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Replacing The Mini-Blinds

August 14th, 2008 at 06:19 am

No spending so far today, but then again it is only 9:15AM.

I listed two textbooks on Ebay last night, and I had one "watcher" as of this morning. I really hope they sell for some good money! (Or any money really, what good are they to me now?)

When BF left for work this morning, the pup ran to the window (he usually watches him get in the car) and managed to tear up the mini-blinds. I'm not even sure how he did it, but with one swift swipe of the paw, we're going to have to replace them. It makes me feel a little better to know that we put away some extra money this month, as well as paid some extra on our debt, so this little hit doesn't seem so bad.

We've decided to delay our trip to Red Lobster tonight. Instead, we're going to pick up a few things at Walmart (including mini-blinds) and see if BF can replace them.

In the meantime, there is alot of stuff that I need to get done today. The apartment is getting out of hand. It's not the worst it's ever been, but there are so many little things that have piled up since BF & I have both been working alot. If we were to have unexpected company (which is unlikely since we're 2 states away from everyone)... I'd probably have a heart attack.

Our store picnic is this Sunday, and everyone is supposed to bring something. BF will find out today if he was able to get off work for it. My manager called yesterday and wanted a head count of everyone that was coming, because she said if there isn't enough... we're not going to have it. I think that's kind of rude, mostly because one of my coworkers is hosting it at her house, so no doubt she's already been preparing for it. Other people have already signed up to bring their spouses & grandkids, and what food they're taking. BF requested off work for it.

I think I'll take mini corn on the cobs. We are having burgers and hot dogs, and other people are bringing potato salad and baked beans. I figured cob corn would be cheap, easy to make, and something I'd feel confident about everyone eating!

Well, I'm off to (hopefully) get something accomplished today. I need to stop checking my Ebay items compulsively in order to do that!

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

August 8th, 2008 at 05:11 pm

Groceries: $22 ($94.49/$100)
Paper Towels: $2 ($9.71/$20)
My Food @ Work: $3 ($97.49/$100)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I did venture to the bank today. I had planned on calling them again, but then I decided I didn't want to sit in a hot vehicle on my lunch break, and then have them NOT call me back like yesterday.

So I went in, was SUPER nice (maybe nicer than I should've been)... and got nowhere. I have fair skin (gotta love freckles), so whenever I get upset or angry you can definitely see the blood rushing to my face. I could feel my face getting hot as the conversation wore on, but maybe because I work in retail, I was determined to stay polite.

Pretty much, the lady that was helping me didn't understand the charges either, but she was acting like she did. I explained the situation, and before I could even finish, I saw her reaching for a stack of pamphlets on "when your money is available". Of course, the pamphlet only said "next business day", which is what my receipt said.

I was told on the phone yesterday that the deposit wouldn't be credited until 9AM Friday, when I went in today, the lady told me it was credited yesterday. So, I asked her, if it was credited yesterday, why did I get charged another overdraft for a charge that was posted yesterday? And if our rent check really came in on the 6th, why wasn't it in the pending charges or posted on the 6th? Why did it show up on the 7th and have a date of the 6th?

I explained to her that I could have deposited cash yesterday to cover additional charges, if someone had called me back to let me know what exactly was going on, when my money was going to be available, etc. She pretty much refused to address the fact that someone had dropped the ball on returning my call. Never even said "sorry for the inconvenience" or "we don't know how that could've happened", nothing.

Then, as I am telling her that I just don't feel like it's fair that I deposited a payroll check on Wednesday afternoon, and I'm getting charged an overdraft fee for something coming in on Thursday. To this, she has a brilliant idea! Why don't I open a savings account with them and put some money in it, and I could use that as overdraft protection? Or better yet, why don't I join their "constant credit" program, and get a line of credit to draw on in such cases?

I felt like saying, "Can you please at least listen to my problem before you try to sell me another account/service?" And if I'm complaining about the customer service, why would I be interested in adding another service? So you can get a bonus for signing me up? Nope.

In the end, I told her that I would be willing to pay the first fee, but I felt the second should be refunded to me. She went away for 5 seconds and said she "tried", but it wouldn't let her. I thanked her for her time, and asked if BF would have to be present to close the account, because his name is on it too. She looked completely shocked, and literally had her mouth hanging open for a second. Then, she said "Well, let me go to the other side of the floor, and call to see if we can do anything. I'll call you shortly to let you know, okay?"

So I leave, and four hours later, they call while I'm at work. I couldn't talk long, so when she said they couldn't refund the money when it wasn't technically a "banking" error, I thanked them again and told them we'd probably have to think about closing it. I didn't even give her time to give more excuses, or offer the "constant credit" again.

Now, I'm not sure if we really will close the account, but we're thinking about it. There are lots of banks closer to where we live. In fact, when I went to make our deposit on Wednesday afternoon, I went WITH a coworker who was going to do the same thing at Bank of America (her paycheck was even from the same company as BF's!). She went in and deposited it, and it credited at midnight. I've heard some bad things about BOA, but apparently they can process some deposits at least.

The bad thing about switching would be the cost of ordering new checks in a new account, and the time it will take to set it up, plus switching over both our paychecks to direct deposit there, and our insurance drafting. Plus we'll be moving in 6 months or so, so maybe we should just put up with BBT until then if we can.

I probably won't be back to that branch though.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I also found time to call the pup's future surgeon today. I had to leave a voicemail, but hopefully we'll get in touch soon. I really just want to know when we should be contacting him to do the consultation and x-rays. And to ask about some injections for joints, and the pain medication we had taken him off of when his stomach was upset. And payment arrangements! If we pay him through the surgical vet's office, then I think we can use the credit system set up for veterinary costs, which offers no interest for a while. That would be preferrable, but if we have to get outside financing, I need to know ahead of time. Okay... so I guess there was quite a bit I need to ask him!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Just watched the opening part of the olympics - wow!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I'm going to start making mini-payments like many of my fellow bloggers do already. I think it will be motivating to be able to add little $2 or $3 payments to our credit cards throughout the month.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BF still needs to call again about his stimulus check. I'm afraid he's going to wait until too late and never get it! And then it will still be taken out of his refund next year, right? Ick.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Since the checking account is (hopefully) okay now, I am going ahead with the $100 payment to my Discover card, and the $50 transfer to our Orange savings.

Edit: I forgot to add that I also completed $17.80 worth of surveys today (one big one). I went ahead and requested the check, so hopefully it will get here soon.

Recouping Bank Fees:

$70 Fees
-$7 Surveys 8/7/08
-$17.80 Surveys 8/8/08
=$45.20 Left To Recoup

Only an okay day off.

August 7th, 2008 at 05:14 pm

BF Food @ Work: $2.00 ($72.49/$100)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Today has been only an okay day off. Having to deal with the bank issues early in the day just kind of set the mood I guess.

And just when I think I've accepted that we will just pay the $35, and perhaps look for a bank that will fit us a little better, I start thinking about all the other things that can possibly go wrong with the account, since I never got a call back from the bank today to sort through it.

I really hate confrontation, so it almost makes me nauseas to think about having to go through all that mess if we end up getting charged more fees between now and then.

Anyway, not much else to report, financial or otherwise. I did do $7 worth of surveys today, so hopefully I'll be getting those checks in about a month. I also finished "InkSpell", so I won't have to renew it at the library again. BF is actually thinking about checking out a few books the next time we go. I'm surprised that he's willing to put down the Playstation controller long enough to do that! Wink

Well, I guess I will do some laundry, dishes, and start dinner before long, so that we can eat when BF gets off work. I want to feel like I've done a little something productive with my day.

Overdraft Nightmare.

August 7th, 2008 at 10:44 am

Ugh... another banking issue.

Yesterday, I deposited BF's paycheck and my two survey checks on my lunch break. The teller gave me the little confirmation sheet that shows the amount deposited, and says "available next business day" or whatever.

I balanced our checkbook last night, and checked to see if there were any bills that we needed to pay right away. I figured out that we were pretty much paid up, but since we had some "extra" money, I'd go ahead and pay the extra $100 on my Discover card that I had budgeted, and put $50 in our Orange savings.

The balance of the checking account last night was around $680, with two "pending" transactions totalling about $50. I figured we were in a pretty good position, because the deposit would post to the account this morning, in time for the rent check to clear, and then my paycheck will be direct deposited tomorrow (Friday).

So I'm feeling pretty good about paying extra towards the credit card and adding to the savings, when I check the account this morning. (I was actually synching the account up to the website SoCal had mentioned in her blog.) As soon as I saw "overdraft fee", my stomach flipped.

Right now, the deposit still hasn't posted, and neither have the two pending transactions that were there last night... but the rent check has magically gone straight through, along with the subsequent overdraft fee of $35.

I don't understand:

1) Why the deposit I made yesterday wasn't deposited today.
2) Why the rent check hadn't even shown as a pending transaction last night, and is suddenly listed on my account as clearing on the 6th (yesterday!).

And I've had to cancel the transfers I was planning for the credit card and savings account, thank goodness I hadn't made them for today.

The customer service person at the branch said that if you make a deposit after 2PM, it counts as the next business day. So, according to that, the deposit I handed to the cashier on Wednesday at 2PM, won't be available for me until Friday at 9AM. But apparently a check that isn't even "pending" on Wednesday night will be cleared from your account at midnight of that night.

I'm just about sick of the online banking with this company. You can never tell when something has cleared, is in pending, or what amount is being held in pending. Back when I had the confusion with buying the pup's new crate, they held $400 in my account, for no purchases. Simply because I had entered my debit card number on the website, but then backed out of it and decided to buy somewhere else.

The girl I talked to earlier didn't even take my account number, but told me that they wouldn't take the charge off unless it was a banking error. I asked for a relationship banker to call me, and then she took my acct # and telephone number. It has been about an hour, so hopefully I'll get to talk to someone soon.

Now I'm just afraid that there are more debit card purchases that I thought were cleared, that will come in for $35 fees a piece today. And there's nothing I can do about it, because the money is already deposited, it just won't be in my account until tomorrow.

I've been thinking about it, and it just doesn't make sense that it should take two whole days to deposit a PAYCHECK to one of the accountholders, from a major employer. If I had gone in this afternoon with the check, gotten it cashed at one teller, then walked to the other teller and deposited it, it would have posted immediately. But because I deposited the check itself, it's going to take two days?

So there's my drama for today. Having to deal with it put me in a sour mood before BF even left for work, and now he won't be back until 10:30 tonight. Grrr.

This Money Pit.

July 30th, 2008 at 07:06 pm

Well, not much to report. Things with BF are better, but I'm still not 100% sure what I want or what I should do about everything. I have more or less been trying NOT to think about it, because I always over-analyze and I feel like I'll gain clarity faster if I focus on something else for a while.

So that something else has been work. I've completed a number of my correspondence courses, in between working my butt off at the store itself.

I think I'll try the expense tracking again in August. We improved at it in July, so hopefully August will be even better.

BF has decided that he is going back to college whenever we figure out where we'll be for more than 6 months at a time. He doesn't want to take a bunch of classes that won't eventually transfer to wherever we end up and where he gets his degree from. I was a little shocked when he told me. We've talked about him going to finish his Associate's before, but he said he's going to get a Bachelor's. That is a big step for him, and I appreciate it. I think our relationship will benefit alot when he is on "level footing" as far as having a college degree.

I know it shouldn't matter, but he gets depressed sometimes that he isn't the "provider", and thinks I'm not proud of him for anything. I tell him that I am, for the person that he is, his work ethic, his kindness, etc... but I think it is something he needs to do for himself. And of course I will be thrilled if he can find a better quality of work, with better working conditions & pay.

I transferred $20 to our Orange Savings a few days ago. Even though I'm really trying to focus on paying down our debt, I know that we need to be saving some for the holidays, so that we don't end up racking up more credit card debt right before the pup needs surgery.

I'm thinking of trying to work a few more hours per week at work. The good part is that I'm technically an employee of the corporation, not the store, so the no-overtime rule doesn't apply to me. The bad news is, that I don't get paid very much for overtime (to discourage it I guess). But even if I can just get there 30 minutes early on days that I work... I always end up staying 15 minutes later to close anyway. So that might add up to an extra $4/day by the time taxes are taken out. Then that would be about $20/week, or $80/month.

Another reason I'm working so hard is that I am trying to make sure I get done a little early. Spring is our busy time, so I'm afraid if I wait until March (my supposed end date), they won't want to move me in the middle of it. Then I'd be waiting another 4 months to begin my next segment.

Plus, wherever we end up, the cost of living just about HAS to be less than here. If we can get rent for $500, and live close enough to work that our gas is $200, we will be saving $800/month automatically! That's not even counting the raise I'm supposed to get! So yea, the sooner we can get out of this money-pit, the better!

I am struggling.

July 26th, 2008 at 11:56 am

Well, this month has been a struggle to track expenses, and I've all but given up. With visitors, weird bills, and a work conference, I haven't kept up with it like I should have. I did well the first half of the month though, so I can go back and look at that I suppose. Otherwise... here's to August!

My work conference was GREAT. I had dreaded it a bit before I left, mostly because I thought I'd be miserable without BF and feel left out because I didn't have a roommate, etc.

Looking back on it, the group of people I was with was truly amazing. We're all around the same age (22-26), and we all got along so well that it was really surprising. I expected to be in meetings and presentations all day, then at night for a few people to hang out, but mostly be in my hotel room. It turned out the complete opposite.

We had alot of speakers, and met SO many executives and even the CEO. It's weird to stand up and introduce yourself to the CEO of your company, especially when he already knows everything you're about to tell him. And afterwards, we all hung out together. One night it was a structured event because we had dinner with some execs from different departments, but the rest of the time it was up to us. It's kind of crazy that we all came in not knowing each other, and in 5 days, we were seriously sad to leave.

I did miss BF, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We were so busy with structured stuff during the day, and socializing at night, that it wasn't that bad at all.

We all came out as friends, with some people closer than others. The girls were grossly outnumbered by the guys, but everyone meshed really well. Every meeting we went to, the presenters or facilitators would end up telling us "My stomach hurts from laughing with you guys so much" and "I've never seen such a close group".

When we got out of our last bit of training yesterday afternoon, everyone was tired, but ready to go back to our individual work places and put it into action. A few of us stayed a little longer to exchange some self-study materials, and it was cool to walk out of the building and see your whole group waiting on the rest of us, not wanting to leave.

And then we all decided to run to McDonalds for our last meal together, and there were alot of handshakes and hugs afterwards before heading home. We joked that we were going to insist on all being in the same district. We'd either be the best or the absolute worst in the company, lol.

I'm off work today, which I would normally be pumped about. But having so much stuff I want to get started on, change, learn, it kind of sucks that I have to wait until Monday now. While at the conference, I did get a binder about our big project at the end of our training, so I could start looking through that today. I can also try to knock out a few more self study assignments I suppose, if I really feel like accomplishing something.

I have been depressed all day, and it's kind of hard to pin-point the reason. Part of it is going from a very busy, very social past 5 days, back to the same ole routine. I went from Starbucks, meetings, training, executives, having drinks with new friends, and travelling to new places, back to an apartment that needs to be cleaned, a truck that needs to be washed, and bills that need to be paid. And BF did have to work today, so now I am sitting alone bored.

Another thing I'm struggling with now... at our conference, I really got to compare my life with the other people's. I know it's difficult to tell what's really going on in someone's financial life, but since we're all around the same age, in the same job, with the same salary (yes, we all figured that out)... who better to compare yourself to?

And here's what I found out: 3/12 of us were engaged, 1/12 was married, 3/12 were in long-term relationships, and 5/12 were single. 3/12 either owned a home or were in the process of buying. From the vehicles that I saw, most were 2004 or later models. Everyone I rode with had a navigation system, and XM radio. Everyone had nice clothes and cell phones... fitting for young business people I suppose.

I know many of you will look at all that as over-the-top, and I really tried to, but I couldn't help but get a little depressed over my situation. I live in the highest cost-of-living area out of anyone, and I also pay the most in gas driving back and forth. (Rent would be much higher if I lived closer to work). I have a truck that has been dependable for the most part, but is starting to show its age and wear. No navigation system, I got lost and ended up at an international airport on the way down because I was trying to read BF's handwritten directions. And the radio I have usually doesn't even change channels. I push all different buttons, but it stays on the same channel until it feels like changing.

While everyone was wearing Ralph Lauren shirts, I went to Target and got 2 shirts for $6, because I literally had nothing else but dress clothes. And the dress pants I had, I got at Walmart the day before I went.

I know my situation could be alot worse, and I am truly thankful for what I do have, but it's difficult when you see people in the same position in life, and they are able to do so much more just because they live in a different area, where they pay $500 less rent every month, and $400 less in gas. Grrrr.

Now that I'm done whining, I will say that I could go out and buy a navigation system right now. But then I'd just want to get a satellite radio for the long drives to and from work. And why get a nice radio and satellite system when I have no room for anyone in my 2-seater truck, and it isn't too fancy itself.

So the grim realization is that I have debts to pay, expensive rent due in a week, and gas isn't getting much cheaper.

It's depressing, it really is. I don't want to look back when I'm 30, and be in the same position as I would've been if I had actually spent some money on "frivolous" things that would've made life a bit more fun. I guess I just have the temporary mentality of - you are only young once, why not enjoy it?

Well, now that I have talked all this out, and maybe understand it a bit better, I think I will go see about paying some bills. Maybe it will make me feel a little better to see the amounts on BF's student loans go down a bit, as well as our credit cards.

The only thing I do seriously consider is the truck. If I were to get a gas-saving car, I could almost justify the trade. I get about 20 MPG in my truck, and with $3.90/gallon gas and driving 90 miles every day, the savings could add up. But then again, if I'm going to have a car payment, I would want to get something that I'm going to be happy with for a long time. With BF, and a big dog that likes to ride, I don't know if a Civic is the best choice.

I don't want to go buy a Civic or Corolla, and then the next training position I'm in be somewhere with lower costs, where I can live right next to work and save $800/month. At that point, I could deal with paying a car payment and having the gas mileage of a smaller SUV.

Something to think about. But right now, I'm struggling with all kinds of emotions. The best solution may just be to pay some bills, and chug along on my work assignments, hopefully I can get to that cheaper location sooner.

Leaving For My Conference Tomorrow!

July 19th, 2008 at 03:49 pm

-SPENDING-
Gas For BF's Car: $XXX
Retractable Leash For Pup: $22.04
My Food @ Work: $2.69

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

WOW the past few days have been so busy. BF's family was here, and it was pretty much total chaos. His niece is sweet as can be, but so sensitive that the dog kept upsetting her. It was their "vacation", so they wanted to go do things all day long, which of course meant spending money for us.

All in all, it wasn't as bad as it could've been. We drove to show them where BF works and picked up his check while we were there. Then we visited a small farmer's market that was nearby, which was free since we didn't end up buying anything. We also visited the nearby outlet stores & mall, where BF got a much needed outfit (all his clothes are SO old) for a decent price, and we ate a food court meal. After that, we headed to Chuck E Cheese's for his niece, where we picked up $20 of the $30 food tab. It was more than our share, but they were using their gas while driving around, so we went ahead and paid the $20.

We also did miniature golf, which was $10 for BF & I, but we only ended up playing about 12 of the holes because it was unbearably hot outside.

They stayed with us, and we cooked dinner two nights, got McDonalds on the third. We had to go out and get chicken for the second meal, but they bought a pie for dessert.

It's amazing how being around people that are on a "vacation" or "spending" mindset can affect you. Obviously we wouldn't have spent that money if they hadn't come.

It was a good visit, I'm glad we got to see them, and we had a good time, but I was okay when they went home. There was just so much chaos, and I was so worn out from running around.

I had to go back to work yesterday morning, and early again today as well. I leave for my work conference tomorrow at about 7AM, and I'm going to be gone until Friday night. I have been so stressed trying to make sure I've got everything ready, I still have to pack everything and finish washing clothes. I don't even know what I'm wearing tomorrow! Ahh! Stress.

I will miss BF while I'm gone. It will suck, but at least it's just a week. He is gone right now to get one of the $1 movies from Walmart: 10,000 BC. I've wanted to see it, and he caved since I leave tomorrow. He's also picking up the makeup that I just ran out of, so it will be interesting to see if he gets the right kind/shade. Boys.

Well... I'm a little behind on tallying all our spending, but I've been trying to make sure we get all the expenses down. I'm going to take my laptop to the conference, so maybe if I have some downtime in the hotel, and they have internet access, I can get everything up-to-date.

Unbudgeted Expenses... Gotta Love 'Em.

July 13th, 2008 at 08:16 pm

-SPENDING-
Milk/McDonalds/Coke: $12.61 ($34.80/$100)
Razors/Throat-Meds: $10.74 ($168.70/$20)
Chapstick/Cat-Food/Pedialyte: $13.53 ($450.35/$325)
Gas For BF's Car: $15 ($249.52/$600.02)
Gas For My Truck: $65.83 ($315.35/$600.02)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

BF found out today that he is supposed to be getting a paycheck on Wednesday. That will be awesome. We have bills to pay, but I've been unsure how much I could afford to pay now if BF wouldn't get paid this week.

Our pup is still sickly. He has diarrhea still, but no more vomiting. I will take that as a good sign I guess. We've been continuing with the chicken & rice diet, but we haven't seen any change in his stools yet. They are still kind of bloody, which is obviously not good. We're not going to take him back to the same general practice vet (since we had such a rude experience the first time), so if things get no better by tomorrow, I'm calling another one that looks promising for an appointment.

In the meantime, we got him some unflavored Pedialyte to replace the electrolytes he has lost with the diarrhea bouts, and some plain Chapstick for a raw spot on the top of his nose. I think he is rubbing his nose on his crate during the day while we're gone, although he's never done anything like that before. Tomorrow, he only has to be alone for about 3 1/2 hours, so hopefully he will do better.

I also read the side effects of the pain medication he has been on, and it lists bloody stool and vomiting. The emergency vet had us stop giving it to him, but now I'm not sure I'd want to start it back anyway.

I have noticed that he is going to the bathroom less frequently this evening, so maybe that is a sign that his system is giving his food time to digest before shooting it out. (Sorry for the visual picture there, lol.)

In other news, I got gas at two different stations on the way home today. I had to get it halfway down the interstate, but I had a feeling it might be cheaper in our town, so I only got $20 at $3.97. Sure enough when I got home, it was $3.89. Not too bad.

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I have come to realize that there were quite a few omissions in our July Budget. First of all, I didn't budget anything for my work conference. It's a week long, and even though they will reimburse us for gas mileage, meals out, etc., I will still need to pay for it upfront. I am also going to have to get some clothes for the meetings & meals out, so that is unbudgeted spending.

And number two, I didn't budget anything for us when BF's sister's family visits. They are only hear for 2 1/2 days, but I know they will want to go out to eat. I really don't want to use all of our food budget on a fancy restaurant on one night. AND... if they want to go to the zoo or something, that will be costly as well. I guess at this point, all we can do is damage control. We will see how it all turns out at the end of the month, with our unexpected/unbudgeted expenses, and BF's unknown net pay, it may be a doozy. BUT, at least we're budgeting, trying to stick to it, and tracking. That is a big step forward for us.

Emergency Vet Visit = OUCH.

July 11th, 2008 at 08:19 pm

-SPENDING (7/10/08)-
Gas For BF's Car: $25 ($234.52/$600.02)
Milk/Flour (SF): $5.48 ($21.14/$100)
Candy @ BF's Work (SF): $1.05 ($22.19/$100)

-SPENDING (7/11/08)-
McDonalds: $2.29 ($24.48/$100)
My Health Ins: $56.76
Emergency Vet (DC): $232.29 ($378.25/$325)
Pup's Dry Food (SF): $40.01 ($418.26/$325)

+INCOME (7/10/08)+
Mom's Reimbursement: $130

+INCOME (7/11/08)+
My Paycheck: $1045.81

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Well, you guessed it, we had to make a trip to the emergency vet tonight. Our pup hasn't been eating like normal the past few days, and he had vomited on Tuesday, had diarrhea on Wednesday. He has been known to eat anything he possibly can, so we just figured he would be fine after he got it out.

But when we got in from work today, the poor little guy had peed/pooped/vomited in his crate. He has NEVER done anything in his crate. I know he must have felt really sick to get to that point, and I just felt so sorry for him.

While BF started to clean up the mess, I took our little guy outside. He had diarrhea, no solids at all. We started to think of anything that could be wrong with him, from bloat (very dangerous in Great Danes), to Parvo (he had 2/3 of his puppy shots, but you never know), to just reacting to the change in his wet food. We have him on a super-premium dry food, but we have to mix it up a little with the wet food we mix in, or he gets bored and won't eat it.

Besides the vomiting and diarrhea, he was acting fine, trying to chase the cat and everything else. So we decided to wait it out and see if he was better by the morning. Right before I left to go get a new carpet cleaner (I told you we'd need one!)... the pup started gagging again, but there wasn't much left to come up this time. BF took him down to use the bathroom, and it looked like there was blood in his stool.

Needless to say, we felt like that was serious business. Two and a half hours later, we are back at home, and $232 poorer. They ran tests to rule out Parvo, and said it didn't look like bloat because he was still acting so well and didn't have tension in his stomach area.

The instructions now:

We have to take him off his pain medication (for his hip) for now, until his stomach settles down. They gave him an injection of "coating" for his stomach to protect the lining, and also an injection of some sort to stop the vomiting/diarrhea. We paid $10.50 for three cans of prescription "bland" food. We also have two bottles of pills that we have to feed him at different intervals, one of which is dissolved in water and fed with a syringe.

SO... that's where we are. The vet thought it was either the pain medication affecting the lining of his stomach, a chronic diarrhea that dogs sometimes get, or his system was just upset because he'd eaten something like rabbit poop. The rabbit poop might indeed be the culprit, because they are always running around in the backyard of our complex, and I've seen their little round terds laying around myself. Why he would want to eat that, the world will never know.

We are supposed to keep him on this strict "bland" diet for a while, meaning we either have to buy more of the cans, or we can make it ourselves by boiling skinless chicken and white rice. We are leaning towards the latter, both because it's cheaper, and because then we know that he is ONLY getting chicken & rice, no supplements or extras thrown in.

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He is becoming one expensive little category this month. The cat hasn't cost us a dime - the pup has cost us alot of food money, a new HUGE crate, a new carpet shampooer, and now $232 (and counting) for the vomiting/diarrhea. The budgeting side of me is cringing.

But as I type this, he is laying on the ground right beside of me, in a deep sleep, on a fresh soft blue blanket. He's worth it. Smile

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Not much else went on today, just people getting on my nerves at work. A girl started drinking my sweet tea today, fully aware that it was mine, fully aware that I was standing right behind her. Very strange, I think.

I REALLY wish someone would email me about pet/house sitting or babysitting. I could really use the extra money, to pay off the charges we've put on the Discover Card this month, and keep our budget even! Frown

But it's a challenge, and I like challenges. We will just have to cut more from our spending on our food and try to save as much as possible. It's bound to get better.

R.I.P., carpet shampooer.

July 10th, 2008 at 05:12 am

-SPENDING (7/9/08)-
Gas For My Truck (DC): $58.41 ($209.52/$600.02)

+INCOME (7/9/08)+
Bro's Loan Check: $110.00
Survey Checks: $27.50

Well, good news for yesterday is that I finally made the deposit for my brother's reimbursement check (I pay the bank, he pays me) and two survey checks I had been holding. So a total of $137.50 added to our BBT account.

And what appears to be great news - my mom deposited her reimbursement check (same thing, I pay the bank, she pays me) into my old checking account to cover my gas emergency the other day. I just checked the balance, and the deposit is showing, but the gas transactions aren't! Even though I would have thought since it's all electronical now, the transactions would've posted overnight, apparently being two states away does make a difference. So unless something weird happens where they back-date the transactions (you never know), then I am saved of the $30 overdraft fee! Oh yes.

Yesterday did have its bad points though. As soon as I was able to pull myself from bed, BF met me with some bad news. Apparently, in the hour that they had been awake before me, the pup had chewed completely through the cord on the carpet shampooer. Sigh.

He had already looked up the cost of replacement (he knows me too well), and it looks like they range from $85-$130 for a similar model. I really hate to spend that much money on something that we shouldn't have to replace yet, but I also don't want to run out and get the cheapest one that isn't going to work.

We have a vacuum, but since we've been using this shampooer, I've realized how much cleaner you can get your carpets. That is especially important to us because we have both a cat and a dog, and we are renting... so we'd like to get our deposit back eventually. Plus, it gives me piece of mind to vacuum & shampoo really well before we are expecting guests, because I know everything smells fresh.

I thought I might still have a 10% off coupon for Lowe's, but it expired in May. I did dig out an older BoA Visa gift card that my mom had given me earlier this year, which has about $18 on it. The only thing is that those gift cards are so darn hard to use. It seems like there is always a catch - you can't use them to partially pay for a purchase, you have to know exactly how much is on them, can't purchase online without a pin number, etc. But it's worth a shot if it will save us $18 of cash.

Today is my last day off, then I work 5 days straight. At my last job, I was used to Monday-Friday, 8:30-5:30, off on the weekends. Now that I'm working retail, I've been getting off on Thursdays and Sundays, but other than that my schedule changes a bit.

However, I volunteered to work this Sunday if I could get off on Wednesday/Thursday for BF's family coming to visit. BF is still not sure what day he will be off. I kind of hope that he gets both days, even though I know he probably won't, just because it will be kind of awkward to spend all day alone with his sis/bro-in-law/niece. Plus, I have a feeling his niece is going to be scared to death of our pup, because she's only used to little house poodles. And he's definitely not that.

I put some of my clothes up on Craigslist in different lots. I figured that I should at least try to get a few bucks out of some of them, since they've only been worn a few times (or not at all). Especially since it's free... and if it doesn't work, I'll donate them. No bites on them yet though.

There are a few things on my to-do list today. I still need to call the pup's surgeon back and see what the game plan is for the future. I also need to run to the library either today or tomorrow. It's more fun when BF goes with me (and he's working 2-10 today), but I'm sure I'll enjoy it when I get there and pick out some new books. I'm going to see if I can renew InkSpell, since I haven't finished it yet.

My week-long conference for work is getting closer. It's the first time I've done major travelling for a job, so I'm kind of nervous. I keep thinking I'll forget something important - like I won't pack something, won't fill out the right expense reimbursement forms, won't fax in everything I'm supposed to beforehand, etc. I also have no idea what clothes I'll take. It's supposed to be business casual (khakis & a nice collared shirt), but the only khakis I have are the cheap ones I wear to the store to work. They have stains all over them! I can probably dig up some shirts to look nice, but the pants will be a problem. I also have no dress shoes, just boots and tennis shoes. When did life get so complicated, and where did all my clothes go? Ahhh!

I think expense-tracking just COST me money.

July 8th, 2008 at 03:55 pm

-SPENDING-
Gas For My Truck: $9.01 ($151.11/$600.02)
Coke at Work: $1.00 ($15.66/$100)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Kind of. While I was updating our expenses in my blog last night, I had to dig out the receipt for the pup's crate from my wallet.

When I left for work this morning, I gave BF $30 of the $50 from the sale of the crate to use for gas, and I decided that I would keep the other $20 at home and put my gas on the DC, since it would be alot more than $20.

I was running low on gas this morning, but because I had to leave at 6:30, I didn't want to be late because I stopped at the gas station. So after work today (in the boiling heat), I walk out to the truck to find that I have LEFT my wallet at home. I had no cash because I'd left it, and no checkbook, credit cards, anything.

I was freaking out, and then (thankfully) I found my old debit card that had fallen into the bottom of my purse. I wasn't sure how much was left in the account, but I knew it was probably under $5. So I stopped at the first station and got $4.01. Unfortunately, that lasted me only halfway. I had to stop again, and got $5.01. I just checked our updated balance for that account, and it is $4.41.

That bank charges $30 PER overdraft. Thankfully, the first one should be fine. But the second one could cost me $30 for $5.01 in gas. ((Puke))

My only hope is that the debit won't go through until Friday (it varies), and I can somehow get the $5.00 in there to cover it. The worst part is that the bank is two states away and has no branches here... so I am going to call my mom and see if one of them can run a deposit there for me.

I still have the two checks from her and my brother for the loan reimbursement that I haven't deposited yet, so I may tell her to just go ahead and make out another check to deposit into THAT account, and I'll rip up the one I have here. Surely, since her account is at the same bank, they would deposit it to my account the same day?

If we have to pay the $30, it will hurt. We've been doing so well this month with budgeting and expenses and tracking, I would hate this setback. It was definitely avoidable... if I had taken time to ensure that my wallet was with me this morning, but at least it wasn't just purposely spending on stuff we didn't need.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

In other news, I'm going to list some of my clothes on Craigslist. I have so many (shirts especially) that have only been worn a few times or not at all (Christmas presents), maybe someone will be willing to pay a few bucks for them. I also have several pair of name-brand jeans that don't fit anymore, so I'm listing those too. It's free, so there's no reason not to try.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Work was horrible today. With the manager on vacation, it seems like everyone wants to be bossy and get an attitude. Even people I typically like, they have all started acting like they're the boss. And even worse, I am actually supposed to be telling them what to do in some cases.

I am very worried that I have become too friendly with some of the other employees. When I was here by myself, and knew nobody, they were the only ones I talked to and I started to become friends with a few.

It didn't help that the manager never gave me any authority or responsibility, unless she wanted to unload an unwanted task on me at the last minute. I understand that you have to work in the trenches to learn any job, but it would kill me when she would let other (part-time) employees do inventories, paperwork, price changes, etc. I honestly felt like she forgot that I was there to be trained.

And now that she's gone on vacation, suddenly I am left with all this responsibility and coworkers that obviously don't view me as someone they need to listen to.

A specific example - today I told one of the cashiers (who I am friendly with) that when the pallet jack was returned, I was going to tell the warehouse guys to bring up a pallet of product for the front display. I walk to the back to get paperwork, and when I get back, the pallet is there. Why did she think it was okay to go ahead and do that? There were plenty of other things she could've been doing, tons of stuff to put on the shelves.

Now I am just trying to figure out what my action plan needs to be. Do I go nazi-manager-trainee on them and demand that they listen to me, or do I try to gradually (but firmly) enforce what I say?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

One small bit of good news is that I got a nice little package in the mail yesterday. It was a free gift from Nexxus, two full-size bottles of hair products. I participate in an online forum about beauty products and research, and this was a reward for part of it. Yay! Smile

Testing Our Willpower

July 3rd, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Well, I was in between loads of laundry and dishes today, and decided to go ahead and make out BF's student loan payment.

Then I decided that since I hadn't really balanced our checking account in a week, I'd go ahead and do that, and then make out the rent check too.

So what did I find out when I looked at our account online? It was about $500 less than I thought!!! I was in shock for a second, because not only is rent due in two days, but we won't have a paycheck coming in for another week! So as my face began to get hot, I tried to figure out what the heck went wrong.

Thankfully, we hadn't made such a huge error that we were really $500 short. At BBT online, it shows you your "current balance" and your "available balance". The available is the amount you actually have to use, when you take into account all the "pending" transactions that have some of your money "on hold".

Usually these pending transactions are things like gas or grocery purchases, and within a few days they are posted to the actual account balance and everything is equal again.

Two of our pending transactions are from the online pet stores that I had attempted to order our pup's new crate from. The first one was the online-only store. We had decided to go ahead and purchase from there and pay shipping (before we knew BF was going to start work in TWO days), but then it wouldn't let us finish the transaction because we were using BF's debit card, and the addresses didn't match. I guess he still has his address listed as our old state, and that didn't match the shipping address, so it wouldn't let us use the card.

So, before digging out my card to use, I decided we should just wait. The next day, BF found out about his job and we ordered the crate from PetSmart. Later in the day, I found out that I could special order it through my work and it would be cheaper still. I called and was able to get the PetSmart order cancelled.

So guess what the $500 was missing for? Two transactions from PetSmart and MuttMart. They were from 6/29 and 6/30, which is weird because usually it only takes 24 hours for them to clear or post to the account. One was cancelled, the other was never placed, and yet they BOTH are holding $200+ apiece from our account.

I called the local branch, and she agreed that it was weird that they hadn't cleared or posted yet. But apparently there is really nothing they can do about it at the bank, I just have to wait for the two vendors to clear. Right now, I am PRAYING that they're gone by Saturday, because that's when rent is due.

If not, I have no idea what we are going to do. I really don't want to have to get a cash advance check from one of my credit cards. Even if we pay it back at the end of the month, that is still interest and stress.

And to top it all off, I had about $260 worth of checks that I wanted to deposit today. I looked up directions to the nearest BBT (10 miles away), and set out. 30 minutes later, I was still looking for the darn place. Gas wasted, time spent, and I am back at home with the checks still.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

And now the challenging part... as of right now, we have $83 in my old checking account. The BBT account won't be able to be used until those transactions clear and I can deposit those checks.

BF & I will both need gas tomorrow, and we also need to pick up some food and other stuff for before my family gets here. Of course, the old trusty credit cards are laying in my wallet waiting to be used.

That would be the easy way, to use them for purchases until it's straightened out and then hope we didn't spend too much. BUT, I hope we can exercise some willpower and determination, and get by on that $83 until we have the rest to run on. That will mean limiting our purchases at Walmart for food & other stuff, and only getting about $20 apiece in gas for now.

Ugh. It is times like these that I like to kick myself for my past financial mistakes. But there's no going back, so we can only try to do better. Wish us luck.

Fresh Start For The Budget!

June 21st, 2008 at 06:23 pm

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Blog/Page Changes, Prioritizing.

June 19th, 2008 at 10:01 pm

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.

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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.

Stay tuned!

Vet Visits Galore!

June 6th, 2008 at 04:41 pm

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!

a whirling mess.

June 3rd, 2008 at 07:09 pm

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. Smile

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. Smile

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.

It's Been A While...

May 11th, 2008 at 06:27 pm

...since I posted last.

Things have certainly changed! BF is here, he actually ended up coming up a day early to surprise me (although he ended up telling me the night before), hehe. We have made the trip back to our home state for my college graduation, and my family had a bonfire party to celebrate, so that was awesome.

My truck has decided to quit starting completely, so thank goodness I've had BF's car to drive to work the last week. It's not starting at all now, so we're not sure if it's still the clutch switch or if it's the starter, battery, etc. Either way, we have to get it fixed soon. We bought some fuel injector cleaner tonight, and we're going to try that before we call to get it towed to the shop. *crosses fingers*

As for the budget... I'm ashamed to say that we haven't even had one written down for this month. Things have been so hectic with trying to close our old bank accounts, rearranging direct deposits and bills, odd expenses, and traveling, that it's been almost impossible.

Along the way, I've figured out that apparently my bi-weekly pay fluctuates according to how many hours I work. Not a big deal, except that I am on "salary". Why do they call it salary if I get paid less for 39 hours compared to 40 hours/week? And for overtime, I only get paid HALF my normal hourly rate. It's odd, but at least now I know to make sure I get in my full 40 hours if I want the exact paycheck.

BF is anxious to begin looking for a job here. Our original plan was for him to get one the week after we came back from my graduation, but that couldn't exactly happen with me having to drive his car to work. Even more reason for us to get my truck fixed soon.

There is a positive side to him being at home though (besides the fact that I get to see him more)... there is a lot less stress about the pup. He doesn't have to stay in his crate all day, and he sleeps pretty well at night. We've come a long way with the house training, the only issue now is that since we share the responsibility, sometimes we both let it slip our minds that he needs to go out. Usually we remember when we see him start circling, but every now and then we end up cleaning up a mess. But definitely alot better.

Since pretty much my whole budget will have to be redone with our new situation, I have alot of updating to do. I'll try to get to the My Budget page, as well as the debt/savings amounts on my sidebar. I'll have to include all of BF's expenses, and calculate about how much he'll need to be bringing in every month to cover the excess. My debts will probably go up a bit from last time, since I put many of my purchases on my Discover Card until I could transfer money from my old checking to my new. I haven't sent that bill in yet, so the balance is still there. I want the updated amount on my sidebar anyway.

Well... guess I'd better get to updating. I've missed reading everyone's blogs and updating my own. Kind of felt out of control when I wasn't posting my daily expenses or recording every small milestone in savings. It's good to be back. Smile

---> Forgot to add... WE FINALLY GOT A COUCH!!! YAY! Actually, we got a matching set of brown leather sofa & loveseat. I feel like we got a pretty good deal too, both for $1000 delivered. We stumbled on a place that was going out of business (they were right beside a Value City Furniture, go figure), and they cut the price down for us nicely. They even threw in four really nice throw pillows that match the leather on the couches. AND now I can mark that as one goal finished on my sidebar. We're thrilled. Smile

New Brakes, New Router, New Clutch Switch?

April 18th, 2008 at 03:47 pm

Managed to get the truck to the shop this morning, and picked it up after work. $511.38 later, there is no grinding noise and the brakes are much better!

The mechanics said I needed new front brakes (period), and one new router. They managed to fix the other router, and cleaned/maintenanced my back brakes. I also told them about the issue of it not starting periodically, and they performed an electrical test. That guy said it was one of two things: either I need a completely new starter, or the neutral-safety switch for the clutch was going out. He said he thought it was the switch because when he wiggled the clutch, it started, but it could still be the starter.

Anyways, the $511.38 was the total for the brakes/router/labor/oil/tax today, and they had to order the switch for the clutch. He estimated that would be about $65 next week (but I'm not sure if that includes labor). I asked him how much a new starter would be, and he said with labor, somewhere between $300-$400 more. Whew! Let's pray it's not the starter, just the switch!!!

I do feel alot relieved, though. The brakes are new, the grinding is gone, and the oil is changed (next stop 119K miles). So hopefully when they replace the clutch switch next week, that will be the end of it for a good long while. *crosses fingers*

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Some random work news: I was taking out the trash before we closed the other night, and in my boss's office I saw a manilla folder with my name on it on her desk. I knew it wasn't my personnel file, because those are different looking, so I thought it must be MY manilla folder I had left in there earlier. I looked inside to see if she had marked anything else off my list, but then realized it wasn't mine. It was a manager's appraisal of my performance (monthly I guess), and with a quick glance, I saw that she had marked "Excellent" for my performance. Yay. Smile I assume that I will see that form officially at some point anyway, but it's nice to know she thinks I'm doing good right now.

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Eleven days till BF moves in. He's already cleaned his car out and washed it, so that he can pack his things in. Smile

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Puppy Update: Since I vacuumed/shampooed the carpet yesterday, he hasn't had any accidents. He didn't even get up last night and try to go. If we keep having problems at night though, I will wait until BF gets up here and then we'll crate him overnight. I don't want to do it now because he's my only company. Big Grin (Yes, I'm a chicken like that.)

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I need to figure out something to fix for dinner. I'm out of the ground turkey that I bought. I kind of feel like making some frozen veggies in the skillet, but then again I'd also like something with a bit more flavor. Hmmm, I dunno. One thing's for sure... I don't have much money left in the food budget for the month, so I can't go buy anything.

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Now that I've got the truck expenses taken care of (I hope), we need to start thinking about a budget for buying a couch. I have some extra from my signing bonus & tax refund, but I want to leave about $800 or so in there in case we need it before BF finds a job, or an emergency.

We want a brown leather couch, and we've decided that we'd like to go with a higher quality that will last us a while, rather than the cheapest just to get by. We have the cash for it, so I'd rather get something quality, but of course we can't break the bank either. Plus, we want to eventually have brown leather furniture as the cornerstone of our living room in our "real house". (That's what we call the house that we will someday OWN... instead of renting apartments)

Anybody know about how much a good, new, brown leather couch would cost? Anything we should know before shopping, any special kinds to look for? Any help would be appreciated! Big Grin

My Enemy, Cheap Candy

April 1st, 2008 at 07:00 pm

Today's Spending:

Gas: $15
Boxes & Tape: $4
Candy: $1.75
McDonalds: $4

I've learned not to go into work hungry anymore. I thought I'd be okay with a drink, but just knowing that I had to work until we closed, and I was already starving, I ended up buying a bag of candy to tide me over until lunch. The good news is, I bought it at our store, so I got it at 5% over cost. At least it was cheap candy. Smile

Then I realized that with the stress of the last few days, I had completely forgotten about planning for lunch. So, I hit McDonalds. I'm not proud of it, but hey, all I can do is plan for tomorrow!

Other than that, nothing much going on. The dog is driving me nuts, and I need to clean my apartment, but I'm not in a hurry.

FreeCreditReport.Com Does Not Make Me Happy

March 29th, 2008 at 03:27 pm

I paid a stupid tax today. I had checked my credit score last week, and instead of paying the $5.95 for a one time score, I decided to enroll in the "7 day free trial" for free, and then cancel it before I had to pay. Why pay $5.95 when you can pay nothing, right?

Well, I can't really say what happened between the time that I made that decision and today when I checked my bank account, but perhaps it was all the excitement of BF coming to visit. Some how, some way, I started thinking the "trial period" was a MONTH instead of a WEEK. Needless to say, when I was logging into my new checking account today (the one that I haven't deposited money into because I'm having a heck of a time trying to get checks for it), I was VERY surprised to see that I had a NEGATIVE balance!!!

FreeCreditReport had charged 14.95 to my banking account, and then because I didn't have any deposited in there to cover it, I was charged a $35 overdraft fee. Hence the negative balance of $44.96.

At first I was ticked off because I thought I had been charged prematurely for the credit reporting, but then when I checked the site, I realized that it was only a WEEK free trial. So, it is my fault and my fault only.

So for this time, I will chalk it up to a VERY expensive credit score/report. If there is a positive to come from it, maybe it is that now I will be forced to make a stop at a local BBT branch and deposit some of the cash that BF gave me today. Maybe I will also get the checks situation straightened out.

And I did cancel the credit reporting membership effective today, so that is taken care of at least.

I have just started reading the Fly Lady website, and I am excited about starting that. Even though it really has nothing specifically to do with what happened to me today, it does focus on organization, and a "chaos" free life. Sounds good to me. I've got to get organized and stop costing myself money!

Graduation Stuff... Bleh.

March 16th, 2008 at 03:38 pm

Okay, so I just realized that I hadn't ordered my graduation cap/gown or invitations yet. It's kind of weird to be graduating college in May, when I was officially done in December (but they only do the whole ceremony once a year, so hey). Anyway, I got online to see if I could order from there (because I'm two states away from the school I'll be graduating from), and luckily I was able to order everything from the bookstore there. It should be shipped to my parent's address (not sure how I would get a box here).

The bad news is that it was $195 on my FFB credit card. I would have used my checking account, but I have no debit card for it, and they couldn't do a check for online ordering. Since alot of people will send me graduation money when they get the announcements, maybe I will be able to recoup some of the money!

That reminds me of some more info that I wanted to add into the equation:

As far as bank accounts, I have a few.

"Hometown" Checking Acct: ~$2,800
BBT Joint Checking: $50
Roth IRA: ~$450

The Hometown account is in my home state, and as soon as the BBT account is officially open and I have checks for it, I will transfer all of my money from the Hometown account into the BBT account. I have stopped the automatic deposit into the Roth IRA for now, because my new job is deducting my 401K. I also have about $200 in cash right now, which I will use for expenses until my checking account money is transferred here.

In case anyone is wondering why I have a joint checking account, my boyfriend is also on it. He is moving to this state to join me in about a month and a half now, at which point we'll both be using the same account. (It's one of the only banks with branches in both states!) Right now, if I want to buy something, I have a choice between writing a check from my Hometown account (if the place accepts checks), or using my Discover Card or FFB Card. I do not have my State Farm credit card with me, or a debit card for the Hometown acct.

So I guess my goals for now are:
1) Check the status of BBT acct & order checks for it (hopefully using the money that's already deposited into the acct).
2) Finish my first project for my new job and submit it.
3) Balance my Hometown acct checkbook.
4) Pay my cell phone bill.