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Archive for January, 2008

The Tooth Strikes Again!

January 27th, 2008 at 11:54 pm

Well, it looks like I am going to have to get the root canal after all. Frown

The last time I saw my dentist, she told me that if the pain came back, that I'd have to get one, no doubt about it.

The pain is back - two-fold.

I'm going to call her Monday morning and see the first available time to get in and get this done is. The thing is, I'm supposed to have a regular doctor's appointment on Tuesday morning, then go the geological library after that. So . . if my appt ends up being Tuesday afternoon, I may very well be out of the office most of Tuesday.

I'm almost thinking I should reschedule my doctor appointment to next week.

Financially, it really would have been better to have had the root canal done last year. That way the root canal would have mostly been paid for by my insurance, and then had the crown done this year and be mostly paid for by my insurance. Now . . . a whole lot of it is going to be out of pocket.

Ugh! If it's not one thing, then it's another.

One phone call - Going from $23 to $16.50!

January 25th, 2008 at 03:46 am

When I first lived in the DFW area I had both my auto and renter's policies with Geico. Then in 2005, Traveler's (which was affiliated with Geico) pulled out of Texas.

Frown I ended up having to get a renter's policy with a company a friend of mine worked for (always with the understanding that I go for whatever is least expensive.)

Well, the other day I heard a commercial on the radio saying that Geico was offering homeowner's policies again in TX for as little as $13/mo! Woo Hoo!

Tonight I decided to give them a call and find out if that was true. It was! Unfortunately I also found out that it wasn't back in 2002 that my car was broken into on Valentine's Day - it was in 2004. So, I wasn't able to get the $13 rate.

However, I was able to get a $16.50 rate, which is $6.50/mo less than what I was paying.

Guess where that extra $6.50/mo will be going? Smile To my financial goals of course! Smile

Also, while taking a look at Geico's site tonight, I realized that they are finally accepting other credit cards than their own for payment! So, that will be something else to add to my Mypoints card and another 38 or 39 points a month for something I have to pay anyway. Smile Yahoo!

Change of Plans

January 20th, 2008 at 11:33 pm

I made a decision this weekend. I'm not going to take the SAT tutoring job. The training session I went to Wednesday night felt very rushed. I left there feeling like I hadn't really had a chance to retain much of anything. Also, the pay is a lot less than what I had thought it was going to be - especially if I don't manage to make the 700 mark before starting.

So, I've written the person who was working with me and let her know this.

I am going to look into other ways of making an extra couple hundered dollars a month. My mom suggested another tutoring type place that I could check out.

In other news . . I have decided to add a bit of running to my workout schedule - on a treadmill for now. I am going to be using a program called "Couch to 5k" which can be found on the coolrunning.com website. Before really getting into it though, I needed to get some real running shoes.

So, I did that this afternoon. $100. Ouch! But my back and knees will thank me for it later.

I haven't really decided if I'm going to go for doing a 5k or not. If I do, it wouldn't be until the fall when it's not too hot or too cold.

Three Years!

January 17th, 2008 at 06:59 pm

Wow! I was just reading Miclason's blog about how today is her blogaversary, and it made me remember that today is my blogaversary as well!

So many things have changed in my life since three years ago.

When I first started blogging I was in the middle of my last year of teaching and was working towards building up my emergency fund. I was making *a lot* more money, which made saving easier.

Now here I am three years later.
On February 15, it will have been two years since I started my new job in the oil & gas industry. Oddly enough, I am living in the same city I was three years ago, just five miles south of my old apartment. After nearly depleting my emergency fund between the end of my teaching career and starting my O&G job, I am now on track to being close to where I was in Jan 05.

One similarity between Jan 05 and Jan 08 is that I have renewed my friendship with my exbf S. (Yes, I know. I haven't mentioned this. Not a big deal really. He contacted me in early December via email after over 2 years of silence.)


There have been so many new people who've come to be favorite people to "read". Some of my favorites I have not seen in a long time (DivaJen for one! Another one is the person who did the minimum wage challenge - can't think of her name right now.)

Jeffrey and Nate, I am so thankful that you two have put so much time and effort into making the blogs and the site so useful. I am also so thankful for the people here who have become like a virtual community of like minded friends.

An Unpleasant Surprise

January 16th, 2008 at 11:26 pm

So, this morning I walk outside to my car. Much to my surprise and unhappiness I find that the window on the front driver’s side has been smashed to smithereens. Flashback to almost six years ago (this coming Feb 14) when my back driver’s side window was broken into. Thankfully this time they didn’t steal anything. Of course, there really isn’t much of anything to steal in it anyway.

Ugh! ARRGHH! Curses and bad words! (That is what I was doing this morning upon finding my smashed window.)

I called my coworker who carpools with me and told her I’d be a little late, seeing as though there was glass all over the front seats. The apartment complex’s cleaning lady was nearby and saw my distress. She helped me get the glass all cleaned out, which I thought was really sweet.

The ride to the office building was – COLD!

I walked into the gym and asked the manager, “Do you have a punching bag? I really need the use of a punching bag right now.” He was like, “Yeah, E.” (His son and my personal trainer.) Ha ha. Rolleyes So, instead of punching at something, I hit the elliptical hard for 15 minutes – a whole lot less time than normal, thanks to getting to the gym so late.

Once I got to my desk I called my dad and told him what happened. He offered to call this guy our family’s used for various auto repairs for the past 12 years to see what he could do. Later he called me back and told me W had found a used window for $85 and could replace it this afternoon!

Dad came by my office (a 70+minute drive!) and we traded vehicles. I do not like driving his car, but under the circumstances. . . Later this afternoon he called me and let me know the window was in – W had only charged $10 labor! My dad had stopped at a junkyard (where he got the window.) He was told that he’d have to get it himself – he didn’t have any tools with him. Luckily there was another guy there who HAD the necessary tools and was willing to do the job. My dad gave him $20.

My dad and I will be exchanging cars again probably Saturday afternoon.

Yay! for great dads! Boo! to idiots who think breaking a car window is a good idea!

I've got to run to my first training session now for my new job!

Got the Tutoring Job! Redoing Financial goals.

January 15th, 2008 at 02:19 am

I got a call from A around 7 p.m. tonight telling me that they would like to have me join their team! Since I didn't quite make the 700 mark on the SAT tests, I will start training, then half-way through take another diagnostic test. Then at the end of training will take another one. If I make the 700 mark, then I'm good to go. If not, then I'll be on a probationary status, but still able to start tutoring.

Wednesday night after my regular job I'll have my first training session. I'm not too excited about the late night that promises to be, but I AM excited to get started!

The two areas I really need to work on are recognizing the grammar errors (and being able to see the most correct fix) and making a list of easy to remember studies which can support the various possible essay topics. My essay was not given full points because I hadn't used any "studies" to support my answer.

---------------
After the scare I had on Wednesday regarding maybe losing my home due to developers buying the land, I've been giving some serious thought to what I'd need to do in order to be able to purchase a home in the next two - three years.

Right now I have about 5 months salary saved in my EF/Car fund. I have no money earmarked towards a down payment. Before being comfortable starting a downpayment fund, I feel I need at least 6 months income + $4,000 Car repair/replacement in place.

I think I *might* be able to find an older home in the 85K to 90k range. So, 20% downpayment would be $17 - 18K.

Let me put it this way. There is NO way I can save that much money in 3 years - not on what I make now.

So, in a more optimistic view, I have two choices available to me. One, cut down on optional expenses to increase savings. Or two, find ways to increase income.

I am going to do both.

Money Cuts:
First, I have decided to stop taking my Callanetic's class. I love it. It's very relaxing and rejuvenating, but really, it is something that I could do just as well at home for a WHOLE lot less money.

Second, I am going to renew my personal training ONE time. That will put me through May with about 6 extra sessions. I spoke to my trainer today, and he said I could space those last six sessions at one a month - as kind of a check in session. However I would have to pay the gym fee of $20/month. He also is going to help me figure out a good routine rotation which I'll start practicing on Wednesday mornings.

Third, I am going to drop Netflix (not a lot of money saving here - but really, I CAN get movies from the library, and just HOW long have I had this last movie out??)

Fourth, I am going to look into whether or not I can sell my Tivo w/the remainder of my prepaid service contract. If I'm able to do that, then I'm going to drop Cable. (If my Tivo worked without Cable, I'd keep Tivo in a heartbeat and just drop Cable.)

Fifth, I am finished with fast food, soda and frozen dinners. If I go out to eat somewhere, it will b only because I'm going with someone else (i.e. part of a group) and will order as cheaply as possible. i.e. At a Mexican resturaunt only order one single enchilada, no sides. I also am going to continue to try and cut my food budget as much as possible, however, I will be keeping good nutrition in mind.

Increasing Income:

First, I am going to go through my apartment and find everything I can find that may have any cash value (that is not necessary) and try to sell it. (Books, extra t.v. ??)

Second, I am going to redouble my efforts to lose as much weight as possible by March 20 to increase my odds of winning the cash prize.

Third, I will be starting the tutoring job. Training is paid. I will do everything in my power to increase my scores in order to make and surpass the 700 mark.

Fourth, I will seek out other opportunities to earn extra income. I need to see if maybe there's people who need a babysitter, etc.

-----
So ... My top four financial goals --

All money left in grocery, other, gas and phone at the end of each month, as well as any other money earned by any other means will be sent to --

1. Vacation Fund - $500 (Will be essentially a free vacation, but I want to be sure to have money available to pay my own way for anything I do while in CA. After the vacation, any leftover money will be sent to #2.)

Then to:
2. Emergency Fund - 6 months income

Then to:
3. Car Repair/Replacement Fund - $4,000

Then to:
4. Downpayment - $18,000.00 -- GULP

Where's the Spinach?

January 13th, 2008 at 01:30 am

This afternoon I went to one of the Health Seminars that I get 50 pts for - a part of the 20 week fitness challenge. (Ends March 20). I hadn't realized that they were going to have the scales there so that you could weigh in today, rather than coming back tomorrow - otherwise I would've waited to eat my late lunch. Oh well - I still showed a 4lb loss on their scale. 10 weeks to go!

I'm trying to elliminate soy from my diet. This is somewhat difficult for me, because I am a vegetarian and while I do get protein from veggies and beans, I get a whole lot more from soy protein sources. I drink a fruit smoothie each morning which uses soy milk, soy protein, banana, various frozen fruit, and spinach.

I've been doing some research, and found that Hemp protein is about as close as I can get to the soy protein. So, tonight after the seminar I found the Whole Foods store which was listed as having Hemp products. I found the Hemp Protein powder, but did not find the Hemp milk. For right now, I still have two containers of soy milk I need to use up, so that'll wait. Little steps.

While I was there I realized that I was out of spinach. So I went to WF's HUGE veggie section and looked for bagged baby spinach (the easy way, I know, not the cheapest.) There was none to be found!

So after I was done at WF's, I headed home, stopping at Tom Thumb. I went to the bagged salad section where there usually is a ton of bagged spinach. Again, there was none! I found the produce worker and asked where the Spinach was. He told me something about it being a "hot seller" and that all the bags were off the shelf. Huh??

He led me to where the unbagged spinach was and I picked up a bunch. Not my favorite way to do spinach, but I guess it will work.

I've got to say, it was really strange to look at two different stores bagged salad areas and see no spinach. The last time I saw that was when there was a recall.

So ... Whole Foods - 1 16oz cannister of Hemp Protein Powder - $14.99

Tom Thumb -- 1 bunch of Spinach, 1 candy -- $2.77

Brings my grocery spending so far to $90.33 and leaves me with $17.91 left for the month. Hmmm . . . somehow I think I'm going to have to use some of my "other" money for groceries. There are two "grocery days" left in January - maybe I can stretch it.

Why owning is sometimes better than renting ..

January 10th, 2008 at 02:18 am

I had a not great day today.

At work one of my co-workers told me that she'd heard from another one of our co-workers that he'd read a story in the business section of the paper talking about how an development company had bought the land where my apartment complex is located. The article also talked about how the company plans to tear down the current buildings and put up new apartments/town homes/retail shops.

So I went searching to see if I could find the article for myself. I did find it. Frown

Needless to say I was feeling quite a bit upset with the idea of some development company deciding they had the right to kick me out of my home, not to mention the families in the other 399 apartments! Not to mention the fact that I am SICK of moving!

On my way to my Callanetic's class I called the apartment office and asked what was going on. The person who answered didn't deny that the land had been sold, but she did reassure me that nothing would be happening anytime soon. And that when or if it does, we'd be given notice.

My current lease is up at the end of March. I have till the end of January to say whether I'm renewing or not (60 day notice). I'm not quite sure what to do right now. I like where I am living - especially the cost factor and being right in the middle of work and church.

Arghh!!! If I lived in a house of my own the only things that could force me out would be foreclosure or Eminent Domain!

------
My day got just more fun after class. Not. I was backing out getting ready to head home, when all of a sudden I heard "CRUNCH!". I went back into my parking space to see what had happened.

I had apparently backed into the front end of a HUGE pickup truck. Another lady who was leaving shined her headlights on the truck and we both looked for any damage -- there was NONE of course to it. Then we looked at MY car.

On the front bumper of the Gigantic truck was this horn shaped iron thing that stuck out. This horn shaped iron thing did a pretty darn good job of crunching underneath my left taillight and cracking my bumper. The good news is the taillight still works and the bumper doesn't seem like its going to fall off.

I think my car didn't even make contact with the actual truck - just that iron horn shaped thing!

So ... what else is going to happen!??

What a trip!

January 8th, 2008 at 10:09 pm

So I stayed home sick today from work.

This afternoon though I needed to get by Walgreen's to pick up a prescription. So I got myself presentable for public view and headed down my stairs. Just as I was closing my front door, I heard a loud man's voice yelling some indistinguishable expletives. I figured it was one of the two older men that roam around our complex who seem to be a little "off" mentally.

When I got to the bottom of my stairs, there is an enclosed area with a window to the outside - kind of a foyer for the four apartments in our section. I happened to look out the window and see a female cop running through the parking lot after a man. I waited a few minutes to make sure no one else was coming, and got in my car.

As I was driving towards the exit I noticed two cop cars pass by with lights on. I thought maybe they were going to backup the lady cop. I drove slowly by the next two possible areas they'd be but didn't see them. (The street I was on is a very non-busy street most of the time - little traffic.)

Now I'm heading to Walgreen's. I'm very stuffy and not entirely paying 100% attention - kind of out of it really. All of a sudden I hear police sirens and see the car in front of me slam on their brakes. A cop passes through the intersection in front of us. The car in front of me goes, and me not noticing any more cop cars, started to go as well. Then there was another cop car! So, I slammed on my brakes. After he passed, I look both ways to see if any more cop cars are coming and don't see any, so go ahead through. Unfortunately the one place I'd neglected to look was up. The light had turned red. Ooops! I think I was legal to keep going though anyway, because my front tires + a bit more were already in the intersection - but still it get's a little iffy.

I made it to Walgreen's got my prescription, filled up with gas, and made it back home with no further incidents.

Whew!

Ok to make this applicable financially ...
If I would've put this particular prescription on mail order I would've 1) avoided having to go out when not feeling well, 2) avoided nearly being sideswiped by a cop and most importantly, 3) saved a few dollars on the scrip. Smile

Job Interview and an Ebay Purchase :)

January 7th, 2008 at 03:18 am

About 2:30 this afternoon I received a phone call from the person I was to have an interview with asking if I could come in earlier than I was scheduled for. I agreed - even though I hadn't done some things I'd wanted to do before the interview, but felt I wanted to show flexibility from the start if possible. Smile

So, I got there just a few minutes before 4 p.m. I think it went pretty well. After the interview questions were over, we went over my test (I took the Reading and Writing portions of the SAT). She told me on my essay that one of the problems was the lack of a variety of examples - I needed an example from some study or such not.

I bit my tongue, but very badly wanted to ask her how many high-school students read Newsweek or whatever enough where they'd even KNOW supporting studies, let alone be able to remember it accurately to include in a 25 minute essay from start to finish??

Anyway, from going over my test results, I saw that I essentially needed to have omitted more questions than I did on the Reading part, and on the Writing part I needed to have answered more correctly. Smile

She told me there were two possibilities going forward - 1) Go ahead and start my training while I continue to study to retake the test and make the 700 mark, or 2) Study to retake the test until making the 700 mark, then begin training.

So . . . neither of these two options made it sound like I won't get the job - just have to make the 700 mark. Smile I wasn't far off in the Reading (missed by 30) but in the Writing I was 80 pts off.

Any English teachers out there know of a good resource to really get down pronoun agreement?? That was one of my weak areas - recognizing when pronouns didn't agree. i.e. "It is one's duty to read diligently, because you will learn more that way."

---

My Grandma has been searching for the past few years for a divided skillet. Each time she came here to TX to visit, we would also check around to see if we could find what she was looking for. This time however, I got the bright idea to do a google search -- and found just what she was looking for on Ebay!

The starting bid was $10 + $9 shipping. I put in a max bid of $20, thinking there was no way it would go higher than that, because, really, how many people even know such a thing exists? To my dissapointment and amazement, I was outbid! I started raising my bid bit by bit until I hit $27. Then I called my dad to double check just how much she was willing to go. He told me she had been thinking $29 max (cost +sh) so I said I'd be willing to throw in $5, and my dad said he'd be willing to throw in $5 or $6. So, I put my max bid at $35.

I finally found the other person's max! I bought the pan for $31 + $9 sh = $40.

I was a bit annoyed though, because it just seemed a little too convenient that someone came along and bid up to $30 on something that is pretty obscure. It made me wonder if it wasn't a family member's account or something who saw that there was a bid on their item, so went to bid it up to the retail price.

Maybe not. It could have really been someone else wanting it.

Oh well, I'm just glad that my grandma now will have her pan. I asked her what she'd use it for and she told me she'd use it to be able to cook her meals all in one pan at the same time. Guess that makes sense. Smile

Got a date :)

January 6th, 2008 at 06:04 am

Ok, not really. Smile

This morning I was getting ready to go to church when I got a phone call from a friend of mine. She asked me if I had any plans for dinner, and I told her that I didn't. So she then tells me that her youngest son (5 y.o.) had informed her that she needed to invite me for dinner! So Cute!

So tonight, my friend, her oldest son, her youngest son, another friend of hers named Nora (who youngest son had also told his mom needed to be invited) and I all ate at the Blue Mesa. I hadn't met Nora before, so it was nice to meet one of my friend's coworkers.

Do you get why youngest son was so adamant about the two of us coming to dinner? Laura ... Nora Smile Smile He thinks it's so funny that his mom has two friends whose names sound so alike.

I really was NOT planning on doing any eating out this month - but how can a person resist a request from a 5 year old cutie patootie?

So, anyway, the kid made my day. Smile

I got a spinach and cheese enchilada plate - was $9.69, plus $2 tip = $11.69

I only ate half of it, then took the rest home in to go box -- so lunch tomorrow!

When I got home I put my lb of pinto beans in my new crockpot to soak overnight.

Why am I up so late tonight? I've been working on updating my resume. Tomorrow afternoon I have my interview for the part time tutoring job. A little nervous - but it really wouldn't be a big deal if I didn't get the job. It would just be so nice to have a couple extra hundred each month - give me some breathing room.

Grocery Shopping

January 5th, 2008 at 05:49 am

Today I made two grocery stops - one at Walmart, and one at Walgreen's.

At Walmart I bought enough frozen fruit to use in my breakfast smoothies for the remainder of January. I also bought a 24 pk of string cheese which is my afternoon office snack - so, again, a month's supply. I bought a bag of split green peas -- my dad loves split green pea soup, and I want to see if I can find a recipe and make him some. Smile I bought a bag of black beans - which I'll probably mix with my pinto beans to make soup or burritos or maybe patties -- again, for my lunches. I also bought a 4pk of toilet paper - more than a month's supply. Smile

I bought four items which will be for this week only - a container of 8th Continent Chocolate Soymilk, a bag of green onions, a bag of Veggie Lover salad, and a butternut squash. I am going to have to google to find out how to cook the squash - I really want to learn how to use more veggies in my diet.

At Walgreens I bought 4 6pks of raisins and a small bag of unsalted almonds - both intended for morning work snacks.

At Walmart, my total came to $27.62, and at Walgreen's my total came to $5.74.

Next week I should only have to purchase soymilk, bananas, salad, and various veggies. Hopefully, my bill will be $10 or less.

This weekend I will be making my work lunches for the month. In December I had burritos (have 3 left actually) but haven't decided for sure what I'm going to do for the remainder of January.

Two Interesting Pieces of Mail

January 1st, 2008 at 07:08 pm

I was a beehive of activity this morning. Put my laundry away, did a trash run and actually took it to the dumpster, picked up things that were out of place around the apartment, and cleaned out my car! Wooh! I'm exhausted. -- Just kidding. Smile

I also decided to go check my mail - hadn't checked it since Friday.

I had two interesting pieces of mail. One was from my friend Karin who lives with her husband and two little ones in NM. Her hubby got a job here in Texas, near Houston and they'll be moving in the next few months!! Yahoo! I haven't seen her since her son was about 7 months old, and he's now 4 1/2!

The other piece of mail was from my lovely brother and his even lovlier wife. Smile It was a belated birthday card -- and not just a card, but it also had a $25 Barnes and Nobles gift card! Woo Hoo! Does my bro know me or what?

Within 15 minutes of opening it, I got on mypoints.com and clicked on the Barnes and Nobles link - then preceded to go through all of the bargain priced books. In the end, I bought one regular priced book, and four heavily discounted books. My total purchase was over $25, so I had free shipping, but I did get charged tax. Frown

So, for $4.79 by Saturday I should have 5 brand new books, courtesy of my brother and sil -- plus, I earned myself ~275 points! Woo Hoo!