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Archive for July, 2007

Things are Heating Up....

July 31st, 2007 at 05:44 pm

It's getting hot. We've been blessed with a cooler than normal July, but now things are heating up. It is a little after noon and already the heat indexes are at 103 and rising. I got my electric bill with the refund on it. The refund for our household was 70 dollars. But they didn't deduct that much from the leveling charges. I noticed that even with the cooler weather and without the leveling and refund, my bill would have been about 220 for the month. I guess they are anticipating the pain I would go through if they didn't keep more of the surplus for the next couple of months. The air part of my system is very old and not very efficient. So I have to agree with them. Keeping a higher surplus in the credit part of the leveling will help keep this next month from destroying the budget for electricity. I am plotting now on focusing more on saving for a new air conditioning system because that will ultimately save us money and make us more comfortable. Also, the electric company has a program for rewarding you for replacing all your systems to new efficient ones. We've already replaced the heating system when the burners melted down, so now I need to rethink fund allocations for a new air unit. Meanwhile, I need to fix some iced tea, run the fans, and deal with the heat....

Hearts of Gold....

July 27th, 2007 at 06:36 pm

We recently visited one of Hubby's dear friends in the hospital. This entire family has hearts of gold. They've been through some really tough times over the years, and this year has been a hard one. So far, he has had a reoccurrance of cancer and treatment, surgery for another reason, and now a big heart attack. These people have always given and given. I hate to see them going through so much. Once, before I got diagnosed and treated, Hubby was out of town and they called to see if I was okay. I was worried that my air conditioner seemed to be on the fritz. He sent out a couple of men from the plant to check it out! That's just one of the many times they have been so kind to us. Course, some of it comes from Hubby also having a heart of gold. He had been this guy's boss for many years even though the guy was older than Hubby. Hubby always treated him with respect and helped him when he could. You could tell from all the former co-workers and others keeping in touch how many lives this family has touched. I am sending thoughts and prayers out to them each day. I am becoming aware of the fact that even as I concentrate on paying down debt and building my resources for the future, that there is another kind of wealth. His heart may be damaged, but his heart's spirit is solid gold.....

A Dent in the Budget....

July 26th, 2007 at 04:00 pm

I ran into Hubby's truck. In the driveway. He tried to take the blame saying he didn't pull up enough since I've told him I often can't get out with the curve of the driveway there. But I didn't pay attention to that fact and tried to back out of the driveway without really seeing the truck bumper there. I found it the hard way. So we both contributed, especially since I know I can't get out easily and should have looked to make sure. Didn't do any damage to the truck, but I creased the car over the back tire. Sigh. Guess I have another item to add to the budget to save up to get done. Repairs on the car for dumb mistakes.....

This is a Recording....

July 25th, 2007 at 04:46 pm

I have gotten a message on my machine supposedly sent by my electric company that I will receive refunds on my next two electric bills of around 30 plus dollars each time. It seemed a bit odd that the electric company would send a recording to every household just to tell them about this refund. No reason for the refund was given. Yesterday, I talked to someone who had already received a refund, but had not heard any recording. So, I guess the whole thing is legitimate. It said something on her bill about fuel charges, so I guess they overestimated how much fuel would keep increasing or something. In any case, their machine told my machine that I would have some extra money. I appreciate it this time of year, especially since Hubby forgot to turn the thermostat up one day when I was out of town and it spent the long day trying to cool the house down to a low nighttime temp. And I keep forgetting to unplug some things when I'm finished. This refund combined with lower temps from all the rainy weather might help the summer electric bill to be an unusually smaller one. Since it is leveled, I will be interested in seeing what happens. I get excited over the littlest things....

It's All Relative....

July 24th, 2007 at 08:49 pm

We don't have a really large family. So we tend to celebrate all that we can. We usually have at least one birthday a month, but a couple of months contain two. July is one of them. I sent off one birthday gift and went to join the rest of the family for a birthday celebration last week. The second day I was there, the gals of the family had a planned girls' day out. Since DIL is going to be a new mom soon, we decided this would be a good time to have one. Last year, I gave her some money and we went shopping for clothes. I made one mistake. I forgot to find out whether the poor thing liked to shop. She doesn't really. She went along out of politeness, but I finally realized she wasn't having much fun. So this time I was smarter and asked what she would like to do. She picked pedicures. Now, this would be an adventure for me because I had never had one. We invited DD to go also, and we had a long, pampered afternoon. I paid for the pedicures since they are on limited budgets, and I was the one that suggested the day out. Over the course of the few days, we took turns picking places to eat out and had fun together. I was sorry that Hubby had to miss because of work. I didn't begrudge any of the money because that is what you should save to do. Fun things with people you love without worrying about it. I finally get it. So this week is all about cutting back and replenishing the fun money. For just those times when all have a moment to spend together. And my long, boney feet actually look kinda cute for once.....

Little Showers of Savings....

July 11th, 2007 at 06:52 pm

I must have done something right. I just got my water, sewer, garbage bill for last month. And it was 10 less than the bill before. I do know that they used to only read the meter every other month and estimate one month based on past bills. If still true, that means that my bill dropped an average of 5 per month over the last two months. I'll need to get the files and check to see how much usage that means and if it will go any further. Could be that there is a level beyond which it won't drop because of flat rates per certain level of usage. That's okay. I'm so tickled that something is working.

I did time my shower this morning and found out that I can take a comfortable, unhurried, shower in about 6 minutes. However, DD is coming home this weekend for a couple of days, and she has her daddy's love of LONG HOT showers. So, I might be balancing her out for a few days. That's also okay.

I also have on track to save about 40 percent on my grocery budget this month. Course I have through Saturday before this one expires. It will counteract some of the other goofy things I did this month....

Putting my money where my mouth is....

July 10th, 2007 at 04:38 pm

I've been complaining to the household in general about the amount of junk mail I've been getting lately. And of all the wasted paper (poor trees) that goes into it. I have shredded and shredded. Yesterday, when I was almost using up yet another roll of paper towels, I had one of those moments of clarity. I was wasting paper. True, I buy the paper towels on sale, but I go through them like crazy. Especially in the kitchen. So, I went out to the store yesterday and bought a new batch of inexpensive kitchen dish cloths and found an extra unused sponge in the kitchen. It has been awkward to stop myself from reaching for a paper towel or two. It is such a habit. And I had always used the good, heavy duty kind. They are a bit more expensive. I am going to try to calculate, using my paper column in my budget, how much I save in paper towels over the next few months. I already wash a load of hand towels and dish towels each week, so the new cloths won't add to the water expenses. If nothing else, I'll save some trees. Now, I wonder what else I complain about that is somewhat within my control....

Unplugged....

July 9th, 2007 at 06:32 pm

The news has announced that the electric company had a plan okayed to add about $4 per month to each electric bill for the next fifteen years. This is to recoup about 300 million spent on hurricane repairs. Since they managed to get most of this whole area up and running in about three weeks, I totally agree with it. I knew they must have spent a fortune. On trips home, we'd see convoys of electric guys traveling from place to place. These guys were from all over. They had a tough and probably a miserable job in all the heat. For days on end. One of Hubby's old plants had lost 10,000 poles alone. So I decided not to worry about it. Until I got to thinking of whether I should just absorb it or try to do something about it. I think I can eliminate $4 worth of electricity a month. Then, I wanted to do more than that. Not just break even, but challenge myself to do more. Maybe $10 a month total in the utilities. I have electric, gas, and water. The gas in this house is only the heating system and water heater. And, realistically, I have to remember we are in the heat of the summertime here. The electric will probably not go down easily. So, I recalled several threads for frugal utilities and decided to start implementing them.

1. Shorter showers. If I am really tense from my disorders, I often take a longer shower to relax. I can take a shorter shower and take a quarter of a pill and get the same results. Start using a timer to see just how long I take. That will save on water. I usually have extra pills from my prescription so I don't see any problems there.

2. Unplugging items. I thought I had made progress there, but when I went around the house, I found many things still plugged in. So I unplugged all but the living room tv/vcr/dvd thing because I hate reprogramming that thing and the computer and the cordless phone. I just unplugged the dryer while not in use since I was standing by the washer loading it and realized I could unplug the laundry stuff. Sheesh. Then, I unplugged the microwave. I did leave the lamps in the bedroom because I am not gynmastically able to reach that plug every day.

3. Lights off. I thought I was doing well here until I walked into the bedroom and saw the bathroom light still on. I need to concentrate!

4. Unplug the deep freeze. I finally got it done. I cleaned out the small freezer in the fridge and restocked from the remaining deep freeze items. Yay!

I think that coordination with all the utilities will be the deciding thing. I don't think the air conditioning is going to go down until, say October, so I am going to try to do a multi approach method. All to save $10 a month. I suppose a lot of it is psychological. I want to save more money.....

Babyitis....

July 8th, 2007 at 08:17 pm

I've been good. Really, really good. I haven't bought anything for our soon to be here grandchild. Until yesterday. I waited until I knew the direction that DS and DIL were going with their decorations and ideas for the baby. Yesterday, I went and got the registry and started looking at what they had picked out. Hubby and I had already agreed that we wanted to buy a big ticket item for them to furnish the baby's room, and they've agreed on what we chose from the list. Now, comes the cute part. I browsed through the store and loved way too many things. I did really well buying a few super cute things for the baby shower. And since I am the grandma and can get away with it, I bought a couple of things to have around our house so they wouldn't have to pack so much when they came our way to visit. I couldn't resist the stuff. Towels and blankets and so forth. Way more cute stuff than when ours was little. I totally indulged. DD has been doing this for months, buying a little at a time. I have waited--until now. This is so much fun.....

Drying out the mail....

July 6th, 2007 at 05:45 pm

The poor mailperson. I saw him slog by a little while ago, all bundled up trying to stay as dry as possible. It has rained another three to six inches of rain this morning, depending on where you are located. I went out to retrieve the mail and I've spread it out to dry. I don't think anything outside is dry today. The noon news said that 100,000 homes have been damaged or flooded in the last couple of weeks. Sobering thought. We've been really lucky here. Lots of water, but we have drainage and pumps in place. I guess that is one of the good things about living in a hurricane zone. My backyard is resembling a small pond. A baby bird has taken up refuge outside a bedroom window on the ledge. The kitty has been stalking it for two days. I guess the birdie can't figure out what is worse. The scary creature on the inside or the deluge outside. Poor thing. Its sad peeps are getting to me. It looks wet and miserable. My thoughts and prayers go out to those people who are wet and miserable and have lost their belongings and homes. This weather has been really something.

On the financial side, I decided that I definitely can do without a trip to the store today. Just doesn't seem worth it to get out. I had some papers to return to the bank, but they can wait until next week. We are in the process of getting the paperwork together to move old company's retirement stuff to new company. Now that they've been sold, it seems like we need to get onto that more urgently. Another thing we might be able to finish next week. I really need to start priming some walls around here, but to tell the truth, it is such a gloomy day that I just want to read and putter. And stay dry....

Rationing...

July 5th, 2007 at 07:42 pm

When I paid my bills and looked at the budget, I was really startled to see that I still have half of my grocery budget with about 10 days to go. I know that we won't end up with that, but I got to wondering what had happened. I do know that we've been eating smaller, lighter meals at night. Hubby has been working a lot and hasn't been getting home as early, so he usually wants just a sandwich. I looked in the fridge and the freezer and on the shelves and thought to myself that I might could make it on minimum purchases for the next 10 days. We actually have a lot of food. Compared to our college days, our cupboards are full. We used to be only able to afford a week's worth at a time. And we rationed it out and ate a lot less than we do now. We could definitely afford not to eat as much. Both of us have an extra 10 pounds at least. I started making lists of things we could eat. There were plenty of breakfasts. And we can get creative with the rest. I know it is not a large amount of money to save. But after paying bills, I realized that it was enough to pay for my cable and water bills put together. Perspective is an interesting thing.....

Watering.....

July 3rd, 2007 at 09:08 pm

I know, I know, I should be doing more in the paying down debt department. But, it's been a long time since I've watched savings grow. So I tend to water it more. Today, I went to renew a CD that was coming due. I added some interest that accummulated in another account and renewed for a longer period with higher rates of return. Then, I took the larger emergency fund and turned it into a different type of account. It will earn more interest this way and be compounded monthly instead of quarterly. It wasn't making anything at all, but I liked the liquidity of it. Still haven't graduated to the higher yield accounts that others have, but it's progress in my slow pace. And I'm not sure I'll ever get to where I use an online bank instead of a brick and mortar one. I'm taking baby steps on all of this.

I really, really need to get a better plan of action with the debt repayment. I did talk to another bank where our truck payment resides. They weren't applying any extra on the payment to the principal. Today, I went inside and asked the procedure for this particular bank to get the extra applied where I need it. My actions seems to lag a few months behind knowledge. I knew I needed to do this for awhile. Just never did it.

My problem with credit card repayment is that I charge only two things on the credit cards. But one of those things is DD's tuition payments. That way, I know that my checks didn't wander off into the stratosphere and she get dropped from class. That has been a concern of mine since a package to the same area was lost for a couple of months and another check to a city nearby wandered off for two weeks. I know most items arrive in a timely manner, but I don't want to take the chance on the tuition. So, while I am making progress on some cards, the tuition costs nullify the final total. I need to build something into my budget that can build enough to pay those tuition bills off at once. Then, I will see the bottom line dropping faster.

It is a dream of mine to see those debt totals disappearing. I need to refocus and figure out what will work the best for us on that score. But I can't help it. I have a need to watch something grow. No matter how small it is. So I guess I'll keep watering....

Tut, tut, it looks like rain.....

July 2nd, 2007 at 09:05 pm

Gotta love Winnie the Pooh. Even after all these years, those videos stay stuck in my head.

It is raining again on an off and on schedule. We don't have all the flooding those other poor people in this state have experienced, but we are in for another week of rain. The great thing is that I went out with the dogs during a break in it and expected it to be really warm and sticky. But it was actually quite cool for this time of year. I can live with that. Also helps the air conditioning to run a whole lot less. That should save some money. As well as staying home because you don't care to slosh all over town.

We went to see the kids this weekend for our little 4th of July. They have a lot on their plates this week and us going to them worked out much better. We enjoyed getting out of town for the day and we didn't spend much other than gasoline. DD and boyfriend cooked steaks and we all ate together. Hubby is getting ready to work a plant maintenance shutdown, so it was a good way to relax before then. And on Wednesday I will just sit in the backyard and watch the fireworks go off overhead with the neighborhood kids doing their thing. No one has ever enforced the no fireworks ordnance here. We like to be around just in case. One year a firework ran up the street and under our car. But with the rain this year, things are nice and wet. And I get a free show.

I broke down and bought some fancy coffee beans at a shop. I don't drink it that much and I had to really think about it. But I made some today and it is nice to feel decadent on a rainy day....