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Archive for October, 2012

What is in the picture...

October 31st, 2012 at 08:49 pm

Happy Halloween.

We live at the back of a cul-de-sac. My house is tucked in and fairly secluded..so you have to look for it to know its back here. Not many trick-or-treaters find their way to my door. It was quiet tonight.

We had a potluck at work today- I went easy and cheap. A trio of seasonal mini-loaves from Costco and a tub of mac salad from the store. $10 total. Normally I either spend an entire evening cooking and then toting my crock-pot to work or I spend a good deal on something special. And guess what? The world didnt stop because I skipped the work..or the expense. Big Grin Lesson learned.

I thought I would share this spooky picture my son took of one of the pumpkins they carved..not sure what that is on the right- but it adds to the mystique IMO...just some Halloween fun:

Goodbye, I HOPE, to MLM invites..and more Christmas shopping done!

October 29th, 2012 at 08:08 pm

My thoughts are with everyone living in the path of hurricane Sandy tonight.

I received and email invite from my MLM friend this morning to an information lunch on Thursday. I responded with a decline and a very honest explanation that I was not interested and hoped it wouldnt hurt our friendship. She says it does not- so time will tell. I just hope this puts an end to the constant sales pitch.

I ordered a few more Christmas gifts today. I am a fan of Ravensburger puzzles- and so I got a few age appropriate puzzles for grandkids. I also bought a Christmas themed one for me Smile. I always enjoy starting a Christmas puzzle on Thanksgiving with the goal of finishing by Christmas. It is a 1000 piece puzzle, which should keep me (and vistors)plenty busy.

I am buying all Christmas gifts using my CU Visa, which pays 1% back on all purchases. I transferred the Christmas account from ING to the CU today so that I can pay as I play. The money will arrive on Wednesday. My spending plan is all set- I budget for each person at the begining of the year, and then save what I need to accomplish the budget each month.
It makes Christmas planning so much more enjoyable to have a plan.

I have been using the CU Visa for the 1% back for several months and the rebate goes into a savings specifically for this 'free' money. By the end of the year I should have about $200. (The CU will pay up to $500 per year) Next year I hope to find more ways to take advantage of this rebate and max out at $500 - since I pay the card off each month, it is free money to me.

Productive day!

October 28th, 2012 at 05:43 pm

Today was a stay at home day. I left all the spending up to the hub and DD3. The hub wants tacos for dinner, so he stopped and picked up the supplies to make them. He and DD3 are at the movies with DD2s kiddos (granson age 8 and granddaughter almost 4) They are seeing the transylvania movie. Dd2 got called into work today, so DD3 offered to babysit.

I stayed home all day and got the kitchen cleaned, mopped, cleaned the master bath, washed our sheets, laundry..just a busy get er done day.

Between the movie and groceries, we spent about $40.

Back in the 80s, I had an electric fondue pot. It died years ago and I never replaced it..but I am considering getting one again- would like to have it for our trip to the vacation rental in two weeks. I think a chocolate fondue would be a big hit. I was looking online and there are so many options and they arent too expensive. I may get one before the trip. Also, this might make a good idea for CHristmas gifts. None of the girls have one..and I remember they were quite fun. Something to consider.

This has been a great productive weekend- but like most of them, it went way too fast.

I am watching the news on hurricane Sandy. My thougths are with everyone who will be impacted by this one..it looks to be a doozy. :/

Highs and lows in friendships

October 27th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

My girls and I went to the Tea today and had such a wonderful time. My friend made all the food for the tea- 3 types of sandwiches, 2 types of scones, various cookies and cakes, lemon curd, devonshire cream...and they served 6 different teas- all of them wonderful, and a wonderful a strawberry lemonade. There were about 30 attendees. My friend and her husband put a big effort into this..and last night, their oldest son (who is stationed in Japan) and his fairly new bride (who is stationed in Afghanistan, surprised them by coming home for a visit. Poor friend...the kids are only in town two days and they had this event today! It turned out beautiful, but sure cut into her time to visit with them. Tickets for the four of us $80. I also bought 4 raffle tickets for $20. DD3 won an adorable Breast Cancer pin and DD2 won the grand prize, which is a room makeover book and an hour consultation with a home decorator. DD2 gave it to me..Big Grin So I will put it to good use soon.

After the tea, we stopped by Kohls. After my shopping trip last week, I received $20 Kohl's cash. I decide to get a cozy throw. Somehow, my other ones have been 'borrowed' by kids and I dont have one. I keep the house fairly cool during the winter, so lately my feet/legs have been chilly. They had nice ones on sale 50% off, or 24.99..I used the 20 and then got 15% off- or $4.27. I have told the kids HANDS OFF this one.

A while back I mentioned another friend who has recently gotten into a multi-level marketing 'business'. I was hoping that she would take my total lack of interest as indication that I didnt intend to buy or start selling. Unfortunately, that isnt going to be the case. This past week she has been at a convention and is clearly renewed in her committed to turning everyone she knows into a sale or a salesperson under her. Her new tactic is an empowerment luncheon that she would like to have me attend, no cost. and perhaps I could bring a friend. ugh. I will stick to my no thank you, but I will obviously have to just be blunt- and I know it will hurt the friendship. :/ Not something I want to do, but I am tired of the constant barrage.

The friend with the tea shop and this MLM friend are also good friends- the three of us get together for lunch occasionally. I have no problem buying tea once in a while or attending her tea luncheons..but the other friends business is almost cult like and once you sign up for the auto shipments $160 every four months), it is very difficult to get out of. NO THANK YOU. I would gladly just give her money each month, but she is very prideful and wouldnt accept it. Sadly she is so determined to make the business work that she is alienating people.

In other news, the hub said he cant guarantee when he will be home this winter, so we are going to pass on the Hawaii adventure for now. Frown It is such a good deal, but I learned in Alaska that its not as much fun if he misses most or all of the vacation. I am certain other opportunities will come along.

Getting some Christmas Shopping done at Amazon!

October 26th, 2012 at 07:53 pm

I have been getting some Christmas shopping done today thanks to Amazon.

I bought each of my kids family one of these:

And one of these:

And for my lil granddaughter who turns 4 next month, one of these for her birthday:

Hopefully each will encourage play and creativity!

The hub arrived home safely last night. Tonight he bbq'd steak, which I dont get while he is gone. It was so tasty! It is 8pm and the poor guy is already in bed. By tomorrow he should be rested and back to normal.


October 25th, 2012 at 08:26 pm

The hub and I have been talking about what we want to do for our next big trip. He would really like to go to Hawaii.

Today, I learned that the no frills airline is offering flights to Hawaii for $99 each way. WOW.

The hub is currently enroute from Alaska..and when I talk to him I will find out how certain his January home dates are. If they are pretty certain, I will book a trip to Hawaii for us!!

The hubs paycheck is $120 more than budgeted. A friend at work is selling a really nice queen bed frame, head and footboard, mattress and box springs for $200, so I bought it. I will put this bed in my guest room and give my grandson (8) the queen bed that is currently in the guest room. His bed is a twin and pretty worn, so he will enjoy the bigger bed (which is his bed when he spends the night). The extra $120 went towards the bed- and I will take the other $80 out of the household fund.

This is similar to the bed:

Tonight I finished off the leftover teriyaki chicken. The hub gets in at midnight- I didnt take tomorrow off like I normally do after the hub gets home, so DD3 is picking him up so I can get some sleep.

This weekend is the tea party and on Sunday we are taking the hubs widowed aunt to Argo. (I hear its good). The hub also wanted to get a massage, so I scheduled his appointment while us girls are at the tea party.

Should be a fun weekend. I cant wait to find out if we are going to Hawaii in January!!!

Tea for a Cure

October 24th, 2012 at 07:40 pm

I have a friend who started a tea store last year. Her husband is a pastor, and they do this business together. It is slow to get off the ground and they are trying new ways to introduce the catering and tea party aspects of the business. This Saturday is their first official event. They are having an afternoon tea to raise money for breast cancer. It is $20 per ticket, $5 goes towards the cause. They will serve a variety of teas- little sandwiches, scones, cookies..I thought this would be a great event to take my daughters to..so the four of us will be attending. None of the girls have ever attended an actual 'tea', so I am excited to do this with them.
It helps my friend, it helps a great cause and it gives me a fun outing with my girls. I am really looking forward to it!

Today was not a no spender afterall. I did have leftovers as planned, but I stopped at the craft store on the way home and picked up a couple of strings of lights for the front porch for Halloween. It looks so cute out there with the pumpkins my grandson carved and now with the lights. I also picked up a new pot to transplant an African violet into. I spent $16.

Tomorrow night the hub gets home (midnight). He only has two cords of wood to process this time, so he will have a little more free time to relax and help with the list of honey-do's Ive been keeping.

Several weeks ago, DD1 suggested a gift for my granddaughter (6)..but for some reason the price has been higher (65-70)than what she orignally found it for (48)...today Amazon advertised it for $45..so I quickly ordered it. One down...6 grandkids to go!!

I probably wont ever be a cheapskate..

October 23rd, 2012 at 08:28 pm

Today was a no spend day. Lunch and dinner were leftover teriyaki chicken with green beans. Breakfast was oatmeal that I cooked on Sunday. I always have 2-3 cups of coffee at work (free) + some creamer. This week I have pumpkin creamer..so yummy.
DD3 was at the house when I got home and she had some of the leftovers for dinner too. She really liked it.

Tomorrow should be another no spender. I have oatmeal and creamer at work still, and there is enough leftover chicken for one more meal (lunch). I also have leftover steak from this past weekend in the freezer that will make dinner. It is nice to not have to spend my allowance because of using up the food.

I have been watching the new show extreme cheapskates. I havent really seen anything I would do to save money..but it is interesting to see what others would do. I can see why they are called extreme.

Ways I save money include not buying more than one pair of tennis shoes, sandals, and work shoes at a time. I use up my makeup before buying new. I dont buy pjs, rather I use old t-shirts, shorts.. I use shampoo and soaps that we get at hotels to stretch my supplies, I use leftovers, I but creamer and get coffee free at work, I send for and use free samples, I use my purses until they die (one of my favs I got at a yard sale for .75 cents that lasted about 4 years.

Things I am not so good at: helping my kids when they need it- I still dont say no as often as I should, our tv service - we pay for satellite TV and extra football service because I love watching football, food and fun while the hub is home. I pay a guy to keep the yards mowed (this is a co-workers husband who is trying to make it as a new US citizen- money well spent IMO)..

I stick to a budget pretty well. When we lived in the country house, I hung our laundry most of the year..now that I live in the city and dont have a laundry line, I depend on the dryer much more...I save gasoline and wear on the car living in town, but we also have two house payments (minus a small rent payment from the hubs nephew who lives at the country house). Until housing prices come up, I am not going to sale the city home. I love living in town- especially when the hub is gone so much. Someday I might sale and move back out to the country house..
but that wont likely happen as long as I am working full time.

Saving money by skipping hair cuts and DIY color

October 22nd, 2012 at 07:05 pm

Since I went to my friends for dinner last night, the meal I had prepared yesterday was in the fridge ready to be popped in the oven tonight. Teriyaki chicken..and I went to cook the rice, and I am out. So, I made quinoa, which wasnt my first choice to serve with the dish, but it actually was really good with it. The sweet and spicy teriyaki and pineapple went really well with the nutty quinoa.

I made enough for lunch and dinner tomorrow too. So tomorrow should be a no spender!

I still have not gotten my hair cut...I am saving money just letting it grow, but it is getting heavier to clip up. Last night I colored my hair myself..$7. I figure between cuts and color I am saving $60 a month. I need to get a cut though- I am having to stretch one bottle of color- and that poor box has a LOT of gray to cover. Big Grin

Looked at the weather report today and it was snowing up at the rental house we are going to in 3 weeks...I would love it if there was lots of snow when we get there- but the snow today most likely wont last. I live where it snows a couple of times a year usually, but it doesnt stick more than a few hours- once it stuck for a day. However, the roads ice up often in the winter- which is NOT good.

My grandson played with my Monopoly game while he was here this past weekend. He made up his own rules and had such a good time. Its funny how some games just stay classics and never go out of style. I will be buying a couple of them for Christmas gifts for the older grandkids..I think theyll enjoy it.

The hub will be home in 3 more nights. Looking forward to having him home for 3 weeks before the long winter shifts start!

Kohls deals

October 21st, 2012 at 05:35 pm

I went to Kohls this afternoon to see what I could do with the 30% off coupon. I picked up 6 tins containing dominoes or matching type games. Normally, 9.99, on sale for 5.99 plus 30% off or $4 each. I also picked up 5 candles that were 60% off before the coupon...so very good deal for those! And candles work for so many on my list. (Plus I love candles, so no waste there for sure!)

I splurged a new pair of slippers for home. They were normally 28, on sale for 19.99 and so I paid $14. I normally just wear socks around the house, but these are hard bottom slippers that I can wear indoors and out- and with winter coming, these will keep my feet warmer.

As I was leaving Kohl's, my friend texted an invite to come over for dinner (chicken cheese enchiladas)- So I went. Since they were eating early (4pm) it sounded good to me! These are the friends that we are going to the vacation rental with in 3 weeks..so we chatted about the trip. We have gone about twice a year for 4-5 years with these friends. Usually each couple chooses one day to be responsible for cooking the meals and cleanup. This trip, we are going for 4 nights, so we will include pizza delivery one night and something simple one night. The hub wants to make prime rib for our night. (yum!) we always have such a good time together - walks, dominoes, hot tub, movies...

Since dinner was early tonight, I was home by a little after 5. I had a dish all ready to pop in the oven for dinner here, so I will just let it marinade one more night and have it tomorrow night.

I have my pumpkin candle burning tonight. I love pumpkin candles this time of year. Actually I love the weather, the smells, the trees, the food...Fall really is my favorite time of year!

The morning after..

October 21st, 2012 at 09:17 am

My houseguest is sleeping in this morning. From the looks of the living room, he was busy after gramma went to bed. Either that or a hurricane hit Oregon, specifically my living room, that I havent heard about.

Today I plan on housework, watching the Packers beat the Rams (Sorry Boomeyers!) and maybe getting back over to Kohls to use my 30% off for some Christmas shopping.

I took out four chicken breasts last night and have them marinading in the spicy teriyaki sauce for dinner tonight. ( and a couple more meals). I plan to pull the pork out of the freezer that I cooked last week for pulled pork sandwiches. Breakfasts will be oatmeal this week. Then, on Thursday night the hub gets home and meals will change considerably.

Yesterday I spent quite a bit of my allowance. The big white pumpkin that GS picked out was $19, the one he picked out for me was $6. We spent $15 at the farm on misc games for GS and the corn maze. I spent another $40 at the grocery store. (Although that $40 can come out of the food budget). But it was such a fun day.

In comparison, today will be relaxing and inexpensive (unless I find some great deals for Christmas)

In the meantime, Go Packers!!

GS Day..I loved his list...

October 20th, 2012 at 06:18 pm

A little of me must have worn off on my kids. Today, DD2 called to ask if I had a Kohl's coupon because GS needed new pants. I did, 30% off! While we were shopping, DD1 called and said she was shopping for Halloween costumes for the kids....at Goodwill. She outfitted both for under $10. DD2 found 3 pair of pants for Gs at Kohls- normally 29, on sale for 19 with 30% off...so 13 per pair. Smile I love that my girls think about frugal ways to get what they need!

This morning a group of us from work volunteered at a local community place that takes food donations, packs up care packages and distributes to seniors and needy families. Today we boxed 650 care packages. We alloted 4 hours, but got it done in under 3. We do this twice a year and it is fun and rewarding.

Last week, GS (8) asked me to take him to the pumpkin farm today. I told him I would, and yesterday, he reminded me of my promise. Smile So last night, I called him and asked him to plan out our day. It was so sweet, when I met up with him at Kohls, he had a carefully written out list and timeline for the day. The list was carefully folded and in his pocket. Here is what it says:

List for the day
Wack up at 9:00
go to grandmos home 1:30
go to the pumrin pach 2:00
go to get stackes 3:30
cook diner 4:00
eat diner 5:00
eat popcorn and a move 8:30
go to bed 11:30

Some of his numbers and letters are backwards. It is one of the most precious lists I have ever seen. Definately keepsake material. He loves steak, so that is always his request when he spends the night. We had a fun afternoon. He picked our two pumpkins...one for him and one for me. He carved them both when we got home- and did a really cute job.

Here is GS carving his pumpkin:

Im not sure if we will make it to 11:30 tonight..but we sure have had a great day.

Welcome Friday...and payday!

October 19th, 2012 at 06:45 pm

It is a beautiful fall evening. Not too cold with a nice breeze blowing leaves everywhere. I have a pumpkin candle burning with a window open so I can enjoy the sound of hte wind in the trees.

Today was payday and both the hub and I got paid. As planned, I put money into savings, put some on a debt and the rest will roll for the upcoming weeks when the hub doesnt get a paycheck for his time home.

DD3 heard yesterday that she will be going to Alaska mid to late November. I hope they plan it around the hubs trip back up, otherwise Im not sure what we will do. I am VERY reluctant to let her stay in Anchorage overnight and get around for her employement paperwork and physical by herself. I may fly up with her to make sure she is safe until she gets up to the slope....but I will know more when the time comes.

Our 401k plan is set up so that I can log-in and make whatever changes I want myself, including how much I contribute. I am going to review the investments and determine if they are still allocated appropriately and then look at raising my contribution. Right now I am contributing 8%- my job matches 8% (max). I plan to up my contribution when the next raise comes through. I hope to raise to at least 10%. The program also calculates targets. Right now I am on track to retire at 65 with a good income. However, I would love to get that number down to 60...so I intend to keep adjusting to accomplish this.

Best way to freeze meat and other foods?

October 18th, 2012 at 09:53 pm

I have been using either ziplock freezer bags, or containers for freezing foods- but the hub would like to get one of those food saver things that makes your food airtight for the freezer. I am wondering if anyone has a preference? What do you use and how successful is it? Ive read that the bags are expensive. Any other successful ways to freeze out there?

I would love to get in a routine while the hub is gone of cooking for the week on the weekend and just pulling meals out of the freezer ready to go during the week.

My list of honey-dos is growing for the hub this time. I need to have tires rotated, oil change, decorative stip reglued to the car...maybe the wipers changed and defroster fluid refilled. It could be a while before he is home again, so I want to get all that stuff done while he is here.

One day left...and then its weekend time! Its been a gruelling week- so the weekend is welcome. Cant wait!!

Changes at work and Budget projections

October 18th, 2012 at 10:39 am

I learned today that the changes at work are indeed happening. My department will be growing by at least 3-4 people and assume a few new areas of risk management. I have worked here for almost 20 years and have rolled with similar changes many times- To me, change is always exciting and an opportunity to learn. Big Grin (I think it means more $$ too...Big Grin)

The hubs paycheck is $100 more than budgeted this week. The extra money went straight to debt. $1800 went to various savings accounts (escrow type accounts- birthday, Christmas, vacation, insurance, taxes, big vacation, etc. No bills were due this week, so the remainder will roll to next week when both house payments are due and then roll to the weeks that the hub doesnt get a paycheck in November. This will be his last 3 week stint home until next spring. He will only be home 1-2 weeks every 4-5. He also said that DD3 should get her call today about working up there. She is pretty excited about it...I am nervous- it is so far from home and isolated up there...the hub will be in the area, but they wont really see much of each other.

Even though the hub is home Oct 25- Nov 14...there are 5 Fridays in Nov. With the anticipated OT and the way my paydays fall, I will be able to put $3500 towards debt! This is huge for us for one month! I love that we are chipping away at those bills.

Happy Bosses Day

October 16th, 2012 at 03:03 pm

I am on a quick break and work and decided to pop in at SA to unwind. My lunch break was spent attending a 90 minute compliance webinar on an upcoming, very confusing, govt rule that I need to summarize for everyone. Sound fun? Not so much. At least my lunch was paid for.

Today is also bosses day. (Why are days like this created?? Must be a Hallmark thing...) I received a beautiful bouquet from the girl- (S) I supervise. (Our team also got a bouquet for our/my boss). I love fresh flowers- and am sure greatful to (S) for being so thoughtful!

I dont have much else going on. I will make some quinoa and green beans tonight (have on hand) to go with the ribs..so today will be a no spend day for me. Big Grin

I also need to remember to take the chicken breasts out of the freezer and start them marinading tonight. Those will go into the crockpot tomorrow. I found a "spicy" teriyaki sauce on sale that I am eager to try. I think I will make enough quinoa tonight to have some with the chicken tomorrow night.

Well, time to get into a meeting..

Free carwash and leftovers!

October 15th, 2012 at 07:28 pm

Ok, my free car wash was in the form of an all afternoon rainstorm. Big Grin But this is one way of seeing the glass half full right? I have a brand new umbrella hanging in my closet that I didnt use when we went to Alaska, so out it will come tomorrow. I also turned the sprinkler system off, hopefully for the year. It wont come back on until next Spring.

Dinner tonight was leftover pork ribs. I wasnt really hungry, so all I had was that with bbq sauce and a big glass of ice water. I will have one more meal and then the rest will get shredded and froze for sandwiches.

I had my 3rd quarter review today and it went great. I am very pleased with how well the job is going- Our dept assistant was transferred and she was helping me about 8 hours a week..all that work is back on my plate until she is replaced, which means I will be working some overtime- I am exempt, which means no pay for OT, but thats ok. My job was always so understanding when I took care of my parents...and I dont get charged when I need to leave early or take an extended lunch...so its all good. Hopefully the assistant will be replaced quickly.

On the other hand, the hub mentioned that he is starting to get OT and that IS paid. From now until next April- he will be working lots of OT. Hourly, I make about $10 more an hour than he...but annually, he makes more because he works so much OT.

This coming weekend is going to be busy. On Saturday I volunteered for a food repack for a local community organization. I will work there for 4 hours..then, if the weather is nice, we are going to a local farm/pumpkin patch with the kids/grandkids. If the weather isnt nice I will probably have one or more grandbabies here.

Sunday- no plans. I hope to keep it that way. Football, housework catch-up, reading..all sound good to me.

I am re-reading one of my favorite books on my kindle. The Education of Little Tree. Such a good story. Something I dont think Ive ever disclosed...I am 1/4 Cherokee..so I feel a connection with the characters. I am thinking about getting a copy for each of my kids for Christmas- most likely will!! I read this book about 10 years ago and just loved it. I think it would be a good keepsake type gift for the kids to share with their kids- because it is one of moms favorites and because they also share this heritage.

Lovin the crockpot

October 14th, 2012 at 05:11 pm

I purchased some boneless pork ribs this weekend that were on sale for $1.99. This morning I put them in the crockpot with some seasonings and onion. When I got home, the meat was done..so tender! DD3 and I had it for dinner and it was oh, so , good!

I have PLENTY for lunch and dinner tomorrow and then I will shred the rest for pulled pork sandwiches on Tuesday night.

On Wed I will cook the chicken in the crockpot for the next two nights.

My crockpot really does make life easier. And I definately use it more this time of year.

My friend enjoyed her birthday trip today. Brunch was yummy ...the movie was ok. (Pitch Perfect)..I think it would appeal to a younger crowd..but it had its moments. I dont go to the movie very often- mostly because Im picky when it comes to the movies I go see. This wouldnt have been one I would have chose myself, but it was the birthday girls choice.
All in all, a fun day.

Birthdays and dinners for the week

October 14th, 2012 at 06:26 am

The weekend is going to be less expensive than I had budgeted - by about $50. Last night was the 60th birthday for a co-worker. Today another friend (P) and I are taking (D) out for her birthday. She wants to go to brunch and a movie..which will be fun and relaxing. We had talked about going wine tasting, but (D) came up with plan B-which actually sounds more fun today- especially since I have had crazy insomnia the last two nights. (Where did THAT come from?? and PLEASE GO AWAY).. A few sips of wine and Id probably be sound asleep...then again, a dark theater might do it too. The tab will be split between (P)and I...and we also split the cost of a massage. I dont usually spend this much on friend gifts, except with these two- between the three of us our birthdays are June, August and October and we usually do something nice for each other and make a day of it.

Boneless pork ribs were on sale this week for $1.99. I will be putting those into the crockpot before we leave today so that dinner will be ready when I get home. I bought enough to make 2-3 meals plus freeze some. DD3 might come over for dinner, so it may just make enough for the meals. I also want to make some oatmeal for the week tonight.

Dinners will be ribs two nights and chicken fixed a couple different ways. (Teriyaki one night, lemon rosemary another)..and then pasta one night. Lunch will be leftovers or PBJ.

I filled the gas tank yesterday. OMG- it was $4.09 a gallon- but I got 10 cents off from my loyalty card..but still. ugh. Thankfully I only fill up every other week or so.

$97 at the store tonight

October 12th, 2012 at 08:07 pm

A big box store opened next door to my job a few months ago. There is just a small side street that separates our parking lots...and we can definately feel the added traffic when leaving work each night- It is not my favorite place to shop, but it IS very convenient now. I needed coffee creamer for the weekend and decided to stop in there on my way home. Since I didnt have plans tonight I decided to just walk around and pick up things that I have been meaning to get but always seem to forget. (Not a budget friendly idea...but I did get some check marks)

One item was a bluetooth for my cell phone. I have never had one - and it is a want/need. I picked one up for $25.

I (needed?) hair color ($7), toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, creamer, butter, bread. The haircolor is much cheaper doing it myself, and Im not ready to go el natural yet, so I consider it a need...

I wanted a couple of new nail polish colors, scissors to trim my bangs (bought the less expensive ones for $8.98)- again doing it myself is much less expensive, and a plastic cover to use in the microwave for splatters ($1.98)...my California friend had one that we used quite a bit while there and I really saw the benefit of it for under $2.

I managed to spend $97...and TOTALLY forgot to pick up cat food, which I am out of after tonight. So, tomorrow I will make a quick stop to pick cat food up.

Part of the $$ will come out of the grocery budget and the rest is allowance $$. I still have plenty of money in the household/entertainment account since the hub hasnt been here to help spend any of it and I have tried to stay fairly frugal. Dinner was PB&J on toast tonight.

When I mentioned the bluetooth to the hub, he said he might get one when he comes home to use this winter. I think it will be handier to use than bracing my cell between my shoulder and chin to support the phone while I multitask.. (perhaps this adds to the occaisional stiff neck??)

It is nice to be home and not have to get up early in the morning. I plan to sleep in...we will see if that actually happens. Usually around normal wake up time coffee starts sounding really good.

Tonight Zillow shows the value of both homes have inched up a little. The country house is still in the black (barely)...my city house is still in the red, by about $40k. Ive lived here almost two and a half years...absolutely love this house..but the loss in value still smarts. OH well, since I dont plan to sell for a few more years I can hope the value will keep creeping up.

Rainy days and payday

October 12th, 2012 at 03:52 pm

It has been another busy day at work. They are going to be rearranging responsibilities again soon, and it sounds like I will be supervising at least two more areas (and people). The good news in that is that I already do much of the work for those areas, so adding two people to the team will help reduce my work load some...the bad news is adding two more people to the team means more supervisory work. Of course, it primarily depends on the individuals.

My current job involves risk and compliance, when the changes are done it will also include fraud and loss prevention. And I actually enjoy the latter two the most, so the change overall will be welcome.

Today was a payday for the hub. I have a master spreadsheet for the budget and so every paycheck is planned. (I currently have everything planned through March 2013). When payday arrives I know almost down to the penny what needs to go where. I shudder when I think about the days I didnt have a budget and just paid what was squeeking the most wondering why we barely made it from one payday to the next.(or sometimes didnt!)

My excel spreadsheet has a budget tab, an 'escrow' type account tab (for things like car insurance, clothes, medical, etc.), a christmas tab, birthday tab, vacation tab, etc. I probably am a little anal about how much I track...but it helps keep goals in line.

I wish I could say all that tracking has gotten us debt free...but alas we are not. A good portion of the debt we have came from trying to help my son while his business was failing...and from the hubs first stint up in Alaska when we had to ship tools, get all the gear, etc..and then he was laid off. Oh, and there are some home repairs in the debt too.

But..the debt is FINALLY heading downhill. I have paid off almost $10k in the last 12 months...AND we have built an emergency fund too. So we ARE heading in the right direction.

Not sure about everyone else...but even with the cloudy weather, I am SO ready for the weekend.

Payday plans

October 11th, 2012 at 07:27 pm

The hubs paycheck is $38 more than expected tomorrow. This will go towards debt repayment. The electric bill was $130 less than budgeted, so that will go into the electricity escrow account. During the winter that bill can get pretty high for the other house, so I keep an escrow type account going all year and stash whatever is left of the budgeted amount to cover it during winter. (I budget $400 per month year round- this month it was $270. The bill combines both houses into one bill- but breaks down how much it is for each house.

DD2 wanted to go to lunch today, so we met at a restaurant that shares a parking lot with a Harry and Davids retail store. After lunch, I had some time, so I went into H&D. I always enjoy their seasonal decor and deals. The only thing that jumped out at me were two bottles of sparkling white wines. Different labels..both beautiful and on sale. When I use my credit card from the credit union, several merchants will give me a discount. (Its a deal the CU worked out with our 'local' vendors) H&D 's discount is10%...so I saved $2.50...and the cost was $22.50 PLUS they will do a courtesy wrap and make the bottles look even more special...for FREE. So for #11.25 each, I have two ready to go gifts for birthdays or special occaisions. (Full price would have been $35 for both) I will definately keep this in mind for those 'extra' Christmas gifts I need. Plus, wine doesnt go bad and anything I dont use for Christmas can be saved for birthday gifts next year.

DD2s birthday was in September and her gift was two tickets to a comedy show that is tonight. I cant wait to hear how it was.

So happy tomorrow is Friday. I am looking forward to the weekend!

Budget mistake...ouch.

October 10th, 2012 at 07:44 pm

I was looking at the budget and realized, unfortunately, that I ommitted the minus sign in front of an entry..ugh. It was a 374 entry...so I was off by 748...fortunately, I had budgeted $1000 extra to savings...so I adjusted the 'extra' and fixed the error. It is so easy to forget a little minus sign...but made such a big difference when I fixed it.

I had leftover enchilada pie from yesterday's potluck for dinner tonight. The layers all melded together and it tasted even better tonight. Smile I love leftovers, it is like free food.

This weekend I have two friend birthdays. One was planned, the other was not. A co-worker, who I adore but dont usually spend time with outside of work is turning 60. His wife is throwing a party Saturday night and he asked if I would come. He is one of the sweetest people I know- so I wouldnt miss this for anything. They are serving dinner and drinks and the wife suggested just a funny card for him. But I want to put a 'care package' together for my 'old' friend. Any suggestions? I have a feeling most of the package will be out of the pharmacy section...but I need more ideas. Most of the other people that will be there are old co-workers who no longer work with us anymore. Unfortunately, several of them left on not such good terms, so it is always a little awkward when I attend social events with this group..thankfully it is not often. It would be easier if the hub was going, but he is in Alaska. So I asked my friend (next paragraph friend) to go as my date. She and the birthday guy are old friends- but havent seen each other in years, so it should be fun.

The other birthday (Sunday)is my dear friend who I mention on here quite a bit because she and her husband go to the vacation rental home with us when we go. There are three of us girlfriends who celebrate each others birthday together as a tradition. My birthday-friend mentioned that a massage sounded good- so the other friend and I will split the cost of a gift certificate between us...and then we are going wine tasting. (Free unless we buy any bottles because of our memberships) We will probably even go to brunch...so Sunday will be a spendy day. Between Sat night and Sunday I anticipate spending $150. This comes out of my savings account that I stash extra allowance into when there is any..thankfully, I have enough to cover both- but the allowance piggy will be fairly dry when Im done.

Tomorrow is Thursday, which means I get a peek at what the hubs pending paycheck will be on Friday. I always budget conservative, so it is almost always fun to update the budget with the actual total. His paychecks are usually within $100 of normal until next month...then he starts working overtime. This year, they are talking with him about working more weeks and taking less time off. I am sad that he wont be home as much, but for the long term, big picture- this helps us get to our goals quicker. He said not to buy his Nov/Dec airline ticket today...so it begins.

Potluck and reflections

October 9th, 2012 at 07:41 pm

The potluck dish I made was a big hit. I just improvised a dish...and called it enchilada pie. Layers of white corn tortillas cut into bite sized pieces, shredded chicken, cheese, salsa verde, refi and black beans, olives,corn and green chilis. Three of the layers were the tortillas and the other layers were just random. I hope the kids at the shelter enjoyed it as much as the people I work with did.

I need a haircut. For the past couple of years I have been going to a friends salon, but she shut down and went to work at a bank to get a more steady income and benefits. My last haircut was in May before I went to Boston/NY. I have trimmed the bangs, but have just worn my hair up in a clip since. I just hate going to a new stylist..I predict I will just make an appt at JC Penney...but until then, I will trim my bangs again and try curling the hair or keep putting it up. The longer it gets the heavier the hair is on the clip- which doesnt help the headaches. However, even though I didnt stop for the cost, I was paying for color and cut every 8 weeks...so I figure I have skipped 2-3 cut/color appts...if I take off two boxes of do-it-myself color, it is a savings of about $150 the past 5 months.

I have noticed a few commercials for a new show- Extreme Cheepskates. It looks interesting- albeit extreme, but I have set the DVR to record. It will be interesting to see just how extreme folks can go.

Hmmm...makes me think about what extremes Ive gone to. At times, I did extreme things simply because I didnt have much choice...like the time I had one working light bulb and no money, so I just moved the light bulb from room to room at night as I needed to. Or the time when I was first married and we had no money and we ate hot dogs for a week...that was not good on the tummy.

Other extreme things I have done have been from choice rather than necessity...one year a I went a full year without a haircut so that I could give the money I saved to a single mom. Or all the things I did the two years I stayed home and helped my parents....My goal for much of that time was to feed my family (and sometimes my parents too) on $5 per meal. Not exactly extreme, but definately helped stretch the dollars.

The hub and I have come a long ways in our earning ability...and I have often strayed from the frugal choices I was making when things were tighter. However, I have that experience to pull from and am getting re-motivated to see how far I can stretch our dollars. This site is an excellent source for motivation.

Not sure whether Extreme Cheapskates will motivate, humor or entertain...but its worth a visit I suppose.

Lots of food prep tonight! Im pooped!

October 8th, 2012 at 08:30 pm

I have spent a good part of the evening making up enough enchilada pie for about 30 people. I improvised on the recipe and sure hope it tastes ok!

I used white corn tortillas, refi beans, chili verde sauce, cheese, black beans, corn, black olives, green chilis, and shredded chicken...all in various layers.

The shelter food is in two disposable tin containers and the potluck on is in the crockpot...I cut back a little on the liquid for the crockpot, but it still might turn into enchilada soup...lol.

Im also taking salad, cookies, salsa and sour creme for the shelter.

Today, my job was closed, but the day wasnt a holiday- it was an all-staff training day. For not 'working' I sure am pooped tonight. Staying focused all day wears me out! But it was a great day.

I had to stop by the store on the way home because I wasnt sure I had bought enough supplies for all the meal prep. I have to rant a little here. There was a family dad, mom, another woman about moms age and two kids around 2 and 4. Mom and the other woman were pushing the carts. The carts are the ones with the car on the front that the kids can ride in. Mom was running from the other woman and sliding around the end of the aisles. (Really girls??) Very obnoxious and out of line IMO...then, the other woman stopped mid aisle and hollered over the aisle that the little one had just gotten sick all over the car. For some reason they thought this was funny. The womand took the little one and left the cart mid aisle and walked away...perhaps to the bathroom? I saw a store worker in produce and let him know what happened so he could clean up and... maybe toss these folks out of the store?? ARGH. Not the way I needed to end the day...

Sorry, just a cranky old lady ranting.

Anyway- I am glad I stopped because I wouldnt have had enough cheese..or green chilis.

Im done and now can relax for a bit before bedtime. Sure hope I dont end up with soup in that crockpot tomorrow!

Inexpensive brunch and just a great day!

October 7th, 2012 at 06:43 pm

This morning, I had a friend over for brunch. I had super easy food - mini crumb cakes, fruit, bagels, maple bacon, coffee and pumpkin pecan creamer and mimosa's. It was really nice. I set the table with my black dishes- I had some orange napkins from last year, put a few fall decorations on the table..and it looked really warm and inviting. I spent about $20 on the food and I ended up with leftovers that should last for several days.

DD3 stopped by early afternoon and started cleaning house.(not that it was very dirty, but there were traces of the grandbabies from a previous visit)..I asked what was up and she said dad (the hub) had asked her to do it...ok- that was really appreciated!!

So, by mid afternoon I had enjoyed a wonderful morning AND my house was clean for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, Greenbay lost...the only hiccup in an otherwise perfect day!

I decided to do an enchilada bake for the potluck and shelter meals...and I will make everything up tomorrow night. Tonight I am just relaxing.

Tomorrow is a training day at work and lunch is provided. I will grab a bagel on the way out for breakfast along with some coffee/creamer. Dinner tomorrow night will be a sample of the enchilada bake.

Tomorrow should be a no spend day.

I have really enjoyed the day. LIfe is good!

Fun day

October 6th, 2012 at 09:35 pm

DD2, our little foster baby and I spent a great day together. We started in the little historic town enjoying bagels and coffee. The bagels are so fresh and the coffee, oh so yummy. I spent $7.

Then, we walked around to the little shops. DD2 found a puzzle made out of wooden cards that GS would love for Christmas. They were 50% off, so, $12.50. She also pointed out a cute pair of earings for DD1 $8. Then, we went to Ross where I found a cute little Halloweed decoration for my desk at work $3.99. A final stop at the craft store and I picked up 5 silk yellow and red sunflowers and a decoration for the front porch $16. So total spending so far...$46. I came home and took a nap and DD2 called again to go to dinner. I spent $42 on us, and we picked out a sweet looking elderly couple and asked the waitress to let us pay their check without telling them. They must have shared a meal because their tab was only $21. We both left feeling happy for the random act of kindness. Spending today - $109.

Tomorrow morning a friend is coming over for mimosas and bagels. The rest of the day will be fixing the food for the potluck and homeless teen shelter that I am responsible for on Tuesday.

I plan to spend the remainder of my time tomorrow watching some football and putzing around the house doing laundry, etc.

what to do...what to do...

October 4th, 2012 at 08:00 pm

The potluck that was scheduled at work tomorrow, was moved to Tuesday. (about 15 people) (Monday is a training day and the whole company goes offsite for Columbus day)...

It is also my month to prepare a meal on Tuesday for our homeless teen shelter. (about 15 people)

So I need to prepare a full meal for the shelter and I volunteered a main dish for the potluck lunch at work..

I figure I can either cook the meals on Sunday ..or Monday night.

I need a couple of crowd pleasing dishes that are easy and relatively inexpensive. My first go round with websites included chili, soup...

Maybe an enchilada type dish...hmmm. Any ideas?

Budget forecast

October 4th, 2012 at 06:41 pm

As planned, I am cooking chicken for the next few nights meals. The recipe is pretty simple..cut boneless breasts into thirds and place in baking dish. (I spray non-stick spray first) Mix lemon or lime juice with a couple of tablespoons of garlic, add a teaspoon of Montreal Steak seasoning and add rosemary and thyme. Spoon over the chicken, drizzle with a little olive oil and pop in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

I serve with quinoa, roasted potatos or rice and spoon a little of the sauce for flavor...serve with a vegi and thats it! It makes terrific leftovers too!
Cheap and easy!

Tomorrow is my payday. I get paid every other Friday. The hub is paid each week for the week prior. He works three weeks and is off three weeks. So we get a partial paycheck, two weeks of full paychecks, a partial paycheck and two weeks with no paycheck. This could make budgeting tough, but I build our budget for 5-6 months into the future so I know which months we will need to carry over because of no paychecks and which months we can save more or pay more towards debt.

Our budget through next April looks great because starting in Nov, he starts working 4 on 2 off...which adds extra paychecks and we cut back on home expenses because he isnt home as long or as often. I miss him during the winter..but we are able to pay more or save more because of it.

September is the final month that finances are a little tight until next May. The extra will either go towards debt or savings...well, and a little towards the vacation account too.

October is an unusual month because the hub is gone the 3rd thru the 25..which is most of the month. Each month I budget for meals/food, entertainment, gas for the cars..and since the hub wont be here, I anticipate a large portion of these line items to be left at the end of the month. I plan to put that extra towards the vacation budget.

Smells like dinner is done..

And he's off...

October 3rd, 2012 at 12:52 pm

The hub's plane left a few minutes ago. Back to Alaska he goes. We still havent heard exactly when DD3 will be heading up. Most likely the end of October or by mid November.

I stopped on the way back from the airport and bought lunch- $8. I had planned to make a sandwich when I got back, but the hub needed to stop by his credit union on the way to the airport to get cash-and they took 10 minutes to wait on him because it was busy. Why does he keep this money at a competetor is a long story...but each time he is home I chip away at his resolve to keep it there. It would be so much easier to have both accounts at the same place. Any way, making lunch was not to be...so I stopped and grabbed a burrito on the way back, quick and easy.. and it got me back to work on time.

Since the hub is not a shopper and doesnt really get excited about Christmas, I plan to use the next three weeks to get as much shopping done as possible. I wish I had more ideas about what everyone wants..but even when I dont, I can usually wing it pretty good. I have about 25 people to shop for in all (Hub, 4 kids, 3 sig others, 7 grandkids, friends, and family). Time to start the list and check it twice.

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