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Archive for December, 2010

Unexpected gift and the joy of memberships

December 29th, 2010 at 08:53 pm


My uncle sent us a Christmas check for $200 - totally unexpected, and delightful.

I ended up purchasing a family membership to the Museum of Science and Industry during our visit there on Monday with the inlaws. The kids loved what we saw and there are always IMAX movies to see and new exhibits. We already know the three things we'll hit on our next visit.

I am going to purchase our own membership to Sam's Club for $40. I would like to have my own card and be able to pay with my own check, rather than having to coordinate with my mom whenever I'd like to go.

DD is having her party tonight - the $20 chocolate fountain was the hugest hit ever. I bought the chocolate for it with a 50% off coupon at Michaels. I see that I could get very chubby eating my way through a delish fondue event!

More cultural events: taking the girls downtown on Friday to the Art Institute with friends to see the Thorne Rooms - some of which are decorated. I still have a train pass, and we won't be eating down there. Plus the weather is nice and we'll walk from Union Station.

And if I adhere to the budget, our EF should be at $15,600 by the start of Jan. Big Grin

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

December 26th, 2010 at 05:10 pm


Just popping in to say "HAPPY NEW YEAR"!

I've read through all the recent posts and I'm so happy that everyone had happy holidays! And I'm motivated to get myself organized and chaos-clutter free once and for all!

I'm giving thought to concrete goals for 2011.

We've surpassed our goal for $15K by $200. There was an unexpected $50 bonus from the family that my DH used to mow the lawn for.

Just popping in - not "totally unplugged" yet

December 21st, 2010 at 06:04 am


I was going to be off until after the New Year; however, my children attend the only school that has school this week, really one full day yesterday and 1/2 day today. This has afforded me one last day to myself (yesterday I accomplished ALL final shopping) and I have a last hour before I help in the 3rd grade Christmas party.

I must admit, a day without checking the board doesn't seem right! I also paid some bills and got a few moves on FB Scrabble.

Financially, with monetary gifts we have achieve the goal of $15,000 in the EF/car fund by $125. Now all funds will continue to be split 50-50 with savings and car.

The last of the medical bills have been paid off.

I am increasing our contributions to savings by another 5% (going to my Vanguard IRA) and making automatic investments of $15 (I know, not a lot, but something) to the kids' education accounts twice a month.

I'm returning to school in January to obtain an EDOC (Eating Disorders and Obesity Certificate) which will at least provide a specialization for me. I am considering returning to part-time employment and most inpatient places like to have a specialist in each area of difficulty. I will start with one class and I do have things I need to get done (like CLEPP out of a Nutrition 101 class - scary!)

Our cash flow management system has improved tremendously. As much as I LOVE coupons, I believe the best things for us has been shopping in bulk at Sam's Club (using my mom's membership). I have used lots of coupons for great discounts for gifts (Bath and Body Works, Fannie May Candy, Old Navy, etc.)

My passive income challenge is great: I ended up with a third $10 gift card for an Rx transfer, $6 price adjustment on PJs from Target, free groceries (Capri Sun, Pepperidge Farm cookies, and microwavable popcorn) with the purchase of "Despicable Me", another $12 savings with a coupon my mom had for a Carson Pirie Scott purchase. I have set up an account with those moneys in it. Nice to see it grow.

So, this is my last wish for a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Season's Greetings. I appreciate the friendship and support of my cyber friends here.

When you see me in 2011, I'll have some concrete goals to tackle! 2010 left me sort of lukewarm about concrete goals, but I've done well with vague goals!

Catch you on the flipside!!

Wishing you peace during the Season ...

December 16th, 2010 at 06:03 am

To honor my tradition of last year, going unplugged to concentrate on the most important things of the Season (family and friends), I'll be signing off until after the New Year. My thirteen year old daughter is attempting to read her way through our large wicker basket of Christmas books. My soon-to-be twelve year old is attempting to learn lots of Christmas songs "by heart". My eight year old is hand-making cards for his grandparents. My little guys are desiring to make Christmas cookies of "all varieties." I'm finishing up the last of the wrapping and mailing out the cards today.

So ... to my Christian friends here, I say "Merry Christmas! May His Blessings Be Upon You Now and Always."

To my friends of other persuasions, I say "May You Have Peace During This Season and Always."

I wish us all a wonderful 2011 of peace and prosperity. See you then!

Rounding up

December 14th, 2010 at 01:32 pm


With payments, that is. I'm realizing that every small bit helps in the long run.

I paid an additional $6.50 on my student loan payment (I know, not much, but still *MORE* that I have paid in the past).

I paid an additional $48 on my mortgage payment making it a nice even $500 principle reduction.

I'm still amazed by how much money remains in the checking account as a result of conscientious spending.

I transferred DH's prescription, yielded me another $10 gift card for Target, bringing the "Work Smarter, Not Harder" challenge up to $81, and I mailed in a $5 rebate today, too.

Tomorrow is the day for wrapping (all kids gone all day to school for Christmas Show Practice) and Christmas cards (plan to address and sign tonight, put pictures in tomorrow and mail!) Still need to bake strawberry mini muffins for Special Ed Teacher for tomorrow. I'm noticing less Christmas cards this year compared to last year.

Working smarter, not harder - Challenge Continues

December 12th, 2010 at 09:04 am


In my last post I shared how I decided to pay in advance for DH's upcoming exercise/fitness class. He lost 18 pounds in the last ten weeks, and is going to take a second installation. DH recruited a friend this time and got a 10% discount. We paid $81 a month for the past three month. The next class is 13 weeks and $360. No more referral discounts and I figured we'd pay $120 for the next three months. The instructor offered a 10% prepay discount. I transferred the money from the savings account, thus saving ourselves $36 over the next three months.

I've decided to track how much I "save" by spending. Here is recent activity:

(1) I opened a perkstreet online savings account account with $25. I expect $25 to be added to it immediately after I verify the account.

(2) I had my daughter's prescription transferred to Target and I got a $10 gift card. I also took an additional flyer for a second coupon (valid until 12/20) and will have DH's refill called in as well.

So I presently am at $71 savings on money that I would still have spent. I'll continue to track my savings. I think other posters call it passive income, is that right?

We'll see how much I can earn this way. Anyone wanna join me?

Working smarter, not harder and still sick kids

December 10th, 2010 at 01:03 pm


My younger daughter has been home sick two days in a row - low grade temp and generally run-down. She's not a high maintenance sickling and likes to be left alone (she's perfectly happy to lay in my bed and watch TV or read), so all in all it was a productive two days.

My car is in for rear brakes and an oil change. $350 which is right at what the balance is for extraneous things for the next two-week period.

DH has lost 18 pounds in the past ten weeks during this Fitness class at the in-house gym where he works. He is feeling better physically, eating much better and is going to take the 12 week class which costs $360 (he had planned on paying $120 on 1/1, 2/1 and 3/1). Just got an email if he pays by next Friday the 17th he can save 10%. I'll take the money from the savings account (and we're anticipating cash gifts at Christmas) and deal with it this way because $36 saved is still $36. My attitude is changing, the old me would have frittered away the opportunity to SAVE $36 just to leave the money in the savings account.

One of my goals for 2011 is to work smarter, not harder. I'll count this as my first practice for this mentality. And $36 is $36.

Very fun outing today

December 8th, 2010 at 05:42 pm


Despite being freezing here in IL (1 above 0 with wind chill), it was theater day.

Called oldest daughter in sick, as did her best friend's mom. My mom joined us and we took the 11:00 train to Chicago. Took an hour (every stop on the line!). Took about 15 minutes to walk (very briskly!!) the .7 miles to the Cadillac Palace theater.

We ate lunch at a nice mediocre restaurant - food was good, ambiance good - perfect for 7th graders who split a plate of pasta and grown ups who like soup. Bill was $29.50 food, $6 tip.

Walked across the street at 1:15, perfect timing for doors opening. Wandered the lobby and perused over-priced souvenirs. Great balcony seats to see Wicked.

It was the second time my daughter and I saw it (she was in 3rd grade last time and didn't really appreciate it). It was my mom and *E*'s first time. I LOVE that musical. It reminds me how much I like the theater and want my kids to enjoy it.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the music. We have a copied CD somewhere that I've got to dig out. We've youtubed our favorite songs for the poor fam members who didn't go.

DH managed to live my life successfully, getting to speech appointments, picking up from tutoring appointments, plus a basketball practice. He also got all of the homework done with the kids AND the kitchen is clean.

You can't beat a day like this. Now I've got to go listen to "Popular" again!

Lack of sleep has me barely functioning

December 7th, 2010 at 09:12 am


Although it has been two nights since the all-niter with the sickling, I'm in bad shape! Talk about still feeling lethargic, knowing what I need to get done, and having NO energy.

It was easier to spend $9 at the grocery store bakery for Kolachkys for the 3rd grader (he had to bring in a "tradition" from each side to share with the class. I sent him with a sample of hay from his great-great grandmother's homeland - Hungary - that she brought over in 1920 and has been in her (or her descendents') Nativity since then.)

Younger daughter jammed her finger at basketball practice last night. I spent an additional $9 for a finger splint and medical tape.

I had to read at 8:05 to the Kindergarten class. Don't get me wrong, I love to read to the kids, but when I'm tired ... not so much.

Thankfully the school secretary didn't mind buzzing me in twice this AM to bandage daughter and feed the 3rd grade.

It is 11:00 AM. I'm feeling like it is 11:00 PM.

And I should add that DH took the kiddo to the Outpatient clinic and he did have a double ear infection and after six doses of the antibiotic, he is fine! Wish I could say the same about me!

The Benefit of Being Prepared

December 5th, 2010 at 08:05 am


For a late, all-night illness is a personally satisfying feeling.

The sickling apparently has an ear infection. The kind where they cry all night. There was no fever, which is atypical for ear infections at our house. At 1:00 when I was awoken by the sickling, I was able to give him a pain reliever AND I even had the ear pain relief drops. Granted these things brought relief for short spurts of 1.5 hours, but I was able to get some sleep.

DH has taken the sickling to the local hospitals outpatient clinic. I remained to do homework with the rest of the kids, who are all rather reticent at this time to tackling school work. The spelling word kid is protesting (which I'm managing to ignore and keep on writing this post).

DH spent $5.00 at Wendy's yesterday for Frosty's for the sledders. Today was $20.07 on groceries (we returned - as a treat - to donuts for breakfast) of which $2 should be refunded because DH was overcharged for milk. We have to pay $4 for family admission for oldest daughter's basketball away game today. I anticipate a prescription for the ear infection - a coupon is in the Target ad today - what good timing for bad luck! We also need new batteries which are required for a gift that DS got last week - $9 for 20 Duracell.

Spending is all in check. I hope I manage to get through the day with no sleep ... hmm, I wonder ...

Baby, it's cold outside ...

December 4th, 2010 at 11:48 am


DH took the kids sledding just now. Yes, there is enough snow to sled. It is chilly, as well. Thankfully, everyone had snow pants, boots, and hats/mittens that fit. Big ole smile on my face right now.

It is a quiet weekend, in comparison to what we experienced last week. My girls are now playing basketball. I realize that the only sports which I really like are soccer (which my boys play) and Irish Dance (I consider that a sport). The rest ... I can take or leave. My daughter played a nice job on defense, but I found myself bored after one quarter.

Another basketball game tomorrow for the other daughter! Yay.

Financially, all is quiet. Juggling the list of extraneous items: gutter cleaning (now nixe that because of the snow), possible brake work on the main minivan plus oil change, vet visit for our canine friend, oil change on the other vehicle, etc.) I've really foist the prioritizing of these to DH. He knows exactly how much we will have on what date to tackle these. Nice to have delegated that concern. Two years ago I'd have been worrying about doing it all, I can say that our communication has vastly improved.

Stay warm. The benefit to this cold weather is no one really wants to go out and spend any money!

Home with a sickling ...

December 3rd, 2010 at 09:08 am


OK, it has taken me almost four days to get caught up on line following the whirl-wind weekend of festivities. Think along the lines of laundry, general cleaning, cleaning out fridge, organizing dance stuff, washing guest sheet/towels.

Today was going to be my day "out" to do errands and get some holiday stuff done. Well, it has turned into a NSD thanks to a kindergarten sickling.

No fever, thankfully. But sort of drippy and coughy and sad-looking. The only snafu to this is there is no milk in the house, and he is the major milk consumer of the little guys. I am thankful for cartoons and packets of hot chocolate.

Looking forward to a quiet weekend. Spending should be minimal. Hoping the rest of the troops don't follow in this sick routine ...

Goal progress

December 2nd, 2010 at 06:34 am

One of the goals that I've been plodding away at is $15,000 in the EF by year end.

We're presently at $14,637.50. (Emergency savings of that is $10K, remaining is Car Fund Balance).

I reworked the budget about a month ago to reflect the money that we've been able to save due to diligence, cash only, and Sam's Club shopping. The benefit of this spending crack-down has been: more funds for entertaining/socializing (as in DH joining guys for a beer, or me going out to lunch with girlfriends). We've also been able to aside more money for "Extraneous" (drivers license renewals and DH's exercise class were those items this 2-week pay period).

I've been able to set aside $300 for savings per two week period, and have increased DH's 401K contribution to 10%. I'm still chipping away at medical bills, and should have those done by month end Jan 2011.

I feel that I've fallen off the coupon bandwagon but hope to get back on with the 12/10 payday.

Life is a bit quiet after all the dance classes, but basketball has started up for both girls. Boy Scout activities are increasing, too. We decorated yesterday (our old Charlie Brown tree appeared to be in serious need of replacing, UNTIL the kids put all the fun ornaments on it). LOVE THIS TREE. We have one in our living room which more formal and boring.

We spent $31 on a 7' blow-up for outdoor ($5 rebate in form of gift card back to the store purchased from). I was pleased about that. I purchased DD's I-Pod Touch for her yesterday at Walmart (with her birthday money), and she is quite pleased about this. Poor thing comes from technically-challenged parents and needs to head over to grandparents' house or uncle's house later today for programming!

Anyhow, it appears that despite the holidays and more planned spending, the goal of $15K in the EF will be surpassed by $250 (pre-monetary Holiday gift deposit).
Also, I'm still punching the pig daily, adding $1.50 to the savings account (taken from checking).


I'm feeling responsible, and see that benefit of judicious spending. Smile