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Archive for January, 2007

A tax surprise!

January 29th, 2007 at 03:27 pm

I reached my financial goal of the week, when I filed my taxes. However, I didn't get by free, like I thought I would. I THOUGHT the TurboTax was free if you didn't do state taxes. Turns out, it costs $30 if you choose the "maximize my deductions" option. Didn't know that till the end, when they asked for my credit card number. Sigh.

The good news is, my refund will be $1077, which will go a long way toward paying off the new flooring.

I bought coffee and minipads today for a grand total of $8.91.

My goal next week is to file my state taxes. This time I will do it on paper via snail mail.

My no-spend weekend, ha ha

January 28th, 2007 at 02:43 pm

My plan for no-spending days this weekend fizzled out in somewhat of a spending frenzy. First of all, I forgot I had to refill a prescription ($25), and, since my pharmacy is in the grocery store, I went ahead and bought groceries for $32. Then I thought, well, I'm spending, so I might as well get gas ($16). That was Friday night.

On Saturday morning, I thought, I won't spend, but I'll use my coupon for a free haircut and I'll visit my friend while I'm in the neighborhood. First I stopped at my friend's. There was no answer when I knocked at the door, but my cell phone rang, and it was her, telling me not to come in, she had the flu. I asked her if there was anything I could do, and she asked if I would mind picking up a case of Sprite. Which I did ($8). After I dropped it off at her house, I went to the hairdresser. They told me I could get in in about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes passed, the receptionist came up and said, sorry, we got mixed up, your hairdresser isn't free for an hour. Well, I didn't want to go all the way back home, and by this time I was hungry, so I walked to a nearby restaurant where I had biscuits & gravy and coffee ($7). Finally got my hair cut and, though it was free, I gave my hairdresser a $2 tip.

On Saturday night it turned cold. I turned up the heat, but I was still freezing. I was also very congested and the dry air was making it worse. So this morning, after a very bad night, I decided I had to take care of myself. I went to Walmart and bought a new warm comforter ($63), a vaporizer ($10), and OTC medicine ($12). While I was there I got cat food ($6), and a paint tray ($2). I also peeked in the clearance aisle and found a stainless steel electric can opener for $5, which I couldn't resist. On the way home I realized I neglected to buy one thing I really need -- a feminine hygiene product -- so, I can't count on a no-spend day tomorrow either!

Maybe I should never say I won't spend anything!

No-spend days

January 25th, 2007 at 03:05 pm

This is my fourth no-spend day in a row! Tomorrow I will try to make it five. On Saturday I will have to grocery shop, so that'll be the end of my streak -- unless I try to hold out until Sunday. Hmmmm, a challenge!

Financial goals

January 23rd, 2007 at 03:15 pm

No spending today. Actually I came to work without any cash, other than change in my wallet. That made it easy to decline being in the pool for Powerball. Now, I will really be upset if they win!

I've decided to set myself one financial goal per week. This week it was saving one-dollar bills (which, of course, I will continue through the year.)

I think next week it will be to do my taxes. I should have my W-2 by then. I will also do it myself, and will not pay a fee, not even to TurboTax. My taxes are pretty simple, so there's no reason to pay for it.

I just realized that I borrowed this one-goal-per-week idea from TinaPBeana, so I give her full credit!

Saving ones

January 22nd, 2007 at 04:51 pm

Pretty uneventful day. But uneventful is good. It usually means no spending.

I decided to save $1 bills -- whenever I come home with any in my wallet, they will go to the drawer where I am collecting them. So far I have $6.

Since I don't spend a lot of cash, I don't expect that they will accumulate too quickly. I almost always pay with the debit card. But if I save them until Christmas I should have a nice stash.

A busy yesterday

January 21st, 2007 at 08:45 am

My best friend became a grandmother yesterday. She is lucky that her granddaughter was born right here in town -- lucky for me, too, because I got to share in the fun.

My spending yesterday: I spent $10 on a baby gift -- sunglasses and headbands, and $9.53 on photo development. I also made a run to Target, where I spent $15.89 on a throw rug for the kitchen, $13.67 on groceries, and $1.90 on paper towels, and 3.28 on padded mailing envelopes.

I also got my oil changed ($26.26), ordered a tool set from Amazon for my son's birthday ($3.50 after coupon), and also got him the Collector's Edition of Pirates of the Carribean Dead Man's Chest at Border's ($26.49). I got a pet hair brush at Walgreens ($4.23) when I was picking up the photos.

In the evening, I bought a $7 box of peanut brittle from a little girl who came to my door.

On the income side, I found a nickel, and my son bought me lunch at Culver's.

Analysis: I was pleased with the baby gift. I had already given her a nice shower gift, but I wanted a token gift to take to the hospital. I looked at a lot of things that cost more, but settled on the sunglasses and headbands for their "cute" factor, and the fact that they would fit in a small bag, saving .50 right there. The baby's parents loved them.

The photo development was a bit of splurge. I usually pay .19 a print by going online. Yesterday I took my memory stick to Walgreens and paid .29 a print to have them done right away. I wanted to be able to just hand my friend the prints, and she was delighted.

The package of padded envelopes has a coupon inside for $5 in tape products. Haven't investigated it yet, but I think that will make it a good buy.

I used a .50 coupon for the groceries. Something I rarely do, I'm not a coupon queen. Would have been more effective if the item had been on sale, but, on the other hand, it was something I needed.

The tool set, obviously, was a great deal. I had a $25 Amazon coupon from Chase. I also got free shipping, so I got a $28.50 set for $3.50.

The DVD, on the other hand, was a savings attempt that failed. My son had the title on his Amazon wish list. I had a 25% off Border's coupon, so I thought I'd be smart and get it at Border's. Well, the DVD was "on sale" so the coupon wasn't accepted. When I checked later on the Amazon site I saw that their price was about $5 lower. Don't know if I would have had to pay shipping -- that would have made it a wash.

The pet brush was an impulse buy -- I'm constantly battling pet hair everywhere because my husky/chow mix is a prolific shedder. This was one of those soft rubber brushes, and it does seem to move the hair pretty well. Doesn't really pick it up, though.

Everything else was pretty routine. The rug was not on sale, but moderately priced, and it was the right color and pattern for my kitchen.

Alas, I made the mistake of answering my door, and, of course, it was a child selling candy. I can never say no, so that was $7 out the door.

Today I'm not going out at all, so it will be a no-spend day.

Oh, and, I'm sorry to report, I did not win the Powerball jackpot. Back to the drawing board.


Just a lot of rambling

January 18th, 2007 at 04:08 pm

Thank you to those who gave me suggestions about my computer problems. I think I have figured out that while my broadband provider is upgrading, there are little "interruptions of service" that slow things down. Anyway, some friends have also complained about slow internet service, and that's what we've decided.

I've been delinquent the past few days - just too busy and too tired to log on. I've done a little spending -- I went to a baby shower today and was able to give two gifts that were discounted -- one, a set of receiving blankets half-price; two, a book I bought with a Border's coupon. The one thing I got from her registry was duplicated by someone else, so that was too bad, but at least she has the gift receipt. While I was there, I got a call from a good friend who told me her daughter-in-law checked into the hospital and will deliver at any time! Sort of ironic I got baby news at a baby shower. I also paid $10 toward the lunch, cake, etc. The gift total was about $30.

Last night another friend convinced me to go Goodwill shopping. I spent $13.10 and got two sweaters, two tops, and a pair of gloves. It was Senior's discount day, so I got 30% off -- and one of the items was 50% off.

I spent $2.52 on new photos of my grandson, and $1.00 on cookies from the vending machine. I also chipped in $4 for a good-bye gift for a co-worker, and, because she is a special friend, I bought her a mug, coaster and funny refrigerator magnet for $28.06. No bargains there, but they are all awesome and just right for her.

Somewhere in there I also spent $24.43 on a prescription, but that will be reimbursed. I have more than $150 left in my flexible spending account that I have to use up by March, or I will lose it. This has never happened before. I will have to think of ways to use it up. I have an eye appointment coming up -- that will help.

I talked to my retirement counselor and he let me know how the process worked and what my benefits will be. It will cost me $386 per month to continue my medical insurance -- I guess that's not bad, though more than I pay now. To continue my life insurance will be $33 per month. Life insurance is not so important any more, with my kids grown, but I do want to have something to pay for my funeral when the time comes, so I'm thinking that over. I would hate for my kids to have to pay funeral expenses -- it was great that my mother's funeral was all taken care of, and at that sad time we didn't have to think about the cost. I'd like to do that for my kids, too.

Navigation problems

January 15th, 2007 at 09:34 am

I don't know why it is, but I have a lot of trouble navigating this site. The really frustrating thing is it always starts out fine. I get to the home page, I read a few entries, maybe make a few comments. Then I'll get stuck. A page won't load. I'll stop and try again. Eventually I'll get to the point where it is so slow I just leave the site entirely. If I don't make an entry right away, I can't do it. I just end up sitting watching the flag wave. This has happened over and over and over.

I would be a lot more active on this site if it weren't for this problem. I just wondered if anyone else experienced the same thing. My computer works fine on other sites, and my computer at work navigates this site just fine. I don't understand it.

Anyway, I have no financial news. I stayed home and spent nothing yesterday, and I'm planning on the same thing today.

Aldi closed!

January 14th, 2007 at 09:55 am

Here I was all set to go to Aldi's yesterday -- I turned into the drive -- and right over the curb, I was so surprised. It was closed! Really closed, as in boarded up, and trucks hauling away the fixtures! Thank goodness I didn't damage the car in that little maneuver.

So I went to Kroger instead, and spent $75 instead of the $40 I was planning to spend at Aldi. Not that Kroger is THAT much more expensive, but I do a totally different kind of shopping there because of the variety. I did save $36, according to the receipt. That doesn't count picking out store brands instead of name brands. It was a lot of money, but I am well-stocked now, and I really haven't been very well-stocked ever since my Christmas trip. The rest of the month I will only buy perishables and fill-ins.

I also went to Target and bought some Einstein blocks and receiving blankets (~$20) for a shower gift, and tomorrow I will add a book when I go to Border's. I didn't make it to Border's yesterday, because by the time I finished grocery shopping I was so tired I was like the walking dead. I decided I was running a slight fever. Took three Advil and lay on the couch all day reading "The March" by E.L. Doctorow -- a great Civil War yarn; I recommend it.

Before I pooped out, I also bought gas. I had half a tank, but the price was a tantalizing $1.95 per gallon, so I filled up for $11.10.

I'm still a little under the weather today -- and the weather is awful, cold and rainy -- so I will stay in and it will be a no-spend day. In fact, I showered this morning but put on clean jammies instead of clothes. My favorite kind of day!

Shopping plans

January 13th, 2007 at 05:44 am

I haven't had a no-spend day in a while, and won't today either. Yesterday I went out to lunch with friends at an Irish pub; the day before I bought a candy bar from the vending machine. Today I have to grocery shop.

After having spent so much on my kitchen, I'm losing enthusiasm for my small economies. I have to psych myself up. One thing I will do today is shop at Aldi's. I have to take my car to the dealer to get something reprogrammed (a manufacturer's recall), and the dealer happens to be very close to Aldi. So I will shop there, first time in months. I'm also limiting myself to $40. That will go pretty far at Aldi's.

I'm also going to go to Border's with a 25% off coupon to get a baby shower gift -- probably "The Baby Whisperer" if it's in stock. Then to Target, to get something like blankets, something that's on her list.

I found a dime yesterday and was thrilled and amused at the same time. I've spent about $3500 on my kitchen and I'm happy to get a dime? I guess every little bit helps!

Kitchen remodel

January 10th, 2007 at 05:03 am

Sorry I've been out of touch the last few days. I've been overwhelmed by my home improvement schemes, both financially and physically.

Remember the microwave with the door that wouldn't quite open? I exchanged it for a different one with a door that is inset (not edge-to-edge). So it opens quite easily and I am happy. Unfortunately, it cost me $129 more -- partly because it was a more expensive model, and partly because I had to pay another installation fee. I don't resent that, I know the guy has to be paid for his work, but jeesh.

I got my bill for the balance of the flooring replacement - $987. I think I will use one of those checks that Bank of America is always sending me -- it's a 2.99% interest rate and I should be able to pay it off with my tax refund. My tax refund will have to cover other bills, too. My Discover card has been run up with all kinds of miscellaneous charges, because paying for the appliances took all my cash. I usually pay the Discover card in full every month, but I don't think I will be able to next month. So I guess I'll use another B of A check and wait for the refund.

I don't like to be in this position, but I just had to get moving on the house. I really need to relocate this summer because my cousin is really struggling with her disability, and needs someone there.

The good news is that the kitchen is looking beautiful! I took all the wallpaper down and just have to finish the painting (olive gray -- very sedate and restful). I did manage to fall off the kitchen counter while pulling off wallpaper from above the cabinets, but luckily landed on my feet -- hard. I'm okay, but I have a few bruises. Didn't stop me from getting back up there to finish the job!

No more peanut butter!

January 5th, 2007 at 03:29 pm

Since Tuesday I've been without a refrigerator or stove, because my kitchen floor was being replaced. Today my NEW kitchen appliances were delivered. They look great, but I am just a little bummed because the microwave door doesn't open all the way -- not the fault of the appliance or the installation, it's just wedged in too tightly. This house is too small in every way. I hope potential buyers will see the charm and not the cramped space.

Anyway, I've been eating peanut butter sandwiches and granola bars most of the week. Today I broke down and bought breakfast out -- an omelet and hash browns at a local family restaurant. Then, even though my appliances were in, I still had no fresh food on hand at suppertime, so I went to Taco Bell and got nachos. Haven't had them for ages and I had a real craving. Altogether I spent $14.

I still have lots of painting to do in the kitchen and also have to take down wallpaper -- ugh. I haven't had good experiences doing that.

I Hate Home Improvement!

January 4th, 2007 at 05:06 pm

I just finished putting the first coat of paint on PART of my kitchen walls, and I'm already disgusted. I only painted the areas behind the appliances, because my old appliances are out in the garage, and the new ones will be delivered tomorrow. I was hoping one coat would do it, but I clearly have to do another. True, most of it won't show, but some of it will. I hate painting. I'm not good at it. And it's messy.

After a no-spend day yesterday, I spent $79 today -- basically, $31 on paint and supplies, $35 on new knobs for the cabinets (my second attempt at buying knobs; I had to return the first set because of color disparity), $5 on toilet paper and $8 on floor vents (one of which I will have to return because it's the wrong size). As I said, I hate home improvement.

I also got a refund from Wal-Mart because I bought a drill at the self checkout the other day and managed to charge myself twice. I probably wouldn't have noticed if I weren't keeping receipts and logging my spending every day!

I'm taking tomorrow off, first of all to get a mammogram, and second of all to wait for my appliances in the afternoon. And I will put that second coat of paint on..... Sigh.

Beautiful floors

January 3rd, 2007 at 03:35 pm

Oh my God!!! My floors are all done and they are GORGEOUS! I'm so happy I've done this! One thing I like -- besides the warm, homey appearance -- is the QUIET of these floors. They are not "clacky" at all, but seem to actually mute footsteps. I think my dog is a little freaked out!

This was money well spent.

Now I have to paint the kitchen walls before the new appliances are delivered. I have tomorrow evening, and Friday morning. I should go get the paint tonight, but I'm too tired.

I didn't spend anything today, and I scored a lot of free food at work. Most of it was not good for me, but someone put out oranges to share. I had one for lunch, and there were still some left at the end of the day, so I brought one home.

I am pondering the $20 challenge. If I do it, I will use the money I raise toward home repairs, rather than put it in savings. Home repair is what I really have to do now. But I don't have any bright ideas yet for how to spin $20 into something greater. I have already done all the traditional money-saving things for a long time, like brown-bagging etc. -- so I have to really think to come up with something new.

Totally off-topic -- as much as I regret the passing of Gerald Ford, I am enjoying all the coverage of Grand Rapids. I moved there when I was ten and lived there until I was 15. They were very happy years for me, and I love seeing the city on the national news. Gerald Ford's childhood home was not far from mine, and I went to the same high school -- but he was already a Congressman when I lived there, so we weren't buds. He did come to one of our band concerts once!

Spending in 2006 and house stuff

January 2nd, 2007 at 05:07 pm

I have compared my spending in 2006 to the previous year, and found I spent less! (Not much) But the trend has always been a little MORE every year. When I went over the categories, the only category in which I spent significantly less was medical. Hmmm. I don't have much control over that, except for trying to develop healthy habits.

Like everyone else in the world, developing healthy habits is on my list of New Year's resolutions. To be more explicit, I'm going to exercise 30 minutes a day and eat at least 3 servings of fruit/vegetables. I hope it results in lower health costs, but you never know. My higher health costs in previous years were due to surgeries -- a hysterectomy that was unavoidable, and lasik eye surgery that was a gift to myself.

My new flooring has been laid in the entryway and bathroom. It's so beautiful! It really looks like wood, but it's vinyl tile. Tomorrow they will lay it in the kitchen and laundry room. So far I haven't gone into debt to pay for it, but I've only paid half. I have paid in full for the new kitchen appliances, however. It's almost sad that the house will be so pretty -- for someone else.

Any way you look at it, I'll be spending more as I get my house ready to sell. But as soon as I do that I will retire -- 2007 will be a year of big changes!