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Bundle Savings

January 31st, 2010 at 06:51 pm

This past week I decided to call the telephone company to see if I could get a better monthly rate on internet service. Currently, I am paying $31.99/month for high-speed internet. The rep I spoke with told me that there wasn't any promotion on internet service. She did say, however, that if I bundled Direct TV (which I recently subscribed to), phone, and internet together I could save some money. I would save $6/month on top of the promo rate on Direct TV. The internet would decrease from $31.99 to $24.99. The phone would increase from $29.99 to $34.99, but would include unlimited long distance service (which I currently don't have). So given that, I will be saving $8/month with the phone company.

Since I don't have my wireless service with this same provider, I couldn't bundle that into the package. I have a family plan with DD, but I was paying an extra $16.99/month for early nights/weekends. I won't need that feature any longer. I will just watch the calling times and use the land line phone more often. DD mainly texts so I think this will work out fine for us.

So with these changes, I am anticipating a savings of about $25/month!!

It's Been Over a Week!!

June 24th, 2009 at 02:48 am

I've been so busy lately, that I haven't posted an entry here in more than a week!

It seems like I may be a bit overwhelmed recently. I do work six days/week and have been doing that for a few years, so I don't think that is the problem. Last week, we had some activity or event to do each night.

DD & I went on a shopping spree at Kohl's...spent a little over $200 (save ~$93 with 30% off). She was helping me choose some clothes for myself. It seems like I have a closet full of scrubs and athletic wear, but nothing much casual or dressy. That was fun!

Then, another night we went to a pet store & bought a Yorkshire Terrier. The children have been wanting a puppy for several months now.

Also, I took DS to a local baseball game. He earned 2 free tickets at school for perfect attendance for last school year. I spent $17 there on food/drinks. He really enjoyed it as he has never been to a game before.

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I've been busy doing mystery shops also. I did one at The Cheesecake Factory. I took the children along with me. None of us had ever been there before, and let me tell you I was really impressed with the service and quality of the food. Smile
I also did a mystery shop at Texas Roadhouse with my BF. I do mystery shops there quite often.

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I had 2 items listed on Ebay within the last week and both sold, so I will post the net sales on those in a couple of days.

I didn't even post my extra income total from last week. I guess I will add it to deposit for this week.

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It seems that I don't have much of an interest in tracking expenses anymore. Of course, I'm aware of the main monthly expenses (mortgage, utilities, student loan payment), but I'm tired of diligently accounting for each penny that I spend on a regular basis. And I've been doing just that for months now...but I don't know if I can keep it up. It is very tedious, especially when one has an organization issue like myself! Smile

So that's my update for the last week!

Health Insurance Premium Increase Letter

January 11th, 2009 at 12:21 am

Today I got a notice in the mail that the health insurance I purchase for my children will increase beginning 03/01/09. Currently, I am paying $215.01 and the new rate will be $282.36...an increase of 31.32%. This is really an excellent health care plan. I definitely need this one, or one equally as good coverage-wise for DD because she has several medical issues. DS so far doesn't frequent a medical office very often *fingers crossed*, and hopefully it stays that way.

I don't know for sure what to do. I am covered 100% by my employer. I looked into adding them on that plan, but it is about the same rate with higher copays for each category. So that isn't really a better, more cost-effective option.

I looked into the state CHIP health coverage in which all children are covered with no household income limits. I don't qualify for any reduced rates there and the full-cost premium PER child is $163/month. So that one is more expensive also, but does have a SLIGHT reduction of copay amounts.

I'm thinking about shopping around and maybe purchase coverage for DS with a small deductible, say $1200 w/ 100% copay (after the deductible is paid). I'm just not sure yet.

Anyway, it figures I'm saving roughly $70/month by refinancing my mortgage and was planning to allocate that to the principal each month on the car loan (which I most definitely still plan on doing), and now the health insurance premiums increase ~$70/month!

It sure would be thoughtful of my children's father to come forward and pay at least SOMETHING each month towards their care and to support them financially, but I don't know when that will ever happen. I'm just really pessimistic about him not taking any responsibility for his children!! (sorry to rant)

So I have some homework to do here in the next month or so to decide what I should do about their health insurance.

Have a great evening everyone!!

Quicken Online

October 13th, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Today, I received an email that Quicken Online is free as of 10/13!! I had signed up for the 60 day free trial, then it was supposed to go to $2.99/month after that. I like the website and its' features; however, there are some glitches I think that still need to be addressed.

I am happy that it is now free because I probably would have canceled my account after the 60 days. I don't think it is even worth the $2.99/month since the site still needs some work done on it.

Finally I'm Refinancing the Mortgage

October 11th, 2008 at 11:23 pm

After 6 years, my divorce is finalized and I am able to move forward with a refinance since I am now listed as sole owner of the property on the deed. It has been a rough ride, but the outcome was worth it. That's not to say that with a little cooperation from the ex...it could have been accomplished many years ago...Oh well!

Anyhow, the rate on the current 30-yr FHA mortgage is 8.5%. I've paid 7 years on that mortgage. A few weeks ago, I met with the mortgage loan officer so that he could do some paperwork and a credit check on me. I was a bit upset to find out that my FICO score was only 719. But all in all, the rating must have been good enough to qualify me for a 5% rate. He told me that I should lock in that rate, just in case rates increase. I'm happy I did because rates haven't been that low since!

For a few years I was wondering if I could handle a 15 yr. mortgage or whether it would make money too tight. So I inquired about reducing the term to 15 years and after doing some calculations, he told me that my money payment would be less than with the 30 yr mortgage! I was so happy because really I will be going from the 22 years that I would have left on the previous mortgage to the new 15 yr. term
saving an additional 7 years, not to mention the interest savings!!
So settlement is scheduled for the end of October.

I will have some extra money each month once this new mortgage kicks in. I have a few ideas for this "found" money by paying towards the principal on the remaining loans I have which include:

Car loan 3.9% ~ $4900. balance
Student loan 3.0% ~ $12,687.43

What would you do? Maybe I should just add it to the principal on the mortgage, but at the same time I would like to pay off my car loan earlier. I don't have any CC debt except for the 0% offers listed in the sidebar.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions and have a great evening!!

In"deed" it is finally over!!

September 16th, 2008 at 11:35 pm

The divorce process...that is! I started this lengthy, stressful undertaking in October 2002. This is when I hired an attorney, who initiated the proper paperwork (or so I thought). After dragging me along for several years, and not accomplishing anything (but taking lots of my money)...he passed away from a heart attack December 2006. In early 2007, I hired a "new" attorney to continue the case. He,of course, was expensive as well, but things moved along much quicker than with the former attorney. Since he requested to the judge that the case be bifurcated...meaning separating the actual divorce decree from the marital property (finances), I received the divorce from my former husband in July 2007.

Since my ex-husband did not cooperate and wanted to drag this whole mess out, it has taken over a year for everything to be finalized. For many reasons, everything was awarded to me.

I was so happy to get the "revised" deed in the mail recently as the sole owner of the property.

Since the interest rate on the mortgage is 8.5%, I plan to now finally refinance this thing. It just aggravates me that this could have been done many years ago and saved me lots of money in interest with a bit more cooperation from the ex.

But all in all, even though it was a trying process, I am pleased with the end result. I have heard such horror stories about how finances, properties, etc. get divided in many different ways based on various factors and it was really very stressful!





Quicken Online and Samples

September 7th, 2008 at 01:24 pm

I received some Fiber One samples for cereal and a cereal bar in the mail. I signed up for them a few weeks ago, as it is always nice to get something free!

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A few days ago I signed up for Quicken online to track expenses and utilize a budget upon other blog members recommending it in the past, and more recently Monkey Mama had mentioned that she uses it. It is very convenient to have bank , credit card, investment accounts, etc. all at one place to view everything together. I'm a bit confused about the section titled, "Am I Living Within My Means?". I know that I am, living within my means because I have $ leftover at the end of the month, but the figures seem to get jumbled up when I transfer money out into a savings account. In addition, for example, when I go to Walmart and buy groceries, pet supplies, and household items the total amount spent is registered...and I can't figure out how to allocate each subtotal into their respective categories. I don't know if that is possible or not. Up to this point I have been tracking my income and expenses on 3x5 index cards with a week on each card, that I carry with me in my purse. I have found that even though I've gotten accustomed to doing it that way now that I've been actively tracking my expenses for 2 months, it is very tedious. I may still try to do the pen & paper method as a backup system. I just don't know if ways exist in Quicken online to better "fine tune" the certain areas mentioned previously in this entry or not. Any suggestions/comments would be greatly appreciated. I will try this for free for 2 months and see how it goes. It's only $2.99/month after that...so we will see. Despite those few issues that I've encountered, I really do like the site with the pie charts, accounts overview, and budgeting sections, but somehow it seems likes the numbers aren't as precise as far as category expenditures as I would like them to be. Oh well!!

Weekend News Update

August 31st, 2008 at 05:03 pm

So far on Ebay I sold 9 out of 11 items. I relisted the items that didn't sell. I usually relist one time. If the items don't sell then, I donate them to Red Cross, Salvation Army, or Goodwill. I will have to figure out my profits here in a few days and add that total to my CC savings account. I'm still doing some decluttering around the house, so I hope to list some more items yet this weekend.

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Yesterday I worked at the job at which I have about a 70 mile commute one way. It was a hectic day. I didn't do too much once I got home in the afternoon. The commute is bit tiring to me, but I will get used to it. I only go to that job 2 Saturdays/month. I don't know if I could do that commute on a daily basis though.

I did do some surveys online last night. I also requested a $3 payout from Greenfield Online Surveys. I didn't even know I had a balance because most of the invites I get from that site only offer a sweepstakes entry as compensation. I rarely do those types of surveys...just too time consuming and not guaranteed any income from them.

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I was happy with the electric bill I received this week~~only $60.35. About $4.50 more than last month's which came in at $55.95. Here is a comparison of August 2007 and 2008:

8/07: $78.72
Average daily use: 29 kwH
Aver. daily temp: 75
Days in bill period:28

8/08: $60.35
Average daily use: 19 kwH
Aver. daily temp: 73
Days in bill period:32

So...a little less warm, but more days in the billing period.
I used 20.1% on peak and $79.9% off peak during this cycle. I know I have not been using the unit air conditioner in my bedroom hardly at all this year. DD has been running hers, but mostly during off peak times. The rest of the house doesn't have any air conditioners, just ceiling fans and a whole house fan. I have been turning my hot water heater off on a daily basis, when I have no use for hot water.

Well, I need to take some pictures for Ebay listings, do yardwork, and laundry.

Have a good Sunday!

Rita's Mystery Shops and Work Lunches

August 15th, 2008 at 05:56 pm

I signed up for a few Rita's Italian Ice mystery shops to do this weekend and early next week.

Also, I haven't eaten out for lunch at work any day this week. Yeah!! Usually, I end up going out about once a week. I'm trying not to let my co-workers influence me. Some people go out daily for lunch. I would rather buy food and bring it for lunch. It is generally less expensive that way!

Have a great Friday!

Food for Lunch, Payday, & Library

August 15th, 2008 at 12:53 am

On my way to work I decided to go to Walmart Supercenter for some food for lunches for a few days. I spent $10.89 and got some plums, raspberries, bananas, lemon pepper deli chicken, a loaf of bakery bread (on the reduced rack for 40% off), 2 containers of yogurt, and some crackers. I usually always drink filtered water from work, so I didn't need to buy any beverages.

After work, I picked up DS and went to the library. He got some DVDs and a book. I also got a book. Our library is very small. Maybe I should go to the one close to my work sometime. I haven't been there in probably 10 years. It is larger and they would have a greater variety.


Today was payday so I am going to spend a bit of time doing my online banking and work on my budget now.

Have a great evening!

Lower Gas Prices

August 3rd, 2008 at 01:37 am

Gas prices in my area are 20 cents less per gallon than 2 weeks ago. At my one Saturday job, my commute is about 150 miles round trip. I used less gas today than I did two weeks ago. Since I start with a full tank each time it is easy to see that the mpg is in the 35-40+ range. Last week I got 4.56 gallons when I returned home to refill my tank and this week I got 3.31 gallons. So a savings in gas usage of 1.25 gallons. The highway I drive on has a speed limit of 65, but I try to keep it under 60 mph, if possible. Practically everyone is passing me. I don't really care, I'm seeing great savings by driving a little slower. Also, I use the air vent sometimes as opposed to the air conditioner (but I don't open the windows with the vent on).

I'm just wondering how long these gas prices will keep decreasing. Any ideas how long it will take for us to see the benefits of lower food prices??

Have a great night!

CVS Bargain Deals

August 1st, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Yesterday, I went to CVS to take advantage of some sale items that were in their weekly sales flyer.

I purchased $11.07 of candy/gum (which wasn't a necessity, but oh well!!), Revlon Limited Edition eye shadow $9.99, and Band-aids 30 ct. $2.99. I had a $1 coupon for the Band-aids. So the total for everything was $23.65 with tax. I received $17.49 back in Extra Buck Rewards, so the final cost was $6.16!!

Have a great day everyone!

July Electric Bill-$55.95!!

July 27th, 2008 at 03:33 pm

I just got July's electric bill and was pleasantly surprised. It was less than $56!! For June as posted previously in my blog, my bill was $53.96. I pay 6.3 cents/kilowatt hour. In addition, I have time of day usage pricing (off-peak 9 pm to 9 am + weekends, and on peak from 9 am to 9 pm)

Anyway, comparing June and July...here are the numbers:

June: 29 days in billing cycle, 81.5% off
peak and 18.5% on peak usage

July: 30 days in billing cycle, 77.8% off
peak and 22.2% on peak usage

I don't think that is too bad. I try to do laundry in the evenings or on the weekends. In addition, I periodically turn off the hot water heater upon ImaSaver's recommendation which definitely helps conserve energy. I still could improve on that, but it isn't always the easiest with children in the house. But anyway I feel that every little bit helps. I will attempt to decrease how much the hot water heater is running throughout the day. Also, I rarely run the A/C during on peak times of the day, so that saves too.

I hope everyone has a great day!

Found 2 Pennies!!

July 8th, 2008 at 05:30 pm

Today while I was running some errands I found 2 cents!!

I went to Sears to get a bathtub mat. I had a $5 gift card to use there from doing a survey. The cost was $9.99-$5 GC, so I got it for $4.99 + tax.

I hope everyone has a great day!!

Back from Vacation with Some Bargains

July 7th, 2008 at 03:10 am

We got back last night from our trip to my sister and BIL's cabin. We had a nice time together. It was good to get away for a few days.

I filled the gas tank before we left, then again when we returned. That cost $30 and I spent about $50 on food to take along. So we ended up spending less than $100, which I think was really good.

On the way home, we stopped at a discount grocery outlet store. This store has both brand and store name merchandise for very low prices. Some of the items are a few months outdated, but for the most part the food is good quality and in-date. Some of the items I got were: (2) 1 lb. baby carrots $0.99 ea., cucumbers 3/$1, yams $0.49/lb., bananas $0.44/lb, several boxes of cereal $1.29-$1.69 each, several bottles of salad dressing (Kraft and Ken's)3/$1, seedless, whole watermelon $3.99. I got quite a bit of food and only spent $53. I just wish there was a store like this closer to home. The prices were much better even than Aldi in this area.

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!!

Lowest Electric Bill in Two Years!!!

June 29th, 2008 at 04:49 pm

I received my electric bill this week and was pleasantly surprised that it was only $53.96!!! My average monthly bill for the last two years has been $105. Generally my usage in the summer is much less than in the winter. I have electric baseboard heat and in the winter the bill is often over $200 a month.

I am on the time of day plan with my electric company. I have on-peak hours from 9 am to 9 pm and off-peak hours from 9 pm to 9 am. In addition, weekends are off-peak hours as well. The cost for the off-peak usage is considerably less than for on-peak. For June we used 81% off-peak and 19% on-peak. I have always been careful to run the dishwasher and washer/dryer during off-peak times. I try to encourage the children to conserve energy too (by turning off lights/TV/appliances when not in use). In most cases, I don't allow the air conditioners to be on until after 9 pm. We just run the whole house fan with the windows open for a nice breeze.

I've taken ImaSaver's suggestion and have turned the hot water heater off occasionally when it is not needed. I also set the temperature for hot water at 90 degrees instead of 120 degrees. Also, I have turned the computer completely off much more than I have in the past.

I'm able to see that my efforts have been paying off in a big way and I like the decreased numbers I'm seeing on the electric bill!!!

Anyone have any other suggestions for helping me to lower my electric bill even further?

Interview and Citibank Reward Check

June 28th, 2008 at 10:08 pm

In last Sunday's newspaper I saw a help wanted ad that I responded to by faxing my resume on Wednesday. It is a position for Saturdays only, which is what I'm currently interested in. I received a phone call that same day asking if I could come in for an interview. So I set it up for this morning. Right now I'm working 2 Saturdays/month in an office separate from my full-time position. I either want to supplement that by working 1 more Saturday/month or quit the other job since the pay would be much better in the nearby state where I recently got licensed. Anyway, the commute is 70 miles as opposed to 20, but the pay range is $10-15/hr. more there. I'm thinking even with the rise in gas prices, it may be worthwhile to pursue working in the metro area since I have an economical vehicle (Honda Civic). So the interview went well, and she said it is difficult to find people in the field to work Saturdays. She gave me a tour of the office and introduced me to the staff. She said she would call me back in the beginning of next week to see if my current Saturday schedule would work with when they have an availability. So we will see what happens.

Yesterday, I received a Citibank Reward Check for $63.54. Today I got a TMF Refund from Organix Shampoo for $6.99. I will add both of those to my savings account.

It has been difficult tracking my expenses/income this month (since I've never accounted for every cent), but it's almost the end of the month and it wasn't too bad once I got into the habit of it. Hopefully I can formulate a doable budget since I have a better idea of where all of my money has gone!!

Well, have a great weekend everyone!!

Trying not to use the A/C

June 7th, 2008 at 10:14 pm

Even though it is very hot/humid here--93 degrees--I do not want to turn on the A/C. I have a whole house fan which is on and I have the windows open with the mini-blinds closed.

I got a refund check in the mail for $3.69 for Land O Lakes Butter and I had another NSD. I will add the check to my savings.

I did some yard work earlier and now I'm going to see how much money I spent this week, since this is the first week I have actually tracked all of my expenses.

Keeping Track of Expenses

June 2nd, 2008 at 01:48 am

Even though I am aware of my largest expenses each month, I need to be better at finding out where ALL of my money is going on a monthly basis. So starting with June, I'm going to record each time I spend money and what category (groceries, medical, entertainment, etc.) it goes into so that I can actually have a written budget instead of mentally trying to control my finances. This way I will be able to see where I could save even more money each month.

I've decided I need to change my spending habits for several reasons:

~rising gasoline/food prices
~non-reimbursed divorce attorney fees
ex-husband has not paid
~currently not getting child support
effective April 2008 (loss of over
$500/month)

Since I am now licensed in a state nearby (since the hourly rate is significantly higher than in the state where I reside), I am on the list at a medical temp agency should they have any Saturday openings. So I'm trying to increase my income to compensate for being 100% financially responsible for my children.

I'm really excited about tracking my income/expenses as it should be an eye-opener!!