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Archive for August, 2011

Housebound and money matters

August 31st, 2011 at 03:42 pm


First sick child of the school year came quicker than I had anticipated. We had a bout of vomitting at 4:30 AM with the first-grader, so I'm home with him. I was supposed to volunteer for Lunch Duty today and I had a list of errands to get done, rather I'm here watching the Disney Channel with said sick child, and spending way too much time on the computer.

Next to do is to update DH's resume, his job description has grown since I last did it. Still he has the feeling the somehting is going on/down, and he's not sure what his future is. I am feeling less threatened by potential gloom and doom - rather I'm feeling challenged to see how much money I can save while spending.

I fell off the bandwagon of tracking my spending since we returned home from vacation (where I tracked every dime and know exactly how much we spent). Glad to see that 9/1 is tomorrow so I can start again.

We found out that it is 100% certain that DH will be able to borrow friend's son's car for Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec while the son is in Saudi Arabia. We will use this transportation simply for DH to/from work and some minimal driving of kids to/from places. Our cost will be whatever the insurance is on it, plus a nice gift card at the end of its tenure. We're presently paying $120 for the train and shuttle.

I'm hoping to save an additional $5,000 now through the end of the year ($2K in Sept, $1K in Oct, $1K in Nov, and $1K in Dec). I did a balance transfer on our credit card balance making it 0% now through Feb 2013, I should have that gone by then.

Now off to catch up on everyone's blogs!

My Monday Morning Thus Far

August 29th, 2011 at 01:40 pm


In an attempt to be organized, I had the clothing laid out, backpacks were packed last night, lunches assembled and ready to go, all papers signed and ready to go back, your gym uniform is ready and packed whether or not you have gym today, etc.

The bus stop is two houses over and last week was 7:21. The kids took it three mornings last week without an issue.

I had the boys at the end of the driveway at 7:10, just in case the bus came early. There has been major hooplah on the other buses last week.

By 7:15, all of the kids are out there.

At 7:25, one comes back to tell me it's four minutes late.

At 7:30, one daughter is highly doubtful it is coming.

At 7:35, I call the school who advises me to call the bus company.

At 7:37, I call the bus company and am put on hold for 7 minutes, only to find out that there is a revised bus schedule that I haven't seen which puts the bus at the corner at 7:07.

At 7:51, I get the kids to school, one minute after the bell goes off. Kids are still straggling in.

At this point all I want is my coffee and my shower.

At 8:02, I get in to the house to find a message from the school's secretary that AC, youngest son forgot his packpack and tried to flag me down, and is now VERY upset and crying. Can I bring it back? Of course.

At 8:11, I, unshowered and uncaffeinated, am having a nice chat with the 1st Grade teacher and all of my son's classmates. He was just happy to see me, gave me a big hug and kiss. Smile

Now, I am home to get a start on my day. I have some errands to do, am making chili and chicken tenders for today's and tomorrow's dinner, plus get a jump start on some laundry.

"The one that got away ..."

August 27th, 2011 at 05:31 pm

My best friend is several years older than I and not married with no children. We've been friends since I was 16 and she was 19. When all the good catches wanted to marry her, she was very much into the bad boy, under-achieving musician type. Well, fast forward to when she got herself educated and become a home owner, then the ones she wanted didn't exactly want her.

There was one man six years ago. Met on a dating site (not sure which one) and he appeared to be a catch. He was nice looking, had a good job, was a day trader on the Chicago Floor, headed up his own investment company. Had a nice condo, nice car, ex wife in Greece with no children. He was Catholic and was a mentor at his old high school.

They dated for about four months before thing got bad. He was nice and interested in her and her friends (hell, he even came to my daughters' open house dance when they were 5 and 6. He held the baby and gave a bottle, he liked the little boys who were 1 and 3.

He and my best friend desperately wanted my DH to go to work for him. He was looking to expand his business, and my husband is an accountant by education, but also has a successful sales history in insurance. The $ potential was unlimited and it was "such a great deal." I told DH to stay where he was, in his nice normal job with a decent dalary and decent benefits. Plus I figured if things went bad between the man and my bff, DH might be put in an awkward position. DH listened to me, stayed put, and then things went south.

The relationship between the two of them, my friend and the man, went horribly bad when she said "I love you." Rather than him loving her back, he laughed and said, "Why wouldn't you? I'm perfect." After that it spiraled out of control with blocking phone numbers and stalking reports, etc. That is irrelevant though.

She did lament many times after that "The one that got away" ...

She looked him up and apparently he was arrested earlier the year after a Ponzi scheme where he bilked investors out of $3.5 or $1.5 million depending on which report you read. All he had remaining to his name was a luxury car, a Rolex watch, and an interest in an unbuilt condo complex in Greece. He was apprently living with his parents at the time of his arrest. He turned himself in and requessted to remain in federal custody pending charges or the investigation or whatever. He made the FBI list of top stories/arrests. I guess that this point they have him on mail fraud - maximum 20 years in prison nad a $250,000 fine.

I had to laugh and say "Aren't you glad he was the one that got away." and to DH, "Aren't you glad you listened to me and stayed where you were?"

Definitely a shock to find, but makes me love my basic life all the more!!

Wednesday!

August 24th, 2011 at 02:50 pm


We've been living on cash (with success for the past almost two weeks), but I've got the "uh-oh" I only have one $20 bill left realization. I can't complain too much because more money comes our way on Friday when the tenant pays her rent in cash.

I need to buy milk and am realizing that I'll have to make some food item decisions before I get to the store. This will mean having to wait until Friday to take advantage of Jewel's "buy 6, get these items for $1.99" (Kellogg's Frosted Flakes, fuit snacks, rice krispy treats, etc) and I've got coupons that correspond nicely with those deals.

I don't want to have to break into my own "keep the change" program - I'm up to $12 already in change and plan on using that to fund the new vacation account.

DS turned 9 yesterday. He had a rough afternoon when he got home, when he is tired he doesn't always handle his crankies very well, especially with bothersome little brothers. He did perk up for malts from Steak N Shake (used coupons) and singing the birthday song and wearing the birthday hat. We bought him a laptop (Acer brand on sale at Target for $249 in addition to a $50 gift card) for school/recreation. Of course, everyone now wants their own for birthdays/Christmas. I'll have to get hopping on finding free money (TCF as a $100 credit deal if you open an account - no direct deposit required - and make 10 transactions) I have $110 in Target gift cards, and there is another $50 option if I sign up with an alternative Com Ed supplier -

Have a good day!

Lonely :( and Another Deposit

August 23rd, 2011 at 04:01 pm

It's 11:00 AM and I'm waiting for the bus to bring me my kindergartner home for lunch. Oh, wait ... I don't have a kindergartner anymore. I have to wait until 2:30 for all the kids to come home.

Clearly, I'm not used to large blocks of time to myself - for the first time in about 13-1/2 years.

I've watched on the History Channel about the attempt on Hilter's life during WW2, and then was there any truth to the idea that he survived and went to Argentina. And I'm busying myself in the kitchen making: meatloaf muffins, chicken tenders, Manwich fixings, brownie bite cupcakes, waffles for breakfast, making sandwiches for tomorrow's lunches and juicing carrots for DH's breakfast.

Woe is me ... time to resurrect some good books and hobbies. Any fiction recommendations out there that anyone can make?

On the money front: I received the additional compensation for the secondary claim from the botched tarp job on the rental property. $997 which I will deposit into the EF account. I believe that DH will be able to repair the damage for about $300. I also submitted a signed contract for the garage roof repair to my insurance agent and should be compensated the $1,600 depreciation shortly.

Back to School today

August 22nd, 2011 at 09:24 pm


It was a half-day and we all survived. Everyone was up and dressed by 7:00, but now at 4:30 - they're all lazing around the family room watching reruns of "I Carly". I think tomorrow morning will be another story!

I took care of some insurance business, and got a $25 reimbursement check for Cub Scout camp. I'll cash that and add it to the piggy bank which I've started saving spare change in (up to $10 alone in one week, by breaking the bills and banking the change. Smile )

The EF is at $38,000 and holding. The spending for BTS has hovered at $88 and then an additional $62 for two pairs of shoes, one new shirt for picture day, and a class T-shirt for the 8th grader. That $62 was after two $10 off coupons at Penney's and Kohls. My coupons have been minimal - $5 this week - hoping to do better in this department.

Hope everyone is having a good beginning to their week!

Experiment results are in.

August 21st, 2011 at 11:00 pm


Earlier in the week I posted that I almost caved and ordered the pre-packaged school supply kits for 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8th grades. These didn't include Bibles, dictionaries, flash drives or Chlorax wipes. The cost for the "basic essentials" was going to be $160.

I opted out and decided to make multiple trips to various stores to take advantage of the loss leader items. In my shopping trips I also purchased two new lunch boxes and contributed $12.38 towards my daughter's backpack purchase (clearly a want, not a need). I spent a whopping: $88.86.

My savings was almost 50% - definitely worth my time and energy.

Lesson: Convience will sometimes cost double the original price. Big Grin

In light of DH's possible unemployment, I've got a big smile right now.

Update: No layoff as of late

August 20th, 2011 at 02:16 am


DH is still gainfully employed, despite the ongoing closed door meetings and other things that are going on. He certainly isn't feeling very secure about his situation at present. He'll be bringing his job description home and I'll update his resume this week some time, just so it is ready to roll, if and when the time comes.

His severence would be three months (based on what a recelty laid off coworker got - similar time with the company, etc.). We've decided that we'd use that for the mortgage payments and insurance premiums (priced through State Farm, a decent policy would cost us about $550 a month, not bad).

Between the rental property income and unemployment, we'd be able to meet our basic bills.

In preparation of possible things, I've decided to:
(1) Switch cable/internet/phone providers in the near future. It appears that AT&T Uverse would cost $90 a month (half of what we're presently paying)
(2) I would defer my student loan payment due to unemplyment, saving us $175.00 a month (I'd like to keep paying interest if possible)
(3) The "Y" would have to go, especially during the summer when we have plenty to do outside. I'm sure my parents would loan us their treadmill for the winter. That would save $67.55 a month.
(4) With the kids all in school during the day, I could look into possibly substitute teaching with the Diocese in which we live.
(5) With the kids in school, I'll have time to be a much more diligent coupon-er, which could save a lot more of the grocery budget.
(6) I've rounded up some things to sell. I have some jewelry that I'm not attached to emotionally that I'll see what I can get for it.
(7) I've decided to sell some unique lamps and a mirror from my biological father (who for all intents and purposes we're rather estranged from) - I'll be taking those in next week to the upsale consignment store.
(8) The new garage roof on the rental property can wait until things are more certain.
(9) I'm opening a checking account with TCF Bank which should yield me $100 additional dollars after opening it and making ten transactions in 60 days (no direct deposit required to open the account)
(10) I have $60 Target gift cards and a $25 Macy's gift card to use toward Holiday spending.

Still feeling some anxiety about things, but less stressed than this AM. Thanks for the positive thoughts and kind words. Big Grin

"Something is going on."

August 19th, 2011 at 12:11 pm


That is what DH shared when I picked him up from work yesterday. DH's boss (who he has worked with for many years, at the old job and then the boss brought him to this job 4 years ago)turned down a promotion three months ago. There is a new boss that they both report to, things just aren't "kosher". The boss has been distant, etc. DH said he thought that maybe the boss gave notice. Later on, he said it just dawned on him, that maybe they're planning on getting rid of DH, instead! Now he's connecting all of the dots and is thinking he might be the fat that they trim ...

Hmm ... OK, not ideal, given these economic times. I'm having a really unsettled feeling in my stomach right now. But, I've worked a plan that in the event this happens, we will survive.

Our EF is a fat $38K right now (with $19K of that designated for a new to us car).

Funny thing is that DH has a friend from his fraternal organization who just offered up use of his son's car for Sept, Oct, Nov and 1/2 of Dec while the son and his wife are in Saudi Arabia. Maybe that money is meant to stay in the EF fund.

I'm waiting on $900 additional from the insurance company, plus my grandmother is sending me $3,000 next month to help with things (she gifts us annually). I am also able to get $1,600 depreciation once I get the signed contract for the garage roof to my agent.

Oh, dear ... well, all we can do is roll with the punches.

Coupon organization - how do you do it?

August 17th, 2011 at 11:26 pm


I'm stocked up (snacks, produce, staples) for the next several weeks after a $323.84 shopping trip to Sam's (and the only non-food items were vitamins).

I do, however, have several piles of good coupons that I will plan on using to continue to supplement and build my stock pile. The system that I've had has been to use a small 4" x 6" soft-sided photo album and then stick an individual category in each sleeve. Not very ideal or efficient, and I think that I need to do something else.

I'm not an extreme couponer with multiple copies of flyers, but I do double the weekly coupons from my mom, plus my grandmother and aunt send me some.

What works for you? Please help me set up something simple, yet sustainable.

BTS Supply Experiment

August 17th, 2011 at 05:36 pm


Before vacation, I was happy to see the email from the school that pre-packaged supply kits were still available for order and pick-up by the start day of 8/22. I called, very happy to order thinking how much time it would save me in the long run, I gave my 1, 2, 4, 7 and 8th grade orders and the total cost would be $160. Call me cheap/frugal/thrify, but I know that buying the loss leader items at $.25, $.40 and even $.99 would save me lots.

So far I've been to quite a few places (all while on the route to someplace else) and I'm tackling the lists with gusto (of course we've had some brand new or almost new things).

I'm thinking I'll spend under $80 all said and done. I'm looking forward to tallying up those receipts after the last items are purchased.

Will be interesting to see how much I save.

Back to Reality - Vacation a wonderful distant memory

August 14th, 2011 at 09:30 pm


It was the best time ever; for me, nothing beats family. Even in hot weather, when we're all rather hot and sweaty, but smiling. Virginia was wonderful. We had a 7-Day Bounce Ticket and spent two full days at Bush Gardens, one at Water Country USA, and one at Colonial Williamsburg. We also did the Jamestown Settlement and spent a day at Virginia Beach. Loved the history end, the kids loved the amusement park end. A very fun time - even after the 15 hour drive straight through yesterday. We left VA at 8:00 AM and were home to IL by 11:00 PM (there was an hour time change, and horrible rain sorms in KY and IN).

I was very good about tracking the spending daily (please note, not the same as budgeting - we scrimped and saved and cut back on normal fun to have more funds for vacation fun). Here are the amounts spent:

$691.75 hotels for 7 nites on priceline.
$751.75 entertainment (bounce tickets, Jamestown, WV Cavern, ghost tour, huge bounce slide)
$298.36 souvenirs and gifts (each child had $40 to spend, plus we got a bevy of salt water taffy and the standard mugs for inlaws, etc)
$405.30 for gas (2200 miles logged on odometer from start to finish)
$147.98 on groceries for the picnic there, snacks in the car and the hotel, breakfast food in the hotel room
$414.07 for dining out (we did some costly snacks, mostly Wendy's and a pizza, an expensive breakfast, a buffet at Golden Corral for $54 and then a dinner at a local VA Beach bar called Harpoon Larry's for $100).

All spent: $2,709.21

Now back to the reality of BTS supply and school shoe shopping, tons of our volunteer commitments are coming up, not to mention one son's party and other things). I had 157 emails in my box in only one week!

Definite good outcome from the vacation: unanimous conscent on the implementation of monthly family times out!

Next vacation to start saving for: California, June 2012 to visit my grandmother!

See you in a bit

August 5th, 2011 at 01:32 pm

Wa-hoo! Vacation Day is here. Last minute trip to pick up car (DH noticed a gouge in the wheel/tire and decided best to have it replaced) - cost "just over your $100s" as reported by 1st grader who went with to the shop - $101) and then grocery store.

Bags are packed. Batteries are charged. Playaways for the kids to listen to in the car have ear plugs. Directions for pet care are laid out for my mom. Minutes put on the phone.

I actually also took some money from saving and paid ALL the bills for August including the mortgage. I also paid the credit card that I put the hotels and the tickets on.

Feeling good, looking forward to some MAJOR family time, kicking back and having fun.

For the prayerful here, please keep in mind the husband of a friend of mine, Steve D., who passed away yesterday after a long fight with cancer. Please say a prayer for his daughter T.(a new first grader, friend of my son) who said, "You've been such a good daddy. It is OK to go to God and help Him with the babies." Boy, I can't even say or write that one without welling up. Let's love our families today, even the difficult members.

I'll see you after vacation. Hope everyone stays fine and I'll catch up on the blogs when I get home!

V-Day - 1

August 4th, 2011 at 01:20 pm


One day til vacation - I've decided my vacation starts today (vacation from stress that is), and by that, I mean vacation from stress and gumpies.

I was fairly productive and spendy yesterday (see previous post about Walmart and Walgreens) - got the dog groomed as well, and got rid of four big bags of stuff (two of hand-me-downs for a friend and two for Salvation Army).

Today we (1) head to the library for "free" entertainment - DVDs, books on tape and playbacks, (2) I need to get copies of my house key made for my mom who will come in and feed the birds, turtle, frog and fish (can you tell we have a menagerie), and some other odd errands.

We've decided to spend an additional day in VA (arrive Saturday afternoon, leaving the following Saturday early and making the 14 hour drive home in one day). This is what I've spent thus far:

(1) $100 for hotel during drive there
(2) $450 + Tax for six nites in Williamsburg
(3) $550 for tickets (7-day passes good for Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg)
(4) $50 on snacks thus far (rough estimate)

I am also filling up the gas tank today, and we're picking DH up at work at Noon tomorrow, so I'll pick up the sandwich fixings and fruit in the morning.

We're also heading to the pool this afternoon, so I've got to be productive this AM. Smile

Oh, Walmart and Walgreens, you'll do me in ...

August 4th, 2011 at 12:50 am


Why is it that when one is frugal and watches their money, and diligents clips coupons, two shopping trips can wipe out all that is sane and normal?

Walmart > $80
Walgreens > $40

What do I have to show for it? 12 cans of dog food, panfish trout worms for my turtle and frog, neosporin spray, Spongebob bandaids, 5 pair of Tranformer underpants, 10 boxes of movie candy, a new insulated coffee cup, tar and bug remover for car care, beef jerky for DH, 2 gallons of milk, one box of cereal, Off repelant refills, two deodorants, one 3-ring binder, two pairs of Frisker scissors, 2 12-packs of Pepsi, 6 rechargeable Duracell batteries and charger, 8 Rubbermaid Takealong food containers, and that is about all that I can recall.

Seems to me quite expensive for my list of inconsequentials ...

Productivity projected

August 3rd, 2011 at 01:49 pm


What I'm tacking today:
(1) Pick up son from 1st Sleepover (must've had fun, didn't bother to call me to say good night)
(2) Walmart for personal toiletries, pet supplies, other miscellany
(3) Drop off two big bags to Salvation Army drop off in Walmart parking lot
(4) Drop off two big bags and other items to friend for her kids
(5) Get ear re-pierced at Claire's (yes, this is mine. my younger daughter got another hole yesterday and hers was fine. she only wanted one and talked me into the other. it went in at a wonky angle and was too tight. another time getting jabbed Frown will hopefully yield perfection and comfort)
(6) Dog to groomers
(7) Walgreens for batteries and camera memory chip
(8) Mow the lawn (at least my portion of it)

Plus the kids would like to make it to the pool. Yikes, I'd better get moving!

Any advice for Williamsburg, VA travels?

August 2nd, 2011 at 03:44 pm


OK, the vacation count-down is to 3 days. We look like an organized war zone in my living room (can't decide between two coolers, both are there) - bin of snacks/food items - bin of toiletries - bin of OTC meds - each child's backpack with their personal items to keep them occupied - bin with portable DVD players and movies - suitcase with piles of clothes, etc.

We've got the directions to/from, and we plan on seeing Busch Gardens, Colonial Williamsburg, and Jamestown (but I can't decide on Settlement or Island).

Any tips for travel, places off the beaten path to stop at are greatly appreciated.

August: Looking good

August 1st, 2011 at 09:53 pm


* The roof on the rental property was repaired. Actually, replaced. The entire front was taken off, the damaged wood was repaired, reshingled, broken antenna was taken away. It looks very good, and was actually done last Friday. Cost: $1,938. We also paid $400 for vents to be installed when the gutter was replaced. I'll be able to recoup the deprectiated $176.

* I received a surprise $50 check from the Director of Religious Ed that I work with to coordinate the summer vacation Bible school programs that our parish offers. This was above and beyond the huge grant/scholarship my family was given to bring our tuition to a mere $1,300.

* DH's Corvette bumper was repaired, and we can cross that off the financial goal/to do. It cost $1,200. DH helped to stain my parents' gazebo one weekend, and they paid him $350, so our out of pocket costs were nothing above the $900 we saved.

* We are going on vacation leaving this Friday to head to Virginia: Busch Gardens, Jamestowne, Williamsburg. I secretly cannot wait to get out of Dodge for nine days. We're fairly organized and plan to picnic there (as opposed to meals on the road). We're partially stocked up on snacks and drinks while we're gone.

* DH is continuing to ride the train to/from work through August/September, pushing our vehicle purchase date to beginning of October. We are rethinking a new vehicle to a used one one or two years old, saving probably $6,000.

* We did an inventory of school clothes, and it appears that no one needs anything new other than socks and school shoes. I've already purchased gym shoes for everyone. School supplies: we'll have to inventory things when I'm a bit more organized on the vacation planning front.

* September is a third-paycheck month. Smile