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Archive for July, 2008

Psst ... Hey Buddy ... Wanna Hear About My Hot Investment?

July 24th, 2008 at 03:39 am

This investment's a guaranteed winner. And best of all, anyone can do it. Car maintenance. (What? You expected me to say I bought tulip bulbs?)

Yesterday I took my Camry in for its 120K mile tune-up. In addition to routine maintenance (oil change, radiator fluid change, tire rotation) there was a long list of things Toyota recommended should be checked out. Based on the lookover results, dirty transmission fluid was flushed and 2 accessory belts were replaced. Total "investment" was $377.

---Knock on wood---

Hopefully my investment will pay off in the form of a car that doesn't breakdown suddenly on the freeway, needing to be towed, causing me to incur unnecessary expenses, and making me miss pay because I can't get to work. And hopefully my investment will pay off in the form of a car that is still going strong at 200K miles (allowing me to keep my money in the bank, earning interest, instead of buying a replacement vehicle).

Nice Freebies for House Shoppers

July 20th, 2008 at 11:36 pm

Today we attended a Home Tour in a nearby community where a builder was giving away $25 gas cards. In addition to the gas card, we got free drinks and snacks.

Awhile ago, we visited the model homes of a builder who was giving away Target gift cards.

I think we will see more and more of these giveaways if the home market remains soft.

Here in Austin, the housing market is still relatively strong compared to the rest of the country. I can only imagine the freebies that can be found in more depressed housing markets.

Might be worth skimming the real estate section of the Sunday paper, even if you aren't in the market for a new house.

My Own Personal Christmas In July

July 16th, 2008 at 09:20 pm

DH has been gone on a month-long business trip. He gets back tonight! Yea! I'm so excited that I woke up this morning before the alarm went off ... Just like a little kid on Christmas morning! There are some feelings that no amount of money can buy, and this is one of them.

Other good news:
- The post-spa-treatment breakout has cleared up ... just in time (barely)
- I went the entire month without eating takeout one time ... pat,pat,pat on the back for me
- I've selected a charitable organization in the area to volunteer with. (This is something that really helps me feel connected to a community, and I've been looking for a good one here in Austin.) I'm attending my 2nd meeting at the end of this week
- I tried Jeffrey's nifty "towel in the dryer" tip and it worked very well ... I will be doing that from now on to cut my electricity usage (thanks, baselle, for the confirmation that it worked)

Issues I'll be dealing with (together with DH) in the coming days are:
- We are going to see the pre-foreclosure house together ... I'm a tad nervous that DH is going to love it a bit too much ... I think it's probably just too much (size & cost).
- We are going to test drive a Smart Car and if we like it, will decide if we want to go on the wait list for one (we are getting by finewith one car right now, but know we will want a 2nd car eventually ... I've read about the Smart Car and think it would make a perfect 2nd car ... Since the current wait for a Smart Car is 12-15 months, that would force us to stretch the one-car-only business out a bit longer but would allow us to know that it is not a forever thing.)
- We have accounts at both Wachovia & WaMu. Both are on the short list of banks that are potentially the next to fail. We need to talk it over and decide if we are comfortable keeping those accounts or if we want to close one of them. (I don't see any need to close both.)
- Now that DH's busy season is wrapping up, it's time to decide if we want to purchase shares of Vanguard's Tax-Exempt Money Market Fund. I've been researching CD rates as well, as that is our alternative.
- DH's business account is not FDIC insured. I've been nagging him for months (maybe over a year in fact) to change it to a FDIC insured one. He didn't think it was a big deal, but the Indymac Bankclosure was the wake up call he needed to make him realize how important this is, so getting him set up with a different business account is now priority number one.

Hope all is well with all of you.

WWAD? (What Would Amber Do?)

July 14th, 2008 at 03:16 am

What Would Amber Do?

That was what I asked myself when I was driving home, tired and hungry after running errands. DH is on a long business trip so it's just me, and I wasn't in the mood to cook because I was hungry and just wanted food. I started hearing the siren song of the Whataburger drive-thru calling to me.

Then I started thinking about our friend Amber, and how she has done such a great job over-coming the eating out habit ... She's a real inspiration ... Hence the question I asked myself:

What would Amber do?

I don't actually know what Amber would have done, but thinking about her inspired me to go home and zap a Smart Ones frozen dinner (that I had bought on clearance at Super Target for $1.18) in the microwave. Saved myself a few dollars, and probably did my health some good as well.

Thank you Amber!


July 11th, 2008 at 12:18 am

1. Spa Treatment: "The procedure" was today. It turned out very well, tho my face now feels a bit itchy and I can see major breakout starting along my jawline. I'm glad I had this done when I can lie low for a few days. I was a bit red for a couple hours after, but fortunately that calmed down because DH called and asked me to take care of some business for him this afternoon that involved meeting someone. The good news was that I ended up spending only $41 (including tip), not the $50 I had expected. I knew the price of the procedure, but for some reason had mentally added $4 to the price. Also, either tax was included in the price or Texas does not charge sales tax on services (this is the first time I've had a service performed in Texas so I don't know). I had researched spas on Citysearch, looking for customer-recommended spas nearby, narrowed it down to 3 spas, and then checked their rates on-line. The one I chose had a Citysearch coupon for first-time customers. Not only did I get $10 off but I also got a "free" body lotion that normally retails for $28. Not the sort of thing I'd normally buy, but I was happy to take the freebie. Thanks for all of your positive comments on my previous entry. I now feel perfectly fine about my little "secret-self-esteem-boosting-expenditure."

2. In-Laws: A while back I blogged about getting a retirement gift for my in-laws.

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FIL was supposed to have loose ends wrapped up and be officially retired by June 20th. Guess what? He's still working! Since MIL has already moved to their new home, he had moved in with SIL. But apparently he decided he had overstayed his welcome, so he is sleeping in his office. Good grief! I really don't know if it is because there is a holdup on the portion of the business he is selling, or if he just is emotionally unable to stop working. Take note everyone, especially you self-employed folks: As retirement approaches, create a set-in-stone exit strategy for yourselves. I wonder if it would help if we told him that we were going to give him a nice gift, but that he won't be getting it until after he has actually retired?

3. House Hunting: I went and checked out a home that is in pre-foreclosure ... the sellers are trying to do a short sale. It's a really lovely home but I think it's too big and too much money, but DH is REALLY interested in it so we'll be going back to see it after he returns from his trip. Sad situation for the sellers tho ... It's a really lovely home yet they only lived there for about 1-1/2 years. It never ceases to amaze me how so many people managed to get themselves so over-extended.

Harris Interactive Points can now be redeemed for $5 Paypal payment

July 2nd, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Harris Interactive is a research company that conducts surveys on a variety of topics, not only consumer products but also "issues" such as health care, finances, politics, etc.

I've been doing HI surveys for several years. When you do surveys, you earn "points" that can be redeemed for rewards. In the past, I redeemed my points for gift cards at Target or Olive Garden. (Cash previously was not an option, so I figured that gift cards were the next best thing.)

I just completed a survey and when I went to redeem some points, I was pleasantly surprised to see that 800 HI Points can now be redeemed for a $5 Paypal credit. This is a brand new option. As far as I'm concerned, that's as good as cash!

If you'd like to join the HI panel, here is the web address:

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