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Archive for November, 2012

One last post, and year-end wrap up!

November 27th, 2012 at 02:04 pm

I'm back for my last post of 2012. Advent doesn't start until 12/1 and I'm making a lot of headway living a purpose-driven life vs. let's waste a lot of time on the computer, etc. Smile I'm online taking care of some banking stuff and Scout emails, so I thought I'd mosey on over.

I wasn't concrete with the goals this year, despite my thoughts that I'd come up with some for 4th quarter 2012, but I didn't. I will still recap my accomplishments:

1) Paid off $5,000 high school tuition bill for oldest daughter. The last $770 last month.
2) Reduced the current tuition for the remaining students at the parochial school from $1,606 down to $556 (will continue to make four payments in Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr of $139 to take care of that).
3) Paid $2,400 to credit card debt since Sept. Still remains at $3,500 but it is at 0% until 12/13.
4) Similarly, haven't used the credit cards for anything since August; this was avoided through better planning and being willing to part with funds from the small EF - I sort of view that account now as a revolving door - money in/money out/money in/money out
5) Christmas is done and paid for. I did spend more than usual (and the spending on the kids came from a place of: I have the $ now, let me spend it on them and what I think they'd like. Funny thing was, it didn't feel natural to deviate away from our three gift tradition. So my parents ended up reimbursing me for some of the gifts and now they're shopping is done, too).
6) In December I will have all bills prepaid for January. I will also have $500 cash in the extraneous fund for those things that pop up.

So, all in all, I'm feeling a lot better about our financial situation, and better able to move forward with less trepidation.

Again, wishing you all a Season of blessings and love, faith and family.

See you in 2013, with a concrete plan!

Happy Thanksgiving and a Hiatus

November 20th, 2012 at 02:19 pm


Wishing all of the SA Family a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends, reminding us of what really matters (depsite the innundation for Black Friday and Cyber Monday). I am grateful to be part of this community, and I realize how far that I've come as an individual (person and money-wise). I've enjoyed being able to come here and vent (pout and whine) and just sort things out.

I am going to be taking a hiatus of sorts. Since were a Catholic family, we're embracing Advent in a new way. For Lent, I've been technology-free. For Advent, we're emphasizing being pro-active as a family and I will admit to spending a lot of time in the cyberworld or playing FB Scrabble. Guess what? My husband has committed to two games of Scrabble a week (in person)! My kids are totally committed to the idea and since we have most of our family activities between now and the holidays on Sundays it has sort of been dubbed "Family Day".

I had a really good conversation with our Pastor. He really helped to bring clarity to my situation (or where I've perceived myself). All of life is on a continuum, nothing is really all good or all bad (although I suppose in rare exceptions). I will admit to struggling what a deacon's wife look like. Guess what ... there is no really answer. Look in the mirror. I need not really worry about vows of poverty. I'm already embracing a heart of service by supporting my husband.

I'm reminded in small ways that it will be OK. I coordinated the Cub Scout outing to the local theatre (I did so grumling because it was sort of dropped in my lap last minute so everything needed to be frenzied). I ended up with two free tickets to the threatre. I gave them to a friend of mine (not very close) whose in a really tight financial situation (she called at the beginning of the school year to see if we had extra backpacks because DH works for a major office supply retailer and my kids regularly bring home tons of backpacks from Take Your Child to Work day.) So I gave her the two free tickets, she said I didn't know how happy that made her because she was wondering how to come up with the $30 from her paycheck which was already spent.

My oldest son plays soccer with the park district; most of his friends play with the elite travelling soccer team. DH's fraternal order sponsored a soccer challenge and my son advanced through four rounds and went to state on Saturday. He was up against the "elite" (the ones who wear the uniforms that look like they're on TV). My kid was in his sweatpants and pretty generic cleats. I am so glad that didn't shake his confidence (I realized those are MY hang-ups and my kids are fine and confident in who they are). My son went last and beat out the nearest competition by 15 points. He's the best in the state for his division. And DH who had partnered up with the local elite soccer club at the smallest level let the president know (there was another boy from the elite team who advanced to state, too). Anyhow, long story short, the club never wants $ to be a factor and my son(s) will get a grant in the spring to defray the cost.

I'm done with Christmas shopping (as part of our decision to embrace Advent). I spent a bit more on the kids after my biological father sent me more than usual cash for my birthday. I made 18 mini-loaves of bread yesterday for the teachers (today is last day of the school week). I've got a sick child home and had another sleep-deprived night. But it is all good.

Since I probably won't be back until after the New Year, I will go ahead and wish you all the best this Hannukah, Christmas, Holiday Season! I plan on reinventing myself (yet again) in January (sort of like anxiously waiting to see what generation Dr. Who will morph into!)

Disappointment

November 16th, 2012 at 03:45 pm


Thank you for the birthday wishes from yesterday's post.

I mentioned that my best friend consulted with the bankruptcy lawyer about Chapter 13. She's moving ahead with it; I don't have an opinion on it.

I do have an opinion on her attitude. That is what I'm disappointed it. My opinion of her has always been high, she is the godmother to my fourth child. I've always thought that she found herself in situations due to circumstances, more so than judgment (or lack of).

The attitude today was: Upon the advise of my lawyer, I don't need to pay my creditors. (I get that is probably standard). Then came the, it is payday and I can go out tonight and not worry! Then: And, I can sleep in tomorrow because I can't go to the second job anymore because that means I make too much money to proceed with my bankruptcy?

Huh? I don't understand where this attitude is coming from? Is it giddy liberation from the bondage of debt? I don't even care to analyze it, because the whole thing seems very ... sleazy? unethical? immoral? to me.

I know I said I don't have an opinion to share, but sadly I do. Makes me wonder what we really have in common anymore. The sad reality is: I am a cheap therapy. She uses me to dump on and look for advice.

The lessons of growing up continue to come.

It may really be time to fade.

And bloom elsewhere.

Another year older, and

November 15th, 2012 at 08:52 pm


another year wiser? Not so sure about that, but making progress anyhow!

My morning began with contact lens drama - not being a wearer, I'm of no support to my older daughter's lens issues. She lost one, found it, put it in and there must have been some debris on it or something, but it ended up being a horrible experience (eye pain, watering, crying, upset, drama, etc). It ended up being the last contact, so we were thankfully able to get to the optometrist for another box of lenses, and get her to school by 2nd period. I was able to make it to school to read to the 2nd graders, my mom took me out to lunch at Egg Harbor. Had lots of well wishes from friends on FB and relatives IRL. Feeling the love, though the party is on Sunday.

I've learned that it is probably best to forgive and move on. Crazy-mother ex-friend is back in my life; she drove my daughter home last night (well out of the way) so she could attend an Open House at the high school. I called her to thank her (because it is the nice thing to do) and we were quite cordial, however I'm careful not to say anything about anyone (she is a gossip monger) and keep it neutral.

I've also learned to let go. My best friend has been incredibly high maintenance for awhile and for a bit I've done the fade just to have lots of breathing room. After all of our years together, I've learned that she is who she is. She'll need to live out the consequences of her decisions. She has seen a Bankruptcy attorney about filing Chapter 13. I didn't even have an opinion to share.

I've learned that for the people who use their money as power, they'll probably end up using it as love, too. I'm emotionally estranged from my biological father and haven't seen him in well over a 18 months. Do I miss him? No. I have a great stepdad who embodies everything that a "father" should be. I've figured out that those with a minimal capacity for love have a minimal capacity. It isn't that I am not unlovable. Totally not my problem. It's not me. Anyhow, my biological father sent me a check for $500 (more than he usually does). I'll mail my thank you card today.

So my hopes and wishes for the next year are that my family continues to value what is important and that as we make some major changes, our happiness and health will continue.

Kitchen declutter, round 3

November 14th, 2012 at 05:03 pm


My decluttering frenzy continued right on through the kitchen and I recruited the kids to sort through cookie cutters by season and store them in large ziploc bags. I surprised myself that the cookie press AND the cake decorator had all parts AND directions. We reduced the decorating supplies by about 60% doing away with old sprinkles and food coloring. Looking good!

Now we're doing a major reorganization of the cabinets switching where the dishes are kept and the baking things. Might take a bit of getting used to, but will ultimately streamline things.

At Walmart today I purchased some things we needed: new teaspoon and tablespoon measuring cups, new oven mitts, and an ironing board cover.

At least now if someone were to ask me where an item was in my kitchen cabinets, I now know.

Moving on to target the office products and school supplies. Smile

Glassware update; making progress :)

November 13th, 2012 at 07:11 pm


OK, so I was totally overwhelmed and left my house with everything spread out on the counters and the tables (two big ones - one in the kitchen, one in the dining room).

I ran the errands I should have done yesterday (but my keys were in my purse that was locked in the car Embarrassment) and I returned with a clearer head.

I have two sets of china: one we use at Easter, the other we use at Christmas. I love both of them and decided to do away with anything colored class that didn't match (like some odd blue glass ones and an amber platter). I also did away with a pair of candle holders that I decided I don't like. In the far cabinet up top, I put the obvious Easter things (peep chick and bunny salt & pepper shakers and some egg cups) and the ceramic birthday plates we use (for the birthday person). I also got rid of some plastic (glass looking) bowls my MIL gave me to put her salads in when she came (they just didn't hold up too well). I've consolidated the tupperware, too, and am hoping to move to glass storage (hearing too much about the chemicals in plastic).

If I could photograph my progress, you'd be proud. And the things of sentimental value I've moved to the china closet. Must keep going, must keep going. Hoping that the decluttering bug carries me through some major projects Smile

Totally overwhelmed. Help me out!

November 13th, 2012 at 03:55 pm


Don't know what possessed me, but I am embracing the decluttering bug in a MAJOR way and I've decided to tackle my kitchen cabinets and all the knick-knack things I've accumulated.

What do you feel is an adequate number of "nice" serving bowls and glass dishes for serving guests (I'm not talking your best china or pyrex/corning where). I have tons of things ...

I have Waterford crystal from great grandmother that was in the back of a cabinet (shame on me!) and I'm not re-arranging my new-to-me (in Feb) China closet with the sentimental stuff.

I'm just overwhelmed ... so, again, what is your stash of guestware like? thanks!

Back in the saddle

November 12th, 2012 at 02:08 pm


I suppose that I'm speaking of the "mental saddle" rather than a monetary saddle. I was in an odd funk and didn't really help that I was sleep deprived, my daughter's classmate passed away and it was all out of whack. I spent way too much time analyzing myself and came to no clear conclusions about anything. Smile All I can do is work with what I have now, despite where I came from, and I do have a direction where we are going, so it will be fine. And surprisingly, most of my angst came from comparison with others and not being fearful of the future.

DH and I were at our parish's volunteer appreciation dinner on Saturday. Our volunteer work deals with the parish, rather than the school. In fact, the drama of the school volunteer work last year has me volunteering in no capacity over there (though I do go in and read to the 2nd graders and I do help out at the parties, I'm just not a planner Smile ) Anyhow, at the dinner I had the unpleasant experience of having one of the parents that isn't high on my list of favorites glom on to me. She was dateless, asked if she could sit with me. We joined my husband's fraternal brothers and their wives. What I learned from this is: it is best to be a helper with a humble heart.

I spent some money from the budget on myself. A $19 dress and $28 pair of boots at Old Navy. And $10 on a new pair of jeans and a Jones New York sweater at Goodwill (I had a 25% off coupon for my birthday). I was surprised how a few new items can spruce up one's opinion of oneself. I have to be immune to conversations about personal shoppers at Nordstroms who call when your favorite designer sends items in your best colors. Smile Can't let those turkeys get you down.

I paid the last of the high school tuition on Friday, $770, paid and done! Wa-hoo! I am pleased about that!

Thought that it was time to revisit some money-management techniques and theories. This time I'm tackling The Money Saving Mom's Budget, I bought the book and regretted the purchase because I should have gotten it from the library. Anyhow, here are the 7 main principles ("Rules for Financial Success"):

#1: Set big goals and break them down into bite-sized pieces
#2: Streamline your life and cut the clutter
#3: Set up a realistic, workable budget
#4: Take the cash only challenge
#5: Use coupons
#6: Never pay retail
#7: Choose contentment

When DH and I did the steps to financial freedom through our church, there were 7 steps too. I wonder are most of the programs 7 steps? Just an odd curious wonder ...

Spending should be low today, pet store for crickets and meal worms for the bearded dragon, lunch meat and coffee at Aldi's. It was a nice, long weekend. Conferences on Friday went well: all kids are doing well, the reading specialist is making good predictions about oldest son's success. The girls participated in a service project on Sunday, and the moderator said how nice it was that my older daughter (the sponsor) accompanied the younger daughter (Confirmandi) and they clearly are devoted to one another. Smile

So, now I will take daily steps to maintain a positive attitude and make wise money decisions to support our future financial goals. Smile

Muddling

November 9th, 2012 at 12:06 am


I am muddling through things. It has been an odd week, with sick kids home Monday and Tuesday, oldest daughter home today (I suppose a mental health day was in order following the death of the classmate). I've been walking my mother's dog since she's out of town, so that has put an odd twist on the routine of the day. Then the rest of the kids are home tomorrow and Monday for conferences and veteran's day.

Payday and rent collection are tomorrow and I've got $50 in the checking account to move to savings. Haven't done that before! We ate breakfast for dinner one day last week and one day this week and I suppose I didn't spend anything on Halloween costumes (the kids raided the bin of dress up clothes and were all suitably dressed). I've determined that a lot of it has to do with my mindset; if I *think* my kids will need new costumes costing an average of $20 a piece, I will spend most likely spend it. This year they were all happy to swap and trade what was worn in previous years (the boys are all about the same size despite the age differences).

We get the weekly standing order (Scripps/Manna) on Thursdays, so I did the weekly spending and gassed up one car. ($38 for gas, $62 at Sam's Club, $38 at Walmart). I do have a $25 off of $50 at Dominick's that I'll end up using tomorrow; they've got a decent sale and I've matched up some pantry deficits, so I'll be well under the inflated amount we've spent in the past.

The layoffs are happening at DH's work. Since we're deciding on his return to school for pastoral counseling and the diaconite, I'm not too unsettled. It will be OK. My grandmother (92 and in California) is supportive of this decision and has given us $20K. We have it in the EF and I don't suppose that we'll touch it. We're fine covering our expenses which I'm slowly trimming back on our income, and I'm going to hike up the 401K contribution to 20% in January for the last six months of full-time corporate America.

I'm hoping that a decent night's rest will help clear the fog from my mind. After all, tomorrow starts another pay period. Smile

November: Giving Thanks

November 5th, 2012 at 06:37 pm


Sad day here today as a classmate of my daughter passed away last night. He had a bone marrow transplant last December after being diagnosed with leukemia. He was apparently cured but ended up with a rare disease (I think ADP) and was in a medically-induced coma since August. There was some progress as he was off the ventilator breathing on his own for 14 hours three weeks ago. Anyhow, sad day. I haven't heard from my daughter (the principal sent out a recorded message this morning about the news and said that counselors were available to the kids who needed to talk), so I hope she is OK.

Again, this is a reminder to me that the things that I've let get to me lately ultimately don't matter. The school-induced drama won't go away, but how I encourage my children to handle things is what is important. I am grateful that I have open communication with all my children. I am grateful that other people's children like our home and we can offer them some things that their family lives are missing (two kids in particular have been spending lots of time at our house). Ultimately what we can do positively is all that matters.

I am grateful that my family is healthy and happy. I am grateful that my relatives on the East Coast are safe after the storm. I am grateful that the plans for our future are shaping up and we are moving forward confidently, going where we think God wants us to.

Money. I've spent some time lately losing sight that it really isn't about the money. I've had a bout of petty jealousy about other people's "haves". I really do have all that I need and I want.

Sorry to be morose. Frown I've got the 2nd grader home today after recovering from a weekend of illness. I think I'd like a good cry. Venting here is the next best thing.

So if you are religious or spiritual, thoughts and prayers for the family of JW would be appreciated. The road ahead for them is going to be long.

Wow, November already!

November 4th, 2012 at 06:25 pm


Time is just a-marchin' right along, isn't it?

I was surprised to hear that Black Friday is less than three weeks away! Talk about a sobering thought for those of us who thought we had more time!

I'm not hosting Thanksgiving and we're not travelling out of state for Mid-america Irish Dance Championships, so that makes things a bit less frenzied. I will have my inlaws that weekend, and I will be having a party for oldest daughter, but those are all small in comparison to what I've done in the past on Thanksgiving weekend.

Money-wise, nothing major is going on. I realized that I won't be out of debt by the end of the year, but by this Friday I will have buried the high school tuition balance, and I'll scale back on the parochial school tuition to pay it off by May when it is supposed to be paid in full. I plan on putting the 401(k) contributions to 20% in January, for the time being that he remains in corporate America.

I've given up worrying about what other people think and have been more vocal about our plans, namely DH returning to school to pursue a diaconite. I was surprised that my mother was supportive, and my best friend was like "If anyone is up to the challenge to live on next to nothing, it is you." That is probably a gross exaggeration, but it sounded like a compliment was wrapped up in there somewhere. I am looking for part-time employment (more actively) and the grants and scholarships for the kids will probably increase a lot as well.

This year we have a $20 limit of each grandparent and my brother, and we're requesting family gifts (we suggested a zoo membership to my parents, and to my inlaws we asked for gift cards to a movie and dinner out). We've given my brother a list of DVDs we'd like. I've got a spend $50, get $25 off coupon for Dominicks which I'll use for my ham at Christmas. I'm looking at sale ads regularly and got my younger daughter some Smashbox make-up from Ulta's for $22. Smile Both girls have winter birthdays (one right after Thanksgiving, and one right before Christmas). So I'm juggling the money balls well.

Hope everyone is enjoying the Fall!