Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Wrap Up

My holiday season was busy, mainly with work and some socializing. In past years I’ve been lucky enough to get invited to a number of holiday functions and have felt obligated to bring a bottle of wine, a six pack, a hostess gift. This year I decided that I would not do that. I also decided that last year and it is easier said than done. So, when the first couple invitations came I made a point to call the host/hostess and said, I’d love to come but I won’t since I can’t contribute to the party. Mind you, I was not looking for tea and sympathy, and these folks know I usually bring something. With one exception I was told no gift needed, just show up, we are inviting YOU, not the bottle or food you bring. Now, I know when you get a party invite, you are being invited, not your gift giving abilities, but my DNA has me programmed to bring something. When I reviewed my holiday spending for 2008, I think I spent close to $200 on “hostess gifts” which really wasn’t budgeted so to speak.

The one exception was my friend Judith who re-married a few years back. She is Catholic and married a man who is Jewish. Judith can’t make Latkes (potato pancakes) to save her own life. I can make acceptable Latkes. This year, Judith and her husband hosted a rocking Hanukkah party. So, my Hanukkah gift to her family was to come over earlier and help organize and make the Latkes. Tiny bite sized Latkes that little tidbits of goodness (caviar, sour cream, applesauce, and more) were spooned on and served to the guests. I made regular straight potato ones and root vegetable ones (carrot, parsnip, yams, sweet potato, regular potatoes.) Thank you Smitten Kitchen for your recipe.

Christmas again was spent with friends, a lovely low keyed meal, but full of great food and great company. The weekend was spent at work with a minimal staff and full barn. The weather co-operated, meaning no snow unlike the previous weekend when we got a foot of snow. It was good to go home on Sunday and relax on my couch with a glass of wine.

I drastically dropped down my present list. I only gave to two old friends and my lovely neighbors. I did mail out a ton of cards, no irritating Christmas letter for me! I still have a gift certificate I need to order for some friends in the UK. I did get some nice gifts, a small bonus from work, two scarves, a couple bottles of wine and a tin of cookies I’ll actually eat. My 85 year old uncle sent me my annual $50 check and I got two gift cards, one for $50 and one store card for $30.

I usually give myself birthday and Christmas presents. This way I am assured that I will get at least one item that I WANT. For my birthday this year, it was a much needed new set of bed linens, but I was able to get a nice soft high thread count set from Marshalls. A couple years ago I used my small bonus, and a bunch of gift cards to buy myself my flat screen TV, which I still love and am grateful that I got. Winter is my TV season and even with my limited channel selection, it is still nice to have the larger screen to watch DVD’s and my few favorite programs. My present to myself this year will be a trip to IKEA to get a new bookcase. They are having a sale on New Years day, the item to be purchased is all wood, which is a good thing. I’ll be up early to make the trek, snag a bookcase and do a little shopping. I have given myself a limit of $160 including the shelf. Probably my only true New Years Resolution will be to make that last gasp re-organization and de-cluttering of my space. The new bookshelf will help. And just to point out, I’m only getting the bookcase new because my searches for the past two months have yielded nothing on Craig’s list, the local furniture consignment shops and freecycle. In fact, the two bookshelves I looked at on Craig’s list were pieces of junk that people were asking far too much money for. Come on folks, that POS you are selling for $75 is worth maybe $30! AND they were not all wood. The bookcases I really wanted are made out of reclaimed barn board and cost over $400 each. A local cabinet maker sells them. He makes each one himself, they are lovely, but I just can’t justify $800 on bookcases right now. My next furniture purchase has to be a new or new to me apartment sized sofa.

New Years Eve will be spent as it has been the past few years, over at the neighbors, eating good food, drinking a bit, playing board games, dancing to music and then off to bed just after midnight.  Have a good safe holiday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Still Here

Just the usual craziness, but I do have some posts in the hopper.  Have a great holiday if I don't post this weekend!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

Before I start this post, I have to remind myself and everyone, that since I filed for my bankruptcy, I have been able to bounce back in certain areas. I got a new to me car, I got a credit card, I live a mainly cash only existence, I'm feeling a bit more in control of my finances...


The big YET

One of my problems that led me to the bankruptcy was this string of bad luck, things so out of my control that kept knocking me down personally, professionally and most importantly, fiscally. Things are not quite that bad this time around, but I do feel like it's two steps forward and three steps back and that I'm stuck in a mud pile, bog, or what ever. It's an incredibly frustrating feeling.

I try to be positive, I try to ask the universe for help, I pray to my gods, I make action plans, I set measurable goals, I say my daily affirmations, I network, I do vision boards, I think I'm doing everything I need to do, yet I have a huge issue getting plans to come to fruition in a timely basis~ something happens that sets me back, time and time again.

One of my readers awhile ago said I should just ask the universe. I've tried, I am probably not asking the correct way. Call me paranoid or crazy, but at one point before the BK I really felt like someone had put a hex on me. I can almost to the day tell you when things went belly up for me and the daily grind became a daily struggle, it was the 2nd week in February 2004. You may think I'm crazy, but it was from that point forward that I got stuck in the 2 steps forward, 3 steps back mode.

I have never shied away from hard work. I am not asking for things to be dropped into my lap, but it would be nice to have a string of good luck or easy successes to bolster my confidence or to balance out the struggles. It is discouraging to repeatedly feel that I am stuck in a place and can not move forward.

I wish I had an answer for the above. I wish I could give you all the magic plan to get out of this cycle. It's draining on the mind as well as the body and finances to feel this way. So what am I going to do, not 100% sure. I keep reworking my goal list so that I do get a sense of accomplishment, but I still have this major goals and projects that need to be done or worked on and getting some sense of satisfaction with those is the on going issue.

In the quest to get my new to me car, I did a vision board of the type of car I wanted (a small SUV) with the extras I wanted,even down to the GPS and cargo rack. I also did my homework, checking out dealerships, price checking, getting my finances in order for a very post BK venture into the world of a consumer loan. It took a couple months, but I did get the vehicle I wanted with the extras I wanted and now almost two years later, I still love it!

Yet I am having a problem transferring that success to other parts of my life. I'm not talking expensive jewels or designer clothes or first class trips around the world. I'm talking about getting a reputable contractor to tackle that never ending home repair list of things I can't do, I'm talking about job goals, personal goals. Things that I should be able to achieve, yet getting these goals and accomplishments seems to move ever so slowly forward. So very slowly......

I'm open to any and all suggestions and yes, I'm even looking for a way to break that hex. :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Second Job Update

I'm going back to working every weekend at my second job. I am grateful that I have this second job, I am grateful that it works for me and works for them, but I really wish I did not need the second job.

The biggest problem with the second job is that I now work 6.5 days a week, 3 days not at "home" and it gets tough to schedule those things I need to do, doctors appointments, car maintenance, relaxing grocery shops, you get the picture. My Me Time gets put aside. Oh well, you do what you have to do.

I was not very happy to have the conversation with my co-worker about her leaving for her surgery. I know she was not happy to come back last spring and have to share her hours with me. I was hired to replace her on a temporary basis, but since I brought to the job more skills than a horse groom, I got to stay on and help out. That decision was that of my boss. Heck, with my full time job still at 3/4 time, I needed the work and the hours. I did my best to not get drawn into the work BS, I know my friend Gill does not like my weekend co-worker. Gill also works at the barn, but her work is sporadic and she usually swaps work for a reduction in her board bill. My co-worker stayed on a few extra weeks so she could build up her bank account. Good for her, not good for me. I had to push back my plans to accommodate her ever changing schedule. My weekend boss does not do really well with confrontation and as far as he was concerned, as long as his barn had proper coverage, he was happy. I guess my conversations about the weekend schedule fell on deaf ears, or he just did not want to deal with the situation. I felt like I had to negotiate her medical leave of absence. I know my boss feels sorry for her and her personal situation. I just wish he would have been the one to be a little more forceful about her setting a departure date.

I will admit too, that what I used to was to not only be a barn groom,but a show groom as well, I used to go to a bunch of the shows. It was hard work, but it was fun. Part of me feels like I've been demoted to the babe at the barn. I don't get asked to go to the shows anymore, actually, I've only been to two shows as a show groom in the past year. I used to go at least 2x or more a month.

The good part to all of this is I am hoping that I will have the discipline to take the 'extra' money from the second job and put it safely in my emergency fund. I'll let you know what happens with all of this.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Scan A Thon Is Almost Complete

One of my goals for 2008 was to scan all my files and various bits and bobs of paper. It took me until this summer to get a new scanner/printer/fax AIO. I waited until my old printer bit the dust, I shopped around and I got a nice AIO.

I have over the past few months, scanned almost all my old paper files. Utility bills, old bank statements, new bank statements, insurance policies, EOB's, etc. I think I scanned and shredded about 40 pounds of paper. I still have a pile of things to scan and shred (old income tax statements and all the back up documentation), but I've managed to really reduce down my paper. It also doesn't hurt that I only have one credit card and most of my bank statements and utility statements are all e-statements now. My mailbox is getting kind of empty. I get the odd catalog and the occassional bill. More importantly, I have less paper clutter at home. I tend to keep a lot of paper, but now I scan and drop in the appropriate file.

I have Fabulously Broke in the City to thank for this. Her posts on going paperless really motivated me to get cracking. My "home office" is looking better and better!

Feels kinda good!

Neighbor Update

I did promise you all an update on the various facets of my exciting life. My neighbor is having all sorts of problems, family, financial, etc.

The biggie is that she has had an ongoing discussion with both of her kids. The two girls are both out of high school and both living at home. Oldest child has a job that ends in January, she had been living on her parents couch for the past few months. She had thrown a mini temper tantrum over the summer when her parents said they would not fully subsidize her old apartment. She has been living at home and to her mothers credit, her mother has not been taking care of pet cat and pet lizard. Yup, oldest child not only moved back home, spent days and weeks sulking, but also brought her pet cat and pet lizard and expected her parents to take care of both pets and supply the food. Thankfully, my neighbor said that oldest child had to chip in and pay for the cat food, lizard food and be responsible for the care and welfare of said animals. When eldest child realized her mother was serious, she was quite taken aback. She was even more taken aback when she told her parents she was planning on moving into her own apartment and leaving her animals at home and the my neighbor said-nope not gonna happen. You are moving, you take them with you or give them up to the animal shelter. My neighbor has a dog and two cats and does not need to be dumping ground for her kids unwanted pets.

The youngest child has just finished her community service sentance, still had done nothing about school, and barely working part time. My neighbor went away for the Thanksgiving Holiday, so I took care of the pets and in exchange, did my laundry. I can tell you that the youngest kid decided that she did not want to go away with her family, spent part of the time at the house (supposedly she was going camping with her friends and unable to take care of the house and pets for her parents). I went into the house to walk, water and feed the dog and found a huge mess in the kitchen. A people mess, dirty dishes left in the sink, unwashed pots on the stove. Youngest child pretty much came home, hung out watched cable, ate lunch and dinner and left her debris at home for mom to clean up.

If youngest child was my kid, I'd either smack her upside her head for her utter rudeness or toss her boney bottom out of the house. It would have taken all of 10 minutes if not less to do the dishes.

My neighbor is also is a twist about $$. She was complaining that she had almost maxed out her credit cards and her interest rates had gone sky high. She was also upset because she got turned down for a re-finance because of her credit rating. I have some sympathy for her in this respect, but this would have been the second time she did a re-fi on the house and used the proceeds to pay off credit card debt. I know she is shelling out a ton of cash to both daughters who are quite content to take money from their parents. It's almost as if my neighbor has to end up in a screaming fit before the kids take any fiscal responsibility for themselves.

I do feel badly, heck, we all feel the fiscal pinch, but my neighbor knows she has a hard time cutting that maternal fiscal string. I just wish for her own peace of mind she can really do it and stick to it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

You Have To Keep Looking

Earlier this month I did a much needed clothes shop. I did a purge of my closet of the clothes that don't fit. Some went to Goodwill, some went to the consignment shop, others went into the trash. I had not been having much luck at my 2 local consignment shops, pickings had been slim, hence the mad shop at the Mall.

Over the weekend I did stop by and low and behold, I found two tops in the colors I wanted and both in very good shape. I paid a whopping $6 for two tops that are much needed in my clothes rotation. One top looked almost brand new. The key to consigment/thrift store shopping is to keep going back. The inventory can and does change. I was pretty darned happy to find the two tops and I still have $25 left over for my clothes budget for the remainder of the year. Even better, I avoided going to the Mall and dealing with all the Holiday shoppers!.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Frienemy Update

My volunteer project with my frienemy comes to an end today! I am very happy about that. And I'm happy that I won't have to interact with them on any sort of a regular basis until maybe sometime next spring, if that. I'll just be fussier about my next volunteer project.
Part of me feels bad that our friendship is over, in a manner of speaking, but a bigger part of me is relived not have to deal with the BS anymore. Maybe my BS tolerance has dropped; maybe I'm finally growing up? Who knows?
There is a part of me that still can't get over the fact that I seemed to crave this person’s attention and recognition. I guess we truly never leave high school do we?

I think one issue I had getting rid of the frienemies and toxic people is that I've become pickier as to whom I'll let in my life. At least with the old set, I knew their issues and could deal with them. The new ones, well, I just kind of wonder at times if I have the energy to deal with new friends.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Contest Winners!


The winners are

Shevy for Starbucks Card and LJ for the Target Card

LJ, if you don't have a Target near you I will happily send you a Starbucks card

Look for my e-mail to you so I can get a mailing address.

I won't be running a contest in December, but will do one in January.

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Loving ALDI

I did my food and holiday shopping over the weekend and I have to repeat again for the 100th time, that I'm really like the local ALDI. I have to remember to shop there more often. Iwalked out of ALDI the other day with three big bags of grocery items for less than $30. I walked out of the grocery store with two small bags and $37 poorer.

They have a bunch of seasonal specials ( or at least they do in my store), brie cheese at 1/3 the cost of the local chain grocery store, the basic dairy items are at least 1/2 less expensive than the local grocery store. I've been pretty impressed with the quality of the pantry staples. I've been having to shop for two kitchens, my own and the one at the weekend job. I have kitchen privileges at my weekend job, no one seems to take the food from my assigned shelf, so I've been slowly bringing things like pasta, beans, spices, canned soups, etc. I had fallen into the habit of going into town for lunch on a more than regular basis, instead of an occasional treat, it was becoming the norm and it was getting expensive. I don't mind going into town for a coffee, but eating all my meals out, was getting pricey. So back to bringing leftovers and keeping some basics at the farm. Plus I now set aside one night to cook a "real meal", shamelessly watch cable TV while eating my dinner and then I take the leftovers home for lunch.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Frienemies, we all have them.  They are those people in your life that you still hang out with that are a bit toxic or are bad for you Karma. 

I have a couple freinds that have made the transition from friend to frienemy.  I'm a glutton for punishment as I can't seem to get them out of my life or completely let them go.  This is something I need to work on because it has caused me a ton of aggrivation this past month dealing with a "friend".  I've been interacting with them for a volunteer project and this recent spell of 'togehterness' has firmly reminded me the reason why we drifted apart. Yet I keep finding myself responding to invitiations for drinks or coffee out.    This particular person is very good at giving out compliments covered in poo.  IE- We are working on this volunteer project, I know I did my part really well, yet the compliment that I got was Oh lovely, but .........

Yikes, let me tell you, I will be very happy when this project is done and dusted.

Cooking at Home Can Be Expensive, Here's How to Avoid the Expense

A while back someone had commented in my blog that she had a whopping failure cooking soup at home and my response was to direct them to another web site. Not cool of me. It was a flip answer in hindsight.

For people who are having to forgo eating out and eating in, they may not have the skills to cook at home. Like many things, cooking is a skill learned. Most people are not born being great chefs or cooks. Plus, unless you are used to cooking at home, it can be expensive to start out. The key to making low cost meals is not to use the cheapest ingredients, but to make sure you have a stocked kitchen with the items that you need to make your meals.

I strongly suggest that if you are trying to give up eating out, buying take out or ready made meals that you don't go all Martha Stewart and try to cook fabulous complicated meals unless you are a practiced cook. Start with the basics.

When my ex BF and broke up, I moved into my own apartment and spent a small freaking fortune on stocking up my kitchen. Butter, flour, pasta, cooking oils, vinegars, spices, canned beans, dried beans, mustard, ketchup, BBQ sauce, sugar, honey, etc. You get the picture. I had to start from scratch. I knew what items I used on a regular basis so I wrote out my list and did my shopping. I will admit, it did take two or three shops to stock up the cupboard. I'd forget that I needed soy sauce and tamari sauce for when I'd do a stir fry. That I really did need curry powder for my homemade curries and that having a couple boxed of Kraft Mac and Cheese is really a good thing.

To ease yourself into cooking at home, you need to do the following things:

1) Get a couple basic cookbooks- I highly recommend the Joy of Cooking, it is my bible for anything and everything kitchen related. It has answers for almost all your cooking questions.

2) Find a good food blog: I highly recommend A Year Of Crockpotting. Yes, it's all about the crock pot, but there is an amazing variety of recipes and lets face it, the crock pot does the cooking! I use my crock pot a least once a week in the winter. I've never had a bad recipe from AYOC.

3) Think about the foods you and your family like to eat, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Meat and Potatoes, etc. Learn to cook some of those foods.

4) Become proficient at a couple basic items. A roast chicken is one of my favorite meals. I roast the chicken and have that with a couple sides for dinner. I use the leftover meat for sandwiches and I save the carcass and make stock with it. The stock gets frozen and stored in my freezer and use the stock as a base for soups. I make a lot of basic soups. That $7-$9 chicken makes at least 4 meals for one.

I happen to like rice and beans and I frequently make black beans and rice. My recipe for that comes straight off of the can of Goya black beans. Over the years, I've modified the recipe a bit to suit my tastes. I also use this recipe for any kind of beans and rice.

Since I'm not a huge fan of eating the same food day in and day out, if I go overboard and make too much of the black beans and rice, I'll take the leftovers and make burritos, or mash up the beans with some stock and make black bean soup. if I go overboard on the lentil soup, I'll add in pasta or wild rice or some cut up sausages to change it up a bit.

I make a pretty decent tomato sauce (gravy if you are from the NYC area). I eat a lot of pasta. I keep a variety of pasta shapes in my cupboard, spaghetti, ziti, fettuccine, shells, rotini. Sometimes I add in olives, hot pepper flakes capers to my basic red tomato sauce for a little extra zing, that sauce is known as Puttanesca sauce (less the anchovies). I learned how to make pesto and usually make a couple jars to freeze each summer.

I was lucky, I grew up around people who liked to eat and liked to cook. Cooking was a pleasure, not a chore. This is not to say that I have not had some spectacular failures. I've made things that are just plain horrible and a few items that ended up being inedible. It's part of the learning process. I've been making soup since I was 12. I wanted to learn how to make soup and I did.

Again, start small, start with the easy stuff and work your way up. There is no shame in using pre- prepared items. I don't cook beans well, so I use a lot of canned beans. My freezer is small, and if I run out of room or don't have any stock, I pick up a container of stock at the grocery store. I've tried a couple brands and found the ones that I like and when they are on sale, I pick up a couple containers to keep in the cupboard. Trader Joe's makes a dammed fine Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup. For $1.89 a quart it's cheaper and easier for me to buy that than to make the soup if I feel like a treat. I use frozen veg as well as fresh. I have on more than one occasion, made Rice A Roni as a side dish. I've even used the ramen noodles from cup o noodles as a base for a noodle and veg stir fry (I omitted the tasteless broth).

I pick up almost all my herbs and spices from the local health food store. They have a bulk section and I am an avid collector of jars. This has several advantages, 1) I can pick and choose the spices I want in the quantities I want. 2) Bulk spices tend to be so much less expensive than the jars you get at the grocery store. I tend to use a lot of specific spices and I buy larger quantities of those and the spices I use infrequently, I keep in the smaller jars. Baby food jars are great, I reuse old spice jars, I use old mustard and jelly jars. My spice shell is an eclectic mix of herbs and spices in jars. None of it matches and I really don't care! I paid $1.10 for a bunch of dried rosemary at the health food store. One of those small spice jars at the grocery store would have run me almost $5. The other advantage to getting my spices at the health food store is at least once a year I just dump them all. Dried herbs and spices have a finite shelf life. I paid around $12 to restock my spice collection two weeks ago. $12 would have gotten me, what two, maybe three jars at the grocery store? I keep a selection of various condiments in the fridge, curry pastes, Chinese sauces, etc for when the mood strikes that I might want a curry or a fancier stir fry.

Maybe you don't have the time or the skill to make your own home made pizza dough, but you can pick up a pre-made shell, a jar of tomato sauce and some cheese, and I know some stores carry fresh dough in the dairy section. I've even picked up a basic frozen cheese pizza and added my own toppings. Still less expensive than take out and not as labor intensive as making the sauce, dough, slice and dice the cheese and other stuff.

Getting out of the habit of eating out or getting take out takes time. I also suggest that you plan a couple meals a week that are quick and easy to make. Use the weekends to fiddle in the kitchen. Don't get too upset if the first few times the dish does not turn out well. This is cooking, not brain surgery. When I started to make meatloaf, each loaf tasted horrible. I used a friends recipe, watched her make the meatloaf and the first few I made were awful. All of sudden, I got the knack for making a decent meat loaf. The same with scalloped potatoes. I used the wrong type of potatoes, I under cooked or over cooked the potatoes, now I "get" how to make the perfect blend of potatoes, milk, onions and flour. I make really good scalloped potatoes. It took time!

I now have a list of dishes I can make and make well, I keep my pantry stocked with items for those dishes, I shop the specials to stick up on those pantry staples and I'm not afraid to branch out (I've been doing a lot of Indian cooking this year). Mistakes happen, food burns or is undercooked (Invest in a good kitchen timer!).

Hopefully, these few tips are of good use for you! As Jacque Pepin would say Happy cooking!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Few Updates

Sorry for going MIA, but I was having a problem logging into the free wireless at home and too flat out busy at work to even post from there. Things are settling down.

So a few updates.


My e-fund is almost at rock bottom. Why? This time is was a for legit reason. My two poochies that dislike each other had a little altercation to the tune of a $600 vet bill. Between the stitches and vet visits to patch them up, it was just shy $600 ($595). One of my friends accidently let the two girls out together and they had a bit of a bite fest. Better that the two girls bit each other than someone. It was a lot of sutures and one dog has to stay at the Vets all day on a IV drip because of the fear of infection. Needless to say I was not happy, my friend beside himself, but that is one reason I have an E-fund. Now back to building it up.

Weekend Job:

I go back to working my "old schedule" starting the first week in December. What that means is from then until sometime in May, I'll be working 6.5 days a week. I'm still on reduced hours at my "full time" job, and given my back slide in the PF department this fall, I'll just deal with it. The co-worker who is supposed to have surgery put it off 3 weeks so she could work extra hours. At this point, I just really needed to know when she was going to have her surgery so I could adjust my schedule. It's been busy at the barn and I just need to know how to plan my personal schedule.

My Lovely Neighbor

My lovely neighbor is having all sorts of issues, personal, financial, kids. I'm watching a train wreck and it's very sad. I had a long weekend of out of area work for my part time job and she watched the dogs. I told her I'd pay her (I had my boss give me extra$$$ for that purpose) and she would not take the money. It's not money out of my pay check, I negotiated the money as part of this trip out of area to help. Yet, she turned it down. I did the only other thing I could think of which was to buy a bunch of gift cards and I'll slip them to her over the next few monts. I'll update more on her situation later.

My "Full Time Job"

I've been working like a fiend on a project at work that I think will make a bit of difference to our business. It also entails a work blog (yet another blog!). I think my boss has finally gotten around to understanding the difference between a blog, twitter, facebook, et al. I think. So I've been working on this project almost non stop, getting feedback form staff and clients. If it all comes to fruitition, I'll be really happy. I think it will and now that things are slowly going back to normal, I'll be back to trolling facebook and blogger at work.

Me Personally

Honestly, I've had a bit of a backslide with the finances and my personal life. I'll put up a whinging post later this week, but I still feel like I make 2 steps forward and then 3 steps back. Again, and I have no idea how to stop this freaking cycle, I start to make some decent forward progress and then wham, I hit a wall, get stuck in a mud pile, something that really drags me down. Ugh..... I feel like no matter what I do, I keep making the same dumb mistakes and I'm putting myself in the insane aslyum trying to figure out how to break the cycle.

Ah well......More soon

I am not totally gone.

Yes, I've been absent, things have been oddly crazy and I've been neglecting this blog. 

I have a post scheduled for tomorrow for the winnners of the gift card give away, so look for it.

Thank you for your understanding.!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Weekend in Review

I had a good weekend. I managed to spend a ton of money, but on things like my electric bill, my phone bill, and a huge food shopping (I'm really liking this one big shop a month thing), some much needed new clothes and of course, I picked up two of the gift cards I'm giving away.

I got paid from both jobs on Friday, paid the bills that needed to be paid and then gave myself permission to hit the mall for clothes, within reason. I set both a budget and a numerical limit on clothes (no more than 4 pairs of pants and 3 tops). I ended up at Macy's for two reasons, well three. I had a coupon for an additional 20% off, they were having a great sale, and I know that I can swing in and hit a couple departments for clothes with the least amount of fuss and bother.

I have been pretty good about going to the consignment shops to look for clothes this past year, but the pickings have been very slim. I managed to pick up 4 pairs of pants, suitable for work and two tops. I need 1-2 more winter tops, some winter socks and if my budget permits, one pair of dress boots. My office is on the casual side, but even my casual clothes are looking a bit worn and tired. The last time I did a major clothes shop was just over 2 years ago when I hit the outlet malls and got a bunch of clothes for work. I had picked up two pairs of new pants over the winter, but I managed to destroy one pair. I think I'm pretty well set for brand new clothes. The sale at Macy's was amazing and I just happened to luck out in finding clothes I like that fit well and were in my price range.

I have decided that doing one major food shop a month seems to work well for me. I pick up the pantry staples, meat product (chicken, beef or pork) and freeze most of it, my frozen veg and I do a bit of menu planning so I only have to stop at the grocery store for my fresh dairy items and to replenish the fruits and fresh veg. Since I am a reluctant grocery shopper, this works for me. I find I'm not aimlessly wandering the isles looking for food or dinner inspiraton or buying un needed food items. My initial outlay of cash is a bit high, but then I spend very little the remainder of the month. That is what happened in October and I anticipate that happening for November.

There has been the usual drama at the part time job, the drama with the neighbor and her kids, the frustration with a new project at work-all which do have a PF angle. Look for those posts in the upcoming week!


As I posted on Friday, I'm doing a give-away for the month of November

You can win either a $10 Target Gift Card or a $10 Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts Gift Card

Simply send me an e-mail or leave your information in the comment section.

Winnners will be chosen at random.

Good luck!

Update: Fixed!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Still Here and November Contest

Still here, but still having connection issues at home and still busy at work (which is a good thing) where I can't seem to find the time to post or at least pre-schedule posts.  Sigh, it's always something isn't it! 

I'm going to do a little November Give-Away. The contest will run November 2nd until November 15th. I'll randomly draw two winners on the 16th.

I'm giving away a $10 Target gift card and a $10 Starbucks gift Card or a Dunkin Donuts card for those of us who live in Dunkin Donuts land and would prefer that card.


Simple enough~ I'll put up a post on Monday (already pre-scheduled !) and either leave a comment on the post or send me an e-mail (bouncingback22008) to my yahoo account STARTING ON MONDAY.

Hope you all are well, now for me to find a costume for my Halloween party on Saturday......

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Food Shopping Spree Was A Success

The food shopping spree I had at the beginning of the month was a good thing! As I posted yesterday, I've been a bit crazed and I really dislike grocery shopping. I have been able to make a bunch of meals,complete with lunch leftovers and since the start of the month, have only spent an additional $20 on fresh veg and fruit.

As of now,I've not tired of the food items I bought and have not felt the urge to go out and shop for additional groceries. That is a good thing!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just a Bit Crazed, No Internet, and I made a top 100 list!

Things have been a bit hairy scary right now, nothing horrible, just life. I also have almost no internet service right now at home,the free WiFi is not working well.

BUT I did find out I made the top 100 female bloggers over at Her Every Cent counts. Click here to see the list.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some Nice Surprises!

Some upbeat news for a holiday Monday.  Happy thanksgiving to my Canadian readers and Happy Columbus day to all the Italians who celebrate it!

A few positive things that have happend to me these past few weeks.:
1) Taking advantage of my cousins offer to use her New Jersey beach house and finding a nice bottle of whiskey on the table with a card that said, Thanks for all your help with Mom and idiot brother issue. Have a great couple days.  The upside, nice bottle of whiskey to enjoy and three fabulous quiet days on the Jersey Shore. Simply a great mini break for me.

2) A very nice an unexpected note from my weekend boss thanking me for all the things I do at the weekend job and the things I do that are not in the job description. 

3) Going out to brunch yesterday and then someone else picking up the tab out of the blue.

4) Getting to the laudromat and in less than 2 hours, getting 7 loads of laundry, washed,dried and folded AND making it back home in time to crash on the couch and enjoy a glass of whiskey!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Mortgage Increases

This is the first month that I will be paying my increased mortgage. Yuck. I budgeted for it since I had a low paying August and did not bring in as much money as I though I would on my part time job. I also pre-paid for my 1st winter propane delivery to save some $$$$.  Cash was in short supply a few times because I failed to plan properly.

The good news is the other worker bee at my weekend job will be leaving soon to back on her "medical leave" for at least three months. That will be three months of me working every weekend. I am even giving consideration to working Christmas this year to save up the funds. I don't really celebrate the holiday,despite being of the Christian faith.   I figured out that I was able to survive on my reduced hours schedule (did not make too many financiall goals, but paid all my bills, plus) that I can use the experience of the past 6 months to be more disciplined in my savings.  I have used my e-fund a few times and did not always replenish the full amount I took out.  That simply has to change. I was doing fairly well socking away money to my credit union account, I really slacked off the past few months for no good reason!

How are you doing on your saving goals?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shopping Spree

If you have read my blog in the past, you know how much I hate grocery shopping. For someone who likes to cook, I really dislike going to the grocery store.  Actually, I don't mind going to various markets (meat, produce,etc), but my area of the world does not have such stores.  Just over priced mom and pop local markets and the big chain markets. Spending more that 15 minutes in the grocery store gives me a headache, it really does.

After having such a crazy few weeks, I realized I was getting to the point of nothing in my food cupboards. Not that they were bare, but that I got to the point where I had no idea how to combine the last few items to make anything that was tasty. I even used up the last two cups of ramen noodles, some dying vegetables and leftover hoisin sauce to make, yup you guessed it, hoisin noodles with veggies. It's not so bad provided you don't use all the MSG filled broth in your stir fry.

Non the less, I made a list and went guilt free shopping yesterday.  I spent $93 on assorted groceries and sundry items (cleaning supplies), out of that $93, about $15 were on "processed foods".  Things like a bunch of Lean Cusisnes, some boxes of chicken broth, a box of Hot Pockets which I was craving, and a package of cookies. I did pick up some duplicate items to take to my weekend job as that pantry is spare and I do have my own assigned food shelf, those items are neatly bagged for my next work weekend.  I also got a nice pork shoulder that will be dumped in the crock pot on Friday and set to simmer with all sorts of spices. I'm hoping to can pick up a few windfall apples as I walk past the local orchard tomorrow. 

Even though I spent $93, I still did not pick up nearly enough fresh veg or other types of protein product (chicken pieces, ground beef, tofu). I have to make a Costco run tonight to pick up some items for work and will pick up my protein product then and my case of Seltzer Water that I drink everyday. 

The good part to this shopping spree is that I now have a nice assortment of items for my pantry so that I can make things like soups, stews, casseroles, breads, to feed my face at dinner and have the leftovers for lunch. Even though I walked out of the store feeling a little overwhelmed, at least I'm well set on pantry staples to last me at least the rest of the month if not more!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Geting back on Track

Soo a week later, I have no takers on my offer of guest posts. The offer still stands if you want to take advantage of my blog space to post your story, let me know! So on to the next stage. I'll be back to posting the end of this week. I am fighting a little cold and have been spending the past few nights snuggled up on the couch with a box of tissues and a mug of tea.

Hope you all are well!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

This Blog is My Story-What's Yours

I've been a bit crazed with a couple projects, sorry for the lack of posts. Things should settle down next week, I hope and I pray they do!

Like all blogs, this is my story of my bankruptcy and coming back from it. Not everyone who has gone or is going through a BK has a blog.

I'd like to use this space to share some people's stories should you care to share.  I'm asking my readers to send me a "guest post" on what your story is and what you are doing either pre-BK or post BK.  It can be as long or as short as you would like.

If you are in a sharing mood, please contact me at:

bouncingback22008   at

Have a great week all!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Neighbor's Kid Update

My neighbors kid had her court date this week. She was lucky, she got off with a small fine and 25 hours of community serivce. According to her mother, the kid was actually showing some remorse about the situation. Her mother thinks that the seperation from her friends who were also arrested helped this kids attitude a bit. There was no misery in numbers and she probably got some fair time to think about the situation. The kid has been working with her dad (he is a landscaper) and will select her community service this week. The court has a list of organizations in which to choose from.

My neighbor did say that she was "giving in" to the kid a bit. My neighbor knows she struggles with giving in to her kids and just has felt that she has "denied" them so much this past summer that she was just getting tired of saying no. She did also say that when said child was sulking about the arrest, boyfriend and housing situation that she simply grow up, get a job, move out and not rely on the parents to pay for everthing. I was told that the kid had a look of shock on her face. My neighbor and I both figured that the kid thought her parents would give in and give her money for this "adventure".

Oh well, we are both hoping this was a painful lesson learned and that the kid might not make it again.

What has this got to do with personal finance? Not much at first glance, but this does go on this kids permanent record and could impact future jobs, rental prospects. I don't think she realizes that some companies and landlords are very particular about employees/tenants having clean records. I know my office makes it clear that they run a criminal record search on all employees as part of the application process. You just never know what will make an employer reject your application.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mercury Is In Retrograde-Hence The Computer Issues, BUT Here are the Give-A-Away Winners

Mercury is in retrograde and I've been having all sorts of problems with my old computer. Sigh...

Non the less, I am finally able to post my give a way winners. I will be sending an e-mail to my winners. Thanks to everyone who posted in my comments and contacted me by e-mail My three winners are



and oneeighteenfifteen@____________

Your sample boxes are wrapped and ready to be shipped! Once I get your mailing addy, I will drop in the mail.

Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

August Was Expensive! Plus a few Updates

Failure to plan properly cost me dearly.  I had some bills come up that I was not expecting until Sept or October and since I did not plan properly, I had to dip in to my Efund to cover them.  I had a home insurance payment that I was not expecting to be so high, but I neglected to read the fine print on the last bill that stated the company for future billing,  they would bill you either twice a year or once a year. In the past two years, the payments were spread over three invoices and I was not expecting to have to pay sooo much. So be it,  shame on me for not reading the fine print.  The other unexpected bill was my mobile bill. I've been using my phone a lot more these past few months, so much so that I keep getting hit with outrageous overage charges.  I did the adult thing, reviewed my bills for the past 5 months, went to the web site, reviewed other plan options and found a new plan that should cover the minutes I've been using. It's $39 per month instead of $23 per month, but since my last 4 bills have all been over $50, I think this should help me out budget wise, especially since I know I'll be using the phone a lot over the next two months. I had some fun to me time, that while not exceptionally expensive did cost me some $$$. I signed up for a friends and family plan that gives me unlimited mintues to select numbers which will be very helpful since I pretty much only call the same 6 people time and time again.

The good news for me is I will be picking up more weekends at my weekend job. I caught up face to face with my weekend boss and we discussed the work situation.  He has still not heard from my co-worker aobut her inpending surgery, but has heard about it from everyone else.  Pretty much, I'm going to just drop back in to my old schedule as soon as she is off on her medical leave.  My co-worker just has to tell me when she will be unable to work and I slide back into the old routine.  Which is good, I have to replenish my E-Fund and I want to build back up a cushion in my checking account.

I'm continuing on my scan fest.  My initial zest wore off, but every few days I scan a pile of papers, then shread them.  My filing cabinets are getting nice and empty!

Contest Results To Be Posted Tomorrow

Sorry for the delay, but I've been without internet access at home and work has been crazy in a good way! I will have the contest results posted by tomorrow AM. Thanks to everyone who responded!

Hope you all had a great holiday weekend.


Friday, September 4, 2009

More Drama Across The Road

Just to add to my neighbors already overloaded plate.  Child number two gets picked up by the police and arrested this past weekend for having drug paraphernalia in her back pack.  The car she was riding in got pulled over and to make a long story short, all the passengers got frisked and checked out and she got snagged.  So did three of the other occupants.  My neighbor got a call to come down to the local police station at some ungodly hour of the night. She was so angry at her child that she did not want to bail her out. She wanted to leave her there until Sunday or Monday. The police discharged the kid anyway and set a court date for a few weeks from now. Again, this kid had almost no remorse about what had happened and in fact gave her mother lip when they got home about "how she did not care" if she got arrested and it was "bogus" since she only had the paraphernalia on her and no drugs.  And she copped an attitude when her parents said she was grounded, could not use the car and could not have her friends over.  She started on the I'm over 18 BS, you can't ground me and my neighbor said fine, go leave, get your own place. Which we know won't happen since child #2 has no money.  Plus this apartment she was going to move into to be with/near her boyfriend was going to be funded by boyfriends mother. Not anymore.  Boyfriends mother made it very clear that she would help her son with a place to live since he was going to a school that did not provide housing, not to allow son's girlfriend and these other folks to sponge off of her rent payments. Since said boyfreind also got arrested at the same time boyfriends mother is not thinking happy thoughts about his choice of friends at this point in time.  My neighbor has to take the day off work without pay to accompany child #2 to court in a few weeks.  She can't spare that money, but has to do this.  She also can't afford a lawyer, I don't know what the kid will do or what the Public Defender will do.

I did all I could do which was sit on my couch, offer my neighbor glass after glass of wine, listen to the whole story and shake my head. My neighbor left this AM for her vacation.  I gave her $40 and told her spend it foolishly on herself.  I can truly say she needed the $40 more than I do.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My Mortgage Will Be Increasing

Ugh, I opened the mail the other day and had a notice from my bank. Due to the increase in my property taxes, my mortgage payment is increasing. Not by a little, but by $144 a month.  Sigh, it's always something.  My town had a property re-evaluation, my house increased in value and thus my property taxes have gone up.  When I got the notice in the mail from the assessors office, I ran some comp statistics from the MLS and came up with a fairly similar figure. I will say that even though my house is small, it is retaining value.  Being on a lake does help and at least I'm not underwater on the mortgage (the Escape is a different story......).

My escrow balance took a hit for the 2nd yearly payment and my mortgage payment will be increased to build back up the escrow balance and to create a cushion for the 2010 property taxes.  Time for a little budget re-evalution!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

$250 Later~My Escape Is Back~

I have my Escape back. Lube, Oil Change, 21 Point Inspection, etc was only $40, the repair for the little noise I heard was $210 (parts and labor) seems something froze up in the drive chain. The Ford dealership said it was a good thing I got it looked at when I did as it could have led to a bigger problem. I used a Ford dealership in the next town and did not say boo to them other than Hi, I'm new here, I need an oil change and can you check out this little noise along with the oil change. Last year I needed some work on the Escape. I knew it was a PITA repair and would cost around what it did, what I was not happy with was the "suggested" repair and maintenance estimate that topped $1,100 (including the PITA repair) with the local Ford dealership. That bill and the fact one of the service mechanics just made a face and rolled his eyes at me when I said, sorry not now, can't afford it made me dump them like a hot potato. This new to me dealership was very nice and the only other thing they suggested was that I get some other fluids changed the next time I have an oil change. They did not try to push the issue and have it done now like the other dealership did.

I'm happy that this bill was not hundreds of dollars. This I can manage with only a little dip to my E-fund. I usually budget for an oil change every other month and figure every third oil change, some sort of fluid needs replacing. Last time I had the Escape in for an oil change, I got the fuel filter changed as it was overdue, earlier this spring I had the transmission fluid changed. I had the anti freeze done in the late fall. The only downside is the labor is a bit steep (hey, it is a dealership), but my regular mechanic is out of town and his limited staff is already overbooked. I just had a feeling about this noise and am glad I took the Escape in to be checked out now, so hopefully I will be avoiding a huge repair later!

Some Random Thoughts

Things have been busy in my life these past few days. My car is in for an oil change and to have a little bit of a check up. It needs an oil change and I want a little noise checked out. Pray that it's not a $400 repair. I've budgeted for the oil change and a small repair, not for a major repair.

The good news is I was able to get a really great quote on new gutters for the house! One of the contractors I know from my less than part time real estate job gave me the name and number of a guy he uses when he builds homes and does renovations, and I was able to get a great quote! I've scheduled the work for the end of September. I'm really thrilled about this. This gutter person also has good recommendations as well. Still nothing on the real estate front in terms of a decent commission, but I'm plugging away at it in the hopes that I will sell that million dollar house.

I'm still in scan a thon mode, each night I scan a bunch of papers and put them in a box to be shredded. My filing cabinet and file boxes are getting emptier and emptier!

I don't know about where you live, but here in Southern New England it feels like summer is over and we are in fall. It was 50F this AM when I woke up, a bit brisk even for late August!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Work Updates

I need to talk to you about committment.....This was the message left on my answering machine by my weekend boss. I know EXACTLY what he is talking about.  The person who I replaced who came back to work in the Spring is going to be unable to work for about 4-5 months because of impending surgery.  She mentioned this to a couple people but never really spoke to the boss about her upcoming surgery that her doctor wanted her to have 3 months ago. 

This is the co-worker who is not adapt at communicating about shift coverage, but boy did she talk my ear off the last weekend I worked.  Like talked to me for a couple hours.  She had a lot to get off her chest and into my ear. Most of it I had already heard through the grapevine and some of it was just chatting. But she did tell me that come the middle of October, she was going to have to go in for surgery and then not be able to work for at least 4 months, depending on her recovery time.  She had not spoken to our boss about this, but I know he "knew" about it. She just had not told him face to face.  I told her that she really had to speak to our boss and let him know.  He travels out of area for most of October and November and the last thing he needs to worry about is finding and training new help.

The message I got from my boss was that he needed to talk to me about "committment" which I am translating as "I need to know if you can go back and work your old shift of every weekend until your co-worker can come back". 

He knows that I've been using my  non working weekends to do "things", work around the house, socialization, volunteer work, etc. He probably thinks that I may not be willing or able to work every weekend again.  He's partially correct. I will come back and work since my weekday job is still not going back to full time hours, I most definatly can use the money (gutters, redo the bathroom, life expenses). I will tell him that I will have to schedule some time off so I can stay "fresh" and get done some of the chores around the house that take longer than 30 minutes of my time.  I think he will go for it. Now to just actually catch up with him and have this conversation!

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Purge Continues.......

I really have no idea how I manage to cram so much "stuff" into my very small house. I do know, actually, I just pile things on any horizontal surface until I can't take it anymore. Then it gets moved.  These past few months I've been on a possession purge. I've listed items on Craigslist, Freecycle, hobby specific group lists,, e-bay and if I can't sell it, I donate it.  I have ready to be donated to a local charity for ther annual tag sale, the old AIO that I could not get to work with my new laptop, my old color inkjet printer that works, but never really printed very well, an old 24" TV with remote that needs a converter box (some one gave this to me and I just don't have the room for an additional TV), a surround sound system that needs all new speaker wires, and a piece of furniture that I hate that never made it to the last charity tag sale. This local group will pick up items and they will be driving by on Friday AM to make this pick up. I also took to the dump an old disgusting IKEA rug, a damaged wicker bathroom shelf, and two cracked plastic bins. I sold a bunch of hobby equipment and am in the midst of scanning in my old paper files to the lap top and then onto the external hard drive. 

This goes part in parcel with the clutter clean out I did a couple months ago where I purged a bunch of old clothes that no longer fit (goodwill, consignment and trash), got rid of some extra kitchen items (which in hindsight I could have taken to my weekend job house-oh well), and in general just purged a bunch of knick knacks and junk.

Sounds like a lot, but I still have a lot. My house is small, poorly designed, no garage, attic or basement. I call it the Studio House because it is the size of a medium studio apartment without the benefit of being in cool section of a cool city.  I know I have possession issues and I cling to things that really have no meaning or use in my life. Try as I might to adopt the William Morris philosphy to have only things in your life that are beautiful and useful, I seem to come up short.  I am in the market for a dresser to use as a TV stand and a place to store my linens, I don't have a linen closet.  Now that I will be less that piece of furniture I've hated for years, I can think about finally getting that dresser. I won't have any excuses for not purging the old linens and towels I've had for years as well that are on their last legs as well.

Apartment Therapy featured this studio on it's web site today.  I fell in love with it. Granted not everyone will like the wallpaper or the fact that there is a plehtora of books, framed art, etc., but I like the concept of all the built in bookcases, the functional, but small kitchen, and the couch looks like the perfect place to read a book and drink a cup of tea. 

I don't think I will every be able to achieve a total Zen like bare minimalist home, I like a certain amount of clutter, but I do think I am slowly making progess and freeing up some space.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I love Method products! I'm addicted to the Cucumber and Pink Grapefruit All Purpose Sprays. I am a Method Advocate and last week, Method sent me a small selection of products to give away. Yup, give away. Each box contains trial sizes of all purpose spray, handwash, dish soap, wood polishing spra and a coupon for $1 any method product. I have three to give away.

So I'm running a little contest.  Send me an e-mail or post in my comments section. Contest runs from today until September 3rd.  I'll announce the winner on September 4th or 5th. Winner will be drawn at random and I'll wrap up the little box and pop it in them mail!

Scan Fest

I love my new All In One, printer/scanner/fax machine. I finally got off my lazy arse and purcahsed a unit similar to the one we have at our office and I LOVE IT. One of my goals for 2008 was to scan in my files and clean up the paper clutter. For a variety of reasons, it never happened, but this past month I made it happen. I picked up the unit at the store, took it home and set it up. I then started my Scan Fest. 

I have freakishly neat files for all my banking, insurance, hobbies, etc.  I have them color coded in my filing cabinet and that cabinet was getting more than a little full.  I spent about 5 hours scanning in my files, organizing a system on my computer and feeling oddly enlightened as each file went through the scanner into the box to be shredded. 

I set up folders and sub folders broken down by category-banking, each bank, each account, each year. Same for insurance, home, car, health, etc.  You get the picture. Right now I have about 20 pounds of paper sitting in a box to be shredded.  I still have a lot of files to go through and will probably spend a few hours this week going through the rest of my files.  I also purchased an external hard drive and backed up data to the hard drive.

I feel pretty proud of myself for a couple reasons.  1) I finally achieved a goal that I set up for myself from 2 years ago.  2) I'm decluttering my tiny space  and 3) Maybe this is the first step in getting out of that stuck feeling I've been having. 

Next Step-Shred Fest

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Drama Part ?

I posted yesterday that my neighbor is beside herself about her youngest child's decision to forgo college out of state and now stay home to be closer to her boyfriend who will be attending a community college.

Said child has not worked all summer, claims she was job hunting but unable to find a job. Then drops the bombshell on her parents that she is staying home and not going to school this semester. Her parents have shelled out $3,500 in fees that are non refundable. They were able to get back about $750, but the rest of the money-gone. The kicker is youngest child has absolutely no regrets about her change of plans and the money laid out by her parents that is not going to be reimbursed. Youngest child also told her parents that she can't enroll in the same community college as her boyfriend for this semester, not even to take some classes-why, we never got a straight answer. Youngest child still does not have a job and has no place to live since she has made it clear she is going to move in with her boyfriend and leave home. Plus they have done nothing to find a place to live either.

I spent a good portion of last night sitting on my neighbors porch listening to her vent about the above over a couple beers. I really feel for my neighbor, she is just not having a good spell. Oldest child went through a sulky phase earlier this summer when her parents said they were not funding her apartment. At least oldest child got on the stick, got a job, is now living at home and is trying to save up for her own place. As someone pointed out in yesterday's comments, a lot of this is my neighbors fault for allowing her kids to take advantage of her. I do have to agree, my neighbor has had a pattern of just giving in to the kids in the past and now that she is not, it's causing all sorts of drama.

What distresses me most is the latter part of our conversation last night. Well into her 3rd or 4th beer and crying on my shoulder. My neighbor has told me that she really wants to refinance her house (again) so she can pay off her maxed out credit cards, but she can't because her credit has taken a nose dive. Sigh. They bought a new 42" plasma TV on credit, dished out all that money for the youngest kid, paid the apartment expenses for the oldest kid, and then bought plane tickets for their vacation when ticket prices where insane awhile back. More power to her if she can refinance the house, but what will happen then? Pay off the credit cards and then run them up? Use the extra cash to "help" the kids because they have the cash on hand and not tuck it away? Plus my neighbor is leaving for vacation next week with less than $200 cash in hand. They are staying with friends, the plane tickets are paid for, but they have almost no spare cash and will be away for 7 days. I think she said she was going to use up the last of her credit on her credit card for the trip. I sort of blanked out that part, I did not want to hear that.

Oh well, all I can do is what I did last night, bring over a 6 pack and some snacks and be a shoulder to cry on...

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Drama Continues Across The Road

My neighbor is ready to kill her youngest daughter. Youngest child came home a few weeks ago and announced that she changed her mind, did not want to go out of state for college (after planning this for 2 years saying she wanted to beat feet from our small rural New England town) and now wants to stay local to be with her boyfriend who is going to a community college. Ah, guess what, neighbor has paid a ton of money in non refundable deposits to the out of state college. And youngest child has also not worked much if at all this summer and expects her parents to "fund" this new adventure-ie pay pocket money and her living expenses while she tries to get into the community college. Youngest child's grandmother gave her a pre-collegiate gift of $1,000 to use towards college expenses and youngest child now wants that money. My neighbor has told her that $1,000 is going toward the close to $3,500 in non-refunable expenses she has had to fork over for the school never to be attended. It's not going to youngest child. Grandmother agrees with the parent on this one too!

Needless to say, her parents are not going to fund this new adventure, youngest child is sulking almost as much as her older sister did in June and my neighbor is just out of her mind about this situation. Yikes, it's times like this I am so glad I don't have kids.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Sale and A Purchase

I had some hobby specific items sitting around my house for a couple of years. On a whim, I posted them on a yahoo group list, carefully detailing the age, condition etc of the hobby items. I priced them for what I thought was fair market value, must do local pick up and then heard nothing for a few weeks.

Two weeks ago, I got into an e-mail exchange with a woman who does not live in the area, but is interested in my hobby items. I have been wrapping and packing these items and tomorrow I load up my SUV and take them to the post office to be delivered to her.

I am thrilled that these items have a new home and I'm even more thrilled that I got cash money for them (it's in my pay pal account as I type). AND I'm beyond thrilled because this little influx in cash has enabled me to buy the All In One that I have been drooling over. It's the scaled down version of the model we have at the office and I love it. I can finally have my scan a thon and then a shread a thon before the month is over. The extra moola goes towards the new gutters.

Social Media Frustrations

I'm frustrated today. My office is working on a Social Media campaign and my boss STILL does not get the difference between Facebook, Twitter, a blog and Linked In. He keeps claiming he knows all about Twitter, but does not. He still does not realize he has to contribute to this effort, he is the one with the contacts in our industry, not me. I can only access a small number of contact and clients.  He has been in the business for 35 years with the Rolodex to prove it.
I've arranged three meetings with individuals who help companies and businesses with Social Media and they all pretty much present the same information and the same business plan and they are all within the same price range.  My boss is under the impression that these folks will do it all and he just has to sit back and get the leads, etc.  He just does not realized he has to be proactive in this venture as well.  The last meeting we had with a consultant he pretty much kept telling the consultant how great he was in his field and not answering the consutlants questions about the business.  Annoying, embarrassing and frustrating.

Today he sent me yet another link to an article that states he should be on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.  My response was go set up your Linked In profile and I'll steal information from that for the Company Facebook page.

I know alot of the issues my boss is having with Social Media is because he does not fully grasp what it is and how it works.  He still does not understand that Twitter limits you to 140 characters and he needs to us it to link to his web site or the company blog.  That is where he can wax poetic. I know he is not as comfortable as he claims to be with these new technologies.  Ugh, I just feel lik we have the same discussion over and over and I write the same response over and over to the same questions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gotta Love Monday Night Shopping!

I went whipping through four stores last night, with successful shops at three of them. Costco was the purchase of those items in bulk that I actually use and a stop at the food court for a hot dog and soda-best $1.79 spent. My other shop was at the Aldi for a mini restock of the basics. I went to this Aldi since it was on my way to and fro the Costco. I always find it interesting that prices can vary from one store location to the next. The Aldi I usally shop at is a little less expensive than this one. Since I pretty much buy the same items each time I'm in Aldi, I know what they cost (beans, cereal, eggs, milk, flour). Almost without exception, each canned item was 10c more expensive at this store as compared to the other Aldi.

My stop at the ethnic market was a bit of a disappointment. They changed ownership a few months back and I'm not liking it. Prices are slowly creeping up there as well and they have eliminated almost all of their grocery items. I used to love shopping in this store with Salsa music playing in the background, happy families wandering the isles, the rows of different foods, one row Indian/Asian, one row Mexican, one row Italian, one row Caribbean food, one row Middle Eastern food. The produce was fresh and cheap. Now they have eliminated almost all the grocery items and you really have to pick over your produce, some of it is at or past it's sell by date. Disappointing to me as it was one of the few places I could pick up 3 onions, 2 sweet potatoes and 1 bunch of scallions at a reasonable price and not having to purchase 5 pounds of onions that I won't use.

Oh well, I managed to do a decent restock of the pantry for just under $55. I also remembered to pull a pork tenderloin out of the freezer and made a marinade for it to soak in-it will be the thrill of the grill tonight at casa Betty!

Monday, August 17, 2009

An Uneventful Weekend

It was a fairly quiet weekend. Not that much drama at the second job, which is good considering some of the staff are bickering a bit, I got paid, which is another good thing. The weather was lovely, the work went smooth, we were busy, but not crazed, and I got to work on a couple personal projects. I broke down and put the small AC in the house and actually used the AC last night.  The house felt warm and muggy when I got back home and with my area of the world actually having summer for a few days, I decided to treat myself to a little AC.  It took the edge off the heat and humidity.

The cupboards and fridge are a bit sparse, I'm off to do a mini shopping marathon tonight. Lists are made for each store (Aldi, ethnic market, grocery store, Costco) and the only downside is I am out of leftovers for dinner and forgot to pull something out of the freezer for tonights meal. Oh well, I'll grab a slice of pizza at Costco as a treat and do some food prep tonight for the week.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Food, Glorious Food

In the past two weeks, I did a bunch of food shopping and made a bunch of food. I now have a lot of leftovers in my fridge.  Which is a good thing. I now have food for my lunches! I did walk out of the house the other day without my lunch and decided to buy lunch.  I was not thrilled to spend $9 on next to nothing.  I will have to get creative with the last few containers to make the food palatable. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why I Need to Get Unglued..

Seriously, I need to get unglued because I am stuck.

Somewhere in the bowels of this blog are my guidelines to bouncing back from bankruptcy. Somewhere in the bowels of this blog I describe the events that led me to the bankruptcy. One thing that did not help my situation and in fact was a big contributor to the bankruptcy was, a series of unfortunate events (with apologies to Lemony Snickets).

To put it in the simplest of terms. I had a god awful streak of bad luck. It seemed that for about two years every time I turned around I had bad things happen to me. Even with good advice and careful research, if a rotten fiscal thing could happen to me, it did. House repairs costing multiple hundreds and occasionally thousands of dollars, car repairs, medical bills, investments gone bad. No matter what I did to try and stop the bad ju ju, it just continued on and drained my bank account. That plus some other life altering events left me more than a little gun shy.

And left me feeling stuck in a rut. Sigh. A rut I am struggling to get out of so I can move onward and upward. This is the part of the bouncing back that I am not having a lot of success at. The moving forward. I feel like I'm stuck in a pot of goo. Able to move oh so slightly forward, but just not able to pick up my feet and jump out of the pot.

To say my self esteem took a hit when I had that streak of bad luck is an understatement. I used to pride myself on my work ethic, my sensible decisions, my ability to somehow end up on my feet with a bouquet of flowers, the pride I had in a successful outcome to my hard work and diligence in projects and tasks.

Even though I am 18 months post discharge, I feel like I should be accomplishing more with my life now that I'm not in total fiscal hell. Yet, I freak out when make my spending plan. I hoard my money, then go on spending binges, not for extravagant items, but for things like groceries, socks and underwear and my hobby expenses. It pains me to write out the checks for my bills, even though there is cash in my account. I fret over my up and down emergency fund. I am disgusted with myself for allowing me to use the E-fund to cover the shortages in my checking account because I failed to adjust my spending plan or take into account I failed to
sign my time sheet for my weekend work.

Being in the goo to a certain degree is comforting. At this point the glued feeling is numbingly comforting. It is also not letting me grow as a person post BK nor is it allowing me to be aggressive in pursuing new fiscal goals. I want to be able to pump up my E-fund, I want to feel confident enough to pursue self employment, I want to be able to have enough salary so I can qualify for a mortgage for a new and larger home.

I have acknowledged the mistakes I made with my money that contributed to the bankruptcy. I acknowledged the decisions I made with my finances that were not fiscally sound or prudent. I acknowledged the fact that some events that happened to me were really out of my control. Now I have to be able to take these acknowledgments and move on. It will mean moving out of my comfort
zone and finding a way to come unglued so I can grow again as a person.

Expected, But Also Very Unexpected

I got a phone call I had been half expecting to get, but did not think I would get until much later this year or maybe even next year.  My elderly friend passed away the other day.  I had blogged about her ill health.  It finally caught up with her.  I am saddened for a number of reasons. One is obviously her passing.  The other reason is her fall out with our mutal friend Dee.  They had been close for a number of years and their falling out was more my elderly friend not being able to accept her failing health and taking responsibility for taking care of herself.  I am saddened because I wonder if my elderly friends resistance to making lifestyle changes contributed to her passing. 

I am also distressed with myself as I had not spoken to her in a few weeks, nor had I left a message on her mobile.  I had sent a few quick e-mails, to say Hi and to Just Check In sort of thing. I knew she had gone back into the rehab facility and had limited access to her phone and computer, but thought that she would be back out in a few weeks as had been the MO this past year. Not this time. Can you say GUILT? How hard would it have been to take the few extra minutes to make the phone call and speak to the person? Or made the drive to the facility to say hello.  Sigh, all I can do now is say a prayer for her. At her request, no service will be held and her step daughters are doing a private creamation.  I am saddened by the loss of a person who's company I truly enjoyed. I am going to miss that snarky New England Humor and her New England accent.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Blog Updates Planned

I'm overdue in posting some new links to my side bar and also thanking some folks for linking back to this blog.  I'm not ignoring you, I just don't always have reliable internet service at home.  I'm putting on the top of my list, a blog refresher session.  If you would like a link back to your blog, drop me a line, or leave a comment.

My thanks to y'all you have given me a shout out!

Mini Update

It was a good birthday weekend, thanks for the birthday wishes! My birthday present to myself was going to be basic cable since I get no TV reception. Alas, it was not to be. I had processed the order for the basic cable via the companines web site. I got a call and was told that where I live is just over their service border and they do not service my village. Literally, I am one block over from the $15/month basic cable providing servicer. The company that does provide cable service to my part of the world does so for $39.99 a month. When I did a side by side comparison, the more expensive company only offers 6 additional channels (that I would not be watching anyway).

Oh well, I don't know if I want to spend $40 on basic cable. I have to think about it. I did treat myself to a new set of sheets. I found some amazing 650 thread count sheets at Marshalls for $39. I washed them, line dried them and put them on my bed. They feel great! I also treated myself to a nice bottle of wine. Small treats, but good treats.

Have you ever bought yourself a birthday present?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Few More Random Thoughts

I'm working on a couple posts, but here are some random thoughts/updates.

I am looking forward to the weekend for a couple of reasons. One is the weather is supposed to be nice and I'm not at my second job and the other is I'm having a birthday!  So I get to celebrate a birthday, some nice weather and a weekend off!  Yeah. My office is doing it's usual pizza lunch for my natal day, which is fine by me. One less day I need to make a meal or bring lunch.

I called 4 people to give me quotes on new gutters and have only heard from two.  Both quotes were just under $800.  I do need new gutters and this very rainy spring/summer has made them mandetory.  I tried to "repair" one gutter and made a royal right mess of it.  This is a professional job, not a Betty job. Sometimes I wish I really was a Tool Belt Diva or had some fabulous hunky boyfriend who is also super joe handyman.  Oh well, a girl can dream.

I though I had a prospective home for Poochie. I was soo very excited. A nice couple was looking to replace their elderly dog that passed away.  We talked on the phone, exchanged a few e-mails and I sent photos of the dog, but they decided that they wanted a puppy and not an older dog with some minor health issues. Finding a home for Poochie is almost becoming a full time job.  My Elderly Friend does not even ask about her anymore and I'm feeling a bit miffed about that. I'm bearing the cost of caring for this dog (and yes I am starting to resent it, but it WAS my decision to take her on), and Elderly Friend has just dismissed the dog totally from her life.  I know Elderly Friend has other things on her mind, but ah, the dog is techincally yours!  Oh well, live and learn.

I listed a bunch of books on, partly to get rid of them and decrease the clutter and partley to see if I can get a few $$$ in my pay pal account.  My feeling is if they don't sell by September 15th, off they go to the Goodwill.  Space is limited in my house and I really just want to declutter the bookshelf.

I applied for a full time position in a local company and did not even get a call back.  I got a nice letter stating they had filled the position.  I did find out for this open position they had over 150 applicants.  I guess it's a sign of the times.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bills Paid~Money In and Money Out~

I paid my car note, electric, phone, mobile phone, some hobby expenses and the last part of my homeowners insurance this week. I also posted a payment to my Credit Card. I had hoped to get my second job pay check and use part of that for the remainder of the credit card, but I forgot to submit my hours and missed the pay cycle. I want to keep cash in my account.

I hate when I do that, I've done it before. Since it is my fault, I don't like to ask for an exception and get a check cut. I just spaced since I had done my volunteer thing I had not submitted my "time sheet". Plus the boss has been flat out busy with events all over New England, and the upper Mid-Atlantic States and for what ever reason, he will remind me if he does not see my hours in the "to be paid" file. Ah well, most of that money has been earmarked for my new gutters anyway.

I probably going to upgrade my mobile phone plan. The past few months I've really been using my phone and have had two really large phone bills because I've exceeded my minutes. The plan I currently have is the most basic, mainly lots of minutes on the weekends, which was fine as I mainly used my phone on the weekends in the past. For reasons unknown to me, my weekday usage in slowly creeping up (I looked at the past six months of bills) and the per minute charge if I go over my alloted minutes is outrageous. I think I'll be OK if I go one step up in billing plans. I won't have to renew a contract as I've been a long time customer (read-over two years). I'll also check out other phone carriers and see if I can get a better deal. Now that I can keep my phone number if I switch carriers, I may be able to find a better plan!

Food Shopping!

I ended up doing a lot (well to me a lot) of food shopping over the weekend. I shopped at 4 stores to get all the little things I needed and wanted and my last stop was at the market that has a decent meat department. Well, used to have a decent meat department. They were one of the few local stores that would cut up a whole chicken into parts that you could grill or fry.  Since the store underwent a renovation and "upgrade", they no longer sell a cut up chicken. It's easy enough to do on my own should I choose to buy a small chicken and do it myself. But it's one of those things I'm happy to have someone else do.  I don't always channel Julia Child when I cook.  I just don't really like to buy a 12pk of chicken legs or thighs or what ever.  I like a little variety in my meals.

Non the less, I did a mini stock up on a variety of meats, most all of which was divided up in to individual portions, wrapped and dropped into the freezer. It will make it easier for me to just pull out a portion when I want to toss something onto the grill.

I also scored in the leftover bruised veggie section.  The grocery store had a bunch of sliced portobello mushrooms and a deep discount and I bought 4 packs.  My plan tonight is to make this amazing mushroom bourguigon  from Smitten Kitchen.  Yes, this may be a dish that is probably best served in the middle of winter or on the first frosty fall day instead of in the middle of summer, but I have a feeling this would be quite tasty as a summer dish anyway.  I made it three or four times over the winter when I could find portobello's either on sale or in the bruised veggie section. This will also give me a chance to use up the last of the carrots, garlic and pearl onions that are in my veg bin.  And I know I'll have some good leftovers for lunches.!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Joys Of Home Ownership

I got the first quote on new gutters for my house.  All inclusive, it's going to be about $775.  Sigh-that will be July's second job and most of August's second job income going towards the gutters.  They do need to be replaced and it's something I can not do, nor do I wish to do......

I have three other companies coming to give me quotes.  From what little research I did do, this is going to cost me about what the first estimate is.

I also priced out new lawn mowers, to find one that will meet my needs, I'll be spending about $150. I am hoping that Home Depot or Lowes or any other store of that nature will be running an end of the season sale and maybe I can get one for less than $100.

At least today is lovely and sunny here in Southern New England! Yesterday was miserable!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Some Random Updates

I'm still having internet problems at home and not able to blog that much at work.  Here are a few random updates while I percolate on a couple posts.

1) My elderly friend is not getting any better, and in fact is getting worse.  She still thinks she can live on her own and has spent 3 out of the last 5.5 weeks in either respit care or the hospital. 

2) I am no closer to finding a permanet home for her dog either. Said dog known as Poochie is very sweet, a little needy, but very sweet and needs to go to a "forever home" as they say.  I am working with the breed resuce to find her a permanent home. I just can not keep her, I have my own pets, one of which does not like Poochie at all. 

3) I have been able to stick to my cash budget for food shopping. I have a whopping $6 left until Friday and I have enough food hanging around the kitchen to last. I sure as shite won't starve, maybe get bored with the food choices, but I won't starve.

4)I have been half heartedly looking for a new full time job, but nothing has cropped up.  My "full time" job is not changing my hours, nor am I picking up any additional weekends at my weekend job. In fact, next month, I'll loose a weekend because I decided to do some traveling and planned a weekend that I was supposed to work at. I'm feeling the need for a little escape time.

5) My boss still does not get the concept of Social Media, it is getting on my nerves to re-explain the concept behind Twitter vs a blog every week.

6) The one real estate client I thought I had a good chance to sell a house to has been giving the listing updates she requested from me to a friend of hers. Who ended up buying a house from another Realtor!  To say I was a bit peeved is an understatement.  I thought it was funny they had changed their "home buying criteria". Now I know why.  And I'm not pleased. I think I showed this client about 15 homes. They were thinking about an investment property and I was happy to help them out.  Now I'm not so sure. I could sure use a commission or two to push me towards my fiscal goals.

7) My house is in need of dire work.  Top of the list, new gutters, new window in my bedroom, the bathroom needs to be re-tiled and I could do with some new flooring as well.  I found a list of "to do" projects from when I bought the house and all of the above were on that list from 9 Years Ago. 

8) I am not getting any TV reception at home and this irks me. I only watch about 4 shows, plus breakfast TV.  After the switch to digital, I lost all my stations, save one and that does not come in all the time, even the digitial ones I had gotten before. I think I can get basic cable for $15/month and if that is the case, I'm going to get it.  I miss the few shows I watch on a regular basis and it will be worth the $15 to have them.

9) I found a house that would be almost perfect for me, maybe even perfect.  Problem~ I don't have the money, salary or the ability to get a mortgage right now. Even if I sold my current home, I'd still need some serious cash (serious to me) to be able to afford this house.  It is in the same town I live in, has 3 br, 2 ba, a garage, hardwood floors, fireplace and some land.  As far as I can tell, it only needs cosmetic work and I'd want to update the cooker in the kitchen. It also has A WASHER/DRYER HOOK UP!  My research has told me that IF someone has been extra special good post BK, some lenders will lend 2 years after the discharge date. I'm only 18 months post discharge.....

10) It has rained something like 14 inches in the past 5 days.   Are we ever gonna get summer here!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Posting back soon!

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I had planned a couple posts for the weekend, but my internet connection was funky.  Grr.

Hope you had a good weekend non the less!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Still Not Giving In, But Still Can't Ask for Money

My neighbor pulled the money plug on her daughter a few weeks ago. She has stopped giving her almost 20 year old daughter rent and paying for all her apartment expenses. You can read about that in my previous post.

I have to give my neighbor credit, she is still dealing with a sulking child and still not forking over the additional cash. Said child is not a bad kid, just used to getting a lot of things paid for by mom who feels the need to "compensate with cash".

The good news is said child is sulking less, but at least talking to her parents. The second bit of good news is my neighbor is keeping up with the utility repayment plan (yup, she the mom is still paying back February's utility bill), the third bit of good news is said child has a full time job until December-She is doing work for the State and it's a "seasonal" position.

I did make the rash suggestion that my neighbor ask her daughter for rent or food money-like $25 a week towards rent or food. The look on my neighbors face was priceless. I don't think she expected me to come out with that. She claims she "can't ask" her daughter for rent or food money. Why, she never said. I simply told her that if she was still paying back utilities, the money could be used towards those utilities.

I do have to say, it was a rough few weeks, but I am still proud of my neighbor for not giving in. Now if her daughter would contribute towards her own upkeep.........

Small steps...
I had a great time at my volunteer project this weekend. Great project, great weather and great people!

Now to get back to reality!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Food Progress

I am looking forward to my volunteering project this up coming weekend. I also am happy to report I'm doing pretty darned good on the grocery money in the envelope system. It's mid month and I have just under half my grocery money still in the envelope. AND the good part it, I'm fairly well set for food.

Except that I ran out of breakfast fixings and the past two days I've gotten a muffin or a bagel at the local market. I will stop at the store today and pick up a 6 pack of English muffins or some bagels. Just not feeling motivated to make a loaf of bread.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Maybe The Conversations Finally Sunk In?

I've posted before about my neighbor and her money issues.  She has told me more than I want to know about her finances, and has asked for my opinion on a variety of issues.I  try not to preach, I try to educate and inform. The biggest money drain she has had the past few months has been to support her college aged daughter by paying for her apartment, utilities, as well as paying a chunk of change towards her tuition and related expenses.  Not a big deal IF you have the money, but my neighbor does not. My biggest gripe (and I've told her since she asked) is that her daughter had done next to nothing to contribute to the upkeep of the apartment. She was not going to school full time, nor was she working even close to part time.  The daughter is a nice kid, but seems to spend an awful lot of time hanging out with friends and not doing much. 

My neighbor finally told her that the checks were stopping as of the middle of June.  She was not going to pay the utilities and would only fork over 1/3rd the rent for July and none for August.  She told her daughter that if she wanted to keep the apartment, she would have to pay for it herself, utilities included!  Getting a $500 electric bill for ONE month of service (did I mention the daughter left the electric heat on 73F even when she was not home so she could keep her lizard warm?) My neighbor's kid was shocked and angry. I know she was very happy to accept the money and happy to not have to work.  Getting a wake up call was not in her plans.  Neighbors daughter has her boyfriend sort of living with her too and he is not paying anything towards the rent and utilities. He still "lives" at home, but spends most of his nights at the apartment and contributes nothing toward the apartment, from what I've been told, he does not even buy food. Oh dear....

My conversation with my neighbor was that IF she could afford it and IF her daughter was contributing to the costs an IF her daughter was going to school full time and IF she was making a valiant effort to find work, then support away. BUT none of the IF's were happening.  My neighbor can't afford it, her daughter was not making an effort to find work (she told us her last job interfered with her boyfriends band practice......) and she was not going to school  full time. In fact, she was going to take a semester off and fully expected her parents to pay for her living expenses while she "took a break".   My neighbor wants to help her daughters, yet her own finances were greatly suffering.  I know she paid her own mortgage late, she is on a repayment plan for all her utilities, she pays the cable bill weekly to keep it from getting cut off,  I know she maxed our her credit cards, and please don't get me started on the Plasma TV they bought on credit...........

My last money conversation with my neighbor revolved around me reworking my budget for my reduced weekend job. No additional weekend job hours, a complete rethinking of how to spend my money and how to allocate funds.  My neighbor was shocked when I told her that I pretty much live on a cash only basis.  I use my credit card and within two weeks, I pay off the balance. Mind you my credit limit is only $500, but still, I use the card because I'm thrilled I have a credit card again, but I'm not going to go down that slipperly slope of huge credit card balances again.  I told her if I don't have the cash, I don't buy the product.  My neighbor was wondering how she was going to make it though July since she had maxed out her credit card.  Sigh, I had no answer.  I could have told her that all those months of paying for her daughters apartment would have made a huge dent in the credit card balance reduction, but I did not.

I know it was a hard thing for my neighbor to cut the funds. I think it was the right thing to do. I know her daughter was upset, I could see her storming around the house. She has decided to move back home and stops by to drop of her stuff and is looking pretty bitter about it.  If her daughter truly wanted to live on her own, she could have gotten a roommate or asked her boyfriend to contribute to the rent (but wait a real job would interfer with band practice...). 

I am proud of my neighbor for making the tough decision about her money.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mystery Shopping

I did my secret shopping yesterday for the vet clinic. While I went over my allotted reimbursement, I'm glad I went. Poochie needed a complete exam, her elderly owner was never able to give me her vet records and supposedly the vet that had been treating her "retired" and I could not track down her records. Total cost of the visit was $180, total reimbursement including my shop fee was $125. I've shopped this clinic before, but did not spend $180. Oh well, paying $55 out of pocket for the visit is far less than what I would normally pay and I know she is current on her vaccinations, et all.

I have another shop scheduled for today. It's for a local chain store and I'm happy to have the opportunity to do it. I'm going to be around the store running some errands. I just wish there were more shops available. Even though there is a delay in reimbursement, getting paid to eat out on the occasional basis or getting "paid" to shop in one of my regular shops would be nice. Ah well, it is what it is!

Buy The Flowers Now

I used to live in the Washington DC metro area in my previous life. One thing I would do on a regular basis was go to Eastern Market. Listening to NPR this morning was a feature on the re-opening of Eastern Market. I've been sadly out of touch with local DC happenings. Most of my friends who lived and worked in Washington have either moved away or we have lost touch.

While it was sad to hear the Market had a devastating fire a few years ago, I'm not surprised. The building was old, very old and while the merchants,vendors and folks worked hard to keep it up, it did have it's issues.

One thing my friends and I used to love to do was to meet in the Market area. We would take the Metro, ride our bikes, some would drive to the area. We'd meet for coffee, go for a beer at Tunnicliffs Tavern (is it still in exsistence?), wander around the vendors, look at the art work, grab a bite to eat (I remember this great stand that sold homemade empanada-yum). One thing I did each time I was at the Market was to get a large bouquet of flowers. There was a flower vendor that was always out on the sidewalk on the 7th St side and sold these great bouquets of flowers. You could get the small bunch for $6 or $7 or the large bunch for $10 or $12. I honestly don't remember the exact price, but what I do remember is that each boquet had a nice variety of flowers, always had a star gazer lilly, some lovely greens and lasted at least a week and the cost was not much more than a cup of coffee and a pastry at one of the local coffee shops. I would bring the flowers home and put them in a vase on a table in my apartment. I would get a great sense of satisfaction looking at the flowers.

Saving Veronica has a post here where she says that when she gets out of debt she is going to buy herself flowers. My advice to her, buy them now! Even when I was at my lowest point in my finances, I would scrape up a buck or two at maybe get even one stem of a flower. Just having something lovely to look at would lift my spirits. I'm not advocating large bunches of rare orchids, but if you feel the need for a flower or two, treat yourself!