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Archive for September, 2008: Dmontngrey's Personal Finance Blog
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Home > Archive: September, 2008

Archive for September, 2008

Clever way to get cash from credit

September 30th, 2008 at 10:25 pm

I stopped to get milk on the way home and saw an interesting thing at the convenience store. I heard the kid explain that he lost his debit card and had been waiting a couple of weeks for the new one in the mail. His friend working the counter was letting him pay for cash-paying customers gas with his credit card. The friend would then hand him the cash. While I'm quite sure the store owner would not be happy with this arrangement, I thought it was a really clever way to pull cash from your credit card!

We certainly live in a world where we rely on electronic payment forms, but at the same time that leaves me with hardly ever needing cash! I can't imagine a time I'd be in his shoes and that hard up on CASH. DH has lost his debit card way too many times lately. We just shrugged it off and waited for the new one to arrive. Well, I guess it did help that *I* had mine if we really needed it. Cash can't be tracked in this household - DH doesn't know what he spends it on!

Updated car payoff plan

September 21st, 2008 at 03:04 pm

I updated DH's car payoff plan in my sidebar. As of right now, it looks like we can get this car paid off three months earlier than originally planned. TEN months earlier than the loan is due in full! I feel great about this!! Still subject to change at any point and I can only hope it would change for the better.

Not much progress is being made on the floor today. DH just ran out to find a tool to make some of the cutting easier for him. There is just so much DUST and animal fur up there and it's making him so sick from allergies. He'll be buying a dust mask while out as well!! We're both so tired and run down that this project is going MUCH slower than we had hoped. I was really hoping we could lay down the subfloor this weekend, but it's looking more like next weekend. Well, we really can't afford to kill ourselves over this. It's just making life slightly inconvenient for us to be shut off from the third floor - more so for the turtles!

Nothing else new to report, so I think I will go browse the sale flyers and hit the grocery stores.

Weather is BEAUTIFUL here today! Will try to get in some outdoor time with the dogs.

Feel like I'm talking to a wall

September 19th, 2008 at 04:43 pm

Warning: Rant.

So I'm back to being frustrated with my mother again. I just don't get what it is that SHE doesn't get!! I feel like if I don't give very clear directives on her money, then she just goes and spends spends spends on who knows what.

Yes I KNOW that's she's bored, depressed, upset, etc etc etc. She's been home since the end of May, just waiting to find out what's next with treatment. She finally found out she doesn't need chemo and she starts radiation on Monday. But HELLO?? Now more than ever she needs to pay attention to the things around her. It seems to me she's refusing.

I'm also picking up an odd sense of entitlement from her. I can't figure this one out! All I hear from her is that she doesn't make enough money. I disagree! She makes plenty to pay her bills. I just can't figure out where she's blowing it all away. She spends more than I do at the grocery store and there are two of us and just one of her.

So she seems to think she's entitled to financial aid for this and that. Thank GOODNESS she was approved for financial aid at the hospital because that really would have been the end of her finances forever. That was a huge approval. Now she's upset because fuel assistance says she makes too much money to qualify. Their income requirements must be ridiculously low to deny her application. Ok, so PLAN to pay for fuel. I've been trying to convince her of this for MONTHS. Nope, she actually wanted to call and appeal the fuel decision and let them know she was worried about medical bills. WHAT medical bills????? Well when she applied, she WAS still worried about medical bills. She hadn't been approved for the medical financial aid yet, and fuel assistance still denied her.

So I don't know what else to do but to take more control over things. She refuses to but someone HAS to. She didn't get paid two weeks ago because of a clerical error. Instead of being proactive and calling to make sure her sick pay is all set, she just sits around and waits to see if a direct deposit goes through. When it doesn't, she sits and waits to see if a check will arrive. HUH? I work in payroll and trust me, if you don't get paid and you don't notify me of the problem - you're not getting paid!! So today is pay day and on Wednesday I sent my mom an email asking her if maybe she could log in to find out if she was getting paid today. Thankfully, she was!! Four weeks worth of pay! I don't think she understands how LUCKY she is that she gets this sick pay.

So I'm trying something different this time. I gave her an allowance of $160 for gas/groceries, $50 fun money (this is a FIRST), plus money for the rent. The rest went into savings for fuel this winter. I thought this fun money would be good for her to blow on whatever she wanted. She actually got defensive with me when I suggested this concept along with examples of WANTS vs. NEEDS. This is the point where I start banging my head against the wall. Yup, again I don't think she knows how FORTUNATE she is that she has that gas/grocery and fun money allowance over the next two weeks.

Yes I know she's supposed to be an adult, but she sure doesn't act like it or take responsibility for anything! Her view on money is having the ability to see what is currently in her checking account - that's IT. No concept of money management whatsoever.

I really just needed to vent. This is taking such a toll on me lately.

Floor update 09/18/08

September 18th, 2008 at 04:43 pm

I took this picture this morning to mark the progress that has been made on the floor. I am happy to report that ALL offending soaked insulation has been removed and now we have to clean up and renovate. Still so much work to be done, but the immediate problem is done. I bet we can really get a lot done this weekend. I'd like to keep track of this project in my blog so that I can see how well we did. I think so far DH has spent $7 for a crowbar to help pry up boards. I'll get the exact number later. Not much work will be done tonight as DH is at his "side job" and gone all day. So the weekend it is! I think tonight I will just get my turtle set up in his more "permanent" temporary home. I might displace another turtle as well since we need to move his tank.

Just to recap since Fern asked: the turtles are FINE! Just a mess and disarray, but no harm to turtles at all.

That's just kitty litter we threw down to soak up moisture.

Flash flood

September 17th, 2008 at 04:36 pm

First of all, I'd like to mention I do not live in an area affected by recent storms. I also do not live in a flood zone. My thoughts certainly are with those who have been devastated by such acts recently.

I rather "caused" this one myself!!

Monday morning I went up to the third floor (we live in a 3 floor condo) to feed my turtles. My largest tank - 75 gallons - only had a few inches of water in it, even though I had just topped it off on Saturday. The floor was absolutely flooded with 30-40 gallons of water! We were gone all day Sunday and I asked DH to go shut off the turtle lights when we got home. Of course he heard the sound of water from the filter because the level was so low. He's just not wired right to realize that was a PROBLEM. So this tank let go sometime on Sunday and water quickly leaked out of it until found on Monday morning.

Well, that much water over that time period sure does a number on things! The carpet, floor, and insulation are ruined and it soaked right through to our bedroom ceiling. We've managed to get a lot of it dry, but we still need to rip up more floor sections and pull out more soaked insulation. Yes, we are aware of mold concerns and are working as quickly as we can.

Here's the problem: we have too much STUFF!!! We know this and I've been asking DH for months now to weed out some of his STUFF up there - mostly his. Our plan this fall was to rip up this carpet and replace some of the floor boards (due to pet accidents), then put down laminate. We did this on the first floor and it was quite easy to do and relatively affordable. With everything that's been going on with my mom and work and such, I just wasn't ready to tackle this project. Now we HAVE to, on a much larger scale, and that's not going over well with me.

This is what the damage looked like before DH ripped up parts of the floor. Right now that tank is moved and most of those floor boards are gone. There are just support beams and then the sheet rock for the ceiling below that. We still need to work our way to the left and also into that crawl space to get more wet insulation. That means everything in the crawl space needs to come out and go somewhere. Bleah.

Once we get the immediate problem addressed - replace floor boards - then we can work on prepping the rest of the room for the laminate. Guess it's now or never, now that we've been forced into it.
I also need to fix the tank - yes, I know how to reseal a tank. Just did two a couple months ago. Then eventually we'll need to paint our bedroom ceiling, but that will be last as it's just cosmetic at this point.

So many people have said we need to file an insurance claim, but I have five reasons why I say NO to this!! 29, 35, and 52 gallon fish tanks on the first floor, and 30 and 55 gallon turtle tanks left on the third floor. An adjuster would take one look at that and we can kiss our insurance goodbye.

So, not having a lot of fun here at the moment, but we'll figure it out somehow. I think the financial hit is lessened by the fact that we were redoing this room anyways, including some of the floor boards. We just need slightly more wood and then of course the insulation. Might need a new can of paint as well.

Huh, and people laughed at my shop vac when I bought it two months ago! It has been a lifesaver...

Having 2nd thoughts

September 7th, 2008 at 07:04 pm

Well we went out on a search today for a product that we never did find. How hard IS it to find a flat plain black license plate frame for a reasonable price?? I want to make my own custom frame to match some things in my car, but I don't want to pay an arm and a leg for a piece of plastic. Anyways, did not yet find what I'm looking for.

Did buy a few things though. Got two pairs of shorts at Walmart for $7 each. Great since I only had one pair of shorts that fit me!!

Also found a cookware set on clearance at Kmart for $36 (regular $69). I was really happy about this find until I unpacked it and found it doesn't really solve my problem. Our current set is over 10 years old and has seen a LOT of abuse. My roommate in college burned it when it was brand new, and of course we have gotten a lot of use out of it over the years. It would be great to have a new set of pans. The large lid fits the large pot and the large skillet in our current set. In the new set, the large lid doesn't fit the skillet. Odd. This was the whole reason we wanted a new set since everything is now sticking to our old skillet. This is by far the most used piece of cookware! Well, I put everything back in the box so we could think about it a little more. It IS a good deal and maybe we could find a separate lidded skillet that suits our needs. I don't know. Need to think about it. I really have a problem spending money even on things I might need!!

Odd. Why doesn't my blog entry from yesterday show up in the list? It was there at first since BA commented on it. Then I edited something and it never showed up on this list again. I've seen this happen to other blogs before, but never to mine.

Comcast not the brightest...

September 6th, 2008 at 06:24 pm

First of all, how in the world does everyone else call their cable/internet provider and get them to match a lower rate from a competitor? I am currently paying $42.95 just for the internet portion of my cable bill. This is just ridiculous! I read everywhere how "easy" it is to just call Comcast and get them to the lower rate. Nope, didn't even want to budge on that one for me even when I hinted I would have to look into this competitor offer. The only thing they were willing to do was drop me to the lower tier of service for $23.95 per month. Well, what choice did I have? I really don't think I will notice a change in my service. The only thing I am slightly worried about is my VOIP phone service. We really don't use the home phone for the most part anyways. *edited to add* I just checked my VOIP providers website and they have found "A 256Kbps connection (inbound and outbound) has shown to be the minimal connection needed for a quality call." No problems there.

The reason I say they are not the brightest at Comcast is because the rep was being so quick to push the change through, that she didn't even let me finish asking if this would interupt my service at all. Well, guess it does since the call dropped!!! Ha ha ha... that's how VOIP works! Had to get a chuckle out of their stupidity there. Well, they'll hit me with a $1.99 fee to make this change, but if I don't like the change they wont charge me to switch back. It's an improvement, but not quite what I wanted. Well it took me WEEKS to get up the nerve to make this call, so I'll take my limited success. Don't plan on mentioning this to DH - see if he notices!

In other news:

- Updated my sidebar to reflect the first two car payment goals DONE! This has DH's car paid off through December. (Not quick enough since we want this piece of junk GONE. Has a flat tire as of this morning.)

- My car was hit last week and the insurance adjuster thinks it will cost $325 to fix! HA! I want to pocket that money. The dent is about an inch across and we'll either leave it or try to pop it out ourselves. Bad luck with this car so far - I was stopped at a light when the car behind me waved a kid on a bike on through. Car coming up on my right pops the kid right into the side of my car. Sorry, I don't know how badly the kid was hurt. Worse case maybe a broken arm - if even that.

- Just went over my projected tax return for next year and it looks like we'll owe the feds at least $550. Bleah. Tried projecting an increase in my 401k contributions and we'd owe more??? Just not sure what to do here. A decrease in S125 health premium costs plus an increase in pay are hurting us tax wise. Yes, I know things could be worse!

DH suggests declaring taxes unconstitutional and turning our condo into a fortress. No thanks, don't want to be anywhere near the Browns. (Elaine Hatch Brown was my dentist years ago!! Is that why I need so much dental work?)

- Last but not least - my mom's financial aid at the hospital was APPROVED!! They have determined it would be a financial hardship for her to pay for services. Her account will be zeroed out after insurance payments for anything medically necessary between now and the end of February.