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Archive for April, 2009

The Little Squirrell That Could

April 30th, 2009 at 12:42 am

I hope you all don't get tired of me posting links to animal videos. Just some of the ones on this particular blog are SO good.
And I'd like to think that this video in particular has applications to our financial life - especially those of you who are still struggling to pay off your debts.

Just like the baby squirrel in this video, we all have obstacles to achieving our financial goals. We may have people in our lives that we look up to and attempt to copy what they do to succeed. But even doing that isn't always enough. Sometimes, we may need even more help than just that one person we look up to. Maybe the obstacle is just too big for the financial place we are in right now, and our legs just aren't strong enough to get over it.

Don't give up. Any obstacle can be overcome eventually with persistance and maybe a little help from a friend.

*warning - may want a tissue handy

Baby Squirrel and Wall

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I had a lovely lunch at IHOP today. Smile

They were pretty slow. I felt kind of bad for my waitress because her manager was standing/sitting in my area the whole time. It did kind of work out for me though, because there was no problem getting exactly what I wanted: one garden stuffed crepe and one nutella crepe. Big Grin

Some places refuse to do partial orders like that, and others do it with no problem. I'm glad today's place gave me no problem with it. Big Grin

It Arrived! :D

April 29th, 2009 at 01:13 am

So yesterday afternoon I checked my mail. And guess what was in it??? I bet you'll never guess. Oh, ok. Maybe you did. Smile

My debit card for unemployment!

Now all I have to do is go to the bank tomorrow and get that money safely into my checking account. Woo Hoo!

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Something else in the mail which made me laugh, although it also was kind of a reminder of what the economy is like right now.

Walgreen's sent me a check for $25 for a transferred prescription. What prompted this? My transferring a prescription to Tom Thumb to get their gift card. LOL!

So, once I'm ready to refill the prescription again, I guess I'll just have to find $25 worth of Walgreens stuff to buy. (You have to use the whole $25 at one time, no cash back.)

Thanks Tom Thumb and Walgreen's!
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I was contacted a few weeks ago by someone asking if I'd review a couple of books for their publishing company on my book blog. I let the person know that I wouldlove to, but that I would be moving soon to a new blog.

Long story short, the person who contacted me is an artist/illustrator. She offered to create a header for my new blog.

I managed (after nearly 3 hours of messing with it) to get it added last night.

I really hope you check it out - she did a beautiful job and I just love it!

Childrens Books For Storytime

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I've subscribed to the Holy Cuteness blog, and tonight when I opened up my email I found a link to the latest post, and thought I just HAD to share it with you.

Especially for cat lovers:

Cat Needs Boxhab

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Tomorrow is my one weekday off, so I will be catching up on my internet time, and also probably go and do my celebratory IHOP meal. Smile

Hope all is well with ya'll!

Will the dollar fail? An after lunch conversation.

April 26th, 2009 at 03:06 pm

Well this may or may not surprise you, but I still haven't received my Chase debit card yet. So much for it arriving by the 23rd. Ugh.

Maybe it'll be in tomorrows mail. I wouldn't be able to get to the bank until Wednesday anyway.

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I've added my two new blogs to my sidebar. They're still not quite the way I want them, but they're close enough to where I'm ready to share and seek any suggestions.

Living Frugal and Simple


Children's Books for Storytime and Beyond

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Yesterday after church I had lunch with some friends and then spent the afternoon with them chatting. One of the other guests is a financial planner. He was saying that he advises all his clients to be debt free, have two months expenses in cash, and 10 months expenses in silver coins. He also believes that the dollar is going to completely tank by the beginning of next year, and that the US is not going to remain divided by states, but be divided into ten districts.

I thought he was a bit off (more than a bit really) with all that he was saying, but then later I was talking to my dad and he said that he'd heard some similar notions.

This guy also was saying that he and his family have a one-year supply of food on hand, and he really urges everyone to start their own garden.

I'm not really sure what to think about all that. I don't believe that our media presents us with all the facts, and the ones they do give us are usually slanted to one end or another. So just because this info isn't in the mainstream media, I don't think that means much.

As far as if it'll really happen or not? Who knows. I don't see that there really is much we can really do about it, other than get out of debt as quickly as possible and maybe have backup plans.

I'm out of debt, but as far as a backup plan .. if the dollar fails ... then I have no clue, because what good will all my savings be then?

Oh yeah, and then of course there is the swine flu which has already killed people in Mexico - people my age - and has already reached the US, including Texas.

Checking In

April 22nd, 2009 at 11:58 pm

Oohh! I just noticed the search button added to the sidebar. I wonder how long thats been there?

Anywho... I posted an update on my frugalton blog about unemployment update and earth day.

I have two new blogs set up on blogger and am working on making them pretty and getting some content up, then I'll start promoting them. Smile

E (gym manager) is trying to work out a deal with a company in the office building the gym is in to let us (namely me) be able to use their internet signal. I *really* hope this works out, cuz 40 hours a week with little human interaction and a tv set to Fox news AND no internet? Yech! and double Yech!

So, today is my day off from the gym, which is why I actually am having time to get anything done (catching up on blogs, etc.)

I checked my mail tonight and no debit card. So I guess they have till tomorrow (the 23rd) before I have room to start complaining. ;D I do hope it comes tomorrow so after work on Friday I can transfer it.

My mom is heading off tomorrow for her 40th High School reunion. Class of 69. She is really nervous, but is also excited because her sister lives near the high school, and she hasn't seen her sister in probably 9 years or more.

The UI escapade seems to be drawing to a close :)

April 18th, 2009 at 09:28 pm

I checked my unemployment account last night, and was VERY happy. Big Grin It shows that I've been sent a payment for each of the weeks that I made a claim, and that I should receive my debit card by April 23.

Woo Hoo!

I'll be even happier once I have the debit card and transfer the funds to my checking account - because then NO MoRE dealings with UI!
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I'm torn. The company where I have my two blogs at has demoted a majority of the bloggers from pay per post to just pay per unique visit (me included.) A lot of people posted on the forum expressing their disappointment. A good number expressed that they may not post as often on their blog. From what I have gathered so far, everyone who expressed even a hint of taking a bit of a break from posting, or cutting back on how often they'll post, has been locked out from their accounts.

This means that they no longer are able to use their blogs nor earn money from visitors.

I feel strongly that this was very very very wrong, and don't know that I wish to continue with my blogs there. But ... I've put a lot of time and energy into both the frugal and storytime blogs and really don't relish the idea of starting over somewhere else.

The other thing is, is that I have two referrals - people who clicked on a 'paid to blog' ad from my site. If I leave before they become qualified referrals (30 posts) then I lose the one-time referral fees.

I'm just not sure what to do.

Leave and start over somewhere else - which means losing at least $10 plus having to figure out a new system.

or

Stay and keep my mouth shut about what I think about how they treated their loyal bloggers, and maybe get the $5-10 eventually, and not have to learn a new system.

Another call from UI :)

April 16th, 2009 at 02:13 am

Well, it seems as though the lady I spoke with on Friday actually did send an expedite email. Today I got a call from a different lady, who I assume is an investigator, and she asked me some questions to verify information. From what she said, it sounds as though she's going to be approving my claim. Now I just have to wait 7 - 10 business days to get my debit card, and I'll finally have my money!!

Just in time for me to stop making any claims. Big Grin (Technically, as long as I'm working less than 40 hours at min wage, I can still make claims - but it really isn't worth the hassle IMO.)

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I think one of the perks of working at the gym may have gone away -- having internet available. On Monday when I got back from my interview, I couldn't log on, then again yesterday, and yet again today. There are a good number of the locked networks, but the unlocked ones are having a really small signal strength or none at all.

E mentioned that there is some kind of singal booster thing I can buy for around $30. If this keeps up, I may have to look into that, because as much as I love to read, I do like to keep informed of what's going on in the world during the day. Big Grin (i.e. check email and surf net.)

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Had a real funny today when I was driving home from the gym. I passed through two different "tea party" groups. As I was passing through the first one, I had to do a double take --- one of the participants was my old manager! (He is pretty um... distinctive/hard to miss even in a crowd.) I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, because his income is well above the level where the taxes are supposed to increase.

It was just really weird to actually recognize someone in a protest. I wonder if he participated in the protest marches of the 60's too? Too bad I can't ask him, that could've been a fun conversation. Big Grin

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I cut out a few coupons that are useful - mostly for convenience items, but with the coupons they should be cheap enough to get. I was planning on planning out my Tom Thumb shopping trip today ($30 gift card; $5/$50 coupon) but didn't have the updated sales flier, and of course didn't have access to the internet.

I did get a flier today though -- it said "get a $10 coupon off your next order for every $30 you spend on participating products." Hmm.... So, if I finagle it right, I'll be able to pay $15 for $50+ of groceries, plus get a $10 coupon for my next visit. Now I just need to get a list of the participating products to see if it is worthwhile for me to try.

When You're Late For An Interview . .

April 15th, 2009 at 12:54 am

Yep. I had an interview yesterday afternoon. All I had was an address for the company - no phone number. I looked it up on mapquest and it looked fairly simple to get to ... What mapquest didn't tell me, was that the road this place was located on was one of those business park roads -- the kind with very little signage if you're coming from the opposite direction.

So .. I finally found it, 30 minutes late. I figured since I'd found it, may as well see what happens. I had to wait another 30 minutes because the interviewer(s) were with someone else. The ladies (3) were all very nice and understanding -- but it was pretty obvious they were just talking to me as a courtesy.

Oh well. I'm not sure I would've liked that job anyway.

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Still waiting to hear if there's been any movement on the unemployment since I finally heard from someone there on Friday. Supposedly the lady was going to mark an "urgent" email to whomever was in charge. We'll see.

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Go me! I actually ran a mile on the treadmill yesterday! The first real exercise I've done since .... er... February?

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I posted a recipe on the frugal blog about Danish Aebleskiver's Big Grin If you're looking for a fun family treat, you might want to check it out. Smile

(Sunday's post was on Aebleskiver's, but there's been more posts since then.)

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Not much else to report really.

Progress on UI - Maybe?? Interview Monday!

April 10th, 2009 at 08:39 pm

Well, the third time must have been the charm, because I got a phone call today from the UI people!! The lady I spoke with said it was *still* stuck in the investigation mode, and she wasn't sure why. She told me she'd put a bee in their bonnet to get it taken care of ASAP. So . . we'll see where it goes from here.

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I got another phone call today! From a Craigslist job posting I responded to several weeks ago for a data entry job. It'd be full-time w/benefits and about $2.50/hr less than my former job. But . . it is closer driving distance -- and, well, it's a job! with medical paid! I just might be able to put a little in savings again!

So, I have an interview with them on Monday - it's a group interview. Not sure if that means they'll be interviewing several people at once, or if there'll be more than one interviewer in the room.

I wish I still had the job posting description for it.

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Today I wrote a post about More Ways To Reduce Your Debt

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Yesterday the lady who is leaving the gym asked me if I'd come in a couple hours earlier than I was supposed to, so she could take off early on her last day. I told her no problem. So, I showed up a bit before 1p.m. and found the gym locked up and dark. What?! I opened it up and went inside, and found everything like I'd left it last night.

So, I called E and asked him if we were closed for Good Friday - the only thing I could think of. He said that we were, and he was sorry he hadn't let me know. To make up for my time and gas, he told me to put $25 on my time card. Pretty fair I thought.

I also asked him if there was anything I could do to help ease his hectic schedule (which is part of the reason he's so confounded forgetful about so many things!) He told me that he has a binder of over 600 waivers that need to be gone through and checked - to see if any of those people are still around and if there's anyway to talk them in to coming back for a membership. If the job on Monday doesn't work out, then I'll start calling those people from the waivers - if any of them join back up, then I'll get a referral fee from them.

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I bought some groceries at Walmart today -- I didn't go to Tom Thumb yet because I want to plan that trip out carefully. While at Walmart I picked up last Sunday's paper with the bunches of coupon inserts. I'm hoping there'll be a few that'll be useful. Big Grin

The Sunday paper is now up to $3!!! I was quite taken aback - it used to be you could get a double edition (early edition + normal edition) for $2. I really hope there's at least $3 worth of coupons I can use in the paper.

Thanks Tom Thumb!

April 10th, 2009 at 01:32 am

In the mail today I got a coupon for $5 off my next $50 purchase at Tom Thumb. So, with the $30 gift card I got the other day, I could get $50 worth of groceries for $15 -- and that's assuming I don't use any coupons. Hmmm... Of course Tom Thumb is more expensive than Walmart, but even so, I think I should be able to get a comprable amount of groceries for $15. Smile

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I logged into my UI account last night, and guess what? It shows the last six weeks of payments as having been processed. Yay, right? Not so quickly. They ALL show as "Benefit paid: $0.00" WHAT!!!!

I checked it again this afternoon, just in case it needed processing time or something. But nope, it said the same thing.

So, I sent my third email to them asking what the hockey sticks is going on! Supposedly they are supposed to get back to you within two business days. Considering the fact I sent my first email about a month ago, and the second one a week ago, and yet to have heard back . .. yeah, we'll see where that goes.

I wish I knew what else I could do to get some answers.

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Today I posted the first of a new Thursday Thirteen series on using Baking Soda called Thirteen Ways To Use Baking Soda In Cooking.

Then I suggested a fantastic children's book about a boy named Walter called Just A Dream.

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I stopped in at Walgreen's tonight to pick up a couple things. There was this lady in front of me who was buying a whole bunch of things on sale or clearance. I think the cashier was getting kind of frazzeled, but he remained polite. He'd finally finished ringing her up and announced the total price . .. then was like "Oh! I forgot your coupons!" Saved her nearly $10.

Although I was halfway annoyed at how long I was in line, I enjoyed watching the whole little show more - especially when the lady saved a nice bit of money.

Oh and a funny. You know how I moan and groan about how math and I just don't agree? Well this lady was asking what 50% of $1.70 was. Someone nearby with a puzzled look on their face piped up ???$.90? A second later I said $.85.

Big Grin Now why couldn't the GRE ask questions like that??

Made some money today :)

April 9th, 2009 at 01:04 am

Last week I responded to an ad on Craigslist for a Market Research study. They called me on Friday, but needed me to come in on Monday morning. I couldn't do that because I was at the gym then.

So today I was just finishing my second children's book post when I got a call asking if I could come in today at 2pm. I of course said yes!

It was a very different study, using electrode nodes attached to your head and a video they measured your responses to. But, it made me a cool $75 for less than an hour of my time. Smile

If I could only do a couple of these a month ...

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Today my Single Frugal and Loving Life blog (yes, I changed the title - better words for search engines) continues my series on living within your means by exploring Ways to reduce debt and begin to live below your means

On Storytime For Children I added two new books:
Listen to the Rain
by Bill Martin Jr. and The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry.

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I think I mentioned before that my desktop computer was giving me some trouble. Well, it is working fine again now - not sure exactly what happened.

But now my wireless keyboard is giving me fits and caboodles -just stops communicating, then will start up again. That makes it very difficult to write anything.

So, again, I am very thankful for my little netbook. However, I am going to need to figure out how to get my keyboard working right, because for my blogs I have to do a lot of pictures, and this little baby can't handle too much pictures saved on the disk without majorly compromising performance.

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I did not spend any money today - even though my market research place was very near a dairy queen. Speaking of dairy queen, if you go to their website and join their 'team" you get a coupon for a buy one blizzard get one free. Big Grin Just saying.

No Electricity! And a really cute dog picture :)

April 8th, 2009 at 02:29 am

I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but lightbulbs in my apartment tend to have a very short lifespan. In fact, right now the only lights that work in my apartment are the one above my desk (actually installed within the desk,) the kitchen light and one light in the bathroom.

My dad thinks this is because the wiring in the apartments is old. Maybe he's right.

Today they turned off the electricity for the whole complex for a bit over 8 hours while several electric company trucks worked on the electric boxes. I had received notice about this a few days ago, and really had meant to make up a couple sandwiches that didn't need to be refrigerated to prepare - but um... procrastinated and didn't get it done.

So, when I got up today, I realized there really wasn't anything I could eat without opening the fridge or the freezer. And of course anything in the freezer wouldn't do me much good because the microwave wouldn't work.

So I twiddled my thumbs as long as I could stand it, then went off to do some errands. One of them was stopping at Taco Bell and getting some FOOD!

So, my procrastination and lack of preperation caused me to spend nearly $5 (for brunch and supper.)

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Continuing my series on Living Within Your Means, today's post is How Can I Live Within My Means?.

I didn't get a new post put up today on my storytime blog due to the lack of electricity at home, and then once at the gym, just wasn't feeling great.

However, I did get a large stack of books from the library yesterday which I'll be adding to my blog over the next week or so - plus have another good sized lot that's come in which I need to pick up. Most of which are well loved books, a few which I've not read before, but look interesting.

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I've shared a post from this particular blog before, and today saw another one that I had to share with you. Smile

Tom Thumb Miniature Dog

Enjoy!

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Oh! Almost forgot. Today I used one of those transfer prescription coupons at Tom Thumb. My scrip cost $24 (sans insurance) and I got a $30 Tom Thumb gift card! Woo hoo! I tend to get my groceries at Wal-Mart, so I'm going to see if there's any market on Ebay for it. Big Grin

I Think I'm Settled Now - Awesome Music Video

April 7th, 2009 at 02:44 am

I found out today that one of the other gym workers had given notice. E told me that he'd prefer to not have to hire someone new, so he gave me first choice of hours. So, I now have 36 hours a week at min wage. If I ever get the UI, that should be around $2000 - $2400.

If you remember my bare bones budget from before, 36 hours at the gym gives me about $150 - 200/month deficit. With the UI money, that means I can hold off from touching savings (for living expenses at least) for a good 10 months.

I've decided to put the word out to my pastor that I'd like to find a room to rent starting in September/October. I plan to offer $200/mo + 10 hours babysitting/tutoring or $300/mo. All I need is a room, internet access, kitchen privs, and laundry room privs 2x/month.

If that's not possible, then I will try for the option of finding a roommate and do a two-bedroom - that would work out to roughly $400/mo.

With working nearly full time at the gym, I will be able to take a full load of classes, time-wise at least. It remains to be seen how much I should do financially wise.
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This is a really fantastic video with Julie Andrews singing a song from Sound of Music. It is just totally beautiful.

Dancing in Antwerp

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This week I'm doing continuing a series on Living Below Our Means. Today's post is Living Within Your Means Isn't Enough

And on my Storytime blog, my most recent post is about a beautiful story of how a little girl grew up and found a way to make the world a more beautiful place: Miss Rumphius.

I'd love any feedback on either.

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I think I may be getting sick. Which is not good.I'm hoping its just my allergies bothering me - I can't afford to be sick.

Taxes Done, Stil No UI

April 5th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

After procrastinating and procrastinating, I finally got my taxes done today. Of course I owe - thanks to working at the gym and ChaCha. But at least I don't have to think about taxes again till next year.

I *still* have not heard anything regarding my unemployment money. I emailed them on Thursday to find out what was going on - if I still haven't heard from them by Tuesday morning, I'll email again (while also continuing the futile attempts to reach someone by phone.)

A piece of good news - I finally received the check from the Pennsylvania Court for the Wachovia settlement -- that's $35 more in my coffers. Yay! I'd begun to wonder what had happened to it.

If you'd like some suggestions of good books to read to your kids in getting ready for Earth Day, feel free to check out my Storytime For Children blog. I have two posts up so far, but have quite a few more coming in the next weeks. Earth Day probably is one of my favorite literature themes. Big Grin So many great children's books.

This week I'm going to see if I can make it to one of those networking groups. If I could even find something for 10 - 15 hours a week on top of my gym job (that paid at least $9/hr) then I could do okay without the UI, and not dip into savings (other than paying for school.)