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Archive for April, 2008

Food Budget's Gone... Planning For BF's Arrival

April 20th, 2008 at 09:48 am

Purchases for yesterday (4/19):

Gas: $40.46
Snacks: $3.08 + $1.58

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It was pouring the rain when I got up this morning, but it has stopped now, so I might run to Walmart to pick up a few things today. On the list so far:

-Carpet Shampooer Solution
-Fabric Freshener
-Disposable Camera

I feel like there is more that I need, but since I forgot to write it down, I have no idea. Either way, I'm going to wait before I go, because if I don't need anything besides those three, I'm not going to waste a trip. I can go without those until Thursday (my next day off). By then I might have more to add to my list.

Because of my snacking yesterday, I'm pretty sure my food budget is gone for the month. It should be okay, because I've got stuff to make here at home & take to work, but I'll have to put in a little more effort as there is no wiggle room. I'm really trying to resist going over on the budget. It's hard when I know that I have a "safety net" in my checking account. I've just got to remember that I have a budget for a reason, and next month I won't splurge early on McDonalds!!!

So right now I've got some cheesy rice cooking, and I guess I'll try to finish the Kool-Aid that I made before making a pitcher of sweet tea. I wish I had just made tea to begin with, the Kool-Aid just isn't doing it for me.

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Puppy Update: We are SLOWLY, but surely, getting to our goal of total housetraining. Because I'm uncomfortable crating him all night right now, I am just getting up when I hear him get up in the mornings (if it's too early for me to get up) and putting him in his crate for 30 mins to an hour until I am ready to take him out. At least that ensures that he's not going to go on the carpet. It should be easier when BF gets here too, and I only have to take him out HALF the time.

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BF should be here in 9 days. Finally in the single digits! :P I can't wait, and I'm trying to come up with some neat things to do to celebrate.

I already have some cookie dough that doesn't expire before then, and that is one of our favorite things to do... make cookies together.

I also have a poster that I've decorated that says "Welcome Home"... kind of humorous because this will really be the first time it's been his "home".

We also have a $25 gift card to Red Lobster that I got as a gift for my birthday a few months ago, so we could use that to go out and eat, but will probably save it until the weekend.

So for the day he gets here, I have cookies & a poster, haha. I am going to try and have the apartment as clean as possible so he doesn't feel like he's coming home to a junkyard, and it will mean more time we can spend together not worrying about cleaning/laundry.

I also want to have a financial binder of some sort ready when he gets here, so we can start budgeting together. The May budget will likely be a special one, as we are going to be having some weird expenses (2 trips to our home state for my graduation & his cousin's wedding, buying a couch), and he will be finding a job in that time. The income part will be largely estimated, but we have an emergency amount to dip into if needed. Hopefully by June we will have a pretty standard budget in place.

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Well, lots to do today and not so much time to do it in, so I guess I should get started if I want to accomplish any of my goals for BF's getting here.

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Note: I forgot to add that I've tweaked my monthly budget again (always a work in progress, right?). This time I just changed the amounts going towards my credit cards and the amount I'm putting towards our Wedding Fund. After researching some average photographers and reception sites, etc., I've discovered that many of them ask for a deposit up front, and so we will need to have cash ready for that.

Because it's not possible for us to pay off our debts and save the necessary amounts at the same time, I talked to BF, and we decided the best thing to do would be to pay the minimum amounts (or a little more) on the debts, and put the rest towards our Wedding Fund. Any extra income from surveys, ebay, change, etc. will also go towards the Wedding Fund, as well as if we underspend for our budget one month.

So, at the end of each month, we'll mail in the total of our surpluses to our Wedding Fund savings account.

We could take out a personal loan for the wedding, but I like the idea of slowly paying down some of our debt, while saving as much as we can for our wedding. I also know that it will help us to be more frugal if we are saving, instead of knowing we are getting a loan for the wedding. We'll see.

On A Roll

April 19th, 2008 at 05:29 am

Forgot to add yesterday that I randomly found $0.25 at work. Then found $0.02 this morning outside my apartment complex. Adding that to the loose change found when cleaning out my truck the other day, and my "cash in a coffee can" is growing nicely. Smile I must stay on the look-out for more.

I was attempting to balance my old checking account this morning when I realized that I am on my last check. I was thinking that I had another whole book, but I can't find it anywhere. Maybe not. Either way, I had planned on using that check to pay at the gas station this morning (one of the few that will take checks) instead of using my Discover Card. BUT... I can't do that now, because I need that check to make a deposit into my NEW checking account.

I'm going to take the survey check I got in the mail this week, and my last personal check and go to my new bank today. I'm thinking I can write myself a check from my old account, and deposit it to my new one? Hopefully.

I don't want to order any more checks for the old one, because I will hopefully be closing it soon. But there are a few things that I will need checks for, so for now, I'll deposit money into my new acct, then get cash from an ATM and get a money order for what I need to mail.

I'm going to have BF get some cash from the old account and bring it with him when he comes as well. Slowly, I need to phase that one out. The timing is difficult because I have my insurance automatically withdrawn from it, and my paychecks automatically deposited. Hmmm.

Well, I've put stamps on about 12 of my graduation invites, so those will be on their way this morning. I need to get some more stamps and finish them.

I don't have much left in my food budget, but I think I might spend $2 on lunch today. I honestly don't feel like fixing anything, blah. We'll see.

Off to work!

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

Cleaning out the truck

April 17th, 2008 at 07:15 pm

Okay, here is the list of what I was able to accomplish today:

=Vacuumed Living Room
=Shampooed Living Room
=Took The Pup Outside For Some Walking
=Cleaned Out The Truck
=Took Out Trash
=Cooked Dinner/Lunch For Tomorrow

Not as productive as I would have liked, but enough to make me feel a little bit ahead for tomorrow.

For dinner, I used the rest of the ground turkey, and the other half of my bag of frozen stir-fry veggies. I also made some white rice, and added a little cream of mushroom soup for flavor. Now as long as I can remember to clean my tupperware and pack the leftovers for tomorrow, I should be set for lunch.

While I was cleaning out my truck, I couldn't help but laugh at myself. It's been quite a while since I've actually taken stuff OUT of it (usually I'll just shove it behind the seats), but since I am taking it in tomorrow for repairs, I figured I'd better get it looking presentable. I had so much stuff in there from moving here, from work, even from when I was in college and practically lived out of my truck during the day.

A partial list of what I found:

=Facial Cleanser/Astringent
=2 Bottles of Body Spray
=Lipstick
=2 Books
=Foundation Powder
=Cough Drops
=Unopened Bag of Popcorn
=All Kinds of Old Paperwork
=College Class Papers
=Beauticontrol Lip Peel
=Umbrella
=Box of Crayons
=Lots of Clothes Hangers
=The Pup's Old Leash
=Some Random Change
=3 Deodorants
=5 Coffee Mugs
=Some Random Clothes

Honestly, I don't understand how it was all in there to begin with. Smile The good news - I won't have to buy deodorant or body spray for a while, and I can add the random change I found to my "cash in a coffee can".

Today did turn out to be a NSD. I need to make sure my checkbook is balanced so that I'm prepared for whatever damage the truck repairs will cause to it tomorrow.

Things To Do, Expenses To Plan For

April 17th, 2008 at 10:11 am

Today will be a busy day. Or it should be a busy day, depending on whether I actually get motivated enough to do all the things I'd like to do. Maybe to provide a stimulus, I'll post later tonight about everything I did (or didn't) get accomplished. Geesh... why are days off so hard to come by? Smile

The good news is that today should be a NSD, unless I run across some bills that I need to pay. I'm not going anywhere, mainly because I don't need to spend any money, and because I don't want to risk driving my truck any more than I have to until it gets fixed. I need to take a look at my checking account balances and future expenses, and see if I can swing some new tires while I'm getting the truck worked on, too.

I did manage to complete about 20 of my graduation invitations this morning. I am going to call my mom later, because I'm sure she'll be able to remind me of a few people that I forgot about. There are also a few that I just need addresses for.

Speaking of graduation - I think I'm also going to ask my mom about having a small get-together afterwards. The actual ceremony is at 8:30 AM, about 40 minutes from my hometown. So if it lasts and hour or two, and then everybody drives back, it would be the perfect time for lunch. I'm thinking that I might be able to get my grandma to cook outside on the grill, which is always awesome. Hopefully most of my immediate family could make it - mom, siblings, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, and of course BF. I might even see if BF's sisters & parents want to come, but they may have other plans. Guess I might need to check with mom about it first though. Big Grin

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It's a beautiful day here, even a little on the hot side. If I have time between all I hope (and need) to get done today, I might see if me & the pup can try Squirrel Frisbee again. We'll see.

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I have several things I need to plan for soon. One is a haircut, although I have no idea where to go. I might see if there is a Great Clips or anything close to me. I want to make sure I get it done before graduation. Nothing drastic, just a couple inches off the length. The other thing is something to wear to graduation... I'm not sure if people wear dresses or just dress clothes under their gown? Either way, I have no idea what I could throw together out of my current wardrobe. All of this can wait until after the truck is fixed though, so I know how much that expense will be, and also won't be afraid to drive it.

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Only 12 days until BF gets here. That is so crazy to say. I remember the first day he left, and I was thinking, 3 months is too freaking long for this. Needless to say, it got shortened to 2 months, but these have still been the longest two months of my life! It's so crazy when he talks about telling his bosses bye, or planning on switching his cell phone plan. It's really that close!

I am really excited about making our budget together. I think I may try to come up with a finance binder for us, to keep track of all the various things we've got going on. I don't want to spend money on it though... so I'll have to see if I can dig something out of my old college stuff.

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Well, that's it for now, I guess I'll stop procrastinating and try to get something accomplished today. :P

Pay Day, A Trip To The Car Shop

April 16th, 2008 at 06:58 pm

Payday will officially be Friday 4/18 (when it will be direct deposited), but I got my pay stub today:

Net Pay After Taxes: $1,079.92
Health/Vision/Dental: -$56.76
401K: $0.00
Net Deposit: $1,023.16

Included in the net pay is 1.85 hours of overtime, amounting to about $11 extra. I'm adding that to the challenge, and will deposit it into the Wedding Fund at the end of the month.

The amount taken out for my health/vision/dental is the same as last time, which is a little more than I had budgeted for it, so I'm going to go ahead and change that part of my montly budget. The good news is, the net pay after taxes is higher than I expected, so I'm going to change the budget reflecting that as well.

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Spent $2.12 on McDonalds breakfast this morning. That's what I get for being early! Smile

Also spent $20 on the DC for gas on the way home.

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At the recommendation of a guy that I work with, I went down to the car shop in our shopping center on my lunch break. When I described what I had going on with my truck, the man there said his guess was the brakes hitting metal in the front end (whatever that means). I was able to make an appointment for Friday morning, so I will drop the truck off and then walk back to our store for work. Then they are supposed to figure out what's wrong with it, and call me to let me know. From there, I'll probably ask the same guy I work with (and maybe call my brother) to make sure what they are saying & what they want to charge are reasonable. Then, if everything is a go, I was told that they could have the work done by the time I got off work.

Right now, I am just hoping it's not over $700. I also need to get the oil changed while it's there (if they do that), and I probably need new tires if I'm going to try and keep the truck for a while. I would estimate the tires at about $90 a pop, so an extra $360 plus labor if I wanted to do that. Ugh. I really don't want to spend $1,000 or more right now, but I know the mechanics are going to push new tires, and I will feel stupid not taking them, because they are about 4 years old, and I'm constantly battling flats. Oh well, we'll see what they say and how much the first repairs are going to be.

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The good news for today is that we had free pizza for lunch at work, so no money spent there.

And finally... I am off to update a few of the pages in my side bar, and then FINALLY fill out my graduation invitations to mail. Woo hoo.

$9 extra & graduation invitations

April 16th, 2008 at 05:51 am

I was too sidetracked to post last night, but I spent $5.20 on cigarettes yesterday on the DC.

I also got my first check from doing surveys, a whopping $9! Big Grin Every little bit helps, and I am going to add $9 to our Wedding Fund at the end of the month. Also adding that $9 into the challenge.

Did manage to get to the post office yesterday before work to pick up my graduation package. I freaked out at first because I thought they had forgotten the fancy envelope seals, but found them stuck down in another section later. So as far as I know, I can start sending the invitations out tonight, or whenever I have time outside of work. I need to get them done soon though, only about 2 weeks until graduation. I still need to try on the cap & gown, and see if grandma will need to hem it. Smile

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Puppy Update: We're doing well now when I take him outside, but still having problems in the late evening and during the night. I don't give him water a few hours before bedtime, so it confuses me that he even HAS to go, but oh well. My new plan is to move his crate into the bedroom, and have him sleep in there. That should work, unless he barks/whines the whole time, because then I'll have to take him out so the neighbors aren't mad. Grrr.

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In other news, I've lost another pound toward my weight loss goal. Still alot more to go to get to my target weight, but only about 15 lbs to get to my weight a year ago. I have no idea how I gained so much in such a short amount of time? Craziness.

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Less than 2 weeks until BF moves in, and I can't wait!!! It feels like forever since I've seen him even, and it's going to be such a great experience to have him here all the time. Ahh, relief! Smile

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I talked to a guy at my work yesterday that knows a little about vehicles, and he seems to think that the problem I'm having with my truck is the wheel bearings. He said his was making a similar noise and that was his problem, and that it cost him about $400 to get it fixed. The only good news is that he got it fixed at the shop right down the shopping strip from our store, so if they can do it, maybe I can drop it off while I'm at work and pick it up afterwards. I just need to get it done, before my wheel comes off!

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Well, that's it for now, but payday is this weekend, so maybe I'll have my paycheck to report later. Off to work!

The Cat Has A Turn...

April 15th, 2008 at 05:26 am

Well, here I sit, checking SA blogs, BEFORE I go to work. This is getting a bit ridiculous, huh? Smile

I've packed the leftovers from last night's dinner for my work lunch. I ended up cooking 1/2 pound of ground turkey, 3 slices of cheese (mixed in once it melted), some spaghetti broken up into little pieces, and at the end, threw in some diced tomatoes. When the spaghetti was soft and everything was mixed well, I put the mixture into a soft tortilla, and rolled it up like a burrito. I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing, but it turned out very well! So well that I think I'm going to write the recipe down before I forget it, ha!

So I've got that for lunch, and I'll probably pack a salad as well, and some more Kool-Aid. I really wish I had went ahead and made some sweet tea the other day instead of the Kool-Aid, but I gave in to the convenience factor. I think it's because of where I am from... I'm having sweet tea withdrawals.

And here's a change... instead of the pup, it's the cat that is driving me crazy at the moment. When BF isn't here (which he hasn't been for a month), I sleep with my bedroom door closed & locked. If I put the cat inside the bedroom with me & the pup, he gets up in the middle of the night and starts pawing the door wanting out. He is declawed, but the door still slightly "thumps" with his weight on it, so I'm afraid the neighbors will get mad if I don't stop him. Then when I let him out and go back to sleep, 30 minutes later he's pawing at the door, wanting back in!

And this morning I got up to find that he had knocked a little plastic container of puppy treats off into the floor, and had somehow managed to get it open, and EAT ALL OF THEM!!! Those were like $4 a bottle, and we only used them for training, so they would've lasted forever. Eh... I guess another bottle will have to come out of the Pet Supplies budget before long.

Anyway, I'm about to grab a cup of coffee (that I made at home, of course),and throw my clothes in the dryer for work. If I have time, I'd love to go by the post office and pick up my graduation stuff before work, so I can work on it tonight. We'll see.

Hope everyone has a great day!