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Archive for April, 2008

Hunt's

April 28th, 2008 at 05:22 am

The other day I was making chili and I opened two cans of Hunt's diced tomatoes. One opened normally, but one opened with a loud POP! and there was about an inch of airspace at the top of the can. I was working fast, and I threw it in the chili without thinking -- until later. I started wondering if it was safe and if I should throw out the chili (which I certainly didn't want to do!)

So I called Hunt's customer service number and got a very nice lady. She asked for the codes on the can and then told me that if the product looked and smelled fresh and the can was undamaged, it was safe -- that the "canned air" wouldn't be harmful. Then she said she would be sending me a coupon. It came on Saturday -- any Hunt's product free. That was a nice bonus, as I wasn't looking for compensation, just information.

Anyway, we ate the chili and nobody died!

My cousin came home

April 27th, 2008 at 05:41 am

My cousin has arrived back in North Carolina after spending the winter in Florida. She brought along her longtime friend, who will be here for 1-2 weeks. Between the two of them there are three more dogs added to the household, so things are a bit hectic.

When my cousin is here, she takes over the food expenses, so that takes that financial burden off me. When she's here, the refrigerator is full to bursting, and there is always talk of what the next meal is. So different from the way I live -- I try to use everything up, and I don't worry about what to eat next because I always know I can make something. So it's an adjustment. When she's here I have to work harder to try to control the waste because there is so much more food.

I may be driving her friend back to Indiana next week. Her plan was to get a plane ticket, but the prices are so high. Then she investigated renting a car, which is still high. My cousin suggested that I might drive her -- she would pay for the gas, and I would get to spend some time with my son and old friend. So I will probably do it.

Yesterday I set up a spreadsheet to record income streams -- of which I have very few right now. My categories are pension, surveys, consignment clothing, antiques booth, Amazon, writing, garage sales, credit card rebates, EBay, Craigslist, found money, and gifts. In most of these categories I am bringing in nothing, but I will try to change that. I may add it to my author info. All I have to record this month is my pension, $20 in surveys, a gift of $70 and a penny found in a parking lot.

Family visit erodes dental fund

April 22nd, 2008 at 08:12 am

My son, daughter-in-law, grandson and my DIL's mother just left after a 3-day visit here. We had a great time, but now I'm feeling that sad letdown. I'm also recapping what I spent, which has made some damage to my goals.

I spent $85 on groceries in preparation for their visit, $20 for admission to a children's hands-on activity center, $107 on eating out, $28 for admission to a park, and $9 for bath toys. Also, while they were here I came down with an upper respiratory infection and paid $27 for prescriptions. Don't know yet what the Urgent Care Center will bill me.

So I'm reeling a bit. The charges went on my credit card, and I'll have to pay if off from my dental fund -- or from the tax rebate, if it comes in time.

But such is life. I wouldn't trade a weekend with my family for anything, and I sure wanted them to have a good time here. My teeth can wait a little.

$5 more

April 17th, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Just got another $5 for Pinecone, so that's $5 more for the dental fund!

The dentist and the doctor and the dog

April 17th, 2008 at 07:32 am

I have adjusted my dental fund figures -- this morning I paid $80 for a cleaning, so I took $80 off both the goal and the amount funded. I also added $35 to the goal, because I found out this morning that my next scheduled cleaning will include an exam, also.

The good news is that my gums are "much improved."

Next on the docket is a filling on May 19, which will cost $175.

I also went to the doctor this morning for a blood pressure re-check. It is better, but still not good enough. My doctor gave me three more months to bring it down before putting me on medication. She said if I lose just 10 pounds, it will make a difference, so I'm going to try.

My dog finally took the de-wormer when I mixed it up with his dinner. Here's hoping those worms will soon be history.

A droopy dog

April 16th, 2008 at 06:26 am

My dog's visit to the vet yesterday cost $279. That included sedation, shots, nail trim, fecal exam, a six-month supply of Heartgard, and a de-wormer, which I brought home to give him today. He won't take it. It is in liquid form and I spread it on bread, but he still won't take it. He doesn't seem to have any appetite. Tonight I'll mix it with his food, and if he still won't take it, I'll have to go get it in pill form, which they say is expensive.

I hope his appetite comes back. He is usually listless after sedation, but it seems to be lasting longer than usual.

I got another Pinecone payment, so I added $5 to my dental fund.

A joyride through the mountains

April 15th, 2008 at 06:34 am

Yesterday I had the carpet cleaned (not out of my budget, my cousin supplied the $). But I had to get out of the house with the dog while it was being done. Since I needed gas, I decided we would take a ride into South Carolina, where gas is cheaper.

I forgot how when you get off the main roads in the mountains, you don't find any gas stations! I drove around quite a while after crossing the border. Finally I found a little convenience store/station/cafe. The gas wasn't the bargain I was looking for. Only .04 cheaper a gallon than it was in North Carolina. It was $33 to fill up the tank, $3.25 a gallon.

Still, I had a lovely ride. The dogwoods and redbuds are starting to bloom. They are my favorite trees, and I saw so many pretty scenes, with that beautiful blue ribbon that is the Blue Ridge Mountains always on the horizon.

When I got back into town, I stopped at Ingles for groceries ($46) and Pet Source for Frontline & kitty litter ($53) and the natural food co-op for CoQ10 ($36). I also stopped at Cracker Barrel for brunch ($9).

When I got home, the carpet was still pretty wet. It's drier today, so this afternoon I'll start putting the furniture back.

My dog is at the vet for his annual, so more spending is on the way.

Getting closer to those crowns

April 13th, 2008 at 05:31 am

Yesterday I got my refund from State Farm, which was $516. I have added it to my dental fund.

When I get my $600 from GWB in May, that's where it's going, too. I may get my crowns sooner than I thought!

Happy Friday!

April 11th, 2008 at 08:01 am

Even though Fridays are now just like any other day to me, I still get a thrill when I realize it's Friday!

Yesterday I received $5 from Pinecone and $10 from Jeffrey for my "road trip" entry -- thank you! So I added the $15 to my dental fund.

So far this month I've had 7 no-spend days! Most of those days I have not even used gas. Soon I will have to venture out and get more groceries, however. But not today. I'm going to make it another NSD.

My writing is going well. I start out writing by hand in a notebook and the next day I enter it in the computer, revising as I go. It's amazing how many changes I make. This will be a slow process, but I am determined to end up with a book.

I've also been watching my diet, and I've lost two pounds so far. This is NOT an extreme diet I'm on, so I am happy with any results. I am mostly trying to eat more beneficial foods and cut back on the (delicious) junk.

Next week will be a flurry of activity -- carpet cleaning, vet visit, doctor visit, dentist visit, company coming.... Much different than this week, which has been calm and quiet.

Quick question -- does anyone here use Cashcrate or ECN Research? I've heard Cashcrate recommended, and ECN Research keeps sending me email, but I don't know, it looks kind of scammy. Any experience out there?

Ten Things I Wish I Had Known Before my Divorce

April 9th, 2008 at 09:43 am

1. I wish I had known how financially tough it was going to be. I would have had some savings that were mine alone. And I wouldn’t have quit my job!

2. I wish I had known how to outfit myself at garage sales, resale shops and Goodwill. I wasted a lot of money shortly after my divorce before I learned a better way to shop.

3. I wish I had known that buying new clothes and spending a lot of money on haircuts, hair coloring, exercise classes, makeup and contact lenses were NOT going to find me a new husband.

4. I wish I had known my boys were going to turn out fine. I wouldn’t have tried so hard to “make it up to them” with toys and expensive trips to amusement parks.

5. I wish I had known there were so many others like me. I could have talked to them and perhaps shared resources.

6. I wish I had known that marriage counseling was not going to work.

7. I wish I had known that after I moved to a new house with my husband, he would break his promise to stay with me. I would have been so much better off in the original house.

8. I wish I had known that going back to school when I was so stressed and crazy was a dumb idea. I wasted a year’s worth of tuition on classes that got me nowhere.

9. I wish I had known that I was really all right and my husband was screwed up. I wouldn’t have wasted all that money on counseling.

10. I wish I had known that my happiest years were ahead of me. I would have saved a lot of money I wasted on comfort food and indulgences that really didn’t comfort me at all!

Some of these are not really financial, but these are the things I truly wish I had known. Of course, divorce is such a crazy time, no one gets through it unscathed. I am just so grateful that I am happy now!

A bit of shopping

April 8th, 2008 at 06:35 am

Not much of a financial nature to report. Yesterday I did just a bit of shopping. Needed to buy fiber tablets, and I had two coupons for FiberChoice, one for $3 off and one for $2 off. So I bought two of the lowest count bottles at Wal-Mart. Still, they were $17 and I wonder if I would have been better off with a generic product.

Then I went Ingles just to buy a few specials. I got fat-free Jell-O pudding -- a favorite when I am trying to watch it (I won't say I'm dieting)! I had a 50c coupon and they doubled it. They aso had pineapple and asparagus on sale so I got those. I'm really trying to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but they are expensive, so it rubs against my frugal grain.

I got a $5 payment from Pinecone. As soon as Paypal sends it to my bank, I'll transfer it into my dental fund.

Too excited to sleep!

April 6th, 2008 at 07:18 am

I had a really short night's sleep last, because I was so darn excited.

What about? I am writing again! It was my plan to write when I retired, but somehow I just couldn't do it, and I was beginning to feel like I didn't have it in me. But yesterday, I sat down with a pen and notebook, and it just seemed to pour out of me. At this point I don't care if it's any good -- I'm just so glad to be writing again! My plan is that this will eventually be a novel. Hint: it's money-related!

I'm also excited because Son #2 called to say that he, his wife, his son, and his mother-in-law are all coming for a visit! This will be his first time here -- my other son has been here twice, but he is less encumbered.

I'm happy that his MIL is coming along, because I like her very much and enjoy her company. And of course, I can't see my grandson too much!

I also lost 2 pounds! I am not really dieting. In fact, all I am doing is writing down my weight every day and writing down what I eat. Just doing that is making me more mindful, and I am not feeling deprived.

So these are all good things!

The bad thing -- I got a lower payment from my pension this month. Since it is partially tied to the stock market, I was expecting this to happen -- well, actually sooner than now. Conversely, my fund is $2500 higher than it was last month, so it is actually starting to recover.

A few updates

April 4th, 2008 at 11:58 am

Just added $30 to my dental savings fund. It was left over after paying March's bills.

I grocery shopped today, spending $40. My savings -- a combination of specials and coupons -- was $25.50. I'm doing better, but I still feel I am buying things I might not otherwise buy because I have a coupon.

I had my colonoscopy yesterday. I would advise anyone having this procedure to stock adult diapers and bedpads! That's all I have to say about the prep. My results were good -- nothing to biopsy.

Afterwards I was starving, so my sister and I went out to breakfast, and I treated, since she got up at six to be my chauffeur. That was about $16. I was dragged out tired the rest of the day -- feel better today but still tired.

I've been getting letters from my former insurance agent asking about my change of address. The first time I didn't answer -- since I stayed with the same company I figured the right information would trickle back. I got another letter today, so as a courtesy I called them. Turns out they were never informed I sold my house and my former bank has been making insurance payments. I guess they have been paying it out of escrow. I thought that was all settled at closing. Ugh. I faxed the insurance company a copy of my settlement statement, so I should be getting a refund. That's good, but I wish it had been handled properly in the first place. I sure do appreciate the insurance company following up, or I would never have realized!

March recap

April 1st, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Spending in March was high, but a lot of it I was able to do because of my federal tax refund. Here's how my spending broke down:

Medical/Health: $647

That included a periodontal treatment and co-payment for a mammogram and bone density test.

Vacation/Travel: $131

Basically the costs for my trip back from Florida. Pretty cheap, considering.

Eating Out: $94

Treated others on two occasions.

Groceries: $90

Only half a month's groceries, as I was in Florida for the first half of the month.

Clothing: $88

Two pairs of shoes from DSW, and two tops from Goodwill.

Phone: $45

Gas: $27

Gifts: $24

Just some token gifts for the people who looked in on my cat while I was gone.

Personal: $15 (haircut)

Miscellaneous: $15 (stamps, photo development)

Entertainment: $12

Household supplies: $6

Fees/Services: $1 (library fine)