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.