Sunday, December 21, 2008

Goals for 2009

I'm keeping most of last years goals, but adding a couple new ones.

1. Keep reading (never a problem) and keep reading stuff out of my comfort zone.
Shouldn't be hard with the book club. I also follow several book blogs and they are the ones who give me ideas what to read. Thanks all you book bloggers!!!!!
And since we have the book club, I will be meeting new people. So, I took that goal off.

2. Continue to pay down debt. Currently at $29,000 appx. Want to be at $15,000 or less at this time next year.

3. Continue to do more cheap family stuff. We won't be doing many open houses in the cold weather. Reading to my son and playing family board games are on the list. Oh, and we can all play the Wii together!!

4. Volunteer more. Once the Humane Society is complete and on my side of town, my daughter and I will start going there again. In the meantime, I really need to find something else to do. Our church will be a good place to start.
5. Continue to go to church twice a month. I also want to get into a better habit of reading my daily devotional books. I have Daily Walk with God, and Simple Abundance.

6. Blog more pictures.

7. Exercise. I've started my habit this month. I've been getting on the Elliptical machine every morning. I want to do the Wii Fit at least 3 times a week. In the warmer months I will find a class at the YMCA to take. Eating better only takes you so far, the exercise will get you where you want to be.

8. Continue to eat healthy and watch portion sizes. Jenny Craig has really helped with this one. I honestly can not eat as much as I used to, there is just no room in my tummy anymore! I want to stick with their meals until I reach my goal weight, then I will start to practice on my own.

Update on 2008 goals

Well, I went back to read my 2008 goals. I forgot a couple, but it looks like I did pretty good!

1. Read more. CHECK! I've read a ton and really expanded what I read.
I read the Twilight series. I wasn't going to, but my friends basically forced me. I love them for that.
A Rare and Curious Gift is something I would not have picked, but I'm really enjoying it.
Jen Lancaster.............I really did not like her book. Something about a prada bag. I don't even want to remember the name.
Eat, Pray, Love..........I haven't finished it, but it was a really good book. I started it in the summer, and haven't finished it. I think it's a summer read. But, it is on our bookclub list for April so I need to get it done!
David Sedaris. I read Holidays on Ice and LOVED it! I'm defiantly going to check out his other books.
There were more, but I can't remember. They should be in my Library Thing sidebar.

2. Pay down debt. CHECK! We are doing great on this. We could have done better, but since we like to spend money so much.......we gave ourselves rewards. If we wouldn't have done the rewards, we would not have kept up with the payoffs. Our rewards for this year were the new Camera, Elliptical machine, TV, and Wii.
The camera gets tons of use, but I do need to get some pictures posted!!
The elliptical machine has been used alot. I did it every morning last week and plan to continue. It should soon be a habit!
The new TV was not planned, but a great deal we could not pass. We really wanted just a small one to put downstairs for the new Wii. But we found a 42" LCD for only $600. Just a couple hundred more than a smaller one. Paid in cash.

3. Do more family stuff. CHECK! We found a very fun and free activity this summer. We went to open houses on the weekends. As a family we discussed what features we wanted in a new house and what we did not like. We also discussed prices, advantages/disadvantages of certain areas, taxes, insurance, interest rates on loans, the national housing crisis, and anything else that came up. I think our kids have a new appreciation of our current house and now realize what goes into owning a home. They loved it!

4. Not get pissy about DH travels. This was so easy in the second part of the year. He hasn't gone anywhere since the summer.

5. Meet new people. CHECK! One of my friends started a book club. I expanded it by starting a group for it. Lots of new people have joined, but only 2 have came to the meetings. I expect this to increase after the holidays. The 2 ladies I did meet were great! This also ties into me meeting my reading goal.

6. Stop watching so much TV. OOPS! Even with my schedule being so busy, I still watch alot of TV.

7. Volunteer more. OOPS! I promise that once the new Humane Society is built, I will do this. With the gas prices up this year and my schedule getting so full, it was really hard to drive all the way down there. I know there are other places that could use my time, but this is where I want to do it at.

8. Go to Church more. CHECK! We go twice a month. Our daughter even goes to the school at our church now. This time last year, I would have never thought that possible. It is such a great school and we have a completely new daughter out of the deal. It has been so good for her.

9. Blog more. I'm off and on for this one. But I think I'm doing ok. I just need to do more pictures!!

Full Disclosure: Credit Card Debt

Here we go:

I'm going to list each credit card, the balance a year ago, the balance today, and the interest paid and the rate.

Credit Card..... 120/30/07 .... 11/30/08....... Interest......... Rate
Wells......... $7,152.87....... $ 5,887.66....... $1,072.54 ....13.9%
Chase ........ $14,962.23 .....$11,066.55 ......$1,991.12 .....14.51%
BOA .......... $13,528.08 ..... $10,437.62 ....$2,364.24 .... 24.99%
1st Horizon.. $1,8890.93 ......$1,482.59 ......$199.17....... 11.99%
Lawyer .......... $1,438.54......... $ 0.00 ........ $183.40
DH Sears........ $1,867.85 .........$ 0.00......... $237.60
My Sears......... $915.11.......... $ 0.00 ......... $94.02
Home Depot ... $714.73.......... $ 0.00 ........$ 0.00........... 0%
Medical bills ...$2,000 appx.....$ 0.00 ..........unsure....... unsure

There it all is.
The 2 sears cards had the highest interest rate, so we paid those off first.
Home Depot was a no payment, no interest deal, so we paid that off right before the deal was over.
We could easily pay off the 1st Horizon in a few months, but it is our lowest interest rate, so we are paying $25 above the minimum due every month.
Wells is the second lowest interest rate, we pay $150 per month, about $30 above the min. due.
Chase and BOA used to be close in interest rate and in balance...........we were splitting the payments on them, much higher than is due.
Then BOA jacked our interest rate up, for no specific reason. So, we are paying about $50 above minimum for Chase, and aggressively trying to get the BOA paid off.

We want to pay less in interest over this whole deal, which is why we choose to pay the higher cards first. Most people decide to pay the smaller balance cards off first. But they end up paying more in interest.

My lawyer was on a payment plan of $50 per paycheck. I chose not to pay extra on that because it did not show up on my credit report. So, it wasn't affecting my credit score.

Our total balance owed last year: $44,470.34
Our total balance right now: $28,874.42
Interest paid: $ 6,142.08

Total Paid this year: $ 15,595.92

Wow! It just amazes me 1) how dumb we were and 2) how great we've done this month 3) what we could be doing with that money if we didn't have the debt!!! I mean seriously! We paid over $15,000! I could have a very nice savings account, furniture downstairs, a new washer and dryer, and both kids in private school (instead of just one). And we could have had a family vacation this year.

Our goal is to have the rest paid off by this time next year, but I don't know if that is going to happen. We will definitely have it all paid off within 1 1/2 years.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

FAR FROM YOU release celebration and context!!

Lisa Schroeder, author of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, is celebrating the release of her upcoming YA novel, FAR FROM YOU, and hosting a contest with LOTS of great prizes!

For three days leading up to the book’s release date of December 23rd, you can watch VLOGs and hear some excerpts read from the book. The VLOG schedule is as follows:
Sunday, December 21st – Liv’s Book Reviews -
Monday, December 22nd – What Vanessa Reads -
Tuesday, December 23rd – Lisa Schroeder, author - AND

Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!

Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO enteries to win a number of prizes.

Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):
~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan
~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott
~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones
~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas
~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield
~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT)
~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack
~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch
~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU

For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!

A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Rare and Curious Gift

I got this book at our gift exchange at our bookclub. We all grabbed a book from our shelves, wrapped it, and had a free gift!!

I received "A Rare and Curious Gift" by Pauline Holdstock. It is NOT my type of read........that award belongs to Dean Koontz.
But, since I am expanding my horizons on the book front, I was excited to get this. I've never read anything like this. I'm only a few chapters in, but I really like it.

So far it's about a girl who has odd skin. It is smooth, but both black and white, like a brindle dog. There are artists........gross people........and that's as far as I've gotten! It takes place during the Italian Renaissance.

Thanks bookclub!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One more Christmas gift.

I couldn't resist. I became obsessed! I had to have one!
The whole reason I agreed to get a Wii was because I wanted the Wii Fit.

We got the Wii. I thought I could wait for the Wii Fit. But after seeing that they were almost impossible to get at regular price, I became determined to get one by Christmas.

I took some time..........and lots of moments when I thought I had one, but it disappeared......but I have one now!!

I just ordered off of Amazon, for the regular price. Should be here by Christmas!!

If you are trying to get one, sign up for alerts.
amazon text sign up

There are more out there, but these were the most reliable.
I listed them in order of when they sent me the last deal.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My progress with Jenny Craig

This is going very well!!

Another thing I need to do during my winter break is get into the habit of exercising! I have NOT been doing that.

Just by eating their food I have lost around 15 pounds. My goal is 35 pounds, I'm almost halfway there!! I average about 2 pounds per week.

I'm sure once I start exercising, things will go along faster.

What am I going to do?

I'm done with classes until January. That means I have at least 3 weeks, maybe more, of............time? I don't know what that is like! I'm always over booking myself. I usually have 2 jobs, or a ton of volunteer stuff, or school....something that takes all my time.

During my break from summer to fall classes I painted my daughter room.

I was told that I could not do any projects during this break. I'm already caught up on reading all the blogs in my google reader. I've paid bills and balanced all of our accounts. I've gone over our budget. I guess I could do a credit card update.

The living room needs another good cleaning, but I can't do that now because all the boyscout popcorn is in here. Have to wait for that to get delivered.

I did buy a new entertainment table for the TV we are putting downstairs and a new bookcase. I've run out of shelves for all my books! Got them pretty cheap at walmart yesterday. The bookcase was on sale for $27 and the TV stand was only $55. Nothing fancy, it's just there to serve a purpose.

We bought a new TV last week. It is a 42" LCD HDTV. We had no intention of this, but came across a GREAT deal. It was only $600. And I LOVE it!
The original plan of a new TV came about because Santa is giving us a Wii for Christmas. Well, there is no room in the living room to play a Wii, so it has to go downstairs in the sparse family room. We were going to buy a cheap TV to put down there. But, we could only find stuff for around $300-400. I did NOT want to spend that kind of money for a TV in the basement. Then we saw this deal. So, we have a new nice TV upstairs, and the old one goes downstairs.

But, we needed something to put the TV on, hence the new TV stand.

This Christmas has cost us more than expected. But we used cash for everything. DH did some extra side work this month. Normally that money goes to extra credit card payments, but instead went to our splurges for the month. Well, some of it did, we still have some left over for a cc payment.

It has been almost one year since we've used a credit card!!!!

It's times like this that I think about all the stuff we could do if we didn't have the credit card debt. We pay at least $1,000 per month to our cc's. If we didn't have that, we could be putting that money in savings for all kinds of things. A bigger emergency savings, a new washer/dryer, a new couch, both kids in a better school instead of just one, and vacations!

Someday we will be debt free. And by that I mean only a mortgage. I like being able to itemize my taxes. Cars will be paid for, student loans paid, lots of money in savings, and being able to travel. Someday.

Now, back to my original reason for this post. What am I going to do for the next few weeks?

I did get a new book in our Christmas book exchange for our bookclub. Definitely not something I would have picked for myself, but that's the point! It does look interesting. A Rare and Curious Gift. I will have that read by new years.

I also have a book, Find More Time that I should read while I have the time! Then maybe I can handle next semester better!

I should also go over my goals that I set for last year and see how they fared. And set new ones for next year.

I will do a debt post.

Do some deep cleaning in the house.

Take the Christmas tree down. I neglected this last year. The tree is obviously not real, and in the family room in the basement. I never go down there except for laundry, so the tree really wasn't an issue. But, it will come down this time.

I have so many pictures to post! Last time I tried it didn't work and I was so frustrated that I gave up. I will be more patient this time and get them up!

Research some other blogging sites besides Google. I get frustrated with this one too much.

Well, that all sounds like a good place to start!!

Oh, and if anyone knows where I can get a Wii Fit, for a decent price, let me know!!

Done with classes!

I took four classes this semester.

Marketing - lasted 3 weekends and has been over for a bit. I got a B.

Business English - Teacher doesn't have all grades in, but I have an A right now.

Business Calculus - I finished with an A. We were able to take the final early!

Algebra - Took the final yesterday, grade has not been posted yet, but I currently have an A.

I hope those two teachers hurry up and get the final grades in! This stress is driving me nuts!

OH, and I must say that while I did survive the semester, I don't know if I survived the celebration of it being over. I JUST got out of bed. It is 12 pm.

I will know on Wednesday what classes I get to take next semester!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

AT&T. I don't like them.

I know I've ranted about Cox. Not it's AT&T's turn.

I've been with AT&T for awhile now, maybe 5 years or so. I used to have a phone, don't remember what it was because I've tried hard to forget it. It was one of those windows mobile devices (like a treo, but i think a step below). We were on the phone ALOT with them regarding problems. The problems were never really fixed, I just had to adjust and not use the phone for the reasons that I bought it. It was very upsetting.
And I threatened them a few times to change carriers. They flat out did not care if they lost my business or not.
But, because of the breaking contract fees and other things, I stayed with them. I was determined that once the contract was up, I would be taking my business elsewhere.

I decided what new phone I wanted, a blackberry. It was a specific blackberry, and at the time that I got it, AT&T was the only one who carried it. It was a very hard decision, but I ended up staying with AT&T because I wanted THAT specific phone.

I've had the phone since sometime this summer, maybe around May? And would be happy to report NO problems. But I can't do that. Last night we had problems.

You see, I like to text. I'm a very busy person and I hate to talk on the phone, usually don't have time for it, or I'm in a place where it's not appropriate. So, I text. I text my friends, my daughter, and most often my husband.

You know the husband texts, "can you pick up some milk" "don't forget about the game tonight" "i'm working late" etc....

Well, the husbands phone is his company phone. The company has decided to ban texting. They don't want to pay for the texting plans, and to use it without a plan is too expensive.

My first response was, "Well, they're not going to be happy because you're getting a new phone to text on and won't be carrying both around. They won't be able to get ahold of you!"

Have I ever mentioned that I'm not a rational person??

DH is rational. He has been finding a workaround to this problem. Since we both have blackberry's , he thougth we could use the blackberry messanger. We both have unlimited dataplans, so no big deal.

Well, my blackberry messenger would not work. DH finds another solution. You can install MSN messanger. Yay! Then I can chat with all my IM friends while I'm on my phone!

It became a big deal. It would not work on my phone.

Even though blackberry offers these services, AT&T won't support them. My rational is that if the phone you buy from a company offers services, then the place you bought it from should support them!!!

Anyways, now that I'm getting to the point. DH calls AT&T last night to find out why these things aren't working on my phone. He spends one hour and 52 minutes on the phone with them, and speaks to 5 people. Thank you honey, for being so patient.

The first person seemed to be going ok. But they couldn't find the problem and she wants to do a hard reset. The term "hard reset" scares the crap out of me. I had to do the with my old phone, or at least they told me I had to. Even though I backed up, I still lost stuff. It is a VERY time consuming task.

Wow, I started this post a few days ago.........and I can't seem to finish it. It is way too long!!

After a few more people that couldn't help us, we FINALLY got someone who did. I don't know what he did, but he made it all work. He said he ran some updates and other things..........he's not even sure exactly what he did to make it work. It could have been one thing, or a combination of things.

We it was fixed, I told DH to get his supervisor on the line to compliment him. So often we only ask for the boss in order to complain. I think offering compliments are a great thing to do. We do this in retail stores and restaurants too.

OK, that is it. Thank you DH and the guy that finally wanted to help us.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

the week ahead

Ok, here goes. I love how inconsistent I am with this :(

Today is Sunday. I worked on my Calculus until I couldn't figure anything else out. My final is on Wednesday. I started and completed my research paper and powerpoint for the oral presentation. My goal for tomorrow is to loose my voice so I can't do it. I should be working on some of my Algebra right now, but my brain hurts and I have more time in that class.

Be sure to grab all homework/food for the day, as I won't be home until bedtime.
Take Alex to school, be at work by 8:15.
11:00, leave for class, go to Calculus and then Algebra. Last day of Calculus before the Final.
1:45 be back at work.
5:00 Leave for Alex's basketball game
6:30 hope the game is over so I can head to class.
DH is taking son to boy scouts.
7:00 English. Present oral report and turn in paper.
9:30 go home and crash.

For some
reason my italic and bold would not turn off there.
Alex to school and be to work by 8:15.
12:00 leave for Algebra class
1:45 be back to work
6:45, leave work, pick up Alex from basketball practice
7:15 eat supper, study for Calculus final, work on Algebra problems
If you're wondering why I am taking Calculus and Algebra at the same time, don't ask me. My only answer is that my advisor sucks.

what is
up with this bold thing??
Again, Alex to school and maybe be at work by 8:15. I may take off to study.
11:00 leave for class
11:30 Calculus Final
12:30 Algebra
1:45 back to work
6:00 home, eat and study for Algebra final. check grades for Calculus final and see if I have to retake it. It's pretty awesome of our teacher to give us this option!!!

Alex to school, work by 8:15
12:00 leave for Algebra class.
1:45 back to work
5:15 Jenny Craig to weigh in, crap I'm supposed to exercise 2ce this week. I promise I will get up early and do this!!!
Run my food home to the freezer and grab my book for bookclub! Oh, another reminder to myself, I need to find a book for the Christmas book mystery exchange!!
630-8 DH is going to have to take/pick up Alex from practice
7:00 bookclub at Sarah's. We are reading Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. This is the first of his books that I have read, and I am loving it. Thanks to Cassie for picking such a short and easy read during this busy time of year!!
hopefully home by 9:30 to sleep

Alex to school
There is study day at school today, depending on how I am feeling about Algebra and if I have to retake my Calculus, I may attend this. There will be teachers going over things in rooms and others available to help with particular problems.
12:00 I do have to be to work by this time if I take the morning off. We have a Trust signing this afternoon so I can't skip.
6:00 head home, study for Algebra final and maybe Calculus.
Alex has a birthday party to go to from 7-9:30, but DH can take her

9:00 Alex basketball game
1:00 Algebra final
9:00 hopefully I have some friends to take me out for a drink?!?!?!

Twilight - the movie

Well, it's taken me awhile to get to this post. I think it's because I've had to think really hard about how I felt about it. I know that books are ALWAYS better than the movie.

The second movie that my husband and I went to was Stephen King's Dreamcatcher. I've been a Stephen King fan since I started reading. Anyways, I'm really surprised my husband saw me again after that movie. The beginning wasn't all that bad, but by the end I was literally yelling (under my breath) at the screen. The ending was HORRIBLE!!! But, he did see me again, and now he's stuck for life.

Back to Twilight. We went on opening night. A group of about ten 30 year olds. The showing was at 10:15 and we got there at 9. The line was already going out to the parking lot, and it was cold.

I did not like the movie. I was the only one in our group that felt that way. I guess my expectations were too high. The movie was really choppy. I don't feel like they got even 1/2 the story in.
I was able to laugh at the cheesy parts, there was nothing else to do but laugh!

But, they left way too much out! There was no character development. We have no idea what anyone else is like. Rosemarie was the least talked about in the book and the most developed in the movie. WTH?!?!?

So, I had expected to like it and promised to take my daughter on Sunday. We made a family event and DH and son went to.

Son liked it the most, DH wasn't sure. Neither of them have read the book. Daughter was like me, she wanted character development. I think this is the first movie she has watched after reading the book. I tried to warn her not to compare the two, but she did.

Since my thoughts were so low, I actually enjoyed it the second time!

I am still excited for the second movie. I just hope the budget is bigger and the movie is longer. I want more character development. They did so good in the book!

Oh, and I was talking to the in-laws foreign exchange student last night. She saw the movie and loved it, but hasn't read the books. So, I immediately bought her all 4 for Christmas. (another reason for the over budget)

Our Christmas budget

I thought I was doing great with our budget for Christmas. We budgeted $800. This is for our two kids, and 9 other adults. We are now at $986. Oops.

I forgot to put the presents to us from the kids, stocking stuffers and the grandparents when I did the budget.

We averaged $80/couple, $50/grandparent, $100/kid, $100 in family Santa gifts/stockings, and $300 for the big Santa gift. (we normally don't do a big Santa gift, but caved in this year)

Our big Santa gift this year is the Wii. We played it a few times at friends houses and loved it. The Wii fit is awesome!! I can't wait to play with it!

So, any money that DH gets from his side business this month will go to our Christmas oops, instead of towards the credit card bills.