Accepting That They’re Just Not That Into Me

Rejection sucks. Whether it’s coming from a guy or a girl, whether you’re four or forty. Whether someone slams the door in your face, or just subtly stops returning your calls and e-mails.

Whether it’s people you grew up with, or people you’ve just met, or people you’ve never met in real life, but spent time with in cyberspace.

At some point you realize that they’re just not that into you.

That happened for me yesterday. Someone who was once a friend, and who I thought still considered me one, showed me today that she doesn’t. No, that’s not right. I just finally accepted that she doesn’t. She didn’t do a thing.

She’s had some stuff going on in her life – the kind of thing where you’d turn to your friends for support but that isn’t life threatening – and I didn’t know anything about it.  Okay, I get it.  I finally get it.

I know I didn’t do anything to her, and we haven’t had a disagreement, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t that she dislikes me or has something against me. There are just others that she values more.

It’s her right. And I’m still hurt.

I’ll get over it, but I’m sad that I have to.

The Taxman Cometh and the Husband Tries to Taketh Away

I paid my property taxes today. $1840.

Those big checks are so hard to write. Compared to what many have to pay, it’s pretty reasonable – and $100 less than last year. Yay us!

BUT. Since we so much want to be out of here , every mortgage payment, every tax payment, every insurance payment seems more like rent – money down the toilet. I understand that it’s not, and that we continue to reduce our principal with every payment we make, but with falling property values it just feels … not nearly as fun as paying mortgage, taxes and insurance on a new house.

Then, tonight, my husband came home after a bike ride and asked me how long I’d owned the house before we married. I bought it the year before. He then informed me, with a Cheshire Cat grin on his face, that he’d now put more money into it than I had (I’d stopped working shortly after our son was born). So now it was his house.

Not so fast, bub. I put 20% cash down. He hasn’t put more money into it yet, and won’t for quite awhile. Heh.

Besides, it’s in my name alone. Though my state is a community property state, it won’t matter if I bop him on the head.

Tips on Pumping Gas

This info was sent to me in an e-mail, and I thought them worth passing on…


Here are some tricks to get more of your money’s worth for every gallon.

  • Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning, when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening….your gallon is not exactly a gallon. In the petroleum business, the specific gravity and the temperature of the gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, ethanol and other petroleum products plays an important role. A 1-degree rise in temperature is a big deal for this business. But the service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps, so you get less gas than you pay for.
  • When you’re filling up, squeeze the trigger of the nozzle only to the “low” mode. If you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some of the liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you’re getting less gas for your money.
  • Fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL (or HALF EMPTY). The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation.
  • If there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up. Most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom.

I hope these tips help you get more for your money!

 

 

See the Stretch Your Dollar Page for other money-saving ideas.

Where Did I Learn THAT?

PaidTwice over at I’ve Paid For This Twice Already has a very interesting post today about how her attitudes about money have shifted as she travels her road towards getting rid of debt. She asks of her readers, “What change in your financial behavior happened so gradually you didn’t realize it was happening, but you wouldn’t do without now?”

That started me thinking about my own attitudes about money, and how they came to be. I realize that most of them developed as I grew up, living with and watching my parents and how they interacted with money – just as I’m sure most of you did.

My parents divorced when I was six, and my Dad re-married a short time later. Dad, a Certified Public Accountant, has always been very good with money. My mother… not so much. I was given a unique opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t work regarding money, and make my own choices about how to be.

In my Dad’s house frugality was a second religion. With five kids (his two and her three) there wasn’t much choice. Our clothes came from K-Mart, and hand-me-downs were the norm. We often wore all our clothes at once because the heat was set at 68 degrees. Generic products were used wherever possible, even if they sucked. Light tuna was cheaper than white, so that’s what we had. Orange juice was only available to drink in the mornings. No midday glass of the orange stuff allowed (though I think that was so there would always be OJ when my Dad wanted some). There was even the dreaded powdered milk phase, which my Dad to this day insists was about nutrition. Yeah, right. I’m still having nightmares. He gave us allowances and taught us to save up for the things we wanted. Dad’s frugality is done with an eye to the future, providing for his family’s health, well-being and education, and where he wants our family to be.

In my Mom’s house we went to The Middlesex Diner and McDonald’s quite often, and Carvel even oftener. Three degrees outside and we’d be shivering as we ate our cones. I’m pretty sure we were the reason that guy stayed in business through the frigid New Jersey winters. When we arrived home, though, we could wear our tank tops and shorts, as our heat was kept at 80 degrees. My mother never buys anything on sale, unless it’s an accident, and then she’d want to give the salesperson a twenty for their trouble. We had yummy white tuna and real, non-powdered milk. Moooooo. And we could drink the OJ anytime we wanted. Money was like water running through her hands, but we sure had fun spending it. How can she be out of money? She still has some checks left. Mom lives for the moment, the here and now, not thinking much about the future and what we’ll need when we get there.

Both homes loving, both homes providing everything necessary to grow happy, healthy children. Just differently.

So, I took what I saw in both homes, and here’s some of what I learned.

  • Generic products are to be used, but only where they are an acceptable substitute. Walmart’s generic Great Value Crystal Light-like Tea tastes like ass (according to my husband, and you’d have to ask him how he knows what ass tastes like), but their generic Great Value raisins taste better than SunMaid. Don’t be afraid to try them – just about everywhere will give you a refund if you try and don’t like their store brand. On the other hand, all mayonnaise must be Hellman’s. There is no acceptable substitute. Same with Diet Coke.
  • Heat/AC should be set at the lowest level for which you are comfortable. If you’re wearing so many clothes you can’t bend your arms, it’s not worth the savings.
  • Ice cream is yummy in the winter, but not every day.
  • Save money for your future, as it’s going to get here sooner than you think. Dad is doing pretty well financially. Mom struggles every day, but with some help she’s okay, too.
  • Acquire as little debt as possible, but have some fun with your money, too.
  • Don’t ever, ever give your children powdered milk.

There’s a ton more that I’ll explore in future posts, but really, this is long enough.

File it under “Duh”

A few years ago a seven year old boy had felony charges brought against him for a fight that happened with another boy in first grade. He had punched the boy, then kicked, hit and scratched three other adults as they tried to get him under control.

Today he was found incompetent to stand trial – too young to understand the charges against him.

That’s the first Duh.

The boy is obviously troubled. Violence should absolutely not be tolerated, and intervention was absolutely necessary. Agreed. I’m totally on board. But charging a seven year old with a felony?

“This should have been a whole team of people trying to help a kid, but in reality it turned into an adversarial posture,” the prosecutor said.

That’s the second Duh. What did you think was going to happen? You could have gotten the kid – and the family – help without bringing these ridiculous charges. Help doesn’t need to be court-mandated. It just needs to be.

Children are malleable and capable of learning and should not be shackled with the felon label for life because of an incident such as this at age seven. No weapon. No blood. No permanent – or even semi-permanent injuries. I understand that there could have been. I understand that there could be a next time.

I don’t know at what age children should be held legally accountable for their actions. I just know it’s not seven.

The Toy Trap

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

I grew up in a family with five children. Every year our parents would buy toy after toy, and we’d walk downstairs on Hanukkah to find the floor literally covered with presents. It was great fun, and we’d be filled with excitement as we tore off the wrappings and reveled in our good fortune. We’d walk around with our favorites in hand, and go to sleep late because we just couldn’t bear to stop playing with our Crissy dolls, or our Perfume Making Kits (one of my favorite toys!), or our Easy Bake Ovens.

Within two weeks, though, we’d be complaining that we were bored and had nothing to play with. You could literally see the steam coming out of my Dad’s ears. My Dad still talks about the train set that he thought would make our year, that we abandoned completely after the first day.

I most remember the organ. The poor, lonely organ that was Never Touched By Children’s Hands. My poor, misguided Dad.

Every year there seems to be some “it” toy – something the kids must have and that parents go to extraordinary measures to find before Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus. I remember very well the Cabbage Patch Kids craze of 1984. I was working at Richway (similar to Target), and people would line up the night before if they even suspected we were getting a shipment. There was pushing and shoving and actual fistfights, for goodness sake. Before I had kids I would roll my eyes and laugh at these idiots people. “I’ll never do that,” I smugly thought.

Then I became a parent, and that changed everything. My heart wants the floor covered with presents, just to see my son’s face as he opens each one. His smile makes my life. Our budget won’t allow for that kind of spending, our small home won’t allow that kind of clutter, and I honestly don’t think he needs lots of toys.

So, I sure have my head on straight, right?

Well. Last year’s “it” toy was Tickle Me Elmo TMX. He came in a little cardboard suitcase, and people would pay up to double the normal cost to find one at TRU, on Ebay, or Craigslist, on a street corner. I happened to come across one quite easily, and paid the normal price of $39.95, and how I wish I hadn’t. My son played with it exactly once. I knew he wouldn’t play with it, too, as he’s not interested in stuffed toys at all. There was no pressure from him or anywhere else to get one – my son is happier with a 99 cent Hot Wheels car than most middle-aged men are with their Porsches.

I thought it was cute. I got caught up in the excitement. I completely wasted $40. Who’s the idiot now?

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

We open most of our gifts on Christmas Day around our Christmas Tree (my husband is Catholic, and I’ve enjoyed a tree for many years). My son’s gifts have been purchased, all 4 of them (plus small gifts like a car or workbook or pencil for each night of Hanukkah). And we’re under budget. They’re all things I know he’ll play with (well, I’m hopeful about the workbooks). I did good.

Then I spent Thanksgiving with my family. We did some shopping, and I found out that this year my nephews and nieces are completely smitten with Webkinz. They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They come with a secret code that gains you entry into a really very cool website where kids can play games and keep track of caring for their “pet” and many other ubercool activities. They can be found as inexpensively as 2 for $20 at our local flea market. Don’t forget the Webkinz clothing, though, or the little charms that let you into other areas of the website, and before you know it you spend $50 on a $10 toy, and your kid won’t let you near your computer…

I’m not going to fall into the trap this year. I won’t. I swear.

But the reindeer Webkinz is really cute.

 

How Hard is it to get a Damn House?

Apparently, very.

We have been wanting to move for four years.   From a townhouse to a house.  In another state.

When we’re finally ready to make the big move, the market here takes a big, old, smelly, stinky dump.

If a seller were to be found, I’d have to take $60k less than I could have a year ago.  A day late and 60,000 dollars  short.

Two years ago I wouldn’t have had to make any improvements at all. I could have put a sign on the window and it would have sold in a week.  Since the market started tanking we’ve made a ton of improvements, and we’re sitting here afraid to put it on the market.

Because nothing is selling.

Nothing.

Thank goodness we didn’t go buy a house, hoping this one would sell.

Thank goodness this home is affordable for us.

Thank goodness.

Not Quite All-Inclusive, But Still a Great Time

This blog isn’t a travelogue, but I thought I’d do a mini-review anyway.

My family and I spent the Thanksgiving Holiday at Club Med Sandpiper in Port St. Lucie, Florida. We had a great time, and overall I’d recommend it (especially for people with a set budget), but with a few caveats.

This particular Club Med property is very family and sports-oriented, and it offers lots of activities for children and adults. For a single per-person rate you can stay, eat and drink to your heart’s content.

The rooms are spacious but outdated. The food was abundant and varied and mostly excellent (if you go you must check out their famous breads – the chocolate bread truly lives up to the hype!), though the flow at the buffets was odd. For example, in every other breakfast buffet I’ve been to there has been a chafing dish with scrambled eggs, and if you want an omelet or something made-to-order you had to stand in line. At Club Med Sandpiper you stand in line for any egg dish. Those were some very long lines, especially with only one person working the grill for the eggs, pancakes, bacon and sausage.

They advertise it as all-inclusive, and it nearly is, but not quite. I really hate that.

  • Internet access isn’t included. It’s $3 per hour, $10 per day or $50 per week extra. It isn’t available in your room – only in the lobby, by one of the pools, in the conference rooms and one or two other places. I found this to be expensive and inconvenient -who wants to carry their laptop around a resort? This, my friends, is the reason for the five-day posting break. In-room access should be a priority for them – though my brother disagrees. “You’re on vacation,” he said to me. He just doesn’t understand.
  • Top drawer drinks (like my father’s Glenfiddich) are an extra $12. What troubled my Dad the most about that is the fact that they don’t seem to give you “credit” for the lower quality drink you’re not having.
  • Many of the activities are free, but many are not. Swimming, archery, the Circus School, putt-putt golf, ping-pong are all free. Regular golf, jet-skis and other watercraft, bicycles – all extra.
  • They have special camps for the children. Parents can drop the kids off in the morning and leave them all day, or sign them in and out at will. There is no charge – unless your child is three or under. Then it’s $50 a day extra.  We chose to keep our  son with us, but not because of the extra money.  I really enjoy my son’s company, and wanted to spend as much of our vacation together as possible.  I’m not knocking those who put their kids in the camps – they’re lots of fun for the kids – it’s just not what we chose.
  • Some of the nighttime entertainment wasn’t included in all-inclusive. There was a comedy club on-site, and you had to purchase tickets for most of the performers.
  • Massages are extra, too.

Honestly, I’d rather you just charge everyone $25 a day more for the room and not nickel and dime me, folks.A few other tips/suggestions:

  • It’s a much better deal if you’re a drinker than if you’re not.
  • The staff is extremely friendly and solicitous. Almost creepily so.
  • If they put heaters on more than one pool (which did not feel heated AT ALL, by the way), it would be a very good thing. Only those from the frozen northern tundras were able to swim for more than a few moments.
  • The kids’ camps and activities geared to them were really, really good. All of the kids participated in the tye-dye shirt making and learning how to use the trapeze. The counselors were very attentive and friendly, though in my 8-year-old nephew’s group the accepted counselor-student ratio was 50:1. That was a bit troubling.
  • Some of the kids’ activities were scheduled for much later at night than I was comfortable with. My son is in bed at 8, and many of the nighttime entertainment didn’t start until 8-9:30, even for the little ones.
  • The bar was out of pina colada and strawberry flavored slushes. Call them in advance to make sure they’re stocked up. A tropical vacation without pina coladas and strawberry daiquiris is just…sad.
  • When we travel we usually put the Do Not Disturb sign on the door for our entire stay, for several reasons. We don’t feel the need to have the bed made every day, and we can call for clean towels if we want some. Our son usually naps during prime room-cleaning hours, so we prevent a poorly-timed knock. There’s also a security issue – if they stay out they aren’t taking anything, are they? On Friday my husband was in the room with my sleeping son, when the phone rang. The housekeeping manager was on the phone – they had noticed the Do Not Disturb sign and wanted to see if we wanted anything. “Yes,” my husband answered. “To not be disturbed.”

A dry wit, he is.

Black Friday – Oops! I Missed It Again

In my family Thanksgiving is not a one day holiday, it’s a four-day extravaganza. The turkey and trimmings are just the beginning of a tradition-filled, written-in-stone series of events that had been the same forever(at least until a few years ago when we started to actually leave the country to celebrate).

No matter where we are, though, I am destined to miss that most important day of the year for frugal-minded, bargain-worshiping people like myself – Black Friday.

Please don’t misunderstand – I’m always having a grand time with my family. And we’re usually shopping – at the Swap Shop or a Bahamian Straw Market. It’s fun and togetherness and kitsch and really, what could be better?

But.

Every year I miss the DVD player for $6.99. The 5 am earlybird special at Bed Bath and Beyond, where I can get 20% off my entire purchase! The Buy 1 Get 1 Free on Wiis. The free Mimosas at Tiffany’s (Okay, that one never really happened. You can probably get free Mimosa’s at Tiffany’s every day of the year,though. Not that I’d know…).

This year I couldn’t even bring myself to read the ads.

Perhaps one day I will be able to scan the web days in advance for the Black Friday deals, plan my route to take advantage of the best deals by time and location, become part of the fervor of excitement at 5 am as my fellow bargain shoppers wait bleary-eyed at 5 am for the doors to open so we can buy six iPods for the price of one.

I must live vicariously through others. Feel free to make me jealous by sharing stories of your coups!

A Craptastic Thanksgiving For Us

I’ll be going away for a few days with my family, and it will be a truly craptastic event.

The crap part comes in because we’re going on a trip that my stepmother planned for all of us a few months before she passed away, and we’ll be going without her – though her presence will surely be felt.

The tastic part because we’ll be together, and counting our blessings, and doing lots of laughing and drinking and eating.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday, and hope it’s all of the tastic without any of the crap.

Don’t forget to wear loose pants.

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