New to BFS?

If you are new to Budgeting in the Fun Stuff (BFS), please click here. It'll give you a little background and a starting point for browsing BFS. See you in the comments soon!

Categories

As Seen On

Forbes

Yahoo
DailyFinance

Get Rich Slowly

House Logic

Check Out My eBooks!!!

How I Make Money Blogging Managing Your Monthly Nut

Being in Big Brothers Big Sisters – Awesome and Inexpensive!!!

It’s been nearly a year since I updated all of you about being in Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).  Honestly, it just became part of my life and I forgot that I stopped talking about it here, LOL.

My Little Bro

Little Bro at the Zoo

That’s my Little Bro watching his favorite animal ever, a sea lion, jumping out of the water. This was his first ever trip to the zoo!  Yay!!!  I got lucky to get this shot, lol.  And yes, his mom gave me permission to use it or any of the photos I take.  :-)

My Little Bro and I were matched up in September 2013 and started hanging out in October 2013.  He was 10 years old when we were matched up and is 11 now.  I am 20 years older than him, and I love that since it makes remembering his age way easier.  Hahaha.

Overall, he is as quiet as I am loud.  He is as black as I am white.  He is my height already (5’2″) and will be at least 6 feet tall based on his ever-growing feet.  So we make a very odd-looking couple when we are out and about, but that suits both of us just fine.  We do make jokes about “white” stuff and “black” stuff once in a while, but it never seems to be a concentrated point.  I did have to inform him on one of our initial hang outs that “some white people like Brisk iced tea too.”  ;-)  That makes me laugh to this day.

Most recently, with me dying my hair a rainbow of color, I thought I’d finally “break” him and he’d get embarrassed.  Nope.  He didn’t say anything to me about it but smile.  Then he told my mom that I had cool, new hair.  :-D  He does that a lot – won’t say much to me about something and then tell his mom all about it, so I hear nice stuff second hand.  I cannot believe I was matched with someone so shy, or that it works so well for both of us, LOL.

When we were matched, Little Bro was failing most of his classes, was repeating 4th grade, and was getting in trouble by acting out nearly daily in school by going under tables or just walking out of class.  His parents were also getting divorced (yeah, I made the connection too).

He has now brought his grades up to B’s and C’s, is in 5th grade for the first time, didn’t act out at school all of last year, and even joined the school’s football team.  He enjoys math and science the most, has fast feet in football, and is just now getting comfortable enough at school to start being a slight class clown, which we are working on reeling in just a bit.  I am so proud of him and hope he really hunkers down to use his math and science smarts.

Me

He’s helped me a lot in the last year too.  I understand kids a little better.  I’ve also learned that he pays attention to my actions just as much as my words.  It helps that I act the way I suggest and am friendly to nearly everyone.  He sees that and repeats it.  Not as much as small children do, but I have noticed it pretty frequently.  That makes me want to be a better person, especially around him.

I watch how I word things a little more often, and more importantly, I open doors for others and give more smiles and compliments.  I need him to see that the whole world isn’t against him.  I also make sure to stick to my word- I pick him up every week as we plan and we do what we agreed to do unless the weather forces us to change plans.

Actual Costs

Honestly, I spend more than necessary on our weekly get-togethers.  BBBS suggests doing free and cheap activities.  They never encourage us to spend much at all.  I understand.  I ignore it sometimes, but I understand.

Little Bro and I both love all sorts of food.  He also hadn’t been to places like the zoo or the botanical gardens, so I do drive him all over occasionally.  For the most part, we stick close to our homes though.

A basic hang out day is picking him up after school around 4pm, we eat somewhere, we hang out somewhere like a billiard’s hall or the $2 discount theater, we grab dessert from a grocery store or snow cone stand, and I take him home around 7pm.

In our first year:

  • We hung out 36 times.
  • I drove about 950 miles altogether.
  • I spent a grand total of $495.

I consider this a STEAL.  Oh, and the money spent on Little Bro specifically is a tax write off and so is the mileage.  So honestly, it’ll most likely end up costing less than $300 after the actual deductions.

You Should Sign Up

There are way more Littles than Bigs – they need your help.  BBBS only asks for you to see each other at least twice a month.  The application process is thorough but not extremely time consuming.  You don’t have to spend much at all after that though.  Just a weekly or biweekly hang out and email your BBBS rep once a month with what you did and for how many hours (that’s how they keep their grants).

The majority of the $495 that I spent in a year was on eating out and billiards, so you could just make food or find a cheaper hobby together.

You will be changing a kid’s life.  They will change yours.  It is worth the time, money, and there isn’t much driving unless you want to go places all around town like me.  This is a good deed that takes less than 3 hours a week at most and can help you and a kid at the same time.  I highly suggest it.

Have you ever been a Big or Little?  Thought about it?

Our Stray Dog Has Been Adopted!

Two weeks and three days.  That is how long it took to re-home that adorable, stray Shih Tzu that we took in on October 2, 2014.  :-D

Toby’s New Life

That cute puppy is now going to be spoiled rotten by a very sweet couple about an hour away from my house.  I showed up to the adoption location 10 minutes early and they were already there.  They greeted us with a “There he is!!!”  :-)  They were also very welcoming to me, but the pup is definitely someone’s baby now.  Yay!!!

Within thirty minutes, he was adopted and heading out with new balls, raw hides, a bright purple harness, a matching collar, and the many tags that declare him happily owned.  I’m exuberant for him and hope he fits into their household smoothly for all of their sakes.  I am so thankful that they have more time for him than I could eek out too.  Will I miss his Ewok-like face?  Yes.  But it is so much easier to say goodbye to a pet when you know it’s going to a home full of puppy love, LOL.

Handling the Rest

Okay, so the finding-a-home-for-our-stray is checked off of my list, woot!  Today our wind-driven-rain damage should be repaired.  On Thursday, I should have a working oven.  No matter what, Saturday is our annual Halloween bash, so I’ll have great pictures for you next week!  Altogether, I am feeling way more normal now.  Wish me luck on cleaning up my house, having an oven to bake my witches fingers in, and for getting the place ready for an awesome potluck.  :-)

Thank you to my friends for keeping me sane.  Thank you Aldi’s for $5 bottles of Moiselle Red Moscato.  Hope all of you are doing well too!

 

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life…

Okay, so I impressed myself yesterday.  I was mature, responsible, and stayed positive.  And that accomplished almost everything!

Water Damage Issue Semi-Resolved

I wrote earlier this week about our ceiling water issue and exploding oven.  Well, yesterday we got a quote to have the ceiling repaired and the exhaust vent on the roof fixed once and for all to avoid “wind driven rain” damage in the future.  I still think our home builder was negligent in installing a vent hood on a roof that is obviously intended for the side of a house, BUT it will all be fixed on Monday and that will feel great.  Oh, and look what I’ve done in the meantime to take advantage of the situation a little…

Ceiling Damage

Yep, I totally took down our art and put up giant fake spiders instead. It looks like they are returning home through the damage in our ceiling, LOL.

Broken Oven Issue Semi-Resolved

On the oven thing, our visit by the oven technician on Wednesday ended up being HORRIBLE.  The guy reeked of smoke, was rude, and was completely unhelpful on purpose several times.  I can summarize his whole visit with just how it started:

Me:  “Hi!  Thanks for coming!”

Tech Guy:  “Yep (hand shake).  Where is the oven?”

Me:  “Over here.”  We opened it.

Tech Guy:  “What’s the problem?”

Me:  “That missing part of the heating coil thingy…”  I actually pointed to the obvious gap left by the firework-like explosion of last week.

Oven with Obvious Gap

FREAKING STUPID TECH GUY:  “Yep.  Want me to fix it?”

WTF?!  No, I just wanted to show you a broken oven and walk you out.  Here’s your sign.  SERIOUSLY?!

Me:  “Yes…”

He then proceeded to go out to his truck, get out a computer, walk back inside, give me a $200 quote for labor and the boiler heating element, and wanted to place the order.  He didn’t even have the part!  He hadn’t read the repair order at all!

Needless to say, I let him know that he could leave.  I then waited for the reek of smoke to leave too while I was calling customer service, but that took a lot longer.  I lodged all of my complaints as calmly as I could to the representative on the other end of the line, and then waited calmly for about 20 hours to hear back from my specific case worker.

She was very understanding, listened to everything as I repeated myself from the day before, and is now sending me the heating element for free.  She also set me up with an appointment with a different tech next Thursday and he will be installing the new heating element for free.  I’ll keep you all updated, but I should have a working oven again by next Thursday evening.

Toby (now known as “Rascal”) Semi-Adopted

The stray Shih Tzu that we’ve been calling Toby met a nice couple yesterday that applied to adopt him from SMART Rescue.  They live about 45 minutes away from me, but it is a good match.  He is now going to be called “Rascal” since their last dog was named “Toby” and just passed away a couple of months ago from liver failure after they had him for 8 years.  Sad, but “Rascal” works for this crazy ball of energy, LOL.  They will be officially adopting him tomorrow!  Woot!

Toby

Toby, aka Rascal, is being adopted!

Ticket Literally Laughed Off

We checked the mail yesterday and saw a Red Light Camera Ticket in the midst of our junk mail.  Poop.  We opened it up, saw a couple of pictures of my husband making a right hand turn at a red light, and saw the $75 fee.  We logged onto their site to see how we could fight it.

First we saw that this ticket won’t affect our insurance.

Then we read that you have to come to a complete stop at a red light before taking a right hand turn.  I asked my hubby if he thinks he stopped.  He had no idea.

We finally found a link in the ticket to see a video.  Here’s what I saw…

I see my husband’s Prius heading up to a yellow light.  His brake lights come on briefly as the light turns red.  He then simply takes the turn at 21 miles an hour and zooms away.  He didn’t even try to stop.

I started laughing hysterically.  I was laughing so hard that I was crying.  (In fact, I am still giggling now as I type this).  I then looked at him for a nod of confirmation, paid the $75 ticket plus the $4 convenience fee, and printed the receipt.  Matter resolved.

Ticket

My husband handled me laughing like a crazy person very well.  I think I only hurt his feelings a little bit.  He hugged me and said that “at least you got some value for your $79″.  HAHAHAHA!  Actually, yes, I think I did.  I want to save that video to my computer and watch it on crappy days.  It was just so obvious and definitely funny as hell if you were watching the video and thinking that he was going to stop…at all…

I don’t know about you, but I rarely stop at a red light all of the way to take a legal turn, especially at night with NO ONE around.  The ticket is stupid.  My husband is a safe driver.  On this traffic ticket issue, I am completely on his side.  BUT, that video was so damn clear and the law is definitely black and white.  It wasn’t worth $79 of our time to try fighting that losing battle.

Yesterday was productive and positive.  Yeah, my ceiling is still wounded.  My oven is still broken.  I still am walking a stray dog in wet grass to get him to pee.  We did have to pay $79 for something I think is freaking ridiculous.  BUT, we are together.  We are content.  Life is good.  We are mature enough to do what needs to be done and move on.  That makes me the happiest of all.

How are you doing?  Staying positive?

When It Rains, It Pours…and Your Roof Leaks…and Your Oven Explodes…

Okay, so I will admit it.  I was feeling amazing until last week and all hell broke loose.  I was pet sitting overnight 6 out of 7 days and started getting exhausted.  Then our area of town started getting rain storms from incoming cool fronts.  Then my bed got soaked…it pretty much went downhill from there.

Water Problem

I came to bed at 5:30am last Thursday morning after a particularly rough pet sitting night.  I slid into the sheets, and then my feet were cold and wet.  What?!  I got up, moved my cover, and found out pretty quickly that the entire bottom corner of my side of the bed was SOAKED.

I woke up Mr. BFS and all we could conclude was that water had come through the fan at one point.  The next day, we saw the warped fan blade to confirm.  Mr. BFS went onto the roof, but he couldn’t see anything obvious.  I called our home builder and set up an appointment with a roofing company.

Then a crack appeared in the living room, and grew into a wound on my ceiling.  We still have to wait out the rest of the 5 days for the roofing company since the erratic rain keeps them off roofs.  I’m expecting them later today.

Living Room Ceiling

This gash is what popped up on Friday. Now it’s just wider but doesn’t seem to be getting worse…

 

If they find a problem with a seal or the roof or anything like that, then our home builder will pay them and others to fix everything.  If they decide the water came in some freak way because of the weird storms, our home builder won’t pay for anything.  Great.  You know how fun it has been to wait from Thursday morning through today to find out if I’m going to be out ALOT of money?  Yeah, not fun at all.

Oven Problem

But, as if that weren’t enough for right now, our oven decided to burn out in a spectacular, almost fireworks kind of way on Saturday night.  The heating element literally burned itself out and caused the inside of the oven to belch and burst into flame.  Luckily, everyone in the house knows to turn crap off quickly and breaker flipped.  But the heating element is missing a section now.

My home builder helped me make an appointment with GE for Wednesday.  Yet again, if it’s the product’s fault, they’ll fix it.  But if it’s caused by “something else”, they won’t.  What else could be at fault for a heating element exploding?!

Oven

See that missing section of metal? That shouldn’t look like that…

Mr. BFS is waiting for the 3rd thing to pop up.  I think our third thing is handling Toby, the stray Shih Tsu that I’m fostering, and getting him adopted.  That actually may also happen late this week since he does have interested families waiting to meet him.  Woot!  Fingers crossed!

So yeah, rain can suck.  But at least we handle problems better now than we did 5 years ago.  Heck, we handle them better now than we did 1-2 years ago.  Yay for maturity!  :-)

How has your home been feeling lately?  I think mine is sick…

What To Do When You Find a Stray Dog

Please keep in mind that I am a professional pet sitter, an animal rescue foster mom, and an animal lover in general, BUT I am not a vet or anybody in authority over stray animals.  So take this post as intended, a suggested to-do list from one sucker to another.  ;-)

I spent the weekend living away from home since I was hired for overnight pet sitting.  Normally, that wouldn’t have annoyed anyone, but this time I took in a stray dog the day before I left.  My husband is a bit frazzled, my roommate and friend, Mandy, is pretty much co-parenting with me, and I have learned a bunch about what to do when you find a stray dog…

How I Ended Up with a Stray

Last Thursday, I drove the 5 miles to our old neighborhood to pick up the monthly rent for our rental home.  While I was there, a very frazzled older woman was going door to door with her neighbor’s help.  She was carrying around a stray dog, a sweet-tempermented Shih Tzu that she had found in the middle of the street about a half hour before.  She was nearly crying because both she and her neighbor own large dogs that don’t play well with others – they didn’t know what they were going to do with this little boy.

I asked her, “IF I take this little guy home and give him a place to sleep and eat, would you promise to put up flyers all over this neighborhood and do everything possible to find his real owners?”  She said that she would, and looked more relieved than I could describe.  Her neighbor promised to help too.  I took the dog.  Yeah, I’m a pushover.

Steps to Take When You Find a Stray Dog

1.  Take care of the immediate problems before you bring the dog into your home.  In our case, Toby (trying that name out right now, although “Crazy Dog” seems to be the one sticking…), was thirsty and infested with fleas.  I hate fleas.  He got little quantities of water at a time until he seemed good to go.  Then I gave him the bath in Dawn that I have mentioned before, but he was too matted for it to do much good.  So I used $45 of my fun money for the month and took him to the awesome groomers that I had used for my fur babies.  They take care of all sorts, so a stray with fleas was an easy one for them.  In a few hours, I picked up a flea-free, shaved, nail-clipped, adorable Shih Tzu that was about 2 pounds lighter from when I dropped him off.

Shih Tzu BEFORE the Groomers

This was Toby before I took him to be groomed.

Shih Tzu AFTER the Groomers

This was Toby when I picked him up 3-4 hours later. TOTALLY WORTH $45!

2.  While I was waiting for the groomers to call for pick up, I listed him everywhere I could think of online.  The neighbor in the other neighborhood did the same.  I ended up with him being listed as FOUND on the Houston SPCA website, Petfinder’s Facebook page, Craigslist, Nextdoor.com in both neighborhoods and surrounding areas, and Texas Lost Pets.  Other rescues picked his info up from there and I had 3 calls by Friday evening about this little guy.  Sadly, none of them were actually his owners.  Shih Tzu’s tend to look a lot alike…

3.  We went directly from the groomers to my old vet on the way home.  I picked him up a $10 Capstar, a pill for him to take to kill any remaining fleas just in case.  I also had him scanned for a microchip.  No microchip.  He’s an un-neutered male with no identifying microchip, collar, or tattoo.  :-(

4.  For the last 3 days, my husband and friend/roommate have been taking care of the little guy while I’m pet sitting out of town.  I’ve been answering a couple of calls and emails from owners who lost their little guys recently, but he isn’t the one that they are looking for.  One lady sent me a picture and they looked nearly identical, but this one isn’t neutered and hers was…and hers has a microchip.  Good luck, Joan!

5.  I called SMART Rescue, the animal rescue that I foster for when I am home for more than a few weeks at a time.  This little boy is obviously a very young adult, maybe 1.5-2 years old, and his super high energy level just won’t fit into our household permanently.  That said, I asked SMART if they could take on another little one if I was willing to foster him until he gets adopted.  They agreed and he is now their nearly-adoptable dog.  We have an appointment on Wednesday to get him a full evaluation, neutered, micro-chipped, and we’ll be picking up heartworm and flea preventatives for the next month.  I didn’t have the remaining fun money to tackle all of that in less than a week, and I didn’t want to hit our emergency fund for a pup that I rather not adopt for life.  Honestly, rescues are life savers for pets and humans alike.

Based on the fact that he is adorable, sweet, and mostly house trained, I think that he will be adopted out in less than 2-3 weeks.  We’ll see.  I have my fingers crossed since I know everyone I live with is definitely thinking the sooner, the better since this little guy wants every speck of attention that you can possibly give him every moment of every day.  He is a purse dog…he thinks he should be with you all of the time.  And since he is just a 14 pound dog, he really was bred that way.

Have you ever rescued a stray?  How did you handle it?

If You’re Happy and You Know It…

This past week has been good.  Really good.  I am content.  That never happens, LOL.

Life is Good

This is one of our foster dogs, Missy, as she was recharging for round 2 of fetch…

Work

I didn’t do much for our online business while I was at #FinCon14, so I used this last week to play catch-up.  I whittled my Inbox from 163 to 17.  I’m staying on top of all of the new messages coming in.  I’ve been blogging every day.  Pet sitting has picked up again and next week will be booming.

I’m busy and happy.  Happy busy.  That’s a nice feeling.

Income-wise with work, September looks like the online job won’t bring in as much as usual, but we are hitting our minimums through sports officiating (Mr. BFS) and pet sitting (me).  I have learned that a break-even month of self-employment has been more rewarding to me than the make-slightly-more-than-you-need months when I was in my cubicle position.  So I’m happy on this level too.

Relationships

No drama.  That’s how awesome my relationships are right this second (can change in an instant…).  Mr. BFS and I are working well together and feeling all lovey-dovey after my week away.  It’s been nice – tons of hugs and we’re getting stuff accomplished.  Woot!

With family, my parents and sisters seem to be doing well, my grandparents are chugging along and catching up with me once in a while, and I’m solid with my in-laws.  Double woot!

With friends, I’m hanging out with my girls regularly, get to see the group Saturday night, and no one seems to be annoyed with me right now.  Our core friend group is 20-25 people, and nothing is dramatic right now.  I’m not as close to 2-3 of the group as I used to be, but you learn what you can share with whom as you go along.  Overall, I have a close-knit core group that keep me even-keeled.  :-)

Entertainment

We cut cable, but I did get a free Chromecast at FinCon.  That paired with Hulu Plus, Netflix, and a Terk antenna has made watching our shows possible.  Yet, over the past week, I have watched the three newest episodes of Doctor Who and the premier of this season’s Big Bang Theory.  THAT’S IT.  I’ve been too busy with catching up online and pet sitting to sit down and watch much else.  Yet, I am alive.

In fact, since most of my downtime has been spent with friends, I am better than fine.  I feel perkier and peppy.  I am bouncy, giggly, and am making stupid jokes again.  I didn’t realize how stressed out I had made myself about FinCon until I got back and realized that I could eat again without my stomach hurting and that I could joke around and smile without thinking about big plans.  I can just be.  :-)

Overall, everything fell into place this past week.  I relish the times when that happens.  It’s nice to be able to just enjoy your current moments without all of life’s b.s. taking up brain space once in a while.

How are you?  Content?  Working towards it?  Crappy?  Share away!

Different Shade of Blue – Ion Brights Sky Blue to be Exact!

For anyone following along with my hair saga, my last update was early this month.  I had switched from Manic Panic Ultra Violet Semi-Permanent to N’rage Cobalt Blue Demi-Permanent on September 1st.  Manic Panic had lasted strong for 3-4 days, and lasted in total for exactly 2 weeks and 3 main washes.

Crystal Loved Her Purple Hair

Love at first sight. :-)

N’rage – Less Than 2 Weeks

N’rage lasted from September 1st through September 11th pretty well, and it wasn’t completely gone.  But then I got my hair cut/updated on September 10th to look spiffy at FinCon14, so that definitely stripped a lot out.  It was stronger than Manic Panic, but it wouldn’t have lasted much more than 5-6 regular washes with me.  Keep in mind, I hadn’t been using sulfate-free shampoo or anything special.

Crystal with N'rage Cobalt Blue Hair

This only lasted 11 days with me…

Ion Color Brilliance Brights Semi-Permanent – Sky Blue

I’ve moved back to the semi-permanent arena, lol.  I’m now using Ion Brights Semi-Permanent in Sky Blue.  I am loving this shade of blue!  I also splurged on $6 sulfate-free shampoo and have washed my hair once so far without it looking nearly as faded as the other two did in one wash.  So yay for maintenance shampoo, lol!  Without further ado, here is how my hair will hopefully look for at least the next week:

Ion Brights Sky Blue

Can’t decide whether I like this one even more than the purple or not! No worries though…I have other colors to try too!

Since the Ion Brights variety is cheaper than Manic Panic and N’rage ($5 versus $9-$13), and they were having a buy-two-get-$1-off sale, I decided to take a chance and bought four colors at once.  This is Sky Blue.  I will also be trying Aquamarine, Magenta, and Fuschia.  Thanks to my super short hair, it only takes one tube to cover it all.  If you have more hair than me at all though, I would suggest buying two tubes for Ion or two containers of Manic Panic.  Or, just streak your hair instead of covering it all.

I’ve had loud-colored hair for about a month now, and I can honestly say that I’m loving it.  My pillow case may never be the same again, but it’s a small price to pay for the fun factor of this experiment so far.  Financially, I’ve spent about $40 in the last month on dyes, my new shampoo, and 12 shower caps.  But I still have three of those dyes left to try, so this should take me on for at least another month or two.  In my world, that’s 3 continuous months of entertainment for $40…what a steal!  Hahaha!

And, an extra benefit, I should be very easy to locate at FinCon this year!  :-D

Did I leave anything out?  What do you think of my colors so far?