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Archive for June, 2010

A good day

June 29th, 2010 at 07:08 pm


* The weather is beautiful, sunny and warm and breeezy.

* My oldest son is loving tennis. He isn't really a sports guy, though he did play basketball and soccer. I think this is a sport that he really likes, plus I'm a tennis player, too (or was, in college, once upon a time before kids ...). Exercise for me, and practice/fun for him.

* My daughters are with my mom and stepdad today. The eldest is working off a debt, and the youngest is earning money - picking weeds and helping clean book shelves.

* I've volunteered to do registration for the second round of VBS which is run my the Diocesan seminarians. A lot less stress on my part than last week's VBS, and a discount on my kids' registration fees. Almost like free money. Smile

* The plans for the weekend are shaping up, and remaining low spend. Bike ride to the ice cream shoppe (we've got free tickes) and swimming at the Y (free). Plus Toy Story 3 matinee (but we do have a healthy entertainment fund which is cash)

* The old minivan passed the vehicle emissions test so we can purchase license plate stickers. Two years ago we failed and it cost $700 in repairs to get it up to code. Glad about that, don't want to sink more money than necessary into the old car.

* Feeling happier, continuing to make wiser food choices, etc.

Returning to a place of normal

June 28th, 2010 at 03:08 pm


Thank you for the encouraging words in response to my last post. I was somewhat relieved to determine that my momentary lapse in self-esteem most likely stemmed for PMS (sorry, men, for the TMI moment).

My esteem and I bounced back a bit after realizing that comparison gets me nowhere, and for me it is easier to be angry than sad (I am sliding up and down the grief continuum). I was angry at the world and it really didn't have to do with Coach bags or cute dresses from from Nordstroms or having fabulous streaks in my hair, it has to do with missing a child that isn't coming, that I should be feeling moving around my womb, and I am just mad at the unfairness of life.

It was the Knights of Columbus picnic yesterday that brought me back to my good senses. I spent time with a woman who was lucky enough to get her beautiful daughters from China. I spent time with a woman who is fighting for visitation with the grandchildren (the childrens mother has passed away and father is being difficult). I watched as my kids became totally dirty and gross after climbing in a creek - the laughter was priceless. We had a potluck dinner and the kids had sack races, water balloon tosses, and there was a fishing derby. It was a wonderful day.

I talked to my best friend. I've complained about her a lot in the past. Since I've moved away from a place of judgment, my attitude has changed and things are much better. I actively engaged in a conversation talking about what I was feeling (usually NEVER do that), and it was so nice to hear that she feels the same way about her image. I put a yoga date on the calendar with her. I'm not into yoga, but she claims it is relaxing and helpful and I could use some serious de-stressing.

On the financial front, we spent a total of $12 this past weekend on grocery items. Should be a low-spend week, and another low-spend weekend as well with the kids marching in the 4th of July parade and a barbecue at my parents' on Sunday.

Thanks again, friends, for helping to remind me what is important, and not falling into the trap of thinking that items can buy happiness.

Encouragement, please?

June 26th, 2010 at 10:13 pm


Frown

I'm having a total pity party for myself right now. Granted, I'm the only guest, and it's not very pretty.

My mother just got wonderful highlights and a great hair cut. $150 worth of great. I'm feeling rather fumpy (frump-a-dump) right now. I've been working out and watching what I'm eating - making better decisions, and I'm seeing some small improvements in weight/shape/attitude.

My mom offered to pay for me to get the a cut/color with the stylist. I need some "sprucing" up in her words, not mine. I guess my low self esteem has just been shot down.

I've mentioned how the budget has been tightened due to lack of rental property income. In the best case scenario, if all goes well, I'm hoping for a new tenant by 9/1. On top of it, the medical bills from last month keep rolling in. The hospital will rebill me for $500 (much better than the original $2,500). The doctor just billed me $120 and a pathology bill for $20 was in the mail today. I'm happy that I'm able to keep my chin up and not be completely bogged down.

I've got a $28 credit at Kohl's, but I don't think any clothes for myself will help me out of my rut. My oldest needs new shoes and I'm making the wisest money decisions.

I was around a bunch of upper middle-class women yesterdya in great clothes from Nordstrom's and Macy's. Cute Coach purchases in all different colors. I could go on and on and on.

I am grateful that my children are healthy and happy (less the one tired one who was up all night last night at a slumber party and is a bit on the cranky side). I am glad that we were able to go to the Y today and be together - the girls and I worked out and boys were swimming. No money spent. Tomorrow is Church and a family picnic for the Knights of Columbus, another no-spend day.

I know that there is more to life than outer beauty, and I'm not exactly forced to live naked in the elements somewhere. BUT, I'm still suffering from the want-wants.

And taking money from my mother to have this done is NOT an option, thought tempting.

"D-Day" - grade F

June 26th, 2010 at 12:55 am

Tonight was "D-Day," delivery of the rent ($1,000) per the tenant.

Rent paid: $0

Now to type a 30-Day notice and get her out.

Now to rework the budget (bare-bones). We did get some money from my inlaws and the secondary salary from my dad will take care of some of our immediate expenses: $75 ticket, $150 dance competition fee, and $100 license plate sticker.

I recently converted points from the reward debit card usage program. I ended up with $50 to JC Penney's, $50 to Toys R Us, $10 to CVS, and $100 to Target.

My daughters Rx for her asthma meds is now $132.54 a month through year end. I used $50 in gift cards to defray the cost (bringing it down to $82.54 - plus I got a $10 gift card). No sense hoarding those cards when they can help with the immediate squeeze.

Today was DH's regular salary payday and I spent the following:
$20 in gas for my car
$35 in groceries for the next four days

Tonight my parents treated us out to dinner. Sunday is the Knights of Columbus Family Picnic and all I need to bring is a salad. We will be fine, but it will be sort of tight for the next few months.

*sigh*

The list continues ...

June 23rd, 2010 at 06:30 pm


the list of extraneous expenses, that is.

Come this Friday (DH's payday) I will have $625 additional for these expenses which is what we needed as of yesterday:

$120 Fall soccer (paid today with check)
$165 Silent auction dance shoes (paid yesterday with check)
$200 Budgeted for two tires and an oil change on my car
$155 July dance competition fees

Total $640

The next payday was going to take care of:

$100 2010/2011 Academic sporting fees
$80 Battery for Corvette

I was feeling good about things - definitely manageable, given our lack of spending lately.

Well, at about bedtime, oldest daughter said she needs a refill on her asthma meds. We have $0 funds left in the company-provided HSA, so Rx are OOP through year end. Total for this: $154. (Will need to rework budget to accomodate this)

AND DH was running late to a Knights of Columbus meeting and decided to stupidly speed. Cost of ticket $75.

Obviously the Rx will take precedence over dance competition fees. $75 ticket will take preference over Corvette battery.

I DO NOT WANT TO TAKE MONEY FROM THE EF/SAVINGS ACCOUNT. I happily managed to nudge it back up to $10K. We haven't used the credit card in ages.

I wanted to get all this stuff taken care of - in the event that the tenant is on her way out. I'll know that answer to the question of her fate on Friday, given that is D-Day (D = delivery of promised funds).

*sigh*

au revior, impulse purchase (aka return!)

June 22nd, 2010 at 06:13 pm

My brother hosted a barbecue for Father's Day. I have felt frumpy lately. While shopping for Father's Day gifts about three weeks ago, I bought them golf shirts AND for myself I found a cute dress ($54 on sale for $26). This dress would work with my uncomfy sandals, but I decided to buy a new white purse to go with uncomfy sandals (on sale $18) and a new necklace ($12 on sale for $8) (all at Kohl's). It was a bit humid and muggy on Father's Day and I decided to wear something a bit older, but still cute and comfortable.

Today I returned the dress, purse and sandals. Smile

I did see a cute denim skirt on sale for $24.

I had to remind myself of the kinda cute denim skirt I purchased at Old Navy last month. It was originally $24, on the clearance rack for $15. It was then 50% off of that which brough it to $7.50 and I had a coupon which took another $1.50 off the item brining it to a whopping $6 plus tax.

Impulse clothing returned. Wearing my kinda-cute $6 skirt right now.

Monetary and Miscellaneous Ramblings

June 21st, 2010 at 06:29 pm


Hope all the fathers had a great day celebrating yesterday. We had a nice celebration over at my brothers. The men golfed in the AM. The cookout was at 1:00. I brought a reuben casserole which went over well. This was the year of the "golf shirt" - both grandfathers got one, and my father is a sort of lapsed Catholic who loves animals. I found a St. Francis bird feeder that attaches to an outside wall. I wasn't sure if he'd like it, but he did.

Some Father's Day quotes (I'm liking quotes lately):

One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters. - George Herbert

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong. - Charles Wadworth

He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it. - Clarence Budington Kelland

My father said 'Politics ask the question: Is it expedient. Vanity asks: Is it popular? But conscience asks: Is it right?' Dexter Scott King

A wise man maketh a glad father. - Proverbs 10:1


On the money front, we've stagnated. Not much coming in OR going out. We have cars with full gas tanks and a meal plan in place through Thursday. No anticipated expenses (birthday party gifts, sports items, etc). I have a $650 cushion ($550 from DH's lawn cutting of the old neighor's house, $100 my extraneous $100 bill). I'll then transfer the $550 to the savings account and retrieve my $100 bill. (Odd, I know.)

My inlaws stayed with us this weekend. My MIL gave the following checks to be cashed on 6/28: $50 for kids belated V-Day, $100 for DH after he helped them move in Feb, $25 to me for Mother's Day, $25 for DH for Father's Day, and a check to be cashed 7/28 for $50 for DH's birthday. She insisted on giving an individual check for each "event". Perhaps when I am old(er) I will do the same thing and it will make sense to me. Smile

The lingering question here is: Will the tenant pay the $1,000 on 6/25 as promised?? I am preparing for the event she WON'T BE. Prioritizing all the kid expenses coming up: $120 for Fall soccer, $120 for 2010/2011 school year sports, two new tires and oil change on my car, new battery for the Corvette, and two dance competitions at $135 each. Yikes!

Ramblings over.


Fun article ... is cool to be frugal?

June 18th, 2010 at 01:14 am


Fun article. We might be the new cool!

http://www.salon.com/life/consumerism/index.html?story=/mwt/pinched/2010/06/15/cheapskate_next_door

Surprise money!

June 17th, 2010 at 08:10 pm

Not really "surprise" - rather "forgotten".

DH has been mowing the lawn for our old nextdoor neighbor for about ten years. We moved six blocks to the new house (five years ago) and DH kept mowing for the elderly couple, then just the elderly wife, and the house has been for sale for the past three years, so he's STILL mowing.

The daughter and executor of the estate just came by and left a $550 check for DH. We knew they'd eventually pay - and I actually forgot about it.

Yet another NSD on the spending fast (Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs). I will need to shop tomorrow for groceries: my girls have a dance competition on Saturday that I'll need to pack snacks and bottled water for (far cheaper than buying them there) and my inlaws are in for the weekend and I need to bring some salads to my brother's cookout.

We are still well on pace for NOT exceeding our living expense cap for the two week period of 6/11 to 6/24. Our weekend is busy - but expenses will be minimal. Next week is VBS for the boys and Drama Camp for the girls. I've got the shopping list made and have lots of produce and items on sale - we might actually have money left over.

Perhaps the spending fast should continue?! Smile

ETA: Here is the free local place that I'm taking the kids tomorrow:

http://www.phillipsparkaurora.com/phillipspark/zoo/phillipsparkzoo.html

How am I progressing on the spending fast?

June 16th, 2010 at 02:00 pm

To date, no money spent, so it is pretty successful here.

I did have to lend my daughter $1.78 during a shopping trip. The sole purpose of this was for my girls to purchase birthday party gifts for their friends. Each one had $10 in cash and gift cards to girlie stores (Justice and Claire's). I think it was a great exercise for them to figure out how much (or little) they can get with their money. It was also interesting to listen to them barter with one another - in the end, the younger sister will trade a $20 bill for a $20 Claire's giftcard (when she gets money) so she can use it toward having her ears pierced again. The oldest one will be happy with cash.

The boys are starting T-Ball today and the youngest needed a mitt - he was quite happy to spend his allowance on a stylish one (featuring Toy Story 3 characters) at Kohl's which was 50% off. All in all, I am surprised by how much pride and happiness they take in making these first purchases.

Yesterday was quite the busy day filled with activities: funeral, tennis lessons, birthday party, dance lessons, end of year soccer get together. Today is much quieter. I'm falling behind on laundry and need to come up with food contributions for the Father's Day cookout at my brother's.

I started tracking NSDs on Saturday so after today I will be up to 5 in a row (which is virtually unheard of around here), but good for us to conserve the capital!

AND, I have taken steps to get some money back on some previous purchases/items:
$20 rebate on Boy Scout camp for son (paperwork to den treasurer)
$17 mailed in rebate to Ace for weed killer
$3 rebate on a Brainquest Workbook for 3rd grader

$40 coming in

Also checked in on my state income tax refund of $712. Should be here within the next month according to the statement.
Also I am counting on the tenant to pay the $1,000 on 6/25 as she promised. Otherwise I will have to plan to get her out and others in.

Financial Forays

June 14th, 2010 at 03:53 pm


In my quest for a meaningful existence, I haven't completely stuck my head in the sand pertaining to finances. The importance of money and the realities of finances are two different monkeys.

I received my firsts bill from the hospital following my trip to the emergency room and the subsequent D&C.
Total for the visit was $13,000 of which my insurance paid $10,500 - leaving me with a $2,500 balance (the 10,500 took into account the remaining $2K in our HDHP-HSA). I called the insurance company to see if they could go over the bill with me - hadn't received the EOB. Apparently the insurance company needs a letter from the Dr stating they sent me to the ER and that would drop my portion from $2,500 down to about $500 (the ER portion would be covered).

I got a call from the Dr's office that the letter is ready and they will fax it. It is a relief that the bill will be reduced by 80%, but even if it hadn't I had already found out that the hospital takes payments of $25 a month for the life of the bill or offers a 10% discount if paid in full.

I am glad that I called the insurance company and found out about this.

I also am facing the reality that it is probably best to give the present tenant 30 days notice, paint the place and re-rent to another tenant. I will also need to work the budget for no rental property income coming for the next, say, three-month period.

The joys of finances.

Moving toward movement

June 13th, 2010 at 09:19 pm


Friday: 1.01 miles on the treadmill at the Y - 17 minutes

Sunday: 2.25 miles on the treadmill at the Y - 35 minutes

DH swam with several of the kids today - I drove another to a last minute playdate.

There is something to be said about finally getting one's act (or butt) in gear. I slept better on Friday after the trot on the treadmill. I figure if this turns into a sustainable routine with measurable results (like pounds off and inches gone) I might purchase a pair of Sketchers Shape-Ups. Just a thought, I know they run about $100 which is what I spent on BTS shoes for all of the kids combined.

Our house was painted yesterday and today. I have the father who isn't good with emotions of any sort - and rather deals with love in shades of green (money). He felt very bad about the miscarriage and said he was shocked to see how bad I looked after my stint at the hospital - SO he decided to cover the full cost of having my house painted. He used the painter he's had for 18 years (who works on his apartment buildings) so he was able to get a good deal. Anyhow, it turned out quite nice - I should admit that I didn't know how NICE the house could look with a lighter paint shade for the upper level - and the trim work is a darked shade. I called my father to say "thank you" and to tell him it turned out wonderful. He said "You're welcome. It was the least I could do." I'm making some progress here dealing with past hurts and bitter resentment. I'm understanding that this is the language he speaks because he learned it from his parents - and if I look back at the stories about my great grandparents, I even understand how and why they were the way the were (funny redundant sentence to read).

Anyhow, No Spender today!

The Challenge: Just do it

June 12th, 2010 at 12:59 am


I have spent 75% of the past month rather grief-stricken, holed up laying on my bed watching TV (nothing good, might I add - lots of junky TV and Judge Judy). I've learned to trust good friends to take my younger boys while I've been "recovering". I will admit to lots of crying and bantering with God, but nothing can change the way things have turned out.

But I can change my attitude. It has been one week since I made up my mind to "be better and do better".

Today I suggested a family outing to the Y - the place I never go, the place DH works out several mornings a month, the place I drop the kids off for some classes. While we pay monthly, this is a "free" and simple place to go. The boys swam with Dad, while the girls worked out. I am considering myself a girl - I walked 1.01 mile in 17 minutes - sad, but it is a start.

I realize this is a great way to do things and be active as a family. I told the kids I'd take them to Open Swim on Monday afternoon. I am not thrilled to be in a swimsuit (haven't been in one since last summer at the ocean). While my weight is OK, low 130s - I am FAR FROM FIT. I was quite honest with my girls about not feeling too wonderful about how I look in my suit. The old me never would have done that - discuss my insecurities. My one daughter is quite loyal and declared I ALWAYS look good (rather in a gushy way) while my older daughter who is a pragmatist suggested I get a suit with a skirt. Got to love it - and in having better discussions, my oldest daughter actually read me some of her text messages while I was driving her to her friend's house. It was almost like she was sharing her diary.

This is the one life I've got. I will get in the pool, fat thighs and all! Need to conquer comparing myself to others.

Creatively Navigating the Cash Crunch

June 11th, 2010 at 02:23 pm


Our cash is minimal the next two weeks - it is a crunch of sorts which I feel we should be able to navigate without moving money from the savings account (gotten into that bad habit of revolving money). I was also inspired by Save More/Spend Less "fast". We have given every dollar a job and have a zero based budget for the next two weeks.

We do have a list of things that need to be purchased, but those items should cost no more than $30. I have been diligent about coupons and sale ads, so I'm confident I can stay within the grocery budget, etc.

The numbers look like this:
Groceries/Household: $175
Gas: $75
Misc/Enterainment: $50

I've brainstormed with the kids to come up with affordable/fun alternatives for activities (I should add that we do have calendar of lessons/activities paid for last month, so we do leave the house for organized activities). Anyhow here is what we've come up with:

* Visit to Arboretum (free with parents' membership)
* Practice tennis (great for the kids taking lessons)
* Go to library for books, DVDs, and wii games (YES, ours offers wii games)
* Movie rentals for $2.30 at Family Video
* Bake cookies
* Scrapbook
* 1,000 piece puzzle
* Board games/Zigity is our present favorite

In an effort to love the family and friends we have, this past week we:

* Wrote letters and drew pictures and mailed to my 90 year old grandmother in California.
* Taken $15 from the entertainment budget and made a contribution to the fund set up for my daughter's classmate whose mother passed away this week
* Hosted my mother over to see "Tammy and the Bachlor" her favorite movie from 1958 - found at the library and enjoyed by my girls
* I put a love letter (really a notecard with hearts scrawled on it) in DH's lunch
* DH and I walked the dog by ourselves - "alone time" - he usually has kids on bikes and scooters, etc.

I am also inspired to finally clear out the junk and donate to our parish's Rummage Sale with proceeds to go to supporting the youth group for a pilgrimage to Spain next year. My junk might be someone else's treasure.

Resurrection of sorts

June 9th, 2010 at 03:06 pm


I am back. I was previously known as Momcents or Mrs. Last month I had a miscarriage at 16 weeks (despite positive results in bloodwork and ultrasound). It has been a rough patch for my children who were filled with great joy and anticipation over the newest sibling. In an effort to deal with my grief, I deleted the most recent posts dealing with my concerns over finances and our expanding family size. Then I moved to a place where I was upset that I spent so much time blogging over finances (not really a lot, it just seemed like over the span of time that my previous blog existed) and before I knew it my entire blog was deleted and gone.

I received some wonderful support of fellow bloggers here who were concerned about me and I've missed the camaraderie of the SA place. I'v popped in and I see that wonderful bloggers are helping out relatives and people are supporting bloggers who have lost loved ones. Thus, I am back.

This sad event has showed me how much I am loved and supported by my family and church friends. We have received prayers and comfort for our child that we had for such a brief time. I am reminded that life is fragile and nothing is for certain, an sentiment echoed in many blogs recently.

I vow that this won't be a place where I lament or complain or worry about money. Rather this is a place where I am going to focus on loving the life that I am living. I am no longer worried about the past or what people think or say. I am not worried about the future. I am saving for retirement and college to the best of our abilities. I am not going to pine away for another child which may or may not come.

My goal is to be the best wife and mother I can be. I hope that I can maintain a home that is peaceful and tranquil. I hope I can teach my children that there is more to life than money. I hope to use this as a place to chronicle my successes and organize my thoughts.

Join me as I attempt to truly Love the Life I Live.