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Archive for April, 2013

Just happy

April 29th, 2013 at 01:03 pm

Today it is sunny, the festivities of a wonderful weekend are over, and I am just happy.

(1) My son's First Communion was as wonderful. He *gets it* as far as what the Sacrament means, which is priceless for us parents. The Mass was wonderful, our favorite priest is the pastor who is departing for a sabbatical and new parish, but the Homily was wonderful. My oldest son was altar serving. Just one of those wonderful experiences to imprint on my heart.

(2) Afterward we celebrated out to dinner at Buca di Bepos, bill for my seven plus additional seven adult guests: $221 (food was $186, tip $35 - used a $10 off coupon). It was family style and we brought home a small amount of leftovers. We had great conversation and the personalities of the guests all melded rather than grated on one another. Our adults included two sets of grandparents, and then three un-marrieds: my brother, my best friend who is the Godmother, and our other dear single friend.

(3) Money-wise, we are on lockdown. Only gas and groceries for the next short-while. The funds were earmarked for the Communion dinner out and the framed sampler, but there were other things like a new belt for a daughter, new shoes for me, some odd items for a school project, etc.

(4) Soccer season has started. I spent all afternoon at two games. It is lucky I am starting to like soccer. And that my son made the first goal of the first game of the season.

(5) Need some concrete goals for May.

Other than that, I am just happy. Smile

Win some, win some more, and Learning to Win while Losing

April 25th, 2013 at 01:46 pm

(1) DD's summer reading includes "Speak" and "Lord of the Flies". She let me know both were available for purchase through the teacher for $13 per book. Thankfully I peruse the book shelves at the local resale stores and just last week I found "Speak". I went back yesterday and purchased it for $.50. Savings of $12.50. And I'm sure I'll be able to find "Lord of the Flies" similarly priced.

(2) I finished DS's Communion Sampler yesterday. I stitched it on 16-count and it is a Celtic cross. (My boys seem to like those). My pre-purchased frames from Michael's wouldn't work at a local framer because they weren't wood, they weren't deep enough to include a matt and spacers and glass. Thankfully, my son was a little sad and said, "I won't have it by Saturday?" And he's a cute little blonde kid in a Catholic school uniform at this point. The older woman said to him, "Well, I bet we can put something together that is very nice for you by Saturday." The matt that he liked (a forest green fabric) they had in stock. The husband found an in-stock gold frame and it will look far nicer than anything I could have managed from Michaels. The frame was on sale and they discounted it 20%. I'm still looking at $118 out the door (I had planned on $60 with no matt); however, he was able to pick something he liked. And he'll have it by Saturday. I'm counting this one as a win anyhow (because the money is definitely worth it).

3) Best friend and I sat down last week and went over what her budget should look like based on percentages. I gave her a Dave Ramsey book and she saw the lawyer yesterday to move on the bankruptcy filing. The interesting thing is she needs to attend a Dave Ramsey TMMO class after the first meeting. Sort of to make her aware and educate her. I thought that was interesting. And she attends at no cost. And she has the book to pre-read up on.

April Updates

April 24th, 2013 at 02:27 pm

Hard to believe that May is just around the corner ... and April is almost gone. We've had my daughter's Confirmation (lovely event) and then I coordinated the CCW's Mother-Daughter Luncheon (I did this because my daughter is a recipient of a scholarship from this organization, and I didn't fully embrace the whole event). But is was a nice event, with 43 in attendance and I had too much food, rather than too little. And I was under budget by $30 (goal of event: to break even). I was totally appreciated and got compliments for the décor and menu. I repurposed some floral garlands I use at home to decorate the dessert table, and I borrowed the BALL jars used for the Cub Scout Blue and Gold Dinner for centerpieces and favors were seed packs purchased for $.25 at Dollar Tree.

All that remains is my son's First Communion this Saturday at 5:00 PM Mass. He's wearing older son's suit. We did buy him a new tie, shirt and shoes. We are going to dinner afterward with grandparents, uncle, godmother, close family friend in the "Pope Room" (we are Catholics with a sense of humor and don't consider this sacrilege). Afterwards, it is back home for cake and coffee. I opted out of the big party the day after with relatives we don't see often and usually only invite out of obligation. I finished the cross stitch sampler and need to get it to the framer today (using a premade frame, they are only cutting a mat and assembling).

Financially for April:
1) Made May's house payment plus $250 additional principle
2) Sent $200 to DH's fraternal order's annuity
3) Sent $2,000 to property tax account
4) Paid cash for DD's eye dr appointment (her Rx changed and she was having head aches) and 6 months worth of lenses
5) Only made minimum payments on the credit cards (will get that up for May)
6) Paid cash for a new gas grill at Aldi's for $154. DH seems impressed with the quality and there is a 2-year warranty

Off to catch up on the blogs. Smile

I spent money on myself today - no guilt at all

April 17th, 2013 at 08:54 pm

Clothing myself stylishly and new clothes is usually an after thought. I think about it when I am at an event and seeing what other people are wearing. I sort of feel that I usually get *it* wrong when it comes to fashion. For example, last week at my daughter's Confirmation, both girls were the focus - the Confirmandi wore a red robe, so it was really the older daughter (sponsor) that we focused on. I myself wore a brown/pink striped sweater dress from Old Navy purchased in November for $19. And the brown leather-like boots (same ON shopping trip) clearance for $27. Brown tights were Walmart for $4. Purse was a pink Dooney and Bourke barrel bag that my mom bought for me for $25 at the resale shop. I was feeling pretty darn cute, until I looked at the other stylish folks with fancy shoes and jewelry, etc. My only thought to myself was "I am clearly the mother of a lot of children. And my husband works. And I don't ... (etc)."

I shopped today for something nice for the Communion in two weeks and then younger daughter's 8th Grade Graduation. I did this mostly because I am now a solid size 6, without panty girdle, and the clothes that I have that are sort of dressy and summery are for a size 9 body (somewhere between 8 and 10). Well, I've gotten off of my butt and am being active. And I'm eating a whole lot better. And drinking more water. And I have lost some weight. Smile

I had a $100 bill from my grandmother that I was saving. Today I bought a very cute dress in a spring color (coral) and a flattering cut on sale for $40 (originally $80). And a fun dress, that my best friend said resembles a tablecloth as it is while lace. But it fits, too, and is flattering. And it was $100 reduced down to $26. I was very happy with both purchases, comfortable and feeling a bit current. More like "Gee, I'm on a date with my hubby" rather than frump-a-dump mum.

I think I'll use the surplus on a pair of new shoes. Payless of course. I shopped at Von Maur (upscale for my area) and while the shoes are awfully cute, I cannot justify anything more than $30 on a pair of shoes.

Well, I spent money on myself today. And I'm experiencing no regrets at all. Smile

Going over the budget, and not my own,

April 16th, 2013 at 03:11 pm

Firstly, thanks to those who responded kindly to my previous post (the one where I felt a bit bad about the gift of a frame for Confirmation while my daughter's peers were getting diamond jewelry - earrings and crosses). I am back in the saddle about life being more than trinkets and doo-dads. I know that, but every once in awhile the jealous/envy/desire to keep up with the Joneses sneaks in and catches me off guard. This instance being one of them. And my daughter never uttered anything of discontent about the gifts she received, indicating to me that the problem is clearly MINE and not hers.

I am reminded that we had a great weekend as a family. We hosted the Luncheon on Saturday and enjoyed extended family (grandparents, uncle, my best friend). The weather was lovely on Sunday and we went for a three mile walk in a local forest preserve's river walk type thing. We also played Scrabble with the boys who usually like to play Chess. It was great fun. We also stopped at the library and took out a bunch of books. The oldest is now a Boy Scout and he's looking at some merit badge books to see which he would like to pursue. Outside of the celebration, we spent absolutely nothing. I do need to remind myself that money doesn't buy happiness. And money really doesn't have to do much with creating simple family quality time.

My best friend whom I have maintained a safe amount of distance from for the past several months is back with regularity. It's been recalibrated though to "normal". We'll talk once or twice a week and I finally feel like its a two-way street conversation-wise. She is a never-ending drama of men and money problems. She won't change. The only thing I could do is change the way I'm dealing with her. It has helped that my social circle is slowly expanding to include some new friends whom I've always considered "nice acquaintances" who I'm socializing with (breakfast after Mass, play dates with kids while grown ups visit).

Best friend is meeting with the bankruptcy attorney on Thursday. I said nothing when she said she was going to be late with her mortgage payment so she could pay the attorney the $900 (I'm sharing it here). She is coming over today with her bank statements to determine her spending. And I'm helping her in the sense that I'm showing her what the book DH and I used when we went through our financial seminar a few years ago suggests what % should be spent in each category based on "x" budget. What I spend isn't going to even be discussed. I'm simply sharing with her what we learned in our class. I did give her the "Dave Ramsey Total Money Make-over" book on Saturday at the Confirmation Luncheon. She said she read the first chapter (not that I know what it is about).

So, I am hoping that I can be helpful in a general sense. She wanted to get together before-hand so I think she isn't completely caught off guard by what the attorney suggests should be her spending amounts. She's doing the bankruptcy that has to do with debt restructuring and payment for five-seven years.

It will be interesting.

"Mind the gap ... mind the gap"

April 15th, 2013 at 04:45 pm

When unpleasantries arise, I can sometimes cast myself back to pleasant memories, times with enjoyable elements. Before kids, I travelled to Europe regularly with my husband, brother, and then sister in law. I love London. I didn't even mind the sweltering tube stops when the entire country could have used air conditioning. "Mind the gap ... mind the gap." My only pleasant associations with "gap".

Back to reality, we are financially at that spot where we have exhausted all corporate-funded HSA money. This was attributable to the DH's tonsillar abscess and multiple visits in Quarter One for the kids. So, we are now at that gap ... when we are fiscally responsible for the deductibles of $2,500 per person. *sigh* In calendar year 2011, our funds were exhausted in October. In 2012, we carried over $50. So I suppose this is the risk one takes when one has the HDHP.

Daughter's maintenance med options for her asthma were $165 or $187. I called the pediatrician's office asking for coupons. Better yet, they gave me two months worth of samples, or a savings of $353. For this I am immensely thankful.

I managed to host my daughter's Confirmation Luncheon on Saturday at an affordable rate taking advantage of $5 Fridays at Dominicks/Albertsons. I did a deli spread and for $15 I had an assortment of lunch meats and cheeses. We made the cake ourselves and I found the paper products (bright florals) on clearance for $.89 at Aldi's after Easter. It was a nice soiree and she received cash for her savings account and an iTunes card. I felt a bid bad when most of her friends were going on about jewelry with diamonds. We gave her a frame. Sometimes the lack of funds makes it not fun.

Ha ha of the day

April 9th, 2013 at 07:48 pm

5th grader's vocabulary word required to be in a sentence:

My mother is very economical when it comes to money and spending.

Definition: careful about spending money and using resources.

Synonyms: thrifty, frugal, saving, non-wasteful, my mother

Random check-in

April 8th, 2013 at 06:06 pm

Hard to believe that it is Q2 already! I had great success in Jan/Feb, but got a bit side-tracked in March with the new carpeting that went in. It was over what I had budgeted and had to go into the EF. BTW, loving the new carpet, with everyone in their new rooms and beds (bunk beds for the boys).

It was a quiet Easter with both my brother and best friend out of town. The inlaws didn't come in, so it was just my parents. I didn't bother with a full menu and we didn't use china, but we attended the Easter Vigil on Saturday evening, slept in on Sunday and watched "The Easter Parade". I spend about $30 per child (though I used gift cards/coupons/Target Red card 5% so it was less than that). We do try to make the baskets fun with things that they want, since Christmas and birthdays are usually the only other times for indulging wants).

I've decided to take the month of April "off", making only minimum payments on things (braces and 0% credit card debt). I also am recovering from Boy Scout Camp for oldest son. We had a spell where he wasn't sure about continuing, so if he didn't go that was money I wouldn't have to spend. But he is continuing, so I spent the $560 for a week of camp in northern Wisconsin for him and DH.

My goal for Q2: Have $5K by June end for either taxes or tuition. We won't find out about scholarship and work study dollar amounts for the girls until April 30 and May 15. Also waiting on grant amounts and financial aid. So until then, I suppose I'll bank whatever funds "for future use".

Off to catch up on the blogs. Smile