Friday, November 30, 2007

Identity Theft Keeping Your Identity Safe this Holiday Season and Every Season

At one point in my life I was the victim of Identity Theft. A family member used my personal information to obtain a credit card in her name. I did not know about it because I never checked my credit report. ( I did not think to, I was very young). Up until I got a message from the credit card company looking for an overdue payment on a card I had no knowledge about. With a lot of legwork (and a call back to Visa), I was able to find out who this person was and really shocked to find out it was a family member who had been using this card for almost two years. Had I checked my credit report on a regular basis, I could have stopped this.

There are simple ways to protect yourself, the information below is from MSN Money.

There's no ironclad protection that guarantees that you ll never fall victim to some form of identity theft. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself, many of which are rather simple:

1. Destroy private records and statements. Tear up -- or, if you prefer, shred -- credit card statements, solicitations and other documents that contain private financial information.

2. Secure your mail. Empty your mailbox quickly, lock it or get a P.O. box so criminals don't have a chance to snatch credit card pitches. Never mail outgoing bill payments and checks from home. They can be stolen from your mailbox and the payee's name erased with solvents. Mail them from the post office or another secure location.

3. Safeguard your Social Security number. Never carry your card with you, or any other card that may have your number, like a health insurance card. And don't put your number on your checks. It's the primary target for identity thieves because it gives them access to your credit report and bank accounts. (For more on protecting your Social Security number, see "Safeguard your Social Security number.")

4. Don't leave a paper trail. Never leave ATM, credit card or gas station receipts behind.

5. Never let your credit card out of your sight. Worried about credit card skimming? Always keep an eye on your card or, when that's not possible, pay with cash.

6. Know who you're dealing with. Whenever anyone contacts you asking for private identity or financial information, make no response other than to find out who they are, what company they represent and the reason for the call. If you think the request is legitimate, contact the company yourself and confirm what you were told before revealing any of your personal data.

7. Take your name off marketers' hit lists. In addition to the national Do-Not-Call registry (1-888-382-1222), you can also cut down on junk mail and opt out of credit card solicitations. For details, see Liz Weston's article, "Free at last from telemarketing invasions."

8. Be more defensive with personal information. Ask salespeople and others if information such as a Social Security or drivers license number is absolutely necessary. Ask anyone who does require your Social Security number -- for instance, your insurance company -- what their privacy policy is and whether you can arrange for the organization not to share your information with anyone else.

9. Monitor your credit report. Obtain and thoroughly review your credit report (now available for free at or by calling 877-322-8228) at least once a year to look for suspicious activity. If you spot something, alert your card company or the creditor immediately. You may also want to subscribe to a credit protection service, like Experian's CreditCheck, which alerts you any time a change takes place with your credit report.

10. Review your credit card statements carefully. Make sure you recognize the merchants, locations and purchases listed before paying the bill. If you don't need or use department-store or bank-issued credit cards, consider closing the accounts. For more on when and how to close credit card accounts, see "Cancel a credit card -- the right way."

If something goes wrong Again, protecting yourself from identity theft is no sure thing. But there is plenty you can do if you uncover some wrongdoing:

First, contact the fraud departments of each of the three major credit bureaus. Tell them that you're an identity theft victim. Request that a "fraud alert" be placed in your file, along with a victim's statement asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts or changing your existing accounts.

EquifaxTo report fraud: 1-800-525-6285 and write: P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374-0241

ExperianTo report fraud: 1-888-EXPERIAN (397-3742) and write: P.O. Box 9532, Allen, TX 75013

TransUnionTo report fraud: 1-800-680-7289 and write: Fraud Victim Assistance Division, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, CA 92634

Contact the creditors for any accounts that have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Speak with someone in the security or fraud department of each creditor, and follow up with a letter.

File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place. Get a copy of the police report in case the bank, credit-card company or others need proof of the crime.

Keep records of everything involved in your efforts to clear up fraud, including copies of written correspondence and records of telephone calls.

Pay Day Loan and Quote Information

Lets face it, we all have faced a time when we were short on cash or some sort of unexpected emergency comes up. It's a week until pay day and what do you do? For some, the answer might be a Payday loans quote. A payday loan or cash advance is a quick and easy way to bridge your cash needs between pay days without a credit check. It is a small short-term loan that can range from $100 up to $1,500. The money can be electronically deposited and repaid from your checking account on mutually agreed upon dates. The site has links and answers to many of hte questions you might have on a pay day loan. How to apply, how funds are transferred, the rules and regulations. The site also includes an application form for a pay day loan. It's a very complete site that explains all about Pay Day Loans and Quotes.

Payday loans quote is a site that will help you find a loan and give you the payment terms so you won’t over extended yourself or your budget.

Sponsored Post

The Cost of Twelve Days of Christmas $72,608.02

The December Budget

Decembers Budget

Mortgage: $553 (fixed)
Car Insurance: $87 (fixed)
Food/Alcohol:$200 (includes dog food)
Student Loan: $175 (fixed)
Utilities: $150
Emergency Fund: $200 (fixed until I reach my goal)
ING contribution: $25 (fixed-forced savings)
Health Insurance:$100 (fixed)

Total: $1,620

I upped my budget on a couple categories, gas for the car since gas prices seem to be increasing and I have some out of area travel, miscellaneous in case I have to do any more massive expeditions to the laundromat and my health insurance as that is actually a contribution to my HSA account and I use those funds to pay my portion of the Health Insurance Premium.

I have not budgeted for Christmas because, honestly, I don't know what I am going to for Christmas or who I'm going to buy gifts for. The only ones on my list are the dear neighbors because they have been such great people and great friends. I think their kids might enjoy some gas cards or gift cards to Starbucks. The girls are of that age. Me personally, I'd just be happy with a great Christmas lunch and a bunch of thoughtful cards. But we shall see!

I may have to go over on my utilities, I got a propane delivery and only paid half last month, will pay the other half this month, and the rest is contingent upon my electric bill.

December Goals

1) Work towards finding a second job or alternative source of income that will net me at least $300 a month.

2) Work on personal web site and other personal blog (something I have been neglecting) at least three times a week.

3) Continue with the meal planning.

4) Decrease the number of animals I own.

5) Continue to scale back unnecessary possessions (Craigs list, E-bay, Goodwill, Freecycle).

6) Paint Kitchen

7) Get more quality content in this blog relating to Personal Finance.

8) Have at least 10 no spend anything days. (not even my lotto ticket purchases!)

If you look at these goals, not many of them are finance related, but there are sections of my life that need some improvement and care and attention and it's time to address them.

I have a too many animals in my life. I have to find homes for at least two of them for a variety of reasons. 1) I don't have the time to spend with them, quality or otherwise 2) Not everyone gets along and it's not a "happy family". Managing them has become a chore, which it should not. Plus with the onset of winter it means less time outside and more time in my small home.

My kitchen has not been painted for 5 years and it's time for a bit of a change. $25 of paint and about 4 hours of painting time will do me a world of good. I'm thinking a very pale yellow.

My personal web site and personal blog has been sorely neglected while I've been pre-occupied with the Bankruptcy filing. It has also affected some of my personal relationships as I have not told anyone and since I've not been the best of company this fall, I've avoided a bunch of social situations until this is totally over.

Tale of The Tape for November-

I ran my numbers last night and some things made me happy, some things did not.


Mortgage Budget and Actual $553
Car Insurance Budget and Actual $87
Student Loan: Budget and Actual $175
Emergency Fund: Budget and Actual $200
Heath Insurance: Budget and Actual $90
ING Savings: Budget and Actual: $25
Utilities: Budget $150 Actual $199.39
Gas: Budget: $100 Actual $92.89
Phones: Budget $65, Actual $65
Misc: Budget $100 Actual $343.32

Difference between Budget and Actual: $499.63

Not planned for and over budget expenses

$60 Laundry at Laundromat
$111. 26 Dog Emergency
$41.89-Items bought at Candle Party-will use as Holiday Presents
$42.00-Shop Vac to replace dead vacuum
$44.00 Carpets for house
$90 for Jewelery Appraisal

Total: $347.15

Un categorized $152.48. The non categorized can be attributed to Target and split between clothes (some socks and underwear), cleaning supplies (new mop, new bucket, Method Cleaners), some kitchen items (new rubbermaid containers) and the remainder is probably food. I could not find my Target receipts to categorize the items.

I had to replace my dead Hoover this month, the dogs had a Vet Emergency, I spent WAY you much money at the laundromat doing laundry (all the dog blankets and taking my blankets out of storage, I spent $21 one day doing about 9 loads of laundry.) and I let myself be suckered into a Candle Party where I overpaid for 4 candles that I could probably find for half the price If I put forth a little effort. I bought a carpet for my kitchen and a new bathmat. Bankrupt Betty's Kitchen floor is cold and the dogs tramp all over the floor, this will at least keep my feet warm and will be easier to vacuum the carpet and not have to mop the floor every night . I hate mopping, I like vacuming.

I'm not happy with going over budget at all. Plus any savings I had all went to pay for my transmission repair. But I am happy that I did not give into temptation and buy lunch after the first three days of the month, I am happy I stuck to my meal plan for almost the month, I've been preparing meals from items I have in my cupboards and the last of the leftovers are sitting in my lunch sack for my lunch today.

I feel like I am making progress, I have not lived by a strict budget in a very long time, I know I can improve. Sometime later today I'll post my December Budget.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

How I Spent My Wednesday Night

Watching the Christmas TV Specials of my childhood. Last night was the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Tuesday was a Charlie Brown Christmas.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Few More New Links

I also have been posting some new blog links as I read them.

The Brighter Side of Debt

The Simple Dollar

Mrs. Micah

It's Like A Bad Penny~It Keeps Turning Up

I got a phone call from my attorney's paralegal on my lunch break, she said "I don't know how to tell you this, but.." Seems the Trustee does not want the wedding jewelry he mandated (by court order) to be turned over for sale by his office. I signed a bunch of forms saying I was willing and knowingly giving up the ring, we mailed it off (certified, insured, return reciept requested) to his office last week and now


To give back to me. I gave it up, I did not want it. He could sell it. I wanted that part of this whole procedure done and dusted as they say.

The jewelery was one question the Trustee had during my hearing and I did my due diligence, new appraisal, decided it was not worth keeping (all that bad ju ju on it) and decided the cost to "buy" it back from the Trustee could be better spent on a new to me car fund. Plus after spending $1200 on transmission repair (and depleting my newly set up car and emergency fund) I was not willing to buy back the ring at the appraised price. Oh well, it will just sit in my jewlery box.

Go figure as they say.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Accepted at Pay Per Post-YEE HA

I’m very excited! My Blog was accepted by Pay Per Post, and now I can start accepting sponsored posts on this Blog. I found about about Pay Per Post by

word of mouth ethics

My interests are varied, even more than what I have listed in my profile (which is also getting updated this week), and I'm hoping to use my Pay Per Post income to meet my financial goals and to be able to start donating to my favorite charities again, something that has been on the back burner this year. Nice to see Pay Per Post supporting these worthy causes (Habitat for Humanity, The Red Cross just to name two).

What is really interesting about Pay Per Post is the variety of topics you can write about, personal finance, money, legal representation, self help courses, travel options, the possibilities are pretty endless, it all depends on what you like to write about. Plus you can do Pay Per Post Direct where someone hires you to write about their product (and you get to set your price) or you can search out a topic/product to write about based on the criteria given in the opportunities section. I’ve seen many of my fellow Bloggers writing on a variety of topics and I’ve been introduced to some new and exciting web sites from their sponsored posts.

If you have not signed up for Pay Per Post, check it out and submit your blog for consideration! I think it has been worth the wait.

Looking for a Second Job has hit a Snag

Even with my resolution this past month to find a second job, it has been harder than anticipated. Part of it is due to my full time work schedule. I don't get out of work early enough to go home, deal with my animals and make the drive to the nearest mall or shopping center to work an evening shift. I can do weekends, but almost exclusively, the places I have spoken to or dropped off applications need both weekday and weekend. I live just that bit too far in the sticks to be able to make that type of work work for me. Most local businesses close at 5 or 6 PM, I get out of work at 5PM. I don't have the flexibility to change my work schedule either. Frustrating.

I did pick up a very part time position photographing homes for a title search company, but it only pays $15/$20 per photograph and it is not steady work. If I could do at least 5 to 6 properties per week, that would be a big help. It's my understanding that the real estate market it slow and gets even slower between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I have not given up the ship yet. I just have to be a bit more creative and see what I can find that will work with my schedule or see what other options are out there.

Financial Goal for 2008

Patrick at Cash Money for Life is running a contest or carnival for the Best Financial Resolution of 2008. Bouncing Betty has decided to enter.

My Financial Goal for 2008 is to save $4000 to use as a down payment for a new (or new to me car) no later than May 15th 2008. I will do this by finding a second job and earmarking that income towards my car fund and being even more diligent in sticking to my new and improved budget. This will mean saving/earning $800 per month to achieve this goal. Between a second job and budgeting, I know it can be done.

Lofty goals, but it has to be done!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Just to Really Make My Weekend

My DVD player decided last night to die. I was trying to watch a DVD and it kept getting stuck at one chapter. Thought it was the DVD, so I switched to a different movie, same thing happened except then the DVD player decided to make all these noises, I could not activate any of the menus, and it would not open the DVD slot. Since I don't have cable or get great TV reception, I watch a lot of movies, especially in the winter when I am home and the weather is not condusive to sitting outside and listening to music.

Verdict, dead as a doornail. Great and ugh. Another thing to add to my list of household items that have died (hoover, toaster oven, and now DVD player). I'm going to start a wish list of things I need and want. The timing on having to replace these items, well, stinks, to say the least.

I'm hoping I'll win the Lottery.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Are the Weatherproofing Improvements Worth it?

I live in a part of the country that gets cold, for a number of months, where the temperature can dip into the single digits F and stay there for days. I also live in a small not well insulated house with electric baseboard heat. Probably the house started out as a summer vacation cottage and morphed into a year round residence. Each baseboard unit has an on off switch, so I pretty much keep the heat off in each room unless it is needed (off in the bedroom and bathroom during the day, etc). That helps, at least the heat can be turned on and off as needed.

I keep the heat at 50-55F at night and no more than 65F when I am home. It's a bit chilly, but I wear sweatshirts and fleeces and have an extra blanket on the bed. I do have one section of the house that I keep the animals in. It started out as the front porch to the cottage and developed into a storage room. It does not have an exterior door, but it does have a number of windows (uninsulated) and it drafty. The winter north wind does like to come through the cracks.

This year as I did in previous years, I bought some plastic film to go over the windows. I usually bought the interior film and would do the 4 windows that seemed to get the most breeze. You can see and hear the wind come through that part of the house. The plastic would move as the wind blew. This year I bought the exterior window plastic, applied it as directed (temps over 25, clean dry siding, etc) and it lasted for about two weeks, then fell off. Of course, we are starting to hit a spell of cold and windy weather and the ambient temperature is below the manufacturers installation range. I was kind of annoyed to have my work fall apart so soon. It's too cold to redo the exterior window, so I think what I will do is put the exterior film up inside and see if that stays.

A couple years ago I bought this insulation that you can put behind your wall outlets to prevent heat loss and I put some insulation on my pipes. The house does need new windows, I had one window in the kitchen replaced with a very basic insulated one and it really cut down on the draftiness.

What I would really like to do is to replace the insulation in my crawl space. Half of it is on the correct way, half of it on the wrong way. (The people I bought the house from were horrible at all the supposed home improvements they did and that was one of them.) Buying the insulation is not the hard part, getting someone to go into the crawl space, take out the old and install the new stuff is the difficult part.

The other thing I would like to do is replace my gas fire. I have an old propane gas fire that I use as auxiliary heat. I only keep it on when I'm home. It has three temperatures, off, lo and high and no thermostat. It would work best in a garage or workshop, not having a thermostat means it cranks out heat. The house can go from 55 to 75 if I have the gas fire on and then drop back to 55 in a very short period of time when I turn it off. I kinda wonder if I'm wasting a lot of propane turning it on and off like that. I tend to use it in the middle of winter when it's really cold outside and I want instant warmth. It does give off heat and I find the hissing noise of the fire soothing. The animals tend to want to sleep in front of it and fry their brains. I found similar units that have thermostats, but they cost between $160-$185 (depending on the model) and then I would have to have my gas company install it ($75 just to show up to do it). It's a fairly simple connection, kinda like screwing in a new propane tank line for your gas grill, but I'm not that adventurous and would rather have a professional do the work. I'm wondering with the spike in oil prices (and thus the spike in my gas price) would it be worth the investment to have an updated unit? Or do I just wear an extra fleece, drink more tea and gut it out until next year?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Next Weeks Food Plan

Breakfast: Bread product with egg or cream cheese

Lunch and Dinners: Leftovers, leftovers and more leftovers. I have a fridge full of leftovers. I do have some salad fixings, but not alot. I am soo tired of food.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Some New Links and Work on the Page

Having yesterday off and the holiday meal planned for the end of the day gave me some time to fiddle with the blog. I added some new links and new blogs. I also figured out how to work the RSS feed and subscriber stuff! It's amazing when you can sit down for a couple hours, read the instructions and get things done! My thanks to those of you who have started to subscribe in your readers!

I'm one of those weird people who likes to clean. A couple of my links (Flylady, Real Simple) have great cleaning, organization and decluttering tips. My new favorite way to really clean a sink comes from Flylady. I also highly recommend Method cleaning products for your home. I love the Pink Grapefruit and Cucumber All Purpose Spray and use the Sea Mineral hand wash.

I will also admit, I am a Cricket fan. I spent one full day of my vacation watching the test matches between England and Australia (known as The Ashes) in a pub, indoors, when the UK was having glorious sunny warm weather and I could have been out and about enjoying a great summer day. I'm not from a Cricket loving people by birth, nationality or marriage. I just think Cricket is a neat game. I read a variety of Cricket blogs depending on what countries are playing (Indian/Pakistan, England/Australia).

I also neatly sorted through my reciepts that have been collecting in my reciept wallet, worked a bit on my Christmas present list, actually addressed almost 3/4 of my Holiday cards (to go to the Post Office tomorrow), and started to think about my December to January Budgets.

Overall, I'd say it was a good day off and the meal with friends was pretty darn tasty as well. The evening was topped off by a nice glass of wine and watching Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Couple Blogs/Sites of Note

Part in parcel with my whole bouncing back learning curve is researching and reading all sorts of personal finance and finance related blogs and web sites. One site is This particular site has a number of discussion forums on things like credit repair, budgeting, mortgage companies, loan knowhow for first time home buyers and other forums.

The site has quality content and looks like it updates the site frequently to keep up to date as to what is happening in the world of mortgages and banking. I would recommend that if you are planning on buying a home that you look at all your mortgage options, visit this site and take some time to look at the various forums.

Check it out.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

More Forms......

I had a call from my attorney's office on Monday. I had to stop by and fill out MORE forms for the court. This time it was :

1) A form stating I was willingly and knowingly giving up my jewelery.

2) A form stating I had taken my post filing budgeting course verifying the certificate I had e-mailed to my attorney was indeed, my actual certificate.

3) A form stating I understood the Trustee wanted my 2007 income tax refund (if there was one, if there is going to be one, it will be small).

I keep telling my attorney that I don't think I'll be getting back a huge refund. I used to work a job that had a lot of un-reimbursed employee expenses. Those expenses I had to declare and write off on my income tax. My current job pays for almost all of those expenses. I won't have that much to declare. I get the feeling the court Trustee and my attorney don't quite believe me.

Believe me, it won't be that much and if the court wants it, they can have it. I really don't have a say in that matter at all. I just feel like I keep making some forward progess, then have to take these backwards steps.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Week in Review-Part 2

I think the week went well. I did a cupboard clean out, dumping old containers, re-assessing what food I had, cleaned out a couple drawers. I did a mini Target shop, (I bought 6 pairs of much needed socks and the new containers for food storage.)

I think I might be under budget on a few categories. My question to you all is, If you are under budget, do you take the difference and put it in your EF or savings account or do you leave it in your general account? What do you do with the difference at the end of the month?

Since I am needing a new or new to me car and know how difficult it will be to get a loan, I'm tentatively earmarking extra funds to that account.

The Week in Review-Food review

Overall, (except for the overdraft) it was a better week than the week before. My meal planning went well, actually had left overs from the planned out meals, and have planned out the meals for the upcoming week.

I was asked to bring a casserole to the Thursday Thanksgiving, and I had ready purchased a number of the ingredients as part of my food shop. I am also going to a post Thanksgiving Thanksgiving meal and was asked to bring a dish. The only bummer part is I don't have all the ingredients for this dish, so off (again) to the grocery store for the items I need. Have I told you I really don't like to grocery shop? (yup, a couple times). I have tried to plan out my meals using things I currently have in my food cupboard and refridgerator. Time to use up stuff!

I did a bit of a clean out this week. I had a bunch of containers that I had been using as leftover storage and to bring my meals to work. With all those scares on plastics leaching toxins, I tossed these containers. I know they are at least a year old and I have no idea if they are safe to be used for multiple microwaving sessions. They are left over containers from pre-made meals (one of my old co-workers would buy his lunch every day at the gourmet deli and would put the container in the kitchen to be recycle, I swiped them to use as storage containers, they were a good size). I'd rather be safe than sorry.

I did go to Target and picked up a set of Rubbermaid containers (plus a spiff rack to store the containers and lids on) for $19.99. I have some organization in my cupboards and these containers are microwave safe. It also will help me with portion control for my meals.

The upcoming week should be a good one food wise,

Breakfast: The usual, bread product with cream cheese or an egg, Pancakes and Sausage brunch on Thanksgiving.

Black beans and rice-1 day
Soup and salad=1 day
Sandwich-1 day
Leftovers!-1 day

Business Dinner-1 day
Bean and rice burritos-1 day
Grilled Cheese-1 Day
Thanksgiving Feast-1 day
Pasta-1 day

I have to do a budget check tomorrow, but I think I'm ok on the food budget, any left over $$ I want to earmark for me emergency fund.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Upcoming Holiday

Next Thursday is the American Thanksgiving. Meal wise, I'm having my meal with my great neighbors. I'll bring over a casserole (a variation on the traditional green bean casserole) and a bottle of wine or 6 pack of something. The great part is all I have to do is walk about 50 feet from my front door to their dining room table. Plus the meal will be towards the end of the afternoon. Perfect actually, I can have a large breakfast (I'm thinking pancakes, I never make pancakes anymore) and then take the dogs for a long walk (as long as it's not pissing down rain) and come home ready for a big meal.

I actually do have a lot of things to be thankful for. I'm thankful for my neighbors who have been great friends to me,~loaning me cars and a shoulder to whinge on, I'm thankful I have a job, I'm thankful I have my dogs (as much as they make me crazy right now), I'm thankful I have my house, and I'm thankful that I'm surviving this bankruptcy process with most of my dignity in tact, albeit with acne and grey hair coming in from the stress of it all. Onward and upward as they say!

Nobody's Fault But My Own

I logged back on to my bank account last night and took a closer look. Can't blame any one but me for the overdraft. I had pre-written out a couple checks (to be mailed today) and somehow I dropped them in the post early. They hit my account early, thus the overdraft. Sigh :(

I remember now the envelopes were in my bag, stamped and ready to go and being far too efficient last weekend, I mailed them 5 days early.

STILL-lesson learned, should have had a better cushion in my account.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

First Bounced Check in over a Year

I logged on to my bank account last night to see if my direct deposit hit early (some times it does, sometimes it does not). Only to find my account was in the red. WTF? I did a quick scroll and saw a check I had written for a donation in July was finally cashed in November. Since I am pretty good about monitoring my account balance,balancing my checking account and noting what checks are outstanding, I'm not sure how this slipped by me. I was pretty sure it had cleared in August.

I've not had an overdraft in over a year. I knew my account would be low until payday,I paid all my utility bills, car insurance, those small bills we tend to forget with the last paycheck, but was not expecting an overdraft. The bank honored the check, but I got hit with a $29 overdraft fee. GRR. Live and learn, and the lesson is to keep a better cushion in the account so this does not happen again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Ok, so I've been a little bored at work today and instead of a post, I fiddled with the colors on the blog.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Couple Sales

I listed about 13 books on last week and three have sold. WOO HOO. Not tons of money, but enough where I can treat myself to a DVD later this month. I did not list the books for much (the minimum or a few cents above) and am happy that they sold to someone else who will enjoy them like I did.

I'm going to try posting a collection of books by the same author on E-bay and see if that will generate any interest. Ya never know!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pay Per Post

I have a couple more days then I'll be eligible for Pay Per Post. My blog was initially rejected because it was not active for at least 90 days, I hit that mile stone on Thursday. I'm curious to see who asks me to write about them on this blog. Should be fun!

The Food Theme Continues!

After reeling from the amount of money I spent at the grocery store, I also jumped on the bandwagon on being better about planning my weekly meals. Last week I did really well both lunches and dinner. The weekend was OK, I only bought a sandwich and a drink on the run on Saturday, $5.49, much better from previous week when I spent $24 on lunch alone in three days. I ate the last of my leftovers for lunch and dinner on Sunday (I went to a dinner party on Saturday) . I did spend $30 at the grocery store, but 1/3 of that was dog food and I did a stock up on more canned staples from the damage can bin.

I made a pot of split pea soup last night (using some of the chicken soup I had frozen as stock as a base) for part of my meals this week and took a good look at the food cupboard as well.

My shopping for this week is minimal (dog bones for the dogs, some veg and milk, some fruit for snacks). I've half planned out my meals for the week. My goal for the week is to pretty much make my meals with what I have on hand in the cupboard and in the fridge/freezer. Not much left in the freezer except for some frozen chicken. I don't want to spend a ton of money at the grocery store. I'm tired of the grocery store! I want to work on using what I have for my meals. I also noticed I'm collecting lots of staples (canned beans, dried beans tomatoes, simmer sauces) but not using them. Time to use what I have!

Breakfast: The usual, bread product with cream cheese and a topping (tomato, avocado, fresh bell pepper) or an egg. Tea and or juice.

Homemade Soup and Salad: 2 days
Fake Indian Left overs: 1 day
Sandwich: 1 day
Left Over Beans and Rice: 1 day

Soup and Salad-1 day
Fake Indian-1 day (Thank you Trader Joe's simmer sauces)
Pasta-1 day
Beans and Rice-1 day
Quesadillas or Grilled chicken-1 day

My grand plan is to use up as many things from my cupboards as possible and do one large re-stocking food shop on December 1st.

A Few More Things off The To Do List

1) Took and finished post filing on-line course. Also sent certificate to Attorney's office for the Trustee.
2) Made sure I called/e-mailed three folks I have not been in contact with in over a month just to say Hi and tell them I was thinking about them.
3) Moved some furniture around the house for a "fresh, new look" (and actually the living room area looks better!)
4) Made the decision to give the family heirloom jewelry to the Trustee. The appraisal came back low (as I thought it would) but I still have to "buy back" my own jewelry. After thinking about it, I can ear mark that money towards my new car fund. I need to fund the car fund more than I need jewelry (even a family heirloom). It was a surprisingly easy decision to make when I looked at it in dollars and cents. Plus I still think the ring has bad ju ju and I don't need any more bad vibes in my life at this point.

A Little Treat to Myself

Taking the advice of others, I booked a hair appointment for Saturday and splurged on a decent haircut. I did not get my hair colored (instead I used nail scissors to clip the grey strands-ugh), maybe next month when I'm feeling better about the budget.

It was nice to have a bit of "me time".

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Ok it's fixed

No more menstrual cell ads (at least for now)

Whats Up with Ad Sense

Most definitely not my type of ad that is currently running. Not at all. Google is doing something to us all!

Just To Make My Self More Insane

As I was driving by the local Ford dealer, out in front was my "new" car. The Ford Escape, in blue, with A/C, a sunroof and a hitch receiver. Oh to be the winner of Powerball................

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Feeling The Early Winter Blues

I don't think it is just me, a couple other folks who blog have also said they are feeling a bit blue.

I found this past weekend to be hard on the soul. All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch with a book, a mug of tea and read. Which I did for part of the weekend. Part of the problem was I was so engrossed in two books that I did not get to sleep until way past my bedtime, but the animals were still up at their usual time, plus with the time change, it was an early Sunday.

I still have this urge to just go to bed, pull the covers over my head and hope it all goes away...

Monday, November 5, 2007

What The Hell Did I Spent $84.81 On?

Groceries/Food: $84.81
Gas: $37.82
Eating Out: $24 (not good)
Laundry: $16

Total $162.09

I added up my grocery receipts and it looks like I spent almost half my monthly food allotment in the first four days. $84.81. My first reaction was "On What?" That's almost half my freaking budget. I looked down the list, I got a supply of chicken breast for the freezer that I can cook on the grill or on the stove top, bough a medium sized fryer to make soup with and use the boiled chicken for sandwiches, a couple weeks supply of drinks, re-stocked my pantry with various and assorted staples (flour, yeast, pasta,beans, salt, etc) and items to make my lunch with. Plus I'm pretty well stocked in the Pantry, so hopefully the rest of the month won't be so bad.

I made the soup yesterday, it was yummy, had it for supper last night and lunch this am. Will make chicken salad with part of the leftover chicken and some sort of a casserole with the rest (one of my favorites is to make cream sauce and add in the chicken, a bunch of veg, some pasta and top it off with either breadcrumbs or biscuits). I'll probably freeze the leftover soup and use it as a base for other soups or meals.

I am going to drag out my bread machine tonight and make a fresh loaf of whole wheat bread, that should make my sandwich days more appealing, plus I did not make any bread last week (the whole wheat flour I had was buggy, tells you the last time I used that container-gross).

With the leftovers I won't be ordering in any meals. I can't, to spend $24 on 3 meals is a bit crazy. AND to top it off, the Chinese was not that spicey and I really wanted spicey food, it left me a bit unsatisfied.

Stealing someone Wooly Woman's Theme, The Meals for the Week are as Follows:


Bread Product with cream cheese or one egg (my usual!)


Soup and Salad: 1 Meals
Chicken Salad Sandwich: 1 Meal
Salad with toppings: 1 Meal
Leftover Casserole: 1 Meal
Office Pizza Party: 1 Meal (we are celebrating someones Birthday, free meal!)


Casserole: 2 Meals
Pasta with Red Sauce: 1 meal
Soup and Salad: 1 Meal
Grilled Chicken: 1 Meal
Fake Quesadilla's: 1 Meal

That should take me through the weekend. I am supposed to go to a party on Saturday night and how I feel on Sunday will dictate what additional shopping I do for my meals for the next week. When I'm home in the winter on the weekends, I usually cook up a pot of something (soup, stew, a roast meal, gravy for pasta). House smells good and I can usually get some great leftovers out of the meal.

Like I said earlier, not a lot of freezer space means I'm eating a lot of chicken these next few weeks.

I'll let you know how I fare.

The Weekend Wrap Up.

Without looking at my receipts, I can tell it was NOT a bad weekend money wise. I did my food shopping, both at Costco and the grocery store. I got a lot of staples for the cupboard that I had run out on and some "regular" food as well. I really don't enjoy grocery shopping. Even with a carefully planned out list, I tend to get that glazed, deer in headlights feeling and wander around the store wondering if I got everything I needed. My cupboards are full for the next few weeks (with just the occasional jaunt to the store for fresh veg as needed), so I should be ok. I planned out a week of meals and that is a good thing, I'll have some leftovers for my lunches.

The downside was I bought my lunch Friday ($9.50) Saturday ($8.50) and Sunday ($6.25). Friday a couple of us from work got take out, Saturday I was craving Chinese food, specifically spicy Chinese food and Sunday I was out and about and feeling too lazy to cook when I got back to the house. Plus I spent a good portion of Saturday morning and then another 1.5 hours on Sunday at the laundromat. The last thing I wanted to do was come home and make lunch.

I don't have a full sized washer or a dryer at home. So when the pile of clothes gets out of hand (like it did this week) and the animal laundry too much, off to the laundromat I go. I will admit the animal bedding gets washed in the big super sized $5.50 per load machine on the hot cycle with lots of soap. The bedding comes out really clean, doesn't smell and after a run in the tumble dryer, also without animal hair. I had forgotten some of the bedding and decided to just get it done on Sunday. Plus I was by the other laundromat that morning, I did a grocery shop and returned my returnables while the clothes were being washed.

Hope your weekend was just as exciting as mine!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Is a Costco or BJ's Membership Worth The Price?

As I look at my shopping list for the upcoming month, I have a list that is marked Costco. This is the list of items I buy at Costco. For me it's seltzer water, lettuce, dog food, drinks for my cooler if I am in travel mode, laundry detergent, and depending on what I need, meat and veggies.

I got a Costco (then Price Club) membership years ago when you had to prove you belonged to a credit union, worked for a school district, the government, etc. The cost of the membership has risen from $30 to $50 per year. I recently got a free two months trial at a BJ's (I'm going to "comparison shop" the two chains), they are $45 a year.

My recent problem with Costco is I don't have enough room at my home for buying too many things in bulk or the large super size items. Years ago I lived in a house with a spacious kitchen and spare bedroom with a closet that was the repository of the paper goods and extra cleaning supplies. Plus I drove by the Costco on my way to and from work and it became our subsitute grocery store (this Costco also sold wine and beer). Now I live in just under 500 sf of space with nary an extra closet to be had. I also have a small fridge with a small freezer, storing extra food items is hard as well. Buying chicken pieces in bulk means I'm eating a lot of chicken and nothing else. I don't have room at the house for even a small freestanding freezer to use for storage, space is tight!

I've done my comparison shopping to know almost without exception, the items that are less expensive at Costco than at the local grocery store or chain store. Most of the meats are less expensive, pasta about the same (cheaper at the grocery store when it's on offer), drinks less expensive, basamti rice much less expensive, paper goods, laundry detergent, super size of certain health and beauty aids pretty much the same depending on store sales. I have also gotten some great CDs (one time a fantastic 5 CD jazz compilation rivaling the Smithsonian one, only a lot less cheaper), DVD's, kids books, a suitcase, etc. The Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard in the two pack is a great deal :)

The particular Costco I go to has a gas station and an optical department. I try to fill up my car with gas each time I am there, they price per gallon is at least 3-4 cents cheaper than most gas stations. The Optician is covered under my health insurance so not only can I get a discount on my glasses and contacts, but the visit is covered as well.

The one draw back is the large size of the things I buy, because large is all they offer. Somethings like the large jar of artichoke hearts take up space, but I do put them on my salads and use for cooking and they don't go bad if I miss a few days. Lettuce can sometimes turn to mush only fit for the compost bin in a few days (and sometimes my fridge "freezes" the lettuce-yuck). Meat and chicken is tough, I don't eat those protein products everyday and as I stated above, my freezer space is limited. There is a lot of rice in a ten pound bag.

For me, the savings I get (and just for the gas alone) are worth the membership fee.