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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!

Unbelievable

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
easy.

~ 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
certificates.

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.