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Archive for January, 2006

Daily spending

January 18th, 2006 at 12:32 pm

Been reading through the other journal entries and noticed I don't say anything about daily spending. Sorry, but I've got the BIG bills on the brain. Even so, I guess I should start.

I eat lunch out almost everyday. $4-$5.
Jewel has Equaline mouthwash on sale, 1L (bonus size is 1.5L) for 99 cents. Had expired $1 off coups soooo got 10 of the bonus sized bottles for 1 cent each. Somewhere in the house I have an entire tearpad of these coups and wouldn't you just know it......can't find the darned thing! Today is the last day of this deal. errrrrrrrrhhhh! I DO have (9) expired 75 cents off coups, but 25 cents (plus tax) is not the same as 1 cent each. Might have to break down and get them anyway. This is the first time Jewel had this size for so cheap and I don't want to shop for mouthwash for a very long, long time.

Also at Jewel, they are clearancing out some expensive perfume. Got Shi for $9.99 and used an expired $1 off any purchase coupon. I have been dying to get this perfume, but couldn't bring myself to spend what it normally goes for. Also bought a small compact of 10 eyeshadows for $2.50. Used a GC for a transferred prescription to pay for these.

Put $10 of gas in the car which didn't even hit the halfway mark on the fuel gauge. Tomorrow I have an interview for a volunteer position at the Chicago Botanical Garden and my guzzler will eat up a lot of the gas. My next car will either be a diesel (Volvo) or a hybrid, I swear it.

Decisions, decisions....

January 15th, 2006 at 01:09 pm

I am procrastinating and it is getting to me. At least that is how it feels. Whenever too many decisions need to be made I tend to get a little stuck and shut down. Not good at all. Been looking into rebate cc's and trying not to get caught up in special offers. That's a tough one since Discover is offering a 5% rebate on health & Wellness till March and right now I owe $550 to a periodontist and will owe over $400 this year for my regular dental. I'd also like to get back to the chiropractor for some adjustments and pay some of my mom's medical deductible amounts left over from last year. It's a great offer, but I don't want to risk all the inquiries on my credit report either considering we need a gas rebate card and grocery rebate card. There's a card that gives back on tuition as well. See, lots to think about.

Mom's long term care insurer just hit us with a notice that her premium will now be over $3000 for the year. They raised it last year and from what I thought I read, they can only do this every few years and not yearly. Will have to check with the insurance commission about this. Funny, I was always told the terms of her long term care contract were written in stone and can never be changed once a claim was made. The insurer is now "offering" to lower the premiums IF we agree to limit my mom's payout. Right now, her payout is unlimited, in terms of years. Something, I am told, they no longer offer to insureds. If I decide to increase her coverage, how do you think they'll respond? Why can it be decreased and not increased? They can change the rules to suit themselves it seems.

Nailing it all down

January 13th, 2006 at 12:29 pm

The auto insurance premium came in yesterday: $314 for 6 months. Just as I suspected, it's still in the same narrow range as my FICO score. Now I can go ahead and apply for some cash back/rebate cc's while I sweat out the next premium renewal.

Last night was the first meeting of the year for "The Women of Wall Street". That's the name of the investment club that I'm thinking of joining. It was held at a suburban library and lasted just under 2 hours. Why is it that administrative duties have to take up sooo much time? Dues had to be paid by the members and amounts finalized and lots of joking, Happy New Year, pictures of the new grandbaby.....it's a nice group of ladies learning about stocks, but it is slow. I'm not as advanced as they are, but I can catch up without too much of a sweat. Given that they're into their 3rd year I expected a little more sophistication. I have to keep reminding myself this is a educational group and not a business where there are deadlines and consequences for mistakes made. Not easy given my last employer who was a "dragonlady" of a boss. The result being that I am impatient with mistakes since mistakes cost money and I was "not allowed" to make many of them. One member makes her presentation of 2 stocks to the group at each meeting. Last night's presenter filled in her worksheet incorrectly and the other members were trying to tell her were she went wrong. It reminded me of being in college study group for calculus! Same thing! Trust me, these stock worksheets are A LOT EASIER than calc. Especially since the computer does most of the calculating. SHEESH!

Despite all of that I am impressed with the past president of the club. She's an MBA who has her own business. On a whim, I asked if she was women certified and she is! Her biggest account is with the federal gov't. My ex-coworkers and I have formed a corp with the intention of selling to gov't, but we hit a wall. She'd be a great mentor for us.

At the end of the meeting they hit me with the "buy in" amount. I knew the dues were $100/quarterly plus $25 for petty cash and $25 for NAICS (for membership in the organization for these investment clubs). What I didn't know is that I would have to pay for a "share" in the club. Presently, a share is worth $957. Yikes! Got some thinking to do about this one. Luckily, I have until the next meeting in Feb. to mull it over.

Today is looking better

January 7th, 2006 at 09:12 am

Did a lot of thinking (and self-chastising) about the checking account and how it almost got out of control. So this morning I went straight to the bank and had my mom's IRA 2006 distribution allocated to the checking. Normally, I would put off taking the distribution as long as possible, but this time I had to give ourselves some breathing room. Then I went to our State Farm agent and paid the flood policy with the cc ($656) and discussed the homeowner policy renewal. Right before the gal processed the flood policy payment, she asked, "you didn't have any loss in the last few days did you?" I actually laughed! Can't blame her, though. The payment was lapsed by a week and anything could have happened in that time. She was just being a good agent and looking out for her employer.

The HO renewal went up by $110 for a grand total of $872! As I thought, I had increased the deductible to $1000 last year. The options I was now given was to increase the ded. to $2000, so the new premium would be $782/yr. -OR- further increase it to 1% of the dwelling limit of liability which would equal a $4130 ded. for a premium of $723/yr. I went with the $782/$2000 ded. This is an increase of only $20 from last year. I can live with that.

The thing that bugs me is the policy increase in the first place. We put the home remodeling costs on a MBNA card (16K) @ 5.9% and this has to be the reason. The next thing I'm going to do is find a credit monitoring service and sign up myself and my mother. I hate being unprepared for surprises like this and knowing just where we fall credit wise will help determine my course of action rather than reaction.

I hate January

January 6th, 2006 at 12:54 pm

I hate January.

Used to be I hated October and then I hated December, but now it's definately January. You can't help but hate the month that causes the most financial hardship. Here I thought I had everything under control and we get hit with a Dec (for Nov) gas bill of $466 (estimated) and then the Jan bill (for Dec) arrived and it's $777 (actual)! I was floored. Even being on a budget billing the amount taken out now is $425. Couldn't help but think how high it could have gotten had we not changed all the glass block windows and added the air conditioning covers outside. Those two places would loose the most heat! Had to have a chat with one of my tenants. Seems he has to have fresh air and would leave the windows open. I even showed him the bills and begged him to keep them closed. He's a nice guy, so we'll see.

All of this has really wrecked havoc on the checking account since it's pretty much been set up to just make ends meet. Looks like I've got to sit down and make some adjustments like looking into bill pay instead of directly having bills paid from the checking and getting some heavy duty rebate credit cards. Advanta is for business, but people use it to pay their own utilities and insurance premiums. Hey, why give away 5% when you can get it credited back to you for things you have to pay for anyway.

The gas was only the beginning. Flood insurance came due end of Dec and that's a bill that has to be paid in full so I waited till Jan thinking there would be enough to cover it. That one is going to go on a cc to buy me another month. $776.

Paid the umbrella policy in Dec on a cc: $236.

Homeowners bill came in: $843, but SF will give a discount if we up the deductible even more. Heck, I upped the deductible last year! This bill along with the car insurance is spread out over the course of the year.

Car insurance is due to come in later this month. I'm worried since I know the premiums are tied in to Fico scores which is why I've been careful NOT to apply for any new cc's. The HO premium went up, but that one is tied to my mom's FICO score (don't know what hers is) while mine has remained steady for a year. Still, I'm biting my nails worrying about what the new payment will be. It's ungodly that FICO scores play a part in insurance premiums. Unless, of course, you know how to work them to your advantage.

We have Dish Satelite. If you pre-pay the year they knock off a months payment. Last year we were in a good position so we did this last Jan. The bill this year would have been $397 to be deducted Jan 15. Had to call in and go back to monthly billing, at least untill things even out better in the checking account.

I guess I'm angry with myself for getting caught with my pants down. The past years I did extremely well with the budget and I must have gotten too complacent while expenses went up. That and maybe being a little greedy. 2005-early 2006 had some consistent 5%-5.12% CD deals that I took advantage of and funneled most of the available cash there. The good news is that the interest will allow for a good cushion when the CD's mature (end of Jan and early Feb), but untill then I have to sit tight while I redo the years' budget.

I hate January.

Starting Challenge

January 3rd, 2006 at 12:00 am

I'm going to try a few things for this challenge; here they are:

I love thrift stores and I have sold some of my things at a consignment store so why not combine the two? Yesterday, I was thrift store shopping and came across two very nice pieces of clothing that were not my taste, but would have appeal to the consignment store patrons. It was not my intention to buy clothes with this thought in mind, but then I figured, hey, I'm here shopping anyway so why not? The decision became even easier when the signs posted had 50% the ticketed price of certain colored tags. So for $5.50 total, I bought a Harve Bernard linen dress and a Liz Clairborne microfiber blouse. Both pieces are washable, although that linen dress is gonna need some ironing!

The dress will probably sell for $25 and the blouse $12. The consignment store and I split the profits.

As long as I stick to designer brands, casual work attire, and washable items this should work out nicely.

Some of you may have read in my Journal that I'm going organic this year and have found a store in Chicago with a once a week pickup of boxed organic produce. Although the store is well out of my way, I've thought of combining the weekly trip with thrift store shopping in that area. This way I can devote one day every week to this aspect of the challenge and justify the gas expense!


Something else I'm going to do is sell items on ebay. Last fall I found ovulation microscopes at a closeout store for 25 cents. These sell for $25 on Amazon. Now I have to figure out a way to list and sell these on eBay.

And as some of you have already discovered, selling books is another good way to go.

Good luck to all!