Monday, October 18, 2010

On My Way Back

Life has been more than crazy, this is my first post in ages.  Will be reposting soon. Sigh,,,

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Using My Time for Good Instead of Sulking.....

One upside to the craziness of my "new" schedule is I have been able to do things like install a new closet system at home. I only have one small clothes closet and it was in desperate need of a face lift. Nothing fancy, just a Rubbermaid one from Lowes.  I actually used the closet planning guide from Martha Stewart's web site and then got the Rubbermaid components for about 1/3 the price. I bought the components before the craziness of work happened. The components have been sitting on my bedroom floor for almost a month and I kept tripping over them. I think I was more tired of stubbing my toes than really motivated to organize the closet, but I'm happy I did do it.

Despite me having these manic mood swings about work, I decided to use some of my peppier energy to do things like re-organize and de-clutter my closet.  I  also trolled through my tee shirt collection, finally tossing out those old stained t-shirts that really don't fit.  I did keep a couple to use as house rags, but the rest, trash can city.  Did I really need that Oktoberfest 1984 T shirt that I never liked to begin with?  I got a bag together of clothes to go to Goodwill.  Right now I just don't see me losing those 25 pounds I gained during the BK to fit back into those pants.  Let someone else use them, they were just taking up space in my house.

I also went through my dresser and purged socks, undies, and etc.  Everything that was left was refolded and put back neatly.  At least when I open my sock drawer, I will see neatly organized socks!  In an odd way, it was very satisfying to tidy up my things.  I still have to make some headway through my desk (which has become a disaster area), and the bathroom vanity.

No matter what happens, at least I feel a bit more organized!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

At the end of May I hurt my back and my neck. Nothing major thank goodness, but enough to send me to the doctor a few times, to physical therapy and to the massage therapist. Cost to me, about $1000.  One of the pets decided it would be fun to break it's leg.  Seriously, the pet broke his leg.  Cost to the vet for X rays, casting, meds, $500.  I'm lucky that the dog did not need orthopedic surgery. My primary vet (that I am slowly losing confidence in) sent me to a specialist muttering something about pins and screws.  I was having night sweats, surgery would have been a around $1,000.  The specialist told me the dog could get by on a cast and lots of crate rest.  Where did this money come from.  My now depleted E fund. 

What happens next, my boss holds a meeting to tell the staff that the business will be changing, one partner leaving, and everyone's hours cut, mine included.  Actually, as I posted earlier, the office is on the brink of shutting down unless plans, B, C, D somehow come to fruition.

I knew there was a reason I never put that application in for the FHA loan.

The good news of the past month.

I have pretty much recovered from my neck and back issue, the dogs leg has healed, and while I have no
 E-fund anymore, I am at least current on all my financial obligations.

I still want to spend most of my free time huddled under the pillows watching Grey's Anatomy re-runs.

More  on what's happening later

Still here

I've not deserted this blog, but things have gone just head over tip.  Sigh, So I did the only thing I do well, which was to hide behind pillows and go why, why me-AGAIN.

Pretty much this past month, my office has been in the process of trying to find a new business partner.  Seems one of the partners decided he wanted out, like ASAP. What does this mean, it means my job is in serious jeopardy.   There is a very good chance our business will shut down.

And my bank account is really low due to some odd circumstances.  It is way too much for me to go into right now, but I will post about it this week..

Friday, May 21, 2010

Did I lose all my readers or is it feedburner?

Humm, seems that I lot over half my readership? Is it me or is it feedburner? Or both?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chickening Out For Right Now

One goal I had post BK was to qualify for credit again. Why many of you may ask when you filed Bankruptcy?  Well, for a couple reasons.  The big one is if I can get credit at reasonable rates and not have issues again, it's one of my ways that I will have bounced back.  I was able to get a car loan, albeit at a slightly higher (well much higher) rate than I would have liked and I do now have a credit card. 

I've been waffling in my decision to go forth with the application for the FHA rehab loan.  I have all my paperwork that I know they will need, but I have not yet made that final leap.  Why, well I'm not 100% sure. The lender is either going to say yes or say no.  I guess it's because I'm going through one of my I- doubt -myself- phases.   I'm feeling a bit down about life, work, both full and part time~ things just feel so stagnant and not like all is good and smooth, but all is sludgy. Is sludgy a word?  And when I feel this way, I don't take rejection well at all.  Right now I don't want to get "rejected" even though I know it is a possibility with the FHA loan.

Sooo what is Betty to do?  Well I'm going to allow myself a few more days of self pity and then I am going to take out that extensive to do list of home repairs and remind myself that I simply can not do them by my lonesome or even do many of them with a friend or helper bee.  These are home repairs that really can't be put aside much longer. I'm hoping this will motivate me to put in the application, cross my fingers, light a candle and hope for the best!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I Joined the 1990's

And got cable. Yup, not just cable, but internet and phone as well.  What drove me to this, well, it was a $42 basic home phone bill (I use a calling card at 2c per minute for Long Distance) and a one year offer for a triple package for $55, no install fee, and unlimited local and long distance phone.

I ported over my phone number, I like the one I have and I have had cable TV for just over a week.  And I'm really wondering if it's worth it.  I've gotten so used to NOT watching a lot of TV. I read, watch DVDs, etc.  Before the switch to all digital TV I got about 10 stations (some digital, some not) after the switch only 2, I even lost some of the digitial stations I had. My house is located in a bit of a dead zone, I can't even get mobile phone reception  where I am, I have to go about 1/4 mile away to get any bars.  I guess I should consider myself lucky that I even had two TV stations.

Even though this is not my TV watching season, I thought I'd try it out.  Except that I spent a lot of time channel surfing 70 some odd channels going Crud, nothing on TV.  I did watch about 30 minutes of an Undateable  Marathon and wondered why I did (BECAUSE IT WAS ON).

Oh well, I've already made a note for my 2011 things to do list to review the cable package and maybe get rid of it or reduce it when it comes up for renewal. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dropped the Phone Bill by Half

A few weeks ago I complained that I had an outrageous phone bill, partly due to the increased amount of text messages. I stuck to my promise and only texted when neccessary and my phone bill dropped by half. Sweet!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Home for Poochie

Last week I took Poochie for her placement evaluation. The tester was very nice and we went over a boat load of paperwork for her eventual placement. I know from past experience that whomever will be adopting her will also do a boat load of paperwork as well.

Poochie goes to a temporary home on Friday then gets delivered to her new owners on Saturday. She will get another pre-placement physical and hopefully she will settle into her new home just fine.

Despite the issues between Poochie and my own older dog, I will miss her, but I know that she will be someones puppy princess, which is what she deserves. I think my elderly freind would be happy knowing Poochie was in a home where she could have all that love.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The End of The Local Market

I've posted before about the local market in the small town where I work. It was the store that charged $7.99 for a jar of mayo you could buy for $3.00 at the larger grocery store. It was the type of place that did a booming lunch business at the deli counter and stocked the items that you would would need to fill some gaps and save yourself a trip to "town" for things like a jar of mayo or TP.   The sad part of the story was the slow demise of the store.  The owners of the store used to stock name brand items and over the past few months they moved to generic brands.  The deli counter slowly dropped it's choices of sides, salads, etc.  The shelves got emptier and emptier and finally, they had a going out of business sign posted and closed their doors last week.

It now gives the small town I work in one less place to get lunch, we now have 3 instead of 4, and for the locals who would need that gallon of milk, jar of $7.99 mayo, it means a 14 mile round trip to the nearest grocery store.  Try as I might to support a local market, it was hard for me to even buy the breakroom snacks at the local market.  We pretty much only keep coffee and tea supplies and some snacks for the office, but at the end the market was not even stocking drinkable tea bags.  It was cheaper for me to stop by the grocery store and get a bag of breakroom supplies and snacks for the same price as a can of one step above generic coffee. A sign of the times I guess...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Don't People Ever CALL anymore?

I got my mobile phone bill and almost choked.  It was $100.  Like I have not had a bill that high since last year when I had to call into work from the UK (and work reimbursed me for all the calls).  Granted part of this bill was an outgoing call I made to a friend in Italy, but most of the overage charges have been to text messages.  Last fall I upgraded my calling plan and it worked fine for me. I was keeping within my minutes and life was good.

UNTIL-most of my friends became text addicts.  I mean they text all the flipping time, even when they don't even need to.  I'd get two or three texts for something that a 10 second phone call could cover.  I've fallen into the habit of responding to these texts, sometimes with those silly emoticons and abbreviations.  you know,  :)  :(   ;)  C U L8r.

I know I'm showing my age, but do we really need to document every movement with a text?  I've made a promise to myself to really restrict my texting to the absolute minimum and then it will only be a response if need be.  I'm going back to phone calls.....and yes, I still hand write letters too!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Do You Buffet?

I have somehow been sucked into a weekly lunch "date" with friends at the local Chinese Restaurant all you can eat buffet.  We somehow went from diner food/pizza/ sandwiches to going to this buffet almost every week.  The cost per person with a drink for lunch is $5.80, a bit more if you have a beer or glass of wine. 

The buffet is incredible mundane, lots of drab chicken dishes, lots of typical "American" dishes-mac and cheese, pizza, onion rings, potatoes, a small sushi bar, one to two vegetable dishes (usually cabbage or green beans), fried rice in an interesting neon color, vegetable lo mein that has almost no veg in it, a large dessert bar with tons of canned and fresh fruit and jello.  If you are lucky, there is a beef dish or two, sometimes none, occasionally something like a meatloaf.  The soups are egg drop, wonton and hot and sour.  When we first started to go, the variety of foods offered was better, more Chinese, less American.  I guess more people were eating the macaroni and cheese rather than the dan dan noodles.  When we first started to go, the resteraunt was fairly empty, now even at 1:30 PM, it's half to 3/4 full of patrons ranging from high school kids to retirees.

Why do I keep going back? Well, for what ever reasons, my two friends like the place and for me, it's not about the food, it's about the company. Plus it's a "cheap date" so to speak. You can't get a extra value meal from Micky D's for that price.  We do live in an area that has limited ethnic food choices and both these gals are not adventurous eaters either. They think chicken with cashews is exotic.  I pretty much have the same food each week, soup, a salad, steamed dumplings, an egg roll, some veg and I'll rotate my choice of chicken dishes. I never see a tofu dish or anything spicy (my preferences).  You can see into the kitchen and it looks like the restaurant makes it's own dumplings, egg rolls, spring rolls and wontons. I wonder if there is a Chinese food supplier that supplies the items that are deep fried and or soup stocks and sells it to these places...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A New Home For Poochie?

I have been fostering a dog (for lack of a better term) that belonged to my now deceased elderly friend.  I have had issues with this dog, (who is very sweet), not getting along with my old dog (who is also very sweet, except to Poochie).  Both dogs, well, HATE each other.  It's more than Dog Whisperer issues, it's out and out hate and I've already had a few incidents between the two girls, despite me trying to exercise good canine control.

I've been juggling the two dogs for almost two years. I've been looking for a home for Poochie for the past 18 months when it became apparent my elderly friend was never going to be able to have a pet again due to her chronic health issues.  The local breed rescue that I had been trying to work with got some new staff.  Actually, they got back an older staffer who was very good at her job.  She found Poochie's file and called me over the weekend.  Poochie goes for an evaluation on Thursday, they have a potential home!

So keep your fingers crossed.  Poochie would do so much better and  be the Puppy Princess she was before she came to me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Trying to Spend Money, But Can't!

I have this extensive To Do list of projects around my small house. This past week, I gave myself permission to work on two of them. One project was to install some flooring in my bathroom, the other was to put in a new closet system. 

I did my research on products,etc, trucked off to Home Depot and bought my materials.  The bathroom flooring was a breeze. I used a product called Allure vinyl flooring. It's a floating floor and the pattern I chose was a tile pattern.  It took me longer to remove the toilet and sink and re-install the toilet and sink than it did to lay the new flooring.  BIG pat on my back to me, I now have flooring instead of sub floor!

The next project was to put in a new closet system ($100).  The people I bought my house from used this funky piece of furniture, not quite an armoire, not quite a free standing closet in the closet to store clothes.  I've been using a basic plastic shelving unit to store all my folded clothes. I found a system at Home Depot that had both shelves and rods to put hangers on, it was not wire, I am trying to avoid wire, it's a manufactured wood product.  I put together enough IKEA furniture in my time to decorate a show room. I thought this should be fairly easy to do. Like a half an afternoon project. How wrong I was!

The closet system, well, even for a "manufactured" product.. sucked.  No other word. I used a rubber mallet as detailed in the instructions to tap in some hardware parts.  Said mallet cracked the veneer.  When I went to use a screw driver to tighten up some bolts, it caused the part being tightened up fall out of the shelf, a huge chunk of particle board just broke off.  Nothing about this unit seemed sturdy or strong. I decided this was a waste of my time and money.  I had no way of taking all the bits of hardware out of the shelves, so I loaded up the parts, bits and pieces, and took the whole thing back to Home Depot.  I got a full refund and I spent the better part of the afternoon going to and from the store and attempting to put the piece together. 

Ah well, right now all my clothes are packed in laundry baskets and garbage bags. I had to dismantle the plastic shelving before I could start on the new system.  I will have to go back to square one and figure out what I want to do. It may be a wire system after all.....

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Mini Rant for Monday

I was going to have today's post be about me needing to get a spine and a new job, but instead it's about a mini rant on my weekend job. In my last post, I stated that my schedule was going to change in a few weeks. I was fine with that, we had the new schedule to go into effect the weekend that starts on April 30th. Imagine my surprise when I walked into the "staff room" on Friday after turning out a few horses,only to find my co-worker there. Unexpectedly there at work according to my weekend boss.

I gave him a WTF look and he gave me the same look back. Later in the AM, we had a little chat. According to my weekend boss, my co-worker came back early. My response was "you had a conversation with me, did you not make it clear to her when you had your conversation with her that expected the new schedule to start in two weeks?" I honestly don't know if he just forgot and told her to come in this weekend or WHATEVER. He claims she just decided to "show up". It does wildly annoy me since I will be losing two days of pay that I was planning on having. I made sure I told him that the early change to my schedule did not make me very happy. I was polite about it, but made sure I got my point across. Yeah it's whiny, I know, but the MO of my co-worker has been to pretty much do what she wants in terms of her schedule-leave and come back when it suits her and walk all over my weekend boss and dammed the other staff who are covering her hours. GRRR

My co-worker stayed on Friday and was mildly annoying. She's been gone for almost 5 months and we have had some changes in the facility. Had I known she was going to be coming back, I would have followed up with my weekend boss to make sure he spent some time with her to go over the new changes. None of these changes are earth shattering, but they are changes that she needs to know about. I know she would need to be brought up to speed on them. She spent most of the day going, oh this is new about every fifteen minutes. We also have a feed chart on the wall, it's missing a few animals since horses come in and horses come out or feed needs change. For almost an hour she followed me around the facility harping on the feed chart. I told her I'd make sure a new and current one would be posted by Monday (when she was going to work again). I finally gave in to the annoying chatter, sat down and started re-writing the chart just to SHUT HER UP.

That and the fact it was a damp chilly weekend did not make Betty a happy camper. I am so glad it's Monday!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Weekend Work Updates

My weekend job is dependant on the return of my  injured co-worker.  I was hired to be a temporary replacement. She had major surgery on her foot and was to be non weight bearing for a minimum of 4 months, if not 5 months, she is coming to the end of that time period. 

I got a call from my weekend boss who stated that said co-worker wants to come back a couple days a week, which means I'm out some weekend work. I was expecting to go back to my summer schedule of two days every two weeks, which barely cut the mustard money wise, especially since I had some work obligations and family obligations that seemed to occur on my scheduled weekends.  Instead, I'm only losing 4 days a month, which is not so bad!  It means I can have a full day off at home and my weekend boss gave me first crack at what days I wanted.  I set up a schedule with him that is a win win for both of us (maybe not for my co-worker, but TFB right now). I still work Fridays and Saturdays, get Sundays off and he gets Monday facility coverage.  Since he tries to take off Mondays and one afternoon a week, this works out well for him.  With the departure of said co-worker, he was having to work on Mondays.  Given the fact said co-worker is probably returning to work earlier than she is supposed to and probably won't be that mobile, I don't think he is really willing to drop me back down as he did last year.  I found out after the fact there were some issues with her limited mobility,the animals and facility, not wanting to yell I TOLD YOU SO, I merely nodded and said, "oh sorry to hear that."

This new schedule will start in a couple weeks. I have more notice this year than I did last year (which was all of 4 days) and I'm keeping a majority of my days.  Having Sundays off works well for me. I like the concept of "sleeping in" on Sunday and it gives me a respectable amount of time off before I start my weekday job.  It also gives me much needed time to work on my list of home DIY projects that are long overdue. My yard has turned into a dust bowl and needs serious work, which I have put on the top of my list for this year.  No slacking!

Said co-worker and I have also swapped days when one of us has needed a weekend day off or had a project or two to do.  That makes it a win win for both of us and less of a worry for the boss man.

I'm happy with the fact I'll be keeping a majority of my hours.  It is allowing me to delay getting a spine and getting a full time position again-which is the subject for another post.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Fault and My Ruined Monday.

So my Monday went from nice and wonderful to crappy and stressful in about 5 seconds. And it was my fault. I made an error with a client that I did not catch, but they did and needless to say, they are not happy, nor is my boss, nor am I. 

CRUD. I hate it when mistakes happen and I hate it even more when I should have caught this.  No freaking excuse on my part.  This particular client is a bit picky and yes, my boss is justifiably mad at me.  All I can do is admit my error and admit to the client it was my error and hope they don't rip me a new one.

Let's hope this is not the start to my week.....I do think Mercury goes retrograde later this week...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Cleaned Up The Blog Roll

I added a few blogs, deleted a few blogs and updated my fiscal progress. That's the best I can do on a miserable rainy day!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sometimes You Just Have to Put It On The Table.

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have two jobs. My weekday job that was at one time, full time and now three quarter time and my weekend job that "picks up the slack" so to speak.  I got this job just a few weeks after my hours were reduced at my full time job.  I was hired to fill in for someone who got injured and could not work. I knew then and still know now that my days are contingent upon this persons return to her old schedule. My boss also would like to keep me on at his facility since I can contribute more to his operation than turning out horses and mucking out stalls.   For the most part, I don't care who does what when I'm not at the facility, I don't oversee the other workers, I have no managerial duties so to speak. If I did, I'd of fired a couple people like last year.  I like to get to my weekend job, get settled, do my work for three days and  then go home. I have to travel to my weekend job, I like to use Thursday evenings as "me time", other than checking the schedule, I like to crash, maybe eat a pizza and drink a beer and watch cable TV for a few hours.  Such is the exciting life I lead.

Except for last weekend. I got to the facility and it was a mess.  I mean a real mess. Like a mess that should have been dealt with by the staff that was on duty that day.  Of course, the boss was away, so the mice played.  I walked into the facilities office to check messages, looked at the weekend schedule, and do a quick check of the facility.  I also noticed that a lot of the daily house keeping chores were not done and not done for umm, two to three days, the exact amount of time the boss was out of town.  Most of those chores are not difficult or time consuming and considering there was not a lot of "extra" work to be done at the facility I was wondering why the daily chores were not done.  Most of these chores revolved around the guest lounge and common areas that need to be kept clean neat and tidy all the time.  These are the "public faces" of the facility and all of us are required to make sure they look presentable.  The people who pay money to use our facility don't make a huge mess, in fact, they are pretty tidy and if the staff on duty keeps up with the chores, the public areas look more than presentable.  We had a program scheduled for the weekend and the public areas of the facility needed to be extra spiffy.

Needless to say I was not happy to find out Thursday evening that I had to spend a good two hours cleaning up these areas since I knew that I would not have the time on Friday to do so. My weekend boss was away and despite leaving him a couple phone messages, two texts and a hand written note, he did not get back to me until the middle of the week. 

I point blank told him I did not appreciate the fact that he had all this staff on duty who seemed incapable of doing the basic chores, yet somehow I managed to do all the chores and then some without the benefit of extra staff  (which I knew a head of time we would be short help) and oh yes, did I mention that the public face of his facility looked like crap? Yes, my words, looked like crap. I gave him a blow by blow description of what was NOT done that should have been done. What triggered my unusual outburst was the phone call I got (actually three phone calls) from the weekday person wanting to "touch base" about the facility.  Which in her speak means "here-are-my-excuses-for-not-doing-the-work".  The weekday person was trying to shift the blame to the other staffer. In my opinion, both of them need a sharp prod with a very sharp stick on a regular basis.  When prodded, they do more than acceptable work, when not prodded, they slack off.

My weekend boss and I have a good working relationship.  I don't bother him with the BS stuff, not my style, but this really irritated me.  Busy weekend, no extra help and a lot of unexpected work, two staffers who probably sat in the lounge watching cable or playing on the computer and got paid for it. I was not very happy to roll in to the office and then have to do someones work and not get paid for it.  I told  my boss that  consider  Thursday evenings "me time" even when I get to the facility early. It did not make me a happy camper to have to do the chores, and it made me an even unhappier camper to find out that there was extra staff on both Wednesday and Thursday. 

He did apologize and say he would talk to those people, but I really wonder if he will. He's a non confrontational type of guy and may just gloss it over.  Oh well, at least I told him my feelings on this matter and I will wait and see what happens next week. At least, he should put a little extra in the pay packet.!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why I Love My Local Ford Dealer

I am the first to admit I love my Escape.  It's a vehicle I wanted and worked hard to get post BK.  My old car was a 1999 Saturn Station wagon that gave me many years of service and over 232,000 miles.  It started to die a very expensive death at the end of it's life and that slow decline corresponded to my BK filing.  In fact, my transmission blew up on my way back from my 341 hearing costing me the remaining $300 in my checking account and my next paycheck.  Was it fate or just the universe testing me?  I knew as soon as I could I needed to replace the Saturn that gave me many years of trouble free service.

Needless to say.  I decided on a new to me car from a dealer instead of temporary clunker since my past experience with clunkers was not good.  I've had the Escape for two years now and it's chugging along.  I take it in for oil changes approximately every 5,000 miles.  I've been taking it to one of the two local Ford dealerships for the past 10 months. I was going to a local oil change shop that was increasingly trying to sell you additional services and fluid changes.  The service department  at the new dealership has been great, does more than the 21 point inspection of the vehicle during the oil change and does it for less than $35.  The other Ford dealership seemed to be only interested in making a buck. Each time I would take the car in for an oil change (they offered a $25 oil change) I would get a laundry list of much needed repairs.  What drove me over the edge was taking the Escape in for an ABS sensor repair (Estimated cost $400 if new parts were needed) and getting an estimate for $1200 worth of "work".  Plus the snotty attitude of the mechanic and the patronizing attitude of the service manager when I said No was annoying. I guess they saw a female with a car and saw $$$$ signs.

The other Ford Dealership that I now go to is much more straight up and honest.  Instead of insisting on all these services, they check and re-check during the oil change and talk to you like a person and not a bank account. This oil change was no exception. I had the service and instead of insisting on the full 80,000  mile service, they told me that all looked good and would recommend a radiator flush and fill sometime in the next few months.  They said all looked good and probably would be fine, but it did not hurt to do the flush and fill later this spring. I'll plan and budget that for in the upcoming couple months.  When the Escape had some problems this past fall, I logged onto a Ford Escape Forum researched the site and found what looked like my problem with my Escape.  When I went to the dealership, I told them what I was feeling/hearing in the car, what I found on the forum and left the Escape for the diagnostic test.  The service manager listened to me and what I found.  He thought maybe the back end of the Escape was shot, but he also looked up on same forum my problem and low and behold, instead of a new back end, all I needed was a repair of a frozen joint of some sort.  He did not assume my Escape needed a new back end,  He did not dismiss my input, he thought it might a bad rear end on the Escape, but  he was open to looking at the forum and also looking at my Escape with my eyes. He told me my type repair was the first he had done on an Escape at his shop and he was glad I told him about the Forum.  The repair was under $200 (including the oil change) and this dealership now has my business as long as I have my Escape.  This dealership is in the business of repairing cars and maintaining good customer relationships no matter your age or gender.

I did treat the car to a spring cleaning on Saturday inside and out.  My car has been freshly serviced and freshly washed. Good way to start the spring!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Things That Make Me Laugh

I pulled my credit reports and scores this week to do my annual check. My FICO score is about the same as it was last year, not great at 635, but at least it has not gone down. I had hoped it would go up a bit more, like at least to 650. My Advantage score is 785, what ever that means and supposedly am a Prime candidate, what ever that means. I'm getting ready to process an application for an FHA loan to get some money for some much needed work on my house. I thought this would be a good time to double check my file before it gets pulled by a lender so I can clean up any discrepancies.

I did have to laugh at a couple items that were listed on the report as an "explanation" for my low scores.

Your report shows one or more bankruptcy filings. Bankruptcies can remain on file for up to 10 years, depending on the chapter filed, and have a negative impact on your credit score. Ah Duh, I filed Bankruptcy, I expect to find this on the report!

• The average loan amount across open, recently reported real estate accounts, such as a mortgage, is too low. Having low loan amounts has a negative impact on your credit score. Too Low? I mean my mortgage was small to begin with, I did not buy a McMansion!

I did find one discrepancy, which was an account I had in collections was discharged in the BK filing. It is still listed as active in two of the three credit agencies and not on the third. I'm filing a paper dispute as I hear they work better than an electronic one. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I thought, hey, it's only two stamps. I even cleaned up some personal information, employers names spelled wrong, corrected some start dates, eliminated some old duplicate mailing addresses.

I've said this before. Even with the Bankruptcy, it's better to have correct negative information than incorrect negative information on the account.

When was the last time you looked at your credit reports?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why I Have A Costco Membership

I have been a member of Costco, (then Price Club) since 1992. When I first joined, you had to show proof of belonging to a qualifying organization. In my case, I worked in a school district so I was allowed to become a Costco member. My then boyfriend had to be added to my account as an extra card holder since he worked for a small company that was not on the Price Club list. It cost $35 a year to be a member and my renewal this year was $50. In 18 years the dues have gone up $15 and I have NO complaints about that. I do believe that I do save the cost of the membership with my shopping at Costco over the year.

When I lived in Northern Virginia and the Costco opened at Pentagon City, it was like MAGIC. It sold beer and wine, had a great selection of items and and best of all, was close to my home, actually on my way to and from home. I would stop there at least 3x a week.

When I moved back to New England, Costco became a destination shop. The closest one to home is 20 miles away. I would have to plan my shopping trips. For someone who dislikes the grocery store experience, Costco has been a sanity saver. I have my list of items I can buy in bulk. Depending on the time of day, I can be in and out of Costco in less than 30 minutes. I do my best to avoid the store on the weekends-way too many people and screaming children.

My visit to Costco yesterday was a bit pricey $132 in the warehouse-this included my yearly renewal and a new pair of sneakers that I wanted, but did not need right now, $55 in the optical department for new lenses (needed) and $32 at the gas pump. I saved about 30% on the cost of my contacts (I've checked out 1800 contacts and other vendors), the gas is always 10c-15c per gallon cheaper than most local gas stations, and I'm well stocked up on garbage bags.

Even though I have limited storage space, I still shop at Costco for my paper goods (tissues, TP, paper towels), rice, cereal,juices, soda water, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, contacts, gas, et al. I know if I read all the circulars I could probably find the better deals at the chain stores, but honestly, I don't do that sort of shopping. I would lose my freaking mind if I had to spend my time going from Wal Mart to K-Mart to Target to Costco to Stop and Shop to Shaws all in the name of saving a few dollars on the basics. I find shopping to be a neccessary evil most of the time and if I can get my purchases at a reasonable price and fast, I do.

What I don't buy at Costco are most of the frozen pre-prepared foods. While having a huge box of frozen pizzas may be tempting for those days that I don't feel like cooking, the listed fat grams on most boxes alone are enough to make me run to a cardiologist. I prefer non frozen chicken breast over frozen chicken breast pieces. I make my own burgers from ground beef, I don't use pre-made patties and as much as I like peas, having a 5 pound bag of frozen peas in the freezer would pretty much take up all my freezer space. I can see if people have families that these items can be a time saver and even a money saver. I'd rather pop a frozen pizza in the oven for $5 than get the same size in take out for $10.

What can make Costco a waste a money is if you don't shop wisely. If you have a small family, or like me are single, sometimes these bulk items can go to waste. I happen to love salads and will eat a whole bag of salad mix in a few days. Even if I miss a day or two and the tail end gets a bit mushy, the cost of the salad from Costco is still less than half for half the amount at the grocery store. BUT if you are not a salad eater, only use the product for one meal and then let the rest of it rot, you are better off buying a bag of lettuce at the grocery store. Not everyone needs a 3 lb jar of mayo, you will probably be better off getting your mayo from your local grocery store.

Plus you can't beat the $1.50 for the hot dog and soda as a great quick lunch or snack...:)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Contest at Fabulously Broke

Yes, you can win one of 4 $25 gift cards at one of my favorite blogs-Fabulously Broke in the City. Click here to go to that post. She has a fab site full of great information as well! Please check out the site and enter the contest!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chair is Ready!

I got a call this morning. My chair has been repaired! Yeah.  The total cost was $205.32.  Worth it I think.  I am looking forward to sitting back in my chair.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Finally A Mystery Shop I Can Do!

I've been a mystery shopper for a couple years.  The problem is when you live in the sticks, there are not too many decent shops.  There is one, however, for a  vet clinic.  I shopped it last year and I will shop it agin.  The pet in question needs an exam and I need to save some $$$. The shop will pay for the cost of the visit. I've booked the shop and am pleased it is a "useful" shop. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Putting the Squeeze on The Weekend Boss

I got my current part-time weekend job just after I lost my full time hours at work.  When the Gods close a window, they open a door.  I knew that my job was to "temporary" until the person I replaced could come back to work.  I never expected almost 18 months later, to still have this insane schedule, but I do.  My weekend boss and I get along and like I keep telling him, if it works for you, it works for me.

My co-worker is out again this winter for extensive surgery and unable to do her work. Good for me, not good for her.  She is supposed to be out of commission until at least May, if not later.  Not wanting a repeat of last year where I was given like no notice that my co-worker was coming back, I've started to ask my weekend boss if he has spoken to said co-worker.  He probably was in contact with her last year and did not want me to know when she was coming back. Even though I knew my job was "at will", I was still caught a bit flat footed, especially when I asked for some notice, which I thought was only fair.

I will keep asking him until I get an answer.  He has asked if I still want to work at the facility, which I do want to do.  As I've told him before, I really just need to know what the schedule is so I can make plans to cover my needs.  So lets see what he comes up with.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's The Same Song Again

People who have been reading my blog know that my lovely neighbors are going through a very hard time with their kids and their money.  It's not getting any better.

Eldest Daughter works a seasonal job and took her winter vacation to out to California to see her boyfriend.  Eldest Daughter also spent all her "fun money" and most of the money she had put aside for her new apartment.  Eldest Daughter is now living back at home since the Youngest Daughter has moved to the other side of the state, still not employed, still not in school. Eldest daughter will be starting her seasonal job later this month and is looking at yet another college to go to, which would make #3 in 4 years.  Her parents keep taking out loans for Eldest Daughter who has still not decided what she wants to major in or do with her life. That's a lot of money spent on classes/credits that are not transferrable-this is when a student loan is a waste of money.

Youngest Daughter has moved to be with her boyfriend, and eventually will enroll is some sort of school.  The last conversation I had with my neighbor about Youngest Daughter was that she was trying to find some sort of a job, but could not meet certain job requirements (like a drug test). Youngest daughter barely fulfilled her court ordered community service before she moved to the other side of the state, does come home once or twice a week and yup, is living off her parents.

My neighbors are very nice people.  They are struggling, but seem to be unable to put spending boundaries on their kids. They are supporting both these girls who don't seem to really give a darn about the fact that their parents are paying mortgages late, have maxed out credit cards and payment plans with the electric company. 

I can understand that my neighbor wants to help her kids, but when is enough enough?  My neighbor is really struggling, complaining about life in general, yet is unable to stick to her resolution to make her kids learn how to support themselves or take some responsibility for their actions. 

I can be sympathetic to a point.  I am less sympathetic when I hear the same story over and over.  No is such a simple easy word NO.  No, I won't pay the deposit on your apartment, No I won't pay for your gas to come and see me and then have you spend all day at your friends house, no I won't buy all that organic food that you always say you want, then never eat.  No I won't take out another tuition loan until you are settled in school....

I just see a crash coming really soon

Monday, March 8, 2010

Good Weekend Off!

I took a long weekend off from both my weekday and weekend job. I was feeling a little cranky, had some work to do around the house and honestly, just wanted some ME time.  I spend two and a half days lounging around the house, watching TV, playing on facebook, organizing files on my computer, cooking, cleaning, and doing my taxes.  I had four days of blissful free time.

I was very surprised to see that I am getting back more money from the State than I thought and a small Federal refund.  I was only hoping to NOT have to pay any taxes this year.  My second job and it's expenses get sorted under a schedule C and when it was all done and dusted, my expenses just barely exceeded my income.  A few other non reimbursed work  expenses added to my deductions and I get back some moola.  Good!  Yeah! and the money is going towards my severely depleted e fund. 

I will say it was nice to hang out at home with no obligations to my time.  I know with my weekend job and my hobbies, I have very few days that are not "spoken for".  Depending on what happens with my co-worker at my weekend job, I'll have to plan another weekend off. This was good for my soul. 

How was your weekend!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Credit Card Limit Increased!

My credit card payment is due this week, I faithfully log on to the site on the last day of each month, review my transactions (gas, the odd purchase), make sure nothing looks unusual and set up an on line payment. Imagine my surprise when I logged on last night and saw that Orchard Bank had increased my credit line. I now have a credit limit of $700 instead of $500. I guess faithfully paying off my balance each month and early had it's rewards. I was tickled to death when I got a the card in late 2008!

Good news for me! This old dog did learn a new trick-or in my case, relearned the old good habits.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Worth Getting Fixed? Yup Not All Furniture is Disposable

I have a  chair that was a "freebie" to me. It has to be about 25 or 30 yrs old, maybe more and covered in a green velvet fabric.  Friends of mine gave it to me when they were cleaning out the house of an aged relative. I think the official name of the chair style is a "ladies chair". I actually keep it in the kitchen area, tucked next to a small bookshelf that holds a reading lamp.  I love sitting in it first thing in the AM with a cup of tea or coffee, the sunlight streams in my east facing kitchen window, or after a full day at work, it's a good place to sit with a glass of something to unwind. The pets, who have taken over my bed and my couch, don't "take over" my chair. Oddly, the people who gave me the chair told me their aged relative used to do the same thing, except that the chair was located in a small side parlour at the aged relatives house. I think it was fate that brought the chair to me.

 It is was very comfy, until the bottom fell out.  Actually, it was partially my fault, well- ALL my fault.  I used it as a step stool one too many times and the bottom fell out. The webbing holding the springs gave way. Chunky chicks should not use furniture as step stools, especially since I own a step stool that is all of 4 feet away.

I called around, got some names and found a local place that fixes chairs and does upholstery.  I am not good at that kind of DIY.  I took the chair in and I was quoted a price of $175 to fix the webbing, re-tie the springs together and replace the old cushioning that has spilled out.  At first I was a bit taken a back and gave half a thought to chucking the chair. UNTIL the next sentence out of the owners mouth was-"If you want to throw out the chair, I'll take it".  Which to me means it's worth fixing.   The chair as they say, Has Good Bones." 

The owner told me exactly what he would need to do to repair the chair, told me it would take about 10 days and asked for a deposit. I gave him the deposit and I'm looking forward in getting back my chair with a much improved seat. I wish I had the money to get the chair recovered, it would have been another $175 to $200 depending on the fabric. But the fabric on the chair is in good condition and I don't mind the green color.   I'd like to think I'm keeping the chair out of  the local landfill, I'm helping a local merchant (who by the looks of the workshop is really good at what he does) and I'll get back my comfy chair and keep the memory alive of a departed aged relative.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Almost Tax Time!

Thanks to those of you who asked, My neck is feeling better. Seriously, I went to shake/flip my hair out of my face one slightly windy day and put my neck in spasm.

I have all my tax documents in a folder. All I have left to do is go over my mileage logs and double check my "office supply" receipts and then I can sit down and do my taxes. I think I will either owe a small amount or get back a small amount. I'd of course, love to get back a large amount and not owe anything, but don't think that's in the plans. I keep good records, but this past year I started using a program called Neat Receipts. It's a program that scans in your receipts, keeps a running total on your expenses and makes up expense reports if you need them. The nice part is I can print out my expenses and then plug in those numbers to my tax forms. It does have the capability to import the data to Quicken as well. I'm sure the more organized amongst you have spiffy excel spreadsheets with all those columns and fields and diligently scan all your documents. I'm not that excel proficient nor do I diligently scan. The nice thing with this program is it saves me the step of inputting the data in a spreadsheet. I have a pile of 2010 receipts to input, I’m slowly learning better paper management!

This year I think I will actually touch base with a CPA or some other person to find out the best way to pay myself via my LLC. I'm filing out a Schedule C, but I do have a "company" that I "own" listed with state as an LLC and want to make sure that in the future, I put this part-time 1099 income through the LLC and then pay myself. I have no idea if it will be a tax advantage for me or what, but time to talk to a professional once the tax crunch is over.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Getting Ready to Do My Taxes

And I am soo behind schedule.  By this time last year I had them e-filed and was awaiting my refund.  This year I am just getting all my paperwork together.  I got all my forms in one pile, I've scanned in the last of my reciepts,  I've got a list of things I will need to do my taxes.  I'm planning to take a weekend off (I really need a weekend off) from my part time job and will take a day to do my taxes.  I have my W2's, my 1099's, and all those little forms one needs.  I'd like to get my taxes done so I can start thinking about my home improvement loan process. 

Not helping matters is a pinched nerve in my neck.  One bad hair flip and I'm in agony and pain.  Yikes.  I feel twice my age. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The House Repair List

As promised the work list for my little house,

1) New clapboard siding, rehang gutters
2) New windows (10).
3) Retile bathroom
4) New flooring in entire house
5) Kitchen, fix warped floor, fix damaged dry wall behind water heater, new cabinets and counter tops, perhaps new appliances (cooktop and wall oven to replace range). New floor-
6) Research replacing tank hot water heater with an on demand one-How to best install
7) Upgrade electrical to 200 amp service and upgrade power head coming into the house.
8) New supports for enclosed porch, fix damaged floor boards.
9) New doors interior and exterior.
10) Replace old insulation in crawl space and attic
11) Talk to contractor about removing old unused chimeny from side of house.
12) Fix Stone step to back door.
13) Painting as needed.

The only thing on this list I can do is paint.  The rest is out of my league. 

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Really Can't Make This Stuff Up

Just to give you an idea as to what I've been dealing with for the month of January and why I've been not blogging as much as I would like. Individually, not a big deal, but all together one after another, just plain tiring. So here goes!

Pets: Those of you who have been reading my blog know that I have been taking care of a dog that belonged to my deceased elderly friend. I still have this dog and I really want to find her a home. One my older pets does not get along with her and it's tiresome keeping them separate. The rescue service she is registered with is going through yet another administrative change. This pet has a few health issues and it makes her harder to adopt out. It's like she gets pushed to the bottom of the list since she is in a "good foster home" as they call me. Next time someone asks me to "help" with an animal, I'm saying no. Not trying to be pet unfriendly, but I've been stuck with this dog for almost 18 months, when it was supposed to be short term. Elderly friends estate is no help, because there really is no one. I tend to think with my heart and not my head.

Work: My boss has been penny wise and pound foolish. He has spent about 10 hours of his time trying to find someone who can repair an old printer we have. The printer is about 8 years old, it was a refurbished model when the office bought it. It's not in production anymore and the parts are a bit pricey. Plus, almost without exception, every repair company I've found charges close to $120 per hour to do work, some charge travel as well. My boss is positive he can find the parts for the machine and we can do it ourselves (we can't). We have a second color laser printer that needs both a black drum and color drum, both parts just slide in/slide out, but cost around $600. This will probably give us at least another 2 years of excellent service. We do a lot of in house color work, we need a working printer. My boss's mantra is "we can find it cheaper, I know we can". At some point, you have to just retire the old electronics or pay the price for the parts to get the newer ones working. I am fully aware we are operating on a budget, but spending money on old outdated equipment that keeps dying is just plain foolish. Don't get me started on the toner research either or the fact each time I come in on Mondays my desk supplies are slowly getting pilfered while I'm out of the office. I don't share well and this irks me.....
We have also decided to hire a new consultant and my boss said while he thinks she would be a good fit, he wanted me to talk to her about the color of her purse (it was shocking pink) and how she should not bring it out when she goes to see clients. Ah, I don't think I can do that, we don't have an official dress code and we certainly don't have a color dress code, official or otherwise. He had already given her the office policy manual to read prior to the job offer, so she has this all in writing already. If he objected to the color of her handbag, he should have not offered her the job.
FHA Mortgage Research: By talking to other real estate brokers, I found a mortgage broker who specializes in FHA loans and FHA refinance loans. She and most of her office have a good reputation. I met with her a couple weeks ago, explained my situation (BK and all) and told her that once I did my 2009 taxes, I was interested in trying to do the FHA rehab loan for the house. I came prepared with a list of repairs and a list of contractors that I would be contacting. I also asked what other information she would need. We agreed to meet again last week to start the paperwork and for her to go over some financials and figures with me. We agreed to not pull a credit report until I had done the 2009 taxes and gotten all my paperwork in order. I call the office last week to set up a second meeting only to find that the broker I was talking to had eloped. Yup, eloped and is probably gone for good. The "new" broker assigned to my loan is someone I was warned to avoid, so I made sure both in writing and by phone that I was suspending all action on my loan until further notice. The "new" broker is a man who had been in banking, got laid off post 9-11 and while he may know finance, does not know or do mortgages well. I've heard enough horror stories on deals crashing to make sure I avoid him like the plague.

Weekend Job: My weekend job has been ultra busy, my job duties have changed a bit as the facility did a much needed assessment of how best to use the staff we have. I'm fine with the job changes, I took on some new duties, and dropped some others and we are working better as a facilitynow that we have adapted to our new rolls, it took a couple weeks to get the wheels in motion. My weekend boss is heading south for a while with both clients and horses to take advantage of the non cold and non snow weather. He did not do this last year, but is opting to do the "southern circuit" this year. We do have working at the facility, yet another very talented rider, but very young and insecure person trying to make it as a trainer/instructor. Alas they don't have the communication skills or the people skills (yet) to teach or to deal with the staff. And almost without exception these very talented, yet insecure people tend to be "on a high horse" and not nice to us "underlings" at the barn. I've dealt with this prima donna attitude enough to deal with it, but it does get tiring. It just makes my job a bit more irksome when it does not need to be irksome. Plus I was told this past weekend that since I was only "the groom" and "barn baby sitter" that I really knew nothing about the equine business or equine management. This from someone who still lives at home with mummy and daddy, is just of legal drinking age and has never had any kind of management experience at all. I looked at them, leaned on my broom and said, "Did you fall off of a horse, hit your head and not tell us, 'cause you are really talking about something you know nothing about!" When the big boss is away, the assistants sometimes think they are the big boss.

Social Life~I may be 40 some odd years old, but... I got dressed to go out to dinner the other night with a group of friends. I was really looking forward to it, a bunch of us had not gone out for ages. Plus we had a new male addition to the group. Like any slightly vain person, I wanted to make sure I looked good. Clean clothes, clean hair, but what the freak is in the middle of my nose? Yes smack dab on the end of my nose right in the middle was a zit. When I went to touch it, it popped and I then had a large red spot on the end of my nose. Plus since I was at the weekend job, I did not have any cover up with me. I'm not a big make up person to begin with and what few basic make up items I have are home. I walked around the house swearing and looking for something to use to soothe the spot. Gwad I felt like I was 17 and going to a dance..

I will end this post with some good news. I actually have my first real real estate client in over a year. We are in good negotiations for a piece of land, clean deal, no contingencies; we are just coming together on price. So I'm looking forward to a nice end of February with a nice commission!

How has your month been?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blog Roll Updates

I did a mini blog roll clean up, I deleted some blogs that have not been updated in a long time or those that have gone bye-bye.  Single Ma/Fabulous Financials, I will miss you! I still have to add in a few new ones that I've been promising or meaning to do for a while.  I'm taking my laptop with me this weekend, so I hope to actually work a bit on my blog instead of another project!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A New Years Resolution

In general, I find (like so many people) that I often fall short of my New Year's Resolutions. Most years I don't make a specific resolution, I find I do much better with an on going goal list. I seem to do much better with a "goal list" as compared to a "New Year's Resolution list". This year it's going to be a bit different.

If you've been following my blog, you know I live in a very small house that needs a lot of work, work that I am just not capable of doing in a DIY fashion and work that costs big $$$. I've spent the better part of the past month taking a good long look at my house and making up a punch list of work that has to be done, work that should be done and the cosmetic work I'd like to do. The punch list is long and lengthy. So much so that it almost drove me to drink an entire bottle of wine because it depressed me sooo much. When I bought my little house, I honestly did not think I'd still be living in it, now almost 10 years later. I figured I'd sell it and move up, or rent it out and move to a new place. Ah yes, the grand plans one has. I underestimated the work that needed to be done and the cost of the work, and I overestimated my DIY skills.

I really would like for some DIY show to come and rescue me and my home, do the work, I can help, I'm actually a very good assistant and feature me on one of their programs. Hey I'd go public with my real identity if that were the case~can we say lovely small home done over in a "green" renovation. I think it would make a great HGTV show.
So after thinking about this long and hard, and doing some research my goal this year is to see if I can qualify for an FHA refinance/rehab loan. Based on the worksheets from a number of FHA lenders and the FHA itself, even with the Bankruptcy in my past, I may be able to qualify for a loan.

What I have going for me is the following. My house in not underwater based on the current market and where I live (thank goodness). My outstanding debt consists of my car loan and I'm in the home stretch on the last of my student loans (like it should be paid off by December of this year), my credit card does not carry a balance, I only use the card once or twice a month for gas or the odd purchase. I have not been late on any payments since I started the Bankruptcy filing and my mortgage has always been current.  What is not in my favor is the Bankruptcy discharge (now 2 years old!), my reduced income from my "full time job", and the fact it may be hard to find good current house comps on my small home. I will get a 1099 from the weekend job which may help to offset the reduction in income from the weekday job.

You may ask in astonishment, But Betty, why do you want to take on more debt? Simply, I want to be able to move to a house that is a bit bigger and in better shape than this one. In order for me to sell it and not take a massive hit, I do have some repairs that must be done. Even if I decide to stay in this house, it needs work. As I stated above, I don’t have the DIY skills for those necessary repairs. Houses, especially older ones, need repairs and maintenance. I’ll put up a post later about the list of repairs that I’ve come up with.

Part of the bouncing back from Bankruptcy was also to see if I can qualify for credit again without paying astronomical interest rates. I’m not overly thrilled with my car interest rate, but it was the price I had to pay to get a car so soon after the BK was discharged. I will let you know how the process goes. I plan on starting the process in earnest once I do my 2009 taxes, which will be the beginning of February and I’d love to hear your thoughts, good, bad and indifferent.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Starting the New Year On A Good Foot

My trip to IKEA was very productive. I spent a total of $169 ($9 over my limit) for my new bookcase, some kitchen storage containers and items and some unscented candles.  The only purchase not on my list was a small stock pot.  I need one at the weekend job, the kitchen there does not have one, so I purchased a pot of $29.99.  I had been doing a search of Marshalls and TJ Maxx for cooking pots, but the selection has been limited. this pot is a good size for making some soup, stew or just even boiling water for pasta.  I got to IKEA early, whipped through the store to get the items on my list, paid for them, then put them in my car.  I then came back to the store, spent some time looking for design ideas, pricing and testing out new couches.  I did what one is supposed to do when testing out a new couch.  I took off my shoes and flopped on each couch.  I stretched out, I sat up, I did all the body positions I would normally do at home. I got a lot of strange looks from other shoppers as I tested out the various pieces of furniture.  I did not mind one bit. A couch purchase is not on my radar for at least 6 months, but I wanted to get an idea of size, style and price so I can budget/save for a couch. 

I will say that IKEA seems to be making better quality furniture.  I'm really pleased with my bookshelf. It was easy to put together.  I did check out the local unfinished furniture store and they had a similar bookcase for more than twice the price.  My IKEA book case is laquered pine and will work just fine in my abode.  I will spend a couple nights this week organizing the books I want to keep and purging the rest.  I like being able to go to the bookshelf and picking out an old favorite book to re-read.  The bookshelf I was replacing at home was also made by IKEA, but it was one of those particle board ones.  It was showing it's age (13 years) and starting to fall apart.  The updated version at IKEA looked to be of better quality, so it's good to see that IKEA is still making inexpensive furniture that is durable instead of expendable.

The other awesome start was finding two pairs of jeans on sale on new years day.  I have a couple pairs of jeans that I wear every weekend at the barn.  They are the designated barn jeans.  They are at least 3 years old. One pair is so frayed and now  badly split that it was not worth the time for me to sew or iron on patches.  The other pair I was able to patch.  I did go into a store and by chance checked out the women's jean section.  I snagged two pairs of jeans for $25. Both were drastically marked down.  One was a "quality irregular" and try as I migh to find the "irregular" I could not and the other was just at 75% off.  Both pairs are in good shape and fit me well.  That was a nice unexpected surprise and I purchased both pairs. 

I did a clothes inventory of my closet and it revealed that I'm in very good shape for work and play clothes.  I've lucked out the past few shopping trips and have been able to restock my wardrobe with several quality pieces at decent prices.  As far as I can tell, future clothing purchases will be limited to things like socks, underwear, and a couple pairs of shorts for the summer.

Hoping you had a very nice New Years!