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Archive for January, 2009

Brothers! GRR

January 27th, 2009 at 05:58 am

Relatives -- if my blood, you sure can't pick them! Smile I have 4 brothers, all of whom I love dearly (and fought with growing up!). I am watching in dismay one my brothers - TJ -- facing the possibility of losing his home to foreclosure. The whole disfunctional family dynamic thing always comes into play here. Another brother, MJ, is a real estate agent and born hustler and lives to impress those that want to be impressed. TJ works part-time for him at this time and has worked full-time for him when he owned a business. Anyway, TJ was living in a condo with a low payment and was perfectly happy. MJ talks him into selling the condo a few years back and buying a house in a much better neighborhood for a much higher price. MJ is thinking that the prices will climb in a few years and that TJ could sell at the high end at that time and then buy another condo. TJ (the brilliant non-thinker that he is) goes along with the plan. MJ gets him one of those no-doc, adjustable rate, junk loans that are so well known. Fast forward to today....... The payment is a negative amortization loan!!! The payment has doubled and TJ is struggling to make the payment. I have asked TJ how he would agree to such a "deal." TJ goes along with MJ's plans (always) and trusted him blindly. That is the part that I do not understand. TJ is current on his payments but is running out of $$. He tried to get a loan modification but was told that that option would not be available for 4-5 months because the bank, Downey Savings, went under. The merger with Whomever Bank would need to be completed first. So, TJ is looking for a roommate and looking for more work. That is becoming more difficult these days even though he has a 4 year college degree. I told him that the Census Bureau is hiring temporary workers. Good luck to him and the thousands next to him in line. I get so frustrated at both TJ and MJ. TJ - because his outlook on the world is avoidance and denial - "If I don't think about it, it will go away." He is one of the most unambitious people I have ever met and he is 40 years old!!! And MJ - how could he dare to do this to our own brother?! A junk loan -- he gambled TJ's future (I know TJ allowed this to happen - no backbone at all) and avoids the subject when I bring it up. I, the frugal troublemaker of the family, bring it up anyway. They are looking into other loan options but it does not look good. MJ cannot bail him out because his own income has decreased in the past year. He has slashed his spending but the house payment alone is very high. I have nagged him to quit smoking because that does cost money. He also does some video production work but that is not steady. I just hope TJ gets his mindset into crisis mode and kicks it into gear.

DD is BACK! :)

January 17th, 2009 at 07:00 pm

DD made it safe and sound from her adventures at Outdoor Science School. It was cold and there was snow -- they all loved it! The food was good, too! DD got to do some hiking, rock climbing, and archery. Came home tired with a few blisters on her heels. The only part I thought was "funny" had to do with snow. I asked if the kids got to make and throw snowballs. They did but there were strict instructions on where one could or could not throw them. Apparently the only approved target was their backpacks. Now I would never want DD to throw a snowball in anyone's face, but everything is so PC these days.........

DD and DH are off to the bird farm this morning to sell off some birds from DD's business. She does not make a lot of money, but the responsibility earned is priceless. She does want to start an ING Direct account with the proceeds. When they get back it is lunch and then off to DD's basketball game. Tonight it is back to work on her school project (making a board game about the book "Treasure Island"). I am hoping she finishes the game this weekend so she can "rest" on Monday (MLK Holiday). Sunday is church and then Skate Day with the Girl Scouts.

I am planning to return a color laser printer back to Office Depot tonight. It was an impulse purchase (grr) and I am having trouble adjusting the color correctly. Also, the unit is a bit bigger than I had anticipated. I am looking for a printer (or all-in-one) that does photos very well. All of the previous printers or all-in-ones that I have had work well at first but then there is a problem with the photo quality. I am never able to resolve that issue. It seems that it had to do with the roller mechanism. All troubleshooting does zilch. I have always had HPs but may switch to another brand if the unit is better. I checked cnet.com for reviews so I had some ideas. I may also purchase a wireless. If anyone is happy (or unhappy) with their printer, let me know. Any input would be appreciated.

Missing my Little Girl and Other Misc. Stuff

January 15th, 2009 at 05:28 am

DD is still in the mountains learning by having fun. I miss her so! The principal has been keeping parents in the know by leaving autodialer messages. Everyone is doing well. It is warmer up there but there is plenty of snow to play in. He went up to camp today to deliver mail to the kids. He is a great principal! Smile DH works nights so it is just me and Sophie (dog) and Spot (cat). I did work out at the work gym today (after work) and even went for a jog at home this evening. I have lots of things on my to-do list but haven't done too many of them! Tomorrow is another day!

One good note - I signed up at Houseparty awhile ago and was selected to be a host for one of the parties! Yay - it is an appropriate one, too. House Organization from Ziploc!!! I need all the help I can get. I plan to combine the party with the next monthly coupon club meeting. Our members will appreciate both the tips and the freebies - hope to get a lot of feedback on the product.

Today was a NSD also. I brought a Healthy Choice for lunch. Dinner at home was leftover salmon, veggies and dip, and fruit. Yum. Tomorrow I plan to bring fruit and yogurt to work - both healthy and frugal choices.

I am hoping this weekend to dig out an old breadmaker that I used to use. It bakes a small loaf in less than an hour and used rapid rise yeast. For some reason, I stopped using it (it might have been because I ate most of it myself!). DD expressed an interested in making some bread. So, I will dust it off and let her take the lead on that task.

I use Turbo Tax for our taxes every year. Does anyone have any ideas for the best deal for that software? I usually buy it at Office Depot. But I am looking for a coupon for additional savings. Office Max had a 15% off last week but I forgot to go. If anyone knows of a coupon source, that would be great. I usually also purchase additional software at the same time that will be free after rebate, such as Norton Antivirus and Quicken.

Have a good evening!

Financial Focusing

January 13th, 2009 at 04:45 am

Since DD is gone in the mountains for the week (they made it up the mountain safely), I now have tons of time to myself (yeah, right). One of my failings in the financial department is letting the small amounts of "found money" slip by due to procrastination and laziness. I forget to send in the rebate form. I forget to shop around for a better CD rate (should be painless due to the internet). Sometimes I even forget to spend my CVS ECBs (darn!). I do coupon and save a minimum of 50% (used to be 70%+) but that is not good enough. I think I need to refocus my priorities and determine a set goal. If I establish something to work towards, I think I will have more motivation to follow through. But what should my goal be? We have no debt except for a tractor loan (that is DH's responsibility). Buying a tractor in southern California is a long story...
At this point, I plan to set aside the extra "found money" into my Wamu checking out. At $100 intervals, I plan to ship it off to ING Direct. I think I can set up a separate type of subaccount with a different name. Now I still have to plan what I am saving the fun money for, but at least I have a game plan on the saving logistics.

I'll Miss My Girl

January 12th, 2009 at 03:08 am

I wanted to title this entry "I'll Miss My LITTLE Girl" but DD is quick to remind me she is not a little girl anymore (10 and a half!) On Monday, DD will go to the local mountains with her school (5th grade) for outdoor science school. DH and I will miss her terribly, but she will have a great time. Hiking, identifying plants, trees, rocks, etc. Hanging out with the camp counselors, her teachers, and the rest of the 5th grade (even the boys!) She'll be back on Friday. DD will have a "No Spend Week" because they are not allowed to bring any money because there is nothing to buy! Fantastic! No electronic items, either. Books are allowed. I will go in to work late tomorrow to see her off.

I take the time to take very small baby steps in organizing and getting rid of clutter. Both DD and myself are filers/pilers! Wish me luck!

Back to Work and A Local Freebie

January 9th, 2009 at 06:19 am

I survived jury duty yesterday - did not get selected for the trial in question. My juror number was not a "lottery winner." Whew! It was actually fairly stressful in the afternoon. Both sides kept dismissing jurors - but finally at the end of the day it was done. It was interesting to try to analyze the criteria the attorneys used to balance the jury. It appeared that prospective jurors were dismissed if: they had friends/relatives in law enforcement; they owned a firearm; and/or they had a college degree. Most jurors who had some college or had lesser education (and did not comply with the other items I mentioned) were retained. The final panel consisted of 10 women and 2 men. Average age of women appeared to be about 40. Most were Caucasian (defendant - Hispanic). Funniest thing to me was regarding the young man on the jury. He was asked about his knowledge of the jury system - he replied that he watched judge shows and police type shows! Smile (He is on the final panel.) The second funniest was when a prospective juror was asked about voting (deliberations) on the case. I think she did not hear the lawyer clearly and said: "Voting? Not for Obama!" The whole courtroom laughed! (She did not make the cut.) I do know that the jury will do their absolute best to be fair and impartial when deliberating this case.

On to the local freebie: The Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA is celebrating the New Year by inviting all California residents to visit the Queen Mary free of charge, as often as they would like, through Jan 31. This special, free admission ticket includes a self-guided tour of the Queen Mary. California residents must provide documentation of residency with a driver's license or other form of photo identification at the box office, during normal attraction hours from 10 am to 6 pm. Parking not included. For reservations, call 800-437-2934 or visit http://www.queenmary.com. I need to check the website regarding proof of residency for children (if needed). Sounds like I may be visiting the Queen Mary (my last visit was over 20 years ago).

Good News/Bad News? The Verdict is Out...

January 7th, 2009 at 12:52 am

I went to jury duty today! Good news first: I got out early about 9:30 am. Bad news: I have to report back tomorrow for jury selection for a case that could last a month. We'll see what happens.....


On a financial and multi-tasking note: I used the early release time to go to Target, CVS, and Ralph's. Target was pretty wiped out of Christmas items, bit I got some tissue for 9 cents. I did buy a reusable lunch tote for DD for next year for $4. Off to CVS - they had lots of Christmas stuff at 75% off. I did buy the box of SoyJoy bars for $6 with the $6 ECB. Bought M&Ms, holiday socks. Used ECB's to pay. Off to Ralph's for produce, bread, salsa, yogurt, and beer (for DH). More spendy here but everything was on sale or clearance and I had a few coupons.

Tonight is the monthly coupon club meeting. This group (Club NED) started about 11 years ago! We don't have as many members as we used to and the deals are harder to get, but it is fun to get together to chat and discuss deals, coupons, etc. We have theme drawings, and an item exchange. We bring up to 5 items that we got for free or nearly free with coupons or otherwise. Sometimes we all bring the same things! But lots of fun - I like bringing DD so she is aware of how to save money with coupons and how much stuff actually costs. Hopefully, being frugal will rub off on her. My 20 DS was brought up the same way but is a real spendthrift right now. I know he will change when he is poor enough. I do give him "goodie baskets" when I see him - toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorants, etc. All items I got for free with coupons or ECBs.

Jury Duty and Multi-tasking

January 6th, 2009 at 06:00 am

Tomorrow is my "lucky" day - I am pressed for jury service at my county's Superior Court. I am not one to shirk service, but it always seems to happen when I am busy at work. I am a local gov't employee, so my service time is unlimited! The last time I was at this courthouse I was on a 2 week jury (my first time). It was an interesting experience, and jurors have a lot of responsibility for so little pay (if your employer is not generous). I also don't like staying until 5 pm. This interferes with child care issues plus I am used to getting off work by 3:30 p.m. But I can bring my laptop and internet is available. The last time I was there jurors got free coffee and tea. Hope that is still the case. So I will check emails and surf the web while I am waiting. And at lunch I plan to hit the closest Target and CVS to see if there are any deals to be had! I might even have time for hit a local Ralph's (I'll have an small ice chest in the car and jurors have a shaded parking area) for specials. I am gathering up my coupons and ECB's for this trip. Just wish I could bring scissors into the juror area to clip coupons (Darn!). Smile

Was able to buy some waterproof hiking boots for DD's trip to the mountains. No kids' boots, but she fit into a women's size 6. The only bad part was the price - $39 - but she can use the boots for ATV riding (this will make DH happy). DD will start wearing the boots to school tomorrow to break them in before next week.

Still cold in the early mornings here in So Cal. The windshield actually had ice on it! I know this will not impress anyone in a colder climate, but ice is big here. We live about 5 miles from the ocean so this is an even bigger surprise. My DD was laughing at me because I thought the ice would come right off when I used the windshield wiper. I had to used a DVD case to scrape it off because I could not see anything in front of me! The grass at DD's school was also "crunchy' to walk on. I wore a heavy jacket all day at work (I am outside most of the time) even though is was probably in the 60's by the afternoon. Lucky I do not have a "suit" job where I have to wear hose and high heels.

Last Day Before Going Back to Work

January 5th, 2009 at 02:51 am

My time off has passed by entirely too quickly. I was off from Christmas Day and will be back tomorrow. While I enjoy my job immensely, I never seem to get all (or even most) of my to-do list items done. Even when I was off for a year on maternity leave, I got very "little" done. But then, DD was my job, wasn't it? Smile

Went and returned DD hiking boots to Big 5 today. I had hoped for an exchange in a smaller size, but no dice. Seems all kids boots are sold out at Big 5. I had bought the boots without my DD at a Big 5 near work. I also tried several Targets and Kohl's as well. I will try Sports Authority and Sport Chalet tomorrow. Outdoor Science Camp is on the 12th, and the procrastinator in me is in full regalia! I did see a good pair at Land's End online. I wonder if Sears would carry the same shoes. The cashier at Kohl's suggested purchasing a waterproofing spray if I get desperate.

DH and I are going round and round about a new coffeemaker. DH (I drink tea) had a small 4 cup machine that he likes but it about worn out. We have a 12 cup Mr. Coffee in a cupboard in the garage (we use when we have guests). I told him to use this one as the "new" one so that no $$ are spent. He says that if he makes half a pot that it does not taste as good. I am not buying that argument. He is also concerned about the pot staying hot. I did point out to him that the old one does not keep the coffee in the pot hot and that he already microwaves it as he goes. He did say sheepishly that he may try it.

A Cold Day in California

January 4th, 2009 at 12:29 am

Brrr! It is cold here in SOUTHERN California (for a change). Dull and dreary - looks like it might rain. I did go walk/jog in the am but I warmed up after the first block. Looks like DH will start a fire in the fireplace to warm up the house. We do keep the thermostat at about 68 overnight, although I am trying to talk DH into lowering it a bit. My side of the argument is that I can lower the electric bill; and his is that he has noticed that we have less colds, etc. at 68 degrees. So for now it is a tie!

We got back from a few days at our own "country property" in the next county. DD had fun riding the ATV all by herself; and I got lots of hiking done on dirt roads. DD joined me on two hikes (mostly uphill on the first half) and did really well (about 2500' elevation). She is going to an outdoor science camp in the mountains in January and they will be doing lots of hiking in the snow. Even though we have been skiing in Mammoth in the past, she is VERY excited about this trip. The class goes for the whole week along with their teachers. I almost wish I could go. Frown

We did really well on not eating out yesterday. On our way home we usually stop at a Chinese place for take out. It is not expensive and does last for at least 3 meals but DH just wanted to go home. So we had leftovers. Roast chicken, garlic bread, carrots, and salad tasted great and no $$ shelled out. Tonight we be leftover steak, curly fries (from the freezer), veggies, and salad. I also have chocolate chip cookies that I baked last night.


DD and DH are busy repacking the Christmas tree and ornaments back into the boxes until December. I was very good this year and bought very little Christmas items at after-Christmas sales. We went to Target last night and I only bought tissue paper for the zillions of gift bags that we have. 75% off was a good price. Target never has anything at 90% off that I can use. We still have lots of wrapping paper because I buy that at extremely reduced prices. I did buy LED outdoor lights for DH at CVS at 50% off before Christmas with a store coupon and ECB's. That will help with the electricity bill as well.

Finally bit the bullet and ordered fiber optic internet for home. I had been procrastinating for too long. I was able to get the first month free from Verizon by ordering online. Installation will be next week. I had been using my work laptop with broadband access so DH and DD have not gotten the internet time that they wanted. Hopefully the installation will go smoothly.

Well, I need to try to enjoy the weekend because I am back to work on Monday!