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My Kind of Party

October 7th, 2012 at 12:04 am

...is one that states on the invitation, "Your presence is the only gift required." We attended that party today.

First we had to go fill up gas tank. $4.79/gal. What the heck?! Crazy. I did some rough calculating and realized that attending the party would cost me approximately $32 in gas round trip, plus another $5 for bridge toll. Glad I didn't have to buy a gift on top of that.

Unexpected Move

September 30th, 2012 at 12:02 am

It's been over a year since I've posted an update. Most of that time was spent dealing with health issues for which I eventually had surgery. I'm so thankful I finally found a good doctor that could help me. Medical bills are all paid off. Now I have to decide if I want to go through with cosmetic surgery to fix leftover damage. Should do it this year as my high deductible is met already, but I haven't been able to make up my mind whether to go through with it or not.

Our summer plans were interrupted when landlord/BIL unexpectedly asked us to move out of his rental so an elderly relative could move in. It just so happened that some friends had asked us the day before if we wanted to move into a rental they had on their dairy ranch. The timing couldn't have been better.

Our new residence is in a great area and has almost twice the square footage for the same amount of rent as our old place. Plus, we have the use of a barn for storing all of DH's tools. A very good deal. It's so nice not to be cramped up in a tiny place anymore. Moving was not fun at all, but I'm glad we're here now.

Savings have increased some since last year but are still below the amount we had in 2007.

Very Unhappy with Quicken / Intuit

July 27th, 2011 at 09:06 am

I've been using Quicken since 1996. The latest version I have owned is Quicken 99 which has worked just fine as I manually enter everything (no bank downloads).

My old computer was dying, so I loaded my Quicken disk onto a new computer (with an older, compatible Windows). Quicken was working fine at first until a registration window popped up saying I needed to register it or else it would shut down after 10 uses.

Lo and behold, the original registration code# does not work. They have it set up so that you must call for a new code# each time the disk is installed.

Long story short, I tried like mad with Intuit, but they refused to give me a new code# for the disk I had PURCHASED. Fifteen years of data will now be lost.

Their suggestion that I purchase a new Quicken would be a conversion nightmare, according to what I've read because of the old Quicken file type and having to upgrade through each version, step-by-step. And why should I have to purchase a new one when I already have a purchased copy that I should be able to use for the life of the disk?

I will now have to print out my current year's data and will load an old Money program and switch to that, but I am really ticked.

As for my other program, QuickBooksPro, thankfully the original code# worked! I'm still using QB 6.0 (2000), and I will never upgrade as long as I can help it. Don't want to be caught up in all the forced upgrade money pit horror stories I've been reading about. I stopped paying them for the payroll tax updates long ago, too, and am perfectly happy inputting the payroll data manually, just as long as I don't have to pay Intuit another dime.

Getting Squeezed

October 20th, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Health insurance premiums went up again. And now I just noticed that our sales tax just went up another .5%, an additional $.71 on just the one Target receipt I noticed it on. Don't want to think about what it all will add up to yearly.

Also, new EPA regulations require contractor husband to take a class ($250) to get a required certificate (another $300/every five years). Not even sure yet how the new regulations are going to make it even tougher to make a living.

All we can do is the best we can, and keep plugging away. Looks like we might have several more months of work coming up. Sure hope so.





Thanks, But We Have Other Plans

May 27th, 2010 at 10:41 am

We've had a huge flurry of invitations lately to parties of all kinds, like graduations, baptisms, birthdays, engagements, weddings, and dinner/dances. Some of them are from friends, but a lot are from family (mostly my husband's because his family is huge).

We can't afford to attend all of them. Some of them say things like, "Dressy/Cocktail Attire Please!" We don't have a wardrobe of dressy shoes and clothes to attend all these, and I don't want to show up in the same outfits every single time (like we have been). And I'd have to buy my son another pair of dressy shoes since he outgrew the old pair.

Then there are the gifts. Can't afford them!

I've also noticed that more and more often the invitations say to bring a dish to share which I used to think was a great idea. But getting a lot of invitations like that stresses me out because that is an added cost of attending the party too.

Then to get really picky, there is the cost of gas to get to and from the event.

We've resorted to saying, "Thanks, but we have other plans" to many of the events, and I can tell some people are feeling that we're just being rude or uncaring by not attending. It's so awkward and makes me feel awful.

New 1099 Law Nightmare

May 22nd, 2010 at 06:18 am

Just read about the new law that was sneaked into the health care bill. Now I will have to spend days typing up dozens of 1099 forms each year instead of the usual 1 or 2 forms. What a bookkeeping nightmare for me.

Often employees pick up materials from various suppliers. How do I handle the reimbursements? Do I 1099 the employee for that? How do I handle the charges on the credit card for business expenses? I'm so confused.

Why does the government have to keep on making everything more confusing?! I already resent having to pay somebody else to do my taxes because our situation is too complicated for me to figure it out. This year I had to fork out $375 to a CPA. Business is not good. Savings continues to drain. I'm scared.

Now the government has to pull even more crap to make things worse.

10% Veteran Discount at Lowe's

December 5th, 2009 at 11:00 am

My husband just learned this week that Lowe's gives a 10% discount for all purchases for veterans. He showed his VFW card and got the discount.

Wish we would have known about this a long time ago since he's a contractor and buys a lot there all the time. At least we know now!

Sure Glad We Sold When We Did

November 19th, 2009 at 10:48 am

Checking out home prices online....The small home we reluctantly sold in January 2007 is now worth $200,000+ less than the price we sold it for.

I would almost feel sorry for the current owners except that they were quite arrogant and would make condescending comments to us when we were dealing with them. Of course, we were polite and kept our mouths shut, and we accepted their lowball offer. They thought they were getting quite a steal (and so did we at the time).

It was a depressing time for us. We moved to an even smaller rental. But with all the medical bills we had and less work available, it was the right decision. We had no idea just how right it would be. We had made a good profit (from riding the bubble), paid off the medical and other bills, and have a comfortable nest egg/emergency fund left over.

I'm happy to be a renter now. As that was the second home we had owned and sold, I am at the point now where I wonder if I ever want to buy again. It's still cheaper to rent here than buy. But I'm keeping an eye on the home prices anyway. It would have to be an extremely good deal to convince me to buy again.

Chase Bank Rip-Off #2

November 1st, 2009 at 06:49 pm

My "Business Free Checking" (as they have the nerve to call it) just charged me $3.00 for going over their monthly deposit limit, another "Welcome to Chase" surprise since they've taken over WaMu. That brings it up to a total of $10.80 I've been charged for depositing money in their bank.

Jitterbug Phone Co. Are Scammers

October 28th, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Got my mom a Jitterbug phone several months ago. Minutes were to roll over for 90 days. Haven't used any minutes in months, yet the latest statement shows only one month of minutes available.

Called Jitterbug and they admitted they recently had a 90 day rollover plan but said they changed it to 60 day rollover. Told them I signed up for the 90 day rollover plan and, if they only had the 60 day rollover plan, then their web site must not have been up to date. They said it had been. They are liars.

Next, since the phone hasn't been used since signing up, the statement should show three months of available minutes (or at least two months for their 60 day rollover). Instead the statement says I only have one month's worth of minutes available.

Tried to tell them they ripped me off minutes, but they gave me a song and dance about it. I guess they are used to being able to talk their way out of a paper bag to confused seniors.

I regret buying their crappy phone and their service. What a scam. Will talk to my mom about getting her a different phone service.

Clean Your Dryer

October 23rd, 2009 at 12:03 pm

I finally told my husband that if he wouldn't fix the dryer I was going to buy a new one. There is a limit to my frugalness and having to deal with a dryer that takes 2-3 full cycles to dry clothes is one of them. I dealt with it for a very long time and would end up with smelly clothes that would have to be washed all over again if I forgot to immediately start the second or third cycle. Besides, it was wasting energy running so long.

So he pulled out a part and took it to an appliance parts place. They tested it and said it was fine and told him to bring in some different parts to test. They were fine also.

They then told him to buy a lint brush and clean way down inside where the long lint screen goes. I was amazed at how much lint he got out. I had assumed that all of the lint ends up on the lint screen which I cleaned before each use, but I was wrong. Next he cleaned out the long vent pipe with a brush with an extension handle and made sure the flex pipe portion wasn't kinked.

Now the old dryer works great. Saved a lot of money and am glad we lessened a fire danger in the process. Whew.

CHASE BANK RIP-OFF FEE

October 4th, 2009 at 07:18 pm

A customer paid us in cash. Checked account online today to discover that Chase charged us $7.80 for depositing it! A "cash deposited fee". Unbelievable! I do them the favor of depositing money in their institute and they CHARGE ME for it???

Was it because the teller had to count the bills that took all of 30 seconds? People are at the teller windows much longer than that for other reasons. What crap. I'm so tired of various companies trying to rip me off and always having to fight it. Disgusting.

What Nerve

August 6th, 2009 at 12:08 pm

My phone rang, and I didn't feel like answering it. I was listening to the caller leave a message. It was my dentist office telling me that my kids will soon be due for a 6-month check-up.

She then goes on and says that SHE scheduled appointments for them (without my consent) and proceeds to state the dates and times of them! (I had already refused to schedule ahead of time when we were at our last appointment.) Then she says that I need to call the office if I want to change them! I then had to scramble to the phone and say that I don't want the appointments.

I schedule check-ups for our family annually rather than semi-annually. I've always made sure that the kids, as they grow up, take good care of their teeth. Neither of them, ages 19 & 6, have any cavities to date.

I don't appreciate the dentist trying to schedule an appointment without my permission and causing me more hassle. Ugh. We have much more important medical issues/expenses to worry about.

Rite Aid is Weird

June 23rd, 2009 at 02:03 pm

I was driving to meet some people at a park yesterday. I realized I forgot to put on deodorant and, since the day was pretty warm, I thought I'd better stop on the way and buy some.

I went into a Rite Aid and located the right aisle. The shelves of deodorant had clear doors over them. I had to lift open the doors to access the deodorant, and then a loud chiming rang as long as the doors were open. I thought that was so bizarre!

I could not understand why they would bother to do this to deodorant only, an inexpensive item. Is there something I don't know about deodorant? Very strange.

Class Action Suit $ Received

February 19th, 2009 at 03:45 pm

We received a $450 class action settlement check from our health insurance company. The good feeling from getting the check is kind of offset by the double whammy premium hikes we got this year - their annual hike plus a hike for moving to a higher age bracket. The insurance takes such a huge chunk of our income that I do get worried that there will come a time when it will be impossible to pay.

Though I was pretty bummed out at the time, I'm now very thankful that we sold our home in January 2007 and that we've had a cushion in the bank since then. My husband's income as a contractor has gone down while expenses have gone up. It's scary to think about where we would be if we hadn't sold when we did.

Haven't been able to add to our savings (it's been slowly draining), but it looks like I will be able to put some money back when the current customers who owe us pay up.

Open Letter to Wells Fargo

December 2nd, 2008 at 11:31 am

To Wells Fargo,

Several months ago I opened up a business checking account and a savings account in addition to the personal checking account already established. I was told all the accounts would be free as long as I agreed to a monthly automated transfer of $75 to go from checking to savings. Fine.

Within days I had to deal with getting a $48 charge taken off my business account for a first box of checks I was told would be free.

Days later I had to deal with getting a $25 reward program fee taken off an account, even though I specifically remember saying I do NOT want to participate in that program.

Next came a charge for a leather checkbook cover I never ordered. Had to go to the bank to get that charge removed.

Days later I had to deal with getting an $8 service fee taken off my so-called free business account.

The following month, I again had to get the $8 service fee taken off. I was told I had the wrong type of savings and checking accounts, and was switched to the "right" ones to avoid any fees.

The following month, I again had to go to the bank to get another $8 fee taken off. I waited and waited for service while the account employees chit-chatted with each other. Finally, after much time trying to explain the problem, the employee "fixed" the accounts and said it won't happen again. In the process he switched my savings and checking accounts back to the types I had originally, and I learned that I had earned less interest while having the other type.

I got home and checked online, and the fee had NOT been taken off. Had to call that bank worker AGAIN and have him take it off.

The next month (this month), I found yet another $8 service fee. My husband went down to the bank and was told they would research what is going on and I would get a call within an hour. That was several hours ago, and I have not received a phone call.

Checked online and discovered the $8 fee never got removed even after my husband went to the bank to have it removed.

Went down to one of the bank branches to attempt to get the charge removed. They were too busy to assist me. I drove over to another branch and waited until I finally got assistance. I got the charge removed but was told I had to go back to the original branch and see if a manager could put a waiver on my account. After dealing with many managers already, I knew I'd be wasting my time.

How you, Wells Fargo, can be so messed up is beyond me, but I don't care anymore. You've wasted enough of my time and have tried to rip me off many times over. I'm closing all of my accounts at your bank. It certainly has not been a pleasure doing business with you.

$4229 Doctor Visit

August 29th, 2008 at 12:33 pm

Took my 5yo for a well-child visit where the doctor heard a heart murmur and referred us to a pediatric cardiologist.

At the cardiologist's office the doctor checked his heart via stethoscope and ultrasound to the tune of $4229. My portion to pay after insurance is $1553.11. And my son will need to get checked again later.

The high cost of medical care never ceases to amaze me.

Cost of Food - Ouch

May 7th, 2008 at 05:24 pm

I pulled up some Quicken reports today, and here are the results:

Groceries:
4/19/07-04/18/08: $9864.66 ($822.06/mo.)
04/19/06-04/18/07: $7076.99 ($589.75/mo.)
Approximately 39% increase.

Dining out:
04/19/07-04/18/08: $488.15 ($40.68/mo.)
04/19/06-04/18/07: $496.89 ($41.41/mo.)
Consists mainly of husband's lunch buying. Except for going out to pizza twice, the last time we'd dined at a restaurant was while on vacation in January 2007.

This is for a family of four. We have to buy drinking water, and I do like to buy organic, all-natural type items (but don't always). I feel horrible about how much is spent on food. I've been trying to make a lot of stuff from scratch but, apparently, I need to do much more.

The $6,000 Man

April 19th, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Haven't updated in quite awhile...

The title of this post is our oldest son's newest nickname. I've been feeling bad that we've postponed getting him braces. Now that he's about to turn 18, we've finally gone and paid for them. The actual cost is $5,581, which includes a 5% discount for paying the entire amount up front. I hope that was the right thing to do. Our savings account is only earning 2.75% right now so I figured I might as well, but I don't like paying that much money up front. Then there were the initial x-rays needed at an additional cost, so that brought the total close to $6,000.

Our health insurance premium had a huge increase over last year. I noticed on our auto insurance policy that they only updated our mailing address, not the address where the vehicles are parked, which still showed our old address (weird). I called and corrected that and got a rate hike adjustment as a reward. Ugh. And, of course, food and gas have gone up a lot. And I'm disappointed with how much less interest we're earning from our savings account with the lower rate we're getting now.

On the positive side...

It's been 15 months since we sold our house. I am so grateful we were able to sell it when we did with the way the house prices have dropped dramatically since then. I must say it's been quite nice to have no debt and some savings.

Work (construction) has been picking up for DH. Hopefully, we can start adding to the savings account again. We've been dipping into it this winter.

DH added insulation above the ceiling (BIL/landlord paid for materials), and I've begun to notice a big difference in the utility bill.

We got our vegetable garden in early. We had one cold night when the tomato plants got damaged, but they're growing back now. We've been remembering to cover them up on cold nights since then, and that has worked well.

I've renewed my efforts at cutting down the grocery bill, an area I know has room for improvement. We'll see how that goes. My goal is to cut it down enough to eventually "pay" for my son's braces.

Can't Get Any Fresher or Cheaper Than This

November 18th, 2007 at 02:49 pm

DH went to his friend's property and shot two wild turkeys. The neighbors were hoping he'd kill more because they are completely overrun with them. The turkeys poop all over their homes, chase their little dogs and eat all the dog food, and make an early morning racket, not allowing people to sleep. So I guess we'll be having our fill of turkey meals for a while.

Our income has been steady lately and above what we made year-to-date last year. We have no medical bills due and finally got all our needed dental work done, costing about $2,000. Now I am finally going to make an appointment for our 17yo to get the braces he's needed.

I just finished reading Lou's On First, a biography of Lou Costello written by his daughter. I've always loved the Abbott & Costello movies, so this was very interesting reading for me. A big part of the book was about how he went from no money, to being rich, and then losing all or most of it. Same thing happened to Bud Abbott. The book is a good manual for demonstrating what NOT to do with money.

No Recent Additions to Savings

August 9th, 2007 at 09:19 am

My stepdaughter got married, and we paid for a couple of wedding related expenses, plus there were airline, hotel, and dining expenses related the event.

Then the transmission in my car started acting up. On the way to the car shop, the car ran fine. Figures. The mechanic took the car out for long drives on several occasions over the course of a couple of days to see what was going on with my car, but the car continued to run fine. In the end, he didn't do anything except change the transmission fluid. So all that cost us $142. But I'm very thankful that the car seems okay for now and that it didn't cost us thousands to repair, at least not yet.

This wasn't the best month to do it, but I got a used entertainment center off craigslist for $100. For the last seven months since we've moved here, we've been using an upside-down laundry basket as a tv stand. The house we sold had built-in shelving, so we didn't own a free-standing unit. I must say, it's a great improvement over the laundry basket.

Pulled up a Quicken report on my grocery spending. A record $942 for June! July was also extra high at $778 (if I remember correctly). I really need to get back to concentrating on lowering the grocery expenses! I feel kind of sick about spending that much for a family of four. So I'm going to monitor this spending category much more closely.

$5,000 Bathroom Sink

July 12th, 2007 at 11:19 am

My husband completed a bathroom remodel job today. The customer had ordered a $5,000 24k gold-plated and crystal bathroom sink. They also ordered a $1,500 shower fixture. DH was sweating bullets while handling and installing these and other expensive items, afraid he would scratch or damage them. I can't imagine us having to replace them if he had damaged them. That would have been seriously depressing. Thankfully, nothing happened.

I also can't imagine how rich I'd have to be before I felt like spending that much money on a sink. Don't think I'd ever want to, no matter how much I had.

Should Have Done This Sooner

July 3rd, 2007 at 12:32 pm

The bill for the local builders' exchange membership came due, and I finally decided to cancel our membership rather than pay it. We'd been members for many years. Except for one or two small jobs they referred to us quite a long time ago, we haven't acquired any work through them. The only benefit we have been receiving through them is a discounted group rate on our workers comp. insurance. The other day I pulled up a report in Quickbooks and did some math. I calculated that, because we haven't had much payroll the past six or so years and, therefore, didn't get much of a workers comp. discount, we could have been saving about $375/year by NOT being a member of the builders' exchange and switching our workers comp. to an individual policy. I've been kicking myself for not bothering to do the math sooner. But what's done is done, and all I can do is add this to my list of financial blunders and move on. At least it felt good ripping up the membership bill and tossing it in the garbage.

Title Company Sends Money Six Months Later

June 27th, 2007 at 12:20 am

Got a check for $40 from the title company that dealt with our house sale back in January. I remember catching some errors on the closing statement and getting a snooty, unapologetic attitude from the woman there when I pointed them out and asked they be corrected. The much larger errors were fixed, but there still was a smaller amount that didn't seem right on the revised statement. I was too stressed out to bother with it anymore after the whole process of selling and moving.

So now I get a check from them with a letter stating I should have received this additional $40 at close of escrow. There is no apology for the error or for taking six months to correct it. They did put in bolded print, "Please keep in mind this check will become stale dated after 60 days of the issuance date of the check." The last sentence reads, "We trust that this transaction has been handled to your satisfaction and look forward to the opportunity of seeing you again in the near future." Somehow I don't think I'll ever feel inclined to use them again.

OT: A Sock

June 5th, 2007 at 03:34 pm

Well, it's not quite done, but this is how my first sock is coming out. I was so excited about finally making it around the heel successfully.



Blue Cross Billing

June 5th, 2007 at 01:37 pm

As if Blue Cross isn't taking enough of my money already, I just read their notification informing me that I will now be charged a $2 fee for each paper bill. Argh. I must choose to have automatic electronic debits to avoid the fee, but I can't stand having automatic deductions. I've tried it before, and it makes me feel like I'm not in control of my own money. And I would always forget when a deduction was going to occur and have to scramble to avoid bouncing checks. I'll stick to paper billing as long as I can.

A Little Extra Income

May 27th, 2007 at 11:34 am

I'm now doing housecleaning for a relative for 2-3 hours per week. It's not much, but the little bit of extra money will help.

Yarnaholics

May 25th, 2007 at 01:58 pm

I browse various knitting and crocheting forums and blogs. I am amazed at the number of people who have accumulated enough yarn to open their own small (or not so small) yarn store. They show pictures of giant masses of yarn that they probably couldn't use up in their lifetime, yet they continue to buy more. And they joke about their yarn accumulation addictions with each other. A lot of them choose to buy wool yarn only, which can be quite expensive, rather than the cheaper acrylics. (Certain wools might cost around $200 to have enough to knit one sweater.) So some of them have several thousands of dollars of yarn sitting around. One woman counted her stash of almost 1000 skeins/balls of yarn, which can run about $3 to maybe $15 each.

I just can't help but wonder what their financial pictures look like.

Recycling Income

May 15th, 2007 at 04:25 pm

Turned in some plastic recyclables today and got $3.70. They wouldn't pay me for the glass, even though their web site said they would pay by the pound. The guy said they only pay for glass that shows a redemption value. Oh well. Getting $3.70 back is much better than having our garbage service pick up the stuff and getting nothing back. So I think I will keep it up. The recycle place is right next to the grocery store where I sometimes shop, so I don't waste any money in gas either.

$726 for 20 Seconds of Work

April 25th, 2007 at 12:21 pm

Medical bills once again......

My son fell and got a small bump on his forehead that was some blood vessel thingy (forgot the medical term) that would not go away. I took him to the dermatologist who explained what it was. He then numbed it (a few seconds), snipped it off (one second), cauterized it (one second), and slapped a bandaid on it (two seconds). Total bill: $726.00. My insurance reduced it by $260.77, leaving my portion to pay at $465.23. Plus add another $35 co-pay for the first visit to the family doctor who sent us to the dermatologist. My total out-of-pocket expense is $500.23.

My husband and I are self-employed so I know all about overhead expenses, but come on.....I am just disgusted and really bummed out.


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