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New Budget Plan, Snowflakes, Dietbet, Ibotta Rebate!! Meal train

June 17th, 2017 at 08:41 am

Ever since my DH injured his so-called "good" shoulder, I have been contemplating what would happen if he couldn't work anymore. I realized we would be in a *very* tight spot. Yes, we have reserves which we could repurpose for daily expenses, and could cut into the stocks ... But that just feels like a short term solution with long term consequences - since the reserves and the stocks are for long term needs.

So, after a lot of thought and juggling of numbers on my part, and then the ensuing discussion with DH, we have made a mutual goal of fully funding both of our ROTH's by the end of this year. $12,000.

We already had $3555 set aside for whenever we opened DH's Roth. Then I felt comfortable putting the $1900 we had set aside for the EF. I also decided that as much as I would love to do a cattery design in the cat room/family room, that by the time we had saved enough to do it, we'd probably be down two cats. So ... I'm putting the $455 set aside for that towards our goal.

That just leaves $6,090 to reach our goal. Or, an average of $1,000/month starting in July.

We are cutting our spending money from $400 to $0. We are cutting the Date Night category from $100 to $60. Groceries will go from $300 to $200. I am also stopping the $25/mo Extra Principal. Plus, I will be stopping my extra contributions to my 457 at work - this will add approximately $140 back into the budget. There also is the $185/mo we've already been setting aside for DH.

That puts us at $890.

Which just leaves $110 to fund each month.

Our plan is to take 1/2 of whatever we make (profit) in side jobs or overtime and put it towards the goal. The other 1/2 will go towards our own spending money.

If we reach the $12,000 goal early, then we will decide what we want to do.

DH has also agreed to sell the non-functioning Honda! Not paying the title/registration for that thing will add back at least $100 which we can also put towards the goal. The sale price of the Honda though I think we'll put all into DH's car replacement category.

The purpose of all this is to get as much money put away as possible in a place that will most likely outearn the 2.5% of our current checking, and even the 5% of the Northpointe checking, but still be assessable if circumstances warrant it. (Contributions only.)

Best case scenario we won't have to touch any of it for ten or eleven years.

I'm going to be doing a new budget in YNAB to reflect all this, plus to cleanup the current budget. Smile

*I just thought about something - we have probably $200 in cashback rewards on our cards - that could go towards our goal too. Smile

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June Snowflakes as of 6/17
June Snowflakes so far:

Swagbucks - $25 Walmart; $25 Paypal; $25 PP

Pact - $10

Earnhoney - $5; $5

Earnably - $10

Yoolotto - $6.75

MyPoints - $25 PP

FetchRewards - $10 in Walmart gift cards

**On Swagbucks there is a deal where you contribute $9/month for 4 months to WCF (World Wildlife Fund) and then 60 days after the 4th contribution you get 6500 SBs. So, a $29 moneymaker (plus you get a nice tote bag for grocery shopping.) Someone on the FB Swagbucks Swaggernauts group verified this offer with Swagbucks.

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Dietbet Round 5 weigh in was today - and I made it again! Now just one more month to go for the final big payout!

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On iBotta there is a current bonus called Dash for Dollars. You only have to complete ONE branded rebate by the 19th to get a $5 bonus!

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At work we are doing a meal train for the dispatcher who is going through chemo right now.

I was thinking of doing a meal of corn pudding, green beans, mashed potatoes and brownies. My DH thinks there isn't enough protein. There's cheese in the pudding, but I can't think of anything else that would go with it.

Dh suggested lasagna .. but to me that would be so much more work, and more expensive too since I already have most of what I need for the pudding meal.

Any ideas?

Saving Goals and Thinking About Housework

June 3rd, 2017 at 01:11 pm

My DH and I both get $200 each month for spending money. For me it covers tithe/offering/clothes/computer/phone, etc. For him it covers phone/computer/clothes/electronics/boat/tv/items he just wants to buy to resell/his soda habit, etc.

As part of this negotiation, it was agreed that whatever "funny money" (his term for my snowflakes) I bring in are to be added to my spending money. If he ever actually sells anything he bought with his spending money, he also gets to keep it.

So .. $160 of my SM goes to tithe/offering. That leaves me with $40/month to decide what to do with it.

I have a lot of categories I put the money into - phone replacement, computer replacement, Entertainment/Eating Out (when done by ourselves, otherwise it goes under date night), Nails, Clothing, Phone farm, Home Gym, and Gifts.

I've been reading CCF and MEC posts about their big savings goals and have been doing some thinking.

I would really like to have more money being socked away for retirement. Currently I have it where we set aside the same amount for each of us - mine in a work IRA, and DH's in a yet to be opened IRA.

What we're putting in to each is not even enough to 1/2 fully fund. (esp for DH since he is 50 and is eligible for catch up.)

The only way we'd be able to fully fund two IRA's would be to get rid of the cats and two vehicles. Probably the money we currently set aside/spend for those numerous categories would do it. (Car Maintenance, Car taxes/registration, Car replacement, Vet fund, Food for cats, Food/medical for non-cats, fund for catifying living room ....)

That's not going to happen, so on to more realistic ideas. Smile

So ... since it can't really be done with our shared budget, and I'm probably more likely to need lots of money for retirement (for a number of reasons) .. I've decided to set one major saving goal to be fully funding my ROTH.

This will be done with my "funny money."

The $40 will go to phone (10)/computer(10)/clothing(10)/(5)gifts/(5)Entertainment.

The funny money will be 50 / 50. 50% goes to the ROTH goal, 50% goes to other categories.

I'm also adding a category - Housekeeper. I'd like to hire someone 3 or 4 x a year to come in and do the deep cleaning stuff like windows, oven, fridge ...

If I somehow manage to fully fund the ROTH, then the 50% will be put aside for an investing fund. When that gets to $3k I'll put it into a Vanguard index fund.

Besides my current "funny money" schemes, I am debating about doing online tutoring via VIPkid. 10 hours a week could net $800/month+ pre-tax. 30% would be set aside for taxes. 35% to the family budget, and 35% for my saving goals.

Before I could do that though, I feel like I need to get a good cleaning/maintenance system established. So when I suddenly have ten hours less a week to do whatever, the house doesn't fall apart.

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I've been looking at/reading about the SHE system (Sidetracked Home Executive.) I like some of their ideas, but am going to adapt them a bit. Smile

I plan on doing a point system. Each job is worth so many points. Both DH and I need to complete a minimum amount of points each week. However, if we make more than the minimum, the person with the most points gets to decide whether we eat a homemade meal (on their night) or go out to eat at their choice of restaurant. Plus another benefit which would motivate my DH. Smile

Small jobs are ones that take 15 minutes or less - worth 1 point. Medium jobs take 30 minutes or less and are worth 2 points. Large jobs are ones that take an hour or less and are worth 3 points. X-Large jobs are ones that take two+ hours and are worth 4 points.

A small job would be wiping the counters in the upstairs kitchen and bathroom. Or sweeping the upstairs. Or 15 minutes of general pickup and put away.

A medium job would be trimming the bushes. Or doing something like changing the car oil. Or mopping the upstairs. Or 30 minutes of decluttering an area. Or updating the budget.

A large job might be washing a car - inside/out. Cleaning 4 litterboxes (dump and rinse.) Or an hour of decluttering. Or going to a physical therapy appointment.

An extra-large job would be mowing, or shoveling snow, or cleaning the gutters, or shampooing the carpets, or two hours of decluttering.

Each type of job will go on a color coded index card. The cards will be kept in a file box. It will be divided into sections. One for DH only tasks (divided into the 4 categories). One for me only tasks divided into the 4 categories). One for Anyone tasks divided into the 4 categories). And then a completed section where the cards that were finished go (one for each of us.)

On each card will be a description of the task, its point value and a space to pencil the date completed and by whom. There also will be a note on it saying how often it should be done (like gutter cleaning, 2 x a year?)

On Sunday night we can each pick out which cards we think we will do for the coming week.

We both will also have basic routine cards - i.e.
the least to do on a daily basis. For example - In shared living spaces, pick up our own stuff - don't leave things on the counter/floor/door that don't belong there. 10 minutes of general pickup. DH - Scoop one litterbox in the basement. Me - Scoop all the litterboxes upstairs. Dishes go in the kitchen. Trash goes in a trash can. etc.

If we work together on a job ( like we both spend an hour working on the boxes in the basement) we both get the points for the job.

I still have to present this to DH ... so we'll see if this gets past the thinking/planning stage. Smile I'm hoping the allure of eating out plus the other will be enough ...

New Snowflake Makers, Updates

May 28th, 2017 at 07:18 am

I discovered a new receipt app - Fetch Rewards. It mostly earns the big points if you buy name brands, but they do give points for receipts with no name brands too. I've been using it for a week, and have enough for a $5 gift card (bought Boca veggie burgers, and DHs mountain dew...)If you decide to check it out, my referral code is G1GHV. We'd both get 1500 points.

Another earning opportunity is the website earnably. I just cashed out for a $10 paypal yesterday. It's one you don't have to babysit. If you want to help me out, use this link: https://earnably.com/i/lneerg or just search earnably.

I've cashed out for $100 on Swagbucks this month ... mostly thanks to nCraves (all you can eat!)

I'm almost to $30 on Inbox Dollars, but will wait to cash out at $40 - so a few more weeks.


I *might* be able to do a second cash out on Perk for $25 this month. I just need a bit less than 6000 points by Tuesday.

If any of you are interested in getting more into passive (mostly) earning - check out the FB group Making Money with smartphones. That's where I'm learning about some of these things. Also, the group Swagbucks Swaggernuts. Smile

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So ... DH got into a scuffle Tuesday night with a co-worker 20 years younger than him .... Thankfully no work repercussions, but he really messed up his shoulder that hadn't had the replacement. He's going to try physical therapy to see if that helps.

In the meantime he can't use the new weedeater, and probably can't mow the lawn.

So guess what I'm doing this afternoon? Learning how to mow the lawn! He says we have a manual weedeater thing that he can use - so he'll be doing that and leaf blowing.

At least he didn't get fired. Sigh. (The other co-worker started it. A real turd.)

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I'm watching a series on Netflix - The Paradise. A BBC program about a retail store. Enjoying it so far.

I also watched Anne with an E. Smile I was so sad when I realized I'd watched the last released episode.

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I got a letter from the place I interviewed at saying no thanks. Sigh. Just have to keep looking I guess.

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We're having our budget meeting tonight after we go out to eat at a local Mexican restaurant (Swagbucks local place 300 SB bonus + 7SBs per dollar. Smile )

We spent a lot of money in May - will be getting some nice cashback on the Citi card. I had to do a little WAM'ing for some of the categories, but mostly it was some things that were a bit more than planned for.

We bought a lawnmower, a ladder, a weedeater, and a leafblower amoungst other things ... (oh yeah - more string for the weedeater too) $$$

June hopefully we'll be getting a fence put up - if we ever can get an estimate!

Won Round 4 Dietbet! etc

May 20th, 2017 at 11:37 am

Well the one bright spot right now is that I have one 4 of 4 rounds of Dietbet - winnings are about $90 so far. I just need $25 more to recoup my initial bet, then the rest is gravy. Smile I have lost about 26lbs from my initial weigh in. Nobody seems to have noticed yet, but I can tell a difference in how my clothes fit.

For larger people like me, it seems like it takes a loss of more like 50 lbs or more for anyone to venture to guess ... are you losing weight?

Work ... ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. I don't know if interviewing is really a good thing or not ... it gives me hope of getting out of there for something better .. so I start getting irritated even more by stupid things.

I thought I was to hear back about the job by yesterday. The fact that I haven't makes me feel like its probably a no. Frown I hope I at least get the courtesy of an email.

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DH found a leaf blower he wanted on the Sears website Thursday. So on our way to dinner we stopped by. The in store price was more. I couldn't pull up the online price on my phone. DH was really irritated and didn't want to bother talking to anyone.

Friday I found the offer he'd found and took screenshots and printed them out. Then after work and making the bank deposit I stopped at Sears. I told a sales person what I was looking for and asked him if he could honor the online price. He cheerfully said he could - then thanked me for being pleasant. He'd apparently had a lot of unhappy people to deal with that day.

I told him I could relate ...

So .. the leaf blower in store price was $59.95. Online price was $47.95. I had $7.03 in Shop Your Way points - walked out with it for just under $43.

My DH was quite happy when he came out to the kitchen on his way to work to see I'd gotten it. Smile

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I did call my mom for Mother's Day. It went fairly well. I bit my tongue hard when she told me she and paramour had both sold their cars and bought one new one. I badly wanted to ask if her name was on the title ... If she does ever decide to leave this guy *for real* she's kind of painted herself into a corner. Sigh. She's an adult.

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I started a new money making website - Earnably. Pretty good so far.

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Almost forgot! On Wednesday DH and I bought a ladder from Menards. DH started cleaning our gutters by standing on the third rung of the ladder and moving the ladder constantly. After about twenty minutes of me watching him do this, I offered to get up on the roof and finish the job.

Ii have no fear of heights, while DH does. It was my first time on a roof - and it was a little nerve wracking. But I got used to it quickly. Smile It was actually quite fun ... until I had to get OFF the roof.

DH held the ladder tightly for me and talked me down. Whew! Now our gutters are clean!

Long Day - Conversation at Work

May 1st, 2017 at 07:08 pm

So.... today I had a talk with my supervisor - after asking for the 11th pm off.

Long and short - I told her I am looking for another job. That it has nothing to do with her - but mostly my getting stressed out by the cash aspect. I also told her I was worried about the longevity of my position for a number of reasons.

In a nutshell, she reassured me that the cash aspect is not something to be so stressed about (be careful, but not fearful), and that my position isn't going anywhere.

I'm still going to interview for the job, but mainly for the experience (and I don't know who to contact to cancel.) If I get offered the job, I will think about it, but I'm leaning towards staying put.

I'm glad I told her, even if it was really hard.

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I got a $25 AGC from Perk today. I also did a Schwan's offer for 4000 SBs which instantly credited (spent $27.40 after 30% coupon.)

I stopped at Dollar Tree and stocked up on frozen fruit, etc. Then got some bananas from HyVee. About $10 altogether.

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Are there really people who don't know Hitler killed 6 million Jews in WW2??? A co-worker today made a comment expressing shock at that number (reading something in the newspaper.) I kind of thought that was basic high school history ...

I'm back! Trip Job etc

April 30th, 2017 at 01:31 pm

We got back from our trip Thursday night. Overall, it was a good trip. It was the most time DH and I have ever spent together continuously .... 7 days of 24/7 togetherness.

Our first hotel was in Silverthorne, Colorado. Up til about 8 pm travel was good ... then after stopping for dinner at Beaux Jo's pizza, the snow + darkness + winding mountain roads started. I'm thankful DH was driving.

We discovered that my headlights are foggy and probably need to be replaced. Not a good discovery to be made on a road trip.

Our next stop was in Utah, near Zion Forrest. We ate at a Chinese buffet that had egg foo young!!

The next morning we spent a few hours at Zion - free admission due to Earth Day!

Then on to Las Vegas where we ate at a buffet that had eggplant parm AND tons of sweets ....

Finally we arrived in Loma Linda. Grandma and my uncle were happy to see us. Smile We got to our hotel, and at first were happy ... but then realized the wifi didn't work. Which ... one night would be doable, 4 night not so much. But even worse ... it had a double bed and a sofa sleeper. No way DH and I could both sleep on a double bed. So I ended up on the sofa (DH's feet hung way over the edge.) It was a *miserable* night.

I hated to complain ... but no way was I going to make it on little sleep for 4 nights ...

We were moved to a Best Western. Best hotel ever (other than Branson.) Great room, great wifi ... but the best was the breakfast! Make your own Belgian waffles --- with chocolate chips to add .. and little Nutella packets!! DH liked the eggs/potatoes/meats they had too.

My brother didn't make it down ... said he was sick.

On Sunday my Uncle gave us a driving tour of the San Bernadino valley. DH got to pick oranges and grapefruit from a coup;e of groves. He got a kick out of that. Smile

On Monday we went to Santa Monica pier. DH fished off the pier for a little while - he didn't catch anything, but did spot a sea lion! We ate at PF Chang's - I was the only one who seemed to like it. We spent a good five hours in traffic ....

On Tuesday we went to Lake Arrowhead and ate at a Mexican restaurant on the edge of a cliff.

We left about 6:30 Wednesday morning, and drove all the way to Grand Junction, CO. We made sure to get there during daylight.

Thursday we left about 6:50, and by 7:30 encountered rain, then sleet and then snow. We were out of it by around 11 .... Definitely slowed us down a bit. We got home around 8 pm.

Friday I got one of my tires fixed that had gotten a nail on our trip. It was nice to be back in my own bed with the cats ...

I've got the budget all updated. We spent approximately $540 between gas, hotels, food, etc. Not bad for a 7 day trip.

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I have an interview on May 11 for one of the two jobs I applied for!!

Why are you wanting to leave your job? I hate the money aspect - handling cash. I'm also really tired of dealing with people on the phone ... --- Not a good answer, but the truth.

Have you had any conflict with coworkers - how did you handle it? Yes - one lady I helped with projects was a major perfectionist who couldn't tell you what she wanted in a simple, straight forward manner ... I got majorly stressed out dealing with her, and my supervisor and I had a meeting with her. Nobody liked her. She's gone now.

Again, not a good answer, but the truth.

What are your goals in five years? Umm, have a job? - What I usually say ... I hope to continually improve myself as a person and as an employee.

Why do you want this job? It's a good pay raise, and looks like a lot more fun than my current job - lots of computer related work and NO cash handling ... (I actually have to come up with two - three paragraphs for this question...)

What has been your greatest professional disappointment? (was totally stumped on this one .. finally came back with ... Not being able to foster a good collaborative community at the school I was a librarian at. I was able to get one or two teachers on board, but there was such a turnaround each year that I wasn't able to grow it.)

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DH was looking into tiling costs for the cat room - remove carpet and add tile - he's figured bare min of $5k for the area. Gulp. We need to come up with some other option (less $$) - easy to clean, and won't soak up cat messes... The carpet isn't doing so well.

We plan on removing the carpet in the office and bedroom - hardwood floors under carpet, and tiling the bathroom (currently carpeted.) Hoping these moves will help the smell. (Getting rid of cats is NOT an option.)

If I get this other job, I plan on putting some of it towards a once a month housecleaner ..

Or .. if I *don't* get this job, I'm looking at a teaching Chinese children English online job .. do 8 - 10 hours a week for $18 - 22 +bonuses an hour. And use some of that to pay for a housecleaner.

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I did gain about 4 lbs on this trip. I have until May 17 to lose those 4 lbs, plus 2 more to win round 4. I think I can do it. If not, then I'll be on my way to round 5. Smile

I just need to go back to my stricter diet plan (ate LOTS of junkfood this trip .. plus not much movement.)

New Computer and YouGov

April 2nd, 2017 at 10:34 am

My new computer arrived on Wednesday, but I didn't set it up until Saturday night. Windows 10 definitely takes some getting used to (at least its not Windows 8!)

My old computer is still working, so I'm using it to run videos on while surfing on my new computer. Smile It can connect via WiFi to my modem, but I think I'll be getting another Ethernet cord to connect directly.

I upgraded my monitor and keyboard - already can tell the new keyboard is loads better than the old one. Smile My monitor is a 23" - watched The Secret Life of Pets on it last night. Sweet!

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Last night I used one of the two $25 gift certificates I got for transferring two prescriptions to a local grocery store. Spent an additional $14.

I also went to Aldi. I was a little frustrated because two of the four main things I went there for, they were out of - Almond Milk and the frozen 85% beef patties (for DH.)

We overspent on Groceries in March by $17. In January and February we came in ~$80 under both months, so maybe our overage was due to some restocking.

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We are in full planning mode for our road trip! We plan on stopping in Colorado Springs for Pike's Peak, Denver for some Pizza place, Las Vegas for a buffet, and some forest in Utah. Then finally arrive to the Los Angeles area to celebrate our one year anniversary with my grandma, aunt, uncle and brother!

I am SO looking forward to the time off! If I could find another job here with comparable salary and benefits ... I'd jump so fast... something that had NO cash dealing.

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I *think* I may make it for Round 3 of Dietbet. I'm about two pounds off and 13 days away.

I'm kind of enjoying my break from Stepbet, but will definitely join one again after the trip. It really is a good motivator to get the steps in!

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I received my $40 check from Inbox Dollars yesterday. I'm already closing in on $7 towards my next check. Smile

This morning I did the last survey I needed to do for YouGov to cash out for a $100 Amazon card. I also have enough to cash out for a $25 Perk AGC.

Too bad I didn't wait a few weeks for these to put towards my computer. Smile I'm sure the $ will come in handy for something else. Wish I could order thru Amazon from Apple - then could use it for my phone.

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I forgot to mention this - but I paid off the last of DH's medical debt in February!

Egged! Surprise Gift Card

March 25th, 2017 at 04:26 pm

A few months ago my DH noticed that someone had thrown an egg at our house. We weren't sure how ong it had been there, so we guessed maybe it was some kid upset that we hadn't done anything for Halloween. (though our lights weren't on,and either of us were home.)

But this afternoon I was sitting in the office by my computer when I heard a very loud noise. ll the cas turned towards the window. I got up to look to see if I could find out what had made that noise. It sounded like an explosion.

Someone had egged our house again!

When DH got up I told him about it, and he decided to look around to see any other mischief. He found a third egg on the same wall - dried.

Apparently some kid is using our house for target practice.

A few days ago I noticed tissues all over the yard. I picked up all of them. Glad I did since i rained today! I also found a ruined smartphone and a good bit of other trash. I just don't walk in the yard much I guess.

I guess this is what you expect living ac from a middle school?

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After church today I dropped off two prescriptions at a local grocery store to get $50 in gift cards for transferring.

As I walked out, a young man asked me if I'd do a survey for a research paper he was writing - for a $10 gift card. So I did the survey (on GMO) and got a gift card!

Now I have $60 in gift cards for this store. Good thing too, since we've overspent the grocery budget already!

Snowflakes and Shocking Death

March 24th, 2017 at 07:10 pm

I thought I'd mention a few of the things I'm doing for my spending money. Some are things most of you do already, but some may be new.

Swagbucks - cashed out for a $25 AGC today, have 1800 left

Inbox Dollars - cashed out for $40.xx today (mostly running video app)

Mypoints - I have enough for a $25 paypal, plus close to a second one

Perktv - 13k points (need 24,400 to get $25 AC)

Survey Sites that don't disqualify you:
Pinecone - cashed out $23 a week ago

YouGov - within two surveys of cashing out for my 2nd $100 AGC (referral link in sidebar)

Passive computer video sites:
Earnhoney - earned $23 in last 3 weeks
---kind of a frustrating site -might be better with a newer computer

Koinme - for next 6 days as $5 signup bonus - earned $16 in less than two weeks (if interested, I can give some pointers, my referral code is: http://koinme.com/af-MUiZwD6Ssh We both get $5.)

Passive mobile only video apps:
Youlotto - earned $5.38 in two weeks

Checkpoints - almost enough for a $10 AGC

Just remembered two more!

IQ - an app that sends you questions to answer and pays immo. Mad 2.25 so far.

Oops, forgot the other one. Smile
Hmmm.. I think thats it other than health apps/bets

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DH found out on Tuesday that a coworker - 40 yo father of two - had died that morning. I'd met this person once - he was one of the few DH got along with/liked to talk to. There'll be a service tomorrow afternoon.

He either died of a stroke, heart attack or diabetic coma. He didn't take very good care of himself.

He was so young - such a preventable death. Frown

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We got our renewal papers for home insurance -$718.I think that' close to what we paid before. It's not due til May - so maybe I could chance signing up for another rewards card ... put this and property tax on it .... Hmmm...

I should be getting my car insurance renewal soon too I think.

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I read a really good Nicholas Sparks book this week - Two by Two. Highly recommend it.

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My diet isn't going so well.. At least I have a few weeks before the next weigh in. (I won $24 in round 2.)

I'm thinking of joining something Stepbet has started called Membership. It's $25 for one year, but it makes the game a bit easier and varied. Plus it eliminates their take of the winnings.

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Hmm not much else I can think of right now. I have decided to NOT build a computer, but am still debating what I'm going to get. I also am planning on getting the 64 GB iPhone SE. That'll save me from having to buy a new protective case. Not sure when I'll get it - but it'll be after the computer for sure!

Dietbet Round 1 Over, Budget Changes, etc

February 19th, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Round 1 finalized today - $14.44 won. (out of a $115 bet - paid out in July.) Officially lost just over 10lbs.

DH didn't want to go upstairs to take my picture, and consequently I had to redo my weigh in (no carpet.) So still made it with 3+lbs to spare.

I kind of went backwards with diet this week - started on Tuesday. Am back on plan now.

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So on Wednesday DH got up earlier than usual, and I talked to him about my ideas for changing the budget so he'd get the same amount I am, including tithe/giving. He was ok with it, so I redid some of the categories and made two new sections.

I showed him what I did Thursday night and he liked it.

Friday morning I couldn't sleep, so we talked some more. He tells me he'd like to have his fun money in a separate checking account. This was right before I had to get up and ready. I told hm we should talk more Saturday am when he got home from work.

We did talk, and the end result is that he's going to have the separate account for his spending money - and anything I make from Swagbucks etc. will be for my spending money (in addition to what we budget.)

I'm not totally happy with this - but if i makes him motivated to actually start selling some stuff from the basement in order to fund his boat/tv/etc.... I'll live with it. He is going to add me as a death beneficiary to the account.

One of the things we decided was to lay off on the accelerated student loan payoff. The interest is less than what we earn on our checking, and we have several budget categories which could use some beefing up - which is what I did with the budgeted money for loan payoff (above the normal amount.)

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Thursday we were going to go eat at a local Mexican restaurant for a belated VD dinner. However, we got there to discover it was closed due to the Immigrant protest.

What was most interesting to me was that this was the first time I was directly affected by a protest.

We were dissapointed, but understood the reasoning behind it. We ate at a pizza place instead.

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Tomorrow we both have doctor appointments. Mine first (yearly), then DH's. I'm going with DH to his for a number of reasons- one being that I can make sure he brings up what needs to be brought up! Hoping we can get some answers/ideas about an issue and be shown how to use the BP cuff and blood glucose meter.

Taxes, Citi card, etc

February 14th, 2017 at 08:36 pm

On Sunday I did our taxes again - now that I have all the needed documents. I started with Credit Karma, but the 1095 health insurance form was unusable. So I moved over to Turbo Tax. According to it, we have a $72 refund from the Feds and owe $524 to the state.

This is due to DH getting a subsidy through April, and our inflated income from the stock sales (to buy the house.)

We couldn't itemize because our interest, etc. was way less than standard deductions.

Next year we should get back around $1000.

I'm waiting to see if Credit Karma fixes their form so I can file for free rather than pay TT $40+

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I converted my Citi Thank You card to the Double Cash (just before being charged the annual fee.) After cashing out $675 in points, we had 1900 left. Today I talked to a points concierge and he made them into a $14 Amazon gift card.

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Yesterday I called animal control because I'd gotten a late notice on Kari's license. I explained that I'd moved, and filed a change of address, but this was the first notice I'd gotten. I also told her DH hadn't received any notices for his cats.

She told me to send it in for just the normal amount with a note saying she said it was okay. Smile

Now to wait for DHs notices. (they had his old address)

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Mom sent us $100 in a Valentines card. I'm not sure what I want to do with it.

I'd told her at Christmas I wanted nothing to do with M's money EVER. She's an adult, and so if she chooses to stay with him, that's on her. I'm however done with the him for a lot of reasons.

Second Home Chef Meal, etc

February 11th, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Thursday night DH asked me if I'd help him with the meal because he didn't know what he was doing. So we worked together on it - I worked on the grape tomatoes, he cut up the olives, capers, oregano, and garlic. (If I would've realized how long the tomatoes would take, I would've used the Mini Bullet.)

Like with the risotto, I felt there were some key steps missing in the directions - things you had to guess at.

I unfortunately burned the pine nuts - which dissapointed both of us.

The recipe didn't call for the tomato mixture to be cooked - but neither of us fancied eating raw garlic or tomatoes.

We added a package of mixed veggies.

Overall it was edible, but not something either of us would try again.

So, even if I wanted to pay for meals from Home Chef, these two meals would definitely discourage me from the idea. Glad we got them for free.

Angel hair Pine Nut Puttanesca

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I had my yearly review at work on Wednesday. Even though my unions contract isn't signed, I still am getting the next step in pay. It makes about a $.51/hour raise. Smile Better than nothing.

I also found out that I still get my PCH days even without th signed contract. So I put in for vacation for April 20 - 28. 5 vacation days, an 2 PCH.

We need to figure out what we'll do with the cats while we're gone. 4 days away is one thing, 8 - 10 is another.

We did get paid back the $150 for the dog's meds. DH went over to the owners house Wednesday night.

We still haven't listed anything on eBay. DH couldn't find the cord to connect his camera to my computer, so has ordered another one from eBay. ($2)

--
We're planning on going to Tico's for Valentine's on Thursday. (I'll get Swagbucks for it through Swagbucks local app)

--
I cut DHs hair this week and he felt it made him look bald in the front. So he had me give him a buzz cut instead. I'm going to see if the daughter of one of the light duty ladies would be willing to give me a few pointers in cutting men's hair. I've watched youtube videos, but I may need more than that.

Jan Budget, Other $ News, etc

February 2nd, 2017 at 07:28 pm

I decided to try using Snip to copy my budget this month. It'll be much easier o read I think. Smile

Of note:

Groceries - we spent $85 less than budgeted! We're keeping our budget at $300, but only topping it off to $300 and not building from month to month.

Extra income -
$207 from CC rewards
$100 from ReceiptPal (instant!)
$10 from Bing
$50 Swagbucks
$10 from Pact
$25 from Perk
$45 interest
$21 profit StepBet
$.25 IQ
$.60 Mobi
???

Tithe/Giving - I forgot to do this in December. So two months worth. DH doesn't believe in it, but agreed he'd be ok with me continuing. Recently he's been making some noise about him getting an equal amount in spending money. I've told him sure - but he's going to have to figure out how to make that work in our budget! Probably nothing will come of it.

I am so close to having enough for a new computer and new phone! If I can just by them along for a few more months ....

Vacation - We are planning an April roadtrip to CA. Somewhere in the realm of 8 - 10 days. Some of our expenses will likely be reimbursed - we'll be visiting my Aunt/grandma/brother. Still, we're trying to save a good amount towards it. DH doesn't have paid vacation, so we have to save a weeks pay plus expenses.

Car Insurance - In January I had both of ours together, but have separated them starting in Feb. It'll mae it easier to know how much we hvae.








---
In other news - You may remember the dog we took care of this past summer? How we bought $150 worth of medicine for its skin allergy? The owner told DH he would reimburse us. That was in June??

Since then we'd not heard one word from them. Wed written the money off as a loss.

DH got a text from the wife yesterday asking about it. DH replied and confirmed that they still owed us tat money.

Today,DH got a voicemail from the owner. It sounds like they plan on paying us the money! I wonder what prompted this? Maybe they realized that we're unlikely to be willing to house sit/ take care of their animals. Only time will tell I guess.

--

DH right now is driving back from Kansas where he picked up a box of 176 magazines for $50. He's going to sort them into sets ad photograph them, and then I'll list them on eBay.

National Lampoon, Metal (music) and Cream (music) are some of the titles.

He says he's found some single titles go for $20 on eBay. Which is great and all ... but if they don't get listed, then that's $50 +gas wasted. Sigh. We'll see I guess.

Frustrating Day - Avoided Temptation

January 30th, 2017 at 06:58 pm

I won't go into it - but take TWO phone calls in a row of 15+ minutes at the end of a day where I had lots of sales which needed to be reconciled ... and with the 13 minutes I had left I could reconcile the total from just the amounts to the cash/checks/credit cards but NOT to the actual passes. If I'd had another five or six minutes I might have done it - but Union regs say I have to be done at 4:30, and I'd already pushed it 3 minutes.

That plus multiple annoying other phone calls, and I was not in a good place.

Driving home I really wanted to stop and get junk food. But I didn't.

---
I got an email from Citi saying they had No Record of my redeeming points for a check. Ummm...

So I called and redeemed AGAIN - this time for $650. I also converted my card to the double cash back card. Hopefully in time to avoid the annual fee of the Thank You card.

I had ordered some things from Amazon on Sunday due to arrive Wednesday. When looking at the email today, I realized I'd somehow put my old name and address!!

So I contacted Amazon, and they're sending a replacement order! Sweet! (I then went into my address book and deleted the outdated info.)

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A budget meeting funny .... Last night DH and I had filled all the categories except the fun group. I saw there was still $552! Both DH and I were in disbelief because we'd put some large amounts in several categories. So we went through all of them again to be sure we hadn't skipped any.

We got to house maintenance and found out that I'd entered 30 instead of 300! That one little zero makes a big difference!

---
I'm going to wait til Wednesday to do a monthly recap - but lets just say I'm happy with groceries. Smile

Dietbet Week 2

January 28th, 2017 at 06:39 pm

So I'm still doing well with my eating plan. DH made pancakes on Thursday, plus I had A cookie I had been given Wednesday.

Friday I struggled a little with the temptation of free donuts my boss brought in. I even googled what was the best way to freeze them. In the end I just chose to forget they were there.

I'm still not sure if loosening my plans on Thursdays is for the best. Also, after watching this video, I'm considering just saying no to sugar completely. But .. baby steps.

https://youtu.be/dBnniua6-oM (Sugar: The Bitter Truth)

I'm not quite sure I believe my scale or not ... but I stepped on it this afternoon, and it showed 9lbs gone ... which is more than I need for the first round.

Cutting out soda wasn't enough - it was cutting out all my junkfood eating (and dairy and eggs.)


---
I haven't done so well with the 15 minutes ... although I did actually open th steamer mop and USE it this week! My dining room floor at least looked better.
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I found a new app - it's called IQ. It sends you one question at a time to answer for researchers, and then pays you immediately through paypal. I've gotten one question so far, and was paid $.25 instantly. Not a huge moneymaker obviously, but so easy.

---
I finished a Stepbet today. I'm going to wait for payout before joining the next one. After this next one though, I may have to take a break, depending on when we do our CA roadtrip. We're talking April, but time will tell.

---
I got in touch with Amazon today and got things fixed. (I had siged up for prime, but didn't realize I'd been charged for Amazon cloud drive on a rarely used card. They're refunding that charge. -I'd had it free for a year after a purchase.)

I also contacted Citi about the rewards check I'd ordered for the student loan. They're forwarding my question to the right place.

I also cashed in for $207 in rewards from the Barclay card. This will be put towards the student loan.
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Before I go, I thought I'd share one of my common heat sources. DH took the picture a few days ago. Please excuse the messy desk.







Week 1 Dietbet, etc

January 22nd, 2017 at 02:14 pm

Tonight mark one week since my official first weigh in. I don't want to jinx myself, but it feels different this time. I was able to go into grocery stores this week and most totally ignore the chocolate aisles.

I returned the non-working food processor to Aldi, and then stopped at Walgreen's and bought a Mini-bullet using my $5 rewards towards it and did not buy candy. (I would before use the $5 as an excuse to buy candy for "free")

It looks like I am down about 4lbs so far - though some of that is probably water weight.

I did have pizza Thursday night, but wrapped up one of the slices to freeze for Thursday lunch, and told DH he could have the other one.

Maybe I've finally flipped the switch like with soda.

Our grocery spending definitely shows the difference. We are at $182 for the month, and other than produce, I don't see any more til Friday.

_-
Using the mini-Magi Bullet today, I made hummus. DH was awake and taste tested it - thumbs up. I did use canned chick peas, but will get some dry ones to use once I'm out of canned.

In the Instapot I made a pot of Great Northern Beans, and then my sweet potatoes and farro for lunches.

In a bit, I'll be using it to make "pulled pork" with soy curls, and then brussel sprouts - for dinner.

I got YNAB up to date today, and got all my receipts into Receipt Hog and ReceiptPal. I'm 8 receipts away from a $100 gift card in ReceiptPal.

I cashed out for $25 PayPal from Swagbucks, and also for $10 from Achievemint.

I also got notice that $200 cash back reward has been credited on the recent credit card deal.

I ordered a meal delivery from HomeChef through Swagbucks. It cost $20, but I should receive $20 worth of Swagbucks in return. Making it free (obv.) That may be my lunches for a week in February (or Sunday dinner with DH, plus a few lunches.)

I need to get something to lay my sweaters out to dry - something away from the cats (and cat hair.) Wen I bought all those sweaters, I didn't realize most of them were hand wash. Oops.

My Lunch, Won Two Drawings

January 3rd, 2017 at 06:18 pm

So yesterday I tried doing two things at the same time in my InstantPot - a method referred to as pot in pot. I put 4 sweet potatoes on the little rack that comes with it, and then a pyrex dish with a cup of brown rice,some seasonings, and water. I cooked it for 25 minutes, and then about two hours later, took it out.

Perfect. Smile

I had made beans on Sunday in the IP.

So, this week's lunches will look like this: sweet potato, beans/rice, frozen veggies, apple.

The smaller container holds Triscuits and hummus. I had been buying the little $1.19 box of hummus/crackers at Aldi's. But then last weekend I found container at Walmart.

So, less waste and less money! (I did buy hummus, though I plan on making my own - once I can figure out what's wrong with my food processor.)

----
The gym was stereo-typically full of people today. Thankfully I was still able to get a treadmill. Smile
---
My Fitbit wasn't syncing today. thankfully, resetting it worked. I'm almost to 10k steps - that would stink to lose that!

(I try to do my stretch days for Stepbet on Monday/Tuesday so I have them out of the way.)

---
I won 1k points from PointsClub this weekend from liking a FB post and entering a sweepstakes code. I'm halfway to a $25 gift card.

I also won 20 coins from ReceiptHog for one of the receipts I added in December. I'm close to a $20 PayPal on it.

Not a whole lot, but I rarely win anything, so it felt kind of cool to win two drawings within a few days of each other.

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I managed to go to Dollar Tree 2 days in a row without buying a candy bar or slice of pie, etc. I wouldn't have gone the second time, but DH really wanted some of the spicy beef burritos. (Got frozen fruit the first trip.)

No more grocery shopping til Sunday!

Freaking Out a Little ... taxes ; 2016 Joint Spending; 2017 Goals

January 1st, 2017 at 02:29 pm

So .. DH brought me his 3rd paycheck for December this morning when he got home along with the paystub.

I'd printed out my paystub at work last week.

Then after getting some more sleep ... I got on TaxAct and entered our info as much as I could without all the forms.

OMW! I really hope that once I have the proper forms it will look a lot better!

To buy our house, I sold some stocks and took a distribution from my ROTH (all contributions/5+ years old.)

Our combined income just from our jobs this year was a little bit more than I had figured when deciding how much to sell, but that doesn't account for the huge tax bill.

Nearly $4k between Federal and State!

They are showing the stock sale as Interest income and not Capital Gains!! If it were just capital gains, almost all of it would be taxed at 0%. (Possibly all of it.) So this just doesn't make any sense to me at all.

If this really is the case ... then there goes our fence. Ugh.

-----
I seem to have deleted my budget for the first few months of the year before DH and I started joint budgeting. So ... these figures are for July - December - once we'd both moved into the house and totally combined finances.
Immediate Obligations
Mortgage - 2633 (loan payments only)
Extra balance payments - 200
Natural Gas - 217 Average - 36.27
*Electric - 819.29 Average - 135.40
*This included a missed payment due to moving, etc. prior to July - so really, 7 months worth.
*Phone 484.84 Average - 80.70
*This includes a $200+ bill for DH when he was still in his apartment without WiFi
Internet/Cable - 365.65 -- Avg - 60.94
Water - 214.60 (billed bi-monthly) Avg - 35.77
Netflix (4 months) 42.74 - Avg - 7.14
Groceries - 1903.90 Avg - 317.32
Car Gas - 1554.80 - Avg - 259.13
True Expenses
Oops Tax (Accident Ticket) -- 151.95
Car Insurance (DH only - 6 month prem) 177
Car Maintenance - 1351.51 --- Avg - 225.25
Clothing (minus my $170 purchase) - 182.74 Avg - 30.38
Computer Replacement - 284.88 Avg - 47.41
Phone/Garmin Replacement - 173.81 Avg - 28.97
Home/Yard Maintenance - 2311.10 Avg - 385.20
Household General - 1039.23 Avg - 173.17
Medical - Non Deductible - 146.97-- Avg --24.50
Pets - Cats - Food/Litter - 375.63 -- Avg -- 62.60
Pets - Cats - Medical - 542.28 --- Avg --90.40
Pets - Non Cats - Food/Shelter - 114.62 -- Avg - 19.10
Pets - Non Cats - Medical - 38.54 -- Avg - 6.42
Quality of Life
Vacation - 237.28 -- Avg --39.55
Fitness (gym memberships) 293.76 -- Avg -- 48.96
Just for fun
Laura birthday (includes concert) - 165.77 --Avg -27.63
Scott Birthday - 103.94 Avg - 17.32
Date Night (eating out/take out) 226.84 -- Avg - 37.81
Debt payments
Student Loan (5 months) - 261.05 -- Avg -- 43.51
Medical Debt payments - 2390 -- Avg - 398.33

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DH has been talking more and more about needing to find a different job which won't be so hard on his knees/hips - something like a night auditor at a hotel. I'm okay with that, but I'm thinking that to prepare for the drop in income once that becomes necessary, that we need to scale back on some other things to create a good buffer.

I'm not really sure where we can cut back much though. One area I'm going to try is to cut back on grocery spending. Maybe see if DH would be willing to set the thermostat to 60 degrees (heat) (is at 65 now.)

We've got some big expenditures in 2017 though ... fencing our yard / removing trees/bushes / purchasing a winter vehicle someday for DH / an extended roadtrip to CA to see Grandma/brother, etc.

Plus, we have the goal of eliminating the student loan debt by December. Approximately $4200.

I'd like to say, well, let's just live on one of our incomes and put the rest into future savings. But ... just filling up the categories of immediate obligations puts us slightly over what DH brings in. That's before putting money into car replacement/ car maintenance/ house maintenance, Pets costs, etc.

The only way I can see us actually being able to put away significant amounts is if DH actually starts to sell his electronics.

Tonight is our budget meeting for January/2017. So, this may be a large point of discussion.

----
Okay, my 2017 goals. (so far)

Financial:
1. Pay off DH's student loans by December. (Approx. $4200)

2. Reduce average grocery spending to $250/month

3. Discuss the amount of needed buffer for DH to take a different low-paying job with less stress on knees, etc.

(Car costs and gas costs would be exponentially smaller with a night auditor job .. but the income would probably drop at least $5 - 6 /hour.)

Health:

1. Increase fruit/vegetable intake to an average of 35 servings a week.

2. Reduce added sugar - Buy/eat added sugar items only 2x a week. No more than one servings worth.

3. Reduce processed foods / foods that come in packages. (Not sure how to make this a measurable goal)

4. Do 30 minutes of strength training each week.

5. Complete 8 StepBets successfully.

Home/Self:
1. Create a doable cleaning schedule and DO IT.

2. Actively play with the cats ten minutes a day.

3. Limit computer time during the work week after work to two hours. Limit computer time on the weekend to 3 hours. (Not including budgeting time.)

4. Don't get sucked in to Mama Drama.

5. Less Overthinking/Guessing negatively/More Positivity

6. Keep an active lookout for a different job.

Stomach Flu ... Happy end of 2016 to Me

December 31st, 2016 at 12:01 pm

I had just pretty much gotten over the cold this week, and was looking forward to a long weekend where I was feeling good and would be able to get some things done.

Then ... last night around 7 p.m. the stomach flu hit. I was up and down pretty much all night long. I finally managed to get to sleep around 5 a.m. I just got up about noon, and am still having ... issues.

DH brought me a Sprite when he got home from work, which I sipped at, and seemed to help a little bit. (I'm not considering this a break in my no soda rule - the soda I *enjoy* is Coke/Pepsi - the Sprite is for medicinal purposes.)

I illogically was wondering if it was food poisoning (ate at Texas Roadhouse Thursday night) or as a result of eating too much of a new chocolate brand that I'd gotten at CVS on sale Thursday ( Hershey's chocolate layers 2 for $4). But I'm pretty sure it is stomach flu.

At any rate, I think (even though I know it probably wasn't the culprit) I think I'm ready to give up chocolate. I can't just eat a single serving - I go overboard. Sometimes even when I don't even really like the taste of it ...

Not quite how I -was hoping to end 2016.

---
I'm very frustrated with Pinecone. I got locked out of my account due to the robot verification thing. It got reset, and I tried again - only to get locked out AGAIN! I can't do surveys and I can't cash out. UGH!

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I need to update our budget today, but I already know we overspent in groceries.

I need to see if I can take back the food processor I bought at Aldi's without a receipt. I made homemade cinnamon rolls last week, and when I went to use it to make powdered sugar, neither DH nor I could get it to work. So I ended up making them into pecan rolls instead (brown sugar sauce)

I'm within 40 receipts of being able to cash out for a $100 gift card from receiptPal. Probably by the end of January.

I had to call CVS on Friday yet again because the thing with switching my info to a new card STILL was messed up. The lady I spoke with said she'd give me $13 extrabucks as kind of a sorry, and it should be fixed by Monday. I'll believe it when I see it.

I've started watching Land Girl's on Netflix - almost done with the second season. It's a great diversion while on the treadmill. Smile

---
DH works tonight, but tomorrow we're planning on going to IHOP. Hopefully I'll be up for it by then.

--
Kari has been letting DH actually pet her without immediately growling or running away! This is huge progress. She's still not getting along with the other cats ...

--
One thing I hope to accomplish this weekend is to figure out a gameplan for food. I've kind of contemplated signing up for the Clean Foods Dirty Girls mealplan for one month at $29, but am not sure just yet. If I could get DH on board for it, it would make more sense. But that isn't likely to happen .. so ...

We really need to get the grocery spending under control. I think maybe I'll just assume that 2/3rd of it can be spent by me, and so when DH decides to go shopping, it isn't an issue.

--
I don't know how I'm going to get my steps in today. I may have to forfeit the $35 for the Stepbet. Frown Frown You have to have a doctor's note to not forfeit - and I doubt that stomach flu would work. Sigh. I guess I'll do some walking in place or something.

DH and I Sick ... Financial doings

December 22nd, 2016 at 04:58 pm

DH has been pretty sick the past few days - bad coughing, etc. Tuesday night we went to the CVS minute clinic near us to see if he had strep throat. Thankfully he didn't! (I catch strep EASILY.)

I haven't been feeling too great myself. Took today off, since the next six work days pretty much everyone will be gone, and I CAN'T take off no matter how sick ..

Spent some on cough syrup, oj, etc.

---
I came across this link on Facebook yesterday - most of the things were ones I'd heard of before, but there were a few new ones.

http://www.frugalforless.com/35-work-from-home-gigs-that-pay-you-once-a-week-or-daily/

One I signed up for is PointsClub. So far, so good. The surveys pay even if you don't qualify. The main thing is to visit the site every day without fail, so that when you DO get a qualifying survey, it pays out more.

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I got an advert for Barclay Mastercard - spend $500 in 90 days, get $200. I had to wait for them to go through my credit monitoring service (provided through Blue Cross Blue Shield for free), but got my approval email on Tuesday. Once I get the card, I'll pay $500 towards DH medical debt. Boom! There's our $200. Smile (Which will be put towards student loans.)

Now I just need to wait a little while and find another deal like this for a spend $500 get $100 (or hopefully $200!) to finish off the medical debt.

I called to find out what percentage deal the hospital offered for paying if off all at once - a measly 10%. Yeah. No. 20%, and we'd be talking. Just with this one credit card deal I shaved off more than 10%! (There's a balance as of now of $1632)

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I bought 3 pairs of leggings from Amazon, and also a Bissell hardfloor steam mop. They should be here by Saturday or Monday. (Used gift card money/rewards points.)

I got quite a few compliments on my dress/sweaters from my shopping spree at work. Big Grin In fact, the lady who is on light duty had been looking for clothes for her youngest daughter who is a BBW like me Smile and hadn't thought of Lane Bryant or JC Penny's. She went there and found several items her daughter LOVES. Her daughter said (through her mom) "tell the lady you work with that I LOVE her!" LOL

---
I'm so glad this is an off week for my stepbet. I would have forced myself to get my steps in, but definitely wouldn't have enjoyed it.

From my last stepbet I earned $11.90. My current stepbet (which starts for real on Monday) I only paid $35 to join (emailed a coupon!) So, I'm essentially starting off with a $5 bonus. Smile Hopefully I'll be feeling better by Monday.

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Bing had some issues this past weekend with points crediting. I guess enough people complained (me included!) so today they put out a 1,000 point clicker as an apology. When you click on it, you're taken to a page full of images with a variety of Sorry's on it. I thought that was pretty cute. Smile

Birthday, Day Off

December 16th, 2016 at 07:23 pm

Thursday after work I stopped at CVS to pick up the photos I'd ordered. (Although I figured out tonight that I'd ordered them from Walgreen's instead. Oops.)

When I got there, the cashier told me they hadn't had any orders come in. I was flabbergasted - the app had told me they'd be ready by 10:18 p.m. the night before.

She called a couple other stores to see if they'd been sent somewhere else instead. (Meanwhile, I had to keep telling people that I wasn't in line.)

Finally we decided that they must have just not gotten sent. So I decided to reorder them. Hassles.

Finally got them ordered. The lady told me she wasn't sure how long it took for the order to process. I waited about ten minutes, and then decided I'd have to get them later.

About three minutes later, I got a phone call telling me they'd just printed! So, I turned around and picked them up. The cashier gave them to me at no charge!

(Which I now feel bad about, because as I checked my hotmail account tonight for Mypoints emails, I found an email from Walgreen's telling me my order was ready. Apparently I ordered from the Walgreen's app instead of the CVS app. I was sure I'd ordered fm CVS because I had prescriptions to pick up there ...) Oy Vey.

DH was happy with the photos, and we got the card mailed out after the restaurant.

---
Billy's was good again - good food, good service - but not quite as special as last year. I'm not sure why really - maybe because we had high expectations set from last time?

We remembered to ask the waiter to take some photos this time. I also took photos of our dishes.

DH had a rack of lamb:

I had "Vegetarian Surprise" brussel sprouts, squash, carrots, pasta with some kind of cream. Lots of it. Smile

This is us in front of the Christmas tree.

When we got home, DH sort of started our first fire in our fireplace. (BTW - the chimney cleaner charged $150.)

He's planning on youtubing himself on how to get a better fire for next time. Smile

Still, it was nice to have our first fire in our fireplace. Big Grin Even if it didn't last long, or put out much heat.

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I had planned on doing Hacksaw Ridge and then some shopping, and then Brake's Plus today. In the end, I decided to skip the movie - due to forecasted bad weather coming. The shopping was a bit more important.

I ended up purchasing 8 sweaters, a pair of dress pants, a hoodie (with a zip pocket for keys/card!, a dress and a couple pairs of tights for about $170.

I've gotten really tired of being cold when the wind blows up the stairs and through the bottom of the window into my office. I had planned on seeing if I could find one cardigan to just put over my normal tops ... but just couldn't find anything neutral enough.

I'm VERY happy with what I bought. Especially the dress (Lane Bryant) and the sweater/pants/hoodie from TJ Max. The other 6 sweaters came from JC Penny's.

I also bought some clearance thermal curtains from
Sears, which came out to $2 after my shop your way points.

Then I made a stop at Aldi to get some Almond Milk and a few cans of beef ravioli for DH.

Next up was Best Buy. I talked to someone in the computer department about my catblocking frustratio. I left with a 10 foot power cord and a vga extension cord. After setting it up tonight, I believe it's going to be beautiful. (I put my monitor on top of an empty box.)

Finally was Brake's Plus. Due to the road conditions, he couldn't test out my brakes fully, but he thinks my issue might be the ABS brakes. He told me to come back next week after the roads clear up. My front and rear brakes are in good condition.

---
Now I'm home and don't plan on going anywhere til Sunday. Poor DH though - he has to be out in it tonight and Saturday night. I hope people tip well - delivery drivers are out there when most people prefer to be bundled up safe and warm at home.

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I got birthday/Christmas money from my aunt.I'm giving half of it to DH for his fun money, and the rest to mine. Good thing to he, since I pretty much decimated my spending money today. Big Grin

I also *finally* cashed out of Inbox Dollars. A check for $27.20 will come eventually.... That took painfully long to accumulate.

Got Our First Property Tax Bill, etc

December 11th, 2016 at 11:48 am

I hadn't been sure just how much it would be, so I'd been setting aside $150/month for it. Looks like that was underestimating a bit. Our first payment is due in March for $1106 and the remaining $1106 is due in August.

I currently have $900 set aside for it, so by March we'll be fine. However, we won't be ready for the August payment at our current savings.

We need to save $1300 more by August. So instead of $150/month, I think we should be putting aside 163/month. Maybe I'll make it 170/mo to have a round number. Smile

Starting in September, we'll need to save $185/mo (rounding up)

I can pay online - so will have to find out if there is a CC fee and if I can find a good sign up bonus to negate it. Smile

*We don't have an escrow account.
------

I got a "refund" check from my former Internet company which had charged me for a month of service I hadn't asked for. Of course the check is in my maiden name - misspelled. I don't know if I can cash it, and am not sure it's worth the hassle for $15.xx *They over credited me somehow.

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Speaking of banking hassles ...

On Friday I stopped at our credit union to deposit DH's paycheck and tip money into our joint account. I've done this nearly weekly for almost 8 months!

As soon as the teller looked at DHs check, she said "we don't have a signature on file for him, nor an id!" What are you talking about lady?! He signed a whole bunch of documents and had his id scanned when we opened our account! Besides, I'm DEPOSITING the check into our JOINT account - not cashing it! Plus, look at our balance - do you really want to tick me off?

Ok. I didn't say all of that to her ... Smile

She left and got someone from the back who showed her how to find his signature from the opening documents. Then tells me he needs to come in so they can get his id.

I scoffed out loud and told her - good luck with that. Besides you should have his id on file already. It's not our fault if you don't have it in the right places!

The only think I can think of is that she was a newbie teller. Or maybe it's just that branch that has annoying tellers. I've had two annoying interactions with the credit union - and both have happened at that branch. I only go there because its close to Planet Fitness!

If it weren't for the 2.5% interest rate .. I'd seriously be looking elsewhere.

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One week left for my current Stepbet. I'm not sure if I'm going to take a little break or not yet.

I'm still holding strong on the no soda. However, my junkfood/chocolate consumption is really, really bad. So bad, I've gained back at least five pounds.

I wish I could find the same willpower with chocolate that I'm having with soda. If I could, it'd make my exercise more beneficial.

Sigh. Maybe turning 41 on Thursday will be a turning point. Probably not.

--
Big non-surprise - got an email letting me know I wasn't hired for the job I interviewed for. Sigh. It'd be a bad time to leave my boss now anyway. We're still getting everything worked out with the new routes and tweaks to the schedules.

Had a new light duty person start on Friday. Just as I was enjoying having my space back. She's nice and all ... but will be there at least a few months...

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Spent more money at the Vet. I managed to get a urine sample for Kari - the vet said it looked better, but the UTI wasn't cleared up. When I told him what a difficult time I'd had gyving her her pills, he suggested an injection. So .. that's what we did. Not sure if i's helping any yet or not.

One of our cats has taken to bullying her. Multiple times I'm startled awake to the sound of her mountain lioness scream as she's chased through the house or cornered.

I really wish I knew what to do to make it better.

Our Christmas Gift 2016 and 2017, etc

December 2nd, 2016 at 07:32 pm

DH and I had our December budget meeting Thursday night. I d smhing pretty cool to discuss with him.

The rewards points for the Chase Freedom account had finally hit - and I redeemed for $182!

As we'd discussed before, all credit card cash rewards would be pt towards debt. So I added the 182 to the 300 already allocated for December.

The exciting news was that due to DH making a bit extra in November, we had a little extra play money to decide on. The balance left on the medical (no interest) debt and the balance in our repayment category was just over $200!

So ... DH and I agreed to use the bit of extra to completely fill up the debt repayment category - as our Christmas gift to each other.

Then, in January we;re going to focus on our 2017 gift - paying off the student loans!

I plan on using CC bonuses to help with that (which is why the money is just sitting for now. Ready for action.)

We really could pay them off more quickly if we cut back on some things .. but I'm okay with a year from now. Smile

--
I had to call CVS again today - my new card hadn;t arrived yet, and my app missing all my coupons ...
Turns out that whomever I talked to last tine messed up. The person I spoke with today was able to fix it, and help me change the card in my app.

I think they sent me $3 as a sorry ... Smile

---
Crazy busy week at work this week. Free bus fare ended on Thursday. So EVERYONE came to buy their December pass this week, Around $2500 in sales just at our office. (Normal in a week - maybe $800-1k)

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Kari was a pain the first two days of pills, the expensive grain free wet food which she used to chow on - she turned her nose up at. So ,,, Friskies Pate it is.

I bought a pill grinder .. since I'll be giving her the lysine for the forseeable future. Much easier than the back of a spoon.

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I have 3 spaghetti squash ... I'd never had it before - and neither DH nor I were too impressed with it (just roasting and eating the strands) I don't want them to go to waste ... but haven;t found a interesting recipes for them yet,

Any ideas?

Sick Kari :( ,Rug doctor?? etc

November 25th, 2016 at 07:44 pm

I took my cat Kari to the Vet today. She has another UTI. Frown The vet said that sice it's her 2nd one in a short time, that we should start using only distilled water, give her l-lysine pills, and switch to Iams or Science Diet. He said that if it keeps happening, then we'll have to go to a prescription diet.

I hate it when my furkids are feeling poorly. Frown

Question - What is the best way to have a continual source of distilled water? I bought 3 gallon jugs tonight, but that probably won't be enough or more than a week! I'd hate to be generating that much trash st for water.

---
We are on the lookout for a rug doctor, or something of similar quality. DH says the ones in the store are way subpar to the ones you rent. We need to be cleaning our carpets at least once a month ... renting a RD will get old fast.

Any suggestions?

Also - we almost bought a snowblower today from Tractor Supply, but DH found out that the engine was made in China, and the warranty isn't being honored. He wants electric start and self propelled? The ones he was looking at on Sears and Ace was a $600 Craftsman. But he feels worried about the engine ...

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DH made his first turkey - a 14lb one we got for "free" using grocery store rewards points.He was very happy. I got a tofurkey roast. Ugh. Won't get that again.

I did do some shopping today - got e clothes at Goodwill's $.99 sale, got my oil changed at Walmart (shopped), used a $10 survey reward at CVS to get some freebies, etc. Basically what I would've done Saturday night if I hadn't had today off.. Smile

Chicago Trip

November 12th, 2016 at 12:28 pm

DH and I got back around 9 pm on Friday. The main purpose of the trip was to buy a car.

Guess what? We didn't buy a car. We looked at a grand total of .. drum roll please ... 1 car. On the way home in Davenport, Iowa.

We even spent an extra day there than we'd planned - due to neither of us looking forward to driving back Thursday night. Good thing too, because both of us were in bed sound asleep by 9 pm on Thursday ...

We accomplished two things - DH bought a sub woofer (focal something or other) which he says he'll make 3x what he paid (assuming he ever gets around to actually *Selling* anything ...) and I had the privilege to meet one of our Chicago SA'ers. Smile (I forgot to ask you if it was okay to say we met!)

That almost made the trip worthwhile by itself.

So ... we spent a total of about $300 on our 3 day trip - 2 nights at a below average Motel 6 where we had to PAY for wifi - which only worked on ONE device, eating out, and gas.

We both started the trip out a little bit on the sleep deprived side - me due to staying up late watching the election results (gag!) and DH just couldn't get to sleep. We were both pretty fried by the time we had to do another 8 1/2 hour drive back home ...

I am so completely tired of the car search. There's no way I'm going to do another trip like this - where we're spending all our time either waiting for Craigslist people to email us back or call us back ...

And it may be that I won't be able to take any more vacation days nor sick days for 6 months or so ...

I got a call for an interview for the library office specialist position!! It's on Tuesday at 4.

Now I just have to figure out how to get away from the office an hour early ... I'm not sure if the doctor visit excuse will work because my supervisor knows that I had a doctor's appt on Wednesday morning.

Also, I really would rather not lie. I'm going to try just saying I had an appointment come up unexpectedly (which is true) - but knowing her, she's going to want more info.

This is the only day I can do it, because she's going to be out for a week and a half with her husband's hip replacement surgery.

.... If I can get away for this, I'm planning on getting a haircut at an actual hair salon and probably a manicure too. I'm also trying to figure out how to deal with my wardrobe. If I go to work dressed nicer than usual with makeup, etc., AND have a mysterious "appointment" that will be a dead give away.

If it's meant to be, it'll work out.

Anyone have any idea - if you are switching positions, but still within city government, you start a new 6 month probation. But I'm not sure if that probation is the same as when you are hired initially? For example, would I lose my health insurance for 3 months??? And my retirement benefits? etc? I obviously can't ask this of anyone I know in the office ...

A Few Days Left of Stepbet - Learned Something

November 4th, 2016 at 07:40 pm

Just 3 days left of my Stepbet. It's looking like the earnings will be around $10. I'm planning on doing another one, but not until after DH and I get back from Chicago.

Yes, we are officially going to Chicago next Wednesday and Thursday. Driving. Partially to buy DH a car, and partially for a quick get away. I'm thankful Friday will be a holiday for me. Sleep!

---
Something sad at work today. One of the new employees who I really liked was let go. She was within her 6 month probation period. Frown Not sure why.

---
At work I learned something else today - about copiers.
When you put paper into the drawer, you should do it "seam side" up. (the seam referring to the paper covering the ream of paper.) You also should do something called "fluffing" the paper (i.e. adding air pockets.)

All to avoid something like this:


(Kind of beautiful in its own way I think ...)
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Still going strong on the no soda ... though I had a real test a few days ago - the first day the bus routes changed. STRESSED OUT! But I persevered and bought some carbonated water from family dollar instead. (and ... chocolate.)

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Only 13 days till Trans Siberian Orchestra!!

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The other day we had a backpack come in to Lost and Found, and inside it was a Nevada Barr book - one I hadn't read!

I picked it up from the library today. Big Grin (on CD so I can load it on my phone to listen to while walking or in the car.)

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I bought some parsnips today. I plan on making them for dinner on Sunday. Smile I've never had them, so it should be interesting.

I also bought a bag of fresh cranberries last week. I put about 1/4 cup of them in my smoothie on Wednesday. Blegh! Yesterday and today I only put 3 or 4 ... much better. Smile

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DH emptied out the transmission fluid from his Honda (which he drove through high water last May?) in an attempt to get it working again. It didn't work.

So now he's on the hunt for a used transmission. He thinks he may have found one two hours away for $150. He just needs to find out if it's vtech or not?

If he can get the car going again for $500 or less, then it should be worth it. Otherwise, he may be ready to sell it. (It's a 2001 Honda with around 149k miles.)

Groceries ... Suggestions?

October 21st, 2016 at 06:51 pm

So last night DH and I were discussing what we were going to do for dinner. Thursday nights are his night to "do" dinner.

(Background - We only have two nights a week where we can have dinner together. Sundays I have the most energy, so that's my day. Thursdays I have little energy, so that became his day. I am vegetarian, leaning towards vegan. DH is meat and potatoes and tolerates veggies and "fake" meats.)

DH half-teasingly suggests pizza. To which I remind him that I do NOT want pizza again, at least not for a few weeks. I suggest that we make something at home. He tells me that we don't have anything that he can make anything with! So I suggest - bean burritos, or spaghetti, or fried rice w/veggies. All of which he rejects for various reasons.

We ended up ordering from a Chinese restaurant. So, I got my veggies, and he got his chicken.

---
Today when I got home I told him that I'd like to hash out the groceries thing on Thursday.

Based on several comments he's made, I'm not sure if the way we're doing things is really working or not.

He eats a lot of his meals from 'bad orders" at the place he works at. Rarely does he buy stuff from the grocery store to make at home.

I of course get all of my food from the grocery store ... I ask him often if I can get anything for him, and try to get things that I think he'll eat.

But then ... he says there's nothing he can make anything with in the house.

So ... based on knowing we only eat two meals together each week, and have quite different views on what constitutes "good" food ...

What, if any, suggestions do you all have? How can we figure this out so that he feels like there is food he can make stuff with in the house (and which may be slightly healthier than the restaurant fare)?

I'm tired of having take out be the defacto go to when its his turn to figure dinner out.

We spent nearly $60 on take out last month, and are on track to spend more than that this month. I really don't like that - it feels like we are going backwards. (When I first moved out here, we were eating out almost every single day. After about three weeks of that, I told him that my unemployed wallet and my waistline couldn't handle that anymore. So, that's when we started doing a meal 1x a month only. Which held til our honeymoon and moving into the house... Now it's 1 or 2 x a week!

Good and Bad

October 18th, 2016 at 06:25 pm

When I got home from work today and checked the mail, I found a check for $23.41 from one of those settlement things - Linked in. Yay!

But then just as I was getting ready to go for a walk, I saw that I'd missed a call from DH. I called him back, and found out that my SIL might be needing a liver transplant!

She has had hepatitis for a long time, and drinks/smokes quite heavily. So .. it's not really shocking, just really sad. She's about 9 years older than DH. Frown

I haven't really spent that much time with her, but the few times we have, I like her. We just don't have much in common (other than loving my DH.)

---
I stopped by Ace Hardware ($24) on the way home to pick up a drill bit and a stud finder. I needed the drill bit to put up the removable showerhead, and the stud finder so we can get the mirrors hung.

Our house doesn't have drywall, it has plaster. So we were told we had to do something with tape? whenever we hung anything.

I wanted to get the cat tree project finished tonight before DH came home, but couldn't figure out how to change out the drill bit (I'm going to be attaching it to the brick wall near the fireplace.) DH kind of told me Sunday night, but I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention.

Like I told DH, I've just not done projects like this. My brother or my dad always did them for me. Hanging pictures and screwing the table legs on are about the extent of my handiness (oh, fixing the toilet tank thing too!) (I was ecstatic when I figured out how to use the drill to unscrew a screw = you know, reverse direction? Big Grin )

DD 32/33 - This and That

October 7th, 2016 at 07:22 pm

I think I'm getting into a pretty good routine now. Most days 70-80% of my food consumption is whole grain/fruit/veggie/nuts/low-processed. Now at over a month without soda.

I saw something on the YNAB forum today called a My Soda Pop (or something like that.) For $75 you could get this reusable kit to make your own carbonated water/juice/soda. Same idea as the soda stream machine, but more environmentally sound. I was interested in it til I saw the price ...

Step Bet - Week 1 (ends Tuesday)
1/2 stretch days, 2/4 active days

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I went and looked at my American Express card offers after seeing what CCF posted. I had the Boxed offer a cable/internet offer. These will help me get to the $25 cash out (currently sitting at $16.)

At boxed I bought toilet paper and Madras lentils.

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Our poor kitty Baby, the oldest of the brood, doesn't seem to be feeling too well. Thursday night he lost his lunch, and then wasn't interested in the wet food dinner. This never happens. He's a true chow hound.

I made a vet appointment for Saturday morning. I hope it doesn't take too long, because I'm supposed to be doing an announcement for my Sabbath School group at the beginning of service. (Not looking forward to ... but am not going to have to say a word - just be moral support to my teammate.)

I'm wondering if we are saving enough towards the vet category ...

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DH and I both had dentist appointments this week. DH didn't think he'd have any issues since he's not had a cavity in 50 years ..... So, when it came time to renew dental insurance this year, I dropped it for both of us.

Wishing I hadn't now.

I had a clean bill of teeth health. My DH on the other hand has a receding gum line. He'd mentioned this to me, but I hadn't realized that was the same as gingivitis.

So ... at his appointment they wanted to do what is called a "deep cleaning." Something which would take at least 2 2 hour appointments and cost $150 after insurance. And this is only AFTER he gets clearance from his family doctor (blood pressure) and his orthopedic doctor (shoulder replacement.)

He feels it would be way too stressful to accomplish this before October 31 (end of plan year.) So ... we are going to hold off on it til next plan year. Hopefully he'll have his blood pressure better under control by then too. Sigh.

---
DH and I had a long discussion Thursday night. It ended with me saying that IF he found a vehicle that just absolutely SINGS to him, then I would be willing to move a certain amount of money out of the fence fund. (Also, IF he'd commit to keeping the vehicle meticulous so good resale value later.) I did also make sure he realized that it *could* mean that the fence wouldn't happen right away next spring - unless he sells some of his electronics.

This coming week we are going to be going on a short excursion for car hunting / short get-away. Either to Chicago or Denver depending on which area has the most possible cars to look at.

It'll be nice to get away even if just for a short bit. (2 days) Hopefully we'll come back with two cars so the car search will be over for a few years... (This is why I prefer to buy newer models, so that I can buy once and not have to deal with the search again for a LONG time.)

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On Sunday we are going to be signing our wills! Also, our DNR statements. It will be good to have that all done. And for free too. Smile (My church's larger organization, called a Conference, has a trust and wills department that does this for church members - all they ask is that the church is remembered in some small way in the will.)

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I've borrowed a bunch of books on DIY foods, "easy" vegan cooking, etc from the library. So far 3 books into it, and I'm not terribly impressed ... I am thinking of getting a nut milk bag to make my own milk and butter. DH may roll his eyes a bit ... we'll see though. Smile

I went shopping at HyVee tonight - picked up bananas, apples, brussel sprouts (at Dh's request!), chia seeds, and a couple other things I don't remember. $22.xx

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Oh! DH gave me a nice surprise Thursday. When I got home, I found out that after his dentist appointment he had stopped at the local ABC (Adventist Book Center) to see if they had my fave Wham. Big Grin They didn't, but he brought home some other TVP product for us to try.

I was really surprised because I wasn't sure he'd really heard me when I'd asked him if he'd stop by there sometime if he was awake and out during their hours .. because I was really craving me some Wham. He heard and he remembered. Big Grin

DD 25/26/27 - September Spending, October Budget

October 1st, 2016 at 04:05 pm

Still doing pretty well getting my daily dozen in most days. (At least about 70 - 85% level.) Still holding strong on no soda.

I'm working on my meal plan for this week, and plan to get some Kale to try out Ceejay's kale chips, and try out Kashi's idea too.

I found a recipe for making baked apple slices in the oven (rather than the dehydrator) so might try that too.

My grocery budget for the first week at least is going to be helped somewhat by a generous gift from my church's ladies group - a belated housewarming/wedding gift. My walking buddy brought it over last night - two kinds of ravioli from Trader Joe's, organic marinara sauce, veggie meatballs, salad mix, can of black olives, two baguettes, a set of measuring spoons and cups, and a silicon spatula. All in a container which can be used as a serving dish.

Pretty neat. Smile

---
Okay, September wrap up:
Mortgage - 526
Extra Principal - 25
Natural gas - 26
Electricity - 139
Phone - 52.27
Water/Sewer - 86.82 (bi-monthly)
Internet/Cable - 54.95
Netflix - 10.71
Groceries - 296.91
Car gas - 274.49 ($50 or so for MN trip)
Tithe - 130
Giving - 30
Car Maintenance - 129.48
Clothing - 23.45
Phone/Garmin replacement - 25.93 (new Garmin warranty, back-up phone DH)
Household - general - 46.95
Pets - cats - food/litter - 70.95
Pets -cats - medical - 24.39 (felliway dispenser)
Pets - non-cats - food - 13.49
Fitness - 41.85
Laura birthday/entertainment (trans siberian) 108
Date night / eating out - 63.85
Catifying - 15.87 (materials to attach cat tree to wall in living room)
Laura fun money - 19.39
Student loan - 51.38
Medical debt - 178

Money was set aside for multiple categories not shown above .. because nothing was spent in them for now. Smile

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We had our October budget meeting on Thursday night. It was kind of fun due to my 3rd paycheck and overtime hours. Smile We put $200 into each of our spending money categories (been getting about $40 each), an extra $300 into repaying medical debt (actually have enough to pay half of it in full right now - just need to find a card DH would qualify for with a $1k spend and good sign up bonus, or even a $500 spend with good sign up bonus ...) We also allocated extra to some other categories.

DH agreed to do a $100 extra principal payment to the mortgage after I explained to him how making the little boost payments would save us huge amounts of interest / time in the long run.

---
DH made the commitment to only one 20 oz soda per work night, and I have made the commitment to not taking more than one servings worth of chocolate/junkfood into the office at a time. This will be helpful to both of us.

Ok, I need to get my walking clothes on and get out there before it's dark. Smile May go ahead and do some grocery shopping tonight too. (Since I did some cleaning last night before my walking buddy came over ...)


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