Despite living only 5 miles away, my best friend and I have more of a "phone relationship". Her work schedule and my regular life schedules don't exactly mesh and make for mutually optimum times for get-togethers. We do get together for breakfast occasionally, during the week. Anyhow, we got around to exchanging gifts yesterday - or I should say exchanged them via a pick up/drop off on my porch.
She likes to buy for the kids - my girls got Dance Dance 3 for the wii Kinnect, and my boys got gift cards to Target plus small Lego sets. The weather here is cold (55) and chilly and not too sunny, so we did our running around (Rx pick-up, quick trip to Target for the boys to shop, and the park for soccer, but it was quickly apparent it was too cold for anyone to play seriously) So home we came to play with Legos and dance with the wii. My shoulder bades hurt from dancing India to the Bollywood songs.
Tomorrow "The Lorax" makes it to the $4 theatre and I think we've got some sleepovers on the calendar. Spring break is quickly dwindling ... I'll have a few days to regroup before Holy Week (for us Thurs-Sun).
Budget-wise we're looking OK. Wonderful? NO. OK? YES. I'm able to make a few bill payments early and will be able to pay off our high American Express bill that had all of our extraneous expenses for the past 30 days. I'll still keep using it, but need to go back to paying weekly. The points are good, we're saving up for a vacation at some point in the future.
Archive for March, 2012
Since it's been cold and my kids have been disbursed throughout the suburb I live in visiting friends, etc, I spent some time on oldest son's laptop killing some time. I came across thepeacefulmom.com (I think) who blogs about living on less than 28000 a year. Her plate is full, though she seems to thrive. And in light of some upcoming changes to our daily life, I think that it will all be fine. It has definitely been a time of self-evaluation and over-all analysis of where we are, what we want for our family, and what God is calling DH to do. So if you've got time, check out her blog. You'll probably like it
I file the state income taxes last Wednesday. Today the refund was deposited to our savings account. How is that for fast? I have a plan for those funds, with a new lawnmower being one of the items needed. DH mowed the lawn yesterday with the old mower, and while it went through lots of oil, a 15L jug of 10W30 costs $15 and that might keep our present mower going for awhile longer.
Today it is still chilly, with only a high of maybe 70. We're heading to Morton Arboretum for a trek in the woods this afternoon and then probably going to Happy Hour at Steak n Shake for malts right before dinner
Last week was all about tank tops, flip flops, bike rides on school nights, impromptu soccer games at the field with friends, etc. It was a nice weekend, weather-wise, a Cub Scout outing to the local wildlife rescue center, and some shopping with the girls for badly needed summer clothes.
Today the temperature was barely 45 degrees. Sunny, at times, and chilly cold, all the time. Our hopes for warm weather outdoorsy activities (trip to the Morton Arboretum to walk the Joy Path) had been replaced by two children going over to friends' houses, one going to the mall, and the remaining are playing wii. AND we had to put the heat on.
Spending remains reasonable. Driving less with gas at $4.32 per gallon. Our DVDs from the library for the first part of the week include: The Lord of the Rings (original animated version), Little Women (mid 90s with Winona Rider), and A Lion in Winter (remake with Glen Close and Patrick Stewart). Late week planned outings include bowling and the movies.
I found out today that the biological mother of my half-sibling is deceased. That child was placed for adoption when I was about four or five months old. I suppose that I was the lucky one of the two of us, having a mother who got married because she had to rather, rather than having a father who was already married to someone other than my mother. It is just an odd sort of reality, when you play the "what if" game.
Anyhow, I spent some time reading recollections about orphans' experiences in this place (a large one in Chicago) and it just reinforces to me that the love of parents and family is worth a whole lot more than money. This has me left feeling very sad for children whose parents couldn't afford them, or didn't want them.
Now on to the money stuff:
(1) Sump pump is on the fritz, broken sensor or something. It was expensive and had a life time warranty. DH is trading it in for a new one tonight. Money saved: at least $150 to replace it
(2) My generic Rx was $13 less at Dominick's than at Jewel Osco. Don't know why, it was the same product. I ended up with another $25 off of $50 coupon that I'll use for Easter.
(3) I saved $1.20 buying crayons at Target instead of Walgreens.
All for now.
The youngest child was beastly yesterday. I am *not* used to beastly children. I assumed it was my karma coming to get me - a friend and I walked seven 4th graders to their art class (a one time class to earn their Artist Merit Badge for cub scouts). Five of the seven are a handful - and I was thankful that mine and his best friend weren't in *that* group of kids who can't listen, keep their hands to themselves, and pay careful attention to what grown-ups say.
Well, the youngest had a major issue not getting the remote and JUMPED ON his sister trying to get it. This is while I'm trying to reasonably speak to the kids about what is acceptable. He had no impulse control. He put his hands on her and left NAIL MARKS. OH NO! I was officially a parent of one of *those* children. I suppose my look of horror and disappointment in his behavior was enough for him to realize his behavior was regrettable. He sobbed as his sister counted the nail marks. It was awful.
Of course this was right as we're trying to get out the door to get the 4th grader to Tutoring at 5:00, younger ones to Grandma's at 5:10, Oldest to High School for Spanish Placement test at 5:30 and younger daugher to dance at 6:00. And I needed gas in between those destinations. Anyhow, the youngest had watering eyes and cried and apologized and cried and coughed. I was relieved to find out that he had a temperature and slept most of the evening when I got home at 8:00.
So sickling is here today, better behaved watching Looney Tunes on the Cartoon Network. I finished and filed our state taxes and expect a $1,066 refund. The money can't get here fast enough -I spent $200 on uniforms yesterday for oldest at Freshman Orientation Night. We need a new lawn mower (estimating $200 for that). And I see our list of expenditures growing. Just when it seems like I've gottten caught up, the list reappears and grows.
Well, my mother is brining us bagels and cream cheese from Great American Bagel. The weather is still glorious and warm, and I think I'm going to sneak out to the deck and take a nap.
The definition of "content": rest of mind or satisfaction with the way things are.
I've been doing a decent job of keeping my priorities straight. Last month I declared "I hate my camera" after comparing the quality of my digital photos with those of my stepdad's expensive Nikon camera and magical lens that snapped great pictures of my kids in action at their sporting event. I even fantasized about owning a similar Nikon, I complained to my husband, got my friend involved (she's a spender at hear with little regard for needs over wants). I almost agreed to spend $700 on a great package deal on a Nikon at Costco. I then prudently decided to wait until after i got my state tax refund. Fast forward to yesterday, when I came across the package of the original photos that I wasn't pleased with. Guess what? I found them all fun and delightful, realizing that the quality was fine for my purpose - leafing through and remembering the fun times. The people aren't actually fuzzy and they are nice pictures. And the goofy thing is, my mother always gives me copies of the great "action" photos. Pfft, I don't know what I was thinking.
I've had some real moments of clarity lately. Mostly having to do with apprehension on lack of money and wondering how I'll ever deal with things. DH is going to be entering five years of academia to become a Deacon, and at the end, he will be able to make $10K less than what he is presently making (or an additional $600 a month if he continues to work full time in his present capactiy, but that isn't the plan).
The first Random Act of Kindness that I was the recipient of was an assortment of wonderful clothes (brand new) for my oldest son. (Thank you, NJ Debbie, again!!) My son was thrilled at the new clothes, that he won't have to wear the same outfit to Easter, his sister's Confirmation and Graduation, and Mother's Day.
The second Random Act of Kindness that I was the recipient of was the offer of uniform shirts for my older daughter. A family in our neighborhood has two daughters who will be jr/sr and the uniform changes so they will have the frosh/soph uniform shirts. Now all we will need is bottoms. And since my daughter is planning on trying out for pom pons/dance team, we've had the offer of possible outfit help there, too.
The third Random Act of Kindness was yesterday at my mom's house; we were celebrating brother's birthday and he said he has a huge bag of clothes for DH who is in desperate need of items since he's down 20+ pounds from last year. A was a bit concerned since my trip to the resale store on Friday yielded NOTHING decent in his size. Now I am glad that I didn't buy anything because he really doesn't need anything.
With the 75+ degree weather I was concerned about the lack of clothes for the boys. I had a $10 off of $50 coupon from Old Navy (last Sun's paper). I had a $20 from dog watching and I didn't want to spend anything more than $30 from the already pinched budget. I headed over on Friday and ended up getting three pairs of shorts and three shirts for an OOP of $26 on the debit card ($10 off and $20 cash).
So, I guess that I'm learning that the things that I stress about, ultimately end up being taken care of, one way or the other. Hand-me-downs or sales/coupons, it all gets taken care of.
Another biggie: I was a bit concerned about our financial situation and the great unknown of financial assistance/scholarships and grants. Then my daughter let me know she was nominated for another $1,500 scholarship (that was two weeks ago and I blogged about it earlier in the month).
My younger daughter is reading "The Prizewinner of Definace, Ohio: or how my mother raised ten kids on 25 words or less.". I read it, thought it was a sweet story, despite the antics of the husband who was a somewhat shady character who ultimately redeemed himself at the end of the story.
So, I am working on contentment. I think I might be moving toward it.
Wishing you a Happy St. Patty's Day!
I will share my favorite blessings with you:
May the road rise up to meet you;
May the wind be always at your back;
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
The rains fall soft upon you fields;
And, until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
And my second favorite blessing:
May you always walk in sunshine,
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings right beside your door.
We celebrate with "The Quiet Man" and shamrock shakes. Maybe I'll bake a batch of soda bread with chocolate chips, too. Anyhow, however you celebrate, enjoy your day when everyone is Irish!
Erin go braugh!
I've worked through the budget for March, and it looks like we are on lean times for the next short while. (So far in March I've taken care of major extraneous expenses: $301.50 toward current tuition bill, $550 tuition deposit for daughter's high school, $190 for cub scout camp this summer, and $150 for Irish dance shoes). So those are line-through items and I'm pleased with that.
However, we have the trip to the State Science Fair, hotel room booked but not paid for $175 plus gas and other expenses.
We have Easter, my daughter's confirmation in April, and graduation in June. I still need to make my $500 IRA contribuion and I'm really hoping to maintain the $15,000 in the EF because property taxes are coming up in June, too.
I have had small money coming in this week: $100 for used shoes I sold, $30 for dog sitting.
I was frugal today, spending only $2.50 for a tip for my son's free haircut (got a coupon for a new place that just opened up by my mom's), and I picked up my daughter's inhaler which is covered 100% by HSA funds and I did get a $25 off of $50 on my next shopping trip. I diligently matched up the sale ad with coupons, and I will be getting some hair color for $3, nice brand Gevalia coffee for $3, plus cheaper than Aldi's prices on granola bars and cereal.
Tonight it has been basically a feeding frenzy free for all, we've made about ten pieces of peanut butter toast (no one wanted PB and J sandwiches), I ate the last packet of Quaker oatmeal, DH is doing a low carb/high protein diet and had to have his two cans of tuna with Ceasar dressing and salt/pepper, we've gone trhough the remaining cans of fruit cocktail, madarin oranges, green beans, and cream-style corn. We've finished up the OJ, and the flavored water from Aldi's. Bananas are gone, as are strawberries. If any one is hungry the remainder of the evening it is finish up the apple slices with peanut butter and the carrots. The cupboard and fridge are alarmingly bare.
So, I suppose I will be stretching my dollars until they scream. The $3 per gallon of milk and the $4 per gallon of gas scare me
OK, if it were April 1st, I wouldn't believe if someone said they sent their kids to school without coats. Bare arms April 1? Joking, totally. Well, here it is March 15th, and my children went to school without coats, bare arms, sun shining down on them. It looks like it should be May 20th (or some other odd random day as the school year is wrapping up). DH went out the door without a coat, too.
The warm weather has yielded several "must have items" which are now on the "needed items": (1) sunglasses for one child, (2) flip flops for the girls.
Do you think I can officially move the boots from the coat closet to the basement? Anyhow, the 70s appear to be remaining all week!
I am officially poor. No money in the checking account. Today's transacation of $67.55 for the Y will post tomorrow. I have a balance of $68.37. I budgeted $15 for shopping yesterday at Aldi's for those spare items to stretch the budget. I spent $15.77, mostly on fresh produce: a canteloup, an avocado, 3# bananas, and some strawberries.
I'm supposed to go out with my mother today, but I only have enough gas in the car to pick my kids up from school today and then head to the gas station tomorrow. I asked my mom to drive instead. She doesn't like to drive. I said I am really lacking in gas. She owes me $17 which she said she'll give me and I can put in my gas tank. I had other plans for those funds. We then disagreed about the price of gas in our neighborhood. Seems to me that simple things are having a way of becoming very complicated. I'm having to figure out ways to deal with: deep breathing and sometimes just shaking my head to myself. I suppose I should have said let's just go out tomorrow. (sigh)
My daughter socialized for the first time since the drama with my "friend"'s daughter. She stayed and chatted for 15 minutes when she came to pick her daughter up. She actually acted like nothing was wrong then jumped right into a whole story about how she was annoyed with Target and the ads and something about Embrace Venus razors and refills and a $5 gift card after making the purchase. She was so annoyed that she's been back to customer service twice and has called the complaint hotline, etc. Her daughter then said, "Do you believe my mom was peeling potatoes yesterday and said - a week later - 'I still can't believe that about the razors, I'm so mad!' ." Her son was then whining about being thirsty so I told my daughter to take him in and get him a drink (at this point we're outside on my covered entryway). Five minutes later, after coming back out, her son walks into my house (we're all outside) and closes the front door behind him.
"*T*, you don't walk into people's houses!" she yells.
To which I said, "He apparently does!" (ha ha chuckle) But I'm thinking to myself, bad behaviors from anyone won't be tolerated, her kids included.
DD did a good job being polite to "friend" despite "friend's" comment to/adbout my child. I think that the most awkward part is over, encountering one another after the whole $5 pizza incident and the blatant attack on my parenting. BUT, I have learned that it really had nothing to do with me. And in the course of the conversation, she complained about lots of things (in only 15 minutes). I definitely concluded I don't want to a bitter person like that. I hope that Target successfully resolves the outstanding issue with her (and to be honest, I couldn't really follow it.)
I think I'll spend a bit of time now planning the money (in greater detail) for the 16th and 30th paychecks.
Hope it is warm where you all are!
Milk was previously $2.30 at Aldi's for the past forever, now at $2.99, but we'll round up to $3.
Gas is now $4.21 in suburban Chicagoland where I live.
Yikes, we're a gallon of milk a day family. Might have to re-resort to powdered milk for baking (we go through lots of waffles here and that is at least 3 cups of milk a go).
I did make my first purchases for Christmas 2012 today at the mall, at 85% clearance:
For MIL - a nice housedress/coat lounger that she wears - $76 MSRP, for $8.08
For FIL - a nice flannel shirt long-sleeved Chaps for $7.00.
So I will be stretching my bcks until they scream for mercy.
1) Payday and rent collection is Friday, and I've managed to cut the finances very close, closer than usual. We had our weekend away on 3/3 (had higher gas costs, two meals out, and the cost of the water park tickets). Our extaneous funds also included paying for camp this summer ($190) and dance shoes for my daughter ($150) so that helped wipe out the balance that I usually try to carry. So today I started with $25 less $10 DH is putting in his gas tank. I'm off to Aldi's to buy a gallon of milk, eggs and bananas. So dinner tonight looks like it is left overs (which will put together a very odd/random smorgasborg) and waffles tomorrow. Breakfast and lunch items until mid Friday will be very basic (peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches and apples and pretzel, plus toast and apple slices). Been awhile since it's been like this!
2) With the two remaining pay periods this month (16th and 30th), I'll be able to pay the remaining $500 contribution to my IRA, and should finish out with a $15,000 balance in the EF.
3) Yesterday, DD and I went to her high school. I dropped off all remaining paperwork for the application and financial aid, plus the $550 deposit. We went to buy her a t-shirt and they didn't take debit cards, only cash or checks. DD was a bit disappointed, but quickly pointed out that we'll be back next Tuesday to finalize her Fall schedule and we can pick it up then.
4) A neighbor on the far end of our subdivision (of 110 houses) has two girls who are soph/jr at the same school. We started talking yesterday when I was walking the dogs. She encouraged me have my daughter try out for pom poms (she's the parent of previous Irish dancers) in April - a great way to make friends and while it is competitive, my girls should have a chance). Suprising, DD agreed it might be fun, and then she and her sister were doing dance routines in the living room all night. Oh, to be young again with the whole vast experience of high school stretching out ahead ... (wistful sigh)
5) MIL has in the past been snarky about our finances. In particular, two years ago I was placing an order for "spirit wear" at our school (items like T-shirts and sweatshirts and hoodies with the school name and logo that can be personalized with your family last name). At that point DH wanted BOTH a t-shirt and a hoodie. I had to laugh because he's not even a student at the school. I told him to pick one because I had to buy for the five students who go there. MIL heard me say this and said, "It hurts me to hear you say that my son can't have both." and I think I laughed and said something like "Well, you pay for one of them." Two weeks later, MIL sent a check for the second item. At Christmas she was here and we were talking about DH's exercies class/working with a personal trainer. He used his Christmas money for that ($280) and she said something like, "Well, I hope that this is something that he can continue with throughout the year." And I said something like, "After $300 a month for dance lessons, $86 a month for music lessons, and $60 for the Y membership, that probably isn't a realistic thing." Since then, MIL's been sending $100 - $125 a month for DH's exercise class. I haven't comingled or touched those funds and I can plunker down $300 for the next go around (April-June).
6) Summer remains in suburban Chicago, but for how long?
Over at Crystal's moneysavingmom.com there is a coupon for $15 off of a $15 purchase at The Limited (excludes clearance). Summer is apparently here, 70+ degrees in Illinois with bright sun shining and we saw a female duck on the fence and her male counterpart on the roof of the minivan. Lots of squirrel activity, too. Anyhow, head over and check it out, coupon expires on 3/15.
I dog-sat my mother's Yorkie-Poo yesterday and today, so I have a crisp $20 in my pocket.
So I've reigned in the spending and have money dribbling in. Nice!
I am slowing clearing out and cleaning up. My dancing daughters go through shoes at an alarming rate, and now that they are both on toe it isn't resonable for the younger one to wear the older one's cast offs. So that said, I had six pairs of ghillies and seven pairs of hard shoes in a small pile in the basement.
My girls danced last Saturday at our Parish/School's St. Pat's Dinner Dance and there was also a 4th grader who danced the reel. I have a 4th grader as well, so I was talking to the mother. She mentioned she needed shoes (preferably used) and I said I had a huge stash. I dropped them off at school last Tuesday.
I got an email from the mother that her daughter found both a pair of hard and soft shoes that she'll be buying. $100 for something sitting there collecting dust. New: the ghillies run $75 and the hard shoes are $150, so she's getting a good price, and I'm $100 richer.
Found money is going toward the trip to Champaign/Urbana for the State Science Fair. I'm $100 ahead!
My 8th grader and her best friend put together a pretty neat Science Fair project: What makes stains stay? They took scquares of 100% cotton fabric and let them soak in various liquids (grape juice, ketchup, coffee, gatorade, apple juice, soy sauce). They then washed the squares in laundry detergent to determine which liquid left the darkest stain. They made color charts to see how much the stains lightened up. They researched cotton production, chemical reactions, etc.
They did well at their school level and were moved onto our Diocese's Regional State Farm yesterday. So we left at 6:45, arrived at 7:15, got them set up. One of the teachers gave birth 10 weeks early and wasn't able to be at the State Fair, so the other teacher asked that I be the other "sponsor". So DH and I went with her and we were official volunteers. I had the good fortune of being a tabulator with 7 others calculated and rechecked the judges scores. I was lucky enough that randomly my daughter's sheets came past me. The girls got 103/115 earning them a "Gold" ranking (96-115) and they're going to State.
So we'll be in Champaign/Urbana May 4th and 5th. We've got the room booked at good rate $139 and I'll have to squeeze funds from the remainder of March and April for the Banquet/gas/food. I'm very proud of my daughter.
And I ended up spending an unplanned $42 for a impromptu surprise celebratory lunch with DH, daughter and her best friend. Well worth it!
And I also ended up spending an additional $42 for tickets to the spring musical at the high school my daughter will be attending in the Fall (my alma mater, and her Choice B) HOWEVER I'm seeing that she's becoming much more excited about going, and asked if I would buy her a T-shirt with the schoo name/logo. Definitely worth the $16 for her to start identifying herself with this place. We saw "Fiddler on the Roof" and I'm amazed at the caliber of talent. And my daughter said to me, "Gee, I think I'd like to sing and dance as an "extra" next year."
All is good!
My wake/sleep cycle is still a bit whacked, leaving me prone to sleepless nights and cath-up naps at odd hours. I got through spurts and cycles, and I'm hoping it's ending soon. I happened to be napping at 7:00 on the couch in the family room, my boys love the show "Ninjago" featuring characters made of Legos battling an evil dojo. Anyhow, at 7:15 my older daughter wakes me up and given me a thick envelope.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you, I'm being nominated for a scholarship. They'd like the forms by Friday."
Turns out that she is the student that our parish's CCW decided to nominate, based on those who value Catholic education the most and also have a demonstrated financial need.
My 4th grader is listening intently to this. We were talking about demonstrated financial need with our 7th grader, we have a large family on a not-so-large salary, in a very expensive area, and we are sevice-oriented in our the amount of time and talent we share with our parish family. He took away from that the simple idea "We're poor?!?"
I love that he has missed the fact that he doesn't pariticpate in the extremely competitive and expensive hockey team that most of the other students in his grade due. (Where a set of skates cost $200 and hockey sticks are $150). I love the fact that he is happy with his small day trips during Spring Break (to the Arboretum, Zoo, Museum) and that he misses the fact that most people in his grade vacation in Cancun or Aspen, Colorado. I love the fact that he is happy to have new-to-him clothes (muchos gracias a Debbie de New Jersey ), I love the fact that he is happy to be able to pick three hot lunches a months (out of the eight available days, because that is all I can afford). I love the fact that he is thrilled that he can fit into my old Rollerblades. I guess looking at it from his POV, it is kind of shocking that we are deemed "poor".
Thankfully we've done scholarships earlier this year, so it is just a matter of copying more paperwork and making two phone calls to add this scholarship to the list of people who can access my daughter's information. I am off to type her letter to the Scholarship Committee now.
Tomorrow is the Regional Science Fair that oldest daughter moved on to. Should be lots of fun. DH and I are going and volunteering. I'm hoping that her project moves onto State. She and her partner did a great job.
Intentional Living. That is what I'm trying to do lately, mostly inspired by Lent. Thinking about what I'm doing rather than just doing. It's involved turning the TV off and rereading some of my old favorites with the younger kids (Junie B. Jones, for example). It's a matter of bringing CDs into the car to listen to, rather than putting on the radio to listen to any old thing. It's planning for a few days in adavance, and being able to be flexible at the same time.
Observations: We're adhering to an earlier bed time and listening to a book on tape. Children are happier when they are better rested. Grocery shopping: I'm going every fourth day. I'm spending WAY less and my fridge seems full all the time (rather than bare as Mother Hubbard by Day 11 when I shop every two weeks). The chaos level in the house has diminished with the nicer weather outside. We've engaged the boys in coming up with Cub Scout badges and requirements they'd like to work on. The girls are going to do a Cheerleading camp this summer and didn't ask if they could invite friends, they seemed happy to be with each other (I think they'll have some separation issues next school year when they are at different schools )
I also cast aside worry about finances in light of DH considering the diaconite. We've had the good fortune of generosity from a cyber friend when I was worried about clothes. We've had the good fortunte that our girl is being considered for a scholarship given the high cost of secondary Catholic education. It is all fine.
I am back from the bank where I deposited the rental property income and "regular" savings amount for $1,000 total to the EF (beefing that up because of some major expenses like property taxes and pre-paid college tuition payments both due in June) (My goal for March is $2,500 - mas o menos, given non-concrete extraneous expenditures upcoming).
I have also paid (put on American Express and then promptly paid) $190 for Boy Scout camp (expecting an additional $25 rebate back from our Pack) and $152.50 for new hard shoes for daughter.
My next go around of money influx (the 16th which is both payday and rent collection) will probably only yield $500 to savings. I will pay my daughter's tuition deposit at parochial high school Choice B of $550.
That's it for moving the money.