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Major Overhaul

November 25th, 2008 at 02:45 pm

Time just seems to get away from me. I know what I need to do, but I just haven't done it. So, I am going to put a plan in writing and follow it no matter what. No more excuses!

In the plus column, I have quit caffeine and am sleeping longer and deeper. In the minus, I have not started exercising or addressing my weight.

Since I can't seem to self motivate, I am going to join a gym. I am not keen on the expense but they have yoga and I really want to take yoga. I can take 4 classes a week if I want for about $40 a month. They also offer other classes but my choices are limited because I'm overweight and out of shape. No high impact for me.

The diet is harder but necessary. I know what I need to do. Little by little I am cutting out foods I need to avoid, but I need portion control. I may have to join weight watcher to get motivated and started. I've been so out of control I may need an accountability partner or something like that in addition to Weight Watcher.

I grew up in a family where we were taught to suppress our emotions. I learned to stuff them (eating). Sometimes you just can't eat enough and the feelings can't be stuffed. I need to learn a new way. A healthful way. I don't want to stop the food and become a shopaholic like a friend of mine did. Or an alcoholic, or a drug user.

While I still have health insurance I might go to counseling. Overeating, lack of exercise, alcohol, drugs, gambling, ect all seem like a slow form of suicide to me. I left my ex so I could have a real life, one with peace and excitement, home and adventure. And, I am floundering badly. Maybe this is normal, or not, after a divorce. I definitely do not regret the divorce. But I am determined to suceed, so maybe that is the first step.

Considering my food expenses, home, work and restaurant, I will probably break even, even with a copay, weight watchers and a gym.

Tasty Cheap Casserole

November 21st, 2008 at 07:44 am

On page 151 of "The Tightwad Gazette II" is a contributors recipe for a very tasty casserole. Its easy and fast to make. I love this casserole right from the oven or slow cooker.

Lentil-Rice Casserole

3c chicken broth, or use water and 1
tbsp vegetable seasoning (taste good
with beef broth also)
3/4 c lentils, uncooked
1/2 c brown rice, uncooked
3/4 c chopped fresh onion
1/2 tsp sweet basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 c cheddar cheese, if desired

Blend all together in a casserole dish. Bake, covered, for 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees. During the last 20 minutes, you may top with 1/2 c grated cheddar cheese, if desired.

I like it best with cheese, its less expensive without the cheese. Even so it cost less than $2.50 to make and serves 5-6.

I use the oven if I'm cooking other things like sweet potatoes and the slow cooker otherwise.

Choosing a Car

July 7th, 2008 at 06:08 pm

A trip to get my oil changed turned into a lesson on carefully researching and picking a car and how choices can come back to haunt you.

When I went looking at cars with my ex (husband at the time) we were actually looking to replace our minivan with another minivan. The prices just about floored me. My minivan was 13 years old and was on its last legs. As we started test driving, I realized I would be alright without a minivan and I decided on a smaller car. My ex was fine with whatever I chose.

I should have gone home and done more research. I looked at Consumer Reports but I should have looked into it further. As my mechanic told me today, I should have looked at who really makes the car not the label on it. I bought a Ford Focus SE 2002. He said its made by Mazda and in his words it is made cheaply (he did not mean cheap in a good way), quickly and the replacement parts are the same so you pay for a cheap goods and they wear out quickly. Example, I now replace my brakes and rotors about once every 12-15 months. So, I have now spent $600 a year just to replace brakes, plus I am without my car for the day. This will be the 3rd time.

He said if you want to avoid this get a Honda or Toyota next time. As the conversation went on I asked about the Chev. Aveo and he said that it is basically a Toyota. Remember the label comment. I asked if that was just the engine and he said sometimes. You have to check the manf. plant to be sure. Interesting.

I have decided to just repair the car and I am hoping that now that I am the only driver I will cut my mileage enough to replace the brakes once every 2 years. Since I plan to get a new vehicle in 2 years(2010/11), maybe I won't have to replace the brakes again. But you can bet I will research, research, research the next time around. I'll probably ask him what cars are dependable, low maintenance and who makes it.

In addition to the minivan we had a Toyota Camry, from Japan (1987), and it was incredible. I can't say enough about how nice it was and the low cost of maintenance over the 15 years we owned it. It finally wore out at 348,000 miles.
It still ran when we gave it to charity.

I am still considering a motor scooter. There is a nice wide bike lane all the way to my work attached to the main road (not separate). I only have to go .7 miles to get to it. A regular bicycle wouldn't work well for me at this point. It is 12 miles to work and to ride I would be in the dark/dusk most of the year in the morning. That would not be safe. If I do that I might consider holding off on a new car for an extra year or two(2012/13).

Saving Money Using an RSS Feed

July 1st, 2008 at 07:55 am

I really like slickdeals.net. But its hit or miss for me. But I was reading a blog I really like call thesimpledollar.com and the June 30, 2008 entry tells how to search Amazon and Google using an RSS feed in a really simple way. Its worth a try and seems really easy. My computer skills are very basic so I'll also get to feel sophisticated LOL. With Xmas and several birthday gifts around the corner, I'll write on how successful I am.

He also did a recent interview with the author of The Tightwad Gazette, catching up with her life, if anyone is interested.

Different Approach

June 30th, 2008 at 06:50 pm

I am not a fan of herbicides. But, I have crabgrass. It has taken over the front flower bed of my new home. So I decided to go the herbicide route, hello Weed-be-Gone! I never use it so I asked my brother while he was a Home Depot to pick up the smallest bottle they have, 8oz to 16oz. He picked up a gallon container. Whoa! Talk about overkill. As my dad and I were discussing how to protect the yew bushes from the weed killer, my brother said who cares. If they die we'll just get new ones. The bushes just need to be cut back and shaped. Its maybe a 3 hour job with an electric hedge trimmer and hand cutters.

I'm sure he meant "don't worry if they die, I'm just glad something is being done about them." They are mature, attractive bushes. They should be saved and cared for.

So today, my dad and I trimmed most of the bushes and tomorrow we will finish. I don't work in the heat of the day and in direct sun. I avoid direct sun from 11am-3pm. The front of the house is in shade until about 11am, so that is when we stopped. We got a late start today, so we only worked 1 1/2 hours. This is not the right time of the year to do a drastic cut back so that will have to wait.

Tomorrow I can spray the weed killer. I have to read the directions. But hopefully I can plant, next week. I'm seriously considering planters for this year.

I put an ad in our local Pennysaver to sell the John Deere commercial walk behind lawn mower that was part of my divorce settlement. I was very pleased with myself. I placed the add using the internet saving myself $.42 postage plus an envelope. I'm hoping it makes this weeks mailer. I'm asking $900 but I'd probably take $700-750. The market is tough now so who knows. If it doesn't sell I'll try an add on Craigslist when I get back from Florida or ask my dad to sell for me and try the Pennysaver again. Wish me luck!

Gift Cards for Prescriptions

June 29th, 2008 at 05:30 pm

My mom takes over 30 pills a day. A few are vitamins, but most are prescriptions. She has 15 prescriptions! Luckily she only has to pay a copay of $8 for each one. And most are issued for 90 days at a time. I tease her from time to time that I've read articles about people like her and she laughs and says thats what her Doctors says to.

So, we are playing the prescription gift card game. Its not really a game I just think of it that way, positive outlook. We are taking new prescriptions to pharmacies that offer GC for new prescriptions and transferring others to pharmacies offering GC for tranferring. So far its just one GC for $25 but this week the amount will jump to another $110. We have enough pharmacies and she has enough prescriptions to really help her out. We will set up a system tomorrow to help keep tract of where everything is and when we do it so we don't break any rules, example Riteaid's coupon said you can't have done it in the last 6 months.

We then take the GC, combine it with sales and rebates and coupons to see how much stuff she can get for free (after GC, coupons, rebates and sales). She's having a fun time and it keeps her mind active and focused on something other than the pain. Some of it she keeps and some of it she gives to soldiers in Afghanistan. So she gets to feel good saving money for herself and giving to others, a good deal.

Eating My Words

June 26th, 2008 at 03:13 pm

So I'm eating my words. My DS can drive my ex's vehicle since he is insured with me. I called and double checked today. Obviously, my memory of what the agent said last time is in error.

I had a fantastic money saving day. Somedays are just like that and this was one of them.

First, my mom invited to have lunch with her and my dad. Yum, just what I shouldn't eat, fried chicken and potato salad. I should have said no thank you. But, its free and I like to eat with them. However, its not the kind of foods I should be eating to meet my goal of losing 40lbs by October.

I stopped at RiteAid to do a deal, RiteAid SPF45 Spray for Kids at 7.99 BOGO - (2) $2 RA Q = $3.99 and then at home I enter the receipt for a mail rebate from RiteAid for $5. A one dollar profit. RiteAid had the product so I purchased them. Yeah!

The gas station had gas for $3.91 a gallon. Best price in weeks, so I filled up. Last night it was $4.01. I heard on the news the Republicans are looking for a ways to lower (oil)gas prices in an attempt to win the election in November, possibly opening the strategic petroleum reserve.

I went to the VerizonWireless store and took off an extra phone on my cell phone plan (ex's phone) for a $10 a month savings. I get a 15% discount for being a State/County employee, every little bit helps ($13.50 savings).

Next was the bank to get my 1/2 of the escrow account. That went off without any problems. Although I do need to open another account with another bank because I am over the FDIC insurance amount. That is my goal for next week.

My next stop was supposed to be Safeway but instead of turning I went straight so I thought, okay I'll go to the used book store. Jackpot. The two books I would have paid 20% off at Borders were 50% off at the used book store. Plus, I don't have to drive 40mins to the nearest Borders, so gas saved. The gas savings ($8)is more than the book savings($3). Yahoo! The only downside is I use GC's from point programs to buy books from Borders and this required cash. I guess the GCs will be used for other books or Christmas gifts.

Safeway was next and I got 4 cans of solid white albacore tuna for $.66 each. And, I got a box of Rice-a-Roni for free with coupon and sale price. Love sales!

Then I got home and Lowes had sent me a 10 off 50 purchase, so I gave it to my dad, the handyman around here. He was thrilled.

A great day for savings.

Driving Without Insurance

June 25th, 2008 at 04:05 pm

One of the things my ex and I fought about was that he would let our 15yr old DS without a license and insurance drive our cars on the roads and not just any roads but the Washington DC beltway and I-95 in Northern Virginia. Initially it was so he could drink while DS drove. He would also tell me that it was because DS needs driving experience. Baloney! He can get experience like every other teenager, when they get their learners.

Well, DS is on my insurance and I have warned ex that if he doesn't add DS to his policy then DS is not covered. Until he is 18yrs we are financially responsible for DS's financial mistakes! Ex is letting DS drive his Jeep Cherokee since the gas mileage is better than DS's truck and has not added DS to his policy.

I try to make the right choices legally and financially and I hate it when my ex ignores good sense/the law and does stuff like this. And, he won't listen to me. This is one of many reasons why I fought for custodial custody.

Now, I will have to worry for the next 36 days that something could happen. Obviously my first concern will be for DS's health but I can't ignore the fact that an accident by my DS as an uninsured minor driver could wipe me out financially.

Refund Checks

June 24th, 2008 at 12:29 pm

Comcast has sent me the $68+ they owed me for a refund. It took them 24 days. The statement took about 5 days. So, that's good news. It can go in the Money Market account until I decide what to do with it. Its also another closure in the sale and moving from the house.

I have one check left from Countrywide. I called them yesterday and a service representative explained that although the check was sent June 11 it could take 14 business days to reach me. Call on the 15 business day. What a load of stuff! It certainly never took the post office more than 5 days to deliver my payment to them. So, either my ex is lying and holding the check or Countrywide is holding the check and collecting interest on my money until the last minute.

In the mail was also a rebate check for $26.26 from Riteaid. That goes back into my checking account to pay for more items on the Riteaid Rebate program. Its less this month because I don't get to Riteaid as often as before because to the move. This month looks to be even less.

Someone wrote that for their $20 challenge they put in their savings from coupons. I am really impressed. The only way I can buy those items is by combining coupons and sales. Its how I make my spending plan (budget) work. Guess I'll have to think on this.

Crown Me

June 23rd, 2008 at 03:38 pm

On Friday, the crown on the third tooth from the back decided to break apart. My dentist doesn't work on Fridays but the office is open 1/2 day so I made an appointment for Monday, today.

Lucky me the crown is 15 years old so insurance will cover the replacement. I was afraid I would have to dip into my emergency fund. I know thats what its for but that doesn't mean I want to use it.

I had the old crown removed and the mold for the new one taken. It should be ready to put in on July 8. The day I leave for Florida. There was a 9:50 appt available so I will have to leave later in the day than planned. Otherwise I have to wait until sometime in August as the doctor is on vacation when I get back from Florida until the beginning of August. I'm supposed to leave for a week of Theatre in South Virginia on August 4th so I'm glad he squeezed me in on the July 8th. My dentist is wonderful!

LOC & Other Updates

June 22nd, 2008 at 09:33 am

LOC - I stopped at the bank on Friday evening and they had processed the Line of Credit closing and now I just have to wait for the County to process, which takes 4-6 weeks. I was worried about the bank not the County so this is welcome information.

Escrow Refund - I contacted Countrywide to see when the escrow refund check went out. They said it was mailed June 9 which is almost two weeks ago. No response from my ex regarding the check. He knows we both need to sign it. My share is around $775 so I would like to have it deposited in my bank. I'll try again today.

Frog/Tadpole Pond - The tadpoles continue to grow and more than 18 have back legs now. Everyday a couple more sprout back legs. My niece's 8 month old kitten, Brook, was caught last night eating the frog(ugh) who has been contributing new young to the frog pond so until some other frog takes its place no new brother or sisters.

Garden - I didn't water the garden Fri/Sat and it did not rain. I watered this morning, so I'm sure there will be rain today/nite. LOL

Soda Withdrawal - It seems to be going well. The headache is manageable and I might even go out with my SIL to Sam's Club and then to Chevy's for dinner.

Quitting Soda & CVSing

June 20th, 2008 at 06:38 pm

I stopped at CVS first thing:

(2) CrossAction Power TB @ 5.99
(1) Zantac 150 8pk @ 4.99
(6) cans of Salmon @1.50
(1) filler @ 1.00
Total before tax $26.99
(1) BIGI free MQ for TB -8.99
(1) Zantac MQ 4.99
(1) 5 off 25 purchase
(1) ecbs 7.99

=0.00 oop, got back 6 ecbs

The CVS clerk said "You always get the best deals." Little did she know how hard I worked on that deal and another I will do tomorrow. It took probably 30mins to get the orders to end up on -1 ecb's and .50 oop. I've been trying to find a way to get the salmon for free or almost free. I was waiting on contractors at my brothers house with time to kill and doing this is like solving a puzzle to me.

I'm quitting diet soda today, so I probably won't use the zantac as much. I'll have a headache until my body breaks the caffeine addiction(48-72hrs). I don't want the cost financially & physically. It costs me a minimum of $2.50 a day and thats if I don't go to a restaurant. I can drink a gallon of diet soda a day. It is a terrible addiction for me.

Also, I want fatty foods instead of salads and fruits, which is also a big expense weight and healthwise. Sodas are acidic and now that I'm older the acid gives me acid reflux and builds up in my joints and makes me ache and walk like a woman 30 or more years older. Then I don't want to exercise. It also causes me to sleep lighter and less. Dark colored soda contains phosphorus and that blocks the absorption of calcium. Calcium is needed for muscles and bone and at 47 that puts me at a higher risk for osteophorosis, plus my family history makes it a no-no. You can tell that soda is a big problem for me. I know some people can drink just 1 soda now and then but I can't seem to do that. It is all or nothing. So, I have to accept what is and just quit.

Improving my health with diet and exercise is one of my goals. I want to lose 35-40lbs by the second week in October. With exercise and a good diet, I know I can do it. This is my first step.

And, the financial savings will be substantial directly and indirectly. It will be at least $75 a month plus no more living on tylenol and advil for achy pains. Even using generics adds up over time. The zantac I was getting for free, but that may not have lasted forever. I won't crave fatty fast foods and chocolate, in fact fast foods don't taste good to me without soda.

So quitting is easy but painful. Staying soda free is the hard part.