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Archive for January, 2007

I Sold My First Book!!!!

January 23rd, 2007 at 06:26 pm

While trying to figure out what I would do for this year's $20 Challenge, I decided to give Half.com a try. With last year's challenge, I dipped my toe into selling on E-bay and was a bit scared to do so. This year was no different when it came to Half.com.

I listed 12 books last week. Today when I checked my email, I found the notice stating that a book had sold! Smile It was the Culinary Institute Gourmet Meals in Minutes. The price was $17.99, but I won't add that full amount to my challenge as I found out I have to basically pay shipping.

Strange, Half makes money off both the seller and the buyer, I see. Although I'm alotted $2.78 for shipping, they charged the buyer $3.70. Then they also charged me $2.70 for selling the book. So, Half is making about $3.62 off that same book.

I figure, after shipping, including packaging, I'll have made about $15.00. Oh, I need to take off the $1.50 the book originally cost me. OK, so about $13.50 to the Challenge. Smile

Now I need to figure out the best way to package the book for mailing. I know that because it's a heavy book it shouldn't be sent in just a plain manilla envelope. I don't have any padded ones, so I think I'll try to find an appropriate box. The book has to be sent out by Friday. Guess I'm going box hunting tomorrow. Smile

Going On Strike?

January 17th, 2007 at 07:08 pm

Well, I just got back home from walking an informational picket line for our teacher's union. I know that many people feel that teachers are overpaid, but would you work at a job where they're demanding more and more from you but haven't given you a raise in FIVE YEARS???

Now, even though this was an "informational" picket, we had all four local TV stations there and three different newspapers. We've been trying since July to again negotiate with the distict on a contract that expired in 2005. Considering the amount of work/requirements that they're now almost demanding of teachers, it would sure be nice if they would negotiate in good faith and with respect.

We had another informational picket a couple of months ago. When the press came, we told them that we were just doing this as a sort of low profile event and didn't want the coverage. Guess things changed when the district offered a ONE PERCENT raise! *smile* Now tell me, how insulting is that after five years of nothing?

I'm not 100% sure if the union is thinking of striking, but they are using the language about the steps it takes to get to striking level. It will not be pretty if that happens. *shudder* The strange thing is, the district has the money. What they're trying to do is keep a 5% reserve in funds when the State only requires a 3% reserve. The State gives the district a Cost of Living Adjustment each year. The district chooses not to pass that down to the teachers and uses it for other costs. Frown Hence, no raise!

Although I'm getting sickly, I decided that I really did need to show my support. Hopefully, I won't end up feeling like garbage tomorrow. Frown Don't want to spread it to my students...although I'm pretty sure they're the ones who gave it to me. Wink

I Knew Paypal Didn't Like Me!

January 15th, 2007 at 07:13 pm

I 'tried' to open a Paypal account. Frown I knew it was a bad idea. I've always had a 'feeling' about Paypal not liking me and now I have PROOF!!

It all seemingly went well, although I wasn't sure which account to open. I decided to go with a personal account to start with. The problems started when I couldn't get my primary email address confirmed.

Paypal said they sent a confirmation email but it never showed up in my email account. I waited for hours....NADA! So, I went back onto Paypal and had the email resent....ZIPPO! Then I emailed Paypal through their help system hoping they could figure out what was wrong. I mean, come on, here I am a new account trying to GIVE them my $$.

Guess what....yeppers, that's right...no response! *heavy sigh* I finally decided to try my g-mail account and add it as another on my list of emails. Believe it or not, that one worked PERFECTLY. Problem is, my paypal account is set up under the email that won't work!

I emailed Paypal again last night,through the g-mail account. Yeah, right again, they haven't responded yet! I wouldn't have even opened an account except: 1) it was one of my goals for this year 2)lately more and more Ebay auctions are requesting payment via Paypal only. Usually I pay by money order or cashier's check. Does't seem that's how some people want payment anymore.

On the more positive side,I was able to open up an account on Half.com and list 18 books. *smile* I haven't had any "hits" yet as far as selling any, but I feel confident as I tried to list each book for less than the asking price others were wanting for their's.

Any $$ made from that will be added to the $20 Challenge of which I've added $0 so far. Frown The year is young though. Last year's challenge brought in $1,600 even though I wasn't formally doing the challenge on line.

*fingers crossed* for a year that's just as lucrative! Smile

Dollars for Doggies

January 13th, 2007 at 01:39 pm

I have spent more on my doggies this week than I have on anything else. First, they needed food. Since I don't buy dog food that contains corn meal or ground corn(makes big dogs poop BIGGER), usually I buy the pricier brands. I happened to go to the feed store while they were discontinuing some Avo-Derma (Breeder's Choice) Beef and Rice 40# bags. I bought two for $19.99 each. That $43 after tax is almost what I pay for one bag!

Then, my "pups" needed to get their shots so I could get their licenses renewed. I was only expecting to pay $8 each for the rabies shots, but the gal said I needed to get the Distemper/Parvo vaccine too. Another $13 EACH! I'll be smarter next time and not feel guilty about saying no to the second shot.

Finally, I went to the local city animal shelter to pay for the licenses. The cost was $9 a year, but they said I could pay for 3 years (because that's how long the rabies shots are good for) for $20. So, there went another $40.

My totals were:

Food, $43 Saved $36
Shots $42 Saved by not going to the Vet
Licenses $40 Saved $14

Total Cost
$125 Saved $50

Dang, costly, but well worth it for the unconditional love! Smile

Making My Paycheck Work for Me

January 13th, 2007 at 08:25 am

As I have stated in my goals for this year, I want to become more in tuned to my financial situation, especially in regards to my savings. I've been on auto-pilot for about the last 6-7 years just letting the chips sort of fall where they did. I know because of this I've lost A LOT of $$ in possible interest. I'm now ready to do something about it.

First, a bit of background on what I'm trying to achieve:

My paycheck is direct deposited into my local bank's checking account that makes UNDER 1%. Usually I go into the bank a few days after the check's deposited and transfer about half into my regular savings (.46%, bad, I know), just in case I need it. Pretty much, that's my emergency fund.

When I get what I feel is too much in the regular passbook savings, I transfer it into an account that pays 4.16% and allows additions, but doesn't let me pull the $$ out unless I need $500 or more. You're allowed up to three withdrawls on it over the course of three months before it renews.

From what I've read on these forums, if I'm understanding correctly, internet banks like Ing and Emg. tie into your regular checking and you can EASILY transfer funds from one account to another. I would like to be able to have most of my paycheck transfered to the higher paying account and only pull out what I need into the VERY LOW paying checking account when I'm actually paying off my bills.

There's usually a period of 2 1/2 weeks between when I get my paycheck and when I need a chunk of $$ to pay off bills. I would like to make as much interest off that paycheck as I can.

I've asked for help in the main forums, but I'm actively looking into how I can get this done before my next paycheck at the end of the month. *fingers crossed* We'll see where this leads me. Smile

And The Answer Is....

January 12th, 2007 at 05:49 pm

"Miss J's 4th grade class is selling 'smelly' pencils to raise funds for fieldtrips. Thursday they received a delivery of 4 cases and 2 boxes of pencils. Each case has 4 boxes. Each box has 100 packages of pencils. Each package contains 3 pencils.

How many pencils does the class now have available to sell?"

Scroll down to find the answer!

I used this word problem with my students yesterday. Kids HATE math word problems, except when it's about something that concerns them. As some of you know, I start a business with my students each year: 1) so they can learn that work brings benefits (fieldtrips in our case) and 2) so I can use their buisness to help improve their math.

Every student has a job, whether it be as a cashier, an advertisement executive, a security guard (shame, but we need them), a customer service representative, or an auditor who oversees the checks and balances. They are interviewed and hired for the position. Funny, they're almost protective of the job they've selected. If another student is in their "place", they tell them to move out or on over.

When the state tests roll around, my students are pretty prepared, at least in math! *smile* They are some of the top scorers in our district. This, in a school where 90% of the students are second language learners. When other teachers ask me how I did it (having students score so high on the state tests), I tell them in a questioning tone, "I taught them?" Smile

Getting back to the business...Wow, we have a lot of pencils to sell! The good thing is my class has sold enough pencils to pay back about half the cost I paid out on my credit card to buy and have these pencils shipped out to us. Once I'm paid back, everything else is pure profit!

We should have more than enough pencils to carry us through the next school year. These students will "loop" with me up to 5th grade next year. They should be professional pencil sellers by then!

Oh yeah, the answer to the problem is: 5400 pencils!!!!

Putting It Back Out Into The Universe...

January 10th, 2007 at 09:12 pm

...either that or I'm plain crazy. Smile I received a call from the director of a program I attended in the summer. Seems they're trying to give me $500 for my participation. It just didn't feel right to take the money from them. Let me explain a bit more about the program.

It was a 6 day training in the Arts up at a wonderful camp in the California Redwoods. The gave us (us being teachers that attended) a cabin, feed us 3 meals a day plus snacks, and we had hands on training in the "Art" of our choice (music, dance, theater, or visual arts). It was all FREE, well free to me. I had been given a scholarship of sorts to go. My district had money through a grant that was used to pay for everything.

I picked dance...I'm not a real dancer, but that was the whole point, to get training in a discipline that you have minimal experience in. The days were long, 8am-10pm, with the training being about 2/3 of the time. The rest of the time was more book work, learning how to write up lesson plans that would coordinate with the state standards. My "PAUD" (pronounced pod) was taught by 2 instructors and only had about 14 people in it. Great way to learn with those numbers. Wish the classes I taught had numbers like that!

Anyway, it was a fantastic experience. There were probably 160 teachers from all over northern California there. Some very amazing people, I do have to say.

I've taken back some of the dances to my classroom. My 4th grade students LUV doing some of the Call and Response type dances/chants. They're always asking if we can do another one. Now, part of it may be that they don't have to do "schoolwork" during that time and that it makes the day go by faster, but I like to think it's because they truly get something else out of it. *smile*

Now you see why when I got the call from the director of the entire program trying to pay me that $500 stipend for attending, I just couldn't take it. I asked her to put it back in the program "coffers" and offer it as a scholarship to someone else. She seemed actually shocked!

She then said that, if I wanted, I could find my own scholarship recipient from other teachers in my district. I told her I'd put the word out, but if she found someone deserving of the funding, that she should feel fine about giving it to them.

Here I am, trying to manage my money, start a new retirement program, and fix my house up, and I'm giving $$ away. Sounds a bit crazy, I know, but I have to believe that it all will come back around. Smile

Hey, anyone need a scholarship? *smile*

Windchimes and Memories

January 7th, 2007 at 04:02 pm

Several months ago, my back porch area was rebuilt. My windchimes had to come down and were relegated to just being kept outside in a plastic tub. Well, weather being weather, the tub filled up with rain water and the windchimes were forgotten.

I don't know what got into me, but I decided that they should be re-hung. I took them out of the tub, cleaned them off, restrung one of them that had "rotted" from being submerged in water for months and figured out the best location for each one.

Today, as they tinkled in the wind, my mind floated back in time. While I was growing up, my mom always had windchimes. She usually got the glass ones that had pressed flowers between the panes of each chime. Being out on the 'farm', in the open air, where the breezes would gently push those chimes together, those memories were nudged into my conciousness as I listened to the musical concert. It brought such a smile to my face.

My mom passed just over two years ago. When clearing out her mobile home (a long way from the farm we had grown up on), I heard something and went out to her back porch. There was a large windchime, the only one she had left, just spinning in the wind, making its presence known.

I remember restringing that windchime for my mom years ago. She was quite upset that it had become tangled and broken. Some fishing line, a bit of time and it was ready to sing its song again. My mom was delighted. She always loved the sound of those chimes.

When it comes to windchimes, you have to find just the 'right' one. Some chimes play a song that just doesn't sound like sweet singing to your ears. I have been known to 'play' every set of windchimes in a store just to hear the sound, looking for the one that calls me. I'm sure my mom must have done the same thing. The song of the chimes had to call her as they do me now.

It turns out that my younger sister wanted those chimes at my mom's house and I let her take them. It's the only set of chimes my sister has hanging in her patio. No doubt, she has memories of mom whenever she hears them play.

Rehanging mine has made me both happy and sad. I miss my mom terribly, and although she isn't here to listen to their songs, my hearing the chimes sing brings back many memories of the times she and I shared together.

So I Went to Target x2

January 5th, 2007 at 04:56 pm

Now, I was debating this morning if I should hit up Target while they were having their 90% off seasonal stuff. Yes, I went, but am quite proud of how I did. At my local store, I spent $5 on cards, cutters and a few gift bags. This was after I looked at ALL the stuff in my basket and decided that I really didn't need MOST of it. I left the basket near where everyone was digging through the sale items and just took what I knew I could use.

Then, after getting in my car, I decided that I should enjoy the sunshiney day and head over to the Target 25 miles away. Now there, I spent a bit more, $21, but got a lot of stuff that I didn't see at my local store.

My 4th graders aren't the best when it comes to using scissors, so I bought 10 paper cutters. They look almost like disposable razors. I'm going to play with one and see how they'll work for my students.

There were also Teacher Calendars that I'm going to give out as gifts to some of the teachers at school. I'm so tempted to open them up and read them. They're the page-a-day type with sayings and jokes to make your day a bit lighter.


Well, there was one more thing (or should I say 10 more things) that I just happened to spy. No where near the 90% off seasonal stuff was a HUGE display of Special Edition White Fudge Covered Oreos. *smile* For anyone who hasn't had these, I do have to say, they're better than sex. Maybe not better than really good sex, but better than everyday, just cuz ya have ta sex. Smile

Now, they were marked $2.70 with a big sign on top of them. I thought for a minute and decided that I should scan a box. They came up .27 EACH. Thinking quickly, normally one box is $2.70 and these are .27, I could get 10 boxes for the price of one. Smile I'm bad, I know.

As soon as I got home, I gave two boxes away to a friend of mine and told her if she wanted anymore, just come ask. You know what she did? She punched me in my arm!!!! Geezzz, not like I was TRYING to ruin her New Year's Resolution! Smile She promptly ate two cookies...then two more. Thankfully, I've only had ONE cookie and since there's only 12 cookies in a box, I'm going to have to portion them out. Smile

Anyway, I'm done with shopping for a long time, that is, except for groceries. I've never been much of a shopper. Flea markets, garage sales, I can do those, but getting into a mall and looking at the exact same thing in every store one enters....naw, I don't have that shopping gene.

Time to work on saving my $$ and getting my retirement squared away. I found all the paperwork for the school district's self-funded (meaning I have to pay into it, not them) retirement plan. I'm going to look up and research the best funds that I can use in my 403(b).

I also think I need to start writing down where my $$ are going. Managing it has never been a problem for me, as I'm a saver more than a spender, but I'd like to see if there's another corner to cut.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

January 5th, 2007 at 08:57 am

Target is calling me. All of their seasonal stuff went on 90% off and I'm wondering if there just might be "something" there that I should go get.

I did go when it was 75% off and spent $41. That got me 3 CD's (including the new John Ledgend Christmas one to be used as a gift), WAY too many bags of Almond Roca (that I had coupons for, making it .25 a bag), 3 page-a-day calendars (2 that were gifts), 1 box of Christmas cards (for next year), a double pack of Gald Press 'n Seal (one regular, one freezer), and assorted other stuff that just doesn't come to mind. Smile

I've been working on cleaning/purging the house and freecycling/craigslisting things I don't want anymore. I'm to that point where I NEED to get out of the house. My doggies are driving me nuts. I go back to work on Monday, and that will be a shock after being off for 3 weeks. I have to ease myself back into the real world. Smile

Well...hmmmmm.....Targetttt Smile

Anyone Want a Couple of Doggies?

January 4th, 2007 at 11:05 am




The part of California I live in has been blessed with some nice weather since the beginning of the year. Today, it's pouring rain. Well, my doggies decided they wanted outside and I took the opportunity to sweep the house and put on a new slip cover to the overstuffed chair I have in the living room.

Yep, you guessed it! Not only did my doggies go play in the rain, they decided to DIG in the mud. Oooo, what a mess. I had to wipe them all down, clean their paws as best I could, and toss the mud covered towel in the washer for a good soaking.

Of course, my puppy, the Golden Retriever, decided that she was good to go when it came to jumping up on the new slipcover. I had to pull her off (cuz she surely didn't want to leave that clean smell behind) and recover the chair with the old slipcover. She seems quite content now draping her head over the edge of the arm.

The other dog, the American Staffordshire Terrier, decided she wanted to romp on the couch. She has to stomp the cushions "just right" before she plops herself down.

They are a handful sometimes, but are the most loving dogs. Enjoy the pics!

Can Y'all See This???

January 3rd, 2007 at 06:21 pm

...yeah, right here. Come a little closer. Is it just me or right here across my forehead does it say S-U-C-K-E-R? Well, then what about this cap I'm wearing. You know, the pointy one. Is that D-U-N-C-E I see?

I have got to be one of the most gullible people out there. My ex-bf came over my house today to, once again, "borrow" money. He's been having a real rough two years. He's a carpenter by trade and while working a job, he had an entire side of a house fall on him as the crew was trying to raise it. With that, it broke his back.

Now, yes, he did go on disability, but was still living like he was working full time and having that income. When the settlement came, he was so behind on bills already, that most of the $$ went to catch up.

Fast forward to this year and his ex-gf (me). He's come around several times in dire straights begging for a loan. Now, y'all know it's not a loan, 'cuz I'll never see a cent of it. Let's just call it a gift then. This gift is now at $2,900!!!!

I know, I know! I told you I had sucker writen across my forehead! For many different things, I can say no. To many different people (usually myself the most), I can say no. But to him, I just can't seem to say it. I feel so badly for everything he's gone through and I don't want to see him out on the streets.

Here I am, trying to find ways to cut back, save, figure out how to use things one more time, and I have given this man one-twelfth of my total take home pay for a year! *heavy sigh* This is one thing that I don't know how to control. Frown

Stepping into the $20 Challenge

January 2nd, 2007 at 09:39 pm

I've been thinking of joining the $20 Challenge for some time. Now, with my goals for the new year in writing, I think the my Journey and the Challenge can go hand in hand.

One of my goals is to get rid of 1/3 of the "stuff" in my house. I've already started to donate items through Freecycle, but have other things that I'd like to get some $$ for. I placed my first Craigslist ad today selling 23 of my cookbooks.

I love cooking, but seem to be a major collector of books. So much so, that I have an entire room filled with them (no lie!). Letting 23 of them go is only a grain of sand in the desert.

Listing them on E-bay, Half or Amazon was just something I didn't have the patience to do. For some of my teaching books, I'll do that. We'll see how this ad goes first.

Anyone with Craigslist experience? Half.com? Amazon? Tips? Tricks?

For the $20 Challenge, I'm starting with nothing. If the books sell, I should have $30 as my seed money. *fingers crossed*

Cell Phone Plan Change

January 2nd, 2007 at 05:26 pm

I am so HAPPY!!! I changed my T-Mobile cell plan over to T-Mobile To Go pre-paid plan. Bills...I hate 'em...trying to remember to pay them on time, well that I hate even more. The older I get, the fewer bills I want to see. *smile*

With changing over to the pre-paid plan, I can buy 1000 minutes for $100 and they last up to a year. If I was the sort who HAD to have a cell phone, I'm sure there would be a plan that would cost me less per minute than ten cents, but I've been paying premium rates on the minutes I wasn't using. What a waste of $$$.

My contract ended in December, so there were no extra fees for closing the one plan and opening the other. They said they will port my number (GREAT!).

Funny thing is, when I initially went into the T-Mobile store to find out more about their alternative plans, they told me that I would have to spend $50 on a "To-Go" kit to change over even though I already had one of their phones! I asked about this when I called the 800 number and they said I didn't need to pay anything extra to change plans. Hmmmm....wonder why the push from the store?

Anyway, with the changes in insurance and cell phone plans I've made today, I should be saving an extra $500 or so a year. Smile YIPPEEEEE!!!

Insurance Premiums

January 2nd, 2007 at 04:14 pm

For the first step of this life journey I'm on, I called a different insurance company that is recommended by the local teacher's association. Although they charge more on my second car (my big, old truck that I only drive a couple of times a month) than I currently pay, overall their cost was less annually for both vehicles.

Using the additional 10% off for combining both my home owner's and the auto insurance, I can save about $335 a year. Also, the amount of coverage for both insurances goes up. Not bad, pay less and get increased coverage.

I do need to check with my current insurance company to find out what my deductibles are. The deductibles that the new insurances are based on are $1000 on both cars and home. I have a feeling that my current deductibles for both is only $500 each. We'll see.

I'll give my insurance a chance to match this new coverage. If they can't, I'll be moving over to the "teacher's" insurance as soon as possible.

My next step along this journey is to change my cell phone plan. I'll call T-Mobile and see if I can move over to a pre-paid plan. Currently, I'm on the $19.95 a month plan plus taxes, that gives 60 anytime minutes and 500 minutes on the weekends. I rarely use the phone and think spending the $100 for 1000 anytime minutes would be a better deal considering my usage.

If anyone knows of a better plan, let me know. Smile

Not Resolutions, Goals!

January 1st, 2007 at 10:43 am

In order to make things a bit more concrete in my mind, I have decided to use this journal as a way to keep myself accountable for changes, i.e. goals, that I'm planning for myself. What I would like is to have more of a life's purpose, not only my work life, but in all areas.

Being a teacher, that purpose is pretty clear to me during my work day, but it's after the time when the teaching ends, that things become more fuzzy and clouded. I used to be the type of person who had so many different goals, but now as I've gotten older, the goals have been met, and no new ones have taken their place. Now is the time to start to clearly define what NEW goals I need to set up to help on this Life's Journey.

I want more joy in my life. I want to feel that I'm accomplishing more, not to look good or better for others, but for that almost palpable feeling of fulfillment. For what is life, if it is not full.

With that in mind, I've decided to set up three main goal areas of things I'd like to work on this year. This is an initial list. Expect changes!!!

FINANCIAL GOALS:

-set up a retirement account through work

-contribute fully to an IRA

-sell unwanted items and use the money to pay for home repairs

-research new home/auto insurances to find the best for less that currently paying

-have a will drawn up

-find a place for all financial paperwork to be centrally located, easily obtainable place

-get a free electronic bill paying system through my bank to save $$ on paying bills

-set up a PayPal account through a separate bank other than main one

-check into cancelling monthly cell phone plan and going to a pre-paid plan

PHYSICAL LIVING SPACE GOALS

-get kitchen finished

-beautify front/back/side yards

-clear out one-third of "stuff" in house

-organize garage

PERSONAL GOALS

-attend classes/workshops of interest

-build friendship base

-find activities that I love that will help me drop weight

-train my dogs

These are just the basic ideas for the main goals. What these "basics" don't state is how it's all going to be accomplished. I will be thinking about the different ways each goal might be obtained and list those ideas here at a later date. Any help will be greatly appreciated.

It is through the attainment of these goals that I hope to clear my mind of all the clutter, just as I hope to clear my house/life's clutter. With that done, I should be able to focus on the idea of "fulfillment" that I mentioned earlier.

First the drudgery then, with a clear path, all journeys are possible . *smile*