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Archive for October, 2013

Lots of Small Things I'm Thinking About

October 31st, 2013 at 08:27 am

Swagbucks gave me 50 swagbucks for my birthday (thank you, Swagbucks!) - I have about 900 right now. Would like to get to 1500 soon so I can add that to the Christmas shopping fund.

Other good news: yesterday on my run, I passed by a house where they were removing a dead tree. There were sections of tree lying around, and I need some round logs for a project I'm doing, so I decided to drive back up there and ask for a log. When I got back, the tree company was just chipping the logs; I tried to find someone to ask if I could have just one log, but no one was around. So - feeling sort of horrible, but also knowing it was 99% ok - I took one smallish log, shoved it into my trunk. So now the project is nearly done!

More good news: I spoke to my brother today. He and my sister-in-law L are coming or Thanksgiving (and my parents). So, I know that L doesn't like dogs. Really doesn't like them. At all. I asked him if our big white dog was going to be a problem for her; like, was she scared of dogs? Or just doesn't like them? He said that she hates dogs, and if there's a dog, she prefers it to be small with short hair (unlike our giant long-haired dog), but she's not afraid. He said that he understands our dog is a family member, and L will deal with it. So we don't need to lock her in a bedroom or anything (I'm talking about the dog, not L - haa!).

And... I got a very sweet card from F this morning for my birthday. D is still not on board with me not wanting more stuff. He says "Why don't you feel like you deserve to have gifts for your birthday?" Which is not it at all. I just want less stuff, and I don't want him paying for stuff I don't want. But he was sweet to get me a book (I am feeling slightly guilty and ungrateful that I don't really want any more books; I go to the library) and a heated car seat (unfortunately it's super uncomfortable - it doesn't cover the whole seat and the seam digs into the bottom of my legs - so we'll need to exchange - and I feel guilty about that, too).

What I REALLY want for my birthday: a backrub, not to have to clean up the dish that the cat knocked over and broke (in other words, a free-pass day), to be able to sleep in, cuddles with my daughter, to be able to sit around and watch a dumb tv show and knit. (Yes, I've told him this - he thinks I'm being a martyr!).

I am going to go bake some peanut butter brownies now, and then maybe chop a big log into disks...

Another Proposal

October 30th, 2013 at 08:08 am

I am doing a proposal for on-call services for the County (I think they'll select several architects for this, so I have a decent chance).

Mostly these request for proposals are the same, so I was happy to see a new requirement: "All submitted bid/proposal documents shall be double sided." This is to reduce waste, and I think it's a great idea!

Now I'm really pleased that the new office printer does double sided - you just click a box! It wasn't an expensive printer, either. It's a Brother HL-3170 (about $200).

That's the good work news.

The bad news, and anyone who has their own company will understand this: I have several outstanding invoices, so I need to transfer some money from the business savings account to checking. Ugh. I hate doing that. At least I have the business savings account, though, right? And eventually the money from the invoices will come in.

And now I am going to go home and finish sewing slipcovers, because the proposal is not due for two weeks, and this is one of the big advantages of being self-employed.

Way Below Food Budget for the Month

October 29th, 2013 at 03:16 pm

We are way below our food budget for the month (both dining out and groceries). This is a good thing, but I also can't help thinking that it would be nice to go out to lunch for my birthday on Thursday... except I can't! Argh!

Here is what Thursday looks like:
- work in the morning (I have two proposals to do)
- go home and make peanut butter brownies (this will be my birthday "cake") to bring to potluck dinner (may have to scrounge up something else, too - salad?
- teach noon spinning class (that is lunchtime!)
- head up to school to get kids ready for Halloween procession (eat in the car)
- take my daughter to horseback riding (I usually play with the instructor's preschooler)
- head back into town to our friends' house - they live in a good trick-or-treating area (we don't!)
- potluck dinner
- trick-or-treating
- collapse!

It's a good birthday plan, though. I get to be with my husband and daughter, and I get to exercise and hang out with friends, and, seriously, is there anything sweeter than watching your eight year old trick-or-treat? And it's certainly frugal.

Halloween Costume

October 27th, 2013 at 03:36 pm

Yesterday after F's soccer game we dropped her off at her friend A's house for a playdate (when I was little this was called "going over to play" but is now a "playdate"). Both girls were going to the class Halloween Party later that evening, so when I asked the mom when to pick up F, she said that 2:30 would be good because she had to work on A's costume for the party later that day.

OK, first of all, somehow I failed to notice on the invite that this was a costume party (although if you think about it, it's pretty obvious - a Halloween party is usually about the costumes).

I also failed to notice that the party was at 4 pm instead of 5 pm.

I was planning on making the costume (she had requested a mouse costume) on Sunday, so I had all of the supplies (total cost - less than $5!). So I had a leisurely lunch and started sewing like a maniac.

D picked up F from her "playdate" and mentioned to her that the party was a costume party, but not to worry, Mommy is on the case!

I managed to finish just as the pulled into the garage, and she was so happy! Made it all worth it! She wrote me this little thank you on a piece of leftover felt that I used to make the swiss cheese. All mice like cheese, right?



My sweet little mouse was a hit at the party; most of the parents buy costumes, but to me Halloween is an excuse to make something; I love a good opportunity to make stuff!!

My Solution to Lunch

October 27th, 2013 at 10:09 am

My lunches usually consist of:
- things F did not eat from her lunch on the previous day (sometimes a few carrots or snap peas, some fruit)
- piece of fruit
- chips or crisps or something like that
- leftovers or an avocado or a piece of sliced turkey (a protein thing)
- a square of chocolate or a few chocolate chips with pecans

I realize this is not a very exciting lunch.

I eat it at the conference table while the dog sits next to me and eats her lunch. It takes about 10 minutes to eat lunch, which is not very long.

So... the solution to having a good, relaxing lunch is the walk that I take with the dog afterward. This is the real lunch solution: the after-lunch fresh air!

I work downtown, and there are lots of nice walks, but I like to walk through the nearby residential area. I took a picture for you of one of my favorite little houses.

What do you do at lunch?

Haircut Coupon

October 22nd, 2013 at 09:08 am

Got my hair trimmed yesterday (I do this every 3 or 4 months) and used a coupon from Great Clips for $7.99. All of my friends get expensive haircuts, but I'm pretty sure you could cut my hair with pinking shears and it would look the same (an advantage of having curly hair). And no grey yet, so no dye (not sure I would anyway - I'm too cheap to spend money on hair dye and I don't like upkeep; also have a big aversion to smells and that dye smells awful!). Having saved money on my haircut, I may have to buy some wrinkle cream instead!

$20 Snowflake

October 21st, 2013 at 09:43 am

I sold F's old baby mobile on craigslist and got $20! It's sort of sad to see those old baby things go, but I know another baby will get some use out of it, so that's good. And of course I am keeping a few things (some finely made wooden toys and a few of her teeny-tiny sleepers).

Need to sell some other old baby stuff, too. A lot of this is just too good for a garage sale; I'll make more money on craigslist.

Christmas Knitting

October 20th, 2013 at 02:09 pm

It's almost Halloween - right afterward, I start planning the Christmas shopping list!

In the meantime, I've started the Christmas knitting for D and F. F will be getting a little cuddly toy hedgehog. It looks like a pretty quick knit which is good because I'm also knitting her a cardigan. And D is getting a scarf (I am trying to find a pattern that he'll like but is not boring to knit).

And I'm still knitting a sweater for me, and I have to finish the slipcovers before Thanksgiving.

Did I mention that I work nearly full-time? Maybe I should revise the goals a little bit... Ah well - I'll think big and see what I can accomplish!

Get-Stuff-Done Weekend

October 20th, 2013 at 07:00 am

D just took F back to the "sleepover" party she went to last night (she didn't want to sleep over, so we picked her up last night, she slept at home, and now she's going back for breakfast). I'll pick her up again at 10:30.

So I have 2 1/2 hours to:
- sand the front door (dog scratches from when our dog was a puppy - she is no longer a puppy!!)
- finish the base of the slipcover for the large sofa
- finish vaccuuming upstairs
- finish cleaning the bathroom
- brush my teeth
- take a shower

And then F and I are going to hang out today while D does two photoshoots (this is now side money since he has a full-time job!) and goes to a soccer coach training session (he's one of the coaches for our rec league). Trying to figure out what to do that will be fun and frugal. It's cold out (41 deg F) but the high is supposed to be 61, so I'm thinking a short hike would be nice, maybe followed by hot chocolate at home?

First Paycheck from My Husband's New Job

October 19th, 2013 at 11:27 am

We got the first full pay deposit from my husband's new job - woo hoo! He was self-employed before, and now he's happier at work, they LOVE him, and he's netting $778 more a month. (Plus health insurance!)

So here is the grand plan:
- We will max. out our IRAs (contributing about $400 more each month total - already changed the automatic pay thingy in Vanguard)
- We will pay down the mortgage
- Small increase in budget for spending just so things are reflect actual expenses from the previous year (we spent more on medical and on car repair) - if we end up not spending the amount on food we allot each month, that will go to savings instead of to medical/car.

I think the biggest change is in my piece of mind.

$40 Snowflake, and How I Wasted Part of It

October 18th, 2013 at 09:21 am

I got paid $40 from the gym yesterday for teaching spinning - yay! But... I made a crucial mistake.

I always eat before the gym because I teach at noon and otherwise I get super hungry during class. But I usually save half my lunch for afterward because I'm hungry then, too, since I just exercised. Yesterday, I didn't bring anything for after class!

And I had this $40 in an envelope.

As I drove from the gym to my meeting, I saw that I was about 10 minutes early, and I passed a gas station, so I stopped and got a milky way, which I paid way too much for. Wasted $1.29 of my snowflake on an impulse purchase.

Here are my lessons:
- Always have food in the car!
- Put the gym money away immediately!
- Don't be too early to a meeting!
- Make sure I have a supply of 69 c Milky Way Midnights at home so that I know they are there (I eat one once a week)

OK, not going to beat myself up over $1.29.

Not Really Financial (Knitting Debacle)

October 7th, 2013 at 04:04 pm

OK, this is not financial, but I had to get this off my chest...

On Friday night I realized that the sweater I have been knitting since Sept. 13th was WRONG! Ack! I somehow failed to do the cables differently so that they were symmetrical, and instead they all crossed the same way (there are four cable panels total). I had knitted the entire back! Twenty-one days of work! (I knit about an hour a day).

I could have just accepted it, but I knew it would bug me for as long as I owned the sweater. And I hadn't done the sleeves or collar yet. And... what I love is knitting (having something that I knitted is a perk - the actual hobby is the "doing" part).

So I wound up a new ball before I went to bed, cast on, and started new the next day. I'm about 3" into it already, so I'm pretty happy. And now at least I know it's right.

We are having pizza for dinner, and the dough is rising, and F is doing "stuff" (her words). So I might get another row in before D comes home.

Not a Low-Key Weekend Afterall!

October 6th, 2013 at 12:56 pm

We were going to have a low-key weekend, but it was supposed to be a great day for balloons (crystal clear, cold, not a lot of wind), so instead we went here:





It was not frugal, but it wasn't expensive either, and if you ever have a chance, you need to see it. We took F when she was really little, but she didn't remember it, so we got up at 4 am (D is taking a nap as I type this) and headed to Albuquerque.

F got a trading card from the British balloon (the balloonist's dad went to the same high school as D, in the UK) and the pig balloon (she loves pigs!).

Manilla

October 5th, 2013 at 04:45 pm

I just read about an app/website called Manilla that tracks when your bills are due and sends you reminders - also will link directly to the site for the bill you need to pay. I'm pretty excited about this!

I always pay total balance (never minimums) but it's a chore keeping up with all of the different providers (work credit card, home credit card, old navy credit card, t-mobile, internet bill, gas bill, electric bill home, electric bill office). This sends you an email or text as soon as your bill is ready. And you can get into it at any time to see what is unpaid.

And it's free!

OK, off to make dinner, now that I know my electricity bill is paid! (I somehow put that one in the trash in my email - ugh).

Ou Frugal Weekend

October 4th, 2013 at 07:33 pm

This Saturday:

- soccer game at 9 am (we are going to freeze! It's supposed to be 39 deg at 9 am, 43 deg at 10 am when the game is over. But I'm bringing my sleeping bag)

- Harvest Festival at our local living history "museum." We get to smash grapes with our feet. We have a membership, so we don't pay.

- I promised F we'd go to the gallery that represents my friend, then walk up the road and have tea and scones. The tea and scones are so awesome! A relatively inexpensive outing.

This Sunday:

- F is going to a friend's house and I am going to start sewing our new slipcovers

- We have a neighborhood potluck at 4 pm... we'll pop in and then head to...

- soccer practice in the park!

Free Stuff - Clothes, Petsitting, Math

October 3rd, 2013 at 05:04 pm

Part 1 - Clothes for Free

When I drop F off at school I often stand around in the hall and talk to the other parents. We're a tight-knit bunch, the 3rd Grade parents! (There are only 19 kids per grade, so you get pretty close).

Today I was talking to J who informed me that she had a bag of clothes in the car that no longer fit her daughter and asked if I'd like to look through them. Yes!

So we scored about 4 pairs of leggings and two shirts (I was selective, knowing that F is sort of picky). All great condition. Very cute, and exactly F's style! She likes to wear leggings. Every day. (But you know, I'm a creature of habit, too).

This is an advantage of having a daughter who is smaller than the other kids in her class!

Part 2 - Pet-Watching Swap

My friend G who is in my knitting group is at a wool festival this weekend (so glad I'm not there - it's just a giant temptation to buy yarn I don't need - plus I'd miss F's soccer game which would be sad). So I'm watching her pets - yay! Why am I so glad about this? Because we have a swap! I watch her pets and she watches ours. She lives close by, and her pets are cute! And we don't pay for pet-sitting.

Part 3 - Online Math Game

I found this online math game http://www.mathsisfun.com/numbers/math-trainer-multiply.html for F to practice her multiplication tables. She loves it (she loves to do timed activities)!

September Statistics

October 1st, 2013 at 03:50 pm

Compared to the same month last year:

Income increased by 2.8%
Expenses decreased by 4.9%
Savings increased by 472% (yes, really!)

So I'm feeling pretty good about the spending.

We owe $82,018 on our mortgage. House value is about $550,000.

We have $8,573 in car savings.

We have $5,217 in personal savings.

We have $13,118 in the private school savings account. We dip into this every month to pay for F's school, but it is replenished a little bit every year by one of the grandparents. Actually - I need to pay tuition today!

IRAs are worth $67,481 (mine) and $17,275 (D's). We are trying really hard to improve this! Now that D has started his new job, we are going to contribute the max. to our Roths.

We owe about $10,000 on the Dublin house mortgage. House value is about $360,000. (This is a major part of our retirement).

And finally - our income which was about $76k total last year will probably be about $86k with D's new job.

Ugh - Car Repair

October 1st, 2013 at 01:21 pm

So I got a "service engine soon" light on my car's dashboard, and took the car in today. They called to tell me it's some part in the fuel gauge that needs to be replaced. The part is some electronic thing that helps indicate how full/empty the tank is. They want $721 (gasp!) for the part/installation.

Now I have to decide if they should order it or if I just keep track of the mileage and fill the car up based on that. (I know how many miles I get on a tank of gas and could be really conservative with fill-ups).

What do you think?