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!


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. 


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, 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!