpet cleaned and a whole house cleaning and then I could move in.

We made our offer the strongest we could but also know there are several other offers coming in tomorrow. I won't go into a bidding war-if I don't get it so be it. There will be another house down the road.

Oh my. What will the next couple of days hold?

Little Updates on Me

November 19th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I am going to try and be better about blogging even if just a little note each day.

There was no spending done Saturday and Sunday as I stayed home and made candles for Christmas. I am ready for some holiday movies to keep my company as I work. Hope they start on the tv soon.

I received a payment on Monday night from a house sitting client $127. She asked about drop in services for several days next week that I hope will come through.

Have Friday night scheduled next week as well for another client. I was already paid for it (she has two nights on credit) when she paid me for a house sit and came home two days early. She didn't want a repayment so she has a two night credit.

I have scheduled weeks of house sitting in March, April, May and July for another client. She wanted to confirm before she bought tickets. Each week scheduled is great for me!

All money goes to 2016 business expenses first (about $1000/year), IRA payments and then to house down payment savings and maybe a little for a vacation in 2015. I never took one in 2014.

I am getting the cold that is going through the office. I was so tired last night I fell asleep during the news, woke up at 730 made dinner and cleaned the kitchen and went back to bed. I am hoping to work from home Thursday and Friday on my major project.

I was also freezing last night when I got home even with the electric lap blanket. I turned on the little oil filled radiator heater to warm the apartment. It was on for two+ hours but on low and just enough to take the chill off. With the blanket I was good.

I was hoping to last until December 1 without the heater. With making candles this weekend I need it to be about 70 degrees in the apartment. It wasn't that warm this past weekend and I kept having problems with the candles so I may move the heater into the kitchen this weekend.

Have you turned on your heaters? Are you making gifts for Christmas this year?


Saving money off my monthly budget

November 17th, 2014 at 02:15 pm

I just shaved about $140 from my monthly bills and $145 from my yearly.

I have not had time to call regarding my cell and cable accounts in months because I have to call during business hours. I've worked so much that I never had time to sit and speak with someone for the length of time I knew it would take (which ended up being 67 minutes because I was on hold for 34).

I called first about my cable bill asking how I could lower the bill without sacrificing any services. She asked a few questions about the tv channels we watch, movies streamed, etc. Her first offer was ok but I asked her the - is that the best you can do question and she was able to take my previous bill of $155 (including taxes) a month to $84 a month (plus about 10 in taxes - estimated right now) saving $61 a month.

Then we had a good conversation about texting and the elderly and she mentioned her mother who is 87 needs to learn but none of them can convince her so I gave her some tips including for emergencies and how my mother uses it to keep in touch with grandkids. She loved that and said let me see what I can do for your phone bill! At this point I was so happy I said sure!

She was able to reconfigure our non-contract account to be $84 from $160 for two phones. She cut it in half and the account gives us unlimited talk and texting, unlimited international texting (handy with lots of friends abroad), a free hot spot access (for both phones for no extra charge), 5 gigs a month (instead of the 2 we were getting) and more!

I asked how this was going to affect me when I purchase a new phone in January or February. She said - it won't affect it at all, if you purchase your phone outright and stay off the contract. I was floored! She said it is a little known secret that you can purchase your phone outright and stay off contract thus saving money. I planned to just purchase a phone anyway and was considering going to another service without a contract but keeping our numbers but my mother's neighbors have used several and said it is not great coverage for the hills in which they live. This will allow me to keep all my services, coverage and save some money.

Then I called my insurance company as it is up for renewal this month and asked what the best they could do for my renter's policy. I had quotes from several other companies and was able to shave $55 off my coverage without changing anything.

I called a new credit card and got a yearly fee returned and as long as I auto pay something every month for a year it will not be added on next year. I just set up my cell and cable bills to auto pay - I pay them every month anyway – and I am earning 4 times points because of the auto pay. Saved $95 and am earning points!

The amount saved for the month is $140 (times 12) is $1680 + $55 for insurance + $95 = $1830 saved for the next year. I immediately went into my 401k and 457 accounts and set up the new contributions to equal $1800 in new contribution amounts for 2015!

New position possible?

May 19th, 2014 at 11:14 am

I am actively looking to leave the job I have loved for 6 years. I just can’t stand it anymore. Things never get resolved, poor management, no support for staff, bickering between managers has staff put in awkward places, managers who don’t do their work as managers means staff is coming and going at any hours they want or “telecommuting” but never are available via phone or email, no accountability and those of us who are here, do our work, are professional get dumped on with more work assigned.

I actually applied for a new job in the same field in Colorado. I am investigating the moving process of getting my personal items from California to Denver, looking for a new place to live, looking at the lifestyle and how the Denver metro are feels. I know I will rent an apartment for the first year. Must have parking and be a two bedroom because of the work from home opportunities since the position can travel up to 75%. After the first year I may rent a house or buy a small condo. It depends on how things are going and how I survive the first winter. Haven’t had a real winter since my time in Vermont for grad school. There was a ton of snow and I hated shoveling it. But much less snow in Denver than Vermont!

In 1998 I moved to Vermont after never having been there for grad school. I loved it. I would have stayed had I found a job in Vermont or Massachusetts. I am up for a new adventure and moving to Colorado sounds exciting and a new job sounds even better.

Does anyone have any experience in Denver? Know the area? Recommendations on where to live or avoid (that is my big question currently)? If I get the job I will drive my car there and they also are providing a car because they position can travel up to 75% time during major events and emergencies. I am excited about the possibility. More money, better benefits, small office, travel, work from home or in an office as I am the only one from the head agency there and assigned a region. Anyway, if anyone has any experience in Colorado, I’d love to know!

Work out goal and Financial thoughts

March 4th, 2014 at 10:08 pm

March 4th: workout 62 minutes 2 miles on treadmill.
Total miles: 4.33
Total time: 130 minutes

And I realized I still had over $120 left over in my transportation jar from last month. I may be able to save the $140 I allocated for March. Will need it for a vacation around July 4th to the coast to spend time with friends from high school and their families. We are all going to rent a house together and spend the week. It will be such a good time!

Goals for March - Fitness, nutrition, travel and money

March 2nd, 2014 at 07:30 pm

Fitness Challenge goals:
20 workouts during the month to equal 30 miles walked.

No eating out starting Ash Wednesday. The only exception is the business trip I am taking beginning Saturday the 22 and ending Thursday the 27th. Although for business trips I usually go to the grocery store and buy yogurt, high fiber bread, PB, jelly, fruit, carrots, sometimes juice boxes. Trying to follow the lent plan but it is also difficult when traveling.

I pack my lunch bag, ice blue frozen things to freeze in the room refrigerator, and zip lock bags. I make mu lunch in the hotel room and take to the meeting or training sites. It saves me money and I can control better the nutrition for breakfast and lunch. For dinner I join my colleagues or friends who live in the area or have yogurt and fruit. It also helps me on my weight loss goals.

On my trip last month my colleague got us access to the concierge room (he travels 160+ nights a year and only stays in one hotel brand when he can and has major points). It provided us breakfast and coffee each morning and appetizers, drinks and snacks each evening. I went for appetizers once and that was my dinner. It was more than enough. He has arranged it again for the next two trips. A hot breakfast of eggs and an English muffin and coffee is a great way to start the day, after going to the gym.

Work out logs:
March 2 Am workout 1.33 miles in 40 minutes, and PM 1 mile in 30 minutes.

Total: 2.33 miles

Work out 1 down

March 2nd, 2014 at 06:16 pm

I joined Ceejays March fitness challenge. Goes along with my no eating out challenge that begins Wednesday for Lent.

I walked on the treadmill for 40 minutes this morning. It equaled 1.33 miles. The plantar fasciitis is bothering me a lot in my left foot but I want to walk another 1.5 miles during the Oscars. Getting ready to get on the treadmill again. I would have
walked outside this morning but it was raining and cold.

Waiting for my March paycheck to hit so I can pay bills. Ugh. Hate it when the state pays on a Friday. It doesn't show up until Monday.

Emergency Preparedness 22 Week Schedule and Planning ideas

January 8th, 2014 at 09:00 pm

Another blog entry today mentioned emergency preping in 52 weeks. That lead me to a brain dump and some ideas for how to prepare in 22 weeks, to be repeated as necessary until enough food, water and supplies for a minimum of 7 days.

Emergency Preparedness Purchase List for Disaster Preparedness Kit

First, be creative with where the purchases are made: thrift stores for storage solutions, dollar/99 cents stores for flashlights, first aid supplies, batteries, canned goods, candles, matches, etc. hardware or supply stores.

Rotate all food and water every 6 months.

*per person in family

Week 1: 1 gallon water, 1 jar peanut/nut butter, hand operated can opener, 1 canned meat*, 1 box permanent marking pen, role of duct tape, basic first aid kit, select storage location, select back pack for grab and go kit (think thrift stores for purchase),

Week 2: 1 gallon water, 1 canned meat*, 2 flashlights with 2 sets extra batteries and 2 sets extra batteries in a different size (dollar store purchases), water proof matches and water proof container.

Week 3: Leatherman or Swiss army knife type tool.

Week 4: 1 gallon water, 1 canned fruit*, 1 canned
vegetable*, 1 canned meat*, 1 package dry milk, 1 package feminine hygiene, aspiring or pain reliever, pencil/pen/notebook.

Week 5: 100 feet rope, 1 gallon water*, 1 each canned fruit/vegetable/meat*, evacuation routes map.

Week 6: Animal planning: 1 gallon of water for each household pet, 1 bag of food size to last 1 week for each household pet, 1 litter pan/container of litter, 1 backpack for pets labeled “PET GO KIT” with extra toys, leashes, water and food dishes, photocopies of vet cards (needed if ever checking into a shelter), licenses, veterinary contact information.

Week 7: 1 gallon water, 1 can fruit/vegetable/meat, 1 package toilet paper, 1 4-pack toothbrushes, toothpaste.

Week 8: first aid supplies: adhesive bandages in multiple sizes, gauze pads, safety pins, adhesive tape, non-latex gloves in multiple sizes, roller bandages, make arm sling from extra material.

Week 9: 1 gallon water, 1 can soup/fruit/vegetables*, sewing kit, disinfectant

Week 10: first aid supplies: scissors, tweezers, thermometer, antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, disposable wipes, petroleum jelly, 2 tongue blades, extra eyeglasses, contacts, saline solution for contacts.

Week 11: 1 gallon water, 1 can soup, liquid dish soap, house hold bleach, 1 box heavy duty garbage bags, antacids.

Week 12: battery powered radio, wrenches to turn off utilities, waterproof plastic container for important papers.

Week 13: 1 gallon water, 1 large can of juice, “Ziplock” baggies in multiple sizes between snack sizes to 2 gallon, 1 box energy bars/quick energy snacks.

Week 14: paper goods week: toilet paper 1 4-pack per member of the family, paper towels 1 roll per person, paper cups,

Week 15: personal safety: whistle*, tools: crow bar, pliers, screwdrivers, hammer.

Week 16: 1 gallon water, 1 can fruit/vegetable/soup/meat*, 3 boxes “treats” graham crackers, fruit snacks etc.

Week 17: 1 gallon water, 1 large can of juice, 1 box energy bars/quick energy snacks, 1 role duct tape.

Week 18: 1 box dry cereal*, 2 containers each of antidiarrheal medicine, rubbing alcohol, antiseptic.

Week 19: Animal planning: 1 gallon of water for each household pet, 1 bag of food size to last 1 week for each household pet, 1 container of litter, I bag treats for each animal.

Week 20: plastic wrap, aluminum foil, disposable plastic containers with lids, personal hygiene items: feminine supplies,

Week 21: camping or utility knife, work groves, disposable dust masks.

Week 22: develop bucket toilet: http://www.survivalpreparednesstips.com/Survival%20toilet.pdf

Important things to consider:

Baby needs: formula and bottle, water, diapers, clothes, blankets for sleeping and clean space to crawl and play.

Elderly care: 1 month extra medications, spare glasses, hearing aid batteries, additional needs per person.

Kids care: games, books, cards, special treats to keep them busy and occupied.

Consider buying solar battery charger which can charge batteries and phones/computers/ipads etc. Goal Zero makes some fantastic items that I myself have purchased including solar powered lighting and energy sources enough to keep refrigerator running.

Blankets, towels, wash cloths, for each member of family.

Each member of family has back pack with several
changes of clothes season specific, especially socks and underwear, shoes, personal items.

Cash in multiple denominations and coinage, and some in each family member grab and go bags.

Continue with food and water prep until enough for family for minimum 7 days. Repeat weeks as necessary.

Learn how to make candle heater with flower pots: http://www.trueactivist.com/how-to-easily-heat-your-home-using-flower-pots-tea-lights/

Video tape contents of your home room by room for insurance purposes. Save video to disks in safety deposit box and at home, send to out of town contact for safe keeping as well.

Develop an out of town contact to notify in case of emergency who can track all members if communications in the disaster area are compromised.

Make a complete list of contacts in your phone book in case of error. Keep a copy in each back pack. Update twice a year, minimum.

Develop car emergency kit: ides forthcoming.

Review all insurance coverage once a year. Have copies of policy numbers and policy in important papers, know what emergency assistance your insurance company can provide.

Learn emergency plan for your childrens’ school/day care.

Bolt cabinets and book cases to wall studs. Hot water heater, too.

Test smoke detectors twice a year, minimum.

Learn first aid/CPR.

Know evacuate routes for your neighborhood. Identify evacuation point out of neighborhood that everyone knows where to go.

Develop complete lists of family member prescriptions including dosage, prescribing doctor and when the prescription expires and need to be renewed by the prescribing doctor as most are only good for 12 months.

Leave shoes and flashlight next to bed for quick exit. Keep spare pair of comfy walking shoes in trunk of car and at work location.

Know the utility shut off locations and procedures, identify tools needed and nail next to interior garage door clearly labeled or leave wrench attached to cut off valve.

Make photocopies of all important papers and store in water proof container with supplies.

I know I can write much more about this subject. This was just a brain dump. If the weeks don't work for your planning, identify when things are on sale and cross them off as your purchase. Remember planning for 7 days of food and water for your family.







Do I or don't I?

November 9th, 2013 at 09:12 pm

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 28th, 2013 at 10:29 pm

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 11:24 am

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
Wallet/passport

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 28th, 2013 at 09:31 pm

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 23rd, 2013 at 08:14 pm

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 17th, 2013 at 09:56 pm

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 11th, 2013 at 08:53 pm

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 10th, 2013 at 11:46 pm

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 9th, 2013 at 08:56 pm

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 12th, 2011 at 07:42 pm

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 4th, 2011 at 08:02 pm

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 2nd, 2011 at 06:29 pm

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 28th, 2011 at 07:10 pm

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 02:43 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 01:56 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 12th, 2011 at 09:00 pm

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?


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