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Archive for September, 2005

I need advice

September 25th, 2005 at 04:00 pm

I received a response from ChexSystems. They aren't going to be as easy as my credit report (in a sense I am glad it's off my credit report instead, if I have to choose). They stated that the item IS shown as paid on their record, but the institution that reported it is under no obligation to remove a legit report. So, what do I do now? I was going to write another letter to ChexSystems again (I have to anyway, they also said they couldn't include my correspondence in my file because it was over 100 words and also named the institution... ugh give me a break!) but I don't think I can ask them to reinvestigate the report, because it's not false (I don't think the process was conducted the right way, but I was also a little more naive in the finance department a year ago than where I am today). So what is my next step? Does anyone have any clues? If so, please let me know because this is not right. I feel like the guy in jail that maintains he is innocent with everyone rolling their eyes, thinking "Sure you are." I am wondering if I can write a letter to my old bank, asking them nicely if they would consider removing it - I was with the same bank from 15 years old - 23 (although a few merges occurred before settling on WaMu). I am just thinking if I nicely explain my situation, maybe that person reading it will be in the giving mood and help me out? I did pay the debt afterall. I don't even know if I CAN contact the bank about it. Please help!

Nick has some kind of lucky streak going on... he won $400 on a scratch-off. We might take some of that and take the Jeep to the mechanic (someone wants it for $1500, but it is wishy-washy and doesn't start sometimes. Nick thinks it's something with the electrical system, or whatever. The guy that wants it is someone Nick knows). I scheduled some payments for next week, and my savings account will be happy: $600 in all is being deposited. I was going to send $375 of that to Discover, but I trimmed it down to $150 instead so I can build up my EF to $1k (this will do it, plus $100). Then the rest of the money will again be directed towards debt.

Today I was thinking about all the money I earn/save now in various ways: just this past week we got $25 & $50 from the ShareBuilder promotions, $10 from Pinecone Research (we were holding on to the first check since I knew another was on the way), a total of $4 from SurveyDirect, and I am being sent free items that I would normally use to try out from BzzAgent (I don't think I ever mentioned that I joined this - I am waiting on my items, but it seems to be an excellent group) as well as cat food from another group I signed up with, and I'll just have to give them my opinions later on. Between the small cash incentives and sample items (sometimes full size!) I have really been saving A LOT. I just completed a survey today in which I'll receive a $10 Amex gift card. And I signed up for a trial month with Blockbuster so I'll get some free movie watching in. So adding this on to my budgeted plan for debt repayment really makes a difference, because it helps my wallet out in a different way.

surveys

September 20th, 2005 at 04:47 pm

I scheduled my Sears payment for today, so it's back to $0 (from when I used it to buy clothes for work 2 weeks ago). I have certain payments scheduled in Quicken, quite a few, that we haven't even received the bill for yet, so since I am getting paid on Thursday I knew it was no biggie.

I mentioned previously that I found a link of top survey/market research sites. I have seen these links before and they are usually not too helpful, but this one actually was: http://www.freepaidsurveys.net/usaDir.php. I sorted by user rating and signed up for the ones I hadn't already (also, I only signed up for the sites that had 'C' in the Rewards column - I am not interested in being entered into probably non-existent sweepstakes!). Of course, Pinecone was #1. As with all the other things I have done to 'see what happens', I signed up not expecting anything. I actually received FIVE offers to participate in surveys today, all ranging from $3-$5 per survey. Unfortunately, almost all were filled by time I got to them (hey, I work! lol I can't sit online waiting for the surveys). Oh well - it gave me some hope though. Brand Institute was one of the firms that contacted me (multiple times actually). The research firm I mentioned previously was also listed on this page. I am thinking Nick didn't qualify because we haven't heard anything Frown Oh well, worth a shot, right? I am guessing there will be more chances in the future, it actually says on the website above that most of the studies DoNowResearch does are based in NY/NJ area.

what a weekend

September 18th, 2005 at 07:35 pm

Sorry to be a little off-topic, finances wise...but...

Did you ever hear the song (which I believe is relatively new) by Sum 41, called 'Untitled'? It's a really good song, and probably fits exactly how my sister feels right now. She is having alot of problems with her husband, she recently enrolled in a nursing program, great opportunity, and he is a jerk, always has been, doesn't want her to better herself. His male ego can't handle it. I received a call from her last night, she had gone to my parents' house for the night. They even had to pick her up - her wonderful husband apparently told her to clean out her minivan because he sold it, and proceeded to take her keys and leave. (A little background on this is when they went to buy the van, she couldn't find her license - therefore the van was put in his name. In a later fight he told her he did this on purpose so if she left him she wouldn't have a vehicle. Nice, right?) This is a perfect example of how he is trying to stop her from bettering herself - this behavior starts whenever she does try. Selling her car? Perfect way to stop her from going to school, since she can't get there! Apparently he really did not sell it, but still an idiotic gesture (not that I expect more of him).

She stayed at my parents' house last night to cool down, and will be contacting a lawyer to see what her options are (she wants a divorce obviously). This guy is as smart as a fox - everything that is paid is in his name, any debt is in hers. I can't even talk to my sister, because Mr. Paranoid tapes conversations... monitors her email... the list goes on. She told me last night she gave my father money, and he is going to set up an account for her. She went back home today, because her kids were understandably upset that she was gone, and said she will try to remain civil for the time being, until she knows what she can do. She has quite a rough road ahead of her: finding a job, securing daycare, getting a vehicle if idiot plays games with the van again, which he will, finding somewhere to live, all while dealing with the hell we know he'll put her through. I know my parents will help her as much as possible, but they live on a fixed income now since my father retired. I told her I set up an account for her as well, and I think at least half, if not more, of my second income will be going to her. It's so worth it though, if she will be happy. I really hope anyone out there with doubts about their relationship will see this post and think twice about kids and marriage with that person. Love isn't enough sometimes, and even that wears away when you have to deal with things like this.

*SIGH*

The rest of the weekend was okay, just went by so fast. Sorry to say with everything going on, we missed the carnival from work. Nick's knee also was bothering him, so he wasn't exactly in the mood to go anywhere, let alone walk around. I felt the same. We went shopping to that clothing store, Dots, yesterday and I got 5 shirts and a pair of pants for $81! What a difference, and they are really nice clothes. We also stopped by the AJ Wright next door, and Nick got a pair of jeans (which just happen to be Guess, and really nice) for $20, as well as sneakers, which he needed since he currently had none. Those were $35. Afterwards we stopped by Wendy's (my request, since we hadn't had it in quite awhile) and I got the chicken strips salad, so yes I stayed healthy (by Wendy's standards anyhow!) I also worked out last night. Not going to work out tonight since I am really sore, but I am encouraged because it looks like I dropped another pound. I just scheduled payment for the Sears card to be paid in full on Thursday (that I had used to buy work clothes last week), and transferred $7 to my Money Earned account in ING ($5 from Pinecone Research and $2 from SurveyDirect). So far I have about $130 in there. I haven't transferred all the money though, I still 'owe' my account. I keep a spreadsheet to track what I earn and if I deposited it into savings yet.

I think I mentioned previously that I am loosening up as far as the weekly spending - we try not to spend money as it is, and as much as I analyze it, it's not going to prevent necessary spending. If we were going out and buying big-screen TV's every week, okay then, I'd have a reason to cut back and criticize, but I think we're doing okay, on the right track. We're still good on the groceries we bought 2 weeks ago, although we're going to have to get a few items soon. Anyway, time for me to get off my butt and do some cleaning, and make my lunch/dinner for tomorrow. Already Monday again (groan).

who would've thought...

September 15th, 2005 at 07:35 pm

...that cigarettes might bring in money? Remember I said that Nick quit awhile back? He did - and did well. Then he stupidly picked up one (not in my presence, lol) and it started all over again. I wasn't happy and he said he still really wanted to quit. He's been slowing down on how many he smokes per day, so it's better. Anyway, today I received a notice for a research study - two, actually - one being for smokers in NJ and the other for young women. I'd do the second study, but it's in Manhattan (hour plus away from me now, my mom and friends are close, so I sent it to them) and it would be at night, causing me to miss the 2nd job - the pay is $200 and I figure I'd still make money on it, but it's probably not worth the gas, mileage, request for time off, etc. Hopefully Nick will qualify for the smoker study. If you are from NJ and interested, leave me a comment and I'll forward it on. The rest of you might be interested in signing up with the company as well - it operates across the US.

www.donowresearch.com

We were pleasantly surprised to receive another check from Nick's disability - we had thought he was short a check, and he was - they sent it to the old address, so we have $400 more than expected in the bank. And yes, Best Buy is finito. :O) Nick also got some moisturizing lotion from L'Oreal for Men in the mail - he's probably not as thrilled as I am when I get samples though, hehe.

I felt more comfortable today at work - getting used to everything again. Oh, and everything worked, what a surprise! I actually was able to do something today. I had a good conversation with one of the temps at my job (hopefully she'll be going permanent if everything works out, and I really like her) and we seem so alike. She will be 25 next week and described to me her plan to eliminate debt, save up money, and get her act together financially. All I really could do is agree with everything she said - she literally was approaching everything just as I am - and her life seems to parallel mine in many ways. Weird, huh? I also noticed our web services guy (also 25) had "The Millionaire Next Door" on his desk. Besides the blogs I have seen, this is definitely proof to me that people my age are very interested in their finances. Always a good thing.

I am really glad tomorrow is Friday, I am craving the sleep. I went to bed earlier last night, but still felt really tired this morning. I am tired right now too, but since I am done with the work I had and just relaxing, shoes kicked off, blogging, with my Yahoo! Launch radio playing, I can't complain. Only a half hour (and another day) to get through before the weekend!

*I got home and Nick told me he won $75 on a scratch off. And someone wants to buy the Jeep truck we have for $1500. Not a bad day! Oh, and I got a sample from Mary Kay Smile

reality is tough

September 13th, 2005 at 07:13 pm

I'm at my second job right now, and I have about 45 minutes to kill, so I thought, why not blog? Smile Tonight there was more stuff to do, but still a light night. As easy as this job is, it can get pretty busy. Good news is, the company is having a picnic this Sunday, and it's basically the equivalent of a town fair/mini carnival. My supervisor generously gave me 2 tickets to go, because it's free - EVERYTHING is free. They all are excited about it here. Unlimited food, drinks, ice cream (they said it's every kid's dream - a Haagan Daz ice cream truck is there and you can get whatever you want - as much as you want - FREE). There's rock climbing, paintball, face painting, family portrait pictures, I could go on and on. Lots of stuff, and of course I am drawn because it's not costing me anything. Can't beat free entertainment!

Today started out rough - guess I was really tired, because I slept right through my alarm, and I never sleep through that. So Nick wakes me up at 7:30 (luckily he did wake up at all, or I'd STILL be sleeping) and tells me what time it is, which is coincidentally the exact time I should be at work. Ugh. I really hate being late - and it's my second day back. Waking up and rushing always sours my day. I managed to get there at 8:05, and it was okay ~ but can't let that happen again. It was another slow day, because I don't have tons to do, most of my contacts don't know I am back, and also have been contacting my coworker Sarah in my absence. It's going to take some time. Most of my day was spent trying to find my Outlook subfolders - with the computer switch they're all gone. I had really important info in there for all of my committees, accounts, etc., etc. They are full of 2 years of work, neatly organized so everything is easy to find. I was upset, but then I realized I saved these off the server, so we found them on my old computer - but they are password protected, and for some reason, none of the passwords I know I'd use are working. So - the IT guy is going to try to hack into it. LOL. Ugh. I just feel lost without that information. Plus I have tons of articles I had in a subfolder for inclusion in the newsletter I publish, so all these were 'lost' and so are the contacts I made! Grrr. I still didn't get much done today and I really need to step it up a bit - I didn't get to work until 10 (catching up with boss who wasn't in yesterday), lunch from 12-12:45, then I leave at 4. Time always flew at that place and nothing has changed.

Ooh, I almost forgot. I got an invite to the exclusive Pinecone Research, and did my first survey today! Woohoo Smile It said to expect a welcome packet and my first compensation voucher soon! I have heard only good things about them, and the fact that you can't join without an invite says it's for real. Other than that, my day has been uneventful. I am definitely looking forward to going home and relaxing.

the hours of freedom are winding down

September 11th, 2005 at 03:35 pm

I hope I sleep tonight. I meant to wake up earlier today, and overslept. Nick and I went to Sears today, and I got some pants, shoes, and a top for work. I figured I didn't buy any clothes for work for the summer (cuz I was home) so my work wardrobe needed something. The clothes are nice, needed, but boy are they expensive. Funny I have that opinion since I used to frequent the mall, but in my opinion, most of the stuff there was ugly and nothing special - a button up shirt was $40. I just couldn't justify it. The other items I bought were all on sale, including the shoes (which I really like), but I still spent $90 for 2 pairs of pants, a top, and shoes. HELLO. I only went to Sears because I have specific amounts budgeted for everything, and the money left in the bank is gas money - so I used my cc, and will pay it off when I get my paycheck from the 2nd job next week. I still need to do some more shopping, but it will be at this little store I like, called Dots. They tend to have some nice, cheap stuff.

We also stopped by ShopRite and used the $5 rebate check to pick up apples, bananas, some chocolate stuff for Nick and grapes. Also picked up the free 2 liter of Coca Cola Zero. Total came to $12.04, we paid $6.04. Wish I always had rebate checks. Also got gas on the way home. I noticed prices have dropped somewhat, at some stations (others seem to keep the higher prices, seeing if you're a dummy to pay it) because we paid $3.39. I wish it would drop down to the $2.59 I remember. Isn't that horrible? Ugh.

I have to clean, generally get ready for tomorrow (got my outfit all picked out, feels like back to school lol), and there is a special on tonight about 9/11, the families of Flight 93 that we want to watch. I can't believe it's been 4years. Frown God Bless.

getting closer..

September 9th, 2005 at 06:13 pm

Only 2 days until I go back to work. I think it'll be easy, at least at first, because I have to ease back into it, but I am definitely nervous. More nervous to see how tired I am going to feel, because I am going back to the second job as well. Sooo my day will begin when I wake up around 6, and won't end until 9 p.m. (really 9:30ish, by time I get home). Since I no longer live around the corner from my job (Frown) I'll have to make lunch (and dinner, for the other job) when I get home. Did I mention I want to lose weight too? So yeah, any exercise I want to do has to be done when I get home. Trust me - better chance it will happen at night then when I wake up in the morning!

Today I received my $5 rebate check from Coca Cola - awhile back, ShopRite had fridge packs on sale, 4 for $8. This was a savings of $6, then I sent in for the rebate, so that's another $5, plus a coupon for a free 2 liter of Coca Cola Zero. Oh, and did I mention that I also got credit from Upromise - for the full priced amount?! Wink So the whole thing cost me less than $3. Woohoo, I love me some rebates.

I contacted my financial advisor for my Simple IRA the other day (by email). I requested that he raise my employee contribution to 7%. I currently am only at 3% (the same amount my employer matches). Since I am close to paying off debt, I figured now's a good time to raise it... put it at 10% total. I still haven't heard back though and I'm wondering what the deal is.

OH. Grrrr (time to vent). A week and a half ago, Nick went to the bank and made a cash deposit of $30. Sometimes our bank (Commerce) takes a day or so to show deposits or whatever. I didnt see it, so I gave it an extra day. Nothing. So he stopped by the bank, they said it was their mistake, they'd correct the problem. Fine. Still nothing a few days later. So I email customer service, they look into it, say that the local branch is looking into it, and I'll hear back from them within 3-5 business days on what the outcome is. Still nothing. I am really pissed. Furthermore, I don't know what rights I have, what can I do, if they come back and don't put MY $30 in my account. Thank God it's not more is what I am thinking, that point being both a pro and con at the same time. I mean, what IF it was more - but yet, why did this happen? I mean, $30 would buy me some gas, $30 could be used for alot, it's not chump change. Grrrr I plan on going to the branch tomorrow to fight with them if I have to - and if they don't credit my account, I am going to threaten to write the BBB. I don't know what else I can do. It sucks.

going back to work!

September 7th, 2005 at 02:11 pm

Well, yesterday was my last doctor's appointment, and I will be returning to work on Monday. I am excited to be getting back to a routine, but nervous. Tomorrow marks 3 months that I have been out of work. I will also be returning to the 2nd job on Monday, so it's going to be quite a week of adjustment. Once I start getting weekly paychecks again, it will be nice. My debt repayment plan is sure going to speed up. Best Buy is being paid off on the 15th (that was actually planned without the second income, so there will be cash leftover), and then it's on to Discover. I converted it so that I get the full 5% back on gas purchases, and it's registered with Upromise, so 6% back in all. Once that has been eliminated, I think I am going to simultaneously work at increasing the amount of my EF and paying off the Grand Am. Nick's (my SO) brother is still trying to find a way to pay the car off so he can take it over, but until then, I will pay it down, reap the profit from his payment, and if we're still in the same position down the road, cancel the insurance and save $1100 a year (not that I am paying for it, but again, more profit in my pocket).

My blog, as well as this journal, has really helped me to focus on my goals, and it feels really good to be in the homestretch of this first goal. My financial goals will continue on, but this is the biggest step I needed to take. I really enjoy reading the other PF blogs and journals here that document their struggles, what keeps them motivated, and what their best advice is.

Today I received a $14.97 credit from Gem Avenue, a shop on Amazon.com where we had purchased a wallet for Nick. It was a cheap wallet in price, but looked nice. Well, one of the inside pockets where credit cards are kept started to rip 3 days after we received it, and Nick's wallet is not at all overloaded. We never did anything about it unfortunately, with moving and everything else going on, it just slipped our minds. Well, I received a survey from Amazon about a week or so ago, asking how the service was, etc. and to rate the seller. I explained my problem, and didn't expect anything in return honestly. I was contacted directly by the seller, and they said they wanted to make me happy with their service, so they refunded the full price! I am happy ~ we essentially got a free wallet!

Still waiting on ChexSystems about whether or not they will remove the negative item from my record - here's hoping. I would imagine if it's being removed from my credit report it would be the same for CS. Also, I believe I read somewhere that if the item has been paid, they are obligated to do so, but I may have some incorrect information, not sure. I am factoring charity donations into my budget from here on out, not only to the Red Cross for Hurricane Relief, but also for animal friendly charities. I use MyCheckFree.com to pay some of my bills online, and they have a search engine for any type of charity, any location. I plan on doing so when I get paid on the 15th. I had donated $25, and had used my Discover since I was short on cash (I use it all to pay the bills and put in savings! lol), but plan to continue giving.

Weekly Spending, 8/30-9/4

September 4th, 2005 at 12:41 pm

Wow, this was a great week in spending. I didn't even think we did this well. At the same time, I am not looking forward to upcoming weeks, as I will return to work. Since I no longer live right around the corner from work, not only am I going to have to drag my butt out of bed earlier, but I will also be spending more on gas. The 2nd job isn't far so it's definitely worth it, it can help me afford to go to work. ;O) Just kidding. Kind of. I can afford it technically, but do I want to spend it? No, of course not. Neither does anyone else, it's life I guess. Anyway, here is the breakdown (yes, it's very short):

Item/Description:

$21.33 ~ Rite-Aid Pharmacy on 8/30 (prescription and misc. items)
$7.62 ~ CVS on 8/31 (misc. items)
$16.72 ~ Amazon.com on 9/2 (stamps for SO's job, will be reimbursed!)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------
$45.67 Total Weekly Spending

+105.61 Grocery Spending
-----------------------------------------------
$151.28 - All spending for the week

Now I'd say that's pretty good. The amount is low, and we managed to have a few no spend days thrown in there. This week SO's job gave him the gas card to fill up his tank, so no gas expenses were incurred. That will not be the story for other weeks unfortunately. I still am keeping the grocery and weekly spending separate, so I have $144.39 left to spend on groceries for the remainder of the month ($250 monthly grocery budget).