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Archive for October, 2013

Frugal Fun Doesn't Get More Fun Than This

October 30th, 2013 at 06:39 pm


We're in the place where we're not spending a lot of money on entertainment. The optional $3 movie from Family Video, etc. We've got some fun holiday things on the docket, but we've been really low-key.

Anyhow, this weekend coming up we have a soccer game in a far south suburb. The entire family is going (girls usually have other plans or homework) and afterward we're making a trek 17 miles to Hammond, IN where the new statue commemorating the 30 year anniversary of The Christmas Story has been unveiled. One the funniest scenes is when Flick gets his tongue stuck to the flagpole. There is a life-size statue re-enacting the scene, and since it is our family's favorite Christmas movie (after Elf), we're going to take some pictures for our cards this year.

And we found a Steak n Shake near it. With coupons, it is affordable.

Totally looking forward to this!

Cash spending: Update

October 30th, 2013 at 01:52 pm


I'm learning to like cash. There is something interesting about visually seeing the green that is left when you spend.

I did some shopping yesterday, clothing and Christmas.

I have a wedding and the holidays coming up and wanted to upgrade my look. I finally parted with my seasonal Christmas sweaters that I've worn (oh, forever, looking back at pictures my sweater never changed, though the kids got bigger!). I found a dress very similar to one I wore at my son's Communion in April. It was $80 reduced to $20. Exact same style, just a dark green. I was very pleased with this and feel that since it is flattering and comfortable, I'll be willing to wear it more. Definitely the wedding and Mass. I might get a scarf with a holiday motif since I admit I am missing the idea of my sweaters.

The boys all needed long sleeved pants and shirt for cold weather. I had a $30 off of $75 coupon for Old Navy. I spent $50.25 and got three long sleeve Ts, two pairs of dress pants (for same wedding and Christmas), and two pairs of athletic pants. Making some progress, but will probably supplement the sweats with more from Walmart.

For Christmas I bought my daughter a VS PINK hoodie. It was $39.00 but I had a $20 gift card, so I did put $22.25 on the VS card because I was a few dollars away from another gift card. I have an additional $10 off card that I will use toward a T-shirt purchase for a birthday gift ($19.50-$10 puts it in the right price range for birthday gift to open).

I stopped at Toys R Us and had a coupon for $5 off of $25. I bought the Monsters University movie (on sale for $14.99) and a wii-game character for $13.99. I spent $25 for both of those items after coupon.

I spent from the clothing envelope and used some spare cash I had put aside for Christmas purchase.

The interesting thing about cash is, once it is gone, it is gone. Unlike the debit card and the balance that is somewhere out there. I am definitely a concrete thinker, and like the concreteness of this.

What is smaller than a snowflake? And angst. And whack-a-doodle.

October 29th, 2013 at 12:38 pm

OK, 5th grade Science taught me that a snowflake is a six-sided crystal. Half of that would be a three-sided crystal, right?

So I begin my "Snowflake Account" with 1/2 a snowflake in the form of a $4 ACE Rebate check. Totally forgot about it.

And I received in the mail a $25 coupon for a gift card with a Rx transfer to Meijer. There is one a bit further south that I usually go, but I will transfer DH's Rx and so some Holiday shopping with it - not sure if it should be meal related items/stocking stuffers or what. But free money is free money!

Life what way out of whack yesterday. My PMS plus my daughter's PMS made for a bad scene out of a bad book relating to her paper on "Purim" and the Book of Esther in the Bible. And her interpretation of "biblical significance." (This is the child who will fight with me that the cross was carried to Calvary and not Golgotha, though they are one in the same.) This morning wasn't much happier when I saw that she decided to include the numerical significance of the story of Purim and how it related to the Nuremberg trials Stalin in 1953. My original suggestion that she scoffed at and we fought about. Oh well, at least she'll get credit for being a deep thinker (and I think her interpretations were mostly correct). Gah!

With November right around the corner, I'm really thinking about Christmas. More of that later.

And more whack-a-doodle stuff, my one aunt thought that another aunt passed away and she wasn't notified. She sent a hard copy of the obituary printed off of the computer to my stepdad asking if it was their sister (wrong age and town). Then same aunt called and left a message at my house (we are out of state, and are actually in the Midwest not New England) to see if stepdad was in her state at the funeral. I don't know people don't just pick up the phone and call one another. Whack-a-mole? Whack-a-doodle? What?!

Productive and Otherwise Nonsense

October 27th, 2013 at 11:04 pm


(1) My ID daughters competed in a Halloween Feis. They like it because they can ditch the heavy dresses and wigs, wear fun costumes and have a good time. The ID competition season starts 10/1 for the following year's national qualifiers. Younger daughter dances at almost the highest level and her scores yesterday qualified her, so she doesn't actually have to compete at until again if she doesn't want to. And one judge actually gave her a 1st out of 20 dancers, which is fairly impressive given she goes to class once a week and has dropped her practice time since she's in high school. Older daughter did a good job too, getting a 3rd and 5th place in two of her five dances.

(2) DH cleaned out the garage of all the donations for St Vincent De Paul and we dropped those off after Mass today. Clear spaces! Yay! He also packed up our outdoor things and is "done" until Spring.

(3) Two big bags of hand-me-downs leave tomorrow!

(4) MIL and FIL moved back to our state early last month. They came today for a visit. They treated to Little Cesar's Pizza and brought a cake from the bakery for dessert. Any meal I don't have to cook is always appreciated.

(5) Only money spent this weekend was $5 for parking at the competition yesterday.

(6) DH thinks I need brakes. Bah! This is in addition to two new tires for his minivan that are needed. Having to stretch those dollars more and more Frown

(7) DH is predicting a paycheck until end of December. I wish this game would just end. The new merger hasn't gone into effect yet and they are still stressing about the budget numbers - revision after revision after revision. It all makes me tired. We have to decide on benefits for 2014. DH doesn't think his employment will carry that far into 2014.

(8) I am thinking about applying for a job that was advertised in the church bulletin with Catholic Charities. I was employed in social services pre-kids, and I know people in the organization. So that makes things less scary financially, and it is on a prn basis so ...

(9) I didn't find anything at Ross. Was rather disappointed after all. My girls are both XS/O and found nothing. I tried on about ten things just because I had the time. I didn't have the proper foundations, and was a bit discouraged by the lighting and mirrors. Frown Maybe the 10 pounds I need to lose are really 15. Frown

(10) Best friend's romantic relationship fell apart. Her financial situation should be better since bankruptcy, but I suppose she hasn't really changed her behaviors. Rather depressing to listen to.

(11) Brother's romantic relationship is falling apart. But on the employment front, he was made a contract employee at the firm he works at, rather than hourly. Happy for him that he is happy about that.

Going to check out "Ross Dress for Less"

October 25th, 2013 at 11:18 pm


We are without boys tonight. The girls and I are going to check out "Ross: Dress for Less". I've heard some good things and some bad things, so I'm not sure what to expect after a mixed review.

Sadly, everyone has grown since last year. We've got more to pass on to our friends, and the list is growing on what everyone needs: warm sleep pants, sweat pants, new sweatshirts, and a new coat or two.

I'm starting a list and buying the most needed items first.

Anyone here shop at "Ross"?

Sleep! Spending! Return of "The Pig"!

October 25th, 2013 at 03:26 pm


Sleep! I found it last night. I resisted the temptation to nap most of the day, save a 15 minute power nap which was concluded with our old canine girl throwing up. I stopped at the Library and took out a book on tape, "Room with a View" (love the movie, find the novel monotonous). Popped that puppy in, fell sleep until 6:15. Thinking that there are tons of other novels I could listen to that might put me to sleep if this strategy works.

Spending! Paid with cash. Me and my little envelope. Stopped at Dominick's to buy their $5 Friday specials. Spent $28 (saved $1.50). Moved onto Jewel to buy their sale items. Actually went back to the car because I forgot my $1 off coupon. Spend $11. Need to stop at Aldi's and Pet Smart. I am definitely making wiser decisions and less impulse buys when it means parting with dollars!

With breaking these dollars now, I have an over abundance of change. I brought out my ceramic piggy bank from Target. It looks like a Rudolph. It's now sitting on the counter in the corner and I'm feeding it. The kids are too. We'll break it open in December and do something fun as a family.

I haven't exactly loved pigs since doing an indepth study of "Lord of the Flies" with my sophomore daughter this summer. This cute pig helps to remind myself of my original enchantment with them (Wilbur, Toot and Puddle, Olivia, etc. ...)

More insomnia. More sick kids. More money in.

October 24th, 2013 at 02:18 pm


I wish I could get some real sleep, but it just isn't happening. I've now got what the kids had/have, stuffed up nose/major sinus headache/plugged ears, etc. Younger daughter is home sick today and is still sleeping. Being housebound with kids, I'm definitely not spending a cent.

Tomorrow is payday and I funded the envelopes with two weeks worth of funding (meaning the I took care of the first week of this pay period.) Tomorrow's funds will cover the second week of this pay period, and the first week of the next pay period. This small measure is bringing me a bit of comfort. The last time DH was unemployed it took three weeks to get his severance check.

I was home yesterday catching up on laundry and cleaning and spent some time looking at the ads/coupons. Still think that I'll be remaining an Aldi's shopper for the time-being. Their $1.89 milk just cannot be beat. And I love their pumpkin spice flavored coffee cream for $1.49.

Tomorrow I'll be adding $100 to the extraneous fund, but I'll be spending $101 on license plate sticker, $20 on badly needed oil change, and $40 on grooming for our shih Tzu. Will have $90 remaining.

The Miscellany is now including clothing. I spent the last $40 at Target on some warm weather sweaters for the girls (Had a $10 off of $50 purchase). The boys are in bad shape when it comes to warm weather pants. I have $30 off of $75 at Old Navy so that $40 for this go around of Miscellany will be gone pretty fast.

Slowly giving thought to the spending for November/December. My daughters' have birthdays ($50 a piece plus a $10-$15 trinket to open). We host Christmas Dinner and I'd like each child to pick a name from the wish tree at Church. We'll stick to our tradition of Advent Buddies within the family. We will continue our tradition of baking for the teachers at the elementary school instead of a monetary contribution to the annual teachers' gift appeal. My mom paid for tickets to the Drury Lane's Christmas Carol and Breakfast with Santa while my aunt is here from out of town - we always look forward to that, and I happily let her treat my family. I think we'll use those funds to buy a membership to the zoo or museum and do that at Christmas.

OK, that is it for my brain dump. Now if I can skip the nap and try to stay up all day, I might stand a chance at normal?

"Found" "forgotten

October 23rd, 2013 at 04:57 pm

"Ok, help me. Which envelope is it?"

October 22nd, 2013 at 06:15 pm


It was one of those morning. Where I've had insomnia and am dead tired being up since somewhere this side of 3 AM. It is winter-cold and we didn't put the heat on. My girls are dragging because they had a three-day weekend, and one is still mopey about a teacher saying at parent teacher conferences that "she isn't living up to her full potential, and clearly she should be more than just 'really good'." One son is home sick, coughing and choking due to post-nasal drip snot ball trapped in his throat. The semi-sick one decides to go to school because there is a field trip to the theatre to see a play, and this is the child that I medicated and fell asleep at 5:00 PM, sleeping right through to the morning and didn't do his studying. Nothing but chaos. The winter coat is too small on the middle one, we can't find the gloves, e-e-t-t-c-c.

DH, in confusion, standing holding several envelopes, labeled "GAS" "GROCERIES" "MISC" and "SMALL EXTRANEOUS". Miscellaneous is empty after a $39 trip to Target for sweaters for the girls.

"I am going to lunch because "X" is leaving. Does the cash come from groceries because it is food? Or misc. Wait nothing in there. What is extraneous? Does that take care of entertainment?"

OK, to his credit, he wants to know the correct funding pot. To my credit, I didn't exactly growl in the midst of my chaos. I said "Take it from extraneous."

"Ok" he said. "I think we need one for Dining out. I'll see if I've got a few more envelopes at work. That might help."

Sure, Capt. Bring on the envelopes!

Sick child is asleep on the couch with the puppy. I've made chili in the crockpot and chicken for the next two nights. I've put the heat on. And we've seen the first snow of the season. I suppose that sick one will be opting out of soccer practice tonight!

Cash is King. Hello Envelopes.

October 21st, 2013 at 01:06 pm


For awhile now I've wanted to institute cash only spending. I've committed to try it for two months. This covers the gas/groceries/misc/small extraneous.

My envelopes are funded for the first two weeks:

$80 Gas - DH's car
$80 Gas - My car
$200 Groceries
$40 Miscellany
$150 Small Extraneous

On Friday (Payday) I will be adding the same amounts (with the exception of $100 vs $150 to small extraneous).

Thankfully the is weekend was two NSDs. Grocery-wise we're OK for this week with the exception of milk, bread, lunchmeat and a few other items, nowhere near the $100 I've allotted. So, DH is on board. He knows where the gas envelope is when he needs to fill up (won't be til Thursday according to his estimates) and the Miscellany is. We still need to work out our concept of Mad Money, but will probably wait a few weeks for that.

It was a soccer tournament weekend and it was freezing on Saturday and cold on Sunday. We live close enough to the park so we came home in between and each successive time, I added a layer. Complete with winter coat and boots on Saturday.

Will update the envelope experiment periodically. Smile

Wish me luck for sustainability and success!!

What is the matter with me? Oh, almost so weak ...

October 18th, 2013 at 03:29 pm


Monday yielded some big outcomes as far as the being bit by the declutter bug. Shelves got moved, furniture rearranged, lots of old toys boxed up to go to St. Vincent De Paul on Sunday, boxes and plastic to be recycled, etc. Tackling odd drawers and closets and feeling generally lighter and more satisfied with an organized life. And I should add that I purged some Christmas decorations (knick-knacks that represented nothing sentimental other than I wanted them, and purchased them at the resale store). Those went with my mom who has a soft spot for cast off Christmas decorations (even though their third generation now).

Until yesterday, when I went to Hobby Lobby for a simple craft for son's birthday party tonight. And I walked through the Christmas decoration aisle after aisle, wanting to buy more. The cute little gingerbread themed decorations, stuffed and otherwise, and elves and birds and trees and lights and wreaths and ... I didn't buy anything, but the fact that I wanted to and almost tried to justify a purchase made me annoyed with myself.

From this exercise I took away:

1) Don't slip back to bad patterns, where six years from now I'll be purging potential items thinking "Now why exactly did I buy this?"

2) I think I'll stick to buying one inexpensive ornament per child to put in their stocking - my children do love to reminisce about their ornaments when we decorate the tree, so it may be a meaningful purchase in future years.

Back to more cleaning because there's going to be a party here tonight and major soccer tournament this weekend with at least six games and potentially ten if the teams perform well.

Decluttering - "What was I thinking?"

October 15th, 2013 at 03:03 pm


We did a major declutter yesterday and sorted through tons of things that are no longer used or wanted. I've got piles to throw out, donate, pass on.

I said on more than one occasion "What was I thinking when I bought this?" or "Why am I holding on to this?"

In doing so, it makes me much more conscious as I move on. I'm definitely thinking that we need to scale back on gift giving for everyone. My parents need nothing and want nothing. My inlaws don't need or want anything either. Sticking to nice framed photo of the kids or maybe photo mugs with homemade treats?

We've done away with birthday gift for the kids. One $15 item and $50 cash. Most are saving up for larger ticket items like new ipods or cameras, etc.

I've found that once you make the decision to part with some items, it becomes much easier.

We've rearranged some furniture, brining bookcases up to the boys' room - now each has one for their books/trophies/Legos, etc.

I did make a furniture move that is unsuccessful - trying to use an antique oak pie-safe as a bookcase. It is too tall for a lamp and replaced a table. It looks really bad, actually. One of those things that I had hoped would work but didn't.

Off to continue. How does this relate to finance? All the money that I wasted on things is a sobering reality.

Doings

October 11th, 2013 at 11:00 pm


*sigh of relief* Another week done.

I am always happy when Friday rolls around and DH rolls in with an elevated mood. I was without kids today (all the boys had plans with different friends, and the girls had school and separate afternoon plans).

It was pay day today and I finished paying the last of the bills due for October. Smile Decided to throw every last extra cent onto high school tuition for the remainder of the month.

I was unrealistic to think that $185 would take care of groceries for the week/gas for both cars/ and other miscellaneous spending. it was more in line with $225 (so I deposited my extra $40 cash for breakeven). I stocked up on $.80 Healthy Choice soups and $.40 Kraft Mac and Cheese just because the prices were good. I do have enough meals now for 10 days and will bring dinner over to our friends next Tuesday.

We are going to the Morton Arboretum tomorrow with my parents to see the scarecrows the Scouts decorate, ride the tram, and lunch at Culvers or Steak and Shake. Should be a very nice outing, looking forward to it immensely. Then we've got a soccer game and Mass, and another soccer game on Sunday. Should be low spend, high fun.

$5 cheese pizza tonight for dinner from Little Ceasar's for the boys who are home. Didn't feel at all like cooking.

D Day? and HC Pic

October 9th, 2013 at 04:49 pm

Well, although no CEO has been named, today DH is meeting with the OD people on the OM budget to answer any questions that may exist with the model and numbers as they stand. DH has a meeting with them from 12:30 to 5:00 - a very long meeting. His old boss has alluded to a not-so-favorable outcome for the OM folks, though the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. It has been rumored that there is an offer for folks to stay on until March, increasing their severance from two weeks a year to three weeks a year. My thoughts are that if that offer is made to DH that he not consider it.

The decision to take this present position is definitely not worth the additional money. We lost the freedom of evenings and weekends to scrambling to carve out blocks of two or three hours of family time. DH is stressed and crabby beyond belief. The single-parenting thing, well, I am getting the hang of that. Everything (including dinner and volunteer work) needs to be done by 2:30 when the kids start getting home. Clipboards and pencils and snacks in the car are essential so busy schoolwork can be done. Audiobooks on CD in the car are also helpful. The kids are having more work to do, so there is an increase in self-sufficiency. So I imagine that there are definite benefits to the increased structure. I've covered DH's volunteer work (with the Knights of Columbus) pretty easily, running the youth programs that have been in place for awhile. Our Cubmaster for Scouts has done a good job of covering things that DH can't attend. So life is running without him, but it is sad that he is missing out on the quality of life. He has at least started talking again about life after OM and a return to school and his original plans for career change. He was definitely underqualified to be in the present position without any training at all, while still helping out with his old job.

So I've updated DH's resume to include the new job description. He's been working with a temp at OM who speaks highly of his agency and can put DH in touch with a recruiter right away. I don't know how long it takes for the final severance check to be deposited, once this all goes down, so I'm only paying what needs to be paid and squirreling away the rest.

I have looked at the budget and played with the numbers, but it is difficult when I don't know the cost of COBRA, the amount of unemployment, etc. etc. Makes me a bit tired, though I'm not so worried as in the past.

Made chili and corn muffins for dinner. Made the taco filling for tomorrow's dinner. The boys are home for five days (two teacher's institute days, weekend, then Columbus Days). So we'll use coupons for free mini golf on Friday and see a $4 per person movie. Soccer games this weekend, so not a high spend one.

Finally managed to upload the pictures from Homecoming to the computer. I didn't format the disk and it wouldn't read in the computer or printer. Glad I found the cable to connect the camera directly. To replace it would have cost $20 at Radio Shack!

Tried this before and it turned out sideways, hopefully it will work this time!