Gas For BF's Car: $25 ($25/$635.02)
Pup's X-Rays Shipped: $5.45 ($5.45/$325)
Pup's New Crate: $246.93 ($252.38/$325)
Our fresh start for the second half of the year has certainly started well for us.
First, BF got a good call about work this morning. They are giving him full-time with benefits at $9/hr. That is more than we thought they would do! The way they were car-dealing about the pay, I figured they wouldn't go for BF's $9/hr and 40 hrs/week minimum. Apparently they thought he meant full-time with benefits or nothing, so that's what they gave him!
I'm excited for him, and he seems genuinely enthused about it. It's good to see him like that, because it seems like he has a purpose to work towards now. And apparently they are really expecting alot of him, the head manager (who he actually got to meet today) told BF that he'd like him to be the "second man" for the Grocery Head, because BF knows what is supposed to be going on.
Even so - BF has said that when we get settled in a year or so (when we're done moving for my job), if his job isn't advancing or if it's not going to be enough for the future, then he will go back to school to at least finish his Associate's Degree. He already has some credits under his belt, and he left with good grades, so the only issue will be time & money. He will continue to work full-time if he goes back to take classes, but at least he is admitting that it's something he may need to do.
He starts work tomorrow, and unfortunately, will have to work until 10PM on Independence Day. So no fireworks for us. But that's okay, I think he gets paid extra because he's full-time and it's a holiday, and I think it's a good sign that his first official day on the job will be the first day of the month.
With BF working comes a predicament, though. We have no idea what we're going to do with the pup while we're both at work. He can still fit in his cage for our short trips out to the grocery, but I feel bad to leave him in there for that long. He can stand up in it and turn around, but he has to kind of lean his head down a bit. I guess if we have no other choice, he will survive a few days.
We did order the bigger crate from PetSmart this morning. I had budgeted $250 for it, and it was $246.93 with shipping, so pretty close. It was supposed to be here by Saturday I think.
THEN, when I got to work, I thought to ask if we ever special-ordered large items like that. (We carry some pet stuff, but not a huge variety.) And to my surprise - YES! We looked through the catalog and found a crate that has the same dimension as the one from PetSmart, and because it would be shipped at the same time as our regular stock orders from that vendor, I wouldn't have to pay shipping at all!
The total for the crate from my work will be about $130. COMPARED TO $246.93!!! I couldn't believe it. So the first thing I did when I got home was go online and try to cancel the PetSmart order. No luck. It said you couldn't cancel, you just had to ship it back to return it. That would have been pointless, because the shipping itself would be $100 both ways. So I called their customer service, and the lady said she would send a request to cancel it at the warehouse. I am supposed to get an email to let me know whether it was successful or not. If not, she said I could return it at a retail store (again, opposite of what the website said) and then call customer service for a credit on the shipping. That would be the longer route, but I'd theoretically still get all my money back, and end up saving the $110 on the crate.
So, I'm going to go ahead and order the crate at work tomorrow, and it will be here on Monday of next week. I'm off Thursday/Sunday, so we just need to figure out what to do with the pup for this Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat/Mon. Stress!
I'm listing his old crate on Craigslist tonight. I've also emailed the guy from my pet-sitting ad on Craigslist again. Apparently the week he needed someone was the week I am going to be out of town for a work conference, so that sucks. But he said they might need someone for a few days before then, so I emailed him the amount I would charge. Maybe that will work out.
Well, I'm off to wash my (and BF's!!!) work clothes for tomorrow. Oh - forgot to mention that I had a free lunch today because we had a retirement party at work for one of the guys. Lots of good food, and free! So the soup I brought from home was saved for tomorrow.
Archive for June, 2008
OUR JULY BUDGET
My Pay (After Taxes & 3% 401K): $2,065.78
BF's Pay (After Taxes): $900
Personal Loan Reimbursement: $235
Surveys: $27.50 ($7 + $20.50)
TOTAL = $3,228.28
Cable Internet: $57
My SF Card: $199.65
BF's SF Card: $18
Car Loan: $180
Student Loan: $51
SF Insurance: $155
BF's Car Insurance: $115
Personal Loan: $113.61
Cingular Cell Phones: $125
Pet Supplies: $325 ($75 + $250)
BF's Health Insurance: $0
My Health Insurance: $114
Health Co-Pays/Over-Counter: $50
TOTAL = $3,228.28
ANY SURPLUS = SF CC PAYMENT
A few notes about our budget for July:
-I included an estimated $250 in the Pet Supplies Category to account for the cost of the pup's bigger crate.
-Cut Hair-Cuts/Personal to $15 because BF is growing his hair out, and won't be paying for a hair-cut this month.
-Entertainment is more because we are expecting visitors, and plan to try and do something fun while they are here.
-BF's Health Insurance is zero because we pre-paid for 3 months of coverage.
-Co-Pays/Over-Counter is more because BF intends to go to the doctor about a cyst, and I think that is the co-pay.
I've decided that I won't start my expense/budget tracking for July until tomorrow (6/30). I just feel better about starting it on a Monday, and closer to the actual start of July. We went grocery shopping today, and ate fast food (bad, I know). BF is aware of the new all-encompassing system we're going to follow in July, so I told him this would be our last day before that starts. Hence the visit to Arby's, lol.
At Walmart, we got some chicken & fish for our dinners, and some soup & yogurt for our lunches. We are both making an effort to eat healthier and lose some weight, but he is doing much better than me. They also had 24-packs of Diet Coke on sale for $5, so we got a pack. We've been trying to just reuse our water bottles, but that's still a work-in-progress. Hopefully we can do better with our fresh start tomorrow.
I am going to finish the budget for July and will make a separate post about it as soon as I get done. It always helps me to have things in writing, I guess it feels more like a committment.
BF is supposed to hear about his job tomorrow. I am trying not to get my hopes up for anything, especially with how confusing it's been so far. I will try to post a short update whenever we find out something for sure.
I can't believe July 4th is coming up so soon. We had some preliminary plans to go to the big fireworks show in the town next to us on Friday night, since I get off work at 4:00. I figured it would be a good way to celebrate and do something, but without spending much (or any?) money. But on the off-chance that everything works out with BF's job, I can imagine them wanting him to start this week, and they'd surely need him on the 4th. So our plans may be cancelled if I am staying home alone.
Normally that would be depressing, but we are expecting some of my family to visit us on the 5th, so it won't be so bad. I enjoy getting to see them of course, because it's been about a month and a half. The only thing is the stress with getting everything ready. They will be staying with us, but all we have for extra sleeping space are couches and an air mattress... so I guess we'll just makes sure the sheets/pillows are clean.
I had an email today from a Craigslist ad. It was a guy looking for a pet-sitter for when he & his wife go on vacation. He had wanted me to call him, but my cell was dead at the time, so I emailed him back and let him know the dates I would be gone for a conference this month, and told him I would call him if he felt like our schedules could work. As far as I know he hasn't emailed back yet, so I'm starting to wish I had just waited until the my phone was charged. Oh well, we'll see.
Also checked on a big dog crate for the pup while we were out today. They didn't have the size we needed at PetSmart or Petco, and we even asked if they could order them. It's weird that they can't order them when I can find the one I want on PetSmart's website.
But anyway, the cost for the crate & shipping from PetSmart is about $245. I found another place that has a similar crate (same dimensions) for about $230. Every other place was going to cost more with shipping. I'm undecided on which to order. I'm familiar with PetSmart, and I can have the crate in 3-5 days it says. The other site doesn't give an estimated time for arrival, and I've never used them before. I'm starting to think we should just go ahead and pay the extra $20 or so and know that the crate is going to get here, and relatively soon. Especially with BF's work schedule up in the air right now.
Well, I guess I should be getting to some other things besides blogging. I want to finish our July budget (and then post it, hehe), clean the bathrooms (taking it one step at a time), get the pup's x-rays ready for BF to mail tomorrow (finally), and wash my clothes for work (yay).
I've blogged about BF's job interview yesterday. A recap & update (and rant):
BF put in an application online for the grocery store on Tuesday. Thursday, a guy from the store calls and leaves him a voicemail, saying that they were originally looking for 2 part-timers, but with BF's experience, they might be able to give him full-time with benefits. Then, before BF had even noticed the voicemail, the guy calls back again on the same day. This time BF answers, and the guy tells him the same thing... he could probably get full-time with is experience. They arrange for a face-to-face the next day (Friday).
BF goes to the interview, where he is told by the same guy that the starting pay for part-time is $7.50/hr, but that's for young kids with no experience. BF tells him he'd really like full-time, and would probably have to have at least $9/hr for our budget. The guy tells him he understands completely, he thinks BF will be great, and BF can probably move up the ladder just like he is (I'm guessing the guy is a department manager or something). He tells BF that he will talk to the boss (the manager?) and see what he can do for BF.
So he calls BF this morning and tells him that they just CAN'T start anyone out at more than $8.50, but that he could work a month and be moved up to $9.50/hr. BF tells him he's not sure if that will work, and the guy tells him that he can start work next week, and get 25 hours.
So BF calls and tells me, and I am pretty much ticked at this point. Why would that guy call and leave a voicemail saying they could probably get him full-time, then call back, then have an interview and act like he completely understands what BF will have to have, and then call to offer PART-TIME and $8.50/hr? And the fact that he was promising a whole $1/hr raise after a month of "good work" made me uncomfortable. Would that ever really happen, and if so... why not just start him out at the $9 he wanted? It just pissed me off because, if you know you can't hire someone full-time or pay them what they need, why waste their time?
Fast forward a few hours, BF calls to tell the guy he just can't do that, but thanks anyway. Then, magically, the department-head guy says, "Well, what if we can get you $9/hr and 40 hours/week, just no benefits? Would that be enough for you to come?" BF tells him no guarantee, but that would be the minimum. So the guy tells him (exact words), "Well, I'm gonna go to bat for you man, and if I fall on my face... so be it."
Am I just being super-paranoid, or does this sound SO car-salesman-ish? This guys is the one that contacted BF, that called his references, that read his reference letter, that interviewed him, and that has called him back since. And yet he has to "go to bat" for BF to the boss? If he doesn't have the authority to hire people, why is he leaving messages and interviewing them? And why did he tell BF that $8.50 was the absolute most they could hire at, and now he's saying it's possible to get more? Does he not see that he's cross-stepping himself?
Ugh. So here we are. The guy is supposed to call and let BF know whether he can get him $9/hr and 40 hrs/week on Monday. I'm even more confused on whether I want BF to take it or not. $9/hr is what we were shooting for, but I'm just not sure it will be what this guy is promising. Are they allowed to work people 40 hrs/week consistently without making them full-time? I know in our old state, if they did that for 3 weeks in a row, then you were automatically considered full-time, and eligible for benefits. So I'm afraid they'll give him 40 hrs SOME weeks, and less others, to keep under the threshold.
*Sigh*. BF says to look on the bright side, that he even had a job call and offer. I know that's the way to think, but it's just exasperating when I feel like we've had to wheel-and-deal for a GROCERY STORE job. I didn't negotiate that hard for the position I have now.
Thanks to everyone for their thoughts & comments on this situation... we need BF to have an income very soon, but we also don't want to get screwed over.
Good news for today... our two trial deposits for our ING savings posted today, so we were able to verify them. Now the ING account should be officially open for depositing & saving. I'm hopeful for what we can do with it.
As far as our budget, I am debating on whether or not to start our "fiscal" month of July tomorrow (June 29th). The perfectionist in me wants to say "July is July", but the logical side of me says otherwise. Tomorrow is my day off, and we need groceries. So if I wait until July 1st to start tracking expenses, it won't include our groceries from a few days before. I may end up waiting until at least Monday before I start tracking July spending. Still undecided.
I finished The Lovely Bones last week (one of my library reads). It was really good... moving at times. Made me appreciate just being alive a little more, and being able to experience life thus far.
Well, I'm off to balance a checkbook, clean the apartment, and smack BF around a little for his texting to his cousin. (Hello! $0.20 per text!!!) And maybe some reading out of my other library book, InkSpell. Maybe.
Well, BF had his job interview with the grocery store today. According to him, it went really well, and the guy who was interviewing him wasn't much older than us (24 I think). He was from down south too, so they had that in common, and he seemed impressed with BF's work experience and references. They usually don't give new people full-time, but I think this guy is trying to work it out for BF. When he read the reference that BF's old manager had given him to bring up here, he said "Wow, this is serious... you should be interviewing for my job!" Lol.
The semi-bad news is that he said part-time people start at $7.50/hr. There is no way that we can afford that. Of course, he said that's for 16-year-olds with no experience, but he couldn't nail down what BF would get either. Of course it would be higher if he got full-time, plus he would get some paid vacation and benefits. BF told him that he couldn't work for less than $9/hr, and he would really prefer full-time. The guy seemed to respect that we have a budget and need to know where the money's coming from.
So... he is talking to the head manager tomorrow and is supposed to let BF know. If he hasn't called by 5:00, BF is supposed to call him.
I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I really expected the full-time pay to be higher than even $9. BF was making $9 back home working part-time, and that is a much lower cost of living. Here, I figured he could make $10/hr part-time or maybe $12/hr full-time. Ugh.
On the other hand though, he seems to think he would really like it, and was even talking about how he could transfer to another one of the stores when we moved (it's a national chain)... and maybe move up the ladder like the guy he interviewed with. So I don't want to rain on his parade.
+We can start getting the income sooner.
+BF's health insurance costs might decrease.
+BF gets paid holidays & vacation days.
+BF could possibly advance w/ the same company, as they are national.
-The pay isn't what I expected for a full-time job.
-He would have to work evenings alot, which means our schedules would be opposite.
-It's the same work experience that he has already, no new skills.
I am wavering between just telling him to take the job if he can get $9/hr, and telling him to hold out for something else. I even emailed him a bunch of customer service jobs off of CareerBuilder, but I don't know. AHHH!!!
The good (and weird) news is that we apparently don't have an electricity bill this month. For some reason, when I check the account balance online, it says we have a $2.00 credit and nothing due. We have been waiting for the paper statement to make sure, but haven't gotten anything. So I called tonight, and the automated system told me the same thing... $2.00 credit and nothing due. The due date is the 30th of this month, so I know it would be showing by now. The only thing I can figure is that when we called to get the balance last time, it didn't include the payment we had mailed... so we had paid for two months at once? Maybe? I don't know.
Anyway, as long as we're not getting double-billed next month, that is fine with me. And just to make sure that "extra" money was put to good use, I went ahead and applied $50 extra to my credit card bill.
Pmt to SF Credit Card: $149.65 (min) + $50.00 (extra) = $199.65
I also paid the personal loan by transferring money from my old checking account (what I had left) to the loan account. I haven't done that before, but hopefully it will work and save me $0.42 in stamp cost.
Pmt to Personal Loan: $113.61
Paid our cell phone bills, it was high this month because we added BF to my plan. We had to pay an activation charge to add his line, but I've switched it to FamilyTalk, so it should be considerably cheaper next month.
Pmt to Cingular: $182.01
I started to mail a payment to State Farm for my brother's life insurance ($14.01), but decided not to. We don't have much extra money, and my brother doesn't have any debts at this point that makes life insurance a necessity for my mother to have on him, so I'm not going to pay it anymore. I got it when I worked in insurance, and he always said he would pay for it, but I never asked. I'm going to contact my agent and have her change the address on the policy to my mom's, and let my brother know that he can continue to pay it if he wants.
So the only bill left for June is the cable bill, which we haven't gotten a bill for, but I know was due on the 24th. I tried to call tonight and pay it, but they closed at 5PM, so BF will be doing that tomorrow.
And last but not least... I am getting everything ready for our "fresh start" in July. I want to start the second half of the year ready to go with our budget and tracking our spending.
In the next few days, I will be preparing our specific budget for July, and hopefully evening out the financial stuff we've got hanging in the air. I have two checks from my family (reimbursement for the Personal Loan) that I need to deposit, and I want to get our Orange Savings up and running by July.
So yes, we are determined. Every penny will be tracked, and every dollar budgeted.
So I did manage to go through some clothes today. I have two LARGE trash bags full, and the hanging space in my closet it filled to capacity. Now I just have to finish going through the rest of my piles of clothes and figure out where I'm going to hang the rest I'm keeping. It is weird to have your clothes hanging in other bedrooms? Lol.
I'm currently watching the "Fear Itself" series on NBC, and I have no idea why. Those kinds of shows always scare the patootie out of me, but I always get so sucked into them. At least BF is here now.
The trip to the park today was fun. We ended up taking sandwiches and chips, and of course some water for the pup. We tied his long leash to the picnic table while we ate, then let him "explore" the park area. It was actually alot bigger than I thought, I guess you can only see so much of it from the road. There were all kinds of little bridges over the stream that ran through it, and trees and such. Apparently there is even a public pool up there, which we had no idea about! But in summary, a good time was had by all. The pup was so worn out from his adventuring, I didn't think we were gonna be able to get him up the stairs.
Other good news, BF had a job call today! It's a grocery store, and they said they were originally looking for two part-time people, but since he had experience, maybe they could offer him full-time. He is going tomorrow for an interview of sorts, so I guess that's when he'll find out if it's actually "full-time" with benefits, and the pay and all that.
In our budget, he needs to make $900/month, or about $225/week (based on 4 weeks per month). So I figure, with taxes, he'll need to work 40 hours/week and make $9/hour. Of course, he'll want retirement and health insurance taken out if he is eligible. But we are already paying for individual health coverage for him, which is probably more expensive anyway, so it will hopefully be a wash. So everyone please keep your fingers crossed that he gets good news tomorrow! $9/hour and full-time with benefits would be incredible at this point!
Just saw on Oprah, and thought some of you might be interested. She had Suze Orman on her show promoting her new book Women & Money... and they have arranged for a free download on Oprah's website. The book is almost 300 pages, and downloading it is simple (I just did).
Just go to www.oprah.com and follow the links for Suze Orman. Hurry though, it's only available until tomorrow (6/27) at 5 PM (Pacific Time).
It retails at $24.95, anyone want to add that to your challenge? Lol.
Well, we had a late start to our day. I always try to sleep in a little on my day off so that I can "catch up" on my rest, but I hate when I get up and feel like half the day is gone.
I have started to go through my piles of clothes and decide what I can get rid of. As hypocritical as this may sound after my last blog, I plan on asking "De" from work if they can use any of my gently used jeans/shirts. Even though the way her and her husband act about finances is totally exhausting for me, I feel sorry for their kids. If not, I am going to drop them in a donation box outside my work. The important thing is... less clutter in my closet (maybe BF can finally put some of his stuff in there).
I can't wait for my Orange account to be up and running. As soon as they make the trial deposits into my checking account so that I can verify them, I can start making other deposits. All I need is the money for those deposits, hehe.
BF has gone to Walmart to pick up some random groceries and household items. We needed more clothes hangers to help in the de-cluttering effort. He might pick up a $1 movie too, I want to see "Definitely Maybe" or "10,000 B.C." (complete opposites, I know).
And because I'm determined that we're going to start being "more active", we are taking a trip to the park today. I guess I have always thrown "fun activities" and "spending money" in the same bag, so I have sacrificed planning stuff for us to do because of our finances. But, thanks in part to many people on this site, I realize that we can do lots of fun stuff for little money, or maybe even free.
I kicked off my little plan last week with the library trip. Even though BF isn't that into reading, he had a good time visiting with me and helping to pick out my books. Maybe as we go, he will pick up the habit.
And last night I drove by the park on the way home from work, and decided we should try that. It's really small, but less than a mile down the road. I know there are picnic tables and grass... and I'm hoping they have grills for us to cook on, or else we can just take sandwiches. Anyway, we're taking our pup, and hopefully it will be a good (and inexpensive) way to spend my day off.
I'm starting to get nervous about the visitors we're expecting next month. My mom, brothers, and brother's girlfriend are coming up on the 5th and staying until the 7th. Then BF's sister, bro-in-law, and niece are visiting from the 15th-18th. I've already requested off a few days so that I can actually enjoy their visits, but I'm nervous about getting everything done before they get here.
We have one air mattress, but need to make sure we have clean sheets, pillows, etc. The spare bedroom needs to be cleaned, as well as the rest of the apartment, really. We are trying to tackle it early, so we've started cleaning out the closet and stuff today.
And from the 20th-26th of July, I have a conference for work that I'll have to travel for. I'm nervous about meeting all the new people, and leaving BF to fend for himself with the pets! :S
We might look for a bigger crate for our puppy today too. We'll have to order it online because he is too big for even the biggest they have at PetSmart or Walmart. The shipping will probably be atrocious, but we have no choice. He can barely stand up in the one he has now, and when BF starts work, he won't be able to stay in there all day.
The upside is that once we get his new crate, we should be able to sell his current one on Craigslist. It cost us $80 new, and we've only had it 5 months, so hopefully we can recoup some of that.
It will all work out I suppose, I just hope for as little stress as possible.
Yes, my Associated Content articles were finally published. So here is my shameless plug, if anybody is interested:
My Associated Content Profile Page
"How To Free Your Pet From Ringworm"
"How To Live With A Great Dane"
I think I'll also create a separate page where I can list my published works. Keep in mind these are my first two articles, so nothing stellar. Now that I am a little more familiar with how the site works, hopefully I can create some quality stuff.
If anybody missed my blog about joining AC, it works by paying you for the number of page views that your published articles/songs/videos get. Right now I have to get 1,000 page views to get $1.50. Not a fortune, but it's a start, and this site has taught me not to discount little extras.
I also started an ING Orange savings account last night for BF & I. I like the way it lets you have "linked" external accounts with no fees. I think that will really help us to make more deposits (even if they are small) whenever we have it. Even if it will eventually go to a bill, it can gain a little interest or keep from being spent on other stuff for a while.
I only spent $1 today, and that was on a sweet tea from McDonalds after work. I managed to take my lunch, and didn't have to buy gas (thank goodness). We also made out the car payment to mail. Tomorrow will be a bill-paying day, as we have to find out what is going on with a few of them.
Our cable bill was due today, and we have never gotten a paper bill. But then again, we did get somebody ELSE'S cable bill (same apartment number, wrong building)... so maybe it's the mailman's fault. But our electricity bill is due at the end of the month, and we haven't gotten a bill for that either. Neither of the websites will allow you to look up your account balance, so I guess we'll have to call them.
On a side note, I thought I'd share some thoughts I had today. I usually try to refrain from judging other people's financial decisions, because I know everyone's situation is different. BUT... some of the people at my work are just amazing!
Take "De"... she's a 40-ish married woman, she works retail (cashier) and her husband is a middle school janitor. They have 3 kids, one in middle school and two that are graduated but living at home. Long story short, she's always commenting on how their electricity gets shut off because they couldn't pay the bill, or how her shoes are almost worn through on the bottom but they can't buy new ones. One of their daughters works part-time and pays a bill or two every month for the household (she's 18).
And here's the part that rubs me. This same woman has spent SO much money on plants for her garden. She buys all kinds of flowers, is always getting fast food for lunch, and just today, her husband was asking if we could order bamboo windchimes. If you can't pay your electricity, do you really need flowers for your yard or bamboo windchimes? She even told me that they have NEVER bought their children clothes. They've always been given clothes from relatives, or her husband has taken the "lost and found" clothes from the schools he works at. When the kids got older, he went from an elementary school to middle school, so that the clothes would be bigger.
I guess what really got me to thinking about all this was after a customer left the store today. She had bought two flowers, and was discussing with "De" that she had never tried that variety before but it would be an experiment. After she walked out, De turns around to me and says (mockingly) "Oh look at me, I can just come in and buy flowers for an experiment... I have good credit and can pay my bills, what a nice life."
I didn't say anything of course, but I was just in awe. I know I'm not a budgeting expert (by ANY means), but even I know better than to act like THAT. Geesh.
I have been trying to simplify our finances, since combining together and moving to another state has us all spread out. Right now we have two checking accounts, and one savings. BF has already closed his checking and savings.
I see alot of you can do transfers from your checking to your savings online anytime you want, and I'm thinking that would be REALLY nice. I know it would be more incentive to stay, especially because the only way to deposit money into the savings we have now is to mail it. Then we have to find an ATM that supports that bank to get it out.
If we're going to follow through with my plan of budgeting everything monthly & then putting whatever extra into our savings until the bill comes, then I'll need a savings that is easy to deposit & withdraw from. I guess I should check into that.
Which banks are you guys using for that? We have BBT for our checking account here.
BF & I took our $1 movie back to Walmart tonight. We didn't rent another one, mostly because all the good movies are coming out in a few days.
We picked up some odds and ends groceries, but not much. Then I made a stop at Office Max to get an organizer for work. I started out carrying my paperwork back and forth in a manilla folder, but in four months, I have gathered 3 more folders and they are tearing apart. We looked around forever, but I finally found exactly what I wanted... a brown leather outside, zips up, 3-ring binder for papers, pockets, and places for business cards. It ended up being $14, so I was happy with that.
Then, since we were in the same shopping center, we went to the dollar store. BF wanted to get some more of these shaved ice things they have (he's attempting a diet). They are $1 for four of them in a pack, so we picked up some snack food. We don't snack alot (I'm always working), so it's so much cheaper for us to just get some random things at the dollar store... cheaper than Walmart even.
My AC articles still aren't published. I'm getting a little worried, even though there's really no reason why they wouldn't be approved. Ugh.
I am feeling a little motivated, so I think I may help BF in his job search. None of the retail places he has applied to have called, but maybe that is a blessing in disguise... maybe he will get a better-paying job with a more predictable schedule. That would be nice! I also need to finish sending my thank-you cards for my graduation gifts. People have probably given up on me by now! :S
We are determined again. I've been trying to track all our spending this month, but have fallen short with all that's gone on. Especially since we've been using cash more, which is ultimately hard to trace.
And so I've decided that I will continue to track our purchases, but the June summary will not reflect all our spending. I just feel like I would be leaving alot out, and I want to make sure that if I look at anything analytically, that it is a true representation of our habits. All I know for sure is that we have spent more than we budgeted for this month.
I'm also going to go back to tracking our spending using this blog... I'll just post a short description of what expenses we had each day. That way I can have it all saved for the end of the month tally.
And finally... the budget is done! It will probably always be a work in progress, but I think we have some pretty good estimates in there now. I've broken down all our expenses to monthly, even if they are actually paid quarterly. At the end of the month, we will take the money we had set aside for that eventual expense and mail it to our savings account. It can collect interest for a month or two before we withdraw it for its actual purpose.
In other news, we converted our cell phones to a FamilyTalk plan tonight. The change will take effect on July 8th, so I'm not sure if it will be reflected in our next bill or not. Our separate plans gave us 450 anytime minutes apiece, and cost about $120 before taxes and fees. The FamilyTalk plan gives us 700 anytime minutes to share (unlimited in our network), for $105 before taxes. So hopefully in the end, we will save a little money.
I haven't heard anything from the woman I had talked to about babysitting. She emailed me from Craigslist, and said it would be a while before she needed me, but it would be nice to have the extra money soon.
I also attempted another article on AssociatedContent, this one about living with Great Danes (something I have LOTS of experience with)! It can take 2 days for them to get approved, so once I have something published I will put the link in a blog entry or somewhere.
I'm off work tomorrow, so yay. That means I get to do some more free (library book) reading! We might rent a movie as well, since it only costs $1 out of the Walmart machine.
I got quite a bit of my coursework done at work today. We have independent study courses that we have to complete along with our regular training, and we have been so busy that I feel like I've fallen behind with it. I was able to submit four completed courses today, and request materials for four more, so hopefully I am headed in the right direction.
Well, I'm pretty excited right now. Usually at this point (when my day off is ending), I get a little depressed because returning to work is on the horizon. But since I worked yesterday and took off today, that means I only work tomorrow... and then I'm off again on Sunday! So it's a little better to know that I only have to go back for one day.
Determined to get a little done on our day off today, BF & I ran a few errands. First of all, we ran to the vet's office to get the pup's pain medication. They gave us a 60 day supply for around $65. We STILL need to mail those x-rays, so I think I might have BF do that tomorrow while I'm at work. He'll need to go to the post office since we need a special envelope. But at least the ball will be rolling on the surgery consultation.
While we were out, we also stopped by Walmart to pick up a can of wet dog food. Our pup is so picky - he always has been. We have put him back on a better version of dog food, especially for giant breeds, to make sure that his joints are getting the right levels of everything. The problem is, it's like he senses that it's healthy, and refuses to eat it alone. So we by the same brand of wet dog food and mix it, and up until a few days ago, that has worked really well. Now the little fart has decided that he's tired of even the mix, so we'll have to adjust it. The closest place to get the good brand of food is 20 minutes away, and we didn't even know if they carried another flavor we could use, so we decided to pick up a small can of cheap food at Walmart, just in case he refused to eat at all. We also ended up getting a bottle of hand sanitizer and McDonalds. (gasp!!!)
I still haven't gotten around to updating our spending trackers and budget today. But since I don't have to be at work until later tomorrow morning, I can afford to stay up a little bit tonight. Maybe I will get around to it... if so, I will update our Budget page on here too.
And perhaps the funnest part of my day - I talked BF into going to the library with me while we were out! It's in the city next to ours, which is quite a bit bigger than we're used to... so when we ended up downtown it was such a weird experience. Walking in, there was an actual hotdog stand out front! I have never seen that except on movies or TV... craziness. I am proud of myself for thinking to check out the books I've wanted to buy.
I ended up getting "Inkspell", the sequel to "Inkheart" that I read a few months ago. I've been looking for it in Walmart every time I go, but no luck. I'm glad that I was able to borrow it today, even if I had to go to the Children's section to get it! Books are one of my favorite things to buy, and therefore one of my biggest financial weaknesses. Even though I usually get the cheap versions at Walmart, it's still going to save me alot of money to get them at the library. Plus, a little less clutter around the house when I get done reading them!
Because I was a little embarrassed to be checking out with a "kid's" book, I also got "The Lovely Bones" to balance it out. I've wanted to read that for a while too, and I am very impressed with what I've already finished.
And last but not least... BF told me I should write a book today. Lol. I think it's just because I actually like to read (which he finds fascinating), but he has mentioned this several times, even saying today, "What? I would read it!" Well, I would hope so!
Anyways, instead of launching into a novel, I did a little research on some freelance writing online. I ended up at www.AssociatedPress.com, where you can get paid based on the popularity of your articles. I figure there's nothing to lose, so I've submitted my first article for approval. The topic is spectacular... "How To: Free Your Pets From Ringworm".
What can I say, you have to stick to what you know, right? Perhaps someone will find it helpful. Anyway, I guess if it gets approved and is published on the site, I will post it on here for anyone that is remotely interested. Yes, expect some shameless plugs.
If anybody is interested in doing the same thing, I have my own referral link:
I have no idea if that link even means anything, or if it just takes you straight to my published stuff, but I thought I'd offer it just in case. There is also an option to subscribe people (via email) to be alerted every time I post a new article, if anybody is interested in that. Come on, you know you want the answers for ringworm!
Okay, I'm done promoting. Back to reality.
1. I know alot of people regret growing apart from their high school friends, but I regret the friends that I chose to stay close to. I had a wide range of pretty good friends when I was in school, and then when we graduated and went on to college, I chose to stay close to a few of them. Looking back, these two friends have caused me more stress & anxiety than none at all. If I had chosen some of the "less fun" friends that I had, I would have more in common with them today, and maybe some TRUE friendships.
2. I regret wanting to be an "adult" so much. Why was it so important for me to pay for everything myself when I was 16, and be seen as a responsible pseudo-adult? I wish I had found a balance between working hard, being responsible, and still being at peace with being a kid.
3. I regret that I didn't take alot of time to mourn the deaths of my close family members. When my uncle and grandfather died in (separate) accidents, I was so focused on healing that I forgot to deal with the grief at the time.
4. I regret being such a brat to my mom. I thought I knew everything, and I thought she did everything on purpose. I knew she was working 2 jobs, but I could never have known the personal strife she was experiencing while trying to make our lives remain semi-normal.
5. I regret not being "girly" when I could have been. Growing up with all boys, I was obsessed with proving myself just as strong/tough/unemotional as anyone else. I wasn't a "butch", but I shyed away from pink clothes and frills because I was afraid they would make me seem weak. Now that I'm 22 and a bit beyond the age of frilly socks & hair bows, I feel like I missed out on alot of fun.
6. I regret that I didn't take time to appreciate being so close to my family. It wasn't until we were 2 states away from everyone that I really started to cherish our brief visits back home, and realizing that I eventually want to go back.
7. I regret being so hard on BF in the early stages of our relationship. I could use the excuse that we were young, but even then I knew what I was doing. While we have worked through most of it now, it was hard for me to convince him that I wasn't really that controlling/condescending.
8. I regret choosing a major/career based on money. I was so determined to land a career with excellent salary potential, that I never stopped to think about how much I would enjoy teaching, or counseling, or social work, etc.
9. I regret being the "perfect" daughter/grandkid/sister/friend. By "perfect", I don't mean that I have any illusions that I actually am. But throughout my life, I have tried so hard to show little emotion (back to the tomboy thing), accomplish whatever I wanted, and ask nobody for help along the way. Now, when I actually need a shoulder to cry on or an answer that I don't know... everyone assumes that I need no help and that everything is "easy" for me.
10. I regret racking up credit card debt. Alot of it was unavoidable, since I had to pay my own way through college, but there was also a bunch that could have been avoided through organization, effort, and discipline. If I didn't have that credit card debt, I would have made it out of college and started my career with no debt (I had a full scholarship for my Bachelor's degree). I would be in a much better position to pay for doggie surgery and plan a wedding right now.
If you've ever paid close attention to my blog, you might notice that I made a few changes today:
=Updated Debt & Savings Tracker Pages
I finally got around to updating the running totals with our COMBINED debts & savings. (Although the savings didn't really change, lol.) BF hasn't called to get the exact pay-off on his car, so the debt for the car loan is estimated based on the # of payments we have left.
=Updated 2008 Goals In Sidebar
With BF moving in and having to find a new job, my job taking us to God-Knows-Where within the next year, and our pup needing expensive surgery, I felt like it was time to update "my" goals to "our" goals, realistically. I don't want the goal for debt reduction to be so drastic that one little set-back will make it impossible and disheartening. So I set our goal for debt at $14,000 by the end of 2008. The reason? I think it will challenge us to pay off debt and not become complacent, especially through the holidays. Also, with the pup needing surgery around that time (or January), I want to have as much of our other debt paid down before we have to arrange the financing for that. The surgery/rehab is expected to cost $5,000-$6,000, so if we can get our debt down to $14,000 before this, our total debt will not go over $20,000. I would really like to keep it under the $20K mark if we can.
=Changed Monthly Budget Page
I actually just deleted what I had on there for right now, because we've been working off another version that I made in Excel. I plan to revisit the budget itself tomorrow, and then post the latest edition to the "Our Monthly Budget" page.
=Deleted "Wedding Fund" Ticker
One of the goals that I took out for 2008 was to get our Wedding Fund to $1,500. I will explain reasoning later, but since it was no longer a goal, I didn't see the need for the ticker.
=Re-Purposed "Extra Income" Page
I basically just deleted the amounts I had added to my "$20 Challenge", so the slate is wiped clean as of 6/19/08. Now I will keep track of any extra income we collect, but it will not be going to any specific account. I figured we can use it as we see fit, but I do want to keep track of how much money we're bringing in that we wouldn't have before.
I think that may be it! If you're wondering what sparked such updates, I really have no definite answer.
I did attend my first manager's meeting today, and I suppose all the talk about budgets and sales goals and margin dollars might have triggered my financial button again.
And so I have come away from this re-working with a new strategy. Like alot of people, I have struggled immensely with the idea of saving all I can versus paying down debt. For a while I have tried to do both, but I know that with credit card interest, this does not make logical sense.
A big reason for this (I think) is that I wanted to have some money saved for our wedding. I thought I would be more frugal and less likely to go overboard if I was using my hard-earned savings, rather than taking out a personal loan or using the credit card to supplement. But now, I have realized that there are too many variables to try and do all of this. For every $10 that I put in savings rather than paying on my credit card debt, that is more interest I am paying out the back door. So for the big picture, we will be better off financially to try and reduce our debt as much as possible before trying to save for anything.
Now, the big expense on the horizon is our pup's surgery in December or January. We still haven't mailed off the x-rays for the surgeon to look at (doing that tomorrow), but if everything goes as expected, we will be keeping him on joint supplements and pain medication until he is done growing in Dec/Jan and can have the surgery. At this point we'll need $5,000-$6,000. I feel a little more confident now that I have been approved for a personal loan through two different banks. If we end up being able to finance through CareFirst at 0% interest, that will be even better. But preparing for the worst case scenario, our debt will be reduced as much as possible (hopefully to $14,000) and then we'll go apply for the loan in December.
And the expense that will someday be on the horizon (hopefully not too long, lol)... a wedding. I have accepted that there is no way I can save a substantial amount of money in our current situation, and still be able to pay expenses and reduce debt. And so realistically, we are paying down debt as much as possible. And when it comes time to plan/pay for a wedding, we will probably have to take on some kind of debt to pay for it. At that point, I will just have to be very disciplined and responsible in what I spend. It's a hard decision to make, but hey, we've all got to grow up sometime!
So that this blog isn't all depressing, I will say that there could be some rays of sunlight. For one, if everything goes as planned with my job training, we will be moving around February of next year. I have been told that this will include a raise of about 10% in my salary, which will help. Also, I am hoping to get placed somewhere closer to our home state, and that would mean a much lower cost of living. Even making what I do now, if we lived in our home state, we would be MUCH better off with disposable income. And whenever BF finds a job, we might see that he is able to make a little more than we budgeted. But, none of this is guaranteed of course, and so I want to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Because I had to attend that meeting today, which is typically my day off, I am off tomorrow instead. And so tomorrow will be catch-up day for expense tracking & balancing the checkbooks, as well as updating my budget on this blog when it's completed.
Well, I'll start by confessing. BF and I went to Walmart yesterday, and NOT for groceries! While much of it we could have done without, there were alot of things that we (me especially) have needed to pick up for a while and have been putting off. The loot:
PS3 controller for BF (his only purchase)
Crest White Strips
The total damage was about $102. Not bad for things that aren't (totally) frivolous.
In good news though... my boss informed me this weekend that my employee discount applies to GAS at company gas stations as well! We're not an "oil company", so there aren't alot of gas stations around, but there just happens to be one on my way home from work. It's about 1/2 mile off the interstate, so definitely worth going to if I can save some money. Our discount is 5% above cost, but since gas isn't marked up too much at the stations, I think she said I could save 5-10 cents per gallon. That would add up after a while!
And perhaps the most exciting part of my day... I stopped by Starbucks on the way home (I still have a gift card from Christmas), and ordered a grande caramel machiatto. Apparently they messed something up for the people ahead of me in the drive-thru, and then they were mixed up about which drink I had ordered. So to make it up, they gave me the drink free! Didn't even have to use my gift card... and it was the best tasting Starbucks EVER! lol.
BF mentioned today that he wishes he was "successful". I think the jobless-ness is getting to him. I keep telling him that there's no way he should feel bad about anything... he moved up here for me, then I had his car for 3 weeks, and he's putting applications in everywhere he can think of. He said sometimes he thinks about going back to college.
Honestly, I hope he decides to. He's so talented creatively... and has such an outgoing, likeable personality. All he needs is a little education or a diploma to go behind that, and he'd do so well. Heck, I am almost anti-social at times, and I landed a good job, so I know he could.
I think he just worries that he would be "putting his life on hold" again. But it would be different now... because he's already got the money for an engagement ring, we're already living together, and I have a good steady income. Plus, he's already halfway to an Associate's degree (or a fourth done with a Bachelor's) with a good grade history. I keep telling him that I want him to do whatever will make him feel good about himself, and happy in the future. And if he wants to do it, now is the time. We're young and energetic, and we don't have any kids (except the pets of course). So we'll see.
His sister, bro-in-law & niece are coming to visit in mid-July I think. I have a week-long conference for work at the end of July, so they're coming either before or after that. It seems like we either have absolutely nothing going on, or EVERYTHING going on at once.
I've got to get the pup's x-rays in the mail to the surgeon so he can check them out. But how do you mail x-rays so that they don't get bent or anything?
So yea... life is okay right now. I should say that it's great actually, because I have so many blessings that I should be counting!
After a telephone consultation with the orhopedic surgeon, I learned that our pup probably won't be getting surgery until 6 months from now. The surgeon doesn't want to do the implants until then because he is still growing so much. So, that's good news on the financial front, and hopefully everything will work out for our little guy. I had applied for a personal loan with 2 banks when I thought we were going to have to pay the money up-front to reserve a surgery date, and I've gotten calls from both of them saying that I was approved.
Now, if we can pay the surgeon through the vet clinic, I think they accept the "FirstCare" payment plan, which is a veterinary loan with no interest. That would be preferable, but if not, at least I know that I can get approved for a personal loan through a bank.
In the meantime, I'm mailing his x-rays to the surgeon, and we're starting him on some joint supplements that were recommended by the vet. We also got him some special canned dog food today, the same brand as the dry food, and he actually ate it really well when mixed. So maybe we can finally get back on a feeding schedule with him.
While we were getting his food in the pet store (it's kind of hard to find), we were looking at the cutest little puppies. It's hard to believe our 90-pound and 30-inches (at the shoulder) tall pup was ever that small! I can already tell that when BF & I have a house (and therefore a yard)... pets are going to be a problem area for our budget!
We've decided to make a meal plan this week, and see how it works out. Not only will it hopefully save us money in the long run, but it might help us to already know what we're fixing, so it's not so much stress after work.
So here are the meals for this week, and what we had to purchase at the store today in order to make them:
-Salmon w/ Lemon & Dill
Salmon Fillets ($4.18)
Butter (Already Had)
Lemon Juice ($1.29)
Dried Dill Weed ($2.67)
Garlic Powder (Already Had)
Sea Salt ($0.98)
Black Pepper (Already Had)
Peas (Already Had)
Carrots (Already Had)
-Army SOS Creamed Ground Beef
Ground Beef (Already Had)
All Purpose Flour (Already Had)
Cube Beef Bouillon ($1.59)
Salt (Already Had)
Black Pepper (Already Had)
Worcestershire Sauce ($1.00)
Egg Noodles ($1.23)
-Gingered Pork Chops In Orange Juice
Flour (Already Had)
Ground Ginger ($2.34)
Salt (Already Had)
Black Pepper (Already Had)
Olive Oil (Already Had)
Pork Chops (Already Had)
Onion (Already Had)
Orange Juice ($3.88)
Green Beans (Already Had)
Instant Potatos (Already Had)
-Mesquite Chicken w/ Salsa
Butter (Already Had)
Hickory Barbecue Sauce ($1.00)
Chicken Breasts (Already Had)
Sour Cream (Already Had)
Corn On The Cob ($1.58)
Ground Beef (Already Had)
Sweet BBQ Sauce (Aleady Had)
Bread (purchased for above recipe)
Fries (Already Had)
Spaghetti Noodles (Already Had)
Spaghetti Sauce (Already Had)
Ground Turkey For Sauce (Already Had)
Garlic Bread ($1.37)
GRAND TOTAL: $29.97
That's not too bad at all really. Feeding 2 people for 7 meals, $30 is pretty good. Granted, alot of the meat we already had. But on the opposite side of that, alot of the ingredients will last forever for other meals. The spices, salmon, cob corn, milk, bread, and orange juice will all be extra. Hopefully that will mean in the future, I will need to buy even fewer ingredients to fulfill a recipe.
I'll have to let you all know how it goes!
In other news - BF bought a video game today. I was really proud of him, because a month or so ago he had traded in alot of older games, so that he would have enough store credit on a gift card for when this game came out. It's nice that he was prepared for it, and now he can enjoy the game without us really paying for it.
He's putting in alot of applications, so hopefully someone will call soon. I wish he would get a small office job, that way he could have a decent schedule and we'd have some time off together. Plus, it adds a different kind of experience to his resume for when we move back to our home state. AND... if he could get an office job close to our apartment, he could run home on his lunch breaks to take the pup out. We'll see I guess!
First of all, news about the pup: He is going to need surgery. While we were expecting this, it's somehow more stressful to know that we are definitely going to be scraping up some funds for it. The good news is that the orthopedic vet we went to was great. He doesn't do the hip replacement surgery (what our pup needs), so I felt like he was being very honest and upfront about what was best for us and our pet when he recommended it. It's good to know that he had nothing to gain from it from a marketing standpoint.
Anyway, we are calling to make a consultation appointment with a surgeon that does perform hip replacements regularly, and we were told to expect a total bill (surgery, hospital board, after-care, etc) of about 5-6 thousand. Definitely not pocket change, but we'll find a way to do it. The vet from Thursday also told us that most surgeons won't do this kind of surgery until the pup is at least 8-12 months old, because of future growth, so we may have a few months to scrape up the funds before we can even have it done.
So that is a little bit stressful, but then I look over at my precious pup lying on his blanket (which used to be my bed comforter, by the way) and chewing on BF's old stinky tennis shoe, and I remember that it's all worth it.
Another bit of stress is the fact that BF's parents will be here in 3 days! We cleaned quite a bit yesterday, and BF went over the kitchen today, but there is still alot that I want to get done before they get here. I don't know why I'm so nervous, I guess just because his mom is like a Martha Stewart or something, with everything always clean and perfect. That is definitely not our home, haha! I just keep thinking that they're going to walk in and think it smells like dog, or that we don't have much furniture, etc. Ahhhh!!!
AND... gas prices. Ick. There's no need to go into the details, but I just wish I had known that these increases were going to happen BEFORE I decided to save $400 a month by living 40 minutes away from my job. At this point, I think we would be paying the same amount in the rent/gas combination if we lived 5 minutes away! Ugh. Luckily, we are only here for at most another 9 months, hopefully less. And whenever we find out where the next stop is, I am determined to find a place VERY close! If we can just survive the gas costs until then.
Other than that, everything is going okay. Work is getting harder, with more projects that I need to get done and more work to do while actually at the store.
I did end up making a mini budget for us in Excel, and we've been doing pretty well with tracking our spending and bill paying for June.
BF is submitting resumes online for jobs, so here's hoping he finds something soon!
Let's see, what has happened since my last entry? My life is hectic right now.
We took the pup to the vet last week, which turned out to be a horrible experience. Long story short... we had to wait a week and a half for an appointment, then had to leave our dog all day while they did x-rays, then spent a total of 10 minutes actually talking to the vet about the x-rays. All he could tell us was that his hip was dislocated, which we could've deduced ourselves. Then he referred us to another vet, who is supposedly an orthopedic surgeon, who will tell us more about our options.
I can't even explain how frustrating it is to pay $186 for a vet visit that was not only very un-friendly, but also pretty much useless. So now we've got an appointment for the orthopedic vet on Thursday, and we're praying that we at least get some answers this time.
From what I understand, they can try to pop the hip back in place, and if it doesn't stay, they can try inserting a pin to make it stay. If it still doesn't stay (because larger breeds often have hip problems), then there is a surgery they can perform to replace the whole hip joint.
Of course, the surgery is expensive and involves alot of recovery time, but it's about 95% successful and ideally returns the dog to completely normal.
So, even though we really wanted to focus on paying off as much of our debt as we could before we start planning a wedding, we have decided that if our pup needs the surgery, he will get it.
The estimated cost depends on the vet, but the max is $5,000. According to the good-for-nothing vet from last week, prices have come down alot on this type of surgery in the past few years, so it's better than it could've been.
I know alot of people will think we're crazy for spending that kind of money, especially because we don't exactly have cash stuffed in the couch cushions... but I just can't bear the thought of NOT having it for him. Not only was he a gift from BF to myself, but he has been so good to me. So many nights he slept on my chest when I lived by myself, and when I had to move away from EVERYONE that I knew to another state, he is the only thing that made me feel safe at night. What kind of a person would I be if I decided he wasn't worth the cost of surgery?
We have researched a few different vets for the surgery (because if the orthopedic vet is anything like the vet that referred us to him, we won't be trusting our puppy's health to him)... and there are two in the area that have board-certified surgeons for orthopedics. I found out through one clinic's website that they offer a special type of financing just for vet-related expenses, and there are options for up to 36 months with no interest.
Anyway, BF has taken the money he saved out of his old savings account, and he now has it on-hand to buy my engagement ring (it's sad that I know so much, lol). I don't know when he plans to buy it, or when he's going to propose, but I hope it's soon.
In other news, we finally got my truck fixed, YAY!!! It was the starter after all, and believe it or not, once we called the tow truck and got it to the mechanic's place (about 3 minutes away), they had it done within a day. The cost for repair was $269, and the tow was $75. It's such a relief to have one major expense out of the way.
And even better, that means I can let BF have his car back! He got on CareerBuilder today and made a list of everywhere he wanted to go get applications from tomorrow. I think he's anxious to get out of the house.
His parents have decided that they're coming to visit us next week for a few days, so I'm kind of nervous about that. I just think it's going to be weird... like, are we supposed to cook for them, or should we go out, or what? And where are they going to sleep? I don't want them to have to get a hotel, especially when we have plenty of room here, but then again all we have besides our bed are the couches and a small air mattress. Oh well, I guess it will all work out. I will just have to spend Thursday (after the vet appointment) cleaning all day to get ready!
So there you have it, some parts of my life are getting in order, but most of it is a whirling mess right now.