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Happy New Year, and Revised January Goals

December 31st, 2013 at 08:29 am

Hard to believe it is time to say good bye to 2013. It went fast, and I enjoyed it, learning from my experiences along the way. I hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable time tonight. As for us, we are staying home, eating snacks and watching the ball drop in NY. We, in the Midwest, always celebrate on The Big Apple's time! We had briefly considered going out (my brother's band has a local gig), but at $75 per person, I didn't need to consider it too long.

I was giving more thought to January. I like to prepay things as much as possible, and this will be the last month of big money (3 paychecks). So I used the remaining $725 in the checking account to pay the utilities and bills for January. ($714 was the total for electric, gas, sewer, insurance on all cars and properties, Comcast, dish).

So this is how the breakdown for January looks:

Total in: $7,000
Less mortgage - $1,750.00
Less tuition - $1,500
Less prepay taxes - $1,500
Less living expenses (6 weeks) - $1,200
Less February utilities and bills - $725
Less Chase Secondary EF Start up - $325 (anticipating $200 bonus in the near future to accomplish monthly $500 goal)

Remainder $0

The only real place to start slashing is the $200 per week gas/groceries. We're both still driving and I'll be trying to cut down on that. There really isn't much needed as far as household items. So I anticipate LOW/NO SPEND days in the multitudes. Our calendar is pretty full of soccer and basketball games. We do having things on the calendar (my mom funded our dinner dance) and I am anticipating making money in dog care for my brother's dogs (he has a trial down state and has several hearings this month alone).

Anyhow, 2014 is going to be my year of Simplicity and Contentment. I'm going to strive hard to maintain those two concepts. Happy New Year!

Gifts and Frugal Doings

December 29th, 2013 at 08:46 am


My parents have decided to pay for my husband and I to attend our parishes "Post Christmas Mayhem Party" - $25 per person, at a local golf course. With dinner and dancing. I am looking forward to our night out on 1/11. It came up when my mom saw the pile of things involving money on my counter. I said that I would have enough for the Annual Father-Daughter Dance (it is cheaper this year and in the school gym, not at a fancy venue). So, my mom is paying for us to attend.

Frugal doings for yesterday: I used the ham bone and made Navy Bean and Ham Soup. The kids like it! I imagine I'll keep my eyes open for sale hams. I never bought one.

Inlaws are coming over for the game today, and it is free pizza for lunch/dinner!

January's Goals, Moment of Squirreliness

December 27th, 2013 at 11:08 am


Hope that all had a wonderful Christmas Eve and Day! Ours was joyous and full of excitement!

I had a moment of squirreliness signing online this morning to see "Millions of People to Lose Unemployment Benefits on Sat". But, I can rationally work my way through thoughts like this and I have a plan for January (which is three paychecks and the normal monthly rental property income).

1) Make February's mortgage payment on the 17th, have half of March's mortgage payment on the 31st (this is normal spending practice)
2) Have $500 in reserve account (to be started at Chase to take advantage of a $200 bonus offer)
3) Prepay property taxes in the amount of $1,500 (income tax refund in Feb/March will also be applied to this and that will be gone from the table for the next year)
4) Pay $950 to outstanding balances for tuition/soccer
5) No spending for the month other than groceries/gas
And I'll be limiting driving and focusing on home reorganization and purging. I succumbed to a moment of jealousy looking at a friend's newly constructed and organized closets - maybe I'll ask to borrow her label maker? I will use whatever bins I have in the basement.
6) Move toward less processed and prepackaged things. Grow my collection of homemade recipes the family like. Found a very simple potatoes au gratin recipe that used swiss cheese and heavy whipping cream as the sauce (I'm sure I can find a lower cal recipe on line)

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll have more random thoughts about January as it nears!

Merry Christmas!

December 23rd, 2013 at 07:41 am


Merry Christmas to all my fellow Christmas-believing SA friends! Happy Holidays to all else. Smile

We're going to Mass at 4:00 on Christmas Eve, followed by dinner and gift exchange at my mom and stepdad's. We come home and watch "Toot and Puddle's I'll Be Home for Christmas". Then on Christmas morning we open the gifts from Santa and our Advent Buddies (our version of Secret Santa). I make peppermint bark with my oldest daughter. We're having my parents, inlaws, brother and best friend over at 1:00. The menu is ham, scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, jello, rolls and the cake for dessert.

Our plans for vacation are a trip to the Morton Arboretum, either Brookfield Zoo or Museum of Science and Industry to buy a membership, making the Pinewood Derby Cars for Cub Scouts, sleepovers with friends, etc. All good fun, and mostly lowkey (membership will be purchased with monetary gifts already received).

I hope your plans are wonderful. Again, I count my community here as one of my blessings!

Personal growth in my relationship with money (other people's money)

December 19th, 2013 at 08:38 am


Thought I'd share a milestone that I seemed to have passed successfully. Worrying about other people's money. I suppose it finally comes from my own sense of financial well-being (that of my family's). Because of our faith, financial planning, and support of friends and family, we will be fine when the "ax falls".

Firstly, my brother has been employed in the new job for several months, has impressed the pants off the boss, was given a nice salary and bonus, and he bought a new car. I was happy for him. Not a smidge of jealousy, like "why can't I buy a new car". It wasn't piggish and he's driven used cars forever. He seemed to be excited that I was excited and he came over to take me for a ride. I was sick, but put my nap off for awhile. And I told him I'd pick up new floor mats that are on sale at Aldi's for $9.99.

And long story short, my best friend was almost arrested yesterday. To the point that I thought she had been arrested, called lawyer brother, prior to planning to call the police station. Anyhow there wasn't a bench warrant, and bail would have been $3K, costing $300. I told her that I would have bailed her out. Like I would leave her in jail. And I really didn't have much to say about her lack of judgment before and after the incident. Maybe I'm conserving my own energy?

And my biological father sent me a Christmas card with $1,000 in it. My brother shared our situation and he doubled what he usually given me for Christmas. We had a nice conversation, one of the better ones we've had in awhile. And when/if we need to pay Cobra for insurance, he would like to help us and pay for it. He told me that as a parent he always worries about me, and can cover that expense for as long as needed. He pays my brother's law school loans - and I was jealous and pouty about that for quite some time. So, I have an added measure of comfort with that. I can't really write about how I feel about the whole thing - other than that I am relieved.

I definitely be paying more toward the tuition bill tomorrow. And we decided on purchasing a membership as a family gift; now to decide whether it is the Brookfield Zoo or the Museum of Science and Industry.

So, if I tend my own garden, I can enjoy both smelling the roses in other people's gardens, and helping them weed if need be.

That is all.

Sharing a pic ...

December 18th, 2013 at 05:51 am

Remember our frugal outing a few months ago to Indiana, the one I was super-excited about, for our Christmas photo shoot at the "Flick stuck to the Flagpole"? I thought I would share one of the ones we took:





Slowly finishing up the cards (cut the list way down). Perhaps not enjoying the Season to its fullest, battling flu and stuff like that, but enjoying life nonetheless.

The interesting thing is I am not obsessing about money, or the limited potential of it in the future. DH is most likely in the rounds of pink slips for 3/1. He was told 2/15, but the temps are not going to be coming back, so maybe that gave him the extra two weeks? Not sure. But whatever, my husband is back. The pressure of the job is gone. No more tied to the laptop regarding the budget numbers. No more stress of meetings with the OD people. He's cheerful, engaged, and serious about losing the 20 pounds he's gained back in this position (past 5 months). He'd like to return to healthy eating and has pulled out the VitaMix from my MIL (juicing) and going to the Y.

Money-wise what is going on here:
1) Should be on target to make large tuition payment with Friday's paycheck.
2) Christmas was all cash and I ended up spending $35 on each grandparent/uncle which were all nicer items purchased on sale and with coupons
3) Will still make January's mortgage payment this month also
4) Tenant only paid $500 of $725 because of a car repair and Christmas. I didn't fret. She called to let us know and said she'd add $112.50 to the next two payments.
5) Looking into a less processed life for January - no prepared or prepackaged food, and considering homemade cleaning supplies
6) I've started a list of things we use regularly and things the kids will be needing so I can shop with a purpose. I think if I frequent Goodwill once a week, I'll be able to anticipate things and have them on hand.

So, that is all that is new here.

A quick: I'm baack, and Post-Employment Plan

December 12th, 2013 at 09:23 am

Thank you for all the kind words of reassurance from Tuesday. It is difficult to be home alone and let your mind run when you hear the words "definite unemployment" of the sole breadwinner and you are a SAHM with a largish family. DH also received a lot of support from his fraternal organization and already has had offers to pass on his resume, the offer of a mentor, and some other ideas have been shared. We are definitely blessed with supportive communities, both faith-based and cyber-based. Smile

DH will receive his pink slip on Monday the 15th. Our state requires 60 days notification, so February 15th will be his last day. Severance won't be offered as a lump sum, rather spread out as regular pay over 14 weeks following that. Our insurance premium will remain the same during that period. Once that is up, we will be eligible for COBRA for 15 months.

Immediate financial things:

1) End this year, owing only $2,500 for tuition. We will have $0 consumer debt and $10K in the bank.

2) In January, take $1,500 plus the tax refund to pay off pre-pay real estate taxes on our primary residence. This will be a relief to have that off of the table.

3) Take an additional $1,000 from the budget for January-May and put it in the EF. This will take us to the post-employment/unemployment budget that we put together.

I looked into cheaper alternatives to the crown that my husband needs, and came up with surprise how much less expensive it is at the dental clinic associated with the dental school in our town. I used $160 of my $200 Target gift cards to shop for groceries and household items using sales and coupons. I am feeling less Mother Hubbard-ish looking at my "stash". I was able to replace one son's school pants for $10 and his jeans for $7 at Target and was happy about that (included in the $160 spent).

The interesting thing about this experience is my DH is back, personality-wise. He was home at 5:15 the past two days. He drove kids around to soccer and dance. He listened to the oldest daughter's speech which she gives today (albino persecution in Tanzania). That is what I've missed the most. So I suppose it is a win-win for us as a family. We did get derailed the past five months with the "promotion" that wasn't worth it. There is also talk about expediting things to get DH moving onto the diaconate in March. That boat didn't sail with out him.

Tonight we're off to Mass at 5:30 to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe's Feast Day. We'll be having a fiesta with our parish family. It is free and nothing beats faith and fellowship. And tomorrow we're singing with the Cub Scouts at the Rehab Hospital and Retirement Home before a cookie exchange.

My daughters switched dance schools. This is a start up school and they are happy to have the girls. The tuition is way less for double the class time. Only negative is that they danced for two solid hours yesterday and came home with bleeding blisters. Oldest daughter just babysat for our well-off friends who pay her $25 an hour. She asked if I could take for new shoes (about $40 for the soft) and pre-wrap. And then was quick to say she only needed a ride, not money. She'd be taking care of this purchase herself.

So, I really am leaving now until 2014. I am blessed to have the support here that I have and if I could give you all big hugs back, I would. But, you'll have to settle for a big old cyber-hug. Blessings and peace to you all.

The uncertainty is now certain ... and Unemployment is on the horizon

December 10th, 2013 at 09:49 am

Well, on the day that I am feeling mostly emotionally vulnerable (given the recent losses in our lives), DH's company has finally announced the location of the new OM-OD HQs. And it is in Boca Raton, FL, where we do not live. That means that in the near future, DH will be unemployed. We have known that this was a strong possibility and I've worked with the budget and have Plans A and B and scenarios, etc.

But, the possibility is now reality. Not quite "Well, if it happens" but "When it happens." There really isn't much to do - could take another six weeks to two months - severance and 1/2 a bonus will be about 3-1/2 month living expenses.

The kids' Christmas gifts are done. Our gift buying circle is small and almost done. I managed to get DH a new warm Columbia coat free after Kohl's cash.

My parents were going to buy me book cases for my family room for Christmas. Do you think it is tacky to just ask for cash?

I kept back $96 cash of my birthday money (from November) for After Christmas sales, but I'll give some of it to DH to buy a Christmas gift for me. I've stressed to the kids the importance of kindness to their Advent Buddies (our Catholic version of Secret Santa) - I think we'll limit that to shopping only at FIVE BELOW. Our Christmas card list is going to be shortened. I wanted to start a new stitching project and will check out the free patterns at DMC-USA.

I think that I'll be going off radar for awhile. I need some time away from technology and stuff to redirect my efforts and energy. I will see you all in 2014 with hopefully a clearer plan to share and maybe some goals? Though I imagine it will simply be for self-sufficiency.

It is my sincerest wish that you all have a truly wonderful holiday season abundant with the blessings that only family and friends and good health can bring! Merry Christmas to my fellow Christians!

See you after the calendar page turns.

Edited to add: My mom and stepdad, after hearing of the certainty of unemployment, came over with a gallon of chocolate milk and a big bag of Babybell cheese (a splurge that I occasionally buy). Oh, to learn to smile and be happy with small indulgences ... instead I started to cry, and I HATE it when anyone sees me cry *sigh*

Definitely on an emotional rollercoaster right now. Prayers are appreciated.

Hoping for a happy day ...

December 10th, 2013 at 05:58 am


Boy, it has been a rough couple of days. Lots of sadness mixed in with happiness and I'm sort of feeling the fatigue of the emotional roller-coaster.
Right after Thanksgiving, my ex-stepmother died. I've had several and she was the most mother-like, always nice to me, and whenever I saw her in the past ten years after the divorce, she was always fun and happy. She didn't have an easy go it, losing her son in a tragic accident, having my father as a whack-a-doodle husband, and the having her sister die. THEN my Godmother's father died the Sunday after Thanksgiving. He was 90, but always a happy little Italian man who loved me and my girls at family functions. And then this past Sunday, my husband's Great Aunt died. From the estranged branch of the family, but I always liked her and admired her character for retiring early (as the youngest unmarried sibling) who then just took of her older unmarried siblings who needed care (from Alzheimer's and Parkinsons, etc). Anyhow, there will no funeral or wake for her because ... I don't know why. I am having her acknowledged at a school Mass as belonging to our family. I am just too saddened by the whole fact that she was here and isn't and there is only a cremation with no service. So that has taken a huge emotional toll.

But then throw in some really fun things: dinner with the newly weds who are family friends, who loved my 6t grader's basketball game; my kids' first viewing of "The Christmas Story" on large screen. Shopping at Target for the Adopt-a-Family children in my 9th grader's homeroom (spent more than budgeted and didn't even feel bad), my youngest loves to give $1 to the Salvation Army bell ringers and I love that about him. Hot chocolate and Christmas carols.

My equilibrium is totally thrown. It isn't fun being dysthymic around the holidays!

It is horribly cold here (read that as: 1 degree). I am still caring for my brother's dogs, going over for breakfast and dinner and DH does the evening walk. I think I'm heading back to bed because I am tired.

On a money note, I received the $200 gift cards from Target (after the purchase of several ipods for Christmas gifts), so I am going to sit down with their ads and my coupons and see if I can make it til Christmas (taking into account a ham and other fixings for dinner, and baking needs). We've just finished the last of the leftovers from our Italian dinner on Friday, and it's meatloaf today.

Also, my girls are switching Irish Dance schools which will present a savings over what we are paying and they're going back to twice a week. Happy about that ...

All for now - if you're still with me, thanks for following the brain dump.

Confucius says ...

December 6th, 2013 at 06:26 am

"He who will not economize will have to agonize."

My 6th grader shared the above quote with me. Said it reminded him of me. I asked why. He said because I am a planner. Maybe I'm instilling something of value in my children - talking about plans A and B? I hope so.

Today was payday. I paid an additional $6.06 to the mortgage (small wa-hoo) (Our balance is $251,300 - I had hoped to get it below $250K this year, but didn't). I paid $1,250 in high school tuition, $125 to elementary school, and $125 to soccer. Goal for December: $1,415 to tuition, $150 to elementary school, $175 to soccer.

I paid cash for new ipods for Christmas for the kids. I'm waiting on $200 in Target gift cards which should be here in a few days. I used the Red Debit card and paid cash. I've earmarked those funds for household/grocery spending. Until then, it minimal grocery shopping every few days. We're having friends over for dinner tonight and it's Italian - so I have most ingredients in house.

Well, off to embrace some more "economizing" ...

December ... how did you get here so fast?

December 3rd, 2013 at 05:41 am


Well, a blink of an eye and time flies.

We had some wonderful time during our six-days off from school. My aunt didn't make the Amtrak from for her week-long visit. Apparently her pre-arranged ride died the week before, she didn't confirm, and missed the train. My parents were able to get their ticket fare back less $8.50. Yay Amtrak, for having spot-on customer service. My mom was bummed for all her planning, and it was a bit annoying to have keep saying, "But, *we* can still have fun without Aunt Linda!" We took a ride downtown anyhow and spent the afternoon at the Art Institute. We still had an awesome time at Drury Lane, enjoying "A Christmas Carol" and a kid-friendly brunch. We rang in the Liturgical New Year with our best friends and it was wonderful.

I'm learning to say only what I need to in some interactions with people who are or have been an energy suck in the past. Best friend, sadly included. She declared bankruptcy and needs to have hip surgery. It is difficult to make suggestions that are probably feasible, to have them shut down. So I don't have much more to say about it. She's mad at me and hasn't called in four days. I imagine she'll get over it and will need me in the next week or two. My volunteer companion for Scouts is back up to five emails a day, of which only one or two are really pertinent. His overbearing presence is that of "helper" even when you don't need "help", haven't asked, or even hinted that there might be a problem.

Our tree goes up tonight. YAY! Hot chocolate and peppermint sticks and snacks for dinner. Christmas music and ornaments ... my favorite things of the Christmas Season.

DH is still employed (unhappily) though we should know his fate this week. He's talking more to some temps that OM has hired on for the short-term. Maybe figuring which agency he'd like to work with.

Nothing new on the money front. All is quiet. That is not a bad thing ...

Happy Thanksgiving (a day early)

November 27th, 2013 at 06:13 am


Just wanted to send warm wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving to my SA family! It is a blessing to have this place. I like to come and share and vent, and ponder life. Despite where else I blog, this is my favorite place. Smile

I'm at a place right now where I am not so much worried about the finances. Whatever happens, things will turn out. If it is unemployment, we'll make it work and my DH will become employed again.

My ex stepmother died yesterday. She was the last wife my biological father had. She was always nice to me and I had a nice conversation with her several months ago. She went in her sleep to eternal rest. Again, not much more to say. Another reminder that life is more important than money.

My aunt (a senior) didn't make it here for Thanksgiving. Apparently the man she arranged to drive her the 45 minute ride to the Amtrak station died last week and she missed her train. I suspect she might not have wanted to come for fear of the weather or whatever. We still went ahead and went downtown to the Art Institute and at our annual Breakfast with Santa and Drury Lane, my brother will be joining us rather than the aunt. I'm thankful to have a brother and am glad that he will join us.

So, it is my wish that everyone has a day filled with family and feasting! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Sixteen years ago today ...

November 25th, 2013 at 06:05 am


I entered the game of Motherhood. And I've also added several more players to the game over the years.

Baby girl is Sweet 16! She celebrated with five friends at the Imax to see "Catching Fire" (cost $90) and pizza ($25 from Little Cesars). Tonight is her small family party and the Sunday is the large family party she'll be sharing with her younger sister (12.5 months younger). I couldn't have been blessed with a more beautiful, smarter daughter than what I have. She's a challenge at times (I gave birth to myself, actually, so that understanding I have of her is a double-edged sword at times).

Our puppy had his surgery on Saturday, and ended up having a baby tooth pulled, too. Cost $140 (younger daughter paid for the tooth extraction). The snip was covered by the rescue organization he came from, but we still had blood work, IV, some other medication, etc. He's awfully cute in the cone of shame!

It is a one day school week for the kids, really two, but we're playing hooky tomorrow and going to Union Station to meet my aunt coming in by Amtrak. This is the very Catholic aunt, so we'll be heading to the National Shrine of St. Therese Lisieux and the Syro-Malabar Cathedral in Bellwood. My younger daughter is probably on track to be a Bible Scholar with what she already knows, and I do have one son expressing an interest in the priesthood, so several of my clan are VERY excited about these excursions.

Thanksgiving day is at my brother's. I bring several side dishes to share, so need to get that together.

It was a definitely high spend weekend, but definitely worth it!

Coming in a hair above/below!

November 21st, 2013 at 08:15 am


Sickling returned to school today - for 1/2 day. He's feeling better because he was picking fights with his brothers yesterday, so at least I know we're on the mend. He isn't ready to eat solid food at school or run around in gym class, so I'll pick him up at 11:35 today (school gets out at 2).

I was able to be out and about and tackled some to-dos.

Went to Kohl's and redeemed Kohl's cash for a winter coat for DH for Christmas. It is a nice Columbia one, regularly $110, on sale for $79.99. Not sure what additional discount they took because there was no tax and I had $80. The cashier offered me the one certificate back because it had $.01 on it. I declined.

I had a coupon for $10 off of a $50 grocery purchase at Target. My pre-coupons total was $50.25, got it down to $35. Still lacking a comprehensive meal plan, but have my mom's $10 coupon, so will make a better go of it tomorrow.

All for now.

Wednesday Wednesday

November 20th, 2013 at 06:14 am


OK, managing to surviving the nasty virus that my youngest has. Could run 3-5 days and I think that we are at the start of day 4. Lots of vomiting and diarrhea, airing out and disinfecting, up at all hours, minimal cat naps.

The upside of this is my house is very clean. We've only spent $12 on this round of illness (popsicles, peptobismal, wipes). I haven't been able to leave the house, with the excpetion of last night for 45 minutes when sickling was asleep and another son needed a ride to basketball practice.

I snuck away to Christmas shop: $25 at Ulta for a Too-Faced make-up sampler, and $15 for the PLANES DVD at Toys R Us. I also took care of my brother's dogs and made $10.

Payday is Friday. Everything is on autopilot. Spending is reasonable across all categories. We've done additional dog caring the past few weeks for mom and stepdad, and brother, and made $105: $50 was a wedding gift (another one is in the works) and $50 for daughter's birthday later in month. I did end up with $900 for my birthday which is in the Reserve Fund of the PNC Wallet.

Trying hard to rebound from the news of the librarian's daughter's suicide. It has been an opportunity to talk about coping skills with my kids, but I haven't done too well. I usually start crying (the sort of silent, choked up freeze). I am a crier by nature, and I had myself a good cry at the Wedding on Saturday. I am tired of crying.

Non-financial, Sad Day

November 18th, 2013 at 05:51 pm

I know we are a diverse group here in our religious beliefs, but there is a spirit of warmth and congeniality that is very wonderful in this little corner of the blogosphere called SA.

Could you please, please spare a minute for prayers and wishes for peace for a family we know through the high school? Their beloved 24 year old daughter committed suicide on Friday. Such a tragic and senseless thing to those around the family. I cannot imagine the depths of their despair as they try to heal from this event.

Her name was Megan. Thank you, and God bless.

What to do when the language of love is spoken in money?

November 12th, 2013 at 07:20 am


In some previous version of this blog (this is the third reincarnation, similar to Dr. Who!) I have divulged about my biological father. He was married to my mother long enough to produce two children (me and my brother) was an abusive control freak who came from a family with money but didn't bother to pay regular child support. Many rough years and experiences that I have worked hard to move past.

Anyhow, my DH used to work for my father doing apartment building maintenance and repair and management. There was a huge fall out four years ago and my DH stopped working and speaking to my father. The substance of the argument really boiled down to my father's love life, lack of fidelity, what I knew because I used to listen to his crazy girlfriend, and what I told DH not to share. Not to be involved. It wasn't moral or right. So DH was loyal to me, not him and it all ended very badly.

I haven't seen my father in four years. I do send him a Father's Day card and a Christmas card (with usually a small token gift, like a keychain or Christmas ornament). I do this because in my faith I am taught to honor my parents, this is the best that I can do. I did talk to him in March when his sister died. I've learned not to expect things of people, but I had hoped he would at least go to the funeral. But he didn't and then had choice words to share about his sister's husband. etc.

Why the backstory? Not quite sure. Just wanted to set the scenario.

My birthday is Friday. My brother (who is still pretty thick with my father despite their own tumultuous past) dropped off a birthday card. My father always remembers my birthday with $300-$400. This year he gave me $700 in cash. Probably because my brother shared that my husband will probably be unemployed come January.

I don't really know why I feel conflicted about this $700. I suppose he's worried about me. I just wish he didn't speak the language of love with money. His parents did it (but I was always the good girl of the grandkids and never any trouble, so I wasn't manipulated by their money). However, biological father has used money to control and manipulate in the past. Too bad I don't feel right taking his money.

Thanks for listening to this psychobabble. It will probably self-destruct shortly. Just wanted to put it out there so I can go back and reread it.

I am just confused.

A productive (hefty) spend at Kohls

November 11th, 2013 at 05:28 am

Despite frugal living and choices, this family of mine always seems to have someone in need of some item, and I can usually deal with it without breaking the bank. Sometimes though, everyone needs things at the same time and it gets scary and ugly.

My girls both grew taller and were in desperate need of cold weather wear. We are also going to a wedding on Saturday and most people lacked at least some item. (I took care of the boys at Old Navy with black dress pants and I found a white dress shirt here and there at Goodwill).

Anyhow, my mom had a 30% off coupon and I used her credit card (I don't have one of my own and you need to use the store card for the discounts). Here is what I bought (pre 30%):

Pair gym shoes DH $50
Columbia winter coat son: $40
Dress for myself for wedding/Christmas: $48
2 dresses for daughters for ": $66
Pair of jeans daughter; $25
Christmas gifts (2 scarves for mom and MIL): $28
Neck ties for boys for wedding/Christmas: $24
7 other shirts/sweaters for girls for remainder

I spent $300 and got $60 Kohls dollars back. According to my receipt I saved $350.
I feel satisfied with the haul and at least my girls are clothed adequately until Spring. Smile

My payment plan with my mom is $100/month over the next three months. Ordinarily I would have just paid it off, but given Christmas and other expenses, it is easier this way with breathing room for me.

I can return a dress that I previously purchased for only $20, but it is dressier and I may consider keeping it.

I was surprised how many shoppers were out on a Sunday night, and I imagine it will only get worse closer to Christmas.

Who would think funding the envelopes would be so fun?! And other random stuff!

November 8th, 2013 at 05:26 am


It is payday. And I get to go to the bank and take out cash to fill my empty envelopes! This week's auto repair bill ($370) didn't completely derail my plains, just wiped out the balance across all envelopes. The $6 I had left in cash was distributed yesterday $4 to DH for some driplets of gas for his tank and $2 for daughter to take public transportation back to her friend's house after school today.

I'm definitely going to cut down on the driving -- my boys will have to "hello to the bus" to help reduce the gas I'm using.

My house is still very chilly/freezing - 62 this morning. DH thinks first course of action is to replace thermostat. I came across a receipt for two unused bags of ashphalt patch that we didn't use two months ago. As long as we return by 11/28, I will get $22 plus tax back. I will put some of that toward the thermostat. I was happy to find this small bit of money to be found. DH is on board for the return (50# bags and my 138# body don't make for an easy handle).

I am going to borrow my mom's other space heater, it does definitely take the chill out of the house, but it takes too much time for the family room/kitchen to warm up.

Off for a day of doctor appointments (physicals for boys) and conferences (also for boys).

And DH cracked a tooth. There appears to be an ever-present challenge to keep the Extraneous Fund alive!

Inflating the sadly deflated Extraneous Fund

November 7th, 2013 at 09:35 am


I made a note in my calendar to follow up with Bank of America regarding a promotion (spend $500 get $100). I completely forgot about it until I flipped through the calendar.

I made a quick call and my redemption options included a check in the amount of $108.23. I opted for that and I should have the check in my mitts in 14 days. Hoot hoot!

So: $100 from tomorrow, $15 from dog walking, $50 (realistically garnered from grocery account), and this $108.23, I am feeling a bit better.

I also forgot to add the issue with the heater/thermostat. We're running at 63 in the mornings and 69 during the day. Our thermostat doesn't seem to be working. It came with the house and we've been here going on nine years. DH thinks it most likely is the problem because the furnace did run fine after it stopped working efficiently and we put new batteries in. That was last week. I'll have my stepdad do it next Monday. Not sure how much thermostats cost, either. Til then we'll love our space heater and have to wear extra sweaters.

Adding to the list of thing the extraneous funds needs to cover isn't as fun as adding funds to fund those. That is sort of a tongue-twister in itself.

And I haven't even factored in my birthday funds. Smile

Sadly deflated Extraneous Fund

November 7th, 2013 at 05:53 am

This is a revision of my earlier post today. I've decided to implement the attitude of gratitude given it is November and Advent is almost upon us.

I am grateful that I had enough money across all envelopes for the brake job yesterday. ($370) I am also grateful for the finds that I made at Goodwill.

The Extraneous Fund (presently at $0, will have $100 tomorrow as allotted) needs to cover some upcoming expenses:

$191 (est) two tires for DH's minivan (priced at Walmart and they are the best deal)

$40 for dog grooming (cancelled that today because I have a sick child home, and incidentally: no money)

Ink for our printer. I don't know how much the colored cartridges run, but I think I recall $40 range.

Potential plumbing call for the slow drains at the rental property. DH will attempt one of them on Saturday morning. Our plumbing contact is a friend from DH's fraternal organization and charges $50 an hour.

I will have $100 for the fund tomorrow (payday). I will also earn an additional $15 toward this today by taking care of my brothers dogs. If I am very careful with the grocery budget (keeping it very basic and sticking to tuna for DH's lunches and a vat of chili and breakfast foods twice a week rather than once a week) I can probably get another $60.

DH will make $50 taking care of my mom and dad's dogs from Saturday to Sunday and we've already ear-marked that November-birthday daughter's cash gift, so I won't be adding that to the Extraneous fund, and I won't need to eke it out of any other place.

And to make it even more sobering, I've worked on the "Unemployed Scenario Budget" using the insurance quotes from State Farm as a guide. *phew*

I am definitely at the point of looking at every dollar and where it goes. I was able to avoid using the credit/debit card by wiping out the envelopes. I know that isn't the way it is usually done, but I did it anyhow. I have $6 until tomorrow.

Confession

November 6th, 2013 at 03:51 pm

Somewhere in me is a person who wants to have expensive things. You know the kind of life where you don't look at the price tag and buy the things that you want just because you want them. Coach bags and Uggs in different colors, and a new sweaters every year in the right color and fashion. That isn't me in reality, but somewhere in me she lurks.

My birthday is coming up later in the month. I regularly get monetary gifts from my biological father and grandmother and inlaws. This year I decided to spend the funds on a new purse - a Coach mini crossbody version in a wintery color similar to the one I've used every spring summer for the past three years (since my mom bought it on sale for my birthday in 2010). I've seen them on sale for $100. Yep, that was what I was going to do. (Note: My funds usually exceed $100, but I had this purse as my #1 Wanted Item)

Then my oil change this morning turned into a "you really need brakes and we can do it right now" ($20 up to $370 that included new windshield wipers, etc.) I started feeling sorry for myself that my birthday funds would need to go to buy new tires for DH's minivan. And I wouldn't be able to get my new winter purse. Pout pout (childish, yes. very childish).

I happened to have a 25% off a purchase at Goodwill because it is my birthday month coupon in my purse at the time. And Goodwill happened to be across from the Midas I was at.

I went in and I just happened to find a version of my favorite Vera Bradley bag in fall/winter colors (I do own one of those purchased at the Outlet store). It was $24.99. The pattern is a brown/turquoise sort of medallion pattern from a few years ago. It matches my daughter's lunchbox that she's used for the past three years. I've decided to break away from my normal black attire and try a brown scheme this season. And I really like it.

And my daughter saw it and said, "I love it, Mom. Just like my lunch bag. Maybe I can borrow it some time?" It had the seal of approval of a fashion-conscious teenager to boot!

I bought three winter casual shirts for DH, two really nice sweaters for myself (a J.Jill and Jones of New York in the brown/beige family), four books and the Vera Bradley bag for $42. (I saved $15 after the coupon savings).

I am so happy that I found my frugal self. Now it really doesn't matter much to me if I buy two tires for DH's with my birthday funds. Smile

Money tune I am whistling today is: happy

November 1st, 2013 at 11:50 am


Cash that I have spent today:

$33.42 for 3-month Rx for DH's thyroid medication. Transferred to Meijer and got a $25 off coupon. Also got $1 off of produce and 10% off all grocery items.

$4.00 was what I spent on groceries after applying about coupons/savings. Ended up with: 10 cans of Progresso soup, gallon of milk, 12-pack Danimals, package of cheddar cheese slices, 2 pack mini French bread, one box of Quaker Oatmeal breakfast squares, 3 pack Romaine hearts, bunch of bananas, and 2# grapes.

Purchased a Steak N Shake $20 gift card (for outing tomorrow) and got a $5 gift card for use in January.

$25.75 for a furnace filter for the rental property.

I was productive taking care of volunteer paperwork I procrastinated about. Triple soccer practice today to make up for yesterday's cancellation.

Tomorrow we go to Hammond. I borrowed the DVD from my brother of THE CHRISTMAS STORY for our trip, and I went down and got out the Santa hats for our picture.

My daughters are contemplating a switch in Irish Dance schools. They head to the potential new school for a class on Mondays. There is a six-month ban on competition, so they'll need to decide quickly if this a correct fit. My older daughter started the exams to become a certified instructor, and the new potential teacher found that very impressive. Also younger daughter's results. We will see the outcome.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and a happy November.

Goal: Continue to pay off high school tuition as quickly as possible.

Frugal Fun Doesn't Get More Fun Than This

October 30th, 2013 at 11:39 am


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 06:52 am


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 05:38 am

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 04:04 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 04:18 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 08:26 am


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 07:18 am


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?


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