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Planned leftovers and 1 year ago today!

November 1st, 2009 at 06:23 pm

I just finished making a delicious dinner and have planned leftovers to take with me to work tomorrow. Round steak with peppers & onions, cooked in some black bean flavoring mix I've had in the cupboard forever. The steak came from some my MIL gave us last year from a cow they butchered. The peppers came from the garden, and I paid at most 25 cents for the mix from a discount food store over a year ago.

Add fried potatoes, broccoli (from our garden) and a little bit of shredded cheese, and it was a wonderful meal. Maybe not the healthiest...but cheap and wonderful!

I upped my found on the ground total by 2 cents I found yesterday while out running errands.

Today was a busy homebody day. I fed the outdoor animals, cleaned the dog crate, cleaned 3 bird cages, vacuumed, dusted, washed a few windows, did 3 loads of laundry, fixed a lampshade, fixed the latch on the front door, and set up my "Rat Zapper" in the kitchen after DH saw a mouse. It's a nifty device I bought last year when we had a rat problem in our barn. It kills them with an electric current - no blood and no mess. The first one we had ended up having issues too quickly (although we did kill several rats and mice with it) and the company sent us a new one. I pulled it out of the box around 11am this morning, set it up on the floor but didn't turn it on, and an hour later checked to see if they'd taken the bait (dog food). They had. I baited it again and turned it on. In about an hour, it lit up indicating there was something inside. Sure enough, it had zapped a mouse. I took it ouside, dumped the mouse and the remaining 2 pieces of dog food out, put the dog food back in and came in & turned it on. While I was cooking dinner, I checked and the light wasn't lit, so nothing had been caught. We sat down to eat in the other room, and when I took our plates back in, voila! Another one bites the dust! I love it!! It didn't come cheap, but with animals in the house I don't want to put out poison or a regular trap.

I'm on day four of no diet soda. I tried to use a coupon I'd printed for a free Cherry Coke or Coke Zero at Kum 'n' Go yesterday, but they were all out. My goal is to not necessarily cut it all out, but to cut way back both for my health and my wallet. I figured free or cheap was ok, but it just wasn't meant to be.

I just noticed after I posted this so I had to go back and edit..DRUMROLL PLEASE....It's been 1 year since I started blogging here. Woohoo!! I can't say that I'm any further ahead financially than I was then, but I've learned a lot and I've very thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the community. Smile

$10 rebate and other tidbits

October 30th, 2009 at 09:14 pm

I love getting rebates in big chunks. The mail today brought a $10 rebate. I think I sent it in less than a month ago, so it was fast too!

We are muddy, muddy, muddy around here. Yesterday brought 3-4 inches of rain, and it was already muddy before that. There is still standing water in our yard in some places, so that mud is just delayed.

I had some nice savings on dog food at Petsmart with coupons they emailed to me for $15 off a $50 purchase. The limit was 2 coupons, so I split my 5 large bags of food plus a few other items into 2 purchases. I had a few coupons too, and then some Purina rebate checks to use. All in all, I spent $53 for $125 worth of food. With 2 bags I bought yesterday before I had the $15/$50 coupons, that should last us 3 weeks.

I've decided to cut way back on my diet drink purchases. Today is day #2 without them, and also without caffeine. I don't know about this. I was dead tired at work today, but I don't know that I can blame it on a lack of caffeine. I've been that tired other days while I was steadily drinking diet coke. We'll see how the weekend goes. I have heard and read that you should drink half your weight in ounces of water every day. So, for example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink 80 oz. of water. That's more than the "8 glasses a day" that I'd always heard, assuming they were talking about 8 oz. glasses. That is A LOT of water!! I think I'd be spending my life in the bathroom if I drank that much every day.

I'm yawning a lot tonight, so I think I'll drop into bed and do some light reading....I'll bet I can't even keep my eyes open for one page!

Bank overdraft charge

October 28th, 2009 at 08:02 am

We hit a new low, and were overdrawn in our checking account yesterday. $30 in charges. Yuck! Fortunately, hubby happened to check before he went somewhere and wrote a check because we were expecting his social security deposit to go thru around the 23rd to 25th, like it always does. Nope! It just went in there last night. He added some cash to get us back in the black, but it was a sick moment. We haven't had money run that close in a long time.

It made me feel extra guilty because I am on a short mini-vacation visiting friends and family. My only cost out of pocket for this trip has been a few dinners out and gas for which I scrimped together cash from my change collected over the past few months and some rebate checks. It's a well-deserved cheap vacation, but it kind of puts a damper on things when you know you're blowing money that really could have been put to better use. I was even ok with the dinner money spent, but mortified at the $14 it cost me to park in a parking garage for 4 hours. I'm sure I could have found a cheaper alternative if I had done a little research ahead of time.

Reading Jennifer's post on the value of "only" $40 got me thinking that for this short vacation I really have gotten a lot of value for the money I spent, so I have to go forward with no regrets and not beat myself up over it. I can't change the past but I can change the future, and the big challenge is figuring out how to proceed to do that. All my ideas are small. Maybe I could cut diet soda and impulse snacks from my grocery list altogether, and possibly save $10 a week. Maybe I could really go on a diet and lose weight, which would make me feel better, which would make me feel more like excercising, which would improve my energy level and my self-esteem and my heart and countless other things. I can't possibly think how that would bring in more money or help cut expenses, but maybe just having more energy will give me the oomph to get selling on ebay again. The possibilities are endless, and I know I just have to take those baby steps.

Thank you all for your kindness

October 24th, 2009 at 09:31 am

You guys really are the best! I was pretty down in my last post, and you are all so nice, luring me back in.

I'm traveling and visiting relatives this week, and stuck with a s-l-o-w dial-up connection. My connection at home isn't lightning fast, but it seems like it now!
While I'm away, I hope to get some rest and get some motivation to change some things. At the least, I've brought some "homework" with me. We're supposedly close to refinancing, but need to come up with a few more items for the lender. I'm keeping my fingers crossed on this one - we need it very much. Also, just before I left, I asked my current bank for a printout of our loan payments, showing the amount applied to principal & interest each month. What prompted it is I had come up with an amortization schedule by plugging the amount, interest rate & number of years into some online amortization calculator. When I asked the bank what the current balance was, they differed from the calculation I had by over $1,000. Mine might not be 100% accurate because I had to fudge some things to come up with the monthly payment the bank says. So, that's one question - why the difference. But I have never seen anything like their printout. The amount applied to principle is all over the place, not a steadily increasing amount applied to principal. One month it'll be $200+, then up to $300+, then $20+, then $100+, then $500+. I don't understand it at all, so while I'm away I'm going to call and ask them to explain it to me, even if it takes hours! It's crazy!!

So, I'm going to try to be back here more. I really do miss it when I'm not posting. I find it helps me to clear my head and think things out when I do post. One step at a time....

3 weeks since I posted

October 18th, 2009 at 05:47 pm

I don't know what happened. I'm almost at my 1 year anniversary for blogging, and I just haven't been in the mood. Ok, even after I wrote that I "don't know what happened", I realized that wasn't exactly the truth. I really DO know what's happened. Our finances are a mess right now, and I am so depressed about it that I have no urge to document anything. I guess I've been hiding my head in the sand.

We're not able to pay extra on anything, and I know we are still spending more than we bring in. I haven't updated the sidebar debt because it's too ugly.

On the bright side, I did manage to finally catch up on documenting our spending and coupon savings and all that, hoping it would provide something positive to write about. The summary is:
Found on the ground - added a penny! woohoo!
Rebates & coupon savings came out quite nice. Since I had last updated those months ago, I was worried that we might have fallen off the track on the goal of keeping the grocery/household/dog food spending around $100 per week ($60 for dog food, $40 for food, etc). While we're above the $100 mark, the average per week has actually gone down from just over $110. That's some tiny progress, at least.

Also, I think I remember getting some Purina rebate coupons in the mail yesterday, but now I can't find them. I hope I didn't really lose them! It's 10 $7 coupons. They're really checks but they are used like coupons. That would be a really bad move on my part if I actually did lose them!

I haven't been doing as much with coupons as I used to. I had to get brake pads for my car today, so I stopped in the grocery store and flipped thru the coupons in the Sunday paper. There were some dog food ones, so I could make my money back on the paper plus some extra, but I just didn't see anything else that thrilled me. I didn't buy it, and I probably won't tomorrow either. I find myself doing that a lot lately. I just don't want to be bothered clipping.

I've got $20 in rebates to mail in on some antifreeze we bought, and I'll be trying to get that in the mail this week. I've had quite a few bigger rebates like that lately. When they are $5 or $10 each, they add up fast.

I've also been trying for weeks to list things on eBay & CL. It never becomes important enough for me to set aside time to get it done. DH gets mad already at the amount of time I spend on the computer, most of which is checking my emails, printing coupons from various sites, and reading some blogs. The minute I open up eBay or CL, he wants me to look up some obscure things for him or read him some of the items in the categories. Within 30 minutes, I'm about to fall asleep from the monotony of it, and I never get around to the SELLING!

~~~

After reading back thru this, it fits how I've been feeling lately. Up, down, up, down. There is no logical flow of thoughts, and it seems like things are very disjointed. I can focus on small details and spend hours tracking dollars & cents, and then feel like I accomplished something. But in the grand scheme of our life, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans. We have bigger things to resolve, and can't seem to come up with a real plan for solving them. Ugh!

I think I'll quit for now before I become a whiner. Oh....too late? Sorry!!!!

Pennies and dimes, and other tidbits

September 23rd, 2009 at 09:51 pm

Two or three days ago, I found a penny at one store and a dime at another. Yesterday, it was the same thing. I don't know what the significance of that is, but maybe third time is a charm and some wonderful luck (other than finding pocket change) will come my way. I'll keep looking!

A friend of a friend is supposedly interested in some of our horses, but they "need a week or so to get their money together." I used to get excited when people were interested like that, but not any more. It almost always translates into no action. If we had just 1/2 the money that's been supposedly coming our way from other interested people over the years, we'd be very very rich by now!

Fleas...ugh!

September 20th, 2009 at 09:58 am

I hate fleas. I can't seem to get rid of them on my dog(s), no matter what I do. We only keep one dog in the house, but now she's had puppies and they have fleas too! (They aren't in the house anymore. Once the puppies turned 3 weeks old, I moved them all to our barn.) There isn't a lot you can give the mama dog when she's nursing, and not much will work on the puppies except frequent, frequent bathing and a touch of flea spray. Ugh!

Yesterday, I moved our birds outside, prepared for flea bombing (well, actually a spray), and set it off & we left for a few hours. When we got back, I did a thorough cleaning. I'm sitting here on the computer this morning, and felt a flea on me. What?! Can anyone tell me something that really, really works? I've heard steam cleaning the carpet will help. I might do that next too.

~~~~

In better news, I found 11 cents this past week, and I got a $5 rebate check for Zantac. The funny thing is that when I bought the Zantac which we might or might not ever use, it was $4.89 or something like that. I had a $5 printable coupon, so I got it for free. But I knew that I would get the money back a 2nd time from the rebate, so that's why I bought it. LOL.

I've got some other rebates to organize. I think one of them was for $10, but I've got to find $30 worth of receipts for "grilling items" - meat, condiments, napkins, ice, etc. It shouldn't be a problem because it doesn't all have to be on one receipt, and it covers a 6-week period of time, I think. Just finding the time to dig thru my receipts is what I'm having trouble with. I don't know why though. It can't possibly take me more than an hour, so that would be $10 an hour that I would have earned for that hour!

The overall problem is that I seem to be having organizational breakdown lately. I spend a lot of time accomplishing nothing. I haven't even been on here much, so I can't blame it on that. I just can't seem to get my act together to organize the bills or paperwork or the house for that matter. Yesterday was a good start with the cleaning, so maybe I can build from there. I think what has really zapped my time lately is spending time in the garden or working on what we pick from the garden, so to say that I "accomplished nothing" isn't really true. It just seems that I don't balance that with all the other stuff I need to do.

Well, maybe I should quit writing about it, and just go DO IT!! Smile

"That's our policy"

September 15th, 2009 at 09:33 pm

I've never really heard those words when they've meant something good, until today. I noticed that 2 items on my grocery bill didn't ring up at the price on the shelf. They rang at $2.20 instead of $1.99 each. I had a coupon for $2 off each one, so the plan was that I would get them for free. In a split second decision, I went to the customer service desk to get my 40 cents refunded.

Sometimes I bother and sometimes I don't when there isn't much money involved. Today for some reason I did. The clerk looked at the items and studied the receipt, and punched her info in the cash register. I looked up and she was handing me $2.50! "If it's priced wrong, you get one free. That's our policy."

My jaw dropped! Where I lived before, that was a state law, but I don't think it is in this state. Plus, I've shopped at other stores in this same chain, and requested a refund on items that scanned wrong, and they've NEVER given me the item free. It was a nice surprise. I suppose I should have argued that with my coupon I already got both of them free, but who am I to argue? Smile

Widgets & tax calculators

September 13th, 2009 at 08:21 am

I noticed my debt ticker had vanished. I guess I hadn't updated in several months (I didn't know tickerfactory would get rid of them after a certain period of time). Oh well, I didn't update it for the same reason I haven't updated the list on the sidebar since May. Things have swung in the opposite direction and I can't handle seeing the reality of it.

Instead, I put my weight loss ticker. I've at least made progress (small progress) with it.

I also had fun on the H&R Block website the other day. There are all sorts of nifty calculators to estimate taxes, etc. Plus, I saw some cool widgets so I added one of those to my sidebar. I really didn't want it to take up such a large amount of space so I may not leave it there forever, but for now enjoy!

If you are interested in the tax calculators, they are at:

Text is http://hrblock.com/taxes/tax_calculators/index.html# and Link is
http://hrblock.com/taxes/tax_calculators/index.html#


Overheard at Walmart

September 9th, 2009 at 08:41 pm

I made a quick stop at Walmart tonight after a town hall meeting. It's always an eye-opening experience when I go to the stores in the city. Interesting outfits, bizarre makeup, and just some odd couples.

The best part of tonight's trip was the 2 conversations I overheard. The first was in the produce department where a woman was VERY LOUDLY proclaiming that their produce was awful! I kind of chuckled, thinking that she was just announcing this fact to anyone that would listen. In fact, she was calling it out to her friend across the produce department. "The bananas are way overripe!" Well, she got my attention, so I had to take a glance at the bananas. Everything I saw was very yellow, with green still at the top. I don't know WHAT she was looking at. They looked wonderful to me! Now, I'll admit that a lot of times I've seen better produce elsewhere, but tonight everything looked ok.

The second was in the bread aisle. A man & woman were looking at the english muffins and trying to decide. She picked out some whole wheat ones and he said "no thanks, I want the real deal". Huh? White bread is the "real deal"?

Now this really has nothing to do with finances, except that it's interesting to hear what other people take into consideration when shopping.

I wish I'd had a camera phone, because I would have attached a picture of the big rollback sign they had over something in the freezer department. "2 for $5.00 ~ Was $2.50". Hmmmm....you do the math.

And, the last entertainment, was in the pet food department. I was crouched down trying to get a case of canned puppy food without having to pick up individual cans. I had to shift some cans from one box to another. These are the "boxes" that are really just 1-2" tall that keep the cans together, sort of. A lady walked behind me by the fish tanks and announced to me "you have a dead fish in this tank." I guess I looked like I worked there!

Laser hair removal

September 5th, 2009 at 06:03 am

AKSaves entry got me thinking about personal grooming and an ad that one radio station is airing now. In the ads, the morning show announcer (a female) is gushing about how laser hair removal can save you so much time, and she is well on her way to becoming "hair-free". The other announcer (a male) teases her sometimes by calling her Hairy. Supposedly, the time savings is from not having to mess with razor or creams or waxing or anything. It also will save you from embarrassment when you are wearing shorts or a skirt and realize you forgot to shave.

I don't know what the laser hair removal treatments cost, but logic tells me they are probably not cheap.

How much time do you really spend shaving that could make it worth it? I don't think I spend more than 15-30 minutes a week. I just grab a razor in the shower and it's done while my hair is conditioning.

Maybe if I lived in a beach area, my answer would be different. Or, if I had some type of hormonal or glandular problem that gave me a female mustache, I would do it. But just for normal, everyday life, I just can't see it.

(As I said this, a vision of a kid I knew in my 20's popped up. It was a guy and he had hair on his nose, dark noticeable hair. He was a nice guy, and I always felt bad for him. I hope he does laser hair removal!)