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Archive for July, 2012

Long Week, Long Weekend Away

July 28th, 2012 at 01:03 am

Whew. What a week it was.

I've had a lot on my lists. The first part of the week was spent running errands, cleaning the house, and getting things organized. I took some yard sale things to my friend's house and The Husband cleaned up the yard and took a load to the dump. It was exhausting, but we accomplished a lot.

The last thing on my list was to finish all the laundry and pack for our long, long weekend in LA. We got a hotel on Hotwire.com for one night, and have been/will be staying with family for the rest of the time we're here. We're not going to any theme parks or doing anything particularly expensive. We were able to get decently-priced gas on our way out of town, and the hotel was only $61. But with all the hungry athletes in our family (and we've got two extra teens with us), it's the food that costs a ton!

Yesterday we went to Whole Foods (I know! Ridiculously expensive!) for lunch. Everyone wanted something different, and we decided to go there for the happiness factor. Between the kids, they got pizza, sandwiches, sushi, salad, burritos... I had a really wonderful salad and The Husband got Indian food there. We bought a case of water and some extra fruit, crackers, and snacks. Gads. It was $75. The total was a little shocking at the time, but now that I think... it was lunch for 8 people, plus lots of snacks. It was probably just a bit more expensive than going someplace like Subway, and it made everyone VERY happy. We were hot, exhausted, and everyone was a bit grouchy at the time. All the kids getting exactly the lunch that they wanted made a big difference in attitude. And we've been munching on the leftover snacks and fruit today.

We've been eating with family today. And there will be birthday cake for me tonight! My birthday was a couple of weeks ago, but who am I to refuse chocolate cake?!

The Husband forgot a swimsuit, so we stopped by a Big 5, and lucked out. They had everything on clearance, and he got a very nice suit for under $20. It is something he would have picked out and paid a lot more for elsewhere.

We had a great day of playing at the pool and ocean today and plan to go to a museum tomorrow. It's been great being away from home and relaxing with family. Much needed vacation time! Happy, happy day! Smile

Yard/Garage/Moving Sale DONE!

July 22nd, 2012 at 04:07 pm

I had posted an ad on Craig's list for the sale, but that's it. I noticed several other listings for sales in our area, and then checked and saw that those people had also placed ads in the newspaper. Good enough for me. A Swimbaby made some signs and we sent her to post them at intersections near the other sales. I just listed our street name in the posting because I didn't want "early shoppers." Several years ago we had a sale and had people prowling around our back yard in the middle of the night before.

Interesting. We said the hours were 7am-1pm. True to the garage sale culture, there were people here at 6am, which I always find irritating. Then a couple of them said, "You don't have much stuff," to which I replied, "We will have a lot at 7am." Grrr! And we did have a lot by 7am. We were hauling it all out of the house as fast as we could. It was a very hot day, and most of the shoppers came before 9:30 am.

I let the Swimbabies and The Husband handle the sale for the most part. I gave prices for a few big items, and then went inside and cleaned house and did laundry. I don't usually like being out there because I usually see children from work, and I just don't like to.

The great news is that lots of stuff is gone, and we will have much less to move. It was just amazing. I looked at some of the stuff and had no idea where it had come from or how long we'd had it. People just give us stuff all the time, thinking we'll like it/need it, and we had just been saving it in case we did need it.

The Husband wanted to get rid of stuff more than he wanted to make money. And probably because he works all the time and doesn't buy much, he's pretty unaware of prices. Some things he tried to sell for too much money, but mostly he was practically giving things away! He sold our lawn mower for $15. I started to throw a mini-tantrum, but he reminded me that it had been sitting outside for 4 years, he didn't know the condition for sure (it hasn't been covered or maintained), and we haven't used it in all that time because someone else mows our lawns. So it's not like he was selling something we'll need to replace. Heck, I think my dad handed down that lawn mower to us in the first place. Years ago. Whatever. It's gone, and we no longer have to deal with it. I've got to say that he was probably right. We don't want to have to move things that we won't use/don't need.

One really, really sweet family from France came by at the very end, right before we were about to clean up. They had a darling little child with them, and we had fun picking out things for her. We sent them off with snow boots, mittens, some books, some bath toys and a tutu. We chatted a little (in French! Fun to practice!) and learned that they are graduate students, so we gave them everything for free. It was the highlight of the day.

My best friend is having a yard sale in two weeks, so I think I'll load everything that's left and take it to her house. It will help her to have more stuff, and we might make a few more dollars. After that, it all gets donated. I'll be putting a few things on Craig's list this week and I have a pile for eBay, too.

We did make a decent amount of money. Other than a few $15-25 items, it was a lot of 50 cent or one dollar books, items of clothing or toys. It all added up fast. And it's over. Smile

A Little of This, A Little of That

July 20th, 2012 at 04:52 pm

On the rental topic, I had forgotten our savings in terms of property taxes. Yes, we'll be missing out on another tax deduction, but our property taxes are currently just over $8,000 a year. I won't miss that.

Our power is off today due to some construction in the area or something. But our internet router has a battery back-up, so we've got internet, at least. I'm hoping that the power won't be off too long. For one thing, it's supposed to be very hot today-- in the 90s. I knew about this ahead of time, but I'd forgotten about the possibility of food going bad. Hope that doesn't happen.

I always forget all the ways we "need" the power. Our drinking water comes from the fridge dispenser. I can't do laundry or cook or vacuum... I think we'll be heading out to the library soon. It will be cool and entertaining there.

I saw a friend yesterday and she reminded me about Ross Dress for Less. I like shopping there when I can stop by on a fairly regular basis. I used to work near one, and I'd stop by every week or so to look at dresses. Often I found nothing, but other times I found great stuff. I think the key is definitely checking back often. I never paid more than $15 for a dress for work, and they were very nice dresses. The friend I saw yesterday always has adorable dresses on, and that is her method, too. I'm hoping to find a Ross in the new area.

Dinner might be take out of some kind. We had some work to do tonight, because tomorrow's the moving sale! Can't wait to have all this stuff out of my house.

Happy Weekend, Friends!

Renting...

July 18th, 2012 at 02:55 pm

So it looks like we will be moving to an area that's even more expensive that the one we're in. Blerg. But it will be much, much more convenient for The Husband. He will get to reduce his commuting time to about 1/5 of what it is now. And that will save money, too. I'm a little consumed with arranging lessons/activities for the Swimbabies in the new area. Tons of work. I'll actually be closer to my job, too, which is great.

And mainly what is more expensive in the new area is housing. Gas might be slightly more there, but not much. Food will likely be the same. We currently pay a fortune for our water/sewer/garbage, and since I've never talked to anyone who pays more than we do, I'm assuming it will be less.

After tons of calculating, web-searching, and late-night discussing, we have decided to find a place to rent in the new area. Not buy. I'm not gonna lie. I think it will stink, at least part of the time. The really nice places to rent are CRAZYEXPENSIVE, and we're just too cheap for that! Big Grin So we are searching for "clean and safe in the right neighborhood." The advantage will be that we can save a significant amount of money and once we know the area better, buy whatever we want (almost Smile). The disadvantages will include little (or no) yard, much less space, and no mortgage write off. There are more things in the advantages/disadvantages columns, but those are the big ones. Help. What are some pluses/minuses that we might be forgetting?

We're trying to think of it as an adventure.

In money news, I got a few checks in the mail (birthday gifts and Pinecone), which I will send off today. I'm waiting for still more checks from second spin, which will probably arrive as soon as I deposit the others. Wink

I'm planning to make Mexican food for dinner... rice, beans, tortillas, salsa, guacamole, corn, lettuce. Everyone makes their own burrito/tostada/tacos and we are all happy. It's quick, cheap, and easy.

Out to Lunch

July 17th, 2012 at 02:02 pm

I'm not a meat lover. And for three dinners in the last week, I've eaten a toasted English muffin with sliced tomatoes and avocado. It's the perfect dinner as far as I'm concerned. The tomatoes have come from our garden, and it's been easy to find cheap avocados lately. Win-win. The Husband has been making up turkey burgers (his special mix) for the carnivores, so they are happy, too.

I went out for lunch yesterday with The Husband. It was more than we would normally pay, but it was a fancy place and we lingered and completely enjoyed the food, the atmosphere and the entire experience. We were celebrating a few things, and we were without children, which was a treat. (You know I love my kids, but we rarely get out alone!) Our table was on the sidewalk on an active (but not too noisy) street. It was a great meal, and it felt like a short vacation!

Anyway, I ordered soup and salad. The soup was OMG! Amazing! It was a roasted sweet corn bisque, and for sure I will be trying to make something similar at home. My salad had ripe teeny tomatoes and blue cheese and was delicious, too. The Husband ordered a sweet corn risotto, and it was loaded with mushrooms and leeks.

I went to the gym this morning to run on the treadmill. I'm nursing an injury, so I haven't been running as much as I'd like to be. Today I'll be running some errands. Post office. Cleaners. Credit Union. Bleh.

It's T minus 4 days until the gigantic yard sale. I'll be so glad to have all this stuff out of the house. I need to get my Craig's list ad done, and call a charity to pick up all the leftovers on Monday.

Happy Tuesday, Friends!

LOVE My SA Friends!

July 14th, 2012 at 02:10 am

What a fun day! Monkey Mama (and Big Monkey), Thrify Ray (and daughter!) and Laura (Keeping It Frugal) are probably still together. I had to leave early, but it was great to meet everyone, including Looking Forward, who also had to leave early.

We met at a bakery this morning... it was a little like a blind date! I didn't really know who I was looking for, but saw a group of women and it was them! I had a really, really delicious English muffin and a latte, and we all sat and chatted. TOTALLY GREAT! I had missed some emails so didn't know the whole plan and needed to drive to the next destination (the others had an adventure!) Still, I was thrilled to meet up for lunch and a nice walk along the foggy bay.

I cannot even express how fun it was to see everyone. I just loved it! What a nice, nice group of people. I wish we could meet regularly for coffee or whatever. Hope we can do it again!

SA Friends and the Color Run and Buffalo Salads

July 13th, 2012 at 02:31 am

I'm excited to meet a few SA friends tomorrow!

And on Saturday, our family is going to do the Color Run in San Francisco. I'll have more to report on afterward, but basically it's a 5K, and participants are sprayed with color throughout the race. A couple of the Swimbabies got really excited when they heard of it, so we all signed up. It wasn't really a frugal purchase... but the point of being frugal to start with is to be able to spend money on whatever we want to at times. I figured it would be an EXPERIENCE. I think it was $30 each, so a more than a movie, but less than an amusement park (which we don't love, anyway).

Last night we had delicious Buffalo Salads for dinner. The carnivores ate chicken and I had Boca chicken, and we tossed both with spicy buffalo wing sauce. We piled up the lettuce, sliced carrots, green onions, fresh tomatoes, fresh corn (cut off the cob), and sliced celery, and then topped it off with chicken and a drizzle of ranch dressing.

Perfect!

And for dessert, I made these trail mix cookies. Wow.

http://ohsheglows.com/2012/06/20/happy-trails-adventure-cookies/

See you in the morning, ladies! Smile

Money Doings

July 10th, 2012 at 01:28 am

It was the usual Costco trip today. The total is always right around $100, and today was no exception. $97.45. I had a Swimbaby with me, and was persuaded to buy a book and some junk food that I wouldn't normally get. We are still stocked on some other things, though, hence the total.

I finished my experiment on dry cleaners and found the one that is the best combination of cheap and fast and quality. I had taken 2 of The Husband's shirts to each of 5 dry cleaners, since our favorite place just closed. It was interesting to observe the customer service, in addition to price and quality. It was well worth the time. I was surprised by the clear winner.

Still cleaning out. Today I went through childrens' books and some craft supplies. Twelve days until the garage sale!

Two checks came in the mail from Second Spin, and I paid some monthly dues for Swimbabies' activities. That's about it on the money front for now.

More Cleaning

July 9th, 2012 at 08:06 am

Oh. My.

The house is a disaster due to big, gigantic piles of garage sale things everywhere. Today we tackled some of the garage, before it got too hot. There were lots of boxes out there that I've had neatly labeled and sorted for years. Unfortunately, some of them haven't been gone through in years. I cleaned out many of the kids' costumes from past Halloweens and plan to sell those. I'm not sure why I've saved them, except that most of them I made and many are quite elaborate. I saved a couple per Swimbaby, but probably put 12 costumes in the pile. I also opened the "Sports" storage box and found 6 pairs of soccer cleats in various sizes. I had 7 boxes of Christmas things (ornaments, lights, books, etc) and reduced it to 4 boxes.

It was interesting because a large number of things in the pile were given to me by a good friend. She is one of those "I found this and it was only a dollar, so I bought three for each of us" types. She is very thoughtful toward others, and I do appreciate her. But many of the "I don't know why this is here because I don't like it/won't use it" items were things she had picked up for me. She won't be invited to our sale!Wink

I've also been organizing my recipes. I want to get rid of the recipe box and get everything into digital form. I'm making progress there, too.

Tomorrow:
1. Post office to mail secondspin.com items
2. Familiarize myself with selling on Craigslist and decide if it's something I can do or not (antique furniture)
3. Organize ebay items into a couple of boxes. I plan to sell some things (I've used ebay a lot), but don't have time to deal with them right now. So I gathered a couple of boxes that can be easily stashed out of the way. Then when I have time, I can list an item or two from the box.

Can't wait until the sale to get everything out!

Looking forward to meeting SA friends on Friday!

Friends Spending, Day Trips, and the Tube

July 8th, 2012 at 08:09 am

I commented on Monkey Mama's blog last week about a friend. She and her family just moved (needed a cheaper place) and then bought themselves a new couch, washer and dryer, microwave, and no doubt lots of other things they didn't really need. It's frustrating to hear complaints of money woes and then watch them spend. I suggested at one point that perhaps they could keep the old microwave or go without for even a few months, but those ideas were tossed aside. Today, said friend posted on Facebook that they had gotten a new fountain. I'm certain it wasn't free, but they love it because "it's so soothing!" Doh!

We've been taking some nice family day trips. Some have been well planned, others have had some surprises. As a result, we've spent more than usual on gas. And when, two hours from home, all the swimbabies started quarreling with each other, we stopped and fed them. Not planned, and I'd have rather saved that money... but there was some cushion in the budget, so it was okay. Just means we'll be spending a little less on groceries for the next few weeks.

And the tube... my face moisturizer comes in a tube. It's been difficult to get any of the lotion out of the tube for the last week. Today, I couldn't get anything to squeeze out. So I grabbed a pair of scissors and just cut right across the tube. I peeked inside, and there is at least enough moisturizer to last another week. I got what I needed today and put both ends of the tube in a zip lock bag to keep it from drying out. It always makes me happy to do that. Most people who throw out the tube, and not even think of cutting it open. I got an extra week for free!

Amazon Gift Cards Spent!

July 3rd, 2012 at 08:12 pm

I had $20 worth of Amazon cards from Swagbucks. I'd been saving them for whenever I might need them.

I placed an order yesterday for vacuum cleaner bags (we can't buy ours locally, so I would have had to drive 25 miles to get them) and a textbook for a Swimbaby's summer school class. Yahoo! It made the amount I had to pay about half of what it would have been! $20 for very little effort! Like!

More Cleaning Out

July 2nd, 2012 at 04:44 pm

This cleaning process is going to be going on for a while. So much to do!

So far:
* I completely cleaned out our CD collection. The Husband made sure that everything is loaded onto iTunes, and I set up the Secondspin.com orders. Anything that SecondSpin wouldn't buy for $1 or more went into the yard sale pile. I may check one local place that buys CDs if I have time before the yard sale. Wow. We had a lot of CDs.

*With no CDs, we no longer have need of a CD player, not to mention the cassette player and receiver. So all that went into the pile. I will investigate the best (most profitable) way to get rid of that stuff. I don't think the entire world has gone digital, since we still have a record store in town!

*I cleaned out the very large collection of table linens, and reorganized what we're keeping.

*I went through a cabinet that was full of dishes, picture frames, candles... made a big dent there.

*And we hit the DVDs, too. For several years, we bought lots of DVDs. Well, maybe 2-3 a month. The prices were so cheap, we could get them for less than is cost to rent them, and since the kids had their favorites that they watched over and over, it made sense. Well, a ton of those went to SecondSpin, too.

Still need to work on:
*I need to get with it on Craig's List and ebay. There are a few items that we no longer need that are higher value.

*Make a list of everything that's going. I can start this today. The Husband and I were looking at the garage/yard last night. We own a lawn mower. In the past, we used it. But since The Husband has been in his current position, which has longer hours and better pay, we've paid someone to mow the lawns. Yep. It's going on Craig's List. Ditto some extra furniture that's been in the garage for two years.

*We have lots of holiday decorations for Christmas, Halloween, Easter and Valentine's Day, and I want to go through those boxes and get rid of some things. Each time I'm packing/unpacking for the specific holidays, I'm always saying, "I need to go through this stuff!" So I want it to happen this week.

*We have a gigantic filing cabinet. Someone gave it to us, and of course we like free, so we've been using it. But the thing is enormous. I think it's wide enough for legal sized papers and it's 4 drawers tall. I'm starting a search for cheap two-drawer filing cabinets.


So we have piles of stuff in our family room, and we've gathered the extra furniture there. It will be crazy for a couple of weeks, and then it will be gone!