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Viewing the 'Junk and more junk' Category

My Friends and Money

August 12th, 2016 at 12:23 pm

I was having lunch with some friends last week. They're all hard-working teachers, all married with kids. One of the usual moans from all of us is our broke summers. As you may recall, I'm teaching one class, doing some freelance editing, and trying to recover from spending on funeral airfare, my summer trip to Canada, Tree removal, and dog surgery and PT.

The hoarder of the bunch has had major surgery this summer which has brought her issues again to everyone's attention. You might also remember that friends raised (gulp) over 5K for her. Then it came to light that an employee was embezzling from her husband's business to the tune of $25,000. Now the money from the fundraising is gone to help the husband's business, and she is swamped by medical bills.

In the midst of this lunch, another friend--who rolls her eyes at my carefulness with money-- said they we should all go to the hoarder's and help--me especially--because I'm "good with money." Happily for me, I was busy the day they went to her house to help. Two of them spent four hours there. Two hours of it was opening unopened mail. They had to argue about throwing out all the return envelopes since so many of the bills were second and third notices for the same procedures. There were two giant garbage bags full of mail and one room they weren't allowed in. People brought them gifts when she was in the hospital and they're all piled in the entry way.

Is there a point here? I'm not sure, but I needed to vent to someone who is not my child or husband. I have plenty of chaos in my life--not everything is always under control, but I really can't understand how people can live like that. It makes my head want to explode, and perhaps the Swedish work ethic part of me finds their constant (years' worth) need of all sorts of help really trying.

Some In, but More Out

July 27th, 2016 at 10:24 pm

We started out the day with some more vet spending. The round of vaccinations, heart worm treatment, etc ran a cool $225. I came home to a $200 rebate from our health insurance for our CSA membership which just made it into the checking before we headed to the graveyard of no-spending: Target. DD needed a new phone, and we slightly upgraded her current pre-paid phone. It's mostly from her birthday cash, and she's v excited. As current phones go, it was cheap--well under $100. I'm a bit shocked at how many of her friends have $500 phones. But she understands our attitude towards things like that, and never complains.
While there, we also bought the graphing calculator required by her school which was on sale for $89.

On the way home we stopped at grocery as it's double coupon day, and I needed a few things for dinner. Our local grocery chain has been purchased by Kroger, and it appears they're eliminating all their own brand organics. I was WAY too excited to find most of those items tucked away around the store for 75% off. Oh my word, I got $4 granola for 75 cents, cans of chili beans for 35 cents, organic applesauce for 75 cents--it was pure delight. I loaded up the cart. We checked all the expiration dates and bought a few extra things for food shelf donations. We spend $65 and the register tape (never completely fair) said we saved $98.

It's been an interesting day; I'm sure enjoying having DD home. We spent part of the evening watching the convention and the rest reading her required book for Honors English in the fall.

A Little Bonus

June 27th, 2016 at 02:46 pm

A couple more things occurred to me as I continue scavenging for cash to boost the balances. I had a meeting at the university this morning and dropped a few things off at my office beforehand. Ah--much to my delight I found the $44 I'd won with my trivia folks in May. I spent $3 on iced coffee, but the additional $40 went into checking. We also have a couple offers from Chase Bank and BMO Harris for $200 bonus on $10,000 for 90 days. I can transfer some cash from long-term savings to cover that, and we'll use the cash when it rolls in later. It won't ease any current crunch, but it something we should do. I've also encouraged my paid-by-the hour DH to work an extra hour or two for the next few weeks. He usually works 38 or 39, and they don't want him working over 40, but I'd like him to hit that upper limit.

I've yet to file the claim for the CSA rebate with my health insurance folks, but that's on my list next. Still thinking...

All the Low-Hanging Fruit

June 25th, 2016 at 12:21 pm

My scavenging has paid off, but I'd dearly like to find another $500, so the scavenging will continue. Except for a massive five-item grocery list, everything this week will be from the cupboard or freezer. Maybe I can do this in $25 increments and get some decluttering done at the same time.

My daughter learned a valuable lesson yesterday at Starbucks with some friends. Her drink didn't come and in her adolescent shyness, she was a bit scared to speak up--something she never is around here. but she texted me (isn't this odd?), and I gave her a script of what to say to the cashier. She got her drink, a free cookie, and a $5 gift card. Lesson learned; speak up for yourself.

Still Scavenging

June 23rd, 2016 at 06:35 pm

Bless the flex folks; the first $400 came today with another $100 on the way. I returned my husband's Father's Day fitbit as he was not at all thrilled. I checked my gift closet and found a birthday gift that I'd bought in London for a friend's birthday and returned the other gift I just bought. I sold an outgrown dress of DD's for $3 (not too impressive, but still), and realized that I hadn't swept the Chase cash back rebates onto the bill for a while. I had $65, and DH is checking his now. The editing contract came today. I cashed another $25 out of Swagbucks and now have $250-ish ready to transfer to checking.

We're watching the Brexit votes come in; it should be an exciting evening.

Spending Spending Spending

May 24th, 2016 at 05:44 pm

In stark contrast to last week, this has been both an expensive and a sad week. We lost my father-in-law on Friday, and we're all dealing with it. The fuel pump went on my husband's car on Friday morning. My daughter was confirmed on Saturday so that was happy, but also a bit expensive with a new dress, dinners, and a gift. So, all these bits of life have added up to lots of spending. Although we'd all like to fly to the UK for the funeral, that's probably not practical. After hours of searching I've found my DH a flight for $1250 through BA. But he'll need to take a week off work, so that will all add up. The fuel pump was $500, and yes, the French camp payment is rapidly approaching. My daughter's outgrown all her summer shoes, I spent $150 at Costco on various necessities, and we had a tree taken down for $900. I think I'd better stop adding it up as it's making me a bit ill.

Cheap Weekend

May 16th, 2016 at 08:16 am

One way to have a cheap weekend? Tackle house tasks you've been putting off? My Dh is done with his spring class, so he's now available for many chores. He's started cleaning the basement, I spent some time dejunking various spots and we had a fabulous time yesterday digging out creeping bell flower. If you want to know exactly how fun that was, google it.

Our big evening out consisted of $5 tickets to DD's school musical. She ran the stage crew. We have several more evenings of that kind of fun ahead of us as the band concert and spring sing are happening soon. And there's plenty more garden work to keep us busy--despite the SNOW flurries we saw Saturday.

We've been getting by remarkably well on freezer and cupboard stores with just a few trips for milk and fruit and veg. Our Meatless Monday menu looks like it'll be a Southwestern bowl burrito.

Happy weeks to you all!

More Montreal Planning

May 9th, 2016 at 11:21 am

My BFF has booked her airfare to Montreal with ai rmiles. We don't have enough, so I guess I'm going to have to bite the bullet and pay mine. But we did find an airbnb that is cheaper than the hotel, has good reviews, and lots of space. This will be our first time in airbnb, and I'm sort of glad we're doing it together. Between the shared expense of that, I hope now that it can come in with airfare under $850.

Among other considerations are DD's French camp arrangements. I've told her friend's mom that I'd drive up there, and she said she'd pick them up. This is a long drive--maybe between 9 and 10 hours. But the thing is they have a program on the final morning, and I'd like to see it. But it means 20 hours total driving and at least one overnight motel. And I hate to drive that far by myself. DH would happily come, but he'd have to take a day off work, meaning about $500 in lost wages. I think I'll get over my desire to see the program, three tanks of gas, a motel stay and several meals out. Gees, when I add it up it's pretty nasty. Let's save that money to camp next year or college.

We had a nice Mother's day brunch yesterday--simple but fun-at a local place. I dug up the raised beds, seeded some chard and radishes, and look forward to the bounty. Over the weekend I sold some clutter on FB too.

Missionettes Accomplished

May 4th, 2016 at 07:45 am

Surprisingly everything went according to plan yesterday. I got my new purse for $8, and I like it. DH and I got to our wellness assessment, completed it in record time, and found we're about the same as last year. We both need to lose 10 lbs and eat somewhat better. We've been walking after dinner for a while, so I hope that will help. And we're looking forward to the $300 incentive sometime this summer. After I deposited him back at work, I went out to my adjunct job to drop off some UK gifties for my friends there. I just brought home some tea and canvas bags from Primark for their teenagers who like them much more than the 1.50GBP I paid. And I got the travel authorization process moving. DH's car repair came in under $900, so the car lives on.

Along the way though, I heard several stories of how tough things are in higher ed right now. Our director of Intl Ed has deserted the floundering ship that our state university system now is. She's taken a job in California after 20+ years here. She's originally from our English Department so I've known her for years, and we're all sad--as is she--to see her go. And I met a colleague who is thinking of early retirement before our massive cuts take place next year. She doesn't want to leave, and will be a big loss to us as we have no one with her expertise--and won't be allowed to hire anyone either. And my adjunct job looks bleak too. I have a summer class in late June, but they're ready to let go of some of their classroom space as enrollments suffer. It made my $8 purse seem like a very wise buy.

Sunshine

May 2nd, 2016 at 11:21 am

After a very rainy weekend, we have some sunshine today.

Despite the rain, we had a nice time. The child had a confirmation retreat so we went to dinner and saw "Eye in the Sky." Both were very good. And we caught up on sleep which had been eluding both of us this week.

In financial news I'm thrilled to report that our trivia team (I play twice a year!) won second place in the local tournament and sixth place in the state. That means $48 each. Very exciting. And I sold some of DD's clothes for $10. I'm adding both to my junk money fund.

We're a bit concerned about my husband's car which seem to be leaking everything lately. I hadn't planned on a car purchase this year, but he drives it very minimally--mostly to the bus and back, and it would just mean another banger car. If the repairs run more than $1000 we've agreed it will go. Cross your fingers that it's something simple.

Small Potatoes

April 28th, 2016 at 12:28 pm

My first blog entry since coming back to the grey,cold Midwest is indeed full of small potatoes. I'm digging out from a mountain of unopened mail, events and a house that both need some organizing.

In budgetary matters, I'm working our way through a mountain of food that is the usual response to my DH's trips to Costco. We just happen to have 20 sleeves of Oreos, 36 containers of applesauce, and enough Mandarin oranges (?) to feed most Mandarin speakers. While I'm happy to use up the applesauce and oranges in DD's lunches, some of those Oreos are going to the university tomorrow. Our learning platform has been down half this week, and many of my colleagues need a cookie.

I've made a swift $25 off Swagbucks that is assigned to DD's French camp fund, listed some things on FB lists, and taken a couple of textbook surveys totaling $30 in Amazon gift cards.

This weekend's fun includes taxes. I've filed for an extension, but need to face the music soon. Yes, real life is grand.

Lovely Purchases

February 14th, 2016 at 06:18 am

I set out yesterday to buy a birthday gift. It's been cold, and of course, it started to rain minutes from the flat. I'm SO happy I put on my quilted vest under my raincoat. Folks here are always saying, "You're used to cold weather," but I never spend five or six hours outside in my daily routine. Here I'm always walking, walking to the tube, or walking and waiting for the bus. My fitbit is happy, but my feet get cold.

I haven't been to that great tourist trap Portobello Road for a while, so thought perhaps I'd find a small piece of jewelry for my BFF's birthday. I almost bought a small amber necklace, but wasn't completely sold. So I decided to head off to my old haunts in Muswell Hill as I've always had fun at their many charity shops. Two of my favorite tops were from one of them, so I headed there first. By this time, I'd been on the bus seemingly forever as there's no tube service there. And it started to sleet the moment I exited the bus. But my Air Ambulance Charity shop did it again. I bought the BFF a very pretty heart amulet for (wait for it) 2GBP, then found a gorgeous purplely grey shirt for 3.95GBP (less than $6). It was a great brand, Marks and Spencer's Per Una line, and I love love love it. You know, one of those things you put on and go "Yes!"

Fueled by my success I hit all the other charity shops there and even a couple (gasp) full retail. I bought another really cute shirt for 3.75GBP that I also love, then tried to figure the best way home. I think I was dizzied by my retail success, and I didn't pay much attention to the bus route. I'd read the numbered route, but got on the bus going the wrong way. I can't believe I did that, but blame the rain and cold. At least it wasn't going somewhere awful, so I got off again in Central London, grabbed a tube, bought some lovely food, got another bus home within minutes.

Refueled by tea and a cherry tart, I bought DD and DH's airfare. Everything that worked with their dates was in the high $1200s, but I found one with a stop in Manchester for under $1000. So--a lovely $600+ savings there. Skyped with them both, and we're all looking forward to us being together. All in all, horrible weather but great shopping. I'm going out for a stroll, but then will be home to prep for the week's teaching.

Minor Spending

February 8th, 2016 at 02:00 pm

My spending today was all about necessity. My new phone was dead as dead can be, and although I tried to charge it for hours last night with the computer, it was still dead this morning.

I took my class to the Imperial War Museum today for a little lesson on WWI. My doctoral research was done there years ago, so it was sort of like coming home. After class I bought a wall plug with a USB slot as I'd read it charges about five times faster. And indeed, in an hour, my phone was up and working.

I got a free cup of coffee from a lovely lady in front of Le Pain Quotidien on Tottenham Court Road and headed home to work. Normally I'd go to the galleries or museums on these short days, but the wind has been awful, and I have a lot of prep for my new class. Horrible gales and slanty rain tonight; I'm happy to be inside.

But now that I have the photos going, how about one from the sunny day of our Parliament tour?