Monday, February 23, 2009

It Pays to be Diligent

Maybe the check was never in the mail to begin with. Maybe I'm holding the postal system in low esteem for no good reason. Maybe my expectations for people to just do their job is too high. Who knows. All I know right now, is that I'm going to waste a half day of vacation time to drive to the car dealership and rip someone a new one! My husband has been consistently contacting the dealership about our GAP refund check and everytime he calls, it's a new story. Last Wednesday, the story was that the manager needed to sign off on the check and we could pick it up over the weekend. When my husband called on Friday to verify that the check was ready, he was told the manager had gone home early because something was in her eye! Could we at least get a plausible excuse? Not to mention, what happened to the manager on Wednesday & Thursday? Did her fingers cramp up so she couldn't hold a pen? Did her dog eat her work clothes and she couldn't come in? Honestly! So my husband called today to find out what the problem is now and is told that "it's on the top of my priority list" by whomever he has been dealing with. In response to that, my husband advised her that I would be coming to the dealership today and that the check better be ready. She gave him the impression that she was not pleased by that. Why would that be? Because I'm going to force her to do her job? Frankly I'm so ticked off right now, I will probably cause a scene. If I have to drag the department manager and dealership manager into the fray, so be it. I know it's only a couple hundred dollars, but darn it all, that's my couple hundred dollars, not theirs to hold hostage! Hopefully there will be some resolution today because I don't want to deal with these people ever again, and I'll be sure to let them know that we won't be buying another car there ever again as well. I'm sure the dealership manager won't be too pleased to hear that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Holy Fencing Batman!

I must admit that when I received the estimate on installing a whopping 12 panels of fence in our backyard that I about had to put the phone down! The way I figured it, 12 panels at $28 each is $336, and then we would need 2 posts per panel, so 24 posts would cost about $120. Nails and the metal brackets would be negligible in the scheme of things. So overall, I'm envisioning roughly a $1500 project, maybe even $2000. Not to be! When Lowes called, they said it would set us back to the tune of $6123!!! Oh my god, are you serious??? Please tell me what the other $4000 is for! I realize I might have been a bit off on my labor estimate as I'm not in construction and don't really know what kind of prices they charge, but this price is just unreasonable! 12 panels of fence? That doesn't even cover a quarter of my yard! I know someone who has a HUGE yard and had the whole thing done for $8000. Good grief man! So needless to say, it looks as though my husband and I are about to become the notorious "do it yourselfers". It's not going to be pretty, but I'll be darned if it rings up a $6k total either! Sheesh, I thought contractors were hurting for business right now, not trying to price gouge themselves out of a sale! Too bad for them I guess!

The Check Really Was in the Mail!

The check was in the mail at some point, but alas, the Chicago mail system has foiled us again! It never arrived! The dealership is going to stop payment today and reissue the check. I believe it's probably best that we just drive over there to pick it up. Total waste of gas considering that in this day & age we have a postal system, but it is most likely awash in corruption just like the rest of the good city of Gotham. Maybe we'll get lucky and there will be another "breaking news" report of one of our fine postal workers hoarding mail and our lonely little check will be moldering in their garage or something. Who knows. Anyway, it's good to know that it's being reissued and hopefully we can add that to the vacation fund and actually do something constructive on our time off this year.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Check Is In The Mail

"Yes ma'am, I mailed that check out early last week". Sure you did lady. This is the storyI've been given by the car dealership that has been sitting on our refund since November. When we bought our new car last November, we cancelled the GAP coverage on the car we traded in (stands to reason right? don't want to pay for something I no longer own!). Well the guy we worked with in the finance department was a complete jerk. He tried to sell us so much stuff that we didn't need and didn't want to take "no" for an answer. We finally convinced him to cancel the GAP. We are told it could take up to 6 weeks to receive the refund, but it doesn't usually take that long. Ok, no problem, we aren't in any hurry per se. 6 weeks go by and we haven't received our check. I call the GAP company to verify that it has been cancelled. The kind woman I spoke with advised that it had not been cancelled. She inquired as to what dealership we used. I advised her where we bought the car and she lets out a long sigh and says "oh, now I understand". According to her, our dealership is NOTORIOUS for not cancelling the GAP upon request right away. She says they take forever! Great, now I'm mad. So my husband calls the dealer and talks asks for the finance jerk. Yeah, he no longer works there! No wonder it didn't get done! So my husband is passed onto someone else that seems to know what is going on. She advises that the check will be ready by the end of January and that she will call once the check arrives at the dealership. She called early last week and my husband asked her to mail the check. Well, it's over a week and half later and surprise, no check. Ordinarily this wouldn't be a big deal, but we live the next town over from the dealer, it should have been here by now. So I call today and she advises that the check was mailed last week when she spoke with my husband and she can't understand why I'm calling her. I explain that we should have received it by now and can she check into whether it was cashed by someone else. She advises that she will check into and call me back, but somehow I doubt I will hear from her.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eating Poor to Stop the Cash Hemorrhage

Well I suppose I'm going to have to post an updated food calendar now in anticipation of being broke without any OT coming from my husband's paycheck! Not to be an alarmist or anything, but I always feel that it's better to be prepared than to be caught with your pants down! Things aren't going so hot at my job lately either (we are losing clients faster than Madonna changes looks), but as of right this second, there haven't been any moves or talks of layoffs. I'm keeping the ole fingers crossed. Anyway, on to the calendar. Unfortunately, a lot of it consists of rice or pasta, but with some beans and veggies at least we are getting protein and essential vitamins and can be somewhat nutritious. With the said menu, we will cut our grocery bill down to about $100/mnth or so. Each meal has to be repeated once, but hey, if you are trying to staunch the cash flow, eating boring food might have to enter the picture for a while!

Is the Axe About to Fall?

Out of the blue yesterday, my husband received an email from his boss (he wasn't the only one to receive the email) asking what his typical work hours are. Now if he hadn't been privvy to earlier talks of cutting OT, this email wouldn't ruffle any feathers, however, since he is "in the know" about the scaling back on OT, this is a huge red flag. Does this mean that OT is going the way of the dodo? If so, we stand to take a $800-$1000 hit per month. OUCH! With no raise this year, that really hurts. However, what I fail to understand is that huge year end bonuses were given to the employees (to the tune of $5k and up) but they want to cut the bread and butter that is a regular paycheck. I realize that $5k isn't equivalent to what we stand to lose over the course of a year, but if that amount were spread out over the year, it wouldn't hurt so bad to take the OT loss. Luckily we banked the bonus and have something to fall back on, but that is the bulk of our emergency fund and god forbid we have an emergency! I'm not sure how much longer our furnace is going to be able to limp along. We are almost out of the woods as far as needing to use it, so I think we will be ok for now, but if something goes south between now and next winter, I think we are going to have to stock up on Snuggie blankets and long underwear, and believe me, long underwear and snuggies are not a good look for anyone!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Food Calendar

I'm posting the calendar I use to plan meals for the month. Our grocery bill for two people is probably a bit high as it runs in the $250-$300 range for a month, but that also includes toiletries. The green meals mean they are quick to prepare, yellow takes a little longer, and red I reserve for making on weekends. Anything that sounds like meat is made with a meat alternative like Morningstar. Hope this helps!

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Monthly Bills/Balances-February 2009

Updated for February 2009-Paid off a credit card and boosted the ole savings account!

Mortgage: $1595.32/mnth Balance: $177,223.51
Truck: $557.49/mnth Balance: $29,546.97
Car: $623.69/mnth Balance: $32,234.85
Discover Balance: $0.00-woohoo, paid that sucker off!
WAMU Balance: $0.00-haven't added anything to it!
AMEX Balance: $0.00-not going to add anything here either!
MB Balance: $0.00-smokin' hot!
Gasoline: $80.00/mnth give or take $20.00-this may go up if hubs takes the new job
Electric: $74.84 for January-running a space heater in our bedroom
Heating: $185.38 for January-installed a digital thermostat, we are saving big now!
Groceries: $300/mnth-probably a little more this month since i'm buying some seafood
Water/Trash: $114.09/quarterly-showering more since we started working out!
Savings: $4650 as of 2/2/09-will be adding an additional $1000 next week
Fun Money: $100 each and $200 in a pool for eating out this month

A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

Last week, the hubby got some potentially good news: he was being considered for an advanced position at his company! Yay! It would be a change in shift (5am-1pm) but definitely something we could work with. He would have to drive his own vehicle to work instead of riding with me and that would require a little more in gas every week, but the company would pay for his parking. The position was offering salary instead of his current hourly (which accrues about 7.5 hours of OT per week as he works 10 hour days with a 1/2 hour lunch) and the salary would be more money for less time worked as the new shift would only be 8 hours. Sounds like a match made in heaven! Suddenly new possibilities were opening up for us! A vacation might be on the horizon! Then, "oh no Mr. Bill, it's Mr. Sluggo"! The following day his boss informs him that OT is going to be cut on his current shift and there will be no salary for the new shift and "oh, by the way, you can start tomorrow right"? My husband explains to his boss that it doesn't make sense to take the shift now because we would be shelling out an extra $200 a month on gas when he could stay in his current position and save the gas money by riding with me. His boss tells him that he is being "petty"! I mean honestly, is his boss so rich that $200 a month is petty to him? Somehow I doubt it. Not only is it an extra $200 a month in gas, but without OT, that's about a $14k a year salary cut! I'm so miffed. Right now they are in negotiations about the salary and whatnot, but I just don't understand how his boss could quote him a salary and want him to start right away and then just pull the rug out from under him and expect my husband to still want to take the job! I'm just hoping it doesn't come down to bullying my husband out of ANY job now because he's upset his precious boss! Guess the economy is giving companies carte blanche to be ruthless because the alternative is no job at all?