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Archive for February, 2011

Goals for March..and Beyond

February 26th, 2011 at 05:03 pm

I have a few goals I have started working on this past month and am starting to think about March now.

1. Get to the gym three times weekly.
I started doing this and so far I'm on track. Yay! Big Grin I go by myself Tuesday morning and with the family on Thursday evening and Sunday mornings. DH and I discussed trying this for a month or two and if I didn't use the gym enough to make it worth while we would cancel the family membership and downgrade to just an individual membership for DH. He plays racquetball two to three times per week. We've cut back to the individual membership before when I knew I wouldn't be using it or we really need to cut back. My DH needs to workout for his mental health even more so than physical health...that said our gym membership costs less than visiting the marriage counselor. hehe Big Grin I will always make his membership more of a need. Mine is more a nice perk. I like being able to work out at the gym, although I know I could still get exercise other ways. The gym makes me more "accountable" I guess and I get nice results when I go regularly. Wink

2. Apply any "extra" money from regular paychecks to debt. (Then it'll be savings - Can't wait!)
This is when the paycheck is more than the amount I've budgeted for. Example: DH's budgeted paycheck is $800/wk. When his paycheck is more, say $870, I used to just put that in the checking account for more spending. Now I will apply the $70 to the debt. This is DH's idea. He has wanted me to do this for awhile, but I was reluctant to "cut ourselves too short." Now I see I was only enabling our spending by looking at that as EXTRA $ and thus spending it like EXTRA $. Embarrassment

3. Weekly budget amount for food and household and etc. spending cut to $175/week.
I am thinking it will be easier for us to monitor our spending if we break it down weekly vs. monthly. And inspired by ThriftORama, I just lumped all of that together, instead of trying to track grocery, dining out, household, gifts, etc in different categories. So I've combined and then cut back. Yesterday was the first day of the first week of this new approach. Wish us luck!

My Sunday

February 22nd, 2011 at 12:07 pm

This weekend I made the chicken club casserole that Frugal Foodie posted. Thank you FF, it was tasty and like you said made plenty for two casseroles. We had one Sunday night and the other is in the freezer. I did make it up from scratch, as in I didn't have any leftover chicken or bacon, so I had to cook everything first before I could assemble the casserole. That took a bit of time. Next time I'd like to add more cheese and bacon. Smile DH bought me the chicken when he stopped at the store and he totally scored these huge boneless, skinless breasts for 1.59/lb.
I also have plans to make Monkey Mama's pistachio cake at some point. I love pistachios and pistachio pudding, so that's right up my alley.

Sunday a local girl scout stopped by and I bought three boxes of cookies. My box was the Samoas, DD's pick was the Dolce De Leche, and DH's fav is the Do-si-dos. $12.

Sunday evening DD fell off her scooter and scraped up her knees, her upper lip and chipped both front teeth! Frown I already had a dentist appointment schedualed for her on March 1st. I think at some point she's going to need some cosmetic work for those teeth.

Just 4 Fun and Returns Accepted

February 20th, 2011 at 11:43 am

Friday night while I was driving home I was thinking about something I thought might be fun. A Just 4 Fun (J4F) question I will post, it will probably be silly or strange, but it's just for fun! Big Grin

***Would you choose Oatmeal or Malt O' Meal/Cream of Wheat?***


I received email confirmation that both my state and federal returns have been accepted. Now I am waiting for my money. Big Grin


Malt O' Meal for me.
I love oatmeal, but Malt O' Meal is so YUMMY!

Re: Parenting Success Stories & What Would You Change?

February 19th, 2011 at 04:19 pm

CeeJay recently asked about parenting successes. And you know it seems strange, but right now I can't think of just one time. It feels like each day there are some success and sometimes failures (like losing your temper or being "too" busy).

Some things I have learned that help me are:

*Give two choices to your child. Both results are okay with you. It gives them a feeling of power over their own life. Builds self-confidence and self-worth.

*Let them do things on their own. How else will they learn?

*I've always told my DD, and I will tell my son, the truth about things. Kids know when you lie and they lose respect for you.

*Have a good sense of humor. It feels a lot better to laugh than be angry about that 'spilt milk'.

*Choose your battles. (Who cares if their clothes don't match??)

*Give lots of hugs and loves. Play and do things together.

*When your kids make mistakes be sure they know you still love and support them.

*You set the example. For everything!

*Help them pick good friends.

My children make me proud everyday. Big Grin


She also asked "What would you change in your life?"

Well the shortest answer would be - nothing. If you use the reasoning that if you change something then you alter how something else turned out. Wink
But if I could keep everything I love and change just a few things it would be:

More money in retirement and savings. Wished we started much earlier.

Nicer legs. (Thinner and w/out any spider veins)

Taxes Done. Cost $10.

February 19th, 2011 at 02:44 pm

On Tuesday, we received DH's 1099 (from his side work/business) we had been waiting for. I had everything entered by Wednesday night, but waited until this morning to review all my entries before pressing the SEND button. Double checking that I typed the correct amounts and didn't screw up on something silly like a SS#. I have used freetaxusa.com for several years now. (This is the sixth year??) It is user friendly, IRS approved, e-files, free to file federal and costs me $9.95 to file our California return. My FIL has used TurboTax the past few years. He thinks it's great and saves him so much money. DH and I have told him about this site each year. I'm sure in some way he feels like we don't know what we're talking about. Even though I believe our taxes are a bit more complicated than theirs. I, at least, have childcare and a schedule C to file that they don't have. In our situation TurboTax would cost me $75 for federal and an "additional fee" for state. Umm, I'll stick with $10, thank you. Smile

I e-file, but have the checks mailed to me. I guess I am paranoid because I don't want to give the government our bank information. Although I am sure they could get it if they wanted.

This year we are getting back more than from past years. I'm thinking our newest tax deduction/credit (DS) plays a part of that. Big Grin
Getting back $3724/federal and $2470/state.
Our gross income was down only slightly. $3273 less than 2009. DH made more, but because I was on maternity leave I made much less, so it pretty much evened out.

Plans for our refund?

**Both our moms have given us cash in the years we've been married. We try to give a little back each year. Looking at $2k to my mom and $500 to MIL.
**EF. $1k ish.
**cc debt. Remaining $$.

Lunch Time

February 16th, 2011 at 02:25 pm

I am on lunch break right now. So far I've brought lunch to work every day this month. Smile Today was a chicken tamale with rice, a cup of yogurt, water and a few Valentines chocolates. Wink

MonkeyMama's post has reminded me how much I need to call and get a haircut appointment. My last haircut was in April. I have much longer hair (to the small of my back), but I am a "wash and go" girl too. And obviously don't pay much in a year for haircuts!

Need to make dentist appointment for the family and myself soon. I'm like three months overdue..

Many of you have posted about V-Day spending. I bought a 36ct bag of Nerds Valentine boxes for DD's class for $3.60. I didn't buy DH anything (which is normal) and he and DD made a special dinner at home - sausage and basil lasagna. Yummy!! DH did have a huge flower arrangement delivered to me at work. Very sweet; he is a romantic type. He said they were a good deal from the florist in his weekly business group. Of course I am not going to out and out ask how much. He paid with $$ from his side work, NOT household cash flow.

On the news they were reporting the average amount of money spent by women on V-Day was about $80, and by men was about $160. Our family was WELL under those numbers! Big Grin

Western Sunset

February 12th, 2011 at 04:41 pm

This is from last weekend while visiting the in-laws. I was driving back to their house and took these from out of the car window. The whole sky was filled with color. The pictures just barely capture the scene.

Pizza and Cash Card

February 12th, 2011 at 04:12 pm

It seems I always think of lots of blog ideas and then when I sit down in front of the computer I can barely remember one. However, I have remembered two just now...

Has anyone else tried the Little Cesar's Hot and Ready pizzas? We have gotten them a few times the past several weeks. On Monday they are $3.99 and breadsticks are $1. So a quick dinner DH picks up for under $10. DH has also picked up pizza for lunch for $5 (all other days of the week) and it's enough for two lunch meals for him. Not the very best pizza I've ever had, but the cheese and the pepperoni are good, and tastes even better when I know we've only paid $4 for it. Smile

Back in December I got a letter from Comcast (our cable company) regarding my account and the new "bundle" I had changed to in September/October. It was just a letter reviewing the "agreement" and it also stated that if our account was in good standing for three months I would receive a $150 cash card. Well I got the card the beginning of this week, Cool! I am thinking I will use it for grocery shopping. $150 should be easy enough to spend on food. Big Grin

Look Who's Nine Months

February 8th, 2011 at 08:59 pm

Baby DS is nine months old! How time flies! He is crawling and pulling up and has two bottom front teeth. Big Grin
He is 21 pounds and 29 inches long now.

I have to resist the urge to post more pics of him in every post. lol!

Laptop is Back :)

February 8th, 2011 at 08:42 pm

I have my laptop back. It needed another hard drive. Go figure. The repair tech said that the disk drive wasn't "talking" to the rest of the computer because the hard drive wasn't connecting things right. I'm glad I didn't have a bunch of things saved to the computer because I would have lost them all again. Still a pain in the butt!! I do have all my Microsoft Word, Works and Excel loaded in now. Smile The silver lining was the repairs didn't cost anything.

The past couple weeks have been uneventful, just trying to keep spending down. Budget was tight in January and will be tighter in February - Short month and all. I have been taking lunch to work everyday since the middle of January. I almost always take a frozen meal like Eating Right (Safeway brand) or Lean Cuisine, a piece of fruit and a yogurt for an afternoon snack. $2/meal + $0.50/fruit + $0.60/yogurt = healthy for under $4. Smile I really need and want to buckle down on my weight loss. I've gained almost 40lbs. (Ouch, I don't like typing that!) It is frustrating because I am trying to be good and so far I'm only down 2 lbs. Ugh! I need more weight loss to keep me motivated. It took me a long time to lose the baby weight after DD. I think my body just really holds on to the "mama fat". Rolleyes

Last weekend we visited family. Stayed at my in-law's house Friday and Saturday night. DH told me he was talking to his dad and that they want to refi their mortgage. They're at 7%!!! I was shocked, I mean I would have refinanced LONG ago. I don't understand why they aren't in a hurry..??..
On Saturday I took DD to Mount Shasta for her first downhill skiing experience. She took two 90 minute lessons with equipment rental was $70. This was paid by my mom as a Christmas gift. We just didn't have time to do it around Christmas, but did manage to squeeze it in before the snow melts. Smile DD loved it and was a natural. Her afternoon instructor said she is ready for the chairlift her next time out. Now I will need to brush up so we can ski together, the last time I was skiing was 10 years ago. Would like to get my BFF and my dad to go with us too.

Yesterday was a big spending day. Baby had his 9mo checkup for $125. DD and DH went grocery shopping for lunch supplies for the two of them for $52. I ordered diapers and wipes at Diapers.com for $27. I bought baby formula and other needed supplies at Target for $104. At Target I needed to buy paper plates and napkins for DD's class party this Friday. I was going to buy some cute heart print plates with matching napkins, but then I found the clearance aisle in the back corner of the store.. Big Grin I bought a 125ct pack of paper plates for $4.50 and a 400ct pack of napkins for $5. Sure they were just plain white, but now her class will have enough for all their parties for the rest of this year. I also scored a six pack of binkies for DS for $7.50. They are regularly $6/pair. Now I can have a spare everywhere. Big Grin