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A wild few months

March 9th, 2009 at 08:27 am

It's been about three months since my last post, and exactly one month since we went to settlement on my mother's "extra" house.

Just before Christmas, my mother got the bad intestinal bug that was going around and because of her age, she was hospitalized for it. Just as she was due to be released, I came down with it and couldn't even go to pick her up myself. Then in January we found out she had a buyer for the house, and spent the next few weeks moving and disposing of the rest of the stuff that was still in it. (Not only is she quite the packrat, we also had to clean out stuff left by the previous two owners!)

It's taken me a month to feel caught up on my own life and back to some kind of normal.

I'm really trying to get back on top of money management--after months of just buying what we needed regardless of price--and posting here is the best way I know to stay honest! So here I am.

It makes a difference

May 3rd, 2008 at 05:16 am

Yesterday as fate would have it, I walked into the supermarket behind a mother and adult daughter, and ended up in the checkout lane behind them too.

Before I left home, I looked at the store flyer, made a list, and gathered my coupons and rainchecks together. They grabbed the flyer on the way into the store, and seemed confused about which week it was even for.

We both had fairly full carts. Their total was over $100, and the cashier told them they saved $3 and something today. My total was $52.92 and my savings, as the store calculates it, were $36.58.

If I ever needed a reminder that it's worth the time to plan ahead, this was it!

Quicken-ing again

April 26th, 2008 at 04:33 am

As I mentioned here:
I gave up on Quicken for a time, after a disastrous experience with a newer version on my older computer.

Well, I'm a Quicken user again, but not in a way that would make Intuit happy! I'd gotten a rebate on the new version, and then when I sent the disk in for a refund I got the full price back. So I actually made a $20 profit there. Then, I found a new, sealed-in-the-box 2002 Deluxe version online for $15. It's exactly what I wanted--the older non-buggy version I'm used to, but with the savings goal feature I didn't have before. So basically I've netted $5 for my time, aggravation and losing almost 3 years of data.

Yeah, I know losing the data is my fault. I've never been good about backing up, and I should know better. But at least now I've discovered a way to make it painless and automatic--I have storage space with my (new) ISP and they even give you software to automatically upload your backups. I could have my Quicken data backed up as often as once an hour--but I decided on once every 24 hours.

Living in our "New Normal"

April 26th, 2008 at 04:15 am

It's been almost 7 months since DH quit his job. After 6 months of trying to be really careful money-wise, it hit me--we're in the middle of the kind of emergency you're supposed to save up against, yet we seem to be doing ok.

It doesn't look like he'll be working again anytime soon; maybe this is our New Normal for now. If so, we might as well go ahead with some purchases and home improvement stuff as long as we don't go into the red. Take our life off Hold, so to speak. Lots to report on about that.

Also, DMom was just in the hospital and life's been kind of chaotic. I think writing here again will help me keep my head together a bit, and keep me from morphing into my evil twin StressMore, living in the New Crazy.

Christmas Club blast from the past- Pix!

December 18th, 2007 at 07:48 pm

The old school Christmas Clubs must be alive and well somewhere, because I came across a banknote printer who's still selling the books. And the graphics look about the same as I remember them from the 70's!

You can see their whole product line here:

Dry cleaning and the environment

October 15th, 2007 at 01:19 pm

In honor of Blog Action Day ...

Personally, I just can't stand the way my clothes smell when I first bring them home from the dry cleaner. But there are health and environmental aspects to it, too. Did you know that California is on the way to outlawing those smelly chemicals by 2023?


For years I've been looking for a local dry cleaner who uses the C02 or silicone system, without success. Recently, though, I was happy to see that a new "green" dry cleaner was opening near our vet's office.

I'm going to use them even though it's a little out of my way, and even if they're more expensive. I usually run things through the dryer with Dry Cleaner's Secret between cleanings anyway, which is already saving me trips and money.

To find a green dry cleaner near you, try the locator links at the bottom of the above article.

Checking back in

April 1st, 2007 at 06:47 am

Gosh, I sure hope this new design is just for April Fool's Day. It's kind of weird having a guy's picture on the top of my blog!

I've been concentrating on other things lately, and let the blogging go. But I've got to start paying more attention to money again. I feel like it's been slipping through my fingers...

Let's see, our biggest financial hit recently was an emergency vet visit on a Sunday that cost $460--and the cat just turned out to have gas. (Did you know they give cats Zantac?) Today he's limping--and he's going to have to keep limping til a weekday.

Our neighbor the mechanic prefers to be paid in cash, and we both thought my car's problem was going to be an expensive one. So I took out $500 to be safe. It turned out to be much less, but it wasn't convenient to get the leftover money back into the bank right away. And so it just WENT. Since my last blog entry, I've gone through $164 in the "unaccounted for" category.

DH's boss is having a baby, and we ended up spending $56 on baby shower gifts. There was a group gift where each employee was expected to chip in $40, and then I was invited to a shower, which seemed to require an individual gift.

There's a possibility that my paycheck could actually go down this year. A new town government has come in that's decided to take away "longevity" bonuses from non-union workers. (The unionized ones would never agree to it.) That was a percentage of pay that was in every paycheck. We also don't know if we'll get much of a yearly raise or not. Usually we get the same % raise as the unionized workers, but there's no guarantee. It's possible we'd get no raise, and lose the longevity, resulting in a lower hourly rate. Keeping my fingers crossed.

On the positive side, I have not run up any debt during these little emergencies. I have two car test drives that haven't expired yet ($75), and I know of a couple of credit cards I could apply for that would give a bonus after the first purchase. It's a new month--gotta get cracking!

Well, that's the news from Lake Woebegone.

Have you ever seen this in an obituary?

February 22nd, 2007 at 12:03 pm

I never have. "In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the funeral home to defray the cost of X's funeral expenses."

This is was an elderly friend of my MIL's, not a homeless person or some poverty-stricken victim of violent crime who's been in the news. There were 23 surviving relatives listed, including two children and two brothers. The rest were grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Very sad, of course, that she didn't have enough at the end to pay for her own funeral expenses. But doesn't it seem rather tacky that such a large family is asking for help paying for it? I wonder how fancy a funeral it was. Too embarrassed to have a really simple funeral, but not too embarrassed to ask for money?

I never, never want to be in that position where someone has to ask for help paying for my funeral. I think I'd be embarrassed even if I were dead!

Resolution of weird bank problem--kind of scary

February 12th, 2007 at 07:21 am

OK, here's what the bank said happened. The other person was paying their credit card bill by phone and by mistake, put in my account number instead of theirs. It's only one number different. The $19 should be returned to my account later today.

I'm assuming it was an honest mistake. OTOH, one could assume that if someone is paying $19 on a credit card by phone, it might be because they have to make the minimum payment at the last possible minute. If someone knew they didn't have enough in their own checking account, and felt desperate, I can imagine how they might try using a slightly different account number in hopes that the other account would cover the payment, if only temporarily. Then they could just say Oops.

Kind of like when people used to mail the phone company check to the electric company and tried to pass it off as an honest mistake. (I actually read that as a suggestion in a book once!)

I'm glad it's fixed, and I'm glad it was such a small amount that it didn't make other checks or debit charges of mine bounce. BUT...

I would have thought that when someone pays by electronic check, the software would look to see if the name or address and the account number go together. But apparently not. As long as there's money in the checking account, no matter whose checking account it is, the payment will go through.

People worry about debit cards--there seems like plenty of opportunity for fraud with plain old checking accounts.

Weird bank thing!

February 10th, 2007 at 05:27 pm

In all my years of banking, this is a first.

I go to reconcile my little "spending money" account, and see a small check I didn't remember writing. I went online to see the check image--they've taken the money out of my account, but it was written on the account of another person. In fact, I haven't even used that check number yet. When I looked closely at the check image, it sure does look like the account number was the same as mine. Is it possible they mistakenly gave the same account number out to two people?

I can't imagine it is identify theft or fraud--who would bother for that amount of money? But you can be sure I'm running right over to the bank tomorrow morning.

Need some extra help? God of Wealth coin ready to go.

November 3rd, 2006 at 05:38 am

There are only a few weeks left to request your Japanese God of Wealth coin and make your wish before Jeffrey takes it back to the shrine.

Actually, I've been feeling luckier just having the coin in my house. Whether it's from the coin itself, or from being part of the great supportive network here at Saving Advice, who's to say..... If you don't want to take any chances, request your coin now. Wink PM me your name and address; first-come, first-served.

Need a review of what it's all about? Here's a link:


Dumb mistake-thank goodness for EF

August 19th, 2006 at 06:06 am

I keep my check register months ahead in Quicken, so I can see what our cash flow will look like. It looked ok to pay the property taxes early, and also pay $600 on the 0% credit card before the 20th, when I usually pay it. I was antsy to get them paid, so I did.

HOWEVER, the reason we looked so flush is that I forgot to deduct for DH's allowance, which comes out this weekend! Luckily, I can get the money out of the emergency fund and put it back on payday.

Glad I don't have to borrow money to get over this hump. But, duh! Still can't believe I messed up this badly.

I want to move near Contrary1 !

August 18th, 2006 at 08:53 am

Finally got the sewing machine opened and set up, and got ready to do what I thought was a simple sewing job. But it turned out that the back dress seam I thought had come apart, was actually fabric that gave way next to the seam.

It's kind of stretched and laddered, and doesn't line up evenly with the fabric on the other side. So I need to reinforce the whole area with seam binding, and at the same time ease that extra fabric in so I don't get puckers. It didn't go right the first time, and I've given up for the day. Next time I'll try to get any puckers high enough that they'll be covered by the jacket that goes over the dress.

If I lived near Contrary1, I could have taken the whole project to her to begin with!!! I'm sure it would come out much better. I haven't machine sewn for at least a year, and was never that good to begin with.

Not a very auspicious start, but I'm determined to start sewing regularly now that it's not so hot up here in the computer/sewing room.

I'm back; Life getting back to normal after heatwave

August 9th, 2006 at 08:06 am

I was going to write about how it's back to normal, but that would mean recalling the misery of the heat itself. And I'd rather not think about it. There are two loose ends, though--the a/c at one of my mother's houses died, and the new one still has to be installed. Also I want to get another fan for us, and we need a new hose, if I can find them on clearance.

Other than that, I'm ready to think about autumn!

Time for a little levity. :)

June 4th, 2006 at 07:05 am

Takes Flash's idea of writing to companies to a silly extreme!

Example, "Before I feed Shagwell any type of pet snacks, I personally sample them to assess their quality and flavor. After all, if I think they taste bad, what is Shagwell expected to think? I just wanted to let you know that your "Dingoroo" dog treats taste excellent" (He got $25 worth of dog treats for that letter!)

A collection of grocery lists that are kind of funny because of misspellings or an odd combination of stuff.

Have a good day!

Telecommunications costs

May 14th, 2006 at 06:11 am

Five Cent Nickel over at PFBlog just did an interesting poll on how people are connecting to the internet. Results, here: www.fivecentnickel.com/2006/05/08/money-poll-11-internet-acc...

One of the commenters said he was spending $60 a month for DirectTV, $50 a month for his cell phone, $55 a month for internet, and complained of how much technology costs. He spoke of not having a landline with dialup, as it would cost too much money.

It made me want to look at my own spending on telecommunications overall; I wondered if I was really saving money having a landline. So I reorganized my categories in Quicken, and ran a report.

This fellow is spending $1980 a year on telecommunications all together.

I am spending $862, including Netflix to keep the comparison fair.

Limited basic cable, $123
Basic landline, $265
Toll calls (phone card and Pioneer Telephone), $50
Cell phones (2), $153
Dialup internet, $55
Netflix, $216

That's a savings of $1118 a year, and I have basically the same services that he does. In fact, I feel like I'm better off because in emergency situations, if the cell doesn't work I have the landline, and vice versa. (Both cases have happened to us before.)

I'm wondering if anyone else here has added up what they're spending on telecommunications as a whole, and how much they're spending? Compared to this guy I'm doing pretty well, but how do I compare to other tightwads? Wink

Blinkies and coupons and carts, oh my! Want the job?

May 6th, 2006 at 05:08 pm

I just went to Smartsource.com to print out some coupons, and noticed they were recruiting for part-time merchandising jobs. It sure sounds like fun, if you are into coupons! It would be too many hours a week for me, on top of my other job, but I figured someone here might be interested.

You'd be responsible for refilling the blinkie coupon machines, other coupon dispensers, changing the ads that go on the shopping carts, etc. You can apply online.


Happy Easter, and may your egg win!

April 16th, 2006 at 09:29 am

We used to call this game Eggie Uppers.