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Archive for December, 2007

2008 Financial Goals

January 1st, 2008 at 03:52 am

#1 - Keep track of my money on a daily basis
using You Need a Budget.

#2 - Save an additional $4500 in Emergency Fund/Car Fund

#3 - Fully Fund Exercise Fund $1700 (Callanetic's and Personal Training expenses)

#4 - Fund Vacation/Fun Money $500
--- California Memorial Wknd trip, etc.

#5 - Find second source of additional income

---After #5 is accomplished ...
#6 - Increase Roth Contributions by $50/month.

#7 - Increase 401K Contributions by 1%.

I have a possibility of a Sunday tutoring job - 6hrs/wk possible pay of $14+/hr (more than my regular job!). I have an interview this Sunday afternoon.

If this doesn't work out, I'm going to keep trying to find something else.

One other thing I'm going to do this year (ok, going to attempt again) is to totally cut out soda and fast food consumption. That will save tons of money and be helpful in my health goals. I've really been sabotaging my health and financial goals by my soda and fast food/junk food habits.

My goal is to keep food spending to $20 - 25 per week -- with a total monthly budget of $115 - 130. That'll give me room to stock up if I find a good deal, but also money to put towards my other goals when I make my goal amounts.

My Christmas Eve

December 26th, 2007 at 01:41 am

My Christmas Eve Day was spent in two very different worlds.

Christmas Eve morning I woke up in time to eat a bite of food and get dressed. I had spent the night at a hotel with my dad and Grandma. I was over warm in the night - and had thrown most of the covers off. I had clean water to shower with, brush my teeth with, clean clothes to put on.

I headed to the below lobby level of the hotel to check in with the Soup Mobile organization. There were at least 150 or more people milling around in the lounge area, either waiting to check in, or reading through their instructions.

I got up to the table and found out that I was supposed to have a partner - since I didn't, I got sent to the 'corner' till someone came along without a partner. About 5 minutes later this nice lady named Veronica came over, and we partnered up. We were given a clipboard with a baggie. The baggie contained 6 slips of paper, a few sheets of post it's, a tape measure, two pens, safety pins, and two instruction sheets.

We sat with the others and read through our instruction sheet. It was the first time for both of us to volunteer for this duty, and I think we both were apprehensive about what was about to happen. At first, the instructions looked quite daunting, and I wondered how we were going to actually get through all of them -- especially since one of the pieces of info needed for each person was their inseam.

Essentially Veronica and I's job was to get in line with the other 50 pairs of volunteers, greet the two homeless people who were assigned to us, get their names, waist size, inseam size and shirt size. Then take them to the lounge and give them one of the sack lunches. While they ate, we dropped off their information forms, then got their room number, and then went back to pick up their clothing bags. Once we had their bags, we went back to pick up our pair of homeless people and take them to their rooms. In each of the hallways there was a pair of hall monitors (keeper of the keys) who would let us and the homeless people in their rooms. Then, after dropping them off, we would go back downstairs for our next pair.

A total of 300 homeless people were fed and housed at a *very* nice hotel for Christmas Eve.

The first two pairs we were assigned were men. Two of the four men were either on crutches, or used a cane heavily. I talked sports with one of them - he loves his Cowboys! Smile These first four were all relatively clean and able to carry a conversation well.

The first two times we took our pair to their rooms, the path was lined by other volunteers helping to lead the way. All of them were saying "Merry Christmas" etc to our group as we passed. Just before getting on the escalator to go upstairs, each homeless person received a backpack with toiletries, etc.

Veronica and I were talking later, and both of us agreed that it felt a little weird walking all that way with them and having so many people saying greetings. We both wondered if the homeless people, while appreciative of what was being done for them, weren't also somewhat humiliated by the overabundance of greetings.

The last set of people we were assigned were two women. One was very quiet, and the other was *very* talkative! She was just completely overjoyed and overwhelmed at being in the hotel - getting new clothes -- and the backpack! She just about fell over in excitement about getting a backpack. As we dropped the ladies off in their room, she kept repeating over and over "This is just Heaven!"

So, for about 4 hours of my Christmas Eve, I had the chance to find out just how lucky and blessed I am. I felt sad that the idea of getting a brand new backpack doesn't excite me at all - in fact, my first thought if I was given a new backpack probably would be "What am I going to do with this? Ack - clutter!"

Here I am with my cellphone, a good apartment (even with the neighbors who don't understand what an appropriate volume level is for a complex, or the neighbors who think that just because they have an enclosed back porch - its a great place to leave their dog for umpteen hours) -- I have food galore -- not only that, but I have the CHOICE of eating the good for me stuff or the not so good for me stuff. I have plenty of clothes - and as much as I loathe the laundromat, I have enough clothes to last me three weeks between laundry runs - without running out of clean things!

Okay, so now it's Christmas Eve afternoon. I'm back with my Dad and Grandma. We decide to go out to eat at IHOP and end up eating way too much. Then we go over to Walmart where we spend a lot of time picking out Christmas cards to send to different family members, then continue on to the men's clothing area to pick out a new shirt for my dad (from Grandma). After we finish, we head over to the theater to watch "National Treasure 2". Then we head back to the hotel where we exchange gifts. I gave my grandma a shawl, and I gave my dad Season 2 of Home Improvement. I got cash from both of them (what I asked for.) Then we watched a National Geographic documentary on Killer Whales and the summer of 2004 where they were attacking the California Gray Whales.

My morning showed me just how little some people have, and how such little things, that many of us may take for granted, are greatly appreciated by them.

My afternoon/evening showed me how easy it is to take the ability to choose where you want to eat and what you want to eat, the ability to see a first run movie, the ability to be able to exchange gifts with your loved ones, etc., for granted.

From now on, whenever I get the case of "I wish I could afford that' or "My life stinks" I'm going to think back to Christmas Eve morning and remember that no matter how bad it may get, I still have it really good.

Two endings and Two New Beginnings

December 16th, 2007 at 10:16 pm

Saturday marked the end of my 31st year of life, as well as the beginning of my 32nd year of life.

It also was the end of my relationship with so called elevator guy and the beginning of a new period of being single yet again.

My birthday had many good elements to it - spent time with good friends, saw several of my former students be baptized, was able to listen to beautiful music, and saw "August Rush". I also got to speak with my brother for an unhurried conversation, as well as with my dad. My mom and stepdad both left messages for me.

As far as the ending of my relationship ... that was my decision. We'd had several discussion with regards to our ideas as to what our relationship was/how it should be with no real resolution other than around Thanksgiving we agreed to the idea of still dating each other, but not being exclusive. Well Saturday morning I received a phone call from him that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

It's a feeling of both relief and a bit of sadness. I'd much rather be single than be in a relationship that is causing me more frustration and disappointment than happiness.

On the financial side - I received a reimbursement check from my health insurance company for $92.00 from when I went to the endontologist. It was perfect timing - because it will pay for my two tickets to see Jim Brickman! on March 8. Smile

I had quite the frustrating time getting my laundry done today. The first two places I went to didn't have any working change machines nor anyone visible who was working there. Luckily, the third time was the charm - plenty of open machines, a basket with a hanging bar, and a change machine.

Company Christmas party :)

December 9th, 2007 at 05:59 am

In this picture I'm wearing my $20 dress from Ross, and $15 of jewlery from Claire's (including my hairpiece). I don't think anyone had any idea that I didn't spend anywhere close to what they spent on their outfits. Smile

We had a lot of fun. I even got up and was part of a Conga line! I got Tye (my bf) up there on the dance floor for one song - which is more than he said he'd do. Smile

There was an Austin Powers impersonator there - he was really good and really funny. I must have made an impression on him because he remembered my name enough to call me up by name to be part of the Conga line.

Yeah, baby, yeah! (Yes, I am a 31, almost 32 year old woman admitting that I actually liked -- no, enjoyed -- the Austin Powers movies.) It was so weird when I was talking with him, because I *knew* it was some guy playing a character, but he was doing such a good job of it, you felt like you were maybe really talking to Austin Powers.

And Another One Bites the Dust!

December 6th, 2007 at 02:06 am

Arghh!!! I check my financial accounts everyday - sometimes more than once a day. Yeah, I admidt it, I'm a bit anal about wanting to know exactly how much I have at any given moment. Rolleyes

So, yesterday I noticed on my credit card account that although my rent and a number of other things had gone through, they weren't showing up in the actual balance. I thought that was strange, but figured I'd give it a day to see what happened.

Tonight I attempt to log in - I get the message that Nope, You can't log in. Call *********** customer service.

So, I call. I get run through the id verification process. Then I'm asked if I had made the following charges: $2,349 at Home Depot; $1,569 at Williams Sonoma; $689.57 with Time Warner, plus some others I don't remember-- I reply with a Holy Sh**! Um, NO! those aren't my charges!

So, my current number is closed now, and they are sending me yet another new card with a new number. So now I get the fun job of remembering all the various things which I have coming off my card on a regular basis. Fun. NOT!

I have a dentist appointment tomorrow with a co-pay of at least $100. I was planning on using my card for it. Guess I'll have to use my debit card - thankfully ING is still running its 1% back promotion, so it won't be a total loss.

I should have my new card here by Friday when I get home.

It's amazing how something like this can sneak up and bite you even when you keep a tight eye on the accounts.

I'm very glad that Providian realized that these were WAY out of the ordinary charges for me -- I feel bad for the retailers who are now out whatever products the idjiuts bought with my card number.

Hopefully this will be the last time I have to change card numbers for a LONG LONG LONG time! PITB!

Update on root canal, etc.

December 2nd, 2007 at 05:24 pm

Well I went to the endontologist (sp?) on Tuesday for my root canal. It ended up though that she didn't think I actually needed one! She did say that my tooth has a crack in it and so it will need a crown. If it is still causing me pain after getting a crown, then we'll look into getting the root canal.

So, I'll be getting the temporary crown put on this coming Thursday (December 6.)

Our company's receptionist had her last day with us on Friday. Frown If you may recall back in August how I was taken off the phones completely by our head honcho -- well she was experiencing the same treatment from our head honcho and got totally fed up with it. Can't say that I blame her at all, but I will really miss her. I put together a good-bye lunch for her because supposedly she hadn't worked here "long enough" to get a company sponsored farewell party (she'd been here since August 06). Someone else in our company took up a money collection for her - I'd thought about doing that, but wasn't sure how far to push the envelope with having put together the farewell lunch. So she left knowing that she was loved and cared for and would be missed greatly - even if the head honcho was still a pitb to her on her last day!

Our Christmas party is going to be this coming Saturday night. My bf will be going with me - it will be his first time meeting many of my co-workers. He'll know some of the brokers (other side of our company) from the old office building.

I stopped at Ross last night on the whim of maybe finding something appropriate for the semi-formal dress code in my size -- Wow! I found seven different dresses that actually fit me! The one I liked the most was purple, but I didn't get that one since it probably wouldn't have been the most appropriate for a Christmas party.

I also decided I wanted to get some clip on earrings and a necklace to go with my dress. I've never been one to really buy jewelery, nor really wear it much -- but I didn't think it would be so difficult to find a non-ugly pair of clip ons! I did actually find one pair that were nice - but they were nearly $30, which is more than I paid for my dress! So, that was a no go.

I'm going to go to Sam Moon's after work on Tuesday, and maybe Claire's as well to see if I can find something.

My mom is leaving today to go to NJ for two weeks for a training class for her new job. She won't be getting back until Dec 16, the day after my birthday. Frown She's going to get to go see the Rockette's though - when we lived in NJ, we got to see them at the Radio City Music Hall a couple times, so it will bring back good memories. Smile

Her new job is being the Director of one of those tutoring learning centers. She's told me that the lady in charge of working with SAT prep tutors needs people to tutor the Reading/Writing portion very badly - especially on Sundays. Hmmm . . . All you have to have is a teacher's certificate (check) and to have scored at least a 700 on the Reading portion of the SAT's. I took the SAT back in 92 I think, and do not remember what my reading score was - except I know it was a LOT higher than my math score (snicker.) The place I graduated from has closed its doors (two years ago) so I am working on figuring out how to get a copy of my score. I'm really hoping I don't have to take it again, because well, it's been at least 12 years since I've been in any kind of an English/writing class. I love writing, but mostly its for my own pleasure, so I don't worry too much about "correctness" or being too polished. I'm afraid I may have lost much of my "refined" writing skills from way back when. But maybe my score was high enough so I needn't worry.

It sure would help me out a lot to have a second job like that -- one which I could possibly turn into a full time job later on once I have my "Goodbye Head Honcho" Fund fully funded. Smile

Oh - the 20 week fitness challenge -- We are now three weeks in, and I have lost 4.5 lbs! Which translates into 1.85% loss. Next Sunday they are having the first seminar - a Holiday Cooking class. I'm going to see if my bf would like to go to it with me. Might be kind of fun to do together. Smile

I have my Christmas shopping all finished. Most of it was accomplished using my Mypoints credits for various gift cards. Other than gift cards, I bought my dad S2 of Home Improvement from Overstock, I bought my mom a handheld football game from Walgreen's (yes, this was something she said she actually wanted) and I'm getting my bf a gift cert for a massage. So, all in all Christmas is going to come in well under $100. Smile