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Archive for August, 2007

Back from vacation; DW's surgery today

August 29th, 2007 at 01:54 am

We got home Saturday afternoon. We had a really great trip - did lots of fun things in New Hampshire. If anyone is ever thinking of visiting the state, let me know. I'll be happy to share lots of tips we gathered during our 2-week stay.

Went back to work yesterday. Busy, as expected, and lots of messages waiting for my return. I got through some of them, but still had plenty left at the end of the day.

I was actually off again today as my wife was scheduled for surgery on her hand to remove two growths on her fingers. Everything went well and she is feeling fine. Just a bit awkward having her left hand all bandaged up.

Tomorrow, I really need to start attacking the stack of charts, messages and forms at the office. Fun, fun, fun.

I did find time this morning to do one medical survey, so that earned me a $30 Amazon certificate. I tried to do more later in the day but couldn't connect with the call center (the survey is done online while speaking with a rep by phone at the same time).

I haven't totaled up the vacation spending yet. I'm really curious to do that and see how we made out. The first half of the trip was quite cheap as the hotels were free on Marriott Reward points and we hardly spent anything on activities - just on food. The 2nd part of the trip, we did more activities that had fees associated with them, and the last 4 nights, we paid for our hotel. I'm guessing that we spent somewhere in the $2,500 range for the 2-weeks including everything, but that's really just a ballpark estimate. I'll post when I have the final numbers.

Vacation splurge day

August 24th, 2007 at 01:54 am

Today was our next to last day of our trip and turned out to be the most expensive, but that's fine.

Even though our hotel includes breakfast, we went out to eat, something we almost never do when traveling. We had breakfast at Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH, a local landmark ($29.59). It was very tasty, definitely worth a trip if you are ever in the area.

DD and I rode the Alpine Slide at Attitash Mountain ($30). Had lunch at a nice little sandwich shop in N. Conway ($10.85) before riding the Conway Scenic Railway on a 1-3/4 hour roundtrip ride to Bartlett ($66.50). Ended with dinner in a not-so-great little place in Twin Mountain, NH ($29.76).

So $166.70 spent today (not counting gas as we drove about 150 miles).

One more day enjoying New Hampshire before heading back to the real world.

Vacation food spending so far

August 19th, 2007 at 01:51 am

My previous post talked about non-food spending on our trip. Ima asked about food costs. Our hotel includes breakfast so we are only responsible for lunch, dinner and snacks. So far, after 8 days, we've spent $391.38. The first day, we were visiting family. We had lunch at their house and they paid for dinner out, so we spent a total of $4.50 on food that day.

If I figure based on the 7 days we've been paying our way, it is $391.38/7 days=$55.91/day or $18.64/person/day. This includes our meals, beverages and snacks.

Our typical travel average is about $20/person/day, so we're right on track. Monday and Tuesday mornings, we'll be at a hotel that doesn't serve breakfast, so we'll spend more those 2 days. Then, we'll be back to breakfast included the final 4 days.

Vacation spending so far

August 18th, 2007 at 02:45 am

We are in the midst of a 2-week trip to New Hampshire. My rough budget included up to $100/day for activities - admission fees, boat rentals, tickets, parking, etc. I knew there would be days we spent that much or even more and days we wouldn't. So far, on day 7, we've spent hardly anything in this category. We've spent just a few dollars in parking fees. We haven't visited any museums, have not rented any watercraft and only went to one state park that charged a fee (and that was done on an honor system, but we did pay the suggested amount).

The more expensive part of the trip starts Sunday, though, so we'll make up for it in week 2. My wife already said, at least, that she won't feel so bad spending money on stuff next week since we spent so little this week.

Why We Save

August 14th, 2007 at 01:02 am

There is a thread asking if people are saving for a reason. I just posted something there that I thought would be a good blog entry.

As I've said, we love to travel. We left home Saturday for a 14-day adventure in New Hampshire. This morning, we headed southwest from Manchester heading toward Keene with no particular itinerary in mind. Partway there, we passed a sign for a state park with an auto road. We pulled in and found there was a road up to the summit at 2,290 feet. We drove up the steep, narrow, hairpin-turn road. At the top, we decided to hike one of the trails that went around the summit. We got some beatiful views, saw some wonderful rock formations, saw a big swarm of dragonflies and DD discovered a snake in the grass.

Being able to get away and have experiences like that together as a family is why we work and why we save.


Cars are money pits

August 9th, 2007 at 01:04 am

Took the van in for service today. It wasn't actually due yet, but we leave for vacation on Saturday and I wanted it serviced before we took it on a road trip.

It was due for the 90,000 mile service, needed an alignment and had to have some other general maintenance stuff done. Of course, that all added up to hundreds of dollars. I did have a $25 coupon which helped a tiny bit, and they don't charge me for the rental car for the day, which also helps a bit.

Whenever I'm upset about how much the service is costing, though, I just think about how much more it would cost if we got a new car. If we average about $100/month or so on repairs, I figure I'm way ahead compared to getting a new one.

Finally got bank check today

August 8th, 2007 at 01:07 am

The check from those missing funds I tried to transfer from my checking account to my home equity loan finally arrived today. Now I just need to run the check over to the bank on Thursday and get it properly applied to the loan account. The only downside, besides the hassle it has been, is that the payment was originally supposed to be made on July 23, so I've been paying interest for and extra 2-1/2 weeks on that $1,015, not that it amounts to a whole lot, but it's something.

Amazon.com Shopping Spree

August 7th, 2007 at 12:50 am

I am not the kind of shopper that retailers love. I buy what I need, and I don't need a whole lot. I'd much rather save and invest my money than spend it on stuff just for the heck of it.

Occasionally, that poses a problem, like when my birthday rolls around and folks ask me what I want. Most of the time, I say I dont' want anything. When there is something I really want, I buy it. Otherwise, I've got all I need.

One of the survey companies that I do work for pays me with Amazon.com gift certificates - $30 for each survey. Well, I did 5 of their surveys last month so I've accumulated $150. Plus, I still had $12 left over from the holiday gift my staff gave me last December (see what I mean). That gave me $162 I need to spend somehow.

I've actually managed to spend $56 over the past couple of days, which is rather impressive for me. My wife and I went to Broadway recently to see Avenue Q, so I ordered the soundtrack. My daughter found out the school show this year will be You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, so I ordered that soundtrack so she can start learning the music. And we saw my MIL this weekend, and she mentioned a DVD she'd like as a gift for her birthday, so I ordered that.

And today, I went to Amazon to browse a bit and saw that they offer magazine subscriptions. The past year, I had been getting Smart Money and I liked it. I had somehow gotten a free 1-year subscription (don't remember how) but had decided not to renew it as I didn't want to pay for it. Amazon has it though. $18 for 2 years, so I ordered that.

Only $106 more to spend - until I do another survey.

Update on funds transfer

August 2nd, 2007 at 05:54 pm

In a previous post, I said that two payments from my checking account to my HEL account had gotten lost somehow. I called customer service twice and couldn't seem to get them to understand exactly what the problem was. I thought it was simple enough. I made a payment and it didn't get applied to my account, but they just didn't get it.

So today I went to the bank in person. The bank person called the loan department and it turned out that after my last call, they though I was saying that the payment had gone to the wrong account, so they cut a check and mailed the money back to me. The check supposedly was mailed yesterday so I should have it tomorrow or the next day. The person at the bank just said to bring the check in and she'll apply it to the loan principal.