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Archive for July, 2012

A whole lot of nothing going on

July 31st, 2012 at 02:55 pm


Taking care lots of nominal things around here today. Closed out the money situation for the summer programs Smile, cleared out the paperwork in the binder and updated the email list for next year. Since I think that I see myself in this capacity next year, I made an effort to tidy things up.

My daughters made a lot of money last week babysitting for the full week. Older one made $85, younger one made $158. They each gave some back to me for their savings accounts. Smile

We had a low-spend weekend: swimming at the pool, walk at the Arboretum and then dinner out at Steak N Shake (OOP for seven people: $18 - that was after a gift card, coupons and kids eating free).

Older daughter has made friends with some girls from the incoming freshman Lacrosse team. She was heading off to high school knowing only one girl from her graduating 8th Grade class, so I'm glad her horizons have expanded prior to getting there. She was at the mall with two of them and then went to a sleep-over.

Younger daughter is at pom camp today and the remainder of the week. She was a bit reluctant to go, which is unlike her. I suppose that the torrents of puberty will throw me for a loop sometimes. She was excited and at least has hip hop in her dance background (older daughter didn't do well with poms after being classically trained in Irish dance for eight years Frown

So last day of July means that that August starts tomorrow. New budget goes into effect, and I suppose it is sort of spending limbo until Friday (payday).

Well that is it!

Call me "Clara Nightengale" or "Florence Barton"!

July 27th, 2012 at 06:24 pm


Cracks me up, these kids of mine. Grandma called to check on the patient and wanted to talk to me. She was told that "Clara Nightengale" is busy right now. Same child who morphed Barak + Obama into Barama the morning after the election.

Anyhow, oral surgery really wasn't oral surgery as I remember it. Not sure why they knocked daughter out (but I think it had something to do with the one tooth rotated 90 degrees and the likelihood that it would crack while being extracted - but that didn't happen). I went in with my daughter while they attached the EKG and oxygen and blood pressure cuff. She looked adorable in the hairnet and maintained her sense of humor. I left just as she was falling asleep.

I went to the bathroom (2 minutes), made coffee (5 minutes - my first time using one of those fancy machines) and read exactly four pages in my book before the nurse let me know that the doc would be out in two minutes. All went well - one Rx for pain, nothing for swelling or infection which was what I was told. He said in about fifteen minutes she'd be ready to go - ten minutes later I was told to drive around back to pick her up.

She was sweet and groggy and funny. We stopped at McD's and I spent $3.10 on a berry chiller. We stopped at my friend's where I dropped off tons of stuff for her kids. She gave me the 5th grade text books for this year and also a box of popsicles for my daughter.

The only drawback about someone convalenscing upstairs is how many times you run up and down. Ice pack on for fifteen minutes, then off. Three popsicles means three trips up and down. I did run to the pharmacy and got the Rx filled - a $25 gift card was the reward for bringing in a new prescription.

I was gone and back in under two hours and my mother made it to yoga on time. Right now the patient is watching TV and DH is bringing her fries at 2:00.

All is good. Smile

Oral surgery day for baby girl!

July 27th, 2012 at 11:27 am


Older daughter is having two teeth extractions done today and final preparation for the braces. The oral surgeon assured her this isn't really a big deal. Well, apparently not to him.

I had no logical answers to the questions: Why can't I wear flip-flops? Why can't I wear black nail polish? Not that she ever wears black nail polish, but she lives in flip flops. I told her on that count I thought it had something to do with being able to have better traction while walking after sedation. Who knows?

Anyhow, we've got a 8:15 appointment and should be home by 9:30, though I'm dropping off the load of hand-me-downs to my friends and an anticipate buying a smoothie from McD's for her on the way back.

Low-key day, nothing planned other than a quiet day with daughter on the couch recovering.

Total cost out of pocket after insurnace: $100.

What is your opinion of this?

July 26th, 2012 at 01:34 pm


Last night I was watching an episode of "Wife Swap" with my kids (I already shocked someone I know when they found out my girls and I was "The Bachelorette"; I guess we perceived as devout Catholics are thought to sit at home, pray the rosary, and only watch EWTN - the Catholic network).

The two families were the normal polar opposites: a stay at home, fundamental Christian, homeschooling mother of eight and a self indulged, over spending, non-attentive wife and mother of three. All in all, nice women who probably learned from the experience.

Anyhow, the point that garnered a lot of lively discussion between my kids was the fact that the homeschooling family paid their children an allowance and THEN made them pay taxes on it (by returning it to the parents to go toward household expenses). This outraged the "other" mother.

One of my children thought it was the same as charging minor children rent, which a parent shouldn't do until they are older and working.

Another of my children thought it was a good idea because in reality you do pay taxes on your earnings.

This family also incorporated the standard allotment of saving/spending/giving and then the taxes portion.

My child who is a natural born saver (saving towards a goal and then spending once he reaches the goal) said sadly, "Think about how long it would take to save up for something big ... like Harry Potter's Hogwarts or an i-pod ... " These were his two previous large purchases.

As a parent, I'm fine with the save/spend/give, but I'm stuck on the taxes portion. What do you think? Extreme? Reality-check?

Mini Mid-week Money Update

July 25th, 2012 at 11:13 pm


(1) Always double check your bills. I was charged twice for the deposit on the new insurance policy on the rental property. Credit of $71.50 should be returned in 3-5 business days.

(2) Older daughter is having oral surgery (two teeth) pulled on Friday to prepare for braces. Original quote included three teeth, and one fell out last night. My savings: $34 Smile Less: Tooth fairy payout.

(3) NSD #2 for the week. Did a free Chess Class for the boys at the library and then a park playdate for the youngest. Lacrosse camp continues despite the heat, but it was a free camp and ends tomorrow.

(4) My daughters have been busy babysitting all week (5 days). They'll have a nice chunk of change on Friday's pay day.

(5) Socialized with parents of 2nd graders. One is the mother of the Michigan trip and she was very nice and friendly, not in the fake pushy way that most of the mothers in that group do (talk nicely to your face and then trash talk you to your back). My other friend asked if we want to go away with hers and another family to Wisconsin. Not sure that our calendar or budget would allow, but it was nice to be asked. Smile

Sharing wandering thoughts. some on money, some not

July 24th, 2012 at 07:30 pm


* Last week was a busy one with Round 2 of VBS (though we missed two days during the week), band camp, concert at pool, day into Chicago so the girls could see their California cousin, birthday party, Lacrosse camp, dance class, evening VBS for younger daughter, potluck dinner also associated with VBS. I am a homebody at heart and it takes me several days to recover from constant goings. I did two loads of laundry yesterday, opting to hang the clothes out to dry rather than run the dryer. Not sure how much money or electric it will actually save, but every little bit helps I suppose.

* The gas budget was blown with the constant driving last week of sometimes up to three evening activities on the same day. The price of groceries seems to have risen steady, too. Most of the things I buy at Sam's Club jumped $.50 to $1.00 each. Feeling the money pinch again, and figuring that I need to economize more on the meal planning and freezer cooking.

* Did a major declutter or things. The dreaded middle room has improved immensely. I've got a big amount of things to share with our friends who we regularly hand things down to. I've also got another mini dumpster run, and two boxes and three big bags of things for Amvets. Getting ready to tackle some problem areas in the family room. (Legos, legos, everywhere) - Harry Potter lives on the table in my living room and it will be time to displace him elsewhere.

* I'm realizing that I'm getting burned out in the volunteer capacity that I am presently in (co-coordinator of the summer programs at our parish). I've done it for four years now, and am ready to retire. It will be time for me to have the difficult conversation with the Director of Religious Ed, so she can plan for next year. I am thinking about volunteering in some capacity with the Adult Faith Formation group. I've been invited to a dinner on 8/1 to discuss the future of the committee, and I was suprised that they thought of me, but flattered and at the same time realize that this might be God opening a window when I've closed a door. DH was asked about being on the Parish Board three months ago and he had to decline a seat on the Pro-Life Committee (he's 90% committed to that cause, with the 10% being grey matter as in his opinion "nothing is truly black and white")

* We've been invited to spend the day with a family we know at their summer house on Lake Michigan in the state of Michigan (90 minutes from where we live). I accepted the invite. I'm not usually social, 45 minutes-1 hour is usually enough, but I do like the mother and the father is my DH's Assistant Leader in Scouting. They are educated (she's a Gynecologist and he's high up in the CIA) and older parents to an only child. And then we are less educated parents with lots more kids. I suppose I should stop worrying about what we don't have in common and "chill". My latest encounters with people that I know very well has left me a bit tired, I'm surprised at the cattyness, the gossip, the self-righteous, etc. I don't even think that it is because I'm being overly sensitive, I'm just disappointed in the way people are acting and treating others.

* August: Free haircuts at JCPenney's for kids going into 1st - 6th grade; that will save me some $ on the boys. See the website if you've got a JCP salon near you. I've got three paychecks to cover the last installment of the real estate tax. Money looks OK, though I feel that I've got to be a bit more disciplined on the money that is going out.

* I made the $3,250 tuition payment to my older daughter's high school. It felt nice to make that payment BEFORE the start of school and the balance we owe is $1,500. Smile

* Goals for the remainder of the year: Extra money adds up to about $6,000 ($1,500 x Sept, Oct, Nov and Dec). I'm thinking it should be allocated like this:
$1,000 to credit card debt, $1,000 to savings, $1000 to next year's real estate taxes, $750 toward high school tuition, $750 toward grade school tuition, $1,500 unallocated)

* Whew, if you're still here reading and you haven't been lost, isn't that a lot to dump?

Quick Question: Would you?

July 21st, 2012 at 01:08 am


I've had the new-to-us couch and loveseat since last Thursday and am loving it, such a refreshing update over our old set. One of the deacons at our parish is a carpet and upholstery cleaner. I had him out for a quote: $160 for both pieces and $50 to scoth guard.

I mentioned this to one of my friends who said her daughter regularly cleans furniture with a rented cleaner and it has turned out just fine.

I don't know why I'm concerned, well, obviously I fear I'll ruin the like new Ethan Allen sofas.

Has anyone here ever cleaned furniture themselves? How did it turn out? I'm looking at saving a lot if I do it myself. The colors are beige and rose so some dirt shows.

Minor money stuff in my favor :)

July 19th, 2012 at 01:00 am


This morning was the used uniform sale at the high school. I headed over with my daughter right after it opened. She found a pair of school pants in a size Jr 1 and a long-sleeved polo shirt. Total price for those two items was $10. The school uniform provider was also there measuring and selling items. I was able to exchange two uniform shirts for the correct size and was able to get a $70 refund on two pairs of pants in a size 3 which were huge on my daughter, and the uniform company happened to have discountinued any size 1s in their line. Happy about that Smile

I was able to locate a Lacrosse stick at a local Play It Again Sports for $29.99. Not the top of the line, but perfectly basic and fine for a novice. Happy news is that daughter had a good time at Lacrosse camp, the coach met her during VBS in June and said that D is a good player for someone who has never played before. AND she's making some new friends. I had some concerns because her best friend (with whom she is two peas in a pod) is going to the other parochial school.

We returned to VBS today and everyone was in much better spirits than yesterday when we skipped. My older girls were helpers and the boys were campers. We had a parish potluck (as we do each year during the program) and it was nice to see some families we don't usually, and everyone is so nice. Makes me feel very fortunate to have a church community that is warm and welcoming.

Had some minimal spending today: $12 for gas (forgot how much we go through driving back and forth to camps, etc), $7.09 at Aldi's (for recipe items for my jello dessert that I brought to the potluck), and $10.00 for the uniform items. Not horrible and all necessary.

Tomorrow we are opting out of VBS and oldest son is having a band concert at the pool we belong to. I'm looking forward to a fun time at the pool, lounging and relaxing and listening to primary school band students! Friday will be back to VBS, but the last day is fun.

Off to catch up on the blogs!

Under budget :D

July 17th, 2012 at 08:34 pm


I survived the dreaded back-to-school shopping trip to Kohl's: the one where my mother seems to have the 30% off total purchase, plus $10 for every $50 you spend.

I budgeted $300. We ended up with five pairs of school shoes, school pants, socks, new tank tops and shorts for most kids, a splurged item - a Blackhawk's Hockey Jersey originally $70 now $28 (pre 30% off) and a Skippy John Jones book and a $8 clearance dress for myself. Total of items: $299.15. Yielded $50 Kohl's Dollars and my mom gave me her $10. I think that I might get a new shower curtain and towels with those funds, since I'm in the "spruce up frugally mode".

Other things:

* Over budget by $16 on spending this two-week period ending Thursday, only because I made a $20 donation to a parish in Belize that is building Catholic schools.

* My kids rebelled against VBS today, not that I can blame them much. I co-coordinated the event, but the curriculum and content is presented by a team (two seminarians and two college-aged women). Apparently the personalities of the team and the content (the Apostles Creed) were a bit dry. The one thing I want most for my children is to love their faith and be enthusiastic about it, droning it into them is counter-productive, IMO. The Director of Religious Ed, of course, doesn't share my view and questioned why I was letting my older daughter go to Lacrosse camp rather than participate in the evening program. Hmmm ... she's my child and it really shouldn't matter whatever my reasons. Oh, the joy of dealing with difficult folks, or those who assume you agree 100% with every thing they do ...

* Looking forward to Friday, payday, and I'll be making a $3,250 payment toward my daughter's high school tuition. Smile Ahead of the game!

All for now!

Minimal Money Matters

July 12th, 2012 at 01:18 pm

1) I over-estimed the cost of one week of band camp, saving me $10
2) I (my kids) dog-sat my mom's dog on Tuesday when she and my stepdad did a "day away". Yesterday she paid me $10
3) Still happy over the $190 credit at the dental practice (see last post)
4) New-to-me furniture comes home today Big Grin as DH will rent the moving truck after work
4a) I've found a local place to donate my couch and loveseat to. They come and pick it up for free and then offer it to people who are starting over and need furntiure (like leaving a domestic violence situation or coming our of prison). Saves me at least $6.74 which is what it would have cost for me to "sticker" these items as trash and have them taken away.
5) In-laws will be in town unexpectedly this Fri and are taking up out to Giordano's Pizza and then we'll walk around our town's car show
6) DH and son are camping this weekend with the Cub Scouts. Son's first time at camp with archery and BB guns and sleeping in a tent. Borrowing extra sleeping bag from stepdad rather than buying one.
7) Saturday the remaining kidlets and I are going to a dinner at church with our Associate Pastor, the Religious Ed Director, and the team that will be running next week's VBS. One less meal that I have to cook, and they're a great group of people.
8) Looking good in all spending categories, feeling good about things.

Sometimes it pays to ask ...

July 11th, 2012 at 05:56 pm


or in this case "saves" to ask.

Older daughter is getting braces next month. She has a metal allergy and we've dealt with consultations and orthodontists (three) since last April. Anyhow, we decided to return to the first orthodontist who my daughter felt comfortable with. He doesn't happen to be in network for our PPO, so I forego a $1K benefit. The oral surgeon who needs to remove three teeth IS in network. The $190 picture (3D cat scan cone picture) was billed under the ortho, no benefits to be paid. The same picture would be covered if it was billed under the oral surgeon (both are in the same big dental practice). I asked if the $190 picture could be re-submitted under the covered doc. The answer, as I had figured, was "no" but they opted to remove that charge from the overall fee for braces.

So with two five minute phone calls (one to the dental insurance provider and the other to the billing and benefits coordinator at the dental practice) saved me $190. Smile

Back on Track

July 10th, 2012 at 03:54 pm


July 6th represented the implementation of the new budget. I have a plan for spending for July and August, with July paying a significant portion of older daughter's tuition, and August paying the remaining property tax payment for the year.

My allotted spending looks like this: WEEKLY
$118.50 for groceries and all household expenses (cleaning/paper/personal care)
$80.00 for gas (both vehicles)
$15.00 for entertainment
$15.00 for clothing
$10.00 for miscellaneous
$5.00 for charitable donations (outside of tithing)

To date for the week I've spent:
$124.03 for groceries and household
$87.67 for gas (I filled my vehicle up and will count some of that toward next week's expenses)
$12.54 for miscellaneous

I will take $15 cash and carry that over to next week.

Enterainment for the week will include going to the $1 movie at the bargain theater tomorrow morning and buying snacks at CVS - total for that should be $10.00

My mother's birthday was this past weekend and the kids made cards and I stitched her a cross-stitch picture from a pattern she admired, cost was minimal as I had the fabric and most floss. Definitely the gift was a labor of love with the amount of time it took. Smile

We actually had a NS weekend, going to Mass on Saturday, my parents' on Sunday for a cook-out and birthday party. The girls had sleepovers, but those are relatively inexpensive because they snacked from the pantry.

My mother got a 30% off of Kohl's purchase and I think I'll use her card to take care of our growing list of things that people need and/or would like: socks for school, gym shoes for school, new underware on most fronts, a belt for oldest son, etc.

I ended up buying two new-to-me couches on craigslist. Beautiful Ethan Allen sofas that cost $2,300 three years ago. For $500 plus the cost of renting a truck (estimated $30). My mom gave me $200 toward the purchase, and I'm excited to be getting them on Thursday. We're donating our present couch and loveseat. This means that I will need to purchase new living room drapes, and I'd like a new tablecloth for the dining room (the rooms are connected), so I'll be scouring coupons to do this as inexpensively as possible.

Off to catch up on the blogs!

Practicality vs Frivolity

July 6th, 2012 at 02:21 pm


I always wonder how much of my parenting the kids actually absorb. I know that I've raised smart shoppers, my girls regularly come home from the mall and show me their small indulgences: this $10 shirt down from $46! This favorite scent of hand lotion for 75% off of $12 at Bath and Body. This maybe TMI, but my now-freshman has a growing collection of free panties from Victoria's Secret/Pink, that regularly sell for $9. She is as modest as she can be in her selections and we were at the mall yesterday and she wouldn't use a coupon because her father and brothers happened to be on this outing with us - though at the other end of the mall.

I had a moment yesterday where my younger daughter was very practical. It was the North American Nationals for Irish Dance and we were in downtown Chicago at the Sheraton. She was a team dancer for ceili, the eight hand figures. There were 58 dance groups in her category and they didn't recall (place in the top 1/2). Still in my opinion Nationals are Nationals (just under All Irelands). I would definitely spend $71 on a ridiculously priced, though totally adorable hoodie with the logos all over it and her name marked on the back.

Dancer daughter demonstrated such grace and maturity. The dance part she performed was flawlessly exocuted and I can always tell which of the eight are her, despite wearing all the same colored wigs. She holds herself in such a way that I always know it is her. She said she wouldn't be disappointed if they didn't recall, because they danced their best. She hoped they did. I asked my daughter which souvenir hoodie she wanted and she said, "I found some really nice dance shoes (gym shoe types) that I think would be comfortable and I could use them for pom poms next year." Of course the cost was as much as the hoodie. Luckily the vendor has store one suburb over from where I live, so I can buy them next month with those extraneous funds. Daughter picked out the cutest hoodie and will probably where it for years to come (her last one was from 2008 and she still wears it).

So in earnest my girl was going to win out for practicality versus frivolity. Probably the one and only time we'll be at Nationals and thankfully it was close to home. Cost $13 to park all day, $75 for lunch out to TGI Fridays, $71 for hoodie.

I almost had to pay $90 for admission, but that is another story. I should say that I appeared daft and the admission people charged me $90, but then I got smart and went back and requested my $90 refund, which I was given.

Hello 2nd Half of 2012!

July 2nd, 2012 at 01:13 pm

I've been ready and waiting for you, and am glad that you've arrived.

Goals for the remainder of the year:

July: Pay as much as possible toward M tuition, waiting for final bill after grants and scholarship funds are applied.

August: Pay 2nd installment of property tax on rental property due on 9/4

I will have an estimated $5,000 in funds for saving and tackling short-term goals for Sept-Dec, my plans for those include

* At least $1,000 to tuition for SJS
* At least $1,250 toward 2012 property taxes payable in 2013
* At least $1,250 toward savings (long-term)
* At least $1,000 toward debt (presently at $6,000)

In my exercises in reality, I've concluded a few things:

* Every decision that I make about money does have a good or ill effect on my overall picture. I need to be better at tracking how much I'm actually saving to continue to make wiser decisions.

* It is OK to say "sorry, we can't". The new rage here for summer parties appears to be the wave pool several burbs over at $30 per person. Had to tell oldest son, "Sorry, you can have a party at the pool we belong to and have six friends for $100". As far as vacations go, "Sorry, you're vacationing big next year, this is an off year." This is to the girls who have friends going to South Carolina for golfing and the Dominican Republic for sun and surf. I suppose that I'll need to elect "California, here we come" for Trip 2013/June to rally the troops when they're disappointed.

* I've implemented a new coupon scheme for organizing, simple envelopes for each category clipped together with a binder clip. Much easier than the coupon organizers (rather pleated plastic envelopes with 13 categories), though I'll admit not as cute.

Spending Recap:

7/1 NSD
7/2 $70.55 YMCA, $20.00 Gas (DH)