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Archive for November, 2008

11/30 Home Equity Loan Update

November 30th, 2008 at 10:54 am

As of today, the remaining balance on our home equity loan is $1,439.20. I've been working to have it paid off by the end of the year and that's exactly what we'll be doing. That balance is down $1,392.75 from last month. I'll make one more extra partial payment after my next paycheck on 12/12 and then I'll have to go in to the bank soon after to get a final payoff amount and to make sure they stop the auto-withdrawals for the regular monthly payments.

The monthly payment has been $218.00, so as of January, we will no longer have that bill. Yeah! I'm not 100% sure what to do with that money quite yet. Initially, I'll probably use it to rebuild savings a bit since we had some expensive car repairs recently and our daughter's Bat Mitzvah of course. Then, I'll probably start making some extra payments to the mortgage, our last remaining debt.

Buy gift cards for yourself and save money

November 29th, 2008 at 03:34 pm

I posted a thread about this on the forum but thought it would be a good topic here, too, as I know not everyone reads both.

We went out to lunch today at a local restaurant that we like. They were having a special deal on gift cards: buy $100 worth and get $20 free. So we did just that. Not only that, but I charged them to my Discover card which has a 5% cashback bonus at restaurants through December, so I'll get $5 back on the purchase. That means I actually spent $95 and got $120 worth of gift cards. Coincidentally, our meal today came to exactly $25.00 which means the meal was basically free. We spent $95 (after the Discover cashback), got lunch for the 3 of us and walked out with $95 remaining on the gift cards.

A local mall also has a deal on gift cards. Buy 3 $20 cards and get a $15 gas card.

A few years ago, we took advantage of a deal on Marriott gift cards. I don't remember the details but I think we got $50 free for buying $200.

So be on the lookout this holiday season for gift card bonus offers, not to use for gifts, but to use for yourself to save money on things that you would be buying anyway.

Back on ebay

November 25th, 2008 at 05:33 pm

I listed 3 items on ebay on Sunday 11/23. Nothing of any great value. Actually 3 things that got in my way while decluttering in our computer room. So far, one item has a bid and 3 watchers. The others have no bids and no watchers.

I'll be out Wednesday and Thursday nights but maybe Friday I can list a few more items. I'd like to take in a couple hundred dollars between now and the end of the year.

Got $50 Free at Mens Wearhouse today

November 23rd, 2008 at 08:30 am

In the past year or so, I've purchased a new tuxedo and 2 suits at Mens Wearhouse. They have a rewards program and a couple of months ago (after I bought the suits) I earned a rewards coupon for $50 off my next purchase. The coupon has been sitting on my dresser ever since as I really didn't need anything else. I did pay attention, though, to the fact that the coupon expires on November 29, so I decided I should use it. Even if I didn't actually need anything, it was silly to pass up a free $50.

I just went to the store and picked up a pair of pants for $39.99 (a lot more than I usually spend for pants). I wasn't going to buy anything else and let the other $10 go to waste, but at the register, they had those sticky lint roller things. They sell for $4.99 so I got 2 of those and that took me within pennies of the $50. So I got the pants and rollers for free and didn't spend anything out of pocket. Perfect!

Another decluttering update

November 22nd, 2008 at 07:41 pm

The cleaning and decluttering efforts are still ongoing at the Disneysteve home. My wife and daughter were out last night (to see Twilight) so I had the house to myself. I spent the entire evening in our computer room/office with only a little of that time spent on the computer. The rest of the time was spent cleaning out the file drawers. A ton of paper went either straight into the recycling bin or into the shredder and the shreddings then went into the recycling bin. I filled the shredder 3 times last night and 2 more this morning and still have a stack of papers about 4 inches high left to shred (and I'm still adding to the pile).

By getting all that paper out of the files, I was able to put a whole stack of empty file folders into the drawer and get them off the floor where they had been residing for months. I had rescued them from the trash at my office but didn't have any room in our files for them.

Then, I attacked a large accordion file that has sat on my desk for years. I use it to file our monthly bills but they generally just pile up on top of the file rather than actually in the slots. I used several of those newly placed file folders to make new homes for the bills in the drawer so that I can eliminate the accordion folder from the desktop. I haven't quite finished that task but it should be done tomorrow. That will open up a nice big space on the desk which will be very nice.

October Survey Total

November 20th, 2008 at 08:57 am

I realized that I never posted my October survey numbers.

Quick recap: I'm a physician and get to do various online (and occasionally in person) surveys. These are not available to the general public - sorry.

For October, I earned $209.25. A little of that is from Pinecone and AOL Opinion Place. The rest is the medical stuff. As I posted on the boards, I've also sold a few books that I got from doing surveys which adds another $15 or so to that total.

Sold 3 books on Half.com

November 18th, 2008 at 04:50 pm

Periodically, I list a book or two on Half.com, usually something I got for free somewhere or something found while cleaning the house that we don't want or need. I've had mixed results, but since there's no cost for listing, I've got nothing to lose. I've sold quite a few over the years.

Lately, I've been getting these short online medical surveys that offer a selection of items to choose from as a reward. I don't want or need any of the items but one choice is a nice medical dictionary, so I've selected that. So far, I've gotten 3 of them. I sold the first one a few weeks back. The 2nd one sold today. I haven't listed the 3rd as I just received it yesterday, but I'll definitely list it now that I see how quickly the first 2 sold. And I think I have at least one more coming to me. I got $8.99 for the first and $7.98 for the second. I always make sure mine is the lowest priced listing for that item.

I also got a promotional set of diabetic cookbooks. I listed 2 of them yesterday and one sold today. I got $7.99 for that one.

So that's $25.00 for 3 books that cost me nothing. Not a bad deal at all. I'll take it.

Big car repair bill

November 12th, 2008 at 12:34 pm

The downside of keeping cars forever is that periodically the planets align just so and a bunch of things wear out or break at the same time.

Our van is a 2000 Toyota Sienna. I took it into the shop this morning for what I believe is a failing starter. The last time it was in for service, they also told me that the front brakes were due for replacing, the rear shocks were shot, the rear wheel cylinders were leaking and the tires were worn. I put off all that stuff at the time until we got past the Bat Mitzvah expenses, but today I told them to go ahead and fix everything. My wife has noticed the car slipping a bit on wet roads so I definitely wanted to get the tires done.

End result will be a nice big repair bill. Hopefully, though, this will hold us for a while. I don't mind spending $1,000 or so each year to maintain a good quality car.

Decluttering Update

November 3rd, 2008 at 06:29 pm

It has been some time since I blogged about decluttering. You may remember that a few months ago I was on a mission to clean the house. I accomplished quite a bit but did eventually lose the motivation as other things took over my free time, particularly all the work we did getting ready for our daughter's Bat Mitzvah in September.

I decided even before that day that once that was past us and the synagogue retreat my wife and I run each year was over (it was last weekend), I was putting my wife and daughter on notice that it was time for ALL of us to seriously work on cleaning the house. I told them that I wanted ALL of us to start doing what I had been doing over the summer.

Every single day, each of us is to clean at least one thing. That might mean doing as little as throwing away an unneeded receipt sitting on your dresser or getting that pair of shoes that you wore last week out of the family room and back into your closet.

Of course, the hope is that most days each of us will do more than one thing. It has been a week so far and everyone is cooperating. My daughter gets annoyed when I ask if she has cleaned something each day, but she is doing it. My wife has been doing really well. I think knowing that all of us are working on it has helped motivate her.

I've certainly been doing my share. Friday I attacked a pile of stuff in the basement that has been there for ever and ever. My reason for going there was to gain access to the exam/manipulation table that was blocked by the stuff (I'm an osteopathic physician and wanted to be able to use the table to work on DW and DD's necks and backs). I threw out some stuff and put some stuff away in the storage closets and, for the first time in a few years, was actually able to use the table. In fact, it was the first time my daughter was ever on that table.

Today, I spent some time in the garage and cleared out a bunch of trash and packed the recycling bin full of boxes and papers.

I've also done a variety of things inside the house, on my desk, in the kitchen, etc.

I'm sure that if all of us keep at it, pretty soon this place will start looking a lot better.

10/31 Home Equity Loan Update

November 1st, 2008 at 08:48 am

As of 10/31, our Home Equity loan balance is $2,831.95. That is down $1,970.49 from last month.

My goal was to pay this off by the end of the year and I'm right on track. Even if the alloted percentage isn't quite enough, I have surplus funds to use to make up the difference.

So as of January 1, I will no longer have a $218.01 monthly HEL payment to make. Yeah!