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Archive for June, 2012

Weekly Wrap-Up

June 30th, 2012 at 02:16 am


* Budgeted $100 for groceries and household items, spent $99.46 Smile

* DH has summer hours and is off work by 2:00 PM on Fridays. He took the boys to see "The Avengers" - used a $10 gift card and bought $1 snacks at CVS. Had a fun time, though it riled the kids up and they were all different characters: Capt. America vs Hulk vs Thor made for an interesting pillow fight.

* Older daughter made $112 babysitting this week, three separate families. We'll be getting her finances in order next week at the bank. Younger daughter made $48 babysitting this week (one day).

* Nationals are 7/5 for my younger Irish dancer. She competes at one grade below the highest level and is dancing 8-hand figures. Should be an interesting event, we're happy it is local - downtown Chicago Smile

* I spent $1.00 at the resale store connected with our local hospital: $.50 for a cute Graduation frame that I put a picture of my 8th grade graduate in. ANd $.50 for "Smart Couples Finish Rich" - I guess I'm need some reassurance that I'm doing things right. I'm no longer lamenting my last $8.60 book "Moneysaving Mom's Guide to Budgeting" - I fretted about the expense, but then I read that all proceeds from the book went to Compassion International.

* My best friend, the single 46-year old sweet person but poor money manager, thinks she is pregnant after a brief relationship. She's been to the doctor and the test came back negative, though the doctor said it is too early to definatively say she isn't yet. She has all the symptoms of pregnancy, and she unfortunately had unprotected sex with her new (now gone) boyfriend. This will be a very interesting tale to tell ...

* Should be a low-spend weekend Smile

* Looking at some furniture on MOnday that was listed on craigslist. I'm hopeful that it looks as nice in person as it does in the photo. $500 for two Ethan Allen sofas and ottoman. My present couch and loveseat are rather industrial from 7+ years of little kids and it is time for an upgrade Smile

We're having a heatwave, a tropical heat wave ...

June 28th, 2012 at 03:38 pm


As the song goes, though I'm nowhere near the tropics with blissful blue waters, rather scorched ugly burnt grass abounds.

Daughter had her consult for braces. Took us awhile to navigate the whole reality of braces with a metal allergy, but we're testing with the titanium and porcelain and gold, so she should be fine. Going back to the original doctor (who my daughter felt comfortable with) yielded the pleasant surprise that the cost hadn't gone up since 4/11 with the original quote. Cost: $5,600, total time to fix the situation 18-24 monthes. My grandmother gifted by daughter $4K to get her smile more beautiful. Might have to forego the $235 (5%) discount to pay in full because the $1,600 deficit is what we have for her first tuition payment. Our other option is: $1,890 down and then $210 a month for 18 months. Totally do-able, and the funds haven't been comingled.

Younger daughter babysat 5.5 hours on Tuesday, Older daughter is babysitting 4 hours today and 6.5 tomorrow. Time to open them Virtual Wallets at PNC so they can have access to their savings and debit cards. Smile They're on the brink of fiscal responsibility ...

This heat is awful, the coolest we can expect the house with the air on is 81 during high heat. We've got an air hockey table in the basement, and since that's the coolest place, I'll suggest subterranean fun today. Have to go to the library. Our DVD player died and we're borrowing one from my mom. The endless list of things that need to be replaced is growing, leaps and bounds.

Hope everyone is staying cool. I will need to spend about $35 in gas and $50 in groceries today. Spending remains low. Also found out that older daughter's Lacrosse camp at her high school is FREE, wa-hoo!

Just another Wednesday ...

June 27th, 2012 at 02:00 pm


Today is an ortho-consult for my oldest daughter. She is in need of some orthodontia, but has a metal allergy to work around. I've learned a lot about things since the initial consult, so I feel that we can at least make a decision and get moving. Ortho is free.

Today I am paying the final $236 for the second root canal, and I owe a final $216 for the removal of the wisdom teeth, so nice to be coming to an end of those bills. Smile

Today is supposed to be a scorcher with heat in the high 90s. We're planning on going to pool, so today will only cost about $2.99. Speedway has their $.69 freezies on sale this summer. We drive past one on our way home from the pool, so that is the agreement. No over-priced snacks at the pool, economic freezies on the way home.

Trying to remain frugal in my thoughts and actions Smile

Summer :)

June 26th, 2012 at 04:01 pm


VBS was last week. We were to bed late, up early, napping in between. There was no real schedule as far as meal planning, and I will confess to one night of cereal for dinner and Little Cesar's pizza for lunch once and dinner once. VBS went well, in general, but I'm glad it is done for another year. One major upside is both daughters were group leaders and have several new babysitting contacts. This week both girls start their babysitting job which will yield each one $50 per week. VBS also gave my oldest a chance to meet the Lacrosse coach at her high school, and the coach was very welcoming and my shy daughter is actually looking forward to camp in July.

In my quest for frugality and simplicity and better money management and fiscal judgment, I've spent some time at www.thepeacefulmom.com, particularly her series on living on less than $28K. Some good simple ideas there.

I carried this inspiration to return two un-needed clothing items recently purchased that still had tags on. I returned one, and kept one after a price adjustment (credit of $16). I definitely need a plan for my wardrobe as well. The odd pieces that I buy because they're on sale don't necessarily help lead to a cohesive look.

I've been not fretting about spending grocery money on quality items. The kids' favorite brand of yogurt (yoplait whipped) was on sale for $.50 so I stocked up. I spent $10 on 2# of blueberries. I introduced quesadillas (so simple) on Friday and we've been having salad/soup/sandwiches for lunch and/or dinner most of the days. I'm planning on baking today since it is supposed to be 104 tomorrow and the oven probably shouldn't be on.

So, that's it. Hope everyone is enjoying summer!

My hiatus is over, and gone is my soapbox

June 21st, 2012 at 07:56 pm


OK, not much has really changed in the past 20 days since I decided to let weeds take over this garden of a blog of mine.

I definitely need to return to a place of thoughtful and organized goals. I've worked out the budget for July and August, which in order to meet our financial obligations, will require organized and thoughtful spending, and not much of it, unfortunately. I will be able to make the $2,000 tuition payment on 7/20 and the $2,270 payment for property taxes on 8/31.

I'm looking for suggestions for inexpensive tried and true recipes that work for you and yours. I do feel that my spending in the household category (groceries/paper/cleaning/pets/personal care) has gotten out of control due to lack of planning. I did attend an hour-long seminar on Tuesday about meal planning and recipe planning. I've taken the initial steps of "interviewing" the residents of my home and assemble a list of favorite meals. I'm a long way off of the presenter's present state with a rotating meal plan and master shopping list and buying my herbs in bulk and freezing them in ice cube trays, but again, I must stop the comparison to others, that just leads to feeling of inadequacy that are un-needed.

I've lost lots of time and energy due to the planning and running of VBS this week. I'm driving and picking up my kids' friends who are helpers. I've mistakenly let the girls attend a midweek sleepover and now they are exhausted and crabby and its rather terse here at my home, not the way it usually is.

Our list of inexpensive things to do since school's been out (2 weeks) has included going to the Movie Club movie $1 per ticket, the pool four times, the library several times - which the boys are participating in the summer reading program, and a presentation at the park of Matt Wilhelm who was a semi-finalist on AGT. I bought some latch hook kits using 50% off coupons at Michaels and Joanne's so I'm fostering some sort of creativity. I think next week we'll go to the Arboretum and sketch some trees.

I opted to not buy the prepackaged school supply kits, so that means I get to scour the sale ads and start buying school supplies sometime mid-July.

I spent $8 to buy the book by Crystal Paine over at money saving mom about budgeting. Why? I know the drill. Nothing new. Frittered away $8. Ugh.

So, this is sort of a mind-dump, and the realization that I'll need some support to stay on the straight and narrow. Who else will encourage me on the road?

Back, and in need of advice :)

June 18th, 2012 at 08:57 pm


Ha ha! My karma got me! Just when I got a bit cocky that things were all set and on auto-pilot and I didn't need to think about money, things have changed up a bit.

I am on pace to meet two targeted goals: $2000 tuition payment for DD's high school (leaving a $1,750 balance to be paid in six months) on July 20th, and the final property tax payment of $2,270 due on 9/4.

Because I am a non-compensated volunteer (averaging 15 hours per week) in our parish's school and summer program we have received a $6,000 grant in tuition, leaving our balance of $1,606 which I can pay in whatever increments throughout the school year.

DH will be entering the diaconite program which will bring additional grants next year so our tuition should actually be about the same, and that includes his share of tuition. He's confident about this, so I am supportive of it, it's in line with his personal goals and where he sees himself doing what he should be doing.

We had anticpated a refi of the mortgage on our primary residence, the goal was to the lower payment by several hundred dollars a month. We own our rental property outright, but because we did a bridge loan and when we couldn't sell, we put renters in. Consequently the bridge loan put a $250K lien against the property which is presently valued at $215K (was apparised at $330K when we moved in the first place). We can't sell because we would have to cough up the difference at closing. So our only real option we thought was to do the refi.

Our plans for the refi came to a screeching halt when we found that our loan to ratio value would require mortgage insurance (the value of our primary residence also really tanked in the several motnhs we were investing this).

So we'll plod along with the present mortgage payment.
It is do-able, the budget, though I will definitely need to put on the cape of judiciousness when it comes to spending,

My point of advice:

Last year I purchased two prepaid tuition plans for my daughters to attend the local community college. The coast is $3,200 per year. I'm thinking that I made an awful mistake in doing so. It is for basically for an associates degree or gen ed classes to tranfer to a different uni. My oldest daughter ended up with scholarships and grants for high school, which lead me to believe she'll be able to qualify for college. And I had the realizationt that she might want to go away to college. She might not, but maybe it isn't fair to land-lock her to MY plan. It is time to make the $3,200 payments ($1,600 x 2) which I incidentally can't afford to make.

Do I get out of the plan and transfer those funds to
the girls regular college savings account? The money that I should be paying into these plans covers about what our tuition is.

Help! What do you think? Am I missing the obvious? It appears that there is a 5% penalty on the $3,200 which we paid in (though there was a $500 incentive to start it in the first place).

A 2nd Realization

June 11th, 2012 at 09:11 pm


In my last post, I shared that I don't really feel the need to blog constantly or consistently about money, and how my situation financially turned around in my time here. I am blogging elsewhere about Catholic life in a large family and 95% of it is not money-related.

My 2nd realization was: I wanted to share a positive money moment, and my new blog really wasn't the place. So I find myself here to share that I finally got it. I figured it out. My mindset and paradigm shifted to a positive place.

Our air conditioner decided to conk out on a 90+ degree weekend. We had all the ceiling fans going, plus two big stationary fans, and we spent lots of time out of the house, but it was very, very difficult to sleep and have a happy, functioning family.

Today the air conditioner repair folks came and it turned out that we needed to replace the motor in the fan unit outside. Turns out that some major duct was clogged due to the cottonwood tree on our neighbor's property and that most likely caused the motor to get hot and break. The good news is we didn't to replace anything else. The bad news was it cost $748 to fix.

This was where it gets good, and I am pleased to share. I wrote a check for the full amount. No credit card usage, no bemoaning. I've learned the full value of an EF. I've learned that it is money to spend in times like this, rather than board it. Smile

So I suppose I'll be back periodically to share my wise money decision making moments.

Non-money news: Summer is here. Pool membership is being used. Taking advantage of $1 movie mornings at the local theatre using store-purchased snacks. zI managed to pay cash for daughter's graduation party and gift. I know the exact amount of daughter's tuition for high school which we will pay in two installments. I know that my volunteer work at my parish will subsidize most of the tution for the remaining kids. I'm still clipping coupons and watching my grocery bills stay low. I am getting closer to becoming the Deacon's wife. All is good.