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Archive for July, 2013

Bit by the decluttering bug

July 31st, 2013 at 06:51 am


It is time to start clearing out (again). I'm tired and overwhelmed of the amount of stuff that is in this house. Namely the basement. I've decided that I need to make some major progress on some areas of frustration in the house.

Right now I'm tackling a portion of the laundry room - a catch-all counter that is giving me the heebie-jeebies because it is SO chaotic. I plan on organizing and switching out the small kitchen cabinet/counter it is on with a shelf in the garage. Then I'll be getting ready to tackle some of the places in the basement.

Oldest son is suffering home a bout of homesickness while away at camp. Thankfully his dad is there, but they aren't bunking together and I think that the fun quotient has diminished by quite a bit. He signed up for the swimming merit badge and that is conducted in the lake with very cold water and the outdoor daily temps aren't higher than 65. Nights are 40. I talked to son yesterday, said how proud I was of him tackling these merit badges, how much fun he has to be having with his three closest friends, and how while I miss him, he is already half way done and I can't wait to see him on Saturday. I think I'll make a cake to celebrate their homecoming.

In the meantime, I plan on finishing up a few inexpensive projects around here:
(1) spray-painting and staining a steamliner trunk which I plan to use as an archive for family photos
(2) final coat of stain on inside of front doors
(3) replacement glass cut for shelf in powder room
(4) mow the lawn

DH's started the new position at a less than ideal time and in all reality the HQ for the merger between OM-OD will not be in the state we will live in. So I'm officially embracing the "frugal page of life" on August 2 (when our month starts).

So off to continue with my decluttering efforts. I already do have two bags from clothes and stuff from upstairs living. It is the basement that frightens me. Wish me luck!

Dilemma debate update

July 28th, 2013 at 06:43 pm

My single-parenting outing today took me to Target. I previously posted about whether or not to stock up on contact lens solution to get a $5 gift card.

The double packs were the "20% more size" and were $15.99. I ended up having two coupons (one for $3 off and one for $1.50 off). My OOP cost for the two were $26.81. I received the $5 gift card for a future purchase and saved $1.12 with the RED debit card savings.

Transaction two involved grocery shopping savings. I ended up getting cereals, lunch meat, peanut butter, tons of Market Pantry pasta and sauce, a 12 pack of soda, and two 4-pack Starbucks and saved $10. I also for some reason had a stockpile of Target coupons which were $1 off of produce, fruit, bakery, frozen item, etc. I used some expiring coupons to stock up paper towels and Always products. I splurged and got DH a 2013 Stanley Cup Blackhawks shirt for $11. All in all, I spent $89.09 OOP, after $18.50 in coupon savings, and $4.27 RED debit card savings and got another $5 gift card for a future purchase. I have enough groceries for the week - pasta, sandwiches, chicken and salad items.

I got $35 worth of gas at Sam's Club where it was $3.88 a gallon. I'll be fine the remainder of the week with limited driving.

I spent $9.30 at OfficeMax on back to school supplies. I spent $8 on a flash drive for the youngest, who needs one FINALLY in 3rd grade. A 4 GB one was on sale from $12. This item put me above the precursory $5 purchase in order to get the notebooks for $.01 and the pencils/pens for $.10.

I'm having an outing tomorrow with a friend who has boys at the same camp mine is at and a husband who is travelling on business. We're taking the remaining boys and my girls by train to a suburb three over for lunch at a fun restaurant. I've budgeted $60 for the event and my remaining money is at $0. Thankfully everything is taken care of.

All for now. For the record, pleased with my saving/spending. Smile

Done. Delete. Dilemma.

July 28th, 2013 at 10:45 am


Done. The oldest son and husband are off to a week at boy scout camp in northern Wisconsin. I imagine that next year won't be nearly as involved since they've got all the gear the need. Mosquito netting, the correct First Aid kit for merit badge requirements, disposable clothing for a "bog hike", medical forms to be filled out (and this isn't even high adventure), storage bins of the right size to fit under cots, etc., etc., etc. I drove them to the meeting point at 5:45 and they unloaded their stuff from our minivan into the trailer, took some pictures and said good-bye. I had troubling dreams about the relentless pursuit to teach me to water ski which involved my uncle and a summer house my grandparents owned. All too awful to relive, so since my night-time sleep was bad, I came home to take a nap. I hope they have an awesome time.

I realized that I have boundaries now. I didn't have solid ones and for awhile my equilibrium was easily upset by inconsequential people. Even those who I have an emotional investment with have less of my energy. I found myself derailed by a difficult email this morning from the father that is the Cubmaster for our Cub Scout troop. I declined the Committee Chair position and am really only the treasurer. This man is helpful but borderlines on intrusive. My son isn't a swimmer. Had ear infections as a baby toddler, is just now comfortable going down the slide at the pool without getting his face/head wet. I understand the importance of him being able to save himself at some point. Once this guy figured out that our plans for cub scout camp next summer involve a longer and more advanced camp (DH has been there and knows what is involved), the Cubmaster has sent several emails to me about my son's status as a non-swimmer. It really has nothing to do with him. I was going to finally bite the bullet and send him a "what is it to you?" response, but I found my spirit of Christian hospitality and just pushed the DELETE button. I'm only writing about it here because this where I sometimes reread about successes and failures (fiscal and otherwise).

Dilemma. I'm decided if it best to stock up on contact lens solution for my daughter. Two large double bottles will cost $15 each at Target. I have one $3 off coupon and will get a $5 Target card back. I know that she will use it (if I check the expiration date and make sure that it is 9 months out, she'll be OK). Does it make sense to spend the $22 ($30 - $3 - $5) and stock up when I'm watching every penny?

OK, that is it. I'm off to single parent for the next week now. Our plans for today: library and DVDs.

Ready for August, bring it on

July 25th, 2013 at 08:01 am



August is serious shut down month. I suppose you could say my finances are on furlough, or something of the sort. In a previous post I mentioned that it is an extra paycheck month and I've already paid the mortgage ($1,750) and made a tuition payment ($700) to the high school, so those are usual and off the books.

It is time to tackle the real estate property bills.

Amount to taxes: $4,250.00
Amount for fixed bills: $1,500
Amount for living: $1,250

My mom gave me four coupons for free miniature golf at a local park. That will defray some of the cost of our August outing/entertainment for family.

Looking back into cutting food costs. I got lazy and will admit to buying frozen waffles in bulk at Sam's Club because it was easy and they were *only* $9 for tons. The baking plan that I mapped out earlier in the month never happened.

Younger daughter and rightful puppy owner is chipping in for the vet expense of $60 for the 8/1 visit.

Our August birthday boy will be getting a sports item for soccer season.

As far as BTS items, the only badly needed item will be new gym shoes for one son. I will watch the sales at Kohl's for that and hopefully use a xx% off coupon and my mom's charge card (to pay right after purchase). I've definitely learned that it is worth it to invest in good shoes. Last year "cheap shoes" cost me $25 x 2 for the youngest daughter. I've started shopping smarter and looking at the discount shoe room at Von Maur. I ended up getting each daughter, different and very cute Sperry Topsiders for $60 on sale. I don't ordinarily spend that much, but I imagine we'll get more than one year out of them.

This was mostly a list to remind myself that this can be done without frustration and anxiety.

If it can't be a NSD, make it a LSD (Low Spend Day)

July 24th, 2013 at 06:19 am


Grocery shopping to Aldis for the next several days: $62. Better than a trip to Sam's Club + Walmart to come up with a comprehensive meal plan.

Today: $1 show at our local theatre. Muppets in Space.

Keeping it No to Low is the goal. Smile

August goals

July 22nd, 2013 at 05:09 pm


August is the month that we are in lock-down, financially speaking. My goal is to (using the extra paycheck of the month and limited spending) squeeze $4,250 for the property tax. I've already paid the mortgage (nothing additional) and made a $700 tuition payment to the high school, so those are out of the way. I'm leaving $1,500 for the fixed bills, and $1,250 for living.

My strategy:
1) Shopping only at Aldi's for groceries. Good-bye Sam's Club for the month. I will miss the ease that you bring to my life by brining in large quantities of food.
2) Shopping loss leaders for BTS. There aren't a lot of things that we need to actually by. Uniforms are pretty much in place, with the exception of a pair of uniform pants for younger daughter ($35 have to be brand-specific).
3) Limiting driving, grouping errands
4) Library for books/movies/video game rentals
5) Having the proper attitude and mind-set

Smile

Spending, spending, and more spending ... *sigh*

July 22nd, 2013 at 12:35 pm



I've got a Boy Scout heading away to camp for a full week. This is different than Cub Scout camping. I've been spending more than usual lately to outfit him and his dad with "needed" items. I've been able to borrow some things from my dad who camps.

I've purchased: one mosquito netting for sleep, two mosquito masks to fit over hats, one mess kit, a first aid kit, a compass, a clothes line, a rain suit for the child. I also purchased a 64 quart bin for these items to travel to camp in, and will also do for storage.

At the Scout store today I purchased $1 T-shirts for the child. Ones dated from camp weekends from 2011 and 2012. Fine with me, less nice clothes that I have to send.

DH will be gone from very early Sunday AM to very late Saturday PM. Not happy about the single parenting thing, but it will all get done.

Our schedule for the Fall is still pretty packed despite our scaling back. We've got Drivers Ed for two months, and soccer is starting again. And dance (though it remains only one day a week due to economics and the busyness factor). And DH will be in school also.

And I applied for a part-time job. Very part-time. I'm hopeful, but doubtful - seems that the jobs lately go to someone who has an "in". DH started in the new position today and was mildly stressed.

Transition, and flux. Need to remind myself to 'go with the flow'. Smile

Mid-month Update (again?!)

July 17th, 2013 at 08:27 pm


Time is travelling really fast these days. Flying right by, actually.

Big expenses upcoming: textbook purchases for one child, school-related stuff, etc. So, I'm still stretching the dollars, but lately I'm the only one crying. I've come to the conclusion when easily overwhelmed with other facets of life, other areas suffer. No successful meal plan, though I did a bare bones shopping trip to Sam's and spent only $58. Gas is creeping up and I'd love to be able to fill both tanks up and be done, but I'm reluctant to spend all the limited money upfront.

We're going to the vet with the puppy tomorrow. I did some research to find out that I won't need to pay for the stool sample since we're still on the medication for deworming. Saved $21 there. We're still receiving gifts for the puppy from Grandma and pa (gift givers). Urine remover today. There have been minimal oops moments. My mom swears by it.

What I've done recently to save money:
1) Frugal entertainment: arboretum, $1 movies, library movies and wii games
2) Uniform resale today at the high school, $22 got me two pairs of pants and three polo shirts plus two locker shelves.
3) Free merit badge class at Microsoft Store for the Boy Scout
4) Borrowing camping gear from stepdad for DH's participation at BS Camp. Buying quality for DS as his brothers will most likely follow.

Life is busy at the Parish - there is round two of VBS which has both a day program and an evening program. Off to catch up on the blogs. Smile

Introducing Teddy

July 11th, 2013 at 08:29 am

We've survived the first night of puppy ownership. Two of my children have the hearts of St. Francis and love, love, love pets. So the rightful owner (14 year old daughter) and her faithful companion (10 year old son) were up at 2 and at 5.

My parents (the gift givers) are coming by with dog food and some bowls. Daughter is off to PetSmart for toys and other incidentals.

Here is a picture of the puppy, after tiring himself out playing.


Graduation Gift joins the family today (read as: new puppy)

July 10th, 2013 at 07:02 am


Older daughter wanted contacts for her 8th grade graduation gift. This was from my parents. They've covered the exam and initial start up costs. My daughter couldn't be happier (braces AND glasses was just too much for her),

The only thing that younger daughter wanted was a puppy. Our old girl is 11 now and slowing down. We've had two dogs in the past, but our second was a handful and we inherited her from DH's grandparents. She ultimately went to my inlaws and has led a very content and peaceful existence since she left our home.

It has been several weeks of looking at rescue groups and shelters. She has found a litter that we've been approved for (some organizations take this very seriously - screening and checking references). So we will be coming home with one Malchi tonight (1/2 maltese, 1/2 Chihuahua). There are both a boy and a girl remaining, so who we come home with remains a mystery. My parents are paying the cost and have given daughter a crate, little dog carrier, and vest/leash, books on puppy care. Fully grown these weight 6-10 pounds with an average of 7.

I spent $5.88 on a dog bed at Walmart yesterday. We are all very excited to say the least. Will post pictures tomorrow.

Working smarter, not harder

July 9th, 2013 at 02:59 pm

Still a larger portion than I like of my grocery spending went to snacks and convenience foods, though a decent improvement over grocery spending since our return home from vacation. I'm progressing in the spending arena, but could be more productive.

I redeemed $22.02 from the Chase Freedom account to go toward uniforms for the girls.

My grandma's and inlaw's "income" ($200) for August will be 60% needs ($120 for BTS uniform items for kids) and 40% wants - $80 toward entertainment or zoo/museum membership.

We've got an extra paycheck in August, also. I've decided to get 2 months of asthma maintenance meds for daughter and have the "gift card incentive" which should yield an additional $45 for groceries.

I'm coming up with a master baking plan for Friday. I'll make oatmeal muffins, peanut butter muffins, and coffee cake. I'll have to look into freezing some for later use. In being organized, I've got the ingredients and steps plotted out and think that it will help to be efficient.

Tonight it is quesadillas and mac and cheese for dinner. Tomorrow my stepdad is grilling 5# of chicken for us, so I'm thinking it will be chicken salad and chicken with dipping sauce for the next several days.

I am definitely hopeful at the amount of money that we are NOT spending that I'll be able to continue to take care of tuition and real estate taxes without touching savings. I was going to take from savings to pay back, but there is really little incentive to do that.

Onward we trudge.

NSDs keep on rolling in ...

July 8th, 2013 at 06:25 am


Friday was money out-go day, with filing up the gas tank and doing a massive shopping trip ($244 to Sam's Club and $17 to Dominick's for meal filler items). This trip will probably reasonably cover at least 2.5 weeks, maybe 3 (less dairy and produce).

We spent Saturday at the house of friends' house on Lake Michigan (a short walk). We had three good hours before the rain set in. Our exodus from the beach with eight kids and five adults was most certainly hilarious should anyone have been watching us. It was a NSD.

Yesterday was very low-key. Mass, a trip to the library and then everyone started on their summer reading assignments for August. I am so pleased that I didn't need to harp on anyone but the older one (who might have slipped into lazy mode and didn't put together a very good three-paragraph essay on a central theme in the book "Speak".) But she started with a new top and was doing way better. The new freshman is doing Greek Mythology and decided she'd rather "Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief" instead of reading about Cronos and Zeus.

Today is another NSD. Looks like rain, so I imagine we'll be home playing wii games from the library. Smile

Day away with Friends

July 6th, 2013 at 06:34 am


Off to Lake Michigan for the day. Friends have a house a block away from the beach. The weather is warm and wonderful and we're all looking forward to fun in the sun. I've made an angel food cake with crushed pineapple (wonderful magic two ingredient recipe) and have snacks from the Sam's Club shopping trip yesterday. (That blew the budget because I was low on everything and there were rebates on some things we use regularly - not really much to worry about, just had to adjust the spending allotment from a one-week period to two and will average the expense out. Ah, forget it! I'm out of here and leave you all with the hopes of a great weekend with whatever you do!!

Weekly Spending Recap and Better Attitude

July 5th, 2013 at 07:13 am


For the period of 6/28 - 7/4, the spending was as follows:

Gas: $90.03
Groceries: $111.87
Gifts: $16.23
Entertainment $92.25
Rx: $168.20

Coupon Savings: $8.03
Purchases with gift card: $20.00


The entertainment category included a trip to see "Monsters University" 3D at a matinee showing and snacks purchased at CVS. It also included a 10-count visitor pass added to our pool membership for the girls.

And today is "money out day" ("money in" was wed and thurs when tenant paid the rent and DH's check was deposited). This means filling up the gas tank and a major shopping trip. Which happens to correspond with a menu plan for the next ten days. The lunch items from Sam's Club will actually cover two weeks worth of lunches. We're away tomorrow, so I'll be bringing some snacks and drinks (using Dominick's/Safeways $5 Friday Deals), and we've got a parish function dinner on Monday. I'm noticing that this summer we actually tend to only be eating two meals a day (a late breakfast at 10:30-11:30 and a later dinner at 7:00-ish). This means we've been going through more snackish food at 4:00 ish and bed time. I've needed to add more fruit and veggie options to the kitchen. So, my attitude about the spending is sort of cleansed, now that I feel that the money spent will create a better/healthier place.

The plan, and the new reality

July 2nd, 2013 at 04:01 pm

The plan for the increase in DH's salary (while he has one) is:
1) $300 per pay period transferred to new secondary EF account
2) increased 401K contribution by 1&
3) Remainder going into extraneous funds

I just had to pay $168 for an Rx for dd's asthma maintenance med. I had it called into a pharmacy that was offering a $20 gift card for groceries.

I've decreased the amount spend per our parent's birthday and occasion gifts down to $15. I was happy to find a book that my mom wanted at the local indie bookstore for $14. I'll have the kids each make a book mark. Time to definitely get creative in that department.

I've been horribly lax and bad about the menu and meal planning since we got home almost two weeks ago. For all the money that I spent, there isn't a cohesive meal plan. Shame on me. Thankfully it is PB&J and carrot sticks for dinner. Also finishing up the random things in the fridge. I'm working on a simple plan for Fri-Thurs shopping at only Sam's Club and Aldi's. Goal: stay away from convenience foods, have a balanced menu.

We've all got summer colds, and I think I'm going down fast. I've got the chills that the 8 year old had yesterday (he had a 102 temp). I hope I can rebound by the 4th's festivities and this weekend we've been invited to our friends' house on Lake Michigan.

The ball is rolling

July 1st, 2013 at 02:30 pm

We are under a new pastor and parochial vicar at our parish. We've met both and there is something infectious about the enthusiasm of our new pastor, a native from Vietnam. We were on vacation the first two Sundays that the new pastor arrived. During our time away, the new pastor met with the present Deacon who wanted to know of anyone discerning a diaconate. He was very happy to hear of my husband (class of 2017) and looking forward to meeting him. Which happened after 5:00 Mass on Saturday. And our new pastor announced it publicly at a picnic yesterday, so the cat is out of the bag about my family's future. It was quite a comfort to know how supportive people are of this. And how it is a no-brainer that my husband is the one pursuing this.

I think the best part of it was we are assured that DH will replace the present full-time Deacon. So, future job? Check.

The salary will most likely be the same as we had heard. It will all be fine.

And the Ha-Ha of the day, DH interviewed for a promotion back in May. Didn't exactly pan out as he had hoped (moving from a Financial Analyst I up to III). However, he was offered a FA II position in the same department (they moved up the present II to the III - which I suppose is logical). He starts the new position on the 22nd and was given a 6% pay increase.

This is no way guarantees that he will have a job after details of the merger are revealed, but he is no longer a rogue analyst floating around the microcosm of his employer to be easily done away with. I feel like every month that he has a paycheck will bring added security to the long-term uncertain picture (though we at least know there is a job on the flipside. Smile )

So, where is the best place to park the 6%?