Monday, December 27, 2010


Well, I'm very late with this post, and it's not hard to see why. The tally is depressing depressing depressing.

It's all about that new A/C unit. And then I had to have the water heater repaired. Only it turns out that merely repairing it ($100) might not have been good enough, and I may well need a new one ($450). Well, this house is 12 years old. I guess it's not surprising that things are falling apart. The dishwasher already doesn't work, but I'm okay with that. I am, however, waiting with bated breath for the refrigerator to go one of these days.

In November, I got $528.15 from PayPal (my eBay sales). And $7 from a Chex check. Lesson: If you find something in a box of food, always mail it to the company. They send back coupons and/or money. I mean “free” item coupons. Also, some amount from Amazon, but I don't recall how much.

On other fronts, I managed to overdraw one of my two bank accounts by $161.24. I'm still not sure what happened. But at one point those stinkers drew $25 off of the credit card attached to the account (overdraft protection)--and charged me $10 for the privilege from the checking account side and ANOTHER $3 from the credit card side! So I complained and got both of them credited back. Two separate phone calls. It never hurts to try! And always ask for the supervisor, because the first person will often say it can't be done.

My other bank account, meanwhile, has been running an excess balance of $470.13 for months now. I also have no earthly idea how this came about. I've been afraid to touch it, but last month I finally did. I acknowledged $400 of the money, then promptly spent it.

When I paid my bills, I decided to keep out around $900 so I might actually have some money to take care of a few things during December (having my house washed: $150 and overdue; and don't get me started on getting my shower recaulked... and my porch repainted), but things came up in rapid succession and within a few days I was down to $74.

Well, Christmas is behind us, as is all the associated spending. Tax refunds are ahead of us. Time to tighten the old belt buckle (I'm down to 132, so that shouldn't be too hard!!), nose to the grindstone, recommit to getting this done.

By the end of 2011, I want my credit card debt to be in the four figures and out of the five figures. That's my goal.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Anti-Hoarding Measures

Men's Health (1-year auto-renewal)I am cleaning my room today! The clutter has started to build again, and the word “hoarder” keeps bouncing around in my brain.

Especially when I got rid of Men's Health from 2005-2008 (again, keeping only the Gerard Butler issue).

But I also had six back issues of The Week magazine. Reading a six-week-old issue of The Week is like reading a six-week-old newspaper. Why do I let this happen?

Again, I console myself with the thought that it's less hoarding than “can't keep up with my life, not even the magazine part”.

After being listed on eBay many times, my wedding rings sold yesterday for $100. I also sold a 1979 Who's Who in American High School Students (Western States edition) for $7. That one I was really just happy to rehome rather than drop in the round file!

I am trying to get more serious about my eBay listings again. Gotta start somewhere. But Amazon has blocked all my toy sales until after the holidays because I'm not a big enough “merchant”.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November Tally

I really need to write this part first, to make myself feel better! After sending in that additional $550 check, my tally dropped to $16,779.38.

Sadly, when I finished paying my bills just now, my November tally came in at $16,630.81. So “working ahead” mid-month didn't really do much for me!

But if you add in that new A/C debt, which I am obviously loathe to do because it erases so very much of my progress, then my current tally is $21,741.81.

One step forward, five thousand steps backward.

I am now only $2,541.79 ahead of where I was when I started. I suppose another way to look at that would be to consider that I would have had to incur the A/C debt either way. But, you know, right now that doesn't really help.

As Cathy often says, I feel like the universe is conspiring against me.

The Depressing Part

Right around the time that my A/C went, I calculated exactly how much I owe on my house.

I bought my house for $231,000, but rolled in closing costs, so I really paid $240,000. I got an 80/15/5 mortgage, which means I paid 5% down ($12,000), put 80% into the first mortgage, and owed the remaining 15% in a second mortgage. So really I guess I started off owing $228,000.

Well, kids are expensive. I ended up rolling credit card debt over into my second mortgage. Twice. Each time vowing never to let my credit card debt climb again. Ha ha.

At first, that didn't seem so bad. The value of my house inflated to a whopping $500,000. But then the economy tanked. My realtor told me a few days ago that today I could get around $285,000-$290,000 for it. I've lived here nearly eight years. Once I factor in closing costs on both ends and moving costs, I'm not sure that would leave me with enough money for a down payment on a new place. If I wanted to move. Which I don't. Right now. Well, except to Hawaii.

As of today, I owe $167,398.51 on my first mortgage and $60,000 even on my second mortgage (which always gives me the option to pay “interest only”, so that's what I do) for a total of $227,398.51. That's $601.49 less than I paid for it, if you take the down payment into consideration. It's $3,601.49 less if you use the $231,000 figure and $12,601.49 less if you use the $240,000 figure. But I obsess...

Under almost any calculation, I now owe more on that new A/C unit than I've paid down on my house.


My A/C went. I needed to replace my twelve-year-old unit in its entirety. $5,202 (with $795 of that being a ten-year parts and labor warranty, which is absolutely necessary because some expensive coil goes every sixteen months, at around $1,600 a pop).

And here's where I got stupid. I was so tired when the Del-Air rep came over and met with me. He went over everything. I made my decisions. I asked him what I would find out if I contacted his competitors. He said that since they were the largest around, no one could match their prices. And, like a complete idiot, I believed him and didn't do my homework. In my defense, I was tired. And hot. And in a hurry. But still.

Then while Del-Air was here doing the install on a Friday, two different people asked me why I wasn't using Air Temp, a rival company. So on Monday I called Air Temp. When all was said and done, they quoted me a price that would have been $572 lower for exactly the same equipment and install.

So not only am I out $5,202 I can ill afford, but I made a bad deal.

Oh, and of course I contacted Del-Air in an attempt to get that $572 refunded. After three solid days of jerking me around, they gave me... absolutely nothing.

But I did get a lecture about their quality. I guess they forgot about the time one of their technicians set my attic on fire and then sat down on my stairs and cried.

And I also got a lecture about how they'd put together the financing, and that'd “cost” them something. But he stopped talking when I said the word “kickback”. Just like with auto dealerships, I'm sure.

Bottom Line: I am now carrying an additional $5,202 in credit card debt at a “special” rate of 5.9% on a card where all the other rates are 27.99%. And I'm not even sure how long that 5.9% rate is guaranteed. I'm scared to make the call to find out. And entirely too depressed.

After all my progress, that $5,202 is weighing down on my shoulders very, very hard.

We've been putting off braces for Cathy. My car is older than Maryanne, who would like a car of her own. My living room furniture has holes in it. But, hey, Del-Air now has my $5,202.


It's been one month and one day since my last entry. I've been too discouraged to write. I don't even know where to begin. But if I don't begin, I'll never get back on track.

On October 17th, I pulled $500 out of my Paypal account and then mailed off a check for $550 to a credit card. (That's $500 Paypal bucks + $50 bonus reward money from my Amazon Visa.) So that's THIRTY-TWO, THIRTY-THREE, THIRTY-FOUR, THIRTY-FIVE, and THIRTY-SIX, with $80.68 left towards THIRTY-SEVEN.

Then disaster struck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!!

I am in an amazingly good mood.

I am 49 years old today. My goal for a long time has been to turn 50 in the best shape of my life. (Sadly, that's actually setting the bar rather low!) As part of that goal, I decided to try to get my weight down to 130 by today, then follow that up by actually maintaining the weight loss (for a change) for an entire year, while simultaneously exercising and getting in better shape.

Well, I didn't make my goal. But since July 1st, I have lost 12 pounds (!!!) and I made it all the way to 131.5, which is close enough for me to feel great about it. And I do feel great. I mean, I feel better. It's amazing how much of a difference it makes, not having to drag around those extra pounds of lard.

I got another $50 rewards check from Amazon Visa, which mostly just tells me that I'm still spending too much money at! So that brings me $80.68 towards my next hundred dollars.

They're stinkers. All the credit card companies are. I just got an offer in the mail from Amazon: an extra 2500 bonus points (=$25) if I spend $1600 between October 1st and December 31st on my credit card. They just live to help us rack up the debt, don't they?

And within the last few days, I saw two credit card offers in magazines: (1) Every time you charge a restaurant meal to our card, we'll enter you in our drawing 5 times!! (2) Buy with our card and your purchase may be free! Every few minutes, one of our customers gets their purchase for free. It might be you!

Time to pay it down.

On October 17th, I'm going to log right back onto Paypal and get out my next $500.

I just had a bunch of eBay auctions close. I only sold two small items. But since listing is free until early January, I just turned right back around and relisted everything. It never ceases to amaze me how one week something can generate no interest whatsoever, and the following week it suddenly sells well.

I just finished reading Room. Really good book.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


When last we left my “count”, I had $5.49 towards TWENTY-THREE. Well, I got a refund from Calvert School for the art kit for $187. Then I pulled $500 out of my PayPal account that was money I made on eBay. I sold a couple of things on Amazon and took those payouts. Also, I helped a friend sell something which shall remain nameless, for which she gave me a “commission” of $100. I made $25 cash selling some dresses in town instead of on eBay. And I found $4 in Susan B. Anthony and Sacajawea coins lying around the house.

leftover $5.49
refund $187
eBay $500
Amazon $77.80
Amazon $31.39
commission $100
dresses $25
coins $4

That's a total of $930.68 aka TWENTY-THREE, TWENTY-FOUR, TWENTY-FIVE, TWENTY-SIX, TWENTY-SEVEN, TWENTY-EIGHT, TWENTY-NINE, THIRTY, THIRTY-ONE, and $30.68 towards THIRTY-TWO. And it doesn't count the $700+ I have sitting at PayPal!

OCTOBER TALLY $17,329.38

Just caught an embarrassing grammatical “typo” in my last entry. Good thing no one reads this blog, eh?

Well. I feel less than optimal about what I accomplished in the last month. It isn't that I didn't get the debt paid down; I did. But the two cards I actually use came in quite high this month.

My Amazon Visa debt was $512.60. The problem is that the card only shows the individual purchases as “Amazon”. So I don't know if I bought something useful (gluten-free food) or something stupid. And Amazon makes it none too easy to look at a summary of your monthly purchases, for what are probably obvious reasons.

Then my Disney Visa came in at a staggering $819.83. As I looked at what made that total so high (mail-order diabetes supplies, annual AAA payment, etc.), I could see that the individual purchases were actually justified. But, dang, that total was high!

Usually I use the points on my Disney Visa to pay for Mickey's Halloween Party, a very overpriced event that I can feel good about only by feeling like I didn't actually pay for it. But this year I must have really cut down on my credit card expenses, because I don't even have enough points to pay for all three of us to attend the party for “free”. So I'll have to pay out-of-pocket and save my points for annual passes in the spring.

Anyway, I paid both of those cards in full, then stared at my finances for a while longer before paying another $1,016.72 on my actual credit card debt.

Leaving me with a total debt of (drum roll, please) $17,329.38, another nice drop!

I hope I have enough money left over to make it through the month! And I plan to continue selling on eBay, where listing is free until early next year!

I have sold so much stuff on eBay that, due to the $500 monthly withdrawal limit, I have funds at PayPal I can't even access until mid-November. I have over $700 sitting there. I hear I can request a debit card and access the money sooner, but then I'd be worried that I'd actually spend some of it, defeating the whole purpose.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

iPads and Aspergers

Apple iPad MC349LL/A 16gb (Wi-fi + 3g)Yesterday I went to the eye doctor. And I had to drag poor Cathy with me.

There was a man there in the second waiting room (don't ask) using an iPad. I want an iPad. We got to talking. He mentioned that his daughter, who was born with a terminal condition and has spent her entire life lying in a wheelchair, could use the iPad very well. He went on and on about her. She is 14. She has some sort of neuromuscular disorder.

Of course, I didn't mind hearing about her. And he showed us a very nice photo of her at Disney World with Minnie and Mickey. But Cathy has Aspergers and one of her “things” is not doing well hearing about diseases. She was looking more and more queasy as this conversation went on.

I kept asking her if she was doing okay. She said yes, but indicated that she really wanted a subject change. Several times. The man did not take this well. He scowled over that quite a bit.

It is interesting that a man who has spent over 14 years with a seriously disabled child for whom he must have constantly needed and demanded understanding from others could not grant an iota of understanding to my child. It clearly didn't even cross his mind that she might be different, just that she might be rude.

I guess anyone can be tolerant of differences. As long as they're your own.

Monday, September 13, 2010

eBay sales

Again, all that fuss... and the Statue of Liberty sold for $500. To a woman in Brazil. And the wedding bands sold to a woman in the Philippines. I must have forgotten to check the box that says “no international shipping”. What a pain!

So here is what I sold TODAY:

Statue of Liberty $500
wedding bands $100
diamond ring $148.08
Viewmaster $49.01
Animal Ark books $3
more Animal Ark books $15.50
even more Animal Ark books $30
audiotapes $10

For a grand total of... $855.58!

Did I mention that was just TODAY???

Woo hoo!

eBay Countdown

My Statue of Liberty auction closes in 48 minutes, and again there are no bids!

I tried to write eBay about this to ask how this could even happen. You are not supposed to be able to withdraw your bid! But I couldn't send the e-mail without having a specific person to complain about, and since the history now says “no bids”, there is no information about the person who placed and withdrew his bid. On this or any of the auctions where it happened. It's just bizarre!

But my diamond ring is back to having not merely one but two bids. This has been a bit of a roller coaster, this time around. I've never had anyone withdraw a bid before, let alone multiple people on multiple auction items.

43 minutes. 257 views. 14 watchers. Now let's just hope somebody out there does something more than watch!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Anxiously Awaiting eBay results

Horse in the House (Animal Ark Series #26)Statue of Liberty auction closes in exactly 24 hours. Still just the one bid, but 207 views and 12 watchers.

The bidder on the diamond ring must have withdrawn his bid, because this morning there is none. I didn't even know you could do that.

But on the plus side, all three of my sets of Animal Ark books now have bids. So that's an additional $45.50. If no one withdraws their bids!

I have a number of lucrative auctions closing tomorrow, so this should be interesting!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Upcoming ebay gains

Fisher-Price Super Sounds Projector with Remote ControlI've already had another bid on the Lego Statue of Liberty. I am at $500, but with 171 views and 12 watchers the price is bound to go higher. Two days left.

I have never had such a high-interest item.

I have a number of auctions closing in the next three days. Here are my current bids:

Statue of Liberty $500
wedding bands $100
diamond ring $100
Smurf stuff $22.50
Viewmaster crap $30
audiotapes the kids have outgrown $10
4 little Animal Ark books $3

So that's at least $765.50 I'll be getting in a few days for stuff that was just lying around the house unused and unwanted.

The Viewmaster lot in particular surprised me. (Can you tell?) The main part of it sells for only $12.25 new on Amazon, and the disks are for the most part pretty boring. (Israel! Historic England! Lewis & Clark!)

Stay tuned!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lego Statue of Liberty -- Again

Lego 3450 Statue of Liberty Sculpture 2882 PiecesOh, well. The one bid I had on the Statue of Liberty asked me to cancel his bid because he found one locally and purchased it on the spot. Locally. In Holland! I don't want to ship internationally, anyway.

I canceled the bid.

I'm still very optimistic, though. I've had 116 views and have 11 watchers. One of them will bid the minimum. I just know they will. They have to!!! Aaargh...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

On a roll!!!

Playmobil Viking LongboatThat Statue of Liberty is proving more interesting to buyers than the silver! 99 views and 11 watchers. Days left in the auction! I tell you, there isn't much in my house that I wouldn't part with for $500!

Last night, I sold a Playmobil Viking Ship that I'd had posted on Amazon for months. I sold it for $80 and will make around $70. Knowing me, I doubt I paid more than $30 for it! I am on a roll... especially since someone sold the identical used ship for $15 on ebay!

That got me to thinking. Cathy has some Lego castle set gathering dust in the garage. Without going and looking at exactly which one it was, I was still able to see on ebay that she's looking at between $150 and $200 for this castle she doesn't care about anymore!

Of course, that will be her money. Most everything I get is getting thrown at the credit card debt, but an occasional item so clearly belongs to one kid or the other that they really need to keep the money. No matter. She's putting it straight into the “cruise fund”. Apparently, we are saving for a seven-night Disney cruise. And we are about one-third of the way there. More if I can convince Maryanne to go get a part-time job at Disney World and make use of all the benefits!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lego Statue of Liberty

Lego 3450 Statue of Liberty Sculpture 2882 PiecesI just sold my Statue of Liberty!!

Okay, so it's not the $1,500 I was asking for it on Amazon. I put it on eBay for $500 plus $50 shipping, and I already got a bid! 76 views and 8 watchers. Who knew???

Monday, September 6, 2010


I paid off my Amazon Visa in full. I paid off my primary-use card in full (again!). I wrote a check for $125 to my USAA card that's charging 0% interest. And I had $950 left over towards the other card on which I'm carrying a balance.

After all was said and done, I ended up with a new total of $18,457.51.

Let's take a moment here.

I have one sheet of paper on which I've been tracking monthly totals since January of 2009. That's one of the reasons I started this blog; that paper was so darned depressing.

In January of 2009, my total was in the $28K range. Following my tax refund, my total spent the rest of the year in the $26K range, but then bounced back up to the $28K range (annual Disney passes, no doubt) shortly before tax refund time in February of 2010.

Now admittedly my tax refund helped some, but I have actually knocked this debt down from around $28K to around $18K in seven months. THAT'S $10,000! Even since the start of the blog, while I have “found” only $2,900, I have knocked the total down around $6,000. Amazing what a little tight-fisted focus can do!


And now, time for the monthly reckoning!!

I received a refund check from The Teaching Company for $149.95 for DVDs I returned. I can't even remember what they were about. Must have been important!

I got another $21.57 from selling something or other on Amazon.

And I took $500 out of Paypal from all of my ebay sales. In fact, I have been selling so much stuff on ebay, that I have around $300 sitting in my Paypal account, but I can only withdraw $500 per month. So that's a good start on next month!

That's a total of $671.52 PLUS the $33.97 I have left over from last month, for a grand total of $705.49. So that's...
(drum roll, please)...


with $5.49 left over towards THIRTY.

That plumbing business may well be a setback, but on the other hand, it turns out that Cathy didn't need new glasses this year. One way or another, it'll all work out. The plumbing/ceiling repair would have happened either way...

Hole-y Terror

I have been frantically ebaying all day long. Tomorrow is the last day to list items for free, but tomorrow Cathy will need the computer back for schoolwork.

Two nights ago (Saturday), I took a bath. Later that night, Maryanne and I were watching TV in the living room when I happened to look up and completely freaked out. There was my bathwater, discoloring the living room ceiling.

Even though it was 9:00 at night, I called my plumber, who kindly called me back. I was completely freaking out. He did his best to calm me down, and by the time he showed up the next day, I was in fact much calmer. As we walked towards the living room, he assured me that the sheetrock would probably dry and all would be well.

And then he saw my living room ceiling. He said, “Ohhhhh,” and I knew I was completely hosed. So for the next month or so, my life will be dominated by the upcoming HOLE in my living room ceiling. Very sad. And don't even get me started on the expense.

I know things like this happen in life, and we just have to deal with them. But they always seem so big right when they're happening to you. Or, rather, me...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Happy September First!

It's September already!

My eBaying continues. Although, really, sometimes I'm not sure how I'll live without my silver Garfield coin or the four latest issues of Beckett's Online Fun magazine that Cathy doesn't want since it used to be Webkinz Magazine and then Plushie Pals and has now gotten too far afield.

Cathy's birthday is coming up, and I don't know what to get her. On the one hand, I've become seriously tightfisted. On the other hand, it is her birthday. On the third hand, everything she wants is unreleased video games! Sonic Colors, Sonic the Hedgehog IV, Scribblenauts, Pokemon Black and White...

Maryanne is easier to shop for. With college on the horizon, all she ever wants these days is cash.

Maryanne took the dog to the vet. $175. And then they wanted to schedule an appointment to have her teeth cleaned under general anesthesia for $365!! Now we know where they really aim to make their money. We decided that our dog's teeth could stay dirty.

Monday, August 23, 2010

More eBay Adventures

First day of school!!

Sorry, I've been remiss in my blogging. I was off flirting with a boy.

But I'm back now.

Fortunately, I have not been as remiss in my money collecting!

The eBay promotion allowing free listings continues, and I have been attempting to take full advantage of it. I've even gotten smarter about it; I try to have all of my listings close on the weekend, so I can send Dan my Ex and Errand Boy to the post office on Monday or Tuesday. Of course, that only works if people are prompt in paying!

Last week, I listed 8 items. Sold one.

So this week, I relisted the 7 unsold items plus one more. Sold 5. Go figure. And I'd be happy to pack them all up... if the two holdouts would pay me! I also had the fortune of finding a second Calvert Grammar Disk after I'd sold the first one for more than I thought I'd get (around $17), so I was able to make a “second chance” offer to the second highest bidder, who promptly snapped up my second grammar disk.

It's all good.

This weekend, I was trying to list like a demon, but some listings are more time-consuming than others. I'm selling everything from spelling disks the kids are done with to my commemorative silver Star Trek coin.

And selling a bunch of items at once brings up a whole new problem. Not packing material. Oh, no. I have a garage full of empty Amazon boxes. But keeping all the packages straight, making sure I'm sending the right item to the right person, is a bit more stress-inducing than I had anticipated!

Another problem I encountered is that on two items I forgot to charge shipping!! Fortunately, they were light cheap items. But, hey, two bucks is two bucks, especially when the item only sold for around $9. That cuts into the profit margin big time. I now watch that step very carefully.

Maryanne is back from her month-long European vacation. She got back on Friday and promptly headed to school on Monday. She licked jetlag in one day! Ah, to be young again.

On Saturday, Maryanne will be taking our dog to the vet for her annual physical, shots, and all that. And the following week, our ferret is due. I'm trying not to think about that. Between the two of them, we're talking easily $300. And here I am selling spelling disks on eBay for $9 or $10 a pop! I'd have to sell far more of those than I have to pay for the vet...

But that's why I arranged the system this way. No co-mingling of funds. The vet visits would have happened either way. The eBay sales go straight to the credit card debt. Of course, the vet visits will probably also end up on the credit card... Sigh...

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When all is said and done...

The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America' s WealthyWhere does the time go?

I had such high hopes for this year. Goals, really. Expectations. I started writing a young adult novel shortly before summer started and was convinced I would write it this summer, especially after my agent said he liked what he'd read so far. But time got away from me. It is mid-August, and I never even opened my laptop again. (I do all my “real” writing on a dedicated laptop. It sits in the corner of my room, blinking at me, mocking me.)

I still haven't read the complete works of Jane Austen. I still haven't written my novel. And, for you ladies out there, I still haven't hit my goal weight. Or gotten my house clean. Or my exercise program more in line with where I want it to be. In fact, the only thing I have marginally managed to do is pay down some of my credit card debt!

The comic books sold for $30 with $10 shipping. So that's $40. Except that it isn't. Paypal took $1.46. Ebay took 75 cents. And then my errand boy and ex Dan mentioned to the post office clerk that the box contained COMIC books, at which point he was no longer allowed to ship the box media mail because comic books don't count because they allegedly contain ads. So that was another $15.90. My only hope was that my errand boy would forget to turn over the post office receipt to me, in which case he would never get credited the money. (he he he) But, alas, he turned over the receipt in a timely manner, thereby bringing my take on the comic books to $19.19. Based on my predictions, they should have sold for around $60. But didn't.

The silver didn't fare much better. According to my calculations, if I had sold the silver to the coin shop, my best-case scenario was $420. But I sold it on eBay. After nearly 100 people looked and a number declared themselves “watchers”, in the end I only received four bids. I guess some people think that $5,000 worth of silverware is only a bargain at $480 and not at, oh, $510.

The winning bid was $511. Paypal took $15.12. Ebay took $45.99, which was actually less than I'd anticipated, thank God, or I really would have ended up screwed. Shipping with insurance cost another $26.85. In the end, my take was a disappointing $417.54, roughly what I would have gotten if I had just driven to the coin shop and sold it there in the first place. Oh, well. I had to try!

Letting go of that silver was harder than I'd anticipated. I mean, my grandmother bought me this silver one piece at a time, thinking that someday I would have a complete set and keep and use it for the rest of my life. But I never used it. I never turned into the kind of person who uses silver for formal or really any occasions. Letting go of the silver was almost like letting go of a dream.

My family immigrated to this country when I was six years old. I read once that there is a pattern: the first generation comes here, the second learns the language, and the third makes the fortune. Well, three generations of us immigrated here simultaneously, so I was immediately that third generation.

As is the case with so many folks, my family has a history of fortunes lost. Before World War II, the family was apparently loaded and living in Bohemia. We're talking many millions. But a year and a half after World War II drew to a close, the Russians threw the “Sudetendeutsche” out of Bohemia. My family became refugees. Well, not exactly refugees. In German, the word is Vertriebene, those who were pushed out. All of the money stayed behind. But the memories of the money lingered on.

My grandmother had grown up with that way of life. Her two children (my mother included) remember being driven out of the country, a memory that permanently molded them. And growing up I felt this expectation that not only would the family reachieve its former glory, but that it was up to me to get it there. I was the first person born in my generation (18 years ahead of the next), so I felt a good deal of pressure growing up.

But, alas, I grew up and turned out to be perfectly ordinary. I mean, I've achieved things with my life, to be sure. But my credit card debt alone will tell you just how average I am, just how much like the neighbors that live on either side of you, and hardly some grand lady who's made a family's worth of fortune.

But I've never moped about the lack of funds. In The Millionaire Next Door, the authors discuss that there are two basic ways to be or create a loser. One is to spend your life moaning about that family fortune that no longer exists. (And, honestly, how many people have my kind of story up one branch of their family tree? Very very many, I suspect!) The second is to spend your life waiting for that inheritance, instead of actually getting off your duff and making your own way, accomplishing. One of the interesting things about the millionaires next door was that their kids tended not to know how well off their parents were! As a result, they went out and achieved in their own right.

So if I'm ever wealthy, I just won't tell my children. But I do not believe that any breath-holding is in order here! Especially since my clearest path to wealth would have been writing that novel!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Even Further Adventures on eBay!

With 11 minutes left in the auction, no one had bid on my comic books! With 9 minutes left, I had one bid, and there it stayed. So I only got $30. I was hoping for $50 or $60, but I now always price my auctions (with no hidden “reserve”) at the minimum that won't piss me off if I sell it at that, so I guess I'm good.

Once I sold two Spanish Barney videotapes for $1.99. I learned my lesson! Never doing that again. At that price, it's not worth my time to box them up. I would rather have kept them or donated them!

I now have TWO BIDS on my silver! The bidding stands at $485. There have been 60 views and there are 9 watchers... but there were 5 watchers on the comic books, and we learned how that ended up! It needs to go higher. At this price, it would have been easier just to sell it at the coin shop.

25 more hours!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Further Adventures on eBay

I have eleven items listed on eBay.

The first, a tall stack of many comic books, is due to close in 15 hours. It's had 16 views and has 3 “watchers”, so I have high hopes.

But I have REALLY high hopes for my silver, which is due to close in 1 day and 22 hours. 51 people have looked at it (!) and I have 8 watchers.

Oddly, no one has bid on anything. Maybe everyone out there is using my strategy of not bidding until the closing moments of the auction to avoid running the price up. Or maybe no one will buy what I'm selling!!

Only time will tell...

The fact that I can list on eBay for free for the rest of the month, coupled with my new-found ability to actually USE my digital camera, is highly motivating.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Adventures on eBay

My silver is posted on eBay! My starting price is $480, which is the amount I would have gotten selling it for scrap plus eBay commission plus shipping.

A whopping 34 people have looked at it, and I have 4 “watchers”. I suspect it will be bought by a dealer who will then sell off the individual pieces. Don't care! Just want cash!

I also have 5 other far-less-interesting items I'm selling. Mostly old math text books and other textbooks, plus a pile of comic books.

'Tis the season when all good little homeschooling moms prepare for the upcoming school year, so 'tis the time to sell school supplies we're done with... I miss this window every year. But not this time!!

AND I FINALLY FIGURED OUT HOW TO GET PHOTOS FROM MY DIGITAL CAMERA INTO THE COMPUTER!! That oughta make the whole darn eBaying process work a whole lot better.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

AUGUST TALLY $19,520.37

I did my bills last night. Where to start, where to start...


I paid off my primary-use card IN FULL. A month or two ahead of my previous projections.

After I had paid all of my regular (non-credit-card) bills, I realized that it looked like I had just enough to pay off the outstanding balance on the card I use most often, the Disney Visa card. So I took a deep breath, and I did it!!

Of course, this is going to make the rest of the month a little dicey. We're going to have to eat more judiciously. And I don't know how I'm going to pay Larry the Pressure Washing Guy who agreed to fix the hole in the side of my house next week while he was cleaning out my dryer vent last week (jack of many trades!). Or allowance. And Cathy and I both need new glasses, which is going to really set me back. But that expense would have been incurred anyway.

The glasses will probably have to go right back on the credit card. Regardless, my goal now is to pay off my balance in full on my Amazon Visa and my Disney Visa each month. And starting next month, I shall start chipping away at the balance I'm carrying at 1.99%--but only until early 2011.


My new total credit card debt as of this very moment is $19,520.37, the first time it's been below $20something in, like, forever... On May 1, my total was $24,283.60. That means I've shaved off almost $5,000 in only three months!!! I'd have to say IT'S WORKING!!!

The first thing I do when I sit down monthly to pay my bills is to write down all of my deposits. Well, I had $1,088.71 of extra deposits. There were so many that they took up almost an entire double-page of my checkbook register.

This thing is having a snowball effect. The better it's going, the more I want it to keep going. I have become insanely tightfisted. It really hurt to write that semi-annual check for car insurance!

Today, I shall post a pile of comic books on eBay.

And that's it now. I'm going to post the silver and see how I do.

I'm increasingly inclined to sell everything in my house that isn't nailed down... I wonder how much I could get for my kids??

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I didn't do any work on selling my silver today, so the price inched back up a little.

Today I contacted Calvert School to ask if I could get a refund for a Discoveries in Art kit that I'd bought. In 2007.

Right after I got through, the doorbell rang and the dog went berserk. So I quickly dealt with that, commented on it to the woman on the phone, who asked, “Do I also hear birds?” So then I told her about the two birds, the bunny, and the ferret, and we had an animated conversation about the merits of ferrets versus bunnies.

Then we talked about ex-husbands and kids.

Then I told her about my favorite trick for bypassing lines at Disney World and Universal.

I got my refund.

I kept asking Cathy if she might not want to keep this amazing kit after all.

“Mom, we're never gonna get to it!” The kid has more sense than I do.

Then I was told that the refund amount would be $187 and my ambivalence disappeared. For $187, I'll buy her markers and a set of paints! Oh, wait. She already has those, too.

So $187 plus the Webkinz Groundhog I just sold brings me to another $200! But I can't take credit for it yet. I don't count my chickens until they're hatched.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Silver remains in free fall.

It's like the universe knew I was finally getting serious about selling!!

Silver and Groundhogs

Towle French Provincial Sterling Soup SpoonWebkinz Plush Stuffed Animal GroundhogI woke up to find that I had sold a Webkinz Groundhog.

I spent a bunch of time researching the silver yesterday. It's harder than you might think. I'm not even sure what I HAVE!!

Is that a dinner fork or a lunch fork?

Why does the knife look so much longer than in the photos of the five-piece place setting?

What exactly are those spoons? Apparently, “teaspoon” is not an option!

Meanwhile, the price of silver seems to be in free fall.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


So at the end of the last entry, I was at $264.50. I just requested another disbursement from Amazon (having just figure out that I could request it instead of my usual habit of just sitting around waiting for it), so that's $39.57.

$39.57 plus the left over $64.50 = $104.07 !!

AND I forgot to add in that refund from The Teaching Company of $129.90, so that's $233.97.

We'll call that TWENTY-ONE and TWENTY-TWO with $33.97 left over towards TWENTY-THREE.


But I definitely need to do a better job of record-keeping. It was one thing when I was just throwing cash into my Viactiv container. But with the money pouring in from different sources (okay, slight exaggeration!), I need to track it better for my loyal readers. (Hallooooo out there...) It's all been making it towards my credit card debt, it just hasn't been making it into my final CAPITALIZED tally here very well.

I'll be better. I promise.

Today, I research that darn silver some more!

Monday, July 26, 2010


I realized that I also forgot to give myself "credit" for the two payments from Amazon for stuff I've sold:


For a total of $216.30.

And I have another payment for three more items pending! It sure does add up!

That is, it adds up if you remember to go in and click "confirm shipment", since you don't get paid until that's been done.


Then there was $48.20 from PayPal for an eBay sale. That Kim Possible stuff.

So that's $264.50. Not quite enough to get to TWENTY-ONE!


Janet came through!

I got a check from the insurance company today for $644.21. And, boy, did I work hard for that one!

So $644.21 plus the $50 check from the "points" plus the $13 from selling the homeschool books leads me to say...


Although based on how long it's been since I've been able to title an entry in this way, I'd have to say I need to push a little harder!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blue Collar Men vs. White Collar Men

He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys

SPOILER ALERT!! This post strays far from my usual topic.

I just had an epiphany. Totally out of the blue. Yes siree bob, apropos of absolutely nothing, totally out of the blue.

I think I may have just nailed a difference between blue collar and white collar guys when it comes to how they treat women.

After a pleasant first date, the white collar guy will tell his date, “I'll call you.” This is code for, “I had a pleasant enough time, but I'm just not that into you; don't expect to hear from me again.” (The fact that this confuses women is solely due to the fact that the words “I'll call you” sound identical to, well, the words “I'll call you.”)

The blue collar guy uses much the same approach, but he waits until AFTER you've got something going (or at least think you do) and THEN doesn't call you.

See, at the end of a relationship or even just a situation where you've had something going on without getting anywhere near bona fide relationship status, the white collar guy will have “the conversation”. Now, of course guys try to avoid “the conversation” at all times, and it's easy to see why. Recrimination. Tears. General unpleasantness. The real question is why women tend to endure them.

Anyway, “the conversation” basically involves the man telling the woman (go with my scenario, here!) that he's just not that into her, but hopes they can still be friends. If she is still young enough to not get what this means, the woman will interpret this to mean “we can still hang out now and then; we can still go to the movies”. Of course, what the guy is really saying is, “I plan never to see you again, but if we happen to cross paths on the street, please don't yell at me and make a scene.” It takes a while for women to figure that one out, but by age 25 or so, most of us have got it.

By contrast, the blue collar man just avoids “the conversation” altogether, leaving the woman to go about her business, thinking that everything is copacetic, that the status quo remains intact, until she suddenly realizes that she's alone on the dance floor, that she's the last one left at the party because nobody told her that the party was over.

Worse still, because she's still calling him (or texting or e-mailing or whatever), not yet having realized that those calls are not going to be returned, she eventually gets to have the unpleasant realization that she's just come off as somewhere between being desperate and being a stalker.

Once I had this epiphany, I realized that I'd seen this pattern again and again.

In my very early twenties (read young and naïve), I was three weeks into an intense relationship (I know, that whole thing was an oxymoron) with a blue collar guy. Abruptly, the phone stopped ringing. I had to literally go to this guy's house to find out that two days earlier he'd reconciled with his ex-girlfriend! Okay, I didn't have to go, but that was when I was still young and naïve. Today I would read the handwriting on that particular wall a bit more clearly, I think.

Bottom line though, a little common courtesy would have been nice. Decency is always in style.

It even applies in the non-romantic context. Remember Eric, the guy who lives almost smack across from me but is no longer my neighbor? Eric and his wife Nancy have always reminded me of Al and Peg Bundy, except that Eric and Nancy are always at least slightly tipsy.

Eric remains pissed off at me because I rebuffed his attempts at clearing things up between us by not returning his calls (ha! maybe I'm a blue collar guy!). The other day, I was taking a walk and had to walk right past his house. He could see me coming and, I kid you not, hid behind his van so we wouldn't accidentally cross paths.

Anyway, everyone in my “family” (using that word loosely) is pissed off right back at Eric now. When Maryanne happens to walk past his house and encounters Eric or Nancy, they won't even acknowledge her friendly hello. And Eric has also taken to pointedly turning his back on Dan, my ex-husband, who clearly has nothing to do with this situation.

But I digress. A lot. (It's always fun to digress about Eric.)

So I encountered one of these situations with Eric. Non-romantic, of course, what with how he's married and, you know, there's also a serious ICK factor.

As a favor to Eric, whom you may recall is borderline illiterate, when he was attempting to get his handyman business going, I handled traffic on our Celebration Front Porch for him. As him. To be clear, I would pretend that I was Eric (with his grateful consent) and write people things like, “I can take a look at that for you. Give me call!”

I did this for about two years.

Then one day the system changed on the Front Porch and everyone was given a new password, something like *(&@#$^!. You know, the kind of password you need to change immediately. Well, Eric asked me for help changing his password to “oranges”. (Occasionally he'd go on the Front Porch himself, and then I'd really have my work cut out for me, trying to turn his ramblings into something comprehensible. Or at least literate.)

I did. A few days later, the password didn't work. Now, mind you, this during a transitional period when a lot of people were having password issues. So I called the Help Desk guy, told him the situation, and he helped me to change Eric's password to “oranges”. Again.

Two months go by. My communication with Eric becomes more and more infrequent. I gradually sense that something is going on. Then one day he finally (FINALLY!) comes clean and tells me that my services will no longer be required (not a problem, since I was just doing it as a favor anyway), he wants to handle it on his own and (here's the kicker), I was supposed to figure this out when he changed the password!

So he changed his password at a time when the entire community was having password problems, and I was supposed to figure out that this meant that he was “breaking up” with me.

Now I may be smart (okay, I am smart... and I can SPELL!), but I'm not a mind reader!

I'll tell you, I'll take the white collar guy's “let's be friends” speech ANY DAY over the blue collar guy's disappearance act. Classless. Absolutely classless.

To you women out there:

Always remember my #1 rule of dating: The only reason he doesn't call you is because he doesn't want to.

And ladies, I would love to hear your thoughts on my epiphany.

To you men out there:

Thank you for being brave and decent enough to be upfront about where you're at and forcing your way through the unpleasantness of “the conversation”. Ultimately, it's appreciated, believe me.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Survivors Come to Celebration!!

Survivor Palau - The Complete Season

I saw Survivors!!

Today, Survivors came to town, along with cast members of Amazing Race and Big Brother, but who cares about that.

And there were a lot of them.

There was an autograph signing event, with all proceeds going to Give Kids The World (GKTW). Since Maryanne volunteers at GKTW, last year she worked this event, which was great because we are HUGE Survivor fans. I've seen every episode ever, and Maryanne hasn't missed an episode since she was old enough for me to let her watch.

When the last stellar season of Survivor ended, Maryanne announced, “Thursdays are pointless.” A sentiment which I shared!

Anyway, when Maryanne worked the event, one of her jobs was to have each Survivor autograph a photo of themselves to be auctioned off later. She grabbed one of the large signing mats they hand out and got herself some autographs at the same time! (We framed the mat.)

Well, this year Maryanne had to miss the event, since she just flew off to Germany. The plan was for me to go. So I went. I had been worried about lines, but Maryanne assured me that lines were not a problem, that you just paid your $10 and got into the area where the Survivors were sitting and got your autographs.


The event was from 4:00pm to 6:00pm. Picturing easy access (which of course she had had as a volunteer!!), I got there at around 5:40pm. They closed the line off right before me, but I was assured that the hundred or so people immediately in front of me were also not going to get in, since the Survivors were leaving at exactly 6:00pm for their next gig.

So there was a looooong line. And then the line snaked past table after table of Survivors interspersed with those irrelevant people. And I did not get in.

Fortunately, I was able to see the Survivors from the outside. So like so many others, I GAWKED! We were just a few feet from the edges of the table and there was no crowd, just a few gawkers, so it was easy to see in, but not so easy to spot everyone I wanted to see. Fortunately, at least some of the tables faced towards the outside.

I saw TERRY DIETZ, who graciously looked up and waved to me. Handsome man. And obviously very nice. And should have won his season.

I saw RICHARD HATCH (!!!), but mostly from the back and in profile. His head and facial hair are almost completely white now. Must have been all that prison time. But I still have enormous respect for his game. Well, not counting the stripping part. I mean, seriously! He's one of the best players ever to play Survivor. He doesn't need to resort to cheap Russell-like tricks to get ahead.

I saw RUSSELL HANTZ, after a fellow gawker pointed out where I could spot him from and told me that he had the bluest eyes. So I went to see Russell's eyes, which were indeed very handsome, if only they weren't connected to such a troll of a human being. He was wearing a black hat and a black shirt with embroidery on it.

He looked up, and I found myself calling out, “You shoulda won! But you already knew that...” And then I felt like a complete idiot because (1) everybody tells him that and (2) he should NOT have won because while he is the best player ever at the manipulative (arguably negative) part of the game, he has absolutely no clue how to connect with people in a positive way and therefore could not possibly win in the end because who would vote for him? Of course, Richard Hatch won under similar circumstances...

Russell just kind of nodded and immediately turned his attention elsewhere.

And Russell can never play Survivor again, not really. He'll be one of the first voted out every time, now that the others know how he plays.

I saw others. Eric. Todd. Natalie (who beat Russell) was sitting right next to him, chatting. That was about it. After twenty seasons, it was hard to pick out the people I knew, my favorites, from the minor players. Not to mention all those Amazing Race and Big Brother contestants in the way!

Anyway, I didn't spend $10 to get Survivor autographs, even though it would have gone to a good cause, because I couldn't get in. (Just thought I'd connect it back to my blog topic!)

And thank you TERRY DIETZ! You made my day.


Towle French Provincial Sterling Soup SpoonWell, we got Maryanne off to Europe last night. So now I can get back to focusing on my DEBT.

I checked my on-line Explanation of Benefits from the insurance company—and apparently Janet actually processed the claims on Monday!! (It is Saturday as I type.) So it looks like I'll be getting over $600 back!!

I want to emphasize that this is money I absolutely positively would not have been getting back if I hadn't spent months working on it... Still I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch.

On other fronts, that woman came over to look at homeschool books. She bought two books for $13. WASTE MY TIME!! On the other hand, even $13 six or seven times will lead to $100. On the third hand, it forced me to dig through my homeschool inventory and I popped a number of those items right onto Amazon. I already sold one! Two of the books are selling for over $40... Well, as always they're only actually selling for that if anyone buys them. But that's what they're priced at.

On still other fronts, I WILL sell the silver. I talked to my uncle a couple of days ago. He was very blunt. “It would have been different if this had been your grandmother's silver and she'd used it for years and it had sentimental value. But it doesn't. If you're not using it, sell it. It's more important to be out of debt.” So that made me feel better.

It's been a bit difficult to decide exactly how to go about selling it, though. I need to get an exact price from the coin store. Then I need to continue my research on eBay and Amazon and decide the best way to proceed. It's more complicated than you might think. Do I sell one fork at a time or all six in a set? Do I sell the entire set whole or do it piecemeal? Now that Maryanne is off and that work is done, I'll be able to focus a bit more on selling off the silver.

It looks like it still might turn into a darn fine month.

My Boyfriend the Bunny


It all started when Cathy was obsessively playing Animal Crossing. I saw her virtual room and realized she had lined it with animal cages. I thought (probably rightly so) that this was how she envisioned her perfect world.

So we started adding pets.

We already had a dog.

Then we got a bird. Cathy tamed it. A month later, we got a companion bird for our bird.

Then we got a bunny and a ferret.

And tadpoles. That didn't work out so well. But we still have all the others.

The bunny in particular is a family favorite. He's hilarious. It's like having a toddler hopping around your house all day. And he does hop around the house all day. The bunny and the dog get along.

Once when the bunny was cold, he crawled into the dog's crate (with the dog) to warm up.

The great thing about having a bunny is that they're snuggly. You can just hold them and pet them while watching TV or whenever. It's hard to hold a dog. And cats eventually get fed up with you and sometimes just don't deign to hang out with you at all. But bunnies are sociable, and ours is generally quite amenable to being petted.

And bunnies potty train! We haven't had any incidents. So it's all good.

He just came up to lick my feet. He loves licking feet. We conjecture that it's all about the salt. The surest way to piss the bunny off is to wear socks. Then he'll try to claw them off and get nowhere and it's really kind of funny.

The bunny is my boyfriend. Cute. Cuddly. Reliable. Never says the wrong thing. Always there when I need him. And I never find myself sitting around waiting for him to call. He's perfect!!

Now Cathy wants a pot-bellied pig. But I'm trying to avoid it...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Again with the Black Lab!!

Webkinz Black Lab DogI sold the Webkinz black lab! Again.

I sold it the first time for $19.96 (with shipping) and the second time for $22.39 (with shipping), and the original bogus shipping cost me $2.58, so once all is said and done, I come out 25 cents behind what my original profit should have been. Hopefully this buyer actually knows what his address is!!

My bunny just thumped on the floor a number of times as I sat typing. Bunnies thump when they're pissed off. Finally, I figured out that he wanted his grass supply replenished. I grabbed some grass from the fridge (which Maryanne had dutifully swiped from an unsprayed horse pasture) and poured it into his box. Then he was happy.

Poor bunny. In four days, Maryanne leaves for a month in Europe. Once the grass runs out, he can thump all he wants. There will be no more. He will have to content himself with his usual supply of hay. And lettuce. And carrots. And apple cores. And Mesa Sunrise cereal. And millet sticks that he steals when I try to feed the birds... Poor, poor bunny!

In addition to packing up the black lab, I've packed up another set of CDs from The Teaching Company for a refund.

And last night I laid out all of the silver silverware from my grandma. I tried to start making intelligent decisions about it. I checked eBay. I checked Amazon. I debated finishing the set. I weighed individual pieces—only to discover that they weighed about TWICE what Tiffany had told me that they weighed!!! Now I know I was using a food scale, not a special jewelers' scale. But knowing what constitutes “one ounce” has kept my diabetic child alive thus far. And I'm pretty sure my food scale isn't so bad that it reads one ounce as two ounces!

The realization that I will receive at least between $500 and $600 for the set (such as it is) makes me lean more heavily towards selling it. BUT I have been agonizing over whether or not to keep it for one of my kids. Is this hoarding again? I've had this silver for over 30 years. I've never used it. I've never tried to complete the set. I've never turned into the kind of person who pulls out the formal china. (I don't own formal china.) I don't really see my anti-materialistic animal-rights-activist kids going that way, either.

I'm leaning towards sticking with my original goal. $100 200 times. It's not like I didn't spend this money on my kids in the first place. So the silver can pay for horseback riding lessons they've already taken.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Janet didn't call me back. I received no check. And then her voicemail said she would be “out of the office” from the 9th to the 19th. I meant to try to locate a supervisor, but I'm pretty certain that time got away from me and it's almost the 19th, so I'll just try Janet again...

Maryanne is leaving on Friday to visit relatives in Europe for a month. Then on Saturday, a bunch of the Survivors come to town!! I'm looking forward to that. And on Sunday, Mad Men starts again. It's all good...

A couple of days ago, a woman posted on the forums requesting Fourth Grade homeschooling supplies. So I contacted her, then sifted through my library for books to sell her or just give her outright. Sort of a combination make some money/stop hoarding kind of thing. As my girls get older and older, it becomes increasingly obvious what I no longer need.

I took the time to check Amazon and eBay prices for the various items. As always, I was surprised. Science textbooks that were going for $100 new were selling for $3 used. And one spiralbound Calvert School book I would have just given away is going for $60!

Well, it's late July. This really would be a good time to sift through and post my various homeschooling supplies, as other moms gear up for the upcoming schoolyear. Not me, of course. I'm a slave driver. We homeschool yearround, especially during the summer months when it's too hot and crowded to do much of anything outside here in Central Florida. Even the swimming pool water is uncomfortably warm.

It's so hot that the cold tap water comes out warm, a peculiar Floridian phenomenon I've never encountered elsewhere. In summer, the cold water comes out warm, but in winter it comes out freezing. You know, when you'd prefer it to come out a little warmer!

Finally, yesterday I got a refund check for $129 from The Teaching Company. Now that I know it's a painless process, I'm going to send some more of their stuff back. I feel a little guilty, but they do have a lifetime money-back guarantee and I'm just not watching those disks, years after having bought them!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Continuing Saga of the Black Lab

Janet didn't call that day. Or the next. And my attempts to reach her were unsuccessful...

On other fronts, the black lab came back in the mail today. “Insufficient address”. It turns out that in the buyer's particular locale, there is no street address delivery, and I had sent it to a street address—which the buyer knew! The post office only delivers to P.O. boxes. Must be rural. And knowing that, this woman let this drag on and on, acting like it was MY fault!

I wrote her a terse message informing her of what had happened, being careful to contain my emotions. She wrote back:

I think that is true. I had requested expedited shipping, which should be fedex or UPS which would have worked. I am glad the package was returned and thank you for giving me the credit back. I have bought another from someone else as my son was so impatient. Thanks for all of your help, I am sure someone else will pick it up soon as it is discontinued.
Thanks again.

“I think that is true.”?!?!!??! Do ya live there or don'tcha? Do you KNOW WHERE YOU GET YOUR MAIL???

“Expedited shipping” on Amazon means the package must be received within “two to six days after it's mailed”. It does NOT mean UPS or FEDEX. Yeah, right. Just how much money did she expect me to spend on shipping???

As was, I shipped it regular mail for $2.58 because that guaranteed timely delivery right there. You know, if she were actually receiving mail at the address I was given. Stupid cow. No, wait. My kids would say, “That's an insult to cows.” Too true, too true.

So I'm out $2.58 and a trip to the post office over this woman.

Oh, well. I guess if you do more selling, you run into more problems. So that's TWO. This woman and (have you forgotten??) Kenneth L. Myers.

The good news is that I was able to turn right back around and relist my Webkinz black lab for $5 more. The price has gone up. (Okay, what's really gone up is the minimum price anyone was charging. Whether or not a buyer will actually pay it remains to be seen. Note that the Fourth of July has come and gone and no one bought my Lego Statute of Liberty!)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pursuing My Insurance Cash, Part 1

I called my contact at the insurance company yesterday. Yes, I have my own person. Her name is Janet. Apparently, my case is just that complicated.

Janet lives in upstate New York. She works from home. Her family all live on the same street. For lunch every day, she goes over to her father's house. She also helps out her daughter, who lives just up the street with her own little girl; her daughter's husband died after they'd been married only two or three years. It was either a car accident or cancer, I forget.

You would think that the fact that I know all of this means that Janet and I have developed something of a relationship. Nope. It's just that Janet has that TMI thing going. Notice that I didn't tell you about her various medical ailments, but I've been privy to those, too.

Anyway, I called Janet. Uncharacteristically, she answered, which was great, because she almost never returns her calls. We talked. She said she'd send a check out that very day and would call me by 4pm to let me know it was done. I thanked her, knowing that she would probably do neither.

I don't know if she sent out the check, but she never did call.

Sometimes Janet gets right on something and does what she says she'll do. Other times, nothing. Actually, most times, nothing. Then I keep calling and calling. By the time I finally reach her weeks later, of course she no longer remembers what I'm calling about. And since I have my own insurance person, who is somehow detached from the rest of the system, I wouldn't even know where to go to contact her supervisor. And that might even prove counterproductive. After all, sometimes Janet follows through!

Dealing with Janet is like dealing with a slot machine. Just keep pulling the handle. One of these times, money will come pouring out of the machine! I feel like one of those pigeons in a Skinner Box, who will peck at the little button until their beaks literally start to smoke, because sometimes, every now and then, they will be rewarded by a food pellet.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Card #4

Fisher-Price Mickey Hot Dog DancerMy fourth card is my Disney Visa card. I got this card when they first came out. It is my primary use card. It is the one I whip out to make purchases (although, really, a rarely do that except when paying at the pump). It is the one I use when shopping on-line. It is the one I have all my regular monthly charges on (like my alarm system). I only do that last one if they make me; I prefer to pay bills that are on paper in front of me, so I can see my money slipping through my fingers...

This credit card has a 13.24% interest rate.

It was always my plan to keep the balance low and pay it off monthly. But that has never worked out.

It is also always the card at which I throw extra cash first, because the interest rate is higher than on the other cards. And because of my ongoing fantasy that someday I'll be able to pay it off monthly.

Well, that day appears to be almost here! On June 4th, my balance was $4,437.04, but by July 4th, it was down to $1,795.77. That's probably the lowest balance I've ever had on that account, not counting the time or two I paid off credit card balances using my second mortgage. (STUPID STUPID STUPID)

Two more good months of managing my spending and attempting to acquire $100 200 times, and my Disney Visa card may actually be under control!! That will be an exciting day.

I'm not really doing much to try to control my spending. It's just that I feel really stupid spending money with one hand these days while trying to rake it in with the other. It's sort of a self-motivator to spend less.

I do love my Disney Visa. I get points which we are able to spend as cash on stuff at Disney World, and since we live right here, that works great. Every year, I use points to pay for our annual visit to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. That way, I don't feel like such an idiot for “paying” over $150 for a parade and a bunch of candy. (We already have annual passes, so the rest of the benefits don't really count for us.)

Card #3

My third card is yet another credit card on which I carry a hefty balance. This one currently stands at $7,400 with a 1.99% interest rate until March 1, 2011.

The scary thing about carrying these abysmally high balances is that one of these days one of my cards will hit the end of that low-interest-rate grace period, and I won't have anywhere to transfer it to. Suddenly, I'll be paying 20% or more in interest. My budget couldn't handle it.

That, of course, is why these balances need to be paid down. The stress. The financial burden. All of it.

The irony of the fact that I am largely accumulating new money by selling stuff I acquired with the old money is not lost on me!!

On other fronts, I started an Inquiry with Amazon to make sure my Webkinz Black Lab purchaser isn't a serial faker when it comes to claiming packages never arrived. What a great way to acquire merchandise that would be! (For a dishonest person, I mean.)

Card #2

#2 is my fairly new USAA card. I nearly cried when I got this card.

It has been my habit for some time to shuffle around my credit card balances (a sure sign that you have a credit card debt problem!). Well, some months back, right around the time I needed to engage in my shuffle, I called one of my cards to ask them to increase my credit line. Instead, they canceled my card. Canceled! Did not see that coming. I was agonizing: What's so different about me? Is it the economy? Is it me?

The next day, I got a letter in the mail from yet another credit card company informing me that they were reducing my balance! That was another first. And coming right on the heels of the cancellation, it really wigged me out.

A few days later, I got an offer in the mail from USAA. Now, if you've never heard of USAA, let me fill you in. They are the MILITARY credit card company. One of my mother's military ex-husbands had many years ago slapped my name on his list of dependents. (During the application process, I had to identify both him and his birth date; that took some serious guesswork.) Anyway, unlike the other credit card companies, they're not in business to rip you off. I mean, to make a profit. They are in business to help the military. The usual banking, loans, all that stuff.

Anyway, I filled out an application over the phone with them. I fully expected to get turned down. Instead, they offered me a credit line in excess of $12,000 with 0% interest on balance transfers until February of 2011. I couldn't jump on that fast enough! So I am carrying a balance of $12,322 on this card as of today. At 0% interest.

The beauty of a 0% interest rate on a credit card with a hefty balance (in addition to the obvious) is that it automatically forces you to pay down your balance. Since I am paying NO interest, my entire minimum payment (1% of the balance) each month goes straight off of my principal. So if I do nothing else, at the end of a year I will have paid off around $1,500 of the balance just by making the minimum payments!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Card #1

I have four active credit cards.

#1 is my Visa card, which I acquired solely because they gave me $35 in credit. Given my history with Amazon (I think they'd go under without my persistent shopping), I knew I would use that.

Anyway, I made it my primary credit card on Amazon, and I only use it for that purpose. I like that, because it enables me at a glance to see just how much money I blew on Amazon in any given month. It's always something. If nothing else, we order a good deal of gluten-free food from Amazon—and it's a bargain. For example, we order a case of large bags of Mesa Sunrise (a great, healthy, gluten-free cereal) every single month. Maryanne eats it for breakfast. Cathy eats it for breakfast. The bunny eats it for breakfast. We run it through the blender to make gluten-free bird food, so the birds eat it for breakfast. The dog eats it for breakfast. Okay, fine. The dog only eats the part the rest of us spill. Everybody eats it except for the ferret, and that's only because she won't eat anything but her ferret food.

I pay this card in full every month. It was where I drew the line. If I can't even pay my AMAZON bill in full every month, what am I doing with my life??

So this card has bonus points. Last December, I decided to check into that. It turns out that one of the things I can exchange these points for is CASH. And I was up to 4 x $50 checks!! So that's precisely what I ordered.

This morning I went and looked at my points again, and I had enough for another $50 check. So I ordered it! I had other options, of course. For example, I could have ordered a $50 BP card. But, um...

This is a great system. I think it's going to work out for me. I hope so. I'd hate to have to go to Plan B, which is move out of my house after my kids are “launched” and live in my car until my credit card debt is paid off... Let's just say that I've been paying a lot of attention to all those tent cities that have been springing up in this economy...

Happy Ongoing Fourth of July!! ...or not...

I am exhausted. It wasn't bad enough that exuberant young people (not really my first choice of description) set off firecrackers in the street endlessly on the Fourth of July, disrupting the sleep of literally hundreds of people until the wee hours. Nope. That's not enough.

Last night when I went to bed, it was raining. I hoped that the rain would last for hours. But, no. It ended. And at 11:42pm, I was ripped out of my sleep by firecrackers in the street. Again. At 11:46pm, I called the Sheriff's office non-emergency line. The lady asked me where the problem was, and I told her my location. Then she asked whether I wanted an officer to contact me directly. I said, “No, I just want him to shoot them.”

She laughed and laughed. But then I remembered that I was on a recorded line, so I added, “Obviously, I'm exaggerating slightly.”

I don't like feeling like I need to go back to bed from the second I wake up! Shooting may have been too good for them.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kim Possible

I'm so happy!! (Ah, the mood swings!)

I relisted a huge lot of Kim Possible items on eBay as “buy it now” after not having sold it TWICE through regular auctions. (That cost me $3 for nothing.) I received one inquiry from someone who wanted to make sure there were no duplicates in the lot. And he bought it!!

$49.95, free shipping. Of course, it probably cost me upwards of $200 when I bought it all, but what are you gonna do?

Sometimes the environmentalist in me is just happy that a gently used item has found a new home. Ditto the anti-hoarder. But in this particular case, after two failed auctions, this lot had really just become an albatross around my neck.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

JULY TALLY $21,517.77

Webkinz Black Lab DogI've been depressed all evening.

That black lab still hasn't arrived. If it doesn't arrive in Tuesday's mail, I will order a new black lab directly from Amazon so that the boy has it by Thursday. If that happens, I will LOSE $3 on the transaction. Even if the black lab arrives on Tuesday, I'll still have to refund something because it was supposed to go “expedited shipping”.

Stupid post office.

That's what I get for never paying for tracking or insurance. I mean, who knew the post office was this incompetent?!? Yeah, yeah. I know. Everybody.

Of course, if I have the black lab shipped on Tuesday, they'll get the original package on Wednesday... For all I know, the buyer is pulling a fast one on me; I have no way of knowing. So I'm assuming honesty. (Therein lies the difference between me and Kenneth L. Myers.)

But none of this is why I'm depressed.

I decided to start doing my bills this evening. Step one is always to reconcile my bank accounts (I maintain two) and write down all my deposits.

So I looked at my first bank statement and there was the deposit from Amazon. $7.55.

Now, I KNOW I've been working harder than that! I mean, maybe not as hard as I oughta, but certainly harder than $7.55 worth!

Knowing that in my quest to find $100 200 times I had managed to come up with only $7.55 clouded the rest of my bill-doing chore, which I actually managed to get through.

Here's the big picture:

Last month, my credit card debt totaled $22,474.70.

This month, it totals $21,517.77.

I should be excited!! It dropped almost a thousand dollars! And that was largely because I was THRIFTY. Well, that and the $7.55. As my loyal reader may realize (yes, that's singular because only one person asked me for a free bar of soap!), it is a huge accomplishment for me to drop from the $22,000s to the $21,000, unprecedented even, particularly since all my hard work only yielded $7.55. But I just couldn't get excited about it... Maybe tomorrow.

I just checked on Amazon. My “account” has a credit of $160.19. It will deposit into my bank account on July 7th. So that's the problem.

I think my next big goal will be to do whatever it takes to get that $600 back from my insurance company. Well, I can at least try. Despite the fact that I'm an attorney, I've never really gotten anywhere with them. Generally, they pay me whatever they decide to pay me, and if I have a problem with that, well, they already paid me whatever they decided to me, so they're done!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Happy Third of July!

Webkinz Black Lab DogCathy is really enjoying her Lego Harry Potter Wii game, which is a good thing. I can't tell you the number of times she waited desperately for a new Wii or DS game, only to get discouraged or disappointed within the first day or two. But I do get the feeling that she's zipping through the game a bit too quickly. Kinda makes me start thinking "Gameflix".

The 3rd of July. It's almost time for the old reckoning again. Just as soon as I get around to doing my bills. Not today. Today was my annual “make potato salad today because the Fourth of July is tomorrow” day. And tomorrow, prior to the potato salad, Cathy and I plan to finally watch Toy Story 3. Then home to the vegan potato salad, which turned out surprisingly well, all things considered.

A couple of days ago I went out to the garage and started digging through our old Playmobil sets. I pulled out two Viking sets, both of which were missing two or three minor pieces. Naturally. The Viking ship is selling for $300 on Amazon. New. That is, if anybody's interested in buying it. Sometimes the prices that sellers slap on their items are really ridiculous. (Over on eBay, someone sold a used Viking ship for $14.95.) So I listed ours for $80 for both sets. I started my description by writing “PLEASE READ the entire description of my item...” so I wouldn't have a repeat of the Kenneth L. Myers episode.

And, believe me, if anybody buys the Viking sets, I'll be in e-mail contact to make sure they “get it” before I ship it... $80 is a bargain. After Amazon's commission and staggering shipping, I'll be lucky to clear $50. Actually, that would be cool! Especially for a used toy that no one ever really played with. That particular purchase fell into the category of “buying boy toys for my girls”. Yeah, that worked. Not.

I also dug out two Playmobil adventure sets, but Cathy took a good look at all the animals in them and promptly pronounced these toys we've had for years that she didn't even remember to be indispensable.

Oh, and the woman who bought the Webkinz black lab informed me two days ago that it had yet to arrive. Sigh. That's another problem with this form of selling. The sale may be final, but the work may not be.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Horse Books, Revisited

Kenneth L. Myers actually left me positive feedback on Amazon.

“took care of us”

Good. See, he can only leave feedback once, and it can't be changed. So now if he sees my blog entry, he can't give me negative feedback!

I don't care that he gave me feedback. I want my six bucks back!!

Okay. Deep breath. Letting it go...

Lego Harry Potter Wii Day arrives!!

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4I am a Platinum Millionaire.

I have over a million Neopoints in the bank. And every morning I log onto Neopets for a few seconds to collect my interest.

See? I'm not too bad at managing my virtual funds!! 10.5% interest per year...

I should have access to the computer nearly all day long today. Yesterday afternoon Lego Harry Potter for the Wii arrived, a program Cathy had been eagerly awaiting for months. She did schoolwork this weekend so that she could take time off once the program arrived... So she will take much of the day off of school today, and I will try to motivate myself to get more serious about my Amazon and eBay selling.

Yesterday I reposted a huge lot of Kim Possible items on eBay which had twice previously not sold. I tried a new category AND a new system. Apparently now you can post an item indefinitely under “Buy it Now” without opening it up to auction bidding at all. That makes it a great deal like Amazon. Except for the hassle of the picture. And the hassle of the description. But in this case, I'd already done all that. Cut and paste!

Hopefully, I can sell the darn thing this time! $49.95 for hundreds of dollars worth of KP loot. Free shipping, so that'll cost me another $10 or so. And then eBay will take 15% plus a 50 cent listing fee. By the time all is said and done, I'm looking at around $32. Sigh. But it's better than nothing. Cathy is done with all things Kim Possible (“Get this junk out of the house!”) even though she was once obsessed with it. I think the KP lot I'm selling contains every KP thing ever made except for one DS program which we'd sold separately.

Oh, and Cathy and I split the $46 cost of the Harry Potter Wii program. No more free ride for my kids! She paid for half outright, and she had to work off the other half by not complaining endlessly every single time its shower time. Much as I'm attempting to be thrifty, I can assure you that was money well spent!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bad Habits...

I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete SeriesPlanet of the Apes - The Ultimate DVD CollectionSee, now, THIS is why I can't hang onto my money.

I get daily alerts from Amazon about their Deal of the Day. Hence the Friends set. And the Mozart set.

Well, today's deal of the day is the complete series of I Dream of Jeannie for only $69.49!! All 139 magical episodes!! In a case with a bottle on it!!

The temptation rises... I run to my shelf to see which seasons of I Dream of Jeannie I already own.

Aww, come on! You didn't see that coming?? I raised my kids on The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched, and Gilligan's Island (which is actually even funnier than I remembered). The other day in karate class, the instructor said “you wouldn't be able to do that unless you could do magic like Samantha Stevens, and I don't expect any of you to know who that is.” Well, MY kids knew. Ha! So there. Call it a benefit of homeschooling. Although they probably wouldn't. Maryanne in particular faults me for having shielded her from the popular shows her contemporaries were watching.

Anyway, it turns out that I already own the first three seasons. So buying the complete set would be a waste. Unless I sold the individual seasons... Hmmm...

NO. I'm not going to do anything. We are NOT going to have a repeat of when I bought the complete (and I mean COMPLETE) Planet of the Apes set... ensconced in an ape's head.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Odds 'n' Ends

The guy who bought those Mozart CDs sure knew what he was doing. He ordered them second day mail, otherwise I could have sent them media mail for next to nothing. Instead, it cost me nearly $20, but he only paid $4.99. Oh well. I'm sure I at least got my money back on that one, and at least I got rid of that particular albatross.

Next stop: GeoSafari.

Since writing my recent blog entries, I have discovered that a tractor pull is an activity, not something you buy.


The way I see it, KENNETH L. MYERS will owe me $5.99 and an apology until the day he dies.

Okay, letting that go now.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Great. I just went to the two links Kenneth L. Myers provided in the signature block of his e-mails (which Maryanne made me delete from my blog). Now that I've seen his picture on his two websites and facebook, I'm not mad anymore.

Now I just feel sorry for this pudgy, pasty, nearly bald middle-aged man who should have seriously been nicer to me.


Further Adventures on Amazon

Buckskin Bandit (Winnie the Horse Gentler #8)Remember those “Winnie the Anti-Abortion Activist” pre-teen horse books that I sold?

Well, as I explained earlier, I sold seven books, when the set actually consists of eight books. I was very clear, and I priced the books in such a way that anyone who bought them and purchased book 8 separately would still come out way ahead. I not only wanted to make money on the books; I wanted to get rid of them. The alternatives were unthinkable. I didn't even want to donate them for fear some poor unsuspecting kid would start reading them!

So I sold them. Yesterday evening I received the following message from the bonehead dad (Kenneth L. Myers, who I hope googles his own name) of the girl who had bought them:

"I am not happy - obviously. My daughter made a purchase with you only because she was getting all 8. She had a sick look on her face and kept asking how could that happen. I am going to give an option. Get a #8 and ship it to us at no charge or refund the minimum of $8 it will cost to replace it. This needs to be done by July 2. Show my daughter that adults work things out. Amazon is ready to jump, but I think we can get it handle. thank you for your quick response."

First, what kind of jerk goes right to the assumption that the person on the other end of a transaction is out to rip them off? I'm thinking a dishonest one. (I would have thought that there had been a mistake.)

Second, I was very clear in my description. “How could that happen” is that neither one of them read my description of the books. What kind of idiot buys something without reading the full description? I could have written, “the sixth book has had the cover ripped off, the seventh book has been scribbled in by a toddler, and the eighth book was used by the bunny in unmentionable ways.”

So I attempted to calm down, with only limited success, reminding myself all the while that my #2 goal in life is “peace”. (#1 is raise my children successfully, broken down into subcategories of health, education, fun, and being good people.)

Then I write back to Kenneth L. Myers.


Please slow down. I'm just a Mom.

Let's start at the beginning:

I posted my listing on Amazon. Here is a portion of that listing, which I
have copied from my confirmation e-mail from Amazon:
Here are the details of your listing:

Title: Winnie The Horse Gentler (8 Volume Set) (Volumes 1-8)

Quantity remaining: 1
Total quantity sold: 0
Buyer's price: $29.99
Condition: Used - Very Good
Comments: Smoke-free home. Read by my daughter, who takes very good care of her books. They are in excellent condition. PLEASE NOTE THAT VOLUME 8 IS
MISSING FROM THIS SET. But given the price I have set, it should be worth your while to purchase book #8 separately. Don't like the price? Make me an offer!

Please note the capitalized text above, which appears exactly as it did in my description of the item I was selling.

As should be clear, I intentionally priced the books as low as I did precisely because book #8 was missing. I'm having an internet issue just now
so I can't pull up Amazon, but at the time I listed this "set", I intentionally priced it FAR below what anyone else was charging, precisely
because this book was missing. As I said in the description, I priced it so that you would still have come out well ahead, even after purchasing the 8th book directly from Amazon.

I am guessing that you are having a forehead slapping moment right about now. How this could have happened is that you or your daughter did not read the full description of my item.

How would you like to proceed?

I check e-mail often, but I have been having bizarre computer issues the last several days. It comes and goes, so if I'm not rapid, I'm not blowing you off. I'm just not able to access my e-mail.


P.S. (I have a 100% rating for a reason. I always describe what I'm selling

Pretty clear, right? The guy should be slapping himself on the forehead, apologizing, and ordering his daughter book #8 from Amazon. That and he should learn how to use Amazon better so that this doesn't happen to him again and he irritates another seller with his stupidity and rudeness.

So this morning I wake up to the following message from my new friend Kenneth L. Myers:

"We looked at it and that comment was not there and the editorial review says all 8 books. You note to day was the first more information comment we saw. I just figured another slight of hand moment. I thought the description should have had more but we took a chance on it. With a masters in math and a fairly high IQ, I do not know why your comment did not appear during the two hours we considered if she was going to buy it. We operated on what we saw which was 8. I will not argue. You let us know what you believe and that is what we will go with. This was not a five minute transaction, as she was weighing several choices and thinking it over before buying, because I made

Myers Pedal Tractor Pulls
Ken Myers & Family
Lenox Iowa 50851"

“You note to day was the first more information comment we saw.”

I don't know. Maybe they measure IQ differently in Iowa.

Notice how he jumped straight to my description being “another slight of hand moment.” That's right. I'm dishonest. Because I'm going to voluntarily go to hell for cheating a kid out of $5.99. (That's right. The book costs $5.99, not $8. Who's dishonest now, eh, Kenneth?) Fact is, I could have fabricated the e-mail. That's true. But I didn't. And of course he could no longer pull up the description of what I was selling! He had bought it! It's no longer listed on Amazon!

(Can you tell that I'm annoyed??)

You know what's funny? If his daughter had just written me nicely in the first place, I would have just explained it to her and then fixed it for her.

Anyway, I wrote Kenneth back a long scathing e-mail, pointing out, among other things that we didn't actually have a contract because we had no “meeting of the minds” (a little term I learned in contract law when I took my IQ to law school) because I was selling one thing and he thought he was buying something different. The correct way to handle this would have been for him to return the books and me to refund the price. But no one wanted this. His daughter has probably started reading the books. And God knows I don't want those atrocious books back.

So in the end I wrote a brief e-mail to his daughter:

"Miss Myers,

Book #8 will arrive directly from Amazon via UPS.

You should receive it on Tuesday.


I received a "thank you" e-mail in response.

No reason the kid should suffer because KENNETH L. MYERS is a her dad. So she'll get the book. I'll get “peace”. And KENNETH L. MYERS will get this blog entry.

It really hurts my feelings to have bought yet another copy of one of these horrible books. It feels downright immoral.

People should know better than to piss off a writer.

I'm just sayin'.

Joke's on him, though. The books suck.

And if I'm ever in Iowa, I sure know where I'm not buying my next tractor pull.