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Archive for June, 2008

Credit Card Math

June 29th, 2008 at 04:42 pm

Today was just a plain ol' Sunday. It was also a NSD and a no gas day. While DS was down for a nap I sat down with each of the credit cards and wrote down minimum payments and finance charges just to see what actually went to the balance. It wasn't surprising to me how little actually goes to it, but I just wanted to have an idea. So far on my debt ticker, all of those payments posted have been additional. Anyways, I made a spreadsheet of each credit card, the balance, the minimum payment, and how much the finance charge is. This should help us in figuring out how much extra payment we can afford and how much it will help. I know the finance charges will change, but as long as I have them at the highest point possible(because we aren't using them anymore) it will keep us making higher payments thus more going towards the actual balance. Hopefully we'll be able to get this knocked out soon.

Well I better get off here....looks like we're finally going to get some needed rain. What it looks like at my house:


June 28th, 2008 at 08:07 am

So in my last post I was debating the whole taking DS (2 yrs) to the movies for the first time. I ended up deciding against it. Maybe we'll just wait till something good comes to the $1 movie to try that out. Instead....DS woke up early this morning so we took him to go pick blueberries. I figured it would be fun, cheap, plus we'd have something to show for it afterwards. It was $11 for a gallon of blueberries and a good time. Plus, the farm is only about 10 minutes from the house. DS really enjoyed himself and it was fun to watch him. He'd just keep running screaming "BWUE-BERWEES!!"We ended up having to have a discussion about which berries to pick since they weren't all blue....but he got a hang of it. I'm not complaining....I've got 2 cookie sheets in the freezer full of blueberries. I thought it was money well spent.

Below are some pictures. Pardon DS I just haven't gotten the nerve to cut his hair yet. It took so long to grow it in...I'm scared to cut it for the first time.

It's All About Money

June 27th, 2008 at 09:43 am

I looked over my ING savings account the other day and noticed every month they had reduced my interest rate. I knew from the get-go that they said interest rates would vary...but I didn't think it'd be a stairstep like that. Anyways, I switched to Wamu. Wamu was offering 3.30% plus I still have a checking account open with them so it made it very easy to sign up. I'm sure there might be higher paying ones but this one seemed the easiest. Also, since I have a checking account there too it's easy to transfer money back and forth and it's immediate. I really don't use the checking anymore since switching to Suntrust but I do still use it for Paypal transfers after my Ebay sales. It keeps me from spending it until I can figure it out. Also, I added my Suntrust as an external account so I can transfer money without any ATM fees or having to go to 2 banks or whatever.

I checked on my 401K I have self funded with ING....it has dropped every month since October. I just have the generic strategic growth allocation fund. I picked that because I'm so young. I know absolutely nothing about investing and I know the horrible market has hinder it's growth. I just don't know what to think. I don't know if I should keep it there or roll it over somewhere else or what.

I made a payment of 25.56 (squishy cash payment + random $)to the Chase card today. I should have another $80 to add on Monday. I feel that if I just go ahead and schedule the c.c payments as I find money, I won't be able to spend it on useless crap.

I think we're gonna take DS to his first cinematic adventure tomorrow afternoon. We're gonna take him to go see Wall-E. Normally we would just wait until DVD but I think it's been hard on DS with both of us working so much. Not only that, but with all the cut backs we don't really go to a lot of places anymore. He doesn't have any siblings and we don't have any friends with kids....well I take that back...we have one set that have a 6 month old....but at 2 yrs old a 6 month old really isn't that fun. I've been playing with him outside and allowing him to help me with the garden, but I think he just needs a treat and some good family time. I really don't want to spend the money, but we are going to a 12pm show so it will be cheaper...but still. I'm torn.

A Nice Surprise

June 25th, 2008 at 11:03 am

I got my $50 Visa gift card from Suntrust yesterday. I got it for opening our checking account. That was nice...I needed gas today and it fit nicely.

I also just checked my email. I just got $20.75 from Squishy Cash. I guess I cashed out last month and forgot about it. That's going straight to the c.c's.

Woo Hoo!

June 24th, 2008 at 06:04 am

Well I'm excited for my good news, but I also have bad news too.

Good news: DH's computer upgrade c.c's payment posted today so now it's paid off! In addition to that, the lady who came by to see DS's bed we posted on Craigslist ended up buying it for $80! That's all I paid for it so I was happy. I just scheduled a payment for our Chase card for $101.36 ($80 for the bed + $21.36 refund from Hobby Lobby). Slowly but surely we're gonna get that crap knocked out. DH doesn't seem to think so though. He said we'd be paying it the rest of our lives. He's such a pessimist. I called him out on that and he said he was a realist. Either way you wanna call it, I still think it's a bad attitude to have. Good thing I'm the one paying the bills. My goal is 2 years but I think with our tax rebate the next go around and the fact that our escrow will be over paid and we'll get a refund in June next year, we should get it done faster. The deal with the escow is the fact I filed our homeowner's exemption late so we had to pay the normal tax amount last year however they're still accounting for that amount, not the discounted amount we'll receive this year. They won't let me change it, but that's ok with me...I just look at it as forced savings. In addition all the difference on everything we're cutting back on is going to the c.c's and we've stopped using them. So here's hoping anyways.

So on to the bad news. DH has to go back to the dr. today for his allergy test. He already paid out the $250 deductable last visit so this visit is 20%. I'm guessing it's probably going to be another $200 visit. Then after this visit he will start allergy shots. The co-pay does not cover this so again it's 20% on a weekly basis. I don't even know how much that's going to cost, but with DH's lung capacity being so low, we have no choice. Health is more important than the bills, but I'm sure we'll make it, we always do.

Getting Back Some Money

June 23rd, 2008 at 11:10 am

In addition to working today....I figured it'd be a good day to take care of some stuff I'd been putting off. On my lunch, I went to Hobby Lobby to return some stuff. After disputing with the cashier that it had not been 60 days since my purchase (Yes...I had to pull the calendar out) I got my $21.36 back. I was fairly irriated with that one. Seriously, she was arguing with me. After I left there, I went and canceled my tanning bed membership. I know....I know it's bad for you....I just was never able to tan in the sun until a couple of weeks ago. Strange how that worked out. That was $24.95 a month.

I also logged on to my power companies website who offered a break down of my monthly power bill...how much I was spending on cooling, lights, ect. It was just a guestimate but it put things into perspective for me. Ima was sure on the button about turning off the water heater. That sucker costs about $38.46 a month!!! Good thing I flipped it off on my way out the door this morning. I'm going to check the temp on it when I get home.

DS has stopped sleeping in his race car bed I bought used for him a couple of months ago. He's a horizontal sleeper so he prefers a queen size bed. We just moved the one out of our guest room into his. I posted his race car bed on Craigslist last night and I've got a lady coming to see it tonight. I hope she gets it. I priced it at $85 just to get back what I put into it since he really didn't use it.

I'm still working on ways to cut back the bills.

Saving On Bills

June 22nd, 2008 at 02:23 pm

Alas, I am still trying to find ways to cut back on our bills. I looked into our car insurance at raising the deductible for both collision and comprehensive. If I raised both up to $1000 on both of our cars it would only end up saving us $11.83 a month. That didn't really seem worth it to me. Right now at this point in our lives since we're paying off c.c's it would be easier for me to come out $11.83 a month rather than coming up with a lump sum of $1000 for a deductible. I don't think I'll be changing that. Once DH's last speeding ticket hits 3 yrs in Sept. we're gonna get a quote from Farm Bureau and see if it would be lower since we just switched our homeowner's insurance and it was a significant savings....hopefully the car insurance will be too.

I still cannot decide about changing the internet. DSL would save us $12.95 a month but it is significantly slower than the cable plus it would be $40 to hook it up. However, we would be getting 2 services (telephone and internet). Currently we don't have home phone, we have cells. So I just don't know.

Trying To Cut Back Costs

June 19th, 2008 at 08:01 am

In order to be able to apply more to the C.C.s I've decided we need to cut back more. At this point I've found it hard to cut back because we are pretty much at the basics. Power, gas, water, ect.

* I went yesterday and cut back the homeowner's insurance...that's going to save us $30 a month....depending on how fast our mortgage company honors our request to re-evaluate our escrow.

* I'm debating about our internet. Currently we pay $57.95 for cable internet. (Note, we don't have cable tv so that's why it's high). I'm debating switching to DSL for a lower speed for $45 (includes all taxes) or just getting rid of internet all together. The only reason I'm hesistant is due to our Ebay sales, it would delay communication till the next work day when we have internet at work.

* I introduced a new rule to the house that says you must wash your dishes as soon as you're done with them in the sink. This will hopefully solve two problems. One, our dishes have been piling up at the sink due to our busy lives and not getting done....and two, hopefully it will bring the power and water bill down not using the dishwasher.

* I think I'm going to purchase something to hang jeans and other heavy clothing items on to dry so that the dryer won't have to work so hard.

* We aren't doing a lot of driving on the weekends anymore so I'm hoping that will free up some money too.

* I might try turning the hot water heater off during the day to see if that has any effect on the power bill.

What are some things you find yourself doing or cutting back on?

My Dramatic Homeowner's Insurance Savings

June 18th, 2008 at 06:03 pm

So I went and saw the people over at Farm Bureau today about insurance. I had already made plans to change my homeowner's insurance because I felt like I was paying too much. I'd heard good things about them too. I was paying $633 yr with State Farm. So when I got there, I had brought the new bill from State Farm so I could show the guy all my coverage. Well while waiting for him, I opened the bill just to look over things. Boy did my jaw drop. It had gone all the way up to $744 a yr!! When I finally got back to the guy's office I showed him and he was like "Wow...this is terrible....well...good for me because I've so totally got them beat". You can say that again! His quote with an extra $10K on dwelling coverage was only $375 a year! Needless to say I'm totally happy. I signed up for it and I've even requested for an escrow re-evaluation to get my house payment lower. That's a savings of $30.75 a month!

Ok... I Feel A Little Better

June 17th, 2008 at 05:56 am

In regards to my previous posts, I just checked out my online banking and saw my check finally posted. It just sucks I had to do all of that though. However I am glad it didn't take that long.

DH finally went to the Dr. yesterday. I just went ahead and sent him to an allergist instead of our general because I already knew it had to be that and I didn't wanna pay 2 co-pays. We have a PPO so I was able to do that. Turns out he may have allergy induced asthma. They did a breathing test on him and he doesn't have full lung capacity. The test was computer animated and you have to blow into a tube. On the screen was the 3 little pigs' houses (this dr sees both children and adults). You were suppose to blow as hard as you could do blow them down. He didn't blow any down so the dr just looked at him and said "yeah.....we've got some work to do". When making his appt. I had mentioned he used to do allergy shots about 15 yrs ago but got careless and stopped. So they're saying they're probably going to make him start doing them again. Which is fine with me if I could just get some peace around the house. His coughing is just horrible. They gave him an emergency inhaler and a maintnence inhaler but it doesn't seem to help the cough any. Maybe with time it will. They won't allow him to take any allergy medication (i.e. antihistmines) until he comes back next week for his skin test. They're doing sputum tests this week. Hopefully we'll get this nipped in the bud. It did suck though that he had to go ahead and pay out his deductable yesterday since he'll be seeing them on a weekly basis. It was $250. I asked DH how much it would be after that and he said 20% of the visit....but we have a $30 specialist co-pay. So I don't know if what he's telling me is true or if we'll being paying the co-pay....but even then I thought once you covered your deductable they covered 100% of preventive care. I hope it's the latter because I've googled the cost of allergy shots just to get a ballpark and they said $1000 weekly. So 20% is $200. We can't afford $200 weekly and I don't know anyone who really could. We have BC/BS PPO and this dr. is in network...surely it'd have to be better than that. I guess we'll see.

On a lighter note. On Saturday I made some little newspaper seed starter pots and started some flower seeds while I'm waiting for my veggy seeds to come in. I did some Zinnias, Poppies, basil, and oregano. I walked out yesterday and saw my Zinnias were already sprouting. I was soooo stoked. Normally I just kill stuff but now I'm growing it. Hopefully I won't mess it up.

Update: Where's My Money

June 16th, 2008 at 01:18 pm

So after not hearing from the lady I spoke to at the bank....I called her back. Once I called her, she told me she did show record of me making a deposit (duh!) however she was not able to find the check. Somehow it got misplaced from the teller to the proofing department. She told me that she had to place a research request that would take a day to locate it then when they did they would credit me. Now personally, I think if someone has their own proof of deposit and the bank shows a record of deposit, they should just go ahead and give that credit immediately and worry about locating it on their end in their own time. I mean, it is their fault. Anyways, she told me it'd be a day. Well I proceeded to tell her that I was concerned things may bounce...I mean after all it was my paycheck. She told me she'd put a "watch" on my account. Well all I have to say is that if things bounce, I better not be held responsible for those overdraft charges. I'm so annoyed. I mean if I misplaced their money for my car loan, they wouldn't care....they'd charge me out the wazoo in fees.

Where's My Money?!

June 16th, 2008 at 09:36 am

Both DH and I got paid on Friday. We both deposited our checks about 12pm....he deposited his at a different branch than I. His check finally showed up on Sat while mine still has yet to. I called the bank maybe about an hour ago and a woman who didn't sound that thrilled to be speaking to me took my information and said she'd look into it and call me back. I was terribly nice to her....even did my yes m'ams. Grrrr! Let me note that DH's check that already cleared in a day was larger than mine (almost double mine). We haven't ever had our payroll checks held before I've got my deposit slip so if I have to fight it, I've got it. I'm so irritated though. We just changed to Suntrust from WAMU in April. We were originally with WAMU before we moved now since we moved, I'm not close to a branch but DH's office is so he'd have to deposit my check the next day. I didn't like that delay so we switched to a bank that was close to both of our offices....Suntrust. I really hope she calls me back soon because if I have to take off from work tomorrow to go over there it's not going to be pretty. What ever happend to customer service??

Productive Day

June 14th, 2008 at 06:59 pm

Whew! Am I tired! I just got the baby to bed and soon I will follow. I got a lot done today. More than any other weekends here lately. We were suppose to go up to SC this weekend for father's day however DH is sick. Now he's been working on this for 2 weeks now. Horrible cough. I've been at him to go to the Dr. but he's refused....until today. He says he'll go on Monday I just hope he'll be able to get in. It is driving me nuts. Plus he's just acting totally helpless. Along with what I had to do today, I had to find a way to incorporate the baby into the activities. Seriously though, it has been very difficult to have sympathy for DH.
So what did I do today? Well I woke up early and went to Home Depot to get some soil, peat moss, and turf builder. I made some little newspaper starter pots and filled them for some little flower seeds I had. I went around to my flower beds and laid the peat moss to see if I can get those back viable. The lawn has been looking horrible here for a while now. Our lawn is bermuda. So I found this anytime turf builder that said it would strengthen and green within 72 hours. That sounded good to me. So I went out an spread it. Now upon spreading I notice I may have an erosion problem. As I stated, I have very sandy soil here. Well my house is on top of a very steep hill.

This picture was taken after the house was built so my lawn doesn't look like this anymore. Think more brown and stiff. It should give you an idea of the hill. Anyways, while I was walking the lawn I was seeing a lot of sand and what looked like washed water marks. Also at the foot of the hill around the mail box there really isn't a lot of grass anymore just a lot of sand. I'm thinking when it rains it washes the sand down the hill. Either I've got an erosion problem or all my grass is dying or a little of both. I'm hoping the turf builder will help. We'll see. I laid it down right before a pop up storm blew through so it helped since we're in a drought and I can't water the lawn. I'm trying to blame the dead grass on the drought but everyone else in the neighborhood still has green bermuda. So I don't know.

I then came in, cooked fajitas, picked up and cleaned the kitchen. I just felt the floor was so dirty. We have ceramic tile in the kitchen and the tile has that texture to it so dirt gets in all those little crevices. It ended up being me on my knees scrubbing the floor. It does look cleaner and I'm satisfied with it....I'm just tired. Oh mind you I'm doing this while DH is just "dying" on the couch flipping through channels. *Sigh*

I think we're gonna go to Aldi's tomorrow for a couple of groceries. We're out of milk and eggs and a couple of other things.

I Think I'm Going To Take On A Garden

June 13th, 2008 at 01:15 pm

Let me start by saying I have absolutely no clue about gardening. I thought when I bought my house I'd automatically grow a green thumb. No, actually it's dead along with several other things in my yard. It doesn't help that we're enduring a horrible drought here that's been goin' on a couple of years now.

My neighbor on the other hand, is a goddess of gardening. She works 2 jobs and is hardly ever home yet her yard looks soooo green and wonderful. Her plants are always so pretty. I was finally able to corner her the other day when I was pulling up from work. She had the day off from her 2nd job and was cutting the grass. I asked her how she kept her yard so pretty being in a drought. Her reply "Oh I really don't know how they're surviving. I don't water them...heck I really don't do anything but cut the grass." Yeah that was a big eye roller. Me over here struggling to keep something alive and she's over here just throwing her hair back thinking "Yeah I'm just that good". She continued to tell me she pays someone to come fert. her lawn and that she had prepped her flower beds with peat moss. Now as lame as I'm about to sound here, I'd never heard of peat moss.....I made a mental note to google that later. I had her come over to my yard to tell me what I had growing in my flower bed. I thought it was something I'd planted long ago trying to come up.....no just rag weed. Yeah, see...I told you.

So upon my googling of peat moss, I discovered this bad boy holds on to 20 times it's weight in water and that it releases the water as the soil needs it. BINGO. This is how her flowers look so good. Soooo....I'm figuring I need to go buy this and put it in my flower beds and give it a good watering.

Anyways, I came across some real cheap veggy seeds (corn, spinich, lettuce, rasberry, green beans, tomatos, green peppers), blueberry plants, and strawberry plants. I'm thinking I want to see if I can grow some food. I know I'm getting a late start but here in my area of GA we really don't start cooling down until about the begining of Nov. and even then it's not really frost worthy. I've been reading up on it all today and apparently this goes beyond digging a hole in the ground and putting something in it. Here in GA we had a lot of red clay but my yard seems to be more sandy. From what I read this may be a good thing. For those gardeners, I know I would till up an area, but would you suggest just keeping it sand and use fertilizer or adding some black soil into it? I was thinking with the peat moss, since we're in the drought, to put that on top. What do you think? Also, any other tips would be greatly appreciated as well.

I Put DH To Work

June 12th, 2008 at 10:38 am

In regards to my last post, I think I will place an order with AFM. I might just buy the inital box to see how much I'm going to like it.

Anyways, at my house we have been having the on going battle with the AC since it's just gotten so daggum hot out here. We fought about it last summer too. I'm the last one to leave the house in the morning, so what I do is turn off the AC. I don't really feel like the house needs to be cooled while we're not there. Plus, I would like to get the power bill lower. We are gone from about 7:45-5:30 M-F. Last summer I did notice a difference with doing this. However, DH comes home and gets super irritated that it's soooo hot. I don't mind it so much but that could be because I grew up in the same area with no AC. I think he's just being a spoiled brat. He tells me he doesn't work his butt off everyday (mind you, he sits behind a desk and talks to Tawian, Mexico, China all day) to come home to a hot house. I told him until our financial situation changes, we will not being turning the AC on while we're gone. I said "you don't just go and turn on your truck and leave it running while you work to cool it down before you leave work do you?" He wasn't amused. So I reminded him "Uh, we do have that programmable thermostat I bought back in January out in the garage that you haven't installed yet. If you have such a problem why don't you install it." So he did. Today is the first day using it so we'll see how it goes. I think he programmed it to turn off the AC at 3am and not turn back on again until about 8am but only to 88 degrees and then turn down to 74 degrees about 3:30pm. I still wonder if this will make a difference in the power bill since the AC will be turned off during non-peak usage hours. We'll see. Now I just need to get him doin' the dishes.

Angel Food Ministries

June 11th, 2008 at 08:16 am

So I've been looking into this Angel Food Ministries program. So far it looks like a good plan. I emailed the church distributor closest to me and I'm just waiting to hear back. I just missed the deadline for June so the next order will be for July. For July they have all of this for only $30:

40 oz. Marie Callender’s® Family Crock Pot Dinner (Meat Included)
1.5 lb. Boneless Pork Filet
5 lb. Breaded Chicken Chunks
1.5 lb. Meaty Beef Ribs
28 oz. Meatloaf and Gravy
1 lb. Beef Fajitas
1 lb. Fully Cooked Meatballs
1 lb. All Meat Hot Dogs
1 lb. Broccoli
1 lb. Peas and Carrots
28 oz. Pasta Sauce
1 lb. Pasta
32 oz. Borden 2% Reduced Fat Shelf Stable Milk
32 oz. Hawaiian Punch
12 ct. Corn Tortillas
7 oz. Blueberry Muffin Mix
Dozen Eggs
Dessert Item

That sounds like a pretty good deal to me. You can also add optional packages to this inital one:

7 lb. Assorted Meat Grill Box - $20.00
(1.5 lb. New York Strip Steaks (2 x 12 oz.)
2.5 lb. Boneless Netted Boston Butt Roast
2 lb. Meaty Beef Ribs
1 lb. Mild Italian Sausage)

4.5 lb. Steak and Chicken Combo Box - $20.00
(1.5 lb. Kansas City Strips (2 x 12 oz.)
1.5 lb. Bone-In Ribeyes (2 x 12 oz.)
1.5 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Filet (4 x 6 oz.))

10 lb. Breaded Chicken Breast Tenders - $18.00

Fresh Fruit and Veggie Box - $16.00
(6 ears Corn
2 lb. Carrots
2 lb. Yellow Onions
1 Cello-Wrapped Lettuce
1 Pineapple
1 lb. Strawberries
1 Seedless Watermelon
6 Russet Potatoes)

So what do y'all think about this?? We aren't low income....but I thought maybe it would help us pay off the debt faster. However, I don't wanna feel like I'm taking away from low income people who may need it. They say it's enough to feed a family of 4 for a week....we really only have 2.5 (.5 being our 2 yr old) so we could probably stretch it 2 weeks....longer than that if we got the optional packages. Off the top of my head without looking at comparisons I think it sounds like a good deal. Gimme some input!

So I read this CNN article....

June 10th, 2008 at 06:03 am

Upon checking up on my daily news today.....I came across an article on a lady named Mary Ostyn. Apparently she has 10 kids and is super frugal. I apologize if this was already discussed on the board but I found it tremendously interesting and helpful. Although I don't have 10 kids, I find frugality (if that's a word) great on all counts. Her blog also has recipes. Maybe I'll read more of it tonight. It's located at http://owlhaven.wordpress.com/

My Trip To Aldi

June 2nd, 2008 at 08:28 am

So I finally got around to going to the Aldi close to here. I was kind of upset because the map on their website had me thinking it was located closer to the route it had given me to take. Wrong! I so totally went around my butt to get to my elbow. There's actually a shorter way of getting there....but that's ok. I'll know for next time and I guess my savings offset the gas usage for that trip. Y'all had told me about the savings but I was totally surprised. This location did have that "discount" feel but that was ok with me. I think the biggest discounts were on the bread (.75) and milk (2.50). Normally I pay $2.00 for bread and milk is $3.75. I did have to buy a lot of convenience foods due to me working the 2nd job and my husband not being able to cook stuff (gotta make sure my son can eat)...but it was still cheap. Pizzas were 1.99 instead of the $2.50 I normally pay. All in all I had a good shopping trip. Next time I'll just have to make a point to bring my husband since the cashier is super fast. I couldn't get all my stuff put on the belt before she had it all back in the buggy with no bags. I had to go to the side and bag up my groceries after I paid. I brought my own bags but I think I'm going to goodwill and see if I can find some canvas bags to use for next time.