The weekend should be busy as usual. There are free activities for kids and JoAnn and Michael's relating to Valentine's Day. DD wants to make homemade ones this year and course this weekend is it. And of course, Bath & Body Works is in the same shopping area. So we will have to hit that store with our free coupons. We also plan to visit our local library bookstore to donate books and magazines. The Saturday volunteer is the nicest gentleman and we plan to bring him some GS cookies for Valentine's Day.
Enjoy your Valentine's Day!
You got me thinking about life and all.. so here it goes:
**Go to college in Oregon
**Travel to Hong Kong (too many strings attached)
THINGS I HAVE DONE:
**Took an unpaid leave of absence as a single mom to pursue a degree (met current DH there!)
**Obtained BS and MS degrees while working and living
**Traveled to Europe for 3 months to visit relatives - met my grandfather - priceless
**Went on a game show (only won the door prizes)
**Texas on for a family reunion on DH's side - saw the family farm
**Current Girl Scout Leader
**Won 3rd place in a racquetball tournament
**Ran a half marathon
**Northern California/Oregon - RV road trips
**Cruise to Mexico
**Master's thesis was published
**Play inline hockey on a beginner team 40+
**Learned to play the accordion (with lessons)
**Enjoy working in a traditionally male dominated field as their boss
**Made wine at home from grapes we grew
**Travelled to New Mexico twice
**2 wonderful children
** Processed home grown olives
**Great husband of 15+ years
**Earned a certification as a LEED AP
**Directed a murder mystery for a work project
**Hiking in the June Lake, CA area
THINGS I WOULD LOVE TO DO:
**Alaskan RV road trip (this summer!)
**Zipline with DD and the Girl Scouts
**Join a cycling club
**Volunteer at a local shelter for pregnant women and their babies
**Adopt an older child
**Go on another game show
**Become a life coach specifically for young women who need a fresh start
**Grandchildren (DD plans to have lots!) DS is noncommital at this point! Can only hope!
** Travel to all states in the continental US - RV road trip
**Become a published book author
There's probably more, but all I can think of for now.
My friend with the brain tumor met with her neurosurgeon on Thursday. She definitely has a tumor, but it is slow growing (Grade 1 almost to Grade 2). As soon as insurance approves the surgery, it will be a go. She will have to off the blood thinners for 2 weeks prior to surgery. The hospital time should be no more than 1 week. The Dr. was very positive about everything, which reassured my friend. Of course, one will not know if it is benign for sure until she is on the table.
On the financial front, I am determined to do my taxes sooner this year. I usually get them done in time, but the lags increases each year. I use Turbo Tax, and it looks like Amazon may be the cheapest place to buy in (in conjunction with Quicken - I have not updated Quicken for a long time). Plus I have some Amazon GC $ from Swagbucks.
Lazy day today - except for hockey - we won yay! Cleaned and did laundry. Am off tomorrow due to the holiday and plan to do some roller blading at the local school......DD has a composer report to finish (Beethoven)and he was a strange one.....
Got into a philosophical discussion with one of my co-workers (actually I supervise him and the gang of stooges). He knows I save bucks and was snickering when I was talking about the Kellogg's cereal settlement if you had purchased Mini-Wheats during a specific timeframe (http://www.cerealsettlement.com). A $15 check is the probable amount of the settlement if one had purchased 3 boxes. Anyway, he said that it would be a darn shame if I died tomorrow without getting a chance to spend any of the monies I had been saving. And you know what? He is right! I have always been in high gear (at least since 1991 when I got divorced from the first DH) to save and my dear, current DH is also like-minded. We both grew up lower middle class and did not have a lot of stuff (good thing) growing up. Our house has been paid off for 8 years and our retirement funds (401K, 457b, Roth IRA) have always been fully funded. In fact, this year I just began the catchup provision. We have been blessed with good health (so far) and both of us will receive pensions when we retire in addition to the retirement vehicles previously mentioned.
Maybe I do need to lighten up a bit. I do not have expensive hobbies and DH and I do not particularly like to go out. DH likes to hunt and fish but has not due to caretaking issues with his father. The Alaska trip is exactly what we need.
Not my age (yet!) but number of items to donate to date. This does not count the umpteen little trinkets that my DD has collected over the years (small things like McDonalds toys, etc.). Those I may try to put on Freecycle. The lbs. (or maybe almost tons) of paper I have been putting in the recycle bins has been endless. We take all of our items to be recycled to the nearest university's recycling center. Hopefully we can make it out there next weekend. A local elementary school is also hosting an e-waste recycling event. We have lots of old stuff for that as well.
I even found some unused gift cards - Baskin Robbins and a Bed, Bath, and Beyond. More razors that I got for free and stashed away in a safe place (Ha). DH has been bugging me for more razors so this is his lucky day!
This weekend it is off to the library to bring the books and magazines to donate. Also to a local school to donate e-waste.
Started back on the BL Wii game. My back had been bothering me so I did not use it at the intervals. But it was weigh in day and I lost 3 lbs in one week. Yay! I went to a chiropractor and he did adjustments (scared me) and got a massage. The massage really made a difference. So.. now back to more exercise and monitoring my diet.
My friend who has the brain tumor had another MRI and will be seeing a neurosurgeon next week. Her DH said that the tumor looks large and he is also feeling really down. DH and DD are headed over their home tonight (I have bunco) for dinner and a night of Wii games and spread some cheer. I printed out some info from the Web about gamma knife surgery for them to read and discuss with the Dr. It is less invasive than ordinary surgery and maybe this could be an option for her. If anyone has any knowledge of this procedure, please comment.
Happy New Year to all and may everyone have a better year than the last one!
Day 2 of the Biggest Loser (BL) DVD -- my back has been bothering me a bit and this program has not been helping in that area. But I did the best that I could. Am going to focus on stretching as much as possible - this had better get better soon. Hockey starts up a week from Sunday and I need to be able to play (not well, just play).
No decluttering today - but will be back to that tomorrow. Did several loads of laundry. Also did some shopping. Got 5 pkgs of NY Steak from Stater Brothers for $2.99 per lb - great price in these parts. DH (who got back this evening) will grill a few tomorrow. Add some garlic bread, veggies, and caesar salad for a great feast. There will be leftovers and I will freeze a bunch of steaks as well.
Was looking for LED lights after Christmas for outside lighting - but no luck. Target was totally out, no at VS and RiteAid, and Ace Hardware had clear ones only. I will try again this weekend - and if not then, time to give up and wait until next winter.
Looked at DH's last paystub of the year, and it is a go for a Roth IRA contribution for 2010. His income can swing widely, so we don't make any contributions until the following year. My income is fairly set year to year. Starting in 2011, I will be contributing additional monies to my 457b via the "catchup" provision. For the next 3 years, this will be a small "ouch" but well worth it. Another reason to be more mindful of spending on more things that I do not need (or have but don't know where they are).
The year after these extra contributions are completed I can retire if I wish. I plan to wait until early the following year due to tax purposes. I do not plan to tap into the 457b until absolutely necessary. My pension should be more than enough to meet our needs (and DH continuing to work).
This past week has given me time to reflect on what life may be like when retired. I am enjoying my time with DD, and am actually sad to think I have to go back to work next Tuesday!
More goals for 2011:
Evaluate finances more thoroughly to ensure that monies are balanced adequately for DH and me based upon our risk level and ages.
Plan a trip to Alaska this summer --
DH wants to DRIVE there with our Airstream. We would stop at places of interest both ways. So the trip would be a minimum of 4 weeks (I think). Debating whether we should plan specific RV parks to book or not. I do get real stressed if things are planned. DH seems to think it is OK to blow and go. Most places on other trips I booked online. Some were good and others a bust (according to DH). I did not consider them a bust just not as good as the others.......
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Sure was cold today -- the high was in the low 50s! It really feels like winter now. Last night the wind was blowing and the house kept creaking. It was a little scary since DH was at our acreage yesterday with Sophie the dog. More rain is again coming on Sunday. Maybe the drought really is over......
DD got me a Biggest Loser DVD for Christmas. Tried it out yesterday and the suggested weight loss is 30 lbs (sigh.....but I already knew that). The program even was about spot on for my measurements (another sad sign). It also had a calorie count for me for the next 12 weeks. I am going to try my best with this program - every other day with the DVD plus walking, running, or bike riding on the other days (or same days if possible). Easier said than done.
Spent time today finishing up charitable contributions for the year -- I must be on some list because I get waaaaaaaay too many labels, etc. in the mail. I will only give to a few groups that mean something to me. I wish I knew how to get the others to stop sending me stuff..............
Talked to a good friend today to cheer her up. She has some severe health issues (she's my age!) --- pneumonia, blood clots in her lungs, obesity, and now, a golf ball sized tumor in the brain. The pneumonia and blood clots were discovered in November and are under control. A few weeks ago she had some stuttering issue and went to hospital where after some testing the tumor was discovered. Additional testing will be done next week and hopefully there will be a positive prognosis. Seems the two incidents were unrelated. Definite plus point --- she quit smoking!!!! Also eating better and plans to start exercising to the best of her ability pending the resolution of all these problems. Fortunately her DH just retired so there are no interferences on his end.
1. Do not buy anything unless it is really, really needed.
2. Use what I have until #1 applies.
3. Lose 30 lbs via diet and exercise by July 1.
4. Use cash in lieu of CC for groceries for 3 months. Determine if less monies are expended when cash is used.
5. Open up online account for DD.
6. Declutter home by a minimum of 100 items by February 1. Donate or freecycle items (garage sales are not worth the effort for me).
I plan to add to those goals tomorrow.
2010 has been a busy, busy year but has zoomed by so fast that I can't remember very much.
On the financial front.....
DH has taken a test for a position at his employment that pays much much better. Once he goes through the testing process, he will be on a list in the event that there are openings. Chances are good. Plus is that the pay is better, pension is slightly better, 40K matching is better. Cons are more responsibility and will work more hours (but not overwhelmingly so). Work should be slightly safer as well. Since I am planning to retire in about 5 years (DH not eligible for about 12 years) the added income would offset any reduction in mine.
DH and I has been at a tug of war concerning my vehicle. It is a 2000 Ford Explorer that has had some expenses almost reaching its blue book value. DH wanted to dump the car earlier this year and buy a new car. My point of view is that the value of this car for transportation is greater than the amount of monies that may be expended for something new. I am hoping that the car will last another 12 months. Then we can get a new whatever car (I an NOT particular). Even if we had to spend $1000 on it, we would be money ahead vs. payments. The other advantage for waiting is that I utilize a vehicle for business purposes and therefore can depreciate a new purchase. I prefer to wait a little closer to retirement.
It turns out that we had a few lucky "breaks" regarding the Ford. Car needed new rear shocks. DH bought them at a local auto parts store to install himself. Turns out he was sold the wrong shocks. He called and spoke to the manager who asked him some questions about the existing shocks. Turns out he was able to return the new ones for refund AND get two completely new ones free for the rear because they were still under warranty. And to add to this automotive excitement, DH asked, "What about the front shocks?" Yup, got two new ones for the front for free, too. He was happy as a clam!
I also got a happy surprise at the eye doctor. Seems that glasses and contacts are covered separately (new feature). I was able to get an eye exam, 4 boxes of contacts, and a pair of glasses for free!
The wine making experiment is a success! Next year DH plans to plant more grapes. Olive processing is still underway --- olives are curing in a bring topped with olive oil and will be ready for canning in about 2 weeks.
Christmas was at my folks, and was fun. My bro cooked the turkey and DD and I worked on the stuffing and garlic mashed potatoes. Other goodies rounded out the meal. For gifts, we do the white elephant. Bring a mystery gift ($25 value or so) and we roll dice and steal, etc. Gift cards with a gag gift are the norm. DD got a Target GC along with New Year's popper. For some unknown reason, the Clapper was a popular item! I brought that, and my nephew was asking what the price was and where I got it. I actually got it last year at CVS for 90% off.
DD also got Wii Family Game Night 3 and we have been having fun playing it.
Today was spent decluttering and boxing items to donate by Friday. I sure did not realize I had so much stuff that I forgot all about!!!!! Hope to make a big dent before I go back to work next Tuesday.
Another storm is expected here in So CA late tonight and it may rain for most of the day tomorrow. So, tomorrow DD and I plan to go to Target and see if the Christmas items have gone down to 75% off. I know the rest of you in other parts of the US have more severe weather than here. But the last long rain was tough -- we were not directly affected (except for a few roof leaks) but many people were displaced.
Have a happy week and a Happy New Year!
Hope all of you had a wonderful, filling Thanksgiving! I know I did! Turkey - yum! Stuffing - yum! And more..... Went to DB's home nearby - and it was sure cold. For So California it was just plain nippy (high in the upper 50's). Got a bike ride in the morning for some exercise in advance.
Today - I did not go to the mall or to Target for the Black Friday shop. I am more of a cyber Monday type of gal. DD and I did go to the local Rite Aid because it had a few deals I could take advantage of. Plus it is within walking distance in a small center. So, DD and I jogged there and walked back. Use a $4 off $20 coupon and got back $13 in Up rewards. Total after both = $3.94. Pretty good. I went in to get some fleece blankets - we are using these for a Girl Scout activity and will be making scarves for the homeless. Cost per scarf = 0.25 before the Up reward. Good price. Also, got candy for free, toothbrushes for free, and toilet paper for 38 cents a dbl 4 roll pkg.
Worked on processing our homemade wine today. DH tasted it and is very pleased. Our first (and test) batch is about 1/2 gallon. Got all the skins, seeds, etc. out and strained the liquid. Now back into the closet for a month or so. Tomorrow I process the white wine. DH has plans to plant LOTS more grapes on our acreage! Still working on the olives - they are in the middle of the water curing process. I am waiting for the pickling salt that I ordered online to be delivered. DH tasted an olive yesterday - said it was OK at first but then I saw him spit it out and make an awful face! Guess they are not ready yet! We have about 4 gallons of olives.
Trying to work on the upcoming Girl Scout event. Our troop is one of the organizers, and am trying to recycle and reuse anything I can so that costs are minimal. So far we are making bookmarks (library and convalescent homes), placemats (convalescent homes), holiday cards (military), scarves (homeless), and holiday posters (various local organizations). Also have a toy drive going (local fire station). I am trying to think of other crafts that the girls can do (age range 5-12). We do have baby food jars in the large craft box so maybe something there. The scarves will be geared towards the older girls and the baby food jars may be as well.
On the financial front, it is property tax time here. Yes, it hurts. I also review my charitable giving for the year and make December gifts to the charities of my choice. DH is really pushing to buy some rental property because prices are lower (but are they?). I am a bit of a chicken. I had rental property when I was married to my first DH. It was a single family home and I remember going to court to boot out a tenant for non-payment. It was not a fun experience. The XDH got the property when we divorced and I kept our primary home (I am still in this home). He had some major expenses when the last tenant moved out and he put it up for sale a long time ago. But, we'll see........ the goal would be to have a property that ideally pays for itself and could be paid off by the time I retire in 5 years. There are some units in the area (within 5 miles) that are short sales so my DB (a real estate agent) is watching them for me.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!!!!!!!!!!
Life seems always so busy these days - that I either forget to post or feel nothing is worthwhile enough to post. But I am finally sitting here in front of the monitor...........
DD just finished 3 performances with her school choirs this past week -- very proud of her!!! It was an '80s revue and DH knew every song. DD dressed with leg warmers and teased hair (good old days - NOT) She sure does enjoy the singing and choreography. DD is good at multi-tasking (may not always be a good thing) with homework, soccer, girl scouts, and her little business in addition to the choir practices. Soccer ends in a few weeks so she'll get a breather there. GS events are coming back in December - we are putting on an event for community service in December, and the girls continue to work on their Silver Award with guide dogs.
DH and I are trying to educate DD more on financial matters. She has her own checking and savings accounts with my CU and a savings account with a local bank. She has already recognized that the local account earns diddly-squat and we plan to transfer the entire balance to the CU accounts and close it. She wants to open her own account with ING Direct or a similar online bank. Pretty good for 12 years old. We have also discussed the current news regarding foreclosures. Her comment was something to the effect that people should not have been allowed to borrow above their means - base it on salary only and not equity.
I also got a notice from my employer that as of the end of year, I can no longer get paper EE bonds. I have a set amount of money withdrawn from my paycheck. So I need to determine if I should set up an online account or stop the whole thing. I have many, many EE bonds for both DD and DS. However, DS is currently having too much of a good time with his friends to think about going to college.
We have been reaping a bounty from our acreage in the adjacent county. We have TONS of Granny Smith apples! I am thinking of drying them, making apple sauce, and perhaps apple pie. We have persimmons as well. We have grapes fermenting in the closet and will get some wine (or maybe vinegar!) I have been watching youtube videos on how to make wine. A co-worker is also giving me tips. She has been doing this at home for years - but he buys his juice from a local supplier. We are trying with our own grapes.
Wish us luck...........................
Long time no blog, but too busy as usual!
I noticed when reading other blogs I cannot see any photos that are in the blog entry. I see a vertical line. When I click on the line: the message indicates that the original cannot be found and a photo name (.jpg) is shown.
Any ideas if it is my computer or something else?
The whole Disney e-ticket issue worked itself out. I went to the Club store on the next Monday, and spoke to their e-ticket seller. She made copies of all the emails I had and said she would have to confirm with Disney directly that those tickets had already been redeemed. She would credit my card, and also offered to pay the $3.50 difference per ticket that we had to pay at the theme park. Ms. ES called me the same day and figured out what had happened. I was originally sent only 4 tickets (they do not know why). When I called, Ms. ES was on vacation, and Mr. Backup ES took care of my problem. Instead of sending 4 additional tickets, he sent 8 new ones. But what happened is that another party was sent the 8 tickets that I had ordered. This party had wanted 4 park hopper tickets, but received 8 single park tickets. He had never ordered e-tickets before, so he figured 4 for each park = 8. So.....my CC was credited and I got a check directly from the Club. I did not have to dispute the CC. Ms. ES sent a written letter regarding the issue and followed up with a phone call. She also wanted to make sure that I was not scared off from ordering e-tickets in the future. So, everything ended well..........
The weekend was pretty mellow --- had family over for a 4th of July BBQ -- tritip (bought on sale for $1.99/lb about a month ago) and chicken breasts. Potato salad, coleslaw, rolls, baked beans, etc. Everything was yum..........
The 5th was spent laying a laminate floor in the living room area. Not quite done, but it does look pretty good. We bought the floor at Costco with a coupon.
Today was a vacation day --- took DD to her first day of summer enrichment (not summer school, but a fun class on singing) and ran some errands. Tonight is a soccer pickup game for DD - and I plan to jog/walk around the park while she plays. And then it is back to work tomorrow....
I am frosted (as the old saying goes). Friday night was great - DD had a choir award evening. Sunday was hockey - we lost, but a good workout means a win for me.
Saturday was our Girl Scout troop's end of year party at Disneyland. I purchased e-tickets from my employee's club. Turns out the tickets had already been redeemed!!!!!!!!!!!!! Some of us had volunteer tickets, but when the girls presented the e-tickets, the cast member told us that they have already been redeemed on June 7th. I had already had a problem with the club - when I purchased the tickets online on the 4th of June, I only got 4 instead of 8. I called them on the phone Monday am, and they said they would call me. Instead of a call, I got an email on June 7th after 3 pm with 8 tickets. So, I thought nothing of it. Printed them as usual. But -- they screwed up! I plan to email Disneyland to see if they could give me more detailed info on the time that the tickets were used - there were a few at each park. I also plan to drive to the club in LA Monday am with the emails as well as proof that I was there on Saturday. I do not want the tickets anymore because our party has passed -- I just want a refund to my CC. If I get no resolution, I will dispute on the CC. I have my parking stub, some of the tickets from the girls (I sent another mom to the booth to buy the tickets at full price)and GS permission slips for the event. I hope I have no problem. If anyone has any additional tips I would appreciate it.
But other than the ticket fiasco --- Disneyland was fun for the girls. We got there when they opened and they were smart enough to go to the popular rides first thing and fastpass for any others. We split them into groups and rotated periodically and they all got along beautifully. We dined together early with no crowds. Three girls brought their own lunch so that the provided $ would go further (I am proud to say DD was one of them). DD was checking out a DVD for Alice in Wonderland being sold at Disneyland. She commented that it was cheaper at the park rather than Target (a rare occurrence). Even the weather was nice - not too hot. So hopefully tomorrow, I will be a happy camper.
DD's last day of school is Thursday - so Friday I will take off and we'll hang out together. She wants to go on a bike ride around the neighborhood and go to the local shopping. I have some Starbucks GC's that we could use -- on stuff other than coffee. Also have coupons for free wontons at Pick up Stix. So I think we can cruise and have some lunch. The following two weeks I have a root canal scheduled and then the 4th is coming up. I hope to take some time off in July and also in August to do some camping or to visit my folks.
Enjoy your evening!
DD was bored for a bit on Friday pm, so she wanted to count all the change that I have been stashing in a large plastic bottle that I got at her baby shower 12 years ago (gasp! - time has flown). It is shaped like a baby bottle and probably equivalent to about a 2 liter bottle. She had to sort every coin by type (she inherited those characteristic from both Mom and Dad) and tabulated everything very carefully (while watching TV of course). Total for the bottle (2/3 full) is over $300!!!!! We have a contest going for the grand total when full --- I figure $500 or so. The winner get the largest vote for what to do with the money. The choice is something for the family to enjoy together. Estimate time to fill - about 2 months. So, summertime fun is on the way.
More bragging on my DD ----- locker cleanout was a few weeks ago. DD was rounding up her books and saw a perfectly good binder (looked brand new) in the trash. She fished it out and is now using it! I am proud!
DS finally checked in with us yesterday. He is a former frugal kid now consumed with the dark side of life (frivolous consumption). He is more concerned about having a good time and not at all worried about the future. He has no steady job and is not in school. This Mom is always worried! DS is not -- he figures that having fun is here and now and there is always time to get serious about things later. At least he does not have too many bills - rent is his major expense and he no longer has a car. DS does plan to attend school in the fall - it will only work if he buckles down. He turns 22 on Saturday - hopefully the party mode in high gear for too much longer. Sigh.......................
This is not the aroma that you might think! Soccer practice aroma is generally one of stinky socks and shoes and time to take a shower. Well, in our neighborhood, the aroma is actually delicious! :0 and
DD practices at a local middle school field. I run/walk around the track while she is practicing. This field is directly across the street from a wholesale bakery. Afternoons at this bakery seem to be spent baking cinnamon rolls or something similar. The smell is something to die for! The aroma must be adding pounds to my chubby figure! I feel like running across the street and licking the building. And to add insult to injury, a bakery outlet (not related to the business) is right next door.
Easter was a day to spend with the family. Munched on too much lunch thanks to my Mom's good food. Lamb (fresh on the farm), ham, and lots of other dishes. It was nice to see my Mom and Dad - they are getting older and more tired. Dad had knee replacement but is not doing as well as he should (he is in his 80s). Mom as been doing all the farm chores and is just plain tired (as well as having a leaky heart valve). She is almost 80. She did lose a lot of weight but test results showed nothing -- I think she is working way too hard plus she is a Type A+++ personality with a huge demand for perfection. One good thing is that financially they have everything spelled out. Trusts, bills, funeral plans, etc. Even her dress for the burial has been picked out. Very practical. Her soft spot is for her cats. Farm cats that are around for killing rats and she spoils them for sure. We did not have pets growing up so she is making up for lost time. Our cat came from the farm and she also enjoys killing suburban rats (and eating them as well).
We hung out at the farm for Monday and Tuesday - DD is on break this week. Monday it rained most of the day, so DD and I did a bunch of reading and relaxing. Of course, DH put his raingear on and played with the tractor! I read almost all of the magazines I get but never have the time to read through. All but one was received free of charge - Elle Decor, Health, Fitness, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Guideposts. One thing I noticed is that most of the zines offered free stuff tucked away somewhere - either in an article, an ad, or a coupon. Free samples of deodorant, window screening, dog food, etc. I plan to take advantage of offers that interest me. When I got home, I also read the local "throw away" paper that cover the local communities in my area. Saw an article for free dog grooming for the unemployed (grooming for their pets! NOT THEM) with proof of job loss. Also, saw a free dinner for those in need. Free tutoring for school children after school. Free tennis lessons at a local park for kids. Free kids crafts classes at the local shopping center. Wow --- all of these freebies in my town. While I will not need these particular freebies, I sure hope those in financial need do. Or those just being frugal. Even this local paper is free (tossed to every driveway).
I am a clumpy spender and perhaps you are as well. I tend to spend in clumps. When I find that I have some time to shop deals, I am on a MISSION! In a whirl, I scour the ads, internet, etc. I will go to my local market (usually Ralph's and Sprouts), Target, Costco, etc. I will buy as much as the deal allows in order to stock up. Then I do not shop for weeks except for perishables. Yes, there are downsides to this strategy. I miss some good buys. I wish I could shop all deals (even if small) every week because I love the "thrill of the hunt." I do not check the ads diligently every week - yes, I may read them but do not pursue due to lack of time. Darn -- the daily stuff of life just gets in my way! So I am destined to be clumpy until retirement!
It seems that the older I get, the faster time seems to pass by! When I was younger and had nothing to do, I thought everything was soo slow.................... But now (and the time change does not help quite yet) the day zooms by and sometimes I feel I have not accomplished a thing!
I still have my Sunday early am ritual - cup of tea and the newspaper. I do really enjoy this - alone with the cat and no other distractions. Reading is all done by the time the household gets up. DD was off last night at a friend's and did not get home until almost noon. I spent a few hours wrapping up planning to a Girl Scout camping trip for our troop. We are camping at a ghost town in a few weeks -- should be fun. The weather is anticipated to be almost 80 daytime and 50 degrees at night. So short during the day and campfire with s'mores at night. Yum! We will be making situpons with old vinyl tablecloths this week and left over yarn from other projects.
Also am beat -- played two hockey games today in playoffs. Made it to the semi's but lost. But pretty good for beginner league with most of our players over 40. It is sure hard to compete against a 25 year old!!!!! But I got my exercise for the day!
Also been talking to DH more about retirement. Fortunately for us, all online calculators have us in extremely good shape. DH would like to buy some rental property since prices are down. Game plan would be to pay off loan in about 5 years (my retirement date). But I do not want to over-extend ourselves. Last thing we need are renters who don't pay and have to suffer through an eviction. I had a rental years ago with my XDH. We (really me) had to evict them and go to court. I was successful in getting all rent monies back (plus interest) via garnishment. It was very stressful. Renters thought we were wealthy and should bail them out! To add insult to injury, renters had bought a boat and had it in the driveway! My XDH got the rental in our divorce and had to deal with additional troubles before he sold it. I don't think it is a good idea unless it is very local (the prior rental was 55 miles away). So.... if a good opportunity presents itself, we'll see.
DD's public middle school celebrated "Pi Day" - yes 3.14......... by serving free pie at lunch. DD came home with an entire apple pie! That was the good part. And here is the not so good part....................
DD was told she could take one pie home (and only one). She did try to get another but her hopes were dashed! There were many, many pies left over (many of them untouched). All pies not given away were thrown into a dumpster! I do not have all the facts, but DD saw them heaved. This is a total waste! There is a teen shelter about two blocks away, and I know for a fact that they will accept ANY food donations! Whole pie, half pie, whatever. Health department is not an issue. I am so frothed -- I may contact PTA regarding the issue. There should have been a contact with the shelter! Thanks for the venting -- and you know what is on the menu for dessert tonight!
Just had to share:
We (and probably all of you) received a one page paper in the mail notifying us that we would receive the census in about a week. My first reaction was: Why spend all the money sending this? But the clincher was this: the envelope was address to Resident, our street address and zip were correct...........but the city was not ours! It was another city in the area. If our zip+4 had not been accurate, we would have not received this letter! So much for government in action.........
My employer (a local City gov't) had offered an early retirement plan incentive to get the "deadwood" off the rolls. I was technically eligible but did not take the offer due to lack of "old age." Actually, my retirement would be penalized because I am not quite old enough and I would not be able to use my medical coverage for 5 years. So here I stay.... But the gloom continues to settle over the city - reminds me of Gotham City. The city is so mismanaged for various reasons that I don't want to discuss due to the heated atmosphere. But now the amount of potential layoffs is up to 4000 employees. It is so sad. I am in no danger of layoff but it is disheartening to know that others are. I have seen so much gov't waste throughout the years. But the "good ole boy" system was in place. Even now, Mayor Booze-dough (pronunciation for a Croatian word that roughly means "village idiot") is mugging for the media and taking business trips to somewhere rather than addressing possible solutions to the problem. Furloughs have been implemented in most departments and pay cuts across the board are been discussed. Pay cuts or layoffs? In my personal situation, layoffs are a better option because I probably will never be affected. But, I am torn about those 4000. Is it worth taking a 5% or 10% or 15% pay cut so that others can keep their jobs? Of course it is. I am fortunate enough to be able to afford any one of the proposed cuts. My pension amount is based on my highest year (this year ends July 1st unless I get promoted). And DH and I have been socking away more than usual just in case. I have stocked our pantry and our fruit trees are all producing - life is good. But others are not in the same position. Many co-workers have stated that they would lose their cars, homes, etc. if more than a 5% pay cut is imposed. Most seem to be in denial about what might happen - the "deer in the headlights" look. They tend to react, not act. They don't remember that it is not necessarily what you make - but what you keep. They are still eating out every night, have 2-3 car payments, etc. I am actually sitting there stunned. If the union have the opportunity to vote on the issue (rather than having it imposed), it will be interesting to see how the pendulum swings.
DD has a friend over last night. Her parents are the stereotypical "giving" parents - this girl has about every electronic device available. And she always says that she is bored! No wonder - too much stimulation. No sports activity other than school PE for her. We established set times for DD to play with her DS and Wii. Weekends only for those items and a finite limit of the time. I made a point to let DDF know about this and why. We also went to the recycling center at the local university and took her with us. We not only recycle cans and bottles, but also bring cardboard, food packaging, etc. DDF did enjoy throwing the glass into the dumpster! Right now DD and DDF are out walking the block delivering Girl Scout cookies. I usually go with her, but thought it was a good idea for them to go outside and do some walking before it starts to rain.
Happy Valentine's Day to all! If you do not have a special sweetie, then just remember everyone on this site has a special sweet spot for you! Our day is a rather quiet and practical one. DH took DD and I to Sizzler's for our VD lunch yesterday. We all had a meal plus the bottomless salad bar. DD and I promptly wrapped up our meat (malibu chicken and steak) to take home for a later meal. DH just can't bring himself to do that!
I also baked sugar cookies with hearts on them (bought at the 99 cents store).
Today DH is out washing the car with help from DD and he will be working tonight (with my permission of course!). He got a homemade card from me (made at the craft show) plus a few chocolates. DD was so sweet - she made homemade cards for both of us! She also put $$ in the cards but we told her to keep the $$ for herself. Also went for a bike ride to limber up for the pm hockey game.
Got home after the game (lost, BOO HOO) to see DD watching a show called "It's Crafty." It is actually a pretty good show. The star does a lot of crafts by repurposing items -- example, making shelves from old snowboards. So DD wants me to get some even though she does not snowboard. So my answer is NOPE, unless you see them by someone's trash cans on trash day!
Been spending the last couple hours compiling clothing to donate to a local charity. The bags get set out front and they leave a receipt at the mailbox. Sweet! So DD and I have been through the drawers and found many, many socks without their partners - where did they go? Did they go through that secret trap door in the dryer? Did they run away? I just can't believe we have so many! Well, they will turn into rags I guess.
Also donated old glasses and sunglasses at work for another group for the poor. It sure feels much lighter around here
We went to a CHA Craft Show last weekend and DD and I had a great time. I had free tickets and paid $10 for parking. We did many free "make and takes." Making cards, bookmarks, sewing (I was totally inept), totebag painting (bags provided by Michael's - great freebie) and a bracelet (beautiful beads from Tall Mouse). I'll try to include a photo soon. I wish we had gone there when the event opened..... But next year we will definitely go again. We even got a free bag from Michael's. I could go on and on. I did let DD pick out some bead bracelet strands and some ribbons - spend $10 for that. So $20 was not too much damage for the day.
Saturday evening we went to a friend's house to watch the CA lottery show -- she won $30K in November as well as $500 worth of scratchers and it was aired on Saturday. She looked good on TV, too. Even won about $100 from the scratchers! But the show is lame as compared to the "Big Spin" show that used to be on. Less winners and smaller amounts -- I guess CA budget problems also extend to the lottery.
I'll spend the rest of the evening paying bills and working on taxes. Good night!
Yipes -- it is the start of the first storm here in So CA. It started sprinkling about 2 pm and the rain is on and off for now. DH is currently working outdoors and is not a happy camper. Well.....that is what raingear is for! But he gets off at 10 pm and will not get the brunt of it. Tomorrow it like it will rain both day and night. And more for the rest of the week. I hope that those who live in the burn areas do not have damage.
I did go bike riding this morning -- I figured that it was my last chance for outdoor exercise in clear weather. It was sunny with a few clouds at that time. I rode to a local market to pick up a few loss leaders - exercise and no car spending. Picked up some bananas, apples, bread (on clearance), toffee candy (indulgence for DD but I also like them) and a power foods bar. I had a coupon so the power foods bar was free. Plus I got a 5 cent bag credit as well. On my ride, many trash cans in the neighborhood were set out for tomorrow's pickup. I noticed at least 3 printers sitting on top of cans! I am wondering if people were hoping someone would take them. We have e-waste collections at our local schools about every month or so --- that would be a better place for them.
Tomorrow I am off -- Martin Luther King holiday. I plan to go grocery shopping at the local larger supermarket for their loss leaders - pork roasts are on sale at a good price. I am also hoping to hit Kohl's for clearance items with my 30% off coupon.
DH is having "discussions" with FIL's CPA. This lady is a nut job, plain and simple. There has been a problem with her and DH, her and SIL, and also her and me. Last year FIL signed some IRS form regarding giving the CPA some authority over his investments (supposedly to change names for a trust, etc.). He clearly did not know what he was signing. DH had FIL call CPA (he has used her for a long time and considers her almost as a friend -- and judgment is poor due to dementia) to retrieve form because DH is handing those issues. She said fine and I drove FIL to her office for the form. As soon as she saw me, her claws came out and the horns sprouted form both sides of her head. I asked her to give FIL the form (he is the client). She said that no, she would not but indicated that she would shred it. I said that I would like to see her do so, CPA then swiveled her head like Linda Blair! She did shred a form, but I did not get a close look at it. But that was last year, and DH has watched everything and informed all companies regarding this issue. DH called her this month regarding FIL's caregiver and the tax situation. Caregiver indicated that she is an independent contractor and gives info to her tax man. So I told DH to contact CPA regarding issuance of a 1099, etc. CPA assumed her role as Lucifer's wife and indicated that FIL HAD to classify caregiver as an employee because she could not be trusted to follow through with the IRS. That sounds like nonsense to me! Also said that he had to do state and fed withholding. For 2009, caregiver has only worked a few weeks, so FIL is under the reportable limit. I went to the IRS site, and there are conditions to determine if one is an employee or not -- I think she is not. But even if she is, we do not have to withhold taxes (per IRS website). The employee can take the responsibility. CPA kept saying over and over, that she would report FIL to IRS if DH does not go "her way." Wait a minute ------- FIL is her client, not her enemy. DH certainly wants to follow the law, but the most simple way possible. I told DH strongly that if he must use her for 2009 so be it (although crazy), but NOT to use in 2010! And to top it all off, CPA is not listed in our state's consumer affairs database as a CPA! No number is listed on her business card. I told DH last year that I would like to report her to the state for insanity. If CA does not require her to be a licensed CPA, we would find that out. But last year, DH was afraid that of so, any returns that has completed (for years) for FIL would be null and void. This woman treats FIL as her "Child" and talks down to him. She treats his children as an enemy. This is an unacceptable type of "relationship" and DH needs to distance FIL and his financial affairs from CPA. DH does have financial power of attorney although he has not given CPA a copy at this time. I am sorry for venting --- but something smells rotten at her office and it is a rat (two-legged of course)!
Boy --- DH (and I to a lesser degree) are taking care of FIL's financial issues. The new year has started and we are trying to save FIL as much as possible on his prescriptions. Unfortunately, two of his meds are brand name with no current generic available. His other 3 are generic - none of them are the $4 advertised ones. He does get into the Medicare "donut hole" every year stopping about midway. He does not spend enough for catastrophic coverage (which means he is not "sick" enough). I am planning to contact a mail order pharmacy for the 2 meds. Apparently he was on mail order in the past (AARP) and they screwed things up. FIL has dementia and is not much help at this point. I have also seen some Rx cards online (Countryrx I think is one) that are supposed to give a discount. DH is the ones who handles the meds directly. He asked the pharmacy about the discount card but they said that if he used it that it would not be tracked by Medicare. And DH does not want to track anything. I think that if FIL is in Stage 2 paying full cost and has almost no probability of reaching the catastrophic stage that we should try to save him any monies we can.
Am trying to prepare DH for planning with FIL as he continues to decline, and DH is slowly coming out of his denial. FIL has a nice lady that stays with him during the week, and spends the weekend with us. FIL can do his own self-care at this point. The lady cooks, cleans, and reminds him to shower, take meds, etc. The situation is wearing on DH a bit as his siblings do not help out very much. His sister will come and take them grocery shopping but has a major fit if we tell her to take her turn if we have something planned (which is extremely rare). His brother is entirely worthless and may visit FIL for 15 min or so every 2 weeks. Seems to disappear when any responsibility is mentioned. I think all should take turns taking care of FIL on weekends. FIL is not at the point where a facility is warranted; and I guess I do not understand why they do not want to help (or feel an obligation to do so). My parents are both still around and are still able to care for themselves. They live about an hour away. If something happened, I would powwow with my sibs and have an action plan. I personally dislike nursing homes and would try to avoid those for family if at all possible.
On another note, I am debating whether to spend some $$ for a "longevity screening" at my place of employment. They had a free lunch seminar (nice healthy lunch of course) and had their sales pitch. They offer screenings such as carotid; heart; aorta; and abdominal for cancer, etc. One employee came and spoke that the screening had saved his life - he had a bulge in his aorta and went straight from the screening to the emergency room. Had surgery the next day. But is the cost worth it (not covered by insurance)? I don't know. If I had to pick one, it would be the abdominal screening -- I have had a lipoma in the region for years and it has recently gotten larger. Could there be anything else there? Well, I have until next Thursday. I am assuming that they will not be booked up.
Whew! I am pooped - but my DD must really be. She went to sleep at 8 pm. She had two soccer games today, plus ice skating as a Girl Scout activity. I also skated, so I hope that I got some exercise.
Lunch was at In n Out Burger between games and spent $4.70 for a hamburger meal between the two of us. Dinner was varied between the family. DD had soup (she put left over rice into the mix - good thinking!); Grandpa had leftover Chinese from the other day; and DH had homemade burritos. I had burrito minus the tortilla. Also made Nestle walnut chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
Tomorrow is DD's homework catchup day. For extra credit, she is doing an essay on "Why My Mom Deserves a Diamond." We'll see if her creative writing skills makes me a winner. I have a hockey game at 12 but otherwise plan to declutter and list items on freecycle. I also need to squeeze in a bike ride for additional exercise.
I am feeling much better -- about 97%. Just a cough or two every so often. No meds during day - only Nyquil at night "just in case." DD says she has a scratchy throat - I hope it does not get worse. I have some vitamin C and other assorted items to try and minimize if possible.
Trying to debate where to purchase Turbo Tax - what is the better deal and where? I see at Office Depot, Staples, and the like they are about 59.99 for Deluxe and you can get other software programs (Quicken, etc.) free after rebate. Target has Turbo Tax for $49.99 until 2/20/10 and the same price at Costco. Costco online is $39.99. I am looking for any possible discounts for Office Depot. I know I just missed the 15% off coupon from Office Max. But I really do not need a new version of Quicken, do I? Or don't I? I have a few weeks to think about it. I usually get taxes going about 2/1/10. I should be faster but I am one of the queens of the kingdom of procrastination. I am hoping to abdicate the throne, but no such luck....
Decided to try to go to work today. I made it in but opted not to go to a few meetings. I did not want to be hacking on anyone. Turns out quite a few people are out sick and have been with the same thing.
I did lots of paperwork and ducked out about an hour early - don't tell!
Got my last paystub of the year. Looking at both DH and mine, our 2009 income is up by 12.2% as compared to 2008. Largely due to increase in DH's income. He has a job where he can works when he wants (lucky him). Since we have almost no debt, that is what he does. He still loves to spend time at our acreage playing farmer on his tractor (our only debt - but at 0% interest!). He did work a bit more to save a bit more. 2010 is a year we predict that his income will stay about the same. My income will increase about 2% or so due to a raise from last July as well as an excess sick time payout at the higher hourly rate. The only interesting tidbit is that we can "tweak" his income if we wish to be in the income range in order to contribute to Roth IRAs. So in October we discuss what our options are. And of course he is happy not to work! I have no such luck working for a gov't entity unless furloughs materialize (we are exempt so far). We did fully fund our 401k/453b for the year, and my contribution was upped to $22k due to my age. In 2011 I will qualify for the "catch up" provision and will be able to contribute much more (amount was $33k in 2009). I did run a number of calculations on various websites and found that based on our monies to date and planned savings and pensions, we will be in good shape to retire when planned. But.....if we are wiped out there is always a Plan B. DH is dreaming of selling fruit and nuts to farmers markets around the area. I think that is a good idea but have a lack of faith in that happening soon. Why? DH seems to be growing fruit for the squirrels and the gophers and the birds! And they do not pay well! DH says that as the trees get bigger they will leave us some fruit. Plus DH has gotten some trees with various colors - green skinned plums for example. He is hoping that the birds think that they are unripe and are disinterested. We'll see if his experiment works.
My nagging cough that is!!!!! DH does not like Mr. NC hogging the bed! So much for "in sickness and in health." Meds do not help that much. I did buy some Nyquil today in hopes of knocking myself out (I mean lulling myself) to sleep tonight because I go back to work tomorrow. I did have my work phone on today in the car and had at least 10 calls -- but I did not answer them nor did I listen to the emails. Tomorrow is another day. Plus, if I feel like "parc" spelled backwards, I will definitely leave early.
DD has been nagging dad lately about another sibling -- nope, not the regular way. I am at the upper echelon (unfortunately) of anything successful due to age and other unknown reasons, and I have had at least 5 miscarriages after 40. We have considered adoption in the past 2 years or so, and attended an orientation. DH got skittish about the whole procedure - he is miffed that we need to go to classes because we already are parents. He is also miffed about possible modifications to the backyard due to our swimming pool -- there is no financial assistance but you can remove everything the day the adoption is final (of course we would have swimming lessons)! I do not blame him for his feelings but that is the way it is. He is also worried that a child (we are considering a child 4-9 not an infant) won't love us the way he/she should (huh) plus concerned about any undisclosed issues. DD really told him that she really wants a sibling no matter what and will even settle for a little brother The county did say we stipulate what issues we are willing to deal with. And of course, any match will be made based on those choices. I do have a 21 year old DS from a prior marriage who lives on his own. He and DH were like two sea lions at mating season - it was not pleasant! And with DS gone since he was 16, DS and DD are not that close - plus there is a 10 year age difference. DS is eager to have a younger sibling with a lesser gap. So, DH gave the go ahead to schedule classes with the county. The classwork and application/inspection process looks like it will take about 6 months. So, hopefully we will move forward. If there is no match, then at least we have tried. I will keep you guys posted on this. If any of you have adopted, I would appreciate any feedback on any potential issues. Or if you have been adopted, was there anything different from being in a biological family situation? Thanks a bunch.
Happy New Year to all!
Yup, my cough has continued to be my companion and keeping me up all night. And I get no benefits from it! DH is well aware of the new companion -- and he also is not getting a good night's sleep and wants this new "friend" to go away. I did go to urgent care today -- and so did everyone else. Got there 5 minutes after it opened and the waiting room was full! Took 2 hours but it least the diagnosis was not horrible. Upper respiratory issue - bot no strep. Got a prescription for controlling cough. Dr. also suggested Mucinex. And drinking lots more water because I am too hydrated. I did fill the Rx and got $30 loaded on my Ralph's card as a reward. Loaded up on cough drops and Mucinex at Target and was able to take a short nap this pm. Still coughing but not as much and my throat is not as sore. I go back to work on Tuesday (I hope).
For New Year's Eve we were on our acreage so DH could play farmer. I was not horribly bad until late that evening. We went to a neighbor's home and had rabbit for dinner. It was pretty good. NA bought the rabbits (live) from a local guy and butchered them himself. His wife, MA, was not so crazy about that part of it. But it was tasty.
I did have some clarity an hour ago when I realized my $10 Kohl's cash expires today!! I also have a $10 off $20 that will bite the dust tomorrow. So I drug myself there (it is about a 2 minutes drive from home). I got 12 pairs of socks and a casual T-shirt for $1.05. Yay! Sick or not, I could not pass that up. I did have cough drops in my mouth and kept any talking to a minimum. Plus I found a penny on the ground while waiting in line.....
Hope that a Happy and financially healthy 2010 is had for all!
Today is a drizzly day here in So CA - light rain at times and a bit chilly. I did my walk this morning and found some change - 2 cents (how appropriate). I may start a daily log on spare change like some of you. I also dropped off a prescription at CVS - a transfer so I will get a $30 GC for the transfer). When I went back to my car, I saw a gift card of some sort in the parking lot next to my car. Now, my DD and I always pick these up because well... you never know. Most of the time the balance is zero. We have found a few Target GCs with balances under $5. I am assuming that perhaps someone did not want to bother with trivial balances in those cases. I saw that this GC was a McDonalds Arch card when I picked it up. The balance? $25! Yipee for me (not for the person who lost it). McDonalds is a place we rarely frequent - DH hates the food. So, this will be a treat for me and DD. And of course, I do have McDonalds coupons in the Entertainment Book to stretch out that GC!
I also made a trip to a local market (Staters) to take advantage of some loss leaders. NY Steak is $2.97/lb; and they will be a tasty New Year's Eve Dinner (and some in the freezer to boot). Also got cherries at $1.99/lb (good price for these parts) and Yoplait yogurt for 36 cents each (not too bad). I plan a trip to another market in a bit to pick up other loss leaders (tri tip roast and beer among others). I do plan these trips around other errands I am doing so that I am not wasting gas.
I am also looking at several places for after Christmas sales on LED exterior lights. I got some C7 colored ones last year but cannot find any more right now. Target has none; CVS has them in white/clear only; and RiteAid has them in a C9 size. I still need to check Home Depot and Walgreens, etc. 50% is OK for me.
Also have a question on Roth IRA conversions - if anyone knows the answer please let me know. Here goes ----- In 2010 there will be no income restriction on conversion to a Roth IRA. But are we free to convert only one account or do we have to do them all? Right now, both DH and I have one deductible, traditional IRA each. We also each have a nondeductible, traditional IRA from a year that we could not contribute to a Roth. I am unsure if we would convert all 4 accounts - I would target the 2 deductible accounts for sure. Any advice would be helpful...
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