Friday, February 29, 2008

March Budget


Snapshot of my budget with YNAB program

We made a couple of adjustments - mainly with the food budget for a little while. DH has decided to give up brunt of what was his blow money for the grocery budget. He's "getting it" now, I think.
Included also are allowances for an oil change and a hair cut for dh too.
Extra snowball money will be added to the Bank of America card. *notice all the empty spaces in the debt category?? ALL PAID OFF!!*

Thursday, February 28, 2008

American Idol - Top 10 Girls

I don't know if it's because I was not feeling so well, but I was pretty bored with the whole show. While nobody really stood out for me, I didn't have any strong dislikes either. The truth of the matter ... I wouldn't buy any of these girl's albums at this point. Second truth be told -- the only AI female that I truly supported and bought her album was Kelly Clarkson!

Asia’h Epperson, “All by Myself” -- She's sick? I thought she was going to cry early on, but she pretty well smoked it in the end.
Brooke White, “You’re So Vain” -- Why does it seem like they are pushing this girl along? It wasn't BAD - but she wasn't mind blowing either.
Ramiele Malubay, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” -- adorable.
Carly Smithson, “Crazy on You” -- okay, this rocked. I still don't like her screaming face though. She looks like she's in pain.
Alexandrea Lushington, “If You Leave Me Now” -- I guess last week was a fluke. She was all over the place tonight. And then to make a comment that "I'm the underdog here." Awwee!
Kristy Lee Cook, “You’re No Good” -- Actually liked this best of the night I think. Not saying a whole lot though -- but between her and Carly as my faves of the evening.
Syesha Mercado, “Me and Mr. Jones” -- Didn't make my head snap like last week, but I'm still a fan.
Alaina Whitaker, “Hopelessly Devoted You” I loved Grease! One of my favorite movies -- but I always DREADED this part of the movie as I CANNOT stand this song!!! Her intro blew my mind because my ds is just like her -- down to the fresh fork thing! LOL
Kady Malloy, “Magic Man” -- If I close my eyes I like her. Her voice is nice -- I just can't get past the looks she gives. She just looks like she would be a diva (not in a good way)
Amanda Overmeyer, “Carry On My Wayward Son” -- I'm over her. This was just wrong. Tell her to change it up ... she changes it up a little bit ... and we beg her to go back. She's not really a good singer unless she's doing her Grace Slick/Janis Joplin voice. She can rock it .. no doubt about it -- but she can do that in a small club somewhere. She'd get to the chorus and I was tilting my head back and forth like it was a Barney tune.

Who I think will leave:
Amanda and Alexandrea

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Our Weekly Menu

Well, with everyone in the house with a queazy stomach or worse - I have been saving a fortune in food costs and energy cooking dinner! Want to bet even without eating that I am the only one in this family that WON'T lose weight! LOL

Monday: BRAT DIET (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast)
Tuesday: BRAT DIET (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast)
Wednesday: BRAT DIET (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast)
Thursday: Game Plan is Pan Fried Ravioli (but we'll see who feels like eating)
Friday: Corned Beef and Cabbage ?? (have a feeling we might push this off til next week too)
Saturday: Greek Lemon Chicken Soup with homemade bread
Sunday: Boys on their own for dinner

I didn't post my menu for the last few weeks. Sorry about that. A lot of duplicates from thngs I have made before exccept I did try one of my new E-Mealz recipes from my last week menu list. I have never EVER tried a Tater Tot Casserole before. Just doesn't sound right to me... I dunno. Well I tried their recipe of putting tater tots in a 13x9 baking dish mixing cooked and crumbled ground beef with cream of mushroom soup and an envelope of taco seasoning together and pouring on top of the tater tots and covering with taco cheese and baking. (I made a double batch -- cooked for about an hour) and it tasted REALLY GOOD!

Here's a few meals off of my E-Mealz menu that I got this week.
I have the ANY STORE option.
(I just have to wait to get everyone WELL before I start this.)

Chinese Pot Roast (sounds good - doesn't it?)
Chicken & Cranberry Pan Sauce (oooo I can't wait to try this one!!)
Salsa Sirloin Salad
Ham & Cheese Crescent Roll Ups

I'll keep you updated on how more of these recipes turn out.

American Idol - Top 10 Guys

Who I liked:
David Archuleta, “Imagine” -- he is so joyful and humble! I love him.
David Cook, “All Right Now” -- awesome job. Learn when to keep your mouth shut, boy! His cockiness will be his demise.
David Hernandez, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” --hated him last week..loved him this week!
Chikezie, “I Believe” -- He was totally into what he was singing tonight!
Michael Johns, “Go Your Own Way” - Believable and consistent.
Danny Noriega, “Superstar” -- I just love this kid's presence here! He's FUN!

Who I didn't like:
Jason Castro, “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” -- Was that intro a cry for "Lemme outa here!!!" or what? Singing is his thing...stardom isn't.
Jason Yeager, “Long Train Running” -- Shouldn't have made it past last week.
Luke Menard, “Killer Queen” -- I love Queen and although this was a wimped out version of Queen... All Hail Freddy Mercury! LOL
Robbie Carrico, “Hot Blooded” -- Rocker? Anybody who has to talk someone into believing they ARE something....ISN'T something. If you ARE -- everyone will know it! Put Robbie next to David Cook and you can see who the ROCKER is.

My vote for going home:
Jason & Jason

Monday, February 25, 2008

Flu Bug Times Two

Welp, whadda ya know.
Murphy - the (Irish?) Flu Bug has come to visit the family.
Both DS and DH are home with Influenza A.
There were able to prescribe Tamiflu for the ds because he's only had it a couple of days. The dh just has to suffer through it.

I did find a lesson in this though. My budget has a "Medical" line on it - I fund it with an office visit, a non-generic prescrip, $25 for dental and $50 for the vet.
I pay it whether I need it or not. Came in handy today with a $40 co-pay for the Urgent Care and $55.00 worth of prescriptions. I pulled out my medical envelope and shelled it out without concern.

What a nice feeling.....that is until I start getting the symptoms.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

American Idol - Top 12 Girls - Updated

A few suprises for me tonight as I watched Idol.
I worked late so I missed a few - but the recaps helped.
But I'll be honest - I like male vocalists better anyway..
so I disagree with the Dawg. The guys smoked it!

Who I missed, and recaps weren't enough for me
Brooke White, “Happy Together” - perfect song for her. Woah...did you catch the makeup? I'll bet she was unfortable. Even if she did win this thing. The LA mongers would eat the poor girl up.
Kristy Lee Cook, “Rescue Me” They said she was sick. Really sick? Well, she did pretty good for being sick - but I didn't get enough even through entertainment week to have an overall opinion of her.

My Personal Faves of the Night
First let me start my saying that my original favorites walking into this are NOT in my faves of the night! I was suprised by how blown away I was with these girls!

Ramiele Malubay, “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” - adorable. I would never have guessed that voice would come from her. Aside from the fact that she reminds me of Jasmine Trias -- she is an amazing vocalist.
Alexandrea Lushington, “Spinning Wheel” -- Holy cow! Who is THIS girl!? {{clap clap}}
Syesha Mercado, “Tobacco Road” - Phil Stacey did this song last year and I loved it. I love this girl! She's amazing. Plus I love the song!
Joanne Borgella, “I Say a Little Prayer” -- She has a different type of vocal, but I really enjoy her voice.

Those I liked -- Okay:
Kady Malloy, “Groovy Kind of Love” - Yikes. Don't turn your back on this one. She's down right spooky! Had a great voice, I thought - but the emotions on her face while receiving criticism was scary. If we were in high school together, I would have taken a different hallway than she was on. YIKES (two times)
Amanda Overmeyer, “Baby, Please Don’t Go” Another one of my original favorites. Perfect song for her, but I guess I'm growing wary of her. She reminds me of Dilana from Rockstar: Supernova. There were just better girls tonight.
Asia’h Epperson, “Piece of My Heart” Another of my early favorites. Maybe just playing the "not as good as game", but there were others better. And Nikki McKibbon did such a job on that song they should have retired it from the American Idol database. (wink)
Alaina Whitaker, “I Love You More Today Than Yesterday” She cute. She reminds me of someone I can't put a finger on. Who is this girl?? Vocals okay - cute as all get up!

Those I could have done without:
Carly Smithson, “The Shadow of Your Smile”
My other favorite. I couldn't believe how bad it was. What's with all the yelling? Are you proving that you can sing the high notes? That many times? "Yup, thanks Carly, got it. Again? Okay, Carly...seriously. We got it." I couldn't beleive that Randy and Paula were singing praises. I was wondering if it was just me out of my rocker -- but then Simon shed some new light. His light I agreed with.
Amy Davis, “Where the Boys Are” Creature of no air time. Who is she? I don't know. Here or not...matters not to me. Unlike a few others that were sick, this one was NOTICABLY sick. Poor thing. They just never hyped this girl enough. Perhaps she should have a YES in her name?

My Choice for the plane ticket home:
Kady Malloy, “Groovy Kind of Love”
Amy Davis, “Where the Boys Are”

Voted Off:
Amy Davis, “Where the Boys Are” - had a feeling
Joanne Borgella, “I Say a Little Prayer - Definately didn't see THAT coming!

Wendy's new score: 1/4

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

American Idol - Top 12 Men - Updated

What does this have to do with debt reduction? Chalk it up as cheap entertainment, I guess!

I said that I was NOT going to watch another season of American Idol. I said it when Constantine got voted out years ago. I said it again when Chris Daughtry got voted out. I said it again after a lack luster Season 6. But here I am -- watching again. Upset that Josiah didn't make it to the top 24 because I just loved that kid, but moving onward.

Our Top 12 Men sang last night. Some I got - some I didn't. Some blew me away - and some....well they just blew!

Talk about confusion - has anybody realized that there are 3 Davids & 2 Jasons this year!?

Here's my thoughts on the performances last night.

My Personal Faves of the Night:
Michael Johns, “Light My Fire” -- love him since Day 1. I did say this though. Chris Daughtry was hands down - the walk away winner of Season 5 - however he got voted off. Although this guy seems to be the Season's fave male doesn't mean ANYTHING in the world of American Idol.
Danny Noriega, “Jailhouse Rock” -- this is where I hate Simon. He tried shooting this kid apart and discrediting him. This kid has a bunch of personality, and unlike Sanjaya from last year - he's got vocals to back him up. I totally disagreed with Simon because I wasn't expecting this performance from Danny and I was blown away!
David Cook, “Happy Together” -- as always - seems overly confident but good vocals. Is it me or does he look like he's in pain when he's singing?
David Archuleta, “Shop Around” -- could this kid be any more HAPPY! I was giggly for him!
Jason Castro, “Daydream” -- Trippin' Dude! Another one with good vocals that I really knew nothing about going into tonight. But I can totally see him sitting in the back of a VW van at a Grateful Dead concert banging on a hand drum (family friendly blog -- but you know where I was going)

Those I liked -- "okay"
Garrett Haley, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do -- who's this guy except someone I would have had a crush on if it was still the 80's? Good vocals though I agreed with Paula, I was expecting him to start it off slow and then belt it. Sorry -- you got the hair -- I'm expecting a Rebel Yell!
Robbie Carrico, “One” -- Wasn't sure what to think about this guy - reminds me of a mix of Bucky/Bo -- but this song was nice!
Colton Berry, “Suspicious Minds” -- Okay, so I was pretty ticked off at this kid for taking Josiah's spot in the top 24. I put my feelings aside to see that he does sing better than Josiah, but he certainly isn't as cute!

Those I could have done without:
Chikezie, “Yesterday” - lounge singer but I loved the orange suit! REALLY!
David Hernandez, “In the Midnight Hour” I'm probably the only one who just doesn't get this kid. Here or not -- don't really care.
Luke Menard, “Everybody’s Talkin" -- This guy was ALL OVER THE PLACE. Although I think Simon having to get the last word in when Luke's last statement tried to save face was a little uncalled for. Poor kid didn't stand a chance.
Jason Yeager, “Moon River” -- Maybe his kid being there might have saved him, but as soon as I knew it was Moon River that he was done.

My Vote for the Plane Ticket Home:
Luke Menard, “Everybody’s Talkin’”
Jason Yeager, “Moon River”

Voted Off:
Garrett Haley, “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do - Lack of airtime? Was he that bad?
Colton Berry, “Suspicious Minds” - either people didn't like HIM or they really resented him taking Josiah's spot!

Wendy's Score 0/2

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Winter Blah-dom

The Storm that Wasn't
The weather people like messing with me I think. Throughout this whole week the forecast has changed dramatically of what was going to happen today. I've heard everything from flash floods, freezing rain to up to 18 inches. Of course, I work the night shift tonight which means I'll be on the road when what is now rain turns to ice driving home. If I'm lucky someone will have thrown some sand down, because I think we are all out of salt. Joyous! Black ice and night driving do not go well together.

A Needed Break
Besides OUR neighboring tourist town there's another BIGGER tourist town north we have plans to visit for the day. A quick rejuv. Of course, everyone and their uncles are thinking the same thing - and the town's hotels are to capacity. You know what THAT means, don't you? Crowded restaurants, crowded stores, crowded, crowded, crowded. Gasp! Why do I keep doing the tourist town stuff?

Glory of Grocery Shopping
My husband found a store in a town not too far away that does DOUBLE COUPONS every day! It's the same chain that I used to shop that did double coupons on Tuesday before the SuperWalmart put them out of business.
This gives me another store choice as I try out my E-Mealz menu list next week. I'll be excited to share my review. I've printed two weeks worth of meals and the recipes look simple and NOT way beyond frugal like '101 ways to eat on beans and rice' like I feared. It's real food! There's meats, there's vegatables and thank GOD -- Pasta and Bread!

Financial Stand-Still

Of course, when you are flying along for what seems to be a mile a minute, sooner or later you have to come to a stand still. And I'm there. I should be picking up soon at work, but the snow, being sick, lack of things to work on.....they all have played hell on my paycheck this winter. My worst winter in the last 5 years!
We've been flying right along that I hadn't even noticed that fact until this weekend when I played the comparison game. I hope to have an incredible spring with extra hours or I will have to go look for a moonlighting job.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

What a way to spend Valentine's Day

All I can say is -- Thank goodness we're celebrating Valentine's Day later in the month. Today's just not good for me. LOL

We both work today, me ... late probably, dh has a fantasy draft online tonight and ds will most likely be on the phone with Miss Caitlin all night. The good news is: I get to spend Valentine's Day with Sawyer!

Lost: 8:00 CST on ABC

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Crossed My T's - Dotted My I's

It's official. We closed on our HELOC refinance last night ... during more snow!
Our rate was a little lower than I was quoted. NICE! So we have officially moved that HELOC to our BS6 plans which leaves us to concentrate on our last two credit cards. My teaser rate is over in April on my largest one - THAT kind of scares me. The Citibank one is kind of like Sally Mae to some people. It's been around so long it's family. THe APR is close to nothing so most of the payment goes to principle and I'm paying probably $5 a month to finance charges.

I'm just worried about the whole "crumbling bank" theory. I want to get them outa here before they turn around and scr.. me.

WEATHER REPORT: MORE SNOW. We're supposed to get whapped by "substancial" snow tommorow night. Thankfully it's sunny right now. We haven't seen a whole lotta sun lately. I'll take it. I know it won't melt any of this, but at least it gives the illusion of being warmer.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

E-mealz : I wound up joining & saved money doing it!

I talked about it last week that I was strongly considering trying the E-mealz because my weekly meals really needed a pick me up. In fact, I haven't even posted my Weekly Menu because it's basically the same things I had already posted. B..O..R..I..N..G!!

I was listening to the Friday Edition of The Dave Ramsey Show and I heard the advertisement for E-Mealz again. I was on my way home from my weekly shopping excursion. I spent $1.04 OVER my weekly budget. I found it ironic because that's what it would cost me a week to join E-mealz with the code: DAVE. No joke.

What is it?
E-Mealz is a menu planning site that not only comes up with a meal plan, it gives you recipes and a shopping list for 7 meals a week.
You can choose between Kroger, Publix or Walmart and your menu plans are built on what is on sale that week. I chose to do the ANY STORE PLAN because I bop between stores so much and although I do have a SuperWalmart close to me - it's not my first choice grocery store.

They also have special needs for families such as LO-CARB, LO-FAT or POINTS SYSTEM for families or ANOTHER plan if you are just cooking for 2.

Although I have a basic outline of my Weekly Menu this week because I went shopping yesterday instead of Tuesday because we are supposed to get "substancial" snow again (man I am so incredibly tired of SNOW), I downloaded my first week's menu.

What's the Menu Look Like?
Sounds pretty good -
  1. Mexican Meatloaf
  2. Spicy Pork Tenderloin
  3. Raspberry Chicken Salad (using rotisserie chicken that I can get FREE at work!)
  4. Sausage Fajitas (using smoked sausage that ALWAYS goes on sale)
  5. Chicken and Rice bake
  6. Cauliflower Cheese Soup
  7. Tater Tot Casserole

And recipes look very easy too. Not that I will do 100% of my weekly meals based on this, but it sure puts a few more options into my boring menu list and doesn't seem to cost an arm & a leg.

I'm sure a brunt of the shopping list may be done at Aldi, but I 'll let you know how I do with the recipes and what the price list comes up to be.

E-MEALZ Easy Meals for Busy and Frugal Families
Enter Code: DAVE for $2.50 off membership! ($12.50 for 3 months)
That's $1.04 a week for weekly meal plan, recipes and organized shopping list.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hey, Guess what. It's snowing.....AGAIN!

Oh boy is it ever snowing. Everything is closed -- they are closing highways because the plows can't keep up. No worries. I'm home, hubby's home, the boy is home....we are all snug in the house....and BORED! Well ds not so much...he's got XBOX LIVE. So he's entertained.

So far since the snow started yesterday I've:
Baked Brownies, Beer Bread & Zucchini Bread
Made Spinach Crab Dip, dinner last night, prepped dinner for tonight and set up the crock pot for tommorow night.
OH! And homemade hot cocoa for when the boys came in from shoveling earlier.

I've had it with the kitchen today.

I did had on the tv and started watching Oprah. I don't usually watch daytime tv at all... I save myself for night time sitcoms, Lost and begrudgingly American Idol. Today on Oprah, they were talking about the book: The Secret. I know it got a lot of hubb-bubb last year. I never really catch on to things brand new I guess because although I had heard about it -- I never intended to read it.

Has anyone read The Secret? What did you think about it? Of course, because it was on Oprah today the auctions on ebay closing anytime soon have got bids up the ying yang. Tell me that lady doesn't have power over people! YIKERS!

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Refinance Insurance Policy (update on the refi)

The rate was locked on Wednesday and my paperwork is all in and accounted for. I just have to wait for our virtual "closing". (closing by phone - sounds like)

We were offered so many choices and so many variations of those choices. I wanted to stay with the bank we are currently doing business with. We might have been given better rates, but I felt more comfortable sticking with the same company.

What we chose to do was:
Keep the original loan at 5.99% -no changes made
Refinance the HELOC and LOCK it at 8.90%
No Appraisal Fee
No Pre Payment Penalty
No Closing Costs.
15 year loan

Basically it's the same APR and monthly payment as I'm paying now but it's over a little longer stretch and it's NOT ON A VARIABLE!

A lot of my options involved refinancing the whole thing together in which either my APR went up plus I had closing costs or the APR went down BY A HAIR and I had closing costs. This might not be the best route for everyone. I felt it was a good insurance policy for us against an uncertain future of the economy. I will sleep better knowing that the $30k is on a fixed rate for the 15 years and that it's being moved into BS6 where it belongs!!!

Sky is a little brighter today

Despite the 6 inches of snow that got dumped onto us overnight, today is going to be a great day!

As promised, February would be the month of payoffs.

Today, I have written the check that will pay off our 5 year loan with Chase - in only 2 years 7 months! The second auto transfer to Chase knocks out our $7,600 credit card!

The story of our multiple credit card problem is a simple one. When the card you are using gets too close to the limit -- you surf it over to a card with a low APR and a lot of space to hold the loan. Then what? You charge more -- surf it to another card, charge more - surf it to ANOTHER card. NO MORE! We started our Total Money Makeover "OFFICIALLY" in July and we haven't charged since!

So far we've paid off:

  1. My son's emergency root canal and crown
  2. Discover Card
  3. Chase Card (which was a surfed Citibank)
  4. Chase Car Loan
  5. Chase Card (a potent storage card with a teaser APR about to expire)

We are going through with the refinance on the HELOC so as soon as that closes the sky will be even more bright! Then we wage war against the two debts left. B of A (which will be painful because of the APR) and my Citibank with silly incredibly low APR.

Hope everyone has a bright day!