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Archive for May, 2008

May Survey Total

June 1st, 2008 at 12:40 am

Recap for the newbies - I'm a physician and get to do various online surveys for doctors only. These are not surveys available to the general public. They pay very well and can sometimes be technically difficult to complete.

After a very slow month in April, my survey income rebounded very nicely in May. I collected a total of $680. And that doesn't include a few dollars in AOL Opinion Place surveys.

More months like May would be very nice.

$5,300 poorer today

May 29th, 2008 at 07:24 pm

We met with the caterer for our daughter's Bat Mitzvah last night. Along with finalizing the menu and decorating details, we also had to make a partial payment of $5,300. I knew it was coming. We had the money saved. But I still hate writing checks for big numbers like that.

We're really happy with how the menu planning went. It all sounds delicious and we're looking forward to attending the party. We've been to so many affairs where the food was tolerable at best. We've even been to some where we left the reception and headed straight to a restaurant because we were so hungry. That won't be happening after this affair.

Now if only we could disown some family members and whittle down the guest list by 10 or 20 or 30 people. Oh well. Can't have everything.

Roth, Bat Mitzvah, Atlantic City, etc.

May 26th, 2008 at 03:59 pm

I haven't written an entry for a couple of weeks. Nothing particular to report on until now, so here's an update.

I just transferred another $445 to my wife's Roth. Mine got maxed at $5,000 with the money from the tax stimulus. After today's transfer, I need to send in another $1,085 to max hers. I'll do that in the next couple of weeks.

Our daughter's Bat Mitzvah is 4 months away, September 27th. We are meeting with the caterer on Wednesday to go over the menu, table linens, and other details. We will be making an installment payment to him of $5,300 also. That represents approximately 50% of the total bill. At that meeting, I'll get the suggested bar list so that we can start shopping for the alcohol needed. We will be saving hundreds by providing the alcohol ourselves instead of paying them to provide it.

We spent the day in Atlantic City yesterday. The 3 of us plus my mother went down. We had a nice lunch together and then my wife and I went to Caesar's to play for a couple of hours. Also, I had a $25 cash comp to collect. I ended up losing $50 at blackjack which left me down $25 counting the money they gave me for coming in. My wife lost about $46 and got a $5 comp for parking, so $41 for her.

After lunch, we did some shopping at the outlets. We picked up some nice stuff at the Disney outlet on clearance - a couple of Mickey vases $3.99 (one to keep, one for a pollyanna present for our collector's club), an Eeyore wall-hanging $3.50, and a couple of very nice stained-glass hangings $2.50.

I guess that's all for the moment.

$65 for doing travel surveys

May 16th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

A while back, I got an e-mail from the New Hampshire tourism dept. to do an online survey. We vacationed in NH last summer which is how they got my name. I filled out the survey and thought that was the end of things.

A couple of days ago, I get a letter from them inviting me to join the NH Travel Advisory Panel. I would have to complete a series of 4 online surveys over the next year. For each survey, I'll get a gift card from one of several companies of my choice. Plus I'll get an extra $10 for registering for the panel by 5/23. All together, it will be $65 for the 4 surveys and sign-up bonus.

I just registered, which took about 5 seconds, and I'll get $10 for doing that. The first survey is in June, then September, December and March. Pretty simple way to pick up an extra $65. BTW, I chose Amazon for my gift cards.

Being more frugal at the grocery store

May 13th, 2008 at 12:55 pm

The past week especially we've been making a serious effort at trimming the grocery bill. That means shopping the sales, clipping coupons, comparison shopping and visiting multiple stores to get the best deals (within reason given gas prices).

Some success stories so far:
Shop Rite had OJ on sale for $1.88 (normal brand is nearly $4.00 regularly and maybe $2.50 on sale; store brand is usually $2.29). So I bought 4 (that was max allowed) and froze them.

Shop Rite had pasta on sale $.74/pound box. Bought 5 boxes.

Genuardi's had bread on sale 1/2 price. That saved $1.75/loaf. Bought 2 loaves and froze one.

Genuardi's had store-brand frozen meals that I sometimes take for lunch on sale 5 for $10. Bought 5.

Shop Rite this week has strawberries 2 packs for $2.50 (usually $5.00). Also had a coupon for $10 off a $50 order so used that. Also a couple of other good sale items that I can't think of at the moment plus used other coupons.

All together, probably saved $20 or $30 since Friday between coupons and sales on stuff we'd be buying anyway.

Maxed my Roth; Added to wife's - Stimulus gone

May 11th, 2008 at 02:23 pm

We got our $1,500 tax stimulus deposit on Friday. I just transferred $1,345 to my Roth. That was how much was needed to max it to $5,000, so I'm done with that account for the year. The remaining $155 went into my wife's Roth. That brought her total to $3,470. Another $1,530 and we'll be set for 2008.

Nice trip to Atlantic City

May 10th, 2008 at 03:26 am

I took the day off today and my wife and I went to Atlantic City. We enjoy going and don't get to do it as often as we'd like. Typically, we go on a weekend day when the place is much more crowded so it was very nice to be there on a weekday.

We parked at Caesar's, as usual. I had a coupon to redeem for a free buffet at Bally's so we walked over there to redeem it. Unfortunately, they told me the promotion had ended and they couldn't honor the coupon (I have had it for a while).

My wife signed up for her own Total Rewards card (she's been playing on my account until now). Now when the casinos have special promotions and give-aways, we'll both get them instead of just me. Today, for example, they were giving away a pair of cubic zirconia earrings to card members and randomly placed among the cz earrings were 200 pairs of real diamond earrings. We didn't get the diamonds but the cz ones are nice.

We played for a while - me at blackjack and her at slots. I left the table up $5. We decided to have lunch at Wild West at the buffet. I used $20 of comp credit and paid for the balance. Lunch was very good. They have a nice buffet with plenty of choices and good food.

After lunch, we walked around The Pier shopping mall for a little while, bought some fudge for our daughter and then headed back to the casino. We played for another 45 minutes. I ended up down $4.50 for the day. I'm happy any time I walk out with close to what I came with. I had fun. I got comped for parking ($5.00) and earned credit toward more comps (like the $20 I got today for lunch).

All in all a nice day. Hope everyone has a nice weekend.

$675 to Roth

May 8th, 2008 at 09:20 pm

I just transferred $675 to my wife's Roth. That brings our total for 2008 to $6,970. Only $3,030 to go. Our tax stimulus check is due to be direct deposited tomorrow. That is $1,500 and I'll transfer that to the Roths leaving $1,530 to max them for the year.

My expensive 4 days - $1,015 plus

May 7th, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Now that I'm back and settled from the weekend, I tallied up what the whole deal cost me.

Thursday, I flew to West Palm Beach, FL to attend my aunt's funeral on Friday. Friday night I flew home and drove to Princeton, NJ to attend our good friends' son's Bar Mitzvah on Saturday and Sunday. Of course, the Bar Mitzvah trip was planned but the funeral trip was not.

Not counting gas for the car or any new clothes, we spent about $1,015 in 4 days. $735 was for the funeral and the rest was for the Bar Mitzvah. And I'm not even counting lost income from taking the day off on Friday. If I add in everything, it would be over $1,500.

I'm not complaining at all as I'm very, very glad I was able to be at the funeral and we've been friends with the Bar Mitzvah family since high school (over 25 years now) and wouldn't have missed that affair for anything. It just illustrates how important savings and emergency funds are.

April Survey Total

May 6th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Recap for the newbies - I'm a physician and get to do various online surveys for doctors only. These are not surveys available to the general public. They pay very well and can sometimes be technically difficult to complete.

April was a REALLY slow month for survey income. I collected a total of $165. I don't know why it was so low. To compare, as of yesterday, May 5, I had already collected $195 for May with most of the month still to come. April was a good month for doing surveys. I did ones totaling $615, but there is always a lag between when the survey is done and when the payment gets sent. Some of that came in during April. Most will come in during May.

So an off month for collecting income, but a good month for generating income which should show up this month.

Too many shoes

May 5th, 2008 at 09:01 pm

I left the house on Thursday and flew to Florida for a funeral. When I arrived back in Philadelphia, I drove straight to Princeton, NJ to attend a Bar Mitzvah (a 2-day affair), meeting my wife and daughter who were already there. Yesterday morning, as we were packing to return home, I realized that between the 3 of us, we had worn or packed 14 pairs of shoes!

Normally, I would blame my wife, but I was just as guilty. I had 4 pairs: my sneakers, my casual black walking shoes, black and brown dress shoes. I had 3 different suits with me, one needed brown shoes, the other needed black. I wore sneakers for traveling and the rest of the time and brought the casual black shoes in case we went out with friends before or after the affair.

I realized that many people in the world, and even here in the US, are lucky to have one pair of shoes to call their own. Here we were, 3 people with 14 pairs between us, and that's just what we had packed. We truly are a spoiled bunch. Even those of us who think of ourselves as fairly frugal live with such incredible excess when you really think about it.

What's my point? I'm not quite sure, but it just seems like we could all use a bit of simplification in our lives. It would benefit our finances. It would free up space in our homes. It would decrease the strain we each put on our planet's resources. And it would make packing for travel so much easier - LOL.