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Archive for July, 2010

Gratitude and recipe request

July 30th, 2010 at 09:42 pm


Today I am thankful for the health of those that I love. The father of one of my daughter's friends has colon cancer; it was a shock especially since he was hospitalized for observation following a seizure.

I offered to bring dinner over to them on Monday. Any recipe ideas that aren't too grand? I'd like to do something nice - it is a family of four. The father is eating "soft" solids like soup - and I am lacking any ideas.

Thanks in advance for any recipes that you can share.

It is unwise to think that you will spend ...

July 30th, 2010 at 04:18 pm

$100 for a week's worth of groceries when you are presently Mother Hubbard and the cupboards are bare. I ended up spending $135 and should have enough groceries for over a week. Of course this put me over my plan to spend $100 by $35.

Realism hasn't always been my strong suit, though I am trying to be a better predictor and planner (I am inspired by CampFrugal's post and should start my own list of things we need/want and come up with creative ways to see about acquiring).

An interesting thing to note: I was worried that in scaling back and tackling the increase in tuition and my medical bills, the kids would miss out on fun opportunties. But then DH pointed out that we aren't lacking in frugal fun and I'm just comparing the Jones' kids' opportunities with ours. My brother just called with four tickets for the White Sox v Detroit game on 8/15 - the hubster and boys are going - great parking and upscale tickets in a box and all. AND DH has five tickets for his company's free Jonas Brothers Conert next Thursday - each daughter can bring a friend and hubster can see the cast of Camp Rock II in person singing! Wa-hoo ...

Grand fun for next to nothing - parking and some snacks versus cost of tickets, well worth it!

Weekly spending for Fri 7/30 to Thurs 8/5

July 29th, 2010 at 10:32 pm


has a cap of $200. The weekly expenses include gas/groceries/miscellany and we've averaged about $225 the past month, with a surprising $170 this past week.

I'm thinking the breakdown will be:

Groceries $100
Gas $60
Miscellany $40

I'm pretty bare bones in the cupboard, but am only going to shop for seven days worth of meals and basic paper products. We aren't anticipating driving any distances this weekend (so that should be OK)

Miscellany will include $21 for Toy Store 3 admission (7 @ $3) and a birthday gift for DS's friend.

I also need to watch the sale ads for BTS supplies. We spent $9 this week at Walgreens and got three Crayola 12 count colored pencils, 2 packs of index cards, and 3 Elmer's glue. Still have tons of stuff to get, probably will just continue with dribs and drabs.

Also today was a NSD.

Dribs and drabs in ...

July 28th, 2010 at 02:13 pm


Yesterday I needed to do a review of "The plan" should unemployment befall on DH (the sole breadwinner). In talking with him, he did say he was convinced that my father would hire him on (cash under the table) to do whatever he could (probably stuff like painting the inside of his closets and organizing his files, etc). That was a nice reminder that we wouldn't be high and dry.

DH did say that since we've been dealing with the slow play tenant, he has noticed that I am much more deliberate on what we spend, and we've incorporated free and low-expense fun that everyone enjoys (bike rides, swimming at the Y - though we pay for that - and going to the library). I immediately felt reassured that should something happen to our primary source of income, we'd be OK and that the quality of life wouldn't be altered drastically.

We also decided that we'd take two $50 bills at the start of each month and stash it. One $50 for Christmas/Holiday season and one for small EF - we just paid $100 for a blown tire ($80 was the cheapest we could get for the minivan and then $20 to install/balance etc). Makes sense to me ...

The tenant paid the $100 she owed from Friday (there was some confusion on her part whether she was paying $825 or $725, but DH is holding her to her written payment plan. And he reviewed her plan (returned a copy to her with her receipt) and she stated she will pay $1,000 next Friday. We'll see about that ... I'm betting she'll pay the $725, but maybe not as she knows her time with us in contingent upon maintaining the payment schedule. Anyhow, I am $100 further ahead.

And my mom is paying DH $50 to watch her dog overnight. And MIL sent DH a belated $100 check for his birthday (which was in May), so the car fund will have a balance of $4,250 as of 8/1.

Also we're expecting more for DH's second job from my father on 8/2 - I wasn't tracking expenses very well, but that will be another $250 profit which we'll just put in the EF for now.

Analyzing the numbers does help bring clarity to the worry, at least for me it does.

More serious consideration

July 27th, 2010 at 03:55 pm


I am feeling unprepared at the moment -- not quite sure why, but there is that unsettling gnawing feeling that should my husband lose his job, I wouldn't be able to confidently smile and say, "God will provide" as my recent encounter with a newly unemployed father of seven.

In looking at the paychecks through the month of October, I realize that if we keep to our planned payment schedule and budget, we will be one mortgage payment ahead by 10/31. Once this is accomplished I will feel some relief. Our utiities are on budget payments and if I pay 1-1/3 of them through the next three months, I would be one payment ahead on that as well. Might not be the smartest move, but it would at least put my budget one step ahead.

DH's severance is two months. I would also put my student loan payment in forebearance, and I would imagine that my kids' school would cover or waive those tuition payments. We finally gave the present tenant the ultimatum that in order for her tenancy to continue she must pay 1/2 the rent every two weeks. I would feel better if she had a longer history of doing this (she is presently two payments into the new schedule).

Thankfully the expenses upcoming aren't that bad. The fall sports are paid for. We have an overnight trip planned for September and I was able to get the hotel room for $129 plus tax.

I should be giving some serious thought to economizing on the holidays and kids birthdays (we have four from August to December).

I have also contacted the hospital about my remaining bill and will pay $25 a month until the balance is paid off. I will pay 1/2 the doctor and anesthesiologist bills too. That is under control./

How much money can I send to the EF? Watch me as I try to grow the EF!

What is your plan?

July 27th, 2010 at 12:46 pm


Not much to report in the money realm here. Thankfully I've reigned in the spending and we are on pace for a responsible and prudent spending for this tracking period (I do weekly from Fri to Thurs). We're having tons of family time with my grandmother and mother and it has been fun - mostly inexpensive stuff like walks at the park and watching library DVDs (tho we did break down and rent What About Bob? for a buck at Family Video!)

I volunteered last week for the second round of VBS at our church. This program was more academic (based on the catechism and presented by seminarians) and was very popular with the homeschooled families - I didn't realize how many large Catholic homeschooled families there are in my neighboring suburbs (I met three families with nine children alone) (I could compare them during another post - rather interesting observations I made).

This brings me to my question. One husband/father just lost his job (he was in food sales). I was talking to him and he said, "Well, there really isn't anything to worry about ... the Lord will provide."

While I do believe that He is ultimately in charge of everything, I would still be quite concerned about things like unemployment/paying the bills/Cobra insurance premiums, etc.

I've fallen off of the wagon for being a good planner for things. Our EF is presently at $7,000. Our future car fund is at $4,100. Our tuition has increased drastically. I worry about paying all of the bills (they seem to spread out endlessly before me).

What is your plan for unemployment? Do you have one? Fern is doing it and I'm following her story, but I think it would be undo-able given the size of our family ... I should give it more serious consideration.

Confession -

July 16th, 2010 at 10:46 pm


I am not blond. You might think otherwise when you read the following.

I did a quick late week grocery shopping trip last night - a few items $13.56 worth. It was hot and muggy and I got most of the groceries in. I forgot a watermelon in the back of my minivan.

Do you know what happens to a watermelon in 90 heat (more likely over 100) in a closed car?

It implodes. I spent a great deal of time today with the carpet cleaner and baking soda trying to clean it up. It has improved 87% though there is sort of a funky smell that sort of hits you when you get in.

We're driving to Milwaukee tomorrow. My daughter took Febreeze and put it in her bag.

More baking soda and carpet cleaning is in order.

I am dumb. Lesson learned: never leave explodable items in the back of a minivan when it is hotter than Hell.

Muggy weather makes ...

July 15th, 2010 at 09:48 pm

for cranky kids. It is just too hot to do anything outside. We did survive tennis lessons, soccer camp, and swim lessons, just barely though ...

Time to do nothing but watch TV and have cereal for dinner. I am thankful for working air conditioning. My brother's A/C went out last night and he needs to replace the whole unit (it's 35 years old). I am happy I don't need to tackle that expense.

Time for me to go and melt. Stay cool ...

The plan ... and happy surprises

July 15th, 2010 at 12:12 am

Happy surprises first ... My sons play t-ball from 11 to 12 on Wednesday. I left my daughters home, as it is hot and muggy and there really isn't much for them to do while the others play ball.

I returned home to a clean house (even vaccuumed) and was told we were having a surprise guest. My xSIL who has since remarried was back in town for a few days and called to see if we wanted to go to lunch. My daughters checked the calendar, saw nothing going on, accepted the invitation, AND cleaned the house. We went to lunch at Culvers (a great burger place) AND dear husband's schedule allowed him to join us. I had coupons, tickets for a free kids meal, and a $20 my grandma sent for us to "splurge". My xSIL kicked in $10, so total cost was $0.54. I made a wise food choice in skipping the custard (ice cream). I realize that my nuclear family is blessed with someone who has remained despite an ugly divorce, and she loves my kids as much as I do.

The plan for the remainder of the year involves:

Tuition:

The tenant has given a proposed payment schedule. I told her Friday in no uncertain terms there is unfortunately no flexibility in payments. I expressed the concerns that we have that she can't afford the rent. She did pay several hundred dollars yesterday which gives me hope that she will be able to maintain the new schedule. Those funds for the next three months will go toward the tuition (including increase). During this time I will make the minimum payment on the credit card and manage as best I can with the extraneous expenses (though I know what is coming up and when it is due).

The car fund will continue to get DH's second income, plus the $800 state income tax refund. It appears that the Corvette's required repairs will be in early Autumn - at that point DH will pay $2,500 for the body work. We'll still have an estimated $4,000 for his replacement car (he drives a 13 year old minivan that is on its last tires). In the spring, he'll have to pay about $2,500 for the repair paint job.

My parents will pay upfront for my daughters' Irish dance dresses. I am expecting $450 for the remaining school dress and $1,000 for each of their present solo dresses at resale. My parents will also cover new wigs and socks. The shoe situation is under control. The remaining balance we'll deal with at that time.

I'd like to get the savings account/EF up to $7,500. It's presently at $7,000.

I'd like to get 401(k) savings up to 10%.

I'd like to get a few extra hundred into each child's college savings account.

I'd like to get an additional $1,230 on the mortgage bringing our balance under $270,000.

So I guess those would qualify as Q3 and Q4 goals, huh?



(Free) evening out with husband ...

July 14th, 2010 at 02:07 pm


Last night my husband attended his monthly Knights of Columbus meeting at church, and he came home with a Secret Shopper $20 gift card and questionnaire to a local pub. The pub is really good and has THE best Irish fries I've ever had. This happens to be the local pub where my brother's band plays at least once a month. Night out with husband AND listening to brother's band (which I don't normally do, I get in free because I'm on the guest list) for FREE, great!! Total savings will probably be $30 ($20 for burgers and a pint)(cover $10) Actually we'll probably have to chip in to cover the pints, but great, nonetheless!

We've come a long way ...

July 13th, 2010 at 10:43 pm

that is, the menage a tois of me, my husband and our money.

Last year I was complaining a lot about things money-related and DH's attitude of "I make the money, you manage it." And my proverbial "being in the boat of one" when it came to worrying about how to pay and what to pay, etc.

Last summer we attended a parish-sponsored money management seminar. In that year we've come a long way ...

Our financial situation hasn't changed much (as far as what is coming in and going out). We still have our fair share of crunch time when the cash flow isn't what we're used to (less work from the second job or late paying tenant). And it's really getting tight given the tuition increase, and the timing of things like medical bills and what the kids need.

What IS different is that DH and I are openly communicating about these things - my concerns are voiced freely to my DH, who offers advice or simply reminding me that we've always managed.

We actually have goals jointly agreed upon (amounts that we need for car purchase/repairs, etc). And we have plans of how to handle the money coming in (assuming tenant begins to pay with regularity, the state income tax refund, the extra paycheck in October, the money we get as cash gifts for my birthday/Christmas).

It is nice. I no longer feel alone. Just thought I'd share how we've come a long from where we started.

Big 'ole happy day

July 12th, 2010 at 05:45 pm


The hospital received payment from the insurance company for the E/R services. My debt has been reduced from $2,500 to $273. I had to ask that it wasn't really $2,073. No, it is $273!

As far as the increase in tuition, I have not accounted for the $800 income tax refund that I am waiting for, or the 3rd paycheck in October. If all this is applied to the tuition, we should be OK for monthly payments come November on for the balance.

As far as new dress for dancing daughter #1, we are going to see if brother's girlfriend's daughter's dress might work. I know that the cost of it was $900, I'll offer $700 (which I think they'll take). Tailoring could cost as much as $250. All of this is only if daughter loves the dress on her. So this might be a possibiity, saving me hundreds of dollars.

My 90 year old grandmother is coming for a three-week visit this Saturday. She'll stay with my mom and stepdad, but spend lots of time with us. We didn't think she'd *actually* come (from Southern California to Illinois).

Had *the* talk with the tenant, that in order for her tenancy to continue she must pay 1/2 the rent every other week. There is no more flexibility on my part. She tried to go three weeks between the last and next payments. I had to tell her that sadly wasn't an option, and while we've enjoyed having her as a tenant and tried to work with her, we no longer can do that. This is her last hurrah - let's see if this dance shall continue or conclude.

DH and I actually have a targeted "car" amount goal of $8,200 for repairs on his Corvette plus a replacement car. At the end of this month we will be at $5,000. It's nice to commuincate and have common goals.

And otherwise, life continues to be good.

"Don't worry. It will all get paid."

July 9th, 2010 at 12:41 pm


I've been dealing with money on a non-emotional level lately (trying to cast aside unnecessary worry or inflated confidence depending on what day).

Yesterday was quite the "spending" day - not for the day, but for the month/year.

We found out that the tuition assistance that we'll be getting for the Catholic school tuition isn't as much as we had planned. I had looked at the tuition for four kids, not realizing that it was really three plus kindergarten. The $1,400 for kindergarten offers no assistance. We paid $1,200 last year with a $500 grant from the Diocese (for one child). This year it is $4,202 including a $2000 grant from the Diocese (each child). Public school isn't an option because we value the Catholic religion, so we'll really be valuing it this year ...

Irish dancing daughters need new dresses. They've started trying on used dresses at the school which are still quite costly. I will sell their present dresses, but can't do it yet because they need to wear them in competition. And the younger dancer is excelling at a rate which will put her at the Worlds within two to three years (can anyone say Ireland?) It makes me think of the show "Toddlers and Tiaras" where one mother said it best: If your gonna run with the big boys and do glitz, you're gonna have to pay to play." Sigh ...

Medical bills (what I owe after insurance) for May stand like this:
Hospital: $2,500 which should be reduced to $700 following E/R charges (denied at first)
My doctor: $120 (paid $60)
Anesthesiologist: $102 (paid $51)
Pathology: $18

I was lamenting this yesterday to DH who said, "Don't worry. It will all get paid. It always does."

It is true. It always does get paid. It feels sort of like the mini-rollercoaster called the Little Dipper, not quite sure if you've seen it or not. A simple elongated oval with little hills and valleys - you don't travel real fast, but it has the "thrills" of the bigger coasters minus the speed. That is what I'm on. Today (payday) took care of every last line item on the list of extraneous things: $235 tires, $155 dance competition fee, $80 Corvette battery, $100 Fall sports, $33 soccer trophy contribution. Got rid of those crumbs for nice new heaping helpings of what I owe.

To end on a positive note:

An air of frugality has crept into the lives of my family. Fun is truly bike rides, swimming and working out at the Y (we pay monthly), watching DVDs and reading things from the library.

June totals and Random shopping trip

July 5th, 2010 at 03:38 pm


In June, the money was really tight and I watched pretty much every dollar that we spent. We did spend, but what we had I needed to be judicious with. The totals were:

Groceries (this is all food/household cleaning supplies and paper products/pet food) was $491.54

Gas for cars was $260.09

Miscellaneous was $203.61 (this included an Rx for $83 for DD, a flat of flowers for the house, a new tennis racket for oldest son, a new pair of shorts for DD, a pair of Sketcthers for son, and Father's Day gifts, plus a gift for kid birthday)

I am pleased, though I feel that I could have done better (perpetual feeling that I fight).

In a previous post I mentioned my grandmother sent me a generous check. I moved it to the savings account, now that things are feeling less restrictive. I did, however, stop at the local resale store - all proceeds go to the county's domestic violence program, a good cause. I only had three of the kids with me, and they were all happy to help me shop and this is what we spent:

Wish brand dress (so cute, brand out of Australia) for me - I tried it on, I like it. It's a keeper $7

Electric golf putting assistant (NIB) that newly golfing son found $8

Italian silk sweater for DH brand: Bachrach (one that he liked that went out of business two years ago) $4

A plain cotton short-sleeved sweater for myself $4

A 1,000 piece puzzle Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post $2

Swim shorts for DD $2, some books and flash cards for son $3

I was charged twice for a $4 item, so I'll count that toward donations.

Total with tax $37.44. And we've already spent hours working the puzzle and the 7 yo is learning his states and capitols.

Happy Indepdence Day!

July 4th, 2010 at 03:21 pm


Happy 4th of July to all me fellow SA bloggers. Enjoy your family and freedom today! Ramblings about monetary issues will resume in the near future!

Updates

July 3rd, 2010 at 02:01 pm


Both of my daughters have outings today: one to a local carnival and the other to see Eclipse.

It is quite interesting to see how they are handling their money (as I stated that I'm not planning on funding their events). The oldest who has less money due to her prior spendiness asked if she could "pack a snack" to take with her so she won't be tempted to spend. She and her friend also looked for the most affordable movie admission (first place was $15 for IMAX 3-D), they settled on a $6.75 admission for a 10:45 AM show.

Youngest daughter has decided to eat an early lunch before she leaves (at 11:00) and will only spend $20 for the wristband to ride unlimited rides until 3:00. She said she'd bring $23 in the event she needs a drink.

Glad to see that their making wise decisions on their money and not going hog-wild taking everything. They both wrote down their savings goals, so I think that helps keep their money in the proper perspective.

As far as making wise choices for me:

* Watermelon for a snack lat night, passed up the ice cream sandwiches
* Biked 2.5 miles to my mom's with all the kids yesterday
* Walked 2 miles on the treadmill at the Y

I also realize that I managed to track all expenses for June (and because it was a tight money month) and we seemed to make wise money decisions (though I could have done better on the food budget - I think - with better menu planning)

All for now, enjoy your 4th!

Had to share this ...

July 2nd, 2010 at 02:30 pm


my kids are holding their own monetary literacy conference right now.

Two years ago my parents purchased something called the "Cash Cache" which is a handy-dandy self-contained money guide. It comes with a guidebook talking about giving every cent in a dollar a job: donate, invest, save, spend. It comes with worksheets (some more advanced for older kids), etc.
There are zippered compartments for putting your money in, and a handy dandy combination lock so your money is safe.

I've had to impovise for the youngest ones, who are quite happy to have copies of the checkbook ledger.

The girls are reading the book out loud to the boys, talking about goals and things.

My kids never have access to large amounts of money - $10 a month. I do lend the girls money on some purchases that go over what I want to spend, and they're good about paying it back.

The donation/charity event of the month is they are going to pool their funds at the end of the month and then shop for pet food for the Humane Society. They asked for me to keep my eyes open for coupons.

I might actually be doing something right (and the grandparents giving appropriate gifts, i.e. Cash Cache) in raising financially responsible kids who will value the dollar.

Happy dance.

More monetary successes

July 1st, 2010 at 11:43 pm


Happy day continues:

* $1,000 gift from my Grandma
* Bonus cash from my father for taking care of getting carpeting for one his apartments. I negotiated $200 down from the original quote (this is Empire Today and they came down over $1,000 when we carpeted our main living areas last winter)

It is nice to start proactively saving for things that will undoubtedly creep up. Far from the feeling that I was going to have NO money to take care of the long list of things.

*sigh* as in happy sigh of relief

Success in the money department

July 1st, 2010 at 01:41 pm


Happy day:

* Tenant paid half the rent, buying herself two more weeks (this is the system-she pays half twice a month)
* DH's secondary income is about $100 more than budgeted for
* I can cash checks from inlaws

This means that I can take care of all the stupid extraneous stuff hanging over our heads, all $1,250 of it. And I'm even paying 1/2 of a doctor bill that isn't due until next month.

Happy day. AND it is sunny out and we're going to play tennis and watch the soccer class.