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Archive for November, 2007: Dmontngrey's Personal Finance Blog
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Home > Archive: November, 2007

Archive for November, 2007

This and that

November 27th, 2007 at 01:16 am

Hello. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We spent a long weekend in Indiana with my inlaws. Got to meet our new nephew who turned a month old the day we arrived. The trip went ok I guess. Our expenses were probably as good as they could be. Where else can we have free room and board with two dogs and all it costs us is gas money to get there? We did spend a little money out at a bar Friday night, but that's what allowance money is for. Smile
But... whenever we are there we eat out EVERY meal. My stomach is not happy about that. I'm not used to eating out so much and my poor tummy can't handle it! At least we don't have to pay for the meals.
We exchanged Christmas gifts with them since we would all be together. I still don't think they've caught on how little money we spend on them!! We pick up gifts throughout the year when we find things at really cheap prices. Of course my inlaws hadn't even bought our gifts yet! I got mine and DH is still working on figuring out what he wants. I didn't get to choose, but I'm happy with their selection. I got two gifts: a set of vintage pyrex casserole dishes and a brand new Olympus 8.0 megapixel digital camera. Can ya guess which one meant more to me? Really, the camera is great... but picking up those vintage pyrex dishes was just much more thoughtful.
So.... the camera is great BUT I'm still running a dinosaur here with windows 98. 98 is becoming more and more obsolete and of course my new camera needs at least 2000 professional! So I'm in the process of setting up a dual boot system on this computer. Is it going smoothly? No. At least I got the usb working, but I still can't get the sound to work. I am typing this from the 2000 drive, so it's working for the most part. I still have yet to install my camera. Isn't that what I was supposed to be doing right now?? I'm curious to see what the pictures look like once I download them.

In other news: I'm kicking myself for the boneheaded thing I did. I'm also REALLY pissed off with Citibank. They changed the interface on their webpage recently and it's not very user friendly. I missed payments last week on two cards that had balance transfers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When I log into my account, my first card shows all the details. The rest of the cards just showed the current balance, so I thought that meant no payment was due since it didn't say one was due. I realize now that I actually had to click on something to show all the details. I don't understand why they show for one but I can't get them to permanently show for the others. I tried calling to talk to someone but of course their system was down. I sent an email to customer service explaining the problem and I do have it in writing that I will not get any late fees. I'm certain that I WILL get hit with interest charges now though. I'm in the process of transferring the balance elsewhere. I have no choice and I know how this game is played. I just have NEVER EVER EVER (and I can not stress that enough) missed a payment for any reason. I'm so unbelieveably anal about this stuff that I drive everyone I know crazy. I can't go back to paper invoices because I just would not read them. I have a system in place that works very well for me and I do place some blame on Citibank with the changes they made.

On that note, I think I will try and install my new camera now as a distraction. Smile

Busy week

November 17th, 2007 at 09:35 pm

Wow, I've been so busy all week and I can hardly figure out where the time went! I wont be around much next week either, due to the holidays.

Last night we had a VERY nice (and inexpensive!) evening out. We just signed a new deal with a vendor at work. As a thank you, our sales rep gave my boss and I 5 corporate suite tickets to the Celtics game. My boss brought his wife and I brought DH plus one of DH's friends. It was a private suite with tons of good food and drinks. It was slightly work related, but not too bad. Mostly a social thing. We all had a really great time and it only cost $25 for parking and tolls: $13 from us and $12 from DH's friend. Not bad! It was a good game too. The Celtics won by only one point.

I was supposed to be cleaning today, but all I managed to do was wash 3 loads of laundry and go over the finances. Not much to report on there. The $1900 car repair bill was a downer, but we'll bounce back in the long run.

Still need to:
- clean two turtle tanks
- catch up with neighbor who will be pet sitting
- bake cookies, cupcakes, and make candies
- vac and other general cleaning
- pack for Thanksgiving

Just a day and a half of work next week, then a few much deserved days off! Smile

Gave away a pair of DH's rollerblades on Freecycle today. He HAD to have them, wore them once, then decided he liked his old ones better. A woman was looking for a pair for her son for Christmas and these happened to be the right size. I LOVE the giving aspect of Freecycle!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

Where is the money going?

November 10th, 2007 at 10:46 pm

Ok, so I just went over my mom's finances. I only asked about 100 questions and gave her a migraine! Too bad. She claims she has no money and I can't see where the problem is!

Her checks vary and her last 4 checks ranged from 550.00 to 640.00 every two weeks. Her monthly bills are as follows:
340.00 Rent
75.00 Phone/Internet
40.00 Car insurance
50.00 Owed on overdraft for next 6 months
75.00 Electric

I found out that her bank is charging 5.00 per month for the acct and 1.00 per month for the debit card. Huh? Their current fee schedule does not have those fees! She will be calling the bank to discuss this with them.

So what's left over to pay? food, gas for the car, heat, then work on a few "small" debts she has. There seems to be quite a bit of wiggle room for her to account for a rise in heating costs for the winter.

So, where has the money been going? I'm actually feeling optimistic about her situation. It does not seem as bad as she seems to think it is.

Ah, I just discovered an error in my spreadsheet. The next month will be the toughest but it will get better after that.

More car problems

November 10th, 2007 at 02:51 pm

I kindly reminded my husband that we are supposed to leave for Thanksgiving (1000 mile drive) on the 20th and NEITHER car is currently up to the drive. My car needs the suspension replaced and he was having trouble with the transmission. We opted to wait a little longer on my suspension since we are sure we can find an affordable option given the time to order parts. So off to a transmission shop his car went yesterday. By the end of the day we had a $2400 estimate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, keep in mind this is a 2003 bottom of the line NEON. estimates it at $2900 value. Too bad he still currently owes WAY more than that on the loan. Frown He was upside down on his last car (that was about to die) and got a good deal on this one. Good enough that we were hoping it would get him out of this mess.

Well he told the guy we couldn't afford it and to just put the car back together. The guy countered with a cheaper clutch they found, knocked two hours off the labor, and applied a $100 coupon. Total now due = $1900. This really isn't TOO bad considering the transmission rebuild plus the clutch replacement. I'm still aggravated that this car is such a piece of junk. Apparently the transmission issues are quite common according to

This is just a huge blow right now. I was thinking something wasn't right since things were starting to look up for us lately. The next phase of my salary adjustment is effective 12/01/07. By switching health insurance plans next year we'll save $2000 in premium costs for the year, and possibly more in out of pocket costs. I was finally feeling like we were starting to make progress on debt payments. I even was going to send double his car payment this week!!

As bad as it seems, my husband is really starting to see how things like this impact the household finances. He's in a very sorry state of mind right now, but unfortunately he needs these type of learning experiences. We can pay for the repair, it will just delay my plan to pay off one credit card. Yes I'm aware things aren't as bad as they could be.

Sunday chuckle

November 4th, 2007 at 03:58 pm

Well after being windy beyond belief and quite cold yesterday, today is gorgeous! DH is out doing oil changes on both cars, replacing the dead bulbs on mine, etc. I figured it was a great day to cut down the garden. Now, I love morning glories, but they were mutants this year! This picture shows what they looked like before they grew completely up through the shutters and into the air conditioner (THAT was fun to clean up). I hacked down this monstrosity, and boy did my husband laugh when I walked around the corner carrying this and said "remind me next year that I don't like morning glories anymore!" They sure were beautiful in their prime though.

I did have a brief online chat with my mother this morning about finances. She informed me that she could come up with the money for the property taxes, and still pay her other bills! She would just need a little gas money. Ok, so what about food and heat. She replied that she can't afford food and heat. *SIGH* She's at church now and I'm sending her a list of the info I need: What bills and how much and when they're due, what outstanding debts she has, and when and how much her next paycheck is. She is paid every two weeks. We need to have a discussion on priorities! Food and heat are last on her list??

Windy Saturday!

November 3rd, 2007 at 06:44 pm

Thank you Noel! Boy is it breezy right now. My desk sits next to the window in the bedroom and I was freezing! I actually had to take a break from the finance stuff (my usual Saturday task) to put plastic over that window. New windows would be great, but we plan on selling this place in a couple of years. I found a 3 window kit in the closet downstairs and I couldn't remember paying 5.99 for it at the store on the price tag. Ha! I didn't! We bought it at a yard sale early in the summer for 25 cents. YAY! This doesn't seem as nice as the plastic I had last year, but I think it will do. Hey, I'm not freezing anymore.

Well the appointment at the dealership this morning didn't go as I expected. Their "thorough bumper to bumper inspection" barely amounted to a basic safety inspection. I'm glad they noticed I have two side marker bulbs and both license plate bulbs out. We'll take care of that tomorrow. They didn't inspect anything I expected them to though. They did say I need new front strut mounts. Good to know since we were going to do the struts and shocks soon anyways. The biggest concern was that he said I'd need the rear brakes done in 3-4000 miles. I was a little aggravated by that, but then when I got out to the car and read the paperwork - it said the rear cylinders were both leaking and the fluid needs to be flushed. Uh... go back and read my entries from Apr 2006 to see why this concerns me. WHY should I be replacing these AGAIN a year and a half later? People wonder why I'm so paranoid that my brakes will fail. Turns out, I apparently have a reason to be paranoid.

I did find it funny that they "noticed" I am late on an oil change by looking at the sticker on the windshield. Did they check the oil? Also, they didn't seem concerned that my check engine light is on? Oh, and they didn't notice that my windshield wipers are secured on by twist ties? I laughed about that one.

I tried to talk to my husband about mom's property taxes. It's hard to have a conversation with him though. He has ADD and is so easily distracted when it comes to stuff like this. I wish it was as easy as having my mom put aside $10 a week for this expense. At the moment, she doesn't "have" $10 a week. I'm not sure she'd even have it if she'd stop spending on useless things. So, as of this week I now have a new ING account title "Mom's Property Taxes" funded with $10. Guess I'll start preparing so I'm not caught off guard with this again in 6 months. I'll also plan on having to come up with most, if not all, the bill for Dec. I really would like to talk to DH about this, but he just doesn't understand what it's like to watch a parent struggle.

Well I need to get back to the finances. Got some work to do still!

Long day

November 3rd, 2007 at 12:20 am

I knew going into today that it was going to be a LONG day at work - I just had no idea how long! We were working very hard today to get 438 open enrollment packets assembled, stuffed, and mailed out. We're changing insurance plans, so we had a lot of paperwork to send. At some point during the day, we found out the town was locked down!! Now keep in mind, I work in a small affluent town where "nothing bad ever happens". After several conflicting reports, by the end of the day we found out there were TWO separate incidents. An elderly man was murdered and his daughter-in-law severly beaten by a man working on the house. Just a couple miles down the road, an armed robber held up the new pizza place and the whole center of town was roped off. They did catch both guys, but the whole town was on edge all afternoon. Two completely random insane incidents.

I did not leave the office until after 5:30, which is very unusual for me! A few hours later and I still feel brain dead. This is the kind of evening where I would have given anything to go out to eat, just for a break. I was good though and ate food around the house!! I'm usually quite good about tightening the purse strings when I know my car may need some unknown work. We're taking it to the dealership tomorrow for a "free" winter car care clinic. It's a professional multi-point inspection where they perform a thorough bumper to bumper examination of your car. I ignored the email at first, but then it hit me how stupid it would be to pass this up! My car rolled over 154,000 miles this week and I'm getting to the point where I need to decide if it's worth fixing or dumping. I'd like to keep it if possible, but that depends on what might be wrong with it. What better way to find out than have the dealership go over it with a fine tooth comb - for free! They also are offering a 10% discount if you perform any of the suggested work between 11/05 and 12/31. I'm not going into this blindly since my check engine light has been on for over 3 years and my suspension is shot. It's what else MIGHT be wrong that concerns me. We'll see what tomorrow holds! I'm looking at this as an opportunity to find out about a major potential problem BEFORE it requires another call to AAA.

Mom's property tax bill

November 1st, 2007 at 11:36 pm

My mom informed me last night that her property tax bill is due Dec. 03 and it's $325. This is up $45 from the June bill! I sort of blame myself for not paying attention to the due dates of past bills and preparing my mom ahead of time for this. She does not have the money to pay the bill - yet again! Granted she doesn't make much money, but I still can't figure out what's she's doing with the money she makes. Spending it on crap she doesn't need to be buying! I "helped" her a year and a half ago and took care of her past taxes and her car loan by doing a balance transfer onto one of my credit cards. Yes, I learned my lesson. It seemed like a foolproof plan at the time and she did make $800.00 in payments to me between May and October 2006. It has been over a year since I've seen a payment on this debt. Her debt is still sitting at 0%, but this is a large chunk of the credit card debt that's hurting me right now.

I recently restructured my finances and I don't know what to tell my mother. Yes, I CAN help her out with the property tax bill, but that will mean less to pay towards debt for me. I don't want to help, but the guilt eats at me. That's an issue I know I have to deal with on my own. I'm doing ok with dealing with finances when it comes to my husband, but I'm still having issues with my mother. I just don't understand how she says she has no money, but is constantly buying things for other people. I re-read an OLD post of mine about my mother's finances and I still agree with something I wrote. My mother's way of dealing with bills is just to ignore them and hope they'll disappear. I need to find a way to teach her how to deal with them like adults are supposed to!