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Archive for February, 2008

Library List - Leap Year Edition

February 29th, 2008 at 08:29 pm

I think its fun to share what I currently have borrowed from the library. Books are borrowed for 2 weeks, movies for 1. I'm planning on a sitting in front of the tv day on Sunday, so I planned accordingly Smile

DVDs:
300
Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger
Bones Season 1, Disc 4
Haunted Highway
The Hitcher
Lady in the Water
Next (With Nicholas Cage)
Poirot: Dumb Witness

Books:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien [Ficton]
Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money by Daniel Lapin
You're Broke Because You Want to Be by Larry Winget

I'm always open to suggestions on movies & books. Feel free to give me ideas.

Fates are against me lunch-wise

February 29th, 2008 at 09:06 am

I brought breakfast & lunch to work today. And now its lunch time and I realized that I forgot to bring my bread for my turkey sandwhich. I have the turkey & all the fixin's, but no bread. Then I went for my salad, and I have this huge one with lots of veggies & salad supreme seasoning. BUT no dressing. UGH! Foiled!

So now I'm munching on a granola bar & having a soda from home. I may even have some oatmeal. But there's no way I'm buying anything to eat.

Hopefully, I'll get out of work today. At least I know what I'm having for dinner. Turkey sandwich & salad Smile

New Student Loan Balance & March Thoughts

February 28th, 2008 at 07:29 pm

My private student loan is down to $4,013.09 with another $542.05 on its way now! I am chugging along with this thing. March will be a challanging month. My budget is SUPER tight.

I have an expected large expense in the form of a car repair. I'll get a diagnosis & estimate on Tuesday, when I take the car in.

I also have several non-regular expenses to deal with this month. I am hoping to cashflow as much as possible.

-I have a bigger than usual electric bill. I budget $120/mo and its $132 and change. I have reallocated funds from other household budget catagories to cover the overage

-I need to take my Advanced Defensive driving class ($27.00 fee) to ensure my car insurance rate at the lower amount. This will be be good for 3 years.

-I have a broken bifold door on my pantry and I really want to replace it. If its within the budget at all, I'd like to replace it this month. Estimated cost $40-45

I am also working with a slightly lowered grocery budget ($40.00 from 3/1 to 3/15) since I ridiculously splurged at Walmart on Monday and stocked up on LOTS of things. My goal is to buy only veggies and a few small items until the 15th.

At least yesterday & today were both No Spenders. Tomorrow will be too. I'm hoping to keep Saturday & Sunday as frugal as possible, but plans are up in the air and I don't know what my expenses may or may not be.


I also have an unexpected hiccup in the February-March Lunch challange, which I'll go into detail about later.

Putting the car into the shop

February 28th, 2008 at 09:42 am

My car, a 2002 Hyundai Sonata has been making a squealing noise for a while. Mostly when it starts up after being cold for awhile. Its likely a fan belt, but I've been putting off the repair.

Well, the noise has gotten worse. To the point of being embarrassing. At least the car is still running perfectly. So I made an appointment for next Tuesday to have it looked at. Hopefully, it won't be a big expense, but I do have funds in my car repairs savings.



As for today's Lunch. I'm right on track.
Breakfast: Hard boiled egg, all bran crackers
Snack: Granola bar
Lunch: Turkey wrap with lettuce, tomato, red peppers & light mayo, plus a salad with light italian dressing.

I brought a soda from home and have had several bottles of water, all refilled from the free filtered water at work.

Tonight will be dinner at home, so today will be a no spender.

Also, I got my electric/gas bill, its 132. 21. Thats about 12.21 over my budgeted amount for electric/gas. Oh well, time to revamp the budget since prices are going up. I know its certainly not my usage thats increasing. I'll be able to pull the extra funds from other household accounts. I'll be fine.


Tomorrow is payday and I already have a budget in place for the funds. I plan on being ultra frugal for the month of March. I'd like to cashflow as much of the car repairs as possible, although it probably won't be much. We'll see how it goes.

Money To Student Loan plus Lunch Update

February 27th, 2008 at 03:35 pm

For February, I have been able to put a lot of extra funds towards the student loan.

$18.00 State Tax Refund
$393.00 Federal Tax Refund
$3.21 Leftover from car insurance
$63.73 Savings Account Interest
$478.32 Metlife Insurance Inheritance

WooHoo! Plus the balance is down so much that most of my payments are going directly to the balance.


As for the Februrary-March Lunch challange, this week is going well. I have moved around some meals in my meal plan. So tonight I had sloppy joe instead of Friday, but its all working out Smile

Plus, today, I had a bit of free food from work. Some of the people I work with made snacks for the baby shower. I had a cookie & a small bit of fruit and pudding. It was good Smile


Today was a no spender. I came home from work, did some laundry, worked out, made dinner. Now I'm going to veg out & watch Mr Woodcock, which I borrowed from the library.

Lunch Update/Baby Shower Gift

February 26th, 2008 at 04:19 pm

Brought breakfast and lunch to work today. I also stocked up my desk drawer with snacks - granola bars, crackers and oatmeal.

I donated $5.00 towards a Baby Shower gift for a coworker. But since thats a gift and not food related, it doesn't bust the Lunch Challange Smile

Its been intersting to see what other people are doing with the challange. I was able to see how everone did last week & I'll be checking back to see how everyone's doing. If you're interested in checking it out, visit http://krystalatwork.blogspot.com/2008/02/february-march-lun...

Meal Plan for the Week

February 24th, 2008 at 06:10 pm

Well, its Week 2 of the lunch challange. I'm off work tomorrow and will be heading to the movies with my mom in the afternoon. I plan on eating lunch before I go skipped food at the movies . So no money spent on food during the hours of 9 and 5. Well, really 7 & 4 since thats when I work Smile

Monday:
Breakfast: Fruit cocktail
Lunch: Tuna Wrap
Snack: Cheerios
Dinner: Meatloaf muffin & baked fries

Tuesday:
Breakfast: Hard-boiled egg plus egg white
Oatmeal
Lunch: Turkey wrap, baked chips, small salad
Snack: Carrots
Dinner: Pasta with Morningstar Chick'n
Small salad, garlic bread

Wednesday:
Breakfast: Hard boiled egg plus egg white
Cheerios
Lunch: Turkey wrap, side of pasta salad
Snack: Granola bar
Dinner: Leftover Tuna sandwich, baked chips, large salad

Thursday:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, pears
Lunch: Turkey sandwich, small salad, baked chips
Snack: Carrots, granola bar
Dinner: Shake n bake chicken, baked potato, corn muffin

Friday:
Breakfast: Pears, cheerios
Lunch: peanut butter & jelly sandwich, salad
Snack: carrots
Dinner: Sloppy joe over egg noodles, salad.

Saturday & Sunday are up in the air since I don't know what my plans are yet.

Food Inflation and grocery budget

February 23rd, 2008 at 04:58 pm

I currently have a REALLY tight grocery budget. But as I've been noticing grocery prices rising, and my pantry assets decreasing, I have been thinking about buying a large amount of my normal staples.

As a single person, I don't keep a lot of extras in my pantry. But now that I've been watching my weight, I've been investing in better food choices that cost a bit more. I've been utilizing a SuperWalmart about 20 minutes away from my house to get the best prices on these items. But I've been watching the Walmart prices go up as well.

And I've been hearing that grain based products especially are going to see price increases. I've already seen some of that.

For example, I eat Barilla Plus pasta. This has always been my big splurge. Wheat/Enhanced pasta is SO much better for me. Currently $1.98 up from $1.47 (from December).

So I am thinking about taking some money from other areas of my budget and stocking up on some of my staples.

So I'd stock up on the pasta, stuffing, olive oil, cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, Good Seasons Mix, wheat wraps (can be frozen), canned veggies/fruits and more.

I figure it'd be a good investment. What do you think?

Comment on Closing my credit cards

February 22nd, 2008 at 03:08 pm

First I want to thank Fern for looking out for me on this topic. I decided to reply to her comment in another post because I think this is SUCH an interesting topic!

I must say that I was completely wrong in not giving all the facts surrounding the closure of those cards.

All of the cards that I closed yesterday were all 3 years old or less.
I closed mainly store cards and tranferred the available credit of one of the major credit cards to another card with the same company prior to closing. All of my older cards remain open. I periodically use them for cash & then pay them off so to keep the accounts active.

I should also state that I work in a financial industry and I completely familiar of the workings of FICO and all three of the credit bureau agencies. I definately understand the impact of closing cards on my credit rating.

I still have several major credit cards, all that are much, much older than the cards that I closed. My score 3 years ago (before I got those cards) was extremely high and it didn't change after I got the cards. I feel confident that it won't change much now, just because of closing them.

As for the utilization ratio: this ratio absolutely plays a HUGE part in your credit score. However, having no credit card debt, the utilization rate that I currently have won't change for me.

Basically, it works like this: If I have $0.00 in debt compared to $35,000 in credit lines on my bureau, it gives me a 0% utilitation or 100% available credit. If I have 0.00 in debt compared to $22,000 in credit lines (which is what I have now), its still 0% utilization and 100% available credit.

Banks and all 3 credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) look at things in terms of straight numbers. 0% utilization is still 0% utilization no matter what.

That being said, if I had any credit card debt, any at all, I would not have closed the accounts until it was paid off, because the closures would definately have negatively affected my score. I was absolutely remiss in not stating that before.

So thanks again Fern for pointing that out. You were absolutely right in saying it would be almost a punishment to my score to close those accounts with credit card debt.

And because I think this is a REALLY great topic, I plan on checking up on my credit score at the end of March. That will be over 30 days from the closure, giving the card companies enough time to update with the credit bureas. I'll post at that time with the resultss.

I'm betting there won't be a noticible difference. In August 2006, my score was 785 from Experian(see my Aug 06 post). October 2007 (the last time I checked), my credit score was 780 from TransUnion. I account for the difference as being due to using two different Credit Bureaus. Each has slightly different information, which is not unusual.

I will check back with my March 2008 with my Experian score. We'll see how it goes. And one more thing...other than the card closures, there has been no change to my credit bureau since I bought my house in 2006.

This should be fun... don't forget to check back!

Day 2 of the Lunch Challange!

February 22nd, 2008 at 02:32 pm

Today I brought my breakfast & lunch to work. Plus I scored a free sandwich from leftovers from a meeting of the higher ups.

For breakfast, I had:
Hard boiled egg, plus 1 egg white
18 All Bran crackers

Lunch: 1 diet soda brought from home
Large salad with lots of yummy extras
Turkey Sandwich on Rye (free!)

Snack: baby carrots

I utilized free water at work for the rest of my drinks for the day.

Dinner will be at home - haven't decided what yet.


This weekend I'll be working on a meal plan for the week and I'll be posting my daily food report. I am really committed to this challange. Thanks to Krystal for coming up with challang! For more details, go to http://krystalatwork.blogspot.com/2008/02/february-march-lun...


Lunch Challange and a TON phone calls!

February 21st, 2008 at 07:39 pm

Today's start to the lunch challange went well! I did stop by the grocery store tonight to pick up salad fixings. For tomorrow, I will have:
Breakfast: Oatmeal, fruit cocktail
Lunch: A BIG, yummy salad and all bran crackers
Snack: Carrots and pudding.

Then tonight, I made a TON of phone calls, all financial related.

-First, my car insurance to confirm the final payment was received to pay through July. It was. There was also a 'convenience fee nicely tacked on for $4.00, which the rep kindly waved. ($4.00 saved!)

-Second, I called a company that I had signed up for a trial with as part of a Cash Crate offer. The shipping & handling was supposed to be for 99 cents. But my card was charged for $1.89. The rep said that they only billed for the 99 cents, but since the credit card is showing $1.88, they would credit back 99 cents to the charge. I pointed out that then the amount I paid them was only 89 cents and she said thats fine, she could only credit back in the amount of the 99 cents. (so 10 cents saved!)

-Third, a RIDICULOUS phone call with Comcast. They had made a billing error last month and charged me for phone & internet, but not cable (although they gave me the $10.00credit for the special I was on). I had pointed out the error last month, but the rep told me it was a system glitch and they would fix it in the next month's statement. Well, they did find the error & decided to charge me $50.00 for it. In reality, I should have owed about $40.00.

So I called to challange the charge and talked to what had to the be stupidist person alive. It took him 40, yes 40, minutes to understand that I was being double billed this month because I was not billed last month. All I wanted was for the bill to be corrected by $10.00 and the guy just kept reading the bill to me over & over. Then he refused to get me a supervisor. So I asked him to just transfer me to one of his peers. I figured a different set of eyes on the problem would help. He also refused that. I didn't want to hang up, because the hold times were ridiculous. If I could get an in house transfer, it would be a lot quicker. But he still refused.

Just when I was going to hang up on him, he put me on hold (without my permission) and then he transferred me to the New Jersey Sales department, which couldn't help me, even though they tried. I got a 2nd rep on the phone who helped me in like 5 minutes and gave me an $18.96 credit, which was more than I was even asking for! I got to talk to a supervisor after that and the guy told me that he was going to pull the first rep off the floor right now to have a discussion about what he did. Whether the supervisor did that or not, I don't know, but I seriously hope he did. (So, $18.96 saved!)

-And as I apparently am a glutton for punishment, I decided to start calling credit cards that I am no longer using (for over a year) and wanted to close. I closed
- Gap
- The Limited
- Chase (I actually transferred the line to another Chase card prior to closing it)
- Sony Visa.

All closed me within 5 minutes, with very little hassle! I received a lot of 0% offers, but refused them all. I don't have any credit card debt to transfer anyway. (No monetary savings, but I did get a big splash of peace of mind!)

I still have two store cards & 4 major credit cards open. Although I am not going to be using credit cards, I am keeping those few open for the time being.

I plan on keeping it a low key weekend this week. I have been fighting a migrane, we're in for a big snowstorm and truth be told, I'm just stressed about some familiy stuff.

I have some library movies & books and I've taken to pulling stuff from my dvd collection that I haven't seen in awhile.

Also, I put up an add for a roommate on Craigslist. Last time that I did it, I mostly got scams and scary people. So hopefully, I'll do better this time around.

Joined February-March Lunch Challenge

February 21st, 2008 at 05:16 am

Today I decided to join Krystal at work's February-March Lunch Challenge! As she describes it, the challange is "...to not spend any money on lunch/snacks/coffee/tea during work days from now until March 31st". This will be tough for me, but definately doable! Wish me luck!

For more info on the challange, visit:
http://krystalatwork.blogspot.com/2008/02/february-march-lun...

Today I brought Oatmeal and fruit cocktail for breakfast.

A granola bar for morning snack

A salad and Meatloaf Muffin for lunch

Carrots for afternoon snack.

I didn't mealplan this week, so I'm going to get one together today for this week and next week.

Surprise Possible Part-time job

February 11th, 2008 at 04:43 pm

Awhile ago, on a whim, I sent my resume into a local part-time job. That was like a week and a half ago. I just got a call today. I had completely forgotten that I had even applied!

They called my cellphone at work, which was a bit awkward. They gave me some details about the job, asked a few questions. Its thru a staffing agency, which isn't unusual in the field I was looking for.

They have part time hours on the weekends, which means I'd be working 7 days a week, but since last year I was working 6 days until 8pm, working 7:30 to 4 Mon thru Fri & 7 to 5:30 on Sat & Sun, it won't be so bad.

I'll have to do security and background checks, which won't be an issue, and it won't probably start for 3 or 4 weeks. I figure I can handle 3 months of that kind of schedule, after that we'll just have to work something out with my schedule. I also have a boatload of vacation time at my full time job, so I may take some half days here and there to get some rest in.

I figured it out, if I worked both Sat & Sun for 4 months, it would speed up my Student Loan payoff about 3 months early. So as a temporary solution, I think this job would be good.

We'll see how it goes Smile

Making meals & weekend plans

February 8th, 2008 at 05:55 pm

I only have a few bucks left in my entertainment/spending budget, so I'm planning a frugal weekend.

I'm planning on getting through some paperwork, cleaning, organizing, ect. I have a couple of movies from the library. I'm so into Agatha Christie movies-- Poirot, Ms Marple, ect.

Tomorrow's big plans are to take my cat to get her hind nails clipped. I had her declawed (where they take the front claws), but the back ones are still there. And they're long. My cat gets too freaked out for me to try to clip them myself. And of course, it creeps me out. So I'm happy to schlep her over to Petco and pay them $10.00 to do it. Its not something that has to be done regularly, but its budgeted into my petcare budget.

Then I may go over my sisters. She's been ill and her bf just broke up with her (what a jerk). So if she's still sick, she'll be staying home from work. IF she does, I'm going to head over with comfort food & movies.

If not, I've rented Saw IV and Sydney White and I'll be chilling at my house. Maybe heading to my friends for dinner and video games. (boy, its like college all over again)

Sunday is going to be fun. Dorky, but fun Smile About 5 or 6 friends of mine decided we'll be having a movie marathon of the Lord of the Rings movies. We'll all be contributing food and drinks and we'll watch the movies in our pjs.

My contribution will be corn and blueberry muffins for breakfast, a big salad to go with lunch, and sodas. It looks like we'll be having wings, meatballs, beef and more. We'll probably talk through most of the movies, but it'll be a fun and relaxing day.

I am working on my mealplan for the upcoming week. I have been trying to make one freezable meal each week, so that I have a mix of options in the freeze.

Two weeks ago, I made sloppy joe. Last week, I made meatloaf muffings. This week, I'm going to make meatballs for meatball subs. And maybe I'll make some chicken taco filling. I am looking for new recipes, so if anyone has any suggestions, please share!



And I've decided to start sharing my library list. At any given time, I have several movies, magazines and books borrowed from the library.

So here's what I have at home right now:

-Agatha Christie's Ms Marple: Sleeping Murder
-Agatha Christie's The Pale Horse
-Bones Season 1, Disc 1
-Cooking Light Annual Recipes
-Agatha Christie's Poirot: The Incredible Theft
-Agatha Christie's Poirot: The King of Clubs
-Mission: Impossible III
-Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
-Weight Watchers 365 day Menu Book
-Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook
-You're Broke Because You Want to Be by Larry Winget

Taxes & CashCrate

February 6th, 2008 at 04:50 pm

Today was a no spender. Packed a hard boiled egg, banana and oatmeal for breakfast. A meatloaf muffin & salad for lunch. And I had dinner at home - Sloppy joe over egg noodles. YUMMY Smile

Last night I did my taxes. I'm getting back $393 from Federal and $18.00 from taxes. I planned my withholdings carefully to ensure I wouldn't get a large tax refund. I'd rather have my money upfront Smile

I just checked my CashCrate balance, which was $18.80 for January.

All of this is going to my student loan. Plus I'm expecting about $475.00 in an inherited insurance distribution.

My goal is to get that student loan paid off this year. I need to get my butt in gear and get a 2nd job. It's necessary if I want to get that loan paid off.

Grocery shopping day

February 2nd, 2008 at 05:05 pm

I cut back on my grocery budget and am trying to really plan meals to get the most bang for my buck.

So today, I headed out to Super G, Acme and the local produce stand. All of which are within 10-15 minutes from my house.

I spent $26.96 total. Which is awesome! I was able to get almost everything on my list. What I didn't get, will be taken care of with a trip to Walmart tomorrow. Its 5 mins from my house. I am only planning on picking up some wheat pasta, microwave popcorn and crackers.

I even got a free 2 liter bottle of Dr. Pepper. For today only, no purchase necessary, no minimum requirements. Very nice Smile

Today I did the shopping. This afternoon, I hung out with my nephew. Tonight I'm playing on the internet and watching the Simpsons' movie, which I borrowed from the library. Very low key.