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Archive for August, 2012

Thursday's Random Observations

August 30th, 2012 at 07:02 am


1) Had to spend $123 to get the Kia fixed. DH thought it was the CV joint which should have been under warranty; however, it was the backing plates which were out of warranty since we're past 12K miles. $125 fee for diagnostics was waived and repair was $123. Paid cash from the checking account; nice to be at that place to have the cash ready.

2) Concluded the three appointments for metal allergy testing for older daughter who is getting braces on 9/8. She was a 3+ on the readings for both nickel sulfate and gold, and 2+ on palladuim chloride. I suppose this means porcelain and titanium braces.

3) Payday is tomorrow, so I'll make the mortgage payment and buy the bunk beds at Sam's. The rest of the spending should be minimal: nothing major is needed or wanted by anyone. Middle son moved into oldest son's soccer cleats and shin guards, no cost to his playing soccer.

4) Oldest son is dyslexic and dysgraphic and he has two new teachers this year (4th and 5th graders move between the same four teachers for both years but there was a high turn-over last year, so there is a new math teacher and social studies teacher). I'm hopeful that his anxiety decreases as the year progresses, he so hates to be singled out for any sort of attention or extra help (positive or negative) and I am so thankful that he is able to verbalize that he was embarrassed in class about doing something in math (ordering the numbers from greatest to least instead of least to greatest). I just hope that we're able to make this transition comfortable for him; we're encouraging him to speak with the teacher about his concerns rather than mull over them.

5) Supposed to be a 90+ degree today! Air on and pool this weekend?!

Back to the Grindstone

August 29th, 2012 at 07:54 am


Found out that my prepayment to next years' property taxes isn't an option available until 12/3. I've decided to use the money allocated for that ($250) and purchase a set of bunkbeds at Sam's Club which are $299. We're redoing kids rooms and trying to free up square footage in the boys' room. This summer we spent $220 on new comforters (three were purchased as Kohl's on sale and with the 30% off and Kohl's bucks, and two were from Walmart).

We're back into the second full week of school and we've got dioramas due next Wednesday for extra credit and since I've got another 8th grader this year, too, it seems that I can't escape Science Fair. This year the topic appears to be paper chromotagraphy. Definietly something I don't know a lot about.

The high schooler has joined the baking club and the photography club. She's anxiously waiting for Lacrosse to start, but that isn't until the spring. I image that I should start looking at sporting stores and watch for sales/coupons as I imagine Santa will be bringing her a Lacrosse stick for Christmas.

All for now. Off to read the blogs.

Busy weekend, busier week!

August 27th, 2012 at 06:08 am


Had oldest son's birthday parties this past weekend. Took him and his three best friends to an indoor trampoline place. Had budgeted $88 (was supposed to be $22 per child for two hours) but only spent $56 (it was still the summer special of $14 per child for two hours) Smile 5th grade boys love Little Ceasar's pizza (I guess its an upgrade from that the school serves on Friday pizza lunch). We had his family party on Saturday afternoon, very nice little get together (had Italian beef sandwiches, 10#s purchased for $26 at Sam's Club). DS spent his birthday cash on a bearded dragon (a cute little lizard at this point) and my parents are buying him a new bike.

Our parish block party was supposed to be yesterday but it got completely rained out, so it was moved indoors and became a rather pricey potluck that we skipped. I had a fridge full of left over and opted out of paying $20 to eat over at church. DH went and stayed for several hours. I stayed home with the kids and my MIL helped the oldest make cookies and quizzed her on spanish, was actively involved in the care of the new pet with birthday boy, and played Blockus with the little kids. Youngest opted not to do any reading with grandpa and actually hid his "Frog and Toad" book. Poor thing was sheepish when I found it and then told him he's reading double today. Going to have to work on making reading fun for this child, too.

Allergy testing for older daughter is ongoing. Patch comes off today and will be read on Wednesday. Braces go on 9/8 and will most likely be titanium and porcelain. Curriculum night for the high-schooler is Thursday. I have to walk my mom's dog today as she is recovering from a bum knee. Busy, with nothing really spectacular in the works, just hoping for a smooth transition to BTS.

Oh, week, when will you end?

August 23rd, 2012 at 06:42 am


We are in the midst of the mid-week slump, the enthusiasm for the first day of school and my early eager wakers are over and done. Thankfully I smart enough to make sure that the backpacks are lined up and uniforms are laid out the night before. I can say that I am getting a solid cardio workout going up and down the stairs to wake, awaken and rewake the slew of sleepers. I am so glad that tomorrow is Friday Smile

Yesterday I got myself over to the Y. I realize that I'm need of some regular working out. I managed to do 15 minutes on the treadmill and walked .91 miles. I probably could have done better but I stupidly thought the Sketcher Shape-ups might add to my work-out. Let's just say that I'm probably not qualified enough to wear them and walk around the block, let alone a moving belt. Apparently I need more time in them to get used to the balance issues. I did manage to pass up donut sticks (though they are tempting me now) and I had some soup and salad for dinner. I'd like to be down to 125 (13 pounds) at some point in the near future.

I returned a clearance sweater to Marshall's yesterday for a $10 credit back onto my debit card.

That is about all the interesting (or not so) things from yesterday.

Still pleased with the money path that we're on. Looking forward to next week's payday to get some progress on the goals I've set.

Here is a first:

August 22nd, 2012 at 06:26 am

I was able to take advantage of the prepaying option for band which saved me 5%. $470 done and paid and I am done for the year. I took $200 from the short-term savings (to cover things like this) and won't prepay on daughter's braces when I make the initial deposit on the braces installation day (three weeks forward).

There is something to be said about doing a spending freeze and then accumulating a nice little bit of money. I know that my money mind was cleared, and spending FROM budget categories that are fully funded is a wonderful thing.

Just wanted to share this: might have turned a money corner. And I'm being so proactive that I've started the list of things that we'd like to purchase next spring: Definites: new bike for oldest son, new grill, Maybe: new lawn mower.

Smile

Back to Reality

August 21st, 2012 at 09:07 am

Ok, back to reality and what really matters in life (shaking the dust of my last post off of my shoulders).

I currently have Dish here and we are switching from Xfinity Comcast to Dish, saving $40+ a month. Hope that it is worth it. Once of my children recently referenced the commercial showing how bad Dish was; we had a discussion about advertising and political campaigning all at once.

My husband works at a major office supply company - and one of the perks of the take your children to work day is each participant receives a backpack filled with supplies. Since we've been sending kids to this for the past several years, we've amassed a collection of backpacks. I gave three last year to the family we hand-down to. We have several put aside for camping and spares; my daughters are particular about their Jansports that they've been carrying for years. I mentioned to one friend that we had several laying around if she needed one/some. Saturday I got a call from her sister-in-law (who I also know very well) who asked if we had any we could give. Another larger Catholic family, father is a teacher who had a breakdown and didn't want his school to know so he took an unpaid leave of absence to deal with his issues and they haven't rebounded from the situation - I know all this through her sister-in-law/my friend).

We gave two brand new girly backpacks that her husband picked up on Saturday. The oldest daughter is going into 6th grade and yesterday I saw her and she smiled and whispered thanks and pointed to her backpack. And right after that I saw the mother of a student at the high school my daughter attends. Her daughter is a junior and the uniform changed, so she said she has a bunch of uniform shirts for me. Next year I'll have two in the same uniform.

Life is sweet. What goes around, comes around. Smile Hopefully it will be goodness and kindness.

And how can I forget this gem: Best friend has found a job and can predict a stable pay pattern and basic budget. She's joined up with a large non-denominational church which is offering the Dave Ramsey's class (FPU) and she actually signed up Smile

Supporting local business and taking the high road

August 21st, 2012 at 06:32 am

Supporting local business and the benefit:

Yesterday had my new-to-us couch and love seat cleaned. I was reluctant to do it myself, though it was in need of a cleaning. One of the deacons at our church own a carpet and upholstery cleaning company. I called for a quick quote from a place in the phone book, and while the deacon was higher by about $50 for the cleaning plus scotch-guarding I decided to go with him. My mom gave me the $50 for the scotch-guarding. I had $210 cash for the cleaning and treatment ($90 for couch, $70 for love seat, $50 for scotch-guarding). He only took the $160, stating that he appreciated the fact that we hired him and he called in the parish discount. Smile Of that $50 - I put $25 aside for party boy's pizza pack from Little Ceasar's on Friday and I spent the remainder on the Back to School Roller Skating Party.

Taking the high road: (Disclaimer: non-finance stuff ahead Smile )

I've posted her about my difficult ex-friend who is a busy-body, in everyone's business, has something to say about everyone's business, and ultimately attacking most of my parenting [letting a child "ditch" a school function - the year-end picnic in lieu of a day at the pool with her two friends (other ditchers); letting another child wear a strapless dress to a school function (despite being covered by a shrug), and other stuff]. Actually it was her child who kept throwing up these instances of how "good" my kids have it.

Fast forward to the summer: I took my child to a tattoo parlor for a piercing. [I sort of reside in Peyton Place where everyone knows everyone's business]. Ex friend has some things to say about that. Then she officially snubbed my child yesterday when she was walking down the hall (daughter was walking with a boy, while ex-friend who is all over the school said (daughter recounted it as "gushed") "Well, hello *L*. How was your summer?"] I had to tell my daughter not to let it bother her, ultimately the happiness of her life is not contingent upon the approval of anyone in that particular family, and to always be polite and civil in a Christian-manner.

Back-story to situation: A friend of mine from high school happens to have a son at the same school that my kids go to. He was a photographer for Playboy and happened to have married (and divorced) a centerfold. I was approached by someone I know from the young mom's group (years ago) who came up to me and said, "Oh, *D* is so beautiful and I've heard that she is pursuing a career in modeling. *A* (her child) has had such great luck with this agency - its Christian-based. I've heard you were going to be collaborating with *K* and even have *K* do her make-up. If you need someone reputable, I can give you names and numbers. I'd just be careful who you hook up with."

Turns out she heard it from ex-friend. So I must really be slipping in the realm of good parenting: who knows what I've let my younger daughter pierce? (it was her ear lobes, second holes) and now I'm grooming by 14-year old to turned over to Heff. Take me now, Lord!

The funny thing is: I'm trying to teach my child not to judge. And the other thing is: at my parish, you don't really get much more Catholic that my family. My husband is with the fraternal order and is going to be going into a life of service as a Deacon. I co-coordinate all the summer programs. We're the family that is always together and when one of us is missing we look out of place. I don't even know what to say or think.

Probably should just take the high road and ignore, but really ...

BTS: Back to School today!

August 20th, 2012 at 06:26 am


Silence. It can definitely be considered blissful, given the pandemonium of this morning getting 9th, 8th, 5th, 3rd, and 2nd graders off to school. The 9th grader started last week, but she's still not confident in a lot of things and needs support and attention.

Despite my best efforts at being organized (totally uniforms laid out, insisting that back packs were packed, and lunch was made for the oldest), we still dealt with: (a) who did the glue sticks belong to? (b) the new belt that needed a last minute hole added to it (c) should I eat this third donut stick if my stomach is nervous and I think I am going to throw up? (d) what if JS is the class of the 8th grader; he liked her and expressed it through tormenting her. (e) what was the combination again for the gym lock? (f) when does band start? And oh, the frenzied list of concerns. Didn't help that I lacked good mother judgment and we rented "The Hunger Games" last night, which the grown up liked, the girls had seen, and was definitely not suitable for the younger folks. Had to deal with one nightmare and almost stepped on someone when I got out of bed.

I am looking forward to getting back into a routine around here. While I love the leisurely summer pace, seems like my house is always almost clean, the meal plan is almost done, etc.

We rented a rug doctor and cleaned the carpets yesterday. I'm waiting for the upholstery cleaner to come right now to clean the new furniture. I've tackled several mountains of laundry yesterday. I've freezer cooked on Friday (making batches of chili, ground beef for tacos, and sloppy joes). It is rather personally satisfying to be ahead of the food game. Oldest son's family party is on Saturday (with kids friend party on Friday after school) and I even have the menu planned and the recipes organized.

Amendment to the nickles and dimes flowing out: I can remove the $52 for shots, moving it to the next pay period. The dates were wrong on the website so DH and the boys and our furry friend turned up to ... nothing.

Well, hope everyone has a great day!

Money out: Nickled and dimed by these little expenses!

August 19th, 2012 at 12:57 pm


For the next two-week pay period, our extraneous spending looks like this:

$52 for vaccinations for our furry friend; taken to Luv My Pet traveling doctor.
$24 for rental of Rug Doctor + $14 for soap
$45 for last round of school supply shopping
$160 for upholstered furniture cleaning happening tomorrow (my mom gave me $50 for the scothguard option
$88 for oldest son's birthday party (he and three friends to Sky High Sports - like Extreme Trampoline only closer)
$25 for oldest son's pizza from Little Ceasar's (party pack)

I was able to pay the last installation of the property tax payments two weeks early Smile Am glad to get the monkey off my back, and am so excited to sign up for the prepayment option. My goals for the remainder of the year look like this:

$1000 to high school tuition
$1000 to parochial school tuition
$1000 to property tax bill for next year
$1500 to eradicate last of the credit card debt
$1250 to savings

And the nice things about it is I am actually one paycheck ahead of this pace and think that I'll throw some money toward these starting on 8/31 rather than 9/14. Big Grin

New beginnings :)

August 15th, 2012 at 10:59 am


Older daughter started high school today; actually "Orientation" (full day: casual dress, ID and yearbook pictures taken, locker assignments, etc). She was very excited and nervous all at once. DH and I had relive our fondest moments with her before she came down to breakfast. How fast time does fly!

Best friend is still very much in crisis mode (given her termination date was moved up about 28 days) leaving her income-less. She did consult a bankruptcy attorney yesterday and didn't like anything the lawyer had to say (short-saling her condo, etc). The only upside to that is she is looking at her entire picture. The good news is that she did accept a contract position at a few dollars an hour less than she is making now, but less hours. The job doesn't start until 9/1 and is much further out so she'll have to spend more on gas to commute.

In talking with her, I discovered that she cashed out a small IRA of $2,500 to cover her cash loss. I also discovered that she has been "too busy" to take care of the necessary paperwork to collect $4,500 of "found money" in her mother's name (she was the executor of the estate). I said in her time off I would definitely move on that because that could be her safety net (well at least half of it is hers, I think the other half goes to her sister who needs it just as much as she does), she is definitely living paycheck-to-paycheck. Her living situation is still up in the air. I also advised in her time off to lose her storage unit and go through it. Now is the definite time to purge and will save herself $80 a month. I also encouraged her to sell, sell, sell on craigslist. Time to lighten the load of life and simplify. So, it is my hope that she takes to heart some of my practical advice, rather than wallow.

Hard to believe that mid-month is upon us and everyone else is off to school on Monday!!

Hope everyone is enjoying the last days of summers!

Just when it couldn't get worse, it did.

August 14th, 2012 at 03:01 pm


Older daughter is off to freshman orientation tomorrow. We got her hair cut today (and she babysat her last day from 8:00 - 3:00). She's asked me to proof her Summer Reading assignments for honors English - lots of info to keep straight about Greek mythology. Its a lot of moral support for her.

And today is the day my best friend has officially fallen apart. Last Thursday she gave 30 days notice to her present job, thinking that would allow her enough time to find something comparable. She could go back to her old, old job and make probably $15K LESS THAN she was making now. And she thought she was relocating to a job with the same company in Denver so she signed a two-year lease to rent HER place (so she's essentially homeless come October 1st). Drama, drama, drama.

I knew I was in for something big when we got home and I saw that she called at 3:15, 3:22, 3:31, 3:33, 3:46, and 3:54. A bib lull, and then another call at 4:43. And the big news is: her boss has decided to accept her resignation as of TODAY, not granting her the 30 paid days she had initially requested and thought she was granting. She is irate and mad and "how dare they" and then the bemoaning that she will have NO MONEY coming in. *SIGH*

DH is off to a meeting with his fraternal order this evening and my girls and I watch "Dance Moms" and I'm listening to a book on tape with my boys. I imagine that I should invite her over, but I don't know if I'm up for an energy suck tonight. And, oh yes, I am dog sitting my mom and stepdad's high maintenance Yorkie Poo.

*BIGGEST OLE SIGH I CAN MANAGE*

How does this sound?

August 14th, 2012 at 11:40 am

to be attached with "Mary Hunt's Debt-Proof Living" book (purchased at Books-a-Million)

Dear *R*,

I've given some thought to your hope that I'd help you get your finances "on the road". I'm here to give you some advice on the things that worked for me, and I've found some great practical advice on how to handle things from this book. I don't think that things will automatically turn around in one fell swoop, but I do think that you should see some relief if you implement these small things on a daily basis.

I'm not comfortable with giving any specific advice. Our situations are entirely different (single gal versus stay-at-home mom), and ultimately only you know what your deep down goals are. How I allot my money (taking into account educating everyone) (our number one concern right now) will be different than how you allot yours.

I think that it would be wise to return to (previous job) if the position is still available simply because you know what you are returning to (and you'll be 2 minutes from *M* for *D* in case of emergency Smile ) Granted the money isn't the same, but you'll have some peace of mind. I also think it is a good idea to see about rooming with *H*, that arrangement makes a lot of sense, too. Of course, you know that I'll help you move wherever and encourage you wherever you decide to work; it is just my opinion that sameness and stability is what you need now.

So, since I'd like to revisit Mary Hunt, maybe we can do a book club at Panera's? Next time, my treat.

Me

Disheartened: Lost post. Need help when Pleading the 5th Won't Work

August 13th, 2012 at 01:21 pm


Frown I just lost a very long and lengthy post (which maybe is a blessing in disguise because it was a brain dump about the situation my best friend is in (romantically, occupationally, residentially, and finally, monetarily).

I will just deal with the main money issue.

She has asked me point-blank to look at her entire money picture and "help" her. In the past, I've suggested Mary Hunt, Neil Atkinson, Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman, etc. To no avail. I've suggested Microsoft Money, QUicken, YNAB, Mint. To no avail.

I suggested she see a financial planner. She can't afford it. My qualifications, according to her, I've participated and can lead the "Seven Steps to Financial Freedom" seminars (Catholic-based financial principles) and I've been on Catholic radio (talking about Canon law and how it can be interpreted to have parochial school tuition included as part of tithing).

She asked if she should file bankruptcy on her $20K credit card debt. She is a month behind on her mortgage and her student loan (of $80K) is in forbearance or deferment. I told her that I don't think she'd like what I have to say, and I don't know if I'm comfortable knowing her entire financial snapshot (it is more nakedness than I'm comfortable about). To this she said, "You know the last time I had sex and with whom. What can be worse than that?"

We don't think alike in all areas of life, and are rather polar opposites. She told me to think about it, but it would be a "big help to her". I told her that she needs to find gainful employment (she gave 30 days notice at her job last Friday and hasn't actually found another job). I told her that she need to find a place to live (she rented her condo and has to be out by 10/1).

What would you do? She's been my best friend for 25+ years (more like almost 30) and is Godmother to my fourth child.

Giving some thoughts to life

August 9th, 2012 at 09:03 am


Things here, money-wise, appear to be on auto-pilot. On target to reach goal for income taxes on-time, then I'll start tackling the goals for the remainder of the year:
(1) $1K to debt
(2) $1K to savings
(3) $1.5K to 2013 property tax payments
(4) $750 to high school tuition (leaving $850)
(5) $750 to elementary school tition (leaving $850)
I've gone so far as to make a spreadsheet with eight boxes (I'm accomplishing these in eight bimonthly payments (I think that it is "bimonthly" meaning twice IN the month and not EVERY second month, but correct me if I'm wrong) Smile

Best friend is falling apart (again), found love with a Middle Eastern man who dumped her, hates her new job, decided not to relocate after finding a long-term renter (two year lease) for her place, and is a month behind on her mortgage (though she worked it out with the bank it is still showing up on her credit) and it will most likely prevent her from renting the over-her-budget adorable little house in a nice suburb. She's having issues with high blood pressure and I actually suggested she go the ER beause I was afraid of a stroke (it was 160 on top and her head was feeling 'wierd'). I think I've finally gotten to the point where I don't feel so "intruded upon" by her neediness. I'd rather have more contact for a minimum of time (three calls of 10 minutes versus one 30 minute call at dinner time). I've made an effort to have her over more (she came for dinner last Friday and then came over with lunch on Tuesday). I'm trying to encourage her to have a plan, in small increments, and then follow-thru. She has a bad dog, so can't stay in my place if she's homeless. Oh, I could go on and on, but it makes me sad she's in her present state.

Took older daughter shopping last night for school shoes. The ones she wanted were $70; I gave her the $35 I would have paid and she agreed to be responsible for the upgrade. We went to Shoe Carnival and they didn't have the ones she really wanted (Sperry topsiders in some different color combination). Bless her heart, she spent $24 on a pair of non-Sperrys that she "really liked!!"

So I've thought about money goals, best friend drama, and smart money shoe spending Smile

And what business is it of YOURS?!

August 3rd, 2012 at 04:23 pm


Ha, my sense of humor is back! Don't know where I lost it, but I almost let my undies get into a bunch about this.

My younger daughter wanted double ear piercings and last year I took her to Claires, a bad move - the holes were at an odd angle and caused scar tissue. She still wanted them, so I took her to a tattoo parlor which also does piercings (yes, piercings of all kinds according to the price list). Yes, I put my 13 year old's ears in the hands of a tattoo-ed, very long dread-lock headed man, who was polite and kind and used a needle (to avoid further scar tissue) and he put in ear loops and gave more clear and concise information about aftercare. And yes, I took her and yes, there were offensive tattoos, but guess what? There were very nice religious ones, too. And guess what, I don't think we're damned to hell because the music was uncensored (heard a few f-bombs). And while I don't think I'd like my daughter to work there, or even go there for a tattoo, she's my child and yes, I took her.

And it cost me $40! I so LOVE IT when people think they've got the right to tell me WHAT I SHOULD BE DOING! And I bet if my girls and I turned up at Mass wearing mantillas (lace head coverings) there'd be talk about that!

HAR-D-HAR-HAR!

Hello August!

August 3rd, 2012 at 09:36 am


July was much spendier than usual. I paid $335 cash for Kohls purchases, mostly BTS and two bedding sets for my girls. I also paid $500 for textbooks for older daughter. To rent would have saved me 1/2, but I'll have a freshman next year to use the books. I did save $99 by telling my parents about D's need for a graphing calculator and they had an extra one laying around. Smile I also spent $500 on furniture: $200 for an antique dining room table and five chairs, plus $300 for the two Ethan Allen sofas. All in all, I don't feel bad at all about spending those funds, might inexpensive way to spruce the place up (my mom gave me $200 toward the sofas).

I've realized that my family spends about $100 a month on entertainment and outings. I budgeted $60, but that is low. We spent $100 in June on the annual trip to our town's festival (preview night ride wrist bands are $20 and the kids fund their own snack money). July we had two trips downtown (one for Nationals and one to visit my daughters' cousin) and that was a bit more. I spent $100 for discount tickets for five to our state's largest water park (Raging Waves) so the budget is spent for August.

All in all, it has been cash out the window, nothing on credit. Not a satisfying feeling to see the debt level staying at what it is (though 0% interest), but it is satisfying to see it not go up. Needed to retrain my thinking on this stuff.

Made the big tuition payment for high school. Glad about that. In July I returned for $70 school uniform pants in size 3, and found a pair of size 1s for $5 at the used uniform sale. Smile

Quiet weekend ahead. Hope everyone is enjoying summer! I'm feeling sad about BTS Frown