Archive for November, 2008

Save Money with Ebates


I’ve posted about Ebates many, many times before, so I’m sure most of you have already signed and used this amazing cash back website. If you haven’t signed up for Ebates yet, sign up now and get an extra $10 in cash back savings when you use this link and make a purchase by December 31st. I typically shop online exclusively through Ebates Cyber Monday sale, but this year Ebates is holding a Black Friday sale. From what I can tell the cash back savings is more than double at most stores. I’ve earned over $965 in cash back savings since I became an Ebates member. If you aren’t a member yet definitely sign up, if you are a member definitely check out the sale.

November 28, 2008 at 1:56 PM Leave a comment

Thanksgiving in North Carolina

For the first time ever my husband and I decided to spend Thanksgiving at our beach house in North Carolina. Over the years we’ve divided up the holidays among our respective families and my husband’s family won Thanksgiving, while mine won Easter. The other holidays like Mother’s and Father’s Day are toss-ups and Christmas is shared between them both, we visit one family in the morning and the other in the evening.

This year we split the holiday into three days. We visited with my in-laws last Sunday at home, then again today in North Carolina, and then we’ll drive to see my family this up-coming Sunday. I know I’ll see my family soon, but of course I still wish they were here with us today. I’d love to bring the entire family down here for Thanksgiving, but my brother has his own familial obligations.

I called my parents and my grandmother this morning to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. I am thankful for the love they bring to my life. I am thankful to spend quality time with my husband. I am thankful for a job that provides me with paid leave. I am thankful that this year I’ve visited less doctors than the three years prior. I am thankful for amazing massage therapists that helped alleviate some of my pains. I am thankful for our beach house and the wonderful memories it provides. I am thankful for the wonderful family and friends in our lives. I am thankful for all of the blessings and joys bestowed upon my husband and I throughout the year. I am thankful that my husband and I have stuck together through some very tough years.

This list could go on and on, but these were the first thoughts that came to mind. I hope you all have many things to be thankful for this holiday season. Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27, 2008 at 10:00 PM 1 comment

The Universe is Telling Me…. Do Not Be Afraid

This evening while I was out to dinner with three very good friends, I mentioned my new found recognition of fear. I’ve been working for the same company since I first graduated from college and I’ve become quite comfortable with where I work and what I do. Picking up two new jobs has forced me to venture into new subject matters outside of my comfort zone. In both jobs I noticed a certain fear that seemed to swell within me. Not an anxiety inducing fear, just a general feeling of uneasiness. Do I know how to do things I’m attempting? Will I be good at what I do? What if I’m not good at what I do?

I took a few minutes to recognize the uneasy feeling as fear, more specifically a fear of failure and a fear of the unknown. The more I focused on the fear the more it seemed to dissipate, but it didn’t entirely dissolve. I’m not sure why I brought it up at dinner tonight, but when I came home this evening the very first post in my RSS Feed was Five Great Ways to Conquer Your Fears. In the post, Doug Heacock a guest writer over at Zen Habits notes that Failure isn’t necessarily the end of the world. In essence, he points out that we all learn from our failures and that perhaps the real failure is in never trying at all.

I think the universe is telling me to explore my new opportunities… to face my fears rather than being afraid.

November 25, 2008 at 4:59 AM 1 comment

I’m Working Three Jobs and Plumping up My Emergency Fund

The company I work for is no longer standing on stable ground. At this point it’s hard to say which groups within the organization will be cut, but it’s clear that a good number of employees will eventually be shown the door. Although no one can say for certain, it seems lay-offs will occur either late in December or early next year. If the company methodically picks and chooses who stays then I should be safe. I’m one of the hardest working developers in my organization and I have knowledge of quite a few systems. On the other hand, if cuts are based solely on the bottom line, my coworkers and I may be the first to go. Unfortunately, the software we write simply doesn’t bring in much money for the company.

In an effort to hedge my bets I’m building a little nest egg to fall back on. I began working 10 to 15 hours a week, at night and on the weekends, for my husband’s employer. This is the third time I’ve worked for the company. The two previous times I also worked 10-15 hours in addition to my day job. I am grateful for the opportunity and happy to add a little more cash to our reserve. Although money is my primary reason for taking on extra work, it’s also been fun to flex my brain cells on a new project.

I thought my primary job would be a bit calmer at this time of year, but my team is shrinking by the minute and I’ve found myself working late quite a few times lately. Of course, that’s the nature of a technical job, sometimes there isn’t any work to do at all and other times there is more work than a group of developers can handle. Since I receive a salary I know I should quit my full time job when the clock strikes five, but it’s just not in my nature to leave tasks waiting for tomorrow. Of course, when I work late at my full time job it means I’ll be working even later on my part time one.

I need to relax. I get very stressed under these types of conditions. I really admire those people who work two to three jobs to support their family. My job isn’t physical in anyway. I can literally sit in front of a computer for hours, but I feel unbelievably stressed and exhausted. My husband keeps laughing and telling me to take it easy. He tells me that things will get done or they won’t, but the world won’t end if I don’t accomplish everything on my to-do list. Although I know this is true, I struggle to convince my type-A personality.

Luckily the part-time project ends in December. By then I hope to have a better idea of my work prospects and my new-year work load. It’s too bad I can’t work part-time at both jobs. I need the first job for the benefits, but the second job pays much better.

In addition to working two jobs I’ve also been writing articles to boost my husband’s new hobby. Yesterday I completed my fifth article. I have much to learn about journalism, but I’m having an amazing time coming up to speed in the process.

I think the next five weeks will be tremendously busy, but when it’s all said and done the extra work will be worth it. I’ve been working at the same job for nine years and it’s nice to explore new projects and do something different. The extra cash won’t be half bad either.

November 23, 2008 at 3:20 AM 5 comments

Link Love: I’m Selected as Editor’s Choice

This week Money Ning hosted the 179th Carnival of Personal Finance and featured my article Why I Save as an Editor’s Choice. I’m honored to be one of the chosen three in a carnival that includes over 100 articles. Thanks David for the kudos.

My favorite articles from this week’s carnival are:

I also want to send a shout out to all of my wonderful readers who left comments on Saturday’s call for recipes. I’ve been swamped with work and unable to find significant time to experiment, but my list of favorites is growing by the minute and I seem to spend every spare moment searching food sites. Thank you all so much for your recommendations!

November 20, 2008 at 4:45 AM 4 comments

Free DVD Rentals

A few weeks ago I signed up for a free trial subscription to Blockbuster Online. The trial only lasted two weeks, but in that time I managed to watch seven DVDs. Unfortunately, Blockbuster won’t notify you prior to the subscription’s end, so if you’re not careful you will be charged for the following month’s fees. In order to ensure that didn’t happen I simply added an event to my Google Calendar and set up an email reminder. On the day the subscription ended my Google notification arrived. I immediately logged on to Blockbuster and canceled my subscription to ensure I wouldn’t be charged.

Blockbuster shipped three movies at a time and I received nine in the two week trial period. I don’t typically watch a lot of movies, but I really enjoyed watching the movies I received. In the first two weeks I watched the following:

  • 21
  • Dan in Real Life
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall
  • Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull
  • Iron Man
  • The Bucket List

I received three more DVDs on the day my trial ended. Even though I canceled my subscription I still have one full month to return the last three movies I received. So in the next week or two I plan to watch:

  • Baby Mama
  • PS I Love You
  • What Happens in Vegas

Compared to Netflix the DVDs from Blockbuster arrived in record time. Of course, I’m not certain that Blockbuster DVDs would always arrive so quickly. When I signed up for the Netflix trial the DVDs seemed to fly through the mail. Once I became a paying subscriber the speed certainly slowed. Unfortunately I still think Blockbuster’s prices are too high to consider on a monthly basis. Rather than paying $19.99 a month I’ll probably pick up DVDs from the Redbox at Giant.

November 18, 2008 at 4:25 AM 3 comments

The Rite Aid Gift of Savings Promotion Is Back

The Rite Aid Gift of Savings Promotion is back this holiday season. If you purchase $25 – $50 worth of qualifying items at Rite Aid you can earn a $5.00 Rite Aid gift certificate. Spend $50.01 – $100.00 to earn a $10.00 gift certificate and $100.01 or more to earn a $20.00 gift certificate.

In order to participate you’ll need to create an account on the Rite Aid website. If you participate in the Rite Aid Single Check Rebates program I think you can use the same user ID and password. Simply shop in Rite Aid stores from November 16th – December 24th and enter all of your receipt information into the Rite Aid rebate program website. Qualifying receipts must be submitted by January 26, 2009. The promotion claims that all gift certificates will be mailed after the promotional period ends and awarded gift certificates will expire by April 30, 2009.

To take advantage of this deal it’s a good idea to combine the power of the Gift of Savings promotion with Rite Aid’s standard Single Check Rebates program. There are typically a ton of Rite Aid rebates in November and December. Last year I used a combination of coupons and single-check rebates to earn the additional Gift of Savings award without spending any extra money. For more information on the Rite Aid holiday program click here.

November 17, 2008 at 2:15 AM 1 comment

Where Do You Find the Best Recipes?

My husband and I managed to make three healthy, home-cooked meals this week. On the other nights we ate leftovers from the night before. I tried one new recipe and I’m planning on making two new ones next week. I found all the recipes on foodtv.com.

I know this sounds crazy, but I hate to cook a recipe when I can’t see a picture of the food. For some reason the picture lures me into trying something new. If the meal looks tasty and easy to make then I’m apt to try it. If it looks too complex and fancy then I typically won’t attempt it.

In browsing the Internet I was surprised by the lack of photographs on recipe websites. The Internet is great for multi-media and I don’t know why more sites haven’t used the capabilities of the web. I’m so discouraged by my findings that I’m considering giving up on the web and heading to the local library instead.

I was wondering if any of you have a favorite food related website. A website with photographs would be preferable. I am excited to experiment in the kitchen this winter and I’d appreciate any suggestions.

November 16, 2008 at 4:59 AM 13 comments

Paying With Coins

I drove over to the grocery store this afternoon to pick up a few remaining items for tonight’s recipe. On my way out the door I grabbed my coin-filled piggy bank from the dresser. I decided to cash in on Coinstar’s $10 holiday bonus while I was out. When I arrived at the grocery store I walked straight over to the Coinstar machine and started unloading my coins. I cashed in a little over $40 worth. I checked and double checked the machine before stepping away. I’m always afraid I’ll leave my wallet or cell phone behind. It’s a good thing I double checked because quite a bit of change had been rejected by the machine. I gathered at least two or three dollars worth.

I scooped up the change and started grocery shopping. I only needed two items for dinner, but I decided to pick up two or three sale items while I was there. The grocery store was practically empty at 12:30 on a Thursday afternoon. I took my items over to the self-pay register and decided to pay with the remaining change in my piggy bank. This seemed like a relatively good idea at the time, but as I stood there dropping coin after coin into the self pay machines I began to rethink that idea. Luckily I only had $12 worth of items, otherwise I would have been standing there for a long time feeding coins into the machine.

I stopped by CVS on my way home from the grocery store. I picked up a few items with expiring ECBs. The cashier at CVS is extremely nice to me. He always jokes about my wad of coupons and always says I’ll see you next week when the register spits out an ECB. My total at CVS was less than $1 so I paid again with coins.

I typically use a credit card to pay for items, even the smallest of transactions, so it always feels strange to me to pay with cash and coins. Although we pay off our credit card every month it still felt nice to pay with cash. Lately it seems that our credit card bill is constantly expanding. It’s not that we spend a lot of money on things, it’s just that every day items add up over the course of a month. I loved walking out the door knowing that I wouldn’t see any of today’s transactions on my credit card bill. If we didn’t use a cash-back credit card I would definitely consider paying for items with cash more often.

November 14, 2008 at 4:00 AM 3 comments

Why I Save

I’m not a throw caution to the wind kind of girl. Back in college, when a friend yanked off her shirt and hung her bra-less chest out the passenger side window, I stared ahead and focused on driving. I’m not a wet blanket. I never asked her to put her shirt back on and I honked my horn in response to the passing cars, but I also stayed the course and drove straight ahead.

I’ve planned for every minor and major event in my life. It’s as much a function of my shyness as it is a function of my pride. I’m independent and headstrong. I want to know that I can solve my own problems and take care of my own needs. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember. It’s not something my parents instilled in me. It’s the very nature of my being. The way my cells divided and replicated to make the me that is me.

When I was struck with a very serious medical condition a few years ago I wondered if I this particular piece of my personality would change. After facing a major crisis would I become more carefree? Although, the experience changed my life in the most significant of ways it did not alter my desire to plan. If anything it spurs this component of my personality even farther.

Rather than letting the wind blow me where it may, I crave more now than ever to cross my ‘t’s and dot my ‘i”s. It is not an obsession or compulsion, but rather a disciplined desire to be prepared. Oddly enough, it is the only thing in life that I am disciplined about. Although I cannot dictate my fate or future, I know that preparation and planning can only increase my chances at achieving the life I long for. A life that is focused on health, happiness and the people I love.

I do not live by extremes. I am a moderate in the truest sense of the word. While I think it’s unhealthy to spend every dollar I earn, I think it’s just as unhealthy to hoard every penny. Life is about balancing the desires of today against the dreams of tomorrow. I save in preparation of tomorrow, but I do not cut every expense from my life today.

Tonight my husband reconciled our checking account and relayed the details of our bank accounts. Although these economic times have significantly decreased the value of our assets we still stand on extremely stable ground. Although my company is in turmoil I do not fear job loss. I am learning new skills and preparing for the possibility. Although, our net worth is shrinking, we are still on target to pay off our mortgage.

If we were not fiscally responsible I would certainly be afraid. I now realize that I save so that I do not worry.

November 12, 2008 at 4:30 AM 8 comments

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