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Archive for June, 2011

Feeding Frenzy

June 30th, 2011 at 01:48 pm

My mantra since Tuesday: "I'm grocery shopping on Friday. I'm grocery shopping on Friday."

We've finished up the cereal and the bread, so I needed to bake chocolate chip muffins for today's breakfast. I'm conserving the last 1/2 gallon of milk and made hot chocolate to go with the muffins. One of my sleepyheads grumbled something about putting the fireplace on "this is a winter meal." :P

For dinner I made barbecue chicken in the oven (last I'm turning it on for several days) and did a chicken stir-fry for DH. I also made brown rice which some of my children like plain with garlic salt. I also made meat loaf muffins for tonight's dinner and will make baked potatoes in the microwave.

I highly doubt that we will starve today, and I usually cave and go to the store BEFORE my goal, but I've managed this time to do it. And I have a bag of pretzel and plenty of veggies and ranch dressing for snacks.

If you've gotten this far through my food-post, how do you suggest going about building up a stockpile? I'm realizing the I should definitely work on that, but am not sure *how to*. I should add that I am trying to set aside a certain amount per month to build up such stockpile, but its been rather lean here with the finances.

Today's Frugal Doings

June 29th, 2011 at 01:28 pm

Yesterday's visit to the zoo:
Parking was $9, but we saved $53.50 on Guest passes
Snacks were $3.50 at Speedway (my kids love the $.70 frozen treats-Mountain Dew or Cherry Coke)
Total $12.50

Today we're off to see "Alpha and Omega" - a kids' movie for $1 each ($6 total) at the disount theatre this AM. Since its 10:00 Show Time, no snacks required. We'll eat lunch from the pantry (though we are getting low) and then off to the pool.
Total $6.00

All of this is coming from the remaining $37 balance.

Through the Summer Program at the public library the kids are getting coupons for free ice cream cones at the local ice cream parlor, free movie tickets to the local discount place, and free bowling. Still scoping out options for free/frugal fun!

EF Deposit and Goal Update

June 28th, 2011 at 02:54 pm

My goal for June was to be able to save $1,800 bringing our EF to $33K. We have money coming in weekly (whether it be half of a rent payment - $725 - or DH's paycheck) on Friday's, so I'm able to adjust things here and there to accomplish most goals.

For June, I knew that the $1,800 might be a bit of a stretch (I am well-known for setting unattainable goals and being easily put off track and becoming discouraged).

I was able to deposit to our EF ... $1,550 bringing our balance to $32,750. Not bad ... I do feel that I could have done better - given there was a trip to Walmart for camping supplies and $120 for Fall soccer.

Feeling like I've accomplished something ... I'll be back on the saving bandwagon come August. Taking the month of July off to fund our vacation - even trying to do that on a budget!

* Edited to add (after reading CC-free's comment) that $20,000 is planned to be used toward the purchase of another vehicle (no payments for us) though DH seems to have accepted taking the train/shuttle and will do it yet another month for July (keeping our transportation costs minimal and the EF maximal).

Free is good

June 28th, 2011 at 12:48 pm

We (kids and I) are off to the Brookfield Zoo today. I received six guest tickets, so cost to me is $0. I will opt for free parking which isn't our normal convenient spot, but it is nice weather and exercise never hurt anyone. My kids love the $.69 freezie ice things at Speedway, so that will probably be their treat (versus at least $3 for one ice cream bar at the zoo).

My older daughter is taking over cooking one night a week. She and my mom made lasagna for dinner, she assembled at my mom's and baked here. My oldest son baked brownies for dessert. My mom picked up the ingredients so the cost was free. Family and food are two of my favorite things.

We also stopped at the library yesterday for more books and DVDs, etc. I signed oldest son up for a chess lesson next week (Free). Contemplating a yo-yo class for the younger boys, but might opt out of that due to a schedule conflict. Returned unused items from Cub Scout Camping Trip to Walmart for a credit back on debit card of $20.00.

I have $36 remaining until Friday. I've spent $70.25 on a fill up at Sam's Club, groceries and household were right at $100 (I ended up stocking up on snacks at CVS in order to get a $10 gas card - I used $9.50 in coupons toward that purchase), $65 was cash for the boys at the local annual fest in our town. So, it's looking fine on the money front.

How everyone is having a good day!


June 26th, 2011 at 11:07 pm

(1) The tree was removed, the roof was tarped, I have a claim number and the insurance adjustor should be contacting me tomorrow. I've gotten over the stupidity of raising my deductible from $500 to $1,000 two years ago in an effort to save minimal money. I am thankful that I have a fully-funded EF fund.

(2) Vacation Bible School is over and done (this is the one which required a lot of my time. The secondary one is self-sufficient with my overseeing sign-in and sign-out). We managed to raise $151 in change for Catholic Charities. It was quite precious to see the little kids bringing up their change to the collection basket. This was my idea (charitable giving) Smile

(3) Our entertainment schedule remains low-spend this week: library (FREE), pool (MEMBERSHIP WELL-USED), Brookfield Zoo (FREE PASSES FROM FRIEND), Dollar Wendesday Show ($1 per person).

(4) Oldest son and DH had a great time at Cub Scout Camp in Wisconsin. I can return to Walmart unused suntan lotion and fishing line ($20).

(5) Spending is in check ($70 to fill up minivan at Sam's Club) and I've shopped at Aldi's, shaving quite a bit off compared to Jewel or Dominick's.

(6) Hello Virginia! Booked hotel through pricelin for $75 a nite for $375 + tax. Transferred money from savings account to credit card, though they bill upon arrival. Looking forward to time away with family -- August 4th to August 12th!! My mom and stepdad will watch my dog (she's 9 and low-maintenance) so that will save on kennel costs.

All for now -- want to catch up on the blogs.

Question: How do you remove a 90' tree from a single story ranch house?

June 23rd, 2011 at 01:13 am

Answer: With a crane!!

Update: The tree did a lot more damage to the roof than first thought, though I really don't know what I/we were thinking. There are four substantial holes in the roof. Only one punctured through the plaster in the bathroom. It took seven hours and many men to remove the tree. The contractor was out there to tarp and board things up. The estimate is going to my insurance agent tomorrow (should be no problems due to this being a preferred provider) so the whole escapade should be progressing along nicely. I am thankful that no one was hurt and that in the proper perspective this isn't much of a catastrophe. Inconvenience, yes. Catastrophe, no. There is a $1,000 deductible. Frown But I haven't purchased the new replacement vehicle and I have a balance of $33K in the EF.

DH went off to Cub Scout Camp with oldes son this AM. Only two more days of VBS (I struggle to accept the pettiness of adults who are juvenile - but that's just my random interpersonal observation for the day).

I'm looking forward to starting July's budget and have some ideas about specific challenges to motivate me to be better prepared about things. Example: shortage of time lead me to spend $3.00 on a roll of wrapping paper rather than having some on hand from the Dollar Store that would have cost ... a $1. Definitely some wastage going on due to lack of preparedness.

Bad storms in IL = hole in the roof of my rental property where tree fell

June 22nd, 2011 at 02:20 am

OK, so it looks like I like in a war zone - major winds (+60 mph) whipped through my neighborhood taking trees down left and right.

Sadly one of them was a big old tree in the front yard of my rental property. Thanksfully we're six blocks away and DH and I drove over. Very sad to see huge old tree cracked in half laying on the roof of my little red brick ranch house. Frown

On the phone right now with State Farm waiting to file a claim - 15+ minutes

Will tell more. Everyone is safe though.

Back to the Basics: Progress

June 21st, 2011 at 11:40 am

In my last post, I mentioned that I should probably revisit the basics ("The Seven Steps to Financial Freedom" by Phil Lenahan and "Debt Proof Your Marriage" by Mary Hunt). I like the previously mentioned two books: the first is more of a money philosophy with a Catholic perspective and the second is the "how to" put philosophy into practice.

A revisit with those and I feel that I'm more back on track. I've had NSDs on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. We had my inlaws for a visit, and rightfully so, they did buy pizza one night for dinner (with my coupon) and then another night we had beef sandwiches. They also purchased Dunkin Donuts one morning and a movie rental another night. I did a lot of precooking before they came (big batches of chili and stew) that we'll be eating for the next several days. My trip to Aldi's last Thursday did cost $140, but I was low on quite a lot of stuff and now have slightly-filled cupboards. Had I gone to Sam's Club for a stock up, I would have spent that PLUS a lot more, so my decision to go to Aldi's DID SAVE money in the long-run.

As far as gift giving for Father's Day: my FIL and stepdad got polo shirts from JC Penney's. The MSRP was $25 on each. They were on advertised sale of $9.99 each, and I had a $10 off any purchase coupon. The value of these items for return was $6.66. Smile
We didn't see my MIL for Mother's Day, so her gift was an angel figurine (popular, primitive looking, can't recall the name) for the collection we started for her - $15.99 regular and $4 with 25% off coupon. We bought DH cologne - Joop is his favorite and he's been without for over a year (cheaper alternatives were gifts from kids) - $45 at Walgreens before $10 off, kids each put in $5 so my OOP was $12.50. Feeling like I made a lot of progress here, the gifts LOOKED a lot more than were spent, that is my goal.

The oldest son and DH are off to Boy Scout Camp tomorrow for 4 days/3 nights. We're borrowing most of the supplies from my stepdad who was a Scout Master with my brother. My trip to Walmart today is for things that are needed, like fishing line, batteries, additional sunscreen and bug spray, etc. Since we're still a one-car family, they're driving with friends so I'll pick up a $25 gift card to help with that expense.

Today is 2nd Day of VBS - initial registration is the worst - missing names, group switching, misspelled names, complaints about T-shirt size options, confusion at pick-up, etc. We did manage to survive, so today should be better.

I'll stick to my list at Walmart, and it will be a-OK.

I consider myself progressing because yesterday DH said to me that in his industry there is talk of two of the three main competitors (his is one of them) merging. I didn't have the automatic pit in my stomach of "uh oh" - it was a random "Gee, I'd better follow up on those few money budgt busters tomorrow."

Let's see if this continues.

At what point do you revisit the basics?

June 16th, 2011 at 02:19 pm

Seems like every once in a while, a bump in the road (or potential bump) throws me back to that place of worry and concern and isolation (pre-Money Management Seminar with DH two years ago). It happened last night, when DH innocently said he should have his resume updated and ready to go because the future of his industry looks questionable. Now, I have a plan in place IF he loses his job.

I started to look at our situation and these small things threw me for a loop:

(1) Comcast bill is no longer in the 2-year locked in phase and jumped from $130 to $190 (best deal would only drop it $10 and slow the cable speed which seems turtlish at present).
(2) We dried up the employer-funded medical account and are now at $0.00, this means that we are responsible for DD's asthma meds which run $153.00.
(3) Gas prices for the one car are up, this will double when we return to a second car (which is soon because with five kids and their schedules, it has become really taxing with one one vehicle)
(4) Tuition prices have increased 2% and that looks like scholarship funds will be diminished, increasing what we pay monthly.
(5) The dryer broke two months ago and needs to be replaced. I am tired of living without one.

While none of these are earth shattering events, add them up and I wonder where will the money come from?

I will admit to being complacent and lax about things. I track the spending, but have done little to see how accurate the budget category allotments are. Bad, I know.

The remainder of June will be spendy (more so than minimal): Fathers Day gifts, camping trip purchases (though we're borrowing as much as we can), etc.

My first attempt to curtail spending:
(1) Fill gas tank at Sam's Club
(2) Grocery shop at Aldi's
(3) Mother's Day gift for MIL at Family Christian Bookstore - use 25% off
(4) JC Penney's - $10 off coupon for polo shirts for stepdad and FIL

Oh, to return to discipline and leave the place of worry. I need to get back on track. Time to revisit Mary Hunt's Debt Proof Your Marriage and the 7 Steps to Financial Freedom.

Almost mid-month check-in

June 13th, 2011 at 04:46 pm

Hard to believe it almost June 15 - today is the first day of the second full week of vacation. Last week our frugal fun included: three trips to the pool on the 90+ degree days, a visit to the Morton Arboretum (parents have a membership so that was free), a trip to the Library, and that was about it. I also had a meeting for VBS which is next week, two dr appointments for camp and sports physicals, etc.

This week is shaping up to include: (1) the weekly trip to the library - far cheaper to take out wii games than rent them at the, (2) $1 Movie on Wednesday (to see Yogi Bear and we'll stop at CVS for movie candy tomorrow), and (3) inlaws in town on Friday for Father's Day.

The spending is pretty much quashed for the week, buying only gas and groceries. We paid $2860 this month for the annual prepaid tuition contract for daughters' community college education. We are unsure what the bumper installation on DH's 73 Corvette will be. Might be $800-$1000. We have $550 for it so far and DH is supposed to help stepdad paint/stain the gazebo for $200-$300. So whatever, it is close.

The volunteer commitment is winding down, which I'm very glad of. I've certainly needed to get real with setting boundaries (as in "I am NOT available this day, please contact XX with any issues). We had DH's fraternal organization picnic yesterday and I found that if I don't put pressure on myself to socialize, I'm a lot happier. I did play volleyball with my kids and I did leave for part of the time to drive one child to a birthday party. I still find I prefer my own home and my own family to these types of get-togethers, but I know DH was happy I was there.

Hope all is well with everyone. Oh, by the way, where did summer go? It was 90+ last week and barely 70 now ... we want to go to the pool!

Stopping by to say "hi"

June 1st, 2011 at 01:53 pm

I've taken a few weeks off from blogging here, though I did pop in to catch up and wrote a few lame posts that I quickly deleted. I think I've worked through the problematic spot I found myself in. I was feeling blah about things, not liking that I've gained five pounds, not liking that I was becoming crabby, not liking that I resented the volunteer work that I signed myself up for, etc.

Well, I feel like I am finally back. I am looking forward to summer vacation. The Kindergartner is out for the year and the rest of the kids have Mass and report cards on Friday. We have plans of going out to breakfast with my mom after and then going to the pool for the afternoon.

I thought I had a handle on the finances, but things crept up: $30 for hiking shoes for DH (bought on clearance at Payless Shoesource) so he can break them in before camping trip late June, daughter needed solo dress altered ($50), needed new ghillies because she stretched hers out since she's on toe ($70.05), and we bought her a new tiara because the one that came with her dress flew off in a competition and I couldn't keep it on comfortably ($50). My oldest daughter is taking the summer off from dance to try out other things (she's taking a short Hip Hop/Poms class at a different studio). As much as I'd love her to not take a hiatus, it has been my job as a mother to support her. I think I've done so successfully.

I'm glad that June has started. So of course my goals are to track and be a better planner. We've saved $500 for our trip to Virginia in August (Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown are planned). We've paid the real estate taxes today ($3,440 x 2, and $2,200 x 1) so the savings account balance is looking whimpy. A friend offered six free tickets to Brookfield Zoo which are expiring at the end of June, so I took those (will still need to pay for parking, but at least we'll get to the zoo this year). Tomorrow I'll be heading to the school to trade in some uniform items we've outgrown and to see what I can get for next year (read: no pride here, my one friend whose in a finanical spot shook her head "no" when I suggested it - oh well).

I'm glad to see that FrugalTexan has a NM interview-visit which I hope goes well. I'm sorry to see the passing of AA's sitter and hope that the new situation turs out. I'm glad to see that CB is continuing to walk to work. Hope everyone else is A-OK!