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.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Symbol of My Decadence Revisited

Webkinz Black Lab DogTwo days ago I got an e-mail informing me that my Amazon payment of $72.56 was on its way! And that's not even counting my most recent sales.

Yesterday, I sold another Webkinz.

Today, I woke up to find that I'd sold that stupid Saxon disk for over $50.

And while I was handling that, I got an e-mail informing me that I had sold the Mozart set!! I'd had to drop the price significantly because another seller undercut me, but I still came out ahead $20. And I can now drop-kick the Symbol of My Decadence out of my house! Not to mention that stupid Saxon disk.

I love this! The more I sell, the more motivated I am to keep doing it. Last night some unopened View-Master disks caught my eye. Straight to Amazon!

It's like the world's biggest yard sale, with only those people who actually want your item bidding on it. Very exciting!

What really gets to me about this is that I am making actual money on stuff that is just sitting around, that we don't want anymore. Life is good.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

More Sales

Today I am my hero.

A couple of days ago, one of my Amazon items sold, a used Gameboy Advance Berenstain Bears game. I was particularly glad to get rid of that one because another seller and I were constantly undercutting each other's price by a penny. So now that's done. Ten bucks.

Then while I was sitting there reading that message, I got ANOTHER one! A set of pre-teen horse books sold, Winnie the Horse Gentler. I had bought Maryanne all eight of the books. She read them all but hated them because they had a distinct Christian conservative bent. She referred to them as "Winnie the Anti-Abortion Activist". Now, think what you might about the pro-choice/pro-life debate, I think we can all agree that active and graphic discussion of the topic probably does not belong in a book aimed at pre-teen horse lovers. Maryanne wrote some scathing reviews on the series accordingly.

Anyway, there were eight books in the series, but we only had seven. When Dan's car gave up the ghost and he cleaned it out before it was hauled off, he left book #8 in the car. Nevertheless, I posted it on Amazon under the listing for the set of all eight books, shouted in capital letters that one book was missing, and then priced the set at around $20, making it still a great bargain despite the missing book. And it sold! So there's another twenty bucks, which is especially delicious since we hated those books and the only other alternative was to donate them (which we were loathe to do given the subtext) or pitch them (which we are always loathe to do because it's environmentally unfriendly).

But the real reason I am my hero today is that this morning I saw that my Gameboy Advance Scrabble Blast program had sold for THIRTY DOLLARS! Still in the original shrink wrap, this was one of a stack of programs I had acquired for free when my kids first started playing Gameboy, before they transitioned to the DS. So it was clear they were never going to play it. I got it for free from Scholastic Book Clubs using points acquired from books purchased.

So I sold a Gameboy program no one had ever used and no one was ever going to use which I had gotten for free for $30!! And that is why I am my hero today.

Now I just have to pack it up and ship it out. Packaging materials are pricier than you would think. Fortunately, I have a huge (as in "can not be overstated" huge) pile of packaging material in my garage. As an avid (rabid?) Amazon shopper, I get boxes all the time. And as an environmentalist, I can't just throw them away. So I keep them. (Hoard them?) Then every now and then, I post the larger boxes on the Celebration Front Porch as "free moving boxes" and they magically disappear from my driveway. Using that same system, I found Jan, who sells on eBay for a living. Now whenever my pile of smaller boxes gets too huge, I call Jan, who is only too happy to haul off all I've got.

And despite my attempt at restraint, my Amazon shopping continues. There's the gluten-free food, for one. But little things always come up. Maryanne has seven (!) books she has to read over the summer for upcoming high school classes and I had to purchase five of them. It wasn't even optional, meaning she couldn't just borrow them from the library (always her inclination). She had to write in three of the books and the teacher who assigned another three books insisted that the students buy them.

Maryanne in general has progressed further than I have. I'm a vegetarian; she's a vegan. I don't want animals harmed; she's an active animal rights activist. I try not to spend too much money; she reprimands me whenever I spend any. Sigh.

P.S. You've probably noticed by now that I put in links to items that I am clearly not recommending. I like the visual. In other words, I'm doing it for the picture!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The First Day of Summer

Yesterday I went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and you didn't!! Nya nya nya!

I can say that because no one asked me for a free bar of soap, so I have deduced that no one is actually reading my blog!

So, how was it, the hypothetical reader may ask?

Hot. Crowded. Hot and crowded beyond what you would deem possible.

I decided to take the girls yesterday for a few reasons. First, since Potterland had opened on Friday, I figured that the initial crush of people had died down. (You know, kind of like going to Krispy Kreme on opening day versus four days later. Maryanne and I did that once back in Stupid New Mexico, just so I could show her this particular phenomenon. Hundreds of people lined up on opening night for donuts. They handed out free samples. After looking around and splitting a free donut, we went home.) Second, at a mere projected high of 89 degrees, it was "cooler" than it had been for days. Third, the rains weren't predicted to start until 2pm; in fact, they never did (after days of downpours).

So off we went.

Now, we're regulars. So I've learned some tricks. We actually managed to get in, do most of what we wanted to do, and get back out by 1pm. But for everyone around us: two-hour wait to get on the Forbidden Journey ride. Two-hour wait to buy your wand. A mere ten-minute wait to get on the coasters. And by the time we left, at least an hourlong wait to get into any shop, any restaurant, or the bathroom. Yes, that's right, the bathroom. Now I don't know if they were actually standing in line to see the bathroom ghost Myrtle or actually had to utilize the facilities, but God help you if you actually had to pee.

And it's not like you could just leave Potterland to find a bathroom and re-enter. By the time we left, the line to get in (just to the Wizarding World!) was around half a mile long. And it was around 290 degrees in the shade. I just wanted to yell at these people. "GO BACK!" I mean, they were going to wait for hours in the relentless Floridian summer sun, only to enter Potterland and have a one to two-hour wait to do absolutely anything else. Kinda makes going to a tar-soaked beach look good by comparison.

Was it worth it? Absolutely! But, then, we bypassed the lines... The heat alone was enough to have my girls clamoring to go home by 1pm. But they really wanted to go, and we're all glad we saw it. We'll go back in November, when the crowds and temperature are both significantly lower. Okay, maybe a little sooner.

And Cathy got a wand. In fact, she got to be the girl in her group whose wand picked her. The rest of the group had to go pick out their own wands. Reed with Phoenix-tail feathers. (I knew you were wondering!) And we took photos by Hogwarts Express. And we wandered through Hogwarts itself. Maryanne went on the ride, but Cathy chickened out last second, so she and I sat it out. While we waited for Maryanne, I spoke with the ride attendants. They said you should definitely not go on if you are prone to any motion sickness... and then informed me that there is a special puke-cleaning crew that gets called in regularly. Okay. Definitely not going on THAT ride. Note that the Dumbo ride does not require its own puke-cleaning crew!

Cathy also picked up a Snitch. Just after we exited a store, I overheard someone say, "I bet I can get $200 on-line for this!" I was kicking myself not to have thought of that one! And Cathy has already informed me that she's keeping her Snitch.

The crew at Olivander's Wand Shop got a kick out of Cathy. When she was told that the wand cores consisted of dragon heartstrings, Phoenix tail feathers, or Unicorn hair, my little animal rights activist asked if there were any plant-based cores. The answer was no, of course, but in the end she decided that Unicorn hair and Phoenix tail feathers were acceptable, but not dragon heartstrings, since the dragon would have had to die to provide those.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Symbol of My Decadence

Every day I check Amazon's Deal of the Day. I don't why. I really shouldn't. Because every now and then something catches my eye, something I didn't know I just had to have until it was on sale right in front of me.

That's how I acquired The Complete Works of Mozart.

Now I like Mozart. I really do. But I don't think I'll live long enough to make my way through this entire set. In fact, it has sat on my entertainment center for three years, and every time I look at it I am reminded that this was one of the most decadent, extravagant, and pointless expenditures of my life.

So today I listed it for sale on Amazon for a mere $121. I bought it for $79. It would be funny if I made a profit on it. I only ever listened to two or three of the 170 disks (sic) and that was only because I was taping them for My Grandmother The Nazi who was in a nursing home at the time.

The only Deal of the Day I ever bought that I didn't regret later was the entire Friends collection. I haven't started watching it yet, but that's okay. I read about a guy who was diagnosed with cancer, decided laughter was the best medicine, and spent months in a hotel room watching funny movies. I figure when I get diagnosed with cancer, I'll watch all ten seasons of Friends.

So I'm ready.

The Invisible Woman

I finally saw that hot guest karate instructor again. Good thing he's married, because instead of losing ten pounds, I'd gained three and a half.

He did not so much as look my way.

And this despite the fact that after a previous class I had complemented him on how well he interacts with the kids.

I read this great advice in the book He's Just Not That Into You, a book every young woman should read (although I was no longer young when I read it). One of the excuses women give themselves is “he just hasn't noticed me yet”. The author lays it out quite simply:

Take the amount of time it took you to notice him. Cut it in half.

In other words, yes, he's already noticed you. He just isn't interested. Move on.

That sage advice has stopped me from making a fool of myself on a number of occasions. Now, when I see an attractive guy, instead of going into that preening-fiddling-with-my-hair mode, I remind myself that he's already noticed me and decided he's not interested. Saves me some time and embarrassment.

But seriously, when the karate instructor didn't even glance at me, I felt like that guy in the Night Court episode who was convinced that he was invisible because nobody ever looked at him and when he spoke nobody seemed to hear him.

A great commentary on alienation in our society.

Of course, I know I'm not invisible. I'm much too fat.

Friday, June 18, 2010

eBay vs. Amazon

I've been taking baby steps, but none of my current efforts have yet come to fruition. Well, okay, I sold a Webkinz Turtle via Amazon, but that's about it!

First, I dug out everything that was in the “store” under my bed. Cathy has announced that she is too old to earn points and buy things at my store, so I was forced to liquidate. Some things she bought with cash (which my children always seem to have more of than I do). Some she no longer wanted. (sigh)

And then there was the collection of Webkinz. Cathy must have at least 30 or 40 activated Webkinz. And there were maybe a dozen more under my bed, which I had purchased for half price when a local store went out of business. I had her get all the unactivated Webkinz from her room and then we sifted through the huge pile. I mean, she doesn't even do Webkinz anymore! Now she's into all things Sonic. Still, it was hard getting her to part with any of those Webkinz because they're "cute". But she finally chose 10 or 12 that she could part with. I checked prices on Amazon (which varied widely by animal!), and then posted for sale the half dozen that were worth my time. The turtle sold the next day.

Second, the Saxon math disk... A year and a half ago, when Maryanne was doing Saxon Algebra, we ordered these supplemental computer disks from Saxon for around $90. She hated them, since all they were was a hand writing out the same math problems that were in the textbook. Totally bogus. So I called the company to see if I could get my money back. Of course they said no, but after that business with Calvert (where I DID get my money back more than two years later!), I had to try. Then I put that up for sale on Amazon.

Third, I dug through my "The Teaching Company" DVDs and videos. This company is great. Their product is great, consisting of lectures by excellent professors on a variety of subjects. We have quite a number of their sets. Unfortunately, it turns out we'd rather watch Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles or Survivor or even Wife Swap than lectures by excellent professors. (Very embarrassing.) I'm more into reading, anyway.

The company has a lifetime satisfaction guarantee, so I tested it by sending back two sets of videos for high school students, one on world history and the other on U.S. History. Maryanne only ever watched two of the half-hour lectures and I can safely project that Cathy will never watch any. So I mailed back two sets and now await my hypothetical refund.

Fourth, I wrote and submitted that recipe.

Fifth... Wait a minute. Maybe that's all I've done! I'd better get on the stick. There are SO many possibilities. I need to check and see how much that silver might go for on eBay.

I love Amazon. I love eBay. But it's so much easier to list things on Amazon. All you have to do is find an exact match and click “sells yours here”. The entire process takes under a minute. Then all I do is maintain my “current inventory” so that my price is always the lowest. My goal is that if anyone in America buys this item, they will buy from me because I have the best price and catchiest description. (Most of the sellers are stores, so their descriptions are pretty basic and boring.)

To list something on eBay takes more time. The advantage is that you can sell it within a certain time frame. (Or not, if no one buys.) Meanwhile, an item can languish indefinitely on Amazon; all the while, I have an Amazon pile in the corner of our library (a room which is much smaller and humbler than it sounds) so that I can bark at my kids, “Don't touch that! I'm selling it! It's condition can't change!”

But eBay remains problematic. Most of the time you have to take a photo. That's already a hassle. And I don't even know how to get the photo into the computer, so then I have to rely on my ex or one of my kids. (Like I said, I'm a Luddite!) Then I have to deal with the descriptions and all that. Listing an item can take a good 20 minutes. Sometimes, it's not even worth it. But at least you get resolution in 7 to 10 days.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Noticeably Softer Skin!

Okay, so I still haven't written up that recipe. Instead, I hurt my neck. That's why I haven't written in days. Every morning, during the time I usually spend on my blog, I am in the shower letting hot water cascade over the pain in my neck to loosen everything up so that I can make it through the day. After that, between Cathy's computer time (mostly school-related) and thunderstorms, I'm lucky if I can get back on the computer at all!

I can't believe it. I'm about to make a product pitch!

In the last day or two, I've started noticing that my skin is noticeably softer. Now I have the kind of skin (read: old) that is only going to be soft if I slather on the lotion nightly. Which I generally don't do. Because, you know, by nighttime I'm tired. Besides, I don't even want to think about the chemicals that I'm smearing on my body... and the increasing evidence that they get absorbed through our skin. (From plastics to pollution, we are killing ourselves. Actually, uncaring corporations are killing us. But that's a rant for another day.)

Some months ago, we switched soap, when we discovered that ALL regular bar soap contains some hideous bovine ingredient. I've managed to block out what it is, but trust me, it's gross. Grosser because we're vegetarian with vegan leanings. So I researched soap and then bought a case of Olivella Soap from Amazon. $23.01 for 12 bars. I was worried that they would dissolve in days, the way oil-based soaps often do, but they don't. It took us about 8 months to go through 12 bars, which is probably about the rate we were going through our Ivory bar soap before.

Anyway, now I've been showering daily, which isn't my usual habit. (There. I said it. My usual schedule is a shower every other day.) And as long as I'm in there anyway heating up my back and neck, I go ahead and wash. And all of a sudden my skin is smooth and soft, without the benefit of any lotion at all!! Who knew?!

Anyway, I love this soap. I remember learning years ago that Ancient Greek athletes cleansed themselves by rubbing olive oil all over their bodies and then scraping it off. Or by having someone else scrap it off. A little man-on-man action there. Gross, right? Nope. Once again, it turns out that the Ancient Greeks got it right. (About the soap, not the man-on-man action. That part's optional.) This soap is essentially 100% virgin olive oil.

Bonus feature: If you see me on a regular basis and are reading my blog, I will give you your first bar free! Just ask. That will also let me know if anyone is actually reading my blog... :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

JUNE TALLY $22,474.70

I cannot overstate what an accomplishment this is for me. I have been tracking my cumulative credit card debt monthly since January of 2009. That means I have been trying to do something about it for at least that long. Longer, really. But I got serious then.

When I started tracking, my debt was at $28,590.82. And in all those months, the number in the thousands place did not budge except when I got my annual tax refund. My income correlates so neatly to my expenses (outgo?) that no matter how much effort I put in that number just would not budge.

And now it has! In fact, it dropped from $24,283.60 when I started this blog to $22,474.70 today. A change of not one but two digits in the thousand's place!

I am so excited! I find this highly motivating. It can be done! I just need to keep plugging away at it.

And I find myself more motivated to trim the fat from my budget in other ways. I've long since switched from buying DVDs to Netflix. I've switched from buying books to just keeping a list of the books I want and occasionally getting one from the library. (Who has time to read, books, anyway, given the magazines??) Okay, okay. I still buy the occasional book. Like Anthill. But I have cut way down.

I took advantage of an offer from the phone company two months ago and cut down my bill to $20 per month, limited to 600 long distance minutes. That's worked out. I pay for minutes (not monthly) on my cell phone. I refinanced my house (for free!) and my monthly payment dropped around $200.

When my yard workers told me that new wood chips (mandatory in my community) would cost me $7 a bag for 30 bags, I declined. Instead, I bought 10 bags (I'm sorry, my property just isn't that big!) for a total of less than $30 at Home

When my insurance company overcharged me $35 on a medication refill, I made the call, dealt with the annoying phone tree, and got the credit back. (Don't you just hate it when the mail brings you more work to do?)

I don't give myself credit for any of the things I don't spend money on, like getting a credit back or buying my own darn wood chips. They don't count in my $100 x 200 scheme.

And for those of you keeping track, the reason that my numbers don't work out precisely is because I always manage to squeeze a little something out of my monthly budget to throw at my credit card debt. So that's where the extra money is coming from. Of course, in a typical month, the extra I manage to come up with is offset by the extra I spent. Well, not this month!

I am on my way!!

Today's Goal: Write up a recipe I plan to enter in a vegetarian recipe contest for Better Homes and Gardens. Maryanne forwarded me the link. The prize is $500. You never know.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


An $800 day!!

I decided to find a coin dealer. My first stop: the forums on Celebration's Front Porch website. I searched “coin” and found a coin store about a half hour away from my house that someone had recommended. I clicked the link. TraderNicks. Then I called and spoke with Pat, who told me that the Austrian gold coin would go for around $480.

She also told me that given the nature of the coin, it was worth only its weight in gold. Literally. Which is the same thing Tiffany had told me, when she offered me $270.33 as the coin's putative weight in gold (when the price of gold was actually lower!).

But Pat also encouraged me to get a second estimate and recommended a store in Orlando. I hopped on the Internet, found the phone number, and called them. I was told they would pay around $500 for the coin, so same ballpark figure.

Then I hit the phone book (Cathy was hogging the computer doing her schoolwork, appropriate, I suppose, since it's schoolwork and technically her computer). I looked up coin dealers... and promptly found the name of the second place I'd called. Within its listing was the name of the same website, TraderNicks! I'm thinking, Are all these places dishonest??

I called that second location again to find out how far away it was from my house (such a Luddite, I know), only to be told that “their other location” was closer to my house. So Pat had given me the name of her other store to give me a second opinion. Sigh.

I went anyway. She gave me $500 for my Austrian coin. $250 for my Yugoslavian coin. And $50 for two pairs of gold earrings and a slender, hopelessly-knotted gold necklace. And I took it!

Anyway you cut it, that's $800 I didn't have when I woke up this morning... straight into my Viactiv container!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Last night I took Cathy to karate. There was yet another new guest instructor.

So I flagged down the instructor's wife, who handles all billing and e-mail communications.

“What did I tell you about letting me know when there's going to be a handsome substitute teacher?” I whispered.

“His partner is right behind me,” she whispered back.

“Oh. Well, I really only need you to let me know about the ones that are in their 40s, attractive, straight, and sing--”

“The other one's married.”

Great. So much for that noble (unattained) goal of losing 10 pounds in 12 days!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


HA! And they said it couldn't be done... Okay, fine. So nobody actually said that...

I've decided to put “pursue that elusive $100” on my daily To Do list, right between breakfast dishes and yoga.

Today I called my contact at United HealthCare to see how that speech refund was coming along (ha ha). I left her four or five messages, but of course she hasn't called me back.

Then I contacted Calvert School about that $175 refund on the Discoveries in Reading kit. It turns out that the refund was processed back onto my credit card (right where it belongs) two weeks ago. I might have looked for it there, if they hadn't told me they'd be mailing me a check! Also on my credit card were refunds for five months of Club Penguin that they had kept erroneously charging me. So that was another $5.95 x 5 or $29.75. So that was $204.75 in refunds I had aggressively pursued, all right back onto my card.

Then my bank statement came (I'm too much of a Luddite to do the on-line banking thing) and I had received $28.34 in payments from Amazon for DS programs I'd sold. Time consuming and not a very good return, but better than nothing and having them continue to clutter up the house.

So, counting my initial $81 (from the sale of the gold sheet and the Franklin Planner stuff), that brings my grand total to $314.09!!!

I am on my way! Three down! Only 197 left to go.