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Viewing the 'Uncategorized' Category: Dmontngrey's Personal Finance Blog
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Spend spend spend!

January 9th, 2012 at 06:47 pm

It seems like all we've done is spend lately!!

- I like to shop Staples and do the free after rewards deals. I've shelled out a few bucks there lately! I flip it back into cash with free after rebate deals, so no harm done financially.

- DH's truck failed inspection. We knew it would. He took it to get inspected using that to diagnose the problem. He replaced all four ball joints on Saturday, but there are still front end problems. He'll do the sway bar end links and the pittman arm this coming weekend. Then maybe it'll pass inspection?

- Our dog had his surgery last Tuesday - $650 for surgery/biopsy. Eek. That's after the $200 we shelled out for the previous appointment and pre-surgical screening. The tumor ended up being a hemangiopericytoma. Malignant, but at 15 it's more likely something else in life will take him out before this thing grows back. 8 more days until the stitches are out and he can stop wearing that awful cone... Frown

- I'm learning Wordpress and getting into blogging more. Trying to at least! Wink I signed up for a free blogging class and got a free 1 year of hosting through godaddy. All of a sudden I had four more things I needed to log into! So I organized all my website info in a spreadsheet - then sat DH down to do the same with his. This involved reassessing domains and hosting for him. We are transferring one domain to a different registrar and cancelling his two (why?) hosting accounts. We then signed up for 3 years with another hosting service and transferring an expiring domain to them. One domain comes with the package, so that saves a few $$ since we don't have to pay to renew that one.

We did absolutely NOTHING yesterday. Well, aside from the website stuff. I'd still say we did nothing! I can't remember the last time we had a day like that. 2010??

We had a little money roll into the house too. Three $50 Amex cards arrived from the gift chain promo. We received two $20 Amex cards the previous week. We also got two $20 MC cards from another promo: Spend $200, get $20. I registered two cards for that and made payments on our car insurance!! Big Grin

My mom confirmed she got her $50 Amex card. She quickly went from thanking me to getting MAD that she couldn't buy anything fun with it and had to buy her medicine. *sigh* I give up...

Look at that - another blog entry. I think as I go along I might get better about this. I just have too many places I want to blog! Smile I'll get things under control eventually. I hope. Wink

Bought cloth napkins

January 1st, 2012 at 07:03 pm

Eh, why not? Figured we'd give them a try and see if we liked them. Hey, every dinner should feel like we're at a fancy restaurant now! Big Grin They should go so nicely with our vintage 70s corelle plates...

I love this time of year and hitting the after Christmas sales! That's how we ended up with the napkins in the first place. We picked up a few gifts for next year, as well as a few things we can use now. We are good at thinking outside the box with clearance items. My mom still wants a new Christmas tree, but I haven't found a price I like yet. Still looking...

We made it through Christmas ok. It was rather quiet and not too many gifts - just how we wanted it. Got to meet my brother's new girlfriend. Wow, she didn't seem crazy. Very polite and nice. That's quite a change from the ex-wife.

Other than the holidays, it's just been life as usual here. Always something. My dog has to have surgery on Tuesday to remove a LARGE tumor/cyst from his rear leg - up toward his butt. He started chewing at it during our road trip to see DH's family, and it's been nothing but a bloody mess since then. We went to the vet on the 19th and the earliest they could get him in for surgery is January 3rd. It's been a LONG couple of weeks. We finally have him in a soft e-collar and he is miserable. I figure we have at least another week or two of collar wearing. Poor thing. Frown He didn't need the collar after his last surgery, so I have no idea how this one will go. He's a 15 y.o. neurotic mess - quite unpredictable. So we get to start 2012 shelling out a nice chunk of change. His health is "perfect" otherwise, so this is really affecting his quality of life at the moment. He starts biting at it no less than 5 minutes after the collar comes off. Yes, it must go.

We thought something was wrong with the beagle too! That seems to have cleared itself up. She was limping when she first got up from laying down, then she would walk it off and walk normal. We suspected arthritis, but I think she just hurt her leg somehow. Seems fine now.

I'm trying to get caught up on some things this weekend. As usual, too much I want to do and not enough time to do it. Oh yeah... I also have WORK to do. The joys of working in HR this time of year. I have just a few changes I need to get into the system by Tuesday. Losing two days for holidays this time of the year really does not help matters. Fine in theory, but I don't entirely get to enjoy the days off if I have to work.

Happy New Year everyone!! 2011 was such a difficult year for us. I need to see some good things happen in 2012.

Amex made me do it!

December 4th, 2011 at 08:13 pm

Ok, so maybe I had a little to do with it as well. Wink

Between Small Business Saturday and the Amex gift chain this week, we did great! A whole week of Amex sponsored shopping - who would have thought?

DH and I had 4 cards registered for Small Business Saturday on November 26th. We did all 4 transactions at two local liquor stores that we usually go to. Spent a total of $108.11 and got back $100.00 in statement credits a few days later. Plus we have $20.00 in rebates pending on the items we purchased. We were hoping to get one more $10 rebate, but we didn't notice until after the purchase that the rebate started two days later. Ugh. I hate it when distributors put rebate forms on products enticing you to buy before the promo starts!

We were quite happy with the day, so DH posted on Facebook how much he loved Small Business Saturday. One of his friends said between that, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday - there needed to be a Buy More Tuesday. DH said he would if Amex would pay for it. Little did we know Amex would pay for us to shop for a whole WEEK!

Monday morning I signed up for the Amex gift chain:

Text is and Link is

My final tally by the end of the week, 24 transactions spread across three cards:

Total spent: 615.32
Total value of gifts: 672.50 + 3 Shoprunner memberships

9 WalMart $25 gift cards
2 Visa $25 gift cards
1 TRU $25 gift card
2 TRU toy purchases - legos and remote car for local gift drive
2 TRU $25 Toys for Tots donations
3 Nike $25 gift cards
5 BBB $25 gift cards

$40 AMEX gift cards
$84.50 statement credits
$100.00 statement credits for next purchase
$8.00 4X shareable $2 Dunkin Donuts gift cards
$40.00 4X shareable $10 AMEX gift cards
$200.00 4X shareable $50 AMEX gift cards
$200.00 4X shareable $50 AMEX gift cards - on a 2nd card!
3 Shoprunner memberships

I still have one missing gift for the TRU egift card purchase on Wednesday. Despite that, I am just THRILLED!! Big Grin

We still have some shopping to do for the local gift drive - we are matched up to two boys we are shopping for. We plan to use a couple Walmart gift cards and the TRU gift card to finish buying what we need.

The shareable $50 Amex cards spread perfectly across both our immediate families. A very Merry Christmas to all! Big Grin


In other news, we have a busy busy week coming up. Have a lot of things to get done around the house. Things that need to be done anyway - but especially so with holiday travel coming up. I suddenly don't feel like I have enough time to get things done - bleah.

Got the front struts replaced on my car yesterday. Oh boy, what a difference! It's still not perfect, but my car does have 96K miles on it. Doesn't feel as sloppy anymore though. DH did the work himself and I "helped". Mostly I just stood there and handed him tools as needed - sometimes offering a second hand. Definitely made the job much easier. We ran into trouble with the right side sway bar end link, so I had to do an emergency parts run. I feel better that we replaced that part since he did the driver's side a couple months ago. Sure didn't care for that part to go bad - my ears were ringing for weeks after the first one leaked all the grease out of the bushing. Talk about sounding like the whole front end is about to fall off the car! Ah well, hopefully my car will behave for a while now. It's an 07 Elantra, so not *that* old!

Well this day is not over yet, so I'm sure I can accomplish a few more things. I already straightened up/rearranged things on the 3rd floor. I need to clean tanks, vac, steam clean, make cookies - not all today though. Smile Better get moving though.

Turkey day planning and meeting with state reps

November 23rd, 2011 at 09:24 pm

Meeting with state reps?? Yeah, that was my reaction too.

My mom sent me an email Friday saying something about going to a meeting. She mentioned a couple state reps, unemployment, a random group of people looking out for other's well being, store associates, etc. Huh?? Then she added there had been an article in the paper that morning. Thank you internet!! I went to the paper's website and could see an article listed on the front page, but it was not available to read online. I'm not local, so I got on Facebook and asked if anyone in the area could scan the article and send it to me. Within minutes my cousin said she would go get one out of the machine out front and send it to me. 20 minutes later the article was in my inbox! How neat!

So it turns out the random things my mom has been telling me about the job situation are all true. The store employees were originally told they would not have to look for work while out. Apparently this was when the store thought they would reopen in a month. Now we're looking at April or so. The unemployment office came back and told everyone they had to start looking for jobs in order to collect benefits. The only problem is: the store is saying that no one can accept a job at a national competitor or they will be terminated from employment. One girl apparently got a part time job stocking shelves at Kmart and was told she would lose her job (and benefits) if she took that one. She was just trying to make ends meet since unemployment isn't enough!

So this nasty catch 22 that everyone is stuck in has caught the attention of some people. That's great!! I don't know what can come of it, but people are listening. There was a follow up article the next day and that one was available online. My mom's picture was on the front page of the paper! Smile She was very excited about that.

In other news, I've been happily shopping for Thanksgiving dinner - for FREE! Someone from my mom's company called to offer her a free dinner. She turned them down, telling them I was getting all the food for free anyway. Her BF told her she should have accepted it anyway... Why? Someone else could have used it instead. She did the right thing! Smile

Our local Shaws grocery store has been running a promo this week: buy 100.00 in participating gift cards, get 20.00 to spend on your next order. Ooh, fun! Thank goodness the gift cards were limited this time. We really went overboard last time they ran this and gas cards were included. This time we picked up some Amazon, Sears, Lowes, JC Penney, TGI Fridays, and Chilis cards. Had plenty of certificates to buy the turkey, all the fixings, some extras, and some things we wanted around the house anyway. We've had a lot of fun shopping the last few days and are quite happy with our purchases! Big Grin

I'm running out of time in the day and I still want to do more planning for drug store shopping tomorrow. Won't do much at Rite Aid and CVS needs some serious planning on my part since I don't have any ECBs to start. Not sure what we'll do at Walgreens - not too much, but there are a couple things we want. Then Friday it'll just be some free after rebate software at Staples. I have almost 200.00 in Staples rewards to roll back into cash. Sure, why not? I think there are also some free after rewards items we'll pick up too. Having WAY too much fun at the office stores this year.

I actually spent 40.00 of my Staples rewards the other day. I picked up a 2 TB Western Digital external drive. It was on sale for 79.99 - 25.00/75.00 coupon - 40.00 rewards + 0.94 tax = 15.93. I'm happy about that! Not like me to SPEND rewards, but this was something I wanted. Only thing left on the "want list" is a new laptop for DH. We'll probably get that with our Office Depot rewards early 2012.

Ok, need to keep moving and finish getting ready for Thanksgiving. Heading north and they got snow up there earlier. Joy, oh joy. Going to be a sloooow drive up I guess. Roads should be mostly clear by now.

Safe travels to anyone who is traveling! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Smile

An emergency fund is great to have

November 16th, 2011 at 03:06 am

Well, in a perfect world it would have been - wouldn't it?

A little background:

A lot has happened in the last couple of years. My mother got a live in boyfriend. My brother went through a NASTY divorce and landed on my mom's couch. These both are important points to know.

(Fast forward to now and my brother signed the lease on an apartment LAST WEEK! My mom doesn't know this yet. YAY for him!)

Before the BF moved in, I had things under control for my mother. All bills were paid, she had $1400 in savings for emergencies, plus a little extra to spend. That's what she seems to do best - SPEND. It's all gluttonous spending too. Clearance deals where she works. Gifts for everyone under the sun because "it was a good deal!"

One thing I learned a long time ago is that the concept of money completely escapes my mother. She will spend money on whatever she wants and ignore everything else. If it's not FUN, she's not interested. That's why this struck a nerve for me last week:

Yup. I can relate. I'm certainly no fun when it comes to finances.

So the BF moved in and that didn't work out financially as expected - does it ever? Then my mom had someone to dote on and buy things for! He didn't ask for anything - not mooching at all - she just WANTED to buy him things. That's how she is. Wasn't it nice she got approved for a store card (after sending the first one to charge off years ago) and could now buy whatever she wanted? I mean... credit is just free money, right??

BF responded by telling my mother she "earned" this, "DESERVED" that, etc. My mom's car (perfectly fine, paid for) developed an exhaust leak. She was quoted $1000 to fix it. We asked her to crawl under the car and take a picture of the exhaust. My DH was going to order the parts for her to get installed by a small repair shop. BF convinced her she DESERVED a "new" car instead - an overpriced, V6 (why??) Ford Taurus. Oh, but it has leather seats and a sunroof! Side note: it's a piece of junk and falling apart - but it should be paid off in March!

I lost it. I had told my mom to run this decision by me before doing anything. She promised she was just going to LOOK. She signed papers instead. I basically told her that her finances were her own problem now if she didn't care about my input.

This worked until my grandfather needed heart surgery and my mom had to go to Tennessee to be with him. With things up in the air, I volunteered to step back in. That's when I learned all her bills were two months behind...

I decided I just couldn't "save" my mom anymore. I've done that before - more than once. Thousands of dollars I'll never see again. Learned my lesson? You bet! My mother feels "entitled" for some reason. Entitled to what, I have no idea. She just can't be bothered by anything financial - or important. Well, things *I* think are important at least. She wants to do what she wants and just have FUN! After all... she *deserves* it.

So if I can't give her money - where does that leave me? With knowledge. That's something I have plenty of to share. So I stepped back in to "fix" the situation - with knowledge only.

Nearly impossible!! It's just a constant battle between what needs to be paid and what my mother would rather spend money on. I can't physically stop her from doing so. So I sat back and did the best I could to get bills paid, watching things spiral rapidly downward. I knew as we approached winter, things were going to get UGLY. I just couldn't convince her of this. My pleas fell on deaf ears.

Then Hurricane Irene hit.

This picture was taken the following morning. See the water line on J.C.Penney? It's about 5 feet up the building. It had subsided quite a bit by the time this picture was taken. It's still hard for me to look at pictures - hubby and I were shopping in this plaza the WEEK prior to Irene.

My mom works in this plaza and has for many many years. While most stores are (THANKFULLY) open again, two remain closed. Yes, she works at one of those. She was fortunate enough to receive emergency pay for a few weeks, then get placed on a Leave of Absence. Unfortunately, the store is scheduled to reopen a month after the LOA expires.

So this is life as we know it now - or rather, as SHE knows it now. I am a bit displaced from things, but it still affects me greatly. I'm the one that gets the phone calls nearly every day. I'm the one that has to deal with the requests to pay for this, buy that...

Just getting my mother to file her unemployment claim in a timely manner has proved to be a nightmare. She can't be bothered!! I was SHOCKED that she filed it this past Sunday - and I hadn't said a word to her. She can't comprehend that the sooner you file - the sooner you get the money.

I've also had to deal with "Oh, I'm going on a retreat in a month and I'll need money for that. But don't worry, it's in a month so there's time!" Smile Uh... No money now means no money in a month means NO MONEY for things like this. Yet somehow she makes it happen. She got a check from her FSA and she used that money for the trip. I only offended her and got a sigh of disgust when I asked how the hospital bill was going to get paid - you know, the one the money was FOR? That doesn't fit in her plan.

And the guilt I have over all this? Oh boy... let's not go there. I just can't set myself back any further financially - with nearly $20K in student loans and under water in a mortgage on a place we want to sell. I just can't.

Besides, there are currently two guys in her house that could step up to the plate a little more than they have. I did get my brother to cough up the cash for the property taxes that are due. The BF has been paying more toward things - not happily though. Great team player.

Ah but don't worry about my mother. She's going to retire in a few years! All her friends have convinced her she DESERVES this. It's going to be GREAT! My brother got mad at her one night and said, "Don't you even CARE about your future?!?" She replied, "My future is fine. It's just getting there that's a problem."


Bored mind

November 16th, 2011 at 02:06 am

It really *shouldn't* be, but my mind was bored tonight! Another Excel lesson mostly took care of that - thankfully. I really hate it when my mind is bored. Especially when there is no reason for it.

I am taking an Excel 2007 class for free through my local library. It's all online through Universal Class. I'm glad it's free for many reasons - but mostly because it's not written very well at all. I've already pointed out a few blatant errors to them and I just argued a true/false question I got "wrong" on an exam. The feature they were asking about is found under a different icon, so I answered "false". They said that was wrong... I disagree! The answer can't be "true" if the feature isn't found there in the first place. Ah well... I am learning a few things, but not too much. Nice to see I managed to teach myself plenty over the years. I only signed up for this class because... my mind was bored. Yeah, happens often.

The week started off on a sour note. Always fun when I have to steam clean the bedroom and hallway at 6 am when I'm trying to get ready for work. Life sure is interesting with a dog who is showing signs of senility. My black lab mix - he's around 15 or so. We don't know exactly, and are basing that on what we were told when we got him almost 5 years ago. I thought a 10 year old dog would be nice and mellow for us. No....... Instead we got a very high-strung, neurotic dog. Toss in a bit of senility and OH BOY! Taking it in stride as best we can.

Moments like this help:

Our lab mix and our "new" cat. They hit it off almost immediately.

So of course I was late to work *again* - always something these days. As soon as I got to work, I got an email from accounting saying the HSA money came out twice. *sigh* Thankfully that was a fairly easy problem to fix with the HSA folks! We had a technical problem last week when we tried to submit the info - resulting in a duplicate file.

Then my mother called and left me a voicemail saying her car insurance took money out and there wasn't enough money in the account. Then she called again while I was eating lunch - I don't even remember why. They she called again while I was driving home to say she needed to buy a prescription... and orange juice... and cough drops... and, and, and. *SIGH*

So I updated my sidebar to say that I somehow fell into managing finances for THREE households - ours and two others. This has become life for me. I wish things were different, but I'm rather stuck for now. Especially with my mother. I want a separate blog entry to explain that one! It's tough to write - depressing for me most of the time.

Tell me again why my mind gets bored? I just don't understand it.

*Cheap* date and writer's block

November 11th, 2011 at 06:07 pm

DH and I went out last night. Our "dates" are slightly unconventional at times! A local liquor store does wine or beer tastings a few times a year, and we like to go. Last night was one of the bigger wine tastings they have. This liquor store is in a former grocery store and the place is HUGE. They have everything you could imagine there - very large wine selection. The wine tasting had a $5 suggested donation to St. Jude children's hospital. It's not required that you pay, but why wouldn't you? So $10 for the two of us to taste wines at 28 different tables. No... we certainly didn't hit ALL of the tables! We don't try all the wines either. We didn't plan to buy a lot of wine this time, but we always go overboard. Wink Hey, we kept it under $100 this time!

When we got there, the parking lot was PACKED and there were cars lined down side streets. Really?? This has me calling BS on the economy around here. I know there are folks around here that ARE affected by the economy, but I still don't see some of the economic things others report - lack of shopping and such. I've been saying this all along! Last night certainly was no exception.

I planned ahead and brought a BOGO coupon for Ruby Tuesday, so we could do dinner as well. I didn't tell DH ahead of time - we usually just hit BK afterwards. I wanted something different though. We drank water - since we'd certainly had enough wine already! DH ordered a petite steak with a jumbo shrimp skewer, and I ordered a pasta/chicken/broccoli dish. I had leftovers for lunch today! After coupon, our meal came to $15.93. Don't worry, we tipped on the full amount... even with tip added in, that's a "cheap" date! Can't beat that price for dinner and all the wine we could drink. Big Grin The major expense was the wine we bought, but that will last us quite a while. We tried a lot of new things and got some great deals. It was a lot of fun!

In other news: I'm suffering from slight writer's block. I have things I want to write about, but I'm struggling with where to start. I know it'll be easy to continue writing about once I start, but why is it so hard to get started? I'm having this problem with another blog I want to write as well. If I could only START it! I know it's not just me. A friend just got a new blog up and running and has put a LOT of time into getting it started. She's got a great start to it, but I know she was stuck at first too. I really need to try and get unstuck this weekend. I'm certain I will just talk myself in circles and make no sense. Wink I'm used to that I suppose!

New *piggy* bank and new toy

November 6th, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Shh... hubby is in the kitchen cleaning up and starting dinner. That *never* happens. In fact, I did the dishes yesterday and he came downstairs and said "You did the dishes? So much for me making an effort!" What is he up to??

Well, I'm not going to complain. I'm sitting here playing with my new toy! I've been wanting a "real" netbook for a while now. I have a 7" Asus EEE, but the screen is just too small. I've seen this deal at Target a couple times before, so I decided to jump on it this time. I splurged on an 11.6" Acer Aspire One. It's on sale this week for $197. I thought that was a GREAT price for this little computer.

I actually picked it up Thursday at full price, then went back today for a price adjustment. I didn't care to get to Target early and I wasn't sure how popular this deal would be. I couldn't believe how easy the price adjustment was! No effort whatsoever. I'm quite happy with the netbook and the price adjustment experience.

While we were at Target, we decided to wander around and look at clearance. Picked up a cute Halloween costume for me and a polo shirt for DH to wear to work. Then we wandered by the piggy banks so I could laugh at the new designs. There was only one piggy bank I wanted - the chrome piggy - and I found that at a yard sale this past summer. Well, well, well... I could not believe my eyes today!!

Whoa. Best bank EVER!! Yes, it's riding the conveyor belt to come home with ME. Big Grin

I don't usually spend money on myself, so this has been an odd weekend. The netbook was a purchase I've been planning for a while - and the dinosaur was a total splurge! That part is not like me at all.

We also ran to Rite Aid to roll our +Ups. Is it sad I was so excited that the deodorant I use was a money maker deal? Wink Picked up 4 deodorant and 4 laundry detergent - preferred brand for my mom and DH. It was a really great shopping day and we didn't do much at all.

Other than that, we mostly took things easy this weekend. We both had a very long week and weren't up for much. Got a few things done around the house, so can't complain.