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Archive for September, 2010

Honored to be asked

September 17th, 2010 at 07:26 am

This morning, someone that works in our office comes to ask me to help her with her personal finances. This was completely out of the blue and I feel so honored that she would trust me with her money issues. She said she was thinking last night of who she could ask for help and thought of me... (after she got a denial yesterday from the local credit union for a new credit card account). Now, I'm on a quest to get her all squared away and you guys can come along on the journey. Here's her situation:

Married with 2 children (one in college and one in high school), but not a financially sound marriage ever, apparently... DH is a banker of all things but he apparently doesn't have his head on straight when it comes to their own money. He wants to keep everything completely separate in their household so the wife just deals with this (even though he makes probably 4 times what she does). For the major expenses, he covers the mortgage and utilities. She has to cover the groceries for the house.


OUT categories we've identified thus far =
*groceries/eating out for household
*car payment on her car
*gas/maintenance on her car
*half of the household cell phone bill
*medical bills for household
*dog -vet/grooming bills
*multiple credit cards (highest balance is around $5k on one of them)
*three outstanding medical debts

She had her highest balance credit card statement with her and said she thought the interest rate on it was 90% (gasp) and I was like, um -- doubt it? So, I looked on her statement and showed her where the interest rate was indicated which is something like 25%. As you can see, she doesn't even know how to read her statements. She's a college graduate but when it comes to money and math, she's clueless and knows that is why she's in the trouble that she's in.

I gave her homework for the weekend -- I've asked her to write down exactly what her interest rates are on all the credit cards and their current balances. I told her to call each one of those credit card companies and ask for a lower interest rate. She also needs to identify exactly how much she owes on those outstanding medical bills and to estimate how much her other monthly expenses total up (she had no clue how much she spends on groceries, for example).

Next, I asked her about her paycheck. Since I have access to payroll, I looked up her check and all her deductions. She has zero withholdings and I asked if she gets a tax refund each year. Apparently, she just gives her W-2 to her DH each year and he does all the tax stuff. She does know that for 2009, they got back around $1500 total and then she got fussed at from her DH that it wasn't enough. He wanted the refund to be even higher and implied that she must not have withheld enough from her checks (jerk!). He keeps their refund and does whatever with the money even though it's "their" refund. I told her that was crazy. I calculated what increasing her withholdings to 1 and 2 would be, an additional $58 and $103 respectively, in each paycheck... Basically, by just increasing her withholdings to 1, she would have an additional $700 each year in her paychecks that her grubby hubby wouldn't have access to come tax time. She said she's all about having her withholdings changed to 1 now. Yay.

Anyway, I'll post more as we keep ironing out her budget...

The cost of this corner

September 15th, 2010 at 01:42 pm

Just to give a bit more info on this corner of my house...

The table was FREE. I saw it at the county dumpster site (we have a swap shop there). I had to literally fight a lady for it because I would be darned if I didn't leave with it --- I saw it first!! Smile The table was in absolutely perfect condition and I didn't have to do a thing to it.

The books were FREE. My mom bought a boxful of books at a yard sale for like a buck. She gave me a few and voila.

The rod iron basket the balls are in was $1 at Goodwill.

The metal tray the books are on was $1 at Goodwill.

The 2 wooden candlesticks were just $1 at Goodwill.

The little jack-o-lantern thingys (I think they are luminaries?) were $3 at Goodwill... it was a brand new box of 12 of them and they are so blasted cute, that I had to buy them. I put a couple in this corner and I think it looks good.

The small pumpkins you see were FREE. A coworker gave me a basket of pumpkins and gourds a few years ago when she was cleaning out her stash. Love it!

I know you can hardly see it, but there is a huge rustic basket on the bottom shelf of the table holding our magazines. I bought a lot of 5 baskets at an auction recently for $1. So the cost of this one, I guess is like 20cents. I love this basket.

The Woodwick candle and Bath and Body Works candle below it (wrapped in jute twine) were FREE. I got these as gifts a few years ago.

There you go... proof that decorating doesn't have to be expensive.

Balls, anyone?

September 15th, 2010 at 12:33 pm

What do you get when you go out and buy a bunch of ping pong balls, plastic baseballs, and an assortment of twine?

...use a bit of hot glue gun action and you get a lot of decorative balls! These would be so expensive if you bought them retail and I just love the way they look!

Black is a wonderful color

September 15th, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Remember my last post where I gave you a preview of those 2 ugly plates? Well, with a good coat of black paint, I am now using them (along with cheese domes) as cloches -- (before I knew what the word meant, I had to google it so don't feel bad if you have to as well). Perfect fit for the 2 cheese domes I had laying around - I had glass plate bases for these but the black plates just gives it more substance, ya know? Not bad for a 50cent plate!



Some after shots

September 13th, 2010 at 07:43 pm

The Christmas 2008 frame now houses a monogram (simply printed from the computer) of our last name... doesn't it look nice!?

The old ugly bronzy picture frame holder got a good coat of black paint and voila... looks much better (It's holding up the 'F' picture frame. That picture frame started out HOT PINK but again, black paint to the rescue-- same with all the other frames you see.)

Oh, and see that mirror in the background? Not the cheap $1.50 one I got this past Sat. but this one is much bigger and is another thrift store find from last week - priced at just $20 but I was able to talk down the store manager to $12! It fits perfectly above our mantle.

The cheapo, but new pillar candle I got for 0.25cents, looks nice on top of the $2 tall rod iron candle holder I got from Goodwill last week!

More to come with all my other goodies from the yard sale find this weekend... but in the meantime, look what I found at Goodwill today for just 0.50cents each --- aren't they purdy!? NOT! Just wait to see what I plan to do with these...

$6 worth of loot!

September 13th, 2010 at 08:06 am

I don't normally go to yard sales just because I usually don't have any luck finding anything cheap enough around here (where I live, yard sale prices are crazy) and I don't like driving around aimlessly either -- so I tend to stick with shopping at thrift stores. But, anywho, we were heading home from our soccer games Sat morning and I noticed a big "indoor yard sale" sign at a local Moose Lodge. It was about 11:00 so I knew they were probably going to wrap up soon, but I figured why not? To my delight, they were letting everything go at 50% off sticker so I grabbed up some stuff and spent a whopping $6! Here's what I got:

*a fairly big mirror in great condition - just needs cleaning up
*a darling stuffed bear picture (but I really just wanted the frame)
*a brand new picture frame (sticker on it said $14.99 from Kohls) -- of course the matting says Christmas 2008 but again, just got it for the frame
*2 small wood shelves
*new pillar candle - I have just the spot for this baby
*candle stick and hurricane
*large glass vase
*2 small votive glass holders that I hope to do something cool with
*3 brand new boxes of Christmas candle stuff: votive holder, 2 votive candles, and small pinecone/berry mixture in each box
*brass picture frame/plate display holder
*bag of green grass/moss stuff for crafts
**a black rod iron cool candle holder thingy (my DH claimed this one ASAP to display one of his little collectible figurines on so it's not in the pictures below)

I think I scored pretty good with my $6! Stay tuned for what some of these items will be transformed into!

Labor Day Weekend wrapup

September 7th, 2010 at 11:23 am

Busy, busy, busy...

I helped my mom with the 4th and hopefully, final yard sale of the season on Sat. We made $422 total. She kept $200, gave me $200, gave my oldest DD $10 and my youngest DD $12 (she sold $2 worth all by herself). My sis and her hubby was visiting and we all camped out in my mom's yard... gosh, it got COLD overnight, like bone chilling cold. We knew it would be cold so we covered up the kids pretty good but we didn't do so well for ourselves. At around 6am, DH and I decided we had enough and went in the house and slept for a few more hours. The next night, the girls slept out in the tents again but DH and I didn't even attempt it so we stayed in the house like the chickens we are. Sunday, we had DH's family reunion to go to as well. All in all, a very busy weekend, but enjoyed all the family time.

Today, I took my $200 cash and spent it at the local thrift store. I had been looking for a treadmill and/or elliptical machine for months now -- looking at craigslist, newspaper classifieds, and thrift stores. Lo and behold, this thrift store which is on the other side of town and one that I hardly ever go to, had a ton of exercise equipment -- and better yet, a big sign was up that said "1/2 off Exercise Equipment". Yahooie! I got an electric treadmill for $75 and a small elliptical for $40. I think that is a good deal for both pieces... sure, they aren't the most lavish machines but they do the job and are in great shape. Now, I have to figure out where to set up my new "home gym" in the house.

I have recently gotten way into "vintage" home decorating as well. There are a ton of great blogs out there that I am now addicted to... showing lots of great pictures of projects people do with thrift store finds, crafting projects, broken and old furniture, and basically, other people's trash. I have always enjoyed going to thrift stores but it was mainly for clothing deals. I always looked past the home decor stuff but now it's got my attention. I've bought several small pieces at Goodwill and look forward to tapping into my near-nonexistent creative side! I figured I would try to start with some simple Fall decorating ideas and see where that might lead me. Stay tuned...

Cool find

September 1st, 2010 at 01:09 pm

I'm starting to get interested in revamping old stuff and really getting into estate sales and auctions. At the last week's auction, I bought a box lot of stuff that I just really had no idea what everything was... but for $2, it wasn't a huge risk. There were some cool finds in the box -- here is the smallest desk fan I have ever seen. Isn't it the cutest thing?! I took the picture with a ruler next to it for you to see the size... barely 5 in' tall. Love it!