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Archive for January, 2011

January Spending Recap and February Goals

January 31st, 2011 at 09:01 pm

I usually track my budgeted spending in two-week increments, but since I've switched budgeting software, I'll rely on their monthly spending report for the following categories:

Mortgage: $1,800
Groceries and household: $655.19
Retirement: $600
Savings: $500
Tuition: $420
Auto (gas and maintenance): $330.05
Insurance (life/auto/home/rental property): $229.63
Utilities (comcast/electric/gas): $314
Extraneous-Major: $300 (dance fee/basketball/chess/Cub Scout overnight)
Student loan: $169.15
Extraneous-Minor: $100 (charitable donations/gifts/seasonal/clothing/etc)

February should be lower considerably because I did a major shopping trip today and plan on being housebound most of the week due to the predicted blizzard.

(1) Reduce spending for groceries and household by 1$150 - to $500 and use coupons for non-Sam's Club trip items
(2) Better contain Extraneous-Minor expenses to $50
(like frequent the Dollar Tree for Valentine's for kids
(3) Reduce gas usage (but January included out of state trip)
(4) Plan one outing with family and one with husband (preferably using coupons)
(5) Predict Extraneous-Major spending for March

Hope everyone stays warm and safe!!

Today I am thankful for

January 28th, 2011 at 08:30 pm

my mother. She has made life easy for me today in two ways:

(1) home-made dough and ingredients for pizza for dinner
(2) on her run to Sam's Club she gave me as gifts: 2 gallons of milk and Pedigree dog food (so my dog will have dinner, too).

I am home again with another sick child (oldest son relapsed). I had enough cold medication and tissue, but my sanity though is getting very shaky if I have to spend 3/5 days home with sicklings next week.

Next week I have the library and Sam's Club on places of "must visit".

Hope all are well and warm!

Proud of myself

January 26th, 2011 at 05:56 pm

Thought I'd share a fear-conquering moment here. I have a pathological fear of two things: flying post 9/11 (it triggered some latent paranoia) and dentist (having a bad gag reflex that embarasses me makes me shudder to think of any dental work).

Today I conquered fear #2 and went to the oral surgeon for the consult on having the wisdom tooth removed and roots extracted from the one that fell out. I survived the panoramic x-ray which involved nothing inside my mouth - though they did need to remind me to breathe during the procedure. It took on the first try. The surgeon poked around my mouth and I only gagged once, so we took breaks in between the gloved hand in my mouth. It should take no more than one hour for the tooth and root removals as it isn't impacted. We discussed worse-case scenarios, and there aren't many. We discussed anesthesia options and I am going with nitrous oxide.

It is going to be mostly covered by insurance, and recovery shouldn't drag on for days. I survived the consult, and I believe that I'll be able to survive the extraction. Oh, to be plagued by irrational fears can be certainly embarassing, but I'm moving toward conquering!

Double whammy, but I get to leave the house today!

January 25th, 2011 at 02:16 pm

Sick child (who was home Fri and Mon) has company! Another sick sibling to keep him occupied. At least I won't have to play Mario Go-Kart when he's medicated and feeling fine. I am missing another day of volunteering at the school Frown [I like the moms I volunteer with]

My mother is coming by after lunch so I can get out at go to Walmart (Sam's Club trip might as well wait until Friday when I get more manna/Scripps cards). I am limiting myself to $25 at Walmart and I need milk and apple juice, lunch meat and bread, and I'll have to inventory the remaining staples I need for dinners til Friday.

It is pretty sad when a Walmart outing is considered fun ...

Taxes done, and the numbers are in.

January 25th, 2011 at 03:07 am

Federal return: $4,900 refund

State return: $921 refund

Last year's refunds: $4,885 for federal and $761 for state.

We use this for the real estate taxes on our primary residence. All in all, good deal.

Oh, germs ... won't you please go away?

January 24th, 2011 at 02:26 pm

Home again with sick child. Nothing major as far as "sickness", but a BAD cold - runny eyes, drippy nose, pile of tissues, random cough. Sigh, toss and turn. Sniffle sniffle here. You got the picture.

I sent out the emails letting folks know I won't be able to follow through with my normal volunteer stuff today (computer entry of Scripps/manna orders and lunch duty).

This was a low-spend weekend, and I'm anticipating another one next weekend with three basketball games on Saturday (oldest three) and soccer on Sunday.

Yet another day without the needed trip to Sam's Club. I will have to make PB&J muffins today so there is something for lunch tomorrow for the non-Thermos carriers.

All for now. Stay healthy!

DH works wonders (again)

January 22nd, 2011 at 07:46 pm

January has been pretty good so far (as far as clearing up some dumb small medical debts, throwing small money towards mortgage, etc). For the first time we are credit-card free and are tackling the mortgage and student loan (no more head in the sand for us, with every payment I make -- I designate how much is interest and how much is principle). I feel that we are making better decisions on the small things as well.

This brings me to this AM. It's a busy day here with basketball games, a birthday party, coordinating efforts to get girls to the mall with their respective bffs, etc. Not to mention running dangerously low on toilet paper and milk - while not wanting to run to Sam's Club, AND having a coupon exire today at Target for free digital prints.

Since the dryer died, I've been faithfully doing small loads of laundry at a time and hanging them in the basement to dry. DH said he thought that it *might* be the thermostat and a loose belt. In no more than ten minutes he vacuumed out the lint, extracted the old thermostat and called to see the hours at the local appliance part store. For $33.57 he purchased a new thermostat, installed it, and returned to me in working condition my dryer.

The old him would have been "Just buy another one." The new him was "Let's see if another $35 can do the trick again." And it did.

Off to dry a load of towels!

Cold and coughs

January 21st, 2011 at 03:45 pm

Bah ... I just lost my long-winded entry ...

It went something like this:

I live in IL, which might as well be a trundra of Siberia with these ridiculously low wind chills and cold. It is bad when you can't get warm and the thermostat is at 71 and your feet that usually sweat in fur-lined Crocs are STILL cold.

Coughs refer to the 6 year old who had an attack of croup last night. The nurse did confirm that a 6 year old can have croup. I spent part of the night outdoors deep breathing frigid air with my sickling. This was followed by a balmy time in a steamy bathroom. Thankfully, he was able to calm down and sleep after 25 minutes of this. I, on the other hand, didn't fall back to sleep til almost 4.

Said sick child is home today. I am grateful that I have the correct cough syrup to give to him (you'd think after having as many kids as I do that I would keep expectorants and suppressants righ, but I don't) AND my saint of a mother is bringing over homemade pizza dough for us for dinner. Yet a further miracle, I have pizza sauce, mozzarella AND Italian sausage!

My hand held mixer died yesterday, joining the list of broken appliances I own. I am staying on top of air drying the laundry, small loads work best.

It is pay day and rent collection day, too. Putting $250 to the EF/Car fund and donating $10 to a veteran family in need and $10 to a friend's brother's participation an Ironman Triathalon to raise money for ataxia. I'm casting aside my embarrassment at small amounts to causes; hell, I'm embracing small amounts thrown at our savings goals. I also got on the list to provide a meal for the family that lost their dad/husband, we know them through the dance studio.

Hopefully this will take and I won't lose it again!


RIP Old Dryer

January 20th, 2011 at 03:21 pm

My dryer is deciding that it is time to retire from service. This is the dryer that psuedo-died 18 months ago. This is the dryer that I lived without for four months. This is the dryer that DH fixed for $42 14 months ago and it resurrected.

Yesterday with a final whine and screech of belts and internal mechanisms, it groaned and became silent.

I believe that we had that dryer for at least ten years, more or less.

I can live without a dryer for a bit of time. I know the routine - wash small loads daily (one or two), items go on hangers or the drying rack in the basement where it is toasty warm because of the furnace. The unmentionables (underware and items) go up to the side of the bathtub in the main bathroom. Socks go over the shower curtain rod. Towels -- that is another story and those go over to my mother's for washing/drying.

I will replace the dryer, however. I will not go 4 months again, proving that I can live without it.

I have the money in my EF and will use it to purchase a new one after I check out sales and consumer reports.

Afterall, that is what an EF is for, right? Replacing things that break and need replacing.

There is hope for me afterall ... (Old me would have kept the money in the EF and tried to squeeze funds out of an already tight budget ... )

Relishing a productive/organized day

January 19th, 2011 at 06:55 pm

With a family the size of mine and a calendar that is as busy as ours, I am admittedly sometimes running in so many directions that it is a sheer miracle that I haven't left a child forgotten somewhere or experienced some great calamity more often than I do. The school secretary is quite kind and is used to me dropping off forms on the day of a deadline and/or dropping off things that my children need and they have told me the day of, etc.

Today was nothing short of nice and calm. Yesterday I spent time in the kitchen and got dinner made for today as well (just need to rehead) and sandwiches for lunches, etc. I got tons of laundry done yesterday and had five uniforms laid out (including gym uniforms and shoes) and coats and winter ware (such a blissful feeling to have no "Where is my ---?" or "--- has MY gloves. I don't want HIS!")

This AM I was organized enough to drop my son off at the public school for his work with the Reading Specialist, and I actually went to Caribou Coffee with two good friends. One friend treated, though I am a cheap date and only cost $1.95. I rememebered to bring the six milk gallons we're saving for the K-Club at the school and I dropped off some magazines to my mom. We just got back from speech therapy with the youngest, and he is coloring peacefully while watching Tom and Jerry. The laundry is done, the house is neat and clean, and all I can do is a sigh of relief.

Certainly this encourages me to put forth an effort to be a better planner and less of a procrastinator.


Down to the last $30

January 18th, 2011 at 09:38 pm

The extraneous expenses added up quite quickly and heavily in the first half of the month. I budget $300 and it went like this: $109 for dance competition for daughters, $59 for chess for DS8, $74 for basketball for DS8, $100 for overnight for Cub Scout + husband at the Adler Planetarium, and $11.25 for DS6 for field trip. Not only did we breeze through the money, but then some Frown

We are down to our last $30 and both cars need minimal gas. And I was bad and accepted a social date with my two really good friends, though I down-graded it from Egg Harbor to Caribou Coffee. Smile

Payday is Friday, and we should be fine. The cupboards are still pretty filled from last Friday's trip to Sam's Club. My children ate through the cereal at an alarming rate, and as a result their options for breakfast the remainder of the week are either homemade waffles (frozen) or toast and yogurt.

I had a long conversation with one of my good friends today and was frankly surprised by some of the things that she shared about her family of origin and her husband. Usually I'm not comfortable with full disclosure from people. Left over residual effect of being a therapist working with some pretty messed up people. I suprised myself by actually talking about things. I usually make an excuse and stick to surface stuff, which I think might put some people off for future conversations with me. BUT I do feel that I am making strides in moving toward genuine friendship. Yay for me!

My fellow blogging friend who suffered a massives stroke on 1/11 appears to be stabilized. It didn't look good with her inter-cranial pressure was at 37 (normal brain ICP is under 10). Prayers were answered in this dire situation.

I've done some self-examination lately and have come up with areas that I'd like to improve in (like overcoming some social anxiety situations). And being less judgmental with people that I perceive are self-absorbed (there are two people in particular that I avoid, but I'd like to be less bothered by - totally my own issues).

As far as home maintenance, DH and I have a small list of things to accomplish this year, like new carpeting in the bedrooms of our house, plus new paint and bedding in our room, and possibly a shed for storage.

So this was a ramble! The last $30 will see up through the next three days!

The most fun in awhile ... and all frugal!

January 16th, 2011 at 02:28 am

Today my Cub Scouts participated in the annual Pinewood Derby. We had the Wolf Scout take 4th and the one in Open take 3rd. All great fun!

My 3rd grader joined the Chess Club yesterday and we pulled out my old Chess set from 5th grade. We've played two games already today. This is the dyslexic son who has a different intelligence, and it must be some spatial reasoning because he has caught on very quickly and doesn't need much help strategizing.

Both fun and frugal!!

Tomorrow it is a dance competition in Milwaukee for the dancing daughters.

I hope everyone has a happy weekend, and restful!

Misery loves company

January 14th, 2011 at 03:10 pm

or so it seemed yesterday. As noted in my previous post, I was in the dumps, WAY down in the dumps in a major way. Another friend of mine was too. And she called to bemoan her stuff. I bemoaned mine, too. Then things didn't seem so bad. My sick child was probably really only tired, and she is delightful company. The dentist visit didn't kill me, and I realize that I have to have dental issues taken care of (decaying wisdom tooth removed) sooner than later.

My grandmother is a denture wearer and has always stated the importance of proper dental hygiene to save her descendants from a fate similar to hers. We might as well call her Patron Saint of Teeth because she offered to pay for my oldest daughters Invisalign. I have saved some small piddly amount of money to cover her consultation and first visit. I then told DH that I would have to use that for my wisdom tooth removal, he said it would all work out as it always does. Then my grandma called to see how my appointment went. She was glad I went and offered to pay for MY work. I said I had it covered with the money saved for Delaney's work. She said she would take care of mine and hers. I only accepted for my daughter. What a relief and a blessing and all the warm fuzzies that go with being loved. I want to be that grandmother one day, the one pays for her great granddaughter's braces.

Monies spent:
$39.00 to dentist (my portion after insurance)
$16.00 for door knob

My youngest son happened to lock himself in the main bathroom yesterday. The knob was old and the one on the outside fell off. Somehow the mechanism shifted and was no longer flush with the edge of the door, rather more than a 1/4" slipped out. I couldn't get the boy out. Thankfully he isn't one who panics and had great delight that we stuck in the bathroom for 35 minutes waiting for his dad to come home and get him out.

During that time, he was entertained by his siblings who played tic tac toe passing a paper and pencil back and forth under the door. Lots of good laughter at the whole prospect. DH removed some of the stripping from the door frame and was able to extract him within 10 minutes using a screw driver. He promptly went to Ace and replaced the knob with a new working one.

Today is already seeming better than yesterday. Thank you for all your cyber support. It helped a lot!

Just one of those days when money really doesn't seem to matter

January 13th, 2011 at 04:21 pm

I'm feeling down today.

A blogging friend had a massive stroke yesterday at age 40. Not sure of her prognosis after surgery to alleviate the swelling. She's lost some of her functioning on the right side. No responding on the left side. (Joanne Heim at the simple wife typepad)

A father of my dancing daughters' classmate died after a long battle with cancer.

There is the whole thing about the tragedy in Arizona.

There is the whole thing about the weather in Australia.

I have a daughter home sick today. I have to go to the dentist (major challenge for me) and I feel stupid that I'm afraid.

I argued with my husband over stupid stuff this morning.

I must remind myself that life is good. God is great. Our lives unfold as they do. I don't know why all of this is taking a huge toll on me mentally today. I have many blessings. I have healthy and happy children. I have a hard-working loving husband. I have friends and family who are alive and well.

I'm really just feeling down.

This is for Monkeymama

January 12th, 2011 at 02:22 am

We'll be thinking about you tomorrow. Have Monkey Dad check in! Take care, friend!

"Will you do the happy dance with me?"

January 10th, 2011 at 09:35 pm

I have a very good friend who is the parent of one of my daughter's best friends. She and her husband married late and had three children, the last well into their 40s. The husband lost his job on 4/15/10 - he was a very well paid professional (most likely over $250K). He had to get legal counsel to get a decent severence package which was 6 months. He thankfully got a job on 12/15/10. How they managed financially, I do not know. She mentioned borrowing money from her mother, cancelling some trips, etc. I could see no outward changes in their spending: first run movies on a regular basis, buying a 2 year membership to certain places we frequent, constant dining out, etc.

Today we were on the phone when her doorbell rang. She put me on hold and came back and said quite excitedly, "Will you do the happy dance with me?! Apparently our car is paid off! I thought we had a six year loan ... it must have been a five year loan! Wa-hoo ... we have two paid off cars!"
(Her congratulatory letter and the title of the car were fed-exed to them, and that is what she opened.)

I said, "Of course, I will do the happy dance with you ... but didn't you know that this was the last car payment?"

She laughed and said, "No ... no, I didn't know. But I sure am happy!"

I don't think I'd function well like that. Is ignorance really blissful? Apparently so ...

My new mantra: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

January 10th, 2011 at 02:40 pm

The slow and steady since January 1, 2011:


$283 to IRA (DH's)
$50 additional principle on mortgage
$60 to education


$250ish one-time payment to clear up outstanding balances (all small) of my medical bills. Reminder to self: this is money that can be redirected to goals that support the bigger pictures of retirement and education.

If I track every little bit that we throw to our goals, it will keep the momentum going, and I'll see the little bits add up.

My new mantra: Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Weekly spending recap

January 7th, 2011 at 03:28 pm

One of the goals for this year is to track all spending, on a weekly basis.

Here it goes: For 1/1 to 1/6

Groceries: $207.10
Dining: $64.50
Gas: $56.26
Gifts: $13.50
Clothing: $12.74
Miscellaneous: $13.42
Kids: Toys: $6.36

TOTAL: $373.97

HOWEVER, of this: $125 was Sam's Club Gift Card, $53.97 was a Target Gift Card, $50 was Chili's Gift Card, and $29.73 in Kohl's Cash.

Total Spent (Cash/Debit): $115.54

We're also starting the next week (1/7 to 1/13)

With $100 Sam's Club Gift Cards and $50 Gas Gift Cards

GOAL: Keep spending (Cash/Debit) at $75.00

Wednesday Check-In

January 5th, 2011 at 05:08 pm

Today and tomorrow are NSDs, out of the fact that we have a $2.50 balance in the check book. (I do have some other cash set aside should something come up, though I'm pretending I don't have it). I do have a list of things to get on Friday.

Improvement in communication is happening in my household - that is between DH and myself. Today we spent ten minutes synchronizing our calendars for the remainder of the month. Life gets a bit more complicated as we start indoor soccer for the K-Son. But it was nice that we actually know what days we need to be where. I used to have a Take Each Day as They Come Mentality, which is a direct contradiction to DH's natural tendency to be Aware of the Bigger Picture. I think we might be leaving our polar opposites and move toward middle ground - a blessing!

My daughters are babysitting for the first time on Saturday night. They are 12 and 13, with the 12 year old taking a Babysitting Class this past summer. This is for another family at our parish. The mother called and asked if the girls were available. It was nice to hear nice things about them (this mother was struck by how kind the girls are with the little kids, and both girls have helped out at VBS, and the mother noted that my girls are always attentive in Mass and both girls still kiss me after school Mass when other kids barely wave at their parents who happen to be there). I feel very blessed to have my girls, and it is nice that their inner qualities are appreciated and noticed in others.

That is all for now. Enjoy your day!

Random observation about budgeting/spending

January 4th, 2011 at 05:14 pm

and it is (big drum roll, please) ... it isn't fun when there isn't any money left to spend on "deals" (like sale prices with coupons which will yield CVS's ECB or Walgreen's Bonus Dollars).

I must learn to accept the fact that the money we had is now spent and payday is Friday. We aren't starving or needing these items - it is just my palms are itching to participate in great money saving/making schemes, but there isn't any money left.

Here has been a recap on the spending since 1/1:

Eating out at Chili's: $50 Gift Card, $15 on debit card
Groceries at Target: $53.09 Gift Card, $3.09 on debit card
Kohl's: $29.93 with Kohl's Cash (free Nerf dart gun, Urban Pipeline jeans, two Godiva chocolate bars, and a Hallmark Christmas Story ornament)
Speedway: $46.25 in gas (two cars)
Groceries (+ one 2011 Christmas gift): $37.96
Sam's Club weekly trip: $125.25 (no OOP because used Script gift cards purchased thru kids school).

The $105.00 balance quickly dwindled to $2.50. Frown

There will be other sales, right?

Organizing and anyone with kids need a rebate?

January 3rd, 2011 at 02:02 pm

Yesterday was the ambitious day that we re-arranged our computer set-up. We had one (and a non-functional printer) tucked into a computer armoir that looked nice but offered no workspace.

My stepdad loves computers and gadgets and had given us a second computer set-up in November that went right to the basement.

Out went the armoire. In came a large, but loved oak library table and a card table. We are now wireless printing and wifi with two computers AND a functional printer, plus my old laptop was resurrected and despite is slow speed, I can access my bank stuff and update the MS Money there.

I went through TONS of papers yesterday, purging ruthlessly. I am in need of some decorative (aka "pretty") photo storage boxes to store school supplies in (I think five will do the trick) and I think things are looking decent for an organized and happy life.

A personal goal: to diminish the "Mom, do you know where a (insert needed item) is?" And my standard response "Um ... let me think for a minute ... "

I went through the coupons, too. I have two Crayola rebates for $3s back on each of specific items purchased at Toys R Us (items are Crayola Wonder Lap Desk, Crayola Color Wonder Light Up Markers, Dry-Erase Activity Center, Crayola Ultimate Art Supplies, Glow Station Day & Night on the Go, Color Explosion 3-D Edition). Items must be purchased by 1/31 and postmarked by 2/14.

If anyone is interest, send your email and I'll get your addy and drop in the mail tomorrow.

More on the spending/goals later. Kids are home today still (poor things, all fast asleep at 8 AM) and today is a huge shopping trip to Sam's Club!