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Mystery Shopping

May 17th, 2007 at 02:52 pm

I see people are still interested in finding out more about how this works, so thought I'd use an example from a recent shop...
This shop was for a hotel, a rather fancy one. I had to give compete descriptions, names and times for all events. I had to use a bellman going and coming, give a complete narrative on every area being evaluated. The evaluation was about 20 pages. Because of the version of the software I couldn't use my home computer, so I spent ~$18 at a rent a pc workstation at this location place.
The paperwork took aound 2 hours because of all the detail needed.
People to evaluate:
all front desk clerks on 2 shifts, 2 bellpeople, 1 barperson, 1 housekeeping staff member,1 seating hostess, 1 rom service delivery person, 1 member of maintenance staff. For all of this I will be paid $25. It was worth it to me for a change of pace, but it was a busman's holiday!

Out of Control Spending

February 1st, 2006 at 07:01 pm

Realizing I need to post often as I too easily lose focus otherwise. I've been eating out far too often, and needlessly. I'm acting as though I don't have crockpots at home over the past 10 days of so, and as though I can afford to eat out.
I do have excuses, but that doesn't affect the bottom line. My exboyfriend's stepdad died, and last week brought the wake and the funeral. Also managed to fit in 3 doctor's appointments, and come into work early. I ended up losing 2 days of work... one the night of the wake, and another after a "procedure" that the doctor's appts led to. Fortunately all is ok! By next week I hope to no longer be black and blue, too.
Over the weekend I treated dd and dgs to a movie at an inexpensive theater $15.50, an additional $5 in snacks, $14 at a Big Lots in stuff I didn't need. I ended up with adorababy overnight and had to buy clothes for him for church... he's grown 4 inches and what I had no longer fit. Spent $22 at Kohl's sales racks to get pjs, 2 shirts, 1 pair of pants and a sweater. Love their sales! My grandson was so tired when he went to sleep that I couldn't easily get up for church... Breakfast with mom to return the child to her for $22. Later in the afternoon I went to a new friend's home for card making. Starting to prepare for Christmas 2006. 2005 I was less ready for than I would have liked! After 4 hours there on to another friend's place to do her income taxes. Monday and Tuesday also absurdly busy, and still no food made! Hopefully I can cook tomorrow before work...
Also want to get taxes ready to file and figure out some ideas for the challenge.


January 23rd, 2006 at 02:25 pm

Haven't posted here for some time, but have been trying to be frugal nonetheless. I've been using a crockpot I got as a Christmas gift, in addition to another for much of the weeks' cooking on Sunday's. I've been trying to take advantage of what's on sale, or looks especially fresh/healthy. My "cook once" meals have included lasagna, turkey (came out great!), beef burgandy, hamburger goulash and macaroni salad. Last night I invited my daughter and grandson over for chicken, which I baked whole after putting a halved garlic bulb, a quartered lemon and a quartered orange in. It came out moist, and I thought it was really good. My daughter didn't realize I'd added any flavors Smile! I found that shocking. Also made pumpkin bread (mix) which I brought in to work to share, as I certainly don't think I'd finish it. Over the weekend a friend and I went out for what turned into evening entertainment... A fellow at work had baked for a church dinner, designed to raise money to send a youth group to the hurricane disaster area. We had lasagna, then went to another church to drop off a wheelchair she had in her attic. The church will certainly get good use out of it, and it's one less thing for her to store.
Later we went to a lesson on East Coast Swing
dancing. It was lots of fun, and at $2 a head fit right in with the budget. However we both were feeling very single. Next we went to a dance at a VFW or something, but we were early. That may not have been an altogether bad thing, because they were also doing dance lessons, this time was the third session of waltz lessons. I was able to follow some, but still don't know how to "twinkle". For $7, the dance lesson, a DJ and a light meal were included.
All in all the weekend cost about $20, but lots of value for the money. Now all I need is someone to share it with...

After Christmas sales

December 29th, 2005 at 04:56 pm

Today I spent about $35 on clothes for myself. I had allocated $50 for December clothes, but this is the first I've spent this month. Found 2 things I liked that were roughly 1/2 off, and I can use straight through summer. I live in an area with big seasonal changes, so this is a big advantage. The mall was very busy, glad I knew just what I wanted. Still want to get a small fake tree, but that should pretty well round out my year's shopping. Haven't eaten out since Monday, and that was because my buddy was starving and we ended up hitting a greasy spoon. Spent $5.30 including tip, so better than most weeks.

Back from trip

December 27th, 2005 at 02:32 pm

The trip worked out quite well. I used Priceline for the first time, and bid on a ** hotel. I was quite nervous about it, have always stayed at least *** before. I worked out wonderfully well! The hotel was very clean, the pool and whirlpool were open in the morning so I could use them before my flight from Buffalo to Baltimore. Until this trip it hadn't occured to me to see what the rates for parking at an airport hotel would compare to parking at the airport itself. I saved nearly half the cost, and the hotel sent a shuttle as soon as I called to tell them I'd picked up my luggage. Very happy. I had forgotten about the Southwest Airline/McDonald's alliance, but it was good for a $1 card for McD's passed out while onboard the flight. Lovely visit with family, and short enough to be cheap, my favorite Wink I ended up buying 2 more gift cards than I'd intended because people stayed at my sister's over Christmas, and I didn't know about it ahead of time. Lovely PhD ceremony and party following. Got to trim a tree with my siblings for the first time in over 30 years! Flight home uneventful... I tried to get bumped and if only 1 more person had shown up I could have been. It would have meant getting home 5-6 hours later, and $200 and reimbursement for my flight. I was very willing, as I'd kept my schedule flexible hoping to get bumped. A wonderful Christmas, and one of the most meaningful and least costly yet. Kids loved their mp3 players, and my son had 1/2 his filled with songs on Christmas day... Hope everyone else had joyous and fulfilling holidays...


December 16th, 2005 at 01:57 pm

No huge amounts of money spent recently, but more in the offing. Have someone coming tomorrow to fix a couple of windows, and need to clean before that happens. If anyone has a thought for arranging a few more hours in the day I'd love to hear it! Today I met with a nutritionist (not sure if my health insurance company will pay for it yet) for 1 1/2 hours. If it helps me to feel better- that is to say healthier and more energetic, then it will be worth the cost. At $80 for the initial session you better believe I was listening closely!
I was able to pick up the bracelet I had commisioned for my niece. M has CP and generally doesn't wear jewelery. At 16 she's as independant as possible, and clasps require too much fine motor skill. The bracelet that I commissioned is made from memory wire, so once formed it can "snap" back into place. All she needs to do it stretch it so it can encase her wrist, and open it back up when she wants it off. My sister (her mom) is getting her PhD. in Baltimore next week,and I wanted to be able to give my neice her gift before then in case she'd like to wear it. I need to start packing for that trip soon; I'm gone on Tuesday.
Still a little more Christmas shopping to be done but I'm at the point where I wouldn't feel too badly if I couldn't get out again.

Friend/Money continued

December 13th, 2005 at 04:47 pm

My last post looked awfully whiney! This lady is a good friend, I do enjoy her company but she's always broke. She doesn't spend money foolishly, she just doesn't make much even though she works 65 hours a week. I guess that's what happens if you pretend the future will never come. You don't worry about how to get promoted because you have a job today. You don't save for the future because you can't afford to. You have relationships with others that help everyone get by, by exchanging work for one another and picking up items for each other at garage sales and such. It's a great idea, but when we get together it always costs me. It sounds mean because I make more by the hour than she does, but I select jobs with care instead of always taking the first thing offered to me.
In new news Wink, got some shopping done today for Christmas. Second IPOD shuffle won't be here before Christmas, so I found another MP3 player I think my son will like. Holds the same amount of data as the shuffle, but has a screen so you can play what you want. Got gift cards for about 15 downloads, should be a good start. I'm thinking that each of the kids will be pleased. My daughter is brand-name oriented, so she'll have the shuffle, and my son appreciates choices and flexibility more than name-brands. If they want to return the shuffle, I get it, and will replace with the other MP3 player. They don't like other MCP3 player they can return it at the store. Obviously since the IPOD was from a contest there will be no returns on that! Bought some ornaments for 66% off at Bon-Ton and picked up some boxes in case I give any away. Or because they're the perfect size for baby bootie and hat sets Wink Daughter continues to improve so life is wonderful!

A weekend

December 12th, 2005 at 03:35 pm

So being able to spend was bad. I had a $10 coupon for a store I like buying clothes at, and because their chain has been bought out some pretty good sales. Drove 45 minutes each way, and ended up buying just 1 thing for myself, a watch. In order to get full value out of the coupon friend with me picked out some socks for
$4. i'm glad she loves them, but getting tired of spending so much to see her. cost $5 in gas for her get to my place, $23 altogether on lunch (you know your hungry, eat BEFORE you arrive!) plus the socks. Outside of groceries and gas all the money I spent went on these items. Not happy; prolly won't see her for awhile. She is between a rock and hard place financially, but that's not my responsibility...

Not a great week...

December 9th, 2005 at 03:42 pm

Well, I expected to have a pretty cheap week, but not quite everything worked out that way. Floors at work were supposed to be refinished last week, so I took a whole night off and used my vacation time. Monday the floors looked dreadful, so more work on work floors was scheduled. They were supposed to use a very gentle cleaner to remove the varnish they put on on Friday. Wrong! I went home with an asthma attack, and so did a co-worker. Wednesday came in to work, ended up going to the ER after less than 30 minutes. Three 1/2 hours in the ER and a lecture on why asthmatics should not try to drive themselves to get immediate care. Another lecture on the same thing from my doctor's office. sigh This was a scary attack, the worst I've had in years. I ended up talking the ER doctor into letting me go back to work tonight instead of taking the whole week off. I've basically lightened my time bank by 2 days, but the boss is paying for the time on the nights I was here and got so sick. Not perfect, but it shows they do care, and try to work with you. I'm sure liability has nothing to do with it Wink I'll have a $35 ER co-pay and

Heaven-sent weekend

December 5th, 2005 at 06:32 pm

On Friday I got a call from my daughter asking me to take her grandmother to the store. 2 1/2 hours at Aldi's, with my ex-mil who has alzheimers/dementia and has had a few stokes causing aphasia amoungst other things. We would normally go out to eat afterward as she can't get out on her own, and needs to feel connected to the great world outside of her home. I had mystery shops scheduled, and had to get those done. I also HAD to get my daughter to the eye doctor. On Wednesday night she called me at work and told me her eyes hurt/really burned. I immediately offered to leave work to take her to an urgent care or hospital. She refused as she has no insurance at all for herself. Thursday night she went to the ER. She had a wicked eye infection and her right eye was badly ulcerated. Friday's office visit had the doctor telling her she would be lucky not to lose all sight in her right eye. We both freaked! The doctor made an appointment for the next day for her. It seems like pretty darn bad news when an eye surgeon agrees to open an office to see just you! We went Saturday morning and her eye was 50% improved. The surgeon just kept saying "I don't know what to say. I don't know what to say." He later told my daughter that he expected her eyes to be worse! We definately had a gardian angel, or the prayer chain worked. Much thanksgiving from this family!
My grandson is used to eating out quite often. After the good news Saturday I agreed to drive to a chinese buffet the kids are especially fond of. I did not expect to pay for it... $24. Josh's birthday party was supposed to be Sunday, and turned into more of a family party of all adults. My daughter borrowed from her grandmother to pay for pizza and wings, $30 she didn't have to waste. Over 3 weeks she's seeing pay of less than $450. She works by the day, so no paid time off. After we went away for Thanksgiving and now the eye issue her finances are a wreck. I was sympathetic until I realized that she hasn't paid for gas or tolls or snacks, and still spent $200 over a 5 day period when almost all her expenses were covered by others. She had $9 in her bank account Friday. I went to a ballet on Friday. A former coworker bought the tickets a long time ago, and asked me to go. He only socializes about twice a year other than restaurants, and he'd called 4 times or so before my daughter's problem came up. I stayed only for the Nutcracker, and he understood. A good friend, a lovely ballet, a little diversion, and no cost to me. Saturday was $24 for Chinese food, money I will be reimbursed for mystery shops (5 in 3 days while all this was going on), $16 going out on Saturday night... bought a round at a bar a friends daughter was singing at. $30 for gas, $95 on gifts ($35 should be returns/kids didn't need/like). Sunday paper $1.75. Today, Monday lunch out because I didn't have time to cook over the weekend. $20.09 after using 2 coupons gave me enough food for the entire day. Still need to go grocery shopping for perishables, but should be a cheap week from here out.

Realistic spending

November 30th, 2005 at 05:52 pm

Getting more realistic in my spending at last. Went to Boston for Thanksgiving, spent ~$60 for gas and tolls, but more than worth it in time spent with daughter and grandson. Did well with money when we arrived too! Stayed for 4 nights, 5 days and spent on Christmas gifts and a blanket only. Very good for me... Didn't find some of the deals I expected to, so less $$ spent than expected. Won an instant win - that means one of my kids will be getting an IPod Shuffle as part of their Christmas, and so will the other if I can locate the credit card that requires 1 purchase before they also send a shuffle. I'm also thinking that since my kids rarely ask for anything anymore I may try to save lots before next year so I can get each of my 2 kids 1 thing they really, really want but can't afford. My son is most interested in having a kayak. Not everyone's taste, but he borrows one a good 30 times a year. Since we live in an area that's so often cold and snowy he's outside kayaking a great deal of the time that the weather is good. LLBean has packages now for around 4-500. I'd like to find something for my daughter too that would help to keep her entertained and in better shape. Open to ideas! Wink
I've been on a binge eating out for several months and November started a big turnaround in that area. Dropped about $100 monthly over that past couple of months. I have a friend who makes very little money despite working 2 jobs, one fulltime the other 25 hours a week. She has enough to pay her bills, but little fun money. I have treated her more than I could really afford. It really hit home this week when she started suggesting weekend activities I'm not sure she has the money for. I want to be sure I'm not boxing myself into paying for her entertainment. She certainly deserves it, but refuses to give up things like expensive treats for her pets. So far this week i've spent $27 on non-essential expenses (food out). I spent no money on food in 10 hours of traveling by car, an absolute record for me. I also didn't buy new clothes before seeing my family, which I often used to do. Baby steps

Health Issues

November 9th, 2005 at 03:27 pm

Looks like in addition to trying to find $$ to fix the house I also need cataract surgery, will "see the guy" in January. Might mean a little time off work, which I'd also rather not spend.
Hoping others are having more fun! m

Catch up time!

November 3rd, 2005 at 04:49 pm

Well, I've not been posting for quite a long time but I need to get back to it.
Not a few changes in my life... my son moved out, Holly the dog is living with her pa and I turn 50 on the 19th. I'm in shock Wink Haven't been doing well with saving but only 1 credit card in use and paid every month without fail. Using it for accummulation of airline miles. Have some trips coming up in the next year, and many repairs needed for the house. Going to Boston this month for Thanksgiving, and will see both living sibs and whatever of their families can make it. In December my sister has the ceremony for her PhD in Baltimore. That will entail a flight and a night in a hotel, unlike Boston which I can drive to. In May I have a graduation for my nephew from college in Saratoga Springs NY. Easy drive for me; couple/few hours only, but 2 hotels nights for family get together. In August I go to England! Some of you may remember me talking about this before, how it's been a dream for so long and the guilt I was feeling. Not much guilt now; I found a flight on the net that shouldn't have been publicly available, but which the airline is honoring. Slightly under $220 including taxes, security fees and fuel surcharges. Have the ticket in hand, got my passport last year. EXCITED!!!
Excited until I got an estimate for work that needs to be done at my house. $18-22k.