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Get $100 Credit from Ting Until December 1st!!

November 28th, 2014 at 08:20 am


If you are thinking about signing up for Ting cell phone service NOW is the time!

By using my referral code (or another SAer's link) you will get $100 towards a phone and / or service.

To sweeten the deal just a bit more, many of the high end smartphones are on Black Friday sales.

Happy Saving to you all!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

November 27th, 2014 at 09:21 am

Happy Thanksgiving to my SA friends!

I am watching the Macy's parade with DS right now.
He was excited to see the Thomas the Tank balloon - so cute. Smile

Have a wonderful day everyone!

Getting Our New Roof Soon!

November 2nd, 2014 at 02:18 pm

As many of you know our house has needed a new roof pretty much from the time we bought it. We have been limping our old, original-to-the-house roof along by patching spots and last year a tarp over the worst spot.

Well, DH collected estimates from six contractors last month ranging from $9700 to $16600. We chose to go with a company who has been in business in our town for 40 years. DH signed the contract and I selected the shingle color last week.

(I think it is a good mix of brown and grey.)

We also added two 10" round skylights to the job to brighten up our dim hallway.
The contract price is $13,320. *Deep Breath*

We have the HELOC to pay for the job.
DH asked if there was a cash discount and was told "No". Then he asked if there was an additional fee to use a cc and was told "No". So, I will first charge it to a credit card for the points then pay off with the HELOC.
The only thing is any card I use is *only* going to get me 1% ($133). Which beats $0 for sure. But, I am thinking we could easily meet the spending requirements for two or three bonus paying cards.
Maybe the Southwest card and a Sapphire card?
Too ambitious?
Going to have to do a bit of thinking....

Special Focus Payment

November 2nd, 2014 at 02:09 pm

$4299 Starting Balance

- $ 15 Survey Snowflake
- $120 Regular Payment

$4164 Ending Balance

My goal is to have this cc balance at $3900 before 1/1/15.

Halloween 2014

November 1st, 2014 at 02:16 pm

DH and I carved our pumpkins with stencils. DD free-handed her *LOVE* carving.

Spending for Halloween was low this year.

DS was a pirate. We bought a foam hat at a craft store that my sister's hubby glued into a classic three pointed hat. Then I cut the bottoms of an old pair of his sweat pants and he wore a striped shirt of mine. Total costume cost under $4!

DD dressed as a band member of Five Seconds of Summer (new teen boy band). We bought a tshirt from Amazon that she can wear anytime. Total costume cost under $20.

$23 - Costumes
$12 - Pumpkins
$ 8 - Candy
$ 8 - Decor Items
$ 2 - 24ct Glow Bracelets

Un-Fall Like Weather & The Garden

October 19th, 2014 at 11:37 am

Beautiful weather here. Some hot days in the last two weeks - many around 90F!
It was 78F yesterday and going to be about the same today. This weather makes it perfect to be outside doing just about anything.

Yesterday I pulled the old, dry cornstalks out of the garden. Then DH and DD arranged them in bunches out in front of the house for Halloween decoration.

For me that is the definition of Frugal! Big Grin

I also harvested a zucchini and several tomatoes. All the tomato plants are still producing and the sun is getting those green ones to ripen up nicely.

Here is some earlier garden pictures I had meant to share...

DS helping water.

Some of our bountiful cherry tomato harvest.

I'm thinking about planting a few things for a winter garden, but haven't decided on anything yet.

*New* Special Focus

October 19th, 2014 at 11:14 am

Since we paid off the first "Special Focus Debt", here is the next one on my list.

(What I mean by "Special Focus" is the debt that I will apply any snowflakes or found money to.
It's my Special project. Smile)

$4342 -- Starting Balance
- $40 -- Snowflake Payment
- $ 3 -- Psychological Gratification Smile

$4299 -- New Balance


October 14th, 2014 at 05:53 pm

ETA: Thank You everyone for the kind comments!

She passed over The Rainbow Bridge early this morning.

She was with us for 14 years and 4 months and she used to sleep with me almost every night.
She was tough and spunky and she will be missed.

DH's Birthday. Signed the HELOC Docs. Warm Weather.

October 7th, 2014 at 06:10 pm

Yesterday was DH's 39th birthday. I was going to take him out to a nice dinner, but he decided he'd like to have something simple at home. (Maybe dinner out this weekend.)

The kids got him a cute card. I bought a Groupon for golf ($21) that he and DD can do together.

We signed the HELOC documents at the title company this afternoon. It is supposed to close by the 14th. Meanwhile, we have several roofing estimates coming in.

The weather here has been hot the last week. It has felt more like July than October. Our tomato plants are still growing and the green ones are turning red very quickly with all the sun. I have been meaning to post garden pics... maybe next time..
I'm off to watch the baseball playoff game.

Rain. HELOC News. Spending.

September 26th, 2014 at 09:46 pm

We had a little rain early Thursday morning and again this evening. The weather has been very mild for weeks and the rain didn't change that - still mild. Plus the rain makes everything smell so nice and fresh and we can certainly use the moisture.

Our loan officer from the CU left me a voicemail that she was completing the documents today. DH and I will sign early next week and the money will be available by next Friday.
DH has contacted several roofing contractors. Some have come to the house already, but we don't have any written estmates yet. We want to get moving on the roof ASAP.

Re: Spending.

DH's side work profits were used to get the truck's water pump replaced (finally), two new tires and a few other odds & ends replaced (wipers, filters, etc.)
$1451 in auto parts and repair

It is the start of a new 4H year.
Yearly membership dues and two pre-purchase tickets for the large fundraising dinner came to $71.

DD is in the Honor band at school this year. Band camp weekend for $135.

I bought a Groupon for the Pilates studio I used last year for $89/eight classes.

I went kayaking last weekend with a girlfriend. $55 for the all day, 11 mile trip down the river. It was beautiful and relaxing, but....

My back was so tight after kayaking that the following day I had a spasm and threw my lower back "out". Had to see a chiropractor yesterday to pop everything back in place. (Primarily the left side of my pelvis.) I haven't used a chiropractor in over 13 years, but I really needed help.
$45 and worth every penny!

Everything (including $900 to debt payoff!) was paid using side money. WooHoo! Keep it coming! Big Grin

Special Focus Debt - PAID OFF!

September 24th, 2014 at 02:40 pm

DH and I have both been blessed by some side work this past week. I have a dog that I am pet sitting at our home for two weeks and DH installed a furnace and new duct work for an acquaintance last weekend.

I decided to use the cash I made and some of what DH made to PAYOFF the "Special Focus" credit card.

$876 - Previous Balance
$0 - Current Balance

Yippee! Big Grin

Applied for a HELOC

September 18th, 2014 at 04:56 pm

DH and I discussed the need to get a new roof on the house this year. And the need to not drain the EF completely. The solution that made the most sense was a HELOC (not that we are excited to take on more debt!). Once we decided to go that route we visited our local credit union to get some information. It felt really good to have DH participating in the process and making an educated financial move.

Because our loan to value ratio is very favorable our CU offers a zero cost HELOC. We won't be paying for an appraisal or any document, notary or closing fees.

As far as our home value I found this very interesting:
"We will not need to order an appraisal for this mortgage and will utilize the automated value of $421,400.00."

(That's quite a value - Wow! Wonder how that gets calculated? Zillow has us valued at $391,700.)

I filled out the application online from home. Then a few days later received an email from our loan officer requesting documents - W2s, tax returns, mortgage note, proof of insurance, etc. I submitted all that by fax.
Now we are waiting...

DD's Honey Harvest

September 6th, 2014 at 04:34 pm

As I've previously posted we have a bee hive in our backyard. This is a 4H project that our DD participates in.

This year her hive produced enough excess honey she could harvest it.

The whole process is so fascinating. It is amazing to learn how bees "operate", the proper way to work with bees and the steps to harvest honey.

After you pull out frames of capped honey from the hive boxes you cut the wax caps off with a Hot Knife (electric knife that gets hot and cuts/melts the wax). Then you load the extractor.

This is the Extractor in our kitchen (you can see some of the wax caps on the top of the strainer).

The local beekeeping club allows 4H members to borrow the club owned electric extractor at no charge.
It works by flinging the honey out with centrifugal force.

Frames loaded inside the extractor.

Frames spinning.

DD filled jars after letting the honey drain from the extractor into the bucket for about 30 hours.

Almost two gallons of honey collected.

Most of these jars will be given as gifts.
A few might be sold - DD's project leader has customers willing to buy local honey for $20/pint.

Special Focus CC Paydown

September 6th, 2014 at 03:54 pm

At the end of last month I received a $60 check from one of the companies I do a monthly inventory survey for. This company pays me quarterly - $20/month.

$976 Previous Balance
- $60 Snowflake Payment
- $40 Regular Payment

$876 Current Balance


September 1st, 2014 at 04:37 pm

Been busy here. We were out every weekend in August.
DD theater performances.
Close friends had their twin's first birthday.
Kids visiting grandparents.
Our nephew's first birthday.
A baby shower for my BFF.

Lots of traveling so we spent way more than usual in gas.

(Beautiful Quicken graph for an ugly total!)

Did a little better in other spending areas - food for one since we didn't have to feed ourselves several weekends.

Gift Giving:
We didn't buy anything for the twins. They have so much family that there was a huge pile of gifts. Our friends have a small house too, so I don't know where all that is going to go!

Our nephew got a box of fruit & veggie pouches from Costco. $12.

For my BFF baby shower I bought two clearance items. A cute outfit for $3.99 and a plush blanket for $5.99. I also bought her firstborn a wooden puzzle (her birthday is next week) for $4.

While shopping I found a very cute long sleeve Roxy shirt for DD. $19. I stashed it for Christmas.

DH is still having short hours at work, which leads to low paychecks. It's tough because we can't pay extra to anything and we still need to get the roof taken care of and I do not want to drain the EF to $0.
Honestly, I cannot remember the last time he had a "normal" 40 hour paycheck. It has been about 18 months since he had a full paycheck AND commission (sometimes netted him as much as $500/week extra).

And it seems it is causing him some depression. Even though it isn't his fault, he is taking it personally (like he can't provide for the family).
I have suggested that now might be the right time to try finding something new or maybe a part time job. I have gotten a lukewarm response to that, so we'll see....

Mower Repair & Pre-Sale Gym Membership

August 17th, 2014 at 03:59 pm

Our lawnmower wouldn't stay running. DH had to take it the repair shop. He picked it up this last week. $146 for a new carburetor. Ouch!
We were told that to prevent this from being a problem in the future we cannot use "cheap gas". (Who knew?)
It was recommended that we only use Chevron Supreme in the mower.
(I hope that helps any other mower owners out there.)

A new health club is being built in our city. They are running a pre-sale special that has the rates about 50% less than regular.

DH really wants to get back into the gym again. Unfortunately this club doesn't offer racquetball (for the sake of his knees maybe that's not such a bad thing).

The cost for our entire family with the special rate is less than the single member rate at the club we had used previously. And the special rate is locked for the length of the membership. If me or the kids end up not using the club we can suspend the additional memberships (me, DD, DS) and reactivate later still keeping the promo rate. At the minimum we can get DH in there working out a few times per week and squeeze $35/month into the budget. We can cancel anytime without fees, so we felt like there wasn't any risk to giving it a try.

My Friday - Spending & Making Money

August 8th, 2014 at 11:20 pm

We got new tires for the Pathfinder.
It had been three years and three months since the last tire replacement and at least 70k miles. They were really worn, to the point that I was worrying about driving too far on them.
Four new tires, an alignment and taxes/fees came to $960.

I redeemed my Wells Fargo AmEx points for cash into our checking account. That was $550! Big Grin

I made $60 for pet sitting this weekend.

Won $25 cash prize at a veterinary technician meeting this evening.

And I booked a pet sitting job coming up soon that will pay $400.

Housing Market - Bubble 2.0?

August 5th, 2014 at 06:22 pm

I enjoy looking at the real estate market for our area. The prices here have been climbing and the time houses are on the market has been getting shorter. It's a hot market right now.

I haven't seen a single family home available for less than $300k in awhile. Most condos are in the $200k to $350k range.

Average days on market is about a month.

A house on our street was getting cleaned up all last month. I was waiting to see if it was going up for sale. Well, it was listed on July 29th and it is in contract already. In fact, I saw a home inspection truck in the driveway today. WOW! That was fast!
I am really interested to see what the final price is when it sells.

Here are some interesting snips I thought would be good to share:

This is our home's value per Zillow's estimate.

Here is a recently sold home near us with the same square footage. (I think the 4th bedroom is in the garage.)

This is a fun one.
40 years = 2000% increase in value!

Okay, this house has an interesting price history.
It looks to me that maybe the owner cashed out some equity because it went to foreclosure.
Then it was bought at auction. And they turned right around and sold it for $109,600 more.
I saw the pictures - it was not fixed up at all. Just average house/neighborhood!

This one is a good snapshot of how the prices are nearly the same as the "bubble" prices of 2005/2006.
You can see here the "bubble" was building - look at the nearly 40% price increase from 2004 to 2005.

Any interesting things going on with RE in your area?

Last Day of July!

July 31st, 2014 at 04:04 pm

Sunset view from the side of the house (DS's bedroom window).

My phone does a good job with pictures, but this doesn't quite convey all the shades of color there was in the sky. Hope you all enjoy anyway. Smile

In other news, the bonus points have posted for my Wells Fargo Propel card. Yay!

Unfortunately, their system is down, so I can't redeem right now. *Shucks!*

Snowflake to Special Focus

July 30th, 2014 at 08:03 am

Monday I received the usual $15 check for the monthly inventory tracking.

$991 Starting Balance
-$15 Snowflake

$976 New Balance

DD's Birthday

July 26th, 2014 at 12:46 pm

DD turned 13 this past week.
She is waiting until school starts to have a party with friends. It will be a BBQ at one of the nearby parks.

DH, DS and I took her to fondue dinner on her "real birthday" and spent $120. We also gave her a birthday card with a $15 gc enclosed for music downloads. DS made her a bead necklace at preschool that he gave her - it was so sweet. Smile

I can't believe our girl is a teenager now.

Side Income

July 24th, 2014 at 04:16 pm

This past weekend I did a trial run sitting a client's dog. They dropped her off at my house on Saturday and I brought her home to them Monday morning before work.

Everything went very well. My family loved their little dog. The dog parents were thrilled that everything went well. They are planning a big vacation in a few months and were anxious about where their dog would be staying. Now they are so happy knowing she will be at my house.

I collected a check Monday morning when I dropped her off. $70.

Then during lunch I visited my usual cat client and collected $80.

$150 *extra* for the week! Big Grin

His & Hers Ferraris

July 20th, 2014 at 10:39 pm

I saw this today.

While having breakfast at our favorite hole-in-the-wall cafe this morning two black Ferraris cruised by. The tops were down - one was being driven by a man and the other by a woman.

When they reached the end of the block they flipped around to park. The drivers got out and headed to the restaurant we were eating at. We were sitting outside among several other tables. Everyone was commenting on the cars. When the man and woman walked up everyone was totally silent.

While the Ferrari drivers waited for a table my DH walked over and asked if that was a His & Hers situation. The woman laughed (in a friendly way) and said, "Yes it is!"

The question I really wanted to ask was what they did for a living to have money like that.
(Even if I had piles of money I wouldn't want two Ferraris. Let alone to drive them both around at the same time.. it was a strange, ostentatious thing to see.)

Identity Theft & Fraud - UGH!

July 18th, 2014 at 09:31 pm

I was flipping through the mail when I got home from work and I had a new credit card.

Problem was it wasn't a card I applied for..

So I called (Barclays) and long story short someone opened this line of credit at an Apple store in a nearby city and bought themselves almost $2k worth of stuff (new laptop?) using my identity. Frown

I was advised by the Barclay's CSR to place a fraud alert with the credit bureaus - I think I should take the further step and do a freeze. I am thinking we should do it for DH also.
What do you think?

I'm off to check our CreditKarma accounts to see if anything is popping up.

UGH! Frown

Special Focus Payment

July 9th, 2014 at 02:28 pm

Pushed it just a little here and used all my cat care money for the week to drop this balance under $1k. Smile

I say "pushed it" because DH still was short a few hours on Friday's paycheck. We ended the week with about $60 less than what I budget for. I think so far there has only been one week where we weren't short. It is slowing goals down for sure!
AND we'll be short again this Friday as DH doesn't get holiday pay for the Fourth of July. Phooey..

The $80/week cat care cash is REALLY helping to buffer the low paychecks, but I'd rather be using the cash for other than covering regular bills.

Okay, here it is.....

$1071 Previous Balance
- $80 C.C. Cash

$991 Current Balance

My Recipe for Margarita Jello Shots

July 8th, 2014 at 04:55 pm

This was fun to have at the party and pretty frugal as far as "cocktails" go.

- 6 oz box Lime Jello
- 1 cup tequila (I used a "silver" - clear type)
- 3 oz Triple Sec
- Juice of 1 lime
- Pinch or so salt (approx 1/4 teaspoon)
- 1/2+ cup cold water

Heat the water to just a boil (same amount as directed on package). Remove from heat.
Stir in mix until dissolved.
Add alcohol, lime juice, salt and cold water.
Stir well.
Pour equal amounts into 25 2oz disposable shot cups. Top off with a little cold water as needed.
Refrigerate several hours or overnight until set.
(OR use a glass baking dish and cut into squares once set.)

Enjoy! Smile

Post Fourth of July Post

July 6th, 2014 at 09:53 am

We had a busy week here. DH and I decided we would host a BBQ for a few families. I think it has been three years since we invited more than just our family over for a meal - ha!

DD was away all week at 4H camp (which was the BEST ever! Big Grin)
DH and I had to pick up her chores as well as work on getting the house and yard ship-shape. I also had to pick her up from camp Friday midday. So we worked on party preparation a little bit every day of the week. I squeezed shopping for food and supplies on Tuesday afternoon - my half day of work.
We made it a potluck, so that saved some money. I didn't feel embarrassed about asking and everyone was happy to bring something.

Party supplies were:
$ 2 - red plastic tablecloth
$ 3 - blue star paper dinner plates
$ 2 - blue napkins
$ 3 - plastic cups
$ 3 - plastic shot cups
$ 1 - glow-n-the-dark bracelets
$16 - kiddy pool
$ 3 - sidewalk chalk
The last two items are for DS to use all summer. If we are gentle the pool should make it for next summer too.
Total: $33

As far as food goes I wanted to make kabobs. We have never made them before even though I have wanted to many times. I bought 36 boneless/skinless chicken thighs at $2.50/lb. I used fresh zucchini out of our garden on the skewers also.

Food spending:
$23 - chicken thighs
$14 - Kabob produce (bell peppers, onions & pineapple)
$38 - (2) six packs of beer, (2) bottles champagne, (2) bottles sparkling juice
$ 3 - bamboo skewers
$16 - Avocados for guacamole
$ 2 - Tortilla chips
$16 - Huge watermelon
$ 3 - Whole Pineapple
$ 8 - Strawberries & Raspberries
$ 6 - Ice
$ 3 - lime jello
Almost all the fruit/veggies were organic.
Total: $132

The kabobs were a hit. Smile
I even had a few extras that I threw in the freezer - maybe dinner next weekend?

DH crafted a watermelon "basket" filled with the fruit. I should have taken a picture (I think he did) it looked great.

His guacamole was a huge hit as usual.

I had the idea to make jello shots. I saw this really cute idea to make red, white & blue layered jello cups. Well that gave me the idea to make jello shots. And then the idea to make Margarita jello shots.
(Let me say I have only had jello shots once before and I have never made them.)
They turned out really good! I will make them again as they were such a fun little adult item to have. Smile

DH and DD hit the fireworks stand and bought $25 in fireworks.

We all watched our city's fireworks from our house. It is nice to not have to drive anywhere.

It was a really enjoyable party. I would like to do it more often than once every few years. It's one of those things where you keep asking "Why am I doing all this?" and then you have such a good time you feel like "I am so glad we did this!" Smile

Fair Time!

July 1st, 2014 at 04:37 pm

We enjoyed our local county fair last week.
A close friend has a vehicle pass that allows her to drive in/out of the fairgrounds without paying any fees. She has been taking my family into the fair for FREE the past several years. This year the kids and I went to the fair three times!

The very nice thing about this fair is that the admission also covers all rides, so once you are inside you don't have to pay anything extra for rides or concerts. We did spend some money on fair food the evening we went all together as a family. We didn't go crazy, but did spend close to $40.
All in all spending $40 for all the time at the fair was easy to swallow.

I entered the table setting class again this year.
I chose to decorate for the fair theme which was celebrating the fair's 75th diamond anniversary.

I won First place for my class. Smile
Didn't win Best of Show this year (shucks).

I also entered a novelty planting class with this jam jar..

It won a First place too. Smile

And I entered a hanging basket (one of two that I made for our backyard).
Made up of purple basil, supertunias, alyssum and blue lobelia.

And I won First in that class too. Smile

I won $35 in prize money.

DD entered four canning projects.
(They're on those shelves somewhere..)

She won three First Places and one Second.
She also entered two baking entries.
Low-Fat Lemon Bars and Mini Cheesecakes.
Second Place for the bars and First for the cheesecakes. The cheesecakes also ranked Fourth in the "Make it with Dairy" class - a class where you have to use three or more dairy products in the recipe.

I will have to post her cheesecake recipe soon - they were so delicious!

She ended with $21 in prize money.

We entered a small preschool art project for DS - his first fair entry. He won a First (they all do in that age class) and received a check for $3.

I told my mom that I should enter a ton of preschool art for him next year BECAUSE it's a 200% return - you pay $1 to enter and are guaranteed a $3 check. Big Grin

Progress on Special Focus Debt

July 1st, 2014 at 04:22 pm

So despite DH's weekly paychecks still coming up short, I did manage a few small flakes toward this one particular cc.

$1121 Starting Balance

- $15 S. Flake
- $25 Regular payment
- $10 S. Flake

$1071 Current Balance

Parking Ticket - Ugh!!

June 26th, 2014 at 08:22 pm

I had my first hair appointment of the year this afternoon - a cut with some highlights.

The salon is downtown and parking is tight.
I parked in a two hour lot.
I was 15 minutes over and got a $35 ticket. Frown

The parking enforcement guy was making the ticket as I walked up. He asked if I had gotten/paid for a new pass. (You prepay for a minimum of 15 minutes to a maximum of two hours.)
I said, "No. I just finished getting my hair done. Should I get another one now?"
And he was like "Nope. Here's your ticket."

If you can park longer than two hours why not let people prepay for longer than two hours??

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