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ER Visit and Surgery Date Set

May 23rd, 2018 at 01:36 pm

I spent all day Monday, from a little before 1 p.m. until midnight at the ER with my daughter. At midnight DH tagged me out and I went home to sleep because I had an early appointment on Tuesday morning, but they were home an hour later. They sent DD home with percocet and we were able to get a relatively quick surgery date of the 29th, so she has a week to wait. The meds should last that long. I will be so glad to see the backside of her gall bladder.

I don't know how much everything is going to cost and I don't know how we will pay for it if it costs more than $6000, but we will figure it out. DH says he will probably start getting overtime in June again, which will be a great help. The current project he is on, the one with no allowance for OT, wraps up at the end of the month.

They have him lined up for several more projects. His boss has said he contractually can't talk about bringing him on as a direct employee until June 4th. I don't know if that means anything or not, though, like is he going to talk to him on June 4th and bring him on, or just a statement of fact.

I do hope they bring him on as permanent because the benefits are outrageously good. Better insurance than we have now (which is really good, but expensive) for $250 a month for the whole family. Plus vision is $14 a month and dental is $100. So $364 total. Which is a far cry from the $1500 we are paying now. A share of company stock, which is worth $16K. 6% matching in the 401K. Paid vacation and sick days. Paid jury duty days off. I believe he also said good deals on disability and life insurance as well. I really hope this happens.

We'd have to pay COBRA for a couple of months, though, I'm sure. And that'll be $1500 a month. Worth it in the long run, though.

So I had to pay $413 today to the surgeon for the upcoming surgery. I don't know how much I will have to pay the hospital yet as a down payment. I am guessing around $1250. At least they can't turn her down for this surgery based on her BMI. Of course that is why it will be in the hospital and not the surgical suite at the doctor's office. I think DD has met her deductible now.

I have a killer head cold. I woke up with it Monday morning and so yeah, I had it the whole time we were in the ER. It was worse on Tuesday. Today I think it is at its height so hopefully tomorrow I will feel a lot better. Unless I caught something in the ER to add on top of it, because you know how my immune system likes to do things like that.

I got an email today saying that an old virus software on a computer we no longer have had been renewed automatically and charged to a credit card number we no longer have. I think it is the same card, just with a different number. I hope that means it didn't go through anywhere.

I am keeping an eye on the card that it used to be the number of just in case and then will dispute it. They worded it like they had already done it, but it hasn't shown up. I thought I had stopped any auto renewals, so maybe they are just trying to pull a fast one. Trying to figure out how to contact them through the info on the email is nearly impossible. We no longer do auto renewals on things so if they are trying this again we have to nip it in the bud, pronto.

Grocery Shopping And Sticking to the Budget

May 18th, 2018 at 07:29 pm

So I stuck successfully to my grocery list, with 2 exceptions. I bought a case of Nongshim noodles and 3 ears of corn. Everything else was on the list and I came in under budget. I spent $155.73, so I still have $19.27 left in my grocery envelope. I may buy 2 packages of the hot dogs DH likes still and even then I'd have enough left over if we run out of milk.

I bought mostly to fill in around the gaps of my meal plan and I think I will have some overrun into the next week with onions and potatoes, but I am not sure yet. We eat a lot of potatoes, but I usually only get two bags or six pounds a week. This week I got 15 pounds.

Here's what I got at Haggen:

1 pot with 2 cucumber plants in it (yes, this counts as food or at least future food)
Baby spinach
4 red onions
15 pounds of potatoes (red, gold, and russet)
2 yellow bell peppers
Radishes
2 1 lb chubs of breakfast sausage
3 pounds ground chicken
2 pounds ground turkey
2 1 lb jars Jif Natural peanut butter
1 1 lb jar Jason honey peanut butter
1 bag of ice

And what I got at Safeway:

2 1/2 gallons of milk
1 2 lb bag of sharp cheddar cheese (same price as a brick)
2 bottles of ketchup
2 potato breads
1 dynamite bread
1 Thousand Island dressing

And what I got at Winco:

1 case of Nongshim beef noodle soup
1 bottle of Mirin (rice wine for recipes)
1 quart strawberry Zoi yogurt
2 red bell peppers
2 orange bell peppers
2 green bell peppers
3 ears of corn
2 cucumbers

I feel really good about this. I didn't get much in the way of convenience items. The noodles are (but they are the only version I've found outside of Trader Joe's that don't have MSG in them). The shredded cheese is, but it was the same price as the brick. So I definitely have to cook, but I've been doing a lot better lately so that hasn't been a problem. And we haven't even been tempted to eat out, but then I haven't had an RA flare for a few weeks, either. Everyone prefers my cooking anyway, even the Chinese dishes, which I am getting better and better at every time I make them.

I am already planning my next shopping trip for next Friday. I will have to get a couple items from Costco, some seasonings, eggs, cheese, ground turkey, sausage patties, and possibly butter. I will very strictly stick to that list, because I will still have to get regular groceries that week. Costco can be a money suck if you aren't very, very careful. If I stay on top of this, I really think I can do it. It just requires planning, and if there is one thing that I am good at, it is planning.

Payday Report and DS's Plan for his Future Job

May 18th, 2018 at 12:52 pm

$1400.00 Citi Card
__82.13 Amex
_125.17
-----------
$1607.30

The paycheck plus what was left of the $1000 went towards finishing off the credit cards. AMEX is done and all auto pays have been transferred off it, so as soon as it clears I will be cutting up that card.

I will finish off the Citi card on next Friday and then it will only be used for the auto pays. We will take the credit cards out of our wallets. They can't be an option. Also next Friday I have car tabs due and a medical bill. There won't be a lot left over, enough to fund the grocery envelope and the household envelope. But then starting on the June 1st payday and continuing forward, we should be able to fund everything else with cash throughout the month.

Yesterday we opened a checking account for my son and then he set up his paypal account to hook into it, so he can now make online purchases directly out of his bank account and no one has to use a credit card. He needed a checking account anyway as he is going to get a job this summer and will need it for direct deposit. He's had a savings account since the year he was born.

He wants to read The Total Money Makeover after my husband is finished with it. He is very determined not to carry debt in his life except for possibly a mortgage. We've already talked about 10% of his income going into retirement from the start. He may not qualify for a 401K immediately, but he can do a Roth IRA until he does. He will also be saving 40% for college and 10% will go to tithing. Then he will need to put 20% into savings for a car and insurance and the remaining 20% will be what he can spend.

He wants to make a budget as soon as he gets his first paycheck, but before anything else he is going to save up $1000 for an emergency fund so he has it in place when he is able to afford a car. I guess we are rubbing off on him. Not so sure about our daughter. With her medical issues I despair of her ever being able to hold down a job.

Taking Steps to Move Back to the Envelope System

May 17th, 2018 at 04:41 pm

I went to the credit union today and took out $475 in cash to fund 3 of my envelopes. I put $175 into the groceries envelope, $50 into the household envelope, and $250 into the medical envelope. For medical I am going to start using an old checking account at a different credit union. I took the $250 there this afternoon, deposited it, ordered a box of checks, and ordered debit cards. They even had some pretty checks that were the same cost as plain ones. I chose an American flag with the bald eagle soaring in front of it. I didn't think my husband would fancy the butterflies. Big Grin So that took $16 out of the medical account right there, leaving a balance of $234.

I tend to write checks for medical except prescriptions. We have been using the credit card for that because we usually go through the drive-thru and it is easier than trying to write out a check on the steering wheel. So we will use the debit card for prescriptions once it arrives. That way DH can have a card, he usually picks up the medicine, and I will have the checkbook. That debit card will be used only for medical. It just makes it a little easier than playing with cash and not having a paper trail. I need a paper trail for medical if we need to deduct again.

I will be funding the medical account with $800 every month, with $200 coming out of each paycheck starting on June 1st. That should cover co-pays, prescriptions, and allow us to save for DD's surgeries. This does not include the amount for the chiropractor which is a monthly set amount for the entire family and I will just pay that out of regular checking. It has it's own budget category.

When the medical account reaches $1000 I will send any additional to the online bank and earmark it for medical on the spreadsheet. I'm not sure when they will let DD have her surgeries, not until her BMI is 40% however long that takes, so the extra will go to save up for that. But whenever the account drops below $1000 I will start adding money back into it. I am not sure how much we really need to set aside for medical. It varies so much in a month. This month alone has 6 co-pays, not to mention the numerous prescriptions.

Because we are switching over to mostly using cash and checks, I am not sure we will be able to make a payment on the loan to Mom until June 8th. I figure if I make the $500 payment towards the beginning of the month, then I will have to stick to the budget the rest of the month. If there is any extra at the end of the month of June I will tack it on to the July payment. If I treat it like a bill due the 2nd payday of the month, that should keep me on track.

I think I'm going to like this Gazelle intensity thing. Even if I can't do it 100% like Dave Ramsey, because we have to keep the EF at $6000 instead of $1000 for upcoming medical reasons, I am trying to focus in like we are. And really, we are. The EF is $1000, the medical fund is the rest of it. Once the surgeries are over than we can be fully doing it, but I don't know when that will be. I guess until then it will just have to be baby steps. Yeah, I saw it. Did it anyway.

Meal Planning for the Week with a Budget

May 16th, 2018 at 11:16 pm

If SavingAdvice logs me out one more time I am going to scream. It shouldn't do it every five minutes. I wish they would fix the blogs, already. So many things are broken here.

I built my meal plan mostly around things we have on hand this week and then made my grocery list based on what I need to fill into the meal plan, what I need to add for lunches, and then a few staples I need. The grocery budget will be set at $175 a week for now and the household budget, which includes things like toilet paper, personal care items, Ziplocs, and detergent, will be set at $50 a week. Once I go shopping I will list what I got and how much I actually spent.

Day One:
Tacos (everything on hand for this)
Canned Pineapples (on hand)

Day Two:
Chicken Wings (on hand)
Fried Potatoes with bell peppers and onions
Cole slaw (all ingredients on hand)
Canned Pears (on hand)

Day Three:
Lamb Kabobs (lamb roast in the freezer)
Veggie Kabobs of purple onions and bell peppers

Day Four:
Turkey Legs (in the freezer)
Mashed Potatoes and Homemade Gravy
Canned Green Beans (on hand)
Sugared Strawberries (in the freezer)

Day Five:
BBQ Pork Steaks (in the freezer) smothered in onions
Baked Potaoes
Cole slaw (ingredients on hand)
Sugared Strawberries (in the freezer)

Day Six:
Spaghetti with one jar of Vodka sauce and one jar of marinara sauce (all in the cupboard)
Chicken Meatballs
Salad (lettuce from the garden)

Day Seven:
Shrimp Kabobs (big bag of shrimp in the freezer)
Veggie Kabobs of purple onions and bell pepeprs


I Finally Opened the Door and In He Walks

May 15th, 2018 at 11:20 am

I don't usually buy books, but I made a book purchase on Saturday. Yes, my library does have this book, but I was 13th on the waiting list. High demand books mean that people can only keep them out 2 weeks instead of 3, but that was still looking at a possibility of 26 weeks before I could read it, assuming people turned it in on time. Most people don't.

So I handed over my cash, $27.51, to the young man at B&N, who tried to sell me a membership card, but no. I don't buy books often enough to earn back and then benefit from the savings. What book did I buy, you may be asking by now? Well, I finally gave in and decided to read Dave Ramsey. I bought The Total Money Makeover.

I have been avoiding Dave Ramsey for the last 12 years, to be honest. Yes, I did do a debt snowball, but I didn't know about it from reading him. I just figured doing it like that would make me feel like I was making progress faster. Yes, I did build and keep a $1000 emergency fund before doing it, but that was on advice from people here, not based on his method. Although it probably was, since a lot of you have read him. But I wasn't going to.

It wasn't that I thought he was bad or anything. I just didn't want to give up my paid off credit cards. Well, I did give up some of them, but we still have 5. We pay them off in full each month. But...oh, and here's the big but, I've been feeling for a while that we weren't using them responsibly enough, because they are just too easy to use.

But my chiropractor's office plays Dave Ramsey and I kept hearing him on my visits. And then he came up in my suggested videos on youtube. God has been putting things in my path right now that I have been struggling to deal with. Dave is just the last in a line.

First I was struggling with tithing while still in debt to my mother and my internet preacher answered a question on tithing. Then I was concerned that I lacked motivation, but in getting the spending back under control and in doing my five times a week Bible study. Then I was struggling with forgiveness for DH's sister and nieces over the stuff they pulled at Thanksgiving.

Forgiveness was in the next lesson and in such a way that it heals the person who forgives, not the one who holds on to the anger. Doesn't mean I'm willing to have holidays with them, but I might be able to at least see them now. So I asked for help about the budget and in walks Dave Ramsey, so to speak.

So I just finished reading the book last night. It took me 3 days. And I figured out how come I felt that way about credit cards. It's because we just buy what we need with no thought to it. And because I know we will pay it off each month in full, I haven't really been sticking to a budget when it comes to groceries and household expenses or clothing or eating out.

And with these bad habits getting out of hand, things felt tight every month and I didn't feel like I could possibly make payments on the loan to Mom, the only debt we have left. So I sat down and made up a better budget and if we actually stick to it, then yes, I can start paying Mom at least $500 a month.

DH's mother just gave us $1000. We had thought to put it in the Emergency Fund, but I think instead, we will use it to get current. The next two paydays will pay off what we have left on the credit cards before they are due and then we will go down to simply charging the auto pays, which total $407.50. It might be a little lower, but I am allowing $50 for Ting. We don't always go that high, some months we are lower, but we have never been above it, so that is what I put in the budget. But we won't use the credit card for anything else. Nothing but the auto pays. And we will use paypal from our bank account for online purchases, but not until we've had a moratorium on online purchases for six months or so.

I have also budgeted $1000 for groceries/household. I do think I can keep it lower than that, but I haven't been. Since I track my spending, more or less, I know I haven't. We are switching to cash for that. I will start with putting $250 in the groceries envelope. I figure $200 for groceries and $50 for household. Maybe I should break it down into two envelopes, except I usually buy household stuff when I go grocery shopping. We'll see. I know I need to get toilet paper, deodorant, and quart size Ziplocs, which will take up a good share of that $50.

I have transferred all the auto pays to one card, and as soon as the last little bit on the AMEX is paid off, I am going to cut it up and cancel it. I was just using it for Netflix and Hulu. I am also going to cancel my Best Buy card and no longer do any 18 or 12 month same as cash deals. I paid off the last one with part of our tax return. Instead I will be saving up money in a computer fund, though that won't start for a while.

I am not sure I am ready to cut the cord completely with credit cards, but I can't see having more than 3. One is the miles card, which DH will need if he starts working in Alaska again and has to fly all the time. He usually got 2 free flights a year, sometimes 3, so it definitely was worth it. Then there is the one my daughter is a signer on. Then there is the Costco Citi card, but I am not sure if that is going to be worth keeping yet. Without charging all of our groceries and gas, the amount of cash back will dramatically drop, and that was the only reason I got it in the first place.

My head knows that the best thing for us to do is to get rid of all but one card, but I am scared to do it. Mostly because the EF is not where I want it to be. I know you aren't supposed to use credit cards as a back up EF, but you know what 2016 and 2017 were like for us. If we had run out of money at least we would have had those cards to fall back on, which of course, is exactly that attitude I'm not supposed to have.

I knew Dave would let me have it over these ideas and I wasn't wrong. It sure has shown me what I need to work on and try to not rely so much on my security gland ruling what I do.

So next, I go back to an envelope, pay with cash system, except for those auto pays. I am looking into whether or not there are ways to pay them without paying by card. I think you can pay both Netflix and Hulu through paypal, but I'm not 100% sure. I think we can put storage on direct withdrawal, but I don't know about Ting. I haven't been able to find anything about Ting. But one of the reasons I really like doing auto pays on the credit card is so that I only have one due date to worry about, not an additional five. Right now I only have two to worry about and they come out on the same day.

So I will fund this coming payday's grocery/household envelope with $250.00 from the gift money, so all the money in the paycheck can go for the tithe and the Citi card.

I have already handed DH an envelope marked vending for the vending machines at work with $7 in ones that I had in my purse. He is to get $25 a month to use in the vending machines at work (he's been charging them). This gives him a little over $1 a day and the charge is 85 cents, so anything left at the end he can spend or set aside and save it for something he wants. Or he can save it all and quit using the vending machine altogether.

I will also have my own $25 envelope for something I want to do. I have no idea what I want to do with it, but sometimes just saving makes me happy.

I really would like to be able to squeeze out more than $500 a month to pay Mom. It might be $100, it might be $25, who knows? But whatever I can throw at it. She won't like getting weird amounts, but I don't care. It is not up to her how much I pay back at a time. It is up to DH and me.

As soon as we know what is going on in June with the job, I can decide what to do with the Emergency Fund. If I want to bump it down to $1000 and pay Mom with the rest or if we need to keep it there in case of possible job loss. It is scary to keep it at just $1000, but Dave says it keeps you more driven to pay off the debt so you can build the EF up to 3 to 6 months of expenses.

I get it. I get everything Dave says. I think I'm in the stage where I am not yet drinking the Kool-Aid, but I have read the ingredients and directions on the package and started preparing the beverage. He has his baby steps and I have mine. I do want to get there. And I want to get there fast, so time to put our heads down and start pushing that stone uphill.

Payday Report

May 11th, 2018 at 08:44 pm

$100.00 Cash
$122.47 Tithe
$124.85 Master Card
+900.00 Citi Visa
---------
1247.32 Total Money Out

I have $36 left in checking. So far we are on track to have quite a bit of the 5/25 paycheck available to go to savings and a loan payment to Mom, barring any unforeseen circumstances. It really makes a difference cutting out eating out/take out.

Emergency Fund Update

May 11th, 2018 at 08:37 pm

Today I cashed in the coin jar. There were a lot of ones in there, too.

$6036.61 Beginning Balance
+__52.50 Deposit Added
----------
$6089.11 New Balance

$910.89 to go to hit my next goal of $7000.

Bits and Pieces

May 7th, 2018 at 04:07 pm

I got down to the doctor's office today only for them to tell me I'm a week off. Oh, my gosh, I thought it was the fourteenth. I know this year is going by fast, but how'd I jump forward a week? Total glitch in the matrix moment. So, since I didn't have to save the money in checking for the appointment after all, I went ahead and paid the AMEX card off. That was $155.95. Then since the garbage bill arrived and I still had enough left in checking to pay it, I did. That was $70.69. I have $56.75 left in checking.

That leaves me 3 more paychecks this month out of which will come three tithe checks, a $108 or so MC bill, one co-pay, and one full pay at the doctors, and then the Citi which is what we charge gas and groceries and storage on. If we are really careful, I may have some extra money to put into the EF this month. DH isn't getting any overtime at all right now, so it is much harder, but I just have to stick to my guns and not get take out or eat out this month.

I did have to make some clothing purchases. I bought a new skillet, two pairs of shorts, two tank tops, a six-pack of socks, and then a nice blouse and pair of linen slacks for my nephew's upcoming wedding. All of my dressy clothes are warm and this is an outdoor June wedding.

I also bought a dress for my daughter for the same wedding. She also needs shoes. And I'll need new insoles for my dress shoes or I'll be in horrible pain all day. DS and DH will each need a short-sleeved dress shirt, plus DH needs a few more for work. All of his long-sleeved dress shirts are getting too hot to wear now. I've got money in the clothing budget and will add some, so we should be able to do that between now and June.

I stopped in at Good Will and found a nice casserole dish without the lid, but I have a lid to the same shaped casserole dish that I broke a long time ago, some garden twine, some garden clips for attaching plants to stakes, and some planting bags. I'm going to put my peppers in the planting bags. I am going to be growing zucchini and cucumbers vertically so the twine and clips were a great find. I spent a little over $200 at both stores.

I met my goal of writing 10,000 words last week and have set the same goal for this week. That's four chapters. I am so happy with how this is going. I'm really enjoying my characters, although I have one twelve-year-old little brother who likes to make his role in the book bigger than it probably should be. But what are you going to do? When you get a character that writes itself, I've found its best to just follow where they lead.

I've also set a goal of blogging at least three times a week. This will be my fourth this month, so I think I am on track for that. I'd like to make it daily again, but who knows? There is a lot to do in the garden. Speaking of which, the sun is behind the big tree now, so this is the perfect time to work in the garden, in the shade, so I'm off to do that. I've got a lot of seeds to get in the ground today.

Fund Updates and Musings on Goals

May 5th, 2018 at 05:06 pm

Emergency Fund:
$5936.61 Starting Balance
+_100.00 Amount Added
-----------
$6036.61 New Balance

Insurance Sinking Fund:
$200.00 Starting Balance
+100.00 Amount Added
-----------
$300.00 New Balance

College Fund:
$100.00 Current Balance

My goal for the EF is to try to get it built to $7000 by the end of the year. If I contribute $100 a month, then that will cover $800 of that and then I'll just need to come up with $163.39. Since I bank all my youtube income and my Thrive Life income except the $10 a month it takes to run my website, that should be doable.

For the insurance sinking fund I'd like to contribute $100 a month. I am not sure how much it is going to cost to insure two vehicles. I think it will be more than $100 a month, but the truck will only carry liability and uninsured motorists and we will get a multiple vehicle discount.

We just paid the policy for the van in March, so I'm not sure how much additional we'll need. Once I see what the new policy will be, I can adjust the sinking fund accordingly. We like to save up and pay six months at a time, not pay monthly. Up to now I have been saving $80 a month, but I did fund this account some with some of the tax refund.

I don't know if I will be able to contribute to the college fund by any significant amount. DS knows he is going to have to work a few years to pay for college, but if I can save enough to help at all, I'd like to. I hate the fact that we can't pay for college. Several years ago we could have cash flowed it, but all those years of high taxes and a sucking economy hit us hard. Follow that with the 10 months of unemployment in 2016/2017 and we don't stand a chance with our current income. If DH can pick up a higher wage job than his current one, we still have to spend years rebuilding what we lost.

I won't feel comfortable until we have a $30,000 Emergency Fund and a $80,000 saved for a down payment.

On the writing goal I am at 6160 words so far this week. I have two more days to hit 10,000 words. I'll get that easily the way things are going.

I have met my step goals every day this week. The diet is back under control again.

Payday Report for 5/4/18 + Truck + MIL Finances

May 5th, 2018 at 02:51 pm

I am finding a need to more closely track our spending again. We overspent in April by a huge margin, mostly due to me feeling really cruddy for most of the month and not wanting to cook. We had a take out bill to end all take out bills, so now I am determined that 1.) we are going to cook all our meals this month, and 2.) I am not going to let money fritter away and slip through our fingers like that again.

$500.00 for Mom's Utilities
__56.83 DH Life Insurance
__46.30 Me Life Insurance
_122.47 Tithe
__90.82 Internet
_100.00 Emergency Fund
_100.00 Insurance Sinking Fund
-------------
$1016.42

I have two doctor's appointments next week, one with the rheumatologist and one with the eye doctor to check to see whether or not the hydroxychloroquine is turning my retinas yellow or not. I sincerely hope not as it is the one medicine I've been able to use without side effects. It improves my symptoms by about 50%. So I left some money in checking to pay the co-pays.

I am happy to finally be able to put something into the emergency fund again, even if it is only $100. It is necessary for us to rebuild this fund and if I don't waste money on takeaways, than it is available for savings.

I have increased the amount I send to the sinking fund for insurance. We will be taking over insurance on the truck soon. It has been paid off, so we are just waiting for MIL to get the title mailed to her and then we can transfer ownership to our name. I hope we won't be charged taxes so we didn't buy it but inherited it. We will have the death certificate and the will with us for proof we didn't pay, but you know the government, always having to have their hand in your pocket taking money out. But MIL might pay it if there is. I hope so, because we can't afford to. Well, we could, but it will make things super tight in whatever month we have to do it. Things are already tight, though apparently not so tight we didn't waste a bunch of money last month. I will be kicking myself for that for a while.

MIL is really sitting pretty. She got the insurance money and has paid off every credit card bill, the vehicles, and the mortgage. She gets $3000 a month in pension payments, plus her social security. She inherited the 401K and has enough in there to last 25 years at $16,000 withdrawn per year. She's not going to be in any kind of trouble. I am glad, because we all thought it was going to bad for her, but it turns out she's doing better than anyone else. She's set, barring a medical emergency. That can eat up money fast, but aside from her obesity, she's in very good health.

This and That

May 2nd, 2018 at 02:47 pm

I haven't posted since the 22nd. A lot has been going on. My son had his wisdom teeth out and it really knocked him for a loop. Everyone had to pick up the slack and it was a lot of slack as that kid does a ton around the place. It cost $1250.20. They gave us a 12% discount since we had no dental insurance.

We finished transferring soil into the garden beds that need it. About 2/3 of the bee balm we transplanted made it. I've got my tomatoes planted now. I've finished my garden plan and have decided I am going to plant bush beans this year instead of pole beans. I've been having trouble with my shoulders, so picking above my head will hurt. By putting them in 2 foot tall raised beds, I can just pull up a chair to pick them instead of kneeling on the ground.

Normally I prefer pole beans because they go a lot longer, but if I plant now, I can get two crops of bush beans in this summer. I went with Provider green beans. They are a high yield bean and they had organic seeds available locally. If I had to order it would have been a toss up between Providers and Contenders, since they have the highest yields. With pole beans I usually do Blue Lake or Kentucky Wonder. Or blue coco for fun. It is a purple string bean that turns green when you cook it. I'm mostly going for yield this year, though, because I need to can a lot.

I am going to grow my zucchini and cucumbers vertically on stakes instead of letting them sprawl all over the place. There is a place in the front yard that gets good sun on the edge of the deck. I just have to keep tying them up as they grow. This gets the plant off the ground, making it less susceptible to powdery mildew. It also allows for something that usually takes up a huge amount of space to be grown in a more compact area.

I'm not sure I'll be able to grow any potatoes this year. The ground is just not prepared for it and it is more work than I can do on my own. Maybe if I grew them in barrels or grow bags. We'll see. We have 3 old water barrels that could be cut in half. But I can buy potatoes fairly cheaply from the no spray garden when it is time to can them, so if I can't plant any, that'll do.

My big goals for the garden are to can enough green beans and tomatoes for the year. Maybe even enough tomatoes for two years, which I've done before. I picked good, local producers this year, so as long as we don't have a cruddy growing season this year (last year's was awful), I should make it just fine with what I planted.

I've been writing. I've written 5000 words in the last two nights, so I think the writer's block is over. It would be nice to get this novel finished. I have a much better idea of where it is going now. It's like a veil has been lifted. I haven't finished a novel in four years, so I am very happy with myself that it seems to suddenly be going so well again.

I know I haven't done any payday updates in a while. I'll start again on Friday. I just don't have the energy to go back and write everything up. No big deal. It's just for my benefit anyway. I doubt anyone is really just itching to see the state of my budget every week! Smile Today is the first no spend day in ages.

Well, I've got a free hour before I need to get back in the garden again, so I am going to work some more on my novel. My goal is to write 10,000 words this week and 45,000 by the end of the month. If I keep up the rate I'm going at that should be easily doable.

Moved the Bee Balm

April 22nd, 2018 at 10:23 pm

It took some doing, but we got all ten feet of the bee balm (also known as monarda and bergamot) dug out of the raised bed and transplanted to the front yard flower bed. Even if only a little bit of it makes it, it will spread and fill in. And if all of it makes it, it will be one tremendous display on one side of the front deck. The other side is covered in yellow, bright pink, and faded pink/white roses. I can imagine it will be rather spectacular come June or July.

Now I can work on building that bed back up with some of the compost from the back yard. DS will have to do a lot for me this week, but we are doing something of a botany/agricultural unit for his home school. I am teaching him about plants, organic gardening using the French biointensive and lasagna styles, soil make up and the best soil combos for large raised beds, and composting. We are also identifying the worm types, the caterpillars, bugs, and snails, and will do the various butterflies and bees when they appear. I think knowing how to grow your own food is a good life skill.

I've only seen one bee type so far, a carpenter bee. They are usually the first to show, followed by bumble bees, mason bees, and on rare occasions, honeybees. Most of our pollinators tend to be butterflies, as I've made large swathes of the yard butterfly habitat. We've also got a lot of ladybugs every year and some dragonflies and hummingbirds. I wish someone nearby had a honeybee hive, but my garden does seem to thrive without them.

I did not get around to doing the budget. Nothing is due until the 1st, so I don't feel a huge rush to do it, so am kind of being lazy about it. Maybe tomorrow. Today was a no spend day. The first in a while. Tomorrow won't be, though. I am taking DS to a consult and x-ray about his wisdom teeth. I am sure they will need to come out as he is 18 now and is probably already a year overdue, but they aren't poking through, so who knows? His sister only had two, so maybe he will, also. That would cost less.

I Can Feel it in My Abs

April 20th, 2018 at 06:30 pm

Gardening is good exercise. I have been able to be out in the garden 3 days running. So far I have weeded 10 out of 11 beds in the last week or so. The tenth one was accomplished today. I pulled out 25 snails from one strawberry bed. I had some happy ducks. I am glad I found so many or I would not have much of a strawberry harvest. I got all the dead leaves off and snipped all the runner vines so that the daughter plants aren't sapping the energy from the mother plants. There are a ton of flower buds and even some blossoms already.

So far I have planted two types of lettuce, purple kohlrabi, dinosaur kale, bright lights chard, broccoli, and banner green bunching onions. I did buy a variety of peppers and tomatoes, but I won't plant them for another week to 10 days. Right now I am leaving them outside during the day but bringing them in at night. If the forecast looks good at night in about a week, I will try leaving them outside overnight.

I have gotten my steps in every day since getting the fitbit. My goal is still not that high, just 2000 steps a day, but I hit 3000, 3500, and 4000 during this week, but some days were just slightly over 2000. I had a couple of bad days because of my hip and knees being inflamed, probably because I am walking more than ever. I will likely bump my goal to 3000 on Monday. Slow and steady. I can't mess myself up by going too quickly with this. I am just happy to be doing as well as I am.

The diet has been a bit up and down. I do wish we could afford to get our gym membership back, but we just don't have the money for it right now. Swimming always helps with losing weight, plus it seemed easier to eat right when I swam consistently DH is not getting the amount of overtime he was, either. I don't think he got any last week and only a couple hours this week. And of course this coming week is his jury duty so he won't get a full week's pay, there, either, let alone any overtime. We can't even think about things like gym memberships.

I did want to mention that if anyone is interested in trying out Thrive Life, right now they are having their semi-annual sale. I believe it goes through the 23rd. This is the cheapest it ever is during the year, even better than their fall sale. The link to my website is in the side bar under sites I enjoy. I recommend starting with the chopped onions and see if that just doesn't change your cooking life. That and the yogurt bites.

Anyway, I haven't done the budget yet for this payday or last even though I have paid a couple bills. I will try to get that figured out and posted tomorrow. I don't think I posted a payday report last week at all, so I will probably do a double one in one post.

DH and I have been watching some movies on Netflix this week. No spoilers. We watched Odd Thomas, which was really good. It was delightful in places and scary in others and then it made me laugh and cry in others. Quite an emotional roller coaster. It was the best of the three movies we watched. I kind of wished they'd have made it into a TV series.

The Cloverfield Paradox was a great sci-fi thriller, though so distantly related to Cloverfield that it was almost ridiculous to have it in the name, similar to that other Cloverfield movie with John Goodman, no real relation, just capitalizing on the name in a blink and you miss it similarity. I really liked it, though. It was set on a space station where the crew was trying to find a stable form of power that would save the Earth from a major energy crisis and of course stuff goes wildly wrong.

The third movie was The Call Up, which is about some people that get asked to play this reality video game and whoever wins get a $100,000 prize, but they can actually end up getting killed in the game, which they are unaware of, so making it to the end is quite a feat. I liked it, but it was a little predictable. Still the characters were great. I think the ending was supposed to come as a big shocker, but I figured it out. If I hadn't, I'd have probably put this one in second place. But all of the movies were really good and I'd recommend them if you like supernatural and sci-fi movies.

There is not much else going on around here, lately. I did some grocery shopping, but that's about it.

Income Tax Came and Loan Payment Made

April 16th, 2018 at 11:01 pm

Our income tax refund came so no more worries on that front. It actually came on the 11th, but since we didn't get the email or the text they were supposed to send to alert us, I only realized it today when checking the bank account and seeing the hefty balance. It only took 12 days from the day we filed online.

Most of the money will go into the Emergency Fund, but some will go to cover the lost income from jury duty DH has next week, at least if he actually gets called in.

I did make a $2000 loan payment to my mother.

$29,750.00 Starting Balance
-_2,000.00 Payment Made
--------------
$27,750.00 New Balance

It is so good to see those numbers go down.

Feeling a Lot Better

April 15th, 2018 at 10:24 pm

After I posted on the 12th, I managed to get out into the garden. I was just going to do a little bit and 3 hours later I had weeded 5 of the raised beds. I was super sore that night and the next two days, but today I felt less stiff and almost back to normal. It was clear again, even though the forecast said it was going to rain all day, so I got another 2.5 hours in on the garden. DS helped me today.

We only got 3 beds done, but one was a strawberry bed and I had a lot of fiddly work to do in it. I had to cut all the daughter plants from the mother plants so they didn't drain all the life from them and they could operate as self-sufficient plants. I also trimmed off all the dead leaves and any that were red with snow-burned edges. It is all nice and healthy green growth, plus flower buds starting already.

I have two more beds left to do, both strawberry beds, so more fiddly work. I am hoping that will take just one more session in the garden and then we can weed eat the areas around the beds and set up a watering system. I found one based on hydropinics that I would like to make. It'll beat using the big sprinkler that gets the house and the neighbor's driveway. With the sprinkler, we have to close the windows during the summer, so I'd much rather have an irrigation system and leave the windows open when it is hot.

Being outside and getting my hands in the dirt has helped my head tremendously. And the physical activity is good for it as well.

We got fitbits in the mail on the 13th, a gift from MIL, and though I have had some trouble with getting it to sync, it has still been pretty motivational. My first day I just set my goal as 1000 steps because I really have not been active in a long time. And it was kind of hard, but I got there. Yesterday I just wanted to beat that, but was really happy to get over 1500, and then today I got over 2000. Each day I just want to push myself a little more. Right now getting to 5000 steps seems daunting, let alone the 10,000 daily steps they recommend, but I will just keep trying to beat the previous day's steps until I get there.

I do like the food log and water log features as well, though, I do feel like I'm floating by the time I've gotten in all the water for the day. Still, it is helping, because I've lost 6 pounds in 3 days. My diet is firmly back on track. Now I just need to work on getting to sleep earlier.

Getting to sleep has been bad the last few nights, because DH and I totally got caught up in the new Lost in Space on Netflix. They did a fantastic job, but I tell you, those last four episodes were like a book that was too good to put down. Well, pretty much all of it was, but it was nearly impossible towards the end. I highly recommend it.

There was barely any swearing in it, which is virtually unheard of for a Netflix Original. I appreciated it. Although, I didn't appreciate it that when one of the two times they swore (I think that was all, and one was incomplete), one of them was from a child. Netflix likes to put swear words in the mouths of kids and I don't like it. I get that kids swear a lot today, but maybe they'd swear less if they didn't have kids doing it in the movies all the time.

I don't think there were any oh, my Gods, either. That is so overused today. It's like using like all the time or dude. It gets intrusive, so when it isn't there, it makes me happy. And there was no nudity, again, almost unheard of for a Netflix Original that isn't geared just to kids. Certainly not the orgy fest that was Sense8.

So anyway, all that to say Lost in Space was just some brilliant story-telling with a great cast and a nice way to waste ten hours or so of your time. And I loved the robot. The old series had good stories, but was very much a product of its time in the hokiest of ways, and just can't hold a candle to what this reboot has done. And I got a kick out of the old one. I liked it. But this was the best series I've seen in ages.

I Need to Shake it Off

April 12th, 2018 at 02:53 pm

I am trying to shake off this dragginess I have been feeling for the last month. It started with the stomach virus, then I had two days of feeling okay before the head cold hit, which devolved into a sinus infection. Now I'm in the dregs of that, but doing much better, and yet all I want to do is sleep. I force myself up in the morning to take care of the animals, and then it is right back to sleep for 4 to 5 hours.

The thing is I am getting plenty of sleep, but I never wake up feeling rested. My head feels cloudy most of the time. I suppose some of it could be allergy season kicking in, but that seems unlikely to me. I have had some pain, but usually the Ibuprofen takes care of that enough to fall asleep.

I don't feel like it is depression. I mean things aren't hunky dory because of finances, and I've had to do a lot for my mother, and I'm frustrated about my daughter's surgery situation, but generally life is good. Certainly not anything I want to hide away in bed over.

The weather has been keeping me from being able to do anything outside, and that could be part of it. I don't get the sun like I need and while a happy light helps, it is no replacement for natural sunlight. I am just itching to get my hands in the dirt and start working in the garden, but right now it is a mud fest out there. It did stop raining, but the ground just squelches. I may go out anyway today because who knows when it will be dry again?

I just wish I could stop being so tired. I made it through day one again on my diet. Maybe cleaning up my food again will help with the energy levels. I hope so. From past experience I know weight loss helps with the energy levels, so hopefully that will kick in fast. I don't like sleepwalking through life.

Blogoversary

April 9th, 2018 at 07:56 pm

Well, it is that time of year again. Twelve years ago today I started this blog. In that time I paid off about $200,000 in debt, which included three cars (two used, one new) and one mortgage. I still have $29,750 to pay back to my mother, but I've been free of consumer debt for a couple of years now.

Most of the debt that wasn't cars or the mortgage was due to medical bills and having to pay for 6 surgeries in 5 years with cruddy medical insurance. I think it was 6. It blurs together. But it kept me alive, so what are you going to do? I was determined not to declare bankruptcy although we easily could have. But that would have felt like giving up and I never wanted to do that.

I hope to get moving on paying my Mom Loan off, but it has been rough going with 10 months of unemployment during the past year and a half. Right now we are breaking even. I am hoping to contribute $1000 of the tax return to paying on that loan. Maybe $2000. The rest will go into the Emergency Fund, at least until DD gets her surgery and we pay our portion.

It feels like there have been many ups and downs in the last twelve years. Two years ago we were in a much better place financially than now and it is taking a lot to recover from all we lost, both mentally and financially. I'm not sure how long it will take, but with a lower income it is slow going. And since we don't own the house anymore, our only assets are the van and the truck we are about to inherit.

I just keep hoping we will really get back on our feet soon and that DH will get a better paying job soon. We need it to get back to where we were and to ever have a chance of paying Mom off and saving for a down payment again for a home of our own. I feel like we are currently just treading water. But treading water is better than drowning. At least we all know how to swim.

Simple, Yet Delicious

April 6th, 2018 at 11:17 pm

I made another great meal tonight. My new focus on not eating out (i.e. hemorrhaging money through the drive thru window) is paying off, but I don't think it would be going so well without the electric pressure cooker. I did my potatoes in there, tonight. All I did was quarter some baby reds, toss them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley, put a cup of water in the pressure cooker, put in the steamer basket, and pressure cook them for 10 minutes. They were delicious and yet so easy and tasty. I've found out I can make mashed potatoes in there, too, which will be quite a boon.

Then I made up some Morrocan spice rub and rubbed down some chicken legs with it and cooked them in the Nuwave oven. Chicken legs only take 30 minutes in the Nuwave. The chicken was pretty good, but I think it needed salt in addition to the rub. Next time I will do that since I have quite a bit of the rub left. There was enough chicken left over that I can make some chicken soup tomorrow.

I did spend some money today as I was in need of ground cloves, coriander, and cinnamon. Cloves are expensive, but fortunately a little goes a long way so it lasts much longer than my other spices. So $35 on spices.

I'm going to have to spring for a package of goat butter pretty soon. That's $11 for 8 ounces, but it lasts me a long time. I don't use it too often, I just like it on the rare occasions I actually make toast, which is only once or twice a month, usually. I am the only one who eats it. Well, I will make sure I do a complete check through of the freezers first, just in case I have one squirreled away in there, but I'm pretty sure I don't. I usually only buy one at a time. It's not a stock up item.

DH built me some new pantry storage shelves, so I am in the process of filling them and rearranging some of my other food supplies. Right now I have long-term storage mixed in with the working pantry, which is a pain in the neck. This should get that straightened out.

I need to work on the garden this weekend as well. It is time to get lettuce, spinach, green onions, kale, chard, and radishes going. There is some volunteer spinach coming up, but I need to transplant it, because it is not where I want it. I hope it stops raining long enough for me to do that. It cleared up this afternoon so I am hoping the weather holds and I am feeling up to it.

Urgh

April 5th, 2018 at 09:49 pm

So yesterday after I posted we got a call to say that my daughter's surgery had been cancelled. Even though this has been on the books for 2 months, it was only yesterday that the anesthesiologist practice bothered to look at her chart. And they cancelled it based on her weight. They want her to lose 20 pounds. She's already lost 40 and we were told that was enough.

They claim they are worried about her airway during the surgery. I'm worried about her ability to breathe day to day, because with the one side crushed in like it is and the other side not super great either, she has about 40% of the air flow she would have if it was fixed. Her quality of life is nil. Of course these same anesthesiologists will do a gall bladder surgery, so I don't get it.

Anyway, so I started the refund process with both of the people I paid yesterday. They say it should take 2 weeks, which is fine since the credit card isn't due until the 3rd of May. I won't have to transfer any money to take care of it so I won't get charged interest, it'll be off with time to spare. I wish the anesthesia people had been on the ball, so I wouldn't have had to go through that rigmarole.

So whenever she loses the weight, I am going to ride the doctor's office about riding the anesthesia people to make sure she's lost adequate weight so I don't have to play these reindeer games a second time.

Meanwhile, DD and I are going to buckle down again on the weight loss and exercise regime. If I had known they were going to pull this crap, I would never have gone for the more expensive insurance program. Now we might not even be on it when she is able to have the surgery and we'll have wasted all this money for nothing.

On the bright side, it does give DD the kick in the pants she needed to get her diet going again.

Yesterday was Spendy on the Medical Front

April 4th, 2018 at 04:14 pm

So yesterday I took my son to the dentist to get impressions for a mouth guard. He's been grinding his teeth badly and it is causing damage, but also pain. So that cost $517. The good news is that also pays for the next visit where they fit the mouth guard after it arrives from being made.

After that DD had her pre-op appointment and we had to pay a down payment on the surgery of $300. Then we went over to the surgery center and paid a down payment of $1202. So a total of $2019 went out for medical. Ouch.

We can absorb the $517 since DH has been getting overtime, but the rest has to come out of savings. It is a lot when we only have $4500 left in savings. Well, $3000 now. I am rounding. I can't remember the exact numbers off the top of my head, but thereabouts. The income tax refund should be here by the time all the final bills come after insurance so we can pay the rest of it without touching anymore of savings.

DH found out some stuff about the medical plan if he gets hired on directly at his work. It is $250 a month for medical, $140 (I think) for dental, and $170 for vision. Compared to the $1500 that is coming out for just medical now is great. I so hope he gets hired on directly when his contract is up June 6th. Of course, I don't know what kind of plan that is, it could be a high deductible plan, though he's been told their benefits are very good. I hope they are, because we could really use a medical break for a while.

Big Grocery Stock Up

April 2nd, 2018 at 08:53 pm

Today I finally made it to Costco. I've been sick for about 3 weeks, so this was the first day I really felt capable of doing a shopping trip. I ended up spending $325, but bought toilet paper, batteries, and vitamins, which always drives up the cost of a Costco trip. I did get quite a few staples, though. I had to buy some diced tomatoes for the first time in two years. I hope this is a good tomato year in the garden, because I need to can like crazy.

After that I went to the dollar tree and bought a case of soup, a case of mini-ravioli, and a couple boxes of sandwich bags. I spent $26 there.

Then we went to the regular grocery store to pick up bread, hot dogs, and milk. I don't like Costco bread choices or their milk. But they had a ton of turkey on sale. They usually do after any big holiday. This was legs and wings, so I bought all they had. They did have white meat, too, but we don't care for that. I spent $120 there.

I made up some of the turkey tonight in the pressure cooker and froze the rest. I seasoned it with garlic salt, granulated onion, and pepper. It was fantastic and just falling off the bone tender. I only put 2 cups of water in with it, but it made a bunch of broth. I ended up with 1 quart of broth. I saved it and will use it to make rice tomorrow. I'm going to do an arroz con pollo dish, but with turkey instead of chicken for dinner tomorrow.

I saved the bones and will make bone broth with them tomorrow or the next day. I threw them in the freezer, just in case life doesn't go to plan, so that they won't get lost in the fridge for a week and be unusable. I hope to get five or six quarts out of it to can. I am low on broth again, since I've been using a lot of it the last three weeks. It is so much easier to make in the pressure cooker than in the crock pot or on the stove.

I hope I continue to feel better. I got so behind on everything when I could barely get out of bed. Yesterday was the first day I showered in 6 days I was so bad. Thank heavens for baby wipes.

Payday Report

March 30th, 2018 at 04:01 pm

$1200.00 Citi Visa
__176.50 Tithe
__100.00 Best Buy (18 months same as cash)
__184.07 Medical
___56.83 Life Insurance DH
___45.30
--------------
$1762.20 Total Money Out

Jury Duty Update and Taxes Update

March 30th, 2018 at 02:21 pm

DH's boss told him that if he gets called in during his week of jury duty he can work on the weekend and come in after jury duty if he wants to to get as many hours as he can. If he worked for them directly, instead of through the job recruiter, they actually still pay you for the week.

I told him to call the job recruiter and see if they offer something similar, because that would make things easier. But even if they don't, he can still get some work in, so it won't be a no pay week. We think he should be able to manage 30 hours. 30 hours of pay I can work with. Even 20. Just losing that full check would have been too much.

It's also possible they won't call him in for some of the days. They have you call in each morning to see if you are needed that day. If he only gets called in for 3 days, then he can get a full five days of work in. Best case scenario. Well, best case would actually be if they don't need him at all, but I don't know how likely that is.

DD has a cold. I hope she is better by her surgery on the 9th or we will have to postpone it. She has a pre-op appointment on Tuesday so I guess we will see if she needs to go on antibiotics then. It's not like we can wait until she's well. She's never well.

If it does get postponed that'll put us closer to when we get our tax refund. DH did finish the taxes the other night. I just hope it doesn't get audited or something. We claimed $21,000 in medical expenses and that might be a red flag. I do have all the receipts. We might have even spent more, but that was all I had the receipts for. We also never got the HSA people to issue a corrected form, so I'm just kind of hoping we slide under the radar with that. We should be getting $8000 something back.

Once we get the $8K back, I feel like we'll have some breathing room. DH has been given a new project, so he's still employed for a couple more months. Hopefully by the time June 6th arrives, they will offer him a direct job. They do like him and like his work. There are people that are going to be retiring within the next year or two, but I don't know how soon.

If not, then slope work is picking up again. If he goes back up there it is a lot more money and we could sure use it to get back to a place where I feel financially secure again and I can finish paying Mom back. I think as it is, I am going to give her $1000 out of the tax refund. Unless the surgery costs are just too high. We'll see.

Ugh, We Don't Need This

March 27th, 2018 at 08:17 pm

A summons for DH to do jury duty came in the mail today. It is only for a week, but right now we really can't afford to lose a week's income. We are still in recovery from all the unemployment and with the upcoming medical bills we will have for my daughter's surgery and my son's wisdom teeth it is going to be tight enough. If we lose that week of wages we will be struggling really hard. We will try to get him excused based on financial hardship.

I have set up the appointment for the consult and the x-ray for DS's wisdom teeth. The consult is $90 and the x-ray is $96. I also set up for him to get impressions done at the dentist for a mouth guard. He has been grinding his teeth and it is starting to cause some damage and worse, cause pain. The mouth guard will cost around $500. Life without dental is fun, not that dental would pay for much of it anyway. I am not sure how much the wisdom tooth removal will be but I imagine around $1000 to $1500.

DH needs to get our taxes done so we can get our refund and have a little breathing room again. He's been working so much overtime he hasn't had a chance to do it. He's got it half done, he just needs a chunk of time to finish. Hopefully he can get to it this week. This is the first time in years we haven't had our taxes done by early February.

I really need to put my head down and get some writing done. I have kind of been in the wrong head space, but I think I just need to set a goal of 1000 words a day and start churning it out. It doesn't have to be good, but I have to get back into the practice of doing it and then worry about making it good. Writer's block can be such a bear.

For CreditCardFree on Thrive Life

March 26th, 2018 at 03:55 pm

CreditCardFree asked me to talk about Thrive Life freeze-dried foods, what I like, what I don't, what I use, and whether or not it really saves money.

I think it would be easier for me to say what products I don't like than what I do like, since I have liked almost everything I have tried. I dislike their instant potatoes. I find the texture to be a little rubbery and unless you season the heck out of them they have no flavor. I don't like the asparagus, it reconstitutes to be very mushy. I don't like the Passionfruit yogurt bites. I don't care for the larger chicken slices and the larger beef slices, as I think it takes far too long for them to reconstitute, longer than claimed.

The small beef and small chicken I like a lot, as well as the ground beef crumbles and the sausage crumbles. I have not tried any of the vegetarian meat products.

What I use most are the onions, the bell peppers, the chili peppers, the potato dices, the celery, the carrots, the green onions and the sweet corn. The sweet corn tastes like candy and we often eat it right from the can like popcorn.

I use the sour cream powder a lot. I have wasted so much sour cream over the years, so to be able to make out the exact amount per recipe with none leftover to mold in the fridge has saved us quite a bit. I also like their instant milk, for those days when we run out and I need a cup for making potatoes or something. I love the butter powder, too, because we have also run out of butter on occasion. I can just make up as much as we need or put some in a recipe.

I also use their seasoning blends, sauce mixes, bouillons, and tomato powder (which is in place of using tomato paste). They have no MSG or other suspect ingredients in these, which is amazing for bouillon. Less occasionally I use the kale and spinach in soups. We love the yogurt bites in vanilla, cherry, strawberry, pomegranate, and blueberry. That's one of my favorite things, actually, as I hate the texture of regular yogurt and I can just eat these straight without adding water and the texture issue isn't there.

I do use the freeze-dried fruit, but I haven't quit buying regular fruit. My kids like the fruit a lot and eat it as is. I think it is great for putting into cereal or muffins, but I don't care to just snack on it.

Most of the veggies are good. I like the broccoli, green beans (though I prefer my home canned), zucchini, and cauliflower. My husband likes the mushrooms (I can't eat mushrooms). The sweet potatoes and butternut squash are pretty good. Nothing is going to be crisp with freeze-dried and dehydrated foods, so I usually use fresh veggies for stir-fries, and these go into casseroles and egg bakes. My MIL likes eating the cauliflower straight out of the can.

Their instant brown rice and instant white rice we use on occasion. They are good, but I'm not sure they are any better than minute rice. I do like the fact that they have some instant beans. My son raves about the multi-grain pancake mix.

I do see some money saving. Because I am not having to peel anything, I am not paying for the weight of the part of the food that gets peeled off and thrown away. It is already cut up into the right size, so I am not having to spend time cutting up onions or other veggies, which saves my hands. With the RA, my hands often hurt too much to peel and chop, so that is a meal saver on those days. It doesn't have the chance to rot in the fridge before I can use it, so I'm not then having to pay to throw it away.

I tend to buy the products that are more pricey when they go on sale. They have different products on sale each month and then they do two semi-annual sales a year that have almost everything discounted. They have one day flash sales once in a while as well. The meat and the yogurt are most expensive so I only buy those when they are on sale and the same with the more expensive fruits (raspberries, grapes, cherries, pears). The rest is pretty well-priced and if you buy more than $100 on the monthly delivery program the shipping is free.

I don't buy the Simple Plates, which are the pre-made meal kits. I think they are expensive for what they are. They are meant to compete with things like Blue Apron and Freshly. While I got several when I got my consultant starter kit, most of them have mushrooms mixed in with the rest of the veggies, so I can't eat them. The family has liked what they have tried, but I wouldn't purchase them myself.

They do have some starter packs called Chef Kits that come in a set for $105 and come with recipes and you can make several recipes from each kit. They have a Southwest Chicken Kit, a Ground Beef Kit, and a Pulled Pork Kit. A lot of people like to start off with those so they can make a few meals and see if they like them. Or they have variety packs of vegetables, fruits, yogurts, and cheese which brings the price down a bit.

I seldom buy their cheese, but when their Parmesan or Monteray Jack goes on sale I will get some if I am out. Those we use so little of that it is not worth buying from the store because it'll go bad before we can use it all. But cheddar and mozzarella I still buy fresh as it is cheaper.

What it is great for is the shelf-life. Most products are one year after being opened, with three exceptions, the ham, the turkey, and the pulled pork. The ham is awful anyway. I forgot to say that I didn't like the ham. It didn't taste like ham to me, just pork and not well flavored. Unopened products have a shelf-life of 25 years, so there is that.

So like all things, you have to comparison shop and get some items on sale. But it has been worth it for me to save my hands a lot of work.

For everything you buy, you get points and after you get enough points you can cash them in for free product. As a consultant I also get a commission off of anyone's purchase from my website: https://www.thrivelife.com/luckyrobinshomestead. If anyone signs up for the monthly delivery (which requires a $25 purchase each month) I get a larger percentage commission and if people sign up to be consultants under me I get a percentage of their sales. It only goes four levels so it is not an unending pyramid. As a consultant I am required to spend $50 a month, which I more than spend anyway. I also have the expense of the website which is $10 a month. But I so far have been making about $60 each month. I don't really work the business, though. I have a couple people that purchase each month. I get a little business from my youtube channel, but I don't do parties or anything. If I did, I could make a lot more, but this is more passive for me.

Anyway, I hope that answered all of your questions and if not, let me know and I will try to answer any more you have.

Meal Planning for the Week

March 25th, 2018 at 06:26 pm

I have gotten away from meal planning lately and I do think it is a big factor on why we are getting too much take out, so I am going to get back to it. If I hadn't gotten my Power Pressure Cooker for my birthday I think we'd be getting even more take out. That thing makes it so easy to cook. I couldn't afford the Instant Pot that I wanted, but I could afford the 8 quart Power cooker that I got.

So far I've been quite happy with the decision and Instant Pot recipes are easily converted. I do want to get some of the inserts, though, so I'm saving up for those. I also do want to get the $400 Instant Pot one day, but that day is not going to be any time soon.

I think at least four meals a week are being cooked in the pressure cooker. Sometimes the full meal or sometimes I'll make baked potatoes or some other vegetable in the Nuwave oven. These two products alone have really simplified my life, not having an actual oven or stove to cook on. The electric skillet and the crock pot get some use as well, but the first two are my go to machines right now. Well, that and the microwave for steamer bags or canned veggies.

Discovering I can make spaghetti and other pastas in the pressure cooker has just simplified my life so much. Not to mention cooking a roast in less than an hour. Or a lava cake using Swerve instead of sugar. Anyway, I hope making a meal plan again will snap me out of some of the bad habits I have fallen back into.

Sunday:
Spaghetti and Meatballs (PC)
Salad

Monday:
Rabbit Stir-fry
Stir-fried Rice

Tuesday:
Enchiladas (Freezer Meal)
Cole Slaw

Wednesday:
Pork Roast (PC)
Fried Potatoes
Broccoli and Cauliflower

Thursday:
Chicken Fajitas (Crockpot Freezer Meal)

Friday:
Air-fried Duck Breast (NW)
Fried Potatoes
Broccoli/Cauliflower

Saturday:
BBQ Pork Chops (PC)
Baked Potatoes (NW)
Brussels Sprouts

Sunday:
Lamb Roast (PC)
Baked Potatoes (NW)
Green Beans

Payday Report for 3/23/18

March 25th, 2018 at 03:40 pm

DH had 10 hours of overtime on this paycheck, which is great, plus I got my Youtube/Google AdSense pay deposited, so that will be reflected in the tithe amount. We didn't have a lot of bills. We don't generally since we run everything through the credit cards and then pay them off weekly or monthly depending on the card.

$1200.00 Citi Visa
__188.51 Tithe
__275.00 Chiropractor Monthly Family Plan
__100.00 Best Buy (18 months same as cash)
-----------
$1763.51 Total Money Out

I transferred my wages to savings. There is a small amount left in checking, just under $60. We run it close since we write so few checks anymore, but it is hooked to a savings account that will automatically feed the checking account for a $1 fee if for some reason my math was off and we went over. Good credit unions are nice that way. Right now that savings has over $800 in it, so I'd have to screw up in a really big way to not be protected there.

DH still hasn't signed up for the 401K. I'm trying to get him to do that this week. We will start with 2% and after DD's surgery is paid for we will increase it by 1% each month until it becomes too tight, until we hit 6%. We may do more, but I really have to feel what living with that amount taken out will be like.

Plus we have to build the EF back up. And I want to be able to purchase half a steer, 30 chickens, and half a hog again in the fall/winter, so the money does have to be available for that. It saves us so much money in the long run to do that. At the very least the beef.

Farm Trip

March 24th, 2018 at 08:51 pm

DH and I drove down to the farm this afternoon. Their was a nasty accident in the I-5 north bound lanes. We could see the traffic backed up for miles. There were several ambulances, 2 or 3 police cars, and at least one fire truck. I said a quick prayer for the victims as we passed and I was very glad we were going south.

It was a beautiful day for a drive, bright and sunny, but cold. There was still snow on the foothills about 20 feet above ground level. Yet at the same time the forsythia and cherry trees are blooming. It was gorgeous.

At the farm I picked up 5 roasts for canning. I am out of canned beef. It is my preferred way of making beef stew, to used canned beef, and stew season will be over soon. I also got 8 packages of bacon (they have the best I have ever tasted), and 2 packages of beef stir-fry meat. They cut it really thin. I have a hard time getting it that thin myself, so on occasion I will get some.

We only had to pay for 4 of the roasts. The fifth one she gave us for free. They come vacuum sealed and sometimes the vacuum part will undo, but the package itself will still be sealed. They can't sell them that way, so they just give them away. I just use them or can them quickly.

I also sold them a rabbit for $82.20. That will pay for feed for about 3 to 4 months for the rabbits and ducks. I love it that they support themselves. I am going to try to sell a breeding trio soon. I have a really nice set of 2 broken blacks (male and female) and a broken red (female) that are just gorgeous and wonderfully proportioned.

Anyway, we took Chuckanut Drive on the way home to avoid the backup on the freeway. It is a beautiful drive, but unnerving. There are places where the cliffs jut out over the road, or right next to it with no shoulder. Although driving north on it is far more unsettling than driving south, because it always feels like you could tumble right off the edge of the road and down into the bay. It is such a narrow road. Still we survived it and we saw a lot of waterfalls from the snow melt.

Then DH and I went out to eat. I got a quesadilla with a side of rice and he had a burrito and a relleno. Just a small, cheap little lunch without the kids. It was nice. Probably unnecessary since we went out to eat last Saturday, too, but that was our 23rd anniversary and we used the money his mother gave us for a present to do it. I'll be tightening in again on the spending after this.

Payday Report for 3/16/18

March 20th, 2018 at 07:55 pm

I have been sick and not really staying on top of blogging, but I have been staying on top of bills. I got my Thrive Life commission check of $59.68 and DH's pay with overtime was $1685.22. I am still waiting on my Google/Youtube check to be deposited, but it should be in there soon. Usually it goes in on the 15th, but not always.

$1000.00 to Citi Visa
__174.52 tithe
__110.54 Medical
__452.88 Car Insurance (6 months)
--------------
$1737.94 Money Out

I had a little money left from before so that was really what was used for the medical bill. This leaves me with $68.52 in checking until Friday. No bills are due, so that is fine. I transferred my wages to savings. I am not really sure what will end up happening there. I am not really specifying savings until after DD's surgery. After that gets paid for, then I'll go back to specifying EF and sinking funds, but for now there is really no point. It is pretty much all medical until it isn't.


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