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Archive for November, 2009

Spending :( Due to Not Fully Awake; WAH opp

November 30th, 2009 at 10:26 pm

This morning I managed to get off to work with a new cannister of oatmeal, my frozen veggies and $.72 Michaleo's frozen meal, and a banana. Unfortunately, I forgot my new box of Stripples (vegge bacon) and container of egg whites.

I went to bed a bit after 9 last night, but didn't really get much sleep by 5:30 this morning when my alarm went off. Between not being able to turn off the thought machine and my allergies/maybe beginning of a cold ... ugh!

So ... I wanted more protein for my breakfast than just oatmeal. I headed over to the deli and though I did spend, it was controlled. I got one taquito (breakfast burrito - eggs and cheese); juice; and a banana. $3.33

In case you're wondering why I got a banana when I already had one ... well, I realized I hadn't gotten enough for the whole week this morning. So by getting a banana today, it gives me one less reason to go grocery shopping before Friday. Thus, more than likely, saving me money.

--
So the lack of sleep/rest also affected my driving this morning. I pulled on to the business highway where the speed limit is 60, and it didn't dawn on me to speed up from 45 until someone honked at me. Frown

The whole day at work I was just cold. I wore my jacket the whole day. Usually I can wait till around 10 a.m. or so before I get too cold.

By the time the afternoon shift came, I was feeling plumb miserable.

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Got home and walked the dogs. That was a production and a half. I figured that if it was cold enough outside for *me* to wear my jacket, then little thin Nikki *must* wear one too. Yikes! She was just like a little kid who doesn't want to wear a jacket!! It took ten minutes of me wrestling with her before finally getting it on. Ugh!!

Kayla was so funny. She was acting like the patient older sibling (which she kind of is, older at least) who just wants to go for her walk! She kept coming up to me like she was letting me know that she'd be willing to do whatever it took for us to get out that door! Big Grin

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I came across an interesting work at home site. I haven't tried it yet myself, but it looks good. livework.com

One of the options is doing short answer questions. You just need good writing and research skills.

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It's only 4:25 right now, but I think I'm going to go to bed a little early. Maybe just rest a bit ... who knows.

No Spending, Found Money

November 30th, 2009 at 01:41 am

Today I helped E and one other person clean the gym location which is closing tomorrow. It took the three of us 6 hours.

I ate about 10 a.m. and got there a little before noon. By the time I was leaving (about 6) I was *starving* and thinking about all the fast food places I could get something to eat. I couldn't actually go *in* anywhere, because I was a royal mess thanks to 3 hours of cleaning blinds and dusting out lockers + powerwashing 6 shower stalls.

But, you notice I said today was a no spender? Smile I fought those thoughts of stopping with thinking about what I had at home that I could make quickly. I came up with a sweet potato, leftover cornbread muffin, and a veggie patty with cheese. Then of course today is an S day, so I wanted to have some chocolate. I realized I already had some chocolate at home, so there was no need to stop somewhere and pick any up.

Yay! So I made it home without falling into the trap of saying that I deserved a treat (fast food) because of how hard I worked today.

---

While dusting out the lockers, I found a dime and three pennies. When I asked E if it was "finders keepers" he gave me a dime he'd found earlier.

So, for children's offering this coming Sabbath, I have $.23 already!

Bit of spending, bit of not

November 29th, 2009 at 04:12 am

Today at church I put $1.70 in the children's offering, and $1 into the loose offering.

So I "spent" $2.70. Smile

----

Last night I was going to have some cottage cheese to go with my supper, but when I opened it up, it had gone bad. I'd forgotten to turn it upside down (a trick which has made cottage cheese last forever in the past.)

I debated about maybe going to get some tonight, but decided to see if I can hold out until Friday when I do my next shopping run.

----
I went to the animal shelter today. I almost talked myself out of going because I really wasn't feeling great - in fact, I almost left church early because I wasn't feeling good. But, I talked myself into going.

I am glad I did. Several dogs who I thought for sure would've been adopted by now were still there, so I got to walk them, which was great. Smile After I'd had my fill of walking dogs, I went into the cat room. There was this one cat, maybe a Persian, which was just gorgeous and super friendly. It even got up on my lap after awhile.

It's really good that there is no way that I can take either a cat or a dog home.

--
I thought about stopping for a soda on the way home, but ended up not doing it. I will get one tomorrow if I really want one, but I think tonight I was thinking about getting one just out of habit.

So, all I spent today was the offerings at church. Smile
---
Tomorrow is cleaning the gym. Yuck. But it will help pad my next paycheck a bit - which will be very helpful considering how many hours I'll be out in my next paycheck (due to vacation.)

Thanksgiving, Great Movie, Making A Video, Spending

November 27th, 2009 at 11:12 pm

I had a pretty nice time over Thanksgiving. Went to my mom's house on Wednesday evening. After supper we went shopping for a birthday gift for my stepdad's granddaughter. Then we watched "Sunshine Cleaning". I wasn't sure if it was going to be good or not, considering the scenes they were cleaning, but it was actually pretty good.

Thursday we all got up nice and late, and headed over to the dollar theater and saw "Julie and Julia". That was a fantastic movie, really one of the best I've seen in a good while.

After the movie we headed over to Cracker Barrel for our official Thanksgiving Dinner. I pretty much had to choose off the breakfast menu, because I read a nice little notice that most of their veggies and their corn muffins and their beans are all cooked in/with animal fats. Ugh!

Still, I got french toast, eggs, sweet potato casserole and pecan pie. It was yummy and I was quite full. Big Grin No stuffing though (only trust kind I make myself to not be made with turkey dripping or some such thing.) Maybe I can make some stuffing this weekend. Big Grin

After we got back home I printed out my running paper for my mom to read - she made a few suggestions, but overall said it was really good. Then I did a 20 minute recording of her talking about family history. We stopped at that point because my knees were killing me. Unfortunately, even though she was speaking loudly, the mike on the camera didn't pick it up very well.

We're going to try it again later - maybe see if we can find some kind of mike or another way of holding the camera when she's speaking ...

----
Of the $40 cash I took out, I have spent .... $3.30!

$.30 was for printing out a registration form

$3 was for the movie yesterday (I treated)

Today I stopped at Walmart and picked up $23.34 worth of groceries and some misc. items. But I paid for them with a remaining balance on one gift card, plus most of the remaining balance on a second gift card.
--
Tomorrow is church and the no-kill shelter, and then on Sunday I'll be helping E clean up the closed gym location. This time however, I *will* be accepting pay. Big Grin

---
Almost forgot. E had asked me several weeks ago to work this past Wednesday which is normally by day off. I had this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I should call and doublecheck with him about it on Tuesday ... but ignored it.

I got to the gym at a bit before 8, and found that E had double scheduled the time slot! That's better than not having gotten anyone for it .... but still. Rolleyes

E was pretty fair I think. He said he'd pay the other person for 4 hours and they got to go home. I got paid for 8 - 3 (when someone else came). I just thought it was kind of funny.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2009 at 03:57 pm

I would like to wish all the wonderful people in the SA family a Happy Thanksgiving.

I am grateful that I found this place nearly five years ago where I have had the opportunity to know many people who share the desire to live differently from the norm. Our community here is very unique in the Internet world. We support each other in times of stress, give advice on financial and other life matters, and let new people know quickly that rudeness and meaness is not tolerated here.

Ouch! ... and Planned Spending

November 24th, 2009 at 12:43 am

This morning I woke up in major pain. I'm not sure exactly what I did, but the right side of my neck, down a bit onto my shoulder was in torturous pain this morning. It hurt to lay on my side, and it hurt to lay on my back. I was seriously wondering if I'd be able to get out of bed or not!

I made it out of bed, and once I was up the pain was 1/20th of what it had been - so I managed to go to work, etc. today.

I'm hoping when I lay down for bed tonight that it won't hurt like that again. Ugh!

---
After work today I stopped at the library and picked up some books (on how to study the Bible, etc.) And I printed out the application to join American Library Association and Texas Library Association. (Joining them is part of fulfilling a leadership requirement in one of my classes.)

So, two printed pages: $.30

I also stopped and got gas. My tank wasn't quite empty, but I decided to fill it up today in case prices go up tomorrow or Wednesday. $23.47

----

I needed to refill my prescription. The last time I'd refilled it, it had cost me over $40 at Kroger. I hadn't even asked how much it would be, just wanted to get my gift card.

This time I called around to find the best price.

Walmart had the lowest price without any gimmicks at $27.39

Walgreens had it at $24.95 IF you buy a $20 Prescription Club. So, with buying the Club plan, it comes out to about $26.62 which beats Walmart.

So, I dropped it off at Walgreen's and will pick it up tomorrow.

---
I stopped at Chase Bank to deposit my paycheck (yes, the one from the 15th!) and to get my $40 spending cash.

I asked about changing my account into a student account, but the age cutoff was 24. So, about 10 years too old for that one. Big Grin

Tomorrow I'm going to check and see what I need to do to get online access to Compass, and start switching out to it.
I'm also going to check into what credit unions are in the immediate area and their qualifications.

I think my university probably has one for it's students - but that is a 20 minute + one way drive in the opposite direction I usually go. It *could* work, but with getting two - three checks a month which have to be deposited ... it would be a pain.

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Tomorrow I need to get my car inspected, and I need to pick up my prescription. Those two together will be roughly $90 (adding the Club plan to it).

Budget Thoughts - Reigning in and Getting Frugal

November 23rd, 2009 at 12:27 am

I haven't quite decided yet what I'm going to do about the tithe yet (posted about yesterday). But, I do think that I need to get refocused on living within my means, and below as much as possible.

So, I think what I'm going to do is each time I get a paycheck, or some other kind of income, I am going to post here exactly how that money is going to be used.

Two things which I'm going to change is the use of my debit card and my credit card.

My debit card I get charged a $6 fee if I don't have at least six transactions during the month. This is because I don't have a direct deposit going into it. So I have been making sure to get those six transactions each month ... but I think I've ended up spending a good bit more than I would otherwise. So, the $6 fee may be a less expensive way to go.

I've been putting pretty much everything on my credit card (except the 6 purchases a month for the debit). This made sense when I was paying my rent on it, and so was accumulating a good number of points each month. Without that, the points grow *slowly* and it doesn't seem as worth it.

I also think that I *do* spend more on groceries, etc. when I am using my card. I always pay it off each month of course, but I do think I'm a bit freer with spending.

So ... I have decided that I'm going to stop using my debit card completely.

I will use my credit card only for online purchases, school tuition/books, gas, toll tag, car and renter's insurance, car repairs/inspection, cell phone and prescriptions.

Everything else will be paid for with cash.

School tuition/taxes/textbooks/car repairs all come out of savings.

Paycheck (Taxable Income) Budget:

10% Tithe/Giving/To Be Determined

10% Savings

10% Tax Savings

$290 rent

$120 groceries and miscellaneous
- to be taken out each week in $40 cash - remaining change each week put in children's offering at church

$5 - iTunes - songs, apps, etc.

$40 Tolls

$90 Gas

$40 Car Insurance Savings (paid every 6 mos)

$17 Renters Insurance Savings (paid every year)

$6 Netflix

$6 Bank Charge

$80 - Phone ($30/mo pd by dad as a gift)

Would like to add back in (maybe will restart in May after paying 2009 taxes):

$50 month IRA contribution

Total: 30% + $694 + $50 (IRA)

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My last two paychecks gave me a total of $1108.

30% of that would be $332.40.

$1108 - 332.40 = 775.60

So ... that would work for the last two paychecks.

The "excess" money would go straight to savings - at least till May (after 2009 taxes paid).

"Extra" (Non-Taxable) Money Budget:

10% Giving/Tithing/TBD
40% Fun/whatever
50% Savings

My next paycheck will be short 12 hours due to Thanksgiving (off Thursday and Friday, but working on Wednesday which is my normal day off) - so, $87.

My Dec. 15 paycheck should be fairly normal, but my Dec. 30 paycheck will only have 3 or 4 days on it due to my vacation - which means it will be *really* low.

Upcoming bills:

(Nov. 25)
Car insurance 6 month premium: $213

(January 25)
Renter's Insurance: ~$200 (1 year prem.)

April 15

Fed. Taxes - estimating $1500

Two wants:

YNAB 3 - coming out sometime before the end of the year. $35

Extra iPhone charger - $50
*would be most useful in CA on vacation - not really sure about otherwise - maybe I should talk to my brother and see if he might be able to use something like that, and we could split the cost - I'd use it while in CA, then give it to him to use.

---
November 15 paycheck:

$479

$47.90 -- Tithing/Giving/TBD
$47.90 -- Savings
$47.90 -- Tax Savings
$40 - Cash Miscellaneous/Groceries

Remainder of $315.30 forwarded for December bills.

*Credit card is already paid off for the December 7 due date. So next payment won't be due till around January 7.

---
I am going to try to be more accountable to myself here regarding spending.

Other than refilling a prescription, gas, getting my car inspected this week, and a few groceries on Friday, I don't know of any other necessary spending.

Frugal?? Confession (kind of religious themed, but on a financial note) Long

November 22nd, 2009 at 04:30 am

I have been wondering lately if I really qualify anymore to be called frugal.

No, I don't have any credit card (or other) debt.

Yes, I got rid of a bunch of extraneous stuff and downsized majorly in terms of living space and monthly rent costs.

But ... even though I went from paying $660/month in rent to $290/mo ... I'm not really sure where that money has been going each month.

Considering the fact that I am having to chip into my savings, and soon my EF to pay for my school tuition, you would think that there would be NO extraneous spending .. and that I'd be doing my utmost to make my grocery bill as minimal as possible.

But ... that hasn't happened.

For example, the iPhone. I love it. No, I adore it! But ... it is *way* too easy to buy music from the iTunes store, or purchase apps from the App store.

One night I got into this huge spree in iTunes and bought $23 worth of songs. Yes, they were songs that I like a lot, but ... if I would have had a little patience, I could have found most of them on CD's at the library and gotten them for free.

Some of the apps I've purchased, have been really useful. For example I bought one called Pocket Tunes which allows me to connect to my local radio stations. (My car radio is non-functioning. I really missed having local news/weather/traffic.)

But then there's iTreadmill. At first it worked great, but after a couple weeks it started calculating the distance completely wrong. I'd finish up a two-mile run/walk and it would show 5 miles.

And then yesterday I purchased a budget app called Pocket Money. Even though I read on its forums that there was no way to make unused budget amounts "carry forward" to the next month's budget (ala YNAB). And after playing around with it last night, realized that there is no way to add "extra" amounts of income to the budget. So, unless I figure out a fix for this, I just wasted $5.

Then .... there's the groceries. Once a week I go to Walmart and get around $23 - 26 worth of groceries. It is supposed to be for the week. If that was all I bought during the week, I'd be doing really, really well.

But ... then I stop at the deli near the gym and spend $4 - $6 on "breakfast" -- even though I have a canister of oatmeal, Rice Dream, box of brown sugar and butter and Stripples (veggie bacon) at the gym. Sometimes if I'm in a really bratty mood (deciding for whatever reason not to follow NO-S that day) I can spend up to $9 at one shot there.

If I did that once or twice a month, well, not great, but okay. But I've been doing that *at least* once a week, and more than one week, two times in a week.

Still, that wouldn't be so terrible on my budget .... but then there's the stops at 7/11 or the Dollar General. 7/11 is for their egg salad sandwich, and the Dollar General is for their junk food (even though I try to get my weekend junk food at Wal-mart and say thats it.)

Then there's all the spur of the moment spending. Such as buying this ebook on barefoot running which I knew didn't really contain anything new, but I just wanted to read it (it was 9.95). Or, like right now I'm really tempted to buy this extra battery doohicky for my iPhone ($50) so that during Christmas if we're traveling a good distance and I can't get to an outlet to recharge my phone, I have a backup.

--
My dad has been SO generous with sending me surprise amounts of money - he had told me he was going to only pay for the extra charge on my phone bill due to the iPhone, but every month he's been sending me enough to cover my *entire* bill + a bit more. He tells me to get clothes with the extra money, or go out and do something fun.

The problem is, the extra money is generally going towards paying off my credit card bill each month. Those checks have been what have helped me to stay away from reaching into my EF (until now.)

I feel as though I am still living on the income I had before. That even though my actual living circumstances have changed drastically, my mindset of how much "room" I have to spend each month hasn't really. It's like intellectually I see the fact that I'm having to break into the top part of my EF - and the sick sinking feeling hasn't been enough to wake me up.

Tonight I went to the Dollar General and to 7/11. Between the two places I spent around $18. I walked there, and walked back.

Walking back a young man was coming down the side street. I was more than slightly uncomfortable. He started approaching me and even greeted me. I said good evening to him and hurried on my way before anymore interaction occurred.

But ... as I was going on I started thinking... what if the young man had been about to ask for money for food? I could have honestly told him I didn't have any cash on me ... but to say I didn't have any *money* to help him with ... when in my bags I had $18 worth of junkfood, egg salad sandwich, shampoo/body wash, and a cat toy .. in other words, things I really didn't need ... would be totally dishonest. (maybe a better word would be disingenuous?)

I truly *can't* afford to be spending frivolously like I have been. Not if I want any chance of my savings (EF) to outlast my tuition (and taxes!) Somehow, just knowing I have so much money to draw off of when my spending outgoes my income, has made me not be careful. That was okay when I had enough income to be a *little* frivilous with and still have a good bit left for savings. Not so okay when I don't have much wiggle room at all to be able to put some in savings.

*warning - Religious theme ahead. I understand not everyone has the same viewpoint. Some may even strongly disagree. That's okay, but I am not saying any of this to start a debate on it. Please.

Although I have been feeling kind of hypocritical for a few months, and have really tried to reign myself in a number of times, today in Sabbath School (similar to Sunday School) part of our lesson was on tithing.

I believe in tithing. 100%. The money in my bank accounts, etc. is not mine - it is God's.

However, I have not paid tithe in about 5 years. At least not in the way God really intended. I stopped paying it about the same time I lost faith in the Conference administration. (Our denomination is divided up into regional conferences. Most of Texas is called the Texas conference. There is also part of Texas and New Mexico which is called the Texaco Conference. All the conferences in the US and Canada make up the North American Division. etc., etc.,)

But today, the SS leader said something which really hit me. I had expressed my reasons for not paying tithe. Had said that I had given money to the local church body and to the local schools, etc., but just couldn't stomach the idea of putting money into the hands of some of the people in the higher level administration.

Paraphrasing -- he asked me who's money was it? God's of course. So, if it is God's money, and we are faithful in giving back the 10% portion he asks (as a show of our faith/trust/obedience), then do I think He will make sure it gets used in a good way?

So, this afternoon I took the dogs out for a long walk. During this walk I had a long talk with God. I acknowledged that the real reason I haven't let myself get past my feelings towards the conf. admin. and feel right in tithing really has nothing to do with them, but has to do with a lack of trust on my part.

My fear that if I really take 10% off the top of my already meager paychecks, that I'll have to tap into my EF for more than just tuition and tax bills. That the money will run out before I'm finished.

Then I got to thinking about how I've been spending the money I've been entrusted with. 10% of my monthly income would be roughly $85 - 95 Gross. Net I think would be maybe around $70?

I think I could easily say that I've been spending $70+ month very frivolousy/needlessly. Probably closer to $100 - 120.

So, my choice is to continue to spend 10 - 12% of my gross income each month on things that either add clutter to my life or add unnecessary calories to my body - and ignore the fact that I'm using what I've been entrusted with this way. And probably end up tapping out, or coming close to tapping out all my savings.

Or ... cut way down on the needless spending, and start to give back to God a portion of my income. (Of course then the question is, should that be of Gross or Net? Something I've never been fully satisfied on about the answer.) Doing this *may* help my relationship with God because I'll feel more in tune / in step with His will. And maybe that will help me in other areas of my life / walk which still get me down at times. I may still end up tapping most, or even all of my EF, but ... maybe not.

----
In a totally unrelated note....

Today we had a Thanksgiving potluck lunch at church. I made my family's traditional corn pudding (aka cornbread casserole). Muy easy and muy delicious. It was a hit. Every bit of it was gone -- and best of all, I had someone ask me for the recipe.

Better yet, the person who asked me for the recipe turned out to be a relative of one of my former students (a real sweetheart of a girl.)

Registered for classes, etc.

November 20th, 2009 at 03:00 am

Last night I registered for my 3 Spring Classes. $2,167 for 9 credits. I'm going to have to make the first official transfer out of my six-month emergency fund to pay for it. Up till now I've only used my other savings.

This summer I'll take a 4 credit class, and then next fall I'll take 9 credits, and in the Spring 2011 I'll take a 3 credit class + the Capstone (1 week "course" where you write 3 1800- 2500 word essays - pass/fail). So, it looks good right now that I'll be able to graduate by May of 2011.

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Monday night I got home to find my landlady had acquired another dog! If you've seen the Legally Blonde movies, or Beverly Hills Chihuahua, then you'll have a good idea what the dog looked like -- except much, much skinnier/bonier. An old friend of hers showed up unannounced and told her that she couldn't take care of the dog anymore -she'd found it in a Wal-mart parking lot - and she wanted my landlady to take it.

So ... she took it. It was a very sweet and affectionate and extremely needy (male) dog - probably about six-years old and possibly used as a breeding dog (ahem..certain er.. actions constantly repeated around the female (spayed)dog Nikki ...)

Landlady put an ad on Craigslist on Tuesday, and today someone followed through and came and picked him up. His name was Bruno the Bruiser, but I thought a more appropriate name for him would be Shadow. Big Grin (as in wherever the main human went he went, or wherever Nikki went, he went (until she growled at him))

---
Not much else going on really. Classes are winding down. I'm still working on putting together my barefoot running paper, and have two assignments left in another class, and then a practice exam in a third class. I'm getting a few extra hours at work tomorrow, and again on Wednesday - which will be helpful since Thursday and Friday we'll be closed.

Just over a month till I see my brother again! I am really, really, really looking forward to that! Big Grin

---
This weekend I'm planning on putting some more hours in at the animal shelter. On Sunday I want to finish a rough draft of my running paper so my mom can help me proof it over Thanksgiving.

Animal Shelter, Books from Library, Soaking Wet

November 16th, 2009 at 12:10 am

Yesterday afternoon I went to the no-kill animal shelter. I spent about 2 1/2 hours walking/interacting with 5 dogs. The last dog I took out was a 1 yr old large Chihuahua named Penny. She was so funny/sweet. As soon as I got her outside, she started running towards this garden area and jumped up on a bench and sat down. So, I sat down next to her, and she jumped up on my lap. We sat there for the next 45 minutes. Finally, I had to get up and take her back inside. I think she'd have been perfectly happy to have stayed much longer.

After Penny, I went into the cat room and petted cats for about 30 minutes.

I might go back on Wednesday, depending on how much I get done on my running paper.

----
I stopped at the library today to pick up two James Patterson books on CD which were on hold. One is "Alex Cross's Trial" and the other is "Swimsuit." I've loaded the first into iTunes, and am working on the second one.

I also put my name on the hold list for another James Patterson book, "I, Alex Cross" which isn't out in stores yet. (I came across a free excerpt of it in iTunes - didn't even know he had a new one!)

--
Heading towards the library it had been looking a little dark, which I'd thought was weird because it was only 3:30 or so. When coming out of the library, I found out why it'd been getting dark. It was pouring rain! I was completely soaked from head to toe on my way to my car.

Fun! Smile Luckily I'd taken the dogs for their walk already.

---

I stopped at Dollar General to pick up some body wash's and spray deodorant for the gym. Unfortunately I couldn't get them, because their card machine was down and they could only take cash. I hope E actually got the supplies I told him we were out of!

Checked My Receipt/Book Rec.

November 14th, 2009 at 02:35 am

After work today I stopped at Wal-mart to get groceries. In the back they had a rack with a bunch of things on major discount.

I got 3 cans of new potatoes for $.34/each, two tubes of Total toothpaste for $1, and 3 3-packs of Trident gum marked $1/each.

When I checked out, the total was *much* higher than I thought it was going to be. There were a lot of people behind me, so I didn't want to challenge it at the register. After paying, I stopped by the door and checked my receipt.

Sure enough, the gum had been charged at $2.97 each.

So I stopped at Customer Service. Thankfully there was no line. The person gave me one free, and then took of $4 for the other two. In total, I received back $6.38.

Today was a good reminder to *always* check your receipt. Smile

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I downloaded an audio book from my library's website a couple days ago called "Chocolate Beach" by Julie Carabino. I've been listening to it - mostly Thursday, then in the car during my commute, and finally finished it today.

It was really good, and funny, and sweet. I could've read the hard copy much faster, but it was kind of nice to be able to just lay back and close my eyes and let the words flow over me.

Brianna is a beach loving, Christian mom of one teenage son who is married to an extremely busy attorney. She works as a tour leader for a bus tour company in Ventura, CA. One night at Bunco, one of the ladies at her table makes a catty remark which becomes a catalyst for many changes in her life. Oh, and yes, chocolate is mentioned often, and even plays a semi-important role. Big Grin Yum.