Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What a Weekend

I know I've totally dropped off in the past week. I'd like to say I've filled that time with fun and excititing things to do, but in reality its been work, work, work. I met a friend out for dinner Friday night (friend's treat) and turned down invitations for Saturday, Sunday and Monday --- all of which would have been gratis because I have super sweet friends who want to do stuff for my birthday!

As much as I wanted to go out every night, I had a much bigger goal in mind: my sanity. The past few weeks have been super packed with many events for the Princess plus the stress of exams, final projects and the like. We've gotten far behind on the what needs to be done portion of our household.

So, this weekend, while the Princess was at the beach for her graduation trip, I decided to change all that. I spent the entire weekend either cleaning house or working in the yard. I cut grass, I weedeated (weedate?), I pulled weeds, I watered, I mulched, I moved rocks, I deadheaded and I trimmed. Then I picked up, I put up, I dusted, I washed, I mopped, I vacuumed, I swept, I folded, I scrubbed and I tossed.

The end result? My next door neighbor said my yard looks amazing and he can tell how much work I've put in. The other end result? I do not think I will curl up in a ball and die if unexpected company shows up at my door!

So, that was my exciting 3 day weekend? How about yours?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Moving Forward

So, yesterday was my birthday. I took the day off from work (actually, I took Monday - Wednesday off) and got some stuff done around the house. Bills paid, laundry done, a bit of yardwork. Nothing too terribly exciting.

I got a couple of nice presents too. My mom got me a gift card to a department store --- that will be used to fill in some of my currently lacking wardrobe. One of my friends, Singer Girl, gave me a $50 amazon gift certificate. She also gave the Princess one too. I think both of those may be saved for as of yet unanticpated college needs. Good to have it in reserve!!!!!

Singer Girl also took me out to dinner. And we had a great time! We made plans for an upcoming festival and possibly beach trip plans. Yes, I know I can't afford a beach trip, BUT, I won't have to pay to get there, pay for transportation and my only costs will be the food I eat. That sounds pretty darn good to me! The only hitch to the trip is that the next to last day of the trip is the Princess's birthday and she might not be happy with me missing that. If she's at her Dad's anyway, she won't mind, but if she's not..... well, then, I might just get in TROUBLE!!!!!

Stuff to think about I guess!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

And That's A Wrap

Monday, May 21, 2012 --- the day Princess Penelope crossed the stage and accepted her diploma. The day she said goodbye to the life she had always known and began the journey to the next phase of her life.

I thought now might be a good time to reflect on my basic goals of "Getting Us There". Quite frankly, I'm not where I had hoped to be.  And a lot of that is my fault. I haven't been as focused as I should be. I've made impulse decisions and spent money where I didn't need to. I've had some unexpected things crop up --- and I just threw money at them.

So... the basic goals:

Home Ownership --- FAIL --- yeah, not happening anytime soon. I'd hoped to be in a position to buy by the time the Princess graduated. NOPE and my savings are definitely depleted. LONG way to go on this one.

Get Out of Debt --- Semi-FAIL. I'm still a good 12 months away -- I'd wanted to be done by August. Nope, that did not happen and won't happen anytime soon.

Princess to College --- this one is happening. Right on Schedule. However, the money isn't where we want it. Student Loans are a definite requirement. I have a little saved, but not even a full year's worth of tuition. This is going to be rough.

So, here we are...... a financial mess and the next four years are going to be difficult, at best. I've spent quite a bit of time the last few days reading nomoreharvarddebt.com --- its about a guy who knocked out $101K of student loan debt in under 10 months. Granted, he makes over $100K/year and is single, and has no kids. But the process I'm reading about is interesting. He's had to have a lot of willpower, and has had some setbacks too --- but its been good (and motiviating!) reading.

So, time to get intense again. I say that a LOT, don't I?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dorm Shopping

Back in September, Princess Penelope and I took advantage of some mark downs at Target and bought the bedding  for her college dorm room. Yesterday, we made a trip to Hobby Lobby to pick up some things needed for tonight's graduation party. They just happened to be having a clearance sale on a lot of their Home Decor items ---- 66% off. We got very lucky when we realized that quite a few of those items would go perfectly with the bedding we'd selected for Princess Penelope's dorm room.

We managed to get some really cute accessories for her dorm room --- including some with an actual function!!!! She's super excited about out finds --- and I'm super excited about the price we paid for them! We bought:

1 Zebra Striped Desk Organizer (not on the clearance, but a 40% coupon off regular price made me much happier about it!)
1 Pink Zebra Striped Throw Pillow (I'm wondering if this is going to have permanent residence on the floor)
1 Pink Zebra Striped Desk Lamp
1 Black Framed Bulletin Board
1 Wall Cross
1 Black & White Polka Dotted Laundry Bag

Spent: $43.21
Would have spent approximately $130, had we bought all of that stuff brand new!

Not too bad of a shopping trip! (The Princess is now planning to use some of her work money and this week's hobby lobby coupon to go back and buy herself a blinged out wireless mouse - ultra cute, but not sure how "good" it will actually be)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spending Like I Have Money

This week has been crazy busy. I've completely neglected my blog. Some of that may be because I'm a teensy bit embarrassed at how much I've actually SPENT this week. Between finals, shopping for a graduation dress for the Princess, an outfit for me, some much needed work clothes, and getting ready to take a few days off of work, I've been insanely busy and just plain worn out.

And my finances are showing my lack of devotion to them. Let's start with the the shopping. For the Princess's graduation dress, am I insane? I paid FULL PRICE for an absolutely adorable Jessica Simpson dress and then had to buy shoes to go with it. The only thing that made me feel better about that one was that when we walked down to another store in the mall, they had the same dress at full price, but for $30 more! The shoes, at least were 40% off.

Then there were my clothes --- I got lucky and found a dress marked down from over $100 to $13.79 and it looked good! Then I got the shoes to go with it (because the dress is basically navy, and almost all of my current shoes are black) marked down from $50 to $23 and change after sales and coupons. I also picked up 2 blouses for work. For me, total, I spent about $75 for the dress, shoes and 2 suitable for work blouses. Not too terribly bad.

But then, lets add in the eating out. Last weekend, I went to Aldi to get the stuff for freezer cooking. Sadly, the freezer cooking did NOT happen and convenience became the name of the game. Monday night, we ate out. Tuesday night, picked up pizza. Wednesday night, ate out. Thursday night, take out. Friday night, takeout. I'm not sure I have eaten out that much in a single month over the past year! Much less a single week!

This weekend will be busy preparing for the Princess's graduation party Sunday, Baccalaureate on Sunday afternoon and (finally) Graduation on Monday night. I'm taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday off of work and will hopefully spend that time getting myself back on track. Here's hoping!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Taxes..... AGAIN?

Back at the end of February, I told y'all about finishing up my taxes and filing the FAFSA . I made sure I did it almost as soon as I could get everything together because I knew we were working under dealines for Student Financial Aid and I didn't want to screw anything up.

So, I mailed the taxes, including that check for $755, well before this year's tax filing deadline on April 17. It was a tad bit painful as $755 is a LOT of money to me, but I owed, AND I totally get the fact that they are going to give money for student aid to people that currently owe them money. I was a bit nervous about everything going according to plan this year since this is the first time I've got another deadline, but I kept an eye on my bank account and breathed a sigh of relief when my check cleared the bank on March 21.

That sigh of relief was premature. My daughter's school to be has just now started processing the FAFSAs and we got an email yesterday outlining some stuff they needed. I called the financial aid office and talked to someone who was EXTREMELY helpful and found out what I needed. One of those things was a Federal Tax Transcript. She told me how to get it from the IRS, so I called the number she gave me. I went through the automated system and it told me it was not available. So I tried the website. Still not available. Being a bit slow, and thinking I may have punched in my SS# wrong, I tried the phone and web another time each. Still nothing. So, I tried getting a person.

FORTY EIGHT minutes later, I finally get a human being who, fortunately, tried to be very helpful. The problem was, the IRS had NO RECORD of my return. They had record of my money, but no record of the return whatsoever. The check had been cashed but my return had gone into never never land. WHAT? I have a few options, I can refile, electronically and hope it processes fast enough for me to meet the deadlines, I can refile by mail, in which case, I'm almost certain to miss the deadlines. And then my Big Sis talked to a tax accountant friend who suggested I go to the nearest IRS service office for assistance.

So that is what I am doing today.... taking myself to the IRS to beg for help. Wish me luck!!!!

Sunday, May 13, 2012


It was a dark and stormy night....... okay, maybe that's not the best way to start this post be
cause it makes me sound like Snoopy.... but last night was a dark and stormy night. Not severe thunderstorm stormy, but lots of rain and some thunder and lightning to go along with it. Not the kind of night I like the Princess out and about in, but I also know that in 3 months, I have zero control of her comings and goings, so I try not to freak out too much. She's pretty good about letting me know where she is and where she's going, especially on rainy nights since she knows I tend to worry a lot more then (the only wreck I've ever had was due to hydroplaning, so she knows I become basketcase-ish).

Anyway, so I was playing around on FB, chatting with the Garden Geek, when I read a status update from one of the Princess's best friends stating that she had just survived the scariest experience of her life, the car she was riding in had flipped twice, the windows busted out, etc., etc., and it was posted as "near" a suburb where she really had no business being on a dark and stormy night. OMG. Now, I knew the Princess was not with this friend. Mainly because since since Christmas, this friend had, for the most part, ditched the Princess and the other best friend in the trio and had started hanging out some people that were a good bit wilder and making some less-than-mom-approved choices. Nevertheless, I simply adore this child who for years has been like a second child in my household  and was horrified when I read the status update.

So, I called her Mom, who at that moment was on the way to the hospital where the friend had been taken to be checked out. She was okay, they had been wearing their seatbelts so were very lucky indeed. Last night could have been so much worse. We could have been mourning the loss of a sweet funny girl who's lately been making some really bad choices. Instead, we get to be thankful that she's still with us, and pray that last night was a wake-up call for her.

This Mother's Day could have really sucked for us all. Instead, I can sit back and enjoy it... Knowing my Princess is safe and sound in her bed at the moment, and her world wasn't shattered by the events of last night.

Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Starting Saturday

Today is a fresh new day ---- time to start over on some things, time for new resolve. The last few weeks have been stressful with a capital S, and I've dropped the ball on some things I shouldn't have. I've thrown a few pity parties, and I've screwed up some things on the personal front. But today is a new day, and I have SO much to be thankful for!

The Princess got a 150/150 on her Budget Project! That made for a great way to end the semester! She got her cap and gown yesterday --- yikes! This is REAL now! My pups are happy and healthy (if a wee bit cheesed off with me for running out of treats).

I've got a busy weekend ahead --- looks like I'll be cleaning house, doing laundry and grocery shopping today. The yard needs some attention, but its likely to rain most of the day so that will have to be put off. I may even try and squeeze in some freezer cooking!

Tomorrow, my sweet niece is hosting a Mothers Day Brunch for me, her Mom and her Gran (my Mom). The Princess would be helping her with it, but the Princess has to work. She will definitely be missed, but its okay --- the girl needs the $$$!

I hope y'all have a fabulous and productive Saturday! I'm hoping to report back that I've got a sparkly house, clean laundry and a well stocked pantry, fridge and freezer!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Shopping for the Deals

So today was a quick trip to Publix just to take advantage of some of the deals. I will do a big grocery shopping this weekend at Aldi for fruits, veggies, meat and dairy stuff. Today was actually a pretty good shopping trip, but what really astounded me was the realization that if I had paid "regular" prices for JUST the TP and Laundry Detergent, I would have spend the same amount that I spent matching sales and coupons (but I got a whole lot more!). So here is what I picked up:

2 Bottles All Laundry Detergent
1 Publix Ice Cream
4 Totino's Pizza Stuffers
1 Mentos Gum
1 Coffee Mate Coffee Creamer
4 Ramen Noodles
2 Pepperidge Farm Baked Naturals Chips
1 Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing
1 Publix Paper Towels (Penny Item!!!!)
2 12pks Angel Soft Toilet Paper

Spent: $28.72
Saved $37.86 or 57%

Not too bad!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

ECON Budget Project

We are now on the countdown to graduation and the Princess is in high stress mode. She had hoped to exempt most of her finals, but a severe migraine in February put her over the allowed number of class absences to exempt --- so she's taking 3 finals out of 5. And of course those 3 finals are in her 3 hardest classes!

Also, every single teacher seems to have assigned massive projects in the last 3 weeks of school. These are huge and detailed and count for a HUGE percentage of the final grade!

For her Economics class, they are having to make a budget of living expenses as if they had graduated from college and are starting their first job living on their own. They have to go to the grocery store to "shop" for groceries, plan menus, evaluate utility costs, rent, insurance, entertainment, gasoline, etc. The one that got me though, was that they had to "buy" a brand new car!!!!!!!

Really? Really? Isn't consumer debt one of those things that gets freshly minted graduates in trouble?
A new car? A Brand New Car? I think I had a mild stroke when I read the assignment. There is NO WAY (I hope) that the Princess would be buying a brand spanking new car fresh out of college. I think I was actually almost 30 when I bought my first (and only) brand new car. Sheesh!

At the end of the assignment though, the Princess did comment that "Car payments suck --- there is NO money to do hardly anything fun because of that stupid thing!" Hmmmmm..... maybe her teacher had a point there.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Unexpected Spending

Many of life's events call for dressy clothes. I tend to keep those dressy clothes pretty basic and not overly trendy so that I can wear them from season to season and year to year. My suits that I have to wear several times a year for work are black and grey. I have 2 LBDs (little black dresses), one kind of fall/winterish and one for spring/summer. These generally suit for most dressy needs for the past few years.

However, as part of a healthy lifestyle change, I've lost 15 pounds since January, being only 5 feet tall, that amounts to a dress size or two (depending on the dress, of course), so now my suits and LBDs are kind of hanging on me and frankly just don't look good.

I had hoped to wait a few more weeks before needing to purchase a dress to wear to the Princess's graduation (or try to make something I already had "work"). Unfortunately that was not the case. A life long friend died very unexpectedly earlier this week. That meant I needed something appropriate to wear to the funeral.

So I went to the mall during my lunch hour yesterday. Let me just say that I will be glad when the maxi dress trend is over and they start stocking more normal dresses again --- those dresses serve to make most people look knocked up --- and when you're short and chunky --- well, they make you look 8,5 months along. Anyway, the store I was in was having a good sale, but I was really getting frustrated trying to find something I could afford.

Finally I found a dress ---- $80 (gulp), but it was 40% off and then I had a coupon for another 15% off. After tax, my total was $41 and change. Not too bad for "need it now" shopping. And bonus! I can also wear this dress to graduation. My hope is that I'll continue to lose weight and this dress will be too big soon, but for now, I can live with $41 for 2 wearings -- it could have been far worse!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fiscal Fast --- I Made It!

I made it through the fiscal fast only spending roughly $60 of my alotted $172. That money was spent for groceries, take-out and ice cream after the snake incident and the Princess's allowance. So, a new month, a new payday and I can spend with wild abandon!

Just kidding! Things are still going to be tight this month and in the months to come. I've got my quarterly life insurance premium due, the Princess's graduation party, graduation gifts for her closest friends, a dress and shoes for graduation (the shoes are actually what's MOST important because that's all that will be seen under the cap and gown, plus still scrambling to figure out her needs for moving into the dorm.

I've verified with the school the sizes for acceptable microwaves and refrigerators. I'm hoping to be able to score those at a garage sale or something because after checking the prices on amazon, I'm not real excited about paying $150-$200 for appliances that will definitely have a time limited need for her.  Either that, or I'm going to HOPE that I can score a good deal new on a sale. I guess we will see how that shakes out.

So for now, I think I'm going to make a list of upcoming needs, set a budget for those, and severely limit my spending otherwise. We've got just over three months until college starts for the Princess. I'm not nearly as close to my goals as I wanted to be --- buckling down now and squeezing every penny of value out is incredibly important. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fiscal Fast - Day 6

Tuesday was a good day for my fiscal fast -- no spending whatsoever. These no spend days are really good for the budget bottom line --- especially when you are living so "close to the edge"!

I was afraid the day was going to go badly when I started off the morning squirting myself in the face with the hose --- AFTER I was fully dressed and made up for work! I was watering my plants, and let the hose dangle while I adjusted its length to move it.... and then I grabbed it..... and squirted myself directly on the right side of my head. Hair, makeup and blouse --- all wet! Time for some serious FAST fixes in order to make it to work on time!!!!

Fortunately the rest of my day was not that bad, work, Zumba, and cooking dinner (even though Thing 2 had completely ruined my menu plan for the week!).

This fiscal fast has been good for me --- I'm pretty excited that with the planned exception of grocery shopping over the weekend, and the not planned expenses resulting from a stress filled Saturday with a snake in the kitchen (which only cost me $12 for dinner and ice cream), I've managed to stick with my plan of not spending.

Reality will soon hit though, so I'm going to have to start planning my spending for the month of May -- and with graduation looming and a bridesmaid dress to be purchased (Brother's wedding in October), its going to be a DOOZIE!