Saturday, November 17, 2012

Changing focus can be hard...


Hi there. Boy, it's been a while!

Things have been okay on the home front here. We've been making pretty good progress and although our debt isn't 100% paid off yet (we still have our car payment and an interest free credit card to pay off), we have changed our focus from paying bills to saving money. 

This has been challenging.

Although it really shouldn't be. We are pretty much just doing our zero based budgeting but now instead of sending everything extra towards bills, we are sending it to our savings account. The balance in our savings account is slowly increasing with each pay period. This is a good great thing! The hubby and I are super focused on buying a house early next year. But for some reason, it's really tempting to know the money is there.

It's almost as though it feels better to know that we have no money, so nothing to spend or to get in trouble with. I know it doesn't really make sense, but knowing the money is there, we think about it and get really tempted to spend it. This is where we need to get stronger and be more focused.

I'm thinking if I start to blog more and track our savings on here, then I'll be more accountable and stay on track better. So, that's my next step. I'll update the blog shortly to reflect our savings balances. Hopefully that'll help us reach our goals, just as we did when we were super focused on debt repayment.

Questions : Did this happen to any of you? Do you find it tempting to know you have a balance growing in savings and you are tempted to spend all of it? 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

T.A.X.E.S.


We had some bad financial news recently. It's taken me a little while to calm my nerves and write about it.

Hubby and I have been house hunting recently, with a plan to hopefully have enough saved for a down payment by the end of the year. It suddenly hit my husband that we should look into our taxes and what we could save by having an interest tax write off once we get a house.

In the process of doing this, he discovered that we have not been paying enough for taxes. WTF? For real? We were so good this year and claimed "married-zero" for both federal and state, so we thought we'd be getting something back next year, not having to pay!

Well, (hold on a sec, while I take a moment to calm myself...) we discovered that we're likely about $4,200 short on our federal taxes and at least $2,000 short on our state. AGHGHGHGHHGHGHGHGHGHHGH! We were both SO FRIGGIN' FRUSTRATED. How can you owe if claiming ZERO?

Our research showed us that by claiming "married" the government assumes that only one spouse is  working,  not two AND that you have multiple deductions - read: a house and kids. Yeah, that's not our situation.

So, I bit the bullet this week and had my taxes adjusted to have a bit over $1,000 extra put towards our taxes each pay period for the remainder of this year, so that HOPEFULLY, we'll end up breaking even.

By doing this, we've reduced the amount we'll have saved for our future home. Because of this, we've put off home ownership until next year sometime.Oh well. I'm a believer that everything happens for a reason and although we are disappointed about having to wait longer, it just wasn't meant to be right now and someday we'll understand why.

So, my advice for those of you who are claiming married-zero without any other deductions like us, you may want to look into what you've had withheld so far this year so you don't have to pay big time next year.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shutterfly & TinyPrints


I love Shutterfly and TinyPrints!

Ever since I checked out Shutterfly's website a few years ago, I've been hooked! Now, there is a new division, called TinyPrints. You can check them out at www.tinyprints.com. They offer beautiful and personalized cards, invitations and announcements.

Periodically Shutterfly or TinyPrints will run promotions where you can get free items. A couple of days ago I received an email offer for 10 free thank you cards from TinyPrints. I went online to check the offer out today and noticed I could upload my own photo to use on one of their cards. I decided to give that a try.

I had recently taken the picture above and thought it may look pretty on a card, so within minutes I had it uploaded and my own thank you card designed. It looks pretty good. Online anyway :-)

I put the order in for my 10 free cards and shipping totaled $3.50. Not bad, given that I could spend $3.50 on one card alone. Ten for that price is a bargain! If you haven't checked them out, you may want to. They offer pretty good prices, great promotions and the ability to create something special and unique. Enjoy!

(PS This is just my personal opinion because I felt like sharing. I don't get anything special for letting you guys know about this.)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Our New Electric Toothbrush - Phillips Sonicare Healthy White!


Our 10+ year old electric toothbrushes died last week.The brushes had more than outlived our expectations. It was time for something new. After scouring reviews, I decided on a Phillips Sonicare Healthy White Electric Toothbrush (shown above).

This brush is different than the one we previously had, which was an Oral B. This one actually has a full size toothbrush head, compared to our old one which was just a round brush which only covered one or two teeth at a time.

We've been using it for about a week now and our teeth have never felt so clean! (Sorry, I just sounded like a commercial there for a moment.)

Although I shopped around for the best price I could find, I still had a hard time when it came to actually paying for these. They ended up being around $70 each. That's after a $20 rebate that I still need to send in. My mind started calculating out how many manual brushes I could get for that price. Believe me... it's a lot! But (isn't there always a "but"?), both the hubby and I have had some dental issues in the past and it's really in our best interest (healthwise) to take really good care of our teeth and gums, as they've gotten progressively worse as we've aged. I truly believe this brush will help us do that. We'll see how the next visit to the dentist goes later this year!

Question? : Have you purchased something that you knew was "right" but it still kinda felt so "wrong"? What was it? 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fun (and cheap) weekend ahead!

I'm excited about our weekend! 

We are doing great with staying on budget and now we have two different fun and FREE events to look forward to. As I shared yesterday, we got two free movie tickets and a large popcorn through Groupon! It's supposed to be HOT in San Diego, so I'm thinking that we'll go to the beach tomorrow and then head to our free movie on Saturday night for a date night.

Then, my husband got EXCELLENT free tickets from work to see the Padres on Sunday. I love baseball and as he pointed out, it's a great chance to take some good pics with my new camera, so I. Am. In!

P.S. I know I said I'd try to post only my own pictures, but when it comes to logos and stuff, I'm going with the real thing! ;-) Have a great weekend y'all!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Groupon!


Have you heard of Groupon yet?

It's a pretty cool website that offers you great deals at a hefty discount. I had been checking out their advertised deals for a while but was always too gun shy to make a purchase. (Plus I was being super strict with my budget, of course!)

Well, they had been sending me $10 coupons to use on my first purchase but the coupons don't last long and often times the deals sell out before I'm ready to buy.

Then, they upped the anty this week and they sent me a $15 coupon! I quickly went to their website (www.groupon.com) to see what deals were available and I found 2 movie tickets and a large popcorn at a theater down the street from my house, for $15! Sweet, I quickly decided to make the purchase and got the voucher for a free movie! If you know me, you know I love movies, so this is a terrific and free treat. I'm looking forward to having a fun date night with my hubby.

If you haven't checked them out, you may want to. I think if you sign up, they'll send you coupons too, so it may be worth it. Enjoy :)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Goodbye Weekly Money Check-Up



So, I guess My Weekly Money Check-Up has come to an end.

My Pretty Pennies typically published it every Monday but she hasn't since August 20th. I just looked back and read closer and on that post, she mentioned she was tiring of it. I guess it's run it's course. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in her weekly post. It made me consciously check myself to see how I did the previous week. I suppose I could continue on my own or start something new, but I'm ready to move on too.

As the picture above says, I'm ready for some new adventures!

We're in a pretty good spot financially. This month we will finish paying off all of our miscellaneous credit card balances that aren't listed on the side bar. Then, starting in October, we'll start banking money for a down payment on a house. Assuming we stay on our plan, we'll have about $13K saved up by the end of the year. That should help us with buying a home. We'll likely go the FHA route and only need 3.5% down, so we should be okay.

One of the new things I'm doing is getting back into photography. I love taking pictures! The hubby and I recently went on a trip and decided to purchase a better camera. Nothing too spectacular, but something nice that I feel comfortable with and proud using. I think photography can be a fun and inexpensive hobby for me.

I have decided to try to use only my own pictures on my blog going forward. I really should have listed photography in my 12 goals for 2012 but I didn't think to. (That reminds me that I need to update my goals list soon! I can't believe the year is more than half over.) I took that picture above this weekend. I went out on both Saturday and Sunday and took lots of great pics. I look forward to sharing them :o)

So, I say farewell to the Weekly Money Check-Up. Thanks for keeping me on track when I needed it the most.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Employment Anniversary


I'm celebrating my one year anniversary this week at the place I work! I'm excited because I'll now be vested in a couple of benefits. Here's the breakdown:

401K Plan - My company matches a portion of my contributions and this portion vests over a 3 year period. 25% after the first year, 50% after the second and 100% after the third. Who knows what the future holds, but I'll now own 25% of their contributions so I'm pretty happy. I just love free money!

Stock Options - Although my company is private, I was awarded stock options upon hire. In the event my company goes public, these options could become real money. Slim chance, but hey, if you know me, you know that I like to take a gamble every once in a while! These vest at 25% per year over a four year period. So, I'm vested baby! 1,250 stock options are now mine.... well, mine to buy if I want to :-)

I'll be offline the next couple of days. Hubby and I are going away for the long holiday weekend. Hope you all have a great one and I'll see you next week!


Monday, August 27, 2012

An update on our hospital bill


I ended up paying the hospital bill that I wrote about last week. I received a cryptic message from our insurance company this weekend, that almost made me believe the issue was resolved. I decided to call the insurance company this morning to confirm that I was all set. The woman on the phone kindly went over everything with me in detail and said that unfortunately the doctor does have the right to balance bill since he's not an employee of the hospital, but rather an independent that they contract in for services. Because of this, it's their right to not accept less than the full amount owed and they can balance bill for the remainder.

I thanked the woman for the detailed explanation and promptly paid the bill! It wasn't the money so much, since we still have funds set aside in our FSA account for this year. I just wanted to be sure we were even supposed to be paying it in the first place. Oh well, we were, and we did. On to the next thing!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hospital Bill...


I'm glad that I take the time to question my bills and don't just blindly pay them. 
 
We received a bill from a hospital visit my hubby had a few months back. The bill is for $191.85. I originally questioned the bill when we received it and I called our insurance company who said that the hospital is "balance billing" which they are not allowed to do and to not pay the bill because they would resolve it on our behalf.

I was pretty happy with that response, until we received another bill from the hospital last week. This one was in BIG RED LETTERS and it stated that it is our FINAL NOTICE before being sent to collections. That's never a good thing to read.

I called our insurance company again and they have elevated the issue to their management team because it was kicked back previously. The kind lady explained it to me like this - if you are on a PPO plan and go to the emergency room and a Doctor who is not in the network sees you, it is not your fault and not on you to pay for this because it was an EMERGENCY and you had no choice which Doctor saw you. If you see a Doctor out of the network for a normal visit, you would have to pay for that. Since this falls under the emergency room visit to a hospital that is in our network, we shouldn't have to pay.

So, I'm currently in limbo with this bill. The insurance company said a decision will be made in 2 weeks, so I have another week before I can call to check on the status. My fingers are crossed that this will be resolved smoothly.

Lesson Learned : Question your bills and don't just blindly pay them because it could be an error!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Walking away from temptation...



I was tempted the other day to spend money.

This would have been wayyy more money than I had budgeted for the event. I was able to be strong and avoid the temptation, but this is not always the case...

It was in this instant though, and for that, I'm happy and PROUD!

I hope that those of you who are facing temptation, take pride and joy in those instances that you stay strong and avoid it.

Go us!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Invalid Parking Violation!


I've never been to Modesto, CA so imagine my surprise when I received a parking violation notice for $308 in the mail this weekend from there. I didn't even know where Modesto was! Hubby and I had to look it up on a map. Yeahhhh, it's about an 8 hour drive from where I live! Apparently someone inappropriately parked in a handicapped parking spot and they received a ticket that needed to be paid.

The notice had my personal information and my license plate number on it, but it wasn't me. I was at work down in San Diego. I have heard horror stories about how sometimes it's a nightmare to get these things fixed and to get your record cleared of this error.

It actually happened to my father years ago and his work had to provide a notarized letter stating that he was in fact at work and not at the place they claimed he was. Then it took months to come off his record.

Luckily, I called the number provided on the notice to challenge the violation yesterday and it went quite smoothly. It appears as though the license plate of the actual person who got the ticket is very close to mine. There happened to be a picture of the car in their system, so they were able to see that it wasn't mine. I wonder how hard it would have been to fix this if they didn't have a picture? Oh well, no need to dwell. I'm happy it's resolved now and the gentleman on the phone apologized and said they would send the letter to the correct person immediately. Phew! Glad that's taken care of.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up 8/20/12

(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)
Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies. 

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a payment to our credit card. We sent in $2,280.41!

2. Today I am thankful that I didn't have the yucky "Monday Morning Blues" that I sometimes get. Hopefully that means this is going to be a great week!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was toured a condo that had an open house near us this weekend. It's fun to check these out to get an idea of what we like and don't like, so we'll know what we really want when it comes down to buying something.

4. I will consider this week a success if I stay positive, focused and as relaxed as possible. There are some tough things coming up at work this week and I hope that I can push through with ease and grace.

5. This time of year makes me miss New England (only a little bit!). There is nothing like fall in New England. As summer winds down and the leaves start to change and a coolness sets in, it's a neat time of year. Time for apple picking and decorating for Halloween. I love it and miss it! It's not the same in San Diego, that's for sure! 


Have a great week!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Condo Ownership Advice Wanted


We'd like to make a decision later this year about possible homeownership. Right now we are renting the world's smallest cottage and really enjoying our time here. It's around 400 square feet and seems to work for our current situation. We'd both prefer to put our rent money towards owning something though, but we keep going back and forth on what to own, a house or a condo?

To be frankly honest, we are pretty lazy people and there are many things about a condo lifestyle that we think we'd enjoy. We are also still uncertain about having children, so the smaller size of a condo may fit us perfectly. It's challenging to find a nice single family home that is under 1,000 square feet in our area. Everything is much larger and way more than we think we'd need. We're defnitely thinking that less is more when it comes to homeownership.

What I'm wondering is what people who own condos really think. So, I'm posing the following questions below. Please feel free to add more advice if you have it. I don't know many people who live in condos, so I'm curious to get some honest advice. I appreciate your input.

Questions? : Do you currently own a condo or have you in the past? What are your thoughts on condo ownership? Does is work for your lifestyle? What are the positives and negatives of it in your opinion? Are there additional things that we should take into consideration when making this decision? Would you recommend it to someone else or do you wish you bought a house instead?

On the other hand, if you didn't purchase a condo and went with a house instead, what was your reasoning and are you happy with your decision?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Debt Update - We are under $16K!

TGIF! 

I took a minute to update the status bar today (see over there >>>) and our debt is officially under $16K. Sweet! As I've shared recently, our focus right now is paying off some past child support ($6,363.91 - which isn't on the status bar) and that will take until September 15th, then hopefully we'll start knocking the rest of our debt down. I can't wait!

Have a great weekend :o)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rent the Runway!



I was catching up on some of my favorite blogs, when I came across Erika at Newlyweds on a Budget, mentioning a dress rental website called Rent the Runway. I checked out their website and it really is such a great idea!

If you need a dress for a special occasion, you can rent a designer dress at a fraction of the price through Rent the Runway. It sounds like a wonderful program. Here are some of the perks:

-They send you the same dress in a 2nd size for FREE, just to be sure you get the best fit.
-You can rent a second style for $25!
-They offer 4 or 8 day rentals.
-They provide you with a prepaid return envelope (like Netflix).
-They handle the dry cleaning.

I don't have many occasions when I need to dress up, but I will definitely keep this in mind if an event comes up. If you are looking for an inexpensive option the next time you need to dress up, I'd recommend you check this website out! Especially for us gals on a budget, it's a good way to look good but save too.

Question? : Have you used Rent the Runway? If so, how did it work for you? Would you recommend it?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Today is payday!


I love the 15th of the month! 

It's my payday and I don't have to use it towards rent, so I get to make a good amount of progress towards a bill or debt repayment. After paying some smaller monthly bills, I was able to send in $2,280.41 today towards our credit card that has the hubby's child support on it. 

Yippee! 

I love making a big dent in that bill. Actually, come to think about it, this bill will be paid in full on the 15th of next month. I can't wait! Although I haven't tracked this debt like others on the sidebar, it's been one that I've wanted to address for a while and I'm glad it's getting taken care of now.

Happy Hump Day :o)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Flat Tire!


So, we had a flat tire this weekend. I will say that it happened at one of the best times it could have! The hubby and I were out at the laundry-mat on Sunday morning and we were about midway through our wash, when we happened to go outside to get something from the car when we noticed it.

It was great timing for many reasons -

1) It was the weekend. Nothing like having a flat tire on Monday morning, before you have to go to work! That's happened before and it just starts the whole day off on the wrong foot. Plus, we cancelled our AAA account, so we are on our own for these issues when they arise, so having it occur on the weekend was pretty much our best case scenario.

2) We were together. I prefer to face these situations with someone by my side. That being said, I do know how to change a flat (I give credit to my first husband for that one!). It's just nicer when you can work together to get it taken care of. 

3) The location was great.We were in a pretty empty parking lot, so it was not a problem to put the spare tire on right there. Much more convenient than getting a flat on the highway, where you are risking your life to stop and repair it.

4) We were about 2 miles from home. We put the spare tire on our car and made the quick trip home to start calling local tire companies to see if they had our size in stock. It was nice to be able to limit the miles we drove on the spare and quickly get home to resolve the issue.

Truthfully, we had been expecting to replace our tires soon after we returned home from our trip. They were in pretty bad condition and we just hadn't gotten around to scheduling it yet. Fate just pushed things along for us. 

We ended up getting 2 of the tires replaced last night. It came to $267.33 So, although I was bummed to have a flat tire, it could have been much worse and I'm thankful it wasn't!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up 8/13/12

(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)
 
Happy Monday! I hope you all had a nice weekend. It's finally starting to get HOT out here in San Diego, so we had a lazy, relaxed weekend at home. Plus, our cable box is broken, so we ended up renting a ton of movies and stayed inside with the AC on, which was a nice treat! Luckily cable is included with our rent, so the landlord is taking care of the problem and someone is coming out today to replace the box.

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a payment to our credit card for my hubby's child support. $770 from his check went directly to that bill.

2. Today I am thankful for the library. I know it may sound weird, but I absolutely love the library! I love the quietness, the dim light and the huge selection of FREE books. I went this weekend and picked up a new one. I'm trying to make real progress towards my 2012 goals.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was renting some free movies! I frequently use Red Box to get movies and when I went to out local one, there was a big sign on it saying that you could rent a free movie at that location, if you use the code they posted. I did this on Sunday, on four different credit cards and got to watch four different movies! Granted, I fell asleep during the last one, but it was such a treat to watch that many movies for free :o)

4. I will consider this week a success if I blog Monday through Friday! I've been hit or miss with blogging lately and I'm going to really make an effort to blog more regularly, even if it means I write them in advance and schedule them to post each day.


5. The last thing I won was a 30% off coupon at Kohl's! I know it sounds funny, but we love shopping at Kohl's for work clothes and stuff and the hubby needed new pants last week and we were lucky enough to score a 30% off coupon at the register. For those who shop at Kohl's, you know this is almost like "winning!" It's rare that you get 30%, it's typically 15% or 20%, so this was a sweet score for us. 


Enjoy the week and stay cool!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cashing in on rewards!




If you don't know about Swagbucks yet, it's a really great website that you should check out. I don't often rave about these types of things, but I love getting free stuff and swagbucks helps me do it!

I've been wanting to get this hair care product that I really like, but I'm too cheap frugal to buy. It's by Aveda and it helps untangle your hair. My hair is thin super fine and knots up very easily. I went online recently to see if it's sold through Amazon. Like just about everything else under the sun, it is!

I recalled that I had $20 worth of free Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks that I hadn't used yet. The product was $17.99 + $4.95 for shipping. I was bummed that this took me over my gift card balance :( Then I remembered that I still had a few dollars as a cash back bonus award from Discover. Discover now lets you use any amount you have towards a purchase with Amazon. Together with my gift cards, I was able to get the product for FREE! This put a smile on my face :o)


Shipment Details


 
Item Subtotal:                 $17.99
Shipping & Handling:       $4.95
Total Before Tax              $22.94
Shipment Total:               $22.94
Paid by Rewards Points:  $4.27
Paid by Gift Certificate:    $18.67

I like the idea of working the system a bit and getting rewarded for it! If I do end up needing to use my credit card, I pay it in full each month and get to earn rewards along the way.

With Swagbucks, you just install the search engine on your computer as your home page and use it whenever you search throughout the day. You are rewarded with points for searching and these points can be converted into several things. My favorite is the Amazon giftcards!

I looked at my history with Swagbucks and since 11/25/10 I've earned 33 $5 gift cards. That's $165 in free money! For me, it's worth doing. If you like free stuff too, you can check it out by clicking on the link above. In all honesty, I believe this is a referral for me and I get points if you join. But even if you don't join by using this link, please check it out at www.swagbucks.com, it's worth it!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Passport Delays...

So, I had to change my name on my passport for our recent trip. I had been tracking the estimated passport processing times online and it was averaging 4-6 weeks.I thought I'd be okay when I sent my application in about 8 weeks in advance of our scheduled trip. I could have sent it in earlier, but I was pushing to send all of our extra cash in towards debt payments and didn't want to take the $110 out of the budget until we were closer to the cutoff date.

I searched long and hard for a picture that I felt I looked good in. Ladies, you understand what I mean, right? I found a picture of me from when I was down a few pounds and looking rather pretty, so I sent it in.

What I hadn't planned on was having my picture sent back to me because it wasn't the right quality for the passport. Aghghgh! After doing some research online, I discovered that an actual photo from a regular camera is preferred rather than a digital one that is printed out.

I ended up having to go to Walmart to get an official passport picture taken, this cost about another $10. I'm pretty laid back and carefree about my appearance normally, but on my passport picture day, I spent about 2 hours in the bathroom preparing my hair and makeup! You'd think I was getting ready to go onstage for the Miss America pageant! I wanted it perfect. This picture has the potential to be looked at for 10 years, so I wanted to look good.

This was a whole "thing", where for the first time ever, my husband referred to me as a "Diva!" This led us into a discussion where I explained that there are at least 3 days in a woman's life on which they want to take the time to look really pretty for a picture-

1) Driver's License
2) Wedding Day
3) Passport 

The days may vary based on the person, but those are my top three. Hence the 2 hours in the bathroom preparing for my big moment.

Well, I sent the new picture in with expedited service and tracking through the post office... another $10ish. They received it within a few days. I kept checking the status online but unfortunately it wasn't changing. It still said "In Process." About two weeks before my trip, I called to check on the status and they told me that it was still "in process" and to call back in another week if I don't receive it before then.

The following week I called and was told that it's still "in process." I asked what my options were to get the passport quickly and was told that for $72.72, I could expedite it - although they couldn't guarantee that I would have it before my trip. Since I was already sweating and having horrible visions of missing our trip, I decided to pay the fee. It ended up being $60 for the expedited service fee and $12.72 to overnight the passport. They told me that I would know it was processed when I saw the fee hit my credit card. The fee hit the next day! I could finally relax a little.

The passport arrived on Monday morning, 3 days before I was scheduled to leave on my trip. So, if you need to get your passport renewed or updated, I would recommend sending your application in wayyy ahead of time so you don't have to pay anything extra! Oh, and send a nice clear photo of yourself looking your best to avoid that delay too :o)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up 8/8/12

(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)

Happy Hump Day! I'm back from vacation, feeling well rested and ready to tackle anything. Well, not really, but I keep telling myself that if I say it enough, I'm sure to start feeling it eventually! Actually, I've been tired since we landed and dragging a bit this week. Oh well. It's still good to be back :-)

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies. 

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a payment to my hubby's child support. He fell behind when he wasn't working full time and it was time for us to pay it off and put it behind us. We actually charged it to our credit card and plan to pay it off by September 15. It ended up being $6,363.91. I'll keep you all posted on how that's coming along.

2. Today I am thankful for my health. I'm in a good place health-wise and I like to take the time to appreciate when I'm not experiencing any aches and pains.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was reading a book on our vacation. The resort had a selection of free books that you could borrow and I ended up reading "Husbands" by Adele Parks. It was a light read by a UK author. I really enjoyed her writing and unique way with words. I plan to go check out the library to see what other books she's written.
 
4. I will consider this week a success if I completely unpack and get our home back to the condition it was in before we went on our trip. I purposely had us come back a day early from our vacation so we could unpack, wash our laundry and go grocery shopping before our week started. None of that happened! I had such grand ideas about starting the week off on the right foot after our trip, but we're still half living out of our suitcases and items are everywhere! I'll consider it a successful week if I can get everything put away and our life back on track.

5. I am trying to incorporate more veggies and fish in my diet. We have been eating less carbs (until our vacation anyway!) and by doing that, we are eating more veggies and now fish. We're both looking to get back into this healthy way of eating again now that we're home and have more control over our food choices.

I hope the rest of this week goes well for everyone!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up 7/18/12


(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)

Hi there! Boy have I been slacking. It's this new job. It keeps me very busy with little downtime for blogging. It's a blessing and a curse, I tell you!

Anyway, hope all is well in your financial worlds. Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a credit card payment. We have one card that we use for living expenses from time to time because it gives us miles. We paid this in full!

2. Today I am thankful for my friends. I don't have a bunch of girlfriends, but a couple of good, real friends. People that will be there if you need them. They live thousands of miles away but I am thankful for them and how they make me laugh!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was reading a magazine from cover to cover. One of our fellow bloggers posted about this great deal that Shape magazine was having where you could get 3 years for like $10 or something ridiculous. I purchased a subscription and got to enjoy reading it this weekend. (Not completely free, but almost!)

4. I will consider this week a success if I finish a presentation I'm working on for work. I want this crossed off of my to-do list before our vacation!


5. One recipe I want to try soon is  something Atkins based. I don't have one selected, but we are eating very few carbs and could really use a new recipe to spice things up a bit. This is motivating me to go online and find one!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cash Only Living!

I love cash only living!

I have a routine that I enjoy. My hubby is paid twice per month. We use part of his paycheck to live off of. After I drop him off at work, I make a trip by our local bank and withdraw $120 for each week. We're currently living on a budget of $60 for food and $60 for gas. It was $100 until we moved a little further away from work. We just added the extra $20 so we had a little buffer for additional gas.

For some reason, I just love getting the cash in my hand and sectioning it off in my wallet. After that I typically go fill up our gas tank for the week. I find comfort in this routine. I like paying cash and knowing my boundaries. When it's gone, it's gone.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up 7/10/12

(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our trip to the casino, $600 down the drain.

2. Today I am thankful for good mpg in my car! I love that my car gets 30+ miles per gallon. It came in handy today when I was trying to make it to the gas station before I ran out!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spending some time in our backyard and our tropical oasis. The weather was great on Saturday, so we spent some time in our yard sunning and enjoying the pool. It was so wonderful and relaxing! I hope we can do it again this weekend :-)

4. I will consider this week a success if I continue to eat healthy and work out on a regular basis. So far, so good! 


5. This week I am looking forward to getting paid. It'll be my first official paycheck with my new salary since my promotion. I'm anxious to see what the new number is so I can put it in our budget spreadsheet for the rest of this year! I'm such a dork.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Easy come, easy go!

You'd think that after almost 2 years of blogging about being better with our money and appreciating the small victories we have of finding an extra $35 or coming in under budget, that we wouldn't go blow our money so foolishly.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we moved recently. This meant that we would be getting a deposit back from our previous place. We did a great job taking care of and cleaning our unit when we left, so our landlord kindly returned our deposit IN FULL! Imagine our surprise. We were so excited to know that we would have another $600 to put towards our bills.

Yeah, I'm not really sure what happened with that idea, but before you know it, we were hanging around on Saturday night and out of boredom I guess, we decided to swing by our local casino. Bad idea. We blew our "extra $600" on one night out. It wasn't really even much fun for us since the place was packed, super smokey and we never really got up any. 

The whole next day both my hubby and I had sick feelings in our stomachs, thinking of what we could have should have done with that money instead. Easy come, easy go I guess. I just hope we make smarter decisions in the future.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I love coming in under budget!

So, before we get to enjoy our vacation, we have a wedding to attend. I had budgeted $100 for a nice dress for the event. I lucked out yesterday when I went shopping for one and only ended up spending $50 total.

I came in $50 under budget!

Believe it or not, I actually ended up getting 3 dresses for that price! We have a store called "Ross" out here that is similar to a Marshall's or T.J.Maxx. The prices are much less than you'd pay at other stores. I could have easily gone somewhere else and paid 3X that amount. I'm very excited and now I have options to choose from :-) Plus, with the extra $50 we now have, maybe the hubby and I will dress up and go out for a (cheap) night on the town!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

$35 Extra... Woo-hoo!

I hope you all had a nice Independence Day! We watched the fireworks here in San Diego, which if you heard on the news, there was a little mishap. I guess all of the fireworks went off at the same time. It was quite a display of beautiful colors! It just didn't last long. Oh well, there's always next year :-)

So, I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at our budget spreadsheet today and discovered that I had put our final electricity bill in twice! That's an extra $35 in our budget that we didn't expect. Woo-hoo!

I hope I continue to get excited about these little monetary wins long after we've paid all of our debt off.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up! 7/3/12


(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)

Hi there! Long time, no blog :(

Boy, have I missed you all! Being away from here, I realized how therapeutic writing can really be for me. In addition, blogging about my money helps keep me on track for success. I need to continue to find ways to fit it into my schedule.

Anyway, it's been almost a whole month since I've blogged! It's been a pretty busy month. I traveled to two of our other facilities, in addition to a conference. I'm starting to rack up the frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards :-) It's funny how when your job doesn't include traveling, you think it's so glamorous and get excited about the opportunity to do it, but after one bad or aggravating trip, your mood can change. That being said, none of my trips were bad (yet!), I just realized how it could grow old - fast.

So, you may have noticed that there's been some changes to my status update (see the right side of the page >>>). We finished paying off credit card #2! That brings us to over $43K paid towards our debt. It felt amazing to make the final payment on that card this past Friday. I wanted to get on here so bad and share it with you all. But, as life would have it, things got busy.

Also, over the past month we moved! We are now renting a small cottage. Our rent did increase a bit, but so did our happiness and you can't put a price tag on that :-) Believe it or not, we moved from our small studio of 525 square feet to an EVEN SMALLER furnished cottage that comes in around 400 square feet. Somehow it seems larger though. It could be because the furniture is smaller than what we have or that the layout is better with a separate bedroom and walk in closet. We're not sure, but we love it. This place is "all inclusive", so our electricity, cable and internet are all included. (I'm excited because we get all the movie channels now! I can indulge my passion for movies more often.) We also get to enjoy having our own little oasis, with a tropical backyard and pool/hot tub set up. It's really nice to not have anyone above or beside us. We could get used to this! It's making us reconsider buying anything really big now that we've seen how small we can comfortably live in.

On the money front, I have some small updates to share... In about 2 years of blogging, I finally hit $100 earned from Google. Yippee. I received a deposit of $103 in my checking account and put it right towards our debt. I didn't get into this to make money, so it didn't matter that it took so long. It was just a nice perk of being able to share my financial journey with you all. Another small money change was that my car insurance went down by about $100 per year since we moved to a safer area. Unfortunately that savings was eaten up by the fact that we now have to have renter's insurance. The good news is that it is almost a complete wash... our car/renter's insurance combo only increased our monthly bill by about $5 a month.

Here's My Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our final payment to credit card #2!


2. Today I am thankful for my hubby. He is a great partner. We're counting the days until our trip later this month and are both looking forward to dropping a few pounds. It makes it easier when you have a supportive partner who is willing to eat the healthy stuff and put the time in for exercise. I am thankful for his support.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was ate my lunch over near a local dog park and watched the owners with their pets and kids running around. It was a  peaceful and enjoyable way to have my lunch.

4. I will consider this week a success if I exercise each day. As I mentioned above, we are trying to lose a few more pounds before our vacation and the plan is to walk each night after work. I will consider this week a success if I do!

5. This July 4th I am  probably going to have a cookout, get some exercise and watch the fireworks. We've moved to a new town, so I'm curious to see their display. Fireworks are one of my favorite things, so I hope it's a spectacular show!

Happy 4th of July!

Monday, June 4, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up 6/4/12

 (Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)

Happy Monday! 


I've had a heck of a past few days. So, to pick up where we left off last week... I received a written offer of employment on Thursday night. I thought about it overnight and decided it was the right move for me. I gave notice at my current employer on Friday morning. Well, knock me over with a feather, within about a 1/2 hour of giving my notice, I received a counter-offer! I guess I didn't think it would be possible for them to find a position that would suit what I was looking for. Well, they did come up with something quite tempting. They offered a small bump in pay and much greater responsibility in my career path, in addition to some traveling. All of these things excited me. I asked for the weekend to think it over. 

I was a ball of stress! 

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I didn't want to disappoint anyone. After lots of thinking, I decided to stay where I am at. I hope it was the right decision. Time will tell, I guess. I'm being optimistic that these new job duties will help me feel more fulfilled, engaged and challenged. If not, it will be a lesson learned for me. Here's hoping it all works out for the best though!

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.


1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a new passport to change my name. We haven't traveled internationally since our wedding in 2010. Since we have a trip coming up later this summer, I needed to send my passport in to have my name changed. This cost $110.

2. Today I am thankful for second chances. As I explained above, I'm giving my current employer a second chance. I hope it's the right decision. I'm thankful for the opportunity. 

 3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was talked with my niece. We have a close relationship and I value her opinion. I shared my predicament and got her input. It was great to catch up with her!

 4. I will consider this week a success if I find us a new apartment! We gave 30 days notice on our current place, which ends at the end of June. I'm hoping to line up our next place this week or next... the latest!

5. One craft I’d like to master is photography. I took a course in college but would love to buy a great camera and really take it back up again.




Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our day is here!

The day we've been working towards for a while, is finally here! Unfortunately we won't be making the final payment to our credit card as we planned. There are a few reasons for this temporary delay...

1) We were spontaneous and took a sudden trip away for the long weekend. We spent more than we planned and have to play catch up with some things. We decided not to beat ourselves up over it, but it still wasn't a good slip up.

2) We decided that it's time to move... now. I sent in our rent check today with a nice little note, giving our 30 days notice. (NOTE: We DO NOT have anything else lined up yet. Although I am a bit nervous, there are plenty of rentals available and I'd rather not pay rent on 2 places, so waiting until later in the month works okay for us.) This does require us to save up cash immediately though, since all the places we've looked at require a good sized deposit.

3) I received a verbal offer of employment today! I am super excited and anxious to read the actual letter (which should arrive soon, I hope). I had mentally prepared for a pay cut, but it looks like it will actually be a small bump up. Unbelievable! I am so ready to accept the offer and move on. I don't know enough yet on how their payroll will work, so we will also need to build up a little buffer, in the event that I'm not paid on the schedule we've grown accustomed to. Ahhh, the pains of living paycheck to paycheck!

So, that's the skinny. Sorry I didn't do my normal Weekly Money Check-Up this week. I'm sure I'll be back on track next week!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How can I owe MORE taxes?


Well, we are one week away from the final payment to our oldest credit card. I was basically walking on air yesterday, having just got the news that the positions I've interviewed for are moving forward in the process. Yayyy!

Then, we checked the mail.

Stinky, old mail.

Looks like we forgot to include something on our taxes from 2010. We had won a small jackpot on one of our casino trips back then. It was $3,000! It was the first and last time that ever happened to us. We didn't get anything in the mail to trigger us to remember to include it on our taxes, so we forgot.

The government didn't forget. They were notified by the casino and are looking for their 25%. $750. Oh, plus $31 for interest. A whopping $781 due to the government. Shucks.

Looks like I could file an amended return and somehow write off equal amounts of gambling losses. That's if we itemized our deductions. We've never had enough deductions to do that, so we've always taken the standard one. I'm not even sure that if we did itemize it, if it would just be a wash or if it doesn't work like that.

Part of me just wants to pay the $781 and be done with this. But, another part of me says that I should try to pull out our old taxes and file an amended return with itemizing our deductions and hope that the number somehow decreases. I'm not sure it will though and I don't really want to spend the time on it.

The bill will be considered "closed and paid in full" if we pay the $781 by June 20th. We will have the money. Sure, it was earmarked for something else, but we can make it work.

Sometimes it's worth the money to just put something behind you, ya know? I haven't made a final decision but that's how this is feeling right now. We'll see.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up 5/21/12

(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)

Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies
 
1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on another payment to our debt! I can't believe in 10 days, I'll be making the final payment to a card that has been like an annoying monkey on my back for years! I can't wait.

2. Today I am thankful for long weekends! I'm really looking forward to having Memorial Day off next Monday. Even though we don't have any plans, it'll just be nice to have an extra day to relax.

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was exploring a different part of California. We took a drive up the coast and got to check out some new places. It was a really nice day!

4. I will consider this week a success if I stay on track with our budget! We are so close to the finish line with this stinky old credit card and I just don't want to mess it up. This week will be a success if we behave.

5. I am really trying to stay on track with our healthy eating. We are about 10 weeks away from our vacation and we are trying to drop some more weight before our trip. We've done well so far but I really want to kick it up a notch as we get closer!



Hope you all have a great week :0)

Friday, May 18, 2012

We made it!

Geez, it feels as though it's been a long week. But, we made it! Even though I had a couple of "shorter days" where I left early for my interviews, the week actually feels longer since I had to be "on" so much. Ugh, being "on" can be exhausting!

I do have to say that sometimes I second-guess my thoughts of leaving this position. It's pretty easy work here and it pays quite well. The companies I have been interviewing with are super, crazy busy and may actually pay less. Plus, the commute will definitely be worse and cost more. As I write this out, I'm really starting to wonder if I'm nuts for looking for another job!

I have to though. It's the right thing. I'm not enthused when I come into work. I dread the new assignments I'm given because I don't find them at all challenging or interesting. I need to work for a place that is busy and makes me stay on my toes.

I'm glad I'm writing this post, so if I do move on, I can look back at this a few months from now when I'm stressed and wondering why I left, I'll remember! :o) Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Job Interviews

So, I had a job interview today and it went very well. I have another tomorrow. Unfortunately, I'm starting to feel pretty icky with a fever and sore throat. Not sure what I'll end up doing. Hopefully by the time I wake up tomorrow this feeling will have passed. I'd hate to have to reschedule the interview. (If they'd even be open to that!)

I'll keep you posted, but it's possible that by this time next week I could be moving along to greener pastures. It's been a long time coming. I'm ready! Night :-)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another Payday Closer!


Today was payday for me. I made the final payment for our upcoming trip this summer. Boy, that felt good! Not as good as making the final payment to credit card #2 is going to feel on the 31st! That will be a wonderful day. It's been a longgggg time coming. We had about $20K on that card when things started. Actually $25K at our highest point before we starting the blog. The account is actually closed and I just want it paid off and put behind me. 16 more days, 16 more days!

As I've mentioned recently, it's looking pretty good like we may end up taking a slight detour and saving for a down payment starting in June. It's not official yet, but that's what we're really leaning towards doing. We have had it with our studio apartment and the neighbors upstairs. We've made great progress on our debt and the only remaining amounts from our original debt of $60K, would be a zero percent interest card that we did a balance transfer on last year and our car loan which is pretty low at .09%. Not too shabby!

I'll let you know for certain if that's the decision we make but after another loud night, I'm leaning more towards it! Plus all of our high interest cards will be PAID IN FULL! Booo-ya :-)

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up 5/14/12

(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)

Here's My Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on a huge payment ($3,151.09) to our debt!

2. Today I am thankful for new beginnings. Last week's interviews went well and I should have two follow up interviews this week. I'm really looking forward to moving along and starting fresh. New beginnings can be exciting!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was painted my toenails. I know I use this one often, but really, I just love when my toes look so cute and fresh for free!

4. I will consider this week a success if I can successfully sneak off to my interviews this week without being noticed!

5. My favorite Disney character is Ariel from The Little Mermaid. She's adorable!

I hope you all have a good week! I'll keep you posted on what happens at my interviews :-)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Under $20K and 20 Days!

It just hit me that with the debt payment I made yesterday, that our debt is now UNDER $20,000! Holy crap! That's 2/3 of the way done. I don't typically update my status bar on the left until the new statement comes out, but WOW.

Plus, in 20 days I will be able to post that credit card #2 is GONE.

I. Can't. Wait.

Here's to progress! Have a great weekend :o)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Big Payments!

Yayyy! Today I made some big debt payments. I'm really excited with the thought that I'll be able to cross off credit card #2 by the end of this month! In total my debt payments equaled $3,151.09.

There was a little delay in the payment being made though because the hubby felt pretty strong that he wanted to use the money towards a down payment on buying a home. I was torn, but needed to follow my gut. I want this debt to be GONE FOREVER! I want to start fresh with a clean slate once we've paid our debt off. I wanted to compromise though, so I asked for the month of May to continue to pay our debt as planned and then we could reassess in June.

I'll keep ya' posted! 

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up 5/7/12

(Photo is from My Pretty Pennies)

 Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on groceries again! Lately we've been going a bit overboard on our food budget. We've been trying to buy lots of veggies and fresh food and that stuff doesn't come cheap!

2. Today I am thankful for sunshine. It really does impact my mood. Today is cloudy and gray and my mood is the same. When it's a bright and sunny day, I feel more alive and my attitude is definitely more positive!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was drove around and looked at houses and condos with the hubby. I haven't been posting too much about it but we are in turmoil right now about what we want to do. I actually have 3 draft posts on the subject and hopefully this week, I'll actually sit down, write a clear thought and get it posted so you all know what's up.

4. I will consider this week a success if I do well at my interviews. I have 2 interviews this week and I tend to interview horribly. Here's hoping I do well at at least one of them!

5. The most delicious thing I ate all week was a quick sandwich I made for lunch yesterday after we did our grocery shopping. I had a loaf of French Bread, so I cut a slice of that, put on a couple pieces of ham and a slice of pepperjack cheese to make an open faced sandwich. I microwaved it for 1 minute and it came out delicious! So simple, but a yummy treat!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday...

Here's my thought for a cloudy, drizzy, cool Tuesday....


I want to have a job where I can wear comfortable shoes. 

The End.

Monday, April 30, 2012

My Weekly Money Check-Up 4/30/12

(Photo is courtesy of My Pretty Pennies) 

Another Monday! Last week ended up being a pretty good week for me. I guess there is power in deciding to have a positive attitude. I plan to have another great week. (Here's hoping it's as easy as just telling myself that!) Here's my Weekly Money Check-Up, courtesy of My Pretty Pennies.


1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on food. We went a little over our $60 food budget, but now we have plenty of food on hand to last us a while.

2. Today I am thankful for my job. There was a layoff at my company last week, so I'm very thankful for employment right now!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was that I made up a delicious chicken salad from scratch. I followed my Mom's recipe and it came out delicious. I take enjoyment in preparing a yummy meal.

4. I will consider this week a success if I go through my old clothes and donate items I'm no longer wearing and haven't in a while. We hope to move in the not too distant future, so any progress I can make now will help me in the long run.

5.  If I could redecorate one room, I would choose our dining room. It's not really serving as a place to eat right now, but more of a place to put everything. I'd like to have a designated room for meals and celebrations. It's just challenging being in such a small place.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Another Free Movie!


TGIF :-) This week has been a good one! I was able to maintain my positive attitude, despite some major stuff going on around me.

I got 2 more free movie tickets this week for an advanced screening of "A Little Bit of Heaven" with Kate Hudson. It comes out on May 4th. The movie was last night. The hubby wasn't up for the movies after I kept him out so late the night before with our casino trip. Plus, the football draft was on last night, so I ended up going with a girlfriend.

The movie was a romantic comedy and I believed the connection between the two stars. I think that's important in romantic movies. I hate watching ones where you can't feel a connection, so you never buy the premise. There were some good laughs and equally as many tears. I don't know if I'd recommend spending money to see it at the movies, but it's a good one to catch on Netflix or cable.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Casino Update


Well, let me first start by saying that my hubby and I aren't as young as we once were. Going out to TWO casinos that are an hour apart on a WEEKNIGHT after he already worked late, may not have been the best idea. We hit the first one fairly quickly and left with our $20 gas card and up $46!

It was nearing 8pm by this time and my hubby was ready to head home. But I was persistent. It didn't help that we had to drive right by our exit off of the highway to go to the other casino. We pushed on though and made our way before the rain hit.

We got our free play money and after a bit of a roller coaster of ups and downs, we ended up leaving up $120 total! I was so excited. I already deposited the money in our account this morning. Even though we got home around midnight, it was a fun treat. Not one that we're likely to do again in the near future though!

Also, on a side not... I thought we were in a recession. Both casinos were PACKED! We couldn't believe how many people there were for a Wednesday night. Kind of crazy, but I guess people want to try their luck and maybe hit it big. I get it. If it weren't for the free play money or gas card though, you can bet we would have been at home and in bed by about 9pm :-)

So far this week has been going pretty good. Here's hoping it finishes off that way too!