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Even Exchange and they said I owed $.01

December 26th, 2007 at 04:38 pm


Here is a new one - the retailer is trying to make money on an even exchange ...

Well, braved the crowds to go to Macy's to exchange some fur-lined crocs for DS. His pair did not fit and went to his younger brother, thus leaving us to exchange the smaller pair for the right size for E. Well, after lots of plodding through tons and tons of crocs, we found one the correct size - not fur-lined - but decorated in a sports theme. Same price - same store (not a different tax rate -

I walk up to the register (with the receipt) and say, "I'd like to exchange these for these. Here is the receipt, but the price is the same."

The checker-outer scans the receipt, then the item, puts it in the bag, and says to me, "That will be one cent."

I look at her, "But how can that be? It is an even exchange."

She: "According to this, you owe one cent."

Me: "It was purchased here, at this store. The sales tax is the same rate."

She: "It will be one cent."

(I have a wallet with $20s, and no change, not that I would part with a penny if my life depended on it.)

Me: "I'm not paying the one cent. Get me a manager. It's an even exchange."

I don't know what she then did, but she handed me my receipts, bag and smiled. "Have a nice day."

I said to the person behind me (and the line was forming behind me and DS at this point) "Look out. It was supposed to be an even exchange. Not sure what Macy's is trying to do ..."

But DS has his crocs and is happy to join the rest of his croc-wearing siblings.

Looking forward to 2008

December 17th, 2007 at 09:54 am


I've spent November and 1/2 of December coming up with realistic spending for each week and I'm coming up with some good averages for "starting and sticking" to a budget for January 08.

As far as health insurance, I decided to do the high deductible insurance plan through DH employer and will set up the Health Savings Account at a local bank (funding $2000 per year). With this reworking of the net pay check, I have increased the 401(k) from 6% to 10% and have set up $100 per month to go to education savings (I know it should be quite a bit more than that and hopefully soon)

I have looked into part-time employment at the local junior college to bring some money in (been a SAHM for ten years now). Youngest child just turned three.

We're evaluating selling our rental property and coming up with a different investment strategy. Currently the upkeep, taxes and mortgage for both properties is about $2,500 per month and I am getting tired of feeling "cash poor" and "paper rich", and not at all happy with out net worth tied up in real estate (though our estimates are conservative).

It's been helpful popping in from time to time and seeing people post their daily frustrations/accomplishments. As for me, I was just tired of the numbers. I am hopeful though that things can improve with some sound and solid decision making on our part.

Thanks for being an inspiration group of money people!

Anyone catch Oprah today?

October 18th, 2007 at 01:49 pm


I was so shocked to see that woman on the show - the saddest part is about the kids with no health care and a mother who spends thousands on murals for the home, silk flower arrangement, and her own weekly upkeep of nails and hair extensions! Ignoring the neurological issues of one of her children is just beyond words - intentional neglect ...

Suze suggested they go to Seattle to start over and get rid of the reputation as big spenders. I'm afraid after appearing on Oprah that reputation will follow them everywhere ...

I am glad about who I am and how I live and how that will never be me!


Where do you keep your EF?

October 9th, 2007 at 01:35 pm


We've had some serious expenses here the past few months:
$690 auto repair in Aug
$690 unexpected electrician bill Oct 1
$340 replace rental unit washing machine

I have been able to keep these purchases off the credit card but have had done serious damage to our savings account (and I just paid tuition for the 07-08 school year for 3 DKs for $3,200.) I figure if I really buckle down on most extraneous expenses I can come up with about $1,000 a month. I'm considering "laddering" three 3-month CDs for an EF knowing that I can access the money in no more than two weeks (14-day grace period) and my parents could always advance me fund til I'd pay them back (no more than two weeks). Does this make sense to anyone? Anyone else do this?

I'm also moving money to Vanguard's money market fund since our bank's intro-rate to new money market accounts dropped to 3 something%. But there is a 10 day hold on all money going into that fund/account so that is where my more significant savings ($10K is going)

where and what do you do with your savings/EFs?

Almost a No Spend Week!! New attitude about spending emerging ...

October 4th, 2007 at 01:49 pm


We had a major unplanned expense of $697 to an electrician to repair the "guts" of our electric meter (at that point I probably would have shelled out $1,000 just to have electricity - it is paramount with 4 DKs) I was happy that we didn't have to use the credit card and could "afford" the repair.

However, I was on a mission to see how much I could NOT spend and I'm happy to report that it was a very cheap week at that.

I did have a $25 Target gift card which I used to purchase a Halloween costume for DD8.

I also had $60 in Albertson gift cards from two RX filling. My grocery bill came to $100 and I had $38.99 in coupons and $60.00 in gift cards, so all told it was under $5. (Most of that was stocking up on two-for-one items.

My entertainment was two outings to the local Arboretum where my mom is a member and it was beautiful weather and nice to get the two younger ones out while the big ones were at school.

I'm very proud of the fact that I have been able to stay out of stores since Monday and I am challenging myself to go to the store once next week shopping with a planned menu/detailed list.

I am realizing how fast those small purchases add up. The $8 to Michael's - the $9 at Panera's - the $13 to Trader Joes! By limiting my number of outings, I won't only save on gas, but the "leaks" as well.

AND we received a 42" flat screen TV for Xmas from dear parents. One of the cells was "defunct" and when DH and D Dad went to take it back, there was a $321 price reduction. We were just happy with a new TV and dad was happy with the credit, so he and DH shopped at Sam's Club and came home with free groceries: bananas, Starbucks frappucino drinks (12 ct), Naked blueberry juice, cereal and canned veggies. Wonder how and why they arrived at these items? Anyhow, almost no money spend this week, except electrician bill!

Resale Store Finds

September 29th, 2007 at 01:06 pm


Wa-hoo, I have scored some deals yesterday and today on three trips to two resale stores (one affiliated with the hospital where procedes go to the cardiac unit) and another one benefitting the county's domestic violence programs. DH and DKs accompanied me once and I had to double check on something on a second run - I spent a total of $11, $43, and then $17 for a total of $70 - here's what we got:

(1) GAP Surplus skirt for me ($3)
(2) GAP Surplus khaki's for DH ($4)
(3) Bass leather clogs for me ($4.50)
(4) Bass leather clogs for me ($4.00)
(5) Trendy toile handbag for me ($3)
(6) Field Gear sweater for DH ($5)
(7) Eddie Baur striped rugby shirt DH ($5)
(8) Kohl's brand striped rugby shirt DH
($4)
(9) Ralph Lauren polo striped shirt DH
($4.50)
(10) RL polo shirt for DH ($4.00)
(11) Villager brand cotton sweater for me ($4)
(12) Hello Kitty purse for DD ($2)
(13) Thomas the Tank game for DS ($2.00)
(14) Foam letter blocks for DS ($3.00)
The balance was a bunch of VHS movies for the kids (5) paper back books for DDs (3) and two books for me

So for the budget I am going to work in a Resale Category - I think I am going to call myself "Second Hand Rose" - though I am not a rose by name!

To think that a few years ago my DH raised an eyebrow when I got DD9 a Halloween costume "used" at Once Upon a child! Well eight years later and three more kids, he has finally seen the light!

Oh Dear, Egg on my Face, Big Piece of Humble Pie

August 28th, 2007 at 01:21 pm


Yikes, I screwed up royally -

Got a letter from Chase on Friday saying they were lowering our credit line from $6100 to $4100 due to delinquincies.

A little background info: my DH and FIL have same name and have had major confusion issues in the past - somewhere along the line FIL's DOB was linked to DHs SSN and it has been mass confusion at times. I might add that dear inlaws are not financially prudent and have several big BLIPs on their record (some more recent than others). I assumed that the decrease came from their delinquincies.

When DH called to find out further info: I (ME) made the payments on line for the past three months and for three months in a row were 2 to 5 days late (delinquincies) thus resulting in the lowering of our limit.

Funny thing, because I overpaid last month there is nothing due this month.

Paid off the nominal balance and will have DH close account tomorrow - paid with a cashier's check. Was also mad enough to close out the two credit cards in my name with no balance and the checking account we never used anyhow. I know I was late but the payment due dates were both on weekends and in one I didn't quite allow for the five day window to proccess online payments. My fault all the way. It is amazing how they try to keep your business once you say you are going to close the account.

Anyhow, I did call MIL to apologize for assuming the issue stemmed from them. She was very nice about it and said something like "money does damange families and let's try to work together to figure things out in the future if there is a problem". I was rude and put out at the phone calls I was going to have to write.

LESSON LEARNED: Make sure the source of the delinquincies before accusing someone else.

Oh Dear, Egg on my Face, Big Piece of Humble Pie

August 28th, 2007 at 01:21 pm


Yikes, I screwed up royally -

Got a letter from Chase on Friday saying they were lowering our credit line from $6100 to $4100 due to delinquincies.

A little background info: my DH and FIL have same name and have had major confusion issues in the past - somewhere along the line FIL's DOB was linked to DHs SSN and it has been mass confusion at times. I might add that dear inlaws are not financially prudent and have several big BLIPs on their record (some more recent than others). I assumed that the decrease came from their delinquincies.

When DH called to find out further info: I (ME) made the payments on line for the past three months and for three months in a row were 2 to 5 days late (delinquincies) thus resulting in the lowering of our limit.

Funny thing, because I overpaid last month there is nothing due this month.

Paid off the nominal balance and will have DH close account tomorrow - paid with a cashier's check. Was also mad enough to close out the two credit cards in my name with no balance and the checking account we never used anyhow. I know I was late but the payment due dates were both on weekends and in one I didn't quite allow for the five day window to proccess online payments. My fault all the way. It is amazing how they try to keep your business once you say you are going to close the account.

Anyhow, I did call MIL to apologize for assuming the issue stemmed from them. She was very nice about it and said something like "money does damange families and let's try to work together to figure things out in the future if there is a problem". I was rude and put out at the phone calls I was going to have to write.

LESSON LEARNED: Make sure the source of the delinquincies before accusing someone else.

$8.64 Spend

August 23rd, 2007 at 05:48 am


Yesterday I checked out a new resale store around the corner - all proceeds benefit the domestic violence program in the county. I spent $8.64 on the following items:
(1) virually brand new Karen Nueberger nightgown for winter
(2) great condition Disney pull-over with Buzz Lightyear for DS4 (5 today!)
(3) three books: one paperback for me (Amish fiction), a hardcover Wizard of Oz that my DD8 (non-reader) is reading, and a Disney book selected by DS2
(4) a really cute back (red patterned from Bath and Body works) for DD9 to keep something in (she has lots of ocllections)
(5) two clear glass serving dishes for veggies or snacks

I love the whole idea of resale - when I get tired of these things or they break or are read - we can donate them right back! And I spent under $10 on the whole kit and caboodle!

August is a Big Spend Month

August 20th, 2007 at 07:40 am


Well, I'm tracking ALL spending this month (I usually have a good idea on the inflow/outflow from the checking account) but am careless about cash (usually only about $150 coming in from coin-operated laundry and odd driving around I do for MIL, etc.

August has been scary:

(1) Had to replace a lawn mower (DH does three lawns - ours, our rental property, an elderly neighbor's) $215 end of season Sear's Craftsman

(2) Had to replace carpet cleaner - Bissell on sale on Kohls $144 (got $30 Kohls dollars back) with 4 kids/2 dogs and beige carpeting - this was a must

(3) $112 to plumber for a clogged bathtub drain at renal property (not bad, could have been worse)

(4) $72 to heating/air conditioning for house call today - only charged the diagnostic fee as the $350 part installed in Jan was faulty

My question is: do these things come from an Emergency Fund? I am assuming that they do and was wondering where do you all keep your EF? As a cushion in the checking account? A savings account? I'm considering where and how to deal with more unexpected things. I paid cash for all of these with the exception of the carpet cleaner,

MOMA

August 19th, 2007 at 05:56 pm


I try to put all purchases (groceries and gas mostly) onto my debit card at National City which adds up pretty fast. In Sept I tally up the points and turn them in for gift cards for Christmas gifts ($25 Target card for neice, restaurant card for my brother and SIL, a home depot card for my dad, etc) all in all it is kind of like a Christmas club and saves time/money in holiday season.

I also transfer all of my "coupon saved cash" into a separate account for "fun money"

I keep separate balances in one major money market account and transfer the balance to the "fun money" account which is now earmarked "vacation fund"

Advice Needed on Rental Property Situation

July 28th, 2007 at 06:47 pm

I'm interested in some feedback regarding a situation we're facing regarding our rental property. It is our original starter home purchased in 1992 for $130K. In January of this year it was valued at $330K. We own it outright and have a mortgage now on our primary residence.

Ok, the situation now: our last tenant moved out in Dec 06 and was paying $1,350. A family member lived there from Jan to June paying our cost ($300/month for taxes and $44 for insurance). Here rental properties are sitting and not moving at all. We had a prospective tenant drop into our laps -

this is a couple returning from South America missions - husband has a 3-year contract teaching in a private school making $45000. The most they can afford to pay is $1,000 plus utilities (which will be in their names). They will sign a one year lease and pay six months cash rent up front. They will have to buy a mower and do lawn maintenance on their own (we take care of exterior maintenance). We had decided we'd probably have to drop the rent because of how many things are on the market.

Do we take these tenants (no credit history as they've been out of country 20 years) but have strong local ties and come recommended from a friend of the guy across the street at $1,000 (probably $150 per month less than we might get)? (Of which I can put $6,000 in the bank and make 5%-ish.) We are spared advertising cost and the month(s) it might take to rent. Or do we place the ad in the paper and hope to make $1,350?

Just wondering what your thoughts are on this. Thanks in advance for advice.

How do you manage multiple savings goals at a time?

July 24th, 2007 at 10:06 am


I'm having an issue here deciding on how to approach multiple goals.

I have $13,000 at 0% credit card debt for life of balance. I have this money in a money market fund paying 5.4%. The minimum payment on this is $200.00

I have contributed 10% of DH's salary into the 401(k) and I regularly contribute to my IRA (usually only about $2000. Total IRA value $99,000

I am prepaying tuition (two years at commuity college) for DD9 and DD8 ($226 a month for another 4 years 9 months). The other college money in their names is this: DD9 $7K, DD8 $7K, DS4 $7K, DS2 $1K.

Our mortgage is $290K on a $510K value and we own a rental property paid off for $330K. We do make an additional payment per year based on pay every two weeks (13 payments a year).

Where would you put additional money gien this situation: Retirement, College, Mortgage?

Anyone a Weekend Warrior who did their own hardwood floors?

July 23rd, 2007 at 03:44 pm

I have beige carpeting in my house and four children and two dogs. Not the color I would have chosen, but it came with the house. I'd love to replace it with hardwood flooring in the family room where most of the activity/living is done. I'm afraid it may be too costly to have it installed and was wondering if this is a home improvement anyone here has taken on - or is it worth it to pay the professionals?

Thanks for your stories ...

Doing consignment here --

July 23rd, 2007 at 03:41 pm


I'm motivated by people who have been cleaning up and clearing out and decluttering. I too have joined the group - my basement has been a place no one wants to go (and that is where the air hockey and the pool table are that we should be using).

Well, I walked around randomly putting things in a huge pile for garbage/donate and today with my mom's help I bagged six huge industrial garbage bags of clothes/toys/househodl items for donation. And loaded them and out they went, donated. Also have a pile of things for Once Upon a Child, Plato's Closet, and an upscale knick-knack consigment place -- I am no longer keeping: Enesco musical box carnival pieces (ferris wheel), a Lenox carousel, a Lenox spice rack with little houses. All were gifts from my MIL or from my grandmother's home when she passed away and we needed to empty her home. Also include three Lladros that I'm not attached to. Hoping to get some money back from these items and I'm not having the time or interest to do ebay.

Will report back on my earning as I go - goal is to get these items to consignment stores later this week!

All proceeds are hearding into our vacation fund for 08. Feeling lighter!