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Taxes, bonus, and the weekend

February 6th, 2006 at 02:11 pm

We did receive DH's W-2 last Thursday and did out taxes online. Wooohooo! We will be getting $1,500.00 back from federal and just a bit over $500.00 back from state. That is sooo exciting! We will be paying off our Visa - which just has a small amount on it, and then putting the balance in our credit union savings account. Because we've efiled, I know we'll get our refund sooner. Yay! It will be nice to have the account paid off, and to see more money in the savings =)

DH also received his 4th quarter bonus last week. Or rather, was informed that it was on it's way. There was an option to take part or the entire amount ($1,200.00) and add it to the 401k - which is employer matched. We decided to do that with the money - that way we can add free money! My mom pointed out that we wouldn't get the pleasure of using the money right now...and I pointed out that we would be happier in the long run that we put it in there for future use =) She agreed.

We had a really nice weekend. Saturday morning we slept in a bit - yay! Then we picked up around the house a bit and put in more laundry (we started it Friday night). DH took my car in for an oil change; then he came home and got his car and I went with him to get an oil change in that car and we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. We've been doing really well using our coupons and saving money at the grocery store. We did end up spending more this weekend - partly because we stocked up on several cases of bottled water and dogfood, and partly because we were hosting a SuperBowl party on Sunday and needed to get food for that. Still, the total at the grocery store was nearly $220.00!!! Then we swiped our loyalty card and handed in our coupons --- the total went down to $118.00! We were pleased =) We are trying to keep our grocery total to about $60.00 a week, but this week we just weren't able to do so. Thankfully we don't have a party every weekend!

Saturday night we helped my parents move furniture back into the den. They had some renovations done and it looks really nice. Afterwards, we stayed for dinner. Fajitas - yum!

DH has a chiropractor appointment today after work. This will be the first time we use our flexible spending account - I'm anxious to see how it will work.

Friday is payday - yay! This paycheck will show our 4% raises. I'm really anxious and curious to see how much that will add to my check. Oh well, guess I'll have to be patient until then =)

Still waiting...

February 2nd, 2006 at 02:45 pm

for DH's W-2 that is. Otherwise our taxes are all done. I hope this arrives either today or tomorrow - I'm anxious to have this DONE. I'm pretty sure we'll be getting a refund back and I want to get that money into our savings account. No specific 'plan' for it - I just want to see another bump to the savings account =)

I got my retro check the other day. It wasn't quite as much as I thought it would be - but then again, I didn't think I'd receive it until the end of February. I'm very grateful to have gotten it. We've already put it to very good use!

I bought 50 shares of a pharmaceutical company that I think has real potential. We'll see how it works out. If it picks up a bit we may buy a few more shares.

We had another great weekend at the grocery store last week!! The total before coupons and our loyalty card was $144.00!! OUCH. After the card and all of our coupons, the total came to (drum roll, please)...$62.00!! We saved over $80.00!!! We thought that was great, especially considering we bought 10 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, a flank steak and a London broil. Of course, we bought other things, too. Groceries (along with everything else!) have gotten so expensive. As such, I've really been making a huge effort to plan in advance, use coupons and only buy items that are on sale with the club card. So far, so good - it's really been paying off =)

Should we, or shouldn't we??

January 26th, 2006 at 01:31 pm

We've been thinking about buying in to two different house raffles. For one of the raffles, the tickets are $200.00 each. For the other raffle, tickets are $100.00 each. We are so tempted. The only bad thing is, if we didn't win anything (there are secondary prizes as well), I would feel that we just threw our money away. On the other hand, if we DID win, it would be an amazing thing! ...a house for $100.00 or $200.00! We're still weighing the pros and cons. What do you guys think?

Kevin got good news yesterday at work. It seems that he is coming up on a yearly review and is in line for a raise! We don't know how much it will be - somewhere between 3% and 8%!! The higher, the better, but we wouldn't say no to anything! =)

I discovered a new coupon site last weekend and gave it a try. Between using the manufacturer's coupons, my $10.00 off store coupon and using my loyalty card...we saved $76.00!! We spent $54.00 - and bought quite a bit, including a Tri-tip, a whole chicken and 2 pounds of bacon. Plus we did some stocking of the pantry, so we actually felt pretty accomplished.

We also did a stock up at Walmart. We try to get there about once a month, but haven't done that for a while. We hate going there over the holidays because it's so crowded, so we really haven't been in a while...and our total reflected that! We spent $140.00, but we had either completely run out of somethings and were running really low on others. We are set for a while on paper products, cleaning products, lotions, soaps, shampoos - that sort of thing. It actually felt really good to see our cupboards being filled up again =)

Okay, I've put it off long enough!

January 24th, 2006 at 01:43 pm

It's been forever since I last posted something -- and it's time for me to get back into the swing of things.

A brief recap: I didn't fully recover from being ill until the last week of November. It was as if I kept catching something, almost recovering, then catching something else. It was so frustrating! I missed about 4 days of work - which I hate to do. Luckily I have lots and lots of sick time that will cover all of that and plenty more, but I don't like being sick and having to use sick days.

Christmas was great! We had such a wonderful family time. It was fairly quiet, but very enjoyable. I would, however, like to talk my family into cutting back a bit next year. As much as I love Christmas, I do feel that our family goes way overboard in terms of gifts. I've talked to my parents about it, and I THINK they agreed, and we will all cut back a bit next year. I'd like to do something like: one big gift, one homemade gift, and one 'nothing new' gift (from a garage sale or thrift store - something like that). That may sound like a lot to some, but believe me, that would be quite a cutback for my family. Don't get me wrong - I love receiving gifts as much as the next person, but when we all have to wrack our brains trying to come up with a list of somethings we need/want, then we are going just too far off the deep end in buying gifts! I love giving gifts, too, but again, there's a limit.

It was so wonderful having 2 weeks off for the holidays! That is one of the best benefits of working at a school!! Our calendar worked out this year so that we didn't get off work until 12/23 - but then we didn't have to go back until January 9th! I love having all of the time off AFTER Christmas as opposed to before Christmas. I usually am organized enough that I have everything done before Christmas, so it's more beneficial for me to have the time off after Christmas so that I can really enjoy it =) I got a great deal accomplished during that time - lots of cleaning and decluttering around the house. That is such a wonderful feeling!

We also did a recap of our overall finances. DH and I sat down and went over our budget, right down to the last detail. We determined that we're actually doing really well! We have much more money put away than we even thought we did - which is always a good thing! The only debt we currently have is a small amount on each of our Visa cards, and what we owe on our two cars. The CC debt will be taken care of by the end of February (more on that below). And, though I'd rather not have the two car loans, we did get really great deals on both cars, as well as really great interest rates on both. We've determined that we paid for 2 cars what many people pay for just one, so we really aren't too worried about owing on the two cars. All told we owe about $20,000.00 for the two -- DH has a PT Cruiser and I have a 4Runner. Both were 2 years old when we bought them, but both looked brand new. We'll have them for a while, as we're not the type to buy a new car the minute the old one is paid off, so that's another bonus. Additionally, we've decided that we will throw extra money at both car payments so they are paid off sooner.

More good news: WE GOT RAISES!! We found out the second week of December that we are receiving 4.0% raises! Even better, the raise is retro back to July, so in addition to getting the raise - which will probably be reflected on our February paychecks, we will receive a retro check for the additional amount for all of those months. Wahoooo! We are supposed to receive the retro check in February, so DH and I will use that money to pay the balance on our two Visa cards. We really don't owe all that much on either one, but I absolutely hate having a balance on them at all. We really don't use them all that often, but right at Christmas time we had a few things that came up for which we used our cards. That's okay - they were convenient, which is why we have them in the first place. I just dont' want those balances sitting on there any longer than they have to! We do have a good interest rate on both cards since DH is a BofA employee, but still - I hate debt!

Even more good news! DH found out yesterday that BofA met the profit goal they'd set for themselves for the year. That's GREAT news for us, because the deal was that, if they met the goal, employees would share in the success and receive a higher than normal quarterly bonus! Each quarter DH receives a bonus - which is great in and of itself! - however, for the final quarter, the bonus is much higher than normal. Score! In addition, employees have the option of having all or part of the amount put into their 401(k) plans - which is eligible for a company match! Guess what we decided to do?? ;-) Hey, free money is free money!

Well, this is a start. Hopefully, I'll be better about posting, and get back into the routine. Though I haven't been posting, I have been reading others' posts, so that's, as they say, better than nothing!


November 7th, 2005 at 08:22 am

I am sick again - or maybe it's still. I usually don't get sick that often, so I have to think that it's still. It will be better for a few days and then I get it all over again. I finally decided I want it gone for good. I made an appointment to see the doctor this morning at 10:00 . I really hate taking another day off work, but I really feel that I need to knock whatever this is out.

Saturday Kevin had a game and I went to Debbie's for girls day. My sister and I started this monthy tradition about 15 years ago. One month it's at my house and I pcik the activity; the next month it's at her house and she picks the activity. Saturday it was shopping at the new mall in Simi Valley. We had a great day. I bought a few cards, a candle and holiday planner at Hallmark - total was about $25.00. Then I spent $100.00 at Coldwater Creek. I bought two gorgeous sweaters that have detachable long knit scarves. I bought one last year and nearly wore it to death. They are so soft and comfortable and they fit so nicely. I know they are a bit pricey, but Coldwater Creek has very well made merchandise - I really don't mind spending a bit more for it. Besides, I look at it as really buying four pieces instead of just two. Many of the other stores we went into had similar sweaters and scarves that were sold separately. The sweaters were $39.00 and the scarves were $19.50, so the Coldwater Creek deal ends up being the better of the two. Plus, for spending $100.00, I received a beautiful sterling silver and amethyst pendant and earring set. It was really beautiful and will go perfectly with one of the sweaters that I bought since it's purple.

I bought lunch and a treat for sister and myself. She's been having a really hard time lately and I felt that she needed some extra TLC - since she doesn't ever get that from her selfish husband. He irritates me to no end. Grrr. Anyway, she mentioned needing some time for herself. She said she thought she'd take a day off work just to have some time to herself. I felt bad about that. She definitely needs some time, there's no doubt about that. But I hate to see her take time off for that - she's the one that always ends up having to take off when the boys are sick, so I think she pretty much uses all of her time every year. Since Friday is a holiday for all of us and Kevin and I were going to make a trek to the Reagan library, we offered to pick up the boys and take them with us and then go to lunch afterwards. That way she can have the better portion of the day to herself - to sleep, read, clean...whatever she'd like to do. She was thrilled with the idea - and so were the boys. Sounds like Friday will be a great day all the way around =)

Yesterday Kevin and I pretty much just vegged. We put up a fire and sat around all day reading, napping and watching TV. It was great! We don't often have a chance to do that, so we really enjoyed it.

Response to JodiM

November 3rd, 2005 at 06:39 am

Thanks for your input on the garage sale games. I've decided to go ahead and give the games to the boys at Christmas
and not think anything else about it. I do know that they will love them and, really, that's all that matters =)

As for the Keep the Change program, it's working out really well! We are enjoying watching our savings account grow.
Every morning I check the account and I'll see something that says 'Keep the Change' deposit. It's a few cents here
and there - nothing you'd miss. But those little pennies here and there do add up in a hurry! They do match your
deposits 100% for the first three months. HOWEVER - what I discovered is that they deposit the match ANNUALLY,
not daily. But really, it doesn't matter to me when they do it - only that they do it. My husband works at B of A, so I'm
not worried about it happening. Good luck if you decide to Keep the Change. Happy saving!

Looking for Ideas

November 2nd, 2005 at 06:23 pm

It's been a good week so far - though expensive. But the beginning of the month always is - with rent and bills due. Oh
well, at least we have it and everything is paid! Plus I paid the registration for the 4Runner yesterday - that was $178.00,
but we'd planned for it, so not a big deal.

We always seem to do fine. All of our savings plans are funded every month, all of our bills are paid on time, and we have
some money for fun little 'extras' here and there - like Wednesday nights out Usually it's just fast food or a sandwich
somewhere... nothing fancy. We just like a break in the routine. Together, Kevin and I make a good living with
absolutely no complaints. We have very little debt (just our cars) and put away a good chunk of money. However, I'm
looking for ways to increase our income.

I didn't find this site until August. I see that there is a $5,000.00 by the end of the year challenge. I didn't participate
because I didn't think that would give me a lot of time. However, Kevin and I have talked about it, and we're going
to start our $5,000.00 challenge the first of the year. We're going to make it a game - to see how many things we
can come up with to make extra money, and to see how much 'extra' money we can save from those endeavors
during the course of a year. That said, I'm looking for ideas on how we can make extra cash. We both work full time
as it is, so we don't have a lot of time to dedicate to a second 'job' per se, but we do have some free time that can be
utilized for this challenge. We have a brand new savings account that we opened for the B of A Keep the Change program.
We decided to just go ahead and use this account to deposit the extra money in. The only money that will go into that
account is the Keep the Change deposits, and whatever we make on the extra program.

So far:

~ I know that we will list on ebay. We used to do this a lot and then just drifted out of the habit. We both enjoy it,
it will just be a matter of taking the time to sit down and list them items. We have some things ready to list, but I
think I want to wait until the holidays are over and start fresh for the new year. I'll store the items in the garage until
we're ready.

~ We already collect recyclables. From now on, we'll put all of that money into the extra account. We don't make a ton
of money doing this, but we kind of look at it as free money. We recycle our own items, items that mom and dad give
us, some bottles and cans from school, and what we find when we're out walking Slippers. For very little effort, we make
a few hundred dollars a year just by doing this one little thing. The recycle place is less than 2 miles away, so it's really

~ I was thinking about making my gift baskets and selling them. I can make up some flyers and display the baskets
at school. I could also list these on ebay. I won't make a ton of money doing this either, but probably a few
hundred dollars.

~ I was also thinking of making greeting cards and selling those. Again, I could sell them at school. I could probably also
sell/display some things at a few of our other school sites and maybe at the district office.

~ I might be able to talk Kevin into putting the money he makes from umpiring into the extra fund, too. Technically,
it IS extra, but he does use it to buy things from time to time. I don't know if he would be willing to fork it all over
for this experiment. However, we might work out a deal where he keeps half and the other half goes into the account.
We'll talk about it and see what we come up with.

~ All rebates and refunds would go in here, too.

What other ideas are floating around out there??

Busy weekend!

October 30th, 2005 at 07:51 pm

Kevin had two games on Saturday -- early ones (!), so that meant I got an early start, too. I cleaned the oven, cleaned
the stove (lifted the range portion and cleaned where the pilot light, etc. is), and took everything out of the fridge and
cleaned that really well, too. It felt sooo good to get those things done! I also did a load of laundry, picked up the back
yard and went grocery shopping. When I got back in the car at grocery store, I noticed that it wasn't quite 11:00 a.m!
LOL not a bad list of things to have done by that time.

When I got home, I put all of the groceries away. I did pretty well at the grocery store - saved about $50.00. Since I
cleaned out the fridge and tossed some things that had gotten old or only had a spoonful left in the container, this
grocery trip included replacing some of those things. Plus I bought a large package of ground beef (for meatloaf), a value
pack of chicken thighs (for Cuban marinated chicken) and a tri-tip roast that was discounted $4.00 because the expiration was
Sunday. Fine with me! I bought it, browned it on the stove and put it in the crockpot for dinner today. Kevin had another
game today and I went with him. It was wonderful to have dinner already done when we got home! We rounded out
the meal with leftover garlic green beans and pasta salad from Debbie's birthday party yesterday. It was delicious!

I stashed another $20.00 in our emergency household cash fund. I put a few dollars in there whenever I can. I just
think it's a good idea to have some cash on hand in case there is ever a big emergency - like a major earthquake. If it's
bad enough and the power goes out, we will have no access to ATMs, so cash will definitely be necessary.

Our registration for the 4Runner is due this week - it's $178.00. Not a worry - it's in the budget =)

It's been a while!

October 25th, 2005 at 06:45 pm

I swear I don't know where the time goes! Well I guess it doesn't help that I got sick...AGAIN! Yep, this time it was
strep throat - I'm just getting over it. I felt fine until late morning on Saturday and I could tell that my throat hurt and
felt kind of funny. I was so achy and exhausted it was all I could do in the afternoon to wait until Kevin got home from
umpire camp before I went to bed. Sure enough, I woke up with a fever, chills...and spots all over the back of my throat.
Ugh. I started taking Keflex right away and was feeling a bit better by Monday. Man, I'm just tired of being sick! Monday
afternoon one of our teachers left early - she had a doctor's appointment because she thought she had..you guessed it,
strep throat! Well, at least I'm in good company =)

Saturday morning before I wasn't feeling well, mom and I went to a neighborhood yard sale. I'm so glad we went! I
found 5 practically brand new computer games for the boys! They were only $2.00 a piece - I thought that was a
GREAT deal! I asked my sister when she thought we should give them to the boys and she said to give them to them
for Christmas. I feel kinda funny about that since technically, they're not 'new', but you couldn't tell the difference -
they are still in the original boxes, the games are current titles and the boys have played them at the home of a friend
and absolutely loved them. I guess I shouldn't feel funny about it - we also bought new outerwear vests, hats and
scarves and those are new! lol I know they'll love them anyway.

After the yard sale, mom and I went to Costco. We each bought a few Christmas gifts and I bought some supplies
for the cookie bake and to make some fudge.

Bank of America has a new program called 'Keep the Change'. The deal is, when you use your debit card for a purchase
and the purchase is, say, $5.22 - they will round the amount up to $6.00. You only PAY the $5.22, but they put the
remaining .88 in your savings account --- and then MATCH it! They will match it 100% for the first three months, and
then 5% thereafter. Hey, whether it's 100% or 5%, free money is free money! Of course Kevin and I signed up
right away! I'm really excited to see how fast our money will grow. Even though Kevin is an associate at BofA, we
didn't have an existing savings account (our savings gets better interest at the credit union), so we opened one specifically
for this program - so it will be easy to track how fast the money accumulates =)

Good deals at Costco

October 17th, 2005 at 07:28 pm

Well Kevin and I joined Costco over the weekend. We found a lot of great deals and had to restrain ourselves! lol Actually
we bought some groceries - plenty to last the week and then some -- probably enough for two weeks. The only thing I
should have to go to the grocery store for are milk and eggs. We also bought a few gifts; one for my sister for her
birthday at the end of this month, and one that my mother in law will take back with her to the family when she goes
to El Paso next month.

The gift for my sister is an amazing array of 'girlie' pampering products. The kit came in a faux leather box that you can
use for storage when emptied. Among the goodies inside are: scented drawer liners, scented padded hangers, foot
massage cream, body butter, milk bath, bath seltzers, soap, body scrub, shower gel, a gel eye mask, bath crystals,
a few scrubbies...and a few other things I can't remember at the moment. It's a beautiful set that would sell in the
department stores for $100.00 or more -- but we bought it for just $40.00!! We thought that was a great deal and
I know my sister will love it. Rarely does she have an opportunity to pamper herself, so this will be a nice indulgence
for her.

The other gift that mother in law will take to El Paso is See's candy. Normally a 1-pound box of See's candy sells for
$13.60. Costco had a 2-pack that contained 2 gift certficates for 1-pound each of See's - for just $19.99. We thought
that was a great deal - and mother in law agreed, so we bought them and she will get the candy before she leaves. Both
her dad and her aunt just adore the candy so it will be fun for her to give that to them as a special gift =) I think with
the holidays coming up, the next time we go to Costco (probably over the weekend), we'll get a few more of those

We also looked around at the ingredients I'll need for both the holiday candy making session the day after Thanksgiving,
and the cookie bake in December. Boy, I'm definitely buying ALL of the ingredients there! Everything was much
less expensive.

I'm so glad we bought the Costco membership. Though it's $45.00 to join, I think we'll save much, much more than
that and the membership will pay for itselft in no time.

The good thing about being sick..

October 14th, 2005 at 08:31 am

if there is one, is that I don't spend money on anything! I've been home sick with a bad head cold yesterday and today.
I haven't felt like doing a thing. I also don't like to spend a lot of money on cold medicines. I really don't know that
they work all that well - other than making me really sleepy. They might lessen the symptoms a degree or two, but they
don't do anything to shorten the duration, so to heck with them. It's just lots of rest, hot tea, and lotion-added tissues.

On Wednesday I did spend $45.00 on a Christmas gift for my mom. She's been wanting a new dried floral wreath for
over the fireplace and I found a beautiful one on eBay --- for at least half the cost I would have spent here in Southern
California. The winning bid was $36.00 - and the rest was shipping. I can't wait to get it! I hope it's as beautiful in
person as it was in the picture =) I think we're finished buying for my mom and my dad. We have Kevin's dad and his
wife taken care of, I have some things for Kevin, something for my sis, and something for my brother in law - plus
something for Kevin's grandpa and his brother and his wife. We still need to buy for our nephews - we were thinking
about a Playstation or Xbox. We are going to go look at them on Saturday at Costco. I also need to finish buying for
Kevin - I know what I'm going to get, I just need to pick it up. And we need something for his mom. For the life of me
I can't figure out what to get her. I've asked Kevin and he has no ideas either. I'll keep thinking about it...maybe I'll
come up with something perfect. I sure hope so!

And we have dental insurance why?

October 12th, 2005 at 06:49 am

So I go in on Monday for my dental appointment. A scheduled appointment mind you, for a filling. I have a baby tooth
that never came out and there is no tooth there to replace it, so it's stayed. It's virtually unnoticeable - in fact, Kevin
didn't even know it was a baby tooth until I pointed it out to him! lol Anyway - the last time I was in for a cleaning, my
dentist told me that the very top of that tooth was beginning to erode and he would need to put a filling there to insure
that the tooth would stay put and not break off at some point. Fine - I schedule the appointment like a good patient.

I get there on time and am taken to the treatment room where I'm asked to sign an agreement that states I know my
insurance will not cover this procedure and I will pay, out of pocket, the $140.00 required for the procedure. I asked
the technician if this was correct. I said that there must be a misunderstanding - the doctor told me I HAD to have this
done, it was not a request on my part. She said that it was considered 'cosmetic' and therefore the insurance would not
cover it. Huh? Cosmetic? He told me I needed it so that the tooth would not get weaker and break off...how is that
cosmetic? The doctor then came in and explained the same thing that the technician had just explained. I asked him
what would happen if the tooth did break off - he told me the insurance would pay to have it pulled and then cover most
of the cost of the bridge I would need to replace it. Oh yeah, because that is soooo much less expensive than covering
this so-called cosmetic procedure! He said if I wanted to skip the procedure, the tooth was okay and to just be careful
it. We could consider it again in a few months. I'm thinking, you know...this tooth has been just fine for 42 years - we'll
just leave it alone and think about it if something ever does happen to it.

Dental insurance indeed! Grrrrr.

...and a good weekend was had by all

October 10th, 2005 at 06:50 am

We knew it was going to be a busy weekend, so Kevin and I got a jump start on it by starting out laundry on Thursday
night. We've decided that, for the most part, we can use the cold water cycle on our clothes and they turn out just
fine. We've bought the Tide Coldwater and really do like it, but it is majorly expensive, so we don't use that. Purex
reformulated their product to make it more effective in cold water, so we buy that and add Borax to the whites. They
turn our pretty well, but about once a month or so I give all of the whites a good soak in hot water and a little bleach.
Between our new laundry method and our new hot water heater, we've been saving a nice chunk on our gas bill =)

Friday night we did our grocery shopping and bought dinner there, too. We had a buy one sandwich, get one free coupon
from the deli, so we got a prime rib sandwich and a smoked ham, gouda and turkey sandiwch, plus a Pepsi for $6.00!!
That's a great deal! We ate one sandwich and brought the other one home for lunch on Sunday. We did our grocery
shopping for the week and bought another grocery card to use during the summer months while I'm off work...and our
grand total was only $77.00. We think that's pretty good. That's really about our average these days. It's pretty good
because that means our groceries were only about $52.00 - because the grocery card was for $25.00. Fifty dollars for
three meals a day for 2 people is pretty good. Groceries have gotten sooo expensive! Luckily, neither of us is all that
picky - thank goodness!

Saturday we went to the Avocado Festival in Carpinteria. It was lots of fun! Kevin and myself, his mom, my sister, brother
in law and twin nephews all drove up there together. We met in Thousand Oaks for breakfast (Deb and Bill treated), and
then dropped our car off at their house. We walked around all day, ate guacamole, signed up for a free night at a cute
little B&B that's right there on the water, bought a piece of fudge at Robataille's candy shop...and just had a great time.
On the way home we stopped in Ventura at our favorite antique store. It has new owners now and isn't quite as much
fun as it used to be, but it was still nice looking around. Then we hit the Souplantation in Camarillo for dinner. We tried
to buy for everyone, but Debbie wouldn't let us. That stinker! lol So when we got back to her house, we snuck some
money to at least help pay for gas under the vase in the living room. We told her as we were driving away so she didn't
have a chance to give it back!

Kevin worked a game on Sunday and earned $80.00! Way to go Kevy! That money will go on the credit card to help
finish off paying for our Hawaii excursions. We're almost finished with that - it will be completely paid off no later
than November. Yay!

Frontier House

October 5th, 2005 at 06:49 am

I borrowed the DVD set of the PBS show Frontier House from one of our teachers and watched the first three episodes
last night. Boy, am I ever thankful that I wasn't around then! I probably would have survived, but I'm not altogether
sure. It certainly was a difficult life filled with trials and tribulations - we have many of those today, too, but they are
far different now than they were then. Interesting show - I'm really enjoying it. I'm also borrowing the first three seasons of Northern Exposure from a friend. I just love free entertainment!

Well I signed us up for $200.00 in a flex spending account. The agent says she thinks we'll use it so much that $200.00
won't nearly be enough, but this is really just a trial for us. She may be absolutely right and next year we'll add more,
but this will be a good start. I also asked her about a strange letter I'd received from their company in May/June. The
letter stated that my life insurance policy was no longer in effect. Then, when I received my next paycheck, I saw that
they were still taking the life insurance deduction out of my check, so I assumed the letter was a mistake. The agent
called her office and, sure enough, the policy was no longer in force. We called our payroll department to see what had
happened and, apparently, they only sent in ONE payment for me, but had been taking it out of my check all year. Great.
The called the company and told them they would issue a retro check with all of the back payments, so the company
said I was fine - completely covered. Sometimes our payroll department makes me soooo mad! The one person who
does the classified payroll is a nice lady, but she makes a TON of mistakes. Grrrrrr. Well, at least it all worked out in the
end, but still, it's aggrivating!

How did it get to be October...already?!

October 3rd, 2005 at 06:48 am

I can't believe October is here already! That means the holidays are just around the corner. Where did the year go?

It was a nice weekend. We spent a little money, but nothing too extravagant. On Saturday we went to the horse races
with my mom and dad and Kevin's mom. We had a really good time. Didn't win a whole lot, but didn't lose a whole lot
either. We ended up spending about $80.00; it was $8.50 each to get in, our combined lunch total was $15.00, and we
spent another $7.00 on 2 large sodas. That means we only lost about $40.00 total on betting 8 races for each of us -
not too bad at all we thought. And we all had a really fun day! ...so it was worth it.

Yesterday we just stayed home mostly, and did things around the house. We finished off all the laundry, picked up around
the house, Kevin washed the car and I went grocery shopping. I spent $79.00 which is really just around the average for
us. With the exception of dinner out one night a week (usually casual dining, nothing extravagant), and an ocassional
lunch out here and there, we eat all of our meals at home (or bring them from home). Plus, I used a slew of coupons and
our loyalty card - so I saved $70.00!! I thought that was pretty good. We also went to Target and picked up a few
things. One of them was an unplanned purchase, but it was such a good deal I couldn't pass it up. They had seasons
1 and 2 of the Gilmore Girls on sale for $18.88. That's a huge savings over the normal $49.99 price tag, so I bought
both seasons. Plus, by sending in the proof of purchase, I'll get a $10.00 rebate, so both seasons together were right around
$30.00. Yayay! I love that show =) Maybe I'll ask for seasons 3 and 4 for Christmas.

I also made turkey soup yesterday with the leftover turkey breast from last week. The soup is delicious! I just love
homemade soup. It's all divied up in containers and we'll take it for lunches this week.

More later - I have to go to work now!

Emergency Stash

September 29th, 2005 at 06:51 am

Thanks to everyone for your input on the flex account. I think we've decided to go ahead and give it a try this year and
see how it works out. We'll dedicate $200.00 to it and see how far that goes. If it does well and we need more next
year, we'll add it. If we end up having money left at the end of the year, we'll stock our medicine cabinet with OTC items.

I'm going to try the emergency stash of cash again. We tried it last year, but ended up spending it. I'm going to try to
take $40.00 or so from each pay period until we've built up to around $500.00. I think that's plenty to have on hand
in case of an emergency. Honestly, if worse came to worse, we'd have more than that here anyway. Our change jar
at any given time has $50.00 - $100.00 in it, plus we have a stash of old and new bills that we could use if we had to -
there's at least another $300.00, so I know we'd be fine.

I'd sent in a form to General Mills for a rebate on Cheerios. You had to supply a copy of the original receipt - which I did.
The receipt showed that I bought two boxes of cinnamon apple Cheerios for $5.00. Because I bought two boxes, I
sent in for two rebates. I received the checks in the mail yesterday - they sent TWO $5.00 rebates! Yahoo! Those,
plus a check from mom for $18.00, will go into the account today.

It's been a good week so far! Well, except for allergies. Ugh!


September 27th, 2005 at 06:48 am

Well it's getting to be that time of year again - open enrollment for medical insurance. Kevin and I are very fortunate
in that, because I'm covered on his company's medical plan, my district pays me MY medical benefit in cash on my
paycheck. We then take that money right off the top and put it into our savings account. It adds up to a nice little
chunk of change. He was paying for vision and dental insurance before we got married, but once married, I could add him
to my dental and vision for no additional charge. Yet another savings! I also buy disability insurance because my school
does not pay for disability for me. We sure were glad we had this last spring when I had to have surgery and was off
work for 6 weeks.

We both buy additional life insurance through our employers so that we get it at a group rate - so we're covered there.
The only other thing we're considering is putting money into a flex account for medical reimbursements. Does anyone
do this? The only thing I'm leary about is dedicating too much money to it. It's a use it or lose it proposition, so we'd
have to be careful about how much we put in versus how much we spend. I believe the plan also said that we could
use it to be reimbursed for co-payments, too. Does this sound correct? I'd appreciate any input that any of you have on
this subject. Thanks!

Weekend Recap

September 26th, 2005 at 06:51 am

Boy, do I ever hate getting up on Monday morning. Once I'm at work I'm fine - it's just getting up and getting going!

This past weekend was really a nice one. We didn't end up going to the fair - we just thought it was too expensive. We
ended up spending more money than if we'd gone to the fair, but at least we have something to show for it! Kevin
has a Mervyn's card that we never use. They changed their logo, so he got a new card in the mail on Friday. Inside
with the card were 20 stickers that you could place on 20 items and receive a 20% discount - even on clearanced items.
Kevin had been talking about buying a few new things, so we decided to go to Mervyn's on Saturday and shop. Boy did
we! We ended up spending $188.00 - but for that money we bought: a pair of jeans, 5 button down shirts, 4 colored
T-shirts, a skirt for me and 3 sweaters for me. Then we went to Sears and Kevin bought a nice pair of slacks and a
lightweight jacket. We had lunch at Quiznos (coupon). We invited MIL over to dinner on Saturday night ant had a nice
visit, too. Just spaghetti - nothing fancy.

We also went to the grocery store and used another $10.00 off coupon, and many of the coupons that came in the
Grand Re-Opening coupon book. The fridge and freezer are FULL!

Stopped by mom and dad's yesterday to see the Spookytown Halloweenn village now that it's all set up. It's absolutely
adorable! They both are really pleased with it and that makes me happy. Mom said she was so glad I started Dad on this
idea because he loves it, but never would have done it on his own. We had lunch with them (just sandwiches at their
house) and visited for a while - then we came home and took naps. All in all it was a really nice weekend =)

It's payday AND Friday...

September 23rd, 2005 at 06:16 pm

I just love it when paydays fall on a Friday! One of those things is good...two even better =)

Well we were thinking about going to the county fair tomorrow, but I don't know. We found out that it will be $15.00
EACH just to get in the door - plus $10.00 to park. Then there's the food once you get inside. We'll probably talk more
about it tonight and then make a final decision. It just sounds so expensive to me! Forty dollars just to get us going and
probably another $25.00 or so on food. Yikes! We'll see.

Other than that, not much planned for the weekend. We'll do the usual - laundry and grocery shopping. No matter
what else I do, those two things MUST be completed on the weekend. Doing so sure makes our weekdays that much
easier. We both need to iron some things, too, so we'll probably do that.

If we don't go to the fair, maybe we'll drop by mother in law's house with dessert tomorrow night. Who knows?

Playing Catch-up

September 20th, 2005 at 06:35 pm

Here I am - more days have passed and I haven't posted in a while. I've just been feeling so tired by the time I get home
that I don't even look at the computer. For the last week or so pretty much all of what I've been doing at work is
data input - all of the information from our student emergency cards. By the time I get home the last thing I want to do
is type! But I'm almost finished and things are starting to work their way into place.

This past Saturday we had our investment club meeting. I'm so glad I started that club. It's fun! And though we hven't
made a ton of money, we've all done okay - and we've all learned a lot! Which, after all, is really why I started the club
in the first place =)

We had lunch with MIL and met her new puppy on Saturday, too. It was a nice visit - and she is going to have sooo much
FUN spoiling that puppy. I'm so glad - she's needed a companion for a while - I'm happy that she has one, and I know
she is, too.

Sunday Kevin had two games (he's an umpire) - yay! Another $100.00 to the credit card. Our summer Hawaiian
vacation is nearly paid off! We'd paid for the airfare, accomodations and rental car in cash before we left, so we only used
the credit card for our excursions and a few meals - nothing too drastic. I ran errands on Sunday and went to mom and
dad's to visit. Kevin met us up there and we all had a nice Sunday dinner together. I love that! It's such a nice way to
end a weekend/start a week. I bought a few little items to take to mom and dad, too, so that was fun. I thought my
dad might enjoy starting a collection of the animated Halloween and Christmas villages. They really are cute, and he
loves that kind of stuff. I bought him a few pieces to start him on his way. He seemed to really like the idea! I bought
mom a photo holder for all of the photos we've been giving her, and a really cute wedding photo/scrapbook. The pages
are already set up in a wedding theme - all you have to do is add the stickers (which are included) and your own photos.
She loved it! I think it will be a fun thing for her to do when she finally retires completely - which she says will be next
month. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Last night I made a meatloaf - and there was so much left over that I made two 'mini' meatloves as well. That's fine
with us - we love meatloaf! We had the two minis for dinner last night and now we can have meatloaf sandwiches most
of the week. I actually like meatloaf sandwiches almost more than meatloaf the first time around -- almost. Then I got
a jump on tonight's dinner. I browned the chicken, made the sauce and added the pearl onions to the crockpot; for
tonight's dinner, all I had to do was take the crock from the fridge this morning, turn on the pot...and let it finish cooking.
It smelled so good when I got home from work today! The only other thing I did was sautee some fresh spinach to go
with it. I can hardly wait for Kevin to get home for dinner!

Time Flies!

September 15th, 2005 at 06:19 pm

Wow, I can't believe I haven't posted anything since the 8th...and it's already the 14th! Where does the time go?

Last weekend we spend a lot on groceries - but we got a lot in return and actually saved a great deal of money. We were
able to use two of our $10.00 off coupons by going to two different grocery stores. Both stores are right in our neighborhood,
so we didn't go out of our way to save the extra $ (read: we didn't use up a lot of gas to save a little money). We also
went to Trader Joe's and bought coffee. It was about $40.00, but the coffee is stashed in the freezer so we're set for a
while. I know it's truly a luxury, but I just LOVE their coffee (Bay Blend) and so does Kevin. Nothing else tasts quite the
same, so we splurge on Trader Joe's. Hey, you have to have at least one vice!

The magazine drive is going on at school. I love it! Since Kevin and I are both magazineaholics, this is a wonderful
outlet for us. Because I'm an employee, we get an extra 50% discount on all magazine titles. We can both satisfy our
magazine habits for a whole lot less money...and that's a good thing!

We paid bills for the month and still (most are due on the 15th), and funded all savings vehicles...and have about $800.00
left in our checking account until next Friday...when I get paid again. I LOVE the fact that Kevin and I have alternating
pay schedules and thus, end up getting a pay check just about every week.

I'm curious to see if we will get raises this year. Money is not quite as tight at the district as it has been...and last year
we still got an increase. We usually begin to hear rumblings either way by mid-October, so I won't have too long to
wait. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

I'm exhausted

September 8th, 2005 at 07:35 pm

Man, every year I forget how tiring the start of school really is. The kids started yesterday. I'm supposed to start work
at 7:30 a.m., but I got there a bit early yesterday to get ready - I figured we'd be busy. That's an understatement!!
By 7:30 I had a LINE of people out the door and the phones ringing off the hook. There were supposed to be two others
in the office with me at 7:30 and no one showed up until 8:00! By then there had to have been at least 100 people
standing in line, phones still ringing off the hook...and I thought I'd tear my hair out. Somewhere along the way we
dealt with everyone and by 10:00 a.m., things were fairly calm. Boy, do I HATE that! It's so stressful. I was so tired
by the time I got home, we decided to go out for Mexican food...and I had 1 1/2 margaritas. They were good at the time,
but I woke up with the worst headache. Oh well. We ended up spending $32.00 - which I hate, but at the time I felt
it was worth it.

Well tomorrow is payday - and Friday. Yahoo! I love it when they both fall on the same day =) It should be a fairly
calm weekend. We have laundry and grocery shopping to do. I have more $10.00 off coupons that I got in the mail
this week. I just love those! I'm going to start buying our extra grocery gift cards this Saturday. I'll just put them in a
nice, safe place until we need them next summer. We also need to go to Trader Joe's for more coffee. On Sunday we
have our final tickets of the season to the Dodger game. We're going with sister and family, and I know it will be fun.
Dad bought these tickets for us - and they include hot dogs, drinks and parking. We might spend about $5.00 on
frozen lemonade, but that will be about it.

I got confirmation emails that me free cereal rebate checks are being processed. Yay!

I also want to buy the chef's knife for Debbie this weekend. Well, that is I'll order the knife. I don't need it until
Christmas anyway, so it will be here way before then.

I love Mondays! ...when it's a holiday

September 5th, 2005 at 09:25 am

Well we finished working on cleaning out the cellar and restocking our emergency supplies. I'd like to get more water to
put down there, but other than that, everything is set. Smart and Final is having a sale - buy 1 case of water, get 2 free.
I think we will stop by there later today and pick that up. It made both of us feel better knowing that everything was
re-freshed and available to us in an emergency. We have canned goods stored on a metal shelving unit and other things
(medical supplies, candles, batteries, matches, tools, gloves and 'soft' foods) stored in big plastic bins. I think at this point,
we're as ready as we can be...I just hope we never have to use those items...because that would mean there was a
major emergency.

Yesterday we relaxed. Later in the day we went to mom and dad's for an end of summer swim a BBQ steak dinner. We
had a nice time...and the steaks were delicious! I ate every morsel of mine =) Mom also insisted that we take some of
the dessert home - angel food cake iced with real whipped cream and strawberries. Sounds good to us! We were all
supposed to go to lunch today - MIL, Brian, Amanda, Kevin and myself - so we thought we'd take this cake to share.
Well, as always, plans changed...now they're all coming here for lunch. Oh well, at least they're bringing lunch...we'll
still supply the cake for dessert.

School actually starts on Wednesday, but due to massive scheduling changes, tomorrow will be another horrendously
busy day. I can't wait for school to start...at least then things can begin to settle down and get back to normal!

Working around the house

September 3rd, 2005 at 09:25 am

Well I worked around the house yesterday on my last Friday off. It was great! I did spend a bit of money that probably
wasn't 'necessary', but it was for around the house and we will use everything, so I don't feel too badly about it. I had
a fun day accomplishing all I did - vacuuming, all laundry, meal planning, coupons, grocery store, Target and Big Lots,
cleaned kitchen well and changed all the cupboard and drawer knobs...it was fun! But I sure was tired by the time I
finished everything.

One of the things I bought yesterday at Target was a radio for our emergency supply area. I realized I didn't have one!
That wouldn't be good - we would definitely need to have information, so I found and inexpensive radio at Target - it
was only $9.99 - and will stash it with fresh batteries down in the cellar with all of the other emergency items. I am
going to go through those items this weekend and actually make a list of what we have -- so I can better determine what
we still need.

I did pretty well at the grocery store - buying items with my loyalty card, using manufacturers coupons and my $10.00
off coupon, I ended up saving $43.00! I think that's pretty good. I didn't end up buying my stock ups for emergencies
yesterday because I hadn't gone through our supplies yet. However, since I'm doing that this weekend, I'm going to
make my list and then stock up either Monday or next weekend.

We were thinking of going to a museum today, but decided to scrap that idea. It would be $10.00 a piece for the admission,
$6.00 to park, plus the gas to get there. We decided to scrap that adventure for today and save the $.

4-Day Weekend!

September 1st, 2005 at 08:40 pm

Man am I ever glad that I have a 4-day weekend. Work has been so busy the last few weeks that I am exhausted! This
will be our last Friday off, but that's okay - I'm so grateful that during non-school times (after school is out in June and
before it starts in September), we have Fridays off.

Eventhough it was a busy day, it was a good one, too. We had our first faculty meeting of the year - which went well. I
had contacted our local Mimi's restaurant and they made a donation of 3 dozen muffins. Our local Trader Joe's also made
a donation of fresh fruit - we had plenty and then some! In fact, since there is a 4-day weekend, those of us in the office
split up the muffins and some of the fruit that wouldn't last the weekend...and I brought home 4 HUGE muffins, 2 plums,
2 nectarines, 2 bananas and 2 Asian pears. Yummy! Breakfast for several days! Then the district had it's annual
welcome back BBQ and benefits fair. We went to that and had BB'd hamburgers, chips, drinks and brownies for lunch - for
free =) Then we visited the vendors at the benefits fair and picked up information and freebies. One of the offerings at
the fair today was a 10 minute massage. Mercy - it was wonderful. However, I must say - I've been so busy and stressed
that the therapist really did a number on me...and all afternoon and evening I've felt like a limp dishrag! I can hardly
wait to hit my pillow - which I'll be doing very soon!

Then, this evening a neighbor came to my door and asked if he could trade some of the lemons on our tree for some of
the apples on his tree -- and I said of course!! Our fruit bowl runneth over. lol

Tomorrow I want to get all of the laundry done as well as the grocery shopping. I'll be using another $10.00 off coupon -
and with all of the rises in gas prices, I'm going to allow about $25.00 extra or so for some stocking up. I'm also going
to check the stock of things that we have in the cellar and replace emergency batteries and check all emergency supplies
down there to make sure that it's ready to go in case we need it. Not that I'm anticipating we will, but then again in
earthquake country, you just never know.

We've decided that, on Saturday, we're going to make a pilgrimage to the old Ambassador hotel. It's been slated for
demolition, but there has been a group that's been fighting it; they gave up the ghost this past week and they are going
to go ahead and begin the demolition. We'd like to get some last photographs before that happens. What a shame that
it will be torn down - sad though it is, it has historical significance that will be ashame to lose, but there you have it
- progress I suppose.

Another percent

August 31st, 2005 at 06:14 pm

Kevin decided that we could add another 1% to his 401k at work. Fine with me! The more we can save, the better
off we'll be. That brings his total contribution to 11%; his employer matches 5%. That's just the 401k - they also
have a company pension plan for which Kevin is eligible. As for me, my employer takes 7% right off the top of my salary;
they put that away for retirement - they then contribute 9.34% to my retirement. We feel so fortunate to be able to
do this - before any employer contributions are added in, we are contributing 18% to our retirement funds!!

I think we'll also be getting a small increase in salary at work in November. I plan on taking whatever the new amount is
and socking that away in our credit union savings account. We've been putting $850.00 a month in that account - I want
it to be $1,000.00 a month by the end of the year. We also have our own individual 'fun money' accounts - we'll keep
those as they are so we have a little something to play with. Kevin usually uses it for umpire supplies and equipment, and
I usually use it for girls day lunches, clothes - things that aren't really necessary, but are sure fun!

I found another Christmas gift I'd like to buy, but I want to wait until September 10th - I will have gotten my second
paycheck of the year by then and things will be a little more comfortable. The gift is a really nice chef's knife for Deb.
She looked at it over the summer and decided that it was way too expensive. I found it through a catalog for about
half of what she found it for. However, the deal ends on September 30th, so I have make SURE I order it before then.
Shouldn't be a problem =)


August 29th, 2005 at 08:14 pm

Well, we've decided that, with the outrageous price of gasoline, Kevin is going to try taking the Metro into work. We think
it will work out well. He currently pays $30.00 per month for his parking space. Though the commute isn't really that
far, there are times that he just sits in traffic that doesn't move - which uses up a lot of gas. He fills the tank an average
of 3 1/2 times per month at approximately $30.00 per fill. By taking the Metro, he will pay $52.00 per month for the
rail pass and only have to fill the car about twice a month. We will still end up saving money in the long run -- especially
since they are now saying that the price of a gallon of gas is going to continue to climb. Great.

In that same vein, I am going to check with one of our teachers to see if she'd like to carpool. Maybe not even everyday
but every other day - we would both still end up saving on gas in the long run. I don't know if she'll want to, but she
only lives about 5 blocks from us, so it's worth asking. As it is, it only takes me about 7 minutes to get to work, so it's
not a long commute, but hey, every little bit helps!

I got the rest of my paycheck today. However, the payroll clerk tried to get me to wait until the first of the month. I
was afraid that something else might happen since that's not my normal time to get paid, so I told her I really needed
it today...and she said fine. Thank goodness. I like her - she's a really nice lady, but she makes a TON of mistakes. Not
really a plus for someone in her position! I figured better safe than sorry =)

I bought two boxes of Cheerios over the weekend. Both of them have a code inside for a free box by logging on and completeing a form...so we'll be getting two FREE boxes of cereal! Free is always good in my book.

We were sooo exhausted when we got home from the Dodger game yesterday. It was mercilessly hot out there - I thought
we were going to have a heat stroke. Anyway, when we got home I was so tempted to just say 'lets order out for dinner',
but I was VERY good and quickly put the chicken in the oven to bake before I could utter those budget busting words. LOL
Besides, we already had biscuits leftover from breakfast and we'd picked up two deli salads that were on sale Saturday at the
market - so I really didn't have to do to much to finish up dinner. Still, I was proud of myself for sticking to my guns and
not spending money going out.

More bargains this weekend!

August 28th, 2005 at 09:40 am

So Friday I stopped at JC Penney again to see if I could find any more bargains in the 75% off range. ...and I did! I found
two pairs of shorts - one denim, one khaki. They are the Crazy Horse brand that I like and they fit perfectly. They had
been $29.00 - which is ghastly! I would never spend that for shorts! At any rate, they were 75% off, so I got them for
$6.49 each! Great deal in my book! I also bought a few Crazy Horse T-shirts. I put those away so that I have something
fun and new next spring =) All in all I bought the two pairs of shorts and 5 tops for $47.00. I think those are great deals.
Since I bought so many things this year at great bargains, next summer I won't have to buy a thing!

Friday I also went to Walmart and picked up a few things. I used several coupons there - which I often forget when I'm
shopping at Walmart - and saved about $10.00 in coupons. Pretty good. They don't have a regular grocery store in our
Walmart, but they do have a nice grocery sections, so I bought the things I needed there. Altogether I spent about $60.00.
Yesterday we went to the grocery store. We bought the rest of what we needed for the week and stocked up on a few
good meat deals for the freezer. We were able to use one of our $10.00 off coupons, so our total came to just $50.00.
For all of the meat we bought, I think that's pretty decent.

Last night we BBQ'd at mother in laws house. We had a really nice time =) It was nice because we brought some things
and she had some things - and it turned out to be a really nice dinner with about 1/4 of the expense of going out. Then
we walked around Victoria Gardens. What a neat place! We went there once, but it was after my surgery and I didn't
have a lot of energy to walk around. I'd like go back again - may Veteran's day weekend or something when it's not
quite so crowded. But it was fun, even with all the people there. We went to the Kirkland store - my favorite place! - and
found some great deals. They had these adorable ceramic bird tealight candle holders. They were on sale from $3.99 to
$1.99! I bought two of them and I think I'll give them to Rose as a Christmas gift. They also had some of there
Christmas items out already and they were really cute - and also great deals. They had small ceramic hurricane-type
lamps that hold tealight candles - some had santas, some snowmen and some angels. They were only $2.99 each! I
bought 3 of the santas and will hold them as 'just in case' gifts. They also had adorable snowmen salt and pepper shakers
for $2.99. I bought two sets of those also. It's rare to find something that's really nice for that small amount of money,
so I thought I'd buy a few to have on hand. We also found some beautiful candle holders for the house - very Tuscan
looking in burgundy - just perfect for our house. They were on sale at $10.99 for a set of three. All in all we spent
at total of $30.00. I also love shopping there because their tax base is less than ours! Yet another bonus =)

Half a paycheck, $10.00 off coupons, and TGIF!

August 26th, 2005 at 08:36 am

I've been so busy at work the last week I've barely had a chance to do anything. Thanks goodness we're still in the Fridays
off realm. Today and next Friday - then it's back to the five day work week...whatever shall I do? lol

Okay, so yesterday was to be my first paycheck of the new school year! I checked our account online .... and I only received
half of my paycheck! Huh? So I called payroll and asked what had happened. Apparently they 'forgot' that I started on
August 2nd and not August 16th (as the elementary school office managers do) - so she only paid me from the 16th.
Great. She said she would request the balance of my check from the county right away and I would receive another
check on Monday. That's fine - luckily we don't 'need' it for anything right away. It's just so frustrating because pretty
much every year I can count on some glitch with that first paycheck. I've been there 9 years - you'd think they'd have
it straight by now. Oh well, what can you do? At least I'll get the rest of it soon.

To the person who cautioned me about being careful about the expirations of gift cards, I appreciate the reminder =)
However, I live in California and a year or so ago they passed a law that says that gift cards cannot expire. That's why
I was thinking it would be a good deal for us to do that. In fact, I have a friend in Canada who sent me her Starbuck's
giftcards that had expired there. They still took them here in California =) Yay!

Several months back we were receiving $10.00 off a $50.00 grocery purchase coupons from Vons. I LOVED those
coupons and used them religiously! We stopped receiving them and I was so disappointed. However, yesterday in
the mail there was a postcard from Pavilions; it had two $10.00 off coupons! I was thrilled! Then, this morning on our
walk, I found another one of the postcards on the ground! Now I have four coupons for $10.00 off! And the coupons
don't expire for a month, so I'll use one every week...starting today! It's the little things in life, know what I mean? lol

I need to run a few errands today - Walmart, grocery shopping...and I might stop by JC Penney again to see if I can
pick up a few more bargains in the 75% off area. Plus, when I was there last weekend, I saw sets of 3 photo albums that
were really pretty - I thought they'd make a nice gift. I can't remember what the price was though, so I thought I'd
check that out. If they're reasonable I might pick up a few sets and give them out as gifts. Probably not for this
Christmas, but maybe for next. I'm pretty well set for this Christmas. I do have a few more gifts to buy, but I'm about
85% finished. Of those I have left to buy for, I at least have some ideas of what to get. That's half of the battle!

The last two days have been a blur...

August 23rd, 2005 at 06:17 pm

Oh my goodness - I always forget from year to year how much work is involved at the start of a new school year! I mean,
I know in reality that it's a ton of work, but once it's over, I guess I kind of block it out. Well I'm remembering now with
a vengeance!

I remember that last year during this time I planned for really easy, partially prepared meals for dinner. I'd forgotten
that until yesterday when I was too tired to come home and fix even the easiest meal. We had Baja Fresh for dinner.
Today during lunch I went to Trader Joes and bought a few things that will see us through the week without having
to get take out and without my having to cook. Greek salads, spinach salads, soup, chicken pot pies, sandwich fixings -
easy and fairly healthy things. What a sigh of relief! =)

This past Sunday I thought I'd take a look around JC Penney. They had 75% off all clearance merchandise. While it's
true it's summer items, living in Southern California, I can wear them for many months out of the year, so I don't mind
buying some things at the end of the season. I ended up buying 4 pairs of pants and two tops for $57.00 - I think that's
pretty good. One of them is a pair of cropped jeans that I can wear probably until early November, and two other pairs of
the pants are deep jewel toned colors that will also probably work until November. Then I can probably take them out
again around March - so $57.00 becomes an even better deal =)

I also found my small containers that I was looking for this weekend at the 99 cents store. Yay! That makes taking
things to work even easier. Over the course of the last four years, I've set up our little back office like a kitchen away
from home: small fridge, microwave, coffee maker, toaster oven, plates, bowls, glasses, cups, utensils, cutlery - you
name it, we have it. It makes things nicer for everyone - some of the comforts of home while you're at work.

One of my co-workers brought coffee in for me this morning. What a wonderful human being! lol After I left for work
I was thinking "I sure wished I'd brought more coffee with me!" We don't have a can of coffee at work at the moment,
so I couldn't make any when I got in. That was a wonderful surprise to find coffee waiting for me. We did have milk
in the little fridge, so I frothed up some milk and made lattes for us from the coffee. Yummy!

Time to take a quick nap before dinner. I need it!

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