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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?

"Found" "forgotten

October 23rd, 2013 at 09:57 am

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

October 22nd, 2013 at 11:15 am

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 06:06 am

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 08:29 am

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 08:03 am

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.


October 11th, 2013 at 04:00 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 09:49 am

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!

Goals Update

August 16th, 2013 at 06:10 am

Today is payday and rental income deposit day. I am able to pay $2,000 toward my property tax goal.

I am allotting $200 for birthday plans for my ten year old. $100 for his party with friends, $40 for the food for his family party, and $60 for a gift.

I am doing a better job in the menu planning/grocery shopping arena. I found a simply inexpensive recipe (four ingredients) for cookies that I took to a meeting that I think I'll make for lunches rather than store-bought stuff. I'm also in the habit of making a bit pot of soup for DH's lunches. On Sunday night usually and then I just divide it up into small containers for ease.

DH took the boys to a free activity at the library, family lego night. They hear a story and then use it to inspire original Lego creations that are displayed. My son with the reading difficulties is enjoying his summer reading book (due Monday) following along with CD audio books.

In the thrify department, I spent $5 on a Xmas gift for FIL. A logo-branded Green Bay Packer Hat, on clearance $14.99 down to $5. I told my husband that the sale karma was with me. I felt bad about not having liquid funds to get him a T-shirt on sale at Old Navy and told myself that something better might turn up. And it did.

My goal for next payday/rent collection is $1,800 to the property taxes. I think that is reasonable.

Mini Money Updates

August 12th, 2013 at 09:37 am

It was a no spend weekend. We had an outing to Cantigny in Winfield on Sunday. It was French Connection Day. My mom was with us and paid the $5 parking fee and walked around for a few hours. It certainly would have been nice to have disposable funds to buy some of the cute Parisian inspired doo-dads which I really don't need or to snack on croissants and other delicacies. Maybe next year ...

We did go for a bike ride around our subdivision (free) and I was surprised by how much fun my boys got out of doing a word search with me laying on the bed watching an old black and white episode of "Thriller" - scary, but not too scary.

I was approved for a Bank of America credit card. If I spend $500 in 90 days, I will get $100 deposited. I can do that in one month with gas and groceries, and will use that $100 for Christmas. I also got a $20 Victoria's Secret gift card for signing up for the insurance program. I don't shop there with regularity and always pay the balance in full, so no out of pocket cost there.

I saved a bundle on textbooks for my freshman and sophomore daughters. By using Folletts (preferred vendor) I would have spent $980. I spent about an hour on Amazon and saved over $300. I was approved for the Amazon card and saved $10 (every little bit counts). I also made a call to Folletts (where the remainder of the books came from) to see where they were shipped from. They were local so I saved another $20 by shipping just ground, they got here in two days. I was worried that the Amazon books (coming from five different vendors) might not have gotten here in time, but Saturday the last of the books arrived.

DH is talking more about how dismal it is at work and how a lot of high ups are moving on before anything is officially announced about the merger and new location of HQs. I do have my bouts of concern. I do take comfort in the EF of $20K which I'm preserving at all costs. So onward we plod ...

Update from the Conflicted One

August 9th, 2013 at 07:35 am

Attitude tune-up complete.

Winston Churchill said "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

My mom and stepdad came by yesterday after my post with a 15# bag of Blue Buffalo puppy food. And an XXS harness for Teddy. And a garbage can for the girls' room (my mom helped them organize) and today will be bringing buy a shelf they found at Hobby Lobby. More treats like Baby Bell cheese, makings for my husband's favorite two ingredient dish out of Trader Joes, and a water melon.

I said it was totally unnecessary, but thank you. My mother then set me straight. My stepdad had a mid-life career change to become a teacher with the tuition and books paid for by my grandpa (her dad). And my grandparents paid off the mortgage and reduced the house payments.

And I suppose that I am coming across as a bit stressed about money by my concern about DH's potential job loss. And I take my mom's ads and coupons. And I've mentioned twice now that I'm disappointed that I can't find a job for the hours I'd like. And I wasn't planning on $980 for books, just $500. And my mom was worried about where from the budget is the other $180 going to come from (since I was able to get them for $680). And my mom was with me when I picked up the free samples of the Rxs for my daughter (which saved $400+).

So, with that, my mom will be helping out. With treats and items that will make life easier or more practical. (There will be a garbage can for the boys room coming and hooks for robes). And if I need money, I can always ask. Though she knows I most likely won't.

And I can also expect a dinner once of week of grilled chicken breasts.

So, I am no longer conflicted. The root of the problem lies deep and I suppose that it really only has to do with me feeling undeserving and inadequate at some level. Sort of like, I'm fine without your money and help. Makes me sad.

Off to read the blogs.

Feeling a bit ... conflicted

August 8th, 2013 at 12:14 pm

I am just having a hard time accepting things.

I'm proud. I know where my pride comes from. Don't need to analyze myself further than I already have.

I've refused cash money from my parents. My mother was pestering me about letting her pay for getting my hair colored with highlights. Even if its a gift and I like it, I wouldn't be able to maintain it, so I figure why bother?

I was a bit annoyed when my mother wanted to know why I wasn't going to buy my daughter uniform pants three days before pay day. I was quite frank and said, "I have $8 in the checking account until Friday. I need to buy milk." Well, my mother then bought the uniform pants for my girls.

My parents this week have purchased "fun snacks" from Trader Joe's where I don't shop. I'm an Aldi's girl for the unforeseeable future.

Today they have stocked up on Blue Buffalo dog food for the puppy. Granted they gifted the puppy, but I've taken care of the shots, etc. I don't mind a few things here and there, but I think this will become a regular scenario. In my mind I will quickly be becoming someone's charity case. But if it is my mother, am I really a charity case?

I saved $300 on high school textbooks by using Amazon for six of them. I opened up the Amazon card and saved a whopping $10. That will be a $400 bill that I need to take care of next month.

I am preserving the $20K emergency fund. Pretending as if it doesn't exist. More coworkers of DH are jumping ship. He's in the new position and still doing most of his old job (the irritating employee that was the catalyst for him moving onto the better job has quit so he's working different departments and different budgets.) The guesstimate is now 30% likelihood that HQ will be in IL. I'm thinking about doing some Christmas shopping sooner than later.

I'm having a hard time just being able to say thank you. Not sure why I'm finding myself in this rut. Oh well ...

Thrifty finds and building the stockpile

August 5th, 2013 at 03:31 pm

Today at Walmart we found an xxs fleece jacket for the puppy - convenient that it stays on with Velcro and doesn't require over-the-head dressing. Whopping $2.50. He's 4 pounds right now and I don't anticipate him putting on a lot of fat to keep him warm in the colder season.

I had $60 cash allotted for the clothing category. I spent $34.00 on Nike gym shoes for youngest son. I paid cash at Kohls and saved an additional 10% because it was tax-free weekend in Illinois. I also paid $8.50 for uniform shorts for him. We are now done with BTS clothing items. This week my mom bought the girls their uniform pants. How lucky we were to find a 0Tall for the older one. $18 remains in the clothing fund.

Entertainment will be the $1 movie this Wednesday. We're also planning on the $.50 cones at Burger King on Wednesday night.

My girls are doing great taking care of their own minor expenses ($8 for eyebrow waxing and coupon stacking for make-up) Smile Daughter used a coupon for a free Puppy Bath at PetSmart, so our Teddy now smells like a tangerine and got his nails trimmed!

I spent $20 from this spending period to help grown the stockpile. I ended up with two liquid Allegra allergy meds and two Purex liquid laundry detergents for $15 OOP (using coupons and ECB in addition to buy one get one free, and buy one get 50% off). These are things that we'll definitely use. I'm getting a better game plan for the grocery spending. I've also spent $4 on two expensive hair products that the girls like to use.

The decluttering and organizing were a bit derailed with the return of the men from Camp, so that put a lot of additional laundry and organizing into the mix.

All for now, off to catch up on the blogs. Smile

August 2nd Recap, Purging and no splurging

August 2nd, 2013 at 05:12 pm

Recap: $7.07 for a gift for party DS is going to on Sunday. Used a 40% off coupon at Hobby Lobby. Paid scheduled fixed bills from today's paycheck.

Still working on purging and decluttering. Tomorrow I have three big bags of random stuff I rounded up while going through things, two bags of hand-me-downs to our friends, and one big bag of trash to the dumpster.

I rearranged the furniture in the dining room after getting rid of picture I didn't love (leaving tomorrow). It looks a lot nicer. I've also rearranged the china cabinet, rotating things in and out.

We didn't splurge and spend $5 for a Little Ceasar's pizza. I usually do that sometimes when I'm single parenting. Not tonight. That is $5 that can be spent elsewhere. It was Tyson chicken nuggets and French fries. With Gatorade to drink. I'm definitely trying to cut down on soda and sugary drinks. I think if I can increase the appetizability of plain water with lemon and lime slices that might be a "fun" option too.

Today I mowed the lawn and went to the bank. Tonight is the major carpet cleaning session.

So, there is the spending, purging, and non-splurging of it all.

Also: Totally forgot this big budget helper ... I called over to the pediatrician to see if they have free of my daughter's asthma maintenance meds ($165 per month insurance cost - not covered since we're meeting deductibles now - and any nasal spray). I ended up with two months of Flovent and two months of Nasonex, saving me over $400 for the next two months.)

August 1st Recap

August 1st, 2013 at 04:11 pm

Spent: $64 at the vet for the puppy.

Recouped the cost by having my mom gift us a $60 gift card to JCP which will use to get daughter 0Tall uniform pants.

Frugal doings: Last day of free soccer camp for boys (included in annual fees). Borrowing my brother's carpet cleaner rather than renting one. Using "found" Bissell carpet cleaner solution found when purging the laundry room.

I imagine that this will be a recurring theme of August's posts since I am in frugal lockdown mode.

Organizing Efforts

August 1st, 2013 at 06:07 am

Well, it feels as though I spent most of the day tackling organizing and decluttering, and it isn't very obvious yet. I did the laundry room revamp. It looks much better and feels more spacious since I moved out an odds and ends small cabinet. I purged tons and consolidatesd some cleaning supplies. The top shelves I've designated as "pantry" and organized a new stash of cereal and pasta (using Target's spend $40 take off $10). I also stocked up on dog food, and it is nice to be able to just look and see how much of an item there is.

I had one daughter go through all her clothing items. I went through the younger boys stuff and have a bag for the friend we regularly pass down to.

I have decided that I do not love a picture hanging in my dining room. I purchased it years ago for $12 and while I like the artist (Daniel Ridgway Knight), I don't like this work. I am taking it back to the resale store so someone else can buy it and enjoy it. To offset the blank wall, I'm moving my china cabinet/breakfront over.

I tackled the coat closet and dealt (*sigh* again) with shoes and winter items. The girls' occasion shoes are going in a bin in their closet.

I've managed to organize my ironing and will probably tackle DH's shirts that have been accumulating for awhile. I also did a quick go through of books that we own and am scaling back, by hopefully 35% in the long-run. My dad has retired and is looking for a project and is going to help give my fireplace a makeover, with a new mantle and some shelves on each side. I am excited about that prospect.

Wow, this was a random list of incoherent (albeit organized-related ramblings) acts.

Well, it is August 1st now and the switch to ultra-frugal has flipped. The nice thing is that there are groceries and gas and no need to scramble out to buy needed items. The puppy goes to the vet, but that is already factored in. We've two two parties, but I'm going small on the gifts.

Frugal things: free soccer camp for boys (included in soccer fees), rather than outing to Starbucks - used a coupon for a free bakery item from the Starbucks at Target and cracked open some frappucinos and sat on the deck, reading, playing and listening to library items. My mom and dad brought chicken over for dinner for us last night, my dad fixed my printer that had an odd and bad paper jam.

All is good.

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


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.

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