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Archive for May, 2007

SOLD!!

May 30th, 2007 at 02:56 pm

My house sold yesterday -- at the full asking price!

The first offer was $95,000, $2000 below list price. But the buyer wanted to close on the 25th of June, which I thought would be too soon for me. The last I heard my "suite" at my cousin's house would not be ready till mid-July.

So my realtor advised me to counter at full asking price, since the early close date might cause financial hardship. They accepted the counter offer within minutes. They really loved the house! My realtor said it was very unusual to get a full price offer in this market.

So I agreed, and I notified my cousin that I would have to move on the 25th. To my surprise, she said the rooms would be ready by then. So -- all I gotta do is pack up and move within the next 3 1/2 weeks!

I am happy, but also a little flabbergasted. I was expecting a long haul.

That was the cap to a day that was pretty suprising already. In the morning I got my $25 payment for my "Confessions" submission (and thank you, thank you again!). Then I got a Pinecone payment of $5. Then I went home and opened my mail to find -- finally -- a $40 check from State Farm. So money was definitely flowing in yesterday.

Last night I was too wound up to sleep, so I will turn in early tonight. I am like the walking dead today.

I've still got a lot ahead of me, but WHOO-HEE! a big step done!

Home showings and financial consequences

May 28th, 2007 at 02:45 pm

My house has been on the market almost a week and I have had three "lookers" already. I haven't had any feedback yet on what they thought.

I have to get my dog out of the house for each appointment. So far I've been lucky. The first time I just took him for a walk in the park. The second time it was raining, so I drove to Cracker Barrel and had brunch, while he stayed in the car. (It was cool enough). The third time, today, I took him to my son's house and then the two of us went to see Shrek III. I know that eventually I will have to take him to the kennel or the vet and pay for the privilege -- those times when I know someone will come and look, but not what time. So far that hasn't happened yet.

Everyone warned me that keeping the house clean was going to be a nightmare, but actually it's much better than the fixing-up stage. I'm developing some good habits. Maybe I'll always be neat after this!

I've been eating out more than usual -- not really intentionally, but I am more inclined to accept invitations because I won't dirty the kitchen. Everything I cook is simple and I clean it up right away. I'm not making anything that calls for a lot of preparation. So I'm sure I will end up spending more on food while I am in this selling mode.

On Saturday I went with friends to Panera and then to an ice cream shop. Spent $7 at Panera; the ice cream was a treat. Yesterday I had brunch at Cracker Barrel for about $8 and dinner at MCL for about $13. Today I spent $13.50 on the movie, since I treated my son. I also spent $10 on a car wash today.

The Memorial Day barbecue I was planning to attend didn't work out -- rather, I'm sure the barbecue worked out okay, but my friends and I didn't get coordinated, so we ended up not going. Since I had a house showing, that worked out for the best.

Shifting goals

May 23rd, 2007 at 05:19 pm

Well, now that my house is officially on the market, I can stop pouring money into it! My goal in recent months has been to get it ready for picky buyers. My goal now will be to pay off the credit card debt I incurred.

I really wanted to pay cash as I made improvements, and I did the best I could. But there were unexpected expenses, and I had a tight timetable. I have added about $2000 to my credit card debt. So I'm going to chip away at that. Starting with NO shopping this weekend, no grocery, no nothing. I have enough food -- though I might have some pretty interesting menus with what I have on hand!

I've been invited to a Memorial Day barbecue and I'll have to take a dish. I'm thinking deviled eggs -- cheap and good. I even have the fancy Tupperware carrier.

I haven't spent anything for four days now. I've also had a lot of free meals lately. My realtor treated me to lunch on Tuesday. There have been leftovers from events at work -- good leftovers -- salads and sandwiches, that have provided several lunches and dinners. One day there was a ton of bagels left over from a morning meeting, and I saved two for two breakfasts. I used to feel guilty about grabbing the leftovers, but I don't any more as I've seen them throwing them out. Crazy waste!

I just saw Jeffrey's post about the new blog contest, which got me looking around for the results of the "Confessions" one, and I saw that -- I won?

I humbly thank everyone that voted for me. I've been so busy I totally missed the voting, as well as the third contest!

Cleaning and staging

May 21st, 2007 at 03:46 pm

I spent this weekend cleaning the house. I also bought some items for staging it -- new towels, decorative pillows, plants -- about $100 worth! Hard to believe they cost so much. But it is my final step. I called my realtor today and we will meet tomorrow to get it officially on the market. Now I just have to keep it clean every day. Already I'm starting to develop some habits that I wonder why I didn't have before. Like -- I don't really have to open my mail and let it sit on the dining room table, do I? I can cook so I don't splatter food, can't I? I can put my dishes in the dishwasher right away, can't I?

Speaking of the dishwasher, a big part of my cleaning time was spent cleaning the lime off the heating coil. I didn't get it all off, but it looks a lot better. While I was in the process I was so frustrated I was on the verge of running out to get a new dishwasher, so I'm glad I stuck it out and saved the money.

If I hadn't watched all those shows on TLC and A&E I would never have spent so much time and money fixing up the house. I hope it proves to be a smart move. We'll see soon!

Waiting for the handyman...

May 15th, 2007 at 06:27 am

Right now I'm waiting for my handyman to come and paint the ceiling. (Hope it's not TOO long, I am taking off work for this.)

Yesterday I spent $1 for bottled water from the vending machine. So unlike me; I rarely buy water. Water is free! But I had gone for a diet coke, and the machine said "Make another selection." I pressed all the buttons for diet drinks and nothing came out. I pressed the water button, not expecting to get one, but I did. So I had a $1 bottle of water. Oh well, better for me than the diet coke, I'm sure, but I could have got water from the fountain.

I also bought a new book of stamps and some ones. $8.30. The raise in stamp prices snuck up on me. I still have more than half a book of the old ones to use up.

One of my colleagues wants to look at my house next Monday. He was assuming I didn't have a realtor yet, so I wonder if he is looking for a great deal. I can't afford to give him a great deal! I need one myself!

Yesterday I got a flyer from a car dealer with a scratch-off contest. Whoo-hee I was the grand prize winner! It was a little hard throwing it away. I know it is a scam, but it is easy to see how people get sucked into this. The thought that you MIGHT be a winner is so compelling.

A simple life

May 13th, 2007 at 06:23 am

I think of myself as someone who lives a simple life. I have a job with a moderate income, I live in a small house, I live alone, I don't eat out a lot, or party, or travel very much. I buy clothes at Goodwill, mostly, and an occasional movie is a real treat. I read a lot, but rarely buy a book.

Yet it really gets me, sometimes, how much a simple life costs.

This weekend I bought gas ($31.30), bought a gift ($30.29), bought pet supplies ($73.21), and a coke when I was on the road and dying of thirst ($1.37).

All that adds up to almost $150, when I wasn't planning to spend much at all! When I had decided to forgo grocery shopping to save a little. It just gets me.

I've actually had a pretty eventful weekend, for me. On Friday night I was caught in a huge traffic jam -- I almost typed "tragic jam" and I guess it was that, too. A car-motorcycle accident that took a life. Had I not stopped at the library on the way home from work, I would probably have been at the scene. It shakes you up. A young life gone. So sad.

On Saturday I went to a graduation open house for a former co-worker who graduated from law school. It was about an hour and a half drive away, so no small thing, but I'm glad I did it. It's nice to see people who are achieving their goals and so happy. He already has a job at a law firm, as long as he passes the bar -- which he will; he's a smart cookie.

On Saturday evening I babysat for another co-worker. She just had her first baby two months ago. Her husband just graduated also; earned an MBA and they are soon moving to Vermont. They went out for a celebration dinner last night and this was the first time they had left their baby with a sitter. He was a jewel. We watched TV, worked out in his "gym," had a bottle; then he zonked out for the night -- or at least as long as I was there! As I was leaving my friend tucked a Culver's gift card in my purse, despite my protests that I did not want to be paid. Well, it will come in handy sometime!

Today my son is working, so we will do some Mother's Day thing in the evening -- maybe see a movie. He told me yesterday he was officially given the job of wait staff manager in his restaurant. This has been talked about for a long time, but the restaurant is in its first year, and while it's been successful, the finances have been shaky. So the decision has been held off. Now things seem to be better. I sure hope they will continue to improve. This is great for my son; he will get a real salary now, but will still get tips. Since it is a high-end restaurant, the tips are very nice.

Today I will clean and finish touching up the paint. Tomorrow the bedroom ceiling gets painted. Thursday the living room carpet gets cleaned. After that, I'll be ready to put the house on the market.

Mother's Day is coming up!

May 10th, 2007 at 04:37 pm

Today I spent $2.36 on a Mother's Day card for my daughter-in-law. It's her first Mother's Day, and I wanted to recognize that. Couldn't find a First Mother's Day card, though! I'm sure they exist. I also called my son and told him NOT to send me a gift. He and his wife have a lot of expenses right now, and I don't want them spending money on something silly.

I have a brand new grand-niece -- that's three! Along with two grand-nephews. And if I count the children on my ex's side of the family, I have six grand-nieces! But they're spread all over the country, so I rarely get to see any of them. I wish we were one of those families that all stay in the same town. I would love to baby-sit!

Tomorrow the pad under the corner of my carpet will be replaced. The dealer quoted a price around $100 -- mostly for the labor.

Then I called the carpet cleaner. They quoted a price of $115. After setting the appointment I called back because I'd found a $20 off coupon on their website. She said she would put it in the work order, and that I should print off the coupon. However, there is an expired date on the coupon which I didn't notice. It's confusing, because the link to it said "May Specials" and the expiration date is March. Well, I'm going to hand him the coupon and see if it flies.

I never reported on how dying my pants worked out. Only fair. Even though I followed the directions to the letter, the dye is a bit uneven. For some reason it is darker at the bottom hems. Also, some random stains, which I hadn't noticed before, are significantly darker. Oh well, they will do for knocking around. It was worth a try.

I'm planning to skip grocery shopping this Saturday. I have enough on hand to make do, I think. Instead I will shop at PetSmart -- get my cat food, Greenies, my dog's glucosimine chondroiton. I'm going to try to limit myself to shopping at only one place each weekend. Might be a challenge, but I think it will help control my spending.

This and that

May 8th, 2007 at 02:20 pm

I had a no-spend day going, but then I noticed that Netflix charged my Discover card, so technically, it's a spender. I did get Little Miss Sunshine in the mail, so that makes up for it!

I came home early from work because a carpet guy was coming to check the pad. We decided to replace a 4 x 6 area of padding. I hope the carpet cleans up nice after that. I'm a little worried because he showed me that the back of the carpet was stained, and that might come through when it is shampooed. Ugghh, I'm so sick of this stuff.

My realtor called today to say, "Ready?" I had to say no. I won't get the ceiling painted till Monday (unless it rains this week -- my handyman is apparently working outside somewhere). I didn't get any promises about when the pad will be replaced. But I went out on a limb and said, "Two weeks." She's going to put an ad in the realty magazine that will be published in two weeks. So I've got a firm deadline now.

Yesterday I touched up the paint in my living room, stairwell and hall. Today I touched up an area in my bathroom I missed -- didn't see it until I bathed this morning and had a different vantage point!

I got a new computer at work today. What a pleasure it is to use! Makes me wish I had got a desktop for home. I don't think I'm really a laptop person.

Yesterday's retreat netted me breakfast, lunch, and snacks to take home. There was a lot of stuff left at the end of the day, so I asked my boss if it was okay to take an orange juice and yogurt. She said okay!

I was invited to an open house on Saturday for an ex-colleague who is graduating from law school. I haven't figured out yet what to get him. Maybe an Olive Garden gift card? I'm sure he and his wife are in the mood to go out!

A busy, productive weekend

May 6th, 2007 at 04:47 pm

It's been a bit of a spendy weekend, but I've gotten some things done.

Yesterday I grocery-shopped, buying only the loss leaders at Kroger - $18.16 (saved $15.71). Today I went out to lunch at IHOP with friends. I frugally ordered the senior 3-stack, only $2.99 -- but it turned out one of my friends picked up the tab. I paid the tip, which was $2.50. Then this afternoon I went to Wal-Mart, buying mulch, flowers, and wind chimes ($117.52). A lot of money, but it really perked up the curb appeal. No deals, unfortunately.

I got quite a few things done on the house, too. Besides all the lawn work, I painted the bathroom, and touched up the kitchen, laundry room and a lot of trim. Emptied a bookcase so I could move it -- that is the area where the rug has to be pulled up to check the pad. Hung a picture. Cleaned the limey fixtures in the bathroom. Did all my laundry, too! And even made myself some corn on the cob, which was so delicious. Still have to touch up in the study and living room. I'm getting closer...

Tomorrow my office goes on a retreat, which means -- free lunch! Woo hoo!

My first no spend day in May!

May 4th, 2007 at 03:16 pm

Yesterday I did a little spending at Wal-Mart -- about $6 for "sundries," and also went out for a $15 lunch -- didn't have any control over that one, it was a work event. Nice, but I rarely pay $15 for a lunch! But today was a no-spender.

I made a $200 error in my check register -- the wrong way, of course. Thank goodness I check my account online everyday, because I caught it before I was charged any fees. But I had to transfer the money from savings, which is a bummer. It's funny I didn't notice that I had $200 extra to play with when I was paying my bills.

I called ServiceMaster today to make an appointment to clean my living room carpet. I discussed the kitty potty problem with the lady on the phone and decided that I really need to check out the pad before I try to clean the carpet. If the pad has been soaked, then cleaning the carpet would only pull that crud up through it. So I'm having someone come next Tuesday to pull back the corner and take a look. I'm sure it is soaked, judging from what happened to the other carpets. So more money out the door. However, I don't want to knowingly sell damaged goods to someone else.

I also have to paint the bedroom ceiling. It was patched, and I thought the patch didn't show, but in a good light it does. I'm going to have my handyman do it. I have had lots of trouble with rotator cuff injuries and I am afraid to try holding a roller over my head.

The bathroom needs another coat of paint, and some of the trim needs another coat, too. But I am really close now. Once I get those things done -- and get the house clean -- I can put it on the market.

No work tonight, though. Once I close up this laptop, I'll kick back and read. I'm reading a really good book on Mary Todd Lincoln; I think it's called "The Emancipator's Wife."

Confessions of a Fundraiser

May 2nd, 2007 at 08:52 am

This is my real profession. I am actually in the research end of fundraising, and I work ‎for a very large institution that is just completing a $1.5 million campaign.‎

I think I have some special insight into how to make your charity dollars do what you ‎want them to do.‎

Give only if you want to

Thatís right, a fundraiser is telling you to give only if you want to. NEVER allow ‎yourself to be pressured or guilted into giving. Thatís not what true charity is about. If ‎you give just because you are being polite, you will feel crummy about it. If you give ‎because it is heartfelt, you will feel like royalty, no matter what size the gift.‎

Give only if you have the means

Youíve heard about the 80/20 rule? Welcome to the 90/10 rule. 90% of our donations ‎came from 10% of our donor base. The truth is that most charities are overwhelmingly ‎funded by people with significant wealth. They are people who have accumulated so ‎much money, they truly donít get a kick out of buying anything any more. What they ‎DO get a kick out of is giving it away to a cause they believe in. ‎

The rest of us -- the everyday, but generous people -- are only contributing about 10% to ‎the bucket -- all together!‎

Iím not saying this to imply that small gifts are not appreciated, or that small donors are ‎not generous. Believe me, I know, small donors are actually the MOST generous when ‎you consider the percentage of their wealth they are donating. Many million-dollar ‎donors are not particulary generous because they have $40 million more untouched in ‎their stock holdings. I think I could spare a million if I had 40 million more to live on!‎

My point is, if you are really financially stretched, for heavenís sake, donít feel that you ‎are obligated to donate. You will do more for the common good by taking care of your ‎own needs and those of your family.‎

Make your gift count

If you have decided you truly want to donate, then be sure your gift is going to count. ‎Check out charitywatch.org to see what organizations get high grades for administrative ‎efficiency. You donít want to give to an organization that uses half of your money to pay ‎its officers. Also, if you are giving to a large organization, remember that you can ‎designate your gift to a certain area. If you are giving to a university, for example, you ‎can donate to the school you graduated from, or to a program that is near and dear to your ‎heart.‎

Donít worry too much about mailing costs

On the other hand, donít get too upset if you get multiple mailings, or if you think the ‎brochure is too nice, or if you get a freebie you donít want. Many administrative costs ‎are actually donated and are not taking away from your gift. Donít try to contact the ‎organization to cut down your mailing soliciations or to set restrictions. The time it takes ‎to for staff to set up and maintain special mailing instructions is more expensive than the ‎paper and postage. If you donít want it, throw it away!‎

Send in your matching gift form

If you work for a corporation that matches your gift, be sure you send in the form. Itís ‎not necessarily done automatically. Some companies actually double or even triple your ‎gift. This is a great way to multiply the power of your gift with no added expense to you!‎

Donít forget to claim your deduction

Your generosity will pay you back when you file your taxes. Be sure to keep your ‎receipts and remember to claim special credits. For instance, in the state of Indiana, up to ‎half of a donation to an in-state educational institution can be claimed as a credit on the ‎state tax form. Also, remember that you can claim up to $200 in charitable giving on ‎your federal form without receipts. I always claim the $200 because I donate gifts-in-‎kind regularly to Goodwill and other similar agencies, but I donít bother with the receipts ‎unless I am giving something large and valuable (which hasnít happened yet!)‎

Just a daily rambling...

May 1st, 2007 at 04:15 pm

I had a no-spend day going, but I decided I MUST stop at Wal-Mart and get some Shout. I'm going to try to save my stained khakis, even though I know it's a slim chance the ball-point ink will come out. Maybe I can dye them dark if it doesn't work. Anyway, that was $2.41. I paid with change from the garage sale. I have a lot of change, I'm going to have to work it down.

I got my $15 refund from PayPal for buying a $30 pot on Cooking.com via PayPal. I had totally given up on getting that money, so it was a nice surprise. I'm going to put it on the credit card next month -- the one I supposedly pay off every month, but since I've been fixing up the house, it's getting harder and harder to pay it off.

My handyman did not come and fix the ceiling today, so I gave him a reminder call. I hate to be at someone else's beck and call. He does work for a lot less than the professional handymen, but it's a lot of work to get him to work! He does do a nice job, though.

Tomorrow I am committed to eating out with my boss, and the day after we're having a "welcome lunch" at a restaurant for a new employee. It amazes me how much other people eat lunch out. I amaze them because I bring my lunch every day.

I'm wondering, though, if I'll eat out more when the house goes on the market. I'll have to keep it clean every day, which means I might want to do less food preparation. Especially since I have this black range that is so hard to clean. It gets smeary.

I had a bit of a diet victory last night. After dinner I figured out the average number of calories I ate every day in April. Then I got hungry! I wanted to eat again so bad, but I didn't want to have to refigure. Finally, I told myself I would eat at midnight if I was still hungry and it could go on the next day's count. Well, I made it; I was asleep at midnight and I didn't eat again until breakfast this morning. It wasn't so bad. I don't know why hunger freaks me out so -- I know I'm not going to starve!