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Archive for April, 2006

Saved $25 today & a neat web tool

April 29th, 2006 at 05:33 pm

I've been thinking lately that I would really like to go to a nail salon and get a manicure/pedicure done. Even though I have all the materials neccessary to do both at home, I had just kept putting it off and putting it off. I rationlized to myself that it would "only" be $25, and I have that much in my Personal Care fund. But, I also know that I'm probably going to have to get a haircut soon (thanks to the shorter hairstyle) and I really need to add a few more pieces to my work clothes . . . so really, that $25 has a lot of other places it could go.

This afternoon I got out my dishpan, emptied it, filled it with warm water, and proceded to give myself a pedicure and a manicure, while at the same time reading a book I'd gotten from the library. My feet are now presentable enough to be in sandals, or just to be bare in front of other people. Smile

I was going through my mypoints.com Bonus Mail and found an offer I couldn't resist trying. It gives me 100 points (at absolutely NO cost!). What it is is something that will call in to your cell phone voicemail, home phone voicemail, work voicemail, etc., etc., and then gather all your messages into one place. You might be asking why people would want this? Well, have you ever received a voicemail that you would love to be able to listen to over and over again, but hate the pain of having to remember to save it every 14 days? If that voicemail is retrieved by this program, you can save it indefinitely(sp?).

You have a choice of either listening to your messages from within your account, or having the voicemails emailed to you as an MP3 attachment.

I tried it this afternoon, and found it to be quite interesting. The program is called "GotVoice." I'm not sure how they are doing it for free, although it may be similar to the efax program where they started out free, then once they built up business, started charging.

I don't remember right now where I read this idea, but today for lunch instead of baking a whole Totino's pizza, I broke it in half while it was still frozen. Then it was able to fit perfectly into my toaster oven. Smile

KIF,
Laura

Technologically Advanced Pets

April 28th, 2006 at 07:36 pm

Today I read an article in Reader's Digest about two websites for the technologically advanced cat or dog. The dog website is called dogster.com and the cat website is called catster.com. It is a very neat idea I think. Cats and Dogs can post their picture and add a profile. They also have their very own forums where they can talk about their human housekeepers. Monkey wasn't sure he wanted to get on there quite yet, but he did think he wouldn't mind if I posted a picture of him on my blog. Smile



Groceries and HSBC

April 28th, 2006 at 07:22 pm

After work today I stopped by the apartment office and paid my rent for May, then picked up my mail and headed over to the library. I had about 12 books on hold that needed to be picked up. Wink

The library isn't that far from Kroger's, so I decided to go ahead and do my shopping today since the milk I had was sour. I knew I had $15 left in my grocery budget, so I used my handy dandy calculator to keep track of my spending.

I bought peanut butter, a bag of broccoli and carrot shreds (to add to my spinach I bought last week for a "salad" I'll actually eat), 3 Totiono's frozen pizzas, milk, 2 cans of veggie baked beans, a box of lasagna (sp?), Morningstar Stripples and 2 treats. I didn't have coupons for any of the items unfortunately, and my total was $15.48.

Now I have finished off my grocery budget for April. When I got home, I took a look at my mail and saw the circular for Albertson's. To my dismay I saw that they have Green Giant boxed frozen veggies 10 for $10, and they have all of the Kellog's Cereals on a 10 for $15 sale. I love the GG veggies because they are so easy, and $1/box is about as good as it gets (unless I had a coupon - which there is one available, but no way I could get it before the end of the sale!) and one of my all-time favorite cereals is Kellog's Frosted Mini-Wheats.

So, I'm torn. Do I go to Albertson's on Sunday and spend $20 - 25 on cereal and GG vegies ...... or do I strictly tell myself that Sunday is still April, and my grocery budget is finished for April?? Or .... do I say that I'll just take the money from my May grocery budget, since the food wouldn't be eaten til at least May 1 anyway??

In the mail I also got my HSBC ATM card. The first one they sent me never arrived, so I called to make sure that this one was a valid card. I found out that it was. Before the person let me go, he asked if I would be interested in opening up a free checking account which could be linked to my savings account. I asked him a number of questions, such as was it really free - what the min. balance was, etc. He satisfied me that there was no catch. So, I decided to go ahead and open a checking account with them. This will give me a couple advantadges. 1: Instead of an ATM card, I will have a Mastercard Debit card. 2: Since I will have a checking account with them, I can sign up for Bill Pay, which then qualifies me for "Easy View". Easy View is a service where you are able to have a one page accounting of all your financial accounts, plus a whole lot more.

My plan is to keep my money in the Savings until I need it. Then, when I need it, all I have to do is call them, and they will transfer my money in *real time* to my checking account. This way the money can grow until the last possible moment I need to use it. (This money is my Car Repair money, etc., so doesn't need to be accessed very often.)

I would like to really commend HSBC on their wonderful Customer Service. Yes, the process of opening an account is very long-winded, but in the end, I think it is all worthwhile.

Keeping It Frugal,
Laura

Surprise! And something new at work

April 26th, 2006 at 04:47 pm

The last couple days I have been majorly procrastinating on running my dishwasher. It was to the point where I knew I would have to do it today or not have a spoon to eat my cereal with in the morning. Well, when I got home from work today and went into the kitchen to let Monkey out onto the balcony, I had a surprise waiting for me! All my dishes were cleared out of my sink (and off the countertop) and my dishwasher was empty!
Smile Smile
I called my Dish Fairy (my dad) and found out that his courier job had brought him over by my neck of the woods this afternoon and he'd had some time to kill between runs, so landed at my place. I thought that was so sweet of him. Smile

Today at work I was asked if I'd be interested in learning how to do another aspect of our company's work. Of course I said "Yes!" So tomorrow morning instead of heading into the office in the morning, I'm going to meeting S at a company that has all the maps and records for Texas. She's going to show me how to look up the information the guys in the office need. Then I guess we have to make copies of the information.

I'm excited to do this for a couple reasons: 1. It gets me out of the office for a few hours (and away from answering the phone!) and 2. It gives me another skill/way I can be of help to my company.

I used to be a much more positive minded person, but now I tend to take most things/situations with a grain of salt and an attitude of "I'll see if that happens." But from a couple comments made to me today, along with other comments made to me at other times, I seem to get the feeling that there actually might be a place for me in the company other than the front desk receptionist/Admin Assist.

All I know is that I will take every opportunity they present me with to learn more about what makes the company run. I'd be fine staying just where I am now, but ..... if moving up is offered to me . . well, I sure wouldn't refuse it! Smile

KIF,
Laura

Budget Revisions and Other News

April 24th, 2006 at 02:26 pm

Well, I finally have my HSBC online savings account set up. It was a little bit of a hassle, but I think it will be worth it. I was looking through their site and noticed they have a feature where you can have all your online financial information, email accounts, etc. on one page - for no charge. That was the one feature I really missed from when I used Mevelopes a few years ago.

ETA: I double checked at HSBC for the "Easy View" feature and realized you have to be signed up for Bill Pay. Bill Pay requires you having a checking account with HSBC. Oh well.

After talking to my Rental Insurance agent, I found out that I'm not being charged a convenience fee for paying in monthly installments. So I decided to go ahead and keep it as monthly installments. I also decided that the money I was going to put towards paying my 6-month car insurance premium (saving me $12) would be more useful in my car maintenance account since my 90K service is very shortly due.

Looking at my spending for the month of April I found that I spent WAY too much on fast foods or junky foods. I've been taking the money for that out of my FUN budget. So, for May I am cutting my FUN budget by $10 AND only allowing myself up to $10 from my Grocery budget for Fast Food, etc. I also decided that my Grocery budget was really too high for one person, that it gave me too much room to buy things that are "easy" rather than healthy or moneywise. So, I cut $15 from my Grocery budget and added it into my Emergency Fund.

I also took a look at my Wedding/Vacation Fund and decided that I really was siphoning way too much money there. The amount I have in there now is enough to cover the plane ticket, so I just need to save enough to cover my share of a rental car, a hotel room and my dress (hopefully my brother's fiance will choose something I can wear again!) So, instead of $74/mo, I am putting in $50, and the other $24 is going into my EF and in my phone bill (Taxes/Fees were a lot more than I anticipated - 60% of my bill!)

I also decided where I am going to keep my various money categories. My EF (emergency fund) and my RF (Retirement Fund - just till I figure out a fund to put it in) are going to be parked in ING. My CRF (Car Repair Fund); MF (Medical Fund); GF (Gift Fund); and OF (Other Fund) all will be kept in HSBC. My LTF (Long-Term Fund) will be kept in Emigrant. All my other money will be in my two brick and mortar bank accounts (no interest).

**Did I use enough acronymns?? Smile Smile

I talked to my OM today, and she told me that I wouldn't have to use a 1/2 sick day to go to a doctor's appointment. Yay! I also called the doctor's office and set an appointment for next Tuesday. I need to get to the Dentist too, but one thing at a time. Smile

I have to tell you about this great deal I got on Friday at Kroger's!! I had done some shopping at Albertson's which is across the street from Kroger's, but decided to just stop in and see if there were any good deals. I am so glad I did! As I was heading to checkout, I noticed a grocery cart with "REDUCED." Inside of it were about 40 packs of hoisery and some other items. I searched through it, and found 7 pairs of hoisery in the style and color I like. Normally these are anywhere from $3.50 - $5.00 EACH -- I got all 7 of them for less than $9.00!!! Woo hoo!!

Ok, I better close off. 30 minutes till I'm off work. Smile

KIF,
Laura

Qualified Early!

April 22nd, 2006 at 07:18 pm

When I was hired back in February, it was my understanding that there was a 90-day waiting period before I would be covered under the health inusrance plan.

Well, when I checked my mail on Friday, I had a letter from my company's insurance place. It told me that my coverage had begun on April 16 -- 60 days!!! Woo Hoo!

I went online to find out if the doctor I had used before (when I was covered under my teacher's insurance) was in my plan. She is!!

So, what I would *like* to do is call her office up on Monday and find out the first available morning appointment. My only qualm is that when I was signing up for the insurance plan, it said something about them looking back three months into your medical history for pre-existing conditions (three months prior to qualification date). I haven't been to a doctor since March (2005)... but, if I go to the doctor I used before, she would have three years of medical records for me. Would they be able to use those previous years records to indicate a pre-existing condition, thus giving them an excuse to not pay for lab tests and medications?

I also need to clarify with my Office Manager whether or not I'd have to take a half-sick day if I was back in the office by 10 a.m. (missing only the first hour and a half of the workday).

Hmmm..... Well, I'm just so happy to be covered now - a whole month earlier than I was expecting!

KIF,
Laura

Foolish Money Moves

April 18th, 2006 at 05:07 pm

In the past three days I have made two very foolish money moves, I am ashamed to admidt.

The first move was letting my craving for a Pizza Hut stuffed crust pizza override my knowledge that I had a perfectly respectable Red Barron pizza in my freezer (cost less than $2 on sale + coupon).

The second move I didn't discover until I went into my purse to get out the $20 to pay for the pizaa. On Sunday I had stopped at Walgreens and got a couple items, along with taking out a $20 for cash. Apparantally I forgot to take that $20 out of the Walgreen's bag before throwing it away!!!! The trash bag with that WG bag in it has already been taken to the dumpster (before I discovered this horrible news.)

So, now I need to figure out where I should deduct this $20 from in my budget. Should I take it from my "other" money - which wouldn't be too much of a hardship for me? Or, should I deduct it from my "Fun" money (though I'm not sure I have that much balance)? Hmmm... this was definitely an expensive lesson on checking my store bags BEFORE throwing away!

KIF,
Laura

Job Satisfaction

April 18th, 2006 at 04:59 pm

You know, I've been pretty happy at my job (just hit the two-month mark!). There were however two-things that kinda bugged me (okay, actually one of them is a person).

So, this afternoon one of the three people who were in my interview came by and told me she'd like to chat with me about what I'm really liking about my job, what I'm not liking, and what could make it better -- and that she'd give me 20 or 30 minutes to think about it. As soon as she left, I typed out my thoughts. I was able to think of around 10 things I liked (some of them were verging on silliness - comfy chair, working with goofy people, etc) but all were true.

Then I thought long and hard about how to word my two main frustrations without looking like I was saying something bad about someone who's been at the company 12+ years.

When she came back a little while later I prepared. She knew exactly where I was coming from with my two frustrations (and figured out the person too!) and gave me several suggestions, which I immediately put into effect.

Now that I know that I can basically ignore what this one person says, my job satisfaction will go from about a 7/10 to maybe a 9.5/10!! Smile

Wedding Negotiations

April 10th, 2006 at 08:14 pm

My brother called me tonight and we talked for awhile. He told me that he had accepted a new job at a resturant where he has a very good chance to get into the marketing aspect (which is what he has a degree in). He also told me that he had been informed by his fiance's family that in the Mexican culture, it was expected that the groom pay for the whole wedding.

At first, this looked like it was going to cause some problems ... because, well ... in American/cuacasioan culture, the bride's family pays for the wedding, plus the fact that her family was insisting on the wedding being in Flordia.

My brother, being the charmer he is, as well as an experienced negotiator, talked this over with Jazmin (his fiance') and they decided that between the two of them they could come up with a certain amount to cover airfare, honeymoon, wedding expenses -- Jazmin's family agreed to cover the cost of the reception (which apparantally is a big production in her family tradition) and her mom is going to make her dress. So, an issue which could have caused a lot of contention not only between my brother and his fiance, but also between my brother and his fiance's family, worked itself out due to the magical concept of ---- Communciation and Negotiation!

Oh yes, I must mention that he also told me that both he and Jazmin have agreed that the whole wedding, etc WILL be paid for in cash! Oooohhh!! I am so proud of him!

I'm just so happy for him. His life just seems to be falling into place so well.

In other news, I'm doing good at keeping up with my budget so far. I did spend money this weekend, but it was all budgeted. I am SO looking forward to Saturday night and the "Phantom of the Opera"!!

KIF,
Laura

Don't let the title fool you

April 8th, 2006 at 11:57 pm

Ok, about the only thing this post has to do with saving money or frugality is in the fact that I borrowed the book from the library, and instead of going out somewhere and spending money, I stayed in and read this book.

There's not many books that I would write about extensively in my blog here, and at first glance at the title, you would certainly imagine this would NOT be a book I'd even mention having read. But after having finished reading the last word on the last page this morning at 1:30 a.m., I realized I HAD to share this book with you.

Ok, have I got you curious now as to what book I'm talking about? Smile "Good In Bed" by Jennifer Weiner, also the the author of "In Her Shoes" (book is WAY better than the movie!).

The books heroine Cannie is a journalist, who happens to be plus-sized, has a dysfunctional family, and a now ex-boyfriend/aspiring writer who took her a little too seriously when she asked for a "break". Through the course of the story, Cannie reflects back on her childhood and how she didn't realize she was "fat" until her father told her she was fat one day when she was 12. Her reflections are interspersed between the story of her life in the year following her breakup with Bruce, the aspiring writer.

Cannie goes from not being able to look at herself in the mirorr and not being able to accept that anyone could think of her as beautiful or worthy, to accepting herself as the beautiful, worthy human being she is with many people surrounding her with love and acceptance.

Though the title may sound just a bit racy, it is a beautiful and moving story which I think any woman, whether large, medium or small could relate to.

Doing OK Budget Wise

April 6th, 2006 at 02:52 pm

Well, we are almost finished with the first week of April, and I have done very well with not spending money unnecsessarialy(sp?). Even though Dad finished off the OJ on Sunday that would have been enough to last me through this week, (ARGH!) I resisted the temptation to go to the store to just get some more OJ (cuz I KNEW I would use that as an excuse to pick up something else I've been craving, but REALLY don't need!). I'm trying to wait till Sunday to go to the store for groceries.

I got my cell phone bill for last month - it was $58.84!!! Mainly because of 5 1411 calls I made (3 of them when I was trying to find the place where I was susposed to meet my co-workers!). Normally my cell bill is under $50, and hopefully it will be even less now that I've combined it with my landline bill.

Saturday afternoon I will be spending some of my fun money on an afternoon/evening with some of my Pathway friends. I'm really looking forward to seeing a couple of them whom I haven't seen since October - Matt and Beth especially. Wink

Almost forgot to update on my happy, happy news! Monday afternoon (April 3) my little brother (ok, maybe not so little at 6'2 and 25 years) became engaged! I was the first one (in our family) that he called. Smile Jazmin (his fiance) asked me to be a bridesmaid, and I happily accepted. It sounds like the wedding won't be till sometime in September or October, so that gives me a little more time to save, although being a bridesmaid will also probably add some expenses, so I guess it all evens out.

Have a great weekend everybody!

KIF,
Laura