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Archive for November, 2010

Oh How Lovely It Would Be ...

November 30th, 2010 at 07:17 pm

Tonight I logged on to my university account to see if my scholarship money had been posted yet. Once it is posted, then I can pay the remainder and be finished with paying for school. Smile

Well, I received the shock of my life. Underneath the listing for my $400 scholarship, there was *another* scholarship listed for $2000.00!!!! I clicked on the link to find out what it was for. It said that $1k had been awarded for the first semester, and $1k for the second semester. I then Googled the name : USC continuing students. From the information I found, it appears that it is a scholarship for students who are continuing students at the University of Southern California.

I've already emailed the financial aid office to let them know. Sigh ... it sure would be nice if that money really *was* mine. Maybe I should have gone to USC instead (though their tuition is probably that much higher too.)

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I'm up to 2,454 Swagbucks now. So tomorrow I'll be able to start buying my December Amazon cards. Smile

Scholarship Info, etc.

November 29th, 2010 at 05:41 pm

Tonight when I got home from my tutoring sessions, I had an envelope from my university. Inside of it was the information on how much my scholarship is for next semester -- $400! Yay! I was really hoping that it would be the same as the one I got for this semester, but now I know for sure. Smile So, my last semester/class will cost just under $500 (although I don't know what the graduation fees, etc., will be.)

I really had meant to cancel Netflix, but I kept procrastinating on doing it. Tonight I was *really* glad I hadn't done it yet. My high-school boy tutoring student was supposed to watch a television drama from the 1970's or earlier, and then write an essay about it. Then he was also to watch a current drama, and then compare the two.

Well ... he didn't do it over break. The assignment is due tomorrow. I searched about a dozen different dramas on my Netflix app on the iPhone before I finally found one with streaming episodes. Bonanza! We watched it over the 3g network - the first 20 minutes or so were perfect, then for about ten minutes or so it stuttered and froze a good bit. But we finally managed to finish both the program, and his essay. (He'd watched Season 8 of 24 recently.) Our session lasted over an hour longer than regularly scheduled, so it will probably replace our normal tutoring session on the 17th (when he probably won't have anything to do anyway!)

So ... I guess I can now consider my Netflix subscription tax deductible? Big Grin (I'm joking, really.)

Man, there were a ton of videos on the Swagbucks offer walls today - plus one on the rotating slider (homepage top.) Those videos, plus 6 Swagbucks TV wins, 3 codes, and 2 search wins (so far) put me up to 2,262 SB's.

I found out about this really cool Firefox browser add on which helps scout out deals for you on other websites when you do online shopping. I made a post about it on my

Text is Living Frugal blog. and Link is http://www.livingfrugalandsimple.com/2010/11/cool-firefox-add-on-may-save-you-money.html
Living Frugal blog.

No spending today, and I don't plan on spending anything tomorrow. So, I think this pretty much wraps up November.

November Spending, etc.

November 28th, 2010 at 07:11 pm

Groceries - $77.89
Auto:Gas -- $74.32
Auto:Insurance -- $206
Auto:Repairs $127.50
Gifts - $57.36
iTunes -- $11.30
Prescriptions - $45.30
Subscriptions/Fees - $60

Groceries - Two main reasons I think this category was under budget this month. One is the challenge between my mom and I (me, limited sugar; mom - one 12oz coke/day.) Two, was I cooked and froze 2lbs of pinto beans, and 8 servings worth of lentil soup - plus ate quite a bit of homemade burritos. It could have still been less, but on the most recent shopping trip (after the challenge) I bought more sweets than I really should have.

Auto:Gas - This would have been less if I hadn't made an extra trip to L************ to help the local church school teacher. This extra expense was offset though by her giving me $20 in gas money - which I first refused, but then accepted.

Auto:Insurance - My six-month premium with Geico. Reflected is a 10% Defensive Driving discount, plus an additional $6.60 for Roadside Assistance. (I canceled my $3/month RA plan with AT&T as of Friday.)

Auto:Repairs -- Replacing three outside belts to stop my car from squealing constantly.

Gifts -- Mostly Christmas gifts, but also one Mother's Day gift. All bought via Mypoints or Swagbucks.

iTunes -- Got a bit carried away with purchasing tutoring apps for my new preschool student.

Prescriptions - Renewed Walgreen's Prescription Discount card, plus monthly prescription.

Subscriptions/Fees - $60 - Renewed professional memberships in American Library Association and Texas Library Association.

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"Passive Income"
In November I earned around 1200 points at Mypoints. I need another 1200 points to redeem for a $50 Wal-mart card. I may be able to do this by sometime in January. (Most of the points are from two sources: clicking on paid emails, and survey non-qualifiers. I did make one purchase this month (gift) which gave me 200 points, and I did upload a pet photo for a contest and shared it on Facebook - for another 225 points.)

I redeemed 2,250 Swagbucks for $25 in Amazon.com gift cards. Plus I have earned an additional 2,109 Swagbucks in November. I will most likely use those to get another $25 in Amazon.com gift cards in December. I have at least one family member who may sign up under me (mom), and am going to try for two others over the holidays.

I redeemed 8900 Chase CC points for $89.00 in statement credit.

I found out yesterday that I earned $2.86 in advertising income through my Frugal blog for Amazon.com. Of course, I can't get that money until it reaches $10. Which may be never (considering this was from a sale in August ... the only sale so far.)

Tutoring Income
Also in November I acquired two new tutoring students. This added an additional $150 income. Which almost made up for the week of Thanksgiving where all but my new students canceled.

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Future Spending/Income

In December I am pretty sure that both my gas and groceries categories will be a good bit less with my going on vacation from the 21st thru the 3rd. My family will pretty much not let me pay for anything. Although I will offer - and I am looking for the $3 deal for a $25 Restaurant.com gift card. I'd like to treat to this one particular vegetarian place.

Also, I should receive the scholarship money I was granted in November. However, I will also be paying my last semesters tuition (Due December 20?? I think. Smile

Strange Thanksgiving/Friday

November 26th, 2010 at 11:19 am

Thursday morning around 10 a.m. my stepdad left to go have Thanksgiving with his daughters and their families. Mom and I divided our time between making cottage cheese roast, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and turkey and packing her things.

We sat down to eat around 1 p.m. We'd talked about maybe going to a 4 p.m movie. Then that got nixed. So we talked about going to a 7 p.m movie. That got nixed.

What were we doing till nearly midnight Thursday night? Packing, packing, packing.

This morning we got up at 7 a.m. and continued to pack. The movers arrived at 9 a.m., and left with her stuff a little after 11:30 a.m.

She took 6 full wardrobe boxes of clothes with her, plus numerous boxes of clothes. There were a lot left in the closet. I'm curious to find out how she's going to fit all those clothes into her one-closet 900 square foot apartment.

I really had to bite my tongue a couple of times. She was talking about how stupid she'd been to have "let" my dad walk away with his full retirement (husband before stepdad.) What she forgets, is that she cleaned out all of their savings accounts, and maxed out most of their credit cards (included in that money was funds from a second refi of the house -- set aside to pay taxes for the next three years.) Ooops. There were other things too, but it'll just be beating a dead horse (or snake ...).

Buddy of course was not getting what was going on with the movers, and so was barking up a storm. Before leaving, mom fixed him up a plate of his wet food -- fine. Then she added three large pieces of turkey!! When I said something about it, she about bit my head off. When I answered back that it would be MY bed he'd be throwing up on - she was like, "Well, I could just take him with me!" So I responded by saying -- "Well, he's your dog. So whatever!"

Ugh! I hate to say it, but I'm actually glad this *finally* seems to have come to a close. She has a signed apartment lease for six-months (Seriously?? Is she really planning on moving in six-months???) She's leaving Buddy with us for now since she'll be gone a lot, while here there is usually someone around most of the day.

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There's a sale on giftcards at Swagbucks. I have enough to get 3 $5 Paypal cards, but I think I'm going to wait and see if the Amazon cards go on sale. All day yesterday I just let Swagbucks TV run, and checked on it once in a while. I accumulated 10 wins. Today so far I have 6 or 7 (5 SB's per win.)

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Later today I might go out grocery shopping. Right now though, I think I'm going to go take a nap.

Ack! Just When I Thought the Backyard was Safe!

November 24th, 2010 at 09:17 pm

Both of my blogs are updated - Living Frugal and Children's Books.

I've been keeping busy the past few days doing just about anything but schoolwork .... but I did finally put a half-hearted attempt at the TWO assignments due this week.

Tonight I had the two new boys who I started working with last week. I was way over prepared. Smile

Tomorrow is the end of the challenge between my mom and I. Up until Monday I was doing pretty well with it. Today I was back on track though. My mom ... I think I still beat her. Big Grin

Okay, for those of you who don't like snake stories or pictures of snakes, now would be a good time to do a swift scroll to the comments section (if you want to leave a comment, of course!)


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Okay .... I warned you!




This afternoon I took Buddy out in the backyard for his pit stop. I had barely put him down, when in the corner of my eye I spotted something moving. When I looked fully at what had moved ... not 3 seconds passed before I had screamed, picked Buddy up, and ran inside the house yelling for my stepdad. What did I see? Well ... here's a picture of what I saw *after* SD (SuperD...!) had finished with it.




I am not sure what kind it was. I really hope it wasn't a pet snake or something. SD had to chop at it with the shovel multiple times - it's exoskeleton was very hard. Even after all that, it wasn't still fully dead.

No more letting Buddy out in the yard without a leash! (We've been letting him slowly have a little bit more freedom, as he's earned it.)

Anyone have any idea what kind it is? It was over 3 feet long.

ETA: Picture of its head:

Enjoying my weekend

November 21st, 2010 at 04:45 pm

I have truly been enjoying this weekend. I have next week to look forward to with only one tutoring session, and the end of the challenge with my mom (me = limited sugar; mom - limited soda).

Yesterday at church we again had 14 kids! I just can't say how much I loved it, even though it was quite crowded. Most of the reason we had so many was because the school was putting on a Thanksgiving program. So, in the middle of our lesson story, half of our class left to go practice. Hopefully those who don't normally come will be interested in coming again. Of course ... we don't really have space for more ... God will take care of that. Smile

Other than church yesterday, I didn't really do much of anything.

Today I slept in a little bit. Oh luxury! (Can't sleep in too much, otherwise an anxious puppy will let me know how badly he needs to go!) I goofed on the net for awhile, checked out the coupons and advertisements for this weekend, and then goofed some more on the net. Big Grin

This afternoon I was getting ravenous. So I decided to make a burrito. I used a tortilla which had been bought at Sam's club two years ago (frozen and moved several times - recently dethawed.) A 1/2 cup portion of the beans I made a few weeks ago (from the freezer), spinach, shredded cheese, and rice. It was so yummy and SO filling!

After I was done eating, I made my

Text is Grandma's Corn Pudding Casserole. and Link is http://www.livingfrugalandsimple.com/2010/11/simple-sustenance-grandmas-corn-pudding.html
Grandma's Corn Pudding Casserole. I was going to make it on Friday, but by the time I finished with an assignment that was due, it was after 5 p.m. I was tired, and just didn't feel like doing it. *The link goes to my Living Frugal blog with the recipe and pictures. (I'm freezing it for Thanksgiving.) I entered the recipe into the Swagbucks recipe contest. Crossing my fingers!

I have my first Swagbucks referral! Woo Hoo! Well ... it actually is my dad. Big Grin I talked him through the process step by step over the phone.

The bananas I got on Thursday are already going bad. Frown SD got some more today - they're much greener than the ones I'd found.

Tomorrow I'll be going to the church school and helping out the principal/teacher for the day. I can't donate much in the way of money, but I can donate time once in awhile. I do have two assignments I'll have to do this week, plus I may try to complete two of next week's assignments to get ahead a little bit.

I hope my mom decides quickly about whether or not she's moving out on Friday or not. If she isn't, then I'll make an appointment with the University Health center for my TSH (thyroid) test. (Discount days start on Friday.)Hopefully the traffic wouldn't be too crazy around the university.

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Spending:
iTunes - App store: 4 different apps for pre-schoolers. ~$6.00 (prepping for tutoring)

York Photo - $7.xx - two photo magnets (Christmas presents)

Tomorrow anticipated spending:

Either Acrylic Paint or Fabric Paint, Masking tape (Christmas presents), Spinach (my bag is going bad already)


**Any ideas on how to keep a bag of spinach from going slimy so fast? I eat it as fast as I can, but ...

Possibly new students, Spending, Car Insurance

November 18th, 2010 at 06:05 pm

Last night I worked with two new tutoring students, a 2nd grader and a 5th grader. They're both great kids and I think it is going to be lots of fun finding things for them. Their mom insists on them having homework between sessions. My mom had been working with the fifth-grade boy, as well as his two older brothers. But she wasn't able to work with the second grade boy.

Today as I was waiting for my high-school boy, I ran into the mom of two of my mom's former students. (She'd exchanged hair styling for tutoring.) She asked me if I'd be willing to work with her 4 year old daughter and help her get ready for kindergarten. One or two times a week for an hour each. Right up my alley! We'll possibly start in January.

Then near the end of my tutoring session with the high-school boy, his host mom came home. She's the same person who has essentially helped me get most of my students. She asked me if I thought I could tutor someone in Algebra 1. I gulped, and said that I thought I could. I'd have to get some books and such from the library to review, but I think I could do it. As long as I stayed ahead of the student.

Wow! if both of these new students pan out, I'm going to be quite busy! Yay!!

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Grocery Spending:

11/17 -- $8.01 supper, chocolate oranges (2)

I needed something to eat before tutoring my two new students. CVS had the chocolate oranges on sale 2 for $5. I *love* those oranges, and that is a good price. So ... they are put away until Thanksgiving when the challenge is over. Smile

11/18 -- $7.06 bananas, shredded cheese, green onions, frozen veggies, cream corn,

I decided to make the corn pudding for potluck on Sabbath, so needed a few more ingredients.

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Wow! Yesterday I completed a special offer on Swagbucks for comparing insurance offers. (It gave me enough to get my 5th Amazon card, and have 300+ left.) This morning I was inundated with phone calls and emails. On Tuesday I had written a blog post on

Text is how I've managed to stump car insurance agents. and Link is http://www.livingfrugalandsimple.com/2010/11/how-i-stump-car-insurance-agents-few.html
how I've managed to stump car insurance agents. This morning to my utter shock, someone actually managed to beat my rate by $3 (per six-months.) I told them I didn't want to make a decision right away, but would need to think about it. Or, in other words, research the company.

Good thing I did! It has absolutely terrible ratings for customer service and claims handling. As I was talking to the five different people (the ones I actually answered the phone for) a reoccurring statement made was that I had only been insured for one-year. I thought that was really strange since I was pretty sure I'd been with Geico since at least 2001. I also found out that Texas passed a law raising the amount of the mandated minimums.

So I finally went ahead and gave Geico a call. I found out that most agents when making a quote will just automatically put one-year, and that I had been with Geico nearly 12 years. I also found out that I won't need to worry about the increased coverage rate until my May renewal. Then I asked the agent to add roadside service back to my plan. I couldn't remember why I had taken it off my plan in the first place ($6/term). He reminded me that it usually is only available for people with comprehensive, but that since I've been with them for so long, he'd make an exception. It just so happened that he was a supervisor!

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As I was typing this I got a call from the mom of the 4 year old. She and her husband have decided to have me work with their daughter twice a week! Yes! Apparently she has to pass a test to be admitted into the particular Kindergarten. The mom is going to talk to the pre-school teacher to find out what skills need to be worked on. I'm really running the gambit here - working with 4-year olds all the way through college!

Power Outage, Credit Cards, Dancing w/the Stars

November 16th, 2010 at 07:22 pm

Last night around 10:30 I was typing away on an entry here, when Poof! the power went out. It stayed out for over 90 minutes. We'd had a little bit of thunder and lightning, but nothing major. So ... that was weird.

I cashed in for my 4th Amazon $5 gift card yesterday, and deposited the second one in Amazon. I love free money. Big Grin

Last night my mom asked me to help her with two of her tutoring students on Wednesday nights. This particular family has 4 children. I'll work with the two youngest, and she'll work with the two oldest. That adds an extra $200/month for me! Woo Hoo!

Today I spent quite a bit of money (well, for me anyway.) I decided to renew my memberships in American Library Association and the Texas Library Association. A total of $60 for both of them (student rates!) I'd been debating on it ever since I got the renewal notices. I finally concluded that if I want to have any chance of getting a job, it probably is a good idea to have a professional membership.

I did something else really unusual for me today. I opened up a credit card offer! It was for a Citi Visa for students. Even more highly unusual for me is that I applied! What got me? Two things: 1 - You can earn up to 4,000 points per semester based on your GPA; and 2 - Every month you pay on time you get 25 points. Boo Ya! Easy free points! I was approved for $4,000.00. I'm hoping that I can send them my grades for Spring semester and get the first 4,000 points. Big Grin It'll motivate me to work even harder to make sure that one class this semester that's making me nuts becomes an A, for another 4,000 points.

Speaking of Credit Cards. Today I checked my Chase Visa account, and I had enough to redeem for $100 cash. Before it changed over to Chase Freedom, I could just apply that as a credit on my statement. But now they have a feature where you can apply a credit to your statement for *specific* purchases and purchase amounts. This is good and bad. I'll probably use it more often, since there is no incentive to save for a better deal on statement credit. However, it is very rare that an item is exactly within a certain range. Like today, I didn't have anything that was in the 70 - 75 range, but I did have a number of items in the 23 - 25 range. So, I ended up using 8900 points for an $89.00 credit. Next statement I'll have enough for a $20 credit (the minimum.)

I was supposed to buy bananas tonight, but totally forgot. By the time I was finished with my high-school boy (we worked 80 extra minutes) and made it through the construction traffic, my brain was fried. So, no banana for breakfast tomorrow. Frown

I watched last night's Dancing with the Stars tonight. Wow! I just so love Jennifer Grey. She is so fantastic. I haven't heard the results yet from tonights vote off, but if a certain person on there stays, and Jennifer goes ... ARGHH!

Nice Cool Weekend

November 14th, 2010 at 04:22 pm

This has been a pretty relaxing and cool weekend. On Saturday my Primary class that I teach which up until this weekend had only had a high of 10 kids, had 14 show up! It was pretty crazy, since both my assistant and I were only prepared for 10. It all worked out though. Big Grin

After church I got some free food. Smile They're starting a childrens choir. Since J and I were still around counting the money (offering, tithes, etc.) we were offered some food. Yum!

I spent a lot of time goofing around on my other blogs today. Added a few design elements and deleted a few. I also signed up with a new blog advertisement tool (free.) I also wrote up a post (first of a series) on Swagbucks which will post in the morning.

My stepdad is sad. His huge big screen tv seems to be broken. He's going to try replacing the bulb. It's over 6 years old (the tv) so I don't know if that is just a normal life span for those behemoths.

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Well it's just about time for me to chat with my class partner on our project. We'll be using gmail messenger. I've never used that before, so it'll be interesting. I also have never worked collaboratively via Google docs. Good to have new experiences. Smile

Temperature Extremes, Spending Report

November 12th, 2010 at 07:00 pm

Today was an interesting day weather wise. This morning it was rainy and windy, then by noon it was very warm and humid. Coming home from my tutoring student I had to put my a/c on high. Then by about 5 p.m. it was cold and windy again -- so much so I had to put a jacket on when I took Buddy out.

What can I say ... that's Texas for you!

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I did a bit of grocery shopping today. I had a total of $37.xx left ($17 from last week, plus this weeks $20.) I did a bit of a stockup, and got one little extra.

4 cans mushrooms, 2 cans refried beans, 1 bag shredded cheese, 2 half-gallons orange juice, 1 loaf of bread, 1/2 dozen eggs, bag of spinach, bag of cornbread mix, Rice Dream (milk), generic Ziploc quart bags, 1 pkg wet dog food, and 1 box of small dog treats.

I unfortunately did not have any coupons for any of the items.

The total came to $24.11. The only thing I can think of that I'll need to buy in the next two weeks are bananas. I didn't get them today because we have a few left, and I'm hoping SD will get more on Sunday. We go through bananas quickly in this house. Smile

That leaves me with about $13 to go towards next weeks spending budget.
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I was thinking about making my cornbread casserole and entering the recipe and a picture of it in the Swagbucks recipe contest. That's why I got the cornbread mix at first. I wavered on doing it this week though. I may do it next week (deadline is next Friday) and make it for our Thanksgiving church potluck. Two birds with one stone. There's a few other ingredients I'd have to get, so I'll have to see where my grocery budget is at.

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Speaking of Swagbucks. I redeemed SBs today for my third $5 giftcard. Then I did a few easy peasy special offer deals, and am back up to 230. I just need 220 more for my next giftcard. I decided to link it to my Facebook account. It will only post 3 - 4 times a day, when I get search wins and when I get SBs for finding a code. So hopefully that won't be too annoying to others, and maybe I'll get a few referrals.

Received First Gift Card

November 11th, 2010 at 07:46 pm

Today I had another happy news email. My first $5 Amazon gift card had arrived from Swagbucks. I went to my account and copied the code, then went to Amazon. So I now have $5 waiting for me to spend at Amazon. Smile

I'm roughly 25 points away from my third gift card.

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I didn't spend any money today. So that's always a good thing. Smile

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My next big project for one of my classes is writing a grant application. It should be interesting, especially since it has to be done with a partner. Doing things with a partner - especially when the other persons last name is before yours (which means their responsible for submitting different documents) - makes my hackles rise. Depending on other people when my grade is at stake, really is unappealing. Collaboration is great otherwise. Smile

I finally completed one of the two assignments I'd been procrastinating on doing this week. It wasn't really that difficult, just time consuming. I think I'm at the point where I'm really, really tired of school. Good thing I only have one more class left! (Except it is a research methods class ... meaning lots of research papers.)