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Archive for February, 2009

Procrastination is making me crazy

February 26th, 2009 at 05:07 pm

I STILL have two things on my to-do list that have been lingering for a long time, even before I listed them in my blog last week. Why am I such a procrastinator? Here they are:
[ ] Set up my new crosscut shredder, purchased over a year ago
[ ] set up my new color printer, the one I so desperately wanted and bought on Black Friday

There, they are listed in black and white for the whole world to see. Who procrastinates for a year?! The reason the shredder is still in the box is that I have another (non-crosscut) one that works fine. But if I set up the new one, I can try selling the old on on ebay or CL, right? So, what is my holdup?

The reason the printer is still in the box is that I "haven't had time". Seriously, how long could it possibly take?

I will try to get these 2 things done today. I have several others on the list also:
[ ] register 1 horse (overdue also)
[ ] send for duplicate dog reg
[ ] haircut (have an appt, so I won't miss this!)
[ ] review BIL's taxes (if he shows up)
[ ] update Money and grocery spending log
[ ] list more ebay items ("more" is vague, but I'm not sure what I have left to sell)

As I look over this list, I can't imagine that the entire list, except for the ebay listing, will take me more than 5 hours. That would be a huge block of time, except I'm not working today, so I have NO EXCUSE!!

Here I go....but first I've got to wash dishes and get a meal ready and feed the horses...maybe this is why I never get to it! LOL

How could I forget?

February 26th, 2009 at 02:03 am

I picked up a few essentials at Walmart tonight - peanut butter, cough drops, bananas, toilet paper and cookies. I specifically bought Halls cough drops because I had a BOGO (buy one get one free) coupon. Walmart isn't the cheapest place to get them but I was already there, and sick, and didn't want to stop somewhere else.

At the register I remember my coupon on the tp, and I had a $1 off produce coupon, but I forgot to give them the cough drops coupon. Doh! I could have saved $1.67. Blame it on my head cold. My nose is running so fast I think it got away from me! My brain sure did.

Not sure what to blame the cookies on, but I'm still thinking of an excuse...

Stimulating the economy

February 25th, 2009 at 02:43 am

I did my part today. I went and had new tires put on my car, so I don't have to worry about having a flat. The old ones were very worn. Our cash flow isn't the best right now, but I think I can shuffle a few things to get this paid off by the time the credit card is due. This particular credit card is one I use often, but I pay in full every month since I set the money aside in the checking account as I use the card so there is no question about it.

I also took the car for a recall issue, and had that taken care of. Then, I accomplished about 10 other things on my list, stopping at various places along the way to pay bills and pick up some items. All in all, a very productive day!

Buyer beware...lesson learned

February 21st, 2009 at 04:59 pm

I love going to auctions - not the fancy antique or art auctions, but the farm, household, surplus, might-be-anything kind of auctions. You just never know what you'll find, and it's interesting to see how much people are willing to pay for things. I like to people watch too, so that's always fun, wondering why people are bidding on certain items.

We went to one yesterday that was a county surplus auction. They had cars, furniture, office equipment, computers, printers, cameras, guns, etc. We didn't get a chance to look at everything before they began the auction. That's always good to do while you can see the item you're bidding on up close. Otherwise you might be at the back of the swarm of people and only briefly see the item you're bidding on as they hold it up in the air or point to it on the table.

But I had seen the particular item I wanted up close. It was a 17" or 19" flat screen monitor, in nice condition. So I bid. I got it very cheap, but paid too much. Alas, when I brought it home, it doesn't work. For some odd reason, it never occurred to me that they would auction off complete duds. I expect that at farm or household auctions, and usually pass up the $2 or $3 computers, printers, copiers, etc. because I don't know how to work on them, but I just thought that maybe the county had purchased some new equipment and was auctioning off old, not dead.

Buyer beware...lesson learned.

Free $50 gift card...advice?

February 20th, 2009 at 03:46 pm

I received an invitation in my email addressed to "Dear Fellow Sportsman" to apply now for a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Rewards Visa credit card, and I'll get a free $50 gift card after my first purchase.

These things always tempt me, but I'm not really a fellow sportsman, or sportswoman, for that matter. I signed up for their rewards card a few years ago when I bought a gift card for a friend and DH bought a rifle scope. I used some of the rewards for another gift purchase once. But, still, I find it hard to turn down these offers. Why?

So, I'm trying to talk myself out of it. I don't really need a Bass Pro credit card. I didn't read the fine print to see how much the purchase with the card has to be in order to get the $50 gift card. But what if there is no minimum? I could go get a gift card for a birthday that's coming up next month, charge it, and then get my $50 gift card. NOw it's making sense. What to do, what to do....advice?

P.S. If you've never been to their headquarters and are ever in that area, it's a fun place to go. Huge aquarium inside, taxidermy galore, snake and spider exhibit, etc. Even if you don't spend any money, it's a neat place to go.

Lost checkbook saga

February 20th, 2009 at 05:46 am

I only accomplished 4 things on my list again today. {*sigh*} I was on a roll, and thought I was making good progress until I realized that I had to go to the store to get bread. I forgot it yesterday and we were completely out.

So I went late afternoon and came back home, after stopping at the machinery dealer for parts too. Within 1/2 hour of getting home, I hopped back in the car and went with DH to pick up some paperwork from a truck he bought last year from a guy. I thought it would be a half hour there, a half hour of chit-chat and a half hour home. DH forgot to mention before we left the house that he really couldn't remember the directions exactly. Uh, oh. We went 5 miles too far past this guy's road because oncoming car headlights blinded us and we couldn't see the sign in the dark. We retraced our steps and found the road. After traveling on this road for 1/2 mile, I asked "how far?" DH thought it was a few miles, but he'd "recognize it". Ten miles later, and three cell phone calls to friends before finding one that was home and could look up the man's number, I called him. He was just 1/4 mile off the main road. We again retraced our steps until we found him. Mission accomplished!

Since we passed Walmart on the way home, I decided to run in and get dog food. At the register, I dug in my purse for my checkbook that has some debit cards in it. It wasn't there! Ok, maybe I took it out at the house, but I didn't remember. I had a credit card in my purse also, so I paid with that. (one that I pay off every month, so not a big deal). Just in case, we stopped by the grocery store I'd been at earlier. The manager was at the service desk but he was busy so I asked another employee if a checkbook had been turned in. He rummaged around a little and said Nope! Ok, I'm getting more stressed, but there is still the possibility that I just don't remember taking it out at home.

Well, we finally got home 3 hours after we left for this quick trip(!), and I don't find the checkbook. Stress turns to complete and utter panic. Debit cards are worse to lose than credit cards, and I'm dreading making the phone calls. So, I try one last ditch effort, and called the store back. I tell the manager my name, and sure enough, the checkbook is there!! I'm relieved, but p/o'd! We live 20 miles from this town and the store is closing in 1/2 hour. Back into the car I go to retrieve it. I told him when I got there that I had been in earlier to ask about it and the other kid told me it wasn't there. He just shrugged and said I should have asked for him. He might have mumbled sorry, but I was already headed for the door, happy to have it back.

So, that's today's excuse for not getting everything done on my list. Unplanned driving errands for 6 hours! Ugh!! Maybe tomorrow...

[x] List 2 more ebay items - actually did three, so that counts for a little bonus
[x] Send in rebates for free gloves for purchase of Rotella oil.
[x] send in Purina weight circles to get $70 in checks back to use on future purchases.
[x] update Microsoft Money for last few days

I might not have to call to cancel DH's insurance. I suppose I should just to cross it off the list, but today we got a "disregard if you sent payment" reminder saying they will cancel in 20 days if no payment is received.

I did get a start on some of the other doggie updates on the list, by taking a bunch of pictures to post. So that counts as maybe 1/2 of another item done.

Goals 1/2 accomplished, but don't check the math

February 19th, 2009 at 04:44 am

Well, of my 10 goals for today, I didn't do so well.

[x] Listed 9 items on ebay, instead of 10.
[x] Cancel phone service to my old business line.
[x] Advertise our puppies for sale, at least on one website
[x] Freecycled a few odds & ends


I blame it on my internet connection or my old desktop computer. S-L-O-W!!!! I did check with the phone company, but DSL is still not available in our area. I really doubt it will be, like ever. None of the neighbors are interested (lots of Amish), so it's just ME!

My list for tomorrow (some deja vu!):
[ ] List 2 more ebay items
[ ] update dog listings on our own website
[ ] list puppies on another 2 pet sits
[ ] Update listing and reduce price on our 6-month old puppy that had surgery. She has a scar but is otherwise good as gold.
[ ] Set up my new crosscut shredder, to free up the old non-crosscut for listing on ebay.
[ ] Send in rebates for free gloves for purchase of Rotella oil. I put my name on the form today, but that's it!
[ ] send in Purina weight circles to get $70 in checks back to use on future purchases.
[ ] cancel DH's health insurance. This is scary, but we can't afford it right now, and it will just be until insurance kicks in at my new job on 4/1. He has some coverage thru the VA, but his regular insurance went up to $778 per month! We'll keep mine in force, since it's a lot cheaper. I'm in better health, but I take care of the animals so there is more risk involved for me daily.
[ ] call my mother!
[ ] update Microsoft Money for last few days

DH doesn't want to advertise the beagle yet, in case someone in the area lost it. So, we'll wait on that.

My back hurts from sitting hunched over this computer almost all day. If I'm lucky enough to sell the 9 ebay items I listed, I might make $2 an hour!! I do it for the fun of it though, right? LOL

Odds & ends

February 18th, 2009 at 05:11 pm

Last week I was on a roll finding money in 5's ($5 one day, and then nickels). I'm doing better this week, now it's in 10's...unfortunately, not $10, but I did find a dime yesterday and a dime in CVS on Sunday. Actually yesterday the dime I found was only because I saw a few pennies on the ground first. I was at a scrap metal place with DSS and while he was unloading I spotted a few pennies. I felt weird, but I hopped out of the truck and picked them up. I got back in and studied what I thought might be a dime from about 10 feet away, but I wondered if they'd say something to me if I hopped out again and picked it up. Curiosity got the best of me when I had to get out to go give them my license, so I walked over to it. Sure enough, it was a dime. I picked it up and got back in the truck. Didn't I then see another penny right near the first two? I was starting to be embarrassed about my scroungy ways so I drove off & left it! LOL

DSS reimbursed me $10 for gas from his $270 haul. I wasn't really expecting it, so I guess that was my third "10" this week.

I came home to a $26.51 check from ebates for a few purchases last year, plus a $10 signup bonus and a $10 holiday bonus. (More 10's!!). I love ebates. I don't do a lot of online shopping so it accumulates slowly, but it's money I wouldn't have had otherwise. (see link on my sidebar for a more info...)

I've set some goals for today, and they are almost all related to money. I want to complete this list...we'll see how far I get. These are in no particular order.

[ ] List 10 items on ebay
[ ] Cancel phone service to my old business line. I won't need it with my new job.
[ ] Advertise our puppies for sale
[ ] Update listing and reduce price on our 6-month old puppy that had surgery. She has a scar but otherwise good as gold.
[ ] Advertise the beagle that showed up in our yard (FREE to good home). He's such a cutie but I know we can't keep him!
[ ] Freecycle a few odds & ends
[ ] Set up my new crosscut shredder, to free up the old non-crosscut for listing on ebay.
[ ] Send in rebates for free gloves for purchase of Rotella oil.
[ ] send in Purina weight circles to get $70 in checks back to use on future purchases.
[ ] cancel DH's health insurance. This is scary, but we can't afford it right now, and it will just be until insurance kicks in at my new job on 4/1. He has some coverage thru the VA, but his regular insurance went up to $778 per month! We'll keep mine in force, since it's a lot cheaper. I'm in better health, but I take care of the animals so there is more risk involved for me daily.

I think that's it. That's 10 things, and the day is almost half over and I've done none of them. Wish me luck!

When you go to have your taxes done...

February 18th, 2009 at 03:58 am

Don't lean over and kiss your girlfriend or fiancee on the cheek every few minutes while I'm working on your taxes.

Don't text people while I'm trying to explain things to you. You might not care about anything but the bottom line amount, but I find it to be more than a little rude.

Don't bring your young children with you, let them all go to the bathroom with the older one "in charge" so that they can plug the toilet with too much paper.

Ditto above, but now they spray enough air freshener for the entire county in our one little bathroom.

Don't, in a loud voice, tell your wife or s/o to "shut up, I didn't ask for input!" How embarrassing....for you.

Don't scream into the phone about a problem with your "lover's" tax return. I don't really need to know that you are lovers or what you are; the fact is that I can't discuss any tax return with you except your own.

Don't call and insist that no one explained to you that your 1-2 day loan to get your tax refund early might be denied by the bank. I'm sorry you need your money right away, but it was all explained to you. That paperwork you signed stated "LOAN" on it in big red letters.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

I sound really annoyed, but for most of this stuff, I actually found it mildly amusing!

Just a tad too much

February 15th, 2009 at 01:14 am

Well, I didn't keep to my $6 goal on groceries today, but almost! (Yesterday I blogged that I wanted to keep my total for the week under $100.) I ended up spending just under $102 total. Milk was $2.98 + tax at one store, and then at the other store I was just going to get some reduced bread and a free 2 liter bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper with this coupon, www.freedietdrpepper.com

That would have been it, but they had some bakery goodies reduced to 99c, and I thought it would be cute to bring home & share with my sweetie Smile Plus, they had some 10 pound bags of potatoes reduced to $2 and a 1 pound bag of baby carrots reduced to 50 cents. I thought they were good-enough deals to go overboard with, and my weekly average is now $103.57.

In other news, we have a new dog that we neither want or need. He was either dumped or he's lost. I saw a flyer at the vet for someone that lost a beagle, but the guy came and looked, and the dog isn't his. I really had my hopes up! So, now we have to figure out what to do with him, which is such a pain! I love dogs, but we have plenty intentionally and don't need another extra. I really think there is a sign somewhere down the road that points in our direction, saying "dog lover with free food THIS way ==>!" Strays ALWAYS end up here.

Weekly grocery update times 4

February 14th, 2009 at 03:05 am

I've still been keeping track of my spending on groceries, dog food & household supplies by the week, but I haven't blogged about it.

The week ending 1/24 was a 41% savings week. For $188 worth of things, I saved $77, and spent $111 for the week. A little over half was dog food, and the rest was groceries & household.

The week ending 1/31 was a 30% savings week. Total before coupons was $153, and savings was $46, so I only spent $107. A little improvement, although 2/3 of that was on groceries and household.

The first week in February I spent $120 for the week after saving $93 with coupons. That's a 44% savings, since the total before coupons was $213! Wow!

I don't think I can wrap up this week yet since we are almost out of milk, bread, and a few other things. So far, I've spent $93 for the week, so I'm hoping to keep the bill $7 or under tomorrow. We do need another bag of dog food soon, but I'm going to try to put that off until Sunday or Monday, so it will be on next week's total. I don't think I have any coupons to use either.

The average per week is $103.85, so I'm doing good with getting the weekly total down. I really, really want to try to get it down to $100 or less every week, but I have a hard time passing up stockpiling deals sometimes even though the cupboards and freezer are far from empty. It's a constant challenge to stop myself from spending just because something is a great deal, but I'm trying to prioritize the list and make sure I get what we absolutely need only on some trips.



My 25

February 11th, 2009 at 04:22 pm

I enjoyed reading the other lists of 25 frugal things, so I came up with my own list:
1. I split my grocery shopping among 6 stores depending on sales at each. I don't go to all every week, but probably 3 or 4 each week and I won't go out of my way to go to any of them.
2. I spend 1/2 hour daily looking for coupons to use with sales.
3. I look for money on the ground when I'm walking into stores or if I'm waiting in line somewhere.
4. I bought clothes for my job interviews and part-time job at a thrift store.
5. I look for deals all year long for cheap or free gifts for birthdays and Christmas, but don't feel right being so cheap so I usually give something else I've spent money on also.
6. I rarely, if ever, order food out based on what I want to eat. I ALWAYS go by the price.
7. I have reused stamps that aren't cancelled from mail sent to me.
8. I have watered down skim milk on occasion.
9. I reuse coffee grounds, adding some more the 2nd day. (I don't even drink coffee, so I don't know if it tastes weird!)
10. I use address labels with DH's name spelled wrong, because they were sent to us free.
11. I complained about a check order with the wrong monogram letter on it, knowing they would send a new order for free and I could go ahead and use the incorrect order also.
12. I have returned an item purchased without a coupon and repurchased it with a coupon if I forgot the coupon the first time (only if it saves me more than a dollar or two)
13. I get excited when freebies come in the mail, even if it's just a single serving of cereal or popcorn or whatever.
14. I signed up as a mail decoy as a "side" job, even if it might earn me $20 for the year, if I'm lucky!
15. I ask people or stores for boxes, foam packing peanuts and bubble wrap when I need to ship something rather than buying it new.
16. I use my credit card as if it were a debit card, and subtract the amount of each purchase from my checking account register so I know the money is available to pay the bill at the end of each month. I gain lots of rewards points that way.
17. I have opened bank accounts and credit cards just for the signup bonuses offered initially.
18. I call and question any extra charges on credit cards or other bills to make sure they are legitimate. I have had late charges forgiven, interest rates dropped, and billing errors adjusted with nearly every call.
19. When I'm buying merchandise and I'm not sure if I really need X or Y, I will buy both and return whichever isn't needed or wanted. It saves gas money running back to get the item left behind, and I know I'll be back to the store anyhow for something in the near future. This applies most often to auto or equipment parts.
20. I don't think many of my friends know how frugal I am, although it would probably hurt my feelings if they talked about how cheap I am behind my back. Maybe they do know!
21. I have price limits on almost anything worked out it my mind. I will not pay more than $25 for jeans, ever. Apples can't be more than .99/pound. Shampoo or conditioner is $1 max, and I would have to be completely out of free samples and any other supply to do that since I have gotten it countless times for free. Razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste also fall into the free-or-go-without category. Cereal is only worth $1 to me at the absolute max. I've gotten too many boxes for less with coupons to ever consider paying more.
22. Designer clothes do not impress me, since I wouldn't know a $1000 suit from a $100 suit. If I like it, I wear it, period.
23. I would rather go to a store and buy a pack of gum and get cash back, instead of paying fees at another bank's ATM to get my own money out.
24. I only allow myself one or two magazine subscriptions a year, and only if they cost $10 or less. I get many, many magazines recycled from the library to supplement my reading habit.
25. I have never bought a new car.

A glorious, wonderful, fantastic JOB, with benefits!

February 11th, 2009 at 02:17 am

After several months of job hunting and 6 weeks without a job, I've now got one! I'm so happy. I know it's not a dream job, or even ideal income, but it is a far cry from where we were headed with just a filler part-time job. We might have a little breathing room now, and I can always supplement with something extra or even keep an eye out for a better opportunity. I'll just be happy to have benefits after many years of footing the bill for insurance and no time off with pay.

I'm still going to hold off on the 2009 budget until I actually determine how much my net income will be each pay period. Until then, we're winging it on what we have saved back, some savings bonds my mother bought way back when in my name that have matured, and miscellaneous income from selling some hay and whatever odds & ends we can come up with.

I have to get my butt in gear and list some things on eBay. I was planning to join disneysteve's challenge and have a goal of 10 listings per month rather than a dollar challenge. January I listed just one item that didn't sell. Not a great start to the year. I have some software, a shredder, a few books, some cosmetics, and a few odds & ends to list. What am I waiting for?!?!?!

Oddly enough, now that I have a job lined up, I may try to cram in all these things I wanted to do while I was unemployed but never got to. For some reason, my ambition to do all the things I'd been putting off before didn't kick in these past 6 weeks. I hope it does now!

I got DSS's taxes done today finally. He has a small federal and state refund, but will never see it. It will go to back taxes that he owes. He is not a responsible bill payer, and has gotten multiple letters from both fed & state and ignored them all. Likewise with some outstanding medical bills. I don't understand it, since my husband did not raise him that way. But, whatever, it's not our credit that is ruined, so we just let him "grow up" on his own.

Our taxes are the next thing to tackle. They are ugly - farm, rentals, partnership, and lots of forms. But, it must be done, and I want to wrap it all up and see if we owe anything. I'm sure it will be something, but hopefully not more than we have budgeted. Knowing is better than not knowing!

To all the SA-ers that are unemployed and searching, keep your chin up and I'll redirect all the positive thoughts that were sent my way by friends in your direction!

Humor among the dust bunnies

February 7th, 2009 at 06:49 pm

I cleaned house yesterday. It was long overdue and I finally had the time to do it. I don't know whether the living room was worse than our bedroom but they were both pretty disorganized and needed the cleaning.

What should appear with the dust bunnies when I vacuumed under the dresser in the bedroom but a paperback book that had fallen down underneath...the title? "Confessions of an Organized Homemaker". LMAO!!! I remember browsing through the book, but it obviously has not helped me one bit!

28.8 more acres

February 7th, 2009 at 04:26 am

Well, it's done! In some of the worst timing imaginable (not long after I lost my job), a piece of property right next to a piece we own and next to a large area we are leasing came up for sale. DH really, REALLY wanted it and could not rest until we bought it. So, today we did.

Now, I shouldn't make it sound like he forced me to buy into it. I wasn't really "against" buying it since I know the price is fantastic and land is never a bad investment in my opinion. It just wasn't the greatest timing. Our bank wouldn't loan the money, so we put $5k down and got the owner to finance the rest for 15 years, at least on paper. In reality, we told her we will work to get financing elsewhere when the economy improves.

So, the job hunt is still in full force, and with even more incentive than before, if that's possible! I do have a 2nd interview on Monday, so things might be looking up. Plus, I've been told that the company checked my references, and at least one of the referrals gave a glowing reference, so I'm keeping fingers crossed!!

In other financial news, I ran into the same credit card situation as nomorecredit (http://nomorecredit.savingadvice.com/2009/02/05/victory-is-m...). My card with a $20K balance on it suddenly jumped from 5.4% to 14.99%, and my minimum payment went to almost $500 a month. I called, and sure enough, I had missed opting out of something they sent. So I went ahead and opted out, to get my lower rate back, and to have the card cancel at the expiration date. I don't want to do business with a company that works that way anyhow. I just wish I could have some nice windfall and pay off the card in one big chunk. Once I get a job, it will be my #1 focus, that's for sure.

And, last but not least, I found a penny today at a store, but I put it in the penny cup. My reward? Later, I found a dime on the ground at the gas station. LOL

Found another 5!

February 5th, 2009 at 11:24 pm

I found another 5 today, but this time it was just 5 cents. LOL Smile

It wasn't quite as exciting as my $5 find, but aparently 5 is my lucky number lately. Last week I wrote that I discovered $5 on a Walmart gift card that I thought had been spent already. If I was a daily lottery buyer, I'd pick 5-5-5.

I had a gift from the dentist today also. I went for a cleaning and they said I was due for x-rays. I asked if I could delay x-rays until the next trip, since I was hoping to have a job with dental insurance by then. Now, keep in mind that I haven't had dental insurance for years, and have always paid the $100 or so fee for cleaning. They said no problem to wait, but they also took $20 off the cleaning bill without me even asking!!! I thought that was just wonderful. I could have put off the entire trip due to our tight finances, but I always worry that delaying things like that will just lead to more problems later if there are any problems that need to be addressed, so I went ahead. I have one filling that may be failing, but "no cavities, Mom!"

Found on the ground....and other updates

February 5th, 2009 at 04:22 am

I was pumping gas today when something that blew across the parking lot caught my eye, and it looked a whole lot like MONEY!! It was a $5 bill!! HOly cow!! I used to think I was lucky to find a dime or a quarter, but this was like winning lotto Smile

I'm way behind on blogging and reading and updating my grocery spending spreadsheet, and even updating my checkbook. I've been very busy working. I logged 60+ hours at my part time job for the last two weeks, and I'm happy about that, since there is no full-time job yet.

My full-time career is in IT and I've only been called for one interview. I'm waiting (not-so-patiently) to hear if they will hire me. I've applied at other companies also, but haven't been called for any interviews. It led me to the drastic step today of sending my resume to a recruiter for a position in one of the larger cities that is about 200 miles away. It's a shot in the dark, but since the recruiter thought I had a nice match for the skills, I decided to go for it. It would mean commuting back & forth from home every week and spending just weekends with DH. I'm not thrilled at all about that, but if it means we don't get further in debt and/or lose everything, I'll do it. It would be for a 6 month contract, with a possible expansion. I'm trying not to dwell on the emotional negative aspects of it, and instead thinking of it totally with a positive financial slant. The opportunity presented itself, so I must act on it!