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Archive for August, 2010

Kindergarten: Day 2

August 31st, 2010 at 12:44 pm

DS woke up ready and happy for more school. The novelty of the new year has worn off with children #1-3, #4 maybe is still a bit thrilled. Anyhow, off they went, and I've got more time on my hands. I should add that our school offers kindergarten AM from 7:50 to 10:30, so bus arrives here at 11:00.

Yesterday in my spare time I managed to take a nap, contact the Illinois Dept of Revenue about the tax information they needed, make a batch of taco filling AND sloppy joes, do one load of laundry (wash/dry/fold/put away), do a minisort of the latest coupons, fill out paperwork for youngest child's speech eval today, and get through some more BTS paperwork. Fruitful!

I am finding that a bit of organization goes a long way. With a dinner that is quasi-prepared by the time the kids get in, I am better able to focus on them. Yesterday I was able to do 15 min a piece reading with the youngest ones. I was able to quiz second daughter on types of nouns, and I was able to help oldest daughter out with some Spanish stuff (cracks me up totally that my daughter with a totally Irish name - think names like Shiobhan Malloy or Mairead O'Malley - picked the Spanish name Juanita for her stint in Espanol). I also find that food choice is key at breakfast for the picky ones (fruit and/or yogurt and/or toast and peanutbutter is fine).

I am also finding that I have accepted without reluctance that there is *no* money to spend until Friday, except for my last $15 (of which $8 is really from last week - I have to figure what to do with it - maybe vacation fund or something). I am also discovering I'm a real homebody and I don't feel the need to "leave just to go out". My list of things to do around here looks like:
(1) Finish xSIL's wedding sampler (names/date)
(2) Finish son's First Communion sampler
(3) Start scrapbooking the most recent events first
(4) Work on bookcases in spare room
(5) Find plate hangers (which we bought ages ago) and have DH hang rooster plates in kitchen
(6) Tackle linen closet (my children do not share my love of flannel sheets and therefore I may donate all set of twin flannels!)

Etc, etc, etc. Day #2 of my time is starting now.

Well, self ... what are we gonna do?

August 30th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I am posing this question to myself, as my house is blissfully quiet after DH whisked all the kiddos off to school. Today was the official start day for the Kindergartener, though he did a "practice" day on Friday with a one-hour orientation.

DH forgot to put out a cereal bowl for the smallest one who usually sleeps late and doesn't make an appearance until about 8:30 or 9:00. He was cheerful, dressed himself, and was the biggest waver in the minivan.

I've increase the amount of volunteering I'm doing at the school starting next month.

I think I'm going back to bed for a bit.

P.S. I wanted to share the most free fun we've had in awhile. We had a dear friend over for dinner last night, and he is rather a science geek. He went online to, and located the time that the ISS (Space Station) was going to be over our exact coordinates, also found when an Iridium flare was going to be. On short notice we all crammed into our minivan and drove over to a dark golf course and we knew exactly were to look and we saw the ISS pass, and then did catch the Iridium flare. My kids were still talking about it this AM.

The personal satisfaction of cash

August 28th, 2010 at 03:22 pm

Yesterday I paid $42 for dog grooming in cash.

Today I sent DH to the boys' soccer team pictures with cash in the envelope for the smallest order. (After all of these years, I have learned I don't need to get the hugest package. A simple team picture - though over-priced - will go well with the action shots we take ourselves at the games.

Today we are attending our parish's block party. I am paying for our tickets in cash. I have allotted singles for each child to spend.

I have $25 cash for two pizzas for tomorrow's dinner from Pizza Hut when we have a friend over.

I have a $1.00 Rebate Cash toward my purchase of Sunday's paper at Walgreens.

I used vendor coupons for free Bakery cookies from Jewel, and free Italian bread from Dominicks. I'm keeping grocery spending down to a minimum, and am pleased that I have a bigger grocery stash than I originally thought.

I let the school know that I will be able to pay for the fees (milk and year book and party) on 9/17 because we have an Outdoor Education fee of $150 for our second oldest daughter to go to three-day sleep away camp.

I am also pleased that a bill that I thought I had to pay isn't really due until next payday (the 17th rather than 3rd). I will put that money toward our reserve account.

I'm getting a hang of the new Virtual Wallet at PNC bank; the accounts are "Spend" "Reserve" and "Growth". DH's direct deposit hasn't gone into effect yet, so I'm transferring money into it. But the joy of cash spending, is there isn't much to account for. When it is gone, it is gone.

I am finding I am not as bad a planner as I originally thought. A plan really does help.

Round 2 of Family Drama has left me ...

August 26th, 2010 at 11:35 pm

tired. Ugh, I managed to get through a major conflict taking the moral high road. An idiot will remain an idiot, I must remind myself. And people's true colors are shown when it comes to their lust for money. Greed can make people say some mean things.

That is it.

Cash Only: Week One Wrap Up

August 26th, 2010 at 12:47 pm

We survived the cash only living Week One. And we did it with about $8 to spare (from the $250). I did take care of some unexpected things. We had enough money to eat well, drive our cars without worrying about running out of gas, entertain ourselves and haave a bit of fun, and take care of some needed kid items (soccer cleats, flash drive, assignment notebooks and a dictionary, etc).

DH commented this AM that he just realized how much money he spent weekly on Slim Jims and gum at the gas station and his $1.88 coffees at the work cafeteria. His car really only requires about $28.50 a week in gas and he had enough money left over to golf tomorrow morning (only $10.50 before 5:30 AM at the golf course behind our house). Yay for his observations!

I had two NSDs (yesterday and today). I didn't have to monitor the checking account balance online each and every day wondering if some forgotten check came through, because what was in the envelope was what we had. And I kept reminding myself when that was gone, it was gone. Nothing to borrow it from, etc. With the kids returning to school this week, I've had a bit more free time than usual to match up coupons to sale ads and feel that I'll be able to cap grocery spending tomorrow to a minimum.

Week 2 begins tomorrow. Smile

Managing the cash

August 25th, 2010 at 12:38 pm

I am quite happy that today is a NSD, meaning that I'm able to conserve the little bit of cash that I have remaining. Friday is replenish day, and I've already got my grocery list/menu plan for the upcoming week (plus I've accounted for our weekend $ -parish block party and having friends over for dinner on Sun).

My mom took me and the little guy for breakfast yesterday at Caribou Coffee. Not only did we get a free breakfast, but I found a dime too! (Who ever thought that I'd actually be tracking the money that I found on the ground - inspired my baselle). My mom also bought me a cross stitch pattern that I've liked for awhile - we found it at the resale store brand new for $2 (with the original $8 price on it). Nice thing about this is it is uses standard floss colors, as opposed to hand-dyed floss which can run up to $2.00 per color. I have to finish up two other projects (nearing completion) prior to starting this.

Back to school week is going well, though my oldest daughter tiredly explained this morning that she thinks she should go to bed earlier (stayed up too late last nite watching AGT). I went to the school Mass yesterday morning, ran out and about with my mom, came home mowed the lawn, returned to school for a 2:30 meeting with my 3rd grader's teacher, then it was soccer practice.

Today I'm leaving the house only for Curriculum Night.
Hope all have a good day!

Further Adventures of the Cash Queen

August 24th, 2010 at 04:20 pm

I'm well into the first week of Cash Only. I have found it helpful to put all the numbers down on paper in a spreadsheet fashion. I'm finding my way through spending that isn't necessarily in one category. I did have to realize that I'm can't be too crazy if I spend the *hoped for* surplus. Example: my second oldest daughter needed a Bible for the next three years of her education. Cost: $20. The school recommended assignment notebooks were $3.50 x 3. The roller rink where the BTS party was didn't honor coupons, so I had to cough up an additional $4. These things I cannot worry about.

I am finding that overall, the picture isn't looking quite bad. All of our bills are paid (including the increased tuition and the goal of double the minimum payment to credit cards). I've accounted for groceries/gas/miscellaneous in the weekly spending amounts. We have a range of $280 to $360 left every two week for the extraneous things (classes for kids/minor car or home repair/gifts/etc) My goal is to use that money wisely and subsidize our savings.

The kids are all BTS with the exception of the youngest who starts kindergarten on Monday. I'm working on the list of thing to get done around the house for the several weeks. Quiet time to myself ... something I haven't had in almost 13 years, I'm hoping to make the most out of it!

Cash Queen: Further Observations about living on Cash

August 23rd, 2010 at 02:39 pm

I am not really liking it (said petulently) If you could see me now my bottom lip is slightly protuding in a pout. The ease of the plastic has been replaced my the stifling constraint of wondering if one has enough cash for purchases. Ehh ...

My money situation became slightly muddled in that my mother gave me $30 cash (to pay be back for a $22 comforter for my son's birthday gift and $7 toward a sham to match). I used $20 of that to purchase an $18 lamp for my daughters' bedroom re-do. Target had great bedding items on clearance and the girls are having their room repainted. They purchased really colorful (striped and polka-dots) comforters/shams for $20.38 pretax at Target. I did cover the $5 tax on their bedding. All in all that purchase of $64.25 got the two bedding sets (they gave me $40) and a really cool floor lamp. As far as I'm concerned the big ticket items for their reno are done. That didn't throw me, the following did.

I alluded to family hooplah and drama last week. It was over gossip and half-truths and for whatever reason, it isn't really getting to me. I am finding personal satisfaction in standing my ground and staying out of situations I didn't really create. ANYHOW, that said, DH has resigned from the second job of managing my father's apartment buildings. He has returned keys to all the apartments (via my brother) and I have directed the two calls we've had this past week from the tenants back to my father.

The benefit to this resignation is that we (my kids and I) have had him all weekend with no phone calls, no stress, no working around showings or fixings of leaky toilets. We had a relaxed and generally happier DH/father. We played Wii, we went to the park and played tennis for two hours yesterday, we went to Mass in one car and then travelled as a family to Target and Home Depot for last minute school items that we didn't pick up. I had to break my $50 because I was $3 short at Home Depot. The flash drive wasn't on sale for $9.99 as the day prior, rather it was $12.99 - using all of the money I brought with me. I now have $46 left of my $50. I will also have to spend about $8 for the skate party today for the kids, but I did find coupons for free admission for birthday child (my oldest son is 8 today), and get one free for my two girls.

Friday is the day that I return to the bank to replenish my cash stash. I am so proactive that I have my withdrawal slip ready and waiting!

All in all, the Living on Cash is going well. I am not happy that I needed to break into my $50 bill, but under normal weeks I won't have to buy soccer cleats, flash drives, plus shaving items for my daughters who are heading into teen-age hood. And not to mention the handy dandy scrublet bearing Loreal 360 on the Go (though it rang up as $6.99 but the shelf price was $4.99) and I had 2-$1.00 off coupons.

In my next post, I'll share the random thoughts of Cash King on this experiment.

Cash Queen: Random Observation

August 21st, 2010 at 09:30 pm

from Day Two. Living with cash only is inconvient. Living with cash only requires discipline. Living with cash only requires informed choices.

There is no such thing as a splurge on your first week of cash only. Coupons will quickly become your best friend.

Despite my small frustrations regarding living on the cash in my envelope, I did survive and I didn't give in to the temptation to reach for my debit card.


Cash Queen: Introduction (First few hours)

August 20th, 2010 at 07:29 pm

Ok, so I decided to dive into the cash only pool.

I went to the bank to withdraw my $250. Ten - $20s and One - $50. I'd like to not spend the $50 - I'm using a bit of psychology here with myself.

I told DH that this went into enforcement today. He laughed and said, "I've been disarmed" - referring to his penchant for $1.88 debits for coffee and $1.89 Slim Jims at the gas station when he does his gas fill-ups. I have $40 for him - gas money for the week (through Sat, 8-28) and his "goodies". I did offer to purchase him a canister of Slim Jims at Aldi's - or whatever their version is, I know I've seen them there.

While at the bank, I withdrew our monthly tuition payment of $420 - drove it over to the business office and paid.

I put gas into my car - $35 worth. I had to go into the station to pay first. I had to get a receipt.

Soccer-playing Son #2 needed cleats for his soccer game tomorrow. New ones (not the best brand) were on sale for $16 at Target and they were sold out. We went to the used sports place and found almost-perfect Nike brand for $10.81.

The change from transactions is going into the "fun fund" jar. It presently has $3.00 in it (change from my purse) and today I found a nickle at the park.

Rather than run through the drive-thru for $1 frostys, we came home and opened a $1.35 2L of Pepsi from our stasth which I was saving for entertaining, but it *is* 90+ degrees in the sun and we were at the park and my boys are a grimy mess, so it is time to enjoy a cold Pepsi!

Stay tuned.

Gonna jump into the cash only pool

August 20th, 2010 at 01:15 pm

starting today. I'll be taking out $250 cash from the bank (ten $20s put into the evelopes for: gas, groceries, entertainment/misc AND one $50 that I will spend only as last resort). We will need gas and groceries (I will obviously need to do a better comprehensive inventory and meal plan while shopping). I've accounted for entertainment (the kids' BTS skating party) and a decent miscellaneous category.

I guess you'll be seeing daily posts from me pertaining to the spending log. Wish me luck!

Who lives on cash?

August 19th, 2010 at 03:02 pm

I'm just wondering here who does the cash envelope system?

I'm lacking the discipline to adhere to the budget categories while using the debit card. I find that I "borrow" from other places, which sort of defeats the purpose.

I saw a segment on Suze where a blogger did this for three months and saved an average of something like $700 monthly, though she returned to her old ways of debit and credit after that period.

It just got me thinking, and wondering if anyone here has employed this method.

Anyone here tried it?

New favorite quote

August 19th, 2010 at 01:13 pm

I have a church-compiled cookbook for the 1940s from a small Iowa farming town.

While looking through it last night, I came across the following annonymous quote:

"Just about the time you think you can make ends meet, somebody moves the ends."

Glad to report that while I've managed to put together a list of expenses and estimates for those lilne items anticipated for the rest of the year, including Christmas, I'm happy to report that if I am realistic about our spending (allowing more per week so I'm not stressing), we will be OK. This includes Christmas and the holiday season. I don't believe I will achieve my goal of becoming a full mortgage payment ahead per month (more than). I usually pay it two weeks prior to the due date.

Drama-free Mama

August 18th, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Yesterday was fraught with anxiety here at my house. No sense going into the details of the dumbness of the situation, but I have come to realize that I am driving the boat of my life, navigating the waters. It is quite easy to get into that place where all I am doing is bouncing off of rocks. I will say that this involves my husband and my father (whom I struggle to have a normal relationship with). The dynamics are muddied with loyalty, blood is thicker than water, money is power, etc.

I found that while I sort of did a mini-vent with my previous post, IRL I acted quite differently. I did listen to DH vent, I had to say that my relatives are nuts, does this really surprise you, let's us move on.

The monetary ramificiations of this are DH will most likely not be working the second job for my father for some time. He has returned all keys to all buildings - rather I will be returning these to my brother's mailbox later today.

DH automatically jumped to the "I will have to find a second job because you really count on that money" branch in this tree of life.

I was able to remind him that the money that he makes goes directly to the car portion of our savings account. Granted it won't grow as fast, but it will grow.

The positive money things that have happened lately are (which will help us weather the loss of income), I haven't used any of the "car" money for things - and these are things that I might have felt justified borrowing funds, but I didn't have to:

(1) Same disowning father paid for the dance dresses for my daughters.
(2) Our school gave us an additional $2,000 tuition grant
(3) The hospital bill that I owe on was reduced to $250 (of which I'm making $25 monthly payments)
(4) My grandma just sent a $500 check as a gift
(5) The pediatrician gave us free samples for several month's for my daughter's asthma meds
(6) The tenant appears to be paying 1/2 the rent every two weeks in a timely fashion - she probably realizes if she doesn't she is out

The non-monetary benefits of this are DH will be around a lot more. I will forward all issues pertaining to apartment building management to my father's telephone number. This too shall pass.

I'm thinking that today I will be passing on my trip to use coupons on items that I *really* don't need and had better think in terms of an *as-needed* basis.

I really want to teach my children that while life throws you curves, you can manage without the drama, hence the post title of "Drama-fee Mama" - which is my goal for the day.


August 17th, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Family drama has me feeling a bit blah. I hate being sucked into things when I've made a concscious effort to stay out of other people's dysfunctional relationships and then my silence becomes the accusable offense of "breech of loyalty and trust."

Monetary relevance? None. I did though resort to emotional eating: a lone Kit Kat on the top shelf of the fridge. Not good for my diet, I know.

Leave me alone.