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Archive for June, 2013

A Brief Break

June 30th, 2013 at 02:44 pm

I took a little break from my money blog here last week to get some much-needed tasks done. DD had a writers' camp at the university, and I used every minute she was there and all of the rest of my free time to get some research done on an article I've been trying to get written.
Most of the days were spent in the university archives, and I'm such a geek that I LOVE archival research. But I think I have just about everything I need now to start writing. It was an expensive week. DD and I ate lunch together, and despite my determination to bring our lunches every day, I caved and we ate in the university cafeteria twice--then had a Friday lunch date as we always do in the summer. But it was fun, and it was great to see her all excited about writing.

I'm off to go strawberry picking this morning, but I am happy to be spending most of next week home to catch up on everything that didn't get done last week.

We got our second chimney bid finally, and it was more than 3K higher than the other bid. This guy said we needed a new chimney liner too. I'm frustrated with the process, and will go with the first bidder. I've had such a hard time getting anyone to bid, that I'm not pursuing this further. The first bidder is highly rated also on Angies List and works with our roofer. Good enough, I hope.

Another Big Declutter Day

June 23rd, 2013 at 05:20 am

I've been telling DH all week that we couldn't turn on the air con until we completely cleaned the furnace room where it lives. This wacky reasoning arises from several sources. First, sometimes the air drainage tube sweats and leaks a bit, leaving damp spots under the hose. I didn't want anything in there damaged.

Second, and frankly my real reason, that room is a mess. When I was in London, DH "put away" the Christmas stuff--meaning he took it out of the main floor of the house and dumped it in the furnace room. It was such a mess, I've had a hard time convincing myself to deal with it and really wanted his help. I promised it would only take the two of us an hour. After 2 1/2 hours, it was terrific. Lots of stuff dumped, more stuff already at the charity shop, many things just sorted out.

That almost made up for my evening with my soon-to-depart friends which was so sad that we all went home early. But the basement was an accomplishment. We have another room to sort out there, but that will be this week. It's supposed to be a hot one, and I think I'll actually enjoy being down there.

A low spend day--just my sad dinner.

Some Tasks Cleared

June 21st, 2013 at 06:49 pm

My DH was feeling better last night, so I cornered him with the four painting bid and the bank decisions. We concurred on everything, but are waiting to hire the painter until we look at a friend's house on Sunday. She had the same painter as was pleased with him.

We also decided to continue with two checking accounts, one for me and a joint account. In principal I'm all for combining our accounts, but I must admit, trouble with my first husband 15 years ago makes me want my own money. My DH is about as relaxed about money as anyone I've ever seen and leaves all of these decisions to me.
But we're definitely switching to the credit union and to the "over 50" account since it saves us money and offers a few perks.

Today's task has been to search out valances with grommet tops for the family room. No luck at Bloodbath and Beyond, but I'm happily shopping online for some. Penneys and Gardeners.com both seem to have some that I like. I'm eager to get this done!

Jobs, Tasks, and Errands

June 20th, 2013 at 05:03 pm

I seem to be up to my ears in some jobs, tasks, and errands. This is NOT going to be the week where I lounge on the sofa and read. Lots of garden cleanup remains to be done, plenty of home fix-up jobs, and all the errands seem to be piling up.

I chatted with the bank teller yesterday about changing our joint account. Because DH is now officially over 50, we can get the same free checking with a free safety deposit box and some other misc perks. We had chatted about a safety deposit box anyway, so I suspect we'll change over. I need to get more potting soil, mulch, and spend a couple of hours in the garden.

Part of this is piling up because DH is still so tired from work. He comes home, eats, and falls asleep. I could really use a couple of hours with him at full force every evening to go over the painting and chimney bids with me, consider the bank and credit union options, and dejunk his closet. Maybe the week will go better? I think I mentioned in ceejay's comments that he saw his name pop up in an email during a presentation yesterday. He's worried about job stability yet again. Lots of stress on him, so perhaps I'll just make the decisions and plunge forward myself.

A New Challenge for My Dear Husband

June 19th, 2013 at 05:02 am

My dear husband is what you might call a history freak. He LOVES British history, carries around back-breaking volumes on Lord Salisbury, Disraeli, WWI etc. A big part of him has always wanted to either teach or just have a better formal education in history. He's a software developer and hasn't had a real history class since high school. British universities don't do general education classes, so he had none there.

Things are difficult at work lately; he's been putting in lots of extra hours, hates his new bus-less commute, and perhaps has a little of the "I'm 50" blahs. So Saturday night I said to him, "Why not enroll in a history class at my university?" Within two hours we had him applying for admission and sending off the fee. I suspect he won't choose it as a new career, but I think he'll really enjoy the experience. It's funny; we were talking with friends about this tonight, and half of them just couldn't understand why he'd do that. Couldn't he just read a book? The other half understood perfectly. Yeah, it'll cost a little cash, but speaking as one who changed careers from a lucrative secure one to an initially tenuous low-paid one, I know what it means to be passionate about a topic. I hope he loves it and continues. School begins in the fall semester with just a single class.

Hey, Hey, Hey! A NSD!

June 18th, 2013 at 05:48 am

Not a stellar day, by any stretch. But a cheap one. DH very busy at work and worked at home till after 11. My evening class has dwindled to three tonight, none of them talkers. DD had a great day at camp.

I did again take coffee to my class shaving a big 75cents off my spending. The vending machine coffee is awful anyway.

Only sizeable financial news is very good news. The Study Abroad organization has cut me a check to cover last year's airfare. Now that is GOOD news. I read some capstone projects that will net me over $100. i guess the day wasn't so bad after all!

Kid Fun and Painting Contractors

June 17th, 2013 at 05:16 am

I spent all day Friday with DD and two of her friends. They did lunch, a library movie, with the time in between spent at Barnes and Noble reading books to each other. She really had fun--and so did they.
It wasn't my dream day, but I'm glad they all enjoyed themselves so much.

Saturday was not so fun--lots of errands and shopping and more bids on the chimney and exterior painting. It's going to be an expensive summer for the house.

Today we had a quiet day with special treats, gifts, and foods for DH. It was a spectacular day here and we all went swimming in the municipal pool. A really lovely summer time.

It's About Time

June 13th, 2013 at 11:05 pm

I finally took a BIG load of stuff to the charity shop today, and mailed the DVD sale. And now I'm at my tutoring gig and there's not a student in sight. So me and the laptop are doing Swagbucks for $44/hour.

But still, I'd rather be home. Tomorrow should be fun. I'm taking DD and two friends to lunch, then we're heading to the local library for a free movie. Her friends are so cute and fun.

Endings and Beginnings

June 13th, 2013 at 03:15 am

What's ended?
My DD's school year. Getting up at 6am. Homework supervision. Our bedtime book, Inkheart, which we loved.

What's beginning? Summer vacation! Library reading contest. Fun times with her girlfriends. Our "sandbucket" list. My diet (ugh but necessary)

Other things continue as usual with little to report except another ebay sale for $9

One Step Up

June 11th, 2013 at 07:11 pm

It's a warm, hazy, humid day here. I'll admit to being lazy, but the after effects of a 4 and 1/2 hour evening class always do that to me. The bad news is that I'm subbing for a colleague tonight too, so I expect a lazy day again tomorrow.

But I've made some progress. Several more of my small ebay auctions are selling, and I've listed more of DD's outgrown DVDs. The laundry is on the line. A rebate is in the mail.

Thank you all for indulging my England wistfulness. DH and I have committed to a complete financial inventory over the weekend to give us a better idea of where we're at and where we're going.

Buying, Selling, and Thinking

June 10th, 2013 at 04:19 pm

Perhaps it's turning 50, but DH has England fever again. This always comes and goes, but his aging dad, boring job, and our renewed taste of London living last spring has stoked the fire.

I told him I'd think it through some more. We need to do a more complete financial inventory, and he needs to do some realistic stock taking of his job prospects. But of course, I have money anxiety about the whole thing. I swear, I should not read articles about retirement saving. The one in yesterday's NYT had little to do with our situation as it focused on people who were (in my opinion) too loaded up on bonds. But it always makes me nervous, so some clear-eyed examination of the state of things would help.

My ebay auctions were only somewhat successful. I sold some DVDs that I'll post this morning, but had to relist a couple of items. Several weeks ago when I volunteered to sub tutor for a friend it seemed like a peachy idea. Faced with three nights there this week, I'm not looking forward to it. But often no one shows up for the tutoring hours, so maybe I can get some work done on a prospective UK budget.

My "Still in My 40s" Husband

June 9th, 2013 at 02:03 pm

Tomorrow is my dear husband's 50th birthday. He's not quite kicking and screaming into his 50s, but he is not going gently either. I took him out for a splendid dinner last night using (for some of the enormous bill) a gift card received from our window installer. You know how sometimes expensive meals are just not worth it? Well, this one was. Wonderful food, wonderful setting overlooking Lake Michigan, fabulous service--and when we left the restaurant, one of the lakefront festivals had a fabulous fireworks display.

We went for a nice drink at a local jazz club, and had a wonderful evening. DD was at a sleepover so saved the cost of babysitting, and while the evening was pricey, it was well worth it.

Fancy Garage Shelves?

June 7th, 2013 at 02:30 am

I managed to get my ebay stuff listed, contacted the Study Abroad folks about my airfare reimbursement, and today received the check for DH's osteopath while we were in London. All good.

Our new TV cabinet was delivered yesterday, and I hung around today to meet the charity shop drivers who were picking up our old one and an old desk. But, much to my chagrin, they wouldn't take the big old entertainment center. No one in town will. They told me that so many people had dumped the old style ones since flat screen TVs took over that they can't sell them. It's now in our garage. I've listed it on freecycle and Craigslist, but I suspect it will become a very sturdy holder of dandelion spray and old hoses.

Scrounging for the Chimney

June 5th, 2013 at 01:23 am

That's a strange image, yes? But that's what I spent most of the day doing. I cashed out from one of my survey companies to the tune of $10, then remembered I had Chase points to apply to our bills. I roll mine onto my bill pretty regularly, but tonight we had over $300 between the two of us to put on the bill. That will make a dent in upcoming expenses.

I also listed some of DD's old DVDs on Craigslist and located a few things to go on ebay tomorrow. I also had a long conversation with the wife of the next chimney bidder. She seemed great, so I hope their estimate is a bit lower. I also followed up on an insurance claim for DH's back while we were in the UK. They haven't paid us yet, and they should.

Anxiety sometimes produces results!

Chimney Woes Again

June 4th, 2013 at 02:23 pm

We got our first chimney bid. I sort of estimated it would be in the $3000-$3500 range. It was $4265. Gulp.
No, that doesn't include reinstalling the flashing. Then there's the exterior painting which really needs doing. And DH's dad is not doing well, and I'd like him to go visit. All this is pretty stomach churning.

All in all, no matter how I look at it, we're nearing $10K in expenses.


So? What to do? Well, I'm not sure. I can raise a couple thousand with my summer teaching, and another $750 (pre-tax) with the tutoring. I've volunteered to take someone else's tutoring hours next week (twice) and last night another instructor was looking for coverage for his speech class. That will help a bit more although I was planning on that for DH's birthday.

I think I need to declutter and sell some more for another couple hundred. And I guess, sigh, that means the EF for the rest.


The second chimney bidder can't come until mid-June at the earliest. But I'll call him back and get some appt figured out.

What makes this worse is the cancellation of that summer class. That cash would have paid for the darn chimney. Grrr.

Worrisome Computer Issues

June 3rd, 2013 at 02:34 am

I got the blue screen of death this afternoon, but managed to extricate my PC from it. I honestly think it has something to do with shockwave or some of those video players. They seem to slow everything up.
But I'm running a full virus scan and defragging tonight.

I cashed out of one of my survey companies--American Consumer Opinion yesterday for $11, and will add that to my sales totals. The only other productive work today was reading a capstone project and some very bad student papers. But we took another long walk in attempts to stave off middle-age spread.

Lots of rain last night helped the new plantings. Sounds like a cool week here, and I'm hoping to get a lot done before school ends for DD in 10 days.

Errands and Herbs

June 2nd, 2013 at 12:31 am

Today was a pretty errand-intense day. I had grocery shopping, the post office, CVS, and the nursery all in one push, then a heap of other smaller errands.

Happily the post office destination was to mail books that I sold to my list-serv friends. Altogether it totaled $18, with more to come soon.

The most fun was the nursery. I've always wanted a big patch of day lilies around our mailbox post, and they were on sale, so I bought some of those as well as herbs, tomatoes, and some beautiful Russian sage for the spot where we evicted the barberry. I think the color will look nice with the muted purple trim to come.

DH loves a Saturday night steak dinner, but tonight we grilled mahi-mahi with fruit salsa. So summery and delicious!