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Archive for September, 2012

September Spending/October Budget

September 30th, 2012 at 09:50 pm



Overall I didn't do too badly in September. I did not curb the eating out too much, except for not getting any Blimpie subs - instead I only got egg salad sandwiches, which I can get a sandwich, chips and drink for the same cost as a foot long sub. So ...

I bought a plane ticket home for Christmas, which I was refunded by soon to be stepdad. I wish I could've waited til October to buy it, because then there'd be the 5% back deal on Chase ... but it may have cost more by then too. Who knows.

In the medical category I had two fillings and my regular subscription.

In technology I bought a phone to try out the Ting service here (using a $25 discount from Lucky Robin Big Grin )

I earned two $5 AGCs from Swagbucks, as well as $30 doing a babysitting job.

I upped my ROTH contribution to $200 this month, and still was able to put 41% of my income into my car replacement fund. So those two combined equal approximately a 47% savings rate. Not bad, but I'd like it to be higher.

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Going into October .. I am going into it with the mindset of keeping my grocery budget to $100 or less, and also keeping my gas/fuel to less than $50. In September I did manage to lower my food/grocery spending slightly (a good bit actually, considering I included my egg salad stops in it and not in fun money ...) So, I think I may be able to do it.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to cancel my cell phone plan by the end of October - so it wouldn't be a savings this month, but it would be a definite savings by November!! (which of course will go towards the car fund!)

I'm really hoping to get on the ball and get some books listed on half.com or perhaps Amazon and see if I can get anything for them. (books I bought with my money for the library/summer school which ended up not being used, so in brand new condition - multiple copies...)

So anyway ... onwards to October!

Ting?

September 30th, 2012 at 09:58 am

I talked with AL yesterday and found out that there IS service from Sprint here. So I think what I'm going to do is buy a $79 phone from Ting and use whatever number they give me with it. Then I'll test it out for a couple weeks to see what reception is like in the places I'm at most often. If it seems to work well, then I'll find out if I can port my current phone number to my new phone, and be done with AT&T!!

I figure that my bill with Ting would be around $40/mo or less - especially if I'm careful to use FaceTime or Skype to talk to those who have that capability (once I get my iPad of course!)

This way I'll still be able to use GPS when I need it, but otherwise I'll pretty much only use the phone for calls and texting.

So ... I'd like to help out whoever is the first person to send/post their referral link for Ting. It'll help me out too. Smile

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Last night I did my first babysitting gig in many years. It was a blast! The two little girls have a wonderland to play in (all nature!) and fantastic imaginations. I was there roughly 4 hours and was paid $30 - not great money, but still more than what I would've gotten sitting at home. Smile

Before they went to bed we ended up playing with one of the apps on my phone called Puppet Pals. Oh boy, did they ever love that! I almost couldn't make them go to bed because they kept wanting to do another story video. Big Grin

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Tomorrow I am going to a meeting in big G to learn how to access a computer program for the district. It has nothing to do with me, but our counselor feels computer illiterate and asked me to go and learn it and then teach her when I come back. I was more than happy to do it - especially since it means that I'll more than likely miss the majority of Monday (especially that one particular class!)

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I only need to do lesson plans for two days this week really (plus the late afternoon Monday class.) On Thursday we are having Pet Day (St. Francis) and a half-day, and then Friday we're having a teacher in-service day.

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Only three more weeks til our Book Fair! Having it in the fall sure makes it come quite a bit more quickly. It kind of snuck up on me. I was hoping to have it in the gym this year, but the last two days of it is when the gym will be going into "prepare for Halloween Festival" mode. So ... I guess I'll just have to figure out how to make better use of the space in the library.

I'd thought that doing it in the fall would be better timing, but I'm beginning to think that there really isn't a best/great time for it. It just has to be done when it is done! Smile

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Almost forgot! On my way to the babysitting gig last night, I passed by a sign advertising a riding stable! So ... I may just know what my treat will be whenever I manage to get into the 220's and stay there for a month!! Big Grin

Pondering ..

September 28th, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Gulp... I'm actually considering changing my phone plan. Gulp.

As far as I've been able to tell, AT&T has the best cell phone coverage in this area. I already own an ATT enabled iPhone (3Gs). I'm trying to figure out if there is a way I can switch my current phone to a prepaid type plan ...

I generally average around 150 minutes a month and less than 1 gig of data, and around 100 texts. I have TONS of rollover minutes. On Vacation I average around 3-400 minutes, 100 texts, and 3 - 5 gigs of data.

My school supposedly may be getting Wi-Fi soon. If so, then my data usage would lessen even more.

I suppose I could switch to a Go Phone for actual talking away from home/school, and keep my iPhone/iPad for talking at home/school. Although I'd really miss the GPS ... but maybe I could buy a GPS device within a few months with the savings from not paying the monthly fee (currently pay $75/mo for 450 anytime minutes w/rollover, 200 texts/mo, unlimited data (grandfathered in.)

When I go on trips I can always just buy/download movies to watch. I'll have to see if Go Phones have texting capability - they probably do, just not as easy as on the iPhone (which is why I even text now...)

I wonder if there's a way to turn on data for the iPhone a month at a time? So then when I go on a trip (like during the summer) I can have the data plan for that month???

(The iPad I'm getting is WiFi only as far as I know.)

The two things that make me most reluctant to let go is 1. being grandfathered in to the $25/mo unlimited plan; and 2. Although a very rare texter before the iPhone invaded my life, I do now find it *very* convenient .... Ok... 3. I really do enjoy the GPS function - not just for maps/directions, but for when I go out exercising/walking - I can decide at a moment's whim to venture off the regular path, and still know exactly when I've reached a predetermined turn around point (judging by distance rather than place) ...

If I jump off the deep end and cancel my plan with ATT,there is no going back. (i.e. no return to unlimited data plan)

If I thought Sprint would work out here reasonably well, then even going with their cheapest unlimited data/voice/texting plan would bring me a savings (if I could somehow unlock my phone to work on their plan??)

Looking at this practically, my phone costs me approximately $900/yr. If I could even cut that in half, and somehow have close to the same functionality...

This and That

September 27th, 2012 at 07:28 pm

I received my new Citi card in the mail yesterday and so went online to register it. I'd had a different Citi card that I got when going to grad school for some sign on bonus or the other. I didn't remember it being a Citi Forward card, but that is what it's called on my account page. So ... I'm not sure if I count as a new card holder or not. I'm going to an experiment of one month of Netflix and see if they reimburse or not.

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Yesterday my teacher friend and I walked nearly 5 miles. It was great! Although I definitely was feeling it today. Smile

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I stopped at the Family Dollar and picked up cat litter yesterday. If I could've held out another two days, it would've been cheaper. But it is what it is.

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While my friend and I were walking yesterday, we started talking about hogans and how they'd be a nice simple way to live. It got me thinking, that maybe I *could* afford to retire by the time I'm 50 if I bought a small piece of land and built a hogan or yurt type of dwelling on it (with electricity, water and internet of course!!) I really don't require a lot of space .. it'd almost be like a studio apartment, only be a single family dwelling. Well... I guess it depends a lot on what I'm able to save/invest in the next 13 years ...

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Like Mondays are my least favorite day (due to one class), I think Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9 - 9:30 are my most favorite time of the week - when I have the 3 and 4 year olds. Big Grin Today as the 4 year olds were leaving, nearly half of them spontaneously gave me a hug. So sweet. Smile

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We got more details on the Zumba class that will be at the community center. The first class is Oct 1, and will cost $5 per class. I think I'm going to try one class, and then if I *really* like it, might go two times a month. I'll use part of my fun money for it. I just can't see spending for fitness when I can go walking or jogging for free. But I am interested in the Zumba class (as long as people with two left feet and little coordination can follow along ...)

Maybe some extra income?? :)

September 26th, 2012 at 09:30 pm

Yes! I just got an email from the parent who'd I'd been in contact with since last June about watching her daughters for a weekend .. but with everything that happened this summer, it never happened. We'd also talked about maybe doing this right before school started, but again, it didn't work out.

So this weekend some friends are coming from out of town and they want to take them out on the town so to speak ... hence, 4 hours of babysitting needed. Big Grin Sweet addition to Car fund! Big Grin (Plus 4 hours of spending time with two of the sweetest girls on the planet. Big Grin )

Inexpensive Halloween Costume idea?

September 25th, 2012 at 07:23 pm

Last year I dressed up as static electricity (black pants/shirt, then safety pinned bits of cloth all over.) I think I got that idea from one of Amy D's books. So now it's getting to be a bit more than a month away from the next dress up occasion, and I'm at a loss as to what would be inexpensive, easy and adult/school appropriate.

I'd love any ideas. Smile

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Can I just say that I think Monday's are going to be my least favorite day of the week this school year? All because of one class. Ugh.

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Still in the process of reading through M Mustache's blogs. I used it today as an example of what a blog was to my 7th graders - they were giving FB as an example of a blog. Smile

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No money has been spent since Thursday. I will probably have to get more cat litter before the week is out though - the people taking care of Kari this summer were much more generous/liberal with the cat litter than I generally am. So what would have probably lasted me til December, is now completely gone (except for barely enough left in the box to last another day or two - tops.) Oh well, I can't complain. Smile

I was planning on making an appointment for Kari's claws to be clipped next Thursday. But that is Pet Day - we have a half-day of school, but it is a more than full day for us staff. Some required OSHA meeting starting at 2 pm ... so very likely it will be a 4pm or later ending of the day. Ugh. So, I'll make the appointment for the following Thursday.

Other than the cat litter though, I don't forsee any spending for the remainder of September.

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My stock fell another $3 today, thanks to the whole market falling 100 pts. I guess I need to find my acct# and pw info for this account, and then figure out how to sell stocks. Then decide if I should move the money to an IRA at TROWE (where I have a ROTH and a Traditional), or open one at Scottrade where the stocks are right now. Can you buy and sell individual stocks in a ROTH? I need to research that I guess.

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My teacher friend and I went on our 4+ mile walk yesterday. Along the way we saw two different herds of wild horses. They are so beautiful. We also went by the local public high school where we'd been told we could walk on their track. We chickened out on trying to find it (still lots of kids, etc. around) but on our way out we ran into one of my 8th grade boys from last year with a group of his friends. (He was the *cool* kid in our 8th grade group. I got him hooked on reading, and he in turn infected the rest of the class. Big Grin ) He actually acknowledged me, which impressed me quite a bit - considering he was with a group of high-school buddies and not by himself. Big Grin

We skipped our walk today due to intermittent and sudden violent downpours throughout the day and evening. Tomorrow no rain in the forecast, so we should be walking again. Big Grin

Pondering the Mustache and Taxes

September 23rd, 2012 at 11:18 am

So ... I ended up not going anywhere at all yesterday and spent most of the day reading Mr. Money Mustache. I barely got through two months worth of blog entries/comments. Yikes.

I've mentioned previously that some of what I've read there has gotten me to do some hard thinking. My reading yesterday just increased the hard thinking triply.

I've been pondering the possibility of riding my bike to big G for grocery/errand trips. It's 35+ miles one-way, and the majority of that distance is a major freeway with very few exits and little population - but LOTS of semi-trucks. It is definitely not something I'm physically capable of doing right now - it is something I would need to work up to doing.

So ... what can I do in the meantime? Try to limit my car trips into town. I've already been trying to do that, but I think I may be able to do even better. I think I will start going to church purposefully only 3 x a month. That would eliminate 1 - 2 trips. Then I think I will also talk to the other staff here and see if any of them are interested in doing a rotating carpool to town for grocery shopping 2x a month. I would then limit my grocery shopping to those trips. Depending on how many people I can get to do this - it would mean that I might only drive my car 1x every other month for a shopping trip.

Also, I need to check into getting my monthly prescription through mail-order. That would eliminate my Wal-greens stop, and possibly save a few dollars on the prescription.

All of the above I think would make it possible for me to only fill up my gas 1x a month. Some months I'm already able to come pretty close to that - but if I reduce my driving, I definitely will.

Also, I think I'm going to ask the 8th grade homeroom teacher who is really into biking to teach me the basic maintenance/care of my bike and how to shift gears properly. Then I may start riding my bike to school and back each day. The school is less than a mile from my house, so I could technically walk it easily - but there are a lot of stray/loose dogs - I'd feel safer (somewhat) on a bike.

*I'm really debating on the above though - I don't have a raincoat or rain pants, so if it was raining I'd be a mess by the time I got to school. I could just do it on days when it is not raining or wet/muddy out. Of course that eliminates a lot of days ..

My grocery category .. although I have managed to reduce it from where it was most of last year, it is still way too high. Part of the problem is that I'm still buying convenience type items, as well as buying things that I think I should buy, but end up going to rot. By reducing my grocery budget to $100/mo (from it's current $160) as well as reducing my Fun Money budget to $20 (from $40), and then putting that money directly into my Car Replacement fund, it grows exponentially faster.

My first step towards reducing the grocery budget is that I'm going to eat ONLY what I already have in the house for the remainder of September. No stops for Blimpies or for egg salad sandwiches at the local grocers/gas station. No more soda. I have lots of food in my pantry and freezer - it's just not food that is easy peasy heat and eat - which is why it has sat in the freezer/pantry.

My second step will be getting my slow cooker cleaned up and making sure it is still in good working condition. (If you remember, it was on the floor of my storage unit in TX which got partially flooded.)
If I'm able to get that working, then I will be able to use it to cook up a big batch of pinto beans - and make up a bunch of burritos to freeze, and also make refried beans - which I could use on my salads/lunch.
If I can't get it to work, then I do have a pressure cooker you can use in the microwave - so I would need to figure out how to use that.

I think sticking with canned or frozen veggies for the most part is most cost effective for me. The salad bar at school has started to have spinach as well as lettuce - so as long as that holds true, I have no need to purchase my own salad greens.

I need to make sure I take a copy of the breakfast/lunch menu for each month home with me so I can see what free foods from there I can make work for me.
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I'm reducing my fun money to an amount where I can still go to a movie/out to eat once a month, if I really want to. Or I can use it for something else I might really want.
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By reducing my grocery, auto fuel, and fun money categories, I will have an approximate 55% net savings of my income. In the savings categories of course is Car Replacement, ROTH, Vacation, and EF. The largest percentage going to Car Replacement right now.

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Taxes

The stock fund which I have a sizable amount of in a non-tax sheltered account has again swung near the point it was on June 6. I am thinking that I would like to set a sell option if it reaches $.50 less than that price point - enough to get $3,000. Then I would put that money in my brokerage IRA account, and when the price point reached $.25 less than my selling point, I would purchase as much as I could. (With the way this stock has been going up and down within a few dollars, I think it is highly likely this could happen.)

If I understand how this all works correctly ...
a. I would be able to claim a capital gains loss of $.50/per stock from my initial sale.

b. Then, because I place $3,000 into a brokerage/traditional IRA account, I would get a portion of that back in taxes.

c. Plus, since my income is well below the level for receiving a tax savers credit for contributing to any IRA fund, I would get a portion of the money contributed to both my ROTH and Traditional back as a refund.

Or, would b and c be essentially the same thing? I'm just remembering what happened in 1998 when I put $2k in a Traditional IRA (a bank CD really, but I didn't know what I was doing back then ...) I got a refund of $500 *just* from that. My income that year was quite a bit higher as well.

I don't plan on *really* selling any of the stocks I own right now anytime soon, but I'm just thinking that I should take advantage of selling some at a small loss and moving them into a tax-sheltered vehicle - which will at the same time help me to actually have my IRA fully funded this year.

Does this all make sense, or am I missing something really big? (The taxable stock account is an inherited account if that makes any difference. This is also why I want to repurchase the same stock with the funds - to keep the money invested the same way, but just moved into a place that is more tax advantaged.)

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I earned another $5 AGC from SBs yesterday. That makes 2 for September.

1,000 :)

September 21st, 2012 at 07:10 pm

I've been here blogging since 2005, 7 1/2 years, and today I have finally reached my 1,000th post! Took me long enough. Smile

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Today was a pretty good day. My favorite class of the day though I think was my 4th grade Fri PM section. There were only 4 still at school by the time class started. We got their books all checked out and then went to the computer lab where we began our lesson on cyberbullying. I learned from how I did the same lesson with the boys on Monday, and changed part of it. We truly had a fantastic discussion - they were SO much more willing to open up and discuss than the 4th boys, or ... the 8th graders when we had a similar discussion! I had to cut the lesson off before we were totally finished to get them out to the buses, which they all seemed disappointed about.

As we were walking out, one of the girls asked me if I had ever been cyberbullied. I told her that no, I hadn't ever really experienced that. I've experienced a few spelling/grammar fanatics, but neither time bothered me too much (although on the one board where I had a spelling fanatic go after me, I just pretty much stopped posting - not that I'd posted much before anyway.)

Then tonight, as I was walking to the thrift shop to meet the 3rd grade teacher to go on our 4 mile walk, the same girl walked with me part of the way and asked me what I was doing. I told her, and she said she wished she go with me, but knew she couldn't. Then she gave me a little side hug. It was so sweet and innocent. (This girls grandparents live in the trailer next to mine, so I often see her, as well as her sister and brother - who are also students at our school.)

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I got an email from Amazon today telling me that I needed to verify my student status - apparently I've had it for 4 years now! So I took out some information from the invoice which was sent to me for my program, and explained the program I'm part of. Less than an hour later I had an email saying that I'd been reinstated for 4 more years. Smile I'd been debating on whether I was going to keep it or not, but overall, I really do think it is a good bargain - at $39 - not $70+.

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I am glad it is the weekend. It was a long week, and I am looking forward to sleeping in a bit the next two days.

Tomorrow afternoon from 1 - 4 there is an exhibition/opening of our students art in little G. I feel like I should try to make at least an appearance there, but I'll be in big G until at least 2, or longer if I stay for potluck. Then it would be a minimum of an hour's drive to get to the art gallery in little G. So ... more than likely I probably won't end up going.

Otherwise, no big plans for this weekend. Church on Sabbath, and working in the library on Sunday. Hopefully no spending money too (none planned for at least!)

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Oh, I almost forgot. Tonight I was looking at Kari in her cat castle, and thought it was hanging a bit funny. Sure enough, the top section is coming loose. This new one has been in use maybe 6 weeks. I guess I'll take it back to Wal-mart again and see if I can do an even exchange again. I hope they still carry them! Either way, I think I need to start setting aside money to purchase a proper cat castle for her - one that won't start tearing with normal usage. One that would be of similar height probably would cost in the low to mid hundreds ... What I loved about the one I have now is that it cost $20 and that it is completely collapsible - i.e. easily transported.
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So ... here's to the next 1,000. Big Grin

Good Money News :)

September 20th, 2012 at 08:23 pm

This afternoon I went to the dentist for my second of two fillings. It went quickly, and when I went up front to pay, I got a nice surprise. I was fully expecting to pay upwards of $90. I was charged only $35! When I asked about it, I was told that I actually had a credit from my first filling. So .. I guess the new dental plan (which our school switched to this year) is pretty good for fillings. Smile

I moved the extra money from my Medical category to groceries and to car repayment. After the dentist, I went grocery shopping - I spent $38.xx. Some of what I got was stocking up type things - such as 3 cartons of Rice Dream (Enriched), which my other Walmart in big G had been completely out of last week - and 2 boxes of my after school snack granola bars, which for whatever odd reason were $.25 cheaper in small G's Walmart. I forgot to get more hummus (which I've been using in my salads this week - makes salad SO much more palatable!) and orange juice. I'm going to try to make what I have just last til next Friday.

I also did my first fill-up today for September - $3.65/gallon - total of $32.88 (not a full tank's worth ~8 gallons.)

I signed up for the Citi Forward Netflix deal. I had planned on cancelling Netflix at the end of September because I didn't think I'd use it enough to justify the expense in the next 6 months. But if I am getting it essentially for free ... well then it sure will be nice to still have available for when I need a break from studying. Plus, once my course is finished, it will equal roughly $51 extra to my savings (6 months @ $8.53.) Every little bit helps. (I noticed that their 5% rewards are geared towards restaurants - since I don't eat out very often, that probably won't be much use for me.)

**I just have to make sure I don't start ANY tv series on Netflix until my course is over. Movies are a one-time thing, tv series I have this obsessive need to watch episode after episode to see *everything* in as short a time as possible ...)

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When I decided to *not* upgrade my iPhone 3GS, I moved the majority of the tech fund money to my car replacement fund. (I left enough to get a good case/cover for the iPad.) I also decided to up my ROTH savings to $200/mo, and reduce my Fun Money fund to $20/mo (for most months, except my birthday month. Big Grin )

I also realized today that even though my ed award money (which is paying for my 6 month course/iPad) is taxable income, I *may* qualify for the Hope tax credit (I think that's the one.) So .. it may not be such a big bite after all. Smile

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Ok, off to watch more episodes of Ocean Girl. Big Grin (about 6 left I think)

September's Going Fast

September 19th, 2012 at 07:15 pm

Hard to believe September is nearly 3/4 over.

Our weather has been bi-polar - cold mornings and hot evenings. Maybe the snow is a bit further off than I thought.

The last few nights I've been going walking with the 3rd grade teacher. She was amenable to the idea of going further than the larger group had been going .. so we did 3.5 miles instead of 2. Tomorrow we're planning on doing a roughly 4 mile round trip trek. Smile The best thing is, she and I walk at roughly the same pace, so I'm not walking way ahead of her.

My mom's birthday was yesterday. I called her and caught her just before she left for dinner (where her now fiance proposed.) Judging from what she posted on FB, I'm assuming she accepted.

We had a motivational speaker guy come today and talk with the kids. He was pretty good - had the kids excited. The only qualm I had was that he asked the kids to write a testimonial on his website - name, age, email, school name included. Something I've been drilling into them the past month is about information that you *don't* share on the internet - especially if there is a chance of it being posted on something like a testimonial page!!! I used it for a teachable moment today after he interrupted my 5th grade group (which was already running way behind) to show his website and where to put their info at.

I got a bill from my doctor's office today for $35 from when I went in to have my thyroid checked. I'd thought it was strange they didn't ask for a co-pay when I was there ... It'll have to wait til October though, because my medical fund is slated for the second filling I'll be getting tomorrow.

I made a smoothie tonight for supper. I just can not say how much I love my Ninja blender. I don't have to worry about it leaking like my old blender (or the brand new one which I never used thanks to the rubber ring not fitting properly!)

I finally heard from the lady in charge of financial stuff for the 6 month program. I figured out how to give her the documents/info she needed, and am now officially registered. I should be getting more info within a few days. Class starts the first week of October, so I have about 10 more days of leisurely evenings. Smile

Today I had numerous requests for books in series and topics which we don't have. Some of the topics qualify as non-fiction, so I can easily justify getting some like that (my focus plan states that I'll spend 40% of library funds on non-fiction to make our collection closer to Common Core standards.) The books in the series though, are fiction. I *really* want to get those remaining books because the person asking for them is someone who generally is hard to please. I was sorely tempted to just jump on Amazon and buy them with my pocket budget so I wouldn't have to include them as coming out of the overall "real" library budget... but I restrained myself. Barely. (We have the first ten books in the series - which were actually a donation last year. The student saw that there are 8 more books in the series ... and salivated.)

We got a box of brand new donated books from a publisher on Monday. All but 3 of the books were ones we had a minimum of 1 copy already ... so I emailed the publisher to see if I could return those books for a credit or refund without the donor finding out .. They told me how I could do that, so I'm going to look in their catalog and see what other books might fit our student population better. This same person sent a box of books around 4 or 5 times last year - in all but one of them there were at least two books that were exactly the same. So I'm glad my principal gave me this idea (of contacting the publisher) - I was going to do it with the box that came the beginning of June .. but life intervened.

I have about ten episodes left of Ocean Girl on Netflix. Once I finish it, I plan on sticking with only movies. I don't want to get wrapped up in a tv series before canceling my service. (I plan to cancel it on Oct 1 before a new month is charged - this way I have few means of being too distracted from doing my school work.)

My asst has been out sick for the last three days. Although most of what I've had her doing is long term project type things, I have definitely felt her absence. Especially in preparing for Clifford's birthday (Kinder, first and second) and prepping for the pre-school storytimes. My book cart is getting pretty full of returned books ..

Next week we're doing a lot with Johnny Appleseed for the lower grades. So .. I'm really hoping she'll be back by Friday. Smile

Thinking (Ramblings)

September 15th, 2012 at 10:55 pm

After posting in one of the retirement savings threads on the forum, it got me rethinking some things.

There aren't a lot of ways I can cut back on expenses, but I think there are some things I can do to cut back a little as well as help myself if for some reason I become unemployed again.

So .... I think I have decided to stick with my current phone and not upgrade. I had found a good case for the 4S on amazon for $6, so the total cost of upgrading would be $106. However, that would lock me in to a new two-year contract. That's not something that would bother me generally, but with the iffy situation here with the sewer system ... as much as I'd absolutely HATE to do it, I probably should keep the option open of downgrading from my current phone plan to a prepaid plan. (I'm not sure that a prepaid would really save me all that much, but even $20/mo if I have no income coming in would be better than nothing.)

If my current phone really starts acting up on me, then I might look into seeing about buying an unlocked phone from Ebay, etc., or ... see if my brother would sell me his phone (he has to wait til March to upgrade.) Either way, I'd still not have to get locked into a new contract, so if the worst happens, I could downgrade my plan.

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I've also decided that I'm NOT going to pay for Hulu +. I waste enough time as it is with Netflix streaming, and the one main show I'd like to watch on Hulu (DWTS) will be available for free at some point. I just will have to be patient. Also, once I start the 6 month program, I'll probably go ahead and cancel Netflix until the program is over at least. My free time will be focused on classes and stuff for school/work.

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I was thinking about selling enough of the stocks I have in the taxable account to finish out maxing my IRA (traditional, so I could rebuy the same stock, only in the non-taxable for now account) for this year, and then saving what I'd normally put in to add next year. This was of course when the particular stock was down nearly $3 below what it was June 6 (when my dad died.) So it would have been a capital loss (which would have netted me some extra tax refund money, which could have also been put back into Roth/Trad IRA's next year ...) But I waited too long to do more than think about doing this. If I sold now, it would be a small capital gain instead.
(If I even know what I'm talking about here ...)

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Today was very cold. When I finally got up around 10:30 a.m. it was 39 degrees out. It warmed up some by the afternoon, but not much. I have the feeling that I'll be putting my sandals away very soon, and we'll have our first frost, if not first snow shortly.

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Looking on Amazon for iPhone/iPad stuff is very very dangerous. I found a $40 case/stand which I think will be quite good for the iPad (which I'm getting with the 6 month course) especially since I'm planning on letting the students in the library use it (for educational purposes of course!) I also found an awesome portable projector unit which can be used with either iPhone or iPad ...droollllll.... ($200) It would be so nice to have a way to do presentations without *having* to be in the computer lab ... Like I said, dangerous surfing.

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Today is my grandma's 91st birthday. She and her daughter are in Hawaii (they got there on Thursday and will stay for two weeks - staying at a timeshare unit owned by one of her sons and his wife.) I talked with her today and she sounded like she was having a good time - lots of walking. Big Grin

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I really need to work on cutting my grocery costs. That could be one area that I could use to add more to my savings (for new to me car.) Spending $55 on Friday was really ridiculous - unless I can make it two weeks (other than fruit ...) And of course if I actually *use* everything I bought *before* it goes bad. (I bought fresh asparagus, humus, spinach mix, bag of pre-cut butternut squash ... have a history of fresh asparagus rotting before being used --- quick easy ways to prepare would be great...) It of course didn't help that the store brand OJ was all out, so I had to go with the name brand (extra $1.25.)

Buying frozen fruit is also quite expensive ... but with only the freezer above my fridge, I don't know that I could freeze enough fruit in season to really offset the amount of frozen fruit I'd want for smoothies.... Maybe I should look into getting a smallish free standing freezer?

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I need to get pro-active about listing some books on Ebay (maybe half.com??) to see if I can get back any of the money I spent this past summer on books for summer school. Most of them were not even used ...Frown Some of the teacher resource books might sell too .. eventually.

Tomorrow I need to make sure I have everything lined up for the coming week at school, and then maybe get myself to do some much needed housework - possibly even make a casserole or something.

Btw - I've asked this before (and googled it as well) but ... if I cook 4 or 5 sweet potatoes in foil in the oven, what/how can I do to keep them good over a period of 4 or 5 days?? I've heard that bacteria grows fast in wrapped cooked potatoes - but that there is a way to prevent it - just haven't been able to figure out what that is yet. Any suggestions??

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Since I rode with people yesterday, and ended up skipping church today, I am probably going to end up with excess gas budget money this month. I'll put the first $20 of it back to tithe (since I took it out of tithe to cover my extra gas from last month for taking care of pastor's dog/cat) and then whatever's left will need to go to the medical category (to help cover the second filling I'll be getting on Thursday.)

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Ok, enough rambling about .. better go hit some zzzz's.

Teacher Inservice

September 14th, 2012 at 08:59 pm

Today we had our dioceasan (sp?) teacher inservice. It started with a Bishop's Mass, and then we had 5 hours of whole group lectures and lunch. Ugh. I liked it much better the way they did it last year - gave everyone the chance to choose from 5 different topics.

One of the presenters was in dire need of someone to teach him how to create a PP presentation ... It started out really good with humor, etc., but the quality of the slides lost most of the audience (at least the crowd from our school!)

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After the in-service the two teachers I rode up with dropped me off at Walmart while they went to get a manicure and pedicure. Walmart was out of bananas!!! Arghh! I got all my shopping done and then preceded to stand in line for 15 minutes. While in line I was greeted (from another line) by one of my students (pre-k I think) and saw another family that I think I recognized from the school. Then a boy behind me pointed out that there was a live grasshopper on my bag of frozen blueberries!! I tried to get it off with my CC, but only succeeded in putting it on the conveyer belt. The boy who'd pointed it out saved the day by picking it up with his hands. Smile

After I was done ($55!! I bought more frozen goods than normal - will have to watch my next two grocery trips!!) I sat down on a bench in the lobby to wait.
While waiting, 7 of our staff at different times either exited or entered. During that time I happened to glance up and meet the eyes of an African American man. He apparently took this as some kind of invitation to come talk ... He said to me, "Girl! Your legs are so white they're bright! You must not get outside at all." I at first just kind of sat there with my mouth hanging open, then told him that I do get outside plenty, thanks. Thankfully he left right after that.

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I talked to my brother tonight. He's planning on doing a half-ironman on July 5. That is/was dad's birthday, so I think that's pretty cool he can do it on that same day. I think I'll try to plan my time out in CA at that same time - maybe see if there is a *much* less intense race I could participate in that same day.

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I've decided that I'm going to upgrade to the 4S instead of the 5. This way I'll have a major upgrade to my current phone, but only be out $100. The 4S will be able to utilize all the most interesting new features of ios6. Then I can use the remainder of the money for accessories for the new phone and my iPad (when I get it.) Whatever is left can be put toward whatever the next technology item is I want later. Big Grin
(This way I also won't have to buy a new car charger to accommodate the iPhone5 charge port.)

One way or the other, I'll probably wait til October to do the upgrade.

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I finally heard back from the AmCorp lady at the 6 month program. She gave me the info I needed - I'll probably work on it on Sunday. So it looks like this may be a go after all. Smile

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One of the things I bought today were these frozen stuffed shells. By the time I got them home, they were not even close to frozen anymore (15 minutes in line to pay, 40 minutes waiting for my ride, 45 minutes before we finally got back ...) So I decided to go ahead and cook them. You had to cook them in sauce of course ... they didn't mention that sauce *wasn't included.* So the package was already open. I remembered I had a can of diced tomatoes in my cupboard - got out my fantastic wonderful loveable Ninja blender (can you tell how much I *love* this??) and poured the can of tomatoes and a little milk and garlic salt in. Blended and poured on top of the shells. Microwaved for 15 minutes at half power, and Va-voom! Supper. Big Grin MMMMMM!!!

These shells weren't very expensive, and were quite good. I'm thinking that the next time I have to take something to a potluck meal, that this might be a darn easy and fairly inexpensive way to go. Big Grin

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I received the AGC I cashed out for less than a week ago today. SBs is getting pretty good turnaround time with the gift cards!

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Almost forgot --- my latest obsession on Netflix --- Ocean Girl. I'm a bit more than half-way through Season 3 (of 4 seasons.) It's good, very family friendly, light Sci-Fi. Big Grin (With Aussie accents Big Grin )

Interesting Day - Probably one for the history books

September 12th, 2012 at 08:15 pm


Well... at least the history books at our school. Smile

Our principal flew out to CA last night on standby to attend to her daughter who is giving birth to twins. So the de facto teacher/vice principal was in charge today.

We had a visiting Sister of Notre Dame who was to lead a meeting with Am Corp members this afternoon.

The buses were late today due to rain. (It rained ALL night last night, and 90% of the day today.)

About 11 am while I was helping a couple of 4th grade girls pick out new books, and preparing for my 5th grade First Read Group, an announcement came over the phone/intercom system (which can only be heard if it is fairly quiet in the room) stating that we were to evacuate and everyone head to the gym.

This was not a scheduled evacuation drill.

I had enough presence of mind to grab the green emergency folder, but didn't bring anything else. Remember, it was raining.

I got my assistant (who being in the other room/section of the library had not heard the announcement.) Told the two girls to leave their books and come with me. As we reached the gym I heard several staff talking and found out that the evacuation was not a drill - it was real. There was a major gas leak near the public elementary school -- which is right next door to us.

Once everyone was in the gym, it was announced what had happened and that we were all getting on the buses (what we've practiced before.) So we all got on the buses. Just as the last few kids had been loaded and accounted for, we found out that the leak had been rendered safe. However, since we were already on the buses, we went ahead and finished the routine so it could count as a drill.

We arrived back at the school about 11:40. I quickly finished my prep for my first reads group, then helped the two 4th graders finish their selections, and headed to the cafe where I picked up my 5th graders. The group went really well -- ALL of the 5th graders had signed up for the group. I only took 5 though (will repeat throughout the year, so others will have a chance.)

About 20 minutes before my last class of the day (5th grade of course Big Grin ) one of the maintenance men mentioned seeing some people with video cameras/news people by the office. We'd been warned that a particular news agency would be coming looking for dirt (we were told what they were looking for, and that it was unfounded, but to not make any comments because really it has NOTHING to do with us at the school. Which it really doesn't.) So, it wasn't unexpected, it was just that it happened on the same day as the evacuation ...

As I was finishing my prep for the 5th graders, I got a call from the teacher/vp. She asked me if I could figure out something to do with my group in their classroom instead of having them come to the library. (Attempting to minimize student exposure to the camera crew.) I didn't have to think very long before deciding to take "Because of Mr. Terupt" to read to them. Big Grin I read about 40 pages of it before it was time for them to get ready to go home. I had an enthralled audience - several of who voiced great disappointment when I had to stop. Big Grin

*The camera crew was gone by the time the kids went home. Hopefully they won't be back tomorrow.

Then of course we had the Am Corp meeting. And yes, it still was raining.

As our teacher/vp said as the buses headed out this afternoon, "I hope tomorrow is a really boring day!"

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In other news ... I am reading the reviews of the new iPhone. I am tempted, very tempted. My brother has already said that he'll be ordering it on Friday. I have the money set aside for it (for a long time now ...) Maybe I'll wait til January. The cost wouldn't go down, but there would be more choices/range$$ of accessories available for it. If I do go for it, it will probably be at least 3 years before I decide to upgrade again. 3 years ago I was more than happy with my bare bones flip phone. Now ... I just don't think I could ever go back.

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Today was also my first day with the 3 year olds. So adorable. Big Grin So still definitely learning how to behave in school. Big Grin I'm getting them two weeks earlier than I did last year, which is okay with me. Smile
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I bought my ticket for Christmas. SW was $50 cheaper than any other deal I could find. Then if you add in the free baggage, it actually makes it $75 - $100 cheaper. If my soon to be new step-dad wasn't paying for it though, it still would've been completely out of my vacation budget. If I can find someone to drive me there, and to pick me up, that would be a good cost saver as well (even if I filled up their gas tank .. still cheaper than paying for parking AND my gas.)

My grandma's not too happy with my decision to be there for the wedding. She feels like by my being there, I am endorsing the marriage. I feel like my being there is showing my mom support - plus, how could I say that I'll come for a visit (pd by you) - but not til after the wedding? Arghh. Family drama - so can do without it!

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I still haven't heard from the registration person for the 6 month long program I want to do. I'd emailed her back and told her that I didn't receive an award certificate (am corp) but just would need to have their info to authorize a payment. I don't know how much longer I should wait to hear back - the program starts at the beginning of October.

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I got a call this evening from the person representing 403(b) accounts for the teachers/pastors, etc. from my church. He just asked me some questions and we talked a bit. He suggested that I roll over my 403(b) into an IRA. There would be a $13/yr admin fee that I don't currently have, but the IRA would be an annuity and offer me 40 more mutual fund options than I currently have. (My churches investment options are very conservative to put it mildly.) I was somewhat interested in the idea, but decided to leave it alone for now.

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No eating out -- 10/12 days (got an egg salad sandwich from local store tonight... too tired to even think about what to make...)

Good Week - This and That (Long, of course :) )

September 8th, 2012 at 07:44 pm

This past week went pretty well. Mainly I think because I decided to make all my lesson plans NOT internet focused. I am also finally starting to feel better - I think it was allergies that felled me, because they are still bothering me, just not so bad.

The past 4 nights I've gone on a walk with several+ teachers/staff from our school. My moderate walking pace is much faster than theirs ... Tonight I did a GPS of it to see how long it actually was - 2 miles. Not bad really.

I'm planning on starting back with my regular routine at the school gym on Monday. Although I'll probably limit it to very fast walking for the first week.

Oh ... I am less than 1 lb away from the 20's. Big Grin I'm trying to decide what I'd like to do to reward myself for losing 20lbs .. at least after I get into the 20's and stay there for at least two weeks... I'd been thinking of doing a pedi/mani, but I have the feeling that sandal season is going to be over sooner than later here. So, maybe just a manicure. Or maybe go see a movie. I feel like I should do *something* nice, because the last time I saw the 20's was ... ummmm 2007??

But ... I've also been reading a lot of Mr. Money Mustache this weekend. His posts got me thinking ... Is it frivolous to spend $9 - 15 on a treat just for losing (and keeping off) 20 lbs? Would it be better to add that same amount to my Roth account or perhaps to my car replacement savings???

I'm also reconsidering getting the iPhone5 when it comes out. I have the money already saved and set aside for it (since last year!!) But... would I be just as well off going with the 4 which will likely be free (only 8gb, but if I only put the apps I *really* use on it ...) That way I'd still be upgrading to a newer phone (and maybe my brother would give me his phone's case with the stand, since he's planning on getting the 5) but not be out any money.

I'm also rethinking my position on wanting a brand new car to replace my Honda. I did some forecasting, and by December, 2013 I *might* have around $9k saved, not including EF or Dads money (and not counting whatever I get in tax refund for '12.) I'd really rather not use Dads money if I don't absolutely have to, and my other big goal is to get my EF up to snuff. (Especially considering the fact that if the sewer system here fails, I will not only be out of a job due to the school closing, but I will also be out of a home. This is thanks to the hail storm / flood we had here about a month ago. It is a *very* old and fragile lift/sewer system being kept together by Macguyveristic tactics.)

So.. I'm thinking of when it gets closer to the time I want to definitely replace my car, I'll start looking to see what I can find within 200 miles for $8k or less. Then pick the best of the lot (newest, least miles, most amenities.) That would leave me with money to add into the EF, and my insurance wouldn't go up so much as with a brand new car.

The car thing is still far away, so I may change my mind a dozen times between now and then.

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I wasn't planning on going anywhere until summer time - both to refund my vacation budget and because of the 6 month course I'm (hopefully) going to be taking. However, when I told my mom that she spoke to her bf, and he offered to pay for my ticket to TX. Mom also said she'd make sure I had a computer/time/space to do whatever school work I needed to while there. So ... I agreed and told her dates/times I could come. .... Then I got a text from her bf asking if he could call me. When he did, he told me he's planning on asking her the big question on her birthday (18th) and wants to do the deed on the afternoon of the day I planned to fly in. Could I please come earlier? So, I'll be getting in Friday night instead of Saturday afternoon.

All I'll say is I hope it lasts. One more thing... he wants to have the ceremony in my very favorite place in the DFW metroplex - the same place I had always had in mind for if I ever got married. Kind of bittersweet. (The Botanical Gardens - many, many good memories there.)

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My yard had gotten really, really, really, really bad. There were so many weeds you almost could not see any empty space - anywhere. I'd been trying to find someone to do something with it since last spring. Finally someone suggested to me that I ask one of our maintenance guys at the school -- I did. He and his children came over this afternoon and did a MAJOR cleanup job. I had told him $40 for the job, but when I realized that the job was much bigger than I'd figured, I decided to give him $60. (I would have done $50, but I only had 20s.) Now that I have someone I know can do a good job, I'll have it done more often (2 - 3x a year should suffice) and can pay less (since the job won't be so huge.) He's also fixing my screen door which has been broken (the screen part) since I moved in here.

I would do this myself (take care of the yard) but I have NO equipment and my allergies are atrocious (allergic to tumbleweeds, etc. big time - would probably be out sick for a week if I attempted it.)

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I went to the dentist on Thursday and had a filling done. $85 instead of the $98 first quoted me. Smile It turned out that it wasn't a cavity, but a filling that had fallen out. So that made it a pretty fast drill and fill.

I'll be going back for the other tooth on the 20th. (Directly opposite the tooth I just had filled!)

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I've been watching Elephant Princess on Netflix this past week (partly why I haven't blogged this week Big Grin ) The first season was really good, and I got addicted a little bit. Big Grin The second season I don't like so much, but in my usual way, I have a hard time stopping once I'm into a show. I love the Aussie accents of the actors.

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I'm waiting to hear back from the person in charge of registration for the 6 month cohort on how to register and how to pay with my Education credit money. She had told me to send her my award certificate and the name of the person to contact ... but they didn't send me an award certificate - only a link to my account showing my Ed credit (and a link on that page to request funds payment.) I really hope this all works out. If the sewer goes bust, I may really need the extra certification this program offers (to secure a new job somewhere ...)

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I ordered a bunch of books for the library (using library budget money - not mine!!) on Friday. Most of them will arrive by Tuesday. I'm excited to catalog them and get them out to the kids. Big Grin (greek mythology books, Lizzie McGuire (had a kid asking for those), gymnastics (many girls requested), several new graphic novels, etc.)

On Wednesday I had my first meeting of First Reads Group with 7th/8th. It was a bit of a circus. In the end, I had 1 7th and 1 8th grader attend. They both chose two books. (First Reads Group is where the kids meet with me at lunch time and get the chance to be the first person at school to read new library books. If they give the book(s) their seal of approval, then they will have a name label saying "First Read by.....") This coming Wednesday I'm going to have the 6th graders meet with me (up to 5 of them.)

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Last night I was on Swagbucks and got the popup for the 2 SB videos. I started on them around 9:30 p.m., and it kept going until 12:37 p.m.!! I caught up on the SA blogs while playing the videos ... Overall I think I earned around 120 SBs from them!!

I have enough to cash out for a $5 AGC. Smile

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Eating Out Challenge:

7/8 days I did great. The day I went to the dentist, I did stop and get a milkshake at McDonald's because I was really hungry (hadn't had a great lunch) and my mouth was numb.

I'm going to plan better for my next appointment so I won't be so hungry.

August Spending/September Budget

September 1st, 2012 at 06:58 pm

August Spending:



Overspending:

Groceries - This really wasn't too far off the budgeted amount, and considering that it encompassed 5 grocery weeks, I'm actually okay with this amount of spending. In September, I should be able to keep it within the budgeted amount. (I'd really like to keep it to under $120/month, but I'm trying to be realistic.)

Fun Money - This mostly is getting subs at Blimpies, and a couple of egg salad sandwiches. What put it over was the balance of paying for the book tape (after using Amazon gift cards.) In September I plan to NOT do Blimpies or the occasional egg salad from the store, as I am participating in the No Eating Out Challenge. So ... hopefully I'll have a nice cushion in this fund for November and December.

Fuel: Had to do an extra fill up due to a lot of extra driving to take care of the pastor's family's animals. I *might* have been able to make it home on what was left in the tank on Friday, but I decided to not take my chances. Smile

Within category amounts:

Car Replacement - I had some maintenance work done on my car which should hopefully help it last another year.

Professional - I purchased a subscription to an online lesson plan book which meets my needs beautifully. I also bought some organizational baskets which I'm going to use in the library. Smile

Medical - Pd for monthly prescription and for a balance owed from a previous visit (after insurance paid.)

Savings - I did put $50 into my EF, but the car replacement account money was used for maintenance costs (plus some.)

September Budget:


Medical - I will have a minimum $100 outlay in this category for a filling, plus my normal prescription. I have enough to cover both.

Fuel - My August overspend is forwarded into September. So I actually have a category balance of $80 for September.

ROTH - I am increasing my ROTH contribution to $150 (from $100.) I do not have a 401k plan available to me.

**Technology -- If I go with the 6 month cohort/18 credit plan and receive the iPad, I am considering holding off on replacing my phone. One of the big reasons I would like to replace my phone is to have the video calling capability. With the iPad, I'd have that - so it would make it a lot easier to wait longer. I would however need to get a protective case for the iPad, etc., which would not be covered with my AmCorps money (as far as I know.) So I may use some of the money I've saved for the iPhone5 to purchase those accessories.