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Earth Day 2016

April 22nd, 2016 at 04:51 pm

Go watch Cowspiracy... today! Let's honor our beautiful planet by becoming more aware of how we are literally killing her each and every day Frown

A win, fitness, and food thoughts

April 20th, 2016 at 01:36 pm

So, Murphy left our house and we finally got some great news.... my oldest daughter entered into a national magazine's giveaway/sweepstakes last month and she was chosen as the winner!! It a package value worth about $5k. I won't say what it is just yet as it won't come to fruition for another month but once we get it all, I'll let you guys know. Let's just say that any teenage girl would be tickled to have won this...

In other news, my DH bought us fitbits (he sold some stuff to purchase them so they didn't hit our budget because I told him we didn't need them). I am actually quite happy with this little gadget. I am a tracker by nature so keeping up with my activity levels all day has been great. We've gone to the gym very regularly, I'm pleased to report, so our new $50/month has been definitely worth it.

For the past 2 weeks, DH and I have decided to go vegan. We have never eaten a ton of meat but dairy/cheese products have always been in our diet. We decided to go all vegan and plant based and so far so good. It's actually been pretty easy. Our kids have asked us to allow them to try vegetarianism instead and we are happy to let them try that instead (they love cheese pizza haha). Anyway, we are attending a local vegan potluck meetup today and looking forward to meeting other like-minded folks. I know it's not for everyone but we have been enjoying this journey so far.

Murphy hit us :(

April 5th, 2016 at 07:03 pm

1. DH tried to rescue our cat from a fight with a stray and the feral cat took a big bite on his hand. Had to go to ER for tetanus shot, antibiotics, and rabies vaccination. We do have insurance but will expect some medical bills from this.

2. We got rear-ended while on our Spring Break vacation. The hit pushed our car into the car in front of us so our once new 2015 Honda has severe damage on both ends. Yes, we won't be out of money since the other driver is at fault, but my poor car...

3. Super strong wind storm the other night caused a power outage... after the power came back on, we noticed that our furnace now doesn't work. Our trampoline was basically folded in half and our backyard grill was thrown around like a twig.

All in the span of about 2 weeks. I think we are done with Murphy since he's hit us 3 times. Can someone come take him away now?

Spring Break... so needed!

March 23rd, 2016 at 02:12 pm

A big perk of DH and I working within our school system is that we get time off that coincides with our kids' school schedules. Our Spring Break is next week and I cannot wait! I have been in the thick of budget season and need some decompression time. We haven't made any plans to go anywhere though. We want to go somewhere but just can't decide on what to do. Sometimes being spontaneous is just what we end up being and it all works out Smile

In a previous post, I had mentioned we would be joining a gym. Well, we did but on a different program than what I thought. So, the cost is $50/month for both DH and I to go to any handful of gyms in the area. We've been doing great so far and really enjoy getting out there and working out. DH has lost about 10 lbs just by cutting out sodas and working out. I've lost nothing but am feeling pretty good... I think I haven't lost any weight because I'm gaining muscle mass (I would've described myself as fluffy). Toning up is high on my priority list so I think I'm heading in the right direction.

On the financial front, we've operated on a very exact budget since Jan. 3 months in, I can say that it has been a game changer. I know some folks don't care for keeping up with every little detail but I would recommend it for everyone at least just once... a very eye-opening and realistic look. I love being able to know exactly where we stand with our budget each and every day.

Our goals lately are to save as much money as possible toward 2 things: 1) We have a kid going to college next year. 2) We have another kid driving next year. Both are big expenses and I just hope that we will be prepared enough.



Old Navy... sigh

February 10th, 2016 at 02:37 pm

So, I got an Old Navy credit card a while ago. I've only used it when there are special promos... During the month of January, they ran a promo that basically got me a free $20 to spend there. That plus what I already had in credits from prior promos that has been carrying over has put me to a credit balance of $65 to spend at Old Navy. I also have a $40 off $100 purchase coupon (SuperCash as they call it) that expires today. Basically, this means that if I can find $100 in items today, I could use the $40 SuperCash and $60 worth of my credits to get the entire order for free. Sounds great, right? So, why is it so hard to find anything?! I don't want to just waste the "money" so I only want to get things we need/want but there just isn't anything appealing for any of us. #beingfrugalandcheapproblems

2015 Taxes done

February 8th, 2016 at 08:25 pm

Have to pay federal => $75
Getting a refund from state => $40

Net effect => $35 to pay

Not too shabby.

Payday! February 2016 Budget Prep

January 29th, 2016 at 02:37 pm

I could not wait for today! It's so much fun to play around with our budget and to plug in actual numbers when we get paid. Since both DH and I get paid at the end of each month, today's paychecks have now funded our Feb budget.

Because our refinance in Jan caused us not to have a mortgage payment due in Feb, we are able to push that payment into our savings account this month Smile

I still have a buffer of $1200 that I need to find a "home" for. I like to keep a buffer for those unknown but expected expenses that will pop up during the month. For Feb, this will be for some medical bills that should be arriving anytime now (DH spent a week in the hospital in Jan). I have no idea how much of the $1200 will be needed for this or if I might need even more so we'll see. But, this works for now because I do mess with our budget everyday... always entering in adjustments and actual numbers. I guess it's just fun for me lol.

Hope everyone had a great fiscally fit January. I know we did in our household... I am looking forward to February 2016!

$105 Family Fitness monthly fee

January 27th, 2016 at 06:54 pm

So, hubby and I know that we need to exercise. He was told by his doctor at the beginning of January that he is borderline diabetic if he isn't careful. He was addicted to Mt. Dew and sugary sweets and for the past month, he's done very well and has stayed away from the sodas. We've always known that diabetes would be a concern for him since he has a family history of it but it took the doctor finally telling him this before he would "believe" it... he also needs to participate in cardio workouts daily. Hubby is by no means obese but he is about 20 lbs overweight. We have a treadmill and lots of various exercise dvds BUT we have come to the realization that we must get out of the house with a structured routine. Some people can just work out at home.... We don't think we are those people.

So, after a bit of research, the option we are leaning toward is joining a club that is about a mile away from our house. It offers the typical gym environment with the machines, etc.... but what we are looking forward to are the classes that are offered. Yoga, Pilates, Boot Camp, etc. The classes are offered at 5:30 daily so we can go after work (we WILL NOT get up early in the morning to workout). And, then there is a 10:00 class on Saturdays that we will attend as well. For a family membership, it will cost $105 a month. That will allow all 4 of us to use the gym at any time and take advantage of all the classes that they offer.

We've never joined a gym before as we always thought we could take care of things at home on the treadmill or using our dvds. We've not stuck with it nor have been consistent. There are just too many distractions at home (i.e. the couch and tv).

So, we think we'll sign up starting Feb 1 and just incorporate the $105 monthly fee into our monthly budget. My allowance was $100 a month and if nothing else, I'll just use that money toward this now... as I am embracing minimalism anyway and not in the mood to purchase anything at all.

January 2016 - Awesome month!!

January 26th, 2016 at 02:47 pm

Hey, guys. So, I've done a ton of work on the financial front this month.

Since Christmas, I have been on a minimalist kick. I've cleaned out drawers, cupboards, closets, and more. Bags and bags and more bags of clutter have been donated to Goodwill. No more frivolous shopping in this household.

And, I've also cleaned up our finances at the same time Smile In Dave Ramsey style......... WE ARE DEBT FREE except for the mortgage! The only debt we had was our car loan but I finally decided to pay that sucker off with our savings. We also refinanced our mortgage from an ARM to a 15 year fixed in January! The goal for us now is to save, save, save. We need to build back up our savings and to set aside funds for the upcoming college expenses (our oldest will be starting college in 2017).

So, January 2016 has been a busy month but a very fulfilling month. I have worked hard to rid our home of any clutter (physically and fiscally) and it feels awesome.

About to refinance to a 15 year mortgage

November 25th, 2015 at 07:05 pm

We are currently in a 2yr ARM at 4.75% (26 years left) at our local credit union.

We are thinking about refinancing with Wells Fargo:
15 year fixed rate at 3.375% before the Feds announce a possible increase in December.
I talked them down to $700 in fees (appraisal fee, credit report, origination fee, etc). They originally quoted me $1,266 in fees so this saves me a bit of money. The remaining legal stuff will have to be paid as well when I choose my closing attorney.

Anything else I should worry about or consider before we actually go through with this? I've never done a refinance before (just purchase mortgages).

Wells Fargo stock

October 28th, 2015 at 03:52 pm

So, years and years ago, I worked for Wachovia Bank (which is now Wells Fargo). I forgot that I had bought a couple of shares at the time...

I just checked my account and I have a whopping 2.356 shares of Wells Fargo common stock! Woo Hoo! At the current market value of $54.61 / share, that means I have $128.66 Smile

So, what should I do with this newly discovered information? Should I just leave my measly 2 shares alone or should I cash it in?

Any stock people out there to help a girl out?

Documenting random thoughts today

September 22nd, 2015 at 04:31 pm

Thinking ahead to some big expenses forthcoming:

DD #1 will be going off to college in 2 years
DD #2 will be getting her drivers license in 2 years

Ugh.

Renters are still in our house and have asked to stay there through 2016. They really need to just buy the darn place Smile

Financially, we are staying steady but I would love to push ahead somehow. I need to inherit some money from an unknown relative somewhere haha.

I have been selling a lot of clothing/accessories on instagram, poshmark, and mercari... haven't put too many things on ebay because the other platforms seem much easier.

Wish we would finish up renovating our house. But on the other hand, don't really have the extra funds to do so. Oh well.

Been walking on the treadmill daily for at least an hour at usually 3mph. Hoping to get rid of 15 lbs but doubt that will happen anytime soon.

So, lots of randomness around here lately.

Teaching at a University?

June 8th, 2015 at 02:06 pm

So, I have been at my current job for over 9 years now. I am the CFO in our county public schools. I make a really, really good salary that I have quite honestly earned throughout the years. I have been content until recently so I started looking elsewhere. However, my options are quite limited because I need to stay within our state retirement system... this means that unless I plan on moving, which I do not, the only real option for me is to look at the local university here. So, I've been looking each week at their job postings. I sent in my resume a couple of weeks ago for a position teaching undergraduate business courses. I have been contacted that I am a serious candidate for them and they were going forward in checking my references. It would be a great opportunity and change for me... however, I am quite hesitant because of the salary difference. This teaching job would pay about $40k less than what I am currently making! I doubt I will take the job just because of this detail alone but it is still something I want to consider... any advice from anyone out there that may be teaching at the university level? Pros/cons?

Weekend update

June 8th, 2015 at 01:19 pm

** We picked up our check from the consignment sale... our final total was $349.80 which was awesome!

** My DD has been asking for a piano/keyboard for over a year now but we've been telling her that they are just too expensive. I went to a yard sale on Saturday and I'm so glad I did. The fellow had the nicest keyboard for sale! It is one of those really nice grand piano "dupes" that sits on a stand and has a bench and was hardly used at all. They retail for around $800 and I was able to talk him down from $250 to $200. My DH and I set it up in the house for DD and surprised her with it. I've never seen her more happy. She loves it!

** We are still figuring out details on our upcoming Hawaii trip. It's so exciting. Living on the east coast, this is a huge trip for us since it's so far away. I'm heading to the library today to see if they have any travel books on Hawaii...

Going to Hawaii in July!

June 4th, 2015 at 08:21 pm

So, I thought we would piggy back a family vacation with my conference in San Francisco... but we took it a step further and we are going all the way to Hawaii! We have already made the flight and hotel reservations. Now, we just need to look at what to do while there. We are going to be on Oahu. Visiting Pearl Harbor is a no brainer but what else do you guys recommend? We'll have our teenagers with us as well as my parents so we need to keep everyone happy. Suggestions on what we should do to ensure a great trip? This is a huge trip for us and a major expense so we want to make the most of it.

Small sales add up

May 25th, 2015 at 06:28 pm

On Saturday, I stopped by a local church yard sale. They had a "fill a bag for $5" sale. I was able to fit 15 pieces in the bag so that made each item just $0.33. I also purchased a $2 pair of shoes... so spent a grand total of $7.

In the bag of clothing, I got:

1) NWT J. Crew cardigan sweater
2) NWT Talbots top
3) NWT sweater (can't remember the brand right now)
4) J. Crew pencil skirt
5) J. Crew cardigan
6) Ann Taylor pencil skirt
7) Loft top
8) Gap top
9) 7 other miscellaneous skirts and tops that I can't remember the details about...

The shoes were too big for my daughter so I posted them online for sale and they sold for $15 (profit of $13)! I'm keeping the majority of the clothing but do have the NWT items up for sale right now...

So, $15 made less $7 spent equals a pretty sweet deal.

Also, we are participating in our local consignment sale again and we have already sold $332 worth of items (my cut of the sales is already $199.20 so far!)




San Francisco in July... MonkeyMama?

May 12th, 2015 at 06:38 pm

To MonkeyMama and to anyone else in northern CA... I have to go to San Francisco in July for work. Husband and I thought it would be a good time to piggy back a family trip with my work trip (would save us my cost of an airline ticket). What should we plan for? Any places we must go visit? The only touristy things I know about are The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz. Anything else in the area we should look at? Thanks!

That $500 check is good!

May 1st, 2015 at 06:34 pm

So, my last post was about a $500 insurance check that I received (which I thought was in error). I did ask my insurance agent about it because it just didn't feel right to cash the check if I knew it was a mistake.

She just called me back after talking with the actual claims people and said for me to keep it! I am still not sure why they sent it to me but my agent was told that they had a supervisor in the claims department review it and she had approved it... so, yippee! I will put it into my ST savings for now.

What would you do?

April 28th, 2015 at 03:42 pm

Daughter got braces put on in Oct 2013.

Dental insurance agent submitted the claim for us and we got $500 check for the initial treatment payment.

Fast forward to yesterday... and for some reason, I received another $500 check in the mail.

The notes say for initial treatment of braces put on in Oct 2014??

I know this is a mistake as we are only supposed to get one initial treatment check but dang, it's $500.

What would you do? Cash the check and just wait for them to ask for it back (if they do at all)?
Ask my insurance agent WTF is going on? Smile

I said NO and it hurts so bad

March 25th, 2015 at 08:10 pm

(This is a post that only purse lovers would understand)

So, Kate Spade sends me an email this morning about a purse that is $100 off today only. I looked, coveted, and drooled all day long.... but I have finally decided to just say NO because it's the right thing to do. I certainly love this bag but I certainly don't need it nor do I have an extra $200 to spend on it either. But, gosh darnit, I can't stop thinking about it.

As luck would have it though, I just sold one of my brand new Dooney and Bourke handbags that I bought for a steal (around $90) and got $160 for it which means a profit of $70. I've tried and tried to sell it over the course of the past year or so with no luck until today... the day that Kate Spade tempts me so. But, I'm holding strong and will save that $160 inflow of cash instead of spending it and then some on a new Kate bag.

The right decision is sometimes (always) the hardest decision.

Final consignment sales total

March 17th, 2015 at 08:29 pm

The final total from our local consignment sale is a whopping $370.20! These funds will go into our ST savings account for now... not too shabby for stuff that was laying around the house.

$11,743.17 is such a pretty number

March 16th, 2015 at 06:45 pm

This is the balance in our short term savings account right now. I know many of you have lots more than that but this is an accomplishment for us. I realize that this number may fluctuate as we need to use it for short term expenses (like annual car insurance bills, etc) but I am enjoying just looking at it today and my goal is to keep adding to it as much as possible.

Easy money in my closet

March 12th, 2015 at 06:59 pm

I returned some clothing to Old Navy today. I had purchased them using their "Super Cash" promo just to purchase them... nothing I needed at all. So, I finally just took them all back and now I have my $82.99 back in my wallet instead of a bunch of clothes I didn't need to begin with. Feels good.

We are at $540 in sales with the consignment sale which means $324 for moi. Loving it, but we are nearing the end of the sale which means that I won't get too much more, I doubt, but we'll see.

Consignment sales update

March 9th, 2015 at 02:33 pm

We have a local consignment sales event a couple of times a year. There is a week left and this what my sales look like right now.
They get 40% and I get 60% so the $307 is what I've made so far!

(sorry for the sideways pic)

It's been over a year!

March 9th, 2015 at 01:37 pm

So, I'm finally back. I didn't realize that my last entry was over a year ago but it's time to get focused again on our finances. I won't go into detail as to what our goings on have been this past year but instead put down our thoughts and goals for the present:

1) Savings:
We currently save $1200 from our paychecks each month. $250 has been going into ROTH accounts. $150 has been going into a long-term (LT)savings account. $800 has been set aside for short-term (ST) savings each month.

We currently have just $2,500 in our LT savings (a mutual fund account)

We currently have $7,600 in our ST account and I have $3,000 in cash at home that I have been socking away anytime we get extra cash. I will be depositing that $3,000 into our ST account today so our balance will now be $10,600. There have been times where we need to tap into this account for annual bills like life insurance and such so this balance will fluctuate but that's what it is for.


2) Debt:
Our debt load currently looks like this-
Mortgage loan 1 balance $238,515 (renting this one out)
Mortgage loan 2 balance $287,955 (our home)
Car loan 1 balance $13,168 1.95% (purchased Jan 2014)
Car loan 2 balance $21,645 3.59% (purchased Jan 2015)
Yes, I know these are scary numbers.
No unsecured debt.

My conundrum is whether or not to stop putting away any or all of the $150 LT and $800 ST and instead divert those funds into paying off one our car loans. We have been paying more than the minimum each month but adding more to one of them would snowball it quickly. What do you all think?

Renters... your opinion?

February 19th, 2014 at 05:55 pm

So, we have a house that is being rented by a great family. Payments are on time, house is kept up, etc. Only problem is that we settled on a rental amount that is short of meeting our mortgage on the property. We tried to sell the house 1.5 years ago with no luck and we were fortunate to find this family that would rent it from us ... better to have the majority of the mortgage paid by someone else than for us to have keep paying the entire amount. Anyway, their lease is up for renewal in a few months. The difference between the rent amount and the mortgage amount is $347. Hubby says that we need them to pay the full mortgage amount or we should try to sell the house again kicking them out... I am not so sure. I think we should increase the rent by like $100 and let them lease for another year (doubt they could afford an additional $347). They love our house and have treated it like it was their own... They would buy it but they foreclosed on their last home due to other issues and so now can't get a mortgage to buy ours. What are your thoughts? Ask them to pay the entire $347 additional each month or else kick them out and try to sell it? This wouldn't be so hard except that they really are good people...

Couponing...

November 5th, 2013 at 06:49 pm

First, thanks to all of you that commented on my last post. The whole situation is still in flux at the moment so we'll see how it all shakes out (MY boss just came into my office this morning with an absolutely new setup that involves people moving OUT of the redone space -- he asked for my opinion and I just silently wished I had a spit ball I could throw at him Smile ).

Anyway, on to better topics. Any of you extreme coupon out there? I started couponing back on Mother's Day and after some mistakes and learning the ropes, I think I finally got the hang of it. I have also slowed down quite a bit too. For example, now I only buy toothpaste when I can get it for FREE, not $0.50 or $0.25... but FREE. This is because I have too many in my stockpile to worry about trying to get even another one just because it's a deal. So, I've gotten to the point now where it has to be FREE or a money maker in order for me to run for it. It's actually quite a freeing feeling (no pun intended).

Just thought it might be cool to know of you guys that are also couponers. I've been doing it for 6 months and have primarily focused in on the health and beauty deals. I have enough paper towels to last quite a while and plenty of feminine care products to keep our family of 3 ladies taken care of so that poor DH doesn't have to make any quick stops to the store (if you know what I mean). I do need to step up my game when it comes to food shopping but I am getting there Smile

People just need to grow up!

November 4th, 2013 at 04:17 pm

I am tired of pettiness, stubbornness, and down right meanness...

I supervise 5 ladies, 3 of which are just making me mad. They have worked together in the same office (literally) for over 17 years with the same office/furniture set up and layout all this time. My boss decides it's time to hire another person and wants me to redo the office space to accommodate this new person. I ask lots of questions and provide these 3 ladies ample opportunity for input and collaboration on where we will put this new person. So, all is agreed upon and moving-furniture-day arrives. Last Wed, we had a gaggle of men here moving things around and re-organizing the layout of the office based on the specifications of what we all agreed on. On this moving day, one of the ladies is on the verge of tears, looks so upset, and is so distraught... MY boss notices her reaction and comes back to our area at the end of the day after the entire move is completed just to ridicule ME about how I jumped the gun and he didn't authorize such a move (just to save face in front of this lady). I have now lost all credibility as a manager/supervisor over these 3 ladies and it gets worse... these ladies aren't even speaking to me now except for the work stuff that we have to talk about. We used to have a very friendly and open work environment but now it's like I have entered into the most depressed work environment ever! I don't even get a good morning any longer.

I am tired of the second grade behavior --- get over it already! This has been going on for since last Wed and it's just stupid. It's just a freakin' office that instead of being shared with 3 people, it's now going to be 4 (new girl starts tomorrow). The space is large and there is still plenty of space... Geez, people.

Ok, sorry, I had to vent. My DH thinks these ladies are so juvenile to get worked up over a moving layout that they all came up with in the first place. I didn't tell them it had to be any certain way but as a group, they came up with the layout and now they are punishing me for disturbing their way of life for the last 2 decades! Arrgh. Makes me want to look for another job where there are mature people around! --Oh, and I now hate my boss for backstabbing me. He and I spoke extensively about this office move and I only acted upon his direction but he made it sound like I caused all this 'unnecessary' drama. Crazy, I tell ya.

An overdue update

April 23rd, 2013 at 09:00 pm

--- I was "offered" a job in a county 2 hours away for about $30k more than what I am making now. I wasn't looking or applying anywhere but the person there is retiring and recommended me as her replacement. After weighing out everything, I declined the offer. Believe me, I was very humbled to be considered but we have just too much going on here so the timing just isn't right.

--- Renters have renewed for another year so at least we don't have to worry about that house for a while longer. I think we lucked out quite a bit with this as there are so many horror stories about bad renters. This is a nice little family and they love our house so they have taken very good care of it. {{Too bad their rent payment is $360 short of paying our mortgage that we have on it, but it's better than nothing}}

--- Work has been complete chaos these past few months. Our superintendent was bought out of his contract to a tune of nearly $200k and we are now without a boss for who knows how long.

--- Slowly still making progress at the "short sale" house. We love living there but geez, it's taking a long time to fix it up. With the nicer weather these days, we have done much work outside amping up the landscaping. Plus side is that we get a nice workout while we are at it. Smile

--- Drove by an apt complex last Sat and sitting right by the dumpster was something that caught my eye. I pulled over and tried to piece it together... turns out to be a toddler bed in the shape of a Volkswagen Beetle and it was in great condition. My parents are going to yard sale it off for around $30. Oh, and there was also a stepper machine that was just sitting there... in great shape too. Probably will sell that for around $20. Woo hoo for dumpster diving!

--- Upcoming local consignment sale next month that I will participate in. This is held twice a year and is a good way to clean out our closets without holding a yard sale. So, I've been looking for just about anything that can go toward that sale. The only bad thing is that they charge 40% of the sale --- yikes, but again, better than nothing. This is a huge deal where I live and tons of people shop this thing so it really is a good way to get rid of stuff.

--- Family is on a spending hiatus starting today. Besides stuff we need to get to keep our home improvements running along, we are not allowed to buy any "fun" stuff like clothes or dvds. I hope we can last a while because we are running low on cash as it is!

--- Family beach trip coming up in July so I am also starting an exercise plan tonight (Jillian Michaels, here I come). Wish me luck.

Taxes with a rental now - should I hire out?

February 28th, 2013 at 07:35 pm

I have always done our taxes, first manually filling in all the forms by hand, then moved on to TaxAct and have been using TaxAct for several years now.

Last year, we became landlords and now I find myself in uncharted territory. I think it should be simple enough to put our rental info into TaxAct but I have a little voice inside me that just won't shut up... I guess I'm afraid I'll miss something and really put us in target for an audit or something.

Any of you do your own taxes while having rental properties?


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